‘vigilant guard’ managers put the kaboom in terrorism exercises
from national guard bureau: KaBOOM! Exercise managers for the Vigilant Guard homeland security exercise here added realism Sept. 16 by blowing up balloons filled with explosive gas. KaPOW! They tested the balloons today. Tomorrow the noisemakers will prompt police swat teams to move in on a suspected fake terrorist hideout at a hotel. Along with phony blown up cars, it’s all been fabricated by the National Guard’s civilian exercise managers. Vigilant Guard began here Sept. 12 with a regional tabletop exercise at the Guam Guard’s Joint Forces Headquarters. It continues through this week, culminating with a simulated terrorist attack on the island’s Tumon Beach, which is a popular tourist and vacation spot.
atf missing 418 laptops & 76 guns
from ap: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) lost 76 weapons and hundreds of laptops over five years, the Justice Department reported Wednesday (3.4mb PDF), blaming carelessness and sloppy record-keeping. Thirty-five of the missing handguns, rifles, Tasers and other weapons were stolen, as were 50 laptops, the internal audit found. Two of the stolen weapons were used in crimes. The audit by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine found “inadequate” oversight of weapons and laptops resulted in “significant rates of losses” at the ATF.
oklahoma firefighters team up with wmd unit for drill
from kten: Wednesday in Ardmore, The National Guard’s 63rd Weapons Of Mass Destruction Team out of Norman, paired up with local emergency responders to conduct a mock drill. The drill involved a chemical release in The Ardmore Convention Center with a large group of people inside. KTEN’s Hailee Holliday reports.
burlington participates in pandemic experiment
from wcax: Burlington is one of nine test markets in the country taking part in a flu pandemic preparation exercise. The experiment will focus on prevention – like hand washing – and what to do in case of an outbreak. Health authorities say preparing is crucial because it’s not a question of if we will have another major flu outbreak, but when.
drive-through clinic offers booster shots targeting hepatitis a
from buffalo news: There were no burgers or fries at this drive-through. This weekend, hepatitis A booster shots are being given out drive-through style at the Amherst Highway Garage. On Saturday, hundreds of people rolled down their windows and pulled up their sleeves to receive the booster shot in their arms — without leaving their cars. “We’ve had minivans with entire families pull up and single cars, too,” said Daniel Neaverth, Erie County deputy commissioner of emergency medical services. By 3 p. m., more than 300 people had participated… The idea was to administer the shots in the most efficient way possible. But it also served as an exercise in giving out mass doses of a vaccine in the event of a pandemic outbreak or a biological attack. Neaverth said Erie County is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “City Readiness Initiative.” Participants are encouraged to develop new ways to administer medicines to the masses.
military aircraft to conduct training exercises over washdc
from wtop: If you see and hear military aircraft overhead Wednesday and Thursday, it’s just an exercise. The North American Aerospace Defense Command starts conducting a two-day exercise in the D.C. area Wednesday. The exercise, a series of training flights, is designed to hone NORAD’s intercept and identification operations. Civil Air Patrol and Coast Guard helicopters will participate in the exercise. The training flights were occur during late night and early morning hours. In the event of inclement weather, NORAD will run the exercise on the next clear day until the exercise has been completed.
nation inadequately prepared for severe pandemic
from govtech: States are making significant progress toward safeguarding their citizens against an influenza pandemic, but the nation as a whole remains inadequately prepared for a severe pandemic outbreak according to a new report by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center). The report, Pandemic Preparedness in the States: An Assessment of Progress and Opportunity (412kb PDF), presents an overall appraisal of the current level of pandemic preparedness in the states and offers recommendations for improvement in five areas. “Even though this issue largely has fallen off the public’s radar, states recognize that successfully managing a pandemic outbreak requires a sustained effort to combat the threat in all sectors of the economy and in society as a whole,” said Chris Logan, program director of the NGA Center’s Homeland Security and Technology Division. “The conclusions of this report serve a vital national service: they demonstrate both the extent of our readiness as well as the gaps in our current preparedness.”
neocon think tank says US still lacks good continuity plan
from aei: Seven years is a long time, but the enormity and depravity of the acts are fresh. Nonetheless, one would think that seven years is enough time for even a slow-moving political system to create basic insurance to prevent the kind of chaos and injury to the American constitutional system that would come with another, more successful, attack on official Washington. Never mind. In one of the more shameworthy lapses in our dysfunctional government, especially in Congress, nothing constructive has been done to protect our elections, our legislative branch, our presidential succession process or our Supreme Court from the consequences of the kind of terrorist attack that every expert we have believes is quite likely to occur in the future… The Presidential Succession Act of 1947 has no relevance to the challenges and potential disasters of 2008 and beyond… We are approaching an inauguration that will be historic in many ways–and also the single most vulnerable day for our constitutional system. The plans to ensure that the worst-case scenario there will not turn into an even worse scenario for the country and its future? Zero. Happy seventh anniversary.
mass surveillance plan fast-tracked by the nypd
from antifascist calling: Last month Antifascist Calling reported on a scheme by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) to encircle Manhattan with thousands of surveillance cameras and sensors that would photograph all vehicles entering the city. Information captured by this intrusive system would be stored in a huge database for an undisclosed period of time. That plan is now moving forward with a vengeance.
new york offers ‘enhanced’ rfid driver’s licenses
from times union: Starting Tuesday, New Yorkers will be able to buy new driver’s licenses containing a radio chip that will let them travel between the U.S. and Canada or Mexico without a passport. The new Enhanced Drivers License, which will cost an additional $30 on top of the standard $50 license fee, also will allow those on boats or ships to travel to Bermuda and Caribbean nations without a passport. Starting in June, federal law will dictate that passports or other proof of citizenship – or an enhanced license – will be needed to visit neighboring countries, including Canada and Mexico. “This is an opportunity for individuals, at their option, to get through the borders more quickly,” said Ken Brown, a spokesman for the state Department of Motor Vehicles.
mukasey’s justice dept codifies cointelpro into fbi ‘ground rules’
from 9/11 blogger: Every once in a while, the Washington Post actually prints something of note. Yesterday, they published this article, Rule Changes Would Give FBI Agents Extensive New Powers. Previously, the FBI was required to have a case before they started screwing around with you. Under Mukasey’s “New Rules”, we now have a situation ripe for abuse. The Justice Department is currently working out the wording for placing “undisclosed participants” in organizations… Just in time for the November elections.
lieberman wins: youtube bans videos that incite violence
from washington post: The video-sharing service YouTube is banning submissions that involve “inciting others to violence,” following criticism from Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) that the site was too open to terrorist groups disseminating militant propaganda. The company earlier this year removed some of the videos that Lieberman targeted, many of which were marked with the logos of al-Qaeda and affiliated groups. But the company refused to take down most of the videos on the senator’s list, saying they did not violate the Web site’s guidelines against graphic violence or hate speech. Now that videos inciting others to violence are banned, more videos by the terrorist groups in question may be removed. “YouTube reviews its content guidelines a few times a year, and we take the community’s input seriously,” YouTube spokesman Ricardo Reyes said. “The senator made some good points.”
military industrial complex 2.0
from information clearinghouse: Seven years into George W. Bush’s Global War on Terror, the Pentagon is embroiled in two big wars, a potentially explosive war of words with Tehran, and numerous smaller conflicts – and it is leaning ever more heavily on private military contractors to get by. Once upon a time, soldiers did more than pick up a gun. They picked up trash. They cut hair and delivered mail. They fixed airplanes and inflated truck tires. Not anymore. All of those tasks are now the responsibility of private military corporations. In the service of the Pentagon, their employees also man computers, write software code, create integrating systems, train technicians, manufacture and service high-tech weapons, market munitions, and interpret satellite images. People in ties or heels, not berets or fatigues, today translate documents, collect intelligence, interpret for soldiers and interrogators, approve contracts, draft reports to Congress, and provide oversight for other private contractors. They also fill prescriptions, fit prosthetics, and arrange for physical therapy and psychiatric care. Top to bottom, the Pentagon’s war machine is no longer just driven by, but staffed by, corporations.
photo ticket cameras to track drivers nationwide
from the newspaper: Private companies in the US are hoping to use red light cameras and speed cameras as the basis for a nationwide surveillance network similar to one that will be active next year in the UK. Redflex and American Traffic Solutions (ATS), the top two photo enforcement providers in the US, are quietly shopping new motorist tracking options to prospective state and local government clients. Redflex explained the company’s latest developments in an August 7 meeting with Homestead, Florida officials.
smile for the cameras
from willamette week: Portland Public Schools is giving the bus company that schleps around students $18,000 to buy 20 digital cameras to monitor rider behavior on district buses. The school board OK’d the expenditure at its Sept. 15 meeting on top of the district’s $58 million contract with Laidlaw Transit, now doing business as First Student. Andy Leibenguth, of the district’s transportation office, says no incident precipitated the camera purchase. The district isn’t targeting a specific route; it plans to rotate the cameras, which will supplement the 15 cameras First Student already uses.