PUBLISHED: 08:13 EDT, 12 April 2017 | UPDATED: 10:10 EDT, 12 April 2017
A US Navy unit which killed Osama Bin Laden will be taking part in drills simulating removing North Korean despot Kim Jong-un from power.
The Special Warfare Development Group, best known as SEAL Team 6, will carry out drills in South Korea, the country’s Ministry of National Defense has revealed.
It is the team which carried out Operation Neptune Spear, the killing of the Al-Qaeda leader in Pakistan back in May 2011.
The Navy SEAL team is responsible for the killing of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan in May 2011
It will be taking part in exercises aimed at removing North Korean despot Kim Jong-un from power
An aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, will arrive in South Korea today, The Japan Times reports, along with US Army unit Delta Force, which specialises in counterterrorism operations.
It comes a day after US President Donald Trump said North Korea was ‘looking for trouble’ following missile tests, and vowed the United States would ‘solve the problem’ with or without China’s help.
Pyongyang has reacted angrily to the impending arrival of the aircraft carrier, warning of ‘catastrophic consequences’.
It comes after US President Donald Trump said North Korea was ‘looking for trouble’, and vowed the United States would ‘solve the problem’ with or without China’s help
The move is part of a growing US presence off the Korean Peninsula, and is reportedly part of a plan aimed at ‘incapacitating’ Kim Jong-Un‘s regime should conflict break out.
A nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier arrived in South Korea last month for joint military exercises in the latest show of force against the North.
More than 80 aircraft, including the fighter aircraft F/A-18F Super Hornet, the E-2C Hawkeye and the carrier-based EA-18G Growler were on board the supercarrier.
South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency claims the heightened military presence is part of a plan to decapitate North Korean leadership.
It claims a military official, who wished to remain anonymous, said: ‘A bigger number of and more diverse U.S. special operation forces will take part in this year’s Foal Eagle and Key Resolve exercises to practice missions to infiltrate into the North, remove the North’s war command and demolition of its key military facilities.’
More than 80 aircraft, including the fighter aircraft F/A-18F Super Hornet (at the front of the carrier), the E-2C Hawkeye and the carrier-based EA-18G Growler (in the middle) are on board the super carrier
The USS Carl Vinson approaches Busan port in South Korea to join the annual joint military exercise called Foal Eagle
The aircraft carrier and a US destroyer carried out naval drills including an anti-submarine manoeuvre with South Koreans in waters off the Korean peninsula as part of the annual Foal Eagle exercise.
Washington insisted they are purely defensive in nature.
Rear Admiral James Kilby, commander of USS Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group 1, said: ‘The importance of the exercise is to continue to build our alliance and our relationship and strengthen that working relationship between our ships.’
The US has also started to deploy ‘Gray Eagle’ attack drones to South Korea, a military spokesman revealed last month.
The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is taking part in South Korea-U.S. joint military maneuvers carried out in the largest scale yet, with North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile threats in focus
Amid tensions USS Carl Vinson arrives in South Korea
South Korean and US troops began the large-scale joint drills on March 1.
The spike in tensions concerned Beijing, with China’s Foreign Ministry calling on all sides to end ‘a vicious cycle that could spiral out of control.’
North Korea, which has alarmed its neighbours with two nuclear tests and a string of missile launches since last year, said the arrival of the US strike group was part of a ‘reckless scheme’ to attack it.
The North Korea’s state KCNA news agency said: ‘If they infringe on the DPRK’s sovereignty and dignity even a bit, its army will launch merciless ultra-precision strikes from ground, air, sea and underwater.
‘On March 11 alone, many enemy carrier-based aircraft flew along a course near territorial air and waters of the DPRK to stage drills of dropping bombs and making surprise attacks on the ground targets of its army,’ KCNA said.
Last month, North Korea fired four ballistic missiles into the sea off Japan in response to annual US-South Korea military drills, which the North sees as preparation for war.
The murder in Malaysia last month of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s estranged half-brother has added to the sense of urgency to efforts to get a grip on North Korea.
Visiting the headquarters of an army unit early this month, Kim praised his troops for their ‘vigilance against the US and South Korean enemy forces that are making frantic efforts for invasion’, according to the North’s official KCNA news agency.
Kim also ordered the troops to ‘set up thorough countermeasures of a merciless strike against the enemy’s sudden air assault’, it said.
The threat represented by North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile arsenal is the main reason for his trip to the region.
An F/A Super Hornet fighter jet takes off from the nuclear-powered USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier
F/A Super Hornets and other fighter jets await takeoff aboard the nuclear-powered USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier
A U.S. F18 fighter jet lands on the deck of U.S. aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson during the annual joint military exercise
A U.S. Navy crew member works on a U.S. F18 fighter jet on the deck of USS Carl Vinson
A F18 fighter jet prepares for take off as part of the annual military drills in South Korea that the North regards as rehearsal for invasion
South Korean and U.S. troops began the large-scale joint drills, which are billed as defensive in nature, on March 1
US Navy crew members look at an F/A-18 fighter from the deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson
US aircraft carrier visits South Korea for joint drills
US Navy crew members run next to an E-2C Hawkeye as it lands on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson
The all-weather E-2 Hawkeye airborne early warning and battle management aircraft has served as the ‘eyes’ of the U.S. Navy fleet for more than 30 years
PLANES ON THE USS CARL VINSON
The aircraft carrier, commissioned in 1982, is the centerpiece of the 7,500-sailor strike group. The 100,000-ton ship measures 333 meters in length and 77 meters in width.
The Carl Vinson has been involved in a number of notable events including Operation Iraqi Freedom. The ship also received huge attention in 2011 when the body of Osama bin Laden was buried at sea from its deck.
More than 80 aircraft, including the fighter aircraft F/A-18F Super Hornet, the E-2C Hawkeye and the carrier-based EA-18G Growler are on board the supercarrier.
The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is the U.S. Navy’s primary strike and air superiority aircraft.
The E-2C Hawkeye is the U.S. Navy’s primary carrier-based airborne early warning and command and control aircraft.
The EA-18G Growler is the U.S. Navy’s newest electronic attack aircraft intended to replace ageing EA-6B Prowlers in the service’s fleet.
As part of his plans to bolster the military, President Trump has vowed to expand the number of carriers the US fields from 10 to 12.
And he promised to bring down the cost of building three ‘super-carriers,’ which has ballooned by a third over the last decade from $27 to $36 billion.
US Navy crew members stand by an EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft on the deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson
The Carl Vinson Strike Group is participating in the annual joint Foal Eagle exercise between South Korea and the US
The joint exercises involve tens of thousands of troops, as well as strategic US naval vessels and air force assets
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Oath of office of the President of the United States
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
ARTICLE II, SECTION 3, United States Constitution
[The President] shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed….
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CIA chief: IS working to send operatives to the West
CIA Director John Brennan will tell Congress on Thursday that Islamic State militants are training and attempting to deploy operatives for further attacks on the West and will rely more on guerrilla-style tactics to compensate for their territorial losses.
CIA Director John Brennan will tell Congress on Thursday that Islamic State militants are training and attempting to deploy operatives for further attacks on the West and will rely more on guerrilla-style tactics to compensate for their territorial losses.
In remarks prepared for the Senate Intelligence Committee, Brennan says IS has been working to build an apparatus to direct and inspire attacks against its foreign enemies, as in the recent attacks in Paris and Brussels — ones the CIA believes were directed by IS leaders.
“ISIL has a large cadre of Western fighters who could potentially serve as operatives for attacks in the West,” Brennan said, using another acronym for the group. He said IS probably is working to smuggle them into countries, perhaps among refugee flows or through legitimate means of travel.
Brennan also noted the group’s call for followers to conduct so-called lone-wolf attacks in their home countries. He called last week’s attack in Orlando a “heinous act of wanton violence” and an “assault on the values of openness and tolerance” that define the United States as a nation.
He said IS is gradually cultivating its various branches into an interconnected network. The branch in Libya is likely the most advanced and most dangerous, but IS is trying to increase its influence in Africa, he said. The IS branch in the Sinai has become the “most active and capable terrorist group in Egypt,” attacking the Egyptian military and government targets in addition to foreigners and tourists, such as the downing of a Russian passenger jet last October.
Other branches have struggled to gain traction, he says. “The Yemen branch, for instance, has been riven with factionalism. And the Afghanistan-Pakistan branch has struggled to maintain its cohesion, in part because of competition with the Taliban.”
He called IS a “formidable adversary,” but said the U.S.-led coalition has made progress combatting the group, which has had to surrender large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria and has lost some of its leaders in airstrikes. IS has struggled to replenish its ranks of fighters, Brennan said, because fewer of them are traveling to Syria and others have defected.
“The group appears to be a long way from realizing the vision that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi laid out when he declared the caliphate two years ago in Mosul,” Iraq, Brennan said.
He said the group’s ability to raise money has also been curtailed, although the group still continues to generate at least tens of millions of dollars in revenue each month, mostly from taxation and from sales of crude oil.
“Unfortunately, despite all our progress against ISIL on the battlefield and in the financial realm, our efforts have not reduced the group’s terrorism capability and global reach,” he said.
“In fact, as the pressure mounts on ISIL, we judge that it will intensify its global terror campaign to maintain its dominance of the global terrorism agenda.”
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The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
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Hidden Microphones Exposed As Part of Government Surveillance Program In The Bay Area
By Jackie Ward
Hidden microphones that are part of a clandestine government surveillance program that has been operating around the Bay Area has been exposed.
Imagine standing at a bus stop, talking to your friend and having your conversation recorded without you knowing. It happens all the time, and the FBI doesn’t even need a warrant to do it.
Federal agents are planting microphones to secretly record conversations.
Jeff Harp, a KPIX 5 security analyst and former FBI special agent said, “They put microphones under rocks, they put microphones in trees, they plant microphones in equipment. I mean, there’s microphones that are planted in places that people don’t think about, because that’s the intent!”
FBI agents hid microphones inside light fixtures and at a bus stop outside the Oakland Courthouse without a warrant to record conversations, between March 2010 and January 2011.
Federal authorities are trying to prove real estate investors in San Mateo and Alameda counties are guilty of bid rigging and fraud and used these recordings as evidence.
Harp said, “An agent can’t just go out and grab a recording device and plant it somewhere without authorization from a supervisor or special agent in charge.”
The lawyer for one of the accused real estate investors who will ask the judge to throw out the recordings, told KPIX 5 News that, “Speaking in a public place does not mean that the individual has no reasonable expectation of privacy…private communication in a public place qualifies as a protected ‘oral communication’… and therefore may not be intercepted without judicial authorization.”
Harp says that if you’re going to conduct criminal activity, do it in the privacy of your own home. He says that was the original intention of the Fourth Amendment, but it’s up to the judge to interpret it.
SECRET PENTAGON REPORT REVEALS US “CREATED” ISIS AS A “TOOL” TO OVERTHROW SYRIA’S PRESIDENT ASSAD
Judicial Watch, shows that Western governments deliberately allied with al-Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups to topple Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad
Dr Nafeez Ahmed – MAY 24, 2015
Secret Pentagon Report Reveals US “Created” ISIS As A “Tool” To Overthrow Syria’s President Assad
From the first sudden, and quite dramatic, appearance of the fanatical Islamic group known as ISIS which was largely unheard of until a year ago, on the world’s stage and which promptly replaced the worn out and tired al Qaeda as the world’s terrorist bogeyman, we suggested that the “straight to beheading YouTube clip” purpose behind the Saudi Arabia-funded Islamic State was a simple one: use the Jihadists as the vehicle of choice to achieve a political goal: depose of Syria’s president Assad, who for years has stood in the way of a critical Qatari natural gas pipeline, one which could dethrone Russia as Europe’s dominant – and belligerent – source of energy, reaching an interim climax with the unsuccessful Mediterranean Sea military build up of 2013, which nearly resulted in quasi-world war.
The narrative and the plotline were so transparent, even Russia saw right through them. Recall from September of last year:
If the West bombs Islamic State militants in Syria without consulting Damascus, LiveLeak reports that the anti-ISIS alliance may use the occasion to launch airstrikes against President Bashar Assad’s forces, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Clearly comprehending that Obama’s new strategy against ISIS in Syria is all about pushing the Qatar pipeline through (as was the impetus behind the 2013 intervention push), Russia is pushing back noting that the it is using ISIS as a pretext for bombing Syrian government forces and warning that “such a development would lead to a huge escalation of conflict in the Middle East and North Africa.”
But it’s one thing to speculate; it’s something entirely different to have hard proof.
And while speculation was rife that just like the CIA-funded al Qaeda had been used as a facade by the US to achieve its own geopolitical and national interests over the past two decades, so ISIS was nothing more than al Qaeda 2.0, there was no actual evidence of just this.
That may all have changed now when a declassified secret US government document obtained by the public interest law firm, Judicial Watch, shows that Western governments deliberately allied with al-Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups to topple Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad.
According to investigative reporter Nafeez Ahmed in Medium, the “leaked document reveals that in coordination with the Gulf states and Turkey, the West intentionally sponsored violent Islamist groups to destabilize Assad, despite anticipating that doing so could lead to the emergence of an ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
According to the newly declassified US document, the Pentagon foresaw the likely rise of the ‘Islamic State’ as a direct consequence of the strategy, but described this outcome as a strategic opportunity to “isolate the Syrian regime.”
And not just that: as we reported last week, now that ISIS is running around the middle east, cutting people’s heads of in 1080p quality and Hollywood-quality (perhaps literally) video, the US has a credible justification to sell billions worth of modern, sophisticated weapons in the region in order to “modernize” and “replenish” the weapons of such US allies as Saudi Arabia, Israel and Iraq.
But that the US military-industrial complex is a winner every time war breaks out anywhere in the world (usually with the assistance of the CIA) is clear to everyone by now. What wasn’t clear is just how the US predetermined the current course of events in the middle east.
Now, thanks to the following declassified report, we have a far better understanding of not only how current events in the middle east came to be, but what America’s puppermaster role leading up to it all, was.
From Nafeez Ahmed: Secret Pentagon report reveals West saw ISIS as strategic asset Anti-ISIS coalition knowingly sponsored violent extremists to ‘isolate’ Assad, rollback ‘Shia expansion’, originally posted in Medium.
The revelations contradict the official line of Western government on their policies in Syria, and raise disturbing questions about secret Western support for violent extremists abroad, while using the burgeoning threat of terror to justify excessive mass surveillance and crackdowns on civil liberties at home.
Among the batch of documents obtained by Judicial Watch through a federal lawsuit, released earlier this week, is a US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) document then classified as “secret,” dated 12th August 2012.
The DIA provides military intelligence in support of planners, policymakers and operations for the US Department of Defense and intelligence community.
So far, media reporting has focused on the evidence that the Obama administration knew of arms supplies from a Libyan terrorist stronghold to rebels in Syria.
Some outlets have reported the US intelligence community’s internal prediction of the rise of ISIS. Yet none have accurately acknowledged the disturbing details exposing how the West knowingly fostered a sectarian, al-Qaeda-driven rebellion in Syria.
Charles Shoebridge, a former British Army and Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism intelligence officer, said:
“Given the political leanings of the organisation that obtained these documents, it’s unsurprising that the main emphasis given to them thus far has been an attempt to embarrass Hilary Clinton regarding what was known about the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in 2012. However, the documents also contain far less publicized revelations that raise vitally important questions of the West’s governments and media in their support of Syria’s rebellion.”
The West’s Islamists
The newly declassified DIA document from 2012 confirms that the main component of the anti-Assad rebel forces by this time comprised Islamist insurgents affiliated to groups that would lead to the emergence of ISIS. Despite this, these groups were to continue receiving support from Western militaries and their regional allies.
Noting that “the Salafist [sic], the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [al-Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria,” the document states that “the West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition,” while Russia, China and Iran “support the [Assad] regime.”
The 7-page DIA document states that al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), the precursor to the ‘Islamic State in Iraq,’ (ISI) which became the ‘Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,’ “supported the Syrian opposition from the beginning, both ideologically and through the media.”
The formerly secret Pentagon report notes that the “rise of the insurgency in Syria” has increasingly taken a “sectarian direction,” attracting diverse support from Sunni “religious and tribal powers” across the region.
In a section titled ‘The Future Assumptions of the Crisis,’ the DIA report predicts that while Assad’s regime will survive, retaining control over Syrian territory, the crisis will continue to escalate “into proxy war.”
The document also recommends the creation of “safe havens under international sheltering, similar to what transpired in Libya when Benghazi was chosen as the command centre for the temporary government.”
In Libya, anti-Gaddafi rebels, most of whom were al-Qaeda affiliated militias, were protected by NATO ‘safe havens’ (aka ‘no fly zones’).
‘Supporting powers want’ ISIS entity
In a strikingly prescient prediction, the Pentagon document explicitly forecasts the probable declaration of “an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria.”
Nevertheless, “Western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey are supporting these efforts” by Syrian “opposition forces” fighting to “control the eastern areas (Hasaka and Der Zor), adjacent to Western Iraqi provinces (Mosul and Anbar)”:
“… there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).”
The secret Pentagon document thus provides extraordinary confirmation that the US-led coalition currently fighting ISIS, had three years ago welcomed the emergence of an extremist “Salafist Principality” in the region as a way to undermine Assad, and block off the strategic expansion of Iran. Crucially, Iraq is labeled as an integral part of this “Shia expansion.”
The establishment of such a “Salafist Principality” in eastern Syria, the DIA document asserts, is “exactly” what the “supporting powers to the [Syrian] opposition want.” Earlier on, the document repeatedly describes those “supporting powers” as “the West, Gulf countries, and Turkey.”
Further on, the document reveals that Pentagon analysts were acutely aware of the dire risks of this strategy, yet ploughed ahead anyway.
The establishment of such a “Salafist Principality” in eastern Syria, it says, would create “the ideal atmosphere for AQI to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi.” Last summer, ISIS conquered Mosul in Iraq, and just this month has also taken control of Ramadi.
Such a quasi-state entity will provide:
“… a renewed momentum under the presumption of unifying the jihad among Sunni Iraq and Syria, and the rest of the Sunnis in the Arab world against what it considers one enemy. ISI could also declare an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria, which will create grave danger in regards to unifying Iraq and the protection of territory.”
The 2012 DIA document is an Intelligence Information Report (IIR), not a “finally evaluated intelligence” assessment, but its contents are vetted before distribution. The report was circulated throughout the US intelligence community, including to the State Department, Central Command, the Department of Homeland Security, the CIA, FBI, among other agencies.
In response to my questions about the strategy, the British government simply denied the Pentagon report’s startling revelations of deliberate Western sponsorship of violent extremists in Syria. A British Foreign Office spokesperson said:
“AQ and ISIL are proscribed terrorist organisations. The UK opposes all forms of terrorism. AQ, ISIL, and their affiliates pose a direct threat to the UK’s national security. We are part of a military and political coalition to defeat ISIL in Iraq and Syria, and are working with international partners to counter the threat from AQ and other terrorist groups in that region. In Syria we have always supported those moderate opposition groups who oppose the tyranny of Assad and the brutality of the extremists.”
The DIA did not respond to request for comment.
Strategic asset for regime-change
Security analyst Shoebridge, however, who has tracked Western support for Islamist terrorists in Syria since the beginning of the war, pointed out that the secret Pentagon intelligence report exposes fatal contradictions at the heart of official pronunciations:
“Throughout the early years of the Syria crisis, the US and UK governments, and almost universally the West’s mainstream media, promoted Syria’s rebels as moderate, liberal, secular, democratic, and therefore deserving of the West’s support. Given that these documents wholly undermine this assessment, it’s significant that the West’s media has now, despite their immense significance, almost entirely ignored them.”
According to Brad Hoff, a former US Marine who served during the early years of the Iraq War and as a 9/11 first responder at the Marine Corps Headquarters in Battalion Quantico from 2000 to 2004, the just released Pentagon report for the first time provides stunning affirmation that:
“US intelligence predicted the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), but instead of clearly delineating the group as an enemy, the report envisions the terror group as a US strategic asset.”
Hoff, who is managing editor of Levant Report — ?an online publication run by Texas-based educators who have direct experience of the Middle East?—?points out that the DIA document “matter-of-factly” states that the rise of such an extremist Salafist political entity in the region offers a “tool for regime change in Syria.”
The DIA intelligence report shows, he said, that the rise of ISIS only became possible in the context of the Syrian insurgency?—?“there is no mention of US troop withdrawal from Iraq as a catalyst for Islamic State’s rise, which is the contention of innumerable politicians and pundits.” The report demonstrates that:
“The establishment of a ‘Salafist Principality’ in Eastern Syria is ‘exactly’ what the external powers supporting the opposition want (identified as ‘the West, Gulf Countries, and Turkey’) in order to weaken the Assad government.”
The rise of a Salafist quasi-state entity that might expand into Iraq, and fracture that country, was therefore clearly foreseen by US intelligence as likely?—?but nevertheless strategically useful?—?blowback from the West’s commitment to “isolating Syria.”
Critics of the US-led strategy in the region have repeatedly raised questions about the role of coalition allies in intentionally providing extensive support to Islamist terrorist groups in the drive to destabilize the Assad regime in Syria.
The conventional wisdom is that the US government did not retain sufficient oversight on the funding to anti-Assad rebel groups, which was supposed to be monitored and vetted to ensure that only ‘moderate’ groups were supported.
However, the newly declassified Pentagon report proves unambiguously that years before ISIS launched its concerted offensive against Iraq, the US intelligence community was fully aware that Islamist militants constituted the core of Syria’s sectarian insurgency.
Despite that, the Pentagon continued to support the Islamist insurgency, even while anticipating the probability that doing so would establish an extremist Salafi stronghold in Syria and Iraq.
As Shoebridge told me, “The documents show that not only did the US government at the latest by August 2012 know the true extremist nature and likely outcome of Syria’s rebellion”?—?namely, the emergence of ISIS?—?“but that this was considered an advantage for US foreign policy. This also suggests a decision to spend years in an effort to deliberately mislead the West’s public, via a compliant media, into believing that Syria’s rebellion was overwhelmingly ‘moderate.’”
Annie Machon, a former MI5 intelligence officer who blew the whistle in the 1990s on MI6 funding of al-Qaeda to assassinate Libya’s former leader Colonel Gaddafi, similarly said of the revelations:
“This is no surprise to me. Within individual countries there are always multiple intelligence agencies with competing agendas.”
She explained that MI6’s Libya operation in 1996, which resulted in the deaths of innocent people, “happened at precisely the time when MI5 was setting up a new section to investigate al-Qaeda.”
This strategy was repeated on a grand scale in the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya, said Machon, where the CIA and MI6 were:
“… supporting the very same Libyan groups, resulting in a failed state, mass murder, displacement and anarchy. So the idea that elements of the American military-security complex have enabled the development of ISIS after their failed attempt to get NATO to once again ‘intervene’ is part of an established pattern. And they remain indifferent to the sheer scale of human suffering that is unleashed as a result of such game-playing.”
Divide and rule
Several US government officials have conceded that their closest allies in the anti-ISIS coalition were funding violent extremist Islamist groups that became integral to ISIS.
US Vice President Joe Biden, for instance, admitted last year that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Turkey had funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to Islamist rebels in Syria that metamorphosed into ISIS.
But he did not admit what this internal Pentagon document demonstrates?—?that the entire covert strategy was sanctioned and supervised by the US, Britain, France, Israel and other Western powers.
The strategy appears to fit a policy scenario identified by a recent US Army-commissioned RAND Corp report.
The report, published four years before the DIA document, called for the US “to capitalise on the Shia-Sunni conflict by taking the side of the conservative Sunni regimes in a decisive fashion and working with them against all Shiite empowerment movements in the Muslim world.”
The US would need to contain “Iranian power and influence” in the Gulf by “shoring up the traditional Sunni regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan.” Simultaneously, the US must maintain “a strong strategic relationship with the Iraqi Shiite government” despite its Iran alliance.
The RAND report confirmed that the “divide and rule” strategy was already being deployed “to create divisions in the jihadist camp. Today in Iraq such a strategy is being used at the tactical level.”
The report observed that the US was forming “temporary alliances” with al-Qaeda affiliated “nationalist insurgent groups” that have fought the US for four years in the form of “weapons and cash.” Although these nationalists “have cooperated with al-Qaeda against US forces,” they are now being supported to exploit “the common threat that al-Qaeda now poses to both parties.”
The 2012 DIA document, however, further shows that while sponsoring purportedly former al-Qaeda insurgents in Iraq to counter al-Qaeda, Western governments were simultaneously arming al-Qaeda insurgents in Syria.
The revelation from an internal US intelligence document that the very US-led coalition supposedly fighting ‘Islamic State’ today, knowingly created ISIS in the first place, raises troubling questions about recent government efforts to justify the expansion of state anti-terror powers.
In the wake of the rise of ISIS, intrusive new measures to combat extremism including mass surveillance, the Orwellian ‘prevent duty’ and even plans to enable government censorship of broadcasters, are being pursued on both sides of the Atlantic, much of which disproportionately targets activists, journalists and ethnic minorities, especially Muslims.
Yet the new Pentagon report reveals that, contrary to Western government claims, the primary cause of the threat comes from their own deeply misguided policies of secretly sponsoring Islamist terrorism for dubious geopolitical purposes.
Dr Nafeez Ahmed is an investigative journalist, bestselling author and international security scholar. A former Guardian writer, he writes the ‘System Shift’ column for VICE’s Motherboard, and is also a columnist for Middle East Eye. He is the winner of a 2015 Project Censored Award, known as the ‘Alternative Pulitzer Prize’, for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for his Guardian work, and was selected in the Evening Standard’s ‘Power 1,000’ most globally influential Londoners.
Nafeez has also written for The Independent, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Scotsman, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Quartz, Prospect, New Statesman, Le Monde diplomatique, New Internationalist, Counterpunch, Truthout, among others. He is the author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It (2010), and the scifi thriller novel ZERO POINT, among other books. His work on the root causes and covert operations linked to international terrorism officially contributed to the 9/11 Commission and the 7/7 Coroner’s Inquest.
Story 1: Airlines and Airports Should Be Responsible For Security Not The Federal Government — Privatize The TSA (Thousand Standing Around) While Millions Wait In Long Lines — Videos
TSA are you f***ing kidding me?
TSA Devises Plan After Passengers Post Photos of Ridiculously Long Lines
TSA makes “aggressive” plan to fix long security lines at airports across the country
#iHatetheWait campaign calls attention to long lines, slow screening at airports
TSA Wants More Bomb-Sniffing LoneWolf Dogs Help Alleviate Long airport security lines – LoneWolf
Long Lines At Airport TSA Security Checks
Fmr. TSA official on the lack of security checks for employees at U.S. airports
Airports Dealing With Long Lines & “Woefully Understaffed” TSA
TSA Long Airport Lines Fake News and Grand Social Experiments
The TSA is demanding more overtime pay ahead of the busy summer travel season.
New Report Shows Frequent TSA Failures, Tells Same Old Story
Public Reaches Breaking Point With TSA – #NewWorldNextWeek
John Stossel – TSA Vs Private Airport Screeners
TSA losing out as Florida airports move to private screeners for security
Adam Ruins Everything – Why the TSA Doesn’t Stop Terrorist Attacks
TSA starts stopping people on US highways without warrants or probable cause
Flawless Airline Security on Israeli Planes
El Al Airlines in Israel has had a 100% success rating on its airline security for more than three decades: No hijackings, no bombings, no failed attempts aboard a flight.
TSA Harasses Little Girl For Dangerous Capri Sun
Investigation Proves TSA Screeners Are HORRIBLE At Their Jobs
Girl in Wheelchair, 3, Detained by TSA: Caught on Tape
TSA Singles Out Sexy Women for Multiple Body Scans?
Israel Airport Security
Israel’s national airline hasn’t had a terror incident for decades – it’s considered one of the safest worldwide. That’s because Israel employs unconventional methods that include profiling. When the U.S. TSA began implementing body scans and searches, a call for Israeli tactics to be implemented arose.
Critics Call To Privatize The TSA After Agency Fails New “Secret Security Tests” – Bulls & Bears
TSA Security Failures Lead to Calls for Privatization
States Should Reject the REAL ID Law
REAL ID: TSA WILL FORCE AIRLINE PASSENGERS TO SHOW NATIONAL ID BEFORE FLYING IN 2016
Abolish the Transportation Security Administration (David Rittgers)
TSA is A Joke says Former Head of Israeli Airport Security
REAL ID: Fear, Federalism, and the U.S. National ID Program (Jim Harper)
The REAL ID Act is a law that Congress passed without hearings in 2005, which sought to make state driver licensing into a national ID system. The law tries to coerce state compliance with federal identification standards by threatening that the Transportation Security Administration will refuse driver’s licenses and IDs from noncompliant states when Americans go to travel. This fall, a Department of Homeland Security campaign to stir up fears that the TSA will refuse drivers licenses at airports across America was so successful that passport offices in New Mexico were swamped, and a DHS official recently published a piece in the Albuquerque Journal backtracking on a widely reported January 2016 deadline for state compliance.
Mission Creep at the TSA and the Case for Privatization (Khaliah Barnes)
Sen. Rand Paul in TSA Pat-Down Standoff Video- wake up it’s time to get rid of the tsa!!!
Ron Paul: Get rid of the TSA, “Privatize Airport Security”.
DHS: Progress in 2015, Goals for 2016 — Secretary Jeh C. Johnson
Jeff Sessions Shreds Jeh Johnson DHS Immigration Policy…
Greyson Chance – Waiting Outside The Lines
The Transportation Security Administration’s FY2017 Budget Request
Nightmarish Lines Continue At Airport Security Checkpoints
Travelers flying out of Chicago just can’t catch a break. With increasingly long lines to get through security at the city’s airports, many travelers have been missing their flights, and some ended up sleeping at O’Hare International Airport on Sunday.
American Airlines put out cots for fewer than 100 travelers who missed their flights Sunday night due to the long lines at TSA security checkpoints.
Adrian Petra said he missed his flight after standing in line for 2 hours and 20 minutes.
The TSA has been urging passengers to get to the airport at least two hours early for domestic flights, and three hours early for international flights. However, some passengers have said that is not enough time to get through security and still make their flight.
American Airlines said some 4,000 passengers have missed flights at O’Hare since February because of the long wait times.
The TSA has blamed the long waits at security on a shortage of screeners, due to federal budget cuts. The agency also has said airlines are seeing record travel volume, meaning more passengers in lines.
American Airlines spokeswoman Leslie Scott sounded off on the security issues.
“We are frustrated. We know our passengers are frustrated, and our employees are really frustrated,” she said.
Scott said, on Sunday alone, American had to delay 30 flights, and about 450 passengers missed their flights due to the security lines.
Nearly 800 people missed American flights from O’Hare in the last week alone, the most of any airport where American operates.
Lines have been so bad at Terminal 3 in the mornings and afternoons that American Airlines workers have removed some kiosks to make room.
Scott said the company plans to hire people this week to try to help reduce the excruciatingly long waits for security.
“We will be hiring employees who will do non-security TSA functions; so, the people who tell you to take the liquids out of your bags, take your laptop out,” she said.
American Airlines said passengers who get through security but miss their flights will be rebooked for no charge.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has urged the TSA to increase the number of dogs at security checkpoints. He said they could cut wait times in half.
The head of the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the TSA, said it will immediately increase the use of overtime and work to bring in more security officers.
The TSA also has been urging travelers to enroll in its Precheck pgrogram, or other similar programs, which can significantly reduce wait times.
Complaints Over Airport Security Delays Surged 10-Fold in March
By Alan Levin
Frustrated travelers are turning to the complaint box in growing numbers as long lines and delays getting through airport security result in missed flights.
Complaints filed on such topics as courtesy and processing time surged in March to the highest levels in the past year, according to the Department of Transportation’s monthly Air Travel Consumer Report released Monday.
Reports filed over the time it took U.S. Transportation Security Administration to screen passengers grew more than 10-fold, to 513 this past March from 48 in March 2015. Concern about lack of courtesy by TSA screeners increased more than three-fold, to 1,012 in March from 294 a year ago.
Other categories of complaints on the screening process and travelers’ personal property were also at the highest levels recorded in the past year, according to DOT. A spokesman for the TSA didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment on Monday’s report.
The TSA is trying to get 500 new airport screeners through training and onto the job by the end of June as a growth in travelers has led to longer lines at airports. Almost 6,800 people traveling on American Airlines missed flights in March due to delays at TSA checkpoints, airline spokesman Casey Norton said in an interview earlier this month.
The issue has been exacerbated because the TSA was forced to revamp and tighten security after a series of reports last year showing it missed weapons and explosives in bags.
Some members of Congress have complained that TSA failed to plan for the longer lines, while the agency has said its screener workforce has declined under its annual budget.
Staffing authorized by Congress for the TSA, which operates security at airports across the country, has fallen almost 10 percent from 47,147 full-time employees in 2013 to 42,525 this year, according to agency data. At the same time, the volume of passengers rose 15 percent from 643 million to an estimated 740 million this year, according to TSA.
TSA blames you for longer lines at airport security checkpoints
By NBC4 Staff and Associated Press
WASHINGTON (WCMH/AP) — Facing a growing backlash over extremely long airport security lines, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Friday asked fliers “to be patient” as the government takes steps to get them onto planes more quickly.
Travelers across the country have endured lengthy lines, some snaking up and down escalators, or through food courts, and into terminal lobbies. At some airports, lines during peak hours have topped 90 minutes. Airlines have reported holding planes at gates to wait for passengers to clear security.
Johnson said the government has a plan to deal with the lines but won’t neglect its duty to stop terrorists.
“Our job is to keep the American people safe,” Johnson told reporters at a news conference. “We’re not going to compromise aviation security in the face of this.”
The comments reflect a statement released earlier this week after long lines were reported at Newark, JFK and LaGuardia airport security checkpoints. When asked about those long lines, the TSA essentially blamed you in a press release, specifically passengers who bring too many carry-on items:
There are several factors that have caused checkpoint lines to take longer to screen passengers… including more people traveling with carry-on bags, in many cases bringing more than the airline industry standard of one carry-on bag and one personal item per traveler;
Passenger preparedness can have a significant impact on wait times at security checkpoints nationwide…Individuals who come to the TSA checkpoint unprepared for a trip can have a negative impact on the time it takes to complete the screening process.”
The Transportation Security Administration has fewer screeners and has tightened security procedures. Meanwhile, more people are flying. Airlines and the TSA have been warning customers to arrive at the airport two hours in advance, but with summer travel season approaching even that might not be enough.
In the past three years, the TSA and Congress cut the number of front-line screeners by 4,622 — or about 10 percent — on expectations that an expedited screening program called PreCheck would speed up the lines. However, not enough people enrolled for TSA to realize the anticipated efficiencies.
Congress this week did agree to shift $34 million in TSA funding forward, allowing the agency to pay overtime to its existing staff and hire an extra 768 screeners by June 15 to bring it up to the congressionally mandated ceiling of 42,525.
But that might barely make a dent on the lines. This week, the president of the union representing the TSA officers sent a letter to congressional leaders suggesting that 6,000 additional screeners are needed. J. David Cox, Sr. wrote that the $34 million just provides “a small amount of temporary relief for travelers” and defers dealing with the long-term, larger problem.
Additionally, the agency loses about 100 screeners a week through attrition.
Airlines and airports have hired extra workers to handle non-security tasks at checkpoints — such as returning empty bins to the beginning of the line — as part of an effort to free up as many TSA employees to handle passenger screening.
The help can’t come quickly enough.
Friday morning, American Airlines held at least five flights at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport because of passengers stuck at security lines, according to airline spokesman Ross Feinstein.
On the 7:20 a.m. flight to Las Vegas, 52 of the 160 passengers were not onboard 10 minutes before departure. American held the plane an extra 13 minutes past its scheduled pushback from the gate, allowing 23 passengers to hop onboard. However, 29 still missed the jet and arrived on later flights.
A few gates away, 27 passengers missed their flight to Orlando.
At another American hub, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, security lines peaked at one hour and 45 minutes on Thursday.
Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian told The Associated Press Thursday that “the longer lines get the more passengers are going to miss flights and there’s not much you can do about that.”
The biggest help to ease lines is to have more fliers enroll in the PreCheck program.
Launched nationwide in 2012, PreCheck gives previously vetted passengers special screening. Shoes, belts and light jackets stay on. Laptops and liquids stay in bags. And these fliers go through standard metal detectors rather than the explosive-detecting full-body scanners most pass through.
PreCheck security lanes can screen 300 passengers an hour, twice that of standard lanes.
The TSA offered Congress a lofty goal of having 25 million fliers enrolled in the program. But as of March 1, only 9.3 million people were PreCheck members. Applicants must pay $85 to $100 every five years. Most must also trek to the airport for an interview before being accepted. Getting once-a-year fliers to join has been a challenge.
Johnson Friday said that 10,000 people applied for PreCheck Thursday, up from 8,500 a day in April and 7,500 in March. Still, at that pace, it will take more than four years to reach 25 million members.
The head of the Department of Homeland Security, which includes the TSA, asked Congress last week to be able to shift $34 million to increase the number of officers at airports.
Here’s how the TSA will spend the money: Around $26 million would pay for additional overtime and part-time hours, and around $8 million would go toward the hiring of 768 officers this month. The TSA had originally planned to hire the new workers by September.
The extra staff is coming just in time.
The summer months bring an influx of vacationers, who tend to bog down lines even more since they tend not fly often and aren’t as familiar with the screening procedures.
Airport security has been brutal lately, and it could get even worse this summer.
The recovering economy and low airfare prices have led to a flood of air travelers creating marathon security lines at airports across the country, with some travelers complaining of wait times lasting at least an hour.
The increased flow is testing the capacity of airport security, and some say the TSA is coming up short on security staff to handle the additional traffic.
“The issue is man power. There are not enough TSA agents to handle the load of summer travelers,” said Bruce Schneier, a security expert.
The TSA is now recommending fliers get to the airport up to two hours ahead of their departure time, even for domestic flights.
The TSA has been increasing its hiring and training programs for security workers.
And this week, the head of Homeland Security, which includes the TSA, announced plans to add more security officers and dogs to help accelerate the screening process at the busiest airports this summer.
On Friday, a TSA spokesperson told CNNMoney the agency has requested authority from Congress to move $34 million in funding to boost staff levels to reduce security wait times. The money would pay for additional overtime and part-time hours, and accelerated hiring of 768 new TSA officers.
But for some airports, the added security could be too little, too late.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International had its biggest year in 2015 with 101 million fliers moving through the airport.
The security situation got so bad that the airport’s general manager sent a letter to the head of TSA in February threatening to use private security contractors to screen passengers. The letter mentioned a recent 7.5% TSA staff increase, but said that it was “late and inadequate” and that the airport is “dreading the outcome of summer 2016.”
Orlando International is also experiencing a surge in travelers. The airport is now handling 40 million passengers in a terminal built for 24 million as it undergoes a major expansion.
An airport spokesperson said its staff is working with the TSA to help speed up wait times, but security staffing is out of the airport’s control.
“We’ve been staring at this iceberg awhile,” said Jonathan Grella, executive vice president of public affairs at US Travel Association. “I am encouraged [with the latest move from Homeland Security], but that doesn’t mean that it won’t be challenging, especially in the early parts of the summer.”
The TSA was created as a response to the September 11, 2001 attacks. Its first administrator, John Magaw, was nominated by President Bush on December 10, 2001, and confirmed by the Senate the following January. The agency’s proponents, including Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, argued that only a single federal agency would better protect air travel than the private companies who operated under contract to single airlines or groups of airlines that used a given terminal facility.
With state, local, and regional partners,[who?] the TSA oversees security for highways, railroads, buses, mass transit systems, pipelines and ports. However, the bulk of the TSA’s efforts are in aviation security. The TSA is responsible for screening passengers and baggage at more than 450 U.S. airports.
TSA Administrators have included John Magaw (2002), Admiral James Loy (2002–2003), Rear Admiral David M. Stone (2003–2005), Kip Hawley (2005–2009) and John Pistole (2010–2014). In April 2015 President Obama nominated Coast Guard Vice Admiral Peter Neffenger to succeed Pistole. On July 6, 2015, Neffenger was sworn as TSA’s sixth administrator.
Chief Risk Officer
Office of Acquisition
Office of Civil Rights and Liberties, Ombudsman and Traveler Engagement
Transportation Security Officers: The TSA employs around 47,000 Transportation Security Officers (TSOs), often referred to as screeners or agents. They screen people and property and control entry and exit points in airports. They also watch several areas before and beyond checkpoints. TSOs carry no weapons, and are not permitted to use force, nor do they have the power to arrest.
As of September 2014 the starting salary for a TSO is $25,773 to $38,660 per year, not including locality pay (contiguous 48 states) or cost of living allowancein Hawaii and Alaska. A handful of airports also have a retention bonus of up to 35%. This is more than what private screeners were paid.
TSA security search
Behavior Detection Officers: In 2003, the TSA implemented the Screening of Passengers by Observation Technique (SPOT), which expanded across the United States in 2007. In this program, Behavior Detection Officers (BDOs), who are TSOs, observe passengers as they go through security checkpoints, looking for behaviors that might indicate a higher risk. Such passengers are subject to additional screening.
This program has led to concerns about, and allegations of racial profiling. According to the TSA, SPOT screening officers are trained to observe behaviors only and not a person’s appearance, race, ethnicity or religion.
The TSA program was reviewed in 2013 by the federal government’s Government Accountability Office, which recommended cutting funds for it because there was no proof of its effectiveness. The JASON scientific advisory group has also said that “no scientific evidence exists to support the detection or inference of future behavior, including intent.”
Transportation Security Inspectors (TSIs): They inspect, and investigate passenger and cargo transportation systems to see how secure they are. TSA employs roughly 1,000 aviation inspectors, 450 cargo inspectors, and 100 surface inspectors.
VIPR team working cars waiting to board a ferry in Portland, Maine
National Explosives Detection Canine Teams Program: These trainers prepare dogs and handlers to serve as mobile teams that can quickly find dangerous materials. As of June 2008, the TSA had trained about 430 canine teams, with 370 deployed to airports and 56 deployed to mass transit systems.
Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams: VIPR teams started in 2005 and involved Federal Air Marshals and other TSA crew working outside of the airport environment, at train stations, ports, truck weigh stations, special events, and other places. There has been some controversy and congressional criticism for problems such as the July 3, 2007 holiday screenings. In 2011, Amtrak police chief John O’Connor moved to temporarily ban VIPR teams from Amtrak property. As of 2011, VIPR team operations were being conducted at a rate of 8,000 per year.
The TSA also oversees the Federal Flight Deck Officer program, which gives some pilots permission to carry firearms in the cockpit as a defense against hijackers.
In 2008, TSA officers began wearing new uniforms that have a blue-gray 65/35 polyester/cotton blend duty shirt, black pants, a wider black belt, and optional short-sleeved shirts and black vests (for seasonal reasons). The first airport to introduce the new uniforms was Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Starting on September 11, 2008, all TSOs began wearing the new uniform. One stripe on each shoulder board denotes a TSO, two stripes a Lead TSO, and three a Supervisory TSO.
TSOs are issued badges similar to those carried by police officers, which has led to complaints from the latter group.
On Friday, November 1, 2013, TSA officer Gerardo I. Hernandez, age 39, was shot and killed by a lone gunman at the Los Angeles International Airport. Law enforcement officials identified the suspect as 23-year-old Paul Anthony Ciancia who was shot and wounded by law enforcement officers before being taken into custody. Ciancia was wearing fatigues and carrying a bag containing a hand-written note that said he “wanted to kill TSA and pigs”. Hernandez is the first TSA officer to be killed on the job.
2015 New Orleans airport attack
On March 21, 2015 63-year-old Richard White entered the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport armed with Molotov cocktails, a gasoline lighter, and a machete. White promptly began assaulting passengers and Transportation Security Administration officers by spraying them with a can of wasp killer, then drew his machete and ran through a metal detector. Jefferson Parish‘s deputy sheriff shot and killed White as he was chasing a TSA officer with his machete.
For fiscal year 2012, the TSA had a budget of roughly $7.6 billion.
The TSA requires that passengers show a valid ID at the security checkpoint before boarding their flight. Valid forms of identification include passports from the U.S. or a foreign government, state-issued photo identification, or military ID. Passengers that do not have ID may still be allowed to fly if their identity can be verified through an alternate way.
Passenger names are compared against the No Fly List, a list of about 21,000 names of suspected terrorists who are not allowed to board. Passenger names are also compared against a longer list of “selectees”, passengers whose names match names from this list receive a more thorough screening before being potentially allowed to board. The effectiveness of the lists has been widely criticized on the basis of errors in how those lists are maintained, for concerns that the lists are unconstitutional, and for its ineffectiveness at stopping Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who attempted to detonate plastic explosives in his underwear, from boarding an aircraft. At the airport security checkpoint, passengers are screened to ensure they are not carrying prohibited items. These include most sorts of sharp objects, many sporting goods such as baseball bats and hockey sticks, guns or other weapons, many sorts of tools, flammable liquids (except for conventional lighters), many forms of chemicals and paint. In addition, passengers are limited to 3.4 US fluid ounces (100 ml) of almost any liquid or gel, which must be presented at the checkpoint in a clear, one-quart zip-top bag. These restrictions on liquids were a reaction to the 2006 transatlantic aircraft plot.
The number of passengers who have attempted to bring firearms onto airplanes in their carry-on bags has increased in recent years, from 976 in 2009 to 1,813 in 2013, according to the TSA. This is part of the reason security measures, which travelers often find cumbersome, are so thorough. Up to 70 percent of the weapons passengers attempt to bring on-board are never found by screeners. Firearms can be legally checked in checked luggage on domestic flights.
In some cases, government leaders, members of the US military and law-enforcement officials are allowed to bypass security screening.
In October 2013, the TSA announced that it had begun searching a wide variety of government and private databases for information about passengers before they arrive at the airport. They did not say which databases were involved, but TSA has access to past travel itineraries, property records, physical characteristics, law enforcement and intelligence information, among others.
Large printer cartridges ban
After the October 2010 cargo planes bomb plot, in which cargo containing laser printers with toner cartridges filled with explosives were discovered on separate cargo planes, the U.S. prohibited passengers from carrying certain printer cartridges on flights. The TSA said it would ban toner and ink cartridges weighing over 16 ounces (453 grams) from all passenger flights. The ban applies to both carry-on bags and checked bags, and does not affect average travelers, whose toner cartridges are generally lighter.
November 2010 enhanced screening procedures
Beginning in November 2010, TSA added new enhanced screening procedures. Passengers are required to choose between an enhanced patdown, allowing TSOs to more thoroughly check areas on the body such as waistbands, groin, and inner thigh. or instead to be imaged by the use of a full body scanner (that is, eitherbackscatter X-ray or millimeter wave detection machines) in order to fly. TSA encouraged flyers to choose scanners by emphasizing the “intrusive” nature of the “enhanced” patdown. These changes were said to be made in reaction to the Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab bombing attempt.
The new pat-down procedures, which were originally not made public, “routinely involve the touching of buttocks and genitals” as well as breasts.These procedures were controversial, and in a November poll, 50% of those polled felt that the new pat-down procedures were too extreme, with 48% feeling them justified. A number of publicized incidents created a public outcry against the invasiveness of the pat-down techniques, in which women’s breasts and the genital areas of all passengers are patted. Pat-downs are carried out by agents of the same gender the passenger presents at the screening.
Passengers are directed to hold their hands above their heads for a few seconds while front and back images are created. If the operator sees an anomaly on the scanner, or if other problems occur, the passenger will also have to receive the pat-down.
Full body scanners have also proven controversial due to privacy and health concerns.
The American Civil Liberties Union has called the scanners a “virtual strip search.” Female passengers have complained that they are often singled out for scanning, and a review of TSA records by a local CBS affiliate in Dallas found “a pattern of women who believe that there was nothing random about the way they were selected for extra screening.”
The TSA, on their website, states that they have “implemented strict measures to protect passenger privacy which is ensured through the anonymity of the image,” and additionally states that these technologies “cannot store, print, transmit or save the image, and the image is automatically deleted from the system after it is cleared by the remotely located security officer”. This claim, however, was proven false after multiple incidents involving leaked images. The machines do in fact have the ability to “save” the images and while this function is purported to be “turned off” by the TSA in screenings, TSA Air Marshalls and training facilities have the save function turned on.
As early as 2010, the TSA began to test scanners that would produce less intrusive “stick figures”. In February 2011, the TSA began testing new software on the millimeter wave machines already used at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport that automatically detects potential threats on a passenger without the need for having an officer review actual images. Instead, one generic figure is used for all passengers and small yellow boxes are placed on areas of the body requiring additional screening. The TSA announced in 2013 that the Rapiscan’s backscatter scanners would no longer be used, due to the fact that the manufacturer of the machines could not produce “privacy software” to abstract the near-nude images that agents view and turn them into stick like figures. The TSA will continue to use other full body scanners.
Health concerns have been raised about both scanning technologies.
With regards to exposure to radiation emitted by backscatter X-rays, and there are fears that people will be exposed to a “dangerous level of radiation if they get backscattered too often” A petition by both scientists and pilots argue that the screening machines are safe. Ionizing radiation is considered a non-threshold carcinogen, but it is difficult to quantify the risk of low radiation exposures.Active millimeter wave scanners emit radiation which is non-ionizing, does not have enough energy to directly damage DNA, and is not known to begenotoxic.
In April 2016, TSA Administrator, Peter V. Neffenger told a Senate committee that small airports had the option to use “reverse screening” – a system where passengers are not screened before boarding the aircraft at departure, but instead are screened upon arrival at the destination. The procedure is intended to save costs at airports with a limited number of fights.
After the November 2010 initiation of enhanced screening procedures of all airline passengers and flight crews, the US Airline Pilots Association issued a press release stating that pilots should not submit to full body scanners because of unknown radiation risks and calling for strict guidelines for pat-downs of pilots, including evaluation of their fitness for duty after the pat-down, given the stressful nature of pat-downs. Two airline pilots filed suit against the procedures.
On July 2, 2010, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a lawsuit in federal court asking to halt the use of full body scanners by the TSA on Fourth amendment grounds, and arguing that the TSA had failed to allow a public notice and rule making period. In July 2011, the D.C. Circuit court of appeals ruled that the TSA did violate the Administrative Procedure Act by failing to allowing a public notice and comment rule making period. The Court ordered the agency to “promptly” undertake a public notice and comment rule making. In July 2012, EPIC returned to court and asked the court to force enforcement; in August, the court granted the request to compel the TSA to explain its actions by the end of the month. The agency responded on August 30, saying that there was ““no basis whatsoever for (The DC Circuit Court’s) assertion that TSA has delayed implementing this court’s mandate,” and said it was awaiting approval from the Department of Homeland Security before the hearings take place. The TSA also said that it was having “staffing issues” regarding the issue, but expects to begin hearings in February 2013. The comment period began on March 25, 2013 and closed on June 25, 2013, with over 90% of the comments against the scanners.As of October, 2015, no report has been issued.
Two separate Internet campaigns promoted a “National Opt-Out Day,” the day before Thanksgiving, urging travelers to “opt out” of the scanner and insist on a pat-down. The enhanced pat-down procedures were also the genesis of the “Don’t touch my junkmeme“.
In order to be able to search passenger baggage for security screening, the TSA will cut or otherwise disable locks they cannot open themselves. The agency authorized two companies to create padlocks, lockable straps, and luggage with built-in locks that can be opened and relocked by tools and information supplied by the lock manufacturers to the TSA. These areTravel Sentry and Safe Skies Locks. TSA agents sometimes cut these locks off instead of opening them, and TSA received over 3500 complaints in 2011 about locks being tampered with. Travel journalist and National Geographic Traveler editor Christopher Elliott describes these locks as “useless” at protecting the goods within, whereas SmarterTravel wrote in early 2010 that the “jury is out on their effectiveness”, while noting how easy they are to open.
In November 2014, The Washington Post inadvertently published a photograph of all seven of the TSA master keys in an article about TSA baggage handling. The photograph was later removed from the original Washington Post article, but it still appears in some syndicated copies of the article. On August 22, 2015, Twitter user Luke Rudkowski (@Lukewearechange) noticed the photograph and posted it on Twitter, and from there it quickly spread across social media, gaining the attention of news sites. Using the photograph, security researchers and members of the public have been able to reproduce working copies of the master keys using 3D printing techniques. The incident has prompted discussion about the security implications of using master keys.
The TSA has been criticized for an increase in baggage theft after its inception. Reported thefts include both valuable and dangerous goods, such as laptops, jewelry guns, and knives. Such thefts have raised concerns that the same access might allow bombs to be placed aboard aircraft.
In 2004, over 17,000 claims of baggage theft were reported. As of 2004, 60 screeners had been arrested for baggage theft, a number which had grown to 200 screeners by 2008. 11,700 theft and damage claims were reported to the TSA in 2009, a drop from 26,500 in 2004, which was attributed to the installation of cameras and conveyor belts in airports. A total of 25,016 thefts were reported over the five-year period from 2010 to 2014.
As of 2011, the TSA employs about 60,000 screeners in total (counting both baggage and passenger screening) and approximately 500 TSA agents have been fired or suspended for stealing from passenger luggage since the agency’s creation in November 2001. The airports with the most reported thefts from 2010 to 2014 were JFK, followed by LAX and MCO.
In 2008 an investigative report by WTAE in Pittsburgh discovered that despite over 400 reports of baggage theft, about half of which the TSA reimbursed passengers for, not a single arrest had been made. The TSA does not, as a matter of policy, share baggage theft reports with local police departments.
In September 2012, ABC News interviewed former TSA agent Pythias Brown, who has admitted to stealing more than $800,000 worth of items during his employment with the agency. Brown stated that it was “very convenient to steal” and poor morale within the agency is what causes agents to steal from passengers.
The TSA has also been criticized for not responding properly to theft and failing to reimburse passengers for stolen goods. For example, between 2011 and 2012, passengers at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport reported $300,000 in property lost or damaged by the TSA. The agency only reimbursed $35,000 of those claims. Similar statistics were found at Jacksonville International Airport – passengers reported $22,000 worth of goods missing or damaged over the course of 15 months. The TSA only reimbursed $800.
A report on undercover operations conducted in October 2006 at Newark Liberty International Airport was leaked to the press. The screeners had failed 20 of 22 undercover security tests, missing numerous guns and bombs. The Government Accountability Office had previously pointed to repeated covert test failures by TSA personnel. Revealing the results of covert tests is against TSA policy, and the agency responded by initiating an internal probe to discover the source of the leak.
In December 2010, ABC News Houston reported in an article about a man who accidentally took a forgotten gun through airport security, that “the failure rate approaches 70 percent at some major airports”.
In June 2011 TSA fired 36 screeners at the Honolulu airport for regularly allowing bags through without being inspected.
Some measures employed by the TSA have been accused of being ineffective and fostering a false sense of safety. This led security expert Bruce Schneierto coin the term security theater to describe those measures.
Unintended consequences of 2002 screening enhancements
Two studies by a group of Cornell University researchers have found that strict airport security has the unintended consequence of increasing road fatalities, as would-be air travelers decide to drive and are exposed to the far greater risk of dying in a car accident. In 2005, the researchers looked at the immediate aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001, and found that the change in passenger travel modes led to 242 added driving deaths per month. In all, they estimated that about 1,200 driving deaths could be attributed to the short-term effects of the attacks. The study attributes the change in traveler behavior to two factors: fear of terrorist attacks and the wish to avoid the inconvenience of strict security measures; no attempt is made to estimate separately the influence of each of these two factors.
In 2007, the researchers studied the specific effects of a change to security practices instituted by the TSA in late 2002. They concluded that this change reduced the number of air travelers by 6%, and estimated that consequently, 129 more people died in car accidents in the fourth quarter of 2002. Extrapolating this rate of fatalities, New York Times contributor Nate Silver remarked that this is equivalent to “four fully loaded Boeing 737s crashing each year.” The 2007 study also noted that strict airport security hurts the airline industry; it was estimated that the 6% reduction in the number of passengers in the fourth quarter of 2002 cost the industry $1.1 billion in lost business.
Data security incidents
Employee records lost or stolen
In 2007, an unencrypted computer hard drive containing Social Security numbers, bank data, and payroll information for about 100,000 employees was lost or stolen from TSA headquarters. Kip Hawley alerted TSA employees to the loss, and apologized for it. The agency asked the FBI to investigate. There were no reports that the data was later misused.
In 2007, Christopher Soghoian, a blogger and security researcher, said that a TSA website was collecting private passenger information in an unsecured manner, exposing passengers to identity theft. The website allowed passengers to dispute their inclusion on the No Fly List. The TSA fixed the website several days after the press picked up the story. The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform investigated the matter, and said the website had operated insecurely for more than four months, during which more than 247 people had submitted personal information. The report said the TSA manager who awarded the contract for creating the website was a high-school friend and former employee of the owner of the firm that received the contract. It noted:
neither Desyne nor the technical lead on the traveler redress Web site have been sanctioned by TSA for their roles in the deployment of an insecure Web site. TSA continues to pay Desyne to host and maintain two major Web-based information systems. TSA has taken no steps to discipline the technical lead, who still holds a senior program management position at TSA.
In December 2009, someone within the TSA posted a sensitive manual titled “Screening Management SOP” on secret airport screening guidelines to an obscure URL on the FedBizOpps website. The manual was taken down quickly, but the breach raised questions about whether security practices had been compromised. Five TSA employees were placed on administrative leave over the manual’s publication, which, while redacted, had its redaction easily removed by computer-knowledgeable people.
Common criticisms of the agency have also included assertions that TSA employees slept on the job, bypassed security checks, and failed to use good judgment and common sense.
TSA agents are also accused of having mistreated passengers, and having sexually harassed passengers, having used invasive screening procedures, including touching the genitals, including those of children, removing nipple rings with pliers, having searched passengers or their belongings for items other than weapons or explosives, and having stolen from passengers. The TSA fired 28 agents and suspended 15 others after an investigation determined they failed to scan checked baggage for explosives.
The TSA was accused of having performed poorly at the 2009 Presidential Inauguration viewing areas, which left thousands of ticket holders excluded from the event in overcrowded conditions, while those who had arrived before the checkpoints were in place avoided screening altogether.
A 2013 GAO report showed a 26% increase in misconduct among TSA employees between 2010 and 2012, from 2,691 cases to 3,408. Another GAO report said that there is no evidence that the Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) behavioral detection program, with an annual budget of hundreds of millions of dollars, is effective.
A 2013 report by the Homeland Security Department Inspector General’s Office charged that TSA was using criminal investigators to do the job of lower paid employees, wasting millions of dollars a year.
On December 3, 2013, the United States House of Representatives passed the Transportation Security Acquisition Reform Act (H.R. 2719; 113th Congress) in response to criticism of the TSA’s acquisition process as wasteful, costly, and ineffective. If the bill became law, it would require the TSA to develop a comprehensive technology acquisition plan and present regular reports to Congress about its successes and failures to adhere to this plan. An April 2013 report from the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General indicated that the TSA had 17,000 items with an estimated cost of $185.7 million stored in its warehouses on May 31, 2012. The auditors found that “TSA stored unusable or obsolete equipment, maintained inappropriate safety stock levels, and did not develop an inventory management process that systematically deploys equipment.”
In January 2014, Jason Edward Harrington, a former TSA screener at O’Hare International Airport, said that fellow staff members assigned to review body scan images of airline passengers routinely joked about fliers’ weight, attractiveness, and penis and breast sizes. According to Harrington, screeners would alert each other to attractive female passengers with the code phrase “Hotel Papa” so that staff would have an opportunity to view the passengers’ nude form in body scanner monitors and retaliated against rude flyers by delaying them at the checkpoint. TSA Administrator John Pistole responded by saying that all the scanners had been replaced and the screening rooms disabled. He did not deny that the behaviors described by Harrington took place.
In May 2016, actress Susan Sarandon revealed that during the entire time of the Bush administration she was “harassed everytime I came into the country”. She said that she hired two lawyers to contact the TSA to determine why she had been targeted, but that she assumed it was because she was critical of the Bush administration. She said the harassment stopped after her attorneys followed up a second time with the TSA.
A CBS telephone poll of 1137 people published on November 15, 2010 found that 81% percent of those polled approved TSA’s use of full-body scans. An ABC/Washington Post poll conducted by Langer Associates and released November 22, 2010 found that 64% of Americans favored the full-body X-ray scanners, but that 50% think the “enhanced” pat-downs go too far; 37% felt so strongly. In addition the poll states opposition is lowest among those who fly less than once a year. A later poll by Zogby International found 61% of likely voters oppose the new measures by TSA. In 2012, a poll conducted by the Frequent Business Traveler organization found that 56% of frequent fliers were “not satisfied” with the job the TSA was doing. 57% rated the TSA as doing a “poor job,” and 34% rated it “fair.” Only 1% of those surveyed rated the agency’s work as excellent.
The TSA’s critics frequently cite the agency as “ineffective, invasive, incompetent, inexcusably costly, or all four” as their reasons for seeking its abolition. Those seeking to abolish the TSA have cited the improved efficacy and cost of screening provided by qualified private companies in compliance with federal guidelines.
Story 1: Historic Progressive Politicians and Media Snow Job — Man-Made Computer Model Consensus Weather Forecast Busted — Never Mind — Dallas Hits 75 Degrees — Blame It On Global Warming — Give Me A Break — It Is Called Winter, Stupid — Both Weather and Climates Change — Videos
Gilda Radner Miss Emily Litella
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Brenda Lee – I’m Sorry
I’m sorry, so sorry
That I was such a fool
I didn’t know
Love could be so cruel
Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-yesYou tell me mistakes
Are part of being young
But that don’t right
The wrong that’s been done(I’m sorry) I’m sorry
(So sorry) So sorry
Please accept my apology
But love is blind
And I was too blind toseeOh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-yesYou tell me mistakes
Are part of being young
But that don’t right
The wrong that’s been done
Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-yesI’m sorry, so sorry
Please accept my apology
But love was blind
And I was too blind to see(Sorry)
Winter Storm Juno How US reported blizzard
New York snow: Winter Storm Juno downgraded as ‘one of the largest snowstorms
Winter Storm JUNO 2015 : Blizzard for Historic New York City – RAW VIDEO Compilation
New York blizzard: Winter snow storm ‘Juno’ hits US East Coast, in pictures
A huge snowstorm has slammed into northeastern US, shutting down public transport, cancelling thousands of flights and leaving roads and streets deserted as snow blanketed an area that’s home to tens of millions of people. Authorities ordered drivers off the streets in New York and other cities like Boston in the face of a storm that forecasters warned could reach historic proportions, dumping up to three feet (up to a metre) of snow in some areas
Winter storm looms with record level snow threat; 7,700 flights canceled
Seven states on the Northeast are in watch mode as a potentially record-setting storm is churning up the coast, threatening to dump up to 3 feet of snow in parts and paralyze the region from Philadelphia to Maine.
More than 7,700 flights for Monday and Tuesday have been canceled as of Monday evening, with Boston’s Logan Airport and Providence’s T.F. Green Airport closed outright. Delays and the knock-on effects of stranded planes and lost connections will start hitting the entire nation’s air-travel system Tuesday.
Winter Storm Juno: Blizzard Warnings for New York City, Boston, Parts of 7 States; Potentially Historic Northeast Snowstorm Ahead
Millions of people in the Northeast are bracing for Winter Storm Juno, which threatens to become a major snowstorm Monday through Wednesday with the potential for blizzard conditions and more than 2 feet of snow.
The high confidence in forecast wind and snowfall led the National Weather Service to issue blizzard warnings well in advance of the storm. As of late Sunday evening, those warnings were posted from the New Jersey shore all the way to Downeast Maine, including the cities of New York City, Boston, Providence, Hartford and Portland. The warnings were scheduled to go into full force as early as noon Monday along the Jersey Shore. The aforementioned stretch of Northeast coast will be fully under blizzard warnings by sunrise Tuesday, unless some are downgraded before then. Most of the warnings are set to run through late Tuesday night.
Winter Storm Juno: A Pummeling for the History Books
The East Coast already looks like a snow globe thanks to winter storm Juno, but the worst is yet to come.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference Sunday, “This could be the biggest snowstorm in the history of this city.” The National Weather Service (NWS) and Weather Channel meteorologist Chris Dolce have both said the impending storm is “potentially historic.” So, what does historic mean, and how strong is this “potentially”? It depends on your definition, but this storm could be one for the record books, and not just in the highest-3 point-shooting-percentage-in-the-third-quarter-with-two-bench-players-on-the-court-on-a-Tuesday type of statistic.
Based on a new experimental forecast from the NWS, as of Monday morning there is an 80 percent chance that NYC will receive at least 12” of snow. Since record keeping in Central Park began in 1869, there have been 35 events exceeding a foot of snow, so 12″ wouldn’t be a big record. But there is a 62 percent chance for at least 18” of snow, and there have only been 11 events reaching that marker. Despite the seeming endlessness of last year’s winter, only one event (on February 13th and 14th) made the 12”+ snow event list for New York City. New York has only seen snowfall totals above two feet twice, first in December 1947 and more recently in February 2006.
To be recorded in official weather history, what matters most for NYC is the official snowfall in Central Park. This is where the longest period of record is for the city, so it’s what is used for most of the statistics on weather events. While the NWS is calling for 20-30″ in most areas around NYC, local bands of snow will likely cause several more inches in some places. Scientists have difficulty predicting where these bands will occur, but whether such a band forms over Central Park could be the difference between a nuisance-maker and a history-making nuisance.
Blizzard 2015 New York City, Brooklyn, Historic Northeast Blizzard
CNN’s Anderson Cooper looks at some of the biggest nor’easters to hit the East Coast.
Tens of millions of people in the Northeast hunkered down on Monday for a historic blizzard that was expected to drop more than 2 feet of snow, whipped around by winds approaching hurricane..
Blizzard 2015 Airports Begin to Close as Historic Northeast Blizzard NearsBLIZZARD ’15: THE LATEST Nearly 7000 flights have been cancelled. Amtrak has suspended Tuesday service between New.
Tens of millions of people in the Northeast hunkered down on Monday for a historic blizzard that was expected to drop more than 2 feet of snow, whipped around by winds approaching hurricane.
Meteorology 101 – UniversalClass Online Course
Jamie Cullum – What A Difference A Day Made
Dinah Washington ‘Difference-complete TV segment
Dinah Washington singing here with the Louis Jordan Band. This is the complete TV Show segment with Dinah singing ‘What A Difference A Day Made’ and ‘Making Whopee’. Louis and Ronald Reagan make the announcements and I love the way Louis calls him ‘Ronnie’! The show was dated March 8th 1960.
Gilda Radner – LIVE FROM NEW YORK!
Storm Fails To Live Up To Predictions In Some Areas As National Weather Service Meteorologist Apologizes
A howling blizzard with wind gusts over 70 mph heaped snow on Boston along with other stretches of lower New England and Long Island on Tuesday but failed to live up to the hype in Philadelphia and New York City, where buses and subways started rolling again in the morning.
Gary Szatkowski, meteorologist-in-charge at the National Weather Service in Mt. Holly, New Jersey, apologized on Twitter for the snow totals being cut back.
“My deepest apologies to many key decision makers and so many members of the general public,” Szatkowski tweeted. “You made a lot of tough decisions expecting us to get it right, and we didn’t. Once again, I’m sorry.”
Jim Bunker at the agency’s Mount Holly office said forecasters will take a closer look at how they handled the storm and “see what we can do better next time.”
In New England, the storm that arrived Monday evening was a bitter, paralyzing blast, while in the New York metro area, it was a bust that left forecasters apologizing and politicians defending their near-total shutdown on travel. Some residents grumbled, but others sounded a better-safe-than-sorry note and even expressed sympathy for the weatherman.
At least 2 feet of snow was expected in most of Massachusetts, potentially making it one of the top snowstorms of all time. The National Weather Service said a 78 mph gust was reported on Nantucket, and a 72 mph one on Martha’s Vineyard.
“It felt like sand hitting you in the face,” Bob Paglia said after walking his dog four times overnight in Whitman, a small town about 20 miles south of Boston.
Maureen Keller, who works at Gurney’s, an oceanfront resort in Montauk, New York, on the tip of Long Island, said: “It feels like a hurricane with snow.”
As of midmorning, the Boston area had 1½ feet of snow, while the far eastern tip of Long Island had more than 2 feet. Snowplows around New England struggled to keep up.
“At 4 o’clock this morning, it was the worst I’ve ever seen it,” said Larry Messier, a snowplow operator in Columbia, Connecticut. “You could plow, and then five minutes later you’d have to plow again.”
In Boston, police drove several dozen doctors and nurses to work at hospitals. Snow blanketed Boston Common, and drifts piled up against historic Faneuil Hall, where Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty stoked the fires of rebellion. Adjacent Quincy Market, usually bustling with tourists, was populated only by a few city workers clearing snow from the cobblestones.
As the storm pushed into the Northeast on Monday, the region came to a near standstill, alarmed by forecasters’ dire predictions. More than 7,700 flights were canceled, and schools, businesses and government offices closed.
But as the storm pushed northward, it tracked farther east than forecasters had been expecting, and conditions improved quickly in its wake. By midmorning Tuesday, New Jersey and New York City lifted driving bans, and subways and trains started rolling again, with a return to a full schedule expected Wednesday.
While Philadelphia, New York and New Jersey had braced for a foot or two of snow from what forecasters warned could be a storm of potentially historic proportions, they got far less than that. New York City received about 8 inches, Philadelphia a mere inch or so. New Jersey got up to 8 inches.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie defended his statewide ban on travel as “absolutely the right decision to make” in light of the dire forecast.
And New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who drew criticism last fall after suggesting meteorologists hadn’t foreseen the severity of an epic snowstorm in Buffalo, said this time: “Weather forecasters do the best they can, and we respond based to the best information that we have.”
In New York City, Susanne Payot, a cabaret singer whose rehearsal Tuesday was canceled, said the meager snowfall left her bemused: “This is nothing. I don’t understand why the whole city shut down because of this.”
Brandon Bhajan, a security guard at a New York City building, said he didn’t think officials had overreacted.
“I think it’s like the situation with Ebola … if you over-cover, people are ready and prepared, rather than not giving it the attention it needs,” he said
National Weather Service to evaluate work after missed call
A National Weather Service official says the agency will evaluate its storm modeling after a storm that was predicted to dump a foot or more of snow on many parts of New Jersey and the Philadelphia region delivered far less than that.
“You made a lot of tough decisions expecting us to get it right, and we didn’t. Once again, I’m sorry,” said meteorologist Gary Szatkowski of the NWS.
Jim Bunker, who leads the weather service’s observing program in the Mount Holly office, says the storm tracked a bit to the east of what forecasting models predicted.
Parts of Long Island and New England are getting slammed. But many parts of New Jersey received less than 4 inches.
Bunker says the agency will evaluate what happened to see how it can do better in the future.
Blame De Blasio and Cuomo and Christie for the Blizzard Snow Job
As politicians rushed to out-serious each other, New Yorkers were whipped into a fear frenzy.
Every modern event has a hashtag and this morning, as New York City takes stock of the #snowmageddon2015 that wasn’t, it’s turning to #snowperbole.
On Monday, as Governor Cuomo, Governor Christie, and Mayor de Blasio rushed to out-serious each other, New Yorkers were whipped into a fear frenzy. Supermarket shelves were stripped bare, photos of Whole Foods depleted of kale circulated, and people stocked up for what would likely be days (maybe weeks!) indoors.
Even as we were doing it, we acknowledged it didn’t make much sense. After all, we’re in New York City. Bodegas never close. Delivery guys on bicycles have been a constant through all previous winter storms. All New Yorkers have their stories. That time we ordered Chinese Food during the snowstorm of 1994. Swimming on Brighton Beach during Hurricane Gloria. Buying Poptarts at the corner bodega during Sandy. Driving from Manhattan to Brooklyn and back again during the blackout of 2003. Yes, those are all mine.
BLIZZARD 2015: HOW NEW YORKERS AND NEW ENGLANDERS SHARED PHOTOS
As we waited for the storm deemed “historic,” the only real history was made when the subway shut down for the first time ever in preparation for snow. The real insult came when it was reported later that the trains were indeed still running, empty, as trains needed to keep moving to clear the tracks. Citibike was shut down. Cars were banned from the roads and anyone who didn’t take heed risked being fined.
These are all symptoms of our infantilizing “do something!” culture. Everyone understands the pressure politicians feel to be seen as proactive. But this time they went way too far in the name of protecting us. It’s one thing to warn drivers that conditions are dangerous and that they go out at their own risk. It’s another to shut down all roads in the city that allegedly never sleeps.
The 11 p.m. curfew resulted in lost wages for delivery people who count on larger-than-usual tips during inclement weather. Why couldn’t they make their own decisions about working during the snow? Not everyone makes a salary the way our mayor and governor do. Many workers count on their hourly wage, and their tips, to make their rent each month.
The storm was a dud, but even if had been as severe as predicted, bringing a city like New York to a preemptive standstill makes little sense. The people who keep New York humming take the subway after 11pm and can decide for themselves whether to keep their businesses open. Preparedness doesn’t have to mean panic.
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The State of Cyber Security 2011 – Presented by Sophos and the National Cyber Security Alliance
Uploaded on Nov 14, 2011
The latest trends in cyber crime, what you can do to protect yourself, and how the government can work with the private sector to help share information. Speakers include Michael Kaiser of NCSA, Chester Wisniewski of Sophos Inc and Rob Strayer of the Bipartisan Policy Center.
SECURING CYBERSPACE – President Obama Announces New Cybersecurity Legislative Proposal and Other Cybersecurity Efforts
“In this interconnected, digital world, there are going to be opportunities for hackers to engage in cyber assaults both in the private sector and the public sector. Now, our first order of business is making sure that we do everything to harden sites and prevent those kinds of attacks from taking place…But even as we get better, the hackers are going to get better, too. Some of them are going to be state actors; some of them are going to be non-state actors. All of them are going to be sophisticated and many of them can do some damage.
This is part of the reason why it’s going to be so important for Congress to work with us and get an actual bill passed that allows for the kind of information-sharing we need. Because if we don’t put in place the kind of architecture that can prevent these attacks from taking place, this is not just going to be affecting movies, this is going to be affecting our entire economy in ways that are extraordinarily significant.”
– President Obama, December 19, 2014.
Since the start of his Administration, when he issued the Cyberspace Policy Review — the first top-to-bottom, Administration-wide review of cybersecurity — President Obama has led efforts to better prepare our government, our economy, and our nation as a whole for the growing cyber threats we face.
That’s why in 2011 he issued his Cybersecurity Legislative Proposal, calling on Congress to take urgent action to give the private sector and government the tools they need to combat cyber threats at home and abroad. It’s why he issued the International Strategy for Cyberspace to make clear to nations abroad the foreign policy priority cybersecurity issues have become. And when Congress failed to pass comprehensive cybersecurity legislation, the Administration pressed forward, issuing an Executive Order to protect critical infrastructure by establishing baseline cybersecurity standards that we developed collaboratively with industry.
Today, at a time when public and private networks are facing an unprecedented threat from rogue hackers as well as organized crime and even state actors, the President is unveiling the next steps in his plan to defend the nation’s systems. These include a new legislative proposal, building on important work in Congress, to solve the challenges of information sharing that can cripple response to a cyberattack. They also include revisions to those provisions of our 2011 legislative proposal on which Congress has yet to take action, and along with them, the President is extending an invitation to work in a bipartisan, bicameral manner to advance this urgent priority for the American people.
Specifically, today’s announcements include:
Cybersecurity Legislative Proposal
Enabling Cybersecurity Information Sharing: The Administration’s updated proposal promotes better cybersecurity information sharing between the private sector and government, and it enhances collaboration and information sharing amongst the private sector. Specifically, the proposal encourages the private sector to share appropriate cyber threat information with the Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC), which will then share it in as close to real-time as practicable with relevant federal agencies and with private sector-developed and operated Information Sharing and Analysis Organizations (ISAOs) by providing targeted liability protection for companies that share information with these entities.
The legislation also encourages the formation of these private-sector led Information Sharing and Analysis Organizations. The Administration’s proposal would also safeguard Americans’ personal privacy by requiring private entities to comply with certain privacy restrictions such as removing unnecessary personal information and taking measures to protect any personal information that must be shared in order to qualify for liability protection. The proposal further requires the Department of Homeland Security and the Attorney General, in consultation with the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board and others, to develop receipt, retention, use, and disclosure guidelines for the federal government. Finally, the Administration intends this proposal to complement and not to limit existing effective relationships between government and the private sector. These existing relationships between law enforcement and other federal agencies are critical to the cybersecurity mission.
Modernizing Law Enforcement Authorities to Combat Cyber Crime: Law enforcement must have appropriate tools to investigate, disrupt and prosecute cyber crime. The Administration’s proposal contains provisions that would allow for the prosecution of the sale of botnets, would criminalize the overseas sale of stolen U.S. financial information like credit card and bank account numbers, would expand federal law enforcement authority to deter the sale of spyware used to stalk or commit ID theft, and would give courts the authority to shut down botnets engaged in distributed denial of service attacks and other criminal activity. It also reaffirms important components of 2011 proposals to update the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), a key piece of law used to prosecute organized crime, so that it applies to cybercrimes, clarifies the penalties for computer crimes, and makes sure these penalties are in line with other similar non-cyber crimes. Finally, the proposal modernizes the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act by ensuring that insignificant conduct does not fall within the scope of the statute, while making clear that it can be used to prosecute insiders who abuse their ability to access information to use it for their own purposes.
National Data Breach Reporting: As announced yesterday, the Administration has also updated its proposal on security breach reporting. State laws have helped consumers protect themselves against identity theft while also encouraging business to improve cybersecurity, helping to stem the tide of identity theft. These laws require businesses that have suffered an intrusion to notify consumers if consumers’ personal information has been compromised. The Administration’s updated proposal helps business and consumers by simplifying and standardizing the existing patchwork of 46 state laws (plus the District of Columbia and several territories) that contain these requirements into one federal statute, and puts in place a single clear and timely notice requirement to ensure that companies notify their employees and customers about security breaches.
White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection
On February 13, 2015, the White House will host a Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection at Stanford University, to help shape public and private sector efforts to protect American consumers and companies from growing threats to consumers and commercial networks.
The Summit will bring together major stakeholders on cybersecurity and consumer financial protection issues – including senior leaders from the White House and across the federal government; CEOs from a wide range of industries including the financial services industry, technology and communications companies; computer security companies and the retail industry; as well as law enforcement officials, consumer advocates, technical experts, and students. Topics at the Summit will include increasing public-private partnerships and cybersecurity information sharing, creating and promoting improved cybersecurity practices and technologies, and improving adoption and use of more secure payment technologies.
The Summit is also the next step in the President’s BuySecure Initiative, which was launched in November 2014, and will help advance national efforts the government has led over the last two years with executive orders on consumer financial protection and critical infrastructure cybersecurity. Through keynote speeches, panel discussions, and small group workshops, participants will build on efforts in the public and private sectors to further improve cybersecurity practices at a wide range of companies.
Grants to Historically Black Colleges for Cybersecurity Education
As the President stated in Executive Order 13532, “Promoting Excellence, Innovation, and Sustainability at Historically Black Colleges and Universities” in February 2010, historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have made historic and ongoing contributions to the general welfare and prosperity of our country. Established by visionary leaders, America’s HBCUs, for over 150 years, have produced many of the Nation’s leaders in business, government, academia, and the military, and have provided generations of American men and women with hope and educational opportunity. Recognizing that HBCUs serve as engines of opportunity, innovation, and economic growth, Vice President Biden will travel to Norfolk, VA on Thursday to announce that the Department of Energy will provide $25 million in grants over the next five years to support a cybersecurity education consortium consisting of 13 HBCUs and two national labs.
This program, part of the President’s jobs-driven training initiative, will help to fill the growing demand for skilled cybersecurity professionals in the U.S. job market at the same time that it helps to grow the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) curricula for HBCUs. The participating schools include two-year colleges, four-year colleges, and research institutions in seven states, plus the Virgin Islands.
Obama made the comment as the White House unveiled a proposal to revive cybersecurity legislation stalled over the past few years.
“With the Sony attack that took place, with the Twitter account that was hacked by Islamist jihadist sympathizers yesterday, it just goes to show how much more work we need to do — both public and private sector — to strengthen our cybersecurity,” the president said at a meeting with congressional leaders.
Obama said he had spoken to the Republican leaders of the House and Senate and “I think we agreed that this is an area where we can work hard together, get some legislation done and make sure that we are much more effective in protecting the American people from these kinds of cyberattacks.”
The proposal unveiled Tuesday would allow increased sharing of information on cyber threats from the private sector with protection from liability. The measure also would criminalize the sale of stolen financial data, and require companies to notify consumers about data breaches.
A White House statement said the updated proposal “promotes better cybersecurity information sharing between the private sector and government, and it enhances collaboration and information sharing amongst the private sector.”
The entrance to Sony Pictures Entertainment is seen in Los Angeles, California, on December 4, 2014 …
The plan also “would allow for the prosecution of the sale of botnets, would criminalize the overseas sale of stolen US financial information like credit card and bank account numbers, would expand federal law enforcement authority to deter the sale of spyware used to stalk or commit ID theft, and would give courts the authority to shut down botnets engaged in distributed denial of service attacks and other criminal activity,” the statement said.
The proposal would shield companies from liability if they share information about cyber threats with the Department of Homeland Security, which has been setting up special units for threat analysis and sharing.
Obama was expected to make comments on the initiative later Tuesday at the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center.
Obama has pressed for cybersecurity legislation to allow the private sector to share data on threats without fear of liability for any adverse consequences from the disclosures.
Earlier efforts on cybersecurity legislation have stalled amid opposition from civil libertarians who feared it could allow too much government snooping and conservatives who argued it would create a new bureaucracy.
However, concerns have been heightened by the hacking of Sony Pictures and massive data breaches affecting retailers including Target and Home Depot.
On Monday, the US Central Command suspended its Twitter page after a group declaring sympathy for Islamic State jihadists hacked its social media accounts and posted internal documents.
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Biosafety Level 4 Positive Pressure Spacesuit!
BioContainment Unit at The Nebraska Medical Center
How Infectious Is Ebola? – Nebraska Medicine
New York City, Bellevue Hospital nurse Belkys Fortune, left, and Teressa Celia, Associate Director of Infection Prevention and Control, pose in protective suits in an isolation room, in the Emergency Room of Bellevue Hospital.
Note: They are not wearing a
Biosafety Level 4 Positive Pressure Spacesuit!
(See above photos)
MANDATORY EBOLA QUARANTINE Established in NEW YORK and NEW JERSEY – Mandatory Vaccine Next?
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Ebola Theme Song — New York, New York
Frank Sinatra-New York,New York
Frank Sinatra-New York,New York-Lyrics
Start spreadin’ the news, I’m leavin’ today
I want to be a part of it
New York, New York
These vagabond shoes, are longing to stray
Right through the very heart of it
New York, New YorkI want to wake up, in a city that never sleeps
And find I’m king of the hill
Top of the heapThese little town blues, are melting away
I’ll make a brand new start of it
In old New York
If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere
It’s up to you, New York..New YorkNew York…New York
I want to wake up, in a city that never sleeps
And find I’m A number one, top of the list
King of the hill, A number one….These little town blues, are melting away
I’ll make a brand new start of it
In old New York
If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere
It’s up to you, New York..New York New York!!!
Frank Sinatra – New York New York Song **Lyrics** [HD]
My Kind of Town (Chicago) – Frank Sinatra
“My Kind Of Town”
Now this could only happen to a guy like me
And only happen in a town like this
So may I say to each of you most gratef’lly
As I throw each one of you a kissThis is my kind of town, Chicago is
My kind of town, Chicago is
My kind of people, too
People who smile at youAnd each time I roam, Chicago is
Calling me home, Chicago is
Why I just grin like a clown
It’s my kind of town[brief instrumental]My kind of town, Chicago is
My kind of town, Chicago is
My kind of razzmatazz
And it has all that jazzAnd each time I leave, Chicago is
Tuggin’ my sleeve, Chicago is
The Wrigley Building, Chicago is
The Union Stockyard, Chicago is
One town that won’t let you down
It’s my kind of town
New York, New Jersey Set Up Mandatory Quarantine Requirement Amid Ebola Threat Christie: New Policy Has Already Been Used At Newark Liberty International Airport
As CBS 2’s Alice Gainer reported, no other states have yet set up increased screening procedures for Ebola.
“We believe it’s appropriate to increase the current screening procedures from people coming from affected countries from the current (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention screening procedures),” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday afternoon. “We believe it within the State of New York and the State of New Jersey’s legal rights.”
Under the new rules, state officials will establish a risk level by considering the countries that people have visited and their level of possible exposure to Ebola.
The patients with the highest level of possible exposure will be automatically quarantined for 21 days at a government-regulated facility. Those with a lower risk will be monitored for temperature and symptoms, Cuomo explained.
The New York and New Jersey health departments will determine their own specific procedures for hospitalization and quarantine, and will provide a daily recap to state officials on the status of screening, New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said at the news conference.
The new procedures already have been put into use at Newark Liberty International Airport.
On Friday, a health care worker landed at Newark after treating Ebola patients in West Africa, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said at the news conference. A legal quarantine was issued for the woman, who was not a New Jersey resident and was set to go on to New York afterward.
“This woman, while her home residence is outside the area, said her next stop was going to be here in New York,” Christie said. “Governor Cuomo and I discussed it before we came out here, and a quarantine order will be issued.”
The woman will be quarantined in either New York or New Jersey, Christie said.
In discussing the new plan, Cuomo and Christie said a policy of voluntary quarantine simply does not go far enough.
“Voluntary quarantine – you know it’s almost an oxymoron. This is a very serious situation.” Cuomo said. “Voluntary quarantine – raise your right hand and promise you’re going to stay home for 21 days. We’ve seen what happens.”
The new rules were announced a day after Dr. Craig Spencer, a member of Doctors Without Borders, became New York City’s first Ebola patient.
He reported Thursday morning coming down with a fever and diarrhea and is being treated in an isolation ward at Bellevue Hospital, a designated Ebola center.
Spencer returned from West Africa last Friday after treating Ebola patients in Guinea with Doctors Without Borders. He arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport, passing the extensive CDC screening process.
“When he arrived in the United States, he was also well with no symptoms,” said New York City Health Commissioner Mary Travis Bassett.
Doctors Without Borders said per the guidelines it provides its staff members on their return from Ebola assignments, “the individual engaged in regular health monitoring and reported this development immediately.” But Spencer also took the subway, walked the High Line, and went bowling in Williamsburg, Brooklyn the day before he became sick.
“He was a doctor, and even he didn’t follow the guidelines,” Cuomo said.
With that in mind, the states have to lay down the law, the governors said.
“It’s too serious a situation to leave it to the honor system,” Cuomo said.
The CDC is reviewing its policy for health care workers returning from West Africa, but anyone flying into a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey airport will need to abide by the new procedures.
Ebola Arrives in New York. How Prepared Is the City to Handle It?
Dr. Craig Spencer, the health care worker who recently returned from Guinea and tested positivefor the Ebola virus, is now the first patient to be treated at New York’s Bellevue Hospital.
But the hospital, as well as city, state and federal officials, have been working for weeks or more to ensure the city is ready to identify and treat Ebola cases.
This preparation reflects the now-proven fact that the longer the outbreak rages on in West Africa, the more likely it was that a patient would wind up in Western cities, including New York.
On Oct. 15, the state designated Bellevue Hospital Center as the facility to receive Ebola patients from among the city’s 11 public hospitals, and to receive transferred patients from other hospitals as well, in the event that any Ebola cases occur in the city.
According to a statement from the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, the hospital has four single-bed rooms in its infectious disease ward to treat “high probability or confirmed Ebola cases.” This part of the hospital also has a new laboratory that can test for Ebola, separate from the rest of the hospital’s labs, to handle Ebola blood samples.
Because the virus can be spread through contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids, careful handling of blood and other samples is necessary.
The hospital is particularly well suited due to its long history of being on the front lines of epidemics and emerging public health threats, and managing an isolation unit for diseases, such as TB, for many years with support from and collaboration with the City Health Department.
Three other hospitals in New York City have also been designated by the state to treat suspected and confirmed Ebola cases, including Mt. Sinai and New York Presbyterian in Manhattan and Montefiore in the Bronx, according to Governor Cuomo’s Ebola preparedness plan.
None of these hospitals, including Bellevue, has an isolated biocontainment unit like those that have treated patients at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, and Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska.
The American public may not have much faith in ordinary hospitals to treat Ebola, considering that the only non-specialized hospital to treat Ebola patients, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, allowed the virus to spread to two nurses who worked on the original patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, who died of Ebola on Oct. 8. Both of the nurses are now being treated in a biocontainment unit.
The probability of an Ebola case in New York was always considerably higher than it was for many other cities in the U.S., given that two of the city’s international airports — JFK and Newark — are key gateways for travelers to and from West Africa, via stops in Europe or elsewhere in Africa.
“New York City is a frequent port of entry for travelers from West Africa, a home to communities of West African immigrants who travel back to their home countries, and a home to health care workers who travel to West Africa to treat Ebola patients,” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a report on Oct. 17.
“Ongoing transmission of Ebola virus in West Africa could result in an infected person arriving in NYC,” the report said. However, the chance that a New Yorker who has not traveled to an Ebola hotspot would come down with the virus is “extremely slim,” since the disease is only spread through direct contact with an infectious person’s bodily fluids.
Ultimately, it was a doctor who lived in the city who would bring the virus home.
In recent weeks, the New York Health Commissioner issued a “Commissioner’s Order” to all hospitals and ambulance services in the state, “requiring that they follow protocols for identification, isolation and medical evaluation of patients requiring care.”
The state has been conducting “unannounced drills” at hospitals and health care facilities to test preparedness for handling possible Ebola cases. The state has also involved the Metropalitan Transit Authority, which operates the city’s subways and buses, in training for encountering possible Ebola patients.
And a mass Ebola training for health care workers, which included demonstrations for putting on and taking off protective equipment, took place in the city on Oct. 21.
According to new guidelines the CDC issued on Monday, there are now 30 steps health care workers have to take every time they treat a patient with Ebola or Ebola-like symptoms.
At hospitals like Bellevue, actors have played the role of patients with Ebola symptoms have been part of the drills, and the city’s 911 operators have been told to ask people who call in with Ebola-like symptoms if they have recently traveled to West Africa, according to the Guardian.
As of Thursday, there have been nearly 10,000 cases of Ebola in West Africa, along with about 4,900 deaths. However, these figures are likely to be underestimates, since the lack of treatment facilities and other circumstances are causing many patients to go uncounted.
A doctor in New York City who recently returned from treating Ebola patients in Guinea became the first person in the city to test positive for the virus Thursday, setting off a search for anyone who might have come into contact with him.
The doctor, Craig Spencer, was rushed to Bellevue Hospital Center and placed in isolation at the same time as investigators sought to retrace every step he had taken over the past several days.
At least three people he had contact with in recent days have been placed in isolation. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which dispatched a team to New York, is conducting its own test to confirm the positive test on Thursday, which was performed by a city lab.
While officials have said they expected isolated cases of the disease to arrive in New York eventually, and had been preparing for this moment for months, the first case highlighted the challenges involved in containing the virus, especially in a crowded metropolis. Dr. Spencer, 33, had traveled on the A and L subway lines Wednesday night, visited a bowling alley in Williamsburg, and then took a taxi back to Manhattan.
The next morning, he reported having a fever, raising questions about his health while he was out in public. The authorities have interviewed Dr. Spencer several times and are also looking at information from his credit cards and MetroCard to determine his movements.
Health officials initially said that Dr. Spencer had a 103-degree fever when he reported his symptoms to authorities at around 11 a.m. on Thursday. But on Friday, health officials said that was incorrect and that Dr. Spencer reported having a 100.3-degree fever. They said the mistake was because of a transcription error.
People infected with Ebola cannot spread the disease until they begin to display symptoms, and it cannot be spread through the air. As people become sicker, the viral load in the body builds, and they become increasingly contagious.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, speaking at a news conference at Bellevue on Thursday night, sought to reassure New Yorkers that there was no reason to be alarmed.
“Being on the same subway car or living near a person with Ebola does not in itself put someone at risk,” he said.
Dr. Spencer’s work in Africa and the timing of the onset of his symptoms led health officials to dispatch disease detectives, who “immediately began to actively trace all of the patient’s contacts to identify anyone who may be at potential risk,” according to a statement released by the health department.
Dr. Spencer’s fiancée has also been quarantined at Bellevue. Two other friends, who had contact with him on Tuesday and Wednesday, have been told by the authorities that they too will be quarantined but whether they will isolate themselves in their homes or be relocated was still under discussion, according to a person briefed on the investigation. None of the three were showing signs of illness.
The driver of the taxi, arranged through the online service Uber, did not have direct contact with Dr. Spencer and was not considered to be at risk, officials said.
Speaking at the news conference, city officials said that while they were still investigating, they did not believe Dr. Spencer was symptomatic while he traveled around the city on Wednesday and therefore had not posed a risk to the public.
“He did not have a stage of disease that creates a risk of contagiousness on the subway,” Dr. Mary Bassett, the city health commissioner, said. “We consider it extremely unlikely, the probability being close to nil, that there will be any problem related to his taking the subway system.”
Still, out of an abundance of caution, officials said, the bowling alley in Williamsburg that he visited, the Gutter, was closed on Thursday night, and a scheduled concert there, part of the CMJ music festival, was canceled. Health workers were scheduled to visit the alley on Friday.
At Dr. Spencer’s apartment building, his home was sealed off and workers distributed informational fliers about the disease.
Dr. Spencer had been working with Doctors Without Borders in Guinea treating Ebola patients, and completed his work on Oct. 12, Dr. Bassett said. He flew out of the country on Oct. 14, traveling via Europe, and arrived in New York on Oct. 17.
Since returning, he had been taking his temperature twice a day, Dr. Bassett said.
He told the authorities that he did not believe the protective gear he wore while working with Ebola patients had been breached but had been monitoring his own health.
Doctors Without Borders, in a statement, said it provides guidelines for its staff members to follow when they return from Ebola assignments, but did not elaborate on the protocols.
“The individual engaged in regular health monitoring and reported this development immediately,” the group said in a statement.
Dr. Spencer began to feel sluggish on Tuesday but did not develop a feveruntil Thursday morning, he told the authorities. At 11 a.m., he found that he had a 100.3-degree temperature and alerted the staff of Doctors Without Borders, according to the official.
The staff called the city’s health department, which in turn called the Fire Department.
Emergency medical workers, wearing full personal protective gear, rushed to Dr. Spencer’s apartment, on West 147th Street. He was transported to Bellevue and arrived shortly after 1 p.m.
He was placed in a special isolation unit and is being seen by the designated medical critical care team. Team members wear personal protective equipment with undergarment air ventilation systems.
Bellevue doctors have been preparing to deal with an Ebola patient with numerous drills and tests as well as actual treatment of suspected cases that turned out to be false alarms.
A health care worker at the hospital said that Dr. Spencer seemed very sick, and it was unclear to the medical staff why he had not gone to the hospital earlier, since his fever was high.
Dr. Spencer is a fellow of international emergency medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, and an instructor in clinical medicine at Columbia University.
“He is a committed and responsible physician who always puts his patients first,” the hospital said in a statement. “He has not been to work at our hospital and has not seen any patients at our hospital since his return from overseas.”
Before Thursday, more than 30 people had gone to city hospitals and raised suspicions of Ebola, but in all those cases health workers were able to rule out the virus without performing blood tests.
While the city has stepped up its laboratory capacity so it can get test results within four to six hours, the precautions required when drawing blood and treating a person possibly sick with Ebola meant that it took until late in the evening to confirm Dr. Spencer’s diagnosis.
Doctors said that even before the results came in, it seemed likely that he had been infected. Symptoms usually occur within eight to 10 days of infection. Dr. Spencer stopped working with Ebola patients 11 days ago and returned home six days ago.
Ebola is transmitted through bodily fluids and secretions, including blood, mucus, feces and vomit.
Because of its high mortality rate — Ebola kills more than half the people it infects — the disease spreads fear along with infection.
The authorities have been on high alert ever since Thomas Eric Duncan traveled to the United States in September from Liberia, and was later given a diagnosis of Ebola.
Several days after his death, a nurse who helped care for Mr. Duncan learned she had Ebola. Two nurses who treated Mr. Duncan fell ill, but are recovering.
That single case led to hundreds of people being quarantined or being asked to remain isolated from the general public.
The missteps by both local and federal authorities in handling the nation’s first Ebola case raised questions about the ability of health care workers to safely treat those with the disease.
In the New York City region, hospitals and emergency workers have been preparing for the appearance of the virus for months.
Dr. Irwin Redlener, the director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University and a special adviser to Mayor de Blasio, said that the risk to the general public was minimal, but depended on the city moving swiftly.
“New York has mobilized not only a world-class health department, but has full engagement of many other agencies that need to be on the response team,” he said.
The new Ebola infection in New York City exposed flaws in the system and raised new concerns, lawmakers said Friday, as they criticised the U.S. government response to the outbreak and questioned top officials’ credibility.
“I can tell you it’s not working. All you need to do is look at Craig Spencer,” said Rep. John Mica, a Republican, naming the doctor in New York who was diagnosed with Ebola late Thursday a week after returning from Guinea. “He was tested there, it’s not working.”
Spencer, the fourth person diagnosed in the U.S., did not exhibit symptoms until Thursday and so the temperature screening in place at the five U.S. airports that receive passengers from Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, the three West African countries that have borne the worst of the outbreak, would not have caught him. Some lawmakers questioning administration officials at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing said that just showed that a new approach was needed.
Less than two weeks before hard-fought elections, many lawmakers, especially Republicans, have called for a travel ban from the hot spots in West Africa where the deadly disease has infected roughly 10,000 people and killed about half of them. Others have suggested quarantining people for the 21-day incubation period once they arrive.
The Obama administration has resisted, saying such an approach could make things worse by limiting sorely needed supplies and medical workers to West Africa and encouraging travelers to hide their travel histories. Instead the administration has implemented new guidelines for screening all people arriving here from the hot zones and ensuring they’re all monitored by medical experts for 21 days.
Rep. Stephen Lynch, a Democrat, said Friday that anyone who travels here from West Africa should be quarantined for 21 days in their home country before even boarding a plane to the U.S.
“This can’t just be about ideology and happy talk,” Lynch said. “We need to be very deliberate (and) take it much more seriously than I’m hearing today.”
The committee’s chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, a Republican, complained about wrong information and shifting standards coming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the first case diagnosed in the U.S., a man who traveled from Sierra Leone to Texas and later died. He infected two nurses who cared for him. As of Friday both nurses have been declared free of the virus.
“We said we were planning to deal with infectious diseases, prepare our health care system and our doctors and nurses,” Issa said. “And in fact it appears as though we trained them but not trained them to the level we should.”
Dr. Nicole Lurie, assistant HHS secretary for preparedness and response, defended the government’s response.
“I think our failures largely relate to the fact that we’re learning some new things about Ebola,” she said. “Ebola’s never been in this hemisphere before, and as we’re learning those things we’re tightening up our policies and procedures as quickly as possible.”
In her prepared testimony, Lurie assured lawmakers that a large-scale outbreak of Ebola is unlikely in this country. “There is an epidemic of fear, but not of Ebola, in the United States,” she said.
New York City police officers enter the building where Dr. Craig Spencer (inset with fiancée Morgan Dixon) lives in New York on Oct. 24.Photo: Reuters/Mike Segar
Efforts are under way to decontaminate the apartment building of the Big Apple’s first Ebola patient.
Cops moved people back around 9:15 am as two officers with the Sanitation Department’s Environmental Police Unit arrived on the scene and entered the building through a side entrance.
They were later joined by several people in plain-clothes who exited out of a truck belonging to the Bio-Recovery Corporation — a full service crime scene cleanup and bio remediation company.
“Today we’re expecting a specialized crew [to] come in full protective gear and will clean and sterilize Dr. [Craig] Spencer’s apartment for signs of bodily fluid,” said City Council member Mark Levine, adding that officials would “confiscate material that might have come into contact with his body such as sheets and pillowcases and bath towels and toothbrushes.”
The 7th District councilman was on the scene Friday morning, giving updates specifically aimed at people in the community whose fears were heightened Thursday when Spencer, a Doctors Without Borders volunteer, tested positive for the Ebola virus.
“We’ve had neighbors understandably concerned that live right across the street, maybe they live down the hall, maybe they’ve seen him in the local bodega and they’re worried,” he told the crowd. “But the truth is and the facts they need to understand are they’re really not at risk.”
Police and health officials enter the New York apartment building of Dr. Craig Spencer, who has been diagnosed with the Ebola virus, on Oct. 24.
Levine made it clear that while fear of catching the disease was high, the actual possibility that Spencer could have spread the illness before being hospitalized was minimal.
“If he was well enough to go for a run, then he was almost certainly not sick enough to be contagious,” he said. “Frankly, if he was well enough to go bowling, he was probably not sick enough to be contagious, so people should not worry.”
When Spencer first reported his elevated temperature to officials, firefighters worked quickly to make sure the risk of infection was extremely low.
“The first thing they did was seal off the apartment,” he said. “That happened immediately after Dr. Spencer was taken to the ambulance.”
The ambulance carrying Dr. Craig Spencer arrives at Bellevue Hospital.
A neighbor who lives across from Spencer told The Post that four of his relatives panicked shortly after the Harlem doctor was picked up and eventually left the apartment.
“They’re gone, they weren’t moved by the authorities, they left on their own because of the scare, because they were frightened,” said Stan Malone, 45. “This really hits home … I believe it’s gonna get worse.”
Malone added that while he thought Spencer had only come in contact with a few people, he felt the city wasn’t doing enough to ensure the safety of New Yorkers.
“I think this whole building should be quarantined now,” he said. “What’s taking the city so long to do that?”
A physician who treated dying Ebola patients in Liberia flew in to JFK on Thursday night — and stayed at an airport hotel, a source told The Post.
Colin Bucks, a clinical assistant professor at Stanford University’s medical school, arrived on a Royal Moroccan Air flight, sources said.
He spent the night at the Hilton Garden Inn in Jamaica, Queens, where Centers for Disease Control workers also stay, according to a source.
On Friday, he was cleared to travel home to Northern California, where he will “be monitored by CDC there,” the source said.
“He is asymptomatic and he’s being allowed to leave the hotel and fly home,” a source added.
Sources said that Bucks, who works with International Medical Corps, was told to self-quarantine at the hotel, but he told The Post he merely missed a connecting flight. He said he was screened at the airport in Africa and again upon arrival at Kennedy airport.
“If there had been a flight yesterday, I would’ve not spent the night here,” he said in a telephone interview.
Bucks is strictly following the CDC’s recommendations and self-monitoring, he said. The CDC is also keeping track of his whereabouts, as standard protocol dictates, he added.
“I worked for over a month with no national staff or ex-patriot staff showing any signs of illness,” he said. “In general I’m amazed by the national staff I was working with. I really want them to be viewed as the heroes of Ebola response.
Bucks didn’t know Spencer, but said, “It sounds like this is someone who’s cut from the same cloth as me who followed all the rules and has not put other people at risk.”
He’s confident that by following proper guidelines, health care workers can do life-saving work abroad and stay safe.
“I have every confidence that [by] following CDC return recommendations, nurses, doctors, lab technicians can go to West Africa and do what’s necessary to protect the rest of the world and not come back and be the ones that need protection.”
On Friday afternoon, the governors of New York and New Jersey announced extra measures that will require all at-risk passengers touching down at JFK and Newark Liberty airports from Ebola-stricken countries to be quarantined for 21 days.
Because the natural reservoir host of Ebola viruses has not yet been identified, the way in which the virus first appears in a human at the start of an outbreak is unknown. However, scientists believe that the first patient becomes infected through contact with an infected animal, such as a fruit bat or primate (apes and monkeys), which is called a spillover event. Person-to-person transmission follows and can lead to large numbers of affected people. In some past Ebola outbreaks, primates were also affected by Ebola, and multiple spillover events occurred when people touched or ate infected primates.
When an infection does occur in humans, the virus can be spread in several ways to others. Ebola is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth) with
blood or body fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola
objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus
infected fuit bats or primates (apes and monkeys)
Ebola is not spread through the air or by water, or in general, by food. However, in Africa, Ebola may be spread as a result of handling bushmeat (wild animals hunted for food) and contact with infected bats. There is no evidence that mosquitos or other insects can transmit Ebola virus. Only a few species of mammals (for example, humans, bats, monkeys, and apes) have shown the ability to become infected with and spread Ebola virus.
Healthcare providers caring for Ebola patients and the family and friends in close contact with Ebola patients are at the highest risk of getting sick because they may come in contact with infected blood or body fluids of sick patients.
During outbreaks of Ebola, the disease can spread quickly within healthcare settings (such as a clinic or hospital). Exposure to Ebola can occur in healthcare settings where hospital staff are not wearing appropriate protective equipment, including masks, gowns, and gloves and eye protection.
Dedicated medical equipment (preferable disposable, when possible) should be used by healthcare personnel providing patient care. Proper cleaning and disposal of instruments, such as needles and syringes, is also important. If instruments are not disposable, they must be sterilized before being used again. Without adequate sterilization of the instruments, virus transmission can continue and amplify an outbreak.
Once someone recovers from Ebola, they can no longer spread the virus. However, Ebola virus has been found in semen for up to 3 months. Abstinence from sex (including oral sex) is recommended for at least 3 months. If abstinence is not possible, condoms may help prevent the spread of disease.
As the death toll from Ebola reaches 3,800, experts are warning that the virus could mutate and become airborne, meaning that it could be caught by breathing it in.
The public is being told by health officials that the virus that causes Ebola cannot be transmitted through the air and can only be spread through direct contact with bodily fluids – blood, sweat, vomit, feces, urine, saliva or semen – of an infected person who is showing symptoms.
However, several leading Ebola researchers claim that the virus mutating and spreading through the air should not be ruled out.
As the death toll from Ebola reaches 3,800, experts are warning that the virus could mutate and become airborne
Virus expert Charles L. Bailey, who in 1989 helped the American government tackle an outbreak of Ebola among rhesus monkeys being used for research, told the LA Times: ‘We know for a fact that the virus occurs in sputum and no one has ever done a study [disproving that] coughing or sneezing is a viable means of transmitting.
‘Unqualified assurances that Ebola is not spread through the air are “misleading”.’
Dr C J Peters, who has undertaken research into Ebola for America’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the paper: ‘We just don’t have the data to exclude it [becoming airborne].’
Meanwhile virologist Dr Philip K Russell, a former head of the U.S Army’s Medical Research and Development Command, told the paper: ‘I see the reasons to dampen down public fears. But scientifically, we’re in the middle of the first experiment of multiple, serial passages of Ebola virus in man…. God knows what this virus is going to look like. I don’t.’
In September, Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, writing in the New York Times, said experts who believe that Ebola could become airborne are loathed to discuss their concerns in public, for fear of whipping up hysteria.
Discussing the possible future course of the current outbreak, he said: ‘The second possibility is one that virologists are loath to discuss openly but are definitely considering in private: that an Ebola virus could mutate to become transmissible through the air.’
The public is being told by health officials that the virus that causes Ebola cannot be transmitted through the air and can only be spread through direct contact with bodily fluids
Defence Secretary won’t talk about UK airport Ebola screening
Dr Osterholm warns viruses similar to Ebola are notorious for replicating and reinventing themselves.
It means the virus that first broke out in Guinea in February may be very different to the one now invading other parts of West Africa.
Pointing to the example of the H1N1 influenza virus that saw bird flu sweep the globe in 2009, Dr Osterholm said: ‘If certain mutations occurred, it would mean that just breathing would put one at risk of contracting Ebola.’
Dr Osterholm said public health officials, while discussing the possibility in private, are reluctant to air their concerns.
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‘They don’t want to be accused of screaming “Fire!” in a crowded theater – as I’m sure some will accuse me of doing.
‘But the risk is real, and until we consider it, the world will not be prepared to do what is necessary to end the epidemic.’
He called for the United Nations to mobilise medical, public health and humanitarian aid to ‘smother the epidemic’.
The chair of the UK’s Health Protection Agency, Professor David Heymann of the London School of Hygiene of Tropical Medicine, said it is impossible to predict how any virus will mutate.
He said scientists across the world do not know enough about genetics to be able to say how the Ebola virus will change over time.
He told MailOnline: ‘No one can predict what will happen with the mutation of the virus. I would like to see the evidence that this could become a respiratory virus.’
The first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. died on Wednesday despite intense but delayed treatment, and the government announced it was expanding airport examinations to guard against the spread of the deadly disease.
The checks will include taking the temperatures of hundreds of travelers arriving from West Africa at five major American airports.
The new screenings will begin Saturday at New York’s JFK International Airport and then expand to Washington Dulles and the international airports in Atlanta, Chicago and Newark. An estimated 150 people per day will be checked, using high-tech thermometers that don’t touch the skin.
The White House said the fever checks would reach more than 9 of 10 travelers to the U.S. from the three heaviest-hit countries – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
President Barack Obama called the measures ‘really just belt and suspenders’ to support protections already in place. Border Patrol agents now look for people who are obviously ill, as do flight crews, and in those cases the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is notified.
As of Wednesday, Ebola has killed about 3,800 people in West Africa and infected at least 8,000, according to the World Health Organization.
A medical official with the U.N. Mission in Liberia who tested positive for Ebola arrived in the German city of Leipzig on Thursday to be treated at a local clinic with specialist facilities, authorities said.
The unidentified medic infected in Liberia is the second member of the U.N. mission, known as UNMIL, to contract the virus. The first died on September 25. He is the third Ebola patient to arrive in Germany for treatment.
The virus has taken an especially devastating toll on health care workers, sickening or killing more than 370 of them in the hardest-hit countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone – places that already were short on doctors and nurses.
There are no approved medications for Ebola, so doctors have tried experimental treatments in some cases, including drugs and blood transfusions from others who have recovered from Ebola.
The survivor’s blood could carry antibodies for the disease that will help a patient fight off the virus.
Experts raise specter of more-contagious Ebola virus
Osterholm mentioned the risk of Ebola migrating to developing-world megacities like Nairobi, Kenya.
Amid fears that West Africa’s Ebola epidemic may spiral out of control, two experts are using the pages of leading newspapers to raise the specter of a mutant Ebola virus that could become airborne, and appealing for massive interventions to preclude that nightmare scenario.
Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, wrote in a New York Times commentary today that the scale of the epidemic is offering the virus unprecedented opportunities to evolve toward greater transmissibility, which could give it the capability to spread worldwide. He is director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, publisher of CIDRAP News.
Richard E. Besser, MD, chief health editor at ABC News and a former acting director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), wrote in the Washington Post last night that a more-contagious Ebola virus could threaten the United States and said the crisis warrants the deployment of thousands of American troops to the affected countries.
What virologists don’t like to talk about
The possibility of an airborne-transmissible Ebola virus is one “that virologists are loath to discuss openly but are definitely considering in private,” wrote Osterholm. In its current form, the virus spreads only through contact with bodily fluids, he noted, but with more human transmission in the past few months than probably occurred in the past 500 years, the virus is getting plenty of chances to evolve.
“Each new infection represents trillions of throws of the genetic dice,” he said.
“If certain mutations occurred, it would mean that just breathing would put one at risk of contracting Ebola. Infections could spread quickly to every part of the globe, as the H1N1 influenza virus did in 2009, after its birth in Mexico.”
Osterholm added that public officials are reluctant to talk about this risk because they fear being accused of screaming “Fire!” in a crowded theater. “But the risk is real, and until we consider it, the world will not be prepared to do what is necessary to end the epidemic.”
As evidence of the risk, he noted that Canadian researchers in 2012 showed that Ebola Zaire, the species in the West African epidemic, could spread by the respiratory route from pigs to monkeys.
Even without airborne Ebola contagion, there’s a risk of Ebola migrating to developing-world megacities such as Nairobi, Kinshasa, or Karachi, possibly touching off new epidemics, Osterholm wrote.
In the face of the grave risks, someone needs to exercise “command and control,” and the best candidate is the United Nations, he asserted.
The UN “is the only international organization that can direct the immense amount of medical, public health, and humanitarian aid that must come from many different countries and nongovernmental groups to smother this epidemic. Thus far it has played at best a collaborating role, and with everyone in charge, no one is in charge.”
Besser: US must take the lead
Besser, in appealing for a vastly greater Ebola response from the United States, sketched bleak scenes of sick people in Monrovia, Liberia, waiting to get into overcrowded treatment centers and burial teams trying to collect bodies from the homes of terrified people who deny that their loved ones died of Ebola.
Recalling the warning last week from current CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, that the window of opportunity to stop the epidemic is closing, Besser wrote, “I don’t think the world is getting the message. The magnitude of the response needed for a deadly outbreak like this in a staggeringly poor country demands both dollars and people.”
He said his CDC experience taught him that “a military-style response during a major health crisis saves lives.” In foreign public health emergencies, the CDC usually provides technical support to governments, but “this crisis calls for much more.”
Noting that the epidemic is threatening the stability of the affected countries, Besser asserted that an expanded American response would improve both global security and health security.
“While one Ebola case in the United States is unlikely to spark an outbreak, things could change if the virus becomes more easily transmittable,” he added. “We already know it’s mutating.” He called the outbreak more disturbing than anything he witnessed in 13 years at the CDC.
Besser welcomed recent moves to scale up US aid to West Africa, including the Obama administration’s request for more funds, but he said much more is needed.
He called for large field hospitals staffed by Americans to treat Ebola patients, plus active US involvement in strengthening infection control, staffing burial teams, and detecting new cases.
“A few thousand U.S. troops could provide the support that is so desperately needed,” he added. “There could be casualties, but what military operation is ruled out solely because it is dangerous?”
“We know how to control Ebola. It’s time to step up and get the job done,” he concluded.
MSF president speaks out
Some similar points were made in another Washington Post commentary, this one from Joanne Liu, MD, president of Doctors without Borders (MSF), the leading private aid group fighting Ebola in West Africa.
Using words similar to those she used at a UN briefing last week, Liu described the grim situation in West Africa and said MSF has been “completely overwhelmed.”
“We need a large-scale deployment of highly trained personnel who know the protocols for protecting themselves against highly contagious diseases and who have the necessary logistical support to be immediately operational. Private aid groups simply cannot confront this alone,” she wrote.
THE Ebola epidemic in West Africa has the potential to alter history as much as any plague has ever done.
There have been more than 4,300 cases and 2,300 deaths over the past six months. Last week, theWorld Health Organization warned that, by early October, there may be thousands of new cases per week in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria. What is not getting said publicly, despite briefings and discussions in the inner circles of the world’s public health agencies, is that we are in totally uncharted waters and that Mother Nature is the only force in charge of the crisis at this time.
There are two possible future chapters to this story that should keep us up at night.
The first possibility is that the Ebola virus spreads from West Africa to megacities in other regions of the developing world. This outbreak is very different from the 19 that have occurred in Africa over the past 40 years. It is much easier to control Ebola infections in isolated villages. But there has been a 300 percent increase in Africa’s population over the last four decades, much of it in large city slums. What happens when an infected person yet to become ill travels by plane to Lagos, Nairobi, Kinshasa or Mogadishu — or even Karachi, Jakarta, Mexico City or Dhaka?
The second possibility is one that virologists are loath to discuss openly but are definitely considering in private: that an Ebola virus could mutate to become transmissible through the air. You can now get Ebola only through direct contact with bodily fluids. But viruses like Ebola are notoriously sloppy in replicating, meaning the virus entering one person may be genetically different from the virus entering the next. The current Ebola virus’s hyper-evolution is unprecedented; there has been more human-to-human transmission in the past four months than most likely occurred in the last 500 to 1,000 years. Each new infection represents trillions of throws of the genetic dice.
If certain mutations occurred, it would mean that just breathing would put one at risk of contracting Ebola. Infections could spread quickly to every part of the globe, as the H1N1 influenza virus did in 2009, after its birth in Mexico.
Why are public officials afraid to discuss this? They don’t want to be accused of screaming “Fire!” in a crowded theater — as I’m sure some will accuse me of doing. But the risk is real, and until we consider it, the world will not be prepared to do what is necessary to end the epidemic.
In 2012, a team of Canadian researchers proved that Ebola Zaire, the same virus that is causing the West Africa outbreak, could be transmitted by the respiratory route from pigs to monkeys, both of whose lungs are very similar to those of humans. Richard Preston’s 1994 best seller “The Hot Zone” chronicled a 1989 outbreak of a different strain, Ebola Reston virus, among monkeys at a quarantine station near Washington. The virus was transmitted through breathing, and the outbreak ended only when all the monkeys were euthanized. We must consider that such transmissions could happen between humans, if the virus mutates.
First, we need someone to take over the position of “command and control.” The United Nations is the only international organization that can direct the immense amount of medical, public health and humanitarian aid that must come from many different countries and nongovernmental groups to smother this epidemic. Thus far it has played at best a collaborating role, and with everyone in charge, no one is in charge.
A Security Council resolution could give the United Nations total responsibility for controlling the outbreak, while respecting West African nations’ sovereignty as much as possible. The United Nations could, for instance, secure aircraft and landing rights. Many private airlines are refusing to fly into the affected countries, making it very difficult to deploy critical supplies and personnel. The Group of 7 countries’ military air and ground support must be brought in to ensure supply chains for medical and infection-control products, as well as food and water for quarantined areas.
The United Nations should provide whatever number of beds are needed; the World Health Organization has recommended 1,500, but we may need thousands more. It should also coordinate the recruitment and training around the world of medical and nursing staff, in particular by bringing in local residents who have survived Ebola, and are no longer at risk of infection. Many countries are pledging medical resources, but donations will not result in an effective treatment system if no single group is responsible for coordinating them.
Finally, we have to remember that Ebola isn’t West Africa’s only problem. Tens of thousands die there each year from diseases like AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea have among the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Because people are now too afraid of contracting Ebola to go to the hospital, very few are getting basic medical care. In addition, many health care workers have been infected with Ebola, and more than 120 have died. Liberia has only 250 doctors left, for a population of four million.
This is about humanitarianism and self-interest. If we wait for vaccines and new drugs to arrive to end the Ebola epidemic, instead of taking major action now, we risk the disease’s reaching from West Africa to our own backyards.
Story 1: Obama Spreads Suspected Ebola Travelers To 5 Large U.S. Cities– New York, Newark, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Chicago — Sanctuary Cities For Illegal Aliens From Ebola Infected Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea — Ebola Czar Ron Klain Says “Overpopulation” Top Concern — Spreading Ebola Virus Would Reduce World Population In Africa And USA Sanctuary Cities? — Eugenics Redux — Videos
Five U.S. airports begin screening for Ebola among travelers from West Africa
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Gov. Perry Announces North Texas Infectious Disease Bio Containment Facility
Gov. Rick Perry today announced the creation of a state-of-the-art Ebola treatment and infectious disease bio containment facility in North Texas. Creation of such facilities was among the first recommendations made by the governor’s recently named Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response in order to better protect health care workers and the public from the spread of pandemic diseases.
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Americans want flight restrictions from Ebola countries. And it’s not close.
By Aaron Blake
Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they are concerned about an Ebola outbreak in the United States, and about the same amount say they want flight restrictions from the countries in West Africa where the disease has quickly spread.
A new poll from the Washington Post and ABC News shows 67 percent of people say they would support restricting entry to the United States from countries struggling with Ebola. Another 91 percent would like to see stricter screening procedures at U.S. airports in response to the disease’s spread.
Thus far, some countries in Europe have restricted flights from these countries in West Africa, and an increasing number of U.S. lawmakers are calling for similar bans. The White House has yet to increase restrictions, with federal officials saying such a move could actually increase the spread of the disease by hampering the movement of aid workers and supplies.
Concern about Ebola, at this point, is real but not pervasive. About two-thirds (65 percent) say they are concerned about an Ebola outbreak in the United States. But while people are broadly concerned about an outbreak, they are not necessarily worried about that potential outbreak directly affecting them. Just 43 percent of people are worried about themselves or someone in their family becoming infected – including 20 percent who are “very worried.”
That finding echoes a Pew poll from last week which showed just 11 percent were “very worried” about themselves or their families becoming infected. Since that survey, Dallas Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan died, and news that a nurse who provided care for him became infected broke on the final day of the Post-ABC poll.
By comparison, slightly more Americans said they were worried about the H1N1 virus – a.k.a. the swine flu – in October 2009 (52 percent). Concern about Ebola is about on-par with concern about Avian influenza – a.k.a. the bird flu – in 2006 (41 percent) and slightly higher than concern about Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 (as high as 38 percent).
The support for increasing restrictions puts the White House in a tough spot. Given the moves by other countries and the American public’s stance, there is increasing pressure to act. And given the very real — but still somewhat muted — concerns about the disease, that’s significant, especially if the disease continues to expand.
The Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday that all travelers from Ebola outbreak countries in West Africa will be funneled through one of five U.S. airports with enhanced screening starting Wednesday.
Customs and Border Protection within the department began enhanced screening — checking the traveler’s temperature and asking about possible exposure to Ebola — at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on Oct. 11.
Enhanced screening for travelers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea was expanded Oct. 16 to Washington Dulles, Chicago O’Hare, New Jersey’s Newark and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta international airports.
Those airports were supposed to screen 94% of the average 150 people per day arriving from the three countries. Lawmakers from other states asked for enhanced screening at their airports, too.
Some lawmakers have called for more restrictions, such as suspending visas or denying entry at ports for citizens from the three countries.
Jeh Johnson, secretary of Homeland Security, announced that travelers from West Africa must arrive at one of the five airports starting Wednesday.
“We are working closely with the airlines to implement these restrictions with minimal travel disruption,” Johnson said. “If not already handled by the airlines, the few impacted travelers should contact the airlines for rebooking as needed.”
The enhanced screening will apply to anyone who traveled recently to, from or through the three outbreak countries, according to the department’s announcement to be published Thursday in the Federal Register. Customs and Border Protection will work with airlines to identify potential travelers before they board, but airlines will be obligated to comply with the rule for carrying to the USA any passengers who recently traveled through the region, according to the filing.
The restrictions should affect only about nine travelers per day who would have arrived at other airports. Katie Cody, a spokeswoman for American Airlines, which serves Europe from hubs such as Philadelphia and Charlotte, said the airline has no concerns about the change.
“We have been tracking that, and we don’t have any concerns because the numbers are so small,” Cody said.
British Airways, which serves a variety of U.S. destinations other than the five targeted airports, said it would comply with the measures.
“Customers affected will be offered a refund or will be rerouted if there is availability,” spokeswoman Michele Kropf said.
Republican lawmakers offered muted praise but pressed for stricter travel restrictions.
“In addition to requiring all travelers from at-risk countries to fly through airports with enhanced screening measures in place, I continue to call on the administration to suspend all visas from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea,” said Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, the head of the House Homeland Security Committee.
The head of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said a “real solution” is to deny entry to anyone from the three countries under a provision of the 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act.
“President Obama has a real solution at his disposal under current law and can use it at any time to temporarily ban foreign nationals from entering the United States from Ebola-ravaged countries,” Goodlatte said. “The vast majority of Americans strongly support such a travel moratorium, and I urge the president to take every step possible to protect the American people from danger.”
Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said steering travelers through the five airports is a sensible precaution.
“As agreed upon by experts in both the public health and transportation communities, issuing a blanket travel ban would not only be counterproductive, but it would also irresponsibly impede getting much-needed supplies and relief to the countries that need it most,” Conyers said.
Roger Dow, CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, a trade group for all aspects of travel, praised the move to calm travel concerns while avoiding a travel ban.
“The Obama administration continues to heed the counsel of an overwhelming consensus of health and security experts and resist calls for any sort of travel ban on the grounds that it will be counterproductive to efforts to contain Ebola,” Dow said.
A Liberian national, Thomas Eric Duncan, who became the first person diagnosed with the disease in the USA after arriving in Dallas on Sept. 20, had a temperature of 97.3 degrees but didn’t tell airport officials in Monrovia, Liberia, that he had cared for a pregnant woman suffering from Ebola. He died Oct. 8, and two nurses who treated him have become infected.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said the enhanced screening adds a layer of protection against Ebola entering the country.
“The Department of Homeland Security’s policy to funnel all passengers arriving from Ebola hot spots to one of these five equipped airports is a good and effective step towards tightening the net and further protecting our citizens,” Schumer said.
Obama and Johnson have said they will continue to monitor travel restrictions for possible changes.
“We are continually evaluating whether additional restrictions or added screening and precautionary measures are necessary to protect the American people and will act accordingly,” Johnson said.
Gabbard Calls On CDC To Increase Incubation Period To Prevent Ebola Spread
By Chad Blair
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) has called on the Center for Disease Control to implement stricter incubation guidelines for people who have been in contact with patients “confirmed or suspected” to have the Ebola virus.
According to a press release from her office, Gabbard is calling on the CDC to increase the quarantine and restriction period from the 21-day standard to 42 days, “based on the latest scientific studies and the World Health Organization report that the incubation period for the deadly Ebola virus can extend as long as 42 days.”
On Friday, Gabbard called for the “immediate suspension” of visas for citizens of Ebola-stricken West African nations as well as flights from those countries into the United States.
“Recent mistakes have revealed that the U.S. public health system is clearly not fully prepared to combat Ebola and prevent its spread in the United States,” she said in a statement.
Democrats like Gabbard are among a growing number who are “beginning to sound more like Republicans when they talk about Ebola. And Republicans are moving into overdrive with their criticism of the government’s handling of the deadly virus,” according to The Washington Post.
“The sharpened rhetoric, strategists say, suggests Democrats fear President Obama’s response to Ebola in the United States could become a political liability in the midterm election and Republicans see an opportunity to tie increasing concerns about the disease to the public’s broader worries about Obama’s leadership.”
The Washington Post notes, however, that Gabbard is “a liberal Democrat who is not in any danger of losing reelection.” It also reports that a Washington Post-ABC News poll showed that “67 percent of Americans would support restricting entry to the United States from countries fighting dealing with an Ebola crisis.”
How is the end of an Ebola outbreak decided and declared?
Information note – October 2014
Who decides the date?
The WHO Ebola outbreak response team is responsible for establishing the date of the end of the outbreak in collaboration with the affected country’s subcommittee for surveillance, epidemiology and laboratory.
How is the date determined?
An Ebola virus disease outbreak in a country can be declared over once 42 days have passed and no new cases have been detected. The 42 days represents twice the maximum incubation period for Ebola (21 days). This 42-day period starts from the last day that any person in the country had contact with a confirmed or probable Ebola case.
This includes health care workers who have been exposed to patients with Ebola virus disease, even if the health worker was wearing personal protective equipment and followed infection control procedures since such a person could be exposed accidentally without realizing it. In the setting of an Ebola treatment centre, the date of the last infectious contact is defined as the day when the last patient in the treatment centre tested negative for Ebola virus disease, using a real-time reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.
If no new case has been detected at the end of this 42-day period, the risk of a further case is very low, and the outbreak is declared over.
Why 42 days?
The maximum incubation period for Ebola virus disease is 21 days. The 42-day period set by WHO (twice the maximum incubation period) provides a margin of security to cover any possible missed cases, uncertainty in reporting dates or hidden chains of transmission. (*)
During the 42-day period, the surveillance system should be fully functional, so that all contacts of the last patient are followed to detect possible chains of transmission.
What is the procedure to make the declaration?
The WHO Ebola outbreak response team in collaboration with the affected country’s subcommittee for surveillance, epidemiology and laboratory determines the date of the end of the epidemic. The government of the affected country, in collaboration with WHO and international partners, makes an official declaration of the end of the epidemic.
The Obama administration has reversed course on putting travel restrictions on those coming from three West African nations tainted with Ebola and is putting in place demands that they enter only through five U.S. airports prepared to screen for the virus.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement that the new rules will take effect Wednesday, bowing to demands from both parties that the U.S. do a better job so secure the border from Ebola.
“Today, as part of the Department of Homeland Security’s ongoing response to prevent the spread of Ebola to the United States, we are announcing travel restrictions in the form of additional screening and protective measures at our ports of entry for travelers from the three West African Ebola-affected countries,” said Johnson.
He said the rules require that anyone coming from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea enter the U.S. only through the five airports where special Ebola screenings have been set up: New York’s John F. Kennedy, Newark Liberty, Washington Dulles, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson and Chicago’s O’Hare.
“All passengers arriving in the United States whose travel originates in Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea will be required to fly into one of the five airports that have the enhanced screening and additional resources in place. We are working closely with the airlines to implement these restrictions with minimal travel disruption. If not already handled by the airlines, the few impacted travelers should contact the airlines for rebooking, as needed,” said the statement.
He said that passengers flying into those airports on flights originating in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea “are subject to secondary screening and added protocols, including having their temperature taken, before they can be admitted into the United States. These airports account for about 94 percent of travelers flying to the United States from these countries.”
There are no direct, non-stop commercial flights from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea to the U.S.
Gov. Perry Announces North Texas Ebola Treatment and Infectious Disease Bio Containment Facility
Gov. Rick Perry today announced the creation of a state-of-the-art Ebola treatment and infectious disease bio containment facility in North Texas. Creation of such facilities was among the first recommendations made by the governor’s recently named Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response in order to better protect health care workers and the public from the spread of pandemic diseases.
In addition to the North Texas facility, The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston has also been designated an Ebola treatment and infectious disease bio containment facility.
“In the event of another diagnosis this facility will allow us to act quickly to limit the virus’ reach and give patients the care they need in an environment where health care workers are specially trained and equipped to deal with the unique requirements of this disease,” said Gov. Perry. “We are fortunate to have such talented and dedicated leaders here in North Texas, and at UTMB Galveston, who are willing to step forward during a time of need.”
Three of the region’s leading health care providers, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Methodist Health System and Parkland Hospital System, will partner to set up and operate the North Texas facility. The facility and equipment are being provided by partner hospitals, and staffing will be moved to the facility on an as-needed basis if the unit is activated.
UT Southwestern Medical Center is contributing the expertise of physicians experienced in infectious disease, critical care and other specialties, and some nursing professionals as staffing requires.
Methodist Health System is allowing the use of an entire floor of the Methodist Campus for Continuing Care in Richardson, including an ICU wing well suited for the care of infectious disease patients. They will provide some modifications for the critical steps of decontamination, laboratory equipment and other dedicated personnel for IT and biomedical support. Ebola and/or other infectious disease patients can be safely isolated
Parkland Hospital has already begun transferring critical equipment such as personal protective equipment, IV fluids and laboratory supplies to the Methodist facility. In addition, Parkland will provide nurses, pharmacists, respiratory therapists and lab technicians.
“UT Southwestern is proud that its expert faculty physicians and nurses are ready to lead in providing the very best care possible while safeguarding the safety of staff and the public. UTSW is also committed to advancing the other important longer term goals identified by the Governor’s Task Force,” said Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President, UT Southwestern Medical Center Building on the foundations that have made it an academic medical center that is respected worldwide, UTSW is committed to the education and training of caregivers broadly and to promote research which will improve disease treatment and prevention. There is no mission greater than serving the public good.”
“Methodist Health System answered the call because it is the right thing to do,” said Stephen L. Mansfield, PhD, FACHE, president and CEO, Methodist Health System. “Like all North Texans, we wish we weren’t in this situation. But the reality is there remains a threat, and as long as it’s there, Methodist is obligated by our mission — to improve and save lives through compassionate, quality health care — to do all we can to help.”
“Parkland is proud to be a part of this team effort to protect Texans from infectious disease. Our health system has a long history of emergency preparedness and clinical innovation so we are a great fit for this strike force,” said Frederick P. Cerise, MD, MPH, president and CEO, Parkland Health System. “Every Parkland employee comes to work knowing we may face the most difficult of situations and I am confident that we possess the skills and expertise to deal with them. Parkland also appreciates the leadership of Governor Perry as well as state and local officials in putting this team together.”
“UTMB is prepared to help fight Ebola and other infectious diseases,” said Dr. David L. Callender, UTMB president. “I have every confidence in our abilities to provide the highest level of care and we are proud that the governor has placed this trust in us as well as UT Southwestern, Methodist and Parkland.”
NIH unit treating Dallas nurse for Ebola is one of 4 special isolation facilities in U.S.
By Lena H. Sun
It has a specially designed air-flow system to prevent contaminated air from leaving the patient room. It requires anyone who enters to be buzzed in. Personnel who work there receive special training in infection control to prevent the spread of bioterror agents, natural or man-made. It also has a tiny gym.
Welcome to the Special Clinical Studies Unit at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. It is a 4,000-square-foot unit inside the NIH Clinical Center, the nation’s only hospital dedicated to research, which provides free state-of-the-art care to very sick patients from all over the world.
Now it’s home to its first confirmed Ebola patient, Nina Pham.
Pham is the first patient with a confirmed infectious disease to be cared for in the special seven-bed unit, center director John Gallin said in an interview Friday. Opened in 2010 for patients who need advanced isolation and extended stays, the unit was initially designed to take care of personnel working at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in case they were exposed to infectious agents. In more recent years, it has been used to house healthy volunteers participating in live vaccine trials. The volunteers need to be monitored in a place where they can be safely quarantined, Gallin said. To accommodate those healthy volunteers, the unit has a dining room and a “tiny fitness area,” he said.
Pham, the first nurse diagnosed with Ebola after caring for a patient in Dallas, is in fair and stable condition, officials said Friday morning.
What does an Ebola isolation ward look like?
“We are giving her the best possible care on a symptomatic and systemic basis,” Anthony Fauci, director of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a news conference.
Pham, 26, was transferred to the facility, one of four in the country with a special biocontainment unit, late Thursday. She was diagnosed with Ebola on Sunday, becoming the first person to contract the disease on U.S. soil. Pham had been part of the team that treated Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who flew to Dallas last month before being diagnosed with Ebola. Duncan died last week, four days before it was announced that Pham had contracted the disease.
“There is no specific therapy that has been proven to be effective against Ebola, and that’s why excellent medical care is critical,” Fauci said. He said Pham was “very, very tired” from her trip.
Patients infected with the Ebola virus require a large number of staffers to provide care around-the-clock. At NIH, that comes out to about 27 people a week — doctors, nurses, support staff — for one patient, Gallin said. With about 50 to 60 such personnel specially trained for infectious disease and critical care, NIH can only care for two Ebola patients at a time, he said.
The four facilities that provide such care were designed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to protect against bioterrorism. Two of them, Emory University Hospital in Atlanta and the Nebraska Medical Center, are each treating one Ebola patient. The other facility is St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, Mont.
They require staff to undergo more rigorous training in infection control, and staff must follow strict protocol for putting on and taking off personal protective equipment in a separate anteroom. Officials say meticulous attention to detail in following protocols is what sets them apart from other facilities.
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Emory has treated three Ebola patients, all of whom have recovered. The University of Nebraska treated one patient who recovered and is now caring for a freelance NBC cameraman. St. Patrick has not yet treated an Ebola patient. The hospital has received so many inquiries that it has set up a special hotline where they are transcribed and forwarded to the appropriate departments.
Bruce Ribner gives a tour of the Emory University Hospital isolation unit which has been used for treatment of patients infected with the Ebola virus. (Emory University via YouTube)
Unlike the Dallas hospital where Pham and another nurse were infected, which officials said most likely occurred because of a breach of protocol involving personal protective equipment, no health workers taking care of the Ebola patients at the special facilities have become infected.
“There is a step-by-step, checklisted procedure to putting on your personal protective equipment for when you go in to the patient’s room to perform your duties and when you come out,” said Mark Rupp, medical director of Nebraska Medical Center’s infection control department, which includes the special unit. “That’s the big difference with what goes on in our unit and what goes on in a regular intensive-care unit.”
The facilities have one person whose only job is to make sure health-care workers put on and take off their protective equipment correctly. At NIH, this person is dubbed “the Watson,” Gallin said, for the sidekick to Sherlock Holmes.
The Watson “has the authority to stop everything at any moment if someone looks like they’re breaking protocol,” Gallin said. The Watson has a checklist, like a pilot’s preflight checklist, and everything has to be done in that order. If not, the Watson can “scream at them and tell them to stop,” Gallin said, which apparently happened at least once Thursday night when doctors and staff were admitting Pham.
The protective gear that health-care workers take off is autoclaved (sanitized via pressurized steam) and then incinerated. Equipment that is not disposable is disinfected according to the manufacturer’s directions. The units also have negative air pressure to prevent germs from spreading beyond patient rooms. For Ebola patients, contaminated air is not such a concern because the disease is not transmitted through the air, but through contact with bodily fluids.
The seven-bed, 4,000-square-foot biocontainment unit at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md., is a state-of-the-art facility built to keep the world’s scariest pathogens from escaping. The four U.S. facilities are all different — NIH’s even has a gym — but they contain many of the same things. This layout is based on the unit at Emory University in Atlanta.
Story 1: Illegal Alien Teenagers “Obama Will Take Care of Us”, American People ” We Will Take of Obama and Democratic Party in November Elections and Impeach Obama in 2015! — Videos
Democrats Urge For More Support And Money For Campaign.
Illegals And The Democratic Voting Strategy
Top Obama Aide Can’t Rule Out Impeachment
Impeach Obama Now
Poll: 33% say impeach Obama
Sessions: America Must Fight Obama’s Planned Executive Amnesty, Work Permits For 5-6M Illegals
Sessions: Congress Must Stop President’s Planned Amnesty Orders
US Senate 7.24.2014 Jeff Sessions & Ted Cruz enter a collique on Obama’s executive amnesty
Rep. Steve Stockman, Shocked By What He Saw On
U.S. – Mexico Border
Mark Levin: Rep. Bob Goodlatte says “We are not working on or drawing up articles of impeachment”…
Andy McCarthy Talks Obama Impeachment – TheBlaze
Andrew C. McCarthy: Faithless Execution: Building a Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment
The Case for Impeaching Barack Obama (Part 1)
The Case for Impeaching Barack Obama (Part 2)
77% want illegals sent home, 81% say it’s a serious issue
BY PAUL BEDARD
A huge majority of Americans, 81 percent, believe the newimmigration crisis of unaccompanied children streaming over the U.S.-Mexico border is serious, and almost as many want them gone — some even if it’s not safe to return, according to a new poll.
In an Economist/YouGov.com survey, however, the public isn’t heartless in how they view the plight of the children, with 66 percent expressing sympathy for their situation that drove them north, where U.S. Border Control officers are catching the new arrivals for immigration processing.
But while there is an understanding among many Americans that some of the children are fleeing violence in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, a majority, 57 percent, believe the illegal immigrants are coming to America because they believe “that the U.S. government is or will be granting amnesty to undocumented immigrant children,” said the new poll.
The poll is the latest to show that the nation doesn’t believe the president’s immigration policies are working. And it is proof that most want the flow of illegals into the United States slowed or shut off.
While 77 percent said they want the illegals returned, there are different degrees in how fast it should be done. For example, 10 percent said that Border Control should just return the children to the Mexican border. Another 32 percent said that the children should be returned home “regardless of conditions in their home country,” and 35 percent said they should be returned “only if” conditions are safe.
And for those allowed to stay temporarily, the public is split evenly on whether unaccompanied children should be housed in their state or in another state.
The poll also revealed that the crisis has become a drag on President Obama. “The approval rating of the president on immigration, like his approval ratings on many other issues, is negative. A majority disapproves, and only a third approve. But the evaluation of the president is even worse among those who would deport the child migrants as soon as possible: only 16 percent in that group approve of how Barack Obama is handling immigration. Those who want the children to stay until they can be returned safely approve of the president’s performance,” said the poll analysis.
The Democrats’ impeachment fundraising extravaganza
By Byron York
In an almost farcical twist on the recent political debate, the ObamaWhite House has joined the Democratic fundraising apparatus in what appears to be a campaign to encourage Republicans to impeach the president.
The first lady was first to broach the subject, in a Thursday evening fundraising speech in Chicago. “If we lose these midterm elections, it’s going to be a whole lot harder to finish what we started,” Obama said, “because we’ll just see more of the same out in Washington — more obstructions, more lawsuits, and talk about impeachment.”
Top White House aide Pfeiffer really got the ball rolling Friday morning at a Christian Science Monitor reporters’ breakfast. “I saw a poll today that had a huge portion of the Republican Party base saying they supported impeaching the president,” Pfeiffer said. “A lot of people in this town laugh that off. I would not discount that possibility.” Asked whether an impeachment battle might be a “good thing” for the president’s popularity, Pfeiffer said, “We take it very seriously and I don’t think it would be a good thing. But I think it would be foolish to discount the possibility that Republicans would at least consider going down that path.”
A few hours later, at the White House briefing, Earnest spoke at length about the alleged impeachment threat. “Do you really believe that the president could be impeached?” Earnest was asked.
“Well, I think that there are senior members of the Republican political party or certainly prominent voices in the Republican Party who are calling for exactly that …” Earnest said. “There are some Republicans, including some Republicans who are running for office, hoping they can get into office so that they can impeach the president. That is apparently a view that they hold, because it’s one that they have repeatedly expressed publicly.”
At another point in the briefing, Earnest noted that “there are some prominent members of the Republican Party who have articulated their support for articles of impeachment. That is the view that they’ve articulated. What we’re focused on is the business of the American people.”
A few hours later, Pelosi and the Democratic fundraising machine joined in. “Sorry to email you late on a Friday, but I need your urgent support,” Pelosi emailed. “Yesterday, for the first time in history, Congress voted to sue a sitting president. Today, the White House alerted us that they believe ‘Speaker [John] Boehner … has opened the door to impeachment …'”
“With everything happening right now, I’m a little disappointed to see that you haven’t had a chance to chip in to defend President Obama,” Pelosi continued. “We could use your support today. ALL GIFTS TODAY TRIPLE-MATCHED!”
A couple of hours later, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out another mass email. “The White House just announced that they believe John Boehner’s lawsuit could lead to the impeachment of President Barack Obama,” the DCCC said. “We are now on full RED ALERT at Democratic Headquarters. We are scrambling to defend the President in every way we can at this critical moment.”
“According to our records, you haven’t chipped in to fight back,” the email continued. “Can we count on you at this critical moment? ALL GIFTS TODAY TRIPLE-MATCHED!”
Another couple of hours later — after 10pm in the East — the DCCC tried again. “If you’re wondering why you’re getting all this email on a Friday night, it’s simple,” the email read. “THE IMPEACHMENT OF PRESIDENT OBAMA IS NOW A REAL POSSIBILITY.”
“No other president in history has had to face the prospect of being taken to court by Congress. And the White House alerted us today that it could lead to impeachment. These historic (and totally unfounded) attacks require an historic response — and that’s exactly what you’re doing right now. We are now in the range of $1,000,000 raised since Republicans voted to authorize the lawsuit (that was just since yesterday!). Midnight deadline: ALL GIFTS TODAY TRIPLE-MATCHED!”
There are some Republican backbenchers who would indeed like to impeach the president, just as there were (more senior and more organized) Democratic lawmakers who hoped to impeachGeorge W. Bush after Democrats won control of Congress in the 2006 elections. Back then Pelosi, the new Speaker, said flatly, “Impeachment is off the table.” Now, Boehner has said he “disagrees” with former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin‘s call for impeachment, and many observers see his lawsuit against the president as an effort to placate GOP lawmakers while stopping far short of impeaching the president. But Boehner has not made a far-reaching, definitive statement comparable to declaring impeachment “off the table.” He might now be driven to do so, making the Democrats’ impeachment fundraising festival appear even more ridiculous than it already does.
Senate Budget Committee ranking member Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is putting a call out to the American people: He needs help to kill President Barack Obama’s plans to grant executive amnesty to millions of illegal aliens.
Sessions wants Americans to melt Congress’ phone lines, demanding their members make a precondition of any border crisis bill that Obama’s executive order amnesty via the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and any future plans be stopped.
“The American people have begged and pleaded for years for our laws to be enforced,” Sessions said in his statement. “We have people in our own country living in violence, fear and poverty every single day. They have demanded an immigration policy that puts their jobs, wages and communities first. Every citizen should pick up the phone and ask of their congressional representative: where do you stand?”
Sessions said that it would be wrong for any member of the House or Senate to support any border crisis bill that doesn’t end DACA and block the president from expanding it.
“No Member—House or Senate, Democrat of Republican—should support any bill with respect to the border crisis that does not include language explicitly prohibiting the Administration from taking such action,” Sessions said. “Congress must foreclose any possibility of these unlawful executive actions before congressional funding is granted. This is an essential precondition.”
Sessions cites several recent reports from major news organizations like the National Journal, Time magazine and The Hill that detail how the White House is considering expanding DACA to grant amnesty via executive order to millions more illegal aliens.
“It has now been extensively reported that these executive actions will likely expand his Deferred Action program (DACA) to apply to an additional 5-6 million adult illegal immigrants,” Sessions said. “The existing DACA program has been widely misunderstood. The executive action did not, as The Hill writes today, only result in ‘deferred deportations for young undocumented immigrants.’ Illegal immigrants in the interior of the U.S. have already, as a practical matter, been immune from enforcement under this Administration. DACA applies to individuals up to 30 years of age and provides actual amnesty papers, photo ID and work permits to illegal immigrants—who can then take any job in America.”
Sessions said that expanding DACA to another 5-6 million illegal immigrants “would effectively end immigration enforcement in America.”
White House pursuing plan to expand immigrant rights
By CHRISTI PARSONS, BRIAN BENNETT, LISA MASCAROcontact the reporters
Even as President Obama grapples with the crisis of immigrant children arriving at the Southwest border, White House officials are laying the groundwork for a large-scale expansion of immigrant rights that would come by executive action within weeks.
Officials signaled strongly Friday that Obama’s move would shield from deportation large numbers of immigrants living in the country illegally, as advocacy groups have demanded.
Roughly 5 million of the estimated 11 million people who entered the country without legal authorization or overstayed their visas could be protected under a leading option the White House is considering, according to officials who discussed the proposals on condition of anonymity.
Obama said last month that because Congress had failed to act on comprehensive immigration reform, he would take executive action to “fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own.”
That move will come by the end of the summer, White House senior advisor Dan Pfeiffer told reporters Friday. Some officials had advocated waiting until after the November midterm election.
Any such move would prompt a major clash with congressional Republicans, and at least some White House officials appeared to relish the prospect that the GOP might overreach in its response and act in a politically self-destructive manner.
When the decision is announced, it will “increase the angry reactions from Republicans,” Pfeiffer said.
“I would not discount the possibility” that Republicans would seek to impeach Obama over his next immigration moves, he said, adding that House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) had “opened the door to impeachment” by his plans to sue Obama for allegedly exceeding his executive authority.
Pfeiffer made his comments at a breakfast for reporters sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.
Boehner repeatedly has ruled out calls for impeachment proceedings, and his lawsuit against Obama has been widely seen as an effort to provide an alternative for Republicans infuriated by what they see as too much unilateral action by the president.
But the open references to impeachment at the White House on Friday suggest that administration officials are trying to shape the political battleground in advance — portraying Republicans as obstructionist before launching a broad-sweeping executive action on a front where conservative sensitivities are particularly keen: immigration policy.
The White House is entertaining a range of possibilities that would speed up deportations in some cases but forestall them in many others.
Obama could use his executive powers to expedite deportations in response to the current border crisis, in an effort to clear the large numbers of unaccompanied minors gathering daily in the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas.
At the same time, he seems likely to act to prevent deportations of many of the immigrants already living, working and raising children in the U.S.
One option would allow immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens to apply for temporary legal status which would let them work legally in the U.S. Because children born in the country automatically receive U.S. citizenship, that option could affect about 5 million people, researchers estimate.
A second option would be to allow temporary legal status for the parents of young people already granted deportation deferrals by the Obama administration. That would affect a smaller, but still sizable, number of people.
So far, more than 520,000 people have received permits to stay and work in the U.S. under the administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which was created in 2012 for young people who were brought to the U.S. as children.
Leading Republicans, including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, already have called for ending the deferred action program, and any move to expand it by including parents would be certain to draw a furious response from conservatives.
Wary of the president’s potential course of action, Republicans were both irritated by Pfeiffer’s threat and critical of what they saw as an effort to stir up Democratic voters and financial donors.
The campaign arm of the House Democratic leadership began a fundraising drive featuring Pfeiffer’s impeachment forecast within hours of his making it.
“We have a humanitarian crisis at our border, and the White House is making matters worse with inattention and mixed signals,” said Boehner’s spokesman, Michael Steel.
“It is telling, and sad, that a senior White House official is focused on political games, rather than helping these kids and securing the border,” he said.
As his aides worked on the longer-term immigration plan, Obama on Friday met at the White House with the presidents of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, hoping to enlist their help in stemming the flow of young migrants.
An estimated 57,000 unaccompanied minors, mostly from Central America, have crossed into the U.S. from Mexico since last October.
Obama told the presidents that children who don’t have “proper claims” to admission to the U.S. will have to go back home.
Aides said the leaders also agreed on the need to address poverty and violence in Central America.
“The American people and my administration have great compassion for these children,” Obama told reporters, with the other presidents at his side. “But I also emphasized to my friends that we have to deter a continuing influx of children putting themselves at risk.”
How to do that — and how to pay for it — continued to stymie Congress.
Republicans, who balked at the administration’s request for $3.7 billion to increase the number of deportation courts, bolster border security and care for the children who have arrived, proposed a scaled-back plan Friday for less than $1 billion. Senate Democrats have proposed $2.7 billion. Neither is expected to win support from both chambers.
With Congress only a few days from its long August break, money is running out to care for the youths and process their immigration cases.
Border Patrol agents have been working overtime, and Customs and Border Protection has racked up large bills to provide food and transportation to handle the influx.
If Congress doesn’t approve more spending, agency officials will have to divert money from programs that speed up cross-border trade and cargo, Customs and Border Protection chief Gil Kerlikowske said in a C-SPAN interview.
Money, though, is only part of the problem.
House Republicans have insisted on amending a 2008 law that guarantees hearings before unaccompanied children can be returned to their home countries. Senate Democrats mostly oppose that idea.
The White House has sent mixed messages, initially saying Congress should change the law, then backing down after opposition from Senate Democrats. White House officials now say Congress should approve the additional funds first.
Republicans have also been split on immigration, with many conservatives arguing that Congress should not act because the administration cannot be trusted to enforce the immigration laws.
But a majority of GOP lawmakers appeared prepared to break ranks with the conservatives and move ahead for a vote next week.
“The vast majority of our members want to solve this and do it in a targeted way that actually addresses the problem,” Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the incoming GOP whip, said after a closed session Friday of House Republicans.
Under the House Republican proposal, Congress would reimburse states for deploying National Guard troops, as Republican Gov. Rick Perry of Texas has done, and speed up processing of the children’s immigration claims. The House proposal would also allow law enforcement personnel to operate on public lands beyond what is now allowed, a long-standing issue in some border states.
“If we do nothing, the president is going to blame us for doing nothing,” said Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.). “We have to step up and show we’re going to do this in an orderly, lawful, compassionate way.”
CHILDREN CROSSING BORDER: ‘OBAMA WILL TAKE CARE OF US’
Border Patrol vet says immigrants ‘coached’ on how to game system
In an exclusive interview with WND and Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, a 13-year Border Patrol veteran revealed many in the recent surge of illegal immigrants, including unaccompanied minors, are coming prepared to game the U.S. immigration system, even repeating the mantra, “Obama will take care of us.”
“I don’t usually get into the political part of it,” explained Chris Cabrera, now a vice president in the National Border Patrol Council Local 3307, “but I find it odd that their whole thing is, ‘We are going to get amnesty when we get here. Where is my permiso? Where is my permission to go north so I can get my medical care and my schooling and all that? President Obama is going to take care of us and make sure we’re all OK.’
“Whether it’s the adults or the young kids, one thing we consistently hear is, ‘Obama will take care of us,’” Cabrera said.
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He also suggested the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors illegally entering the United States appear to have been coached on what to say when they cross the border.
“The ‘magic words’ are something along the lines of ‘asylum,’ or ‘political asylum’ or to say ‘fighting in my home country,’” Cabrera said. “They know these words … because we can’t send them home, because it’s too dangerous back there.”
The only way to stop the flow of illegal immigration and child smuggling across the border, he said, is to eliminate the entitlement mentality with a return to strict, border enforcement.
“What needs to be done is 100-percent detention and 100-percent removal,” Cabrera said.
Cabrera’s comments backed up statements made earlier in the week by Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., who told a national TV audience the children were coming through Mexico from Central America by Obama’s “invitation.”
“I think we’re overlooking the obvious here,” Inhofe told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd on Thursday. “I went down and talked to these kids. … These kids were here in this country at the invitation of the president. I think everyone knows it, nobody says it.”
Todd asked Ihhofe to clarify his comments.
“[Through] his DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, [Obama] is making it sound as if, ‘Come here, we’ll take care of you,’ and they