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August 19, 2009
4:50 pm
Secretary Napolitano joined Secretaries Gary Locke of the Department of Commerce and Kathleen Sebelius of the Department of Health and Human Services this morning to announce new guidelines for businesses in preparation for flu season. The guidelines were released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Secretary Napolitano stated, “Ensuring business continuity is important to our cooperative efforts to keep Americans safe.”
The guidelines stress the importance of frequent hand washing and routine cleaning of common areas. The guidelines also strongly suggest that employers be flexible with sick leave policies, understanding that employees may have to stay home with a sick family member. They also recommend that employers take time to review current sick leave policies with their employees.

More guidelines for employers and families are available online at flu.gov.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
August 19, 2009
12:02 pm
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is issuing multiple daily advisories on Hurricane Bill, this season’s first hurricane. They are also keeping an eye on the remnants of Tropical Depression Ana. Details on both storms below.

Here's the current situation as reported by the National Hurricane Center (NHC):

Hurricane Bill


Hurricane Bill is currently located 380 miles east-northeast of the Leeward Islands and is moving west-northwest at 18 MPH. It is expected to travel on this trajectory today and Thursday.

Hurricane Bill is a category four hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 135 MPH with higher gusts. The current forecast indicates that Hurricane Bill could strengthen in the next 24 hours.

Large swells caused by Hurricane Bill could begin to affect the Eastern Coast of the United States Friday and Saturday. Check with your local national weather forecast office for possible weather advisories in your area.

Click here for the latest public advisory on Bill.

Ana

The showers and other remnants of Tropical Depression Ana are gradually diminishing. There is a less than 30 percent chance of this system reforming into a tropical cyclone again.

Click here for the latest public advisory on Ana.

All information in the above posted was drawn from the National Hurricane Center
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
August 19, 2009
9:21 am
From the Times-Picayune, on the Secretary's announcement in New Orleans on Monday:

Southern University at New Orleans, which has clawed its way back to 85 percent of its pre-Hurricane Katrina enrollment, will get $32 million in additional grants to rebuild four academic buildings on its original campus, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Monday in front of a receptive faculty conclave.

The secretary's announcement ends a long-running dispute between the flood-ravaged school and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the primary source of rebuilding money for state and local government entities.

The grants will bring SUNO's post-storm federal aid to $92 million. And it underscores a federal commitment to rebuild the institution's Pontchartrain Park campus on Press Drive, rather than moving the entire university to the makeshift lakeside campus that opened in temporary buildings after Katrina.

The anticipated construction on the original 17-acre campus -- combined with ongoing projects on the Lake Campus -- should result in a more impressive physical plant for SUNO than the 11-building, 3,600-student campus that flooded almost four years ago. The university already has partially refurbished six buildings, and it has broken ground on a new technology building, a business school and a $44 million residential complex.


From the Yuma Sun, on the Border Patrol's arrest of a wanted gang member:

Two Border Patrol agents nabbed a wanted gang member after spotting him during a bicycle patrol in San Luis, Ariz., Monday evening.

BP said several arrest warrants had been issued for the suspect who had been on the run from the San Luis Police Department for some time.

According to BP, on Aug. 12 agents assigned to the Yuma Station bike patrol unit assisted SLPD with a domestic violence call. The subject fled the scene before agents arrived.

"The Border Patrol agents were asked to help a police officer respond to the domestic violence call because he was alone," said Laura Boston, Border Patrol agent with the Yuma Sector Public Affairs.

The agents were later informed by San Luis police that the subject was a known member of the Plaza Barrio Wild Gang in that city and had several active felony warrants for domestic violence, dangerous drugs and felony flight.


Leadership Events
11 AM EDT
Secretary Napolitano will participate in a media availability to announce H1N1 business guidance
Department of Commerce
Main Auditorium
1401 Constitution Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20230

Public Events
2:15 PM EDT
NPPD Supervisory Program Analyst Ryan Oremland will present an update on the National Emergency Communications Plan at the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International Annual Conference and Expo
Hilton Pavilion 6
Las Vegas Hilton
3000 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, Nev.

3:45 PM EDT
NPPD Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) Director Chris Essid will deliver remarks about the OEC and the National Emergency Communications Plan at the APCO International Annual Conference and Expo
Conrad Room
Las Vegas Hilton
3000 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, Nev.

4:40 PM EDT
ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton will be participating in a pen and pad with San Diego-area media
185 West F Street
2nd Floor
San Diego, California
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
August 18, 2009
10:14 pm
Secretary Napolitano will appear live on two radio shows tomorrow, and NPR's Weekend Edition this Sunday. The shows and websites are below. Tune in.

Beth and Bill: 9:20 AM tomorrow morning

KGO News Talk: Tomorrow morning

Secretary Napolitano's NPR Weekend Edition interview will air this Saturday.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
August 18, 2009
3:00 pm
Secretary Napolitano was in New Orleans yesterday to announce more than $32 million in funding for the rebuilding of four educational buildings at the Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO). The $32 million will be used to replace SUNO’s Old Science, New Science, Multipurpose and Clark education buildings--all damaged beyond repair during Hurricane Katrina.

“Expediting the recovery process for local communities affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita continues to be a top priority for the Department,” said Secretary Napolitano. “These public assistance funds represent our commitment to helping residents of the Gulf Coast rebuild as quickly and effectively as possible.”

Secretary Napolitano made the announcement during a visit to SUNO, where she was joined by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate and Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding Janet Woodka to discuss Gulf Coast rebuilding efforts with federal, state and local partners.

“Today’s announcement is one more example of the great strides FEMA’s Louisiana Transitional Recovery Office has made in expediting assistance to New Orleans and Louisiana,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “Under the guidance of the President and Secretary Napolitano, FEMA’s Louisiana Transitional Recovery Office director Tony Russell and his team have worked closely with the state on rebuilding and recovery projects such as SUNO, and we look forward to continuing and strengthening this important partnership.”
In the seven months since Secretary Napolitano was sworn in, FEMA has obligated more than $895 million in public assistance funds for Louisiana recovery—including more than $404 million for education, $130 million for public works, $49 million for public safety and protection, $54 million for health care, $217 million for public infrastructure and $40 million for debris removal.

“This is an example of what can be done when federal agencies, the state, and local officials come together as partners,” said Woodka. “The Administration is committed to continuing to work with all those who have a stake in moving New Orleans and the Gulf Coast forward.”
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
August 18, 2009
12:38 pm

We’re taking a moment today to feature an important conference coming up at the end of the month. Yes, there are a lot of government conferences every year, and truthfully, we don’t spend a lot of time highlighting them. This blog wouldn’t be a blog anymore if we did; it would be a…well I don’t know, it would just be someplace where conferences are posted. The GFIRST National Conference, however, stands out as one we want to get on the radar for folks outside of the general government conference circuit.

GFIRST focuses on cybersecurity, and brings together dedicated professionals to participate in information-sharing groups, learn about the latest trends and preemptive measures, and listen to expert speakers discuss the latest in cybersecurity news. GFIRST organizers and speakers will use five pillars to communicate the conference’s message. They are:

  • Threat
  • Vulnerability
  • Attack & Detection
  • Mitigation
  • Reflection

Click here to learn more about how these five pillars guide the discussion on cybersecurity. If you’re a cybersecurity professional, think about coming to the GFIRST conference – you can register onsite. The 5th Annual GFIRST National Conference takes place in Atlanta, Georgia this year from August 23rd-28th, and is hosted by US-CERT, the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team. US-CERT is a partnership between DHS and the public and private sectors, and charged with protecting the nation's Internet infrastructure by coordinating defense against and response to cyber attacks.

The conference will have nearly 100 sessions with six seminar tracks, based on the GFIRST5 pillars, plus one more: Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP). This is the third consecutive year that the GFIRST Conference will serve as a venue for the Justice Department’s CHIP to hold its Coordinators’ Conference.

Senior cybersecurity officials from DHS and the private sector will speak at the conference, including: Philip Reitinger, Deputy Undersecretary of the National Protection and Programs Directorate and Director of the National Cybersecurity Center, and Greg Schaffer, Assistant Secretary of the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications. Dave DeWalt, President and Chief Executive Officer of McAfee, Inc. will also address the conference.

For more information on the 5th Annual GFIRST National Conference, please visit: http://www.us-cert.gov/GFIRST.

Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
August 18, 2009
9:25 am
From the Associated Press, on the Secretary's trip to New Orleans yesterday:

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Monday the Obama administration was honoring its pledge to cut red tape and speed the flow of rebuilding aid to the Gulf Coast, with more than $895 million in infrastructure funds set aside for Louisiana since President Barack Obama took office.

The latest pledge of money - $32 million - was announced during her second visit in five months to Southern University at New Orleans, which was virtually wiped out by Hurricane Katrina nearly four years ago. Only a few buildings have been renovated to date, and some classes and school activities are still held in trailers at a nearby campus.

The money is to replace four buildings. The school and Federal Emergency Management Agency had previously not come to terms on the level of damage caused by the Aug. 29, 2005 storm and levee breaches.

"It's really awesome," Chancellor Victor Ukpolo said.

Shortly after taking her post earlier this year, Napolitano ordered a fresh look at hurricane recovery efforts that had been marred by red tape, finger-pointing and hard feelings by officials at all levels. The review prompted, among other things, joint federal-state teams to resolve project disputes.


From USA Today, on a new set of charges for a known hacker:

Federal authorities in New Jersey on Monday charged accused TJX hacker Albert Gonzalez and two unnamed Russians with also cracking into the computer systems of Heartland Payment Systems, 7-Eleven, Hannaford Bros. and two unidentified companies.

Gonzalez, 28, of Miami, is now at the epicenter of the largest data breach criminal case in U.S. history. He was previously charged on May 2008 and August 2008 by federal authorities in eastern New York and Massachusetts, suspected of breaching data systems linked to more than 2,500 stores owned by the TJX (TJX) retail chain, parent of T.J. Maxx. TJX reported losing more than 94 million payment card transactions. Gonzalez pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

He faces the Heartland charges beyond that. "This investigation marks the continued success of law enforcement in tracking down cutting-edge hacking schemes," Ralph Marra, acting U.S. Attorney of New Jersey said in a statement.


From the Wall Street Journal, on preparing for H1N1:

With about 55 million U.S. children heading back to school in the next few weeks, concerns are growing that the H1N1 swine flu will spread even further than it already has. Identified by scientists four months ago, the virus has already turned up in nearly every corner of the world, from Argentina to Iran. It defied public-health officials' predictions of a lull in the warm summer months, proliferating in military units and children's summer camps.

More than two million people are believed to have contracted the new flu in the U.S.; 7,511 had been hospitalized and 477 had died as of Aug. 13, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. World-wide, 177,457 people have been confirmed with the disease, and 1,462 deaths had been reported as of Aug. 12, according to the World Health Organization.

A vaccine against the new flu is under development, but it is unlikely to be widely available before the flu season gets under way. That could leave many people scrambling to protect themselves and their children.

Here is what you need to know:

How dangerous is the H1N1 swine flu?


Public Events
2 PM Local
U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen will participate in a media availability about Arctic Domain Awareness
Fairbanks International Airport
General Aviation Hanger
6459 Airport Way
Fairbanks, Alaska
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
August 17, 2009
7:50 pm
Earlier today, I was at the Southern University of New Orleans (SUNO), which sustained major damage from Hurricane Katrina nearly four years ago. Today, there are signs of progress across the campus, and I was proud to announce an additional $32 million in funding to continue the rebuilding of SUNO.

Overall, more than $400 million has been obligated under this Administration toward the repair and replacement of educational facilities and projects throughout Louisiana.


Thanks to a concerted effort by FEMA, our Gulf Coast Rebuilding Office, and all the federal agencies involved, Gulf Coast communities have a strong ally in their rebuilding efforts.

Certainly, when we look back on the last four years, there’s much to learn from. But right now:
  • We have the right people in place
  • We are cutting through bureaucratic red tape and getting decisions made faster, and
  • We are addressing the most difficult challenges head-on rather than working around them.
What this all means is that – from the federal perspective – we are keeping the promises that we've made.

Last February, we committed to working to help resolve the lingering problems that many families were having with housing. Since then, we have assisted more than 3,200 Louisiana households move out of FEMA temporary housing and into more suitable, longer-term, functional housing.

Overall, roughly 99 percent of households displaced by hurricanes Katrina and Rita have found longer-term means of housing.

Back in March, we created two teams to aid in the resolution of disputed projects. The Joint Expediting Team and the Unified Public Assistance Project Decision Team together have since resolved 73 disputed projects. And two weeks ago, we announced an additional avenue for fairly and promptly resolving public assistance projects through independent arbitration panels.

We've made significant progress over the past seven months, but at the same time, we all acknowledge how far we still need to go.

Rebuilding the Gulf Coast, and making it stronger and more resilient, is a long-term project that requires the engagement of federal state and local government, communities, faith groups, and the private sector.

Today, I shared the message that this Administration is committed to rebuilding in the long term. Our expectations are high, and I look forward to coming back to see more signs of progress soon.

Janet Napolitano
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
August 17, 2009
11:53 am
The first few named systems of the 2009 Atlantic Season have formed in recent days, including Hurricane Bill, the first hurricane of the year for the Atlantic.

Here's the current situation as reported by the National Hurricane Center (NHC):

Hurricane Bill

Hurricane Bill is currently located about 1080 miles east of the Lesser Antilles, and is moving west-northwest at about 16 MPH.

Maximum sustained winds have increased to 90 MPH, and some strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours. Bill could become a “major hurricane” by Wednesday. The NHC classifies a “major hurricane” as any storm that reaches category three strength, with sustained wind speeds between 111-130 MPH.

Because it’s still so far offshore, no watches or warnings are currently in effect for Bill.

Click here for the latest public advisory on Bill.

Tropical Depression Ana

Tropical Depression Ana is currently located about 75 miles south of San Juan, Puerto Rico and is moving west-northwest at about 28 MPH. The storm is expected to continue on this track, with a reduction in forward speed, over the next day or two.

Maximum sustained winds are near 35 MPH, and though little change in strength is forecast during the next 24 hours, Ana could degenerate into a tropical wave later today.

A Tropical Storm Watch is now in effect for Puerto Rico, The U.S. Virgin Islands, The British Virgin Islands, and The Dominican Republic from Punta Palenque to the Northern Haiti/Dominican Republic Border. A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, and in this case within 24 hours.

Click here for the latest public advisory on Ana.

Tropical Depression Claudette

The NHC has issued its final public advisory on Claudette.

Rainfall continues across the Florida Panhandle and southern Alabama as Claudette moves inland. Claudette will weaken as it continues its track northwestward through Alabama. The center of Claudette is expected to move over Southwestern Alabama through the day Monday and into Northeastern Mississippi by Monday night.

Maximum sustained winds are near 30 MPH.

All information in the above posted was drawn from the National Hurricane Center.

Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
August 17, 2009
9:09 am

From the Houston Chronicle, an op-ed written by Secretary Napotlitano:

As a former U.S. attorney, attorney general and governor of Arizona, I spent more than 15 years working in the Southwest and watching the challenges of our shared border evolve over time. Since the beginning of the Obama administration, our response to these challenges has evolved as well.

The change is needed.

For the past eight years the federal government approached the Southwest border as having a set of problems that were somehow independent from our nation's broader challenges with immigration, security, counternarcotics enforcement and international cooperation.

But there's a more strategic, more cooperative path, and we are taking it.

The Obama administration's approach is to view border security, interior immigration enforcement and counternarcotics enforcement as inextricably linked.

At the top of our border security mission is combating violence by Mexico-based drug cartels. To be sure, we haven't seen anything like Mexico's cartel violence here in the U.S. But the smuggling organizations are transnational, and the Obama administration is giving this issue the highest-level attention.

Over the past six months, we have forged a true partnership with Mexico's President Felipe Calderon, while building stronger relations with agencies across the federal government, and at the state, local and tribal level.


From Federal Computer Week, on Secure Flight:

Aug 14, 2009 Airlines will start asking passengers to provide their birth dates and gender on Aug. 15 as the Transportation Security Administration continues to take over from airlines the responsibility of screening travelers against subsets of the government's terrorist watch list.

The additional information will be required from passengers as part of TSA's Secure Flight passenger vetting program. However, if passengers aren't prompted to provide the additional information by a particular airline, they shouldn't worry as it won't affect their travel, TSA said in a statement.

As part of that multibillion-dollar, multi-phase information technology program, aircraft operators will be required to provide every passenger's information to TSA.

That agency, which is part of the Homeland Security Department, will then compare that information to the relevant watch list subsets and tell the airline whether it is authorized to print a boarding pass.


From the Associated Press, on current storm activity:

Tropical Storm Claudette made landfall on the Florida Panhandle near Fort Walton Beach early Monday while Hurricane Bill became the first hurricane of the 2009 Atlantic season.

Claudette, the first named storm to hit the U.S. mainland this year, was weakening as it moved farther inland Monday. But even before its arrival, the storm dumped heavy rains in some areas Sunday. It was not expected to cause significant flooding or wind damage.

Elsewhere, Hurricane Bill had maximum sustained winds near 75 mph but was expected to strengthen.

"We do believe (Bill) could become a major hurricane during the next couple of days," said Daniel Brown, a hurricane specialist for the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Bill was centered about 1,160 miles east of the Lesser Antilles and moving quickly west-northwest at 22 mph. The first hurricane of the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season ironically shares the same name as National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read.


Leadership Events
10:30 AM CDT
Secretary Napolitano will deliver remarks about Gulf Coast rebuilding efforts and participate in a media availability with Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator (FEMA) Craig Fugate and Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding Janet Woodka
Southern University at New Orleans
University Cafeteria
6400 Press Drive
New Orleans, La.

Public Events
National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) Director of Software Assurance Joe Jarzombek will deliver remarks about national efforts for deploying software systems at the annual METROCON Technical Conference
Sheraton Arlington Hotel
1500 Convention Center Drive
Arlington, Texas

10:30 AM PDT
ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton will be participating in a pen and pad with Los Angeles-area media
300 N. Los Angeles Street
Room 1275
Los Angeles, California

12 PM Local
U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen will participate in a media availability about Arctic Domain Awareness
Nome Airport
Army National Guard Hanger
500 Bering Street
Nome, Alaska

Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.

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