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September 8, 2009
2:12 pm
Secretary Napolitano was was joined by Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Kathy Cloninger at Scotchtown Hills Elementary School in Laurel, MD this afternoon to debut a new Girl Scout preparedness patch. The preparedness patch program, developed by the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) ,was designed to help Girl Scouts and their families interact and engage on the issue of personal preparedness.

Some of the activities required to achieve the patch include:

  • Identifying and preparing for potential emergencies
  • Learning about local alerts and warning systems
  • Engaging in community service

The Secretary remarked:

“This new preparedness patch will increase citizen preparedness and enhance our country’s readiness for disasters,” said Secretary Napolitano. “As a former Girl Scout, I know the ‘Be Prepared’ motto well—and I look forward to working with the Girl Scouts to spread the preparedness message to all of our nation’s citizens.”

The Secretary also took the opportunity to announce a new partnership between the department's Citizen Corps and the Girl Scouts to advance community preparedness nationwide. The two organizations will work together to encourage young women to become community leaders in emergency management and response fields and to raise public awareness about personal preparedness, training and community service opportunities.

The Secretary also participated in President Obama’s My Education, My Future initiative while at the school, by visiting students and listening to the President’s remarks encouraging them to work hard, set educational goals and take responsibility for their education.

Check out the Citizen Corps website for more information about preparing your community for all hazards, and ready.gov for information about preparing your family.

Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
September 8, 2009
10:13 am
From the Wall Street Journal, on E-Verify:

Agencies across the federal government on Tuesday will start ordering contractors to use an electronic system to verify whether their employees are eligible to work in the U.S.

The sweeping new mandate, crafted by the Bush White House but being implemented by the Obama administration, represents a significant expansion for the so-called E-Verify system, which government officials and independent experts expect to eventually become mandatory for private employers. Already, some states require companies operating within their borders to use it, regardless of whether the companies have government contracts.

About 169,000 federal contractors and subcontractors, who employ roughly 3.8 million workers, will eventually be covered by the program taking effect Tuesday.

U.S. District Court Judge Alexander Williams Jr. rejected an 11th-hour-effort late Friday by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups to delay the mandate while a federal appeal is pending. Upset about the liability the mandate puts on employers, the groups suing argue it is illegal for the government to extend E-Verify to contractors through an executive order.

The Chamber argues that given the state of the economy, this isn't the time to add more costs to U.S. businesses.


From the Dayton Daily News, on a new baggage screening system for the Dayton International Airport:

A $10 million federal grant from economic stimulus funds will allow Dayton International Airport to install a new baggage screening system and move the current machines out of the terminal lobby to make more room for travelers, airport officials said Friday, Sept. 4.

The city is soliciting bids from contractors to build an expansion of the airport's terminal building and install the new system there. It will use conveyors to transport baggage from airline ticket counters to another part of the building for screening.

Airport officials expect the contractor to start work in early January and have the system ready to operate in late December .

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will provide the funding. The government additionally is to provide screening equipment with an estimated value of $5 million, said Iftikhar Ahmad, Dayton's director of aviation.


From the Clayton News Daily, on the Beagle Brigade:

The wet nose of a beagle named Button recently led a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialist canine enforcement officer to a suitcase at the world's busiest airport.

Button sat down next to the suitcase and indicated to her handler that the luggage contained prohibited agricultural items.

"Show it to me," the handler commanded.

Button obeyed the command by placing her furry paw on the suitcase and barked and wagged her tail while waiting to be rewarded with a treat. The demonstration was part of a recent training exercise at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Button is part of the Customs and Border Protection Agriculture Canine Program and the Plant Protection and Quarantine program of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She belongs to one of numerous teams that work on concourse E, also known as the international terminal, at Hartsfield-Jackson.

"The CBP (Customs and Border Protection) Agriculture Canine Program utilizes detector dogs to locate fruits, vegetables, meats or other prohibited items that may carry pests or diseases that could harm U.S. agricultural resources," said Scott Sams, a spokesperson for Customs and Border Protection at Hartsfield-Jackson. "The CBP Agricultural Specialist Canine teams seize thousands of types of prohibited plant material and animal products every year. Agriculture specialists in the canine program are an integral part in the fulfillment of the CBP mission to protect American agriculture."


Leadership Events
12:30 PM EDT
Secretary Napolitano, Laurel, Md., Mayor Craig Moe and Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Kathy Cloninger will launch a Girl Scout preparedness patch, announce a new partnership and participate in a media availability
Scotchtown Hills Elementary
15950 Dorset Rd.
Laurel, Md.

Public Events
9 AM CDT
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Tribal Liaison Steve Golubic will participate in the Tribal Assistance Coordination Group presentation and tabletop exercise
at the National Native American Law Enforcement Association 17th Annual Conference
Tulsa Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
777 West Cherokee Street
Catoosa, Okla.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
September 4, 2009
5:16 pm

The Quadrennial Homeland Security Review is in the midst of its second National Dialogue. For those of you who haven’t been following too closely, the review is a congressionally mandated, top-to-bottom review of homeland security. There are six study groups, focusing on:

 

  • Counterterrorism and Domestic Security Management
  • Securing Our Borders
  • Smart and Tough Enforcement of Immigration Laws
  • Preparing for, Responding to, and Recovering from Disasters
  • Homeland Security National Risk Assessment
  • Homeland Security Planning and Capabilities

We are using online dialogues to allow stakeholders the opportunity to inform the work of our study groups.

During the first dialogue, more than 8,000 stakeholders rated and commented on proposed visions and goals from the study groups. We reviewed all rating data and comments submitted and forwarded to study groups – overall, we were very impressed with the quality and thoughtfulness of what we heard from you during the first dialogue.

For example, we received many recommendations on how to improve content, like simpler and more direct language. Stakeholders pointed out the critical interdependencies and emerging overlaps between study groups, and reinforced the need to stress mitigation as having a complementary role with preparedness, response, and recovery. Participants also stressed the need for ‘resiliency’ in the entire QHSR strategy, and the use of standard terminology.

We heard you – we relied on your feedback to modify our proposals and to enhance the user experience for the second national dialogue, which began on August 31st. During the second dialogue, we are asking stakeholders to rank proposed objectives and offer suggestions on how to achieve them.

Due to the upcoming Labor Day Weekend Holiday, we have extended the Second National Dialogue to Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009. We’re eager to hear your input.

Join the conversation at http://www.homelandsecuritydialogue.org/


Alan

Alan D. Cohn is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy (Strategic Plans)

Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
September 4, 2009
10:05 am
From Homeland Security Today, on a new agreement between the U.S. and Mexico on a new cross-border communications network:

The governments of the United States and Mexico signed an agreement Wednesday to build a new cross-border communications network to enable international communication between law enforcement agencies dealing with border security issues.

Officials of the United States-Mexico High-Level Consultative Commission on Telecommunications (HLCC) signed an agreement that set up an international working group to oversee the creation and operation of the communications network, managed by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Mexican Secretariat of Public Safety (SSP). The network, when completed, would provide law enforcement agencies with the means to transmit voice, data and video to enable collaborative responses to border incidents.

The HLCC agreement essentially establishes a framework for interoperable communications between federal, state, local, and tribal agencies that use the network.

The nations also would provide protection to the network, called the Cross Border Public Security Communications Network, from radio interference.


From the Bellingham Herald, on a Border Patrol seizure:

US Border Patrol agents seized about $3 million worth of Ecstasy and cocaine near Sumas Wednesday night, Sept. 2.

The agents were patrolling along the border when they spotted two people's footprints and the tracks of a heavy object being dragged along a row in a raspberry patch that went south from the U.S.-Canadian border, Agent Mike Bermudez said.

The footprints, which were eventually traced back to Canada, stopped in a residential area and the agents began searching the immediate area, Bermudez said.

While searching in some farm equipment, they located a large hockey bag that contained three backpacks, Bermudez said.


Public Events
9:30 AM Local
U.S. Coast Guard Vice Commandant Admiral Dave Pekoske will preside at a memorial service on the anniversary of the deaths of the four man crew of Coast Guard helicopter CG6505 when it crashed off Honolulu during training Sept. 4, 2008. During the ceremony the Air Station Barbers Point Aircrew Memorial will be dedicated to the crew of CG6505 as well as to the crew of Coast Guard helicopter CG1420, which crashed Jan. 7, 1982, resulting in the deaths of three.
Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point
1 Coral Sea Rd
Kapolei , HI
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
September 2, 2009
2:42 pm
Secretary Napolitano was in New York today to introduce a series of new public service advertisement (PSAs) produced for the Ready Campaign. The Ready Campaign's mission is to inform and educate the public on how to best prepare for a major disaster, emphasizing three basic steps every American can take:
  1. Put together an emergency supply kit.
  2. Make a family emergency plan.
  3. Get informed about the types of emergencies that could take place in their communities and appropriate responses.

The Secretary delivered remarks during the press conference:

“Preparedness is a shared responsibility that begins with the American people,” said Secretary Napolitano. “These public service advertisements highlight the simple steps everyone can take to prepare for disasters, enhancing the safety and security of our country.”

Secretary Napolitano unveiled the new PSAs at an event in New York City’s Times Square, joined by New York City Deputy Mayor Ed Skyler, New York City Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Bruno, American Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern, American Red Cross of Greater New York CEO Theresa Bischoff and Ad Council President and CEO Peggy Conlon.

You can watch the new PSAs by clicking the picture below:

Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
September 2, 2009
2:21 pm
In August, Secretary Napolitano announced the launch of a new DHS social networking site, Our Border. The site was created to encourage and facilitate discussion about the southwest border. Our Border enables community leaders, activists and concerned citizens to discuss issues relevant to the border with each other and with the department.

This week, we opened a new forum focused on commerce and the southwest border, and specifically narrowed to four topics:

· Tourism
· Bi-National Business
· Commercial Traffic / FAST
· Passenger Traffic / SENTRI

We encourage you to visit the site and join the discussion.

There’s also a section where members are encouraged to introduce themselves to the network. We wanted to share the introduction of “Ramona,” one of our members:
“I'm not a DHS employee or a community leader. I'm not even sure I can be called an activist. I firmly believe that the United States of America is the greatest country in the world and it became that way by embracing immigrants from every other countries in the world. We need to find a way to secure our borders, prevent drug, weapon and human smuggling and still allow Mexico and the United States to grow stronger as supportive neighbors.”
Ramona is one of over 300 members on Our Border, and, like others, she has already joined many of the groups and has participated in a number of the discussion forums. We encourage you to visit the site and get involved in the discussion. We want to hear from you.

Join today
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
September 2, 2009
9:18 am
From the Associated Press, on the President's remarks yesterday regarding H1N1:

"I don't want anybody to be alarmed, but I do want everyone to be prepared," he said.

The global swine flu epidemic first emerged in April, sickening more than 1 million Americans and killing about 500. More than 2,000 people have died worldwide. Health officials are preparing for a surge in cases this fall, and one White House report from a panel of experts suggests up to half the U.S. population could catch swine flu during a pandemicVaccine development is ongoing and is likely to be available by October. The president said the vaccine for swine flu - known as the H1N1 virus - would be voluntary, but "strongly recommended."

Certain groups are more vulnerable to swine flu, including children under 2, pregnant women and people with health problems like asthma, diabetes and heart disease.

Like the seasonal flu, swine flu spreads through coughs and sneezes of people who are sick. Obama said there are common sense precautions people can take to lower their risk of infection, like washing their hands frequently and staying home if they feel sick.

"I know it sounds simple, but it's important and it works," Obama said.

From CNN, on a new cast of characters to help educate kids about H1N1:

The federal government is reintroducing a powerful weapon in the fight against the H1N1 flu virus: Elmo.Kathleen Sebelius and Elmo spoke in May at a news conference about the H1N1 flu public service ads.

The popular Sesame Street character will be featured in a series of public service advertisements meant to encourage better hygiene among young children, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday.

In the ads, Elmo teams up with Gordon, another Sesame Street veteran, to stress the importance of basic healthy habits such as frequent hand washing, sneezing into the bend of your arm, and not touching your mouth, nose, and eyes.

The Secretary also appeard on the Today Show this morning to talk about National Preparedness Month and H1N1. You can check out the clip by clicking on the picture below:

From the Biloxi Sun Herald, on the Deputy Secretary's meeting on H1N1 in Mississippi yesterday:

U.S. House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson says Mississippi's health and emergency leaders appear prepared to handle the swine flu.Thompson and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute met privately Tuesday with health, education and emergency management officials to discuss the H1N1 flu virus.

"We came to hear what the issues were and learn what the challenges were in getting prepared," Lute said a news conference after the meeting. "What we heard was a great deal of awareness about the flu. That's a real strength as the flu season approaches."

When asked if Mississippi appeared to have its swine flu efforts under control, Thompson replied: "At this point, yes."Mississippi has 586 confirmed swine flu cases and two deaths as of Tuesday. Hundreds of other suspected cases have been reported on school and college campuses.

Leadership Events
10 AM EDT
Secretary Napolitano will participate in a media availability with Deputy Mayor Skyler, Commissioner Bruno and representatives from the American Red Cross and the Ad Council
Duffy Square
On Broadway, between 46th and 47th Streets
New York, N.Y.

Public Events
12:15 PM PDT
US-VISIT Program Director Robert Mocny will deliver remarks about biometrics and homeland security at the Monterey Homeland Security Conference
Naval Postgraduate School
1 University Circle
Monterey, Calif.

2 PM EDT
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Preparedness Coordination Division Director Andrew Mitchell and other FEMA staff will participate in a panel discussion about disaster preparedness, emergency management in higher education and the FEMA grant cycle at the National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Conference
Renaissance Hotel
999 9th Street, NW
Washington, D.C.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
September 1, 2009
5:02 pm
The Secretary participated in a briefing at the White House today on H1N1 preparedness with President Obama, other cabinet secretaries, and White House officials. After the meeting, President Obama was joined by the cabinet secretaries in the Rose Garden and he talked about their meeting, which was focused on the importance of public preparation for H1N1 as we head into flu season.

President Obama:

As I said when we saw the first cases of this virus back in the spring, I don't want anybody to be alarmed, but I do want everybody to be prepared. We know that we usually get a second, larger wave of these flu viruses in the fall, and so response plans have been put in place across all levels of government. Our plans and decisions are based on the best scientific information available, and as the situation changes, we will continue to update the public.

We're also making steady progress on developing a safe and effective H1N1 flu vaccine, and we expect a flu shot program will begin soon. This program will be completely voluntary, but it will be strongly recommended.

For all that we do in the federal government, however, every American has a role to play in responding to this virus. We need state and local governments on the front lines to make antiviral medications and vaccines available, and be ready to take whatever steps are necessary to support the health care system. We need hospitals and health care providers to continue preparing for an increased patient load, and to take steps to protect health care workers. We need families and businesses to ensure that they have plans in place if a family member, a child, or a co-worker contracts the flu and needs to stay home.

And most importantly we need everyone to get informed about individual risk factors, and we need everyone to take the common-sense steps that we know can make a difference. Stay home if you're sick. Wash your hands frequently. Cover your sneezes with your sleeve, not your hands. And take all the necessary precautions to stay healthy. I know it sounds simple, but it's important and it works.
The government recently released updated guidance for businesses and schools, and flu.gov will continue to be a great resource for individuals in advance of flu season. September, as we posted on earlier today, is National Preparedness Month, and every American shares a responsibility to be ready for H1N1 this fall.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
September 1, 2009
12:30 pm
Check out the Secretary's White House Blog post from this morning about National Preparedness Month.

Building a Ready and Resilient Nation

Today marks the beginning of National Preparedness Month, an opportunity for our nation’s families and communities to discuss their plans if they were faced with an emergency.

Protecting the United States from threats like terrorism, natural disasters, and infectious diseases is a shared responsibility and everyone has an important role to play.

This effort starts in our own communities. By talking to your neighbors, friends and family about citizen preparedness – during September and beyond – we can build a culture where shared responsibility for preventing and responding to emergencies is every bit as common as planning for retirement or keeping your car and home in good repair.

For more information about emergency planning, visit www.ready.gov or the Spanish-language site, www.listo.gov.

Individuals can also help by learning a skill like CPR, or volunteering in their community through a local Citizen Corps council.

We look forward to sharing additional ideas and information here, and at DHS.gov throughout the month of September to help all Americans become better prepared for – and more resilient to – emergencies of all kinds.

Janet Napolitano
Secretary

Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
September 1, 2009
8:33 am
From Federal News Radio, on the 2nd Quadrennial Homeland Secuirty Review dialogue:

The Department of Homeland Security has opened up phase two of its Quadrennial Homeland Security Review.

DHS yesterday launched the web component of the review's second phase. And the agency is asking the blogosphere to spread the word about the process.

Alan Cohen, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Strategic Plans at DHS says that in phase one a task force of DHS staffers used the website to solicit suggestions on topics for discussion as part of the first annual Review.

"For the second national dialogue," he told a reporter teleconference on Monday, "we're focusing here on the groups taking their goals, breaking their goals into strategic objectives, and we've distilled those objectives down to a short and pithy description that you'll see on the site. We're asking folks to assign a priority level to the objective: do you think that these priorities should be higher than others?"

Thus far, Cohen says, DHS has gathered more than 20,000 comments, suggestions and ratings from people who participated in part one of the review process. And they've even been able to revise and adjust the format of the review, from a radio button-style click-through questionnaire form to more of a dialogue box comment format, based on feedback from all those people who have participated in the review process so far.

From the Associated Press, on Operation Twisted Traveler:

Three men expelled from Cambodia are facing charges in the U.S. as part of a crackdown on Americans who travel overseas to have sex with children, authorities said Monday.

The three previously convicted sex offenders were the first to be charged under "Operation Twisted Traveler," an initiative targeting problems in Cambodia, which authorities described as ground zero for the crimes.

"Let their arrests serve as notice to any other person who might be tempted to evade justice by victimizing children outside of this country," said John Morton, head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. "Boarding a plane to a foreign land is no protection."

From the New York Times, on new accusations in a credit card fraud investigation:

The five men operated thousands of miles from Manhattan, under aliases like "the Viver," "Inexwor" and "DoZ." And with their true identities obscured on the Web, Manhattan prosecutors said, these men were able to play intimate roles in a cybertheft that resulted in more than 95,000 stolen credit card numbers and $4 million worth of fraudulent transactions.

The men, all from Eastern Europe, were the latest suspects to be identified by Robert M. Morgenthau, the Manhattan district attorney, in a 17-defendant, 173-count enterprise corruption indictment dating to November 2007.Mr. Morgenthau said at a news conference on Monday that the men were involved in a vast conspiracy known as the Western Express Cybercrime Group, which trafficked in stolen credit card information through the Internet and used it for things like forging credit cards and selling goods on eBay. The defendants often hid their identities by using digital currencies like e-gold and Webmoney, Mr. Morgenthau said.

From Forbes, on how to fight the flu this fall:

Last week, the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, a group of the nation's leading scientists and engineers, released a report on the H1N1 flu virus. The forecast seemed grim.

A more aggressive mutation of the virus, they said, could infect 30% to 50% of the population, lead to as many as 1.8 million hospitalizations and cause between 30,000 to 90,000 deaths compared to the annual number of 36,000.

Yet to Dr. Philip Alcabes, an epidemiologist and professor at Hunter College School of Health Sciences in New York, the estimate is a "plausible scenario," not a prediction.

"Should the public be alarmed?" he says. "Absolutely not." Besides, it's impossible to know whether the virus will mutate until the day it happens.

In Depth: How To Fight The Flu This Fall

Jean Gallagher, a 46-year-old alumna of St. Francis Preparatory School in Fresh Meadows, N.Y., which was the epicenter of a New York City H1N1 outbreak of this spring, says she's not concerned about contracting the virus this fall. Gallagher, who is on leave from her job as a professor of English at the Polytechnic Institute of NYU, says she'll get her one-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Maggie, vaccinated this fall and wash both of their hands frequently, but plans to take no additional precautions.

Leadership Events
11:15 AM CDT
Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute and Chairman Bennie Thompson will participate in a media availability
Jackson State University, The Jackson Medical Mall
350 West Woodrow Wilson, Room 131
Jackson, Miss.

4:30 PM EDT
Secretary Napolitano, Mayor Fenty, Governor O’Malley and Governor Kaine will participate in a media availability
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Press Room
Ronald Reagan Building, Concourse Level - Room C.1-47
1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, D.C

Public Events
8 AM MDT
U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will participate in an Enforcement Expo forum to showcase vital new techniques as well as to view and compare the latest equipment necessary to enforce our immigration and customs laws
Columbus Convention Center
Columbus, Ohio

10 AM PDT
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Public Affairs Manager Suzanne Trevino will conduct a media event and press availability with Continental Airlines representatives on paperless boarding pass technology
San Francisco International Airport
San Francisco, Calif.

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

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