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Morning Roundup - September 16th

From the Washington Post, on the Homeland Security Advisory System Task Force report:

A bipartisan task force recommended Tuesday that the Obama administration
simplify and reset the U.S. government's iconic color-coded terrorism warning
system to the lowest of three new levels, if it keeps using levels at all.

The findings, which Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said
she will share with the White House and national security officials, could lead
to substantial changes to a widely panned but politically sensitive tool created
after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to alert the nation to
threats.

Since its inception, critics inside government and out have ridiculed
the Homeland Security Advisory System -- keyed to five colors running from
green, or "low risk," to red, or "severe risk" -- for being vague and
unhelpful.

In raising and lowering alert levels 17 times from 2002 to 2006, the
Bush administration opened itself to charges that it was manipulating the system
for political effect. Tom Ridge, President George W. Bush's first homeland
security secretary, acknowledged in a recent memoir that his personal concerns
about that possibility contributed to his decision to step down after Bush's
reelection in 2004.

In practice, the nation has never been below the third, or
middle-threat, tier -- yellow, or "elevated risk." Analysts say it is unlikely
any politician would risk lowering the level, regardless of threat intelligence,
because any unexpected attack could hand opponents a political club.
Frances
Fragos Townsend, co-chairman of the Napolitano task force and Bush's former
homeland security adviser, said the system has lost the confidence of the
public.


From the Wall Street Journal, on the H1N1 vaccine:

The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday approved vaccines designed to
protect against the H1N1 influenza virus, a key step before starting a
vaccination campaign.

The approval was announced by Health and Human Services Secretary
Kathleen Sebelius at a hearing that was held by the House Energy and Commerce
Committee.

An FDA spokeswoman said the agency approved vaccines made by a unit of
Sanofi-Aventis SA, Novartis AG, CSL Ltd. and AstraZeneca PLC's MedImmune
unit.

MedImmune makes a vaccine in the form of mist delivered through the
nose rather than a shot.
Ms. Sebelius said a large-scale vaccination program
will begin in mid-October.

The U.S. has spent more than $1 billion to purchase and administer a
total of 195 million H1N1 vaccine doses being made by five companies, including
GlaxoSmithKline PLC. Ms. Sebelius said that the agency's officials are still
working on that application.

About 40 million to 50 million vaccine doses will be available by the
middle of next month and will be distributed to each state's health department
officials.


From the Los Angeles Times, on the new path to citizenship for members of the military:
Looking more like a student than a soldier, the young Indian in jeans and a
T-shirt snapped his heels together and stood at attention in front of an
American flag. He raised his right hand and pledged to defend the United States
against all enemies.

The enlistment ceremony earlier this month at a military center near
Los Angeles International Airport took less than five minutes. With that, he
became the 101st person in Los Angeles to join the Army under a program that
significantly increases the number of immigrants eligible to serve.

"I think I'm in seventh heaven," he said, grinning.

Until recently, the 25-year-old with a master's degree from Purdue
University in Indiana would not have been permitted to sign up. He had come to
the U.S. on a student visa, and only citizens or permanent residents who carry
green cards were eligible to join the armed forces. That changed in February
when the Army started taking applications from foreigners with specific language
and medical skills who are here on temporary visas or as refugees or asylum
seekers.

Although all military branches are meeting or exceeding their recruitment
goals, they have struggled to find individuals with critical skills needed in
Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond, officials said. In exchange for their service, the
foreign recruits -- who offer skills it would take years to teach -- get an
expedited path to citizenship.



Leadership Events
6:30 PM MDT
Secretary Napolitano will deliver remarks at the Domenici Legacy Conference on Public Policy
New Mexico State University
Corbett Center Ballrooms
Las Cruces, N.M.

Public Events

9:30 AM LOCAL
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) National Preparedness Directorate Deputy Administrator Tim Manning will participate in a panel discussion about disaster management at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Third Emergency CEO’s Forum
Sofitel Plaza Hotel, 1 Thanh nien Street
Hanoi, Vietnam

10:30 AM EDT
Transportation Security Administration Public Affairs Manager Sari Koshetz will participate in a media availability to announce funding for Explosive Detection System (EDS) equipment for an in-line system
Panama City – Bay County International Airport
4424 County Road 388
Southport, Fla.

2 PM EDT
Richard Serino will participate in the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee confirmation hearing for his nomination as FEMA Deputy Administrator
342 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
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