Saturday, September 29, 2012

What should be the American Posture on Counter Terrorism in 2013?

Seal of the United States Department of Justice
Seal of the United States Department of Justice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
These authors argue that we should not lose our momentum in the year ahead:

It appears that there are many opportunities to train and prepare in the months ahead:

A counter terrorism summit is scheduled for late October in San Diego:

The sponsors describe the event as follows:

Attend the world’s premier counter-terrorism event that “totally breaks the mold.” The HALO Counter-Terrorism Summit 2012 will be our largest event to date. We’ve bought out the entire Paradise Point Resort island in Mission Bay to provide one of the most forward-thinking and unique training and networking environments. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to attend!

Here's what the DOJ's Bureau of Justice Assistance has to offer:

The events of September 11, 2001 changed our nation. On that day, fighting terrorism became the responsibility of every American.

BJA recognizes that it is the job of law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to bring terrorists to justice, but we also believe that every citizen can play a vital part in helping to prevent terrorism. Our role is to facilitate the ability of citizens, whenever possible and appropriate, to participate in terrorism prevention and preparedness efforts.

Like America's citizens, our nation's law enforcement officers face new challenges to responding effectively to terrorism. To meet these challenges, law enforcement officers must have the training and resources they need to prevent future tragedies. Local and state governments must find new ways to quickly disseminate threat information and rally first responders in the event of an attack. They must also learn new ways to work with the community to gather and assess information about potential terrorist operations and to integrate counter terrorism measures into their daily operations. BJA is committed to working with all levels of government to help prevent, disrupt, and defeat terrorist acts before they occur.
Evaluation Information and Tools
BJA’s Center for Program Evaluation and Performance Management maintains a user-friendly online evaluation and performance measurement tool designed to assist state and local criminal justice planners, practitioners, State Administrati ve Agencies, researchers, and evaluators in: 1) conducting evaluations and performance measurement that will address the effectiveness and efficiency of their projects and 2) using evaluation information to improve program planning and implementation. Visit the Center for Program Evaluation and Performance Management site to learn more.

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) — the research, development and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice — is dedicated to improving knowledge and understanding of crime and justice issues through science. NIJ provides objective and i ndependent knowledge and tools to reduce crime and promote justice, particularly at the state and local levels. Access the NIJ sitefor further information and access to research materials. 

OJP’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) collects, analyzes, publishes, and disseminates information on crime, criminal offenders, victims of crime, and the operation of justice systems at all levels of government. These data are critical to federal, state, and local policymakers in combating crime and ensuring that justice is both efficient and evenhanded. See the BJS site for a ccess to data on a variety of topics.
For detailed information on federally sponsored anti-terrorism training, visit the Criminal Intelligence Training Master Calendar. Also see the BJA Events page to locate information about justice trainings and other events.

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Risk Management conferences coming up in October

Here's what's out there for risk-management folks next month:

2012 RMA Annual Risk Management Conference

October 28, 2012 - October 30, 2012
Dallas, TX
The historic French city of Versailles will be the venue for the 2012 FERMA Seminar on 22 and 23 October. The Seminar, which takes place in alternate years from the FERMA Forum, is the occasion for the announcement of the results of the biannual risk management benchmarking survey.
The Conference Board's 

Enterprise Risk Management Conference

Aligning Strategy and Risk to Deliver Value
16 - 17 October, 2012 
InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile 
Chicago, IL

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Supreme Court's October session will include an affirmative-action case

English: University of Texas at Austin wordmark.
English: University of Texas at Austin wordmark. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Fisher v. University of Texas [] will be on the docket when the Supremes reopen for business next month.   The case dates back to 2008, when  Abigail Fisher sued after being rejected by UT-Austin.

The American Educational Research Association has joined the long list of amici allowed to files briefs with the Court.  The AERA supports affirmative action in higher education.

Cases concerning race and education date back to the first half of the 20th century.  The mother of all such cases is, of course, Brown v. Board of Education.  Here's what I wrote about it back in 2007:

Jim Castagnera: Remembering “Brown v. Board of Education”


SOURCE: News of Delaware County (7-4-07)

Last week the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decisions in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No.1. Yes, I said decisions, plural. No fewer than four separate opinions were filed in this 5-4 decision in which the bare majority struck down attempts by school-district defendants to assign students on the basis of race. The split decision is part of a pattern of disagreement and dissent on the nation’s highest judicial bench. If my count is correct, the nine justices have divided 5-4 on about one third of the cases they decided during this term. More precisely, my count is 22 decisions in which the vote was 5-4 in 19 cases, plus two 6-3 decisions and one 5-3 ruling… all these out of a total of some 60-plus cases.

More troubling still is the fact that 5-4 on the face of this highly significant school desegregation case masks the actual depth of the disagreements among the Supremes. The four-justice conservative clique --- Chief Justice Roberts and Associate Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito --- would allow no consideration of race whatsoever in assigning children to particular public schools. Never mind that the defendants’ purpose was to prevent de facto segregation along black-white lines. Justice Anthony Kennedy, increasingly the swing vote on the divided court, agreed with his four neo-con colleagues that the defendants’ approach was unconstitutional. But his separate, concurring opinion held that diversity remains a valid goal of our educational institutions and, therefore, some consideration of race in the assignment of school children may be permissible.

In dissent were Justices Stevens, Souter, Ginsberg and Breyer. Not satisfied simply to join the dissent penned by Breyer, Justice Stevens wrote a separate dissent of his own as well. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of all these 185 pages of judicial pronouncements and pontifications is that both sides cited 1954’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas for their positions.

Chief Justice Roberts wrote for the bare majority, “Before Brown, schoolchildren were told where they could and could not go to school based on the color of their skin. The school districts in these cases have not carried the heavy burden of demonstrating that we should allow this once again, even for very different reasons.” Justice Stevens sadly retorted, “There is a cruel irony in the Chief Justice's reliance on our decision in Brown v. Board of Education…. The first sentence in the concluding paragraph of his opinion states: ‘Before Brown, schoolchildren were told where they could and could not go to school based on the color of their skin.’ This sentence reminds me of Anatole France's observation: ‘[T]he majestic equality of the la[w], forbid[s] rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal their bread.’”

What a contrast this case makes to the Brown opinion, penned by Chief Justice Earl Warren. The former California governor, who during WWII signed the order evicting 110,000 Japanese Americans from their homes, did not look like the man who would lead the fight to overturn separate-but-equal as the law of the land. Certainly, President Dwight Eisenhower, who appointed him to head a court as badly fragmented as the one we have today, did not expect this of the man who had said, “If the Japs are released, no one will be able to tell a saboteur from any other Jap.” (Talk about profiling!)

Shortly after appointing Warren, Ike seated him at a White House dinner next to the chief counsel for the segregationists in the consolidated cases collectively called Brown. Ike told Warren the attorney was “a great man.” As for his clients, said Ike, “These are not bad people. All they are concerned about is to see that their sweet little girls are not required to sit in school alongside some big black bucks.” To quote the late, great journalist David Halberstam, “If Dwight Eisenhower had decided… that the two of them shared similar attitudes and values, then he was wrong.”

In the months that followed his confirmation, Warren achieved the impossible, bringing liberals and conservatives, included segregationists, on the high court together in a unanimous opinion that is one of the truly eloquent pieces of literature in the annals of the common law. Its eloquence is enhanced by its brevity.

What should sadden all of us, liberals and conservatives alike, as we review the vast, unwieldy tome of Seattle School District No.1, is the apparent inability of our newest chief justice to bring together his eight colleagues on the big issues… this at a time when national elections are decided by the narrowest of majorities, if not mere pluralities, and we are in desperate need of the law’s guiding beacon in the 
dark days ahead.

More recently, the Supremes decided two cases concerning practices at the University of Michigan:

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Remembering the Missiles of October

English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The 50 anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis is just days away.  I was a high school sophomore, just turning 15.  The talk among me and my friends was whether there would be another world war and, if so, would it last so long that we would wind up serving.

For those who share these memories with me, and for those who know nothing aboout this historic event from first hand, here are some sources:

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Latest issue of Infragard newsletter now available

English: Long Island Infragard Members Allianc...
English: Long Island Infragard Members Alliance Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Member,
Please visit   to view the latest issue of the "Chairman's Corner" INMA newsletter.

This document is posted on the InfraGard Public website, therefore no login is required.  

Please contact InfraGard Tech Support at 877.861.6298 or for assistance with your InfraGard account.

Thank You.
InfraGard National Members Alliance

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Burglars told by Judge: Getting shot by the homeowner is not a mitigating factor

These two British blokes broke into a farm house, only to find the occupant waiting with a shotgun.  One felon got sprayed in the face.  The other got whacked in the hand.  After pleading guilty, they requested a lighter sense due to the trauma and injury already suffered.  Responded His Honor, if you break into a home, that's the risk you bear.  No mitigation of sentence for you, lads.

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The Generation Gasp: September 29, 2012

Unsafe at Any Age
Saturday, September 29, 2012
Sometime in the Sixties, Ralph Nader became famous for "Unsafe at Any Speed," which trashed the Chevy Corvair. The Corvair was a compact car with its engine in the rear, aimed at taking on the Volkswagen Beetle.
If the Corvair was unsafe at any speed, the Beetle was a rolling death trap. At $1,995, it was a bargain. But as soon as you drove it off the lot, it began devolving before your very eyes. First the cheesy plastic door handles fell off. Then the heater rusted out and stopped working. Soon, you could watch the road go by beneath your feet through the rust holes in the floor. Finally, the bumpers rusted and dropped off, leaving only your ten-gallon gas tank between you and a front-end collision.
In this German version of a kiddy car, you faced the great finned beasts for which Detroit was rightly famous, the Corvair not withstanding. But even these brutes - the Caddies, and Lincolns and the like - were ill equipped from a safety standpoint. "No seatbelts" reluctantly gave way to lap belts, while these steel bruins merrily went out of control at their first contact with ice.
If they hit a Beetle, well, as the saying goes, whether the rock hits the pitcher or the pitcher hits the rock… I knew one guy who wouldn't go out in his "bug" unless he had on his crash helmet.
That's more than you could d say for us kids. No self-respecting guy would be caught dead wearing a bike helmet. No, I assure you, if we were found dead by our bikes, we were bareheaded. And we took those bikes everywhere. A favorite summer pastime was to walk our bikes up the highway that leads from Jim Thorpe "out the mountain" toward the Poconos. When we got to the spot where the road finally leveled off, we turned around and soared down the couple of miles up which we had just come.
When we weren't in "Evel Knievel" mode, we took to the woods. In the morning, mom's only admonition was, "Remember, your dad will be home at four and he'll want to eat at five." Where we went was pretty much up to us. A favorite locale was the woods behind the last street in town, where we built rival clubhouses out of scrap lumber and logs. The fun wasn't in the building. It was in the raiding of the other guys' shanties. Weapons of choice included BB guns and homemade bows and arrows. It's a wonder that Jim Thorpe isn't in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most one-eyed males.
Last, but hardly least, among summer's splendors was a swim in the Lehigh River. Today's Lehigh Gorge hikers can see the bridge from which the braver among us leaped into the mighty Lehigh. If you dodged the rocks and concrete pilings, the acid run-off from the mines dyed you slightly orange at times.
All in all, it's hard to believe any of us made it through our youths to risk our lives once again as teens. But we did… with only a modest number of casualties.
Just the same, when my kids were born, I set about seeing to it that their days were filled with organized activities. Do as I say, not as I did, was my secret motto.
I think many parents today would be happy if they only had to worry about their children losing an eye. Okay… maybe not, but roll with my logic here. There's just a lot more for parents to worry about nowadays, and the quest for safety at every age has created a kind of snowball effect.
You've got the usual kidnappers and crazies. They've always been around, but as the population grows, so do the number of nut jobs (it only makes sense, right?). So rather than send little Judy and Timmy outside for a romp alone in the nearby woods - woods that are surely full of all sorts of shady characters - Mom keeps the kids inside to watch TV and play videogames. After all, it's for their safety… if not their health.
Then there are the schools, striving for that same, overly-intense level of protection. The results are mixed. Take for example the two schools in Houston, Texas, that spent $150,000 to buy tracking devices to pin on all of their students. Never mind the fact that students could simply take the badges off and leave them wherever they wanted ("Say, Alvin has been in the bathroom all day long!"). And forget that the tracking devices only worked within 100 feet of the school, so if a student did leave the school grounds or was, say, kidnapped, the devices were useless anyway. I assume the schools got the inspiration for treating students like criminals from the TSA.
Other recent brilliant school rules - designed for maximum safety, of course - include: not allowing students to touch one another, ever, in order to avoid fistfights; not allowing students to bring their own lunches or other "outside food" to school (perhaps this rule was also designed to curb the U.S. obesity rate through starvation, because I for one refused to eat the cardboard cafeteria food as a child); hiding surveillance cameras in school laptops (because that's not a lawsuit waiting to happen); and, finally, drug-testing administered by the school nurse. And all of these measures cost money - money that should be spent on, I don't know, books? And actual education? Rather than half-baked security plans.
All of this, ostensibly, is in the name of protecting our children, and while I understand the intent, the execution is simply bad. Instead of creating a safe haven for children, I think we're merely creating overweight, mal-adjusted, uneducated adults who are afraid to go outside.
Personally, I'd prefer to live in a land of one-eyed 

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