NEWS

Morning Security Brief: Atlanta's Snowstorm Horror, Terrorism Complacency, Overtime Abuse, and Drone Crash

By Ann Longmore-Etheridge

► The U.S. city of Atlanta, Georgia, ground to a stop yesterday because of snowfall and ice. Motorists were stranded for upwards of ten hours in massive gridlock, school children were still on buses trying to reach home as late as midnight, and emergency services were overwhelmed by nearly 1,000 accidents, including more than 100 with injuries. Much of the entire state of Georgia was adversely affected by the winter storm, as was the state of Alabama, where five people were killed in weather-related accidents and the National Guard was deployed to assist stranded motorists. For his part, the state governor, called the storm "unexpected." The Wall Street Journal reports that "By midnight, [a] newly formed Facebook group had more than 20,000 members--including stranded drivers asking for advice on where to take shelter for the night and people sharing places to stay. One poster, saying it was a 'state of emergency,' asked managers of stores and other warm places to keep them open for shelter, and some people have holed up in supermarkets or gas stations. People living along clogged roads offered bottled water and hot chocolate to stranded drivers; some offered beds in their homes for the night."

►During his State of the Union Address, U.S. President Barack Obama warned against complacency toward terrorism. "The fact is, that danger remains.... While we have put al Qaeda’s core leadership on a path to defeat, the threat has evolved, as al Qaeda affiliates and other extremists take root in different parts of the world,” Obama said last night. "In Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, and Mali, we have to keep working with partners to disrupt and disable these networks. In Syria, we’ll support the opposition that rejects  the agenda of terrorist networks. Here at home, we’ll keep strengthening our defenses, and combat new threats like cyberattacks.  And as we reform our defense budget, we have to keep faith with our men and women in uniform, and invest in the capabilities they need to succeed in future missions.”

The Washington Post reports that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is suspending an overtime program that has been abused, resulting in the loss of millions of dollars. "DHS officials are suspending administratively uncontrollable overtime... for certain employees who work in the headquarters of department agencies, full-time training instructors and those found by DHS investigators to have improperly received the overtime," writes the Post. "About 95 DHS employees at facilities in Northern Virginia allegedly increased their pay by 25 percent through overtime abuse, according to the Special Counsel Carolyn N. Lerner.”

►A $12 million drone conducting a border security mission has crashed off the southern California coast, according to the Associated Press (AP). "Customs and Border Protection says the drone was being flown on a border security mission when a mechanical problem developed about 20 miles southwest of San Diego late Monday night. Spokesman Mike Friel says the crew operating the drone from Texas decided to crash it in the ocean," the AP states.

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