Morning Security Brief: Chemical Weapons Plan, Bird Flu Worries, Airport Security, and More
Monitoring group to discuss how to dispose of Syria's chemical weapons; bird flu research shows worrying mutation; recommendations for improving safety of airport security checkpoint officers, and more.
► The Voice of America reports that "An international chemical weapons monitoring group meets Friday in The Hague to decide on how and where to carry out the risky process of destroying Syria's chemical arsenal." The Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons, which has inspected 22 of Syria's 23 declared chemical weapons sites, says the best way is to take the weapons out of Syria to a third country, but no country has volunteered to be that third party.
► Popular Science reports that "A common strain of bird flu that had previously only infected poultry has reached what's reported to be its first human patient, according to a study released in the Lancet Respiratory Medicine ." The article notes that "Avian flu research was slowed by a worldwide moratorium on studying transmissible H5N1 in January 2012 after a genetic mutation was found that could make the flu able to easily pass among ferrets. Researchers got back to work examining risky mutations of the flu this January."
► In the wake of the November 1 fatal shooting at LAX of Gerardo Hernandez, the first Transportation Security Officer to be killed in the line of duty, Joe Davidson writes in his Federal Diary that The American Federation of Government Employees, the labor organization that represents these officers, wants the government to create a group of TSA employees who would be armed law enforcement officers. They would be assigned to checkpoints, would be a “federalized function” with national standards, unlike the current situation, where local police represent a less consistent armed airport presence. The union also wants more behavioral detection officers. (That contradicts a new GAO finding that this is not a useful function because it does not have proven effectiveness.)
► Also in the news, Beta News looks at how cybersecurity insurance is becoming more popular. ⇒ Signals magazine notes that "The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is seeking participants for the Software Assurance Marketplace (SWAMP ), which is expected to open to beta users in January." ⇒ And for the history buffs, 50 years after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination , this piece by Margot Williams at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists offers some commentary and a list of reliable sources.