Archive for March 6, 2008


NBAF Risk Public Health 

Regarding the Feb. 27 article, “Official Supports Bio-Agro Defense Facility,” Dr. Warwick Arden, Dean of the NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine, like many members of the N.C. Consortium for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), is unqualified to discuss the security and transparency aspects of the facility. He is not a member of Homeland Security and, as such, his assurances of how the Department will behave are meaningless.

Further, there are several facts that Arden cannot deny. For instance, the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, which will be stored at NBAF, in England in 2007 is believed to have been caused by an accidental release from a facility there. Accidents, after all, do happen.

In September, New York Congressman Tim Bishop, whose district includes Plum Island, encouraged his constituents to reject locating NBAF on Plum Island. This was despite that the facility on Plum Island has been in place for over 50 years.

At the Creedmoor town hall meeting last week, Dr. William (B.J.) Lawson, a physician who’s running for Congress against NBAF-supporter David Price, argued that we should collaborate with laboratories around the world already studying these diseases instead of building a “Taj Mahal” for these diseases in our backyard.

The reality remains unchanged. NBAF presents undeniable and unnecessary public safety and health risks to our area that any potential benefits from the facility do not outweigh. Unqualified assurances from Arden and other members of the Consortium will not change that.

GARLAND RAGLAND JR.

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“The regulators were looking the other way and money was being lent to anybody this side of a life-support system…”

That led to a housing bubble and a consumption boom, and the fallout was plunging the US economy into recession…

I stopped listening to the Bush and Bernanke show some months ago. Bernanke continues to say core inflation values  are okay but in the same breath has says there will be bank failures. That doesn’t make sense my friends. First of all if you do the actual numbers, inflation is up to around 11-12% now. The ARM’s that are resetting causing the continued housing implosion will continue to reset into 09. I really think we are just now feeling the initial affects. As far as the inflation numbers the government numbers always exclude food and fuel cost, we already know they these values will continue to rise.

DHS Tests of Radiation Detectors Were Inconclusive, Report Says

Source:  Robert O’Harrow Jr.  Washington Post

Department of Homeland Security tests of new radiation detection machines last year did not show whether the costly devices performed well enough to be used as planned at ports and borders to protect the country against nuclear attacks or dirty bombs, according to a new report about the process.

The performance tests were organized by the department’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, which has been trying to deploy the machines along the borders and at ports in a $1.2 billion project, despite allegations from government auditors that the office misled Congress about their effectiveness and later conducted flawed tests to show they worked well.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff had said the development and purchase of the machines was a “vital priority” for the department. Officials from the nuclear detection office had asserted the tests — mandated by Congress before the project was allowed to move forward — showed they worked well.

But Chertoff called for an independent team to review the program last summer after a Washington Post article spelled out questions about the project. Last fall, Chertoff put the project on hold, conceding that the machines were not ready for wide use.

In the new report, the review team concluded that the testing last year was not able to show whether the machines, known as advanced spectroscopic portal radiation monitors, or ASPs, could “detect and identify actual objects that might be smuggled” into the country, according to portions of the report released by Congress.

“Even after collecting all available test results, it was difficult to form conclusions about operational effectiveness,” the report said.

The House Committee on Homeland Security will hold a hearing today about the report and other testing by the nuclear detection office. Among those scheduled to testify is Vayl S. Oxford, director of the office.

“While I applaud the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office for its aggressive pursuit of new detection technologies, I still remain deeply concerned that the systems have not been properly tested and evaluated,” said Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee’s subcommittee on emerging threats, cyber-security and science and technology.

At the same time, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce issued a news release calling on the department to transfer testing responsibilities from the nuclear detection office to an independent group.

“We should not spend a single penny to install these machines at our ports and borders until valid testing is done to demonstrate that these costly new machines work significantly better than the existing radiation detectors,” said Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), the committee chairman.

The project to buy as many as 1,400 ASPs, which cost about $377,000 each, was announced in July 2006. A month later, Government Accountability Office auditors said the nuclear detection office greatly exaggerated the machine’s capabilities in a report that spurred congressional approval of the project.

In response to those allegations, Congress mandated that Chertoff take the unusual step of personally certifying that the detectors represent a significant advance over existing detection equipment.

With that certification in mind, the nuclear detection office conducted tests in Nevada early last year. Those tests were called into question when GAO auditors found that department officials had allowed contractors to conduct “dress rehearsals” and calibrate their machines in anticipation of the tests.

The review team’s report discounted the auditor’s findings that the tests were biased. The team also said it found no evidence the test data were manipulated.

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