Tag Archives: United States

Germs, Spores, and Borders

Protecting the U.S. Homeland from Biological Threats Requires a Holistic Approach

By Steve Melito

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Last December, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reviewed its leading health challenges of 2013. “Our biggest successes,” said CDC director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, “may be the bad things that did not happen.” This included stopping the outbreak of a smallpox-like virus in the Eurasian Republic of Georgia, and preventing other infectious diseases from reaching the U.S. “Global health and protecting our country go hand in hand,” Dr. Frieden explained.

The CDC isn’t part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), but DHS works in concert with the nation’s health protection agency. The DHS Office of Health Affairs (OHA) also coordinates efforts with the U.S. Department of State to share information both across the U.S. federal government and with Canada and Mexico. As part of OHA, the National Biosurveillance Center (NBIC) integrates biomonitoring activities to provide a common operating picture.

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Cyber Resilience

Towards a Realistic Cybersecurity Policy

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Dr. Allan Friedman is a renowned cyber expert and the co-author with P.W. Singer of “Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know” (Oxford University Press, 2014). A visiting scholar at the Cyber Security Policy Research Institute at George Washington University, Friedman has written on subjects ranging from telecommunications policy to electronic medical records to the recent NSA controversy. Allan Friedman was interviewed by S&BP Assistant Editor George Jagels.

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Do Biofuels Further National Security?

In what could be a brutal twist of irony, the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI) claimed in a recent report that U.S. biofuel subsidies, partly aimed at augmenting national security, are helping to stoke instability in countries considered vital to American security. According to the institute’s modeling, the rise in prices in 2011—which spurred food riots in Egypt and elsewhere—can partly be blamed on corn ethanol subsidies causing a redistribution of American maize from exports to fuel production, causing the price of food to climb. Their quantitative observations “suggest that protests may reflect not only long-standing political failings of governments, but also the sudden desperate straits of vulnerable populations. If food prices remain high, there is likely to be persistent and increasing global social disruption.”

Though biofuel amounts to a small proportion of DoD energy outlays (about 7 percent), its financial feasibility will be determined by whether the market grows and costs come down. But that exact market growth could make the Middle East more unstable, precipitating national security risks and a rise in the price of oil biofuels were supposed to help protect against in the long run.

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