State of Maryland 2015-2016 Multi-Year Training and Exercise Plan


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MEMAThis past year, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Active Learning and Exercising Branch (AL&E) developed and implemented a new strategy leading to the conduct of regional Training and Exercise Program Workshops.  The process leading up to regional workshops was restructured to allow for collaboration and increased buy-in from all partners involved.  The branch conducted regional and State workshops, which were well-attended by all jurisdictions and state agencies. One of the significant outcomes was the development of a comprehensive Multi-year Training and Exercise Plan (TEP).

The TEP  provides training and exercises to the National Capital Region, the Baltimore Urban Area Security Initiative Partners, all six regions of Maryland, each of the twenty-six jurisdictions, all state agencies, and private sector partners, as requested. MEMA also assists with and facilitates training and exercise opportunities with other partners within FEMA Region III as well as hosting internal training programs for MEMA staff.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security/FEMA (DHS/FEMA) Protection and National Preparedness, Grant Programs Directorate requires that every State and Urban Area conduct a Multi-year Training and Exercise Plan Workshop (TEPW) annually.

Training and exercises play a crucial role in attaining, practicing, validating, and improving the State’s capabilities. The State’s training and exercise programs are administered by MEMA in coordination with local, State, federal, and private sector partners. The training and exercise agenda described in this plan will be tracked and reported for all State-level response agencies, as well as any local response agencies receiving State homeland security funds. The plan helps prepare Maryland to optimally address both the naturally-occurring and human-caused threats and hazards that it faces.

MEMA TEPIncluded in the TEP is the training and exercise schedule, which provides a graphic illustration of the proposed activities that are scheduled for the years 2015 and 2016. It is representative of the natural progression of training and exercises that should take place in accordance with the building-block approach.

National Preparedness Goal

Presidential Policy Directive 8: National Preparedness describes the Nation’s approach to preparing for the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk to the security of the United States. National preparedness is the shared responsibility of the whole community. Every member contributes, including individuals, communities, the private and nonprofit sectors, faith based organizations, and federal, State, and local governments. Success is defined as “a secure and resilient Nation with the capabilities required across the whole community to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk.”

Maryland Emergency Preparedness Program

The ability of Maryland to address the risks associated with these potential events is directly tied to the preparedness of all of Maryland’s communities, levels of government, private and nonprofit organizations, and individual residents and visitors. The MEPP is the State’s innovative approach to implementing the National Preparedness Goal through comprehensive, statewide preparedness. It includes an organizational structure and a process for preparedness, the Maryland Preparedness System.

The goal of the MEPP is to institutionalize the coordination of emergency preparedness activities via an all-hazards approach to the delivery of specific capabilities, categorized by four (4) mission areas (Prevention/Protection, Response, Recovery, and Mitigation). Emergency operations within each mission area are guided by a separate, state-level interagency operations plan that identifies how state-level partners deliver the mission area’s capability set.

The concepts of capabilities and mission areas are used throughout this document. The organizations and plans developed through the MEPP are arranged according to mission areas, which align with the phases of an emergency. Capabilities are distinct yet highly interdependent elements, and their delivery is necessary for successful operations; they provide the means to accomplish missions, functions, or objectives through the execution of related tasks. Each mission area includes relevant capabilities that must be considered in planning and plan execution.

Figure 2: Capabilities by Mission Area

Mission area1Mission areaIn Maryland, “homeland security” is not a specific agency, but instead is the combined mission of all Maryland communities to coordinate emergency preparedness and operations activities across the four mission areas. The MEPP serves as a guide in the execution of this mission.

Maryland Preparedness System

The Maryland Preparedness System is the methodology by which capabilities are developed, sustained, executed, and enhanced. The following diagram depicts the eight-step cycle that the State undertakes for each capability to enable current and future preparedness.

Figure 3: Maryland Preparedness System

HazardThe TEP is the product of Training and Exercise Planning Workshops (TEPW) in support of Step II of the Maryland Preparedness System: Set Capability Targets and Estimate Capability Needs, and drives activities in Step IV: Train on Capability Delivery, and Step V: Delivery Capability Through Real-World Events or Exercises.

Maryland’s Homeland Security Strategy

The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security (GOHS) oversees Maryland’s Strategic Goals and Objectives for Homeland Security (Core Goals), which establish the priority policy and programmatic areas for homeland security within the State of Maryland. The Core Goals are an interagency, intergovernmental, and multi-disciplinary listing of the priority areas for Maryland’s homeland security. The Core Goals focus on common-sense ways to improve and maintain security, with a focus on “daily use” projects and programs. The Core Goals enable Maryland to coordinate its progress towards achieving the specific objectives that the State is committed to pursuing, and include:

1. Interoperable Communications
2. Intelligence/Information Sharing
3. Hazardous Material (HazMat/Explosive Device Response
4. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for first responders
5. Biosurveillance
6. Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection
7. Training and Exercises
8. Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV)
9. Mass Casualty/Hospital Surge
10. Planning
11. Backup Power and Communications
12. Transportation Security

Preparedness Assessment and Prioritization

In 2012, the State conducted a comprehensive assessment of homeland security needs, Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA), capabilities, and vulnerabilities. Using these assessments, Maryland’s Homeland Security Strategy, and previous After-Action Report/Improvement Plan Template (ARR/IP) findings, Maryland has identified five priority capabilities on which to focus its planning, organizational changes, equipment acquisition, training, and exercises:

Figure 4: Improvement Planning

CoreMaryland Preparedness Planning Certificate Program

The Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) seeks to promote a preparedness planning culture in Maryland. In order to achieve this important goal, MEMA began the pilot program in 2014 for the Maryland Preparedness Planning Certificate Program (MPPCP). This pilot program will run through June 2015, at which time it will continue as a permanent program for the state of Maryland with two options: basic and advanced track.

The Maryland Preparedness Planning Certificate Program is one of the first of its kind in the nation. This voluntary program will provide Maryland’s emergency management planners with the skills and knowledge necessary to conduct effective planning on the way to becoming a Maryland Preparedness Planner.

Benefits of the MPPCP include:
• A common lexicon and systematic planning methodology
• Increased efficiency in interagency and intergovernmental planning
• Credentialing process to assist with professional development
• Focus on national planning programs to foster greater interoperability

This program is designed to be flexible and scalable to a desired level of completion. Many planners may already have some or most of the courses required to complete the Basic Planner Track.

1. FEMA Professional Development Series Certificate                                         2. IS-453 Introduction to Homeland Security Planning
3. IS-15 Special Events Contingency Planning for Public Safety Agencies
4. IS-318 Mitigation Planning for Local and Tribal Communities
5. IS-520 Introduction to Continuity of Operations Planning for Pandemic Influenza
6. IS-700 National Incident Management System (NIMS) An Introduction
7. IS-703 NIMS Resource Management
8. IS-800 National Response Framework
9. IS-2001 Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment
10. IS-2900 National Disaster Recovery Framework Overview
11. MGT-310 Threat and Risk Assessment
12. MGT-315 Enhanced Threat and Risk Assessment
13. G-197 Emergency Planning and Special Needs Populations or E-197

Access and Functional Needs
14. S-440 Planning Section Chief Pre-Course Work
15. Basic National Planners Course

1. All courses listed under the MPPCP Basic Track
2. IS-328 Plan Review for Local Mitigation Plans
3. IS-366 Planning for the Needs of Children in Disasters
4. National Planners Course Team Leader
5. E-962 NIMS All-Hazards Planning Section Chief
6. G-270/E-210 Recovery From Disaster: The Local Government Role

 MEMA’s Active Learning and Exercising (AL&E) Branch conducted regional TEPWs with local jurisdictions, and federal, State, and private sector partners to identify scheduled and needed training and exercises. The regional meetings were broken down as follows:

Figure 5: TEPW Meetings

Region1Prior to each of these meetings, MEMA developed and distributed a survey to assist with capturing data from funded projects, equipment, training, and plans. AL&E also captured identified gaps from AARs and IPs from real world incidents and exercises of the previous year(s). Information gathered was cross-walked with Maryland’s Homeland Security Strategy to revise old State priorities and establish new ones. Following the Maryland TEPWs, data was rolled up to create a multi-year plan outlining capability-based training and exercises in Maryland for the next two years.

Based on the program priorities, an aggressive schedule of training and exercises was documented that will be led by MEMA’s AL&E. These events will address the four (4) MEPP mission areas (prevention/protection, mitigation, response, and recovery) so that the objectives for each training and exercise will integrate with the Capabilities and provide the information needed to better prepare for future events. The following Capabilities were identified by each region as priorities during their TEPW.

 Figure 6: 2015 Priorities

Fig 6Fig6Figure6fig.6Exercises will range from discussion-based exercises (e.g., workshops and tabletops) to operations-based exercises (e.g., drills, functional exercises, and full-scale exercises). Each AL&E-led exercise will be followed by the creation of a detailed AAR and IP. These reports will be used in follow-on training and exercises to ensure that areas for improvement are appropriately identified, tracked, and rectified.

Reports will be made available to all stakeholders. As the levels of training and exercises increase in complexity, they will naturally become increasingly challenging for participants and jurisdictions. Using this building-block approach to exercising is essential to ensure the overall enhancement of the State of Maryland’s vision that “A Prepared Marylander Creates a Resilient Maryland.”

Figure 7: Exercise Building Blocks
4HSEEP Volume








2015-2016 Multi-Year Training and Exercise Plan Approved

MEMA Publishes 2015-16 Training and Exercise Plan

MEMA Publications – Maryland Emergency Management .


30 January 2015 The Honorable Edward J. Kasemeyer …

Emergency Management Institute (EMI) | National Training .

TEPW User Guide – hseep

FEMA Region [#] TEPW

2015–2016 GUIDE – Montgomery County Public Schools

Accomplishments for Core Goal #7 Training and Exercises

ISSUU – 8 2015 training & exercise anouncements by MEMA

Governor’s Office of Homeland Security –

National Capital Region Homeland Security Strategic Plan

Overview of States Homeland Security Governance

The Most Damaging Trade Agreement Ever for Global Health


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TPPAs U.S. aims to close deal, countries should reject damaging provisions that will block access to affordable medicines.

Trade negotiators must remove damaging provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal or risk locking in high drug prices and endangering the health of millions of people for decades to come, said the medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) as negotiations resumed in Maui, Hawaii, today. MSF’s call comes as reports indicate that this could be the last negotiation before the agreement is concluded.

If approved in its current form, the TPP, which is being negotiated between the U.S. and 11 other Pacific-Rim countries, will have a devastating impact on global health. It would strengthen, lengthen and create new patent and regulatory monopolies for pharmaceutical products that will raise the price of medicines and reduce the availability of price-lowering generic competition.

“We have raised our voice as loudly as we can, repeatedly warning that this is a terrible deal for access to affordable medicines,” said Manica Balasegaram, executive director of MSF’s Access Campaign. “Ministries of health, humanitarian groups such as MSF and global health programs funded by the U.S. government all rely on affordable medicines to provide medical care. Despite repeated warnings from MSF, other concerned experts and groups, and even other negotiating countries, U.S. negotiators have pushed for provisions that benefit pharmaceutical companies at the expense of the more than 800 million people who need access to affordable generic medicines in current TPP countries.”

Some of the most concerning provisions in the TPP center on so-called patent ‘Evergreening,’ which would force TPP governments to grant pharmaceutical companies additional patents for changes to existing medicines, even when those changes provide no therapeutic benefit to patients.

Evergreening-graphicU.S. negotiators have also aggressively pushed for 12 years of ‘data exclusivity’ for biologic medicines, which include vaccines and drugs to treat conditions such as cancer and multiple sclerosis. Data exclusivity blocks government regulatory authorities from allowing price-lowering generic competitors to enter the market with previously generated clinical data.

If pharmaceutical companies get their way, brand-name drugs and vaccines would not face direct competition for excessively long periods of time while patients, medical providers like MSF, and people in TPP countries endure unnecessarily high prices.

“The U.S. is demanding that countries implement a devastating set of new trade rules that will essentially block people from benefiting from the latest advances in medicines for years simply because this is in the interest of multinational pharmaceutical companies,” said Judit Rius Sanjuan, U.S. manager and policy advisor for MSF’s Access Campaign. “Extended monopolies, such as those being pushed by the U.S. in the TPP, are irresponsible and harmful to public health.”

Evergeening_ENG_2013The provisions demanded by U.S. negotiators break past U.S. government commitments to global health, including a 2007 agreement in which the U.S agreed to include key public health safeguards in future free trade deals with developing countries.

“The U.S. has abandoned its previous commitments to protect health in its trade policy,” said Rius Sanjuan. “The TPP is a precedent-setting blueprint for future trade deals that will deny countries their right to balance business interests with the public health needs of people – a right that is ingrained in international trade rules. This week might be the last chance negotiators have to mitigate the potential devastation of the TPP. We ask government negotiators to protect access to medicines and fix the most damaging provisions in the TPP.”






Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement: Harmful provisions for

Backlash Against TPP Grows as Leaked Text Reveals

Trans-Pacific Partnership undermines health system – Al ..

Of Evergreening and Efficacy | Bill of Health

Explainer: evergreening and how big pharma keeps drug

‘Evergreening’ Drugs: An attack on access to medicines

MSF urges South Africa to stand strong in defiance of aggressive pharma moves to delay change

Trans-Pacific trade agreement could choke off patient access to affordable generic medicines

Trans-Pacific trade deal threatens access to affordable medicines

Countries must fix critical access to medicines flaws in Trans-Pacific Trade Pact

Doctors Without Borders

/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organization created by doctors and journalists in France in 1971. MSF’s work is based on the humanitarian principles of medical ethics and impartiality. The organization is committed to bringing quality medical care to people caught in crisis regardless of race, religion, or political affiliation.
MSF operates independently of any political, military, or religious agendas.

TPP Negotiators Must Fix the Most Damaging Trade


Russia prioritizes the Arctic and Atlantic in the new military doctrine


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Russian President Vladimir Putin speaking at the celebration of the War Navy Day Baltiysk in Kaliningrad.

Russian Navy prioritizes the Arctic and the Atlantic. At the same time strengthens the Navy their positions in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, according to a new doctrine. “Our attention towards the Atlantic justified by NATO’s expansion to the east,” said Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin.

“The focus on the Arctic shows among other things that the Navy will have a new fleet of icebreakers. The Arctic is important for Russia because the area is rich in minerals and gives the country unrestricted access to the Atlantic and the Pacific,” said Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin.

The Kremlin also wants to “ensure an adequate military naval presence” in the Atlantic region.

“Emphasis on the Atlantic is linked to the fact that there has recently been a fairly active development of NATO that has approached our borders. The Russian Federation will naturally answer it,” said Dmitry Rogozin.

The doctrine is an update of the earlier doctrine which was published six months ago – and that was a dramatic manifestation of the deteriorating relationship with the West. According to the deputy prime minister, the situation in the Crimea, which Russia annexed the last year, influenced the content.

Russia plans to make financial investments in the Crimea, to develop the infrastructure for the Black Sea Fleet based on the peninsula as well as to speed up the “reconstruction and completion of strategic Russian positions” in the Black Sea. Moreover, the Kremlin wants to have a permanent presence in the Mediterranean.

According to the doctrine, it is also important to have close cooperation with China in the Pacific region and India in the Indian Ocean.

In February, NATO decided to strengthen its presence in Eastern Europe because of what they think is Russian aggression in Ukraine. Russia is accused of assisting separatists in eastern Ukraine with both soldiers and military equipment.

Russia and Canada have also asserted their sovereignty over the region

Denmark has presented a claim to the UN, arguing that the area surrounding the North Pole is connected to the continental shelf of Greenland, a Danish autonomous territory.

Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard said it was ahistoric and important milestone for Denmark.

A number of countries claiming the Arctic. 2008 announced Denmark, Russia, Norway, Canada and the United States.

arctic_claimants_624mapCanada and Russia have already asserted their own sovereignty over the energy-rich Arctic territory.

Arctic nations have agreed that a UN panel will settle the dispute.

The focus of the dispute is the Lomonosov Ridge, a 1,800km-long (1,120 miles) underwater mountain range that splits the Arctic in two.

Back in 2008, a US Geological Survey report estimated that as much as 22% of the world’s undiscovered and recoverable resources lay north of the Arctic Circle.

The 21-member panel investigating the competing claims to the pole will have to decide whether the scientific evidence put forward is valid. If the claims overlap, the relevant states will then have to negotiate, the spokesman said.

Mr Lidegaard said data collected since 2002 backed Denmark’s claim to an approximate area of 895,000 sq km (346,000 sq miles)- roughly 20 times the size of Denmark – beyond Greenland’s nautical borders.

Denmark, along with Russia, Norway, Canada and the US said in 2008 that the territorial dispute should be settled under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

After ratifying the convention, a country has 10 years to submit a claim to extend its continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from its borders. Canada expressed formal interest last year, and Denmark’s deadline is about to run out.

Jon Rahbek-Clemmensen of Denmark’s Syddansk University said “the government in Copenhagen had staked its claim, partly to show the world that Denmark could not be pushed about, but also to prove a political point to the people of Greenland.”

“There’s a strong push for independence in Greenland, and Denmark wants to show it’s capable of taking its interest into account,” he told the BBC.

“By taking this step, Copenhagen is sending a signal [to Greenland]: ‘Listen, we’re on your team.'”

A Russian submarine planted a rust-proof titanium flag 4,200m (14,000ft) beneath the North Pole in 2007, provoking an angry response from Canada.

However, Danish scientists were firm in their claim. “The Lomonosov ridge is the natural extension of the Greenland shelf,” Christian Marcussen of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland told AP news agency.

So close to the Swedish border equips Russia

Russia in SwedenRussia renovates its military base Alakurtti, just under 30 mil from Norrbotten, Sweden. It’s about 7,000 soldiers including experts in electronic warfare. “Moscow would likely secure important interests in the Arctic,” said security expert Johan Norberg.

Next year a motor shooting brigade – which would normally involve 7,000 soldiers – stationed in Alakurtti in the Murmansk region, about five mil from the Finnish border, according to the state-controlled Russian news agency Ria Novosti according to the Moscow Times.

Earlier, the Russian newspaper Izvestia reported that 3,000 intelligence officers who are experts in electronic warfare will be stationed at the base. They will, among other things, monitor the westerly related traffic, writes Norwegian TV2 .

 – I’ve also heard reports that they’ll have helicopters on the base, says Johan Norberg, security policy analyst at the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI).

At the same time replace the air wing in Montjegorsk, about 12 mil from the Finnish border, their Su-24 aircraft to the Su-34’s.

– Su-34 is a modern attack aircraft. These aircraft are added to the part of Russia to modernize its air force.

Russia’s rearmament is a way to secure important interests in the Arctic, says Johan Norberg.

– Russia’s ambitions in the Arctic include access to natural resources such as minerals, oil and gas under the seabed and maritime transport leading to Asia.

In addition, Russia’s military interests, to strengthen radar surveillance.

– A Russian concern is that the United States should send intercontinental missiles over the Arctic. Therefore, once one knows the need to have the radar coverage area.

Although Russia is preparing so close to the Swedish – and especially Finnish – limit, then it constitutes in itself no increased threat to the Nordic States.

– The increased threat is Russia’s total refurbishment and that the country is more ready to use its military capability. Russia’ve started a war in Ukraine.

Militärbasernas geographical location has certainly important, but the movement is fundamental for the Russian defense.

– Russia can fairly quickly move their units, within a few days or weeks. Air units can move quickly, while ground units will take longer.



Foundation and Location For World War III | lisa’s leaks

Russia’s Military Will Get Bigger and Better in 2015

Military activity in the Baltic Sea area

As near the Swedish border equips Russia

Russia is stepping up the battle for the Arctic

US wants to place weapons in Baltics

Denmark challenges Russia and Canada over …

Ryssland prioriterar Arktis och Atlanten i ny militär doktrin …

Ryssland prioriterar Arktis och Atlanten i ny militär doktrin …

Mind Uploading: The Future of Humanity


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Full time thinker. The science of mind.

Full time thinker. The science of mind.

Whole Brain Emulation (WBE) or Mind Uploading (sometimes called “mind copying” or “mind transfer”) is the process of copying mental content (including long-term memory and “self”) from a particular brain substrate and copying it to a computational device, such as a digital, analog, quantum-based or software-based artificial neural network. The computational device could then run a simulation model of the brain information processing, such that it responds in essentially the same way as the original brain (i.e., indistinguishable from the brain for all relevant purposes) and experiences having a conscious mind.

Mind uploading may be accomplished by either of two methods: Copy-and-Transfer or Gradual Replacement of neurons. In the case of the former method, mind uploading would be achieved by scanning and mapping the salient features of a biological brain, and then by copying, transferring, and storing that information state into a computer system or another computational device. The simulated mind could reside in a computer that’s inside (or connected to) a humanoid robot or a biological body that can experience everything we experience: emotion, addiction, ambition, consciousness, and suffering.

android-arm-human-arm-michelangelo-640x353Among some futurists and within the transhumanist movement, mind uploading is treated as an important proposed life extension technology. Some believe mind uploading is our current best option for preserving who we are as opposed to cryonics. Another aim of mind uploading is to provide a permanent backup to our “mind-file,” and a means for functional copies of human minds to survive a global disaster or interstellar space travels. Whole brain emulation is discussed by some futurists as a “logical endpoint” of the topical computational neuroscience and neuroinformatics fields, both about brain simulation for medical research purposes. It is discussed in artificial intelligence research publications as an approach to strong AI. Computer-based intelligence such as an upload could think much faster than a biological human even if it were no more intelligent. A large-scale society of uploads might, according to futurists, give rise to a technological singularity, meaning a sudden time constant decrease in the exponential development of technology. Mind uploading is a central conceptual feature of numerous science fiction novels and films.

Substantial mainstream research in related areas is being conducted in human and animal brain mapping and simulation, development of faster super computers, virtual reality, brain-computer interfaces, connectomics and information extraction from dynamically functioning brains. According to supporters, many of the tools for mind uploading already exist and are currently under active development. Neuroscientist Randal Koene has formed a nonprofit organization called Carbon Copies to promote mind uploading research.

mind uploadingNeuroscientists have stated that important functions performed by the mind, such as learning, memory, and consciousness, are due to purely physical and electrochemical processes in the brain and are governed by applicable laws. For example, Christof Koch and Giulio Tononi wrote in IEEE Spectrum:

“Consciousness is part of the natural world. It depends, we believe, only on mathematics and logic and on the imperfectly known laws of physics, chemistry, and biology; it does not arise from some magical or otherworldly quality.”

Mind uploading is based on this mechanistic view of the mind, and denies the vitalist view of human life and consciousness.

Such a machine intelligence capability provide a computational substrate necessary for uploading.

However, even though uploading is dependent upon such a general capability, it is distinct from general forms of AI in that it results from dynamic reanimation of information derived from a specific human mind so that the mind retains a sense of historical identity (other forms are possible but would compromise or eliminate the life-extension feature generally associated with uploading). The transferred and reanimated information is a form of artificial intelligence, sometimes called an infomorph or “noömorph.”


If the information and processes of the mind can be disassociated from the biological body, they are no longer tied to the individual limits and lifespan of that body. Furthermore, information within a brain could be partly or wholly copied or transferred to one or more other substrates (including digital storage or another brain), thereby – from a purely mechanistic perspective – reducing or eliminating “mortality risk” of such information. This general proposal appears to have been first made in the biomedical literature in 1971 by biogerontologist George M. Martin of the University of Washington.

Serial sectioning

Serial sectioningA method for mind uploading is serial sectioning, in which the brain tissue and perhaps other parts of the nervous system are frozen and then scanned and analyzed layer by layer, which for frozen samples at nano-scale requires a cryo-ultramicrotome, thus capturing the structure of the neurons and their interconnections. The exposed surface of frozen nerve tissue would be scanned and recorded, and then the surface layer of tissue removed. While this would be a very slow and labor-intensive process, research is currently underway to automate the collection and microscopy of serial sections. The scans would then be analyzed, and a model of the neural net recreated in the system that the mind was being uploaded into

The ethics of pulling the plug on an AI

A recent article by Anders Sandberg in the Journal of Experimental & Theoretical Artificial Intelligence, dives into some of the ethical questions that would (or at least should) arise from successful whole brain emulation. The focus of his paper, he explained, is “What are we allowed to do to these simulated brains?” If we create a WBE that perfectly models a brain, can it suffer? Should we care?

Would a computer program that perfectly models an animal receive the same consideration an actual animal would? In practice, this might not be an issue. If a software animal brain emulates a worm or insect, for instance, there will be little worry about the software’s legal and moral status. After all, even the strictest laboratory standards today place few restrictions on what researchers do with invertebrates. When wrapping our minds around the ethics of how to treat an AI, the real question is what happens when we program a mammal?

Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Artificial Intelligence“If you imagine that I am in a lab, I reach into a cage and pinch the tail of a little lab rat, the rat is going to squeal, it is going to run off in pain, and it’s not going to be a very happy rat. And actually, the regulations for animal research take a very stern view of that kind of behavior,” Sandberg says. “Then what if I go into the computer lab, put on virtual reality gloves, and reach into my simulated cage where I have a little rat simulation and pinch its tail? Is this as bad as doing this to a real rat?”

As Sandberg alluded to, there are ethical codes for the treatment of mammals, and animals are protected by laws designed to reduce suffering. Would digital lab animals be protected under the same rules? Well, according to Sandberg, one of the purposes of developing this software is to avoid the many ethical problems with using carbon-based animals.

To get at these issues, Sandberg’s article takes the reader on a tour of how philosophers define animal morality and our relationships with animals as sentient beings. These are not easy ideas to summarize. “Philosophers have been bickering about these issues for decades,” Sandberg says. “I think they will continue to bicker until we upload a philosopher into a computer and ask him how he feels.”

While many people might choose to respond, “Oh, it’s just software,” this seems much too simplistic for Sandberg. “We have no experience with not being flesh and blood, so the fact that we have no experience of software suffering, that might just be that we haven’t had a chance to experience it. Maybe there is something like suffering, or something even worse than suffering software could experience.”

Ultimately, Sandberg argues that it’s better to be safe than sorry. He concludes a cautious approach would be best, that WBEs “should be treated as the corresponding animal system absent countervailing evidence.” When asked what this evidence would look like—that is, software designed to model an animal brain without the consciousness of one—he considered that, too. “A simple case would be when the internal electrical activity did not look like what happens in the real animal. That would suggest the simulation is not close at all. If there is the counterpart of an epileptic seizure, then we might also conclude there is likely no consciousness, but now we are getting closer to something that might be worrisome.”

So the evidence that the software animal’s or a human brain is not conscious looks…exactly like evidence that a biological brain is not conscious.

Virtual pain

human AIDespite his pleas for caution, Sandberg doesn’t advocate eliminating emulation experimentation entirely. He thinks that if we stop and think about it, compassion for digital test animals could arise relatively easy. After all, if we know enough to create a digital brain capable of suffering, we should know enough to bypass its pain centers. “It might be possible to run virtual painkillers which are way better than real painkillers,” he says. “You literally leave out the signals that would correspond to pain. And while I’m not worried about any simulation right now… in a few years I think that is going to change.”

This, of course, assumes that animals’ only source of suffering is pain. In that regard, to worry whether a software animal may suffer in the future probably seems pointless when we accept so much suffering in biological animals today. If you find a rat in your house, you are free to dispose of it how you see fit. We kill animals for food and fashion. Why worry about a software rat?

One answer—beyond basic compassion—is that we’ll need the practice. If we can successfully emulate the brains of other mammals, then emulating a human is inevitable. And the ethics of hosting human-like consciousness becomes much more complicated.

Beyond pain and suffering, Sandberg considers a long list of possible ethical issues in this scenario: a blindingly monotonous environment, damaged or disabled emulations, perpetual hibernation, the tricky subject of copies, communications between beings who think at vastly different speeds (software brains could easily run a million times faster than ours), privacy, and matters of self-ownership and intellectual property.

All of these may be sticky issues, Sandberg predicts, but if we can resolve them, human brain emulations could achieve some remarkable feats. They are ideally suited for extreme tasks like space exploration, where we could potentially beam them through the cosmos. And if it came down to it, the digital versions of ourselves might be the only survivors in a biological die-off.

If software looks like a brain and acts like a brain—will we treat it like one?

What makes us special?

Of course all of this is moot if we never get to this point with the technology. So let’s get back to the questions of if and when.

For many, the idea of successful brain emulation is so strange, so far beyond our normal experience, that it feels best to dismiss it. While Sandberg sees his work as an effort to prevent suffering at a future time, others might ask why he wastes intellectual capital worrying about an event that will never occur. Software cannot experience emotion or become conscious, critics say, or it will at least need more than just a digital copy of the brain to do so. There is *something* else in there that makes us special, right?

Many scientists say no.

“Nearly every honest scientist in the neuroscience community will, upon closer scrutiny, admit that they do believe it is ‘in principle’ possible to emulate a brain’s functions,” says Randal Koene, neuroscientist and neuroengineer. “To claim otherwise would be to claim that there is some kind of non-physical magic at work in living brains, and scientists who tend toward that sort of thinking are exceedingly rare these days.”

Koene is one of a group of people who came up with the term “whole brain emulation.” He can envision a day in which we have software brains as capable and conscious as our current biological ones. And Koene agrees with Sandberg that one day software will have the capability to suffer. “If you have a software implementation of a whole brain emulation, then I’m pretty confident that the mind produced by that software is able to suffer just as you or I could. I think it’s quite possible that other types of software will also be able to suffer, some that are based on animal or artificial intelligence designs.”

Kenneth Hayworth, a neuroscientist and president of the Brain Preservation Foundation, also sees no reason why a digital brain should be somehow less than a real one. And to those who would argue that these digital uploads of a person’s mind are merely copies, Hayworth suggests considering what type of thing a person is to start. “We have discovered through cognitive science and neuroscience that we are like a program; we are like a data file on a computer in the sense that the information that makes us unique is the only thing that is truly us.”

A notable voice of dissent on the prospect of WBEs is Duke Neuroscience Professor Miguel  Nicolelis. Nicolelis has made headlines for his lab’s work with brain-machine interfaces and primate neuroprosthetics. In 2013, he was quoted in MIT’s Technology Review as saying, “Downloads will never happen… There are a lot of people selling the idea that you can mimic the brain with a computer… You could have all the computer chips ever in the world and you won’t create a consciousness.”

Human Brain ProjectEven if Nicolelis is rare in his belief that we won’t be able to mimic a brain on a computer, there are more widespread concerns that the prospect of WBE has been oversold. The Human Brain Project, for example, is creatin a brain-like system of computer chips, funded by the European Union. But that project has come under fire due to allegations of mismanagement and lack of realistic goals. But the problems may be much deeper, as some scientists say the concept was premature from the start and was sold to government agencies that were ill-equipped to evaluate it.

Let’s pause for a moment to remember that we still do not have a full understanding of our own human consciousness. At exactly what point do humans pass from living to dead? We don’t know. Where does our feeling of consciousness originate? It’s under debate. Why do some people wake up from anesthesia during surgery, and how does the brain orchestrate this awakening? Surgeons wish they knew.

Unlike the other scientists quoted, Alice Parker does not self-identify as a futurist or trans-humanist. But the University of Southern California professor is known for her opinions on the feasibility of WBEs, and she leads a project to reverse engineer the brain using analog computations. Parker is cautious about the idea—“We are a long way away,” she insists—because she believes our understanding of the brain is still so rudimentary. “There are mechanisms that seem to be critically important that we are just discovering… We who are building electronic circuits are following neuroscientists and mimicking whatever we can with the sense that things are emerging every day and you never know when there will be a complete paradigm shift as a result of new information.”

Parker softens these statements by noting that neural networks designed to perform specific functions, such as “recognizing cats in an image,” are coming along nicely. But broader abstract reasoning by a computer, Parker estimates, will take decades. Unlike Nicolelis, she still believes it is possible. “If we fully understood the neural mechanisms, biological mechanisms, it is possible to have cognitive processing that appears to be able to do abstract reasoning,” she says. “I think when we are at that point when there seems to be awareness, then we need to have that discussion about the way these organisms should be treated.”

On the issue of whether consciousness would emerge from a WBE, Parker says that no one really knows, and opinions differ among even her most highly prestigious colleagues. To her, even Hayworth’s assertion that the brain is like a program feels too light. “I think it’s so much more complicated and it’s so much more multidimensional, and there’s so many more subtleties,” she says. “To say a brain is like a program is too simplified. It’s breathtakingly complicated.”


Future of Humanity Institute | University of Oxford

The Neuroscientist Who Wants To Upload Humanity To A …

Artificial Intelligence, Computer Simulation of Human

What is cognitive computing?

Proteus Digital Health Foundation

Randal Koene on Singularity 1 on 1: Mind Uploading is not …

Brighter Brains Hub – Randal Koene

Intelligent Medicine: Proteus’ Very Smart Pills – Businessweek

Artificial intelligence – Social Research Glossary

Simulating 1 second of human brain activity takes 82,944 …

Whole Brain Emulation: A Roadmap – Future of Humanity …

Randal Koene on whole brain emulation – Machine

The History of SIM, Whole Brain Emulation and Mind …

Whole brain emulation (WBE): What happens when we get …

Mind Uploading

Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH)

Why Health Care May Finally Be Ready for Big Data – HBR

Sentinel Event Policy and Procedures | Joint Commission

Sentinel Event Statistics – Joint Commission

Patient Safety Systems Chapter for the Hospital program

Speak Up Initiatives | Joint Commission

Can Wearables Help You Reach Immortality? | WIRED

“Storing Your Brain in a Computer” (Discussed on ABC’s …

Advances in Affective and Pleasurable Design

Is there some way that we can store and transfer memories ..

Mind Control / Uploading the Brain

What Will Life Be Like Inside A Computer? «

Billionaires: Russian Mogul Wants to U

Mind uploading

Artificial-intelligence-augmented clinical medicin

Healthcare-associated Infections Surveillance Network Infections Surveillance Network (HAI-Net)

Artificial Intelligence, Computer Simulation of Human

To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System. Summary

First Do No Harm–To Err Is Human – Effective Clinical Practice

Institute of Medicine Reports

An Overview of To Err is Human: Re-emphasizing the …

Canadians Affected By The USA Patriot Act


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Anti-terrorism Act 2015 Canada

Hundreds of Edmonton activists at Canada Place joined thousands in 50 cities across the country in protest against the proposed Bill C-51, the Anti-Terrorism Act.

The relationship between Canada and the United States is friendly for the most part. We share a common border. Official business is done in English for the most part in both countries. Until a couple years ago, you didn’t need a passport or Real ID to travel between the two countries. However, as will happen in friendships sometimes, one of the two becomes envious of something the other has, and they decide that they need that item themselves.

Canada felt that way about us. We have something called the Patriot Act which we could use as “legal” justification to violate the civil and/or constitutional rights of people or groups that the government deemed threatening, and Canada didn’t – until recently.

Graphic: Government of Canada

Steven Blaney, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and Peter MacKay, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, welcomed the royal assent of C-51, also known as the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015.

Graphic by Government of Canada

Bill C-51 allows a judge to impose up to a year of house arrest on someone who has neither been convicted nor charged with any crime, as well as require him/her to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet at all times. It also criminalizes the communication of statements advocating what the state deems to be terrorism.

You might be thinking at this point: “OK, what’s the big deal then? The house arrest sounds harsh, but the communication part’s understandable.” The problem here is what the government considers terrorism.

For example, Harper’s linking of terrorism to mosques during a February press conference drew condemnation from the Muslim and legal communities. Under C-51, anybody attending services at a mosque, or even interacting with people who do could be subject to surveillance and/or arrest.

HarperAnother example: the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) stated that Canada’s energy sector is more vulnerable to “environmental extremist” actions than from religiously inspired terrorist organizations. This paves the way for First Nations people protesting against the tar sands or pollution to be arrested for terrorism. Or, for people who express solidarity for the protests through social media and the like. In fact, if we (Occupy World Writes) were in Canada, we could be placed under surveillance or arrested and our computers, etc. confiscated just for what we’ve been known to post.

Unfortunately, what just happened in Canada could happen fairly soon here as well as in other countries. We can see the TPP and TTIP being used to spread this style of repression far and wide through corporations using ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) to sue our government for not being as tough on “environmental extremist” activities as Canada is, for example.

So, what happens if by some miracle Congress kills the TPP and TTIP? Will we still have to worry about our government following Canada’s lead? Absolutely! We have to keep up with our neighbors, after all…


Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 – Canada

Canadian Secret Police and Bill C-51, the Anti-Terrorism Act …

Bill C-51

Hundreds of Edmontonians protest proposed anti-terrorism …

The USA Patriot Act and its impact on the privacy of … – CIPP

Canada: U.S. PATRIOT Act

Occupy World Writes

The Fight Over Canada’s Patriot Act | Foreign Policy

USA PATRIOT Act and the controversy of Canada

How Are Canadians Affected By The USA Patriot Act And …

Chemical Facility Program Failures Continue to Put Nation’s Critical Infrastructure at Risk


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DHS nuclearExcess, waste, and ineffectiveness

The Department of Homeland Security has been dogged by persistent criticism over excessive bureaucracy, waste, ineffectiveness and lack of transparency. Congress estimates that the department has wasted roughly billions in failed contracts.

A terrorist attack on the nation’s high-risk chemical facilities could prove catastrophic. Toxic chemicals could be released from the facility or stolen to produce chemical weapons which could be used to inflict mass causalities in the United States.

Although the US established the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) over a decade ago, CFATS has struggled with a laundry list of significant challenges—including backlogs, mismanagement, and missed goals—hindering the program’s mission to protect the nation against chemical terrorism.

And CFATS is still struggling, according to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit report. After conducting a recent assessment of the current status of CFATS, GAO auditors determined errors in facility-reported data may be preventing the program from lessening the nation’s risk of a terrorist attack on chemical facilities.

“Individuals intent on using or gaining access to hazardous chemicals to carry out a terrorist attack continue to pose a threat to the security of chemical facilities and surrounding populations,” GAO said “DHS, through the CFATS program overseen by the Office of Infrastructure Protection’s Infrastructure Security Compliance Division (ISCD, has made progress in identifying chemical facilities that pose the greatest risks and in expediting the time it takes to approve security plans.”. 

“However,” GAO continued, “DHS has not taken steps to mitigate errors in some facility-reported data and does not have reasonable assurance that it has identified all of the nation’s highest-risk chemical facilities.”

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs said GAO’s audit “shows DHS has made real progress and has significantly accelerated its pace for reviewing security plans and chemical facilities since the law went into effect. However, GAO also noted numerous challenges remain.”

Carper said DHS still “needs to shore up its processes for addressing noncompliant facilities, and verify key information in order to accurately assess risk. DHS should take GAO’s recommendations to heart. My staff and I plan to engage the department early and often in order continue to make the program better. If Congress, the administration and industry work together, as we’ve done before, we can continue to make progress and “shape a program” that keeps these vital facilities and the jobs they provide secure, protects our communities and the environment, and allows our businesses to thrive.”

The CFATS program was established pursuant to the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act  in 2007. Then, in December 2014, the Protecting and Securing Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attacks Act reauthorized the CFATS program for an additional 4 years while also imposing a number of requirements to improve the program.

Prior to the legislation’s approval, Homeland Security reported a congressional report produced by former Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs ranking member Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) determined the recent DHS’s $600 million effort to improve the nation’s resiliency in the fact of an attack on chemical facilities was a “near total failure.”

In 2013, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit report disclosed it had found “critical flaws still existed in DHS’s approach to calculating risk, meaning DHS could be focusing and regulating the wrong facilities; a seven to nine year backlog of chemical facilities’ security plans in the CFATS program; and poor engagement and transparency with regulated companies.”

In addition, a 2013 DHS Inspector General audit identified “thirteen major deficiencies in the CFATS program, including a continuing backlog, lack of appropriate employee training, wasted funds and a culture of management-retaliation and suppression of opposing opinions against employees.”

“Today  there is little, if any, evidence to show that the more than half a billion dollars DHS has spent created an effective chemical security regulatory program or measurably reduced the risk of an attack on our chemical industrial infrastructure,” Coburn said at the time.

Coburn added, “Since its creation, the CFATS program has been beset by chronic mismanagement, missed goals, backlogs and regulatory excess. This program exists to increase our nation’s security against attacks on chemical facilities, but it hasn’t adequately met that goal. Combined with the current leadership at CFATS, I am confident this bill will provide the necessary fixes to put the program on track to reducing our nation’s vulnerability to chemical terrorism.”

CFATSGAO’s most recent audit indicated the CFATS program continues to struggle to overcome some of these challenges. Specifically, Infrastructure Security Compliance Division (ISCD) categorized approximately 2,900 facilities as high-risk based on unverified and self-reported data in evaluating facilities for a toxic release threat, which is essentially the threat posed to surrounding populations if the toxin was released.

One of the aspects considered in determining the toxic release threat is the distance of concern— an area in which exposure to a toxic chemical cloud could cause serious injury or fatalities from short-term exposure. ISCD requires facilities to calculate this distance using a web-based tool, but ISCD does not verify facility-reported data for facilities it does not categorize as high-risk for a toxic release threat.

However, GAO estimated more than 2,700 facilities (44 percent) of an estimated 6,400 facilities with a toxic release threat misreported the distance. Consequently, the audit recommended DHS verify the distance of concern reported by facilities is accurate.

In addition, GAO also discovered ISCD has made substantial progress in approving site security plans and conducting compliance inspections. However, ISCD does not consistently ensure compliance and effectively measure program results. Compliance with site security plans is essential, since these outline the planned measures that facilities agree to implement to address security vulnerabilities.

Attempting to access, collect, and share information on where chemicals are produced, stored, and transported is a challenge for state and local emergency responders trying to prevent the type of chemical disasters that devastated West, Texas, and Geismar, Louisiana, in 2013.

To ensure consistency in addressing non-compliance with the CFATS program, DHS must make sure it has documented processes and procedures for managing non-compliant facilities.

Currently, ISCD addresses compliance issues on a case-by-case basis. GAO revealed almost half (34 of 69) of the facilities ISCD inspected as of February 2015 had not implemented one or more planned measures by deadlines specified in their approved site security plans and therefore were not fully compliant with their plans.

The audit report stated, “Given that ISCD will need to inspect about 2,900 facilities in the future, having documented processes and procedures could provide ISCD more reasonable assurance that facilities implement planned measures and address security gaps.”


As an important part of the nation’s counter-terrorism efforts, strengthening the CFATS program will continue to be a critical way to keep dangerous chemicals out of the hands of those who wish to do us harm. DHS concurred with GAO’s recommendations and has outlined steps to address them.

DHS concurred with GAO’s recommendations and has taken steps to address them. According to Bob Davis, National Protection and Programs Directorate, DHS believes that documenting processes to track non-compliant facilities is worthwhile and, as had previously been done with all other major aspects of CFATS implementation, the Department is in the process of developing and documenting such procedures for this final stage of the CFATS process.

In addition, as recommended by GAO, the Department will develop a performance measure that includes only planned measures that have been implemented and verified. Davis explained that, “It is important to note there is no single measure that can fully capture the impact of CFATS. This is due to the complexity of the CFATS program and the many ways in which it reduces risks.”

Covered+Facilities+Feb+2015Finally, DHS has begun developing a revised Top-Screen application and supporting tiering methodology that eliminates the need for facilities to calculate and self-report Distances of Concern. While this is in development, DHS will establish a process through which it will verify Distances of Concern submitted in new Top-Screens for accuracy before finalizing a preliminary tiering result for any facility with threshold quantities of a release-toxic chemical of interest.

The third leg of the Site Security Plan (SSP) compliance program, the compliance inspection results, also continues to be ignored in the CFATS Fact Sheet. The compliance inspection program determines if the facility is actually living up to its obligations outlined in the authorized and approve site security plan. This is the only real measure of whether or not a facility is secured against potential terrorist attack.





report a potential CFATS violation

A copy of the codified CFATS Act of 2014 can be found online at the House of Representatives’ Website

risk-based performance standards

Security Vulnerability Assessments

Site risk-based performance standards

CFATS — Security Today

H.R.4007 – 113th Congress (2013-2014): Protecting and

View Report (PDF, 56 pages) – US Government …

Chemical Facility Security News: ISC

CSAT Top-Screen | Homeland Security

Chemical Security Update: MTSA meets CFATS and a …

Understanding CFATS: What It Means to Your … –

US Department of Homeland Security

Chemical Plant Security Assessment: Prioritizing Facilities that Need to Be Protected

Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act

Never-Before-Seen Photos Emerge From Inside White House During 9/11


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VP Cheney: whispers in the West Wing hallway with David Addington.

VP Cheney: whispers in the West Wing hallway with David Addington.

Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, never-before-seen photos from inside the White House during the 9/11 attacks have been released.

On Friday, Colette Neirouz Hanna opened an e-mail from the National Archives that she has been waiting to receive for more than a decade. Hanna, the coordinating producer for the FRONTLINE film team the Kirk Documentary Group, had just struck stock footage research gold — 2,664 photographs of former Vice President Richard Cheney and his staff were being released to FRONTLINE in response to her Freedom of Information Act request.

“We have wanted these photos for years to help us tell the story of probably the most powerful vice president in American history,” Hanna said.

For almost 15 years, FRONTLINE has been covering the role that Vice President Cheney played in the Bush administration’s response to the 9/11 attacks. And from the beginning, one of the biggest challenges was the intense secrecy that surrounded the Office of the Vice President.

“Time and again we ran into roadblocks,” said Hanna. “The White House would refuse to cooperate with our requests for photographs and even our attempts to film hallways in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building were denied.”

At one point, the administration refused to provide FRONTLINE a high resolution photograph of the vice president that had already appeared on the White House website. We used the low resolution photograph anyway.

Without cooperation from the White House, the Kirk Documentary Group — whose coverage of the Bush administration for FRONTLINE includes the films Bush’s War, Cheney’s LawThe Dark Sideand most recently, the 2014 investigation Losing Iraq– worked to find the images in other ways.

But Hanna knew there was a trove of other photographs out there, and when the National Archives took over the Bush administration’s records, she was one of the first to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the long-denied photographs.

“The release of this significant archive after years of trying points to the importance of in-depth journalism and our commitment to an important story like this,” says Raney Aronson-Rath, executive producer of FRONTLINE. “Through tenacity like this, we’re committed to shining new light on the big stories and people who continue to shape our times.”

The entire cache of photographs released yesterday can now be seen on the National Archives’ Flickr account. The collection includes a number of intimate photos of Cheney and President George W. Bush. Others include rare moments from inside the vice president’s office, while a third set of photographs detail the role of David Addington, Cheney’s top attorney and a senior advisor who worked with the vice president on national security issues.

“I am thrilled that these important photographs have finally been released to the public and I hope they will contribute to a fuller understanding of this crucial period in American history,” Hanna said.

In addition to the photographs, the archives also released a collection of administration documents in response to a separate FOIA filed by Christy Hoppe of The Dallas Morning News. As Peter Baker noted in The New York Times:

The papers are mainly memos, fact sheets and news articles sent to him in 2006, around the time of the hunting accident in which he shot a fellow hunter on a Texas ranch. But they offer a small glimpse into Mr. Cheney’s time in office … Many of the documents are banal. Aides sent Mr. Cheney a weather forecast for a coming weekend in Jackson, Wyo., where he kept a vacation home (“snow showers” every day). They passed along a birthday letter from the prime minister of Romania, thank you notes after meetings with a former prime minister of Sweden and a former chief executive of Hong Kong and a goodbye letter from a Canadian ambassador leaving Washington.

The photos, reportedly captured by a staff photographer, document the reactions of then President, George Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney as they watch the horrific incident unfold on live television on September 11, 2001.

The majority of the photos were taken in the secure basement of the White House, where Secret Service agents frog-marched top government officials following reports that more attacks were a possibility.

Screen Shot 2015 07 25 at 12.11.02US National Archives

In the photos, President Bush looks tense as he converses with top officials in the President’s Emergency Operations Center (PEOC), a highly-secure bunker situated below the East Wing, which can withstand nuclear hits and ‘other devastating attacks’.

Other senior government officials also feature in the photographs, including National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, CIA Director George Tenet, Dick Cheney’s lawyer, David Addington and Chief of Staff Andrew Card.

The moments were documented shortly before George Bush’s famous address to the nation, which was aired to record numbers worldwide.

Screen Shot 2015 07 25 at 12.12.23

Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet watches President Bush’s 8:30 p.m. address from the PEOC.

Screen Shot 2015 07 25 at 12.11.29

The vice president’s top lawyer, David Addington (kneeling), conferred with Cheney. Addington would begin to secure the legal authority to respond to the attacks.

When the planes hit, it was Cheney who was in charge of the White House, while George Bush was present at a school in Sarasota, FL, where he was filmed receiving the devastating news.

Screen Shot 2015 07 25 at 12.10.30

Vice President Cheney watches as the first reports of terrorist attacks appear on television. Within minutes he would be frog-marched by Secret Service agents to the basement elevator of the White House.

US National Archives

Screen Shot 2015 07 25 at 12.10.49US National Archives

 Selected Cheney Vice Presidential Photographs

VP Cheney: Media Pre-Brief with Lea Anne McBride before interview with John King of CNN.  VPR.

VP Cheney: Media Pre-Brief with Lea Anne McBride before interview with John King of CNN. VPR.

Vice President Cheney and Lynne Cheney in the President's Emergency Operations Center (PEOC)

Cheney’s wife, Lynne, was brought to the White House and taken to the President’s Emergency Operations Center (PEOC), a secure basement room, with the vice president.

Vice President Cheney with Laura Bush and Lynne Cheney in the President's Emergency Operations Center (PEOC)

First Lady Laura Bush joined the Cheneys as secure communications were established for the basement room.

Vice President Cheney with National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby in the President's Emergency Operations Center (PEOC)

Cheney made a series of calls from the PEOC, including to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Terrorists had attacked the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m.

Vice President Cheney with National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice in the President's Emergency Operations Center (PEOC)

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice joined Cheney in the PEOC. Throughout the morning they were receiving reports of airplanes headed toward the White House.

Vice President Cheney in the President's Emergency Operations Center (PEOC)

Those in the room that day say the attacks had a profound effect on Cheney and shaped his entire time in office.

Vice President Cheney with Senior Staff in the President's Emergency Operations Center (PEOC)Counterterrorism czar, Richard Clarke (standing), managed the response at the White House.

President Bush with Vice President Cheney in the President's Emergency Operations Center (PEOC)

Cheney confers with President Bush, who had arrived at the PEOC around 7:00 p.m., after his plane was diverted to Louisiana and Nebraska.

President Bush with Vice President Cheney and Senior Staff in the President's Emergency Operations Center (PEOC)

Prior to addressing the nation, Bush is briefed by Chief of Staff Andrew Card, Cheney and Rice.

Vice President Cheney and Lynne Cheney Depart the White House on Marine Two

The Cheneys leave the White House for an “undisclosed location.”

Vice President Cheney and Lynne Cheney Depart the White House on Marine Two

Marine Two takes off with the Cheneys.

Vice President Cheney and Lynne Cheney Aboard Marine Two

Moving the vice president is part of a Secret Service plan to preserve the continuity of leadership.

Vice President Cheney and Lynne Cheney Arrive at Camp David

The photos released today show that Cheney was taken to Camp David.

Vice President Cheney at Camp David

Cheney will soon announce from Camp David that the United States will have to work the “dark side.”

The full collection can be viewed here.






In Newly Released Photos, a Rare Glimpse of Cheney

In First Batch of Released Cheney Papers

Records Pertaining to Vice President Cheney’s Hunting …

Inventory for FOIA 2014-0011-F Records pertaining … – NAR


The Bracero Program: Borders and Borderlands


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Bracero ProgramThe The Bracero Program(named for the Spanish term bracero, meaning “manual laborer” [“one who works using his arms”])began on August 4, 1942 after the United States entered World War II. With American men going off to fight the war, the U.S. needed farm laborers to tend to the growing demands of the agribusinesses supporting the war effort. The Bracero Program was a bilateral collaboration between the Mexican and United States governments designed to allow controlled migration of Mexican Nationals into the U.S. to work as farm labor. Millions of Mexican Nationals legally crossed the border into the United States. However, some Mexicans Prosepective Braceroscrossed illegally. Although the two governments worked together to control illegal entry into the U.S., the sheer number of people coming across the border illegally oftentimes overwhelmed border patrols on both sides of the border. Here is a look at illegal immigration during the Bracero Program and how the U.S. and Mexican governments worked together to control it.

Braceros being sprayed with DDTIn 1942 the U.S. Government approached the Mexican Government about their need for migrant labor after being pressured by farm owners. World War II was getting underway which meant that poor white, black and domestic Latino laborers would either serve in the military or take jobs in better-paying industrialized factories.  The Mexican Government, who worried that they would not have enough laborers to tend to their new projects to modernize their farming, agreed to allow Mexican Nationalists to emigrate. While the U.S. Government desperately needed migrant laborers to tend to their farms, the Mexican Government saw an opportunity for their country by “linking its participation to membership in a world democratic community by claiming (to its citizens) that the Program would modernize the country and transform it from a ‘backward’ country into a modern nation-state.” The hope for both countries was that the Bracero Program contract would keep track of and control the number of workers crossing the border. The Mexican Government agreed to recruit the laborers while the U.S. Government facilitatedBracero living quarters employment, wages, working conditions and transportation.  The provisions to the contract for the Mexican workers were that they were given transportation to and from the farms they were working (paid for by the U.S. Government), a minimum wage equal to U.S. domestic farm laborers, and decent housing to live in while they were working. The Mexicans laborers had to provide their own food and health insurance, which were usually deducted from their pay. At the end of their contract they were to return back to Mexico at the end of the harvest. Any Mexican who did not abide by their contract was deported back to Mexico.

Braceros in the fieldProblems arose when tens of thousands of unemployed Mexican laborers showed up at recruitment centers in Mexico City only to find out that they were ineligible to participate in the program. Only male laborers with farming experience were allowed to sign up. This drove the people who could not participate in the program to cross the border illegally. The issue of illegal immigration was a cause for concern for both the Mexican Government and the braceros working in the U.S.  The Mexican Government received pressure from the agribusiness men in Mexico who were losing their cheap labor to higher paying work in the U.S. The braceros were concerned that undocumented workers drove down their wages down and “worsened working conditions.”   This prompted U.S. Government officials and the Mexican Government to beef-up their border patrols and to Braceros working in the fieldextend a ten foot high barbed-wire fence at the All American canal in Calexico, California, a main crossing point for illegal entry.

These measures did little to stem the flow of undocumented workers.  By 1948, there were an estimated 70,000 undocumented workers in the U.S. and by 1952, 1.5 million.

In 1954, the U.S. launched Operation Wetback, a “massive deportation program that deported more than a million illegal immigrants.”  Undocumented workers were aggressively pursued, arrested and handed over to Mexican officials who “forcibly relocated them to ‘areas in the country (Mexico) where work was plentiful’.”

Operation WetbackThe Bracero Program eventually ended December 31, 1964 after President Kennedy decided that the Bracero Program was negatively affecting wages, employment opportunities, and the working conditions of domestic workers.However, many U.S. farmers fought to continue the program.

Although the Bracero Program was an attempt by both the U.S. and Mexican Governments to provide legal short-term migrant labor, it failed miserably. The allure ofOperation Wetback. American prosperity combined with the desperation of the unemployed Mexicans worked together to create a problem too big for both governments to control.

Illegal immigration has continued to be a problem in the U.S. due to its need for laborers who are willing to do extremely hard work for a meager salary and no benefits and the lack of Mexican Government interference in this process.

The song “Plane Wreck At Los Gatos (Deportee)” was written in 1948 by Woodie Guthrie after he heard that a plane carrying Mexican Deportees back to Mexico had crashed in the Diablo Mountains (Devil Mountain) in California. The song was written in protest of the way the news agencies listed the victims of the crash as “deportees” rather than by their names.






How Eisenhower solved illegal border crossings from Mexico

Bracero program

Operation Wetback – Texas State Historical Association

The Border | 1953 Operation Wetback – PBS

Operation Wetback

Operation Wetback | Immigration of the 1950s

Hoover, Truman & Ike: Mass Deporters?

Dwight Eisenhower on Immigration – On The Issues

Operation Wetback – Origins: Current Events in Historical …

The Bracero Program 1942-1964 – American International .

The Voice of Agriculture – American Farm Bureau

America’s De Facto Guest Workers – FLASH: The Fordham

1 Chaos on the US-Mexico Border – Catholic Legal …

Factors that Influence Migration – The University of Texas at .

Volume 88, Number 4 – California Historical Society

Mexican Americans: A Sociological Introduction – University …

“Operation Wetback”: Illegal Immigration’s Golden-Crisp Myth



International Sanctions on Iran


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International Sanctions on Iran

Iran’s defense ministry inaugurated this carbon-fiber plant, seen in 2011, after international sanctions blocked the dual-use material’s import.

The United States, United Nations, and European Union have levied multiple sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program since the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN’s nuclear watchdog, found in September 2005 that Tehran was not compliant (PDF) with its international obligations. The United States spearheaded international efforts to financially isolate Tehran and block its oil exports to raise the cost of Iran’s efforts to develop a potential nuclear-weapons capability and to bring its government to the negotiating table.

Iran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear program and intensive inspections in an agreement signed with world powers in July 2015. Under the deal, many of the most punishing sanctions are poised to be lifted when the IAEA verifies that Iran has taken steps such as reducing its stockpiles of fissile materials and centrifuges. Still, some sanctions are unrelated to nuclear proliferation and will remain in place.

Why does Iran face sanctions?

Iran faces international sanctions for a clandestine nuclear program that the IAEA and major powers say violate its treaty obligations. When Iran acceded to the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1967, it promised to never become a nuclear-armed state. But over the course of the 1970s, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s policies raised U.S. concerns that Iran had nuclear-weapons ambitions. In 1974 Iran signed the IAEA Safeguards Agreement, a supplement to the NPT in which it consented to inspections.

The Iranian Revolution in 1979 ushered in a clerical regime, and international concerns that Iran was pursuing a nuclear weapon resurfaced the following decade as the Islamic Republic fought a grinding, eight-year war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, which had a nuclear program of its own. These suspicions continued into the mid-1990s, when President Bill Clinton’s administration levied sanctions on foreign firms believed to be enabling a nuclear-arms program.

In the early 2000s, indications of work on uranium enrichment renewed international concerns, spurring several rounds of sanctions from the UN, European Union, and U.S. government. These international sanctions have sought to block Iran’s access to nuclear-related materials and put an economic vise on the Iranian government to compel it to end its uranium-enrichment program and other nuclear-weapons-related efforts.

U.S. sanctions on Iran, however, long predate these nuclear nonproliferation concerns. The United States first levied economic and political sanctions against Iran during the 1979–81 hostage crisis, shortly after Iran’s Islamic Revolution. On November 14, 1979, President Jimmy Carter froze all Iranian assets “which are or become subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.” The United States imposed additional sanctions when, in January 1984, the Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah, an Iranian client, was implicated in the bombing of the U.S. Marine base in Beirut. That year, the United States designated Iran a state sponsor of terrorism. The designation, which remains in place, triggers a host of sanctions, including restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance, a ban on arms transfers, and export controls for dual-use items. Sanctions related to sponsorship of terrorism and human rights abuses were not affected by the nuclear deal.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew estimated that Iran’s economy was 15 to 20 percent smaller than it would have been had sanctions not been ratcheted up in 2012.

In November 2013, Iran and the P5+1 signed an interim agreement known as the Joint Plan of Action (JPA) that provided some sanctions relief and access to $4.2 billion in previously frozen assets in exchange for limiting uranium enrichment and permitting international inspectors to access sensitive sites. The JPA’ capped Iran’s crude oil exports at 1.1 million barrels per day, less than half its 2011 export level. Washington and Brussels will keep the terms of the JPA in effect until the IAEA has verified that Iran has followed through on an agreed-upon set of steps to limit its nuclear program, which will likely come several months after the July 14 agreement. The U.S. Treasury Department notes that no other relief has come into effect, and the extant nuclear sanctions will continue to be enforced until the IAEA verifies Iran’s compliance on what would be known, in the agreement’s parlance, as “implementation day.”


What are the U.S. sanctions?

U.S. sanctions cover a variety of purposes related to the country’s internal and external affairs, ranging from weapons proliferation to human rights abuses within Iran to state sponsorship of terrorism and fomenting instability abroad. They target broad sectors as well as specific individuals and entities, both Iranian nationals and nonnationals who have dealings with sanctioned Iranians.

  • Financial/Banking: U.S. sanctions administered by the Treasury Department have sought to isolate Iran from the international financial system. Beyond a prohibition on U.S.-based institutions having financial dealings with Iran, Treasury enforces extraterritorial, or secondary, sanctions: Under the 2011 Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (CISADA), foreign-based financial institutions or subsidiaries that deal with sanctioned banks are barred from conducting deals in the United States or with the U.S. dollar, which then-Treasury Under Secretary David Cohen called “a death penalty for any international bank (PDF).” At the end of 2011, the United States moved to prevent importers of Iranian oil from making payments through Iran’s central bank, though it exempted a handful of countries that had made a “significant reduction” in their purchases. Other measures restrict Iran’s access to foreign currencies so that funds from oil importers can only be used for bilateral trade with the purchasing country or to access humanitarian goods.
  • Oil Exports: Along with pressure on Iran’s access to international financial systems, curtailing oil revenue has been the principal focus of the Obama administration as it stepped up pressure on nuclear nonproliferation. Prior to 2012, oil exports provided half the Iranian government’s revenue and made up one-fifth of the country’s GDP; its exports have been more than halved since. Extraterritorial sanctions target foreign firms that would provide services and investment related to the energy sector, including investment in oil and gas fields, sales of equipment used in refining oil, and participation in activities related to oil export, such as shipbuilding, ports operations, and insurance on transport. CISADA and related executive orders expanded restrictions that predated nuclear concerns.
  • Trade: The United States has an embargo that prohibits most U.S. firms from trading with or investing in Iran that dates to 1995 (PDF). Though relaxed in 2000, it was made near-total a decade later. The Obama administration carved out an exception to the embargo for the sale of consumer telecommunications equipment and software.
  • Asset freezes and travel bans: Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush froze the assets (PDF) of entities determined to be supporting international terrorism. This list includes dozens of Iranian individuals and institutions, including banks, defense contractors, and the Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Still other sanctions are associated with the aftermath of Iran’s 2009 elections, when security forces suppressed a budding protest movement, and its support for U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organizations. The IRGC’s elite paramilitary Quds Force has been sanctioned for destabilizing Iraq (2007) and abetting human rights abuses in Syria (2011) as Iran lent its support to the government of Bashar al-Assad, whose security forces were putting down what began as a peaceful protest movement.
  • Weapons development. The Iran-Iraq Arms Nonproliferation Act (1992) calls for sanctioning any person or entity that assists Tehran in weapons development or acquisition of “chemical, biological, nuclear, or destabilizing numbers and types of advanced conventional weapons.” Subsequent nonproliferation legislation and executive actions have sanctioned individuals and entities assisting WMD production. Additional bans restrict dual-use exports, a justification for an automobile ban, which was waived under the JPA.

The U.S. Congress provides the statutory basis for most U.S. sanctions, but it is up to the executive branch to interpret and implement them. While congressional legislation would be required to repeal these measures, the president, by citing “the national interest,” has the authority to waive nearly all of them in whole or in part. Lifting terrorism-related sanctions would require the president to delist Iran as a state sponsor. The president is also able to hollow them out by removing individuals and entities from sanctions lists.

Because nuclear sanctions would be waived by the executive, rather than repealed by the legislature, in the early years of a prospective agreement, the White House has argued that if Iran violates the agreement, the president can “snap back” sanctions, reinstating them without legislative hurdles.

In May 2015, President Obama signed into law provisions for congressional review that place restrictions on his prerogative to waive sanctions. Under this law, the House and Senate foreign relations committees have sixty days to review the agreement, during which time the president cannot loosen the sanctions regime. But for Congress to derail an agreement, it would not only have to vote it down, but muster a two-thirds majority to override a presidential veto.

What are the UN sanctions?

The UN Security Council has progressively built up an international sanctions regime binding on all its member states ever since the IAEA declared Iran noncompliant with its safeguards obligations in 2005. In a first round of sanctions, in 2006, the Security Council unanimously approved measures that included an embargo on materials and technology used in uranium production and enrichment, as well as in the development of ballistic missiles, and blocked financial transactions abetting the nuclear and ballistic-missile programs.

Subsequent resolutions in 2007 and 2008 blocked nonhumanitarian financial assistance to Iran and mandated states to inspect cargo suspected of containing prohibited materials, respectively.

fourth binding resolution, approved in June 2010, tightened the international sanctions regime to its current state. It adopted the U.S. approach, linking Iran’s oil profits and its banking/financial sector, including its central bank, to proliferation efforts, therefore subjecting them to international sanction.

What are the EU sanctions?

The European Union has augmented UN penalties against Iran with sanctions that are “nearly as extensive as those of the United States,” according to the nonpartisan U.S.-funded Congressional Research Service (CRS).

2007 measure froze the assets of individuals and entities related to Iran’s nuclear and ballistic-missile programs, and prohibited the transfer of dual-use items. In 2010, the EU substantially strengthened its sanctions regime, bringing it into line with U.S. measures by blocking European institutions from transacting with Iranian banks, including its central bank, and restricting trade and investment with the country’s energy and transport sectors, among others.

Brussels’ move to isolate Iran and mount pressure to bring it to negotiations culminated with a 2012 measure banning the import of oil and petrochemical products as well as insurance on shipping, and freezing assets related to Iran’s central bank. A year prior to its 2012 oil embargo, the EU was the largest importer of Iranian oil, averaging 600,000 barrels per day, according to the CRS.

The EU agreed to terminate all nuclear-related sanctions in the comprehensive agreement on implementation day. Such changes to EU regulations will require the unanimous consent of the bloc’s twenty-eight member states.

Apart from the nonproliferation sanctions, Brussels has levied sanctions (PDF), including asset freezes and travel bans, for human rights violations, and bans the export of equipment that could be used for telecommunications surveillance or for internal repression.

What has been the impact of sanctions?

International sanctions have taken a severe toll on the Iranian economy. In April 2015, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew estimated that Iran’s economy was 15 to 20 percent smaller than it would have been had sanctions not been ratcheted up in 2012 and cost $160 billion in lost oil revenue alone. In addition, more than $100 billion in Iranian assets is held in restricted accounts outside the country.

The U.S.-led campaign to ratchet international sanctions threw the economy into a two-year recession, from which it emerged with modest growth in 2014. Meanwhile, the value of the rial declined by 56 percent between January 2012 and January 2014, a period in which inflation reached some 40 percent, according to the CRS. The unemployment rate might be as high as 20 percent. Economic mismanagement under former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and more recently, falling oil prices have also contributed to the economic downturn. The IMF estimates that Iran’s break-even point, the price per barrel at which the country can balance its budget, is $92.50. As of June 1, Brent crude oil sold for $65. Several years of austerity budgets have raised public demands for increased domestic spending, including for oil-industry infrastructure that has fallen into disrepair.

President Hassan Rouhani’s pitch to voters as he campaigned in 2013 was that by negotiating with major powers over Iran’s nuclear program, he could reverse Iran’s economic and diplomatic isolation. With economic reforms and an interim agreement that offered some sanctions relief, he has stabilized the currency and more than halved inflation, but even if the most severe U.S., EU, and multilateral sanctions are lifted with a comprehensive agreement, Iran is unlikely to experience an immediate windfall (PDF), analysts say.

When would sanctions be lifted?

Iran will regain access to international energy markets and the global financial system once the IAEA verifies that it has granted IAEA inspectors sufficient access to nuclear facilities and taken agreed-upon steps to restrict its nuclear program. The comprehensive agreement directs the P5+1 to prepare the legal and administrative groundwork for rescinding or suspending their nuclear-related sanctions prior to implementation day. On implementation day, the UN Security Council will pass a resolution that will nullify previous resolutions on the Iranian nuclear issue.

Iran will regain access to international energy markets and the global financial system once the IAEA verifies that it has granted IAEA inspectors sufficient access to nuclear facilities and taken agreed-upon steps to restrict its nuclear program.

Negotiators devised a unique mechanism to guard against the possibility that Russia or China, who have shielded Iran from punitive Security Council actions in the past, might block the restoration of sanctions in the event of Iranian noncompliance with a Council veto. The agreement calls for an eight-member panel comprising the five permanent members of the Security Council, Germany, the European Union, and Iran that is empowered to investigate Iranian noncompliance. The committee could restore UN sanctions within sixty-five days by a majority vote. In such instances, even if China and Russia objected, they could not block the restoration of sanctions.

Iranian negotiators brought the UN embargo on conventional weapons and ballistic missiles under the scope of the comprehensive agreement. These sanctions are poised to be lifted within five and eight years, respectively, though they could be lifted sooner with an IAEA declaration that Iran’s remaining nuclear program serves solely civilian purposes.




The full text of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The U.S. Institute of Peace and Harvard’s Belfer Center have compiled background and analysis on Iran sanctions and other aspects of the nuclear negotiations.

The Congressional Research Service offers an in-depth look at the U.S. and international sanctions regimes on Iran. A separate CRS report unpacks presidential and congressional authorities with respect to lifting U.S. sanctions on Iran.

This Arms Control Association chart explains the terms of the Joint Plan of Action and tracks the P5+1’s and Iran’s compliance with it.

Then-Undersecretary of the Treasury David S. Cohen outlined the architecture of the U.S. sanctions regime in January 2015 congressional testimony. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew described sanctions in the context of the Obama administration’s negotiating strategy in an April 2015 speech.

The comprehensive agreement will not offer Iran an immediate economic windfall, writes former U.S. sanctions official Richard Nephew (PDF).




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Quantification Settlement Agreement Joint Powers Authority fails to pass budget because of Salton Sea mitigation dollars


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Exposed playa at the Salton Sea.

EL CENTRO – The Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA) Joint Powers Authority (JPA) failed to pass a 2016 budget at their recent meeting of May 20, 2015. The JPA consists of representitives, or Commissioners, from the San Diego County Water Authority (SDWA), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD), and the Imperial Irrigation District (IID).

For the past 12 years, IID Environmentalist Bruce Wilcox has submitted the budget for the JPA. This is the first time a proposed mitigation budget for the Salton Sea has not been passed.

The JPA has funded the creation and delivery of 450,000 acre-feet of fallowed water to the Salton Sea since 2003. The IID has discovered that the QSA water transfers are linked to some of the “unanticipated elevation drop of the Salton Sea.” New studies have found this will bring air quality issues to the surrounding areas, according to IID General Manager Kevin Kelley and Commissioner for the JPA.

IID General Manager Kevin Kelley sent a letter to the JPA Commissioners expressing his concern over the unmitigated impacts of the water transfers on the local environment and residents in the Imperial and Coachella Valleys.

“The proposed JPA budget contained a $580,000 line item for mitigation of exposed playa at the Salton Sea attributed to the water transfers,” said Kelley. “This line item was removed from the budget. It is only 2% of the total budget. It is half of what the IID has allocated to the mitigation of the Salton Sea, which is unrelated to the QSA. As your Commissioner to the JPA, I objected to its removal. The item was removed prior to the meeting. I asked that it be restored. It was not. I let the JPA know that if the item were not restored for action, the IID would be voting no on the budget. The item was restored, seconded, and passed. The motion to approve the budget failed to get a second.”

San Diego and Coachella Water Districts voted for the budget, with the state and IID voting against.

The state voted against the budget, claiming a budget cannot be passed without its affirmative vote.

There was a motion by the San Diego Water Authority to remove all area impact mitigation, the $580,000 line item and the $1.6 million in ongoing mitigation for air quality impacts, according to Kelley.

Future of the Salton Sea“I intend to vote against this budget if it does not contain the line item in question that has to do with impacts on the Salton Sea caused by the water transfers, said Kelley. “I fully expect that a budget will be passed soon.”

The board weighed in with their comments.

“If the state doesn’t step up to their mitigation obligations, they are getting into the area of a breach,” said Director Bruce Kuhn.

“When you move beyond the current dispute of whether or not they have an approved budget,” said Kelley, “there are broader implications, not only for the JPA, but the QSA and for the water transfer in which they depend. The action by the JPA last week, especially the two other water agencies, the San Diego Water District and the Coachella Valley Water District, were entirely consistent with the remarks that each of them delivered at the State Board San Ysidro workshop in which they placed continued inexpensive water over the legitimate public health concerns raised by the IID Board in Imperial County.”

“The San Diego Water Authority and Coachella Valley Water District are taking overt actions to not acknowledge these health consequences of the Salton Sea,” said Director Matt Dessert. “They have hijacked this simple activity of a good faith budget for the JPA that all of the QSA partners have paid into and stopping with incremental success to go to a larger project of environmental concern for human health and air emissions at the Salton Sea. It is a big message they are sending. It is dangerous.”

“I urge all JPA Commissioners to consider the ramifications of their respective positions with regard to mitigation funding and implementation requirements,” said Kelley in his letter to the JPA Commissioners. “The IID will support nothing less than the QSA it authorized in 2003, which includes full mitigation of all impacts caused by the conservation and transfer agreements.”

The IID Board voted to have Mr. Kelley continue pressing for the budget they approved.

The Salton Sea – San Diego County Water Authority

Salton Sea1The Salton Sea is the largest lake in California, covering 376 square miles of Imperial and Riverside counties. It was formed in 1905 when floodwaters from the Colorado River breached a canal, and the river fl owed into what is known as the Salton Sink. Today, the sea is sustained primarily by irrigation run-off
from nearby farms.

One important factor in the future of the Salton Sea region is the Colorado River
Quantification Settlement Agreement of 2003, known as the QSA. The historic set of agreements includes a water transfer of up to 200,000 acre-feet a year from the Imperial Irrigation District to the San Diego County Water Authority for up to 75 years, and a long-term conservation and transfer agreement between   Imperial Irrigation District (IID) and the Coachella Valley Water District for up to 103,000 acre-feet per year.

Joint Powers Authority

To mitigate the impacts of water transfers on the Salton Sea, the state Legislature formed a Joint Powers Authority, or JPA, that includes representatives from the Water Authority, IID, Coachella Valley Water District, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. According to state legislation, the JPA is required to pay $133 million in 2003 dollars (equivalent to $375 million over the life of the QSA) for environmental mitigation related to the water transfers, with the majority of those funds dedicated to the Salton Sea. Of the total, the Water Authority is responsible for $99 million over the life of the QSA. The state agreed to assume “unconditional sole responsibility for all environmental costs that exceed the $133 million.”

Once the JPA is no longer responsible to provide water to the Salton Sea, the shoreline will be exposed at a faster rate. At the start of the QSA, it was “anticipated” that a state restoration plan would be approved by the Legislature by the end of 2017. While there have been many studies of the Salton Sea, and the state’s resources secretary has selected a preferred alternative, no restoration plans have been finalized and no financing has been identified. The Water Authority and its JPA partners continue to advocate for the state to meets its obligations to the QSA and the Salton Sea.

Restoration Efforts

In addition to mitigation money, the Water Authority, IID and Coachella Valley Water District have pledged $67 million over the life of the QSA to improve habitat and air quality around the Salton Sea. The state will place the money into the Salton Sea Restoration Fund. In September 2013, Gov. Jerry Brown
signed legislation setting aside $2 million from that fund to pay for a Salton Sea Restoration Feasibility Study and Financial Plan to be created by the California Natural Resources Agency and the Salton Sea Authority, which formed in 1993 to oversee Salton Sea issues. The study, scheduled to be complete in mid-2016, is intended to develop a realistic and financially feasible restoration plan.

Salton Sea2Money from the Salton Sea Restoration Fund also is supporting projects that will advance restoration efforts. Those projects, some of which was expected to launch in late 2014, include:
Species Conservation Habitat Project                                                      The state Department of Water Resources, in tandem with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, will construct a 640-acre pond near where the New River flows into the sea. It is part of a larger state Species Conservation Habitat Project to provide habitat for tilapia, a food source for migratory birds.
Red Hill Marina Project
The federal government will build 420 acres of shallow-water habitat in an area
called Red Hill Marina inside the Sonny Bono National Wildlife Refuge. Current
funds will cover about half of the project. Additional grant money is being sought.
Torres Martinez Wetland Project                                                                 The Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indian Tribe, based on the north end of the Salton Sea, will build a five-acre pilot project to support fish habitat and maintain food sources for migratory birds.
Marine Habitat Project                                                                              IID and a “private company” will build two half-acre solar gradient ponds that can produce renewable energy while creating fish habitat at the southern end of
the sea.





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