Jewish World Review August 1, 2011 / 1 Menachem-Av, 5771
Dude, where's my MANPAD?… Training scenarios … More
By Lisa Hoffman
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | WASHINGTON --- The State Department congratulated itself and the rest of the U.S. government this past week for ridding the world of more than 32,500 shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles since 2003.
That sounds impressive until you consider that there are an estimated 500,000 of these weapons still out there, including in Libya, the Middle East, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Balkans and virtually every other land that is home to insurgents, guerrillas, terrorists or other evildoers.
The weapons -- which also are known as Man-Portable Air Defense Systems, or MANPADS -- are beloved for their portability, ease of concealment, low cost and, most important, their lethality, particularly against helicopters and other aircraft. They reportedly also are easy to procure from Eastern Europe and China.
The State report, released this past week, says U.S. agencies found and disposed of MANPADS in 30 countries in the past eight years. It also says the missiles have been used in attacks against 40 civilian aircraft since the mid-1970s.
What it does not specifically address are recent reports from The New York Times and other sources that about 20,000 MANPADS cannot be accounted for in Libya alone. Apparently, rebel forces have looted thousands from government depots and their whereabouts are unknown.
Public-health experts agree that food safety is a matter of major concern. Recent reports of E. coli contamination deaths, and recalls of beef, tomatoes, peanuts, etc., for possible Listeria or Salmonella bugs, as well as fears of poisoning by terrorists, raise the specter of mass sickness and worse.
But you wouldn't know that by the lighthearted tone of the titles of training scenarios offered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to police, medical personnel, first responders and the private sector.
For instance, "How Sweet It Is(n't)" is the title for training on tracing back contaminated food to its source, as well as handling a recall of tainted food. "Wilted Woes" focuses on early detection of illnesses that become a "human health emergency" and how to identify the food responsible.
"High Plains Harbinger" teaches how to investigate the intentional infection of cattle with foot-and-mouth disease. And "Insider Addition" demonstrates dealing with the intentional chemical contamination of a raw-meat product at a processor.
The pack of conservative Blue Dog Democrats in Congress will lose another member next year, which means the once-influential bloc is poised to shrink to far less than half the size it once was.
Before last November's election, there were 54 self-proclaimed House Blue Dogs, fiscal conservatives who in the past were regularly wooed by both parties as potential swing votes.
Now, there are just 25, and five of them will not run again in the 2012 races. The latest to retire is Rep. Mike Ross of Arkansas, who said this past week he's bowing out to spend more time with his family -- and, politics watchers predict, run for governor.
Redistricting by GOP-led statehouses could further shrink their ranks.
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