Always Be Prepared

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It was nice going to a local festival yesterday and seeing a table set up with brochures for the kids and families on Emergency Preparedness. 


Even when we’re having a good time, we need to have in mind the possibility that things can go very wrong.


These last couples of weeks with Hurricane Harvey and Irma, we saw again the destructive forces that Mother Nature can bring. 


And today being the 16th Anniversary since the terror attacks on 9/11 and the almost 3,000 murdered at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, we are reminded of the necessity to always be ready for man-made/inflicted disasters as well. 


Now with Axis of Evil nations, North Korea and Iran, continuing to pose alarming threats to the West, the need for preparation and readiness to dangerous WMD–whether from an ICBM or a suitcase bomb–is ever present


Let’s just say until the final redemption when peace will reign on earth, we can never just rest securely on our laurels. 


Even on a sunny day, the clouds may be gathering to threaten us.  


So have a plan.  Be prepared.  You and your families lives across our beautiful and free nation depend on it. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Culture Intersects With Preparedness

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Just really loved this emergency preparedness poster by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).


It builds off of the #1, hit TV show, The Walking Dead that films in Atlanta where the CDC is. 


The show is about a zombie apocalypse and the story of how people survive (or not) amidst a global pandemic and the murderous awakened dead that feast off of the living. 


Here’s a link with what the CDC recommends you have in an emergency preparedness kit. 


The CDC also has a comic book with a zombie outbreak theme that further drives home the importance of a preparedness kit and what to have in it. 


I think it’s great when government thinks outside-the-box in ways that appeal to everyday citizens to serve them, help them, and especially keep them safe from disasters. 


(Source Photo: here with attribution to CDC)

That’s One Scary Shot

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Wow, this is one scary photo. 


Imagine coming downstairs and seeing this kids body laying on the floor like that. 


Looks like he’s dead!


Would you freak out totally?


Call 911.


Get the emergency responders on the scene. 


Try to save his life. 


Thoughts race through your mind. 


Is he sick?  Was it an accident?  A crime scene?  Terrorism?  Is there an active shooter? 


Is he going to make it? 


Where is his family?


OMG, what if they lose him?


Well, it turns out this kids was just acting out and scaring his parents–and everyone else passing by.

Life is so full of surprises. 


You never know if it’s the real thing or not.


But you have to be prepared for anything, anytime. 


This is a crazy world we live in. 


Thank G-d when it’s just a false alarm and everything is okay. 


Unfortunately not every time is it all well that ends well. 😉


(Source Photo: Michelle Blumenthal)

{Saving Us From DC Ground Zero}

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One well-placed nuclear suitcase bomb or nuclear ballistic missile strike on DC and say goodbye to virtually the entire hub of the Federal government. 


As of 2014, there are over 4.2 million federal employees (2.7M in the civilian agencies and 1.5M in the military). 


Over 500K are located in the DC, MD, VA tristate area. 


But it’s not just the numbers, it’s that the headquarters of all the major government agencies are located here. 


While, of course, there are backup sites, and emergency doomsday sites like Mount Weather (48 miles from DC), there is no telling how much advance notice, if any we would have, and who would escape and survive a deadly blow to our capital region. 


And it could be a radiological, chemical, biological, or nuclear (RCBN) attack that does us in…whether from Russia, China, Iran, North Korea or other diabolical enemy out there. 


The point is that by concentrating all our federal headquarters and senior leadership and key resources here we are in fact, giving the enemy an easy shot to decapitate the entire country?


While others (like Paul Kupiec in the WSJ) have questioned whether some of the federal agencies can be moved out to other needy cities and communities across the country for economic reasons (to bring jobs and investment) especially those agencies that are actively looking to build new HQS buildings already (e.g. FBI and Department of Labor), to me the far more potent question is one of national security. 


The main advantage of having the crux of the federal government in the DC area is surely one of coordination–the President wants his Cabinet near him and the Cabinet Secretaries want their senior staff near them, and so on and so on. 


So, you get this mass concentration of a who’s who of the federal government in and around Washington, DC. 


But what about the advances of technology? 


Surely, through networks and telecommunications and teleworking, we can support a geographically diverse workforce and do no significant harm to our operating as one.


We’re talking a very big cultural change here!


It’s one thing to have nuclear missiles roaming the seas on attack submarines waiting for orders from Washington, DC and it’s quite another to move the actual government intelligentsia and leadership out from the central hub. 


Let’s face it, in a real crisis situation, with the chaos and panic and transportation overflow and perhaps simultaneous cyberattacks, no one is really going to be going anywhere–especially in a surprise attack. 


If Pearl Harbor (of which we just celebrated the 75th anniversary) and 9/11 teach us anything is that when the sh*t hits the fan, it hits hard and sticks solid. 


Working in the Metro DC area, selfishly, I’d like to say keep the investment, jobs, and great opportunities here.


For the good of the nation and our survival against true existential threats, we’d be much smarter to spread the federal wealth as far and wide across this great nation that we can. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

U-Haul Rental Truck Terrorism

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So true story…

This week I was walking in Downtown, D.C.

I see something strange, not usually there. 

There is a U-Haul van parked in front of the GW University School of Science and Engineering. 

Literally in front of the main doors.

A couple of it’s wheels are actually sloppily on the sidewalk and it is in front of a fire hydrant in front of the very doors to the school.

But that’s not all. 

All around the vehicle are oddly taped on posters as you see above. 

On some of the posters are antagonistic words about DOJ (the Department of Justice) and some even use the word “terrorist.”

Well, after the devastating terror attack in 1995 against the Oklahoma City Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building with a massive homemade bomb concealed in a rental truck that killed 168 people and wounded almost 700, I decided it’s probably a good idea to call the police. 

In the time that it took them to come, I was able to walk to the market place and to coffee…I know they are busy, but it seemed like forever. 

Finally, two patrol cars pull up…that’s good. 

I go outside to meet them. 

The officer after briefly looking around (and not in) the vehicle looks at me as I walk over to him. 

I said, “I called you about this suspicious vehicle.”

He goes sternly, “Well, what’s suspicious about it?”

I described the obvious…how it was parked with wheels on the sidewalk, at a fire hydrant, right in front of the main doors to the school, and with all those (crazy) posters all around it and uses the word “terrorist”.

Surprisingly to me, the officer responds, “That’s not suspicious!” Then he concedes, “but I will give it a ticket.”

He must’ve seen my face go into this contorted questioning look, but I thought the better of the situation and said with deference to him, “Well Sir, you’re the expert!”

I thank him for coming out and walk away feeling disheartened at this security response just 15 years after 9/11 and when we are still fighting a gruesome war with ISIS and against global terrorism. 

Then just a few days later, look at the article I came across with a homeland security warning:

“ISIS Guide: Rent a U-Haul As A Weapon, Target Thanksgiving Day Parade or Political Rallies.”

In the ISIS instructions, there is a picture of a U-Haul truck with the caption, “An Affordable Weapon” and the statement that “low security” gatherings “are fair game and more devastating to Crusader nations.”

With all due respect for our esteemed law enforcement, perhaps we need to take these terrorist warnings more seriously, and frankly even without the explicit warning, a suspicious U-Haul in downtown DC in front of a major university probably deserves more than just a parking ticket! 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Help Find Missing Children

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Coming out of the mall into the parking lot, I saw this poster lying on the ground. 


It was a flyer to help find a missing child. 


Every time, I see something like this, I just have to take a big gulp and deep breath, as this seems like one of the scariest things that can happen to a child and their parents.


A child is dependent on it’s parents, and when they go missing G-d forbid, the fear of in whose hands they might fall and what may be done to them is unthinkable. 


The goal is to get the word and pictures out to find the child as quickly as possible. 


From 2002, statistics show about 800,000 children go missing every year (or about 2,000 per day)–that is unbelievable!


Of those, about 204,000 were family abductions, 58,000 were non-family abductions, a 115 were taken by a stranger, and the rest were mostly run-aways.


About 1 in 5 runaways are considered likely victims of child sex trafficking. 


A 1997 study showed only 5% of non-family abductions even get reported to police and entered in the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC)–many may not enter a report when a child is gone just a few days or it may get filed under other categories like homicides or sexual assaults. 


In the 1972 and 1981, there were tragic cases of missing children Etan Patz and Adam Walsh, both killed at age 6, with Etan’s remains supposedly thrown in the garbage in Soho (he was never found) and Adam’s located in a drainage canal in Florida. 


Etan was the first missing child whose pictures were put on the back of milk carton. 


In 1983, the anniversary of Etan’s disappearance, May 25, was designated National Missing Children’s Day.


In 1984, the Walshes and other child advocates established the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) “to help find missing children and prevent child victimization”–shockingly before this there was no coordinated federal and state mechanism for search efforts.


– NCMEC tip hotline (1-800-The Lost) has received over 4.3 million calls in the last 32 years and they have facilitated the return of 227,000 missing children.


In 1996, America’s Missing Broadcast Emergency Response (AMBER) was set up as a a child abduction emergency alert system; it was named after Amber Hagerman, a 9-year old abducted and murdered in Texas. 


– AMBER Alerts, between 1997 and 2015, were credited with the safe recovery of 723 children. 


My heart goes out to these children and their families! 


Anything that each of us can do to help with the desperate situation of missing children and their safe recovery is worth not only our attention, but our utmost vigilance and helpful tips. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Bird’s Nest Surveillance

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I took this photo today of a bird’s nest on top of a surveillance camera. 


I find this fascinating!


The pure irony of a bird finding safety and shelter in a nest atop a surveillance camera looking out for bad things like criminals and terrorism. 


On one hand, safety and security.


And on the other hand, the fear and insecurity of it all. 


A bird may find a peaceful nesting place there.


But for the rest of us, the world continues to be a very dangerous place. 


Often walking the streets of a major urban city, I think to myself the chaos and danger that could so easily ensue if events took a sudden and serious turn for the worse where society as we know it can completely start to unravel, and as they say, “the sh*t hits the fan!”


I believe that many, if not most people are worried about this, hence the incredible popularity of shows and movies far and wide such as:

 (Fear) The Walking Dead

Containment

The 100

The Last Ship

Jericho

Mad Max

Road Warrior

I am Legend

The Book of Eli

The Postman

World War Z 

Waterworld

Children of Men

Outbreak

Armageddon

Oblivion 

The Day After Tomorrow 

and more. 


The camera is surveilling and the bird is watching from their perch. 


We go about our days like the post apocalyptic zombies that wander the Earth.


But not so deep down, in our minds and hearts is the terror of what can happen at any moment and what is likely destined to happen eventually. 


This is not about doom and gloom, but about what the threats are out there, what is being done or not done about them, and who will ultimately survive and would you even want to. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)