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National security wrap

Posted By , , and on May 18, 2017 @ 12:32

Image courtesy of Pixabay user fudowakira0.

The Beat

First responders fear fentanyl

The rising incidence of fentanyl, a highly potent synthetic painkiller that can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin, is changing how first responders in the US conduct their business, according to The Atlantic.

In Ohio this week, a policeman who had come into contact with the drug—a speck of powder on his shirt—was treated to reverse a potentially fatal overdose. It’s not the first time officers have been accidentally exposed—last year 11 SWAT members were hospitalised after a raid in Connecticut—but there’s a definite drive to focus attention on the problem and potential solutions. Researchers are pioneering new on-site screening methods to help officers and even users learn more quickly the compositions of suspicious powders, while more first responders will begin to carry naloxone themselves.

Hired guns in PNG

There’s been outrage in Port Moresby after private security contractors from the US were brought in by PNG police, ostensibly to provide firearm training. The AFP previously refused to provide the training, potentially due to issues around its potential misuse in a human rights setting, but the presence of gun-toting personnel (reportedly conducting police raids) is worrying to some, and potentially illegal.

CT Scan

A TV show about life under Islamic State (IS)

Black Crows, a 30-part drama series about life under IS, will soon make its debut on MBC 1, the Arab world’s most watched satellite channel. The network will air the dramatic series, which is based on true events, during the holy month of Ramadan. Black Crows describes the group as a ‘brutal criminal organization run by corrupt and hypocritical leaders’ and depicts some of the group’s activities, including recruiting women, executions and the indoctrination of children. While other series on the network have looked at IS, this one is the first to be set entirely in the militants’ world.

 British nannies to get counterterrorism training 

Norland College, a prestigious provider of childcare training and education in Britain, has introduced CT training to its curriculum. Working with the crème de la crème of the world’s nannies for over 100 years, Norland has announced it will add lessons on evasive driving, cyber security and self-defence. And it seems some big names are involved. Former head of UK Counter Terrorism, Paul Gibson, instructed a course on how to avoid revealing potentially sensitive information on social media accounts. According to Gibson, due to the increasing range of threats facing high-net worth individuals and their families,  nannies are ‘in a unique position to both be targeted and to act as a credible obstacle to actions such as kidnap’.


New Pakistan–Iran border commission

Iran and Pakistan have created a new border management commission after last month’s incident in which the Jaish ul-Adl terrorist group from the Pakistani side killed 10 Iranian border guards. The commission will comprise four representatives from each country, and meet for the first time in May to ensure that similar incidents don’t happen in the future. The two sides have also been conducting joint surveys to identify weak security points along their 700km border barrier. Last week, an Iranian military official warned that if Pakistan doesn’t control terrorists operating at its borders, Tehran would ‘deal crushing blows to their safe havens and cells, wherever they are’.

People smuggling increases in Thailand

Thai authorities are lamenting the increase in people smuggling from Myanmar despite the military junta’s efforts to stem the flow since coming into power in 2014. After focusing their energies on sea routes, the Thais were subject to an overland smuggling surge, where it’s easier to evade checkpoints. Data from Thailand’s immigration police shows that the number of people smuggled from Myanmar increased by almost 5,000 in two years, standing at 24,962 in 2016. Before the actual scale of the increase became apparent Thailand had hoped that its efforts would be recognised in next month’s Trafficking in Persons report published annually by the US.

First Responder

Cholera outbreak

A state of emergency has been declared in Yemen after a spike in cholera deaths, stemming from an outbreak that started in October 2016. A total of 184 people have died in the last two weeks—the majority in the capital Sana’a—and the number of suspected cases has tripled to over 8,500. A combination of poor sanitation, warm weather, and a lack of safe drinking water has fuelled the escalation. Yemen’s healthcare system has been unable to cope with increased demands on the system, which was already under strain after around 300 hospitals and clinics were destroyed over the past two years of civil war. Yemen’s health minister, Mohammed Salem bin Hafeedh, requested that those nations who had pledged in April to provide US$1.1 billion in aid (including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Germany, the UK and the US) come good on their promises as soon as possible.

‘Shared responsibility in action’

The Australian Disaster Resilience Knowledge Hub was officially launched on 12 May by Justice Minister Michael Keenan (PDF). Developed by the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience, the Hub is intended to be ‘a one-stop-shop for Australian disaster resilience information’ and a valuable tool for business, volunteers and response agencies. Described as ‘shared responsibility in action’, it’s also envisaged as an access point for everyday Australians to equip themselves with information and contribute to improving Australia’s disaster preparedness.

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[1] highly potent: https://www.statnews.com/2016/09/29/fentanyl-heroin-photo-fatal-doses/

[2] according to The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/05/fentanyl-first-responders/526389/?

[3] hospitalised: http://www.courant.com/health/heroin/hc-hartford-swat-sickened-0915-20160914-story.html

[4] focus attention: http://media.graytvinc.com/documents/memo1702.pdf

[5] new on-site screening methods: https://www.nist.gov/news-events/news/2017/05/fentanyl-can-sicken-first-responders-heres-possible-solution

[6] users: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/05/16/527924429/an-experiment-helps-heroin-users-test-their-street-drugs-for-fentanyl

[7] will begin to carry: http://www.emsworld.com/news/12335108/la-first-responders-to-receive-60000-naloxone-doses-to-combat-opioid-epidemic

[8] outrage: http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/05/armed-expat-paramilitaries-alarm-residents-of-port-moresby.html

[9] refused: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-16/afp-refuses-to-give-png-police-firearms-training/8531370?pfmredir=sm

[10] worrying to : http://www.pngblogs.com/2017/05/sir-mekere-asks-pm-to-explain-foreign.html

[11] potentially illegal: http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/05/foreign-mercenaries-should-be-suspended-pending-investigation.html

[12] 30-part drama series about life under IS,: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/16/world/middleeast/isis-ramadan-tv-drama.html

[13] MBC 1: http://www.mbc.net/en/corporate/channels/mbc1.html

[14] recruiting women: http://www.thenational.ae/arts-life/television/mbc-to-air-arabic-drama-series-focusing-on-isils-female-recruits

[15] Norland College: http://www.norland.co.uk/

[16] CT training to its curriculum: http://english.alarabiya.net/en/life-style/healthy-living/2017/05/10/Traditional-British-nannies-get-counter-terror-skills-.html

[17] instructed a course: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/05/09/norland-nannies-add-anti-terrorism-training-extensive-repertoire/

[18] created: http://www.janes.com/article/70335/islamabad-tehran-set-up-border-commission-amid-tensions-over-killing-of-iranian-border-guards

[19] incident: http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/05/03/520421/Iran-Pakistan

[20] conducting: https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/204532-Pak-Iran-officials-agree-to-boost-security-at-border

[21] 700km border barrier: http://www.geocurrents.info/geopolitics/the-iran-pakistan-border-barrier

[22] warned: http://en.trend.az/iran/politics/2753587.html

[23] increase in people smuggling: http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/despite-crackdown-people-smuggling-across-thai-myanmar-border-has-risen

[24] efforts: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/08/human-traffickers-arrested-thailand-crackdown-150813150308864.html

[25] were subject to: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-thailand-migrants-idUSKBN1870V9

[26] shows: http://www.mekongmigration.org/?cat=53

[27] spike in cholera deaths: https://www.theatlantic.com/news/archive/2017/05/chlorea-outbreak-state-of-emergency-yemen-capital/526776/

[28] around 300 hospitals and clinics: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-39918415

[29] pledged in April to provide US$1.1 billion: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/04/25/a-child-in-yemen-dies-every-10-minutes-as-humanitarian-aid-falls-short-by-85-u-n-says/?utm_term=.ddf4f2c1a84f

[30] PDF: https://knowledge.aidr.org.au/media/3513/170512-minister-for-justice-media-release-launch-of-new-disaster-resilience-knowledge-hub.pdf

[31] the Hub: https://knowledge.aidr.org.au/news/knowledge-hub-is-launched/