The Obama administration killed a multibillion-dollar proposal to deploy new, self-operating bioweapon sensors in U.S. cities, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson last week finalized plans to forgo the procurement of a third generation of Biowatch technology, reversing his department’s longtime push to deploy sensors that personnel would not need to check regularly for organisms from an unfolding biological attack.
The policy shift signals a dedication to “cost-effective acquisition without compromising our security,” Homeland Security spokesman S.Y. Lee said.
The proposed update was expected to carry a $3.1 billion price tag for its first five years of use, whereas the existing Biowatch program has cost $1.1 billion since 2003.
Prior reporting revealed a history of inaccurate readings from the existing sensors, as well as problems concerning the dependability of the developmental detection gear.
Homeland Security “remains committed to the Biowatch program and the importance of improving our early warning and detection technologies,” said Michael Walter, who oversees the detection system now deployed in more than 30 U.S. cities.
Congressional auditors are still reviewing the activities of existing Biowatch sensors, following an August call by House lawmakers to assess possible “additional benefits” from any upgrade. The United States as of 2012 had spent $150 million to develop the next-generation technology, according to the Government Accountability Office.
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Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.