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Home on the page. (News and Trends).

Every day a new threat pops up in the newspapers or on television. But readers of Security Management Online are well ahead of the curve, having been tipped off months, if not years, before the public at large. Here's what you will see in tomorrow's papers (also look for the @ symbol throughout the magazine for links to supplemental online material):

Agroterrorism. Crop biosecurity, according to the American Phytopathological Society (APS), has two components: prevention arid preparedness. Prevention deals with security, secrecy, and border protection. Preparedness centers on early detection, rapid diagnosis, and rapid recovery. Recent congressional legislation has addressed the prevention component only, raising the fear that "increased security as the primary means of prevention and enforced through laws will be counterproductive to preparedness," according to a report that was recently released by APS.

For example, the government might unduly restrict research and teaching: "Security walls around endemic and widely distributed plant pathogens would have a chilling and clearly counterproductive effect on the very research and international cooperation needed to limit the crop damage they already cause naturally." Already, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, pursuant to federal mandate, is creating a "select list" of plant pathogens considered at high risk for deliberate use against U.S. crops. According to the APS, that list should be "short, limited to currently exotic pathogens of U.S. crops, and subject to periodic review based on scientifically based risk assessment procedures." Pathogens that should be excluded from the list, the APS maintains, include "any strain representative of a pathogen population already in the United States and already under some level of management." Get the full report, including suggestions on first-responder training, on SM Online.

National ID. Abortion, gun control, capital punishment, and affirmative action have long been hot-button political issues, sure to arouse strong feelings at their very mention. National identification is quickly joining that list, as the federal government considers a way to document every person living in the United States. A report by the National Electronic Commerce Coordinating Council (NECCC; an alliance of state government organizations, such as the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, that promotes electronic commerce) discusses some of the options and the political, economic, and social consequences of each. For example, a confederated state identity system makes sense, the group says, in that state and local governments are already responsible for such identity documents as birth certificates, death certificates, and driver's licenses. Such a system wouldn't force all states to remodel their identification procedures, but rather "could allow states to maintain their own processes , yet establish criteria to provide consistent levels of trust in the various credentialing systems that states have established." Of course, creating a coordinated system would require "substantial agreement and cooperation among states" and, most likely, an infusion of federal dollars. SM Online has the NECCC white paper.

Child abduction. An estimated 58,200 children were abducted by nonfamily members during a recent year, with nearly half of the children suffering sexual assault by the perpetrator, according to a study by the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). By contrast, only 115 "stereotypical kidnappings" occurred during that same year. Nonfamily abductions are defined, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, as those involving "movement of a child using physical force or threat, the detention of a child for a substantial period of time (at least 1 hour) in a place of isolation using threat or physical force, or the luring of a child younger than 15 years old for purposes of ransom, concealment, or intent to keep permanently." Stereotypical kidnappings are those nonfamily abductions in which "a child is detained overnight, transported at least 50 miles, held for ransom or abducted with intent to keep the child permanently or killed." (The study's authors made this distinction to satisfy both researchers wanting to quantify notorious abductions usually picked up by the media and those wishing to quantify abductions that fit the broader legal definition.) Females were abducted twice as often as males, and teenagers were abducted about four times more often than younger children. Males between 20 and 29 were the principal culprits. SM Online takes you to all the data.

School crime. Despite periodic outbursts of violence, children continue to be safer at school than away from it. From 1995 to 2001, according to the National Center for Education Statistics and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the percentage of students who reported being victims of crime at school dropped from 10 percent to 6 percent. Most of that decline was attributable to fewer reports of school theft. Between 1993 and 2001, the percentage of students in grades 9 through 12 who reported carrying a weapon on school property dipped from 12 percent to 6 percent. The same time period also saw declines in reports of school fights. Yet reports of other problem behavior increased. Go to SM Online to get all the statistics.

High rises. The National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST's) investigation into the World Trade Center disaster has now been underway for more than six months, and headway is being made, according to preliminary assessments made available by the group. The NIST team has received access to technical data, including information developed for litigation purposes, that was not available to previous assessment teams. Some of these documents pertain to the buildings' structural collapse, fire spread, and wind tunnel test results. Other important documentation may have been destroyed in the collapse, however, such as the original contract specifications for the towers, construction logs, and maintenance records. It is still not clear, according to NIST, whether the collapse involved the weakening or failure of the steel truss floor system. The NIST team is also examining the mechanical properties of steel at high strain rates and high temperatures, the insulating ability of fireproofing materials, and f ire properties in large compartments. Readers can link to interim NIST reports by checking in with SM Online.
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Author:Gips, Michael A.
Publication:Security Management
Article Type:Industry Overview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2003
Previous Article:Security can cement construction role. (News and Trends).
Next Article:Smoke, but no mirrors. (Working Wise).

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