Halloween is more than a trick or treating event for hundreds of Marines, Navy special ops types, soldiers, police and firefighters in San Diego today as they confront a nightmarish invasion of the living dead.
The 44 acre Paradise Point Resort on Mission Bay will be the site of a Hollywood-style production of a zombie attack as part of an emergency response training program. It’s just one part of five-day counterterrorism summit run by the Halo Corporation as an approved training event by the Homeland Security Grant Program and the Urban Areas Security Initiative. Participants (or in most cases, government agencies) are coughing up a $1,000 registration fee. The session runs through Friday.
In keeping with the holiday aura surrounding this program, the keynote speaker at the conference is a retired top spook — former CIA Director Michael Hayden.
Called “Zombie Apocalypse,” the exercise follows last year’s Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s campaign urging Americans to get ready for a zombie apocalypse, as part of a catchy, public health message about the importance of emergency preparedness.
The Homeland Security Department jumped on board this summer, telling citizens if they’re prepared for a zombie attack, they’ll be ready for real-life disasters like a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake or terrorist attack. Some of their ideas were reminiscent of the 33 rules for dealing with zombies popularized in the 2009 movie “Zombieland,” which included “always carry a change of underwear” and “when in doubt, know your way out.”
San Diego-based Halo Corporation, founded by former military special ops and intelligence personnel, has been hosting the annual counterterrorism summit since 2006.
Republicans Exploit Disaster Relief Efforts with Spam
The Atlantic Magazine’s David A Graham reports that DC area residents, anxiously watching their mobile devices for text messages from friends or family, have instead been receiving unsolicited spam texts attacking President Obama.
The messages were sent from email addresses like email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com. Domain search engine Whois.com says the domains were all registered in February, but the registrant’s name is blocked.
New York Times Congressional reporter Jonathan Weisman reports on a tweet sent to his non-political 13 year old daughter:
Jonathan Weisman @jonathanweisman
Txt to my 13-yr-old daughter: “Obama denies protection to babies who survive abortions. Obama is just wrong” firstname.lastname@example.org
And from the Huffington Post comes this report of a text message that obviously wasn’t very targeted:
Jennifer Cyr tweeted that she got one from email@example.com that said: “Stop Obama from forcing gay marriage on the states. Your vote is your voice.”
Cyr used her voice, and answered back, saying “I’m gay, you fucking douchebags.”
The Federal Communications Commission bans unsolicited text messages, but political operatives use a loophole of sending emails to people’s phones. But phone companies interpret them as text messages, and send them along. They also charge the recipient for the unwanted messages if the receiver does not have a text messaging plan.
Congressman Warns Against FEMA Funds Being Used for ‘Gucci bags’
Speaking of bags, “Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said on Tuesday that federal aid for people impacted by Hurricane Sandy should be approved only with a specific spending plan in place so funds are not used for “Gucci bags and massage parlors,” like after Hurricane Katrina.”
Romney’s Disaster Relief Photo Op
The Romney campaign hastily re-organized a campaign rally in Ohio into a “disaster relief effort”, which started out with a biographical video extolling the virtues of Mitt Romney. The GOP Presidential candidate refused to answer questions from reporters as he gathered donated can goods about his previous statements calling for downsizing or eliminating FEMA. From Noam Scheiber at the New Republic:
Oh, the cosmic injustice of it all. Barack Obama spent the critical hours before and after Hurricane Sandy dropping by the headquarters of FEMA and the Red Cross. He held conference calls with top state officials and sent hundreds of millions of dollars in relief money their way. On Wednesday, he will be surveying the wreckage and personally comforting residents in New Jersey with his new BFF, Chris Christie. And Mitt Romney? He retrofitted a previously-planned Ohio “Victory Rally” into a Don DeLillo-esque “storm relief event,” replete with canned-food drive.
Under normal circumstances, you’d chalk up the contrast to the perks of incumbency: The president gets to look in-command after a disaster (unless of course he doesn’t), while the challenger has to sit around inventing politically-correct photo-ops. But in this case there’s actually some deeper significance. That’s because, unlike his rival for the Oval Office, Romney has suggested that government should have a rather limited role helping disaster-stricken people, and that private citizens should pick up the slack.
So, yes, Sandy was a freakish intrusion on the campaign that showered arbitrary political benefits on the man in the White House. But arbitrary doesn’t necessarily mean unfair. Whether they intended it or not, the candidates’ responses revealed much about what’s at stake in this election.
ROMNEY RALLY UPDATE
From Democratic Underground & Buzzfeed:
Just to be safe, campaign aides reportedly spent $5,000 at a local Wal-Mart on supplies that could be put on display. When supporters arrived at the rally-turned-relief event, they were treated to the 10-minute video about Romney’s life, which was first unveiled at the RNC. The event ended with supporters lined up to hand over supplies and meet Romney. But according to BuzzFeed, this donation process was also staged:
Empty-handed supporters pled for entrance, with one woman asking, “What if we dropped off our donations up front?”
The volunteer gestured toward a pile of groceries conveniently stacked near the candidate. “Just grab something,” he said.
Two teenage boys retrieved a jar of peanut butter each, and got in line. When it was their turn, they handed their “donations” to Romney. He took them, smiled, and offered an earnest “Thank you.”
UT-San Diego’s CEO John Lynch did respond to reports yesterday about the newspapers’ continuing slide into oblivion as readership falls. From KPBS:
In a statement, Lynch said that readership was declining at a greater rate before Manchester bought the paper a year ago. He said the paper’s redesign, the launch of a paid digital model in July and its multi-platform approach have proven a hit with readers.
“As a result, our circulation is surging and should be well above in next year’s measurement,” Lynch said.
Rumors Swirl About DeMaio Canvassers
The twittersphere was roiling yesterday as reports began surfacing about campaigners for Mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio going door-to-door in neighborhoods south of interstate 8 telling residents that challenger Bob Filner was a racist.
Then there this gem put out by San Diego’s Lincoln Club:
But there is absolutely no truth to the rumor, as far we can tell, that Carl DeMaio has people going door-to-door in Del Cerro telling voters that Bob Filner is gay.
Enthusiasm Reported High Among Latino Voters
According to poll released by impreMedia this week, interest in this fall’s elections by Latino voters has strengthened significantly over the past two months, and turnout among those voters could be higher than the records set in 2008.
The poll of registered Hispanic voters has 45% saying they are more excited about the current election than they were for the 2008 election, when Barack Obama was elected. That number has gone up by eight percent over the past 10 weeks, when the poll was first taken.
A full 87% of respondents say they would most likely be voting when national polling sites open on Nov. 6, with eight percent having already taken advantage of the early voting options made available in certain states. During the last presidential election 84% of registered Latino voters cast ballots – far higher than the 57% U.S. national turnout.
Tule Wind Project Dangers Cited
East County Magazine reports that Wildlife biologist Jim Wiegand, vice president of Save the Eagles International, has sent a letter to Bureau of Indian Affairs’ regional director Amy Dutsche warning that the Tule Wind project will be “deadly” for eagles in our region.
Tule Wind proposes industrial-scale wind turbines turbines on federal, state, private and tribal (Ewiiaapaayp) lands. Wiegand contends that eagle populations across the state are collapsing due primarily to collisions with wind turbines and that other studies have provided misleading information.
Drugs as a Solution to Poverty
Black nationalist and other militant groups have long held the position that the prevalence of drugs in poor communities was no accident; saying that they believed on some level that governments were involved. An article in the New York Times this week may give some credence to that claim, at least as far underperforming student in economically challenged communities are concern.
The news story details how physicians are now handing out medications for treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to treat kids ‘suffering’ from poor academic performance in inadequate schools. Money quote:
“I don’t have a whole lot of choice,” said Dr. Anderson, a pediatrician for many poor families in Cherokee County, north of Atlanta. “We’ve decided as a society that it’s too expensive to modify the kid’s environment. So we have to modify the kid.”
Dr. Anderson is one of the more outspoken proponents of an idea that is gaining interest among some physicians. They are prescribing stimulants to struggling students in schools starved of extra money — not to treat A.D.H.D., necessarily, but to boost their academic performance.
Let’s Go Surfing!
If you’re planning on taking your surfboard along for a ride to any Air Zimbabwe’s stops it’s free; flying American or Delta will cost you $150, according to Surfer Living.
On This Day: In 1926 Magician Harry Houdini died of gangrene and peritonitis resulting from a ruptured appendix. His appendix had been damaged twelve days earlier when he had been punched in the stomach by a student unexpectedly. During a lecture Houdini had commented on the strength of his stomach muscles and their ability to withstand hard blows. In 1952 the U.S. detonated its first hydrogen bomb. In 1970 Michelle Phillips, formerly of the Mamas and Papas, and actor Dennis Hopper were married. The two divorced 8 days later.
Eat Fresh! Today’s Farmers’ Markets: Carlsbad (Roosevelt St. btw Grand Ave. & Carlsbad Village Dr.) 1 – 5 pm, Encinitas Station (Corner of E Street & Vulcan in parking lot B) 5 – 8 pm, Mission Hills (Falcon St. btw West Washington & Ft. Stockton) 3 – 7 pm, North San Diego at Sikes Adobe Farmstead (I-15 at Via Rancho Parkway. 12655 Sunset Dr., Escondido.) 11 am – 2 pm, Ocean Beach (4900 block of Newport Ave. btw Cable & Bacon Sts.) 4 – 8 pm, San Marcos – Cal State San Marcos (333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Rd., Parking Lot B) 3 – 7 pm,Santee (10445 Mission Gorge Rd. abandoned school parking lot) 3 –7 pm, Temecula (40820 Winchester Rd. Promenade Mall, parking lot btw Macy’s & Penny’s) 9 am – 1 pm
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