Friday, October 17, 2014


FEMA Pandemic Exercise Series

PANDEMIC ACCORD: 2013-14 Pandemic Influenza Continuity Exercise Strategy 


The Federal Executive Boards in New York City and Northern New Jersey in partnership with FEMA Region II, The Department of Health and Human Services Region II, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) and the Clearing House Association are sponsoring a two year series of pandemic influenza continuity exercises - tabletop exercise 2013 (complete), full scale exercise 2014 -  to increase readiness for a pandemic event amongst Federal Executive Departments and Agencies, US Court, State, tribal, local jurisdictional and private sector continuity. 
Pandemic influenza is a global outbreak of disease that occurs when a new influenza virus appears or "emerges" in the human population causing serious illness, as it spreads from person to person worldwide.  History teaches us that the impact of a pandemic can be far-reaching.  The 1918 "Spanish Flu" influenza killed approximately 30,000 people in NYC, 500,000 in the United States and as many as 50 -100 million worldwide.  Furthermore, it leads to widespread social disruption and economic loss. 
Pandemic influenza is unique in that, unlike many other catastrophic events, it will not directly affect physical infrastructure.  While a pandemic will not damage power lines, banks, or computer networks, it will ultimately threaten all critical infrastructures by its impact on an organization's human resources causing a loss essential personnel from the workplace for weeks or months -National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza Implementation Plan (May 2006). 
Economists, epidemiologists and other experts predict that the effects of a modern-day pandemic will be seen in every industry and government agency at local, regional, national and international levels.  Typically a pandemic influenza will come in "waves" each lasting 6-8 weeks with several months between each wave.  The CDC estimates that between 35%-40% of the United States population could be affected by pandemic influenza and the economic impact could range between $71.3 and $166.5 billion (2006 estimates).
The exercise objectives are to mitigate vulnerabilities during a pandemic influenza outbreak; to identify gaps or weaknesses in pandemic planning or in organization pandemic influenza continuity plans, policies, & procedures; and encourage public and private organizations to jointly plan for, and test, their pandemic influenza plans.

Phases of Exercise

  • Stage 1: Table Top Pandemic Influenza Exercise 2013 - Completed over 4 day period November 2013
  • Stage 2: After Action Report - Distributed January 2014
  • Stage 3: Pandemic Influenza Exercise 2014 to include Full-scale and Tabletop exercise components
  • Stage 4: After Action Report
  • Stage 5: Corrective Action Report via NYU Partnership (Proposed)

Schedule and Locations

  • September 10, 2014 - Pandemic Accord Mid-Planning Conference and MESL Workshop – Mid Planning meeting for agency and firm lead controllers to discuss Pandemic Exercise and Review Master Scenario List for exercises.  Training will be held to teach Lead Controllers how to write agency and firm specific injects.  (The previously scheduled September 9th date is cancelled)   **Updated Event**
      • September 23, 2014 - 10:00-11:30am: Pandemic Webinar I: Federal and Local Government Pandemic Planning
        The PowerPoint presentations for the speakers can be downloaded at the webinar link in the lower right hand corner of the screen.
        Speakers and Topics:
          - Ira Tannenbaum, New York City Office Of Emergency Management (NYCOEM) - How would NYCOEM keep essential services going during an infectious disease outbreak?  - Gerry McCarthy, Port Authority Of New York and New Jersey - How would New York transportation (i.e. airports, bridges, etc.) be impacted during a disease outbreak?  - Jerry Hauer, New York Department of Homeland Security - How would state services be impacted in the event of a pandemic?  - J. Silva/Howard Zucker, NYS Department of Health - What services would be prioritized in the event of disease outbreak? 
      • October 9, 2014 - 10:00-11:30am: Pandemic Training Webinar II - Power, Communications and Internet Connectivity in a Pandemic Event 
        The PowerPoint presentations for the speakers can be downloaded at the webinar link in the lower right hand corner of the screen.
        Speakers and Topics:
         -  Wendy Panella/Robert Desiato, AT&T - What services would be prioritized if everyone had to work from home?  Would there be any backbone/last mile issues? -  Andrew Chen, US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) - What resources could HHS contribute when many of their staff may be unavailable during a pandemic wave? -  Eugene Buerkle, National Grid - Will power resources remain constant during an infectious disease outbreak? -  Lance Plyler, MD, Samaritan's Purse - Africa Based NGO - Protection of staff during the Ebola crisis.   -  Nicholas V. Cagliuso, Sr., PhD, MPH, New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation - Healthcare infrastructure in a Pandemic
      • October 22, 2014  **Updated Event**
        Time: 10am – 12pm EST

              - Master Scenario Events List (MSEL) Webinar for agency and firm lead
                 controllers and evaluators to review the MSEL.
             - Following the MSEL webinar, the participants will be able to draft key events
                   and the time of their delivery within the scope of their exercise participation.
             - Participants will also be responsible for constructing the remaining events as
                   appropriate to their organization or agency.
             - The final MSEL will be completed prior to and reviewed at the Final Planning
                   Meeting, to be held on November 6-7, 2014.
             - Conference Bridge #: 800-320-4330  
             - Conference Code:  528585#
              1) Select:
              2) Enter as a guest.
              3) Type your FIRST and LAST name.
             4) Click “Enter Room.”
    • November 6-7, 2014 (Please plan to attend both days) **Updated Event**
      - Final planning meeting for agency and firm lead controllers and evaluators to Review Master Scenario List for exercises and receive controller / evaluator training.  The Final Planning meeting is an HSEEP requirement when conducting full scale exercises. (November 6).
      - Controller / Evaluator training:  Training will be provided to exercise Controllers and Evaluators to help manage full scale exercise play (November 7)
      • 9am-12noon EST, Location: 26 Federal Plaza, New York, NY Conference Room A/B or Conference Call 800-320-4330; pin 528585#
    • November 13, 2014: Pandemic Influenza Wave 1 Full Scale Exercise
      • 9:00am EST StartEx  /  3:30pm EST Endex
      • Location:  Your Agency / Firm
    • November 20, 2014: Pandemic Influenza Wave 2 Full Scale Exercise
      • 9:00am EST StartEx  /  3:30pm EST Endex
      • Location:  Your Agency / Firm
    • December 1-4, 2014: Pandemic Influenza Recovery / Reconstitution Tabletop Exercise and Pandemic Accord Hotwash (to also include feedback on Wave 1 and Wave 2) - The same session will be repeated over 4 consecutive days to accommodate the number of participants.  The event layout is similar to the 2013 Pandemic Accord Exercise, dial-in/WebEx capabilities will be made available to those that are unable to attend live.  (Please attend only 1 date)

    Black-Swan Ebola Dive

     osterholmFair Use:  Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH

     Ebola:  The Classic Cytokine Storm?

    Michael Osterholm, Director, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), University of Minnesota in a recent symposium vividly described how Ebola could plunge America and the world into an engineered infectious abyss of chaos. 
    Black swan events come upon us by surprise, they are typically catastrophic events, and they are ones that tend to happen quickly.  I am talking about real human peopleexperiencing amazing tragedies.   I think that we are about to see a whole rolling blackout of Black Swan events associated with this event.   
    Osterholm continues,
    I am of the notion that we have allot of unexpected ahead of us.  Come to expect the unexpected.  Do not expect anything carved in stone today that will not be blown up by some scientific or intellectual piece of dynamite.  Be prepared.
    He may be referring a clandestine cadre of scientists who are genetically manipulating viruses such as Ebola and inserting kill-switches that can be turned on and off at will.   Osterholm frankly admits that he “knows a hell of allot less about Ebola than I did six months ago”.

     Ebola History

    According to Osterholm Ebola has “hardly pinged the human species until now”, and has played a minimal role in infectious disease over that last 40 years since it appeared on global stage.
    • 24 outbreaks of Ebola in humans
    • 19 were community outbreaks
    • 5 were of a laboratory situation
    • The longest string was 5 generations
    What Osterholm emphasizes his quote by NPR, “the virus hasn’t changed, Africa has changed. We now have this virus in an urbanized population among people who travel far and wide,” and he adds that this urbanization, “was a gas can waiting for a match to hit”. 
    In a remarkable statement, Osterholm declares that this is not the same Ebola from the past, but it could be the “same virus” in a different setting, although he admits that transmission has crossed the species barrier from pig to non-human primate through the respiratory tract.  A recent study on Ebola in macaquesindicated that this might be a completely different virus where transmission could be respiratory in nature.

    Making it up as we go

     Osterholm freely acknowledges one thing:
    We are making this up as we go.  However, that is not new to public health.  With that we must learn to become more comfortable with uncertainty. 

    Predictions of Things to Come

     Regarding predictions for upcoming cases:
    There’s going to be lots, and lots, and lots of cases.  In addition, lots, and lots, and lots of deaths.  And we don’t know what that number is going to be.  We just have to accept that fact.  We just do not know.  The precision around these estimates are big enough to drive an entire convoy through.
    We also need to know that progress is painfully slow.  The virus is operating in virus time and all the rest of us are operating in bureaucratic or program time.  The virus is winning hands down, and it still is.  
    At this point in the presentation, the footage did a hiccup.  It is not surprising as hiccups are behind the veil of symptoms of this real or perceived hemorrhagic fever.    
    A vivid and detailed description about the response effort in Western Africa is drawn with a hypothetical parallel to a fire in the City of Minneapolis, who has to call upon its mutual aid contract with the City of New York Fire Department, to come to its aid.  Osterholm describes that we will see a flowery show of response, but the bottom line is that Minneapolis will “burn down”. 
    That is what we have to understand is that this is the New World Order when it comes to infectious disease.  We should do what we can, but it is not going to be enough.
    In this apocalyptic scenario we have to understand that health care has collapsed (exceptOne Health Universal Care managed under the United Nations), tropical and sexually transmitted diseases are rampant, poverty, women forced to give birth in deplorable circumstances, and malnutrition, all resulting in a “failed state situation”. 

     Wake-up World!

    According to Osterholm, the “next black swan is ready to occur”.  Migrant populations moving in back places off the beaten track will create:
    An infectious disease forest fire burning with sparks occasionally hitting Dallas or wherever.
    These people travel where there are no checkpoints and with no identification cards.  These wanderers just “move for jobs” and this does not include normal movement. Osterholm proceeds,
    If West Africa was a can of gas waiting for a match to hit it, the rest of central Africa is like a tanker- truck waiting for a match to hit it. 
    Government officials were so startled that they consulted with Osterholm inquiring where he got his information. It is common knowledge in sociological and anthropological circles and yet the government demands credibility for being the only trusted source for information.  Osterman is a firm proponent for UN coordinated-government checkpoints, identification, proof of disease status, population tracing, and restricted travel. 

     Not About Ebola!  It is about Terrorists & Self-Interest!

    The Intelligence Community is the most interested party on the “Hill” about Ebola because when they see destabilization of vast regions such as America, “the whole terrorist issue is remarkable”.  It becomes a breeding ground for terrorists.  Might we witness public beheading, as our own porous borders seethe with a new breed of terrorist writhing for regime change?  The effort surrounding Ebola is not as “much a humanitarian effort as it is a self-interest effort”. 

     Vaccination is the Answer

    As Osterholm begins winding down his presentation, he delivers the statement that vaccination is the answer although he says he has grave-concerns about them, because he is convinced that Ebola will become an endemic disease.  There will be peaks (surges) and troughs with, “A flash of cases, elimination of cases, shut down the clinic, move to another location, and flash of cases, bring it back, repeat”. 
     I think we have great candidate (biotechnical/genetically modified) vaccines. While joking that he has been brain-dead for decades he is believes, “we can have an effective Ebola vaccine.” And we are supposed to go as lemmings off a cliff and believe him because just because he is a self-described brain-dead, public official health official?  It remains to be seen what this Ebola vaccine will be effective at accomplishing, depopulation possibly?   

     International Plea

    We need much more data.  We are working with the most fogged set of binoculars that I have ever seen. 
    Nevertheless, we need an “international research agenda”.  We have none.  I understand in a time of dire humanitarian straits it is hard to do research”.Osterholm, therefore, calls for a global effort under the auspices of the UN.
    We have an obligation as scientists not to have another black swan event. 
    What if we have another black swan event, where now we really have something to be concerned about airplanes? 
    Why insert airplanes?  It is known as a Dual Purpose word.  It can refer to the 911 tragedy with supposed hijacked jets; a clue for restricting unfettered air travel; the danger one is exposing themselves to infectious disease when they board an airplane; or something more sinister.
    However, Carl Zimmer of the NY Times contends: 
    That’s just fear,
    That’s like saying you’re afraid of wolves, and you’re really worried that one day wolves are going to be born with wings and they’re going to fly around and attack people, and that they’ll be able to fly from Montana to New York.
    That’s just not a realistic worry. Evolution doesn’t work that way.  (Nevertheless, it does work  in a bioweapon or research laboratory-CB). 
    It is interesting that Zimmer highlights New York that has just been issued by the CDC that Ebola may be coming to the Big Apple and also Montana, that has one of the Ebola treatment facilities with a convenient vaccination pharmaceutical company down the road granted with federal dollars to create a new Ebola vaccine.

    Just-in-Time Pandemic-Mania

    All of these statements come at a time when agencies, FEMA, and our financial sector are about to kick off a full scale pandemic accord exercise in FEMA Region II during November and December.  In weaponized virology where does pandemic influenza begin and Ebola end?  They share the same symptoms, quite possibly have been weaponized with the same kill-switches in the laboratories, by the very same mad scientists.
    We all want certainty in this situation, but Osterholm guarantees us that Mother Nature (in collaboration with the scientific and governmental communities-CB) are not going to allow that.  They assure us that all we need is:
    • Good science,
    • Good public health messages,
    • Be in control of our own destiny by how we deal with the situation
    Osterholm concludes his presentation with a quote from Ebenezer Scrooge,
    Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?
    Dean’s Symposium on Ebola: Crisis, Context and Response As the featured speaker, Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Public Health and Director, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), University of Minnesota


    Pandemic  Exercises Curiously Close In Time With This Exercise.....

    Monday, October 13, 2014

    Banksters and Financial hijinks Updates ( October 13 , 2014 ) -- Bankocalypse drill: US and UK to run ‘too big to fail’ collapse simulation ...... Another collapse of Financial systems looming - "PREPARE FOR RUNS", IMF WARNS POLICYMAKERS OF "ELEVATED FINANCIAL STABILITY & LIQUIDITY RISKS" ........ THE $70 TRILLION PROBLEM KEEPING JAMIE DIMON UP AT NIGHT

    Bankocalypse drill: US and UK to run ‘too big to fail’ collapse simulation

    Published time: October 11, 2014 03:07
    Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne (R) speaks to U.S. Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew.(Reuters / Alastair Grant)
    Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne (R) speaks to U.S. Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew.(Reuters / Alastair Grant)
    The US and UK will stage a comprehensive simulation next week check whether the countries’ financial and banking sectors are still vulnerable to the problem of the ‘too big to fail’ institutions and coordinate their actions in case of such collapse.
    Government financial leaders from Britain and US will simulate a failure of a large banking institution on Monday in Washington, DC, to test the effectiveness of each county’s banking regulations.
    They hope the simulation – which will not mimic the collapse of any particular ‘too big to fail’ institution – will demonstrate what the officials have learned from the financial crisis about their respective roles, and how new practices should shield taxpayers from further bailouts. The simulation will run through procedures if a large UK bank with US operations failed, and those for a US bank with a British presence.

    We are going to make sure we can handle an institution that was previously regarded as too big to fail,” said UK chancellor, John Osborne, speaking to journalists at an International Monetary Fund meeting in Washington on Friday. “This demonstrates the distance we have come over the last few years to build resilience and learn the lessons of the financial crisis.”
    AFP Photo / Spencer Platt
    AFP Photo / Spencer Platt

    Participating in the “war game” along with Chancellor Osborne will be US Treasury secretary Jack Lew, head of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, and the governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, with senior officials from both countries.
    The purpose of the simulation was to make sure every player, including politicians, knew their own responsibilities and who needed to act, which creditors would take a hit, and how to communicate the authorities’ actions to the public,” Osborne told the Financial Times.
    the only winning move is not to play RT @vgmac On Monday, US and UK regulators will "war game" a big bank failure.
    — Matthew Zeitlin (@MattZeitlin) October 10, 2014

    It has been six years since the 2008 financial crisis when $700 billion in taxpayer dollars was used to shore up failing institutions, besides the cost of other bailout programs such as for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that totalled at least $135 billion more. The financial crisis lead to mass unemployment, drastic cuts to US government social programs, and contributed to the economic downfall of several European states.
    Since then regulations have passed in the US – the Dodd Frank Act of 2010 that forced banks to have in place capital and to draw up plans of how they would go through an ordinary bankruptcy and which groups would be paid off first.
    Next week’s simulation, the results of which are expected to be released to the public, is designed to reassure the taxpayers in both UK and the US that their money will not be misused next time when a large financial institution turns out to be not that big to fail.

    Blacklisted news.....


    October 12, 2014
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    The extended period of monetary accommodation and the accompanying search for yield are leading to credit mispricing and asset price pressures, increasing the chance that financial stability risks could derail the recovery.

    Concerns have shifted to the shadow banking system, especially the growing share of illiquid credit in mutual fund portfolios.
    Should asset markets come under stress, an adverse feedback loop between outflows and asset performance could develop, moving markets from a low- to a high-volatility state, with negative implications for emerging market economies.

    Funds investing in credit instruments have a number of features that could result in elevated financial stability risks.
    First is a mismatch in liquidity offered by investment funds with redemption terms that may be inconsistent with the liquidity of underlying assets. Many credit funds hold illiquid credit instruments that trade infrequently in thin secondary markets.

    Second is the large amount of assets concentrated in the hands of a few managers. This concentration can result in “brand risk,” given that end-investor allocation decisions are increasingly driven by the perceived brand quality of the asset management firm. Sharp drawdowns in one fund of an asset manager could propagate redemptions across funds for that particular asset manager if its brand reputation is damaged, for example through illiquidity or large losses.

    Third is the concentration of decision making across funds of an individual fund manager, which can reduce diversification benefits, increase brand risk, or both.

    Fourth is the concentrated holdings of individual issuers, which can exacerbate price adjustments.

    Fifth is the rise in retail participation, which can increase the tendency to follow the herd.
    These features could exacerbate the feedback loop between negative fund performance and outflows from the sector, leading to further pressure on prices and the risk of runs on funds. These risks could become more prominent in the coming year as the monetary policy tightening cycle begins to gain traction.

    Such stress might be triggered as part of the exit from unconventional monetary policy or by other sources, including a sharp retrenchment from risk taking due to higher geopolitical risks.
    And, as we have discussed numerous times previously, less liquidity is available from traditional liquidity

    The IMF is worried...
    Policymakers and markets need to prepare for structural higher market volatility. Doing so requires strengthening the system’s ability to absorb sudden portfolio adjustments, as well as addressing structural liquidity weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

    Advanced economies with financial markets at risk for runs and fire sales may need to put in place mechanisms to unwind funds should they come under substantial pressure that threatens wider financial stability.
    Source: IMF