Fall 2015 Newsletter

In this issue: ISIS attacks, active shooters, Cuba, El Nino, LLIS consolidation

Breaking News – Islamic State

The recent acts of violence perpetrated against innocent civilians in Paris and Beirut by the Islamic State have drawn further attention to the terror group’s global reach. The international community has responded with grief, outrage, and shows of solidarity. France, Europe, and the wider Western world are now faced with harrowing questions: How did this happen? And could we be next?

The Homeland Security Digital Library blog has compiled a number of resources In an attempt to address these question as well as the origins and rise of the Islamic State. Click here for more…

Active Shooters

active shooters

A recent spate of active shooter/hostile events (ASHEs) has once again stunned and saddened our nation, resulting in loss of life and life altering mental and physical injuries. The HSDL has exercises, plans and reports to help you, your workplace and your community prepare.



The official reopening of U.S. relations with Cuba after 54 years has been accomplished, but new challenges are ongoing. Immigration, trade, and financial issues are just a few of the challenges, requiring a wide range of homeland security considerations.

  • United States-Cuba Normalizations: Strategic Implications for U.S. National Security “The breakthrough in traditionally hostile relations between the United States and Cuba at the end of 2014 heralds a new opportunity to move past the Cold War era of isolation and antagonism to a new stage of dialogue, negotiation and compromise to the benefit of both countries.
  • Readout of Deputy Secretary Mayorkas’ Trip to Cuba This document focuses on immigration, highlights enhancing cooperation in customs and border protection and explores new areas for collaboration.
  • Potential Areas of Cooperation between the United States and Cuba The threats of the 21st Century can only be solved with cross-border cooperation. Cubans and Americans share a long history together-it is time to rebuild that partnership.
  • CFR Backgrounders: U.S.-Cuba Relations The change in the countries’ relations, initially marked by a prisoner swap and Havana’s release of a jailed U.S. contractor, prompted some experts to point to better prospects for Cuba’s economy and U.S. relations would have an expanded impact in Latin America.
  • Reestablishment of Diplomatic Relations with Cuba This document describes the overall policy shift as moving away from sanctions aimed at isolating Cuba toward a policy of engagement.
  • Can Creditors Enforce Terrorism Judgments Against Cuba? Cuba’s removal from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism on May 29, 2015 means it is immune from lawsuits in U.S. courts for acts of terrorism outside the United States it commits (or supports) after that date. But are Cuba’s assets in the United States immune from attachment to satisfy judgments obtained under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) terrorism exception prior to that date?

El Niño

El Niño map

According to current indicators, the winter weather phenomenon known as El Niño is likely to affect our nation’s weather, bringing warmer-than-usual temperatures to the western and northern U.S., wetter-than-usual conditions in the Gulf Coast and Florida and drier-than-usual conditions in the Ohio Valley and Pacific Northwest. Wildfires from this summer will make flooding and mudslides more likely, and exacerbated drought conditions may result, setting the U.S. up for another hot, dry year and more wildfires.

  • Disaster planning: Preparing for the “El Nino” Disaster Disaster management is a very real part of the fire service, since disasters are a very real part of its history. When people and property are not directly affected very little publicity and attention is given to such non-damaging incidents. However, when people and property are affected, the particular incident suddenly becomes a headline newspaper incident.
  • El Nino Citizen Preparedness Information The purpose of this research project was to develop information which could be disseminated to the public to prepare for the possible devastating effects of El Nino.
  • California coastal Commission El Nino Although El Niño events are part of a natural climatological cycle, shifts in global atmospheric and oceanographic patterns are expected to affect their nature. Research suggests that as the ocean surface continues to warm, particularly in the eastern Pacific, both the frequency and intensity of El Niño events will increase significantly in the future.
  • Thirsty for Answers: Preparing for the Water-Related Impacts of Climate Change in American Cities “This report shows that climate change, which is happening on a global scale, has local impacts in communities across the United States.”
  • Winter-Ready Nation [Website] “Through operational initiatives, NOAA’s National Weather Service is transforming its operations to help America respond. In the end, emergency managers, first responders, government officials, businesses and the public will be empowered to make fast, smart decisions to save lives and livelihoods.”

Lessons Learned Information Sharing (LLIS)/HSDL Consolidation Project

info sharing

As of September 2015 the Homeland Security Digital Library has transferred almost 23,000 resources, from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Lessons Learned Information Sharing (LLIS) program, and made them searchable on the HSDL website. In partnership with FEMA LLIS, we believe this consolidation will improve the whole community’s access to valuable information. Here are a few types of documents from LLIS that you can expect to find in the HSDL:

  • FEMA Mitigation Best Practices: Planting to Save the Wetlands  The hundreds of miles of wetlands along Louisiana’s coastline are a vital asset in the ongoing struggle to reduce the impact of powerful hurricanes and storms. These swamps and marshes provide a natural buffer against waves and storm surges – and protect people and property farther inland.
  • Grants Best Practices  In the context of this document, FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program will be referred to as ‘HMGP’. This document from the Federal Emergency Management Agency details several best practices based on past experiences using grants.
  • Wind Best Practices  This document from the Federal Emergency Management Agency details several emergency preparation/response best practices based on past experiences wind.
  • LLIS Core Capability Trend Analysis: Housing  The Lessons Learned Information Sharing (LLIS) program team identifies common themes from whole community after-action reports (AAR) and presents them in a trend analysis for emergency managers to consider when developing plans and exercises.
  • LLIS Wildland Fire Trend Analysis: Wildland Urban Interface  The Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) is the line, area, or zone where structures and other human development meet or intermingle with undeveloped wildland or vegetative fuels. Approximately 70,000 communities in the WUI are of special concern in the western United States where drought and increased development in and around forests have amplified the hazard.

Homeland Security Commemorations and Anniversaries

The next few months mark commemorations and anniversaries of significant homeland security events. Featured below are select incidents affecting the U.S., accompanied by pertinent HSDL documents. For the full list, visit the Upcoming Homeland Security Events calendar.

  • 11/25 Anniversary: Public Law 107-296: Homeland Security Act of 2002 is signed into law
  • 12/7 Pearl Harbor Day of Remembrance
  • 12/14 Anniversary: Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting in Newtown, CT
  • 1/8 Anniversary: Shooting attack at Gabrielle Giffords’ Congress at Event in Tucson, AZ

And Finally

Keeping up with the HSDL…

  • Follow the HSDL on Twitter @hslibrary. Over 3000 people follow the HSDL on Twitter. Join them to see why they use Twitter to keep up with homeland security news.
  • Read the HSDL Blog for information on the latest homeland security articles and topics.
  • Watch homeland security-related videos on our Youtube channel.
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