Hearing to Be Held in Suit Over Newspaper Anthrax Columns
“A hearing is scheduled Friday in a defamation lawsuit against The New York Times over columns that linked a former Army scientist to the 2001 anthrax killings. The hearing in Alexandria is expected to discuss the newspaper's confidential sources used in columns about bioterrorism expert Steven Hatfill. He was labeled a ‘person of interest’ by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft. He was never charged and has since filed several lawsuits.” (Editor & Publisher, 13Oct06, AP)
Building a bioaerosol barometer
“Air handling units could be used to study airborne microorganisms such as anthrax, according to engineers in the US. Air handling units (AHUs) are already installed in most modern buildings, and their filters routinely collect viruses and bacteria from the air (bioaerosols). James Farnsworth of TSI Incorporated, working with scientists from the University of Minnesota, argues that these filters could be removed and the amount of each species measured. The filters trap a relatively small amount of potential pathogens, and collecting the samples would cause no inconvenience to the buildings’ occupants. The team believe that although this type of sampling could not provide early warning of a biological attack, it could determine the background level of pathogens and bacteria similar to them.” (RSC Publishing, 12Oct06, Wendy Crocker)
WHO [World Health Organization] effort to eradicate polio in danger
“Global efforts to eradicate polio are in danger of failing because of problems in stopping transmission in India and Nigeria and of concern among donors that the job may take much longer than anticipated, international health specialists said yesterday. The World Health Organization's technical advisory panel on polio eradication discussed the consequences of failure yesterday at the start of a two-day meeting in Geneva, officials said. But they decided there was no option but to push ahead toward eradication, Bruce Aylward , WHO's head of the polio-eradication program, said in a telephone interview last night. But for an increasing number of global health specialists the question is whether the goal of eradication is the right one. …[M]any wealthy countries are likely to continue vaccinating children for polio even if the disease is eradicated, in part because of post-Sept. 11 fears of a bioterrorism attack…” (The Boston Globe, 12Oct06, John Donnelly)
Army completes binary chemical treatment
“The U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency has completed operations at the Binary Destruction Facility here [at Pine Bluff Arsenal, Arkansas]. In a campaign that began in December 2005, the agency’s Non-Stockpile Chemical Material Project and contractor Teledyne Brown Engineering neutralized the binary chemical precursors QL and DF. Binary munitions were designed to combine two non-lethal ingredients while in flight to a target to create chemical agent. QL, or diisopropyl aminoethylmethyl phosphonite, would have combined with another chemical to form the nerve agent VX. DF, methylphosphonic difluoride, was designed to combine with another chemical to form the nerve agent sarin (GB).” (U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency, 12Oct06)
Further Study of Chemicals Expected
“The Johns Hopkins University professor heading a review of the health hazards linked to World War I-era munitions in Spring Valley [Washington, D.C.] says more assessment of the Northwest neighborhood likely will be needed to determine whether the materials affected residents' well-being. There is no question the American University Experiment Station used hazardous substances and compounds 90 years ago. After the war, the government left pits and trenches with the detritus of chemical warfare agents, which contaminated soil with arsenic and lead and possibly groundwater with perchlorate, a compound once used in tests with mustard agent.” (Washington Post, 12Oct06, Susan Levine)
EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] memo: Asarco burned waste
“Tucson-based Asarco LLC is denying allegations that it pretended for years to recycle metals while illegally burning hazardous waste in an El Paso smelter that the company has sought to reopen. According to a 1998 internal memorandum, the Environmental Protection Agency said Asarco and its Corpus Christi-based subsidiary, Encycle, had a permit to extract metals from hazardous-waste products but used that as a cover to burn the waste until the late 1990s, saving the high costs of proper disposal. Among the more than 5,000 tons the company was accused of misrepresenting as containing metals for reclamation were more than 300 tons of nonmetallic residues from the former Army chemical warfare depot at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal outside Denver. It is not clear what the arsenal's material contained.” (Arizona Daily Star, 12Oct06)
Dirty Bomb’ man planned mass murder
“A British Muslim is facing a lengthy jail sentence after admitting plotting to murder people in terrorist outrages in Britain and the US. Dhiren Barot, of Willesden, north London, planned to carry out explosions at financial institutions in Washington, New York and Newark ‘designed to kill as many innocent people as possible’, Woolwich Crown Court heard. He also plotted to use a radioactive ‘dirty bomb’ intended to cause ‘injury, fear, terror and chaos’ in one of a series of synchronised attacks in the UK.” (Glasgow Evening Times, 13Oct06) http://www.eveningtimes.co.
Phoenix Man Attempted to Create Biological [Toxin] Weapon
“Denys Ray Hughes, 59, of Phoenix, Arizona, was sentenced on Monday by United States District Court Judge Earl H. Carroll to 87 months in prison for the Attempted Production of a Biological Toxin for Use as a Weapon, and Possession of an Unregistered Destructive Device, and Possession of an Unregistered Silencer.” (The National Ledger, 12Oct06, Jim Kouri) http://www.nationalledger
Bush signs port-security, Internet gaming bill
“President Bush signed a bill Friday to help prevent terrorists from sneaking a nuclear, chemical or germ weapon into the United States inside one of the 11 million shipping containers that enter the nation each year — many without inspection. ‘We're going to protect our ports. We're going to defend this homeland, and we're going to win this war on terror,’ Bush said. The administration has spent about $10 billion to enhance security at the nation's ports since the Sept. 11 attacks. About 65% of cargo, that considered most high-risk, is screened for nuclear or radiological materials. The Homeland Security Department aims to increase that number to 80% by the end of the year and to almost 100% by the end of 2007.” (USA Today, 13Oct06, AP) http://www.usatoday.
U.N. nears agreement on North Korea sanctions
“The United States dropped the possibility of using force against North Korea over the regime’s purported nuclear test, a concession to Russia and China in the hope of seeing a U.N. Security Council resolution on the standoff passed by Friday. The latest draft keeps a financial freeze on individuals and entities with any connection to North Korea’s weapons or missile programs, as well as a travel ban on those associated with the programs. But it changes the focus of the provision on inspections. In the new draft [of sanctions], the measure is softened by authorizing only ‘cooperative action including through inspection of cargo ... in particular to prevent illicit trafficking in nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, their means of delivery and related materials.’”
(MSNBC, 13Oct06, AP)
Jelly On The Road Sparks Security Alert In Germany
“A pile of red, orange and green jelly has caused panic in Halle, near Leipzig in Germany as residents in the area called the police to report a ‘mysterious substance.’ After the call, the police issued a major terrorist alert in the area. According to police they received a call from residents describing the substance which they feared could be toxic.
Biological and chemical warfare experts were sent to the area to take samples of the substance. While chemical analysis was being conducted, a police officer questioned a newly married couple near the area and learned that a wedding had just taken place a short while before. The inquiry proved useful as the police were able to solve the mystery when the groom confessed that there had been a jelly fight the day before and that a lot of the jelly had probably ended up on the road.” (All Headline News, 11Oct06, Komfie Manalo)