War on Terrorism

Monday, November 20, 2006

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- November 20, 2006

New Study Finds On/off Switch For Septic Shock

“According to a new study, septic shock--a dangerous, often deadly runaway immune response--is controlled by a genetic on/off switch... [Bacterial] [i]nfection causes the body's immune system to produce protective proteins called cytokines. Problems arise when the body is unable to turn off cytokine production and they overwhelm the body, says Dr. Schneider [lead author of the study]. ‘The resulting cytokine storm is, for example, what kills people when they are infected with anthrax and, we think, an important factor in what killed people in the flu pandemic of 1918,’ he says... Dr. Schneider and his colleagues focused on one of the key genes that regulate cytokine production called auf1... In summary, auf1 is a protector that can stop an infection from progressing to septic shock, explains Dr. Schneider. It does so by helping with cytokine production and then tempering the production of these proteins. Auf1 acts like a cytokine on/off switch.” (Medical News Today; 18Nov06)

Iran probably has germ weapons, possibly N.Korea-US

“Iran probably has germ warfare weapons, North Korea may have developed them and Syria could have carried out research into such banned weaponry, the United States told an arms control conference on Monday. Addressing the opening session of the sixth review conference of the Convention on Biological Weapons (BWC), U.S. delegation head John C. Rood said those countries were of particular concern given their ‘support for terrorism... We believe that Iran probably has an offensive biological weapons programme in violation of the BWC,’ Rood said. ‘We also believe North Korea has a biological weapons capability and may have developed, produced and weaponised for use. Finally, we remain seriously concerned that Syria ... has conducted research and development for an offensive BW programme," he said.... Rood declined to detail his accusations against the three states. He referred journalists to a 2005 report by the United States on various countries' compliance with the BWC.” (Reuters, 20Nov06; Richard Waddington)

Annan tells countries to address biological weapons threats

“Nations should step up efforts to combat biological weapons and address the threat posed by
terrorist and criminal groups seeking to obtain them, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Monday[,] [addressing] countries meeting in Geneva to review the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, which has been ratified by 155 governments... The convention, which bans the development and stockpiling of germ-based weapons, has never had serious enforcement measures because the threat of biological warfare was believed to be minimal when it was drafted during the height of the Cold War... [Annan] urged countries to build on what progress they had made since and ‘take further steps to ensure that the convention will continue to serve as an effective barrier against biological weapons.’” (The International Herald Tribune; 20Nov06; AP)

UN Conference Focuses on Bio-terrorism Threat

“The threat of bio-
terrorism will top the agenda of a sixth review conference of the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention. The two-week conference, which begins Monday [November 20] in Geneva will review the ban on biological weapons and aim to strengthen the existing treaty... The President-designate of the Conference, Pakistani Ambassador Masood Khan, says many of the divisions of the past have been buried and prospects for an agreement to strengthen the treaty this time are better... Khan says bio-terrorism poses a threat to national and international security because of what he calls the mind-boggling advances that have been made in the life sciences and biotechnology... Khan says concerns also are growing about how bio-terrorists could manipulate naturally occurring diseases such as SARS and avian influenza for their purposes.” (Voice of America; 19Nov06; Lisa Schlein)

Concerns raised over incineration

“Utah environmentalists are concerned that a decision giving the [Deseret] Chemical Depot more time to incinerate mustard gas is a license to put more toxins into the air. In August, the timeline for destruction of the depot's deadly chemical weapons was extended six years to 2016...
Army official[s] [have asked] the state to push back the date for a monitored burn to prove the incinerator's furnace runs clean and safe for prolonged periods of time... Vanessa Pierce, director of the Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah, said giving the plant more time to prepare for the test is a bad idea. ‘It allows them to tweak the system until they can get the results they need to achieve a clean trial burn,’ said Pierce, who believes the ‘toxic crap’ released during this so-called ‘shakedown period’ isn't being monitored by Deseret or state regulators.” (Casper Star Tribune; 20Nov06”

Cumberland [NJ] township offers support for nerve gas project

“[Maurice River Township, New Jersey] has voted to support the
Army's plan to dispose of the byproduct of a deadly nerve agent into the Delaware Bay, and hopes to get a boardwalk built as part of the deal. In March, township officials and local fishermen expressed reservations about dumping the byproduct of the VX nerve agent 30 miles upriver of the Delaware Bay's oyster beds. But the three-man township committee decided last week to give its approval... The Army last year began neutralizing 250,000 gallons of the nerve agent at western Indiana's Newport Chemical Depot, and has sought approval to ship the byproduct to a DuPont facility in Deepwater, where it would be treated and then discharged into the Delaware River.”
(South Bend Tribune; 19Nov06; AP)

Mustard agent vial breaks in APG [Aberdeen Proving Ground] lab: Three workers taken for observation; no release of chemical

“Three workers at Aberdeen Proving Ground were taken for medical observation yesterday after a laboratory vial containing dilute mustard agent broke, officials said. The Harford County
military base's emergency personnel responded to an accident in a laboratory at the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center at 11:30 a.m. after a worker handling a small quantity of the blister agent was exposed, said George Mercer, a spokesman for APG... While the gate to the facility was closed for 20 minutes, no chemical agent was released to the environment, Mercer said. The Edgewood Chemical Biological Center is a 1.5 million-square-foot research and engineering facility within APG for chemical and biological defense.” (The Baltimore Sun; 18Nov06; Justin Fenton) http://www.baltimoresun.com

Russian Ex-Spy, Probing Reporter's Murder, Is Poisoned in U.K.

“A Russian former spy probing the murder of a journalist who was critical of President Vladimir Putin's policies is seriously ill after being poisoned, a London hospital said. There was `’no doubt’ that Alexander Litvinenko was contaminated with the slow-acting toxin thallium, clinical toxicologist John Henry said in a statement outside University College Hospital that was aired by broadcasters... Litvinenko told the British Broadcasting Corp. last week, before his condition worsened, that he began feeling ill on Nov. 1 after meeting an informant at Japanese restaurant Itsu in London's Piccadilly. The man gave him papers containing the names of people who may have been involved in the killing of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, Litvinenko said... Thallium is a highly toxic heavy metal which is odorless, colorless, tasteless and soluble in water. It attacks the nervous system, lungs, heart liver and kidneys.” (Bloomberg; 20Nov06; Nick Allen)


Schools look for ways to dispose of radioactive materials

“School labs have used low-level radioactive materials safely for decades; experts say they're critical in teaching physics and chemistry. Sealed samples — often leftovers from past experiments — frequently are saved in closets and storerooms... The Illinois Emergency Management Agency launched a program this month to help schools safely dispose of radioactive materials. IEMA officials collect the materials and send them to a radioactive waste disposal facility. Illinois' program is one of several around the country... that have sprung up since the federal government, following the 2001 terrorist attacks, recommended hunting down radioactive materials in schools, businesses and medical facilities... In one extreme case, Texas officials found three radiological devices at high schools in San Antonio last year, West said. The barrel-shaped, lead-shielded machines, called "gammators," were used in the 1960s and 1970s to teach students about radiation exposure to plants and seeds. Inside each 1,850-pound gammator was a rod of cesium-137, a radioactive isotope widely used in businesses and medical research. In the wrong hands, the cesium-137 could be used to make a dirty bomb, West said.” (The Dallas Morning News; 19Nov06; Megan Reichgott, AP)

FBI opens new forensic lab at SRS [Savannah River Site, South Carolina]

FBI announced the opening of a new forensic lab at the Savannah River Site on Friday which will help in the fight against terrorism by cleaning evidence contaminated by radiation. The Radiological Evidence Analysis Lab Suite will be used as a hub to prepare contaminated evidence so investigators can safely examine it for fingerprints, DNA, fibers or other evidence, said Joseph DiZinno, director of the FBI's lab programs.
‘Today's event is really an important milestone in our nation's fight against terrorism,’ DiZinno said during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the facility.” (The Post and Courier; 18Nov06; Meg Kinnard)

Port radiation scanner gets its screen test

“A new radiation detector that could improve the screening of U.S.-bound cargo containers for nuclear weapons will undergo full-scale testing in the Port of Oakland [California], developers of the technology announced this week. VeriTainer Corp., a [San Francisco] Bay Area firm, will equip the Matson Navigation Co. terminal with scanners that attach to the hoisting mechanism of towering cranes that serve container ships. The device screens cargo for radiological materials as it is loaded and unloaded, reducing the need to place detectors on busy docks and wharves where they can complicate harbor operations. If successful and widely applied, the detectors will give domestic and foreign ports the potential to scan virtually every container arriving in the United States, VeriTainer executives say.” (Los Angeles Times; 17Nov06; Dan Weikel)


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Coast Guard Gifts and Police Officer turned law enforcement writer.

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