Thursday, March 27, 2008

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- March 26, 2008

Nerve Gas Test Veteran Wants [Ministry of Defense, U.K.] Apology
“A Former RAF [Royal
Air Force] wireless operator who volunteered for chemical experiments at Porton Down [British government research facility] is to seek an apology and compensation from the Ministry of Defence for being unknowingly exposed to nerve gas. Frederick Selley, 76, from Stroud, was told he was helping with research into the common cold when he volunteered for the experiments in 1951 […] An MoD statement said: ‘The Government accepts there were aspects of the trials where there may have been shortcomings and where, in particular, the life or health of participants may have been put at risk.’” (Gloucestershire; 24Mar08).

Judge advances anthrax vaccine refusal case
“A U.S. federal judge has ruled that the Defense Department must again consider exonerating two
military pilots whose Connecticut Air National Guard careers ended after they refused to take compulsory anthrax vaccine shots… The federal courts have since found that the military's mandatory vaccine program was being conducted illegally for more than six years, beginning with its March 1998 inception […] a statute of limitations might prevent military personnel from filing lawsuits more than six years after an alleged wrong has occurred.” (Global Security Newswire; 24Mar08; Elaine M. Grossman).

Biosensing Nanodevice To Revolutionize Health Screenings
“Even more incredible than the device itself, is that it is based on the world's tiniest rotary motor: a biological engine measured on the order of molecules […] A prototype of the
DNA detector is already in development. It is roughly the size of a small tissue box. Sampling would be as simple as taking a swab from an infected wound or a piece of baggage, dissolving it in a solution and placing a drop on a slide bearing reference F1-ATPases and their nanorods. Once in the instrument, red blinking signals emitted by rotating nanorods would let a computer know there's trouble, literally, in a flash. […] ‘Rapid and sensitive biosensing of nucleic acids and proteins is vital for the identification of pathogenic agents of biomedical and bioterrorist importance,’ notes [Arizona State University researcher Wayne] Frasch, who is also with the Center for Bioenergy and Photosynthesis in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
‘It also provides a new avenue through which to analyze genotypes and forensic evidence.’” (Science Daily, 25Mar08).

Chemists create 'designer enzymes'
“U.S. scientists have created ‘designer enzymes’ in what is called a major achievement in computational chemistry and protein engineering. Led by UCLA Professor Kendall Houk and University of Washington biochemist David Baker, the scientists expect such designer enzymes to have applications for defense against biological warfare by deactivating pathogenic biological agents, as well as creating more effective medications.” (United Press International; 24Mar08).

New network will quickly tell doctors of drug, device problems
“A new electronic health notification network that was unveiled today promises to more quickly notify doctors and hospitals about safety alerts concerning drugs and medical devices […] Set to go live in June, the new Health Care Notification Network (HCNN) will use e-mail to notify doctors about safety alerts issued by drug or device manufacturers […] The HCNN will also be used as a notification system in the event of a bioterrorism attack or the outbreak of a nationwide epidemic.” (Computer World; 25Mar08; Heather Havenstein).

Audit faults oversight of emergency trailers [Massachusetts]
“A new audit is criticizing the oversight of 10 trailers meant to be used in the event of a bioterrorist attack or other mass casualty incident… [Massachusetts state auditor Joseph] DeNucci’s audit also found that periodic drills or exercises using the trailers and equipment failed to take place and not all municipalities within each region had been notified of the availability and location of the trailers.” (Boston Herald; 24Mar08; Associated Press).

Universal Detection Technology Invited to Present Its BSM-2000 Anthrax Detection System to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on
Homeland Security
“Universal Detection Technology, […] a developer of early warning monitoring technologies to protect people from bioterrorism and other infectious health threats and provider of counter terrorism consulting and training services, announced today that it has been invited to present the technology deployed in its BSM-2000 airborne anthrax monitor to the U.S.House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security.” (Market Wire; 24Mar08).

El Paso County [Colorado] Health Dept. faces worker shortage
“Nearly a quarter of the nation's public health workers will be eligible for retirement in the next few years, and more than 250,000 workers are needed by 2020 to avoid a public health crisis, according to a new report […] The report, released Feb. 27, was produced by the Association of Schools of Public Health. It says a lack of recruitment efforts, pending retirements and a downsized work force in the past 30 years could leave the public lacking on fronts including disease outbreaks, bioterrorism and natural disasters. The shortage is made worse, it says, by the increasing specialization in the world of public health that creates less flexibility among existing workers to juggle multiple jobs.” (The Gazette; 24Mar08; Brian Newsome).

New Technique Will Speed The Development Of Vaccines
“The new method allows researchers to rapidly screen large numbers of pathogen proteins, called antigens, for their ability to prompt an immune response in a host. Proteins with that ability are good candidates for use in vaccines. The method will be especially valuable in the quest for vaccines against persistent diseases such as malaria, sleeping sickness and syphilis […Wendy Brown, an immunologist] is using it to screen proteins from Coxiella, a bacterium that causes Q fever and is considered a possible bioterrorism threat.” (Medical News Today; 25Mar08).

TB Patients Chafe Under Lockdown in South Africa
“Struggling to contain a dangerous epidemic of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis, known as XDR-TB, the South African government’s policy is to hospitalize those unlucky enough to have the disease until they are no longer infectious […] ‘XDR is like biological warfare,’ said Dr. Bongani Lujabe, the chief medical officer at Jose Pearson hospital. ‘If you let it loose, you decimate a population, especially in poor communities with a high prevalence of H.I.V./AIDS.’ […] Further complicating matters, South Africa’s provinces have taken different approaches to deciding how long to hospitalize people with XDR-TB.” (New York Times; 25Mar08; Celia W.

Smiths Detection to supply U.S.
military with next-generation chemical agent detector
“Smiths Detection, part of the global
technology business Smiths Group, announced that its Military unit has been awarded a $23.8 million contract option to supply the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) with lightweight detectors under its Joint Chemical Agent Detector (JCAD) program, potentially the biggest of its kind in the world… The M4 JCAD is smaller and lighter also offering soldiers better detection capabilities than chemical point detection systems currently in service. It also benefits from the use of a non-radioactive technology compared with previous generations of detectors.” (Military & Aerospace Online, 25Mar08).

In an Era of School Shootings, a New Drill [New York]
“Mr. Matheney, the school’s principal, was roaming the suburban campus as if he were an ‘active shooter,’ à la Virginia Tech or Columbine, as part of a ‘lockdown drill’ now required twice a year here and in many schools around the country […] Now, in a ritual reminiscent of the 1950s, when students ducked under desks and covered their heads in anticipation of nuclear blasts, many schools are preparing for, among other emergencies, bomb threats, hazardous material spills, shelter-in-place preparation (in which students would use schools as shelters if a
dirty bomb’s plume were to spread dangerously close) and armed, roaming sociopaths.” (The New York Time; 25Mar08; Tina Kelley).

Splinternet launches
dirty-bomb detector
“Splinternet officials announced the release of the new GammaTect Plus integrated gamma radiation detection sensor system. GammaTect Plus, deployed at radioactive storage sites including seaports, airports, government buildings and
military installations among other potential targets, is a company initiative to reduce the potential threat of a dirty bomb […] Company officials say the launch of the GammaTect Plus, linked to Splinternet's DefenTect management, monitoring and alerting system, identifies high energy gamma violations and then takes a series of photographs with isotope ID information. The system then sends the data to a command center where an alarm is triggered.” (United Press International; 25Mar08).

Terrorism News is prepared by the Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in order to bring timely and focused information to researchers and policymakers interested in the fields of chemical, biological, and radiological weapons nonproliferation and WMD terrorism.

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