Friday, March 28, 2008
CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- March 28, 2008
FBI Focusing on 'About Four' Suspects in 2001 Anthrax Attacks
“The FBI has narrowed its focus to ‘about four’ suspects in the 6 1/2-year investigation of the deadly anthrax attacks of 2001, and at least three of those suspects are linked to the Army’s bioweapons research facility at Fort Detrick in Maryland, FOX News has learned. […]in an e-mail obtained by FOX News, scientists at Fort Detrick openly discussed how the anthrax powder they were asked to analyze after the attacks was nearly identical to that made by one of their colleagues.” (Fox News; 28Mar08; Catherine Herridge & Ian McCaleb).
Jewish Students Rally For Jonathan Pollard [Miami Beach, Florida]
“Jonathan Pollard, a Jew, faced a terrible dilemma. As an American civilian working as a naval analyst, he became aware of information that was vital to Israel’s security. The data he uncovered involved chemical and biological warfare and planned terrorism against the Jewish State. Under the ‘1983 Memorandum of Understanding,’ this type of intelligence was to be shared by the two nations. The U.S. government did not keep their part of the bargain. When Pollard tried to go through the protocol of proper channels, he was stonewalled. In desperation, he went directly to the Israeli government with his information. The gas masks and precautions used in the first Gulf War were a direct result of Pollard’s revelations.” (The Jewish Press; 26Mar08).
Glenbrook’s [Australia] secret history
“Glenbrook Historical Society president Tim Miers was another primary school student during World War II. He remembers how the Glenbrook townsfolk tacitly agreed to keep the mustard gas stockpile a secret. […]A full history of Australia’s secret chemical warfare history — including details on the Glenbrook tunnel — has just been published.” (Blue Mountains Gazette; 26Mar08).
White powder’ scare clears Bayside High [New York]
“Thousands of teens were evacuated from Bayside High School (BHS) shortly after noon on Wednesday, March 26 after a lab technician received a package that contained a suspicious white powder. Shortly after 10 a.m., according to a police source, ‘The package was received and opened by a science department technician who found that it contained a white powder.’ ‘When the technician came into contact with the contents, they reacted to it, complaining of itching,’ […]The entire incident proved to be a false alarm. According to a police source, ‘The package was a proper delivery.
It contained fertilizer which had been ordered by some students for a project.’” (The Queen’s Courier; 26Mar08; VICTOR G. MIMONI).
FDA deadlines may compromise drug safety by rushing approval
“Many medications are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the brink of congressionally mandated deadlines, and those drugs are more likely to face later regulatory intervention than those approved with greater deliberation, researchers at Harvard University have found. Drugs fast-tracked by the FDA are more likely to eventually be withdrawn from global markets for safety reasons […] The timeline was tightened to 10 months as part of the 1997 Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act, a timeline extended by Congress in 2002 as part of bioterrorism legislation and renewed again in 2007.” (Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News; 26Mar08).
Staged ‘Accident’ Tests Local Responders [Pine Bluff, Arkansas] […] ”
Over the radio, a voice said, ‘This is a test. We have been notified of an incident at the Pine Bluff Arsenal. … a Level 4 incident … involving possible chemical agent.’ The test Wednesday was a large-scale training exercise for several hundred Jefferson County employees and emergency responders, coordinated by the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program. The annual event is meant to prepare the county in the case of a chemical release at the Pine Bluff Arsenal, which is one of seven sites around the country storing stockpiled chemical weapons.” Bank of Star City News; 27Mar08; Amy Jo Brown).
Researchers of the University of Navarra [Navarra, Spain] have designed a product for the detection and characterization of brucellosis
“Ignacio López-Goñi and David García […] of the University of Navarra […] [have developed] a commercial analysis kit, sold under the brand name ‘Bruce-ladder,’ […] Bruce-ladder permits the identification and differentiation of the microorganism via the amplification of sequences of specific genes using the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) technique […] Brucellosis is an infectious disease which affects both livestock and persons. According to the World Health Organization, brucellosis is part of a group of diseases, which also includes rabies and anthrax, which are considered ‘forgotten’ diseases, and are strongly related to poverty.”
(Innovations Report; 26Mar08; Garazi Andonegi).
GCC [Gloucester County College, New Jersey] expands food science program to focus on safety
“The nation's food industry has increased its focus on protection of the food supply and prevention of bioterrorism in the last several years, and as part of its new food science program, Gloucester County College is training local food producers to do the same. […] [Dr. Donald W.] Schaffner [a professor at Rutgers] said even mass quantities of commonly used materials could contaminate the food supply and cause widespread illness.” (Bridgeton News; 27Mar08; JESSICA DRISCOLL).
PharmAthene lands $5.8M for bio-agent treatment
“Biodefense company PharmAthene of Annapolis has won an additional $5.8 million under its existing Army contract to develop its chemical nerve agent treatment, Protexia. The announcement follows one last week that the company plans to pay up to $40 million for the vaccines unit of Avecia Biologics of the United Kingdom, with a focus on anthrax and plague prevention.” (Gazette.net; 28Mar08; Steve Berberich).
Hadassah [Israel] donors hear the high-tech talk
“Hadassah International took a challenge that could have put a good number of donors to sleep, or even worse, but the young Israeli entrepreneurs talking high-tech at the forum held at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) […]And then came a visit to Hadassah Ein Karem, where head of internal medicine Prof. Yaacov Naparstek described the new tower, with 500 beds and the capacity to deal with bio-chemical warfare. Work is already underway on the two underground floors.” (Globe’s Online; 27Mar08; Brett Kline).
Huge anthrax outbreak hits farms [South Africa]
“According to the spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture and Land Reform, Thabo Mothibi, one farmer has lost up to 400 head of game and many other farmers have been affected. […]Experts from the Kruger National Park have been asked to investigate the outbreak. The investigation will determine why such a multi-species outbreak occurred and how to improve the disposal of infected material.” (Independent Online; 27Mar08; Nadine Visagie).
FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia] acquired uranium, says Colombia
“On Wednesday, Colombian military officials said that they recovered 66 pounds of uranium that, they say, was acquired by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Colombian Gen. Freddy Padilla tied the uranium to the seized laptops, saying one of the computer files mentions attempts by the FARC to buy uranium, apparently to resell. Earlier this month, Colombian officials claimed the rebels were seeking uranium to make a ‘dirty bomb.’” (The Christian Science Monitor; 28Mar08; Sibylla Brodzinsky).
Panel Wants NRC to Tighten Licensing
“A review panel is urging the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to tighten its licensing procedures for radioactive materials. […]Last year, congressional investigators set up a bogus company and said they were able to obtain enough radioactive material for a small ‘dirty bomb.’ In response, the NRC's Independent External Review Panel is now urging the agency to visit an applicant's facilities before issuing a license and to conduct background checks.” (Forbes; 26Mar08; Associated Press).
N.C. firefighters to get 'dirty-bomb' training
“Wake County fire and rescue officials will sponsor a dirty-bomb workshop starting today from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Wake County Fire Training Center in New Hill. The two-day course will teach fire and EMS officers how to respond if they are the first to arrive on the scene of a radiological incident.” (The News & Observer; 27Mar08).
'Dirty bomb' scenario to test emergency response to a radio-nuclear event [Toronto]
“On Saturday, Mar. 29, a staged exercise will test the ability of hospital staff, emergency workers and college students to deal with a fictional, dirty bomb explosion that could potentially overwhelm hospital resources. […] This simulation is intended to show health care professionals how to manage the patient load resulting from a dirty bomb explosion on Highway 401 that sends auto accident victims to hospital, along with hundreds of others who panic when they hear that a van involved in the crash was carrying a crude bomb that created a radioactive dust plume.” (CNW Group; 28Mar08).
Nuclear terror checks stepped up
“Vehicles passing through major ports and the Channel Tunnel are to be screened for radioactive material in a bid to combat ‘nuclear terrorism.’ The plan was within a Franco-British communiqué after French President Nicolas Sarkozy held talks with Prime Minister Gordon Brown in London.”
(BBC News; 27Mar08).
CNS ChemBio-WMD 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.