War on Terrorism

Monday, August 18, 2008

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- August 15, 2008

Cost of planned biolab increases $200 million
“The projected cost of a bioterrorism laboratory for animal diseases sought by
Georgia and five other states has shot up at least $200 million, according to new estimates by the Department of Homeland Security. The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility received congressional authorization for $451 million just two years ago, but DHS now says the facility will cost at least $648 million and as much as $939 million, depending on where it is located.” (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution; 15Aug08; Ken Foskett) http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/printedition/2008/08/15/biolab.html

Nashville [
Tennessee]: High risk, less funds?
“Because of the infrastructure, critical financial and transportation hubs and population the region has been designated a high priority and potential target by the Department of
Homeland Security. But the high-risk label might actually mean Nashville gets less money to prepare responses for terrorist attacks and natural disasters. The $1.8 million grant the city and surrounding counties will get this year from the federal Homeland Security agency is a substantial cut from the $2.2 million the area drew from the state's pot of Homeland Security money last year, when it didn't get it's own dedicated funding. Tennessee, as a whole, is expected to get $20.8 million from the federal government.” (Tennessean; 15Aug08; Kate Howard)

Anthrax scientist Bruce Ivins slipped under the radar because of FBI obsession
Law enforcement documents unsealed by a federal judge last week, along with other materials reviewed by The Times, show that within a few months of the mailings, FBI leaders were positioned to know important details spotlighting Ivins […] Security records […] revealing that Ivins […] had spent hours in a fortified ‘hot suite’ during late nights and weekends leading up to and surrounding the mailings. […] analysis by outside scientists […] reporting that anthrax powder recovered from the mailings most likely came from Ft. Detrick […] Ivins, recruited to assist the FBI, had failed in February 2002 to provide an anthrax sample […] requested by a bureau agent.[…] As for Hatfill, the former Ft. Detrick researcher with no record of access at any time to anthrax, FBI and Justice Department officials have declined to say why the investigation stayed focused on him for so long.” (LA Times; 15Aug08; David Willman)

Plum Island [
Massachusetts] may not get nod [for biolab]
“The federal government’s environmental assessment of whether or not Plum Island Animal Disease Center is a suitable site for a planned new facility devoted to the study of biological
terrorism — specifically, diseases communicable to both animals and humans — was vetted on Tuesday night in Greenport. However, Department of Homeland Security representatives said in interviews that while the island is a candidate, it is not likely to be chosen. Elected officials have requested that Plum Island be allowed to continue its current research after the new biological terrorism facility is built, but it does not appear that Homeland Security will take those requests seriously.” (The East Hampton Star; 14Aug08; Jennifer Landes) http://www.easthamptonstar.com/dnn/Home/News/PlumIsland/tabid/6315/Default.aspx

Sandia researcher develops inference technique that estimates how many people will fall sick in an epidemic
“Sandia National Laboratories/California researcher Jaideep Ray […] figured out a way to determine the number of people likely to be infected and die from noncommunicable illnesses like anthrax — ailments that could be caused by a potential bioterrorist attack — as well as communicable diseases like smallpox. […] in the middle of 2007 successfully developed a model that could infer the characteristics of a bioterrorism-related epidemic of a noncommunicable disease like anthrax. These inferences were drawn from observations of people with symptoms of anthrax exposure collected over the first three to five days of an epidemic. He is within a few months of refining a
computer model that would do the same for communicable diseases.” (All American Patriots; 14Aug08) http://www.allamericanpatriots.com/science/48749327-sandia-researcher-develops-inference-technique-estimates-how-many-people-will-fa

Nano vaccine for hepatitis B produces strong
“Sciences at the University of
Michigan report that a novel, needle-less method for getting an immunity-stimulating agent into the body has proved non-toxic and able to produce strong, sustained immune responses in animal studies. The vaccine is based on a super-fine emulsion of oil, water and surfactants placed in the nose. […] Baker’s team has published earlier studies affirming the promise of nasal nanoemulsions as a strategy for smallpox, influenza, anthrax and HIV vaccines. The nanoemulsion technology is patented by U-M and licensed to Ann Arbor-based NanoBio Corporation.
Baker is a founder and equity holder of NanoBio.” (Media Newswire; 15Aug08) http://media-newswire.com/release_1070955.html

KU Med [
Kansas University Medical Center] researchers share anthrax discovery
Kansas University Medical Center researchers, along with researchers from Harvard Medical School, the University of Missouri-Kansas City and William Jewell College, have made a discovery that could be used to eventually prevent anthrax infections from harming humans. Although it is known that anthrax is comprised of three proteins, the discovery specifically looks at the structure of the protective antigen pore protein, which is responsible for the delivery of toxins in human cells, according to a press release. […] This discovery could eventually lead to prevent anthrax infections from even taking place, rather than requiring a vaccine.” (Lawrence Journal-World; 15Aug08)

FBI serves warrant after Frederick County PL [Public Library] surrenders PCs in anthrax case
“Though the director of the Frederick County Public Libraries (FCPL), MD, last week acceded to the request by the FBI for two library computers without requesting a warrant, the FBI yesterday requested and got a search warrant to search those computers, which it alleged were used by Bruce Ivins, the anthrax scientist and suspect who committed suicide last week. […] While using the computers, Ivins was seen to examine e-mail accounts and look at a web site ‘dedicated to the Anthrax Investigation.’” (Library Journal; 14Aug08; Elizabeth Ferrari)

Hair doesn't match anthrax suspect, fuels speculation
“A hair sample taken from a Princeton, N.J., mailbox linked to the 2001 anthrax attacks does not match that of Army scientist Bruce E. Ivins, leading to speculation about whether the federal government identified the right suspect. […] ‘I think it's going to be one of the great conspiracy theories, like whether we landed on the moon or whether Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone’ in assassinating President Kennedy, said Edward Lake, a retired Wisconsin
computer specialist whose Web site has for years been one of the most comprehensive repositories for analysis on the anthrax case.” (Washington Post; 14Aug08; Derek Kravitz) http://voices.washingtonpost.com/washingtonpostinvestigations/2008/08/hair_doesnt_match_anthrax_susp.html

Nasal drug boosts Hep[atitis] B immunity
“Scientists at the University of
Michigan and NanoBio Corp, found that a single dose of the nasal vaccine triggered a protective response in animals roughly 450 times greater than that achieved by currently approved human vaccines. The study, reported in the journal PLoS One, has critical implications for developing countries where hepatitis B presents a serious health threat, said lead author Dr James Baker Jr. [who said] ‘The same vaccine platform has also been shown to elicit significant immune responses in animal studies with influenza, anthrax, smallpox, RSV and HIV.’” (Pharmacy Europe; 15Aug08; NanoBioCorp)

Chemical scare in New Zealand PM's office
“Staff from New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark's office had to be evacuated after an envelope containing white powder was opened yesterday. […] Ambulances and fire engines were called and three office staff and a security officer were examined after the incident but none appeared to be suffering any ill effects. The powder has still not been identified.” (Radio Australia; 14Aug08)

The assassination of General Mohammed Suleiman
“On August 1, 2008, Syrian general Mohammed Suleiman was gunned down on the beach near the Syrian city of Tartous. Only after five days […] Syrian officials […] reported that the general had indeed been assassinated and that an investigation was underway […] Meantime, journalists and commentators have proposed different theories regarding the identity of the assassin and the reasons for the attack. […] The various sources […] have differing agendas and therefore perforce have offered varying accounts. Western intelligence sources have posited that he was involved in the Syrian nuclear project; American intelligence sources have tied Suleiman to transfers of chemical weapons from Iraq to Syria in 2003 on the eve of the US invasion of Iraq […]” (Canadian Free Press; 15Aug08; Amir Kulick)

Navy charges Iraq camp guards with abuse
“Six sailors working as prison camp guards in Iraq face courts martial for abusing detainees, some of whom were sealed in a cell with pepper spray, the U.S.
Navy said on Thursday. […] ‘Two detainees suffered minor abrasions as a result of the alleged assaults, eight others were confined overnight in a detainee housing unit which was sprayed with riot control agent and then the ventilation secured,’ the Navy said in a statement. […] Use of pepper spray in warfare is banned by international treaties on chemical weapons, but many governments say members of their armed forces are permitted to use it in war zones for law enforcement duties.”
(Reuters; 14Aug08; Peter Graff)

Sister: Man found dead at Denver hotel 'not a terrorist'
“The Canadian man found dead next to a jar of cyanide in a Denver hotel room had schizophrenia, his family says, lending credence to the theory that he may have died of suicide. The FBI and haz-mat teams got involved in the incident because cyanide can be used to make chemical weapons, and the foreign national had arrived in Denver shortly before the start of the Democratic National Convention. […] Sodium chloride is an ideal ingredient for making a chemical weapon but also is found in rat poison and such things as gold-plated watches. The tell-tale odor of almonds indicated to investigators that Dirie may have died from exposure to cyanide. Investigators still want to know why so much of it — about a pound in crystal form — was found in the room.” (Rocky Mountain News; 14Aug08; Bill Scanlon)

State won't distribute anti-nerve gas drug with gas mask kits

“Authorities will no longer include an anti-nerve gas drug in safety kits distributed in the event of a nuclear or chemical emergency, the state announced Thursday. The Defense Ministry and the Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command will remove injections of atropine from home safety kits that will be distributed to the public beginning in early 2009. The move is designed to cut costs of replenishing stockpiles of the kits. […] The defense ministry said that should Israel be threatened with a chemical weapons attack, the drug would be distributed to the general public via health maintenance organizations and at hand-out points throughout the country. ‘Logistically, it would be very easy,’ said a defense official. ‘We could distribute everything within two days and it would prevent the need to trouble the public by dragging it to refresher stations that also cost a lot of money.’” (Haaretz; 14Aug08; Yuval Azoulay) http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1011863.html

Kulongoski says exercise showed Oregon not prepared for
“If terrorists decided to attack Oregon today, the state wouldn't be adequately prepared. That's what Gov. Ted Kulongoski said came from an exercise called Top Officials or TOPOFF that was carried out last October. The 4th TOPOFF exercise simulated an attack on Portland with a dirty bomb that contained radioactive material. Governor Ted Kulongoski spoke Wednesday at an Anti-
terrorism Conference, along with the U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey and other federal and state officials. Kulongoski said the state learned a number of things from TOPOFF, perhaps most importantly, that the state's public safety communications systems are dangerously out of date.” (OPB News; 13Aug08; Christina Neuhaus) http://news.opb.org/article/2810-kulongoski-says-exercise-showed-oregon-not-prepared-terrorism/

Amplifying small molecules
“Mirkin and graduate student Hyo Jae Yoon achieved their PCR-inspired small-molecule detection system by using a supramolecular complex that recognizes acetate and catalyzes a reaction that generates more acetate. […] Under basic conditions, acetate displaces the thioethers, opening the complex and forming a cavity capable of catalyzing an acyl transfer reaction between pyridyl carbinol and acetic anhydride. The reaction is coupled to a fluorescent readout with a pH-sensitive dye. The catalyzed reaction generates more acetate, which in turn activates more catalyst in a cascade of reactions. The method's applicability is limited only by ‘the creativity of a chemist trying to design a structure to recognize a molecule of interest,’ Mirkin says. Such molecules of interest could range from chemical weapons and biological toxins to neurotransmitters and small-molecule disease markers.” (Chemical & Engineering News; 14Aug08; Celia Henry Arnaud) http://pubs.acs.org/cen/news/86/i33/8633notw4.html

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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