War on Terrorism

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- November 5, 2008

U.S. snaps up [Bacillus Anthracis] scanner
“Clients included hazardous materials teams in major American cities and US defence agencies, [Andrew Rudge] said. Existing technologies and products took between 30 minutes and three days to do the same job and destroyed the sample so it could not be tested further. […] ‘It's simple to use analysis begins with the press of a single button and it returns a spores detected or no spores detected result within minutes. That saves both time and money in terms of disruptions and evacuations, because security staff get immediate feedback on whether they are dealing with a hoax or the real thing.’ [according to Veritide chief executive officer Andrew Rudge] […] There were plans to extend the Scout's detection capability to include other dangerous biological threats such as ricin.” (The Press, New Zealand; 05Nov08; Rebecca Todd) http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/thepress/4749967a6530.html

Media makes infectious diseases seem much worse
“Popular media coverage of infectious diseases makes them seem worse than they are, according to a new Canadian study. Diseases that surface frequently in the print media -like bird flu - are considered more serious than similar diseases that do not receive the same kind of coverage, such as yellow fever, according to the research. ‘The media tend to focus on rare and dramatic events,’ said Meredith Young, co-author and graduate in the department of psychology, neuroscience & behaviour, McMaster University. […] ‘Another interesting aspect of the study is when we presented factual information about the diseases along with the names of them, the media effect wasn't nearly as strong,’ said Karin Humphries a co-author [of the study].” (Microsoft News; 04Nov08; Source: Indo-Asian News Service) http://lifestyle.in.msn.com/health/article.aspx?cp-documentid=1692100

Flu clinic becomes emergency drill [Frederick County,
“Monday's flu clinic took the form of an emergency preparedness drill, and more than 360 health department employees and a handful of other county agencies participated to help ensure the county is ready for a medical emergency. Jurisdictions are required to hold preparedness drills every year to retain their funding from the U.S. Department of
Homeland Security, said Barbara Rosvold, the health department's public health preparedness and response director. For most people, a flu pandemic is the first type of medical emergency that comes to mind, but the department would activate the same response system during situations such as a smallpox outbreak or anthrax exposure. […] The drill also put to the test the department's emergency communication systems, including landlines, cell phones, TalkAbouts and 800-megahertz radios. Amateur radios were used this year for the first time; the radios proved to be the most reliable form of communication in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Rosvold said.” (Frederick News-Post; 04Nov08; Ashley Andyshak)

Select agent, man [discusses removal of citrus greening bacteria from select agent list]
“Just in time for the $20 million citrus greening research push from the Florida Department of Citrus and the Florida Citrus Production Research Advisory Council, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has agreed to take the citrus greening bacteria off the federal Bioterrorism Select Agent list. […] The greening bacteria was put on the list before it became endemic in Florida precisely to prevent its introduction into the U.S.
Once it became endemic, that served no further purpose […] Effective Nov.17, all three strains of the greening bacteria will not be on the select agent list. […] Now scientists conducting greening research can expand their efforts free of the strict constraints of the Agricultural Bioterrorism Protection Act of 2002.” (Ledger; 03Nov08; Kevin Bouffard)

Scientists slam FBI anthrax probe [of Bruce Ivins] “
It was an open-and-shut case, the FBI said. But three months after agents pinned the post-9/11 anthrax mailings on
Army scientist Bruce Ivins - who committed suicide as the FBI closed in on him - his former colleagues have approached a lawyer to sue the feds for fingering the wrong man, The Post has learned. […] The move by the Army scientists comes on the heels of a Senate Judiciary Committee demand for an independent review of the case following a hearing with FBI Director Robert Mueller in which committee members called the bureau's case an ‘open matter.’ The bureau has named a panel of independent scientists to review the evidence against Ivins - a probe that will take six to 18 months. Sen. Patrick Leahy, a target of the 2001 anthrax attacks, said at the Judiciary Committee hearings that he doubted Ivins, who worked at Fort Detrick, Md., could have acted alone and that he believes ‘there are others who could be charged with murder.’”
Military.com; 03Nov08; Source: New York Post) http://www.military.com/news/article/scientists-slam-fbi-anthrax-probe.html?col=1186032310810

Man [Fernando Gomez] dies from anthrax exposure [Hackney, London]
“The Health Protection Agency has announced the death of a patient who inhaled anthrax. The Agency is now carrying out an investigation to identify where the anthrax originated from. A team wearing protective clothing will carry out tests at the deceased man’s workshop in Hackney, London. […] The HPA has also been following up any contacts of the patient who may have been explosed [sic] to the anthrax spores by being in the same room as the patient, when animal skins were being prepared to be made into drums (believed to be the source of the contamination).” (OnMedica News; 04Nov08)

How dangerous is drum making? [relating to anthrax exposure]
“A second drum maker in two years has died after apparently inhaling anthrax spores from animal skins. What are the risks of this seemingly safe job? Fernando Gomez had been in intensive care for more than a week after handling animal skins at his drum-making workshop in London. But his condition deteriorated over the weekend and the 35-year-old died from inhalation anthrax on Sunday night. Two years earlier, Christopher Norris, a craftsman from Scotland, died after inhaling anthrax. But are these cases a coincidence or a cause for alarm? In the UK, the death of Mr. Gomez is the second case in more than 30 years. Across the world, there are four other known cases since 1974 of drum makers dying from anthrax.” (BBC; 03Nov08)

Expert: Egypt modernizing
Army, but committed to peace
military is gradually doing away with dated Soviet equipment and replacing them with superior American F-16 fighter jets, Apache combat helicopters and Abrams tanks, according to arms control expert Prof. Yiftah Shapir of Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Securities Studies. […] As for unconventional weapons, Egypt may have researched and produced chemical warfare agents and stockpiled mustard and nerve agents, although this has not been confirmed. It is thought to possess 190 scud-type missiles. […] Shapir said he was not overly concerned by reports of Egyptian military drills in which Israel was the simulated enemy. ‘There is no military force other than Israel on their borders, so the drills are simulated with Israel in mind. Every Army undergoes drills and builds up plans. The Egyptian Army is looking at Israel's capabilities, not its intentions. Egypt believes Israel is fully interested in safeguarding the status quo, and Israel believes the same of Egypt. But the Egyptian military cannot ignore its next door neighbor's military and act as if it is neutral,’ Shapir said. He added that Israel, too, trained for scenarios involving the Egyptian military. ‘We can't expect things to be any different,’ he said. ‘We are not in the European Union. Before the current era, and before the world wars, European powers held drills with their neighbors in mind.’” (Jerusalem Post; 02Nov08; Yaakov Lappin) http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1225199631823&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull

OPCW Director-General addresses the Sixty-Third Session of the United Nations General Assembly
“On 3 November 2008, the OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter addressed the 63rd Session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, on the theme ‘Cooperation between the United Nations (UN) and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).’ […] he gave an overview of the progress made in the destruction of declared chemical weapons. He noted that the OPCW had verified the destruction of more than 41% of the total stockpiles declared by six States Parties and that two of the six declared possessors — Albania and A State Party — had completely fulfilled their destruction obligations under the Convention. […] Director-General Pfirter also referred to the importance of developing the industry verification regime in a manner that is responsive to the need of ensuring the long term validity of the Convention’s non-proliferation objectives. […] Director-General Pfirter further drew attention to the Organisation’s international cooperation and assistance programmes, including periodic field exercises for the delivery of assistance in case of use of chemical weapons that the OPCW carries out in collaboration with the UN and other international organisations. He informed the UN General Assembly that the next such exercise is scheduled to be held in Tunisia in 2010.” (OPCW News; 04Nov08) http://www.opcw.org/news/news/article/opcw-director-general-addresses-the-sixty-third-session-of-the-united-nations-general-assembly/

Attorneys file suit to stop burning at Umatilla Chemical Depot
“Attorneys for the Government Accountability Project have filed a lawsuit to stop a plan by Oregon agencies to incinerate the Umatilla Chemical Depot's cache of
World War Two mustard agent. The suit was filed in the Multonomah County, Ore., state circuit court by the watchdog group's attorneys on behalf of Hermiston-based GASP, the Oregon Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club and six Umatilla County and Morrow County residents. […] The Government Accountability Project, or GAP, is concerned that some of the mustard agent is contaminated with mercury and other hazardous wastes. It believes the mercury would not be fully captured by the filter systems currently in place or planned for the Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility. Department of Environmental Quality […] has given approval for using enhanced carbon filters for incineration of mustard gas after the department studied options. […] More than 60 percent of the chemical agent stockpile at the depot is mustard agent, according to GAP. However, the Army has identified containers contaminated with mercury and they comprise 16 percent of the total.” (Tri-City Herald; 04Nov08; Annette Cary)

A learning experience at mock disaster [Blue Grass
Army Depot, Kentucky]
“Twenty-seven observers from across the country came to observe Madison County’s emergency response personnel in a mock disaster scenario. […] A ton bulk agent container filled with GB nerve agent byproducts was being transported to the depot’s demilitarization building (which, in reality, is in the process of being constructed) where it was to be destroyed. During the transport, the container was spilled and nerve agent was released. […] While workers were cleaning the spill and filtering the nerve agent vapors from the igloo, another storage igloo at the depot was struck by lightening, causing a small fire inside the igloo. […] All workers and volunteers performed very well in each scenario to make sure the community remained safe, [Carl] Richards [county EMA director] said. […] Various schools throughout Richmond and Berea participated by practicing the ‘shelter-in-place’ drill where students and faculty are to go to the closest place that can be sealed off from outside air and has few or no windows.” (Richmond Register; 30Oct08; Ronica Shannon) http://www.richmondregister.com/homepage/local_story_304082725.html?keyword=leadpicturestory

PharmAthene initiates Phase I study of nerve agent bioscavenger
“The randomized, placebo-controlled, third-party double-blind, dose escalating Phase I clinical trial will study Protexia administered intramuscularly at one and two time points in healthy human volunteers. Approximately 32 subjects will participate in the study, comprised of healthy male and female volunteers between the ages of 18 and 55 years who are willing to give informed consent and are in general good health. […] The primary endpoint of the study is an evaluation of the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics and immunogenicity of escalating single doses of Protexia given intramuscularly in healthy human volunteers. […] Protexia, which is produced in the milk of transgenic goats, is a recombinant version of human butyrylcholinesterase (BChE), which has been shown to be effective in animal models in preventing toxicity from exposure to chemical nerve agents.” (Pharmaceutical Business Review;

Detecting illicit nuclear materials takes layered approach
“The nuclear threat is something we really have to pay attention to, said Mike Johnson, mission area manager for the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) of the U.S. Department of
Homeland Security (DHS). Of all the types of terrorist attacks that could involve nuclear material, the most likely is a ‘dirty bomb' that is composed of a source of radiation surrounded by a conventional explosive such as TNT. Furthermore, Johnson said, the approach to preventing such an attack has to be layered. […] Part of DNDO's mission is to test, recommend and buy detection equipment for government agencies such as Customs and Border Patrol as well as the Coast Guard. The agency is pretty satisfied with the current state of cargo security at points of entry along the nation's borders, Johnson told an audience of Homeland Security practitioners and technology providers at the 10th annual Technologies for Critical Incident Preparedness in Chicago last week. The DNDO's next focus will be to improve cargo screening of small private planes and yachts coming into the United States through non-points of entry.” (Government Technology; 04Nov08; Corey McKenna) http://www.govtech.com/gt/427950?topic=117680

CIA officers could face torture trial in Britain
“British officials are considering bringing
criminal charges against senior CIA officers for the abduction and torture of a British resident now incarcerated at Guantanamo. […] In April 2002, Binyam Mohamed was arrested in Karachi, Pakistan after attempting to board a flight to London with a fake British passport. American authorities informed British counterparts Mohamed was plotting to build and detonate a ‘dirty bomb.’ […] Lawyers representing Mr. Mohamed have sued, on Mohamed's behalf, British intelligence forces for their part in his detention and purported torture. British judges overseeing the case and having received secret evidence, have become increasingly critical of U.S. conduct and are now considering charging American forces for their culpability in Mr. Mohamed's abuse.” (Examiner; 03Nov08; Jay McDonough) http://www.examiner.com/x-243-Progressive-Politics-Examiner~y2008m11d3-torture

Cases against detainees have thinned
“The six Algerians were scooped up in Bosnia and shuttled to the U.S.
military prison at Guantanamo Bay in early 2002. Days later, President Bush proclaimed in his State of the Union address that the men had been plotting to blow up the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo. The case would seem to be an easy victory for the Bush administration, which is preparing to defend the men's lengthy detentions in landmark federal court proceedings scheduled to begin this week. But the government is backpedaling. The charges of plotting to blow up the embassy have been dropped. […] The government recently also has withdrawn allegations that another detainee is linked to a high-profile ‘dirty bomb’ plot. Together, the legal moves raise questions about the government's claims over the years that it has disrupted imminent terrorism threats.” (Washington Post; 02Nov08; Del Quentin Wilber) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/01/AR2008110102018.html?hpid=topnews

The horror of U.S. depleted uranium in Iraq threatens the world
“Doctors in Iraq have estimated that birth defects have increased by 2-6 times, and 3-12 times as many children have developed cancer and leukemia since 1991. Moreover, a report published in The Lancet in 1998 said that as many as 500 children a day are dying from these sequels to war and sanctions and that the death rate for Iraqi children under 5 years of age increased from 23 per 1000 in 1989 to 166 per thousand in 1993. […] On hearing that [depleted uranium] DU had been used in the Persian Gulf in 1991, the UK Atomic Energy Authority sent the Ministry of Defense a special report on the potential damage to health and the environment. It said that it could cause half a million additional cancer deaths in Iraq over 10 years. […] Britain and America not only used DU in this year’s Iraq war, they dramatically increased its use — from a minimum of 320 tons in the previous war (1991) to a minimum-of 1500 tons in this one (2003).”
(Tehran Times; 01Nov08)

Mercy [hospital in Roseburg, Oregon] uses grant dollars to prepare for disasters
“For the simulation exercise, Ray was a bus driver who was injured when a bomb exploded on the bus he was driving. The 48-year-old was the only patient the Umpqua Community College students had to treat, but he was involved in a mass-casualty incident, and the students had to respond accordingly. The exercise Thursday morning gave the students and Mercy Medical Center staff a chance to show state and federal Department of Human Services officials how several years of grant dollars have been used. […] The hospital has used grant funding to purchase decontamination shelters, portable ventilators, isolation gowns and chemical resistant suits, among other gear, that could be used by staff responding to various chemical exposures, from anthrax to pesticide, Bones said. The money has also purchased satellite phones and other communication equipment that would likely be needed for security and incident command in a natural disaster, she said. […] The training not only prepares the staff for local emergencies, but also provides preparation for regional and statewide emergencies, DePew said.” (News-Review; 03Nov08; Marissa Harshman) http://www.nrtoday.com/article/20081103/NEWS/810319920/1063/NEWS&ParentProfile=1055&title=Mercy%20uses%20grant%20dollars%20to%20prepare%20for%20disasters

Canada Preparing for WMD Strikes at 2010 Olympics
“The threat of WMD attacks has long been a focus of the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit, a group overseen by the Royal Canadian Mounted
Police. The team would not reveal any of its specific preparations for such incidents, threats that it said have taken high priority since Vancouver was awarded the 2010 Olympics four years ago. […] More than 100 Canadian emergency responders and military personnel this week were briefed on potential attacks at the Olympics that could involve deadly materials such as ricin, mustard blister agent, sarin nerve agent or radiological and nuclear substances. They were also provided information on ‘multithreat detection systems’ capable of scanning for WMD ingredients across large areas.” (NTI: Global Security Newswire; 30Oct08) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20081030_6762.php

FBI investigating envelopes of white powder in Ocala [Florida]
“The FBI is investigating the mailing of several envelopes containing white powder in Marion County. […] On Monday, local fire rescue teams responded to schools, churches, libraries, a day care center, funeral home and the county elections office. All had received suspicious envelopes. Similar mailings are expected to be delivered on Tuesday. Marion County Fire Rescue spokeswoman Heather Danenhower says it appears the envelopes were sent by the same mailer, using what’s believed to be a fake Ocala return address and the name Osama bin Laden, which was misspelled.” (Ledger; 04Nov08; Source: AP)

[Indy] Star locked down after letter labeled 'anthrax' arrives [Indianapolis, Indiana]
“Several hundred employees at The Indianapolis Star were locked down for more than two hours late Monday afternoon while
Police and health officials investigated a mysterious envelope that arrived at the newspaper's Downtown office. The mailing, which had a return address under the name MK Publishing in Sacramento, Calif., was similar to anthrax hoax mailings that have been sent to newspapers across the country. […] Monday, representatives from the Marion County Health Department and Indianapolis Fire Department tested samples of the substance for radioactivity and toxic industrial chemicals, both of which were negative, said Jeff Larmore, manager of hazardous materials with the Health Department. The building lockdown ended about 7:15 p.m. Larmore said that because the threat was similar to others that have taken place and the substance was not released, the risk of exposure was minimal.” (Indy Star; 04Nov08; Francesca Jarosz) http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081104/NEWS02/811040380

[Florida] State senator [Evelyn Lynn, Rep., Dist. 7] victim of white powder hoax
“Sen. Evelyn Lynn [FL] is the latest victim in the white powder hoax, officials here said earlier today. Lynn received an envelope at her post office box address in Ormond Beach on Monday, but had not actually looked at it until this morning when she arrived at her Daytona Beach office,
Police and fire officials said. Police investigator Jimmie Flynt said Lynn never opened the envelope, but realized something was amiss when she held it up to the light. […] Godawa said the powdery substance inside the envelope sent to Lynn was ‘non-threatening.’ Recently, white powder-filled envelopes were sent to Rep. Tom Feeney's offices in Port Orange, Orlando and Titusville. The FBI is also investigating the mailing of several envelopes containing white powder in Marion County.” (News-Journal Online; 04Nov08; Lyda Longa) http://www.news-journalonline.com/newsjournalonline/breakingnews/powder110408.htm

Patrick Swayze unhurt in Berwyn [Illinois]
Police hazmat scare
“The arrival of a parcel of suspect white powder led Berwyn
Police to quarantine four employees and a Comcast employee who brought the package into the station Tuesday. But Hollywood actor Patrick Swayze, who happened to be in the west suburban station house filming a movie, didn't come into contact with the powder, which Police later determined was corn starch. The incident began at 3:35 p.m., when the Comcast worker entered the Berwyn Police Department headquarters with a box that was leaking a white powder, Police Chief William Kushner said.” (Chicago Tribune; 04Nov08; Joseph Ruzich) http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2008/11/patrick-swayze-unhurt-in-berwyn-police-hazmat-scare.html

Letter received by The [Providence] Journal tested negative for anthrax
“Test results confirmed a package that was labeled anthrax and mailed to The Providence Journal last week was sugar, the FBI said today. test results for a similar letter received by the Newport Daily News were negative for anthrax or other biological agents, said Annemarie Beardsworth, a state Department of Health spokeswoman. The Providence Journal and Newport Daily News are among more than three dozen media outlets around the country that have received hoax letters containing packets of sugar that were labeled anthrax. A California man was arrested last week on three counts of sending hoax anthrax threats by mail. […] Keyser, 66, had already been interviewed by the FBI in January 2007 for allegedly sending a package containing a small aerosol can labeled ‘Anthrax,’ along with a compact disc, to the Sacramento News and Review newspaper, according a
criminal complaint filed Thursday in federal court, the Associated Press reported.” (Providence Journal; 03Nov08; Maria Armental)

Pioneer Press [Minnesota] receives envelope labeled anthrax
Saint Paul Police and the FBI are investigating another envelope containing a suspicious white powder labeled ‘anthrax’ that was mailed to the St. Paul Pioneer Press this weekend. […] The incident follows a string of anthrax scares at other newspapers across the country, including the Minneapolis Star Tribune. […] Pete Crum of the Saint Paul Police department says the department is working with the FBI, the Postal Inspector and the Minnesota Department of Health to test the powder. ‘The Saint Paul Police and fire responded to the Pioneer Press building. Initial tests showed it to be sugar. It will be sent on to the department of health for further testing,’ said Crum.” (Minnesota Public Radio; 02Nov08) http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/11/02/pioneer_press_envelope_labeled_anthrax/

Bail set at $25K for Calif. anthrax scare suspect
“A federal judge has set bond at $25,000 for the man suspected of mailing more than 120 hoax anthrax letters nationwide. U.S. Magistrate Kimberly Mueller said the bond for 66-year-old Marc M. Keyser must be co-signed by Keyser's sister and brother-in-law. Mueller also barred Keyser from any activities intended to draw responses to a biochemical hazard. […] ‘He appears to think he has a right to go on a mission to call attention to this issue,’ [Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin] Wagner said, referring to biohazard threats. ‘I think his motivation is to generate traffic to his Web site and sell his book.’ […] Keyser's next court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 19.” (Google News; 01Nov08; Source: AP) http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gOEvESecTFU0-uVQs-DC7jC19V0gD945QK7G0

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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