War on Terrorism

Friday, November 21, 2008

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- November 21, 2008

Are we safer since 9/11? A special report investigates
“[…] A special report for Reader's Digest by ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest, suggests [that] despite some $48 billion in federal spending on biodefense—including a new nationwide network of research labs and a $1 billion detection system called BioWatch operating in more than 30 cities-the nation may be just as vulnerable to an attack today as it ever was. Indeed, some biodefense experts warn, we may be less safe. […] Frustrated weapons-proliferation experts complain that biodefense programs are haphazard and disorganized, […] [and] government programs have heightened the level of danger by vastly increasing the number of researchers and labs authorized to handle deadly substances. […] Brian Finlay, a senior associate at the Henry L. Stimson Center, a nonpartisan think tank, puts it bluntly: ‘There's no question that the proliferation of bioresearch is leaving us less secure by the day.’” (Reader’s Digest; 20Nov08; Marcus Stern & Adam Piore) http://www.rd.com/your-america-inspiring-people-and-stories/are-we-safer-since-911-a-special-report-investigates/article106961.html

Georgia launches disaster mental health web site
“The Georgia Department of Human Resources (DHR) is proud to launch a new web site that addresses the effects that natural and man-made disasters can have on citizens’ mental and behavioral health. The Disaster Mental Health web site georgiadisaster.info contains information, recommendations and guidance on how to handle personal and community crisis situations, as well as how to bounce back from a crisis. The web site was developed by the University of West Georgia in collaboration with DHR’s Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Addictive Diseases (MHDDAD) and the Division of Public Health (PH) using federal funds from the Bioterrorism Health Community Preparedness Program.” (Emax Health; 21Nov08; Source: Georgia Department of Human Resources) http://www.emaxhealth.com/2/7/26784/georgia-launches-disaster-mental-health-web-site.html

Boston [MA] launches flu shot tracking
technology originally developed for mass disasters, Boston disease trackers are […] creating a citywide registry of everyone who has had a flu vaccination. The resulting vaccination map would allow swift intervention in neighborhoods left vulnerable to the fast-moving respiratory illness. Infectious disease specialists in Boston and elsewhere predicted that the registry approach could prove even more useful if something more sinister strikes: a bioterrorism attack or the long-feared arrival of a global flu epidemic. In such crises, the registry could be used to track who received a special vaccine or antidote to a deadly germ.” (Boston Globe; 21Nov08; Stephen Smith) http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2008/11/21/boston_launches_flu_shot_tracking/

Md. lawmakers consider anthrax investigation commission “
U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings’ Washington, D.C., office was shuttered in 2001 after anthrax spores were found, so he’s ‘very sensitive’ to the investigation into the crime, he said. Now, Cummings said he supports a review of the investigation. U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., proposed legislation in September to create a congressional commission to investigate the attacks and the federal government’s response. ‘Whatever we have to do to get to the bottom of this anthrax issue, we need to do it,’ Cummings said. Holt’s bipartisan commission would mirror the 9/11 commission and make recommendations on how to prevent such attacks and respond to future bioterrorism threats.” (
Boston Examiner; 21Nov08; Sara Michael)

In disaster drill,
King County [WA] tries out temporary hospital
Seattle & King County and dozens of local groups turned an exhibition hall at Seattle Center into an emergency health-care center. […] The Seattle Center Exhibition Hall — along with the adjacent opera house at McCaw Hall — can hold 250 cots. The site is equipped to provide portable oxygen and IV drips, among other services. That's a fraction of the almost 60,000 King County residents who might have to be hospitalized during a severe influenza pandemic. […] If the virus behind the epidemic of bird flu in Asia and Europe becomes easily transmittable among humans, caring for infected or exposed persons largely ‘will be up to their families,’ said Michael Loehr, manager of emergency preparedness for Public Health.” (Seattle Times; 19Nov08; Kyung M. Song)

[General Electric] Global Research to create ‘biotic man’ [NY]
“GE [General Electric] Global Research scientists will spend the next two years making a ‘biotic man’ for the U.S.
military, which would deploy the technology to counter biological warfare attacks. […] The technology will also show how those agents respond to new antibiotic and antiviral drug therapies. […] GE will adapt its Physiologically Based Pharmacokinetic software tool, which Niskayuna scientists developed in 2005, for the Defense Department’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency. That medical software creates computational models that show a drug’s response in the body before clinical trials. The modified software will be part of the Defense Department’s Transformational Medical Technologies Initiative.” (Daily Gazette; 21Nov08)

PharmAthene [MD] signs deal with Israeli firm to market biodefense drugs

“PharmAthene Inc. has signed a deal with Medison Pharma Ltd. to commercialize its biodefense drugs in Israel. […] PharmAthene will handle manufacturing of the vaccines and treatments, developed to guard against bioterrorism — a threat to Israeli citizens even before the deaths from anthrax exposure that were seen in the U.S. in the days after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. PharmAthene CEO David P. Wright said in a statement the deal with Medison Pharma underscores ‘the importance of procuring next-generation biodefense products to protect [Israel’s]
military and civilian populations from the threat of biological and chemical warfare.’” (Bizjournals.com; 19Nov08; Robert J. Terry; Source: Baltimore Business Journal)

Concerns about chemicals [CA]
“The Transportation Security Administration last week announced new regulations it said would make rail shipments of sensitive chemicals more secure, thereby reducing the risk of toxic gas releases. The new rules will establish protocols to handle and transfer materials such as chlorine and anhydrous ammonia. And this week the Center for American Progress, which describes itself as a nonpartisan research institute, released a report […] [which] contends that the threat of a terrorist attack on one of these plants can be substantially reduced by requiring them to convert to different kinds of chemicals or more secure processes. Nine such plants are identified in California […]. The report says that more than 4.5million people would be in the ‘vulnerability zone’ in a worst-case toxic chemical release.” (Los Angeles Daily Breeze Editorial; 19Nov08)

OPCW [Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] Director-General addresses the Peace and Security Council of the African Union
“The OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter, visited Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 19 November 2008 to address the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) on the status of implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the work of the OPCW, and to meet with senior AU officials. In the address to the PSC, Director-General Pfirter expressed deep appreciation for Africa’s strong support for the CWC and his gratitude to African States Parties for their active contribution in advancing the goals of the Convention. Underlining the strong relationship between the OPCW and African countries, he reiterated the commitment of the OPCW to further strengthen cooperation with the AU.”

United States [NNSA] joins NATO at nuclear emergency response workshop
“The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) supported an international nuclear emergency response workshop that ended today in Brussels, Belgium. More than 60 representatives from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), NATO member countries, the European Union, the United States and the former Soviet Union participated. ‘This workshop shows that the world is united in its efforts to combat nuclear
terrorism,’ said Joseph Krol, NNSA associate administrator for emergency operations at the exercise.” (National Nuclear Security Administration; 20Nov08)

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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