War on Terrorism

Monday, January 12, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News-January 12, 2009

CDC [Centers for Disease Control] director [Julie Gerberding] is leaving with a mixed legacy
“Dr. Julie Gerberding has been praised for strides against bioterrorism and maintenance of the CDC's high standing with the public, but also criticized for hewing closely to Bush administration politics and wrecking morale. No permanent replacement has been named for Gerberding, who resigned as director of the Atlanta-based U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. […] The first woman to head the agency, Gerberding led the CDC through a post-Sept. 11 world of bioterrorist fears and was considered an effective communicator with legislators and the public. […] Who will be appointed permanent successor is a matter of public speculation.” (The Denver Post; 11Jan09; Source: Associated Press; Mike Stobbe)

University of Wisconsin quietly scraps risky lab equipment
The University of Wisconsin-Madison has quietly decided to stop manufacturing its signature aerosol chambers used for researching infectious disease, which were involved in a few dangerous lab accidents nationwide. The College of Engineering is shutting down the business after an internal audit found it was poorly managed and carried the potential for huge liability costs in the event the chambers failed, exposing researchers to toxic agents. ‘Like any mechanical thing, it has seals and gaskets. Those seals and gaskets can fail and then that would release these toxic agents to human exposure. That's the risk,’ UW-Madison internal auditor Ed Ruotsinoja said in an interview.” (Dallas Morning News; 09Jan09; Source: Associated Press; Ryan J. Foley) http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/APStories/stories/D95JTO500.html

[Antibiotic maker] Targanta sheds staff as key drug faces tough obstacles
“[…] Scientists at Targanta Therapeutics spent more than three years developing a powerful antibiotic to kill deadly bacteria. […] They studied a wide range of uses, from bone infections to pneumonia. But these days, instead of fighting bacteria, the company is fighting for its own life, Last month, the Food and Drug Administration rejected Targanta's first product, a drug called oritavancin. Regulators asked Targanta to conduct a new clinical trial that could cost another $40 million. Running out of money, Targanta said it would lay off 75 percent of its staff of 120, spread across Indiana, Massachusetts and Canada. Now the company is scrambling to find more money, a daunting task in the industry's toughest fundraising climate in 15 years.” (Indy Star; 11Jan09; John Russell)

Pharmaceutical products protected by new UV technology
“Novatron, Inc. announced today that its BioProtectorTM air sterilization systems are being installed in a major pharmaceutical company's state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Puerto Rico. The BioProtector uses an Advanced UV Sterilization (AUVS) technology that rapidly and effectively kills airborne bacteria, viruses and mold. The BioProtector's AUVS technology produces up to 1000 times the intensity of conventional UV germicidal systems, resulting in far greater air sterilization effects.
The technology can also be used to protect personnel in military, government and civilian facilities against airborne biological threats. A BioProtector system was installed in the Pentagon in Washington, DC as part of the Pentagon Shield II Exercise. This system treats 60,000 cubic feet per minute (cfm) of airflow in the building's HVAC system.” (PR Inside; 11Jan09; Source: Novatron; Dr. Wayne Clark) http://www.pr-inside.com/pharmaceutical-products-protected-by-r998307.htm

Early chemical warfare comes to light
“Roman soldiers defending a Middle Eastern garrison from attack nearly 2,000 years ago met the horrors of war in a most unusual place. Inside a cramped tunnel beneath the site’s massive front wall, enemy fighters stacked up nearly two dozen dead or dying Romans and set them on fire, using substances that gave off toxic fumes and drove away Roman warriors just outside the tunnel. The attackers, members of Persia’s Sasanian culture […] adopted a brutally ingenious method for penetrating the garrison wall, reported Simon James of the University of Leicester in England on January 10 at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America. ‘In my view, this is the earliest archaeological evidence for the use of chemical warfare, which was later used by the ancient Greeks,’ James said.” (Science News; 11Jan09; Bruce Bower) http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/39814/title/Ancient_chemical_warfare_comes_to_light

Editorial: the cost of nuclear security
“It may come as a surprise that the U.S. spends much more on its arsenal than it does on minimizing risk or planning for the consequences of an attack. Seven years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, at a time when government officials and outside experts are expressing growing concern about the prospect of a nuclear 9/11, few members of Congress know how much the United States spends on nuclear security or where the money goes. When Secretary of State-designate Hillary Rodham Clinton and Secretary of Energy-designate Steven Chu head into their Senate confirmation hearings Tuesday, they'll face difficult questions about how the U.S. is addressing nuclear dangers. Although most lawmakers would rank nuclear threats at the top of their list of national security concerns, they won't have sufficient or comprehensive information to work with. But Congress can fix this.” (Los Angeles Times; 12Jan09; Stephen I. Schwartz and Deepti Choubey) http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-schwartz12-2009jan12,0,5207429.story

Despite ricin threat, Seattle [WA] gay bars hopping
“Bartender Chris Daw had plenty of patrons to serve early Saturday at the CC Attle tavern, despite the ricin threats that it and 10 other Seattle gay bars recently received. The threats -- letters warning that patrons would be poisoned -- appear to be part of the reason business was brisk. People have flocked to the 11 bars in solidarity since the letters arrived in the mail last week, Daw and others said. On Friday night, hundreds of locals participated in an organized pub crawl designed to support the establishments. […] Police say they're investigating the letters, which the bars -- located in Seattle's Capitol Hill district -- received Tuesday.” (CNN; 11Jan09; Chuck Conder) http://edition.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/01/11/ricin.seattle/

National Guard teams prepare for terrorist WMD attacks
“To prepare for potential attacks in the United States involving weapons of mass destruction, the US Congress approved the development of National Guard's Civil Support Teams [CSTs] which are responsible with identifying chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive weapons; assessing consequences; advising civil authorities on response measures; and assisting with requests for additional support. […] However, confusion resulting from a lack of guidance on the types of non-WMD missions the CSTs can conduct to prepare for their WMD terrorism mission could impede coordination between state authorities and local emergency management officials on the appropriate use of the CSTs.” (Post-Chronicle; 12Jan09; Jim Kouri) http://www.postchronicle.com/news/original/article_212199291.shtml

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.

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