Wednesday, January 21, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News-January 21, 2009

[Oklahoma State University] researchers make breakthrough against poxviruses
“A major breakthrough by Junpeng Deng, a structural biologist in the Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (DASNR) at Oklahoma State University, and his first-year Ph.D. student, Brian Krumm, may be the first step towards a pharmaceutical medication for smallpox and the emerging human monkeypox. The human immune system is rendered helpless against poxviruses partly because the viruses block a human immune molecule, interleukin-18 (IL-18), from sending out a signal to the immune system. The body acts as if everything is fine and the deadly disease takes over. […] As there is currently no medication for poxvirus-caused diseases, this research could aid national and international security efforts against potential poxvirus use as bioterrorism.” (Newswise; 16Jan09; Source: DASNR Oklahoma State

University of Florida molecular forklifts overcome obstacle to 'smart dust'
“Algae is a livid green giveaway of nutrient pollution in a lake. Scientists would love to reproduce that action in tiny particles that would turn different colors if exposed to biological weapons, food spoilage or signs of poor health in the blood. Now, University of Florida engineering researchers have tapped the working parts of cells to clear a major hurdle to creating such ‘smart dust.’ The feat, which signifies a new approach to technology known as the ‘lab on a chip,’ is to be reported January 18 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.” (Science Daily; 19Jan09;
Source: University of Florida)

Drug-making’s move abroad stirs concerns
“In 2004, when Bristol-Myers Squibb said it would close […] the last plant in the United States to manufacture the key ingredients for crucial antibiotics like penicillin, few people worried about the consequences for national security. […] But now experts and lawmakers are growing more and more concerned that the nation is far too reliant on medicine from abroad, and they are calling for a law that would require that certain drugs be made or stockpiled in the United States. ‘The lack of regulation around outsourcing is a blind spot that leaves room for supply disruptions, counterfeit medicines, even bioterrorism,’ said Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, who has held hearings on the issue.” (The New York Times; 19Jan09; Gardiner Harris)

Emergency care below average nationwide
“Our country's emergency care system is below average and is worsening because of the U.S. financial crisis, according to the latest state-by-state report from the American College of Emergency Physicians. […] According to the report, with more than 300,000 Americans seeking emergency care daily, 90 percent of the states in the report card earned mediocre or near-failing marks. […] In another state report card, issued by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, efforts made to protect the U.S. from bioterrorism, disease outbreaks and natural disasters are now at risk because of budget cuts.” (Central Florida News; 19Jan09; Christine Webb)

[Israeli] Defense [Ministry] attempting to block report about anthrax trial
“The Defense Ministry is attempting to block or delay the release of a new report criticizing the Israel Institute for Biological Research in Nes Tziona [Israel] for its experiment on an anthrax vaccine, which allegedly afflicted the trial subjects. Shortly before the committee, […] was due to publish its report last month, Amir Kain, director of security for the defense establishment, demanded to see the report to ensure it did not reveal state secrets. […] If the report is released, […] it could support the soldiers' demand that the state recognize the injustice done to them and compensate them accordingly.” (Haaretz; 19Jan09; Yossi Melman)

Al-Qaeda cell killed by Black Death 'was [possibly] developing biological weapons' “An al-Qaeda cell killed by the Black Death may have been developing biological weapons when it was infected, it has been reported [by The Sun]. The group of 40 terrorists were reported to have been killed by the plague at a training camp in Algeria earlier this month. It was initially believed that they could have caught the disease through fleas […]. But there are now claims the cell was developing the disease as a weapon to use against western cities. Experts said that the group was developing chemical and biological weapons. […] It was reported last year that up to 100 potential terrorists had attempted to become postgraduate students in Britain in an attempt to use laboratories.” (The Telegraph; 20Jan09; Source: The Sun)

Drilling for a [chemical] disaster [CA]
“Two surfers were the first [feigned] casualties in a simulated chemical spill that supposedly released toxic nerve agents into the environment and turned Point St. George [CA] into a hot zone Thursday. In addition to the wave riders, there were at least two other simulated deaths in Thursday’s drill, as both the fictional pilot of the plane carrying the deadly cargo and his passenger perished after they crash landed at the Crescent City airport to kick off the event. […] The simulation […] was designed to test the region’s emergency response to a large-scale disaster and expose any weaknesses that might cause problems during such an event.” (The Triplicate; 16Jan09; Nicholas Grube)

Powder sent to [Australian] anti-whaling ship not toxic
“Forensic testing of a white powder sent to the captain of the anti-whaling ship Steve Irwin has come back negative to several toxins. The captain, Paul Watson, opened an envelope containing the powder after the ship docked in Hobart [Australia] on Saturday. The ship was immediately quarantined. Testing of the powder for ricin, botulism and anthrax has come back negative. Police say further tests will be carried out but they are not expecting the powder to be dangerous.” (Australian Broadcasting Corporation; 19Jan09)

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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