[U.S.] House [of Representatives]-passed stimulus bill includes pandemic funding
“Yesterday the US House of Representatives passed an $819 billion economic stimulus bill that included funding for pandemic influenza and bioterrorism countermeasures […]. […] The House bill includes $900 million for biomedical advanced research and development, pandemic flu, and cyber security to help the nation better prevent or respond to a natural or man-made biological threat, according to a Jan 15 statement from Trust for America's Health (TFAH), a nonprofit health advocacy group in Washington, DC.” (Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy; 29Jan09; Lisa Schnirring and Robert Roos) http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/influenza/panflu/news/jan2909stimulus-jw.html
Food makers don’t report in-house test results
“A federal probe into a deadly salmonella outbreak has exposed a dirty secret: Food producers in most states are not required to alert health regulators if internal tests show possible contamination at their plants. The legal loophole surfaced this week when federal investigators disclosed internal Peanut Corp. of America reports that documented at least 12 positive tests for salmonella between 2007 and 2008 at their Blakely, Ga., plant, which has been identified as the source of the nationwide outbreak. In each case, the plant did not alert state or federal regulators. The flaw has infuriated regulators and food safety experts, who are pushing legislation that would require the alerts at the first sign of contamination.” (Associated Press; 29Jan09; Greg Bluestein) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/29/AR2009012903265.html
Progress made toward smallpox medication
“U.S. scientists say they have taken the first step toward developing a pharmaceutical medication to treat smallpox and the emerging human monkeypox. A major breakthrough by Oklahoma State University Assistant Professor Junpeng Deng and Ph.D. student Brian Krumm demonstrated the three-dimensional crystal structure of a poxvirus protein in the act of blocking a human immune molecule -- interleukin 18. The human immune system is rendered helpless against poxviruses partly because the viruses block interleukin-18 from sending a signal to the immune system that it's being attacked, the researchers said. The body thinks everything is fine and the deadly disease is able to take hold.” (United Press International; 28Jan09) http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2009/01/28/Progress_made_toward_smallpox_medication/UPI-65531233174304/
Boston’s BioDefense [Corp.] blocks anthrax mail threats
“[…] [O]ne local company thinks it has a solution to disinfect mail before it gets to its recipient. Boston-based BioDefense Corp. […] offers a machine called the MailDefender to its clients, which include the U.S.Department of Justice and the United Nations in New York. ‘It’s the only proactive prevention that kills the biopathogen before it gets distributed,’ said Jonathan Morrone, senior executive vice president at BioDefense.
[…] The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) itself deploys a biohazard detection system […] [but it] doesn’t destroy the pathogen, which would require eliminating the letter and potential criminal evidence […].” (Massachusetts High Tech; 30Jan09; Mark Songini) http://www.masshightech.com/stories/2009/01/26/weekly9-Bostons-BioDefense-blocks-anthrax-mail-threats.html
Uganda: scientists tipped on handling bio-terrorism
“Ugandan technicians and scientists have been tipped on how to prevent bio-terrorism in the wake of increased threat of its use by terrorist groups. Dr. Emmanuelle Tuerlings from the World Health Organisation's department of epidemics and pandemic alert, said unsafe laboratories can be a threat to humanity and the environment. ‘There is need for responsible use of science research management otherwise biological agents and toxins could be used as terrorist weapons,’ said Tuerlings. He was addressing participants of a workshop organised by the Uganda National Academy of Science at the Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala on Wednesday.”(AllAfrica.com; 29Jan09; Catherine Bekunda) http://allafrica.com/stories/200901300098.html
[Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism] panel experts say bio terrorism imminent [New York University]
“Last night, the NYU School of Law hosted a panel discussion about weapons of mass destruction and the future of terrorism. The event, which featured members of the Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism, showcased the commission’s newest report on the challenges posed by all forms of WMD […]. In opening the discussion, [former counselor to World Bank president Robin] Cleveland said a biological terror attack is much more likely than a nuclear war.” (Washington Square News; 29Jan09; Taylor Miller) http://www.nyunews.com/news/university/panel_experts_say_bio_terrorism_imminent-1.1316720
Structure of enzyme against chemical warfare agents determined
“The enzyme DFPase from the squid Loligo vulgaris, is able to rapidly and efficiently detoxify chemical warfare agents such as Sarin, which was used in the Tokyo subway attacks in 1995. A detailed understanding of the mechanism by which enzymes catalyze chemical reactions is necessary for efforts aiming to improve their properties. A group of researchers at the University of Frankfurt, the Bundeswehr Institute for Pharmacology and Toxicology in Munich, and Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, USA, have successfully determined the structure of DFPase using neutron diffraction. They report their findings in the 20 January 2009 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.” (Red Orbit;29Jan09)
Fixing a broken world [The Economist]
“[…] [M]uch more needs to be done to shore up states that are failing, in a state of collapse, or so poor that they are heading in that direction.[…] The common denominator for al-Qaeda’s activity is not state failure, but the fact that attacks are carried out by extremists claiming to act in the name of the world’s Muslims. Their safe havens are not necessarily geographical but social. Being based in a remote spot, far from government authorities, may be important for training, building esprit de corps and, in the view of intelligence agencies, trying to develop chemical and biological weapons. […] Given that [state] failures come in so many varieties, fixing them is bound to be more of an art than a science.” (The Economist; 29Jan09)
Inmate [Luis Siveria] gets 7 years for ‘anthrax’ letters [IN]
“An Indiana Department of Correction inmate on Thursday received a seven-year sentence in federal prison for sending threatening letters containing phony anthrax powder. Luis Silveria, 36, had pleaded guilty to mailing threatening communications to two federal judges in Massachusetts and Connecticut, according to U.S. Attorney Timothy M. Morrison’s office.Authorities say Silveria sent the judges four letters containing a white power he claimed was anthrax.” (Indianapolis Star; 30Jan09
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: CNS launches new Middle East project
The James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) at the Monterey Institute of International Studies is embarking on an ambitious program of work in the Middle East focused on Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones, regional security dialogue, and implementation of all aspects of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The program also will include an educational and training dimension.
CNS is delighted to announce that Ambassador Nabil Fahmy has agreed to play a leading role in this program as nonresident Chair of the new CNS Middle East Nonproliferation Project.
Before returning to Cairo in fall 2008, Ambassador Fahmy served for nine years as the Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the United States. Prior to his posting in Washington, he served as Egypt’s Ambassador to Japan.
Ambassador Fahmy has led numerous Egyptian delegations to inter-governmental conferences and meetings on issues associated with the Middle East peace process (including the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference) and international security, disarmament, and nonproliferation. He also served for four years on the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters, chairing the Board from 2001-2003. In addition, Ambassador Fahmy has been a long-time member of the CNS International Advisory Board and the Monterey Nonproliferation Strategy Group.
Ambassador Fahmy is the author of numerous articles and book chapters dealing with the Middle East, regional security, nuclear nonproliferation, and the establishment of a Zone Free of Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East. His publications include contributions to The Nonproliferation Review and the CNS Occasional Paper series.
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.