Human Genome [Sciences Inc.]starts shipping new anthrax drug
“Human Genome Sciences Inc. said on Monday it was beginning delivery of 20,000 doses of ABthrax, which fights anthrax infection, to the U.S. government. It is the first sale for the biotechnology company, which has struggled to get a product onto the market. The drug takes a new approach to fighting bacterial infection by targeting the toxin made by the anthrax bacillus instead of the microbe itself. ABthrax, known generically as raxibacumab, is a human monoclonal antibody -- a lab-engineered immune system protein. This one is designed to attack and neutralize the toxic compound that makes anthrax so deadly. The U.S. government contracted with the Maryland-based biotech firm to make the drug in case of a biological attack under Project BioShield, the company said.” (Reuters; 02Feb09; Maggie Fox)
Insects: the new face of terrorism?
“In a column published in UK’s The Times Online, guest contributor Jeffrey A. Lockwood [a U of Wyoming entomologist], issued a warning against overlooking ecoterrorists’ use of insects as weapons. […] ‘Insects are one of the cheapest and most destructive weapons available to terrorists today, and one of the most widely ignored: they are easy to sneak across borders, reproduce quickly and can spread disease and destroy crops with devastating speed.’ Lockwood said the 9/11 attacks resulted in the loss of thousands of lives as and $27.2 billion. In comparison, the Asian longhorned beetle, which arrived in 1996, and the emerald ash borer, found in 2002, could take out more than $700 billion worth of forests, according to US Department of Agriculture estimates. What’s more, insects carry diseases, which could transfer onto crops and eventually humans.” (Red Orbit; 02Feb09) http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1632293/insects_the_new_face_of_terrorism/
PSU [Pennsylvania State University] seeks new bioresearch facility
“A new bioresearch laboratory that Penn State plans to build will allow researchers to study diseases they can’t at the university’s existing lab and increase the possibilities for high-level grants, university officials said. It will be what’s known as a biosafety level 3 lab, compared with Penn State’s existing level 2 lab. […] [L]evel 3 standard means research could be done on immunology and infectious diseases such as swine vesicular disease; Newcastle disease, a contagious disease that affects poultry; and burkholderia. Burkholderia pseudomallei can cause the infectious disease melioidosis and is also seen as a possible weapon agent in biological warfare, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [Director of the Animal Resource program Mary] Kennett said there is a lot of [federal] grant money available for studying ‘exotic diseases’ that people can bring into the country unintentionally or as an element of agroterrorism.” (Centre Daily Times; 31Jan09; Anne Danahy) http://www.centredaily.com/116/story/1091983.html
[Sri Lankan humanitarian] troops breach Chalai Earth bund [and find chemical weapons]
“Troops of Wanni humanitarian mission have breached the Earth Bund in the North of Chalai, Mullaittivu and captured the front defense line of the LTTE terrorists, latest information from Wanni battlefront confirmed. Fierce fighting broke out between LTTE terrorists and security forces in the Chalai general area since yesterday and LTTE ended up losing their front defense line. […] During the clearing operations troops have seized a large haul of arms including two T56 riffles, an American made LMG gun and nine chemical weapons along with nine bodies of slain LTTE cadres.”
(Sinhalaya News; 02Feb09)
Obama, Pentagon pull in different directions on no nukes goal
“President Barack Obama has set a goal of a ‘world without nuclear weapons’ but the Pentagon is leaning in a seemingly contradictory direction: a modernized nuclear arsenal.
[…] [F]ormer secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, former defense secretary William Perry and former Senator Sam Nunn say that nuclear weapons are increasingly ineffective as a deterrent. […] [Meanwhile], Bush administration proposals […] [had] suggested it was looking for ways to use nuclear weapons in a host of new scenarios. The proposals included mini nukes, precision low yield nuclear weapons, a ‘robust nuclear earth penetrator’ for deeply buried targets, and concepts for using nuclear weapons to destroy chemical or biological weapons.” (Agence France-Presse; 01Feb09)
Obama presidency: terrorism, organized crime and international affairs
“The Federal Bureau of Investigation forecasts that sub-national and non-governmental entities will play an increasing role in world affairs for years to come, presenting new ‘asymmetric’ threats to the United States, according to a report submitted to the National Association of Chiefs of Police and other law enforcement and security organizations.
[…] Most experts believe that technological innovation will […] allow terrorists […] easier and cheaper access to weapons technology. […] For example, it will be easier and cheaper for small groups or individuals to acquire designer chemical or biological warfare agents, and correspondingly more difficult for forensic experts to trace an agent to a specific country, company, or group. […] [S]uch ‘loose associations’ will challenge our ability to identify specific threats. Al-Qaeda and its affiliates will remain the most significant threat over the next five years.”(American Daily; 31Jan09; Jim Koury) http://americandaily.com/index.php/article/400
Hydrogen cyanide found in UNL [University of Nebraska-Lincoln] dorm room
“One floor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Pound Hall was evacuated and the rest of the dorm put on lockdown for an hour and a half Sunday evening after police discovered potentially lethal hydrogen cyanide in a student’s room. Just after 6 p.m., UNL police responded to a 911 call alerting them of a possible overdose poisoning, according to Capt. Carl Oestmann. […] The student who ingested the chemical was taken to a Lincoln hospital and was in stable condition late Sunday, Oestmann said. Police believe the incident may have been a suicide attempt, he said.[…] According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, hydrogen cyanide is a chemical asphyxiant that can be rapidly fatal even in small amounts because it affects nearly every organ system of the body, including the central nervous, cardiovascular and pulmonary systems.
(Fremont Tribune; 02Feb09; Melissa Lee) http://www.fremonttribune.com/articles/2009/02/02/news/local/doc498720ae96a15035359144.txt
L.A.'s Standard Hotel owner charged with chemical dumping
“Pool workers poured large amounts of chlorine and acid down a rooftop drain, prosecutors say, causing a gas cloud in a nearby Metro station. Officials initially suspected terrorism. For a few terrifying moments in the early morning hours of the recent Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, authorities in Los Angeles were concerned that terrorists had launched an attack in a downtown subway station. Several people had been overcome by a cloud of noxious gas, causing at least two of them to begin vomiting and a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy to experience a burning sensation in his eyes and lungs. […] Hotel maintenance workers […] acknowledged emptying the majority of two 50-gallon drums of muriatic acid and chlorine into the drain, the complaint alleges.” (Los Angeles Times; 30Jan09; Scott
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.