War on Terrorism

Friday, February 27, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- February 27, 2009

Anthrax [sic] investigation still yielding surprising findings
“The deadly bacterial spores mailed to victims in the U.S. anthrax [sic] attacks, scientists say, share a chemical ‘fingerprint’ that is not found in bacteria from the flask linked to Bruce Ivins, the biodefence researcher implicated in the crime. At a biodefence meeting on 24 February in Baltimore, Maryland, Joseph Michael, a materials scientist at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, presented analyses of three letters sent to the New York Post and to the offices of Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy. Spores from two of those show a distinct chemical signature that includes silicon, oxygen, iron, and tin; the third letter had silicon, oxygen, iron and possibly also tin, says Michael. Bacteria from Ivins' RMR-1029 flask did not contain any of those four elements.” (Physics Today; 26Feb09) http://blogs.physicstoday.org/newspicks/2009/02/anthrax-investigation-still-yi.html

Experimental vaccine protects animals from deadly ebola virus; may prove effective in developing the first human vaccine
“Protection against Ebola, one of the world’s deadliest viruses, can be achieved by a vaccine produced in insect cells, raising prospects for developing an effective vaccine for humans, say scientists at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (SFBR) in San Antonio. […] Ebola viruses are considered a dangerous threat to public health because of their high fatality rate, ability to transmit person-to-person, and low lethal infectious dose. Moreover, their potential to be developed into biological weapons causes grave concern for their use as a bioterrorism agent.” (Science Daily; 27Feb09; Source: Southwest Foundation for Medical

[U.S. Representative Jane] Harman [D-CA] re-introduces bipartisan, bicameral bill to confront bioterrorism threat
“Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), Chair of the Homeland Security Intelligence & Terrorism Risk Assessment Subcommittee and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), Member of the House Intelligence Committee, today introduced legislation to reauthorize and update the Select Agent Program […] which controls the transfer of biological agents and toxins that could potentially be used for bioterrorism. […] The Harman/Rogers bill reauthorizes and updates the Select Agent Program [SAP], which expired in September 2007. Created in the 1990s, the SAP established a system to regulate possession and transfers of hazardous materials, and – following the anthrax [sic] attacks in 2001 – was expanded to include a wider range of potentially threatening toxins.” (American Chronicle; 26Feb09)

March 5 law journal symposium asks, ‘Are we ready yet? Legal and ethical issues of preparing for and responding to a bioterrorist attack’ [MN]

“Ethical and legal issues in preparing for and responding to bioterrorism are the subject of the next University of St. Thomas Law Journal Symposium from 12:30 to 5 p.m. Thursday, March 5 […]. Keynote speakers include: Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy […] [and] Dr. Victoria Sutton, director of the Center for Biodefense, Law and Public Policy at Texas Tech University School of Law in Lubbock, Texas. […] The afternoon also will include panelists on a variety of topics related to bioterrorism.” (Bulletin; 26Feb09; Source: University of St. Thomas) http://www.stthomas.edu/bulletin/news/20099/Thursday/Law2_26_09.cfm

Federal regulations force [CA] microbrewery to get terrorist-proof
“Two SLO [San Luis Obispo, CA] brewers were eager to open their new pub, but first they were told they had to protect the beer from terrorists. As far as they can tell, they may be the only guys in the country who have been forced to fortify their brewing tanks, and no one can give a clear answer why. The TTB [Tobacco, Tax, and Trade Bureau] forced [co-owners John] Moule and [Eric] Beaton to better protect their product. […] A TTB representative told the owners the tanks had to be behind a physical barrier with locking doors. […] Moule said the representative finally told him the wall was needed to prevent someone from poisoning the beer. What’s more, she told him it was a post-Sept. 11 measure that fell under the supervision of the Department of Homeland Security. […] Federal agency members, however, could not confirm or deny any requirement for breweries to wall out terrorists. Representatives were confused by the situation and quick to point a finger at other agencies.” (New Times San Luis Obispo; 25Feb09; Colin Rigley) http://www.newtimesslo.com/news/2062/protecting-the-pubs/

Advisory [Committee on Immunization Practices] panel backs reduced anthrax [sic] vaccination regimen
“A U.S. panel said yesterday that anthrax vaccinations for military personnel and others should involve five doses injected into a recipient's muscle tissue rather than the customary six doses beneath the skin […]. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices also recommended altering the schedule for delivering injections of BioThrax, […]. The second shot would now be delivered four weeks after the original dose, with follow-up injections given six, 12 and 18 months after the first shot. The new procedure would only allow anthrax vaccine recipients to receive injections beneath the skin when an intramuscular shot could cause health complications, CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said in a statement.” (Global Security Newswire; 26Feb09) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20090226_1547.php

[Canadian] government moves to restrict access to toxins and pathogens
“The federal government has introduced legislation to limit access to disease-causing pathogens and toxins and to dictate how they should be handled. The aim of the bill, which is heading to a Commons committee, is to prevent terrorists from intentionally unleashing biohazards and to protect Canadians from mistakes by lab workers. Laboratories […] are required to follow bio-safety guidelines before they can import pathogens […]. Those import regulations apply to about 3,500 facilities across Canada. […] Under the new law, no one who is not licensed by the government would be permitted to possess, produce, store, transfer or dispose of a human pathogen or toxin.” (Globe and Mail; 27Feb09; Gloria Galloway)

More than $10 million has been proposed for [Michigan] area
“It [this funding]could be a big economic boost for Mid-Michigan. Several communities in our area are in line to get nearly $11 million from the government. […]This money is not coming from the economic stimulus plan passed recently.[…] Mott Community College and Kettering [county] would split $2 million for defense research. Kettering's portion is for its Chemical Warfare Agent Fate Program, which studies how chemicals behave after they are deployed by a weapon. […] This plan is pending Senate approval.” (ABC News 12; 26Feb09; Matt Franklin)

[Virginia] Tech [University], Luna [Innovations, Inc.] partner on nerve gas antidote
“Virginia Tech and Luna Innovations Inc. are working together on a federally funded project to protect people from the effects of nerve gas through buckyballs. Researchers at Tech and the Roanoke-based technology development company recently received a three-year, $946,432 grant from the National Institutes of Health's CounterACT program to defend against terrorist chemical threats. Roger Van Tassel, the principle investigator for Luna on the project, described buckyballs as ‘carbon cages, just like a soccer ball.’ These nanoparticles scavenge the harmful radical molecules that exist in some pesticides and types of nerve gas, such as VX and sarin gas. […] Van Tassel said that eventually the antidote could be applied by injection to people who have been exposed to nerve gas.” (Roanoake Times; 27Feb09; Greg Esposito)

Mysterious white powder turns out to be baby food [MN]
“On Feb. 25 two Elk River [MN] area residents filed police reports after finding envelopes filled with a mysterious white powder in the mailboxes. […] The resident’s wife had gone out to the mailbox to pick up the newspaper when she found a letter-sized envelope. When she opened the envelope she found white powder along with a typed note that read ‘Enjoy your anthrax.’ […] Police Chief Jeff Beahen said in both incidents the substance turned out to be baby food, however, the FBI is involved in the investigation of who put the substance with the letters in mailboxes.” (Elk River Star News; 26Feb09)

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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