War on Terrorism

Friday, March 06, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- March 6, 2009

Anthrax [vaccination] shots reduced
“There’s good news and bad news for service members who don’t like getting shots. The good news is a December change to Food and Drug Administration guidelines has reduced the number of shots in the anthrax immunization series from six to five. The bad news is, it was the second shot in the series that was removed, meaning those who’d already gotten the second shot still have to finish all six. The anthrax shots, according to an information paper by the Military Vaccine Agency, are required of all military members and emergency-essential civilians assigned to U.S. Central Command and South Korea, as well as those assigned to units with biodefense-related missions.” (Stars & Stripes; 06Mar09; Jimmy Norris)

Malaria drug [chloroquine] can kill two lethal viruses [Hendra virus and the Nipah virus]
“Researchers at the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York said chloroquine, a drug used to prevent and treat malaria, kills the Hendra virus and the Nipah virus -- both harbored by fruit bats. The viruses that emerged during the 1990s in Australia and Southeast Asia can produce a 75 percent fatality rate in humans. […] There are currently no vaccines or treatments against the two henipaviruses, which are listed by the U.S. government as possible bioterrorism agents, the researchers said.” (Market Watch; 05Mar09; source: United Press International)

Zions Bank to ready residents for pandemic [Summit County, UT]
“If a flu pandemic or bioterrorism attack strikes the Wasatch Back, the Summit County Health Department wants residents to be ready. As such, it is partnering with Zions Bank to pass out emergency medication disaster kits at bank drive-up lanes in Coalville and Kamas on Saturday. The exercise is scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon at the two Zions branches, each located on the towns' Main streets. […The exercise] is funded by a grant from the Cities Readiness Initiative of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” (Salt Lake Tribune; 05Mar09; Derek P. Jensen)

Texas: bioterrorism plan released for hospitals
“The Texas Institute for Health Policy Research recently released ‘Disaster Preparedness and Response in Texas Hospitals: Part I, Bioterrorism.’ Developed by more than 100 experts in emergency response and hospital planning, the bioterrorism guidance manual is designed to assist all Texas hospitals in their preparation for a bioterrorist act, contagious disease outbreak or other public health threat or emergency.” (Advance for LPNs; 05Mar09)

[Rep. Rush] Holt [D-NJ] wants probe of anthrax, investigation
“Hoping to get to the bottom of a slew of anthrax [sic] letter attacks that killed five and sickened 17, Rep. Rush Holt, D-Hopewell Township, introduced legislation yesterday to establish a congressional commission to investigate the 2001 crimes and the federal government's response. […] ‘All of us -- but especially the families of the victims of the anthrax [sic] attacks -- deserve credible answers about how the attacks happened and whether the case really is closed,’ Holt said. ‘The commission, like the 9/11 Commission, would do that, and it would help American families know that the government is better prepared to protect them and their children from future bioterrorism attacks.’” (New Jersey Online; 04Mar09)

[Editorial] Mr. Marri's day in court [Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri]
“He arrived in the United States on Sept. 10, 2001. He was arrested three months later and charged in an Illinois federal court with credit card fraud. In 2003, President George W. Bush yanked him out of the federal court system and sent him to a military jail in South Carolina. Now, after nearly six years of detention, Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri has been ordered back into the federal system, where he may finally get his day in court.
[…] When he was arrested in 2001, law enforcement officials said they found evidence that Mr. Marri was part of an al-Qaeda sleeper cell intent on sabotaging the U.S. financial system; they said they also found information about bombs and chemical weapons on Mr. Marri's computer.”
(Washington Post; 06Mar09)

[Singapore] hosts training course for protection against chemical weapons
“The inaugural ‘Emergency Response to Chemical Incidents’ training course will be conducted from 2 to 6 March 2009 at the Civil Defence Academy. The training course is part of Singapore's pledge to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to host and/or conduct relevant training courses to other States Parties in their efforts to build up their national capabilities to implement their CWC obligations, and to protect themselves against chemical weapons attacks or incidents. […] A total of 16 participants from 13 Asian nations are trained during these five days, on how to plan for and build support teams in civil protection and de-contamination operations in contaminated areas, in the event where chemical weapons are used or there is a threat arising from chemical weapon usage.” (Asia One News; 05Mar09) http://news.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne%2BNews/Singapore/Story/A1Story20090305-126453.html

Hollow ring to death sentence [for Hassan al Majid]
“Few in Iraq were surpised when Ali Hassan al Majid, or Chemical Ali, was handed down a death sentence on Monday for his role in crushing a Shiite uprising in 1999. After all, it was the third time the Iraqi High Tribunal has issued him the verdict. […] ‘They are playing with people’s emotions, ’said Lu’ay Fadil, 27, an unemployed former arts student. ‘It is clear [al Majid] is guilty, but some people are getting benefits from a long trial.’Some believe the trials of former Baathists are being dragged out by the government to try to make amends for the rushed and flawed trial of Saddam. Many countries, including the United States, raised complaints about the mayhem that surrounded the former dictator’s execution. […] Notorious for his fondness of using chemical weapons, al Majid, Saddam’s cousin and a former member of Saddam’s Revolutionary Command Council, as well as a former defence minister and adviser, showed little emotion as the judgment was read out.” (The National; 06Mar09; Tim Albone)

Glitches delay 'dirty bomb' detection at U.S.-Canada border
“Technological glitches have put on hold a U.S. plan to equip its customs agents along the Canadian border with portable equipment designed to detect radioactive material being smuggled into the country. The U.S. officers were supposed to be equipped with the gear that would allow them to more easily ferret out radioactive substances, or so-called ‘dirty bombs,’ that could be smuggled in by terrorists. […T]he devices may not be in place until 2012, according to a newly released report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, an organization similar to Canada's auditor general. The report notes that some improvements have been made at U.S. border crossings to detect radioactive materials. Both portable and large-scale detectors are in use, but the devices have not been issued to patrols who monitor the tracts of open land between the border crossings.” (Ottawa Citizen; 05Mar09; David Pugliese) http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Glitches+delay+dirty+bomb+detection+Canada+border/1358002/story.html

Microbicide gel prevents female monkeys from contracting HIV-like virus [and mitigates effects of Toxic Shock Syndrome Toxins]
“University of Minnesota researchers in Minneapolis say that a microbicide gel made from glycerol monolaurate, an ingredient in some foods and cosmetics, has shown some promise in protecting female monkeys from contracting an HIV-like virus. […Immunologist] Ashley Haase’s team found how and when the immune system recruits more CD4+ cells to the site of infection — a response that helps the virus to spread. The researcher thinks that inhibiting this immune response may help stop the virus in its tracks. […] The researcher added that the compound also inhibits some immune responses to a toxic shock syndrome toxin. Thus, Haase and his colleagues decided to mix glycerol monolaurate with a gel, and test its ability to block SIV [Simian immunodeficiency virus] infection in the macaques. Two weeks later, four of the five control monkeys that were treated with the gel alone were infected with the virus. The researchers said that none of the monkeys treated with glycerol monolaurate showed evidence of infection in the first two weeks, although one of them did later develop an infection.” (Duniya Live; 05Mar09)

Puffer fish toxin case inching closer to trial [Lake in the Hills, IL]
“The case of a Lake in the Hills man accused of illegally possessing puffer fish poison for use as a weapon is slowly inching toward trial or some other resolution. […Edward] Bachner, 35, faces 10 counts of unlawful possession of tetrodotoxin, the formal name of the deadly poison obtained from the organs of the puffer fish. Five of the counts claim Bachner, of the 5700 block of McKenzie Drive, obtained the toxin for use as a weapon, though authorities have not commented on how or on who he intended to use it. Bachner, who has denied the allegations, has remained in federal custody since agents from the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force raided his home June 30 and said they found 45 full or partially full vials of tetrodotoxin along with evidence Bachner had obtained at least 19 more vials that were missing.” (Daily Herald; 05Mar09; Charles Keeshan)

Australia and [South] Korea reach security deal
“The leaders of Korea and Australia agreed yesterday to strengthen cooperation on security issues in the region and around the globe, establishing a bilateral framework for joint efforts on combating terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and other global threats. […] They agreed to regular meetings, including ministerial-level talks, to discuss security issues. Among the points agreed upon were military and defense industry exchanges and joint military drills, along with cooperation in combating transnational crimes such as money-laundering, counterfeiting, arms smuggling, piracy and terrorism.They also promised to work together to advance the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.” (Joong Ang Daily; 06Mar09; Oh Jong-taek)

Cape [Cod, MA] receives state-of-the-art hazardous materials truck
“Less than 30 minutes after Homeland Security and state public safety officials unveiled new trucks for Southeastern Massachusetts' regional hazardous materials response team yesterday afternoon, one of the three new cutting-edge vehicles was called to Mashpee to investigate suspicious white powder found in a mailbox. The powder turned out not to be hazardous, but the call underscored why one of the half-million-dollar trucks will be stationed on the Cape. […] One of the trucks will be housed in Yarmouth; the other in New Bedford. A third statewide response vehicle will be kept in Natick. The strategic placement of the new trucks will allow the regional hazmat team to cut response times from an hour to about 30 minutes.” (Cape Cod Times; 06Mar09l Matthew M. Burke) http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090306/NEWS/903060322/-1/NEWSMAP

[Nevada] lawmakers seek to expand 'Good Samaritan' law
“Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, said her bill would add psychologists to the list, and also ensure that other medical professionals who are retired or not practicing full-time would have immunity from lawsuit for any ‘good faith’ help to disaster victims. […] The bill was challenged by Graham Galloway of the Nevada Justice Association, representing trial lawyers, who said his group supports the efforts by the Red Cross and others who volunteer to help in crises but added the bill is too vague.” (MSNBC; 05Mar09; Brendan Riley) http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29533491/

Preparing for WMDs [Cameron, TX]
“The officers and agents on Wednesday raced into the ramshackle house with their assault rifles ready. They searched for a bag of white powder - an unknown chemical with unknown consequences. It could have been anthrax [sic]. It could have been deadly. This time, the powder was harmless, part of a weapons of mass destruction training session in Bayview sponsored by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Local and federal law enforcement agencies are participating in the weeklong training, which focuses primarily on the threat of terrorism. […] On Wednesday, 30 officers and agents participated in numerous simulations, shooting rubber bullets at actors who were posing as terrorists. They wore gas masks and protective gear - just as they would have to in the case of a terrorist act.” (Brownsville Herald; 04Mar09; Kevin Sieff) http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/news/training_95478___article.html/police_officers.html

Clinton voices support for reenergizing NATO-Russia formal talks
“U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday voiced her strong support for reenergizing NATO-Russia formal talks, and underlined the principle of seeking close cooperation on issues where [there] are common interests while acknowledging differences. […] Clinton said that Washington and Moscow ‘can and must cooperate’ on non-proliferation, arms control, anti-terrorism, anti-piracy efforts and some other areas, but ‘there are equally serious matters that we need to not stop talking to Russia.’ […] ‘It has always been the American position that missile defense is primarily aimed at a nation like Iran or networks of terrorists that could obtain deliverable nuclear or conventional or biological or chemical weapons and the missiles to use that,’ she said. She stressed that ‘Europe has the right to defend itself against the new threats of the 21st century.’” (Xinhua; 06Mar09) http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-03/06/content_10952726.htm

Two Wellcome Trust PhD studentships in Bioethics, Science, and Security

In the context of the Wellcome Trust funded project “Building a Sustainable Capacity in Dual-Use Bioethics” two PhD studentships are available from October 2009 for three years that cover the cost of UK/EU PhD tuition fees and an annual average maintenance grant of £19,600. Funds are also included for conference travel.

The studentships are part of a major Wellcome Trust 5 year Enhancement Award to four universities in the UK and Australia. The holder of one of the studentships will work under the supervision of Dr. Brian Rappert in the Department of Sociology and Philosophy at the University of Exeter.

The holder of the second studentship – with a focus on the dual-use aspects of synthetic biology – will work under the supervision of Dr. Alexander Kelle in the Department of European Studies and Modern Languages at the University of Bath. Both PhD students are expected to participate actively in the wider interdisciplinary and international activities of the Enhancement Award.

The overall goal of the Enhancement Award is to stimulate bioethical discussion about the potential destructive applications of modern life science research; specifically in relation to adverting its use for the development of biological weapons. The studentship is open to range of approaches that consider how bioethical discussions can be furthered in life science communities in order to prevent the hostile application of their work. You will be expected to have a strong first degree (normally at least a 2:1 honours degree (or its equivalent)) and preferably have a Masters degree at distinction level or equivalent. Candidates from a wider range of academic backgrounds are encouraged to apply; this includes (but is not limited to) Sociology, Politics, International Relations, Security Studies, Philosophy, and Biology.

For the first PhD studentship you should submit a formal application to the University of Exeter for the PhD in Sociology and Philosophy along with your research proposal and two academic references (see http://www.exeter.ac.uk/postgraduate/admissions/applying.shtml). The research proposal will form part of the basis for judging applications.
Applicants are also required to contact Brian Rappert (B.Rappert@ex.ac.uk; also Tel +44 (0)1392 263353) with a short initial expression of their interest (no more than 500 words) by the deadline.

For the second, synthetic biology focussed, PhD studentship you should submit a formal application to the University of Bath for the MPhil/PhD Research in Modern Languages (full-time) along with your research proposal and two academic references (see https://secure.bath.ac.uk/prospectus/cgi-bin/applications.pl). The research proposal will form part of the basis for judging applications. Applicants are also required to contact Alexander Kelle
(A.Kelle@bath.ac.uk) with a short initial expression of their interest (no more than 500 words) by the deadline.

Deadline: 15 April 2009

For more information about the Wellcome Trust Enhancement Award see:

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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