War on Terrorism

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News-March 18, 2009

[CA] valley health departments forced to cut back
"With their budgets shrinking, health departments in the central San Joaquin Valley [CA] are struggling to fulfill their most basic mission: keeping the public safe. […] In Fresno County, nurses no longer automatically visit tuberculosis patients to ensure they take daily medications to prevent drug-resistant strains of the disease. Only those likely to skip doses get in-person visits. […] Health officials warn that the worst might be yet to come. Without enough funds to prevent and control the spread of diseases, influenza outbreaks could become widespread. […] And the nation's preparedness for a bioterrorism attack depends on a strong public health system." (The Fresno Bee; 17Mar09;
Source: McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) http://www.tmcnet.com/usubmit/2009/03/17/4063611.htm

New edition available for essential virology reference
"ASM [American Society for Microbiology] Press announces the latest edition of an essential reference volume in one of the most dynamic and rapidly changing fields of clinical medicine. […] Clinical Virology informs scientists and health care professionals about all the medically relevant aspects of this rapidly evolving field. […] 'Challenges related to novel viruses, changing epidemiologic patterns, new syndromes, unmet vaccine needs, antiviral drug resistance, and threats of bioterrorism are balanced against improved insights into viral pathogenesis, better diagnostic tools, novel immunization strategies, and an expanding array of antiviral agents' […] says Douglas Richman of the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, who coedited the book with Richard Whitley of the University of Alabama." (American Society for Microbiology; 17Mar09) http://www.firstscience.com/home/news/biology/new-edition-available-for-essential-virology-reference_60401.html

Nanotech might be used to detect anthrax [sic]
"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says a proof-of-concept study shows nanotechnology might be able to detect anthrax [sic] after a bioterrorism attack.The FDA findings could form the basis of a test that allows earlier diagnosis of anthrax [sic] infection than currently possible, said Indira Hewlett, the senior author of the FDA study. The earlier those infected with anthrax [sic] can be treated, the better. A proof-of-concept study is an initial investigation that aims to determine if a new scientific idea or concept holds promise for further development.The federal agency said the method used in its study relies on a nanotechnology-based test platform built from tiny molecular-sized particles. The assay - the Europium Nanoparticle-based Immunoassay - was able to detect the presence of a protein made by the anthrax bacteria known as protective antigen, the FDA said." (Red Orbit; 17Mar09) http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1655964/nanotech_might_be_used_to_detect_anthrax/

Vaccine delivered via smoothie
"A new generation vaccine has big benefits beyond eliminating the 'ouch!' factor, say U.S. researchers working on a vaccine delivered via a smoothie. Mansour Mohamadzadeh of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago has developed a new oral vaccine using probiotics, the healthy bacteria found in dairy products such as yogurt and cheese. Mohamadzadeh said he has successfully used the approach in a preclinical study to create immunity to anthrax [sic] exposure. In addition, Mohamadzadeh is using the method to develop vaccines for various infectious diseases. Delivering the vaccine to the gut […] harnesses the full power of the body's primary immune force, which is located in the small intestine, Mohamadzadeh said. […] The findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science." (United Press International; 17Mar09) http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2009/03/17/New_vaccine_delivered_via_smoothie/UPI-15671237348013/

Legislation to curb misuse of antibiotics introduced in [U.S.] House [of Representatives]
"Last year the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal production made a recommendation that the nation reform the way food animals are raised. Tuesday, Shelley Hearne of the Pew Commission applauded legislation introduced by New York 28th District Congresswoman Louise Slaughter. Hearne described the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act [PAMTA] of 2009, saying, 'This PAMTA bill phases out the use of medically important human antibiotics in food animals, unless the animals are sick with disease.' […] [Slaughter said,] '[T]he drugs that are used in people to treat serious diseases like pneumonia and scarlet fever, skin infections, and pandemics like malaria and plague, as well as bioterrorism agents smallpox and anthrax, are just being marginalized because of this overuse.'" (Hoosier Ag Today; 17Mar09; Andy Eubank) http://www.hoosieragtoday.com/wire/news/02311_pamtapew_180941.php

Alliance for Biosecurity testifies before Congress on funding for medical countermeasure development
"David P. Wright, Co-Chair of the Alliance for Biosecurity and Chairman and CEO of PharmAthene, Inc., testified today before the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee on the critical importance of developing drugs, vaccines and other medical countermeasures needed to protect Americans from bioterrorism and other catastrophic health emergencies. Effective medical countermeasures for many of the chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) agents that pose the greatest threat to the United States do not currently exist, and Wright argued that the federal government should take a more active role in supporting their development to bolster the nation's biosecurity."
(PR Newswire/US Newswire; 18Mar09)

U.S. Army at the RMA [Rocky Mountain Arsenal] receives OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration]'s highest award
"The U.S. Army at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal [CO] strengthened its record as a national leader in workplace safety in early March by earning the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Star Award from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The installation now becomes the first Army site in the region to receive the award. […] In 1942, RMA was built to manufacture chemical weapons to be used in World War II as a war deterrent. […] The Arsenal later performed chemical agent demilitarization programs. Since 1985, the sole mission of the Arsenal has been environmental remediation and restoration. The Arsenal's extensive and safe environmental cleanup of the site's soil, structures and groundwater is nearing completion in 2010." (Denver Newspaper Agency; 17Mar09; Claire

First United Nations commemoration of Halabja [Iraq] genocide
"The enduring tragedies of the 1988 chemical weapons attack against the Iraqi Kurdish city of Halabja were commemorated for the first time at the United Nations. […] At least 5,000 people died as an immediate result of the chemical attack on March 16, 1988, and again on March 18. A further 7,000 people were injured or suffered long term illness and birth defects after being exposed to the nerve agents Tabun, Sarin, and VX, as well as mustard gas. The attack against Halabja remains the largest-scale, single chemical weapons assault directed against a civilian-populated area in history. No one who directly was responsible for the chemical attack on Halabja has stood trial." (PR Canada; 18Mar09; Source: Kurdistan Regional Government Liaison Office)

Eastern Shield 2009 tests emergency response
"Military and civilian emergency responders were tested Monday in Carteret County [NC] as […] 15 agencies came together and put their training into action as part of a Homeland Security anti-terrorism drill. […] Under the scenario, a suspicious backpack was left leaning against an open 55-gallon barrel that potentially contained a chemical agent. First responders who had initially entered the building as part of the exercise showed mock signs of nerve agent poisoning. […] [M]embers of the Cherry Point EOD [Explosive Ordnance Disposal] unit operated two robots [with] chemical detection equipment […] that […] revealed the mock chemical agent was sarin, a militarized nerve agent." (Jacksonville Daily News; 16Mar09; Jannette Pippin) http://www.jdnews.com/news/chemical_63053___article.html/agent_exercise.html

Spending on security firm [in Asia-Pacific region]
"Despite the economic downturn, spending on homeland security and counter-terrorism measures is expected to stand firm, according to industry players, who spoke ahead of a security exhibition that opens here on Tuesday. The three-day Global Security Asia (GSA), a biennial event taking place here for the third time, has drawn 157 exhibitors at the Singapore Expo.They will showcase the latest in security screening, surveillance, and sea, land and air security. […] Also being held in tandem is a security conference, at which over 50 international speakers will discuss topics ranging from human behavior in crowd, riot control to response during radiological incidents."(Straits Times; 16Mar09; TehJoo-Lin)

Continuing terrorist threat against the U.S. homeland 'is real,' says commander of U.S. Northern Command
"The continuing terrorist threat against the U.S. homeland 'is real,' the commander of U.S. Northern Command told the Senate Armed Services today as he outlined an aggressive defense program aimed at preventing another Sept. 11-type attack. 'Those who wish us harm have not gone away,' Air Force Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr., who also commands North American Aerospace Defense Command, told the senators. […] Renuart cited the Oct. 1 standup of a dedicated force to respond to potential biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive incidents as a major step […]. The team is trained and equipped to provide search-and-rescue, decontamination, medical, aviation, communications and logistical support." (Media-Newswire; 17Mar09) http://media-newswire.com/release_1087926.html

United States Department of Defense deploys VisualDx enterprise-wide
"The United States Department of Defense (DOD) Military Health System (MHS) has licensed VisualDx as the first visual diagnostic decision support system to be deployed across 75 major military hospitals and 461 clinics worldwide. […] The DOD MHS will use VisualDx to train military medical staff to better recognize numerous diseases, including SARS, avian influenza, and other infectious diseases brought on by chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapon exposure." (PR.com; 18Mar09;
Source: Logical Images Inc; Kristy Throumoulos)

Czech special unit to join KFOR [Kosovo Force] mission, head NATO battalion
"A total of 105 troops from the Czech military 31st brigade of the radiation, chemical and biological warfare will join the KFOR mission in Kosovo next year, and others will continue operating in the ISAF forces in Kabul, Commander Miroslav Knopp told CTK [Czech Daily News] Tuesday. In 2001-2012, soldiers from the Liberec-based unit will again take command of the multinational battalion of the radiation, chemical and biological warfare operating within NATO's rapid reaction forces, Knopp said. […] A 14-strong Czech chemical warfare unit has been deployed at the Kabul airport for almost three years. Its task is to monitor the radiation, chemical and biological situation and detect toxic and radioactive substances." (Prague Daily Monitor; 18Mar09; Source: Czech Daily News) http://praguemonitor.com/2009/03/18/czech-special-unit-join-kfor-mission-head-nato-battalion

Seoul launches landmark security, nonproliferation policy initiative
"Recently. […] President Lee Myung-bak and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd agreed on the 'Korea-Australia Joint Statement on Enhanced Global and Security Cooperation.' This joint statement stipulates Seoul's new global security and nonproliferation initiatives […] with Australia. Upon his inauguration, Lee proclaimed the pursuit of a 'Global Korea,' a mature and responsible Korea to go with the world's 12th largest economy and an advanced democracy. […]. Seoul and Canberra agreed to cooperate closely […] on counter-terrorism, including on cyber-security and cyber-terrorism, to advance the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. They agreed to expand cooperation on global disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery." (Korea Herald; 18Mar09; Jun Bong-geun) http://www.koreaherald.co.kr/NEWKHSITE/data/html_dir/2009/03/19/200903190081.asp

Special Note on Terminology
Astute subscribers have noticed that the ChemBio & WMD Terrorism Listserv frequently follows disease names with [sic]. Since we have received questions about these notations, we take this opportunity to explain. News articles frequently confuse diseases and causative agents. For example, we often read news items to the effect that a certain device is designed to detect "anthrax," "plague," or "smallpox." Such statements literally mean that the function of the identified device is to detect a disease. However, on reading the news items it is clear that the described device's function is to identify a pathogen or toxin (e.g., Bacillus anthracis, Yersinia pestis, or variola virus), not a disease. Or a news items states that a terrorist dispersed "anthrax," when we know that diseases are not dispersed. Therefore, CNS editors point out misuses of terminology in the original by adding the [sic] notation.

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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