War on Terrorism

Friday, March 20, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- March 20, 2009

Kellogg CEO: food safety must be strengthened
"The head of Kellogg Co., the world's largest cereal maker, planned to urge Congress on Thursday to revamp how the government polices his industry. Kellogg lost $70 million in the recent salmonella outbreak, after it had to recall millions of packages of peanut butter crackers and cookies. […] [Chief executive David] Mackay's strong call for major changes could boost President Barack Obama's efforts to overhaul the system. […] 'The recent outbreak illustrated that the U.S. food safety system must be strengthened,' Mackay said in his prepared remarks. 'We believe the key is to focus on prevention, so that potential sources of contamination are identified and properly addressed before they become actual food safety problems.'" (Associated Press; 18Mar09; RicardoAlonso-Zaldivar)

U.S. Department of Defense exercises $2.0 million option to fund cethromycin development
"Advanced Life Sciences Holdings, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company developing cethromycin, a novel once-a-day antibiotic to […] combat bioterror threats, announced today that it received notice from the Department of Defense (DoD) that it has exercised its option to award the company $2.0 million […] to develop cethromycin as a broad-spectrum medical countermeasure. The contract is funding […] studies to evaluate cethromycin's efficacy in combating Category A and B bioterror agents such as Fransicella tularensis (tularemia), Yersinia pestis (plague) and Burkholderia pseudomallei (melioidosis)." (PR Newswire/First Call;19Mar09)

Emergent BioSolutions initiates Phase I/II anthrax trial
"Emergent BioSolutions, a biopharmaceutical company, has reported that the Phase I/II clinical trial for its anthrax immune globulin therapeutic candidate has commenced with the initial treatment given to the first subject. The clinical trial will evaluate the safety and pharmacokinetics of anthrax immune globulin (AIG) in 120 healthy adult volunteers. The study is designed to evaluate three dose levels of a single intravenous infusion of AIG compared to Gamunex, a licensed immune globulin therapy for people with primary immunodeficiency or idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura." (Pharmaceutical Business Review; 19Mar09; Source: Datamonitor)

ND: group used federal disaster funds for booze
"Nearly a quarter of the federal disaster planning money spent by a North Dakota nonprofit was used for 'unallowable or questionable' items, including alcohol, a state official said. […] Tim Wiedrich, chief of the North Dakota Health Department's emergency preparedness and response section, said Wednesday that the 'unallowable or questionable' items made up nearly $200,000 of the roughly $810,000 the Bismarck-based group received between 2004 and last year to help produce a plan to fight bioterrorism and other mass disasters." (MSNBC; 19Mar09; Source:
Associated Press; James McPherson)

Bioterrorism response drill under way at Oakland City [CA]
"Nearly 1,000 volunteers and representatives of public health agencies from 10 counties are participating in a drill involving a simulated biohazard emergency at the Oakland Coliseum [CA] today. The 'Bay Area Mass Prophylaxis Exercise' will test participants' responses in a hypothetical situation that requires quick action and little margin for error.
Oakland police Lt. David Brue said the exercise is an opportunity for the region to prepare for an actual bioterrorism emergency. […] The exercise was initiated by the Bay Area Super Urban Area Security Initiative, a regional agency created in 2006."

New technique used to profile anthrax [sic] genome
"Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology have used a new approach, known as RNA-Seq, to profile the gene expression of the bacterium that causes anthrax, Bacillus anthracis. Their study, published March 20, 2009 online by the Journal of Bacteriology, marks the first time any bacterial transcriptome-the complete collection of mRNAs produced by a bacterium as it expresses different genes-has been comprehensively defined, and provides a much more detailed view of how bacteria regulate their gene expression." (Science Daily; 20Mar09; Source: Georgia Institute of Technology) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090320102134.htm

European lab accidents raise biosecurity concerns
"Lab accidents involving bird flu and Ebola viruses have increased biosecurity fears in Europe, where public health experts say research on dangerous pathogens needs to be more strictly monitored. […] Health authorities and industry groups reviewing European lab safety standards concluded in a new report that scientists and managers needed to be better trained in ways to prevent, handle and report such incidents. 'Adequate technical and physical containment measures and best biosafety and biosecurity practices must be implemented in those facilities to prevent accidental or intentional release of dangerous pathogens,' [Biosafety Europe] said in [its] recommendations, published on www.biosafety-europe.eu/FinalConsiderations_PDFs.html." (Reuters; 19Mar09; Laura MacInnis and Debra Sherman)

WHO [World Health Organization] mulls stricter transport of bio products
"Public health officials are studying the need for tighter controls on the transport of biological products after Baxter, the US pharmaceutical company, inadvertently supplied samples of the H5N1 bird flu virus to a series of European laboratories. Specialists from the World Health Organisation and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control are monitoring the case at a time of growing concern that existing international rules to minimise the risks of the spread of pathogens are too weak." (Financial Times; 16Mar09; Andrew Jack)

Developing a biological incident database
"As part of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, UNODA [United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs] is developing an online Biological Incident Database (BID). To assist Member States in preventing and combating terrorism, BID categorizes the causes of disease outbreaks as natural, accidental or deliberate. It provides a platform for information sharing, fostering a better understanding of the range of biological incidents as well as past responses and lessons learned. BID should serve as an invaluable preparation tool should a similar incident occur in the future. UNODA hopes that Member States will use the available pilot system of BID and provide feedback." (United Nations; Mar09) http://www.un.org/disarmament/HomePage/ODAPublications/OccasionalPapers/PDF/OP15.pdf

Mustard agent disposal to continue full-speed [within] 4 weeks

"The disposal of mustard agent at the Pine Bluff Arsenal [AK] is expected to continue at full capacity within four weeks. The arsenal's Citizens Advisory Commission received updates Tuesday evening on the destruction of stockpiled chemical weapons. […] Following a series of controlled test burns completed earlier this month, the facility must restrict incineration to half capacity while the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality reviews trial burn reports." (Pine Bluff Commercial; 18Mar09; Wes Clement) http://www.pbcommercial.com/articles/2009/03/18/news/news6.txt

Okunoshima [Japan]: poison gas past belies isle's bucolic serenity
"With its turquoise waters, quiet forest paths, palm trees and spectacular views of the mainland and other islands of the Inland Sea, Okunoshima Island has the feel of a resort somewhere in the Aegean Sea or the South Pacific. […] [But] [d]uring the early 20th century, Okunoshima was a major [chemical weapons] garrison. After World War I, when mustard gas was used to kill or maim thousands in Europe, Japan embarked on its own chemical weapons program. […] When production began in 1929, priority was given to mustard gas. Nerve gases and diphenylchlorarsine, or 'sneezing gas' because it blocks the body's ability to absorb oxygen by inducing constant sneezing, were also produced." (Japan Focus; 19Mar09; Eric Johnston)

New Border Patrol device uses see-through scanning
"The agency is checking vehicles for hidden compartments and contraband with a breakthrough X-ray detection technology mounted in vehicles it calls 'Z Backscatter Vans,' or ZBV. [...] It can detect explosives, plastic weapons, nuclear, radioactive or organic threats as well as drugs, said Al White, patrol agent in charge of the Border Patrol's station at Nogales, Ariz., about 60 miles south of Tucson. It also can detect stowaways, although White said the system won't intentionally be used to scan bodies or humans, just vehicles. [...] 'It does not contain a source of radiation,' White said. 'It creates its own X-rays by using an X-ray tube.'" (Fresno Bee; 18Mar09; Source: Associated Press; Arthur H. Rotstein) http://www.fresnobee.com/384/story/1271106.html

Prepared for radioactive fallout [Singapore]
"Singapore has bought two vehicles which can neutralise the fallout from radioactive materials and decontaminate large swathes of affected terrain. The Terrain Decontamination Vehicles, which were acquired by the National Environment Agency in the past two years, can help reduce deadly radiation levels in wide and open areas. […] The vehicles join an arsenal of equipment owned by agencies like the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) to detect, monitor and minimise the havoc caused by any release of radiological materials in Singapore." (Straits Times; 19Mar09; Teh Joo Lin) http://www.straitstimes.com/Breaking%2BNews/Singapore/Story/STIStory_352259.html

Missing nuclear materials pose problem for U.S.
"Missing nuclear materials from overseas pose a bigger threat to countries like the United States than a stolen bomb from Russia or a so-called 'dirty bomb,' according to a former U.S. Air Force secretary. 'Fissile materials from Russia and Pakistan are the problem,' said Thomas Reed, a nuclear physicist who worked for President Ronald Reagan, [and] as a weapons designer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Those intent on attacking America could assemble a nuclear weapon in a yacht, for example, and drive it up a waterway into the country before detonating it, Reed said. […] 'The happy thing is nuclear proliferation can be stopped,' Reed said. […] Good intelligence is needed in order to stop those who might want to use the weapons, Reed said. And so is international action." (Oak Ridger; 17Mar09; John Huotari) http://www.oakridger.com/news/x599198790/Missing-nuclear-materials-pose-problem-for-U-S

National Guard hazmat team at FLW [Fort Leonard Wood, MO] prepares for 18 March evaluation
"Members of the Missouri National Guard's Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package completed part of their required training from March 8 to 10 in preparation for the program's March 18 external evaluation in Columbia [MO]. The Hazardous Materials Operations Plus course was put on by Texas Engineering Extension Service and is designed to teach students how to wear hazmat encapsulated suits and perform emergency decontamination, along with other hazmat related training, at the ProBoard Fire Service Professional Qualification Systems level." (Pulaski County Daily News; 18Mar09; Matthew J. Wilson)

Cambodia approves draft law on non-proliferation of nuclear, chemical weapons
"Cambodia approved on Friday a draft law banning nuclear, chemical, bio-chemical and radio-active weapons in the country. The draft law was approved at a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Hun Sen. 'The draft law will help guarantee security, public orders, environment protection and welfare of our people, and also contribute to protecting security and peace in the region and in the whole world,' said a statement of the Council of Ministers. The draft law also completely prohibits production, recycling, receiving, transferring, storing, transportation and use of nuclear, bio-chemical, radioactive and chemical substances, which are essential for manufacturing weapons of their types, the statement said." (China Net; 20Mar09) http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-03/20/content_11043547.htm

[U.S. Representative Stephanie] Herseth Sandlin [D-SD]'s RC [Rapid City, SD] office evacuated after suspicious substance arrives in mail
"Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin [D-SD]'s Rapid City office was evacuated Wednesday morning when a suspicious package arrived in the mail. […] Police officers responded to the incident and contacted the local FBI office and Rapid City Fire and Emergency Services, who deployed the HAZMAT Unit. The Hazardous Material Team entered the building and determined the suspicious item was not a threat to the staff, the public nor was it hazardous material, according to Police Capt. Ed Hofkamp, who declined to describe what the substance looked like." (Black Hills Pioneer; 19Mar09; Tom Lawrence) http://www.bhpioneer.com/articles/2009/03/19/breaking_news/doc49c16b4192fa0954637645.txt

King St.[HI] building cleared after anthrax [sic] hoax
"Firefighters determined a suspicious letter that employees said could be part of an anthrax [sic] scare did not contain anything harmful, a Honolulu Fire Department spokesman said. Employees at the Honolulu Police Department's Career Center found the letter shortly after 10 a.m. at the Standard Financial Plaza, employees said. Honolulu Fire Department officials decided to evacuate the building as a precaution." (MSNBC;

City of York [UK] Council workers receive hoax [radiological] 'bomb'
scare emails

"Twelve people were killed and dozens injured in a bomb blast in York [UK]
- a sick email hoax told shocked office workers. At least ten employees at City of York Council were targeted yesterday by the malicious spam, which claimed a 'dirty bomb' had gone off near the market. […] The email directs the recipient to a fake Reuters news page, containing a false news report and video file containing a virus. The criminals responsible use internet locator devices to identify where the recipient is, and change the name of the town or city accordingly, although the rest of the message contains several grammatical errors." (The Press; 19Mar09; Gavin Aitchison) http://www.thepress.co.uk/news/4215536.City_of_York_Council_workers_receive_hoax____bomb____scare_emails/

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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