War on Terrorism

Monday, April 20, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- April 20, 2009

DNA biosynthesis discovery could lead to better antibiotics
"Combating several human pathogens, including some biological warfare agents, may one day become a bit easier thanks to research reported by a University of Iowa chemist and his colleagues in the April 16 issue of the journal Nature. Amnon Kohen, associate professor of chemistry in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said that the study indicated a new mechanism by which certain organisms manufacture the DNA base thymidylate. This new mechanism is so very different from the way humans synthesize this base that drugs targeting this biosynthetic path in the pathogens are unlikely to affect the human path, thus resulting in very reduced side effects or no side effects at all." (Medical News; 19Apr09)

Genetic switch potential key to new class of antibiotics
"Researchers have determined the structure of a key genetic mechanism at work in bacteria, including some that are deadly to humans, in an important step toward the design of a new class of antibiotics, according to an accelerated publication that appeared online April 17 as a "paper of the week" in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.[…] 'The work has gained attention because interfering with riboswitches in bacteria known to cause major human infections may provide a new generation of antibiotics at a time when bacteria have become frighteningly capable of resisting current drugs,' said Joseph E. Wedekind, Ph.D., associate professor with the Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and the study's senior author. '[…] the hope is future riboswitch drugs will kill bacteria without side effects.'" (Science Daily; 18Apr09) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090417114435.htm

Champaign Health District [OH] is seeking emergency volunteers
"The Champaign Health District [OH] staff is prepared to respond and care for our community in the event of an emergency or public health disaster.Over the past five years, we have worked with our community partners to develop response plans and exercise these plans to deal with biological events, pandemic influenza, anthrax, mercury and other public health related manmade or natural disasters. One of the charges to all local health districts is the ability to provide immunizations or medications to the entire county within 48 hours should an emergency occur for which this would be warranted." (Springfield News Sun; 18Apr09; Shelia Hiddleson) http://www.springfieldnewssun.com/news/springfield-news/champaign-health-district-is-seeking-emergency-volunteers-86458.html

Greenwich [CT] emergency preparedness coordinator hired
"The Department of Public Health has hired a new, part-time emergency preparedness coordinator to fill a position that has been vacant since January. The new coordinator, Michael Vincelli, […] will be the point person in planning for pandemics, immunizations or a bioterrorism attack in Greenwich, Health Director Caroline Calderone-Baisley said Thursday. He will also assist in recruiting volunteers, developing mutual-aid agreements between community agencies and securing needed supplies, among other activities." (Greenwich Times; 17Apr09; Lisa Chamoff) http://www.greenwichtime.com/ci_12159755?source=most_emailed

Agencies in flu outbreak exercise
"An exercise aimed at making sure Scotland is prepared in an emergency flu pandemic is to be held, it has been announced. 'Cauld Craw,' to get under way next week, is the government's main civil contingencies exercise for 2009. It is part of a series of events to try to ensure Scotland is prepared to deal with any type of national emergency." (Press Association; 20Apr09)

Chemical disposal workers keeping neighbors safe
"Every day, like well-oiled parts on a fine-tuned machine, 31 Talladega County [AL] residents travel to Anniston to help make their region a safer place to live. […] These 31 workers protect their communities […] by working long, hard hours to safely dispose of hundreds of thousands of chemical weapons stored in bunkers at the 797-acre Chemical Limited Area near the Anniston Chemical Disposal Facility. ANCDF's day-to-day operations are handled by systems contractor Westinghouse Anniston. 'Think about it,' said Jim Clark, a Westinghouse Anniston electrical technician from Lincoln, 'if we just let those things sit over there in those bunkers, sooner or later they would start leaking, and then it would be a hazardous situation.'" (Daily Home; 19Apr09; Katherine Poythress) http://www.dailyhome.com/news/2009/dh-talladegacounty-0419-0-9d18u4005.htm

Big Dog [robot] maker tests humanoid 'Petman' robot
"Boston Dynamics Inc., maker of the YouTube sensation BigDog robot, reports it is developing two robots: A humanoid robot to test soldier uniforms and a hopping robot for navigating urban environments. The humanoid robot, PETMAN (protection ensemble test mannequin), is planned to be used for high-fidelity testing of chemical protection suits under chemical warfare agent exposure conditions. The robot is intended to balance itself and walk, aim, crawl and perform suit-stressing calisthenics. The robot will also mimic human physiology within the protective suit, simulating the act of sweating, for example." (Journal of New England Technology; 20Apr09) http://www.masshightech.com/stories/2009/04/20/daily6-Big-Dog-maker-tests-humanoid-Petman-robot-hopping-bot-.html

U.S. company [Sandia National Laboratories] envisions chameleon camouflage
"Imagine a uniform that changes color like a chameleon to match the surrounding environment, allowing a soldier to remain camouflaged while moving from the desert to the sea. Sandia National Laboratories researchers have demonstrated that, in theory, they could cause synthetic materials to change color like chameleons or certain fish species. […] Or for military use, [principal investigator George Bachand] envisions a material that's able to allow air exchange for comfort but changes if it comes into contact with a chemical warfare agent so it doesn't allow that to cross the material boundary." (PR Inside; 19Apr09; Source: Associated Press)

Nuclear-bomb materials stockpiled in [CA] suburb were not adequately protected against terrorists, says government report
"The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory [CA]--which stores weapons-grade uranium and plutonium in the midst of the heavily populated San Francisco Bay Area--was discovered last year to have 'significant weaknesses' in its security, 'particularly in [its] protective force's ability to assure the protection of weapons-grade (special) nuclear material,' according to a report by the Government Accountability Office [GAO]. In April 2008, the Department of Energy inspected the lab and found 'numerous and wide-ranging security deficiencies,' said GAO." (CNS News; 20Apr09; Matt Cover)

EC [European Community] adopts new programme against terrorism and WMD
"On the eve of the donors' conference for Pakistan, the European Commission has adopted a new three year programme to fight terrorism, trafficking and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the EC said in a media statement. The 2009-2011 Indicative Programme for the Instrument for Stability includes the first global counter-terrorism measures developed by the Commission together with experts from EU member states. Key priorities are Pakistan and Afghanistan as well as the Sahel region in Africa. 'The Commission has an important role to play in fighting terrorism by supporting capacity building in third countries such as Pakistan and in the Sahel region,' said External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner." (Sofia Echo; 19Apr09; Clive Leviev-Sawyer) http://www.sofiaecho.com/2009/04/19/707565_ec-adopts-new-programme-against-terrorism-and-wmd

A sobering exercise for first responders
"Imagine being a first responder heading toward a major explosion or chemical spill with memories of Sept. 11 flooding your brain. Now think again, with the benefit of having played out those scenarios and your response to them. That's what the leaders of the National Emergency Medical Services Preparedness Initiative [NEMPSI] hopes paramedics and EMTs will be able to do. The institute, part of George Washington University [DC], recently unveiled a video game that will allow emergency workers to hone their skills on the virtual scene of large-scale crises.Using a $4.8 million grant from the Department of Homeland Security and taking a cue from a Defense Department game called America's Army - which shows soldiers what life is like in battle - NEMSPI spent two years designing the game." (Washington Post; 19Apr09; Kathleen Hom) http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/health_fitness/article_965bb415-fc77-5ec3-8c9a-e72a4f1cb73f.html

Obama taps [University of] Berkeley [CA] scholar for high-level job
"President Obama has once again reached into the Bay Area to build his administration's brain trust, this time tapping a UC Berkeley professor for a cutting-edge position at the Department of Defense, overseeing strategy involving emerging threats facing the nation. Michael Nacht, a professor of public policy at UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy, has been nominated for assistant secretary of defense, global strategic affairs. The position requires Senate confirmation. The newly redesigned position, part of a Defense Department organizational shakeup, oversees three deputy assistant secretaries focusing on countering weapons of mass destruction, nuclear and missile defense policy and space and cyber policy, said Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon." (San Francisco Chronicle; 18Apr09; Matthew B. Stannard) http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/04/17/BACF174HN3.DTL

2 Koreas to meet Tuesday in 1st dialogue in a year
"South Korea said it will hold talks Tuesday with North Korea to discuss a troubled joint industrial complex, marking the first official dialogue between the two countries under South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. […] Sunday's announcement came a day after North Korea's military warned South Korea to stay out of a U.S.-led security initiative aimed at halting the spread of weapons of mass destruction. […]The program, which began in 2003, has been joined by more than 90 countries to help deter trade in weapons of mass destruction and missiles by states including North Korea and Iran. Countries participating in the initiative exchange intelligence and hold maritime drills to stop and search ships suspected of carrying nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, materials to make them or missiles to deliver them." (Associated Press; 19Apr09; Twang-Kae Kim)

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.

No comments: