War on Terrorism

Friday, May 08, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- May 8, 2009

Top U.S. regulator pledges to revamp food safety
"President Barack Obama's choice to oversee food and drug safety pledged on Thursday to revamp protection of the nation's food supply to help prevent future disease outbreaks. Dr. Margaret Hamburg, a bioterrorism expert who once served as New York City health commissioner, […] said food safety will be her major continuing project. 'The agency is facing a range of new and daunting challenges,' Hamburg told senators. 'These include the globalization of food and drug production, the emergence of new and complex medical technologies and the risk of adulteration or deliberate terror attacks on our food and drug supplies.'" (Associated Press; 07May09; Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar) http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2009/05/07/ap6395936.html

Trust for America's Health on Nomination of Tara O'Toole for Under Secretary for Science and Technology at the Department of Homeland Security
"The following is a statement by Jeff Levi, Ph.D., Executive Director of Trust for America's Health (TFAH) on the nomination of Dr. Tara O'Toole as Under Secretary for Science and Technology in the Department of Homeland Security: 'Tara O'Toole is a renowned and highly recognized international expert on biodefense and public health preparedness. […] Tara has displayed leadership and helped define policies to better prepare the nation for health emergencies, from pandemic flu to bioterrorism threats. She's authored numerous thoughtful and incisive analyses on responding to anthrax, smallpox, and plague biological attacks; containment of contagious disease epidemics; biodefense research and development strategies; and hospital preparedness." (PR Newswire/US Newswire; 07May09) http://news.prnewswire.com/DisplayReleaseContent.aspx?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/05-07-2009/0005022131&EDATE=

F.B.I. [Federal Bureau of Investigation] to pay for anthrax inquiry review
"The Federal Bureau of Investigation has agreed to pay $879,550 to the National Academy of Sciences for a 15-month review of its scientific work on the anthrax investigation, academy officials said, but the review will not assess the bureau's detective work or its conclusion that an Army microbiologist, Bruce E. Ivins, sent the deadly letters in 2001. The academy panel will review genetic fingerprinting that led agents to Dr. Ivins's Maryland laboratory, as well as clues to how and where the anthrax was grown and dried. Some colleagues of Dr. Ivins, who killed himself in July, have expressed doubt that he mailed the anthrax." (New York Times; 07May09; Scott Shane) http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/07/us/07brfs-FBITOPAYFORA_BRF.html?ref=us

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet] Napolitano: $55.1B for Homeland Security
"The $55.1 billion budget request by the U.S. Homeland Security Department focuses on five areas, Secretary Janet Napolitano said. Areas of counterterrorism; border security; immigration laws enforcement; disaster preparedness, response and recovery, and department unification 'will be achieved through strong partnerships, investments in technology and an emphasis on efficiency,' Napolitano said Thursday in a news release. The fiscal year 2010 budget proposal would expand efforts to battle terrorism, including funding for an additional 109 bomb appraisal officers to help secure airports and 15 additional Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response teams to detect explosives in public spaces and transportation networks, Napolitano said. It would allocate $400 million to protect infrastructure and cyber-networks from attack and $94.5 million to detect agents of biological warfare." (United Press International; 07May09) http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2009/05/07/Napolitano-551B-for-Homland-Security/UPI-57371241732789/

[U.S.] Army contracts for JBPDS [Joint Biological Point Detection Systems] technology
"General Dynamics has been contracted by the U.S. Army to provide its Joint Biological Point Detection Systems. […] Under the $34 million deal, General Dynamics will produce, test and provide field support for its JBPDS, a joint service program for the Army, Navy and Air Force. Officials said the JBPDS detects biological-warfare agents, protecting troops during deployments. […] Bill Gural, General Dynamics vice president of detection systems, said in a statement […] 'the system provides automatic detection and identification of airborne biological agents at very low levels, triggers local and remote warning systems and communicates threat information over standard communication systems.'" (United Press International; 07May09) http://www.upi.com/Security_Industry/2009/05/07/Army-contracts-for-JBPDS-technology/UPI-54331241724458/

U.S. halts pilot program in New York to detect biological attacks
"The Department of Homeland Security is dismantling a next-generation biological attack warning system in New York City subways because of technical problems, U.S. officials said. […] The deactivation of the pilot program in late March marks a setback in U.S. efforts to detect biological weapons, and its disclosure comes as the Obama administration is unveiling new security priorities as part of its 2010 budget today. The federal government installed air samplers in more than 30 U.S. cities in 2003 to detect the release of potential bioweapons such as anthrax spores, plague bacteria and smallpox viruses [sic]. The BioWatch program, which cost about $500 million, was meant to speed up the response before disease could spread." (Washington Post; 07May09; Spencer S. Hsu) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/06/AR2009050603425.html

Fluorescent proteins go invisible
"Fluorescent proteins have been lighting up biology labs for more than a decade, glowing in response to everything from gene expression inside cells to the presence of anthrax and other biowarfare agents. But the most useful fluorescent protein might be the one you never see. Researchers report that they've made a fluorescent protein that emits infrared light. Because infrared can pass through tissue more easily than visible light can, the advance should allow researchers to trace individual molecules throughout the bodies of mice and other small, live animals." (Science Now Daily News; 07May09; Robert F. Service)

Bill would bar information on deadly agents
"The Texas Senate has approved legislation that would keep state laboratories' information on 'select agents' such as the Ebola virus, anthrax and other deadly substances off limits to the public. Sen. Joan Huffman, a Houston Republican pressing for the legislation, contends that release of the information would pose a threat to homeland security because the materials are potential bioterrorism agents. Under the proposal approved Wednesday, the Texas Public Information Act would be amended to keep that information off limits, as the federal law does. The legislation now goes to the House. The University of Texas Medical Branch-Galveston's National Lab researches such substances and has received an open records request." (Houston Chronicle; 06May09; Source: Associated Press)

Nicotine may prevent bioterrorism damage
"British scientists say they've determined nicotine can delay the effects of ricin used during a bioterrorism attack. Jon Mabley and his colleagues at the University of Brighton found nicotine works to block the tissue-destroying effects of ricin -- a highly toxic compound derived from castor beans. The study was conducted in laboratory models, but the scientists said nicotine agonists could potentially be used in patients exposed to ricin as a stopgap measure before other treatments take effect. The British investigators studied the effect of nicotine on animals exposed to ricin and found it reduced death and organ failure." (United Press International; 06May09) http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2009/05/06/Nicotine-may-prevent-bioterrorism-damage/UPI-56861241630359/

Al-Jazeera airs call for biological attack
"Al-Jazeera recently aired footage of Kuwaiti professor Abdallah al-Nafisi. In the video, translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Nafisi expresses ardent support for terrorism, and suggests that terrorists use biological warfare against the United States in order to kill hundreds of thousands of civilians. Nafisi also suggests that Muslims pray for the success of white supremacist groups that seek to carry out attacks within the U.S. In addition, Nafisi attacks those in the Arab world who he perceives as traitors, to laughter and applause from his audience. Among those in the Arab world who should be silenced using "any means possible" are journalists who oppose terrorism, anyone who supports dialogue with Jews, and senior Palestinian Authority officials Saeb Erekat and Mahmoud Dahlan, Nafisi says." (Israel National News; 08May09) http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/131250

Realistic disaster drill provides valuable training
"Roxborough Memorial Hospital [PA] participated in a citywide disaster drill on April 22 with the assistance of students from the Green Woods Charter School and Roxborough High School who served as volunteer patients. A realistic scenario indicated that while visiting the Independence Hall area on a field trip, the students were exposed to potentially deadly sarin gas during a terrorist attack. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 'sarin is a human-made chemical warfare agent classified as a nerve agent. Following release of sarin into the air, people can be exposed through skin contact or eye contact. They can also be exposed by breathing air that contains sarin.'"
(Rox Review; 06May09)

OPCW [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] to offer technical assistance to Yemen next year
"Colonel Abdul-Kareem al-Kohali, Deputy Chairman of the National Committee for Prohibition of Chemical and Biological Weapons said that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons OPCW would offer technical assistance and equipment of protecting from chemical and biological weapons by next year. Al-Kohali stated to 26sep.net that the national committee presented a list of key technical needs of the country to protect from these weapons and enhance capacities in field of utilizing the chemical weapons especially in agriculture and industry. In 1993, Yemen signed and ratified the convention of Chemical Weapons which stated in its article No. 10 to offer the technical assistance to the member counties in the agreement including Yemen." (Saba News; 06May09) http://www.sabanews.net/en/news182822.htm

[U.S.] Army war games for future conflicts
"The year is 2018 and North Korea has just crossed the DMZ, its Army camouflaged among refugees forced across the border into South Korea. It has nuclear weapons and has launched cyber attacks against the U.S. and South Korea. […] The scenario is one of four the Army, its sister services, governmental and nongovernmental agencies and multinational forces are confronting here this week during Unified Quest 2009. […] In another scenario, […] the U.S. Army is providing medical aid and building roads, while fighting foreign and domestic terrorists and drug gangs at home. A domestic radical group attacks Washington, D.C., with anthrax [sic] while drug gangs attack El Paso, Texas, in an attempt to control that city and the U.S.-Mexico border." (Army News Service; 06May09; Elizabeth M. Collins) http://www.army.mil/-news/2009/05/06/20638-army-war-games-for-future-conflicts/

More protection against explosives and nuclear material in freight containers
"Illegally transported, conventional explosives and nuclear relevant or radioactive materials can enable international terror organisations to transport hazardous materials for attacks to any place in the world. For improved protection against such hazardous freight, scientists of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) and an Israeli research centre have developed a cargo inspection system which detects conventional explosives - and in addition, also drugs - with the aid of neutron radiography. […] The research work was supported by the 'Science for Peace' Programme of NATO. In a second step, the scientists now plan to utilise gamma radiation, in addition to neutron radiation, to be able to also detect nuclear and radioactive materials." (Science Centric; 08May09) http://www.sciencecentric.com/news/article.php?q=09050810-more-protection-against-explosives-nuclear-material-freight-containers

Obama must press Pakistan's [President Asif Ali] Zardari on nukes:U.S. Senator [Richard Lugar]
"U.S. President Barack Obama must press visiting Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to accept more help in securing US aid to secure his country's nuclear arsenal, a top senator said Wednesday. 'He must convince President Zardari to accept more assistance and embrace cooperation,' said Republican Senator Richard Lugar, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Lugar, a leading US foreign policy voice, cited global concerns that unrest in Pakistan could lead to its nuclear weapons, or the raw materials for chemical or biological weapons, 'falling into the wrong hands.' 'President Obama must use this opportunity to gain clarification on the status and security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons, chemical weapons precursors, and pathogen samples,' said Lugar." (Agence France-Presse; 06May09) http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hh8TqeMKQlFnUQfbZbB5dzOHQgOQ

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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