Health cuts raise worry over health cuts hurt [GA]
"Georgia has repeatedly cut spending on public health emergencies this decade, despite heightened anxieties over bioterrorism and, more recently, the swine flu virus. The cuts cast doubt on the state's ability to detect and contain virulent outbreaks such as pandemic influenza, experts inside and outside state government say. A severe pandemic, a 2008 study found, could kill 57,000 Georgians, or about one-half of 1 percent of the state's population. State officials say the public health system is adequately handling the current, relatively mild outbreak in part because of extra work by lab technicians and other employees. But they acknowledge that the budget cuts of recent years could hamper the system's effectiveness. [...] For the fiscal 2010 budget, which takes effect July 1, lawmakers voted to reduce all public health spending by $1.4 million, or 6 percent. The budget cuts leave the public health division with lab staffing issues and other problems that were identified in a state audit [...] The 2006 audit said lab workers complained they 'were experiencing difficulty attracting and retaining qualified personnel,' partly because salaries were too low in comparison with those at the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention." (Atlanta Journal-Constitution; 10May09; Alan Judd) http://www.ajc.com/services/content/printedition/2009/05/10/swine0510.html
Science agency to review FBI's anthrax inquiry
"The National Academy of Sciences said Friday it will review the lab work behind the FBI's conclusion that Army scientist Bruce Ivins was responsible for the anthrax [sic] mailings that killed five people in 2001. The FBI will pay the Washington-based society nearly $880,000 for the independent, 15-month committee review of the genetic and chemical studies investigators used to link Ivins to the attacks, academy spokeswoman Jennifer Walsh said. [...] The FBI's conclusions were based on microbial forensics, a relatively new field combining crime-investigation techniques and advanced microbiology. The bureau said scientists performed extensive tests that connected the anthrax used in the letters to that in a flask controlled by Ivins. The academy said it will evaluate 'the reliability of the principles and methods used by the FBI, and whether the principles and methods were applied appropriately to the facts.'"
(Guardian; 10May09; Source: AP)
A custom drug [Op-Ed]
"When diseases like swine flu hit, pregnant women are especially at risk.
And yet we know surprisingly little about how to treat them. In its guidelines for the antiviral drugs Tamiflu and Relenza, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that pregnant women infected or at high risk for infection should take the recommended adult dosage: 'Pregnancy should not be considered a contraindication' to taking the drugs, because the benefits of treatment 'likely outweigh the theoretical risks of antiviral use.' But we don't know whether this is true. [...] Pregnancy acts as a wild card when it comes to medication. Changes in blood flow, digestion, kidney function and enzymatic activity alter the ways that drugs act on the body. [...] The consequences are potentially profound. One of the antibiotics used for treating exposure to anthrax is metabolized so quickly by the pregnant body that no dose, no matter how large, is likely to be effective." (New York Times; 09May09; Ruth Faden, Anne Drapkin Lyerly & Maggie Little) http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/10/opinion/10faden.html
FDA [Food & Drug Administration] nominee pledges to revamp food safety
"President Barack Obama's pick to oversee food and drug safety pledged last week 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, breezed through her confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, with no senators expressing opposition. Hamburg, 53, said she wants to restore public confidence in the Food and Drug Administration by putting science first and running an open and accountable operation. [...] '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.'" (South Florida Times; 11May09; Source: AP)
Military seeks $550M to destroy chemical weapons
"The Defense Department has asked for $550 million next year to destroy chemical weapons stored in Colorado and Kentucky, more than double the amount the military expected to seek. The Pentagon's 2010 budget request was announced Thursday. The Army had earlier estimated it would seek $250 million. Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall says the request is enough to put the military on track to destroy all 2,600 tons of mustard agent stored at the Pueblo Chemical Depot by the 2017 congressional deadline."
(ABC News, KJCT; 08May09; Source: AP)
OPCW offers aid to Yemeni program
"The Hague based organization approved an offer to provide the Yemeni program of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) with technical and consultative tools for protection against the hazards of chemical and biological weapons. The program is scheduled to be implemented in 2010, said Brigadier Abdulkarim Jarallah al-Kuhali, the Deputy National Manager for the OPCW. Al-Kuhali told 26September.net that the Yemeni OPCW committee submitted its requirements to the organization for protection against chemical weapons in addition to its technical and technological needs, which will help Yemen to make use of chemical substances in the development areas of agriculture and industry. [...] The [OPCW] delegation reviewed Article 10 provisions, which give the signatories the right to conduct chemical scientific research, producing them for purposes not prohibited by the agreement. The agreement also gives the signatories the right to access information about chemical weapons, and provides for the training and rehabilitation of government personnel." (Yemen Observer; 09May09; Mohammed al-Kibsi) http://www.yobserver.com/local-news/10016347.html
Obama election spurs wave of hate group violence
"While the inauguration of the first black president has lessened racial tensions for most Americans, it has set off a wave of violence on the white supremacist fringe [...] According to a study by two leading anti-bias organizations, paranoia over Obama, spread largely through Internet forums and chat rooms, apparently spurred a Maine man to gather components for a 'dirty bomb,' including substantial quantities of radioactive compounds, in a plot to kill the president. Police found the stockpile in the home of James G. Cummings, a frequent visitor to neo-Nazi websites, after his wife shot and killed him. [...] James Cummings had accumulated gallon-sized containers of radioactive materials, directions on how to build a bomb, and had completed applications to the National Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi party. [...] 'Amber Cummings [his wife] indicated that James was very upset with the election of Barack Obama,' according to an FBI affidavit. She also indicated that her husband 'had mixed the chemicals in the kitchen sink and had mentioned dirty bombs.'" (Boston Globe; 11May09; Joseph Williams) http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2009/05/11/obama_election_spurs_wave_of_hate_group_violence/
Homeland Security backs off funding for nuclear-detection technology
"The proposed fiscal 2010 budget for the U.S. Homeland Security Department does not include new funding for advanced nuclear and radiological material detection technology, the Washington Post reported yesterday [...] The Obama administration requested no new funds yesterday for deploying Advanced Spectroscopic Portal monitors, like the one shown above, or certain other radiation detection equipment. The Obama administration did not request additional funds to support efforts to outfit U.S. points of entry with Advanced Spectroscopic Portal monitors and Cargo Advanced Automated Radiography Systems. The move comes amid continued questions about the efficacy of the technology." (Global Security Newswire; 08May09) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20090508_6590.php
Shoot to kill, Britain's answer to massacre at Munich [Germany, 1972]
"In the wake of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre, military commanders gave soldiers carte blanche to shoot hostages should nuclear weapons be the target of terrorists. The murder of Israeli athletes at the Games sent a wave of panic through Western governments at the bloody arrival of a new breed of terrorism. In Britain, the atrocity struck such fear into the hearts of military chiefs that they believed their nuclear weapons could be the next target. A top-secret document obtained by the Independent under the Freedom of Information Act details how the Ministry of Defence made preparations for an attempt by terrorist groups [...] to ambush military convoys carrying nuclear bombs [...] The file shows that after the attack at the Olympics [...] the MoD drew up new guidelines based on the knowledge that a well-trained terrorist group would be capable of arming a stolen nuclear weapon 'within a small number of hours', and cleared a 'recapture force', led by the SAS, to open fire on hijackers and any hostages to regain or destroy the bomb." (Independant; 09May09; Cahal Milmo)
Global spread of 'loose nukes' reignites disarmament efforts
"The order to 'duck and cover' sent nervous school kids cowering under their desks in the Cold War years, as all-too-real rehearsals for a nuclear blast were held across the United States. Today, with the era of backyard bomb shelters long buried, fears of Iran's nuclear ambitions, Pakistan's shadowy stockpile, and North Korea's atomic outbursts have taken centre stage. [...] This week, as diplomats gathered at the United Nations for talks leading up to a 2010 review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty - the cornerstone of global nuclear disarmament - hope crept back into a gathering whose prospects for progress were bleak for most of the past decade. [...] 'In a strange turn of history the threat of global nuclear war has gone down, but the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up,' he [President Obama] said last month. 'Black market trade in nuclear secrets and nuclear materials abound. The technology to build a bomb has spread.' [...] The most grave challenge to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, [Dr. William] Potter says, is its failure to deal with the possibility of nuclear terrorism." (Toronto Star; 09May09; Olivia Ward) http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/631710
Despite Taliban turmoil, Pakistan expands nuke [sic] plants
"Pakistan is expanding its nuclear weapons program even as Islamic extremists in northwest Pakistan advance in the direction of several highly sensitive nuclear-related sites, U.S. officials and other experts said this week. Pakistan's government is completing two new nuclear reactors to produce plutonium for weapons that would be smaller, lighter and more efficient than the 60-odd highly enriched uranium-fueled warheads that Pakistan is now thought to possess, the officials and experts said. [...] With al Qaida-allied militants solidifying their grip on the Swat Valley on Buner's northern boundary, their first stronghold outside the tribal area bordering Afghanistan, and active in key cities, including Islamabad, the construction of the two new reactors has added to U.S. concerns about the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons production facilities. 'Clearly we have a rising threat level,' said a U.S. defense official, who requested anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly. 'I don't think it likely that the jihadists will make a mad dash tomorrow (to seize a nuclear site). But in the course of time, I see a rising threat.'" (The State, Pakistan; 10May09; Jonathan S. Landay) http://www.thestate.com/166/story/782082.html
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.