War on Terrorism

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- May 13, 2009

Meeting called for information on biolab bill [Galveston, TX]
"University of Texas Medical Branch officials plan to meet Friday with members of a community board about a controversial bill critics said could make secret all information about deadly germs studied at the Galveston National Laboratory. [...] Open government advocates [...] have pointed to language in the bill that states: 'Information that pertains to a biological agent or toxin' as defined in federal law 'is confidential and exempted from' disclosure requirements in Texas Open Records Act. [...] What they're fighting is language in the bill they said could allow the medical branch to conceal all information about pathogens at the laboratory, including whether any had escaped into the community." (Galveston County Daily News; 13May09; Laura Elder)

UCI [Univ. of CA at Irvine] awarded $45 million for infectious disease research
"The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded UC Irvine $45 million over five years for infectious disease research. The renewal grant, which is the campus's largest ever, went to the Pacific-Southwest Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research and its director, Dr. Alan Barbour, a UCI infectious disease expert. [...] The center's main objective, he said, is to provide the science for creating a defense against emerging diseases, like dengue fever, and potential bioterrorism agents, like the botulism toxin." (Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology; 12May09; Tom Vasich) http://www.genengnews.com/news/bnitem.aspx?name=54362660

How smallpox [virus] may derail human immune system
"University of Florida researchers have learned more about how smallpox conducts its deadly business - discoveries that may reveal as much about the human immune system as they do about one of the world's most feared pathogens. In findings to be published this week in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists describe how they looked at all of the proteins produced by the smallpox virus in concert with human proteins, and discovered one particular interaction that disables one of the body's first responders to injury - inflammation. [...] With the exception of stores of the virus held in high-containment facilities in the United States and Russia, smallpox no longer exists on the planet. [...] However, public health concerns regarding the possible re-emergence of the virus through bioterrorism have led to renewed interest in the development of treatments for the disease and safer vaccines." (Science Daily; 12May09) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090511180710.htm

Secretary of Health [PA] unveils Pennsylvania's new portable hospitals in Lehigh County
"Health Secretary Everette James today toured one of Pennsylvania's new portable hospitals and underscored the important role the systems will play in providing medical care to people who become ill or are injured during an emergency. [...] Secretary James [said,] 'Portable hospitals are a key part of Pennsylvania's preparedness plans. These systems are flexible and can be used in areas that don't have hospitals, to support existing hospitals or as alternate care sites. And, because they can be operational within two hours of an emergency notification, enable us to quickly provide life-saving treatment.' [...] The portable hospital tent systems can be inflated in five minutes by six trained people. Portable hospital staffing will be complemented by various volunteer organizations, including Emergency Medical Services Strike Teams, the State Emergency Registry of Volunteers in Pennsylvania or SERVPA, Medical Reserve Corps, and State Medical Response Teams." (Earth Times; 11May09; Source: Pennsylvania Department of Health)

In attics and closets, 'biohackers' discover their inner Frankenstein
"In Massachusetts, a young woman makes genetically modified E. coli in a closet she converted into a home lab. A part-time DJ in Berkeley, Calif., works in his attic to cultivate viruses extracted from sewage. In Seattle, a grad-school dropout wants to breed algae in a personal biology lab. [...] But are biohackers a threat to national security? [...] Previously, some researchers and law-enforcement officials have raised red flags. In a paper published in Nature Biotechnology in 2007, a group of scientists and FBI officials called for better oversight of so-called synthetic DNA, an ingredient widely used by professional biologists and hobbyists, saying it could theoretically lead to the creation of harmful viruses like Ebola or smallpox, since their genomes are available online. [...] Other biohackers argue that Mother Nature is more likely than any home hobbyist to create dangerous new pathogens. [...] Currently, regulation of labs like these is murky. It's unclear what agency, if any, is responsible. [...] A senior official in the FBI's Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate says the bureau is working with academia and industry to raise awareness about biosecurity, 'particularly in light of the expansion of affordable molecular biology equipment' and genetic databases." (Wall Street Journal; 13May09; Jeanne Whalen) http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124207326903607931.html

Trace of mustard blister gas detected [Umatilla Chemical Depot, Hermiston, WA]
"A monitoring crew at the Umatilla Chemical Depot today detected trace amounts of mustard blister gas inside a depot igloo during routine monitoring. [...] A team of workers will enter the igloo to isolate the suspected container that has leaked and determine future actions, depot officials said this afternoon. A powered filtration system has been installed in the igloo as a precaution in addition to its passive filtration system that prevents mustard gas from escaping the igloo. The amount of mustard gas detected was too small to be harmful to the public or the environment, depot officials said." (Tri-City Herald; 12May09) http://www.tri-cityherald.com/945/story/575911.html

Madison County tornado was an F3 [it passed over Blue Grass Chemical Depot, KY]
"It reached its strongest point, with winds possibly exceeding 200 mph, near the point where it tossed a mobile home into a pond, killing two people. At that point, near Ky. 52, it was considered an F3 tornado, the National Weather Service office in Louisville said. [...] It also crossed the Bluegrass Chemical Activity, and skirted the northern edge of the Chemical Limited Area, where deadly nerve agent is stored. 'It's all very minor damage and did not effect the chemical weapons stockpile,' spokesman Richard Sloan said. He did say that guards checking for damage found a stop sign that had blown into the fenced, high-security area from somewhere else." (Lexington Herald-Leader; 12May09; Andy Mead) http://www.kentucky.com/211/story/792481.html

International People's Tribunal to hold hearing on agent orange
"The architect of Vietnam's legendary military victories against the far more powerful French and American armies is 98 years old, but the soft-spoken general minces no words as he accuses the government and courts in the US of double standards. In a letter sent to the International People's Tribunal of Conscience, Vo Nguyen Giap contrasts the courts' dismissal of the suit filed by Vietnamese victims against US companies that produced the toxic chemical sprayed by American forces during the Vietnam War with the generous compensation given to US soldiers by the companies and the US administration. [...] The tribunal, convened at the initiative of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), will consider the evidence and draw conclusions about the consequences to the environment and ecology of Vietnam and to the health of the Vietnamese people. It will also consider the responsibility of the US administrations during the period for the conduct of chemical warfare in Vietnam under Customary International Laws; as well as the responsibility of the US in remediation of the consequences suffered by the Vietnamese people." (Thanhnein News; 12May09)

Asian training on [response to] chemical weapons [releases] underway
"A five-day international training course on protection from chemical warfare opened here Monday, the Ministry of National Defense said. wenty-five people from 17 member states of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) are participating in the assistance-and-protection course jointly organized by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), it said in a news release. [...] Participating countries in the Seoul event include Cambodia, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Yemen and Ukraine." (Korea Times; 11May09; Jung Sung-ki) http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2009/05/116_44746.html

Detainee who gave false Iraq data dies in prison in Libya [Ali Mohammed Abdel-Aziz al-Fakheri Aka. Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi]
"A researcher for Human Rights Watch, who met Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi at the Abu Salim prison in Tripoli late last month, said a contact in Libya had confirmed the death. [...] Libi was captured fleeing Afghanistan in late 2001, and he vanished into the secret detention system run by the Bush administration. He became the unnamed source, according to Senate investigators, behind Bush administration claims in 2002 and 2003 that Iraq had provided training in chemical and biological weapons to al-Qaeda operatives. The claim was most famously delivered by then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell in his address to the United Nations in February 2003." (Washington Post; 12May09; Peter Finn) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/11/AR2009051103412.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.

No comments: