Emergency preparedness exercises held at banks [Louisville, KY]
"[...] dozens of people [...] participated [in] an emergency preparedness exercise sponsored by the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health & Wellness that tested the use of bank drive-throughs to deliver medications in emergencies. [...] In the exercise [...] workers gave about 200 drivers boxes of raisins representing antibiotics that would be used to treat people in the event of a bioterrorism attack with anthrax [sic]. But health officials said the same distribution method could be used if, for example, swine flu became more virulent in the fall and vaccines or medicines needed to be distributed widely to the public." (Courier-Journal; 20May09; Laura Ungar)
Health Department employees extol two of their own [Terre Haute, IN]
"This Memorial Day holiday has a special meaning for employees of the Vigo County Health Department's Vector Control Division. Plaques honoring the memory of John 'Jack' Roetker and Maurice H. Burke III are nestled among flowers and a flagpole in a large planter box dressing up the facility on Seventh Avenue near 13th Street. 'Since it's Memorial Day Weekend, this is a good time to honor them,' said Megan Bland, press liaison for the health department. [...] The county property has seen major improvements in recent years as the once-cinder parking lot has been paved. Other new planter boxes dress up the brick building. A bioterrorism grant paid for new fencing around the site, which houses the county's fleet of mosquito control vehicles. [...] mosquito control is the main operation of the facility." (Tribune Star; 20May09; Lisa Trigg) http://www.tribstar.com/news/local_story_140203133.html?keyword=topstory
Arsenal OK'd for greater mustard gas destruction [Pine Bluff, AR]
"State environmental regulators have cleared the chemical weapons disposal facility at the Pine Bluff Arsenal to accelerate its incineration of its mustard gas stockpile. The arsenal said Tuesday the Department of Environmental Quality has signed off on a plan to increase rate at which the deadly material is sent into the incinerator from 50 percent to 75 percent of the permitted maximum for each furnace. [...] As of Monday [18May09], the facility had destroyed 494 containers holding 826,745 pounds of mustard agent, which was 13.34 percent of the total mustard containers to be destroyed. The arsenal had incinerated 27.13 percent of the total chemical agent stored there originally." (Morning News; 20May09;
Groups disagree about Gulf War illness research
"The Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs say an Institute of Medicine study shows there is no Gulf War 'syndrome,' and that there is nothing unique about the symptoms 1 in 4 Desert Storm veterans suffer. But the congressionally mandated Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Illness say that not only is there a series of symptoms that make up a definable illness, they know what caused that illness. Those opposing views were on full display May 19 in the first of three congressional hearings about Gulf War Illness. [...] 'We feel like their assessment is complete,' [Craig] Postlewaite told the House Committee [...] The Gulf War advisory committee disagreed. [...] Lea Steele, immediate past scientific director of the committee, told lawmakers. [...] the research shows that veterans who took the most pyridostigmine bromide - anti-nerve-agent pills - and used the most insect repellent, including flea collars, were most likely to suffer from the cluster of symptoms known as Gulf War illness. Victims of the sarin gas attacks in Tokyo as well as animal studies produced the same cluster of symptoms, she said. The pills, pesticides and nerve agent are similar chemicals, so it appears that troops essentially overdosed." (Army Times; 21May09; Kelly Kennedy) http://www.armytimes.com/news/2009/05/military_gulf_war_illness_studies_052009w/
Army terminators walk like men [and test chemical protection suits]
"Today, the American armed forces' main ground robots, the Foster-Miller Talon and iRobot's Packbot, look like boxes with caterpillar tracks. It's a nice, stable design. And it works well - which is why the military has sent thousands of 'em over to Afghanistan and Iraq. But these robots don't easily fit into a world that we humans have constructed for creatures that operate like us. [...] So it makes sense, sometimes, to shape a machine like a man. One of the American military's leading humanoid robots is Petman. Its job will be to testing chemical protection clothing for the U.S. Army. [...] Unlike earlier suit-testing robots, which needed external support, Petman will stand - and walk - on his own two feet. 'Petman will balance itself and move freely; walking, crawling and doing a variety of suit-stressing calisthenics during exposure to chemical warfare agents,'
the company promises. 'Petman will also simulate human physiology within the protective suit by controlling temperature, humidity and sweating when necessary, all to provide realistic test conditions. '" (Wired; 21May09; David Hambling) http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/05/army-terminators-walk-like-a-man/
State and Waco-area officials mobilize for mock terror attack at Heart O' Texas Fairgrounds
"The Waco-McLennan County Emergency Management Office participated in a disaster-training exercise to test local preparedness in emergency situations Thursday. The drill, led by the Texas Engineering Extension Service at Texas A&M University, focused on a terrorist attack at the HOT [Heart O' Texas] fairgrounds in which the countywide communications tower on the grounds had been destroyed by a radioactive bomb. Waco police and fire departments practiced scene containment in the exercise, securing radioactive zones and scanning 'victims' on the scene - child and adult volunteers recruited for the drill - for radioactive and hazardous materials. Waco ISD [Independent School District] officials developed a strategy to lock down neighboring Waco High School and quarantine students who may have been affected by radioactivity to one section of the school. The drill also involved responders from six surrounding counties." (Waco Tribune; 22May09; Regina Dennis) http://www.wacotrib.com/news/content/news/stories/2009/05/22/05222009wacdisasterdrill.html
Pakistan says nuclear [material security] reports are 'malicious'
"News reports about Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, including questions about its safety, are part of a malicious campaign that is counter-productive to efforts to defeat terrorism, a Pakistani spokesman said on Thursday. As Pakistan battles a growing Taliban insurgency, reports in U.S. media have raised the nightmare scenario of its nuclear weapons falling into militant hands. [...] 'We consider this ... a malicious campaign against Pakistan which in our view is contrary to facts,' Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit told a regular briefing, referring to the reports. 'It is counter-productive to the collective objective of defeating militants and terrorism and also raises serious doubts in the minds of the people of Pakistan about the ... objective of those engaging in negative propaganda.' [...] Many Pakistanis believe the United States is secretly intent on confiscating Pakistan's nuclear weapons [...]." (Associated Press; 21May09; Augustine Anthony)
Asharq Al-Awsat talks to Kurdistan Workers' Party leader Murat Karayilan
"[Hewa Aziz of Asharq Al-Awsat asks] Is it true that the Turkish planes are using non-conventional weapons in their raids on Qandil? [reply by Karayilan] We had suspicions, only suspicions, in the kind of weapons used in these raids. I personally have not stated or confirmed that they are non-conventional rockets or missiles. However, some newspapers and analysts suspected something after unordinary cases of deaths among cattle herds. These perished as soon as they grazed in the regions that were subjected to the Turkish raids. However, we have not confirmed or announced that Turkey used chemical weapons in hitting the Qandil Mountains." (Asharq al-Awsat; 20May09; Hewa Aziz)
It's the last gasp for bomb-sensing 'puffers' at airports
"A $36 million anti-terrorism program designed to detect bombs on airline passengers by shooting air blasts to dislodge explosive particles is being scuttled because the machines proved unreliable at airports. The 'puffer' machines - glass portals that passengers enter for checkpoint screening - are being removed after the Transportation Security Administration [TSA] spent $6.2 million on maintenance since 2005. [...] As a replacement, the TSA is installing body scanners that create images of passengers through their clothing. The TSA plans to have 250 scanners next year, costing $170,000 each, its 2010 budget shows. The puffers are the first screening equipment to be widely installed and removed, though other technology has been troubled. For example, the Homeland Security Department removed a handful of advanced biological-weapons detectors from New York City transit hubs in March after the devices began failing, department spokeswoman Amy Kudwa said. Older, slower detectors remain in New York and about 30 other cities." (USA Today; 21May09; Thomas Frank) http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/2009-05-20-puffers_N.htm
Why are Afghan students falling ill?
"Afghan girls are getting sick. In the last few weeks about 200 of them, mostly teenagers, in three northern schools, have fallen ill with symptoms like dizziness, vomiting and fainting. [...] the patients may be suffering not from poison but a different sort of ailment [...] Dr. David B. Adams, an Atlanta psychologist who studies psychosomatic disorders, thinks a psychological explanation is possible in this case. 'The Afghan females are under continual threat by the Taliban,' he writes in an e-mail. 'The threat is relentless and, consequently, so are the demands upon their bodies. Since their families fear that they are, in fact, being poisoned, the students will emulate the concerns of the parents and share their anxiety.' Seeing other students with similar symptoms and anxiety leads to further emulation." (Forbes; 22May09; Elisabeth Eaves) http://www.forbes.com/2009/05/21/witches-nuns-sociogenic-illness-opinions-columnists-afghanistan-girls.html
Tartan terrorist' faces prison [Adam Busby]
"Adam Busby junior, 34, from Paisley, targeted First Minister Alex Salmond and Mike Rumbles MSP as part of a postal hate campaign in March. After sending six packages he rang journalists and said it was the work of the Scottish National Liberation Army. [...] the Royal Mail sorting office in Aberdeen's Wellington Circle - aware there was a 'heightened threat' - found a padded envelope with Mike Rumble's name and address written in black felt-tip pen. A scan revealed two shotgun cartridges and police were called. [...] In 1983 there were 27 SNLA attacks, including letter-bombs to Margaret Thatcher and the Princess of Wales. Eight years later the organisation sent Prince William a fake anthrax bomb at St Andrews University. Judge Lord Brailsford said the recent offences had caused 'considerable concern'. He remanded Busby in custody pending sentencing next month." (British Broadcasting Company; 21May09) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/glasgow_and_west/8061893.stm
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.