War on Terrorism

Friday, July 24, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, July 24, 2009

Human Genome gets new order for anthrax drug
"Human Genome Sciences Inc (HGSI.O) said it received a second order for its drug ABthrax, which fights anthrax infection [sic], from the U.S. government. […] The order for an additional 45,000 doses of ABthrax, or raxibacumab, is to be delivered over a three-year period, beginning near the end of 2009. The company expects to receive about $151 million from this award as deliveries are completed. Raxibacumab is being developed under a contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to be delivered to the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile [SNS]. […] SNS is a stockpile of medical supplies intended to protect Americans in case of public emergencies like a flu outbreak, terrorist attacks or earthquakes that are severe enough to cause local supplies to run out." (Reuters; 22Jul09)

ND [North Dakota] group ordered to repay $124K in misspent funds [meant for disaster planning]
"A group that represents North Dakota's ambulance and emergency workers was ordered Wednesday to repay more than $124,000 in federal disaster planning money spent on alcohol, lobbying and other questionable expenses. The North Dakota EMS Association, which represents about 1,800 ambulance and emergency workers, may be barred from seeking any more federal grant money, said Tim Wiedrich, chief of the North Dakota Health Department's emergency preparedness and response section. The Bismarck-based EMS association received about $810,000 between 2004 and last year to help produce a plan to fight bioterrorism and other mass disasters. In a Wednesday letter obtained by The Associated Press, the state Health Department told the group that an audit found $157,425 in expenses that were either 'unallowable' or lacked receipts. The letter said $33,300 would be denied and $124,125 must be repaid. […] How and when the group will pay the money back is unclear." (Idaho Stateman; 22Jul09; James MacPherson, AP) http://www.idahostatesman.com/usnews/story/842034.html

WMD panel leaders warn of bioterror[ism] threat
"The United States must take new measures to help counter the threat of biological terrorism, the heads of a congressional WMD advisory panel wrote in a journal editorial published this week. […] 'In our commission report, World at Risk, we stated that terrorists are more likely to obtain and use a biological weapon than a nuclear weapon,' states the editorial by former Senators Bob Graham and Jim Talent, respectively the chairman and vice chairman of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism. There are a number of reasons for this conclusion, according to the commentary: Anthrax [sic] and other dangerous biological materials are found in nature around the world, while weapon-grade nuclear materials are not; it would be far easier to disperse a biological agent than to manufacture a nuclear weapon. […] The panel determined that without aggressive action, a WMD incident was likely to occur at some location before 2014. […] Additional precautions can help reduce a biological weapon's impact, the former lawmakers noted. 'It is important to have a biological weapons prevention strategy that does not merely involve crossing out 'nuclear' and adding 'bio,' they stated. 'There will be some similarities of approach, which we have detailed in our report: for example, preventing a biological attack will require continued support and investment in international treaties.' […] Greater preparedness is also needed. […] That means improved capabilities for detecting disease agents and vaccinating those who might be exposed to such a material. Drug development must also be improved, according to Graham and Talent. […] 'A major part of our biodefense strategy should be based on reaching a level of preparedness that will effectively remove bioweapons from the category of WMD. This will happen neither quickly nor cheaply, but it will be well worth the investment,' [Graham and Talent wrote]." (Global Security Newswire; 24Jul09) http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20090723_4090.php

Agent Orange linked to heart disease, Parkinson's
"Medical researchers say there may be a link between exposure to the defoliant Agent Orange and other herbicides used during the Vietnam War and an increased chance of developing serious heart problems and Parkinson's disease. A study from the Institute of Medicine released Friday contains several caveats, but suggests there is a stronger connection than previously thought about the health risks to Vietnam veterans. [...] The Institute of Medicine, a division of the National Academy of Sciences, is mandated by Congress to review every two years evidence about the effects of Agent Orange exposure. To determine whether Vietnam veterans faced an increased chance of ischemic heart disease - a condition involving reduced blood supply to the heart - researchers reviewed several studies that showed links between higher exposure levels and greater incidence of the disease. Other factors such as smoking, age, and weight can also play a role, they noted. Still, they said veterans exposed to the chemicals may be at greater risk." (Associated Press; 24Jul09; Richard Lardner) http://news.lp.findlaw.com/ap/a/w/1155/07-24-2009/20090724092006_11.html

Mustard chemical leak detected at depot [OR]
"Trace amounts of mustard chemical agent vapor were detected inside a Umatilla Chemical Depot storage igloo Tuesday. As the weather warms, the mustard containers thaw and are more likely to leak. The mustard […] freezes below 59 degrees. […] The leak Tuesday was detected during routine weekly monitoring and posed no danger to the public or environment, according to depot officials. The igloos have a passive filtration system that prevents chemical agent vapor from escaping the structures. When a leak is discovered, a powered filtration system also is installed." (Tri City Herald; 22Jul09) http://www.tri-cityherald.com/901/story/654819.html

San Diego State University lab tried to spot 'dirty bombs'
"At San Diego State University's Department of Homeland Security Immersive Visualization Center, they're trying to spot 'dirty bomb' components accurately. The lab recently unveiled a joint homeland security project that they did with Defentect to create a perimeter system for the detection of radiation. […] The system is designed to detect radiological materials. It uses a software platform from Defentect for management, monitoring and messaging along with a GT2 gross gamma detection sensor. […] 'This program is one more way the Viz Lab is working to evaluate and enhance tools and technologies to help both public and private entities deal with potential hazards with accuracy and speed - important in the face of mounting and unseen threats,' [said Dr. Eric Frost, the founder and co-director of SDSU Immersive Visualization Center and co-director of the university's homeland security master's degree program]. According to SDSU and technology partners, the system could have applications beyond simply controlling the movement of radiological materials. Defentect's Joey Dusina thought that hospitals might be one area of application for the system. 'Hospitals are grappling with how to quickly and accurately identify and alert to the presence of radiologically contaminated persons following a radiological incident so they can be treated, while lowering risk of exposure to hospital personnel and other patients.'" (Security Info Watch; 23Jul09; Geoff Kohl)

Helping countries keep radioactive sources safe, IAEA publishes implementation guide on security of radioactive sources
"The IAEA has just released a guide for implementing security measures on radioactive sources. […] The publication includes guidance and recommended measures for the prevention of, detection of, and response to malicious acts involving radioactive sources. […] This publication is intended for use by States in formulating security policy for radioactive sources. It is also intended to help regulatory bodies in developing policies that are consistent with the Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources, which is one of the leading international instruments on radioactive source management. It will also assist State parties to fulfill certain obligations under the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. By setting guidance on the security of sources, the publications is expected to serve as a useful tool for legislators and regulators, physical protection specialists and facility and transport operators, as well as law enforcement officers. It will also help towards preventing the loss of control of such sources, and may help operators managing radioactive sources to develop their security programmes. Growing concern that criminal groups could gain access to high-activity radioactive sources and use the sources maliciously has […] led to a global trend towards increased control, accounting and security of radioactive sources. […] The IAEA has adopted an integrated approach to protection against nuclear terrorism. This approach coordinates IAEA activities concerned with the physical protection of nuclear material and nuclear installations, nuclear material accountancy, detection and response to trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive material."
(International Atomic Energy Agency; 24Jul09) http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/News/2009/saferadsources.html

Sri Lanka assures continued support to counter global terrorism
"Sri Lanka will continue to support global measures to counter the scourge of terrorism, including the early conclusion of the Global Convention on Terrorism, assured Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister. Speaking at the 16th ASEAN Regional Forum, Phuket, Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama further said subscribing to the UN Convention dealing with Terrorism, Sri Lanka is party to the NPT treaty and its related Safeguard Agreements as well as other related Agreements under the framework of the IAEA, such as the Convention on Nuclear Safety and the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident among others. Enumerating the role Sri Lanka plays to bring an end to terrorism globally, the Minister anounced that Sri Lanka is in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism as well as in the Proliferation Security Initiative and its related activities. 'In the regional context, we are party to the SAARC Regional Convention on Terrorism and the SAARC Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in criminal matters. Under Sri Lanka's Chairmanship, the SAARC adopted the SAARC Ministerial Declaration on Cooperation in Combating Terrorism this year. We have taken a number of national legislative and other measures giving effect to these commitments, and the domestic legislation under the convention of the suppression of Nuclear Terrorism is under preparation.' […] Sri Lanka earned high praise from the chair at the retreat of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) for its positive contributions on the fight against terrorism." (Asia Tribune; 24Jul09) http://asiantribune.com/07/24/sri-lanka-assures-continued-support-global-measures-to-counter-terrorism/

Terrorists could use internet to launch nuclear attack: report
"Terrorists groups could soon use the internet to help set off a devastating nuclear attack, according to new research. The claims come in a study commissioned by the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND), which suggests that under the right circumstances, terrorists could break into computer systems and launch an attack on a nuclear state. […] Without better protection of computer and information systems, the paper suggests, governments around the world are leaving open the possibility that a well-coordinated cyberwar could quickly elevate to nuclear levels. In fact, says the study, 'this may be an easier alternative for terrorist groups than building or acquiring a nuclear weapon or dirty bomb themselves.' […] While the possibility of a radical group gaining access to actual launch systems is remote, the study suggests that hackers could focus on feeding in false information further down the chain - or spreading fake information to officials in a carefully orchestrated strike. 'Despite claims that nuclear launch orders can only come from the highest authorities, numerous examples point towards an ability to sidestep the chain of command and insert orders at lower levels,' said Jason Fritz, the author of the paper. 'Cyber-terrorists could also provoke a nuclear launch by spoofing early warning and identification systems or by degrading communications networks.' Since these systems are not as well-protected as those used to launch an attack, they may prove more vulnerable to attackers who wish to tempt another nation into a nuclear response." (The Guardian; 24Jul09; Bobbie Johnson) http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2009/jul/24/internet-cyber-attack-terrorists

Emergency drill sent helicopters into Denver's sky [CO]
"If you saw helicopters flying across the metro area Thursday there was no need to be alarmed, it was part of a drill. The Colorado Army National Guard was participating in a drill Thursday that simulated a chemical, biological, nuclear or radiological incident at the Pepsi Center. Officials with the Guard say it is not meant to necessarily emulate an act of terrorism. As part of the drill, Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters flew between Buckley Air Force Base, the Pepsi Center and the World Arena in Colorado Springs. The Guard is the only military unit participating in the drill and they were joined at the Pepsi Center by the Aurora Fire Department. […] The Guard is part of a response crew that the president can call upon during a time of emergency." (KUSA Channel 9, Denver, CO; 23Jul09; Sara Gandy)

NNSA [National Nuclear Security Administration] nuclear security sites to meet, share ideas at LDRD [Laboratory Directed Research and Development] symposium next month
"The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced that the 2009 NNSA Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) Symposium will be held Aug. 19 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington, D.C. The theme of this year's conference is 'Innovation for Our Nation: Strengthening America's Infrastructure Security.' […] The LDRD program promotes highly innovative and exploratory research to respond to present national security mission needs and anticipate future ones. The program funds projects that pursue technological solutions to the most urgent challenges facing our nation or that promote science and engineering foundations that will lead to new research and development. […] The all-day symposium on Aug. 19 will look at current and future LDRD investments that the NNSA national laboratories, site and plants are making to protect the nation's critical infrastructure from terrorism, sabotage, global climate change and natural disasters. Symposium topics include cyber systems, power grid, energy resources, borders and seaports, bioterrorism, and transportation systems." (National Nuclear Security Administration; 23Jul09) http://nnsa.energy.gov/news/2459.htm

Croatia rejects anti-terrorist training center
"If the proposal had been accepted, the facility would have been the largest training ground of its type in Europe, housing large stores of chemicals and viruses on site. Its construction would have cost 15 million kuna (just over two million euros). The US has sought a facility for training troops in methods to deal with chemical and biological weapons attack on Croatia's Dalmatian coast because the region enjoys good weather. This allows almost eight months of active training, which cannot take place in inclement weather. […] KnoTox Inc. is a Colorado-based chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear training and education company. KnoTox Director Douglas Eaton believes that the ministry still requires a toxic training centre, despite the fact that the facility would house hazardous chemical and biological agents. Knotox claims that the chemicals that would be used in drills would not come into contact with the environment or harm the local population, plants and animals." (Balkan Insight; 24Jul09) http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/main/news/21296/

N[orth] Korea 'tests weapons on children'
"When Im Chun-yong made his daring escape from North Korea, with a handful of his special forces men, there were many reasons why the North Korean government was intent on stopping them. […] They carried with them […reports of] the use of humans, specifically mentally or physically handicapped children, to test North Korea's biological and chemical weapons. 'If you are born mentally or physically deficient, says Im, the government says your best contribution to society... is as a guinea pig for biological and chemical weapons testing.' […] One of Im's own men later gave him an eyewitness account of human-testing. Asked to guard a secret facility on an island off North Korea's west coast, Im says the soldier saw a number of people forced into a glass chamber. […] Other North Korean defectors have long alleged that the secretive nation has been using political prisoners as experimental test subjects. Some have detailed how inmates were shipped from various concentration camps to so-called chemical 'factories.' […] Security analysts believe Kim oversees one of the most aggressive and robust biochemical weapons programmes in the world. […] Im says he was trained on how to use biochemical weapons against the 'enemy' - including how to fire them from short-range 'bazooka-style' weapons. […] It is estimated the country has accumulated a stockpile of more than 5,000 tonnes of biochemical weaponry […] 'Human experimentation is a widespread practice,' says [Kim Sang-hun, a retired UN official who has spent years investigating the North's chemical and biological weapons programme]. 'I hoped I was wrong, but it is the reality and it is taking place in North Korea and it is taking place at a number of locations.' […] As the world's attention focuses on the North's nuclear programme, Im is worried the international community will miss what he believes is the more imminent threat posed by the country's biochemical arsenal." (Military.com; 24Jul09) http://www.military.com/news/article/nkorea-tests-weapons-on-children.html?col=1186032310810

Man arrested in vandalism, 'anthrax' [sic] hoax [CA]
"Police have arrested a man in connection with vandalism and white powder found in an empty apartment in Newport Beach. Phong Huu Nguyen, 29, was arrested in the 5000 block of Rodeo Road in Los Angeles on Tuesday at 11:25 p.m., police said. He was booked into the Newport Beach Police Department Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail on charges of criminal threats. Nguyen had been evicted from the unit, police said. While examining a unit in the Coronado Apartments for vandalism, Newport Beach officers found threatening messages painted on the walls and the jars with a white powdery substance inside. The substance was determined to be corn starch, said Lt. Rob Morton of the Newport Beach Police Department." (Orange County Register; 22Jul09; Elysse James) http://www.ocregister.com/articles/white-apartment-beach-2502657-substance-newport

1 comment:

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