War on Terrorism

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, September 30, 2009

No silver bullet against extremists at U.S. biodefense labs, security report says
"There is no silver bullet ensuring that no would-be bioterrorist finds a job at a U.S. disease research laboratory, however measures can be taken to prevent dangerous materials from being diverted for harmful purposes, a panel of experts said today. Worries about security at laboratories that work with select agents [...] have grown as the amount of research has increased in recent years, according to a report from the National Research Council [NRC], an arm of the National Academy of Sciences. While there are legitimate concerns about an individual gaining inappropriate access to biological agents, those instance are very, very rare, infectious disease expert Rita Colwell, who led the group of 14 experts who contributed to the report, said today during a press conference. [...] The NRC report addresses existing regulations and oversight to safeguard against the deliberate use of select agents and examines both physical security and personnel reliability at laboratories. The committee was also asked to consider the potentially restrictive impact biosecurity regulations have on scientific research. The study offers nine recommendations, including having each facility registered to work with select agents develop and implement a security plan, which would be reviewed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agriculture Department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service." (Global Security Newswire; 30Sep09; Martin Matishak) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20090930_8601.php

Non human primate study results of restanza [oral antibiotic to combat yersinia pestis] released
"Advanced Life Sciences Holdings, Inc. [...] today announced positive top-line results from a pivotal, non-human primate study involving its novel, once-a-day, oral antibiotic Restanza (cethromycin) demonstrating statistical significance at a 90% survival rate against an inhaled lethal dose of plague [bacteria]. The study tested Restanza's protective efficacy at various doses up to 64 mg/kg, where nine out of ten animals in the study that received a 14-day course of Restanza initiated within 24 hours after exposure to a lethal dose of plague [bacteria] survived while only one out of ten of the animals that received placebo survived. [...] The Johns Hopkins Working Group on Civilian Biodefense notes that because of 'the availability of Y. pestis around the world, capacity for its mass production and aerosol dissemination, difficulty in preventing such activities, high fatality rate of pneumonic plague, and potential for secondary spread of cases during an epidemic, the potential use of plague as a biological weapon is of great concern.' [...] Advanced Life Sciences is developing Restanza as a broad spectrum medical countermeasure for biodefense to combat multiple high priority bioterror[ism] agents, such as anthrax [bacteria], Fransicella tularensis (tularemia), Yersinia pestis (plague) and Burkholderia pseudomallei (melioidosis) under a two-year, $3.8 million contract with the U.S. Department of Defense." (Medical News; 30Sep09; Source: Advanced Life Sciences Holdings, Inc.) http://www.news-medical.net/news/20090930/Non-human-primate-study-results-of-Restanza-released.aspx

Study reveals that most Americans will refuse FDA authorized emergency use H1N1 flu vaccine
"According to a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and University of Georgia study [...] fewer than 10 percent of [people] surveyed said they would be willing to take such a vaccine or drug and nearly 30 percent remained undecided. The passage of the Project Bioshield Act in 2004 created the emergency use authorization (EUA) giving the FDA the ability to use experimental [...] drugs in the event of an actual or potential emergency. [...] Several drug additives, or adjuvants - sometimes added to vaccines to strengthen the immune response and stretch the quantity of available vaccines in the event of a pandemic - have been ordered and stockpiled by the federal government in case they may be needed. But adding them to H1N1 vaccines would trigger an EUA, which is one of the reasons the federal government has chosen not to use them. [...] The study was based on a survey that focused on attitudes toward H1N1 and willingness to accept flu vaccines and drugs not officially approved by the FDA, but authorized for emergency use. Of the 1,543 adults questioned in June 2009, 46 percent of people surveyed said they were concerned about getting swine flu. However, nearly 86 percent said they thought it was unlikely or very unlikely that they themselves would become ill. [...] 'Communication about the H1N1 vaccine is enormously challenging,' said [study author Sandra Quinn, Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health]. [...] 'In the event an emergency-use adjuvant is required to stem the H1N1 pandemic, public health professionals will need to articulate a strong case for the vaccine and aggressively address myths and misinformation to increase understanding and acceptance.'" (Medical News; 30Sep09; Source: University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences) http://www.news-medical.net/news/20090930/Study-reveals-that-most-Americans-will-refuse-FDA-authorized-emergency-use-H1N1-flu-vaccine.aspx

DHS [Department of Homeland Security] seeks contractor for biosurveillance program
"The Homeland Security Department is looking for a content aggregator that can put together an electronic data feed for regular updates on biosurveillance events, influenza outbreaks and other health incidents. The project is being sponsored by the department's Office of Health Affairs' National Bio-Surveillance Integration Center, which integrates health and disease information from food, agricultural, public health, environmental and intelligence sources. The center provides early warning of global disease outbreaks or possible bioterrorism attacks. [...] The project is called the Biosurveillance Information Source Initiative. The contractor shall provide a data-mining, analysis and reporting system that can provide near real-time information of worldwide disease events and disease threats based on verified information not available via a general Web search on search engines such as Google. Proposals are due by Oct. 7." (Washington Technology; 29Sep09; Alice Lipowicz) http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2009/09/29/dhs-seeking-biosurveillance-contractor.aspx

[U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington] upholds dismissal of [anthrax] vaccine suit
"A federal appeals court [U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington] on Tuesday upheld a program that requires some members of the military to be vaccinated against anthrax over objections from service members who say the vaccine has not been proven to be effective. The [court] upheld a lower court's decision dismissing a case brought by eight service members who challenged the Food and Drug Administration's determination that the vaccine was effective. The plaintiffs also wanted to stop the Defense Department's requirement that service members at risk for anthrax exposure must be vaccinated. [...] The service members argued that because the one human study [conducted in the 1950s] included only a few inhalation cases, there is insufficient evidence to conclude the vaccine is effective against them. But the appeals court ruled that the service members who filed the suit did not provide any scientific evidence to prove the vaccine was ineffective." (Associated Press; 29Sep09; Nedra Pickler) http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_ANTHRAX_VACCINE?SITE=AZTUS&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

House panel becomes flash point for chemical bill
"A major lobbying battle has heated up over legislation that would establish new security standards for facilities across the country that store or process chemicals, pitting some of the nation's largest business groups against environmental and labor organizations. Nearly 30 industry groups sent House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and ranking member Joe Barton (R-Texas) a strongly worded letter Monday opposing certain provisions in a chemical security bill making its way through Congress. An Energy and Commerce subcommittee plans a hearing Thursday on the bill, which would reauthorize and expand authorities Congress gave the Homeland Security Department in 2006 to regulate security at chemical facilities. The industry groups [...] oppose provisions that could require chemical plants to use safer technologies; would allow facilities to be sued by citizens; and would allow states to adopt their own security standards. The groups argue that requiring facilities to use inherently safer technologies could be costly, disruptive and overly burdensome." (Global Security Newswire; 29Sep09; Chris Strohm, CongressDaily) http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20090929_5472.php

Sub-Regional seminar on chemical industry-related issues in the Mediterranean Basin [Turkey]
"Turkey hosted a sub-regional seminar organised by the OPCW [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] on Chemical Industry-Related Issues in the Mediterranean Basin that was held in Istanbul on 24 and 25 September 2009. Participants from 14 State Parties attended the seminar. [...] The OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter [...] in his opening remarks [...] described the chemical industry as a central stakeholder in the effective implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and stressed that engagement and cooperation with industry will continue to be a critical aspect of the work of the OPCW Technical Secretariat. [...] The aim of the seminar was to inform and sensitise chemical industry representatives in the sub-region about the CWC, and to better understand the issues and challenges for industry in complying with the provisions of the Convention." (OPCW; 30Sep09) http://www.opcw.org/news/news/article/sub-regional-seminar-on-chemical-industry-related-issues-in-the-mediterranean-basin/

Indian P[rime] M[inister] [Manmohan Singh] stresses commitment to nuclear non-proliferation

"Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [...] maintaining that the spectrum of nuclear terrorism is a formidable challenge [...] supported US President Barack Obama's initiative to hold a summit on nuclear security next year. Singh said India has an updated, effective and comprehensive export controls system and is 'committed to not transferring sensitive technologies and equipment to other countries that do not possess them.' Holding that India has been sponsoring a resolution at the UN General Assembly calling for measures to address the nuclear terrorism threat, he said, 'We support strengthening the international efforts in improving nuclear security and in this context, welcome President Obama's timely initiative to hold a global Summit on Nuclear Security in 2010.'" (Pakistan Daily Times; 30Sep09)

DOE [Department of Energy] Deputy Secretary [Daniel Poneman] and Rosatom [State Atomic Energy Corporation] Director [Sergei Kiriyenko] visit Y-12 Oak Ridge National Laboratory during first meeting of US-Russia nuclear energy and nuclear security working group
"The Department of Energy today announced that Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman and Director General of the State Atomic Energy Corporation 'Rosatom' Sergei Kiriyenko held the first meetings of the joint US-Russian Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Security Working Group on Monday, September 28 and Tuesday, September 29. The meetings opened with a session hosted by U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, who met with Director Kiriyenko and Deputy Secretary Poneman to discuss a variety of issues. These included the two countries' mutual work securing vulnerable nuclear materials, efforts to increase cooperation on civil nuclear technologies, and cooperation on other nuclear security issues. The meetings [...] were the first since the working group was established under the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission during the July 2009 Presidential Summit. [...] 'The United States and Russia have a long and successful track record of cooperation in the area of nuclear security,' said Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman. 'These meetings and our visits to Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Y-12 National Security Complex demonstrate how seriously our countries take our shared responsibility to promote peaceful uses of nuclear energy while combating nuclear dangers.' [...] After their meeting with Secretary Chu, Deputy Secretary Poneman and Director Kiriyenko flew to Tennessee to visit ORNL [Oak Ridge National Laboratory] and Y-12 [National Security Complex] where they observed a joint nuclear security training exercise." (NNSA; 29Sep09) http://www.nnsa.energy.gov/news/2624.htm

Cleveland BioLabs awarded $5.3 million grand opportunities grant from National Institutes of Health for protectan CBLB502 [a derivative of a microbial protein] research in mitigation of radiation damage of GI [gastrointestinal] tract
"Cleveland BioLabs, Inc. today announced that it has been awarded a $5.3 million Grand Opportunities (GO) grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 from the Office of the Director and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The grant will fund studies of molecular mechanisms by which Protectan CBLB502 mitigates gastrointestinal (GI) damage from radiation exposure. [...] CBLB502 is a derivative of a microbial protein, which has demonstrated the capacity to reduce injury from acute stresses, such as radiation, in animal models. [...] CBLB502 is being developed under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Animal Efficacy Rule to treat Acute Radiation Syndrome (ARS) or radiation poisoning from any exposure to radiation such as a nuclear or radiological weapon/dirty bomb, or from a nuclear accident." (Marketwire; 29Sep09; Source: Cleveland BioLabs, Inc.)

FBI weapons of mass destruction experts failed simple test questions, report [conducted by Justice Department's Inspector General] says
"Some of the FBI's so-called experts [working at the Houston field office] on Weapons of Mass Destruction couldn't even name the most important targets and threats in their own back yard, according to the Justice Department's Inspector General. [...] Some [officers] flunked the test when they were asked to name the 10 top threats and targets in their areas. Some simply answered the quiz by listing off threats and targets that had been assembled by previous assessments in other divisions, while others actually called their peers to help them answer the auditors' questions. The report also says those experts, known as WMD Coordinators are also not getting crucial intelligence from local law enforcement and other FBI offices that could identify emerging threats. [...] The report states, 'We also found that the FBI has not established specific qualifications that WMD Coordinators need so that they can perform their critical functions.' [...] The 97-page report pointed out that only 7-percent of those 57 WMD Coordinators had received training about nuclear threats, 25% had been trained on radiological material being used as weapons, and 28% had been trained on chemical weapons being used by terrorists, home-grown or otherwise." (San Francisco Examiner; 28Sep09; Stephen Dean) http://www.examiner.com/x-6928-Houston-Page-One-Examiner~y2009m9d28-FBI-Weapons-of-Mass-Destruction-experts-failed-simple-test-questions-report-says

NNSA [National Nuclear Security Administration] emergency operations teams enhance radiological security for Pittsburgh G-20 summit [PA]
"The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) deployed emergency operations personnel to support the United States Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation with nuclear and radiological security for the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh. [...] NNSA Associate Administrator for Emergency Operations Joseph Krol [said], 'This week's cooperation with the FBI and Secret Service is an example of the return our nation gets on its investment in nuclear security. We were proud to do our part, putting that expertise to work protecting leaders from around the world.' NNSA deployed members of its Radiological Assistance Program, which provide teams of nuclear scientists and health physicists equipped to conduct radiological search, monitoring, and assessment activities. The Nuclear Radiological Advisory Team with nuclear and radiological subject matter expertise was also deployed to assist with the detection and identification of radiological materials. One part of NNSA's mission is to protect the public, environment, and emergency responders from both terrorist and non-terrorist events by providing a responsive, flexible, efficient, and effective radiological emergency response framework and capability for the nation. This mission is accomplished by applying NNSA's unique technical expertise residing within the Department of Energy's national laboratories." (NNSA; 25Sep09) http://www.nnsa.energy.gov/news/2617.htm

Gov[ernment] takes terrorism and money laundering fight a notch up
“With full support of members of the House of Assembly, the Proliferation Financing (Prohibition) Act, 2009 which is geared towards strengthening the powers of the Financial Investigation Agency (FIA) in the fight against financing of terrorism, money laundering and the production of weapons of mass destruction was passed on Tuesday. The Bill, which was piloted by Hon. Premier Ralph T. O'Neal, is designed to empower the FIA to take actions against any person involved in activities that may have some connection with terrorist financing, money laundering or development [...] and production of biological chemical, nuclear and radiological weapons. [...] Hon. Premier explained that the power sought to be given to the FIA under the bill will enable it to issue direction to persons or individuals in corporate or incorporated bodies who operate in the Territory's financial service sector as a measure to protect the Territory against certain risk." (Virgin Islands Platinum News; 30Sep09)

United Nations headquarters to host special event on Security Council resolution 1540, 1 October (New York, NY)
"A special event entitled Resolution 1540: At the Crossroads will be held at United Nations Headquarters on 1 October. Sponsored by the Office for Disarmament Affairs, the event is organized in connection with the comprehensive review of the status of implementation of resolution 1540. [...] The aim of the review is, among other things, to assess the evolution of risks and threats, and to identify possible new approaches for implementation of the resolution. [...] It aims at enabling non-governmental organizations, academia and the industry to contribute to the comprehensive review. [...] Resolution 1540 obliges all States to refrain from providing any form of support to non-State actors that attempt to develop, acquire, manufacture, possess, transport, transfer or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery. Also by the text, all States are to establish domestic controls to prevent the proliferation of these weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, including by establishing appropriate controls over related materials." (United Nations; 28Sep09) http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2009/dc3194.doc.htm

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