War on Terrorism

Friday, May 28, 2010

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, May 28, 2010

Drug defeats deadly ebola virus infection
"An RNA-based drug has treated an infection of the deadly Ebola virus – the first drug to have been shown to do so in all recipients. Ebola Zaire virus kills 90 per cent of the people it infects. There are experimental vaccines that protect people given it before they are exposed to the virus, but there has been no drug to help those who are already infected. [...] Four rhesus monkeys infected with the virus all survived after receiving the drug for seven days, starting 30 minutes after infection." (New Scientist; 28May10; Andy Coghlan) http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18974-drug-defeats-deadly-ebola-virus-infection.html

Europe looking out for Q fever
"In the wake of the ongoing Dutch epidemic of Q fever European authorities have issued expert advice to help officials weigh up the threat. On request by the European Commission, a risk assessment published this week by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and reports released earlier by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) recommend steps that should be taken to prevent and reduce spread of the disease in the region. [...] 'Active surveillance' should be used during an epidemic, according to the ECDC. This type of surveillance helps to detect cases by mandating that people at high risk are tested for the disease even if they show no symptoms. But finding 'clusters' or outbreaks of Q fever in areas free of the disease is more difficult. The experts suggest that this can be done by looking out for cases of acute respiratory infection, or by 'syndromic surveillance' -- a disease-monitoring system that relies on picking up cases through information on clinical syndromes such as pneumonia, without testing for the bacteria in the laboratory. Syndromic surveillance systems have been developed for Q fever, says the ECDC, because the C. burnetii bacteria are a category B bioterrorism agent. But there is 'no convincing evidence' that the system is efficient in practice, it says." (Emerging Health Threats Forum; 26May10)

Novel therapeutic approach shows promise against multiple bacterial pathogens
"A team of scientists from government, academia and private industry has developed a novel treatment that protects mice from infection with the bacterium that causes tularemia, [...and] three other types of disease-causing bacteria that, like the tularemia bacteria, occur naturally, can be highly virulent, and are considered possible agents of bioterrorism. [...] The experimental therapeutic works by stimulating the host immune system to destroy invading microbes." (National Institutes of Health; 27May10; Ken Pekoc) http://www.nih.gov/news/health/may2010/niaid-27.htm

Safety rules can’t keep up with biotech industry
"Whether handling deadly pathogens for biowarfare research, harnessing viruses to do humankind's bidding or genetically transforming cells to give them powers not found in nature, the estimated 232,000 employees in the nation's most sophisticated biotechnology labs work amid imponderable hazards. And some critics say the modern biolab often has fewer federal safety regulations than a typical blue-collar factory. Even the head of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration acknowledges that his agency's 20th-century rules have not yet caught up with the 21st-century biotech industry. 'Worker safety cannot be sacrificed on the altar of innovation,' said David Michaels, OSHA's new director. 'We have inadequate standards for workers exposed to infectious materials.' [...] three trends are stoking concern among safety advocates. In the wake of the 2001 anthrax attacks, the federal government stepped up research involving biowarfare threats, like anthrax, Ebola and many other of the world's deadliest pathogens. Another factor is that the new techniques of so-called synthetic biology allow scientists to make wholesale genetic changes in organisms [...] The third trend involves [...] Drug makers, responding to competition from cheap generic medications, are moving beyond the traditional business of making pills in chemical factories to focus instead on vaccines and biologic drugs that are made in vats of living cells." (New York Times; 27May10; Andrew Pollack and Duff Wilson) http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/28/business/28hazard.html?src=busln

[Bigham Young University] BYU holds bioterror[ism] simulation [provo, ut]
"Brigham Young University's LaVell Edwards Stadium on Tuesday played host to emergency management responders instead of football fans. Those in attendance received training that would help them respond to a bioterrorism attack when the stadium is at capacity, according to the Desert News. The Utah County Health Department coordinated the drill, which involved volunteers acting as victims of a biological weapons attack. [...] The county health department participated in the exercise with officials from agencies including the Utah Transit Authority, Provo police and fire departments, the National Guard and the Red Cross, according to the newspaper." (Bioprepwatch; 27May10; Ted Purlain) http://www.bioprepwatch.com/news/213226-byu-holds-bioterror-simulation

U.S. government stockpiles new, safer smallpox vaccine
"The U.S. government has begun bolstering its smallpox vaccine stockpile with a new version designed to close a gap that left millions vulnerable to a bioterror[ism] attack. The vaccine, Denmark-based Bavarian Nordic's Imvamune, is made with modified vaccinia ankara, a safer alternative to the cowpox vaccines used for generations. Company officials say the first shipments arrived in the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile last week, within hours of a World Health Organization ceremony marking eradication of the disease, widely regarded as one of the great public health achievements of all time. [...] Though natural transmission has ceased, the virus lives in freezers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and possibly [sic] in Russia, where Soviet scientists are believed to have created tons of weaponized smallpox [virus]. The breakup of the Soviet Union and the rise of global terrorism led the USA a decade ago to begin stockpiling vaccine." (USA Today; 25May10; Steve Sternberg) http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2010-05-25-smallpox25_ST_N.htm

County restaurants getting defense kits to combat food-related bioterrorism [Multnomah County, OR]
"Multnomah County proposed the project, got the grant and wrote the guidelines. Now it's passing out binders in hopes of preventing a food-related bioterrorism attack. The county's Food Defense Toolkit is being distributed to restaurants in hopes of protecting them from food poisoning sprees like the one in The Dalles [OR] in 1984. That year, followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh sprinkled Salmonella [typhi] on salad bars in 10 restaurants, sickening more than 750 people. The county -- and the Food and Drug Administration -- hopes its new guidelines will prevent similar attacks. 'These things don't occur often, but they're serious when they happen,' said Rosa Klein, a county health educator. The FDA has guidelines to prevent a bioterrorism attack in food processing facilities, Klein said, but nothing was being done in restaurants. So in 2008, the county applied for a grant. The agency liked the idea, forked over $40,000, and the county got to work." (Oregonlive.com; 25May10; Lynne Terry, The Oregonian) http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2010/05/county_restaurants_getting_def.html

Newark's ANP [Technologies] gets federal funding for detection technology [Newark, DE]
"U.S. Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-Del.) and Congressman Mike Castle (R-Del.) announced $2.4 million in federal funding for ANP Technologies in Newark. ANP is receiving funds for research, development, testing, and evaluation to develop a handheld device for detection of a variety of biological warfare agents related to bacteria and viruses. 'Today's funding announcement is good for local, national, and international reasons,' Sen. Kaufman said. 'It is a boon to our national defense system, American innovation, and the local community. Small, flexible, and ambitious companies like ANP are the integral piece in getting the U.S. economy moving again.' 'I am proud that the delegation was able to support the important, life-saving work that is being done at ANP Technologies,' Congressman Castle said. 'Unfortunately, the realistic battlefield of today puts our soldiers in constant danger of a biological attack. This type of technology will help our military to test for biological agents and respond immediately during high-threat situations.' 'This money will go a long way in helping keep not just our men and women in uniform safe but our entire nation as well,' said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) in a statement. 'With the research and development being done right here in Delaware, we can help prevent the very real threat of biological terrorist attacks.'" (Newark Post; 24May10) http://www.newarkpostonline.com/articles/2010/05/24/news/doc4bfb381787623505319187.txt

Mail carriers part of plan to combat anthrax attacks [sic] [MN]
"A plan to combat an anthrax attack [sic] in Minnesota has mail carriers on the front lines. The state has received about $6 million from the federal government to put toward anthrax emergency preparedness, a result of anthrax scares following Sept. 11, 2001. It's an effort involving state lab workers, law enforcement and mail carriers. 'We don't know when something will happen, if it will happen or what it'll be, but the last thing we want to do is get flat-footed,' said Capt. Matt Langer of the Minnesota State Patrol. A security-tight lab operated by the Department of Health is charged with testing material for anthrax [bacteria]. A risk of airborne exposure could prompt the distribution of antibiotic pill packs supplied by the federal government. 'They're committed to getting meds to us within 12 hours,' said Aggie Leitheiser of the department's Office of Emergency Preparedness. About 50 state troopers would escort the antibiotics to distribution sites. That's where mail carriers like Pam Donate would come in. She's one of 400 volunteers trained to leave medication in mailboxes in Minneapolis and St. Paul during an anthrax attack [sic]." (American Broadcasting Corporation: Austin, MN; 21May10; Colleen Mahoney and Lauren Radomski)

New chem[ical weapons destruction] depot weapons plan mulled [Pueblo, CO]
"Irene Kornelly, chairwoman of the Colorado Chemical Demilitarization Citizens Advisory Commission, said Wednesday that she doesn't expect Pentagon officials to make a decision until mid-June and the commission doesn't meet until the last Wednesday in June. Late last year, the head of the Defense Department agency assigned to destroy the Pueblo Chemical Depot's stockpile of 780,000 artillery shells and mortar rounds containing mustard agent said he'd been asked to see if using new explosive technologies on some of the weapons could speed up the process. Kevin Flamm, manager of the Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives program, said a few weeks ago that his agency came up with several proposals, including one that would blow up as many as 125,000 weapons in sealed chambers, a move that could trim several months off the entire demilitarization process [...] The rest of the weapons would go through the water neutralization plant under construction." (Pueblo Chieftain; 28May10; John Norton) http://www.chieftain.com/news/local/article_bd6340ec-6a1b-11df-a79a-001cc4c03286.html

Tokyo court rejects damage claims by China victims of WW2 chemical weapons left by Japan
"A Tokyo court rejected compensation claims Monday by a group of Chinese plaintiffs over the death and the sickening of 44 people after construction workers broke open several barrels of World War II poison gas abandoned by Japanese troops. The plaintiffs -- 43 people injured and five relatives of one who died in the 2003 accident in Qiqihar city, northeastern China -- demanded the Japanese government pay 1.43 billion yen ($16 million) in damages. Japan's government was not responsible for the accident, the court said, noting, however, residents faced imminent danger from chemical weapons left behind in the area. The plaintiffs have complained of painful blisters, weakened vision, coughs and chronic fatigue. The abandoned chemical weapons are part of the legacy of Japan's wartime conquests in East Asia that still complicate Tokyo's relations with Beijing." (Los Angeles Times; 24May10; Mari Yamaguchi) http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/wire/sns-ap-as-japan-china-chemical-weapons,0,5543175.story

NYPD gripe over bomb-sniffing stiffing [concerns funding for radiological detectors New York, NY]
"NYPD officials are frustrated with the Department of Homeland Security delay in releasing funds that the Finest badly need for the prevention of a 'dirty bomb' attack. The Police Department said it has been trying since last fall to obtain an $8 million federal grant for a radiation detection system, which would instantly read data from 4,500 sensors in cop cars across the region to intercept vehicles carrying explosive devices. 'There are bureaucratic hurdles and delays between the time you apply for the money, and when you actually get to use it,' said Jessica Tisch, policy and planning director in the NYPD counter-terrorism bureau. The money to set up the radiation-reading system in a Lower Manhattan command center would come from funds allocated in 2008 for the 'Securing the Cities' program. It took the feds five months to respond to the November request -- and only to ask for more information. After inquiries by the Post on Friday, a Homeland Security spokeswoman said the department now has all the information it needs, and the project 'will be approved in the near future.'" (New York Post; 23May10; Susan Edelman) http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/05/23/bureaucratic-hurdles-delay-funds-nyc-dirty-bomb-defenses/

CTR [Cooperative Threat Reduction] program deactivates six more nuclear warheads
"The U.S. Cooperative Threat Reduction program last month rendered inoperable six strategic nuclear warheads from the former Soviet Union, U.S. Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) announced yesterday. The Nunn-Lugar initiative's April accomplishments also included elimination of two ICBMs, six mobile ICBM launchers and 75 metric tons of Russian chemical-weapon agent. In addition, the program safeguarded five nuclear-weapon train shipments. Since being established in 1991 to secure and eliminate weapons of mass destruction in one-time Soviet states, the program has deactivated 7,539 strategic nuclear warheads and destroyed 781 ICBMs, 498 ICBM silos, 168 mobile ICBM launchers, 651 submarine-launched ballistic missiles, 476 SLBM launchers, 32 ballistic missile-capable submarines, 155 strategic bombers, 906 nuclear air-to-surface missiles and 194 nuclear test tunnels." (Global Security Newswire; 27May10) http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20100527_1231.php

Center [Beijing Second Artillery General Hospital] ready for war
"Nuclear warfare, bio-chemical weapons, terrorist attacks, natural disasters and pathogen outbreaks are the emergencies Beijing's first 24/7 public health emergency center is equipped to handle. Linked up with the country's military command, the 300-million yuan ($44 million) center opened Monday morning 500 meters north of the Jishuitan subway station. The 50,000-square-meter center nominally functions as an outpatient building for the Beijing Second Artillery General Hospital, with 15 floors above ground and three below. At 9 am Monday the center was available to deal with round-the-clock public medical emergencies, setting aside medicine, staff and hospital beds for up to 100 patients. The hospital next to the emergency center has also developed 22 different protocols to respond to and deal with instances of nuclear warfare, bio-chemical weapon attacks, terrorist attacks, natural disasters and pathogen outbreaks. The hospital has an information platform that connects the Red Cross's 999 emergency hotline and the city's 120 medical hotline with the military command center. The platform makes use of a video system that can be installed in ambulances to transmit live video feedback to the hospital." (Global Times; 25May10; Li Shuang) http://www.globaltimes.cn/www/english/metro-beijing/highlights/photo/2010-05/535233.html

Distribution of gas masks goes smoothly in nationwide drill
"At schools, post offices and community centers across the country on Wednesday, soldiers from the Home Front Command handed out gas masks to citizens, to use in the event of a chemical or biological weapons attack. At the Reading power station in north Tel Aviv, dozens of soldiers worked at eight stations handing out gas masks and showing people how to use them. Capt. Eyal Cohen, who was supervising the facility, said that by the early afternoon around 200 people had arrived to pick up masks for themselves and their family members, and that so far the distribution was proceeding much like last year's. 'For the most part it's just like last year's handout, but it seems that people are more aware of what we're doing and are coming in larger numbers,' he said. In the morning, air raid sirens sounded throughout the country and citizens were asked to enter the nearest bomb shelter or safe room." (Jerusalem Post; 27May10; Ben Harmtan and Yaakov Katz)

Israel holds defense drill amid regional tension
"Israel held a dress rehearsal for disaster Sunday, beginning a defense drill to test the response of soldiers, emergency crews and civilians to simulated missile barrages, terrorist attacks and chemical strikes. Israel embarked on its fourth annual home front drill at a time when Iranian-backed militants are rearming to Israel's north and south, and Iran itself is suspected of developing nuclear arms, despite its denials. The five-day exercise, the biggest in Israel's history, has raised allegations by the country's enemies that it is preparing for war -- a concern Israel has sought to allay. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the drill is a 'routine exercise that was scheduled long ago.' 'I want to emphasize that this is not a result of any abnormal security development,' he told his Cabinet on Sunday. 'On the contrary, Israel wants quiet, stability and peace, but it is no secret that we live in a region that is under threat of missiles and rockets.' Israel began carrying out the annual exercise, code-named Turning Point, after its 2006 war with Hezbollah militants in Lebanon showed the country's bomb shelters, air raid sirens and civil defense authorities were unprepared. The exercise also incorporates lessons from Israel's 2009 war against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip." (Associated Press; 23May10; Amy Teibel)

National Security Strategy: May 2010
"The American people face no greater or more urgent danger than a terrorist attack with a nuclear weapon. And international peace and security is threatened by proliferation that could lead to a nuclear exchange. Indeed, since the end of the Cold War, the risk of a nuclear attack has increased. Excessive Cold War stockpiles remain. More nations have acquired nuclear weapons. Testing has continued. Black markets trade in nuclear secrets and materials. Terrorists are determined to buy, build, or steal a nuclear weapon. Our efforts to contain these dangers are centered in a global nonproliferation regime that has frayed as more people and nations break the rules. That is why reversing the spread of nuclear weapons is a top priority. Success depends upon broad consensus and concerted action, we will move forward strategically on a number of fronts through our example, our partnerships, and a reinvigorated international regime." (White House; 26May10) http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/rss_viewer/national_security_strategy.pdf

Auditor: Portland [OR] Office of Emergency Management needs to improve coordination
"A Portland city audit to be released today shows that the office tasked with coordinating emergency response could do a better job. In her report, City Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade found that the city's basic emergency operations plan is outdated, emergency responder training is infrequent, and efforts to inform the public are disjointed. In short, the Portland Office of Emergency Management needs to beef up its 72-hour emergency 'kit.' 'They have taken a reactive, rather than proactive, approach to emergency management,' said Drummond Kahn, director of Audit Services. 'They have not completed a comprehensive risk assessment or a strategic plan to guide emergency preparedness efforts and planning.' The emergency management office and Mayor Sam Adams, who oversees it, agreed in large part with the findings. A big problem, according to the emergency office, is that it can't order other bureaus to work together or to improve bureau-specific responses to a dirty bomb or earthquake." (Oregonlive.com; 24May10; Janie Har, The Oregonian) http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2010/05/portland_office_of_emergency_m.html

Suspicious bag leads to live demonstration of new bomb truck [Fort Wayne, IN]
"Less than two hours before it was to be formally unveiled to local media Friday, the Fort Wayne Police Department's 'total containment vessel' – in essence, a truck used for bomb gathering and disposal – made a far more dramatic entrance to the city's streets. The police department received a report around 11 a.m. of a suspicious bag left on the north end of the Clinton Street bridge, and after officers noticed wires protruding from the duffel bag, the department's bomb squad was summoned, along with its $310,000 toy – so new it still doesn't have the police logo or sirens. The vessel looks like a steel box truck on steroids. Upon arrival, bomb squad officers began to maneuver a separate robotic device to the duffel bag for retrieval. After picking up the bag – bomb squad commander Sgt. Greg Stier said it appeared to be a police-issued bag – the remote-controlled robot carried it over the bridge and put it in the vessel. That's when the real benefit of having one of these trucks was witnessed. Rather than have officers investigate the bag while on a busy thoroughfare, two lanes of Clinton were reopened as the vessel performed its duty, which is to safely hold devices and contain any explosions or chemical and biological agents. 'Normally what we'd do is come and disrupt it,' said Stier. 'Now, we just put it in the sphere and take off, and we can take a look at it and dispose of it later.'" (News-Sentinel; 22May10; Aaron Organ)

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.

1 comment:

s said...

Ironically, on the same day the New York Times article, "Safety Rules Can't Keep Up With Biotech Industry" broke, the scientific watchdog group, The Council for Responsible Genetics-GeneWatch Magazine submitted the electronic version of the print subscription; March-April 2010 issue titled, "BioLab Safety".

The Editor of GeneWatch, Sam Anderson stated in the Editorial Section, " This may be one of the most important GeneWatch issue in recent memory".

The electronic version of GeneWatch magazine; BioLab Safety is available free online at http://issuu.com/genewatchmagazine/docs/genewatch23-2?mode=embed&layout=http%3A%2F%2Fskin.issuu.com%2Fv%2Flight%2Flayout.xml&showFlipBtn=true This 28 page electronic version can be read as you would a “printed” magazine issue.

March-April 2010 issue; "BioLab Safety" articles:

A Cruel and Unusual Corporation
By Ralph Nader
A Roach in the Kitchen
By CRG staff - interview with Becky McClain
Commentary: GM Crops
By Eric Hoffman
Dedication: Tony Mazzocchi
By Jeremy Gruber
Give Them an Inch...
By Michael Siciliano
One Bug, One Drug
By Lynn Klotz, Edward Sylvester
The Lab in My Backyard
By Beth Willis
Teatime in the Lab
By Sam Anderson
Book Review: Breeding Bio Insecurity and Germs Gone Wild
By Andrew Thibedeau
Flushing It Down the Rabbit Hole
By Andrew Thibedeau
Topic: Genetic Discrimination
By Jeremy Gruber
Topic: Forensic DNA Databanks
By CRG Staff
The Case of Dr. Malcolm Casadaban
By CRG Staff