Blog posts tagged with 'security'

Sinking Teeth Into The Mysteries of Plague

Two plague victims in Aschheim-Bajuwarenring cemetery in Bavaria, Germany who died some 1500 years ago have been unearthed and are able to help provide an international team of scientists with a better understanding the type of virus that was responsible for their deaths sometime between 541 and 543. Thanks to the dental remains of these two unearthed plague victims, researchers using very sophisticated methods were able to extract DNA fragments of plague from the teeth from the skeletal remains and reconstruct the genome of what is now the oldest pathogen obtained to date. Yersinia Pestis or Y. Pestis is also known as plague. This bacterium was found to be responsible for the Justinian outbreak and the results showed that this was unique and distinct from various other strains that would later become the Black Death and other plague pandemics that would follow.

“This study raises intriguing questions about why a pathogen that was both so successful and so deadly suddenly died out. One testable possibility is that human populations evolved to become less susceptible,” says Edward Holmes, an NHMRC Australia Fellow at the University of Sydney.

Up until now little has been known about the exact cause of the Justinian epidemic’s origins or cause. The Justinian plague is thought to have been instrumental in bringing about the end of the Roman Empire and was, until the recent findings were too discover, responsible for the Black Death. The Justinian Plague is believed to have killed 30 to 50 million people, estimated to have been at least half of the world’s population at that time. Later the Black Death would emerge to ravage the medieval population killing 50 million Europeans between 1347 and 1351 some 800 years later. These recent findings now show that the Justinian plague was a unrelated strain from the plague that caused the Black Death.

The new results that are published in online edition of The Lancet Infectious Disease, show that the Justinian Plague was a distinct and separate genome of the same Pathogen know as Yersinia Pestis and not an evolutionary forefather or related to the same Yersinia Pestis strains responsible for the Black Death. Another pandemic that had taken hold in Hong Kong and spread across the globe is now more likely to be considered the precursor to the Black Death.

These findings would suggest that the Justinian pandemic strain also originated in Asia and not in Africa as some scientist originally thought. This would lead them to theorize that earlier epidemics, such as the Plague of Athens (430 BC) and the Antoine Plague (165 – 180 AD) may have also been unique and distinct emergence of related Yersinia Pestis strains.

“We know the bacterium Y. Pestis has jumped from rodents into humans throughout history and rodent reservoirs of plague still exist today in many parts of the world. If the Justinian plague could erupt in the human population, cause a massive pandemic, and then die out, it suggest it could happen again. Fortunately we now have antibiotics that could be used to effectively treat plague, which lessens the chances of another large scale human pandemic” says Dave Wagner, an associate professor in the Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics at Northern Arizona University.

These studies would suggest that the threat of an outbreak of Yersinia Pestis can occur at any time now, or in the future, is quite possible. Add to this, the possibility of some individual or person intent to using the pathogen as a weapon to wreck terror on an unsuspecting population raises the stakes even higher. New technologies are now available to health and safety teams in the early detection of such possible natural outbreaks and first responders now have the capabilities to be able to equip themselves with the latest tools required to easily and reliably detect not only Yersinia Pestis, but other possible pathogens that could be used as weapons against humanity. This ability to provide early detection is essential in containing and maintaining control of a terrorist planned outbreak and is crucial to preventing another full scale global population pandemic such as those seen in the past.

One of the biggest breakthroughs in rapid and reliable early detection of pathogens that can be utilized against terrorist is the BADD line of bio-warfare detection tests produced by AdVnt Biotechnologies LLC. Developed in response to the white powder incidents that occurred after 9/11, the tests were used in the detection of bio-warfare pathogens during the Iraq War. This line of tests gave first responders the ability to arrive at a possible bio-threat scene and test for powders and liquids left by suspected terrorist and ascertain within 15-minutes or less if the material held the potential of becoming a cause of wide spread contamination. This rapid testing with their on-the-scene detection capabilities helped to open windows of opportunities for immediate containment and control of a possible pandemic. AdVnt Biotechnologies was also the first to revolutionize the hand held assays when they were the first to develop a testing platform that allows for the collection of one suspicious sample of unknown origin to be tested against multiple targets on one detection test cassette. In the not too distant past, responders would have to collect up to 5 samples and run 5 tests one at a time to discover what active agent provided the danger of contamination. If there was very little or sparse material left behind, the residue would have to be sent off site to be examined while the clock was ticking. With the invention of AdVnt Biotechnologies ground breaking PS-5T Pro-Strip multi-agent rapid screening system, for the first time, responders have the ability to hit five different targets from one collected bio-threat sample. Saving time, saving resources, saving lives.

Anthrax Vaccine for Children?

A recent article published in the Homeland Security Newswire Oct 26,2011 titled “Government considers testing anthrax vaccine on children” discusses the issues currently being considered by the US Government for inoculating children for Anthrax. While the vaccine has been administered to adults with no ill effects to date. The question about the safety of vaccinating children has raised some serious questions. How is it justifiable to vaccinate children for Anthrax with a new untested drug when there is no immediate danger of anthrax present? The more rational answer of course is it’s better to test the drug now then to wait when there is a full blown emergency and find out only then whether or not the vaccine is safe for children.

The article does not go into detail about how well the vaccine was received by the adults (mostly military personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan) or list any ill side-effects. Nor does the article explain where the US Government plans to locate these parents who will be willing to subject their children to a untested vaccine for a serious life threatening disease. Especially for a threat they may never come into contact with in their lifetime. Since this is an issue of proper preparedness there might be other options to consider. Companies like AdVnt Biotechnologies LLC, now provide early detection test for anthrax and now it is possible get results to show in as little as 3 to 15 minutes. Early detection of exposure will noramlly allow plenty of time for proper medical attention. But how much more prepared can we be through the use of vaccinations and more important, how safe can we make our children?

On the surface it seems that maybe the US Government is acting a bit hasty in getting this new vaccine to the general populace. It is important to remember in the framework of Domestic Preparedness, the argument can seem rational when confronted with the day to day possibility that at any time one person acting alone or in concert with others can create a bio-terror crisis by releasing weaponized anthrax or other harmful bio-agents into a heavily populated area. Therefore, being able to conceive of a plan to prepare a nation of fully vaccinated bystanders could go along way to contain the spread of such a threat if such an bio-terrorist event such as the release of anthrax were to occur. So we also have to take into consideration, what are the chances going to be of this event happening in or around our children?

To get a better understanding of this discussion, it might be a good idea to take a moment to step back and reacquaint ourselves with anthrax and why it has become one of the most notorious bad boys in the bio-threat arena. The Center of Disease Control has listed Anthrax as a class A agent meaning it poses a hazard to human health and is able to affect large population and requires a great deal of planning to control

Anthrax comes from the bacteria Bacillus anthracis and is able to spread through spore growth. Anthrax infection can be introduced through three manifestations, cutaneous (skin), inhalation, and gastrointestinal. The most common mode of Anthrax infection is cutaneous, which can enter the body though cuts or abrasions on skin. Anthrax can contaminate animal hides such as wool, hair products and leather goods from infected animals. It is also known for it’s ability to lay dormant in the ground or in the environment for extremely long periods of time. The symptoms of anthrax depends on the manner in which it is delivered to your system. If it is through the skin, symptoms include raised itchy bumps that resembles insect bites but within 1-2 days develops into a vesicle and then a painless ulcer, usually 1-3 cm in diameter, with a characteristic black necrotic (dying) area in the center accompanied by swollen Lymph glands near the adjacent area. Deaths are rare if treated with the appropriate antimicrobial therapy.

The second manifestation of anthrax is gastrointestinal and most likely to come from contaminated meat. Incidents of death through gastrointestinal contact is usually very high. Infections through gastrointestinal anthrax is an acute inflammation of the intestinal tract. Initial signs of nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, and fever are followed by abdominal pain, vomiting of blood, and severe diarrhea. Cases of gastrointestinal anthrax is higher then skin infection.

Anthrax can also be transmitted through inhalation. This method of infection presents the most serious threat to humans. Inhalation of anthrax resembles a common cold or flu like symptoms accompanied by a sore throat, mild fever, muscle aches with weakness and lightheadedness. Because of the familiar flu like symptoms, anthrax can infections can often be overlooked as a possible cause of infection for several days until the symptoms progress to severe breathing problems and toxic shock. The inhalation of anthrax is usually fatal.

Once the forensic details of the anthrax threats are laid out, it is easy to see why the development of a anthrax vaccine and it’s application has become a matter of concern for the US Government in designing a preparedness plan in case of a bio-terrorist anthrax attack. The risk of vaccinating children with a yet unproven drug seems pale in comparison with the harsh reality of what those children could be facing should they ever come into contact with weaponized anthrax. Imagine how parents felt when confronted with the choice of inoculating their children with the then unproven polio vaccine when they were confronted with the very real possibility of seeing their children infected with polio.

If the thought of you or your children getting vaccinated may seem irrational it is important to keep in mind that this controversial topic falls within the framework of Domestic Preparedness. Since 2006 AdVnt Biotechnologies LLC has been actively on the forefront of Bio-Warfare Detection, working actively within this framework and has a proven track record of success in bio-warfare detection world wide. AdVnt Biotechnologies has been awarded with the “Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act of 2002 ( SAFETY ACT)“ Cerificate of Conformance and both AdVnt Biotechnologie’s BADD Anthrax Detection Test and Pro-Strip Multi-Agent Detection Test have been used around the global by first responders to rapidly detect the prescience of anthrax and other serious bio-threats targeted by bio-terrorist. Proven to reliably detect anthrax spores down to 1.55 – 1.6 x104FU/ml (Less than an infectious dose and not visible to the human eye), in as little as 15 minutes or less. AdVnt Biotechnologies rapid, reliable hand held assays have raised the bar in bio-detection standards.

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Bomb hidden in body in Saudi attack "invisible" to normal detection

Re-printed from Homeland Security Newswire

A terrorist in Saudi Arabia tried to kill the Saudi antiterror chief by carrying explosives inside his body; experts say there are “tremendous implications for airport security with the potential of making it even more complicated to get on to your plane”

HSNW wrote two weeks ago about a terrorist using explosives concealed inside his body who blew himself up on receipt of a mobile phone signal (9 September 2009). The terrorist passed through several checks undetected. The attack has security experts very worried that this method is likely to become a real threat.

The intention was to kill a Saudi prince, who happened to be the chief of antiterrorism operations in Saudi Arabia in a complex plot involving the terrorist gaining access to the target by pretending to defect.

An important point to glean from this unbelievable attempted murder/suicide has got to be that the enemy we are battling in this war will resort to anything to martyr themselves for the cause. Do any of us in the west really think that our way of life is not in jeopardy? (Oh yeah, I forgot, we are no longer involved in that conflict, therefore a majority of Americans are being lulled into a false sense of security.)

We better believe that any weapons of mass destruction these zealots come upon will be used against the most innocent among us. Thus the need for preventative measures throughout our communities. We at AdVnt BioTechnologies feel that our biological agent detection devices are just what the doctor orders for simple, fast and accurate screening devices that can be properly operated by any twelve year old. I know, my twelve year old, Jake has proven it time and time again.

If you want to be prepared for the inevitable bioweapons event to come our way, then visit AdVnt’s website and see what it will take for you to become a viable bio-sensor for your community, neighborhood and family.

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What a coincidence!!! Murtha and the Biowarfare business?

Murtha’s Nephew Got Defense Contracts

Millions in Work Came Without Competition

The headquarters of Murtech, in a low-slung, bland building in a Glen Burnie business park, has its blinds drawn tight and few signs of life. On several days of visits, a handful of cars sit in the parking lot, and no trucks arrive at the 10 loading bays at the back of the building.

Yet last year, Murtech received $4 million in Pentagon work, all of it without competition, for a variety of warehousing and engineering services. With its long corridor of sparsely occupied offices and an unmanned reception area, Murtech’s most striking feature is its owner — Robert C. Murtha Jr., 49. He is the nephew of Rep. John P. Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat who has significant sway over the Defense Department’s spending as chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee.

Robert Murtha said he is not at liberty to discuss in detail what his company does, but for four years it has subsisted on defense contracts, according to records and interviews. He said Murtech’s 17 employees “provide necessary logistical support” to Pentagon testing programs that focus on detecting chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats, “and that’s about as far as I feel comfortable going.” Giving more details could provide important clues to terrorist plotters, he said.

Murtha said he does not advertise being the nephew of John Murtha and considers it “unfortunate” that some will unfairly assume Murtech received its federal contracts because of his uncle’s influence at the Pentagon.

Coincidently, over the years, John Murtha has proudly claimed credit for using his Appropriations Committee seat to steer hundreds of millions in Pentagon work to companies in his district, many of them fledgling enterprises run by campaign contributors. His influence also may be seen in the military improvements at the Johnstown airport that bears his name. The little-used commuter airport doubles as a wartime preparedness facility for the Pentagon after $30 million in improvements.

Murtha’s power has had beneficial effects within his family. His brother, Robert C. “Kit” Murtha, built a longtime lobbying practice around clients seeking defense funds through the Appropriations Committee and became one of the top members of KSA, a lobbying firm whose contractor clients often received multimillion-dollar earmarks directed through the committee chairman.

Robert C. Murtha Jr. of Murtech is Kit Murtha’s son. He also is a former Marine who once served as a presidential security officer and aide to the president for White House functions. He worked for eight years for ACS, a defense and information technology contractor. When Lockheed purchased ACS in 2004, he started several companies, including Murtech, which he registered as a defense contracting firm.

Murtech received its contracts primarily from the Army Space and Missile Defense Command in Huntsville, Ala., which has been generous to companies in John Murtha’s district and enjoys a close relationship with the congressman through a mutual interest in breast cancer research. The Army command has won at least $200 million a year in federal funding for the cancer research, of which Rep. Murtha is a stalwart supporter. In a program called Missiles to Mammograms the command has collaborated with a contractor in Murtha’s district, Windber Medical Center, in a multimillion-dollar project to explore using missile-tracking technology to detect breast cancer.

The command awarded its first storage contract to Murtech without competitive bidding, paying $1.4 million a year. Robert Murtha Jr. says the no-bid arrangement was “the government’s choice” and occurred because the government “got itself in a bind.” A contract with SA Scientific of San Antonio was about to lapse, and the command needed Murtech, then serving as a subcontractor to the Texas company, to store materials for the military’s Critical Reagents Program. The program produces lab materials that can be used in handheld devices and sensors to detect the presence of biological toxins.

“We were uniquely qualified because we had already been doing that work,” Murtha said.

I find this simply amazing and adequate proof that despite all the laws, rules and regulations to discourage graft and corruption at the federal level, there are ways to circumvent these laws that apparently are just for the rest of us!

When will enough be enough?

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40 al-Qaeda terrorists dead after failed experiment with plague weapon

Published 22 January 2009

40 al-Qaeda members died after being exposed to the plague during a biological weapons test; test took place in cave hideouts in Tizi Ouzou province, 150 kilometres east of the Algerian capital Algiers.

Last month (23 December 2008 HS Daily Wire) we reported that leaders of the U.S. Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism said that the Obama administration must do more, much more, to prevent a terrorist attack on the United States. The most urgent task:

Focus on bioterrorism. The united States must raise the priority of the most likely form of attack — bioterrorism — by mobilizing the life sciences community to develop protocols that prevent misuse of scientific research; tightening oversight of U.S. high-containment laboratories and the security of those around the world; improving U.S. response time in the event of an attack; and educating the American people in order to prevent panic. “We must lead the international community in the development of an action plan for universal adherence to and compliance with the anemic 36-year-old Biological Weapons Convention.”

The commission, led by former senators Bob Graham (D-Florida) and Jim Talent (R-Missouri), is apparently correct in its assessment. Peter Goodspeed writes in the National Post that the very day Barack Obama was sworn in as president, warning Americans “our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred,” there were reports an al-Qaeda affiliate recently abandoned a training camp in Algeria after forty terrorists died from being exposed to the plague during a biological weapons test. The report, which first surfaced in the British tabloid The Sun, says members of al-Qaeda in the Land of the Maghreb (AQLIM) hurriedly abandoned their cave hideouts in Tizi Ouzou province, 150 kilometres east of the Algerian capital Algiers, after being exposed to plague bacteria.

The newspaper said they apparently became infected while experimenting with biological weapons. Algerian security forces discovered the body of a dead terrorist alongside a road near the abandoned hideout.

U.S. intelligence officials, speaking anonymously with Eli Lake of the Washington Times on Tuesday, could only confirm the sudden base closure after an unconventional weapons test went wrong. The officials said they intercepted an urgent communication in early January between the AQLIM leadership and al-Qaeda’s top leaders in the tribal region of Pakistan. The Algerian terrorists said they were abandoning and sealing off a training area after a leak of a chemical or biological substance.

AQLIM, once known as the Salfist Group of Call & Combat, is one of the most radical and violent Islamist groups operating in North Africa. It has ties to Moroccan terrorists who carried out the 2004 Madrid train bombings and bombed the UN headquarters in Algiers in 2007, killing 41 people.

Plague comes in two types of plague. Bubonic plague, which is spread by bites from infected rat fleas, killed a third of Europe’s population in the fourteenth century but can now be treated with antibiotics. Pneumonic plague is less common but more deadly. It is spread, like the flu, by airborne bacteria, and can be inhaled and transmitted between humans without the involvement of animals or fleas.

Goodspeed reports that for years, U.S. Defense Department officials have warned al-Qaeda operatives have been actively pursuing sophisticated biological weapons research.

News of the latest al-Qaeda threat broke four days after Mike McConnell, U.S. director of national intelligence, said Osama bin Laden’s third-eldest son and heir apparent, Saad, has been released from house arrest in Iran. The 27-year-old, who was groomed by his father to assume a leadership role in al-Qaeda, had been detained since after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. U.S. intelligence says that during his detention, Saad bin Laden was allowed to continue to operate. He played a prominent role in ordering a 2002 suicide bombing of a Jewish synagogue in Tunisia, commanded a series of bombings that killed 45 people in Casablanca, Morocco, in May 2003, and sent suicide car bombers who killed 35 people in Riyadh, also in May 2003.

During his final news briefing of the Bush administration, McConnell said Saad bin Laden is now “probably in Pakistan.” His departure could signal a new relationship between Iran and al-Qaeda, but it might also suggest al-Qaeda is moving to consolidate its leadership in territory under its control in Pakistan.

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