Archive for March 25, 2008


“In the aftermath of the massacre, Hicks was told that his unit had killed 700-800 “enemy combatants.” But he knew the dead were not terrorists or insurgents; they were innocent Iraqis. “I will agree to swear to that till the day I die,” he said. “I didn’t see one enemy on that operation.”  

Read the full heart wrenching story at the Nation.

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This is unbelievable, Taiwan orders helicopters batteries and we send them nuclear missile detonators instead. But the best part is it took a year to uncover the error. Ouch!

By Nancy Youssef | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military mistakenly shipped four nuclear-missile detonators to Taiwan in 2006, then failed to detect the error for more than a year, the Pentagon announced Tuesday.

It was the second time in recent months that Pentagon officials acknowledged losing track of parts of country’s nuclear arsenal. Last September, a B-52 bomber was mistakenly loaded with nuclear-armed missiles and flown across the United States to a military base in Louisiana. At that time, Pentagon leaders called the misplaced arsenal an isolated incident.

The fuses mistakenly sent to Taiwan had been shipped in March 2005 from F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming to the Defense Logistics Agency warehouse at Hill Air Force Base in Utah.

Pentagon officials said they didn’t know how the detonators had been sent when Taiwan had ordered helicopter batteries or who was responsible. Michael Wynne, the secretary of the Air Force, said the cone-shaped fuses didn’t resemble the power batteries that Taiwan had requested.

In addition there’s a question of why they weren’t reported missing earlier. The military discovered the error last week only when Taiwan authorities alerted it to the error. Military officials said that the fuses, recovered in the last few days, apparently hadn’t been tampered with.

Wynne said that the misdirected detonators, used to ignite the trigger of a Mark-12 nuclear weapon, didn’t pose a security threat. The triggers couldn’t be used to detonate other weapons, officials said.

“This could not be construed as being nuclear material. It is a component for the fuse in the nose cone for a nuclear system,” Wynne said

That the Pentagon discovered the error only last week raised new questions about the security of its nuclear arsenal. It may make it harder for the U.S. to argue to Pakistan, Russia, North Korea and other nations that they can’t be trusted to secure their nuclear arsenals properly, said Victoria Samson, a research associate at the nonpartisan Center for Defense Information.

“It’s kind of difficult to criticize them when we have these issues,” Samson said. The U.S. military has procedures to secure its nuclear-weapons arsenal, but “they are just not being followed.”

Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered an investigation of the Taiwan shipment and how the U.S. secures its nuclear arsenal, which will be headed by Adm. Kirkland Donald, the director of Navy Nuclear Propulsion.

“We’ll do a thorough investigation, and those who are responsible will be held accountable. The secretary is quite forceful on this,” Ryan Henry, the undersecretary of defense policy, said Tuesday during a news conference.

But now there are new questions about whether other parts of U.S. nuclear weapons are missing.

Wynne said the military conducted quarterly checks of its nuclear arsenal, but he couldn’t explain how it didn’t notice the missing fuses in as many as eight checks. That will be part of the investigation, he said.

“What else have we shipped out?” asked Samson of the Center for Defense Information.

Henry said the military notified China and key members of Congress about the missing arsenal. Beijing considers the independently governed island of Taiwan as part of China, making all U.S. decisions to sell arms to Taiwan controversial.

From The TimesOnline-UK 

The United Kingdom has been ranked as one of the most stable and prosperous countries in the world, beating the United States, France and even Switzerland in a global assessment of every nation’s achievements and standards.

A one-year investigation and analysis of 235 countries and dependent territories has put the UK joint seventh in the premier league of nations. The top ten comprise also the Vatican, Sweden, Luxembourg, Monaco, Gibraltar, San Marino, Liechtenstein, the Netherlands and the Irish Republic.

The US lies 22nd and Switzerland, normally associated with wealth and untouchable stability, is rated 17th, losing points in the assessment of its social achievements.

Most stable:

Every country has been given a risk rating out of 100 for all-round stablilty

  • 1. Vatican 99
  • 2. Sweden 99
  • 3. Luxembourg 99
  • 4. Monaco 98
  • 5. Gibraltar 98
  • 6. San Marino 98
  • 7. Liechtenstein 97
  • 8. United Kingdom 97
  • 9. The Netherlands 97
  • 10. Irish Republic 97
  • US: 22nd equal 93

Read full story here.

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The United States has been free of  foot and mouth disease (FMD)  since 1929 and yet the proposed National Bio Agro Defense Facility will place this virus back on the mainland of the US for the first time in recent decades. We know that according to documents provided by the US government , “that all secretions  from the infected animal contain virus.  Aerosol  FMD virus can spread a considerable distance as a plume, depending on weather conditions and the virus can survive in manure and urine for up to six months”.  At NC’s NBAF DHS Town Hall meeting, DHS said materials would be placed in a landfill.  And then what? Should we just wait for a possible outbreak, soil or ground water contamination? Everyone involved knows that will be to late.

We know the reasons contagious animal diseases like foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) are often referred to as economic diseases because of the magnitude of economic harm they can cause to producers and to local communities. In 2005, the potential economic impact of an FMD outbreak in the United States was estimated at $40 billion to $60 billion, according to USDA estimates. In North Carolina, Agribusiness accounts for 62 billion annually. Given the fact that the USDA data is nearly 3 years old,  the potential damage is grossly understated and the impacts will be far greater for all concerned whether locally, nationally or  internationally.

Joseph W. Reardon, Food Administrator of the Food & Drug Protection Division of North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services said in Congressional testimony , that North Carolina is the only state in the nation to include infectious disease in the list of known and mitigatable hazards under the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000.  Basically the act required states to mitigate disaster scenarios such as floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes. The state of North Carolina and the Department of Health and Humans Services  included within the State’s Hazard Mitigation Plan a list which categorizes disease by route of transmission. By far the most damaging and most costly pathogen examined was foot and mouth disease or FMD.

The focus of Reardon’s testimony was FMD and it’s ability to proliferate quickly throughout the state and the U.S. To summarize he said the following; “we are certain to have a nationwide outbreak before we first detect the disease”.  If that event sounds familiar here is why. That is precisely what happened in Surrey, England in 2001 and again in 2007  from a leaky Bio-Lab.  We really don’t need one of our own.

Reardon went on to say this about “Crimson Sky” and FMD:  

“The foot and mouth disease (FMD) virus, for example, persists on clothing and in animal tissue Little skill or training is required for nefarious individuals to smuggle infected items or meat to the United States and expose susceptible animals, be they cattle or hogs.

 When we add to this equation over 20,000 hogs that leave NC every day and the likelihood that terrorists would infect several states simultaneously, we are certain to have a nationwide outbreak before we first detect the disease. These conclusions are consistent with the data garnered from the “Crimson Sky” FMD exercise series conducted by the National Defense University with our Department providing technical expertise.

Findings of the disease modeling from this exercise indicated that if 2 farms were infected, FMD would spread to 12 states within 10 days. If 5 farms are initially infected, then the disease could reach 35 states within the same period of 10 days”.

What is Crimson Sky you might be asking? Crimson Sky, is a FMD  scenario-planning exercise run by the U.S. government and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services [NCDA&CS], Emergency Programs Division.  The exercise was conducted  in 2002, which data modeling showed, that a FMD exposure on five farms led to the virus spreading  to 35 states in 10 days. “Crimson Sky”  ended with fictional riots in the streets after the simulation’s National Guardsmen were ordered to kill tens of millions of farm animals, so many that troops ran out of bullets. In the exercise, the government said it would have been forced to dig a ditch in Kansas 25 miles long to bury carcasses. In the simulation, protests broke out in some cities amid food shortages.

 Two other simulations also geared toward bio-terrorism risk assessment preformed by DHS and participating states are Crimson Winter and Crimson Guard. Limited information is available on these simulations.

Why would we risk possible widespread contamination with the NBAF and FMD  reentry on to the US mainland to successfully develop countermeasures?  There is already a company charged with that task by the DHS, USDA and ARS’s (the same group demanding the NBAF). GenVac, Inc.  just reported a vaccine break- through for FMD. They also make an argument against the NBAF within their press release.

 Consider this from their press release:

“The new vaccine has many benefits. It is administered in a nonreplicating adenovirus. It doesn’t require expensive, high-containment production facilities, and it can be produced safely in the United States because it can be made without using infectious FMD materials“.

Scientists develop new weapon in FMD battle

GenVac,Inc.

March, 18 2008 

WASHINGTON — A new vaccine developed by scientists with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, the Department of Homeland Security and a U.S.  biopharmaceutical  company holds promise for protection against foot-and-mouth disease.

The new vaccine works quickly, demonstrating effectiveness within seven days. Tests have shown that vaccinated cattle retain immunity for at least 21 days, but scientists expect that future studies will show that the new vaccine at least matches the six months of immunity provided by current vaccines. The new vaccine has been tested on cattle and swine, and is equally effective in both species.

“This signals tremendous promise,” said ARS administrator Edward B. Knipling. “Although this is still an experimental vaccine, it has made significant developmental progress, and we are optimistic about its prospects.”

Although the United States has not had an FMD outbreak since 1929, the disease is still considered a serious threat to the nation’s economy and food supply.

Significantly, as this is the first FMD vaccine produced in the United States, the federal government can plan adequate supplies for the veterinary strategic stockpile. The vaccine is the first molecular-based FMD vaccine for cattle, developed by scientists with ARS, the Department of Homeland Security’s Targeted Advanced Development unit and GenVec, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company based in Gaithersburg, Md. Additional testing is examining the vaccine’s commercial viability and effectiveness against the various serotypes of FMD virus.

The new vaccine has many benefits. It is administered in a nonreplicating adenovirus. It doesn’t require expensive, high-containment production facilities, and it can be produced safely in the United States because it can be made without using infectious FMD materials.

In addition, the vaccine also makes it possible for scientists to determine whether an animal found to have FMD antibodies acquired them through vaccination or from infection — an important piece of information because of the trade restrictions associated with using current vaccines.

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