Richard J. Danzig, former secretary of the Navy, a prominent lawyer and biowarfare consultant to the US government, was involved with Human Genome, a biotech company. He received more than $1 million in director’s fees and other compensation from the company between 2001 and 2012, reports the Los Angeles Times.Over the decade he was a strong advocate of improving America’s capability to respond to a possible bioterriorist attack. One of the scenarios he was warning about involved terrorist creating a strain of anthrax resistant to common antibiotics and weaponizing it.He had the ear of senior Pentagon and DHS officials, with the government eventually deciding to stockpile drugs to deal with such kind of anthrax. One of them called raxibacumab, or raxi, is produced by Human Genome.It was the first product that the company managed to sale and the US government is the only customer, the newspaper says. The US ordered 20,000 doses of raxi in 2006 and 45,000 more doses after 2009, when the initial batch expired. At shelf price of $5,100 per dose, the company received $334 million for the product, the newspaper says.The LA Times spoke to seven former top US officials, six of whom said they had no knowledge of Danzig being on board of the firm. One of them, Dr. Philip K. Russell, who helped the US prepare for biological attacks during the George W. Bush administration, said “Holy smoke—that was a horrible conflict of interest,” when the newspaper explained the situation.Danzig said in an interview that no such conflict existed and that he had acted “very properly.””My view was I’m not going to get involved in selling that,” Danzig told the newspaper. “But at the same time now, should I not say what I think is right in the government circles with regard to this? And my answer was, ‘If I have occasion to comment on this, it ought to be in general, as a policy matter, not as a particular procurement.’”Danzig started sounding the alarm about possible anthrax terrorist act after the widely-publicized 2001 attack, in which anthrax-laced letters killed five people and infected 11 others. In 2008, the DoJ named senior biodefense researcher Bruce Edwards Ivins, who had died a month earlier, as the sole suspect in the attack, but no formal trial was ever conducted.While the anthrax powder used in the 2001 attack was not resistant to antibiotics, Danzig said it would be “quite easy” for terrorists to create one. “Even at the high school level, biology students understand that an antibiotic-resistant strain can be developed,” he wrote in his key policymaking 2003 report “Catastrophic Bioterrorism – What Is To Be Done?”But the notion is not shared by some microbiologists.”It’s not a trivial endeavor,” Paul Keim, a Northern Arizona University geneticist and anthrax expert, told the newspaper. “This is something beyond the capability of a high school student or even someone with graduate training.”Keim added that if anthrax were made resistant to antibiotics, it would decrease the bacteria’s stability and virulence, greatly reducing its lethality.Human Genome was acquired by the British drug giant GlaxoSmithKline last year for $3.6 billion.Raxi was tested only on animals, since the lethality of anthrax does not allow for clinical trials on humans. Luckily, no terrorist group has used anthrax – antibiotic-resistant or otherwise – for a massive attack, which would put US stockpile of raxi to good use. …
Speaking to the Senate Armed Services early Thursday, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations Michael Sheehan said the Pentagon has no plans to pull out of its almost 12-year-old war overseas.When asked for his take on how long the war on terror could go on for, Sheehan told lawmakers, “At least 10 to 20 years.”According to US President Barack Obama, the last combat troops will move out of Afghanistan in 2014. If remarks from Sheehan and others are at all accurate, though, in reality the war could last through the 2030s.Sheehan was being grilled by members of the Senate committee on Thursday over not just the future of the war, but what rules are in play to continue the operation. Congress granted then-President George W. Bush the power to go after al-Qaeda in 2001 by signing the Authorization to Use Military Force, a legislation that essentially gave the go-ahead to use America’s might by any means necessary to avenge the attacks of 9/11. Nearly 13 years later, though, some members of the Senate saw that the overly broad powers extended to the commander-in-chief through the AUMF are being used to justify a widening war that now has soldiers targeting insurgents in venue like Yemen and Somalia.The scope of America’s counterterrorism program, Sheehan said, stretches “from Boston to the FATA,” referring to the region of Pakistan considered a hotbed of terrorism. Because of that widening arena, some senators said it’s time to rewrite the law.“It has spread throughout North Africa, throughout the Maghreb,” Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) said during the hearing. “The situation’s changed dramatically.But while some lawmakers suggested it was time to revise the AUMF, Pentagon officials said the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act updated the law to grant the president power not just to target overseas terrorists, but suspects believed to be associated forces.Robert Taylor, the acting general counsel of the Department of Defense, said that the NDAA’s update to the Bush-era bill means that even suspects born after the September 11 attacks could be targeted as warriors in the war on terror.“As long as they become an associated force under the legal standard that was set out,” Taylor testified, according to Wired’s Spencer Ackermnn.Sen. Angus King, an Independent from Maine, suggested the Pentagon was uninterested in changing the AUMF because they are using it to justify a war that wouldn’t otherwise be legal.“This is the most disturbing hearing I’ve been to in some time,” King said. “You guys have rewritten the Constitution today.”“You guys have invented this term, associated forces, that’s nowhere in this document,” King said. “It’s the justification for everything, and it renders the war powers of Congress null and void.”“I assume [the AUMF] does suit you well because you’re reading it to fit everything, and it doesn’t, the general rule of war applies,” King said.Even McCain, who has been by and large considered a hawkish member of the Senate, spoke out against the Pentagon’s reluctance to re-write a law that they are using to justify a war that could take US troops to all corners of the globe for the unforeseeable future.“For you to come here and say, ‘We don’t need to change it,’ I think, is disturbing,” McCain said.Before stepping down as secretary of defense, former Pentagon chief Leon Panetta said in late 2011, “We’re winning this very tough conflict.” Osama bin Laden was executed five months later, and the Central Intelligence Agency and DoD have continuously utilized strikes to weaken al-Qaeda substantially since. …
The flight serves as a milestone for the future of drone aviation, and US Navy officers have celebrated the success of its launch. But the flight of the unmanned aircraft, which is the size of a fighter jet, is likely to become the subject of criticism from those who believe drone usage hurts the US image – especially since drones are behind many civilian deaths on foreign grounds. Critics have already condemned the Navy’s $1.4 billion drone prototype program, relaying their concerns over the development of weaponized systems in which humans will have even less control over when it comes to launching attacks. Human Rights Watch has particularly protested the development of drones that carry weapons and are fully autonomous, like the X-47B unmanned aircraft that the Navy launched from the USS George H.W. Bushon Tuesday. This unmanned aircraft can reach an altitude of more than 40,000 feet and has a range of more than 2,100 nautical miles, the Associated Press reports. This model is particularly valuable because it has the capability to take off and land on an aircraft carrier. Developing such drones would allow the US to launch strikes from anywhere in the world, regardless of whether or not a foreign country allows the US on its grounds. The drone is fully autonomous in flight, and relies on computer programs to direct it – unless an operator programs it to operate otherwise. Most drones currently employed by the military fully rely on operators to control it from a remote location. While the X-47B is only intended for testing purposes rather than operational use, the Navy will use it for research purposes to develop advanced unmanned aircraft for use in future conflicts. When it comes to using lethal force, the X-47B still requires human approval. But Human Rights Watch believes the prototype research will lead to the development of drones that conduct deadly attacks with no human intervention.Steve Goose, director of the arms division at Human Rights Watch, expressed some of his fears with AP.“For us, the question is where do you draw lines?” he said. “We’re saying you need to draw the line when you have a fully autonomous system that is weaponized. We’re saying you must have meaningful human control over key battlefield decisions of who lives and who dies. That should not be left up to the weapons system itself.” But despite fears over the future of fully autonomous drones that can launch deadly attacks from aircraft carriers, the Navy is hailing the flight of its prototype as a success it has long sought.“US Navy history is made!” the Navy wrote from its official Twitter account. “Was airborne at 11:18A. More to come.” The Navy plans to release videos and photographs of the event, which Read Adm. Mat Winter wrote marks “an inflection point in history on how we will integrate manned and unmanned aircraft on carrier flight decks in the future.” …
Sergey Zheleznyak, deputy-speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament, has declared he was insulted by some of the online statements made by members of the opposition movement on May 9, the day Russia marks victory over Nazi Germany. Zheleznyak pointed at participants of the Bolotnaya Square anti-government protests as authors of the remarks in question. He neither gave particular names nor specified which exact words had angered him, only citing those loosely. “They say that they hate parades, they consider the St. George ribbon a fetish, they are not sure what’s better – Russia’s victory or if Hitler had won. They think they have the right to put to doubt our victory in the Great Patriotic War [WWII],” according to Zheleznyak, as cited by Regnum news agency. He demanded the bill on criminal prosecution for attempts to justify Nazism and for questioning the USSR’s role in the WWII victory to be back on the Duma agenda. The proposal for the bill was submitted to the Duma in late March. Under it, offenders could face fines of up to 300,000 rubles (roughly US$ 9,500), or be denied the right to hold certain ranks, or be sentenced to two years of compulsory labor or to a year in jail. A similar proposal has been under the Duma consideration since 2009. The older version is tougher with fines of up to 500,000 rubles (US$16,000) and potential prison term of up to five years. …
Vr sd at redde mig, hr..
Det var det frste, som kvinden Reshma Begum sagde, da hun fik kontakt til
omverdenen i dag efter 17 dage i ruinerne af en sammenstyrtet fabrik i
LS OGSEfter 17 dage: Kvinde fundet i
live i ruiner
Iflge sergent Abdur Razzaq, der er en del af redningsarbejdet, blev kvinden
opdaget, fordi hun bankede p murbrokkerne med et rr. Inden da havde en
bulldozer flyttet murbrokker over det sted, hvor Reshma Begum var
1.000 ddeJeg kunne hre lyden og skyndte mig hen til det sted, hvor det kom fra,
siger Abdur Razzaq iflge Wall Street Journal.
Jeg knlede og kunne hre en svag stemme sige vr sd at redde mig, hr.,
Iflge flere medier bad militret arbejderne holde inde med de store maskiner,
mens flere hundrede redningsarbejdere skyndte sig til hjlp.
Hurtigt blev brokkerne fjernet, hvorefter Reshma Begum kunne trkkes op i
sikkerhed uden de store skader.
Gud er stor, rbte folkemngden, da kvinden kom op, iflge The Guardian, som
ogs skriver, at redningsarbejderne grd ved synet af den uskadte kvinde.
LS OGS1000 dde efter
bygningskollaps i Bangladesh
Hvordan Reshma Begum har overlevet de 17 dage under brokkerne, er endnu ikke
bekendt. Hun ligger p hospitalet og har endnu ikke fortalt sin historie til
Over 1.000 mennesker er blevet drbt og 2.500 reddet, efter fabrikken i Dhaka
styrtede i grus 24. april.
Setting foot on Mars by the 2030s is human destiny and a US priority, and every dollar available must be spent on bridging gaps in knowledge on how to get there, NASA’s chief said Monday. Addressing a conference of space experts at George Washington University, NASA administrator Charles…
AFP – US billionaire Warren Buffet said the US economy is moving in the right direction and praised the policies of both president George W. Bush and Barack Obama as “the right things,” in an interview that aired Sunday. US stocks soared to new closing records Friday after a…