Archive for January 19th, 2005

More on Boston Terror Threat

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More
details on the rapidly developing Boston Terror story, this just in from
the Boston
Herald
. The one on the lower left looks like a kid who was
in our class last summer….

Boston terror threat probed

By Tom Farmer and Michele McPhee
Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Federal and state authorities are investigating a nuclear terrorist
threat against Boston after a man calling from Mexico told California
police that
he smuggled two Iraqis and four Chinese over the border, the Boston Herald
has learned.

"They got a call from across the border in Mexico to the California
Highway Patrol and he said he brought two Iraqis and four Chinese (individuals)
across the border and according to him, they stated soon to follow behind
them would be some sort of material,” said a law enforcement source
familiar with the investigation.

‘He refers to some sort of nuclear material that will follow them through
New York up into Boston.”

from the Boston Herald

Ebola Comes to Campus

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The theme
of the day seems to be "Reasons to be Afraid". Before all the hubbub
about the imminent terrorist attack on Boston, we were preoccupied
with the story that three researchers at a Boston University biolab have
managed to infect themselves with an infectious bacterium called tularemia.
In the interest of full disclosure it should be revealed that the Dowbrigade’s
main contributor is employed by said university and spends
a significant part of each day on the BU campus.

(It should also be revealed that while everyone associated with the
Dowbrigade is thankful of the fact and form of our employment, we DO NOT
TRUST the administration and that is a fairly widespread opinion, especially
among students, graduates, the faculty, the ex-faculty, the campus neighbors,
the American academic community, ex-NASA administrators and the Boston
Police)

Perhaps the most upsetting aspect of the story is that the infections
happened LAST YEAR and word of the incident is only now leaking to the
press and the public in general.  From a column
in today’s Boston Globe Business
section:

”Last year’s mishap is doubly worrisome," says Philip Warburg,
president of the Conservation Law Foundation, which has pushed for
consideration
of alternative sites for the lab. ”First, it casts serious doubt on
BU’s assertion that it can handle infectious diseases in a manner that
guarantees
the health of the Boston community. Second, BU’s failure to let the
public know about the incident calls into question its willingness
to be candid
about the way it runs these sorts of facilities."

The news was especially upsetting in light of previously announced plans
by BU to open an Ultra Top Secret Level IV Bio-Defense Lab specifically  designed
to play with the most feared infectious diseases in the world. We are talking
Ebola, Anthrax, Botulism and Dioxin, the Plague, Typhoid and Smallpox.
The lab would be used for housing pathogens deemed highly transmissible
and
deadly. And these guys can’t be trusted with tularemia!

The BU researchers in question do not come off as the kind of world-class
scientists one would hope to have handling these kinds of materials.  This,
from today’s
Boston Globe
:

"The deck was stacked against [the researchers] because they were
working with something they had no idea they were working with," Moore
said.

But Moore acknowledged that researchers in the lab had violated policies
requiring them to work with tularemia inside an enclosed box, called a
hood, that sends air through sophisticated filters.

Instead, the tularemia samples were sometimes worked with in the open,
in part because the enclosed research boxes were sometimes filled with
material that should not have been kept there, Moore said.

Well, we guess if the desk was stacked against them, then it’s understandable.  Accidents
will happen.  No need to excite the public unnecessarily.
Thankfully, to keep us on the edge of our seat and so we know what to look
out for,
the
Boston
Globe published a handy guide
to tularemia:

Can I get it? Tularemia is not known to be spread from person to person.
Most people get it from being bitten by an infected tick, deerfly, or other
insect; handling infected animal carcasses; eating or drinking contaminated
food or water; or breathing in the bacteria.

So as long as we stay away from ticks, don’t handle dead
animal carcasses, and refrain from eating, drinking or breathing, we should
be all right…

Boston Under Terror Alert

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Mayor
Mumbles of Boston just gave a most disconcerting press conference in
which he basically confirmed that the FBI had informed him of a specific
threat against the city of Boston. He did not offer ANY details
of what the warning consisted of, just denied rumors of a dirty bomb
or an LNG tanker attack. The Govenor is on his way back from Washington,
going to skip the Inauguration. Everybody is supposed to watch out for
4 Chinese individuals – great news for our
Oriental
students,
arriving
this week
for the new semester.

Then this came across the AP:

Boston Agencies Alerted of Possible Terror Threat
Jan 19, 2005 5:05 pm US/Eastern

BOSTON (AP) — The FBI has notified law enforcement agencies in Boston to be
on the lookout for four people described as possible terror suspects who may
be headed to the Boston area.

A federal law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity tells The
Associated Press that the FBI’s joint terrorism task force has not yet corroborated
a tip that terror suspects may have entered the U-S through Mexico in recent
days.

The official says the tip came from an unidentified individual and is similar
to dozens received by law enforcement agencies each week.

A spokesman for Governor Romney says the governor will speak with reporters this
afternoon in Washington DC and then return to Boston. Romney was in Washington
to attend President Bush’s inauguration.

from AP

The Next War

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The President has signed a series of findings and executive orders authorizing
secret commando groups and other Special Forces units to conduct covert
operations against suspected terrorist targets in as many as ten nations
in the Middle East and South Asia.

We
are all in favor
of covert operations, seeing as OVERT operations
seem to consist of dropping thousand pound bombs willy nilly and leveling
city
centers with battle tanks. Here is the loooong Seymor Hersh article that
is causing such a stir with claims of ongoing target identification in Iran…..

from the
New Yorker