FBI says it easily replicated anthrax used in attacks

first_img At the same time, officials conceded that they probably will never be able to dispel all doubts about the case against Bruce E. Ivins, the anthrax researcher who died in an apparent suicide as the FBI was about to announce charges against him. According to a New York Times report on the press conference, FBI officials said investigators determined that the making of the powder was a relatively simple process of cleaning and drying anthrax spores. “FBI scientists easily reproduced it with gear that Ivins regularly used,” the article stated. Aug 15 CIDRAP News storyhttp://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/bt/anthrax/news/aug1508anthrax.html The FBI has said its experts and other scientists helping with the investigation developed a new DNA fingerprinting technique that enabled them to match the anthrax used in the attacks with a batch of anthrax that was in Ivins’ custody, known as RMR-1029. The agency has not released a detailed scientific report on the DNA evidence. Aside from that claim, the case against Ivins is mostly circumstantial, and a number of scientists have voiced doubts about it. At an Aug 18 news conference, the agency also acknowledged a specific error in the investigation and promised to release detailed information on the probe in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Aug 20, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – The FBI, seeking to counter scientific skepticism on its investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks, insisted this week that the anthrax powder could have been made by one person and contained no “intentional additives” to make it more dispersible. The FBI then realized the sample was the same strain used in the attacks, which helped confirm other evidence implicating Ivins, the Times reported. “Looking at it in hindsight, we would do things differently today,” the newspaper quoted Majidi as saying. In addition, Dr. C.J. Peters, a virologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, said it is puzzling that the FBI has not reported finding traces of the letter anthrax in places where Ivins lived and worked, given how widely the spores were dispersed in settings such as the Washington, DC, post office that processed the letters mailed to senators. As expected, the FBI’s new revelations did not eliminate skepticism about the case. Dr. Richard Spertzel, a retired microbiologist who led the United Nations’ biological weapons inspections in Iraq, called the FBI’s new presentation “a pretty tenuous argument,” according to the Times. He specifically questioned the agency’s claim that the letter anthrax was not “military grade.” However, silicon was found in the mailed anthrax (as reported previously), and FBI officials conceded that the duplicate powder they made did not match the letter anthrax in that respect, according to reports by the Times and the Washington Post. FBI scientists said they concluded that the high level of silicon occurred naturally in the anthrax used in the attacks, the Times reported. Further, Majidi said the information released this week was “the first step toward broader dissemination of the scientific information surrounding this case. Additional information will be available through peer-reviewed publications and I ask you to respect the integrity of this process.” But it turned out that an extra copy of Ivins’ sample was kept by Paul Keim, a Northern Arizona University biologist who helped with the investigation, and he provided it to the FBI when the agency asked for it in 2006, according to the Post. “It is important to emphasize that the science used in this case is highly validated and well accepted throughout the scientific community. The novelty is in the application of these techniques for forensic microbiology.” The investigative error acknowledged by the FBI this week had to do with the handling of the first anthrax sample they obtained from Ivins. According to the Times, FBI officials revealed that they first obtained a sample of a unique strain of anthrax from him in 2002 and that it could have led them to the strain used in the attacks. However, the agency “destroyed the sample because Dr. Ivins did not follow protocol in the way it was submitted, making it more difficult to use in court,” the story said. “Through a comprehensive analytical approach, the investigators were provided with validated scientific data which linked the material used in the 2001 anthrax attacks to material from USAMRIID identified as RMR-1029,” Majidi said. In his Aug 18 written statement, Majidi listed several sophisticated techniques that were used in analyzing the mailed anthrax: scanning and transmission electron microscopy, energy dispersive x-ray analysis, carbon dating by accelerator mass spectrometry, and inductively coupled plasma-optical emission and mass spectrometry. “I would contend that anywhere he made the powder or manipulated the powder was almost certainly contaminated,” Peters told CIDRAP news by e-mail. “Think about the pos[itive] nasal swabs in the Hart office building or environmental swabs in the post office. Look at the spore counts on the protective gear when the Leahy letter was detected.” The mailing of anthrax-laced letters to two US senators and several media offices in the fall of 2001, shortly after the Sep 11 terrorist attacks, killed five people and sickened 17 others. The FBI outlined its case against Ivins on Aug 6 of this year, just 9 days after he died of an overdose of painkillers. Ivins had worked for years at the US Army Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick in Maryland. “I don’t think we’re ever going to put the suspicions to bed,” said Vahid Majidi, assistant director of the FBI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, as quoted in press accounts. “There’s always going to be a spore on a grassy knoll.” Early in the investigation, the FBI indicated that the mailed anthrax was a weaponized product, treated or processed to make it spread more easily through the air and penetrate deep into the lungs. It was reported that the powder contained silicon and that Army experts had been unable to replicate the material. The implication was that one person working alone would not have been able to produce the powder. But in a statement presented at this week’s news conference, Majidi said, “There were no intentional additives combined with the Bacillus anthracis spores to make them any more dispersible.” In other information given at the news conference, officials said the Institute for Genomic Research had sequenced the full DNA of several anthrax strains by 2002, suggesting it might be possible to link the letter anthrax to its source by identifying specific mutations, according to the Times. See also: It took another year to identify the four distinctive mutations the FBI has reported, the story said. Meanwhile, the FBI collected more than 1,000 samples of the Ames strain of anthrax, the strain used in the attacks, and started using its genetic test on them. The FBI found that 8 of the 1,000 samples carried the four mutations, as reported previously. According to the Times, 100 scientists had access to or were associated with those eight samples, and all of them were investigated. The body of evidence pointed to Ivins, the story said.last_img read more

Sanders shrugs off primary defeats, remains in Democratic race

first_imgSpeculation had been growing that he might respond to pleas from Democratic activists to step aside for party unity, giving Biden — his only rival — a chance to focus on campaigning against Trump.But Sanders, 78, broke his silence to say he was preparing for his first one-on-one televised debate Sunday “with my friend Joe Biden.”While he remained defiant, Sanders did make a number of unusual statements, accepting both his losses during the primary race and perceptions that he would fare less well against Trump.”I cannot tell you how many people our campaign has spoken to who say they agree with us but will vote for Joe because they believe he’s the best to beat Donald Trump,” he said. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday shrugged off a string of primary defeats and pressure to drop out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, saying he remains in the fight against centrist frontrunner Joe Biden.In his first remarks since losing to Biden in Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi and Idaho on Tuesday, the leftist senator from Vermont said his main priority was defeating “dangerous” President Donald Trump.He acknowledged, however, in a brief, passionate speech that many Democrats see him as less electable than the 77-year-old former vice president — perhaps preparing the ground for his eventual exit. “Needless to say, I strongly disagree with that assertion, but that’s what millions of Democrats and independents say.”Sanders then listed questions he wanted Biden to answer on how to deal with far-reaching inequality and other structural issues that he believes can only be addressed by radical economic change or “revolution.””Joe, what are you going to do?” he asked in what sounded less like an attack on Biden than an appeal for him to reach out to the party’s left wing. Biden unstoppable? Biden’s trajectory to a November showdown with Trump began looking unstoppable after his primary wins on Tuesday, including in the industrial powerhouse of Michigan — a state that Sanders won over Hillary Clinton in 2016 and will be crucial in the general election.Sanders’ only win came in North Dakota while votes were still being counted in Washington state, where Sanders and Biden were in a dead heat.Biden now has about 860 delegates to Sanders’ 710, and looks set to reach the 1,991 needed to be declared the party standard bearer at the Democratic convention in Milwaukee in July.The next primaries are on March 11 in Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio and campaigning in the delegate-rich states is being disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak.Biden and Sanders cancelled rallies which had been scheduled in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday night and the former vice president announced further cancellations on Wednesday.The Biden campaign said because of health risks it was cancelling an event that was to have been held in Chicago on Friday and one that was scheduled for Miami on Monday.It said they would now be “virtual events” but did not release details of the format.The Sunday debate will also be without a live audience as a result of the health scare.Addressing supporters in Philadelphia on Tuesday, Biden reached out to Sanders, thanking him and his supporters for their “tireless energy and their passion.”Biden struck a unifying tone as he affirmed that he and Sanders “share a common goal and together we will defeat Donald Trump.”Uniting the ticket With Biden’s path to the nomination increasingly locked in, the main question now is whether Sanders will swallow his pride and get his supporters behind the candidate — or risk party civil war.”It will be vital for Sanders to mobilize his supporters behind the ticket,” tweeted Princeton University history professor Julian Zelizer.”But Biden has to reach out to Sanders’s energized movement. It will require a two-way effort to unite the ticket.”Many Democrats accuse Sanders and his devoted supporters of fatally damaging Clinton four years ago during their bitter nomination battle. They warn a similar scenario could play out this time.Reflecting the shift in power, Democratic political action committee Priorities USA, which had been neutral in the race, came out in support of Biden.”The delegate math is now a straight line to Joe Biden’s nomination,” chairman Guy Cecil told US public radio network NPR. “So we’re going to do everything we can to help him in the effort looking forward to November.”Topics :last_img read more

Arsenal flop Denis Suarez cannot wait to end his Gunners misery

first_img Metro Sport ReporterWednesday 17 Apr 2019 1:05 pmShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link298Shares Advertisement Denis Suarez’s only start for Arsenal came in a friendly against Al-Nasr (Picture: Getty)Indeed, the former Villarreal winger’s last competitive appearance came against Manchester United almost a month ago when he played the final 10 minutes as a second half substitute.‘He has two years left at Barcelona. This year in England hasn’t been his best. He’s played little and hasn’t been able to find a rhythm,’ Suarez’s agent told Radio Kiss Kiss earlier this week.‘At the moment, he’s injured. He has muscle fatigue and an injury. ‘We’re awaiting the results from the exams.’More: Manchester United FCRio Ferdinand urges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop Manchester United starNew Manchester United signing Facundo Pellistri responds to Edinson Cavani praiseEx-Man Utd coach blasts Ed Woodward for two key transfer errors Advertisement Arsenal flop Denis Suarez cannot wait to end his Gunners misery Comment Denis Suarez has not made a single start for Arsenal since his loan move from Barcelona (Picture: EMPICS)Denis Suarez is counting down the days until his miserable loan spell from Arsenal is over.The 25-year-old was hopeful of reigniting his career under Unai Emery, his former manager at Sevilla, but has been restricted to just six substitute appearances since his arrival in January.Suarez’s prospects of playing a significant role in Arsenal’s run-in have been hampered further by a groin injury which has ruled him out of the squad which flew to Naples on Wednesday morning ahead of tomorrow’s Europa League quarter final second leg.According to the Evening Standard, Suarez has struggled to adapt to life in England and is rarely seen smiling, while he is often the first player to leave the Emirates on a match day.AdvertisementAdvertisementADVERTISEMENTMore: FootballRio Ferdinand urges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop Manchester United starChelsea defender Fikayo Tomori reveals why he made U-turn over transfer deadline day moveMikel Arteta rates Thomas Partey’s chances of making his Arsenal debut vs Man CityArsenal have the option to make the Spaniard’s move from Barcelona a permanent one at a cost of £22million in the summer but are almost certain not to take up that option.Suarez’s only start for Arsenal thus far came against Al-Nasr earlier this month during a warm weather training camp in Dubai, but an encouraging performance there failed to convince Emery he was ready for the rigours of the Premier League.last_img read more

Unemployment Numbers Decrease in Florida

first_imgLast week’s jobless numbers are lower than the previous week around the country, they are also much lower in Florida.More than three-million more Americans are out of work according to the Labor Department.According to today’s report, more than 3.1 million workers filed first-time claims for unemployment benefits last week. That’s half-a-million fewer than the previous week’s total. More than 33-million U.S. workers have lost their jobs over the past seven weeks. The biggest increases in claims were in Washington, Georgia, New York, Oregon, and Alabama. The sharpest decreases were in California, Florida, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.Florida was most responsible for the big dip in unadjusted numbers, reporting about 260,000 fewer claims over the past week. Maryland reported a jump of 27,337.At the current pace, the week claims numbers should fall below 1 million by mid-June, according to Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. “We’re very hopeful that June will see the beginnings of a rebound as states begin to reopen,” Shepherdson said.The layoffs associated with social distancing practices have wiped out all of the job gains the economy has seen since the recovery from the Great Recession.last_img read more