Friday, December 05, 2014

Revealed : 100 Safety Breaches At UK Labs Handling Potentially Deadly Diseases

Constructing cover stories for next "outbreak:" Ciprofloxacin still most effective antibiotic for prophylaxis, treatment of Anthrax

By Ian Sample

High-security laboratories that handle the most dangerous viruses and bacteria have reported more than 100 accidents or near-misses to safety regulators in the past five years, official reports reveal.

Bacillus anthracis and Anthrax
One blunder led to live anthrax being sent from a government facility to unsuspecting labs across the UK, a mistake that exposed other scientists to the disease. Another caused the failure of an air handling system that helped contain foot and mouth disease at a large animal lab.

Wear and tear also caused problems and potentially put researchers in danger. At a top security Ministry of Defence lab, tears were found in isolation suits at a facility handling animals infected with the Ebola virus.

Reports obtained by the Guardian from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reveal that more than 70 incidents at government, university and hospital labs were serious enough to investigate. Many led to enforcement letters, or crown prohibition notices (CPN), ordering labs to shut until improvements were made. Some were so serious they ended in legal action.

Prof Richard Ebright, a US biosafety expert at Rutgers University in New Jersey, who reviewed the reports for the Guardian, said that, taken together, they revealed failures in procedures, infrastructure, training and safety culture at some British labs.

Alarmed at a run of incidents at facilities that work on animal diseases, Ebright asked: “Does British agriculture have a death wish?”

The figures amount to one investigation every three weeks at secure laboratories that are designed to carry out research on pathogens that can cause serious illness and spread into the community. Some of the organisms are lethal and have no vaccines or treatments.

Many of the incidents were one-off, almost inevitable human mistakes, such as spillages of infectious bugs. Others were down to old equipment and safety clothing. The most serious accidents arose from chains of mistakes that happened one after the other, and were often only discovered later.

The reports compiled by the HSE describe at least 116 incidents and 75 completed investigations since April 2010 at laboratories where the most dangerous organisms are handled. Other investigations are under way, but the HSE cannot disclose details of those in case they lead to legal action. All of the investigations were prompted by reports from lab managers who are obliged by law to tell the HSE when an accident or near-miss happens at their facility.


Some of the most worrisome incidents happened at the Surrey-based Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA), renamed the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) in October. In one case, scientists were handling anthrax when something went badly wrong. They meant to send harmless samples, killed by heat, to nearby AHVLA labs and others in York and Belfast. But somehow the tubes got mixed up. Instead of sending out dead material, the anthrax they sent was live and dangerous.

The Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency in Weybridge, Surrey. Photograph: Rex Features/Rex Features

The staff who made the mistake were safe enough. They worked in a high-security lab built to contain lethal agents. But some of those who received the bugs did not. In Belfast, the anthrax was handled in a higher containment lab, meaning those staff were safe. In York, the samples were never opened. But at another AHVLA site, scientists opened the tubes in a less secure lab and got to work on the open bench. The incident at the AHVLA is one of the more serious biological accidents that has happened in the UK in recent years. But it was far from being the only one.

Human Error

The HSE documents cast light on the endless ways that safety can be undermined at UK high-containment labs, where crucial research takes place into dangerous infections. Poor management, inadequate training, inappropriate procedures, equipment failures, human error and plain bad luck all come into play. Some incidents cannot be avoided. Humans will always make mistakes. Equipment will always break. But others are more troubling and result from multiple safety breaches, rather than single mistakes.

The anthrax incident at the AHVLA happened in May 2012 and drew an immediate CPN. That shut the lab so no more live anthrax could be sent out. The timing was ironic. The government had spent months stockpiling anthrax vaccines in case terrorists released the bug at the London Olympics. Now one of their own labs had put people at risk.

The HSE investigation found that two unsuspecting staff at the AHVLA were exposed to the deadly bug, though both had been vaccinated and neither fell ill. The incident received little attention. In the agency’s 2012-13 annual report, one line refers to the clampdown. It states: “CPN – labelling and tracking of biological materials inadequate – now resolved”.

American Blunder

The AHVLA incident bears a close similarity to a blunder in June that received global attention. Scientists in a high-security lab at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, failed to kill batches of anthrax bacteria properly and sent them to other labs. Tom Frieden, the head of the CDC, told a House oversight committee that the incident was a “wake-up call”. Tim Murphy, the Republican chair, was unimpressed: “It was a potentially very dangerous failure,” he said.

Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease 
Control and Prevention, said the Atlanta security lapse 
was a wakeup call.  Photograph: Johnny Clark/AP
The AHVLA has made dangerous slips before. Last year, the lab received a crown censure for nine safety lapses that exposed staff to live Mycobacterium bovis, an organism that causes TB in cattle but can cause serious illness and even death in humans.

Over a two-year period, from 2009 to 2011, 3,700 samples were sent from one AHVLA lab to another without managers knowing the organisms were still viable. Minutes of the crown censure hearing reveal an alarming picture. Staff had been given the wrong equipment to destroy the bacteria and were not trained in the right procedure. 

Management had failed to act when staff raised concerns. One person later tested positive for the infection.

Expert Analysis

Ebright, who testified to the House committee over the CDC anthrax incident, was struck by the similar failings at labs in the UK and the US. “The incidents at the AHVLA should really not occur. They involved not one error, but a whole chain of errors, and they are all essentially unforgiveable,” he said. “They reflect the most elementary lapses and they are potentially very serious. To see them happening like that suggests there is a deep problem.”

Prof Brian Spratt, an infectious disease specialist at Imperial College, London, echoed Ebright’s concerns. Sending out bovine TB, an organism that can infect people, posed a clear risk of infection, he said. “Sending anthrax to other labs incorrectly, believing it to be inactivated, is also clearly very serious with a real possibility of infection of recipient laboratory workers,” he told the Guardian. “What strikes me is that accidents do happen even in the best facilities, often due to operator error, or unrecognised breakdowns in containment measures.”

UK labs that study infectious organisms are rated by their containment level (CL). The higher the level, the more barriers there are to prevent the escape of pathogens. If one fails, the next should ensure there is no danger. CL1 and CL2 labs work on fairly benign bugs. More dangerous pathogens, such as those that cause anthrax, the plague and rabies, can be handled in secure CL3 labs. The most dangerous and often exotic organisms, such as Ebola, Marburg and Lassa viruses must be handled in CL4 labs. These bugs can kill, spread easily, and are often untreatable. The reports obtained from the HSE deal with incidents at CL3 and CL4 labs.

British Labs 

Britain has about 600 CL3 labs. Nine sites, all in south-east England, are home to CL4 labs, including the National Institute for Medical Research, which studies pandemic and avian flu, and the Ministry of Defence’s Porton Down lab, which studies Ebola and other pathogens that could be used as biological weapons.

The HSE documents reveal that one high-security lab, the Pirbright Institute (formerly the Institute for Animal Health), has been handed eight enforcement letters since April 2010. The Surrey lab is a world-class centre for animal virus surveillance. It studies foot and mouth disease, bluetongue, rinderpest and other infections. But it has a tainted reputation: the 2007 foot and mouth outbreak was traced to a leak from Pirbright’s drains. Scientists at the lab worked on the outbreak strain, but the virus was made in huge volumes by Merial, a vaccine manufacturer at the site.

News reports fail to mention the fact that there are many unregistered labs around the world capable of weaponising viruses and bacteria

In the wake of the outbreak, the Commons science and technology committee held an inquiry into biosecurity at UK research labs. Their report, published in 2008, stated: “It is critical such an incident does not happen again.” But near-misses are common at Pirbright.

In April, Pirbright managers pleaded guilty to eight breaches of safety legislation around foot and mouth experiments. The incidents happened in November 2012 and January 2013 when a ventilation system used to keep the lab at negative pressure – to prevent viruses escaping – was modified. The system failed, as did an alarm that should have warned staff of the danger. No virus escaped in the incident.

More incidents followed. The HSE investigated at least four more times at Pirbright since the lapses that led to their prosecution. Some were fairly minor, including the spillage of foot and mouth virus outside a safety cabinet. But in February, the lab had another problem with air circulation in a facility for cattle with foot and mouth disease. This time, high winds knocked the system out for two-and-a-half hours.

Spratt, who in 2007 wrote an independent review for government on biosafety at UK labs that handle foot and mouth, said the malfunctioning of the ventilation system could have been dangerous. “The air handling incident in the large-animal facility at Pirbright is potentially serious as, if foot and mouth disease virus from infected livestock was released outside the facility, exposure of livestock on neighbouring farms is a real possibility,” he said.

In January, scientists at Pirbright will move into new labs, the result of more than £100m refurbishment at the site. That could solve many of the problems the facility has had with failing equipment. But Ebright still has concerns. Some Pirbright incidents point to bad practice and moving labs will not change that, he said. More seriously, he questions whether Pirbright should still be allowed to work on the foot and mouth disease virus. “Is there an economic case that offsets the risk posed by their work, particularly with their sorry record of safety? To my mind, the answer is no,” he said.

Pirbright argues that major benefits come from its research. A statement from the lab said it played a crucial role in controlling and eliminating viral diseases of farm animals and viruses that can spread from animals to humans. Scientists there played a major role in eradicating rinderpest, saving African countries £1bn a year. Its work will lead to safer and cheaper foot and mouth vaccines, and greater understanding of bluetongue virus, which it helped eradicate from the UK in 2007, saving £500m a year, the statement said.

On Pirbright’s prosecution, the statement conceded that the lab “acknowledged its weaknesses in the area of activity involved and has reviewed and reformed its operational processes to ensure an incident such as this could not happen again”.

It continued: “The institute operates in a highly regulated and complex environment. Staff are actively encouraged to report incidents internally to allow us to learn lessons and improve. Any spills or leaks, or issues affecting the multiple and layered biosecurity systems, are reported to the regulators and classified by them as a dangerous occurrence. The reporting of such an incident does not mean there is any risk of release of virus to the environment as there are multiple layers of containment to ensure this does not happen.”


The problems at the AHVLA, now the APHA, may be tougher to solve though. “As long as the management remains, the same problems will recur,” Ebright said. “You either close the facility, redirect it or rebuild it, starting with new management. It’s not the managers who send out putatively inactivated anthrax, but they have allowed that to happen. There has to be accountability all the way to the top.”

Labs that report the most incidents may not be the most lax. One factor that affects the number of reports – and investigations – is how professional staff are at reporting near-misses. A culture of blame makes people hide their mistakes and crucial lessons go unlearned.

Tom Inglesby, director of health security at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said: “It’s very important that scientists are not punished for reporting accidents or near-accidents. That kind of punitive response will create pressures to not report. In other safety cultures, like airline safety, pilots are punished if they do not report near-misses, but not when they do report.”

The HSE investigated two incidents at the MoD’s Porton Down lab near Salisbury last year. They both involved splits in isolation suits. One was at a facility housing marmosets infected with Ebola virus. The tears were reported and the damaged parts replaced. “You will get tears in safety suits. People will spill things. Those kinds of accidents are unavoidable. If they are immediately corrected and reported, the people should be rewarded. They certainly shouldn’t be punished,” said Ebright. “That’s how the system should work.”

Richard Daniels, head of the HSE’s biological agents unit, said the safety of UK labs was good, if not perfect. He said the regulator urged lab directors to focus on their vulnerabilities and to improve safety by bringing in fresh measures to assess how well their staff were trained, and how well their equipment was maintained. “With the likes of large organisations, Pirbright, APHA and others, we expect leadership to come from the top, because that sets the culture and the expectations below it. The danger is that if you don’t look at these things proactively, complacency can perhaps affect an organisation, because you haven’t got anything to tell you that things are going awry,” he said.

Inglesby said: “Every lab system, whether university, government or private sector, should make it absolutely clear to its scientists that laboratory safety is a top priority and should be built in to every practice, not an add on, or a checkbox.”

A BIS spokesperson said: “We take any breach of security and safety procedures in animal disease testing facilities very seriously. In these instances, there was no risk to the public and no viruses were released. Health and safety procedures at Pirbright have been strengthened and the BBSRC [Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council] have invested millions of pounds into facilities including the National Virology Centre, which boasts a brand new state-of-the-art high laboratory facility. An independent review was commissioned to promote the development of robust, effective systems and work practices at Pirbright and ensure public safety”.

A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which funded the AHVLA and now the APHA, said on Thursday afternoon:“UK animal disease laboratories are nationally and internationally recognised for their expertise, playing a crucial role in the swift diagnosis of notifiable disease, as shown in the recent avian flu outbreak. As with any laboratory, improvements in procedures are continually made and we always follow HSE advice.

This news bureau contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Congress Gives Native American Lands To Foreign Mining Company With New NDAA

Genocide of Native Americans continues unabated by U.S. government - "killing them softly:" Demented traitor John McCain once more betrays own constituents, Americans    


Congress is poised to give a foreign mining company 2,400 acres of national forest in Arizona that is cherished ancestral homeland to Apache natives. Controversially, the measure is attached to annual legislation that funds the US Defense Department.

Native Americans
This week, the House and Senate Armed Services Committees quietly attached a provision to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would mandate the handover of a large tract of Tonto National Forest to Resolution Copper, a subsidiary of the Australian-English mining company Rio Tinto, which co-owns with Iran a uranium mine in Africa and which is 10-percent-owned by China.

The “Carl Levin and Howard P. ‘Buck’ McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015” - named after the retiring chairmen of the Senate and House Armed Services panels - includes the giveaway of Apache burial, medicinal, and ceremonial grounds currently within the bounds of Tonto.

News of the land provision was kept under wraps until late Tuesday, when the bill was finally posted online.

The land proposed to be given to Resolution Copper, in exchange for other lands, includes prime territory Apaches have used for centuries to gather medicinal plants and acorns, and it is near a spot known as Apache Leap, a summit that Apaches jumped from to avoid being killed by settlers in the late 19th century.

Lands included in the plan will stop 1,500 feet short of Apache Leap and will not initially include an area known as Oak Flats, though, when it comes to the oaks, contradictory legal parameters are but a minor hurdle for a company like Resolution Copper to eventually drill there.

The House may vote on the NDAA as soon as this week with rules included that would bar the Senate from amending the legislation. On Wednesday night, a last-minute effort to strip the land provision from the NDAA failed in the House Rules Committee, which voted to give one hour for debate over the NDAA in the House.

Terry Rambler, chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, told The Huffington Post he was saddened by news of the proposal, yet not all that surprised.

“Of all people, Apaches and Indians should understand, because we’ve gone through this so many times in our history,” Rambler said.

“The first thing I thought about was not really today, but 50 years from now, probably after my time, if this land exchange bill goes through, the effects that my children and children’s children will be dealing with,” Rambler added.

“Since time immemorial people have gone there. That’s part of our ancestral homeland," Rambler said. "We’ve had dancers in that area forever - sunrise dancers - and coming-of-age ceremonies for our young girls that become women. They’ll seal that off. They’ll seal us off from the acorn grounds, and the medicinal plants in the area, and our prayer areas.”

"The booze isn't working fast enough dammit, maybe we better take another look at the smallpox blankets - don't they have something at Ft. Detrick we can try out on them?"

Arizona Sen. John McCain was instrumental in adding to the NDAA the land deal that had been pursued by Rio Tinto for a decade, according to HuffPo. Some in Congress were reportedly concerned with the deal, but it ultimately materialized thanks to economic assurances. Rio Tinto claims mining in Tonto will generate $61 billion in economic activity and 3,700 direct and indirect jobs over 40 years.

Rambler said whether Rio Tinto’s economic assertions are true or not, it may not matter.

“It seems like us Apaches and other Indians care more about what this type of action does to the environment and the effects it leaves behind for us, while others tend to think more about today and the promise of jobs, but not necessarily what our creator God gave to us,” he said.

Rambler said he was particularly concerned with long-term ramifications, including the company’s intent to use “block cave” mining, which means digging under the ore, causing it to collapse.

“What those mountains mean to us is that when the rain and the snow comes, it distributes it to us,” Rambler said. “It replenishes our aquifers to give us life.”

Resolution Copper has said its mining plan for the area has been filed with the National Forest Service and that it will comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that supposedly protects federal lands.

But Rambler said NEPA is no match for Resolution Copper’s intent.

“This is what will happen - the law in one area says there will be consultation, but the law in another area of the bill says the land exchange will happen within one year of enactment of this bill,” Rambler said. “So no matter what we’re doing within that one year, the consultation part won’t mean anything after one year. Because then it’s really theirs after that.”

Basically, NEPA will only protect lands that remain in federal hands. The rest is fair game, according to federal law.

“We would only have to do NEPA on any activity that would take place on remaining federal land,” said Arizona Bureau of Land Management official Carrie Templin.

The 2015 NDAA contains other land deals, including one that would subject 70,000 acres of Tongass National Forest in Alaska to logging and another provision that would give 1,600 acres from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State for purposes of industrial development, a plan that has spurred tribal protest.

This news bureau contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Brutal Police Beating Of Model Shocks Australia

Not to be outdone by U.S. pigs, coward digger cops try on American style "policing" - any "man" much less a cop that beats ANY WOMAN is a filthy COWARD and deserves to be SHOT      


A video showing three Sydney police officers brutally beating a young woman has gone viral, with over 750,000 views on Facebook. During the clip, the victim is repeatedly hit with a police baton and appears to be kicked in the head by a male officer.

Guilty or not, assault on petit model nothing
but pure, disgusting criminal cowardice
Police brutality has been hitting the headlines in the US, but now it seems the unfortunate trend has made its way to Australia. The woman in question, Claire Helen, who works as a model and actress and was on the receiving end of recurring blows from a police officer, said: “It was the most frightening and humiliating experience of my life.”

Law enforcement officers allege that Helen punched a policewoman in the mouth, as well as resisting arrest – an action that the model stringently denies. 

"They pushed me down. They hit me and kicked me. They pulled my dress over my head," she said, speaking to Channel Nine. Onlookers could be heard shouting, "Let her go," and, "She's not resisting arrest.”

Helen, who is 1 meter, 60 centimeters tall and weighs 55 kilograms, insists she was just enjoying a quiet night out when she was accosted by law enforcement officers, who were much bigger than her.

"We weren't drunk. We'd been with people playing soccer and went out to have a few drinks. I'm not the sort of person who goes out getting pissed on a Wednesday night. I'm trying to make it as a model and actress. I can't go out every night getting wasted. I definitely don't ever get in circumstances like this,"she told Channel Nine news.

The incident happened in the Kings Cross area of Sydney, which is home to a number of bars and nightclubs, after Helen and a group of friends haggled over a taxi fare, according to police. The law enforcement agency also added that a male member of the group punched the taxi driver in the stomach.

Digger cops can now expect Ferguson-style protests and riots

However, Helen alleges that the taxi driver had charged the group the wrong amount, which led to the trouble starting.

"He had the meter running before we got in, so we got out," she said. "He said something to us and we said something back, but then he pushed one of my friends and called the police. Then the police showed up and you saw what happened," she added, Channel Nine reported.

The video has taken the internet by storm and has already been viewed by over three quarters of a million people on Facebook. Many users criticized Helen and defended the police. One woman wrote:“She deserved it. You’re supposed to respect your elders and respect the law,” with another adding,“She’s not resisting arrest?? Really... I thought that if you weren't resisting they would’ve had the cuffs on you 1 sec into the video… she got what she deserved.... hopefully that taught her a lesson.”

Australians that believe this criminal act by cops is O.K. need to 
be rounded up and sent to "re-education" camps
Kings Cross Superintendent Michael Fitzgerald said he was satisfied police had used appropriate force, adding: "Police are not punching bags, neither are taxi drivers."

He added that police have reviewed CCTV footage of the incident, and they say it justified why they took such a heavy-handed approach. "I have viewed the footage that has been uploaded on social media," Fitzgerald said. "But I've also had the opportunity to view the entire CCTV from the City of Sydney cameras which shows the entire incident. [It] clearly shows the female offender punch the female police officer in an unprovoked assault which caused the wrestle that you see on YouTube," Fitzgerald added, ABC News reported.

The officer who repeatedly struck Helen with a police baton will not face any charges, police said. Helen and three men have been arrested with a range of offences, including assaulting a police officer, assault, affray and resisting arrest. They have been granted bail until a court hearing on January 6.

This news bureau contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.



The real truth on 9/11 slowly continues to bleed out

Technical experts are mounting major challenges to official U.S. government accounts of how three World Trade Center skyscrapers collapsed in near-freefall after the 9/11 attacks 15 years ago.

Many researchers are focusing especially on the little-known collapse of



The Geopolitics Of The United States, Part 1: The Inevitable Empire

The Empire and the inevitable fall of the Obama criminal regime

STRATFOR Editor’s Note: This installment on the United States, presented in two parts, is the 16th in a series of STRATFOR monographs on the geopolitics of countries influential in world affairs.

Like nearly all of the peoples of North and South America, most Americans are not originally from the territory that became the United States.



Geopolitics Of The United States Part 2: American Identity And The Threats of Tomorrow

A look back at 2011 predictions for the future in order to put events of today into perspective

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We have already discussed in the first part of this analysis how the American geography dooms whoever controls the territory to being a global power, but there are a number of other outcomes that shape what that power will be like. The first and most critical is the impact of that geography on the American mindset.



By Robert S. Finnegan

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UPDATED 01/07/2015 : New Analysis Challenges Tamiflu Efficacy; Hong Kong Corona Virus Outbreak


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Obama criminals now resulting to biowarfare in quest to destroy Chinese and ASEAN economy; "novel virus substrain" points directly to a Kawaoka / Fouchier / Ernala-Ginting Kobe lab virus weaponized and genetically altered to specifically target and infect the Asian population: Ribavirin...



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The 5th Estate has just purchased a library on H5N1 "Novel" virus pandemics, there are dozens of PDF and Exel documents we feel will assist you in saving lives following intentional releases of the H5N1 and now MERS viruses; we will begin by printing those that appear to be extremely relevant here: H5N1 Kobe-Kawaoka-Ernala series continues soon with more "Smoking Gun" e-mails from Teridah Ernala to The 5th Estate . . .



By Robert S. Finnegan

On October 12, 2002 the Indonesian island of Bali experienced a terrorist attack that rocked the world. It was unquestionably well-coordinated and executed, the largest in the country's history.