Neuroweapons, Respiratory Standards, Mass Evacuations

Topics in this issue include the US-Russian plutonium deal, risks of neuroscience leading to neuroweapons, and conducting mass evacuations for natural or man-made disasters.

Germany Manhunt: ‘IS Link’ to Bomb Suspect Al-Bakr – Police

German police say a Syrian man arrested after a two-day manhunt probably had links to so-called Islamic State. Jaber al-Bakr, who arrived in Germany as a refugee, was detained in a flat in the eastern city of Leipzig early on Monday. He had been tied up there. He had sought help from another Syrian, who alerted police after letting Mr. al-Bakr sleep at his flat, reports say. BBC News >>

What Radiation-Resistant Space Fungus Can Do for Drug Discovery

On Aug. 26, the Dragon space capsule dropped into the Pacific Ocean somewhere off the coast of Baja California, Mexico. Onboard were payloads containing fungi that had now grown in two of the most extreme conditions known to man: outer space and the Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station. The goal is to use these impressively resilient organisms to point the way to drugs that could impart similar resilience to humans. STAT News >>

Going Nuclear: Russia vs. America

THE list reads like a hostage-taker’s demands. Russia wants America to roll back the expansion of NATO, repeal the Magnitsky Act, end sanctions and pay compensation for Russia’s losses. Until it does, Vladimir Putin declared this week, Russia will stop abiding by an agreement regulating the disposal of plutonium. The Economist >>

OSHA Proposes to Add Two Additional Fit-Testing Protocols to Respiratory Standard

The rule would add two quantitative fit-testing protocols to the agency’s Respiratory Protection Standard. The protocols would apply to employers in the general, shipyard and construction industries. Occupational Health & Safety >>

The United States and Russia Are Prepping for Doomsday

After the Cold War, the United States and Russia agreed to dispose of tons of plutonium to make sure it could never be put back into bombs. So believe you me, when the Russians decide that maybe they should just hang on to that material for a while longer, it’s not so boring. Foreign Policy >>

The Donald Shows Again He Doesn’t Understand Much About Nukes

Trump’s nuclear comparison was simplistic and off the mark. Russia tends to build more than does the United States. That reflects the fact that U.S. strategic nuclear systems are built to last longer, sometimes much longer, than their Russia counterparts. It also reflects a Pentagon design choice to take a system, such as the Minuteman ICBM or B-52 bomber, and modernize it over time rather than replace it. Brookings >>

Successful Removal of All Highly Enriched Uranium from Poland

At the 60th IAEA General Conference, U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz announced the successful repatriation of 61 kilograms of Russian-origin highly enriched uranium (HEU) from the Maria research reactor located in Poland.  Over a ten-year period, more than 700 kilograms of highly enriched uranium was removed from Poland. NTI >>

What It Takes to Evacuate 2 Million People

No single federal agency wrangles evacuations, so it’s generally up to local governments to set out their own contingency plans. But they’re hardly on their own. That means the bureaucrats have to do something they kind of loathe: collaborate. Wired >>

Preparing the Country for Nuclear Terrorism

The aftermath of a detonation of a relatively small improvised nuclear device—one that is roughly the yield of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima—in a US city would be almost unimaginably gruesome. In New York City, for example, most buildings within one quarter of a mile would be destroyed. Some 300,000 to 400,000 people would be killed instantly, with several hundred thousand more requiring various levels of medical care. Electrical and communications systems would be severely damaged, at best. And medical and other responders would face radiation dangers and a host of other problems. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists >>

Denver Hospital Trains in Case of Nuclear or Radioactive Emergencies

Hospitals are constantly trying to be ready in case of a large-scale emergency like natural disasters or mass shootings. But what about something going nuclear or radioactive? Denver 7 >>

New York Bombing Suspect’s Father Says FBI Made ‘Mistake After Mistake’

The father of New York bombing suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami said on Saturday the FBI had made “mistake after mistake” in handling the case and was now “punishing” the family for his son’s wrongdoing by barring them from travelling to the US. The Guardian >>

Modest But Meaningful Steps to Prevent Proliferation in Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan’s constitution states that the country is permanently neutral. Many have interpreted this stance as an absolute refusal to participate in international coalitions and treaties. While Turkmenistan joins international coalitions less often than its Central Asian neighbors, the increasing instability of Central Asia, exacerbated by the withdrawal of NATO troops from the Afghanistan-Turkmenistan border. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists >>

Op-Ed: Britain’s Nuclear Cover-Up

Last month, the British government signed off on what might be the most controversial and least promising plan for a nuclear power station in a generation. Why did it do this? Because the project isn’t just about energy: It’s also a stealth initiative to bolster Britain’s nuclear deterrent. NY Times >>

When Neuroscience Leads to Neuroweapons

Most of the attention on dual-use biomedical research risks has concentrated only on dangers posed by microbiology and novel pathogens. This tight focus risks missing other trends in the life sciences that may threaten the norm against biochemical weapons. Advances in cognitive neuroscience, in particular, might have dangerous implications. While neuroscience has enormous potential for good, a subset of neuroscience research is dual-use, with the potential to be applied developing incapacitating agents and interrogation tools. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists >>

End Walls in Place for Chernobyl Cover

Construction has been completed of the dividing walls between units 3 and 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, against which the New Safe Confinement over unit 4 will be placed. Completion of the new cover is scheduled for November 2017. World Nuclear News >>

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