A bioterrorist attack that could wipe out 30 million people in less than a year is becoming increasingly likely because it is easier than ever to create and spread deadly pathogens, Microsoft founder Bill Gates warned during an interview with the United Kingdom’s Telegraph newspaper. In fact, an act of bioterrorism is more likely than a pandemic, he warned, and a lethal respiratory pathogen such as a recreated smallpox virus could be more dangerous than a nuclear attack. Gates, whose charitable foundation funds research into quickly spotting outbreaks, said it was more important than ever to help foreign countries monitor diseases to prevent a global tragedy. READ MORE
About those ‘lone wolf’ terrorists: From a psychological perspective, there are questions about what makes a person decide to conduct an act of terrorism without the encouragement and support of likeminded peers (though he or she might be in contact with a terrorist organization). In fact, very few jihadis appear to reach the stage of mobilization without some form of social interaction, so the “lone-wolf” label is inexact. From a practical standpoint, though, three characteristics distinguish lone actors and reveal the relevance of the term: visibility, predictability, and capability. READ MORE
Another ISIS attack in Paris: A French policeman was shot dead and two others were wounded in central Paris on Thursday night in an attack carried out days before presidential elections and quickly claimed by the Islamic State militant group. The Islamic State group, which is being driven out of its areas of territorial control in Iraq and Syria by Western-backed coalitions and has hundreds of French-speaking fighters, claimed responsibility for Thursday’s shooting via its Amaq news agency. The claim came quickly, and the naming of the assailant suggested some direct contact with Islamic State. Read more HERE and HERE.
British police using ‘aggressive tactics’ against drivers of weaponized vehicles: British police are being ordered to shoot terrorist drivers using vehicles as weapons, under new “more aggressive tactics.” Armed units have been given new orders to shoot through the windscreens of vehicles driven by terrorists; police officers had been banned from using firearms to incapacitate drivers of motor vehicles, because of the risk of the vehicle spiraling out of control and bullets ricocheting into innocent bystanders. Armed police officers will also be provided with higher caliber bullets to shoot through vehicle windscreens and doors. READ MORE
North Korea has a large stockpile of chemical weapons: North Korea, which remains outside of the Chemical Weapons Convention, is reported to possess up to 5,000 tons of 25 chemical agents, one of the world’s largest stockpiles. Given the current unproductive exchange between that country and the U.S., it is imperative that China be engaged in ensuring that North Korean President Kim Jong Un does not resort to the use of those weapons against a neighboring country, says Daniel Gerstein in an opinion piece in U.S. News. READ MORE
Campylobacter, Salmonella top culprits: In its annual report on foodborne illness surveillance, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Campylobacter and Salmonella caused most foodborne illnesses in the United States in 2016, but new lab tests make it difficult to sort out patterns. Campylobacter is mostly a problem in unpasteurized dairy products, but also is seen in contaminated chicken, water, and produce. READ MORE
GLOBAL FOOD SECURITY
Syrian evacuees reach Aleppo after massive explosion kills many: Thousands of Syrians trapped at an exchange point arrived at a temporary shelter in government-controlled Aleppo city on Friday, as one of the largest population transfers in Syria’s civil war resumed following a deadly explosion. The buses that arrived in Aleppo were the second batch of evacuees since the operation began last week. A massive bombing struck evacuees who had waited for over 30 hours to be transferred to Jibreen last Saturday, killing at least 130 people. READ MORE
The Great Dairy Trade War: Meet the Gartmans, a family in the dairy business for seven generations. They may be out of business by May, victims of an increasingly acrimonious trade war with Canada. While NAFTA is often portrayed as a single trade agreement, it has specific provisions affecting thousands of products in hundreds of industries. The trade pact contains terms governing dozens of different dairy products alone. Reworking many of these, experts say, will involve not just complex technical discussions but a fight between powerful political interests on both sides of the border. Read more HERE and HERE.