2 --The Michigan Daily - Friday, November 12, 2004
WHO urges research with smallpox NEWS IN BRIEF
* 9 HI__________NaFRMAUND_ THE__WORLD
Experiments would entail genetic engineerini
The Associated Press
An influential World Health Organiza-
tion committee is sending shock waves
through the scientific community with
its recommendation that researchers be
permitted to conduct genetic-engineering
experiments with the smallpox virus.
The idea is to be able to better com-
1bat a disease that is considered a leading
bioterror threat though it was publicly
eradicated 25 years ago.
The WHO had previously opposed
,such work for fear that a "superbug"
,might emerge. Because the disease is
so deadly, the WHO has even at times
recommended destroying the world's
two known smallpox stockpiles, located
in secure labs at the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention in Atlanta and
in the former Soviet Union.
The recommended policy shift has
reignited a debate over whether such
research will help or hinder bioterror-
The World Health Assembly - the
ruling body of the 192-nation WHO -
would make a final decision on whether
to approve the experiments, which would
include splicing a "marker" gene into the
smallpox virus so its spread can be better
tracked in the laboratory. The WHO com-
mittee said allowing the genetic engineer-
ing experiments would speed depletion of
the remaining smallpox virus stocks.
It has been U.S. policy to refrain from
genetically engineering smallpox, but
that would undoubtedly change if the
WHO endorses such research.
"It's absolutely the right decision,"
said Ken Alibek, a former top scientist in
the Soviet biological weapons program
who said the Soviets covertly developed
smallpox as a weapon in the 1980s.
Alibek, who defected to the Unit-
ed States in 1992 and now teaches at
George Mason University, said it's now
possible to genetically engineer small-
pox to render current vaccines useless. remaining samples. Today, it is propos-
"The bad guys already know how to do ing to tinker with the virus in ways that
it," Alibek said. "So why prohibit legiti- could produce an even more lethal small-
ers to do
tist argue that
has little value
and is too
seen no evi-
dence of a
"These bad guys already
know how to do
it.... So why prohibit
to do research for
- Ken Alibek
Former top Soviet scientist
pox strain. This is
a devastating step
for centuries, and
it's believed to
have killed more
people than all
wars and epidem-
debate was set
Insurgents try to counter U.S. attack
Insurgents tried to break through the U.S. cordon surrounding Fallujah yester-
day as American forces launched an offensive against concentrations of militants
in the south of the city. Some 600 insurgents, 18 U.S. troops and five Iraqi soldiers
have been killed in the four-day assault, the U.S. military said.
In an apparent bid to relieve pressure on their trapped allies, insurgents
mounted major attacks in Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city 220 miles to the north.
Guerrillas assaulted nine police stations, overwhelming several, and battled U.S.
and Iraqi troops around bridges across the Tigris River in the city, where a cur-
few was imposed a day earlier.
Elsewhere, a series of attacks throughout central Iraq underscored the nation's
perilous security. In Baghdad, a car bomb exploded yesterday moments after a
U.S. patrol passed on Saadoun Street, killing 17 bystanders and wounding 30.
There were no U.S. casualties.
Another car bomb exploded in Kirkuk as the governor's convoy was passing by,
killing a bystander and wounding 14 people.
Israeli forces arrest nuclear whistle blower
Byravan, executive director of the Council
for Responsible Genetics, a Boston non-
profit group. "A decade ago, the WHO
was planning to destroy the world's last
off last year when
researcher Mark Buller of Saint Louis
University announced that he had genet-
ically engineered a mousepox virus that
was designed to evade vaccines.
Trade issues to
U.S. farm policy
WASHINGTON (AP) - President
Bush will begin a second term barely a
year after the United States had its first case
of mad cow disease and as Japan and other
countries maintain bans on U.S. beef.
But even before the embargoes, Amer-
icans began importing more food than
they export, raising a broad front of trade
issues that will dominate U.S. farm poli-
cy the next four years.
Only one cow, a Canadian-born Hol-
stein, was confirmed to have been infect-
ed. But it only took one to prompt Japan
and more than three dozen other coun-
tries to refuse U.S. beef, harming export
sales and the farm economy they support.
The administration's primary agriculture
mission since then has been to get those
A lot more than beef is at issue, howev-
er. Two years before last December's mad
tow case, a surplus of farm exports over
imports - which had been the nation's
bulwark against even larger overall trade
deficits - disappeared. At the same time,
Congress was passing an election-year
farm bill with the most generous govern-
ment subsidies ever awarded to growers.
Those two developments will drive
newly revived talks on trade liberalization
by World Trade Organization members.
"This next term will be a really big
term for whoever is the secretary of agri-
culture, because these issues come to a
head in the WTO talks, which will prob-
ably wrap up in 2007, and that's about the
same timing of the new farm bill," said
Gary Hufbauer, a trade specialist at the
Institute for International Economics, a
Washington think tank.
Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman
has said she would like to stay on the job,
and Bush hasn't indicated any dissatis-
faction or desire for her to leave.
"I think he's made clear he will be mak-
ing decisions on personnel in the coming
weeks," Veneman told reporters this week.
"In the meantime, we continue to do our
jobs as well as we possibly can."
Besides finalizing deals to resume U.S.
beef exports to Japan and Taiwan, officials
are working on reopening U.S. borders
for Canadian beef, which was banned in
May 2003 after a single case of mad cow
was confirmed there. Restrictions have
been eased, but not completely.
Trade will drive debate on Capitol Hill,
where international disputes over sub-
sidies for U.S. producers could prompt
lawmakers to make changes to programs
in the 2002 farm bill, although it's more
likely the changes would come when
Congress begins writing the new farm
bill in 2006. Lawmakers expect to begin
hearings on the new bill next year.
Third World countries are demanding
in the upcoming WTO talks that the Unit-
ed States and Europe end their subsidies,
not just those that support farmers but also
government help with selling exports.
Heavily armed police commandos stormed a Jerusalem church compound and
arrested Israeli nuclear program whistle blower Mordechai Vanunu yesterday,
drawing harsh condemnation from the Anglican Church to which he belongs.
Vanunu, who was released seven months ago after completing an 18-year prison
sentence for treason, was arrested on suspicion of revealing classified information,
police said. He was taken before a magistrate, who ordered him confined to the
church hostel under house arrest for seven days.
"This is a disgrace to Israeli democracy!" Vanunu shouted to journalists as he
was led into court. "They want to punish me again. They cannot punish me twice.
I suffered 18 years in prison. I have the right to be free."
Analysts said the arrest of Vanunu - who has repeatedly defied orders not
to give interviews - may be an Israeli attempt to suppress discussion of its
nuclear program at a time of increasing international efforts to block Iran from
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast
After evacuation of foreigners, violence ends
Staring with tears in their eyes, Ivory Coast's people emerged from their homes yes-
terday to survey the wreckage of five days of violent upheaval and stock up on food.
France and other Western nations flew out hundreds of their nationals in a sec-
ond round of evacuations, while South Africa convened urgent talks, warning the
crisis could destabilize West Africa.
The commercial capital, Abidjan, experienced the first day of calm since anti-
foreigner mobs took to the streets tomorrow after a sudden, deadly clash between
the forces of Ivory Coast and its former colonial ruler, France.
Some shops reopened and traffic returned to streets strewn with charred vehi-
cles and the remnants of roadblocks. Residents crowded supermarkets and waited
in long lines to withdraw cash from ATMs.
Delta pilots agree to salary cuts for five years
Delta Air Lines pilots have agreed to slash their salaries by nearly a third and
forgo pay raises for five years to help the struggling airline avoid bankruptcy, their
union announced yesterday.
The $1 billion in annual wage concessions from Delta's 7,000 pilots is a
huge victory for the Atlanta-based airline, which has lost more than $6 billion
since early 2001.
The plan received 79 percent support from pilots who voted over 10 days by
phone and over the Internet. Voting ended at noon yesterday.
The agreement, which becomes effective Dec. 1, was tentatively reached by
union leaders and Delta after 15 months of negotiations.
- Compiled from Daily wire reports
T H U R . CLOSE C._H
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I I 9
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