Scientists are waging an under-the-microscope battle to determine how weaponized chemical and biological agents behave inside cells to kill their victims.
Teams of specialists are roughly six months into a five-year dash for technologies capable of determining how a biological or chemical invader acts on a molecular level to assault the human body, the project’s top Defense Department overseer told Global Security Newswire. The initiative — dubbed “Rapid Threat Assessment” — would ideally yield techniques capable of providing a full readout of an unconventional weapon material within 30 days, allowing for fast preparation of new medical treatments.
“It’s a little early to make any predictions of future success,” said Barry Pallotta, who is heading the project for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Project participants are acting on their own timelines to pursue various visions for analytical systems capable of determining exactly when, where and how foreign invaders acts inside of human cells, Pallotta wrote in an e-mailed response to questions.
He said the goal is to develop methods of revealing the molecular blow-by-blow of an unconventional weapon’s course of attack “with 95 percent accuracy.”
“Each project team … is currently focused on meeting the milestones that come due at the end of the base period about a year from now,” Pallotta wrote.
His agency said inventors would then face a test where they will have 30 days “to detect, identify, reconstruct, and confirm the mechanism of a demonstration compound.”
Proposals deemed to show enough promise could see their funding renewed for up to three additional 14-month cycles, according to a DARPA broad agency announcement from last year.
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The Senate voted on Wednesday 72-26 on a bill to fund the government through Dec. 9, averting a looming shutdown. The legislation will now go to the House, where it could be voted on as early as Wednesday. After this legislation is approved by the House, Congress will recess until the lame-duck session following elections.
"Congress voted Wednesday to override President Obama for the first time in his eight-year tenure, as the House followed the Senate in rejecting a veto of legislation allowing families of terrorist victims to sue Saudi Arabia. The House easily cleared the two-thirds threshold to push back against the veto. The final tally was 348-77, with 18 Republicans and 59 Democrats voting no."
Hyperbole alert! Following the Senate's decision to override President Obama's veto of a bill that would allow 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia in U.S. court, the White House has responded forcefully, specifically White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest. "I would venture to say that this is the single most embarrassing thing that the United States Senate has done, possibly, since 1983," Earnest said on Air Force One. The House is likely to follow suit in overriding Obama's veto when it takes up the vote.
Two weeks after a massive stroke, Nobel Peace Prize winner and former president and prime minister of Israel Shimon Peres passed away late Tuesday night. In a political, military, and diplomatic career that lasted nearly 70 years, Peres was influential both in building up the formidable strength of the Israeli military and in seeking to negotiate lasting peace with Israel's many neighboring Arab countries. Within hours of the announcement of his death, both condolences and tributes began pouring in, including from former President Bill Clinton, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, and former United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair.