An international team wants to closely watch how future technologies could make the world’s deadliest poisons easier to produce and harder to regulate.
It is still impossible to know how an array of emerging technologies — such as custom-built proteins and microscopic containers — will affect capabilities to manufacture and deliver lethal chemicals banned under international law, scientific advisers to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said in a new assessment.
International authorities should continue monitoring the potential of biotechnology to affect enforcement of the Chemical Weapons Convention, even though developments relevant to the production of banned chemical agents “are currently limited,” says the final report by a working group of the OPCW Scientific Advisory Board.
Despite the field’s present limitations, “biomediated processes might still be effective for producing weaponizable quantities of toxins that are lethal,” the report warns. “New production processes, combined with developments in drug discovery and delivery, could be exploited in the development of new toxic chemicals that could be used as weapons.”
The panel added that the agency’s mandate hems in its enforcement authority, potentially complicating any global effort to oversee biological innovations that fall in a gray area of international law.
The Chemical Weapons Convention may not require member nations to report “many facilities taking advantage of biologically mediated production processes,” the advisory panel said in its report. The group added that the treaty exempts numerous activities that “may be scientifically justified” for peaceful purposes, such as producing biofuel or alcoholic drinks.
The report also calls for routine consultations with officials responsible for overseeing a separate international ban on biological arms. OPCW Director General Ahmet Üzümcü three years ago directed his agency’s scientific advisers to consider how the organization’s enforcement tasks may be affected by the ongoing “convergence” of chemical and biological sciences.
The panel advised Üzümcü to discuss convergence issues with overseers of the Biological Weapons Convention.
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."