(17 March - Tuesday)

UTMB Dedicates Bailout Funds to Fight for Bioterror Secrecy

(TBA NEWSWIRE)  -  Aspiring to be the American International Group (AIG) of the university world, academic bailout king the University of Terror Mongering near Baytown (UTMB - Galveston) yesterday threatened the Texas Attorney General with lawsuits to stop release of bioweapons-related public records. The records are material transfer agreements between UTMB and various US labs that cover shipments of biological weapons agents, of which UTMB maintains hefty stocks. 

UTMB's ally in the secrecy effort is Battelle Memorial Institute in Ohio, site of creepy bioweapons agent studies including notorious secret genetic engineering experiments intended to make anthrax more dangerous. While Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has ruled that UTMB must make the agreements public, the University instead says that if he does not reconsider his ruling, it will sue the Republican Attorney General to keep the deals with Battelle a secret.

The ethically and sea level-challenged university, poised on Galveston Island like a giant natural disaster antenna, was effectively wiped out by Hurricane Ike in September 2008, although some might not be aware of that fact. In the wake of Ike, UTMB's public relations department was surprisingly effective at inducing the science press to publish misleading articles suggesting that UTMB was left largely intact. (Perhaps this was because no science reporters actually went to Galveston to see it themselves.) 

Despite the glib post-Ike assessments, in reality the campus was badly hammered. The main teaching hospital and numerous other buildings require demolition or extensive rebuilding. UTMB's trauma center remains closed, and its loss-making Technology Transfer office (which costs more to operate than it earns in royalties), which held some of the records that UTMB is threatening to sue over, was effectively wiped out. According to UTMB, its tech transfer employees, as of 16 March 2009, "have not been allowed to return to their building due to damages... and they are now working out of a hallway" (in a building that is supposed to be used for research).

UTMB is best known for its expensive taxpayer-funded white elephant BSL-4 bioterror labs, the fruit of fearmongering by UTMB and Bush administration bioparanoia, and for hosting America's only prison hospital that is located on a medical school campus. The hospital's "guests" (Texas inmates), are notoriously unhealthy and have been found by overseers to have been abused by UTMB experimenters in the past.

Experts hired by the University of Texas System to assess UTMB's post-Ike plight recommended last month not to rebuild on the island, due to its cash-hemorrhaging hospital (which would be more economically viable elsewhere) and the high likelihood of UTMB being smashed by another hurricane or sunk by rising sea levels. 

Despite the commonsensical recommendations from impartial outsiders, politics intervened and UTMB is now poised to receive a one billion dollar plus bailout package from the federal government and Texas taxpayers. UTMB's purpose, obviously, is to build an even bigger and better hurricane target so that UTMB can receive even more public handouts once its rebuilt campus is inevitably destroyed. As a Department of Homeland Security official recently put it in private, "there are some decisions [building a BSL-4 on Galveston Island] that we wish we could take back."

Although the university still isn't properly functioning six months after Ike, and even if one might reasonably presume that UTMB's leaders would have more pressing business, UTMB is actually spending its resources fighting against release of its waterlogged bioterror records. The UTMB-Battelle axis of evil seems especially determined to prevent the public from learning what bioterrorism agents the two institutions are sending to one another.  

What is it that UTMB and Battelle don't want the public to know about their activities? Could it be genetically-engineered anthrax changing hands?  Perhaps. UTMB anthrax researchers are performing experiments in a dangerous Madison Aerosol Chamber (a piece of equipment now withdrawn from the market due to liability concerns). More likely it's nasty viruses, in which UTMB truly specializes, and what the two partners are doing together. Stay tuned for more information.