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On June 15 a federal grand jury will consider bioterrorism charges against Steve Kurtz, a Buffalo, N.Y. university professor who was working on an exhibit for Mass MoCA and belongs to the internationally acclaimed Critical Art Ensemble. The exhibit included the use of simple biology equipment, such as Petri dishes.So, the tests came back clean enough to allow Kurtz's house to be occupied again, but they still want to charge him with bio-terror. I've got news for the FBI, I've potentially got e coli growing on the ground beef in my fridge.
An FBI agent from Buffalo handed subpoenas to two of four ensemble artists, Beatriz da Costa and Steve Barnes, on May 30 outside the Holiday Inn in North Adams while the duo was in town for the opening of Mass MoCA's latest season, said Nato Thompson, associate curator. Both da Costa and Barnes are scheduled to testify.
Because materials intended for the art project were seized, an empty space and a sign explaining the situation stand in Mass MoCA where the exhibit would have been.
Early on the morning of May 11, Kurtz woke up to find wife, Hope, 45, dead of an apparent cardiac arrest, and called 911. Police arriving on the scene became alarmed when they found biological materials, according to the Associated Press.
Agents from the Joint Terrorism Task Force then cordoned off and searched Kurtz's home.
Although Kurtz maintains the material was art intended for Mass MoCA, the materials police found -- one of Kurtz's colleagues said it included lab equipment used for DNA extraction and amplification, as well as three types of bacteria -- were enough to trigger fears of bioterrorism.
Crews in protective suits spent two days removing materials from Kurtz's home, testing for ricin, anthrax and plague.
Da Costa told the Associated Press that the bacteria Kurtz was using in his exhibit included E. coli, bacillus globigii and serratia, which she said were "completely harmless" and commonly used in research.
Although [Kurtz's] house was closed for two days, the New York Commissioner of Health opened the home after that time, based on preliminary reports, said Moskal.
“There’s a lot of money to pay for this that doesn’t have to be U.S. taxpayer money, and it starts with the assets of the Iraqi people…and on a rough recollection, the oil revenues of that country could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years…We’re dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.” -Paul Wolfowitz
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