Tag Archives: poison

Russia Accuses UK Of Bluffing On Spy Poisoning

(SL) – Russia says Britain is bluffing in accusing the Kremlin of poisoning a former Russian double-agent and his daughter. An official with the Russian embassy in London made that claim today in an interview with the TASS news agency. Today’s denial comes as Russia is calling an emergency meeting of the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons. Russian President Vladimir Putin says he hopes that will end talk of whether the Kremlin was behind the attack. British investigators say a chemical agent developed by the Soviet Union was smeared on the door of Sergei Skripal’s home in the southern English city of Salisbury.

The 66-year-old Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury on March 4th. Yulia Skripal is awake and talking but her father is still unconscious.

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Bosnian Croat War Criminal Kills Himself By Drinking Poison After Losing 20 Year Sentence Appeal

(SL) – Slobodan Pralijack was one of six Bosnian Croat political and military leaders up before the court. The 72 year old took a swig from a small container or glass as United Nation Judges announced that his appeal of a 20-year sentence for war crimes had been denied.

Pralijack drank the poison in the courtroom and died. “Slobodan Praljak is not a war criminal. I am rejecting your verdict with contempt,” Praljak shouted before swallowing the liquid.

The judge was then heard immediately suspending proceedings and asking for the curtains to be drawn. An ambulance was at the building shortly and paramedics raced up to the courtroom, Reuters reported.
Praljak, a former assistant defense minister of Croatia and commander of the Croatian Defense Council was convicted of offenses which date to between 1992 and 1994 and came as part of a wider conflict that followed the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.
He along with others was accused of trying to “ethnically cleanse” non-Croats from areas of the territory of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Bosnian Croat leadership, along with Croat leaders, wanted to make this territory part of a “Greater Croatia,” the ICTY said when the case first went through the court.
The courtroom was being treated as a crime scene, an ICTY spokesperson told CNN.
Croatia’s Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic, later confirmed the former general had died and offered his condolences.
“On behalf of the Government of the Republic of Croatia and on my own behalf, I want to express my deepest condolences to the family of General Slobodan Praljak,” Plenkovic said, according to a tweet from an official government account.

EPA Knew About Contaminated Water Last Year And Didn’t Inform Residents

(Bill Mathis-Lilly) – The Michigan state government has come under heavy criticism in recent weeks because of reports that it downplayed and even actively tried to cover up problems with Flint’s drinking water before incontrovertible evidence of a crisis became public. (The city switched to a new drinking water source in April 2014; its water has since been plagued by high levels of toxic substances, especially lead. The situation has gotten so dire that the National Guard and FEMA are involved.)

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Flint Michigan Water Crisis

The federal government also knew there might be toxic material in the city’s water long before any public official acknowledged as much—a controversial decision that the EPA’s top Midwest official, Susan Hedman, defended to the Detroit News in an interview this week. Hedman argues that the EPA did its best to address the issue behind the scenes and would have been acting inappropriately if it had made any public announcement about the potential problems:

Hedman said federal law clearly lays out the state and federal responsibilities in overseeing safe drinking water. The EPA’s role is to establish treatment standards and monitoring techniques, and provide technical assistance, she said. The state acts as the primary regulator of water operations.

“It is important to understand the clear roles here,” Hedman said. “Communication about lead in drinking water and the health impacts associated with that, that’s the role of [the Department of Health and Human Services], the county health department and the drinking water utility.”

The crux of the matter here is the issue of “corrosion control.” The water from Flint’s new source—the Flint River—was more corrosive than the water from its old source. That’s what caused lead from water pipes to leach into the drinking water that comes out of taps. But the city might have mitigated the issue—and should have, according to federal law—if it had treated the water to make it less corrosive. The EPA made inquiries about corrosion as early as February 2015, at which time Michigan state officials replied that Flint had an “optimized corrosion control plan.” It didn’t have anyplan, in fact (nice one, state Michigan officials), something which the EPA now acknowledges it had confirmed for itself by April 2015. In June 2015, an EPA employee named Miguel Del Toral had written an internal memo about the problem (and confirmed the “the presence of high lead results in [Flint] drinking water” through testing). Del Toral’s memo became public via a Flint resident to whom he’d given it.

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Dr. Marc Edwards of Virginia Tech displays water samples from Flint, Michigan.

Here’s what the EPA did after that happened: It put out a press release referring to Del Toral’s data as “initial results” that other officials would need to “verify and assess.” Hedman, the regional EPA boss, told the mayor of Flint in a private email that “the preliminary draft report should not have been released outside the agency.” At the same time, Michigan state government spokesperson Brad Wurfel said that “anyone who is concerned about lead in the drinking water in Flint can relax”; Wurfel, who has since resigned, also later called Del Toral a “rogue employee.” The EPA didn’t say anything further to defend its own analysis—which, as it turns out, was completely correct.

By September 2015, independent studies had confirmed that there was lead in Flint’s drinking water which was causing lead poisoning in children. In October 2015 the state of Michigan acknowledged it had screwed up and the city stopped using the Flint River as a water source. And in November, the EPA finally released an official version of Del Toral’s report. Meanwhile, the Detroit News says this week, “unfiltered Flint water is still not safe to drink.”