Thursday, March 22, 2018

Amazon settles with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over 4,000 toxic violations

Natural Health 365 | Mar 21, 2018 | Dena Schmidt

© Breitbart
Internet juggernaut Amazon of Seattle, WA must pay over $1.2 million in costs as part of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agreement. Why, you may wonder? Because Amazon recently faced allegations that they committed around 4,000 Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act violations over the last five years.

The company allowed third party companies to sell dubious pesticide products via Amazon’s warehouse distribution system. These pesticides were not licensed in the U.S., and sale of these products was illegal. But, that didn’t stop one of the worst online retailers from putting profits over public safety concerns.

One can only hope that this ‘settlement’ will help protect consumers from the online sale of misbranded and outright illegal pesticides.

Amazon helps to sell products saturated in pesticides designed to appeal to children

The EPA hopes this substantial fine, the largest of its kind, will serve as a deterrent to both the Amazon company and other online outlets to engage in such activities. After all, there’s no debate: these pesticides pose a serious threat to human health in both rural and urban communities.

One of the most troublesome products offered is comprised of chalk that is saturated with pesticides. It can be used to draw a barrier around areas to help deter pests from entering. What’s most problematic is that this product arrives in bright packaging that makes it appealing to children. It could all too easily be mistaken for sidewalk chalk or candy.

The terms of the EPA agreement require Amazon to develop an online training course to inform vendors about pesticide policies and regulations. The goal is to reduce the number of illegal pesticides available online. This training will be mandatory for any company that wishes to sell pesticides on Amazon.

Around 80 pesticides have been linked with life-threatening diseases

The investigation of Amazon for violations related to the sale of pesticides began in late 2014. After determining that illegal pesticides were being sold via the company’s marketplace, they were given a warning in 2015. An additional warning followed in 2016 after misbranded and unregistered pest bait products were being sold. Further violations ultimately led to the $1.2 million dollar fine the company is now faced with.

Pesticides are associated with a range of health issues. Research has determined that 28 commonly used pesticides are linked with a higher risk of cancer. Nearly 80 have been linked with life-threatening and serious disorders or diseases. Pesticide exposure is also linked with reproductive and nervous system disorders.

Avoid the toxic chemicals in pesticides and favor natural solutions

In addition to cancer, pesticide exposure has been linked with higher incidents of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, endocrine disruption, respiratory issues, and developmental disorders in children. We, at NaturalHealth365, continue to ‘sound the alarm’ about these issues – because none of this should be acceptable in a caring society.

No doubt, these products should be avoided whenever possible in favor of natural solutions for pest control. Essential oils (neem, citrus and lemon grass), diatomaceous earth, vinegar or plain old soap and water can all be an effective deterrent for many pests.

More (obvious) tips include: keeping countertops clean and dry; avoid leaving wet dishes in the sink and be sure to fix any source of water leaks in the home, as soon as possible.

And, finally, always favor organic fruits and vegetables to help minimize your pesticide exposure within the diet. Over time, these efforts will pay off – ‘big time!’

Sources for this article include:

‘No smoking gun’: Smack in the face for May as EU fails to back British escalation over Skripal

RT | Mar 22, 2018

© Francois Lenoir / Reuters
The UK was quick to point the blame for the Salisbury attack – but its own allies are refusing to do the same. Reports suggest EU leaders gathering in Brussels are backing away from British attempts to condemn Moscow.

After former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were exposed to the A-234 nerve agent (also known as ‘Novichok’) in Salisbury, UK Prime Minister Theresa May blamed Russia. Britain said it was “highly likely” to be a Kremlin-backed act of aggression, despite repeated denials from Moscow.

A draft text from EU talks on the matter has emerged condemning “in the strongest possible terms” the attacks. The phrase was added to the draft text that EU leaders will discuss at a summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, which was obtained by Politico.

However, the question of attribution was not changed. The UK has been pushing for the Kremlin to be recognized as the perpetrator. Yet, its allies in Brussels appear to be refusing to cast judgment ahead of the evidence, unlike Downing Street.

The text says: “The EU takes extremely seriously the UK Government’s assessment that it is highly likely that the Russian Federation is responsible. The European Union is shocked at the offensive use of any military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia, for the first time on European soil in over 70 years. The use of chemical weapons by anyone under any circumstances is completely unacceptable and constitutes a security threat to us all. The Union calls on Russia to address urgently the questions raised by the UK and the international community and provide immediate, full and complete disclosure of its Novichok programme to the OPCW.

Diplomats familiar with talks said Greece and Italy did not want the language changed. “They say that there’s no smoking gun, or at least not yet,” said an EU diplomat to Politico. Greece has denied calling for alterations but admitted it lobbied for a more “clear” text.

Theresa May’s team has been hoping for unequivocal world backing, but has not received it. She expelled 23 Russian diplomats from London last week, and has threatened further punishment.

The UK said it was not a snub by Brussels that the language is cooler than last week, especially that used by Germany and France, but said getting 27 countries to agree is difficult. It is especially damaging for Theresa May after President Putin was praised by Trump in a call after his re-election on Sunday, despite her hopes the special friendship between the UK and the US would see Trump backing her fully.
Jean-Claude Juncker also upset the UK after sending a congratulatory letter to Putin. EU leaders will discuss the new text over dinner at the European Council summit Thursday. Despite Britain’s allegations against Moscow, Russia has repeatedly insisted that the Kremlin had nothing to do with the attack on former double-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury.

Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed the UK PM’s allegations, saying it was “nonsense and absurd to claim that Russia would do anything like that before the elections and the World Cup.

NSA’s been trying to track down bitcoin users long before crypto boom – Snowden docs

RT | Mar 22, 2018

It's been revealed that the much-praised security of the virtual currency Bitcoin may have been compromised by the U.S. National Security Agency. Classified documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden demonstrate the efforts by the agency to track down users of the currency - something previously thought to be practically impossible. RT's Ilya Petrenko picks up the story.

Critical Thinking: Skripal was of ‘zero value’ to Russia after spy swap, so why poison him now? – Kremlin spokesman

RT | Mar 21, 2018

President Putin’s press-secretary, Dmitry Peskov gives an exclusive interview to RT about Skripal poisoning case.



Urgent: Britain stages Russia poisoning, drowns in lies

Inessa S | Mar 21, 2018

If you were running for the presidency of a country, and about to host a major international event – would you poison a defector, who many years earlier was in your possession, with a toxic substance that leads right back to you? It seems the Russian cookie monster always leaves a convenient cookie crumb trail – or so the Western audience is led to believe. All symptoms of a provocation are clear.

Furthermore, “Novichok” is not a widely known substance in Russia itself – it was developed by a chemist who moved to the US and published a book on his development. Make sure you watch until the end to see the briefing on the Skripal case by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The British side refuses to provide a sample of the nerve agent used in Salisbury to the Russian side – because, in order to prove a substance, one must be able to match it to an existing “control standard”, ie the country must have the formula. Where it's truly unknown, the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons states that where a country suspects another of the use in chemical weapons – it must approach the side in question, provide a sample, and expect a response within 10 days. Britain, however, disregards international law and relies instead on public emotion and hysteria. The only sane Brit, it seems, is Jeremy Corbyn, who is heckled in parliament for his balanced approach.

In March 2018, Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found unconscious in Britain’s Salisbury. Skripal is a former Russian intelligence officer, who for the cost of a Spanish holiday home, and a couple hundred thousand one-off payments of the MI6, betrayed Russia. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison, but in 2010, together with 3 others, was pardoned by the Russian president and exchanged for 10 other intel workers.

Since then Skripal continued to live in Britain and work for the MI6. Much like the case of Litvinenko – international law has little to do with the investigation, all that matters are headlines. Be wary of what you read!

Russian Scientists Explain 'Novichok' - High Time For Britain To Come Clean (Updated)

Moon of Alabama | Mar 21, 2018

A week ago we asked if 'Novichok' poisons are real. The answer is now in: It is 'yes' and 'no'. Several Russian scientist now say that they once researched and developed lethal poisons but they assert that other countries can and have copied these. 'Novichok', they say,  is a just western propaganda invention. They see the British accusations as a cynical plot against Russia. The people who push the 'Novichok' accusations have political and commercial interests.

The British Prime Minister Theresa May insinuated that the British-Russian double agent Sergej Skripal and his daughter Yulia, who collapsed on March 4 on a public bench in Salisbury, were affected by a 'Russian' nerve agent:
It is now clear that Mr Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia. It is part of a group of nerve agents known as Novichok.
Theresa May's claims are highly questionable.

Maria Zakharova, spokeswomen of the Russian Foreign Ministry: "'Novichok' has never been used in the USSR or in Russia as something related to the chemical weapon research"
A highly potent nerve agent would hurt anyone who comes in contact with it. But the BBC reported that a doctor who administered first aid to the collapsed Yulia Skripal for 30 minutes was not affected at all. Another doctor, Steven Davies who heads the emergence room of the Salisbury District Hospital, wrote in a letter the London Times:
"... no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury and there have only been ever been three patients with significant poisoning."
The name 'Novichok' comes from a book written by Vil Mirzanyanov, a 1990s immigrant to the U.S. from the former Soviet Union. It describes his work at Soviet chemical weapon laboratories and lists the chemical formulas of a new group of lethal substances.
AFP interviewed the author of the 'Novichok' book about the Salisbury incident:
Mirzayanov, speaking at his home in Princeton, New Jersey, said he is convinced Russia carried it out as a way of intimidating opponents of President Vladimir Putin.
The only other possibility, he said, would be that someone used the formulas in his book to make such a weapon.
"Russia did it", says Mirzanyanov, "OR SOMEONE WHO READ MY BOOK".

1, 2

A 'Novichok' nerve agent plays a role in the current season of the British-American spy drama Strike Back which broadcasts on British TV. Theresa May might have watched this clip (vid) from the series. Is it a source of her allegations?

The Russian government rejects the British allegations and demands evidence which Britain has not provided. Russia joined the Chemical Weapon Convention in 1997. By 2017 it had destroyed all its chemical weapons and chemical weapon production facilities. Under the convention only very limited amounts of chemical weapon agents are allowed to be held in certified laboratories for defense research and testing purposes. The U.S. has such laboratories at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland, the British lab is in Porton Down, a few miles from Salisbury. The Russian lab is in Shikhany in the southern Saratov Oblast. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) audits these laboratories and their declared stocks "down to the milligram level".

The spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry and famous high heels folk dancer (vid) Maria Zakharova explains in a TV interview (vid, English subtitles) that 'Novichok' was not and is not the name of any Soviet or Russian program. The word was introduced in the "west" simply because it sounded Russian.

Western media claimed that Vil Miranzayanov is the developer of the 'Novichok' chemicals. It turns out that this is not the case. Interviews with two retired Russian chemists, both published only yesterday, tell the real story. The Russia news agency RIA Novostni talked with Professor Leonid Rink (machine translation):
Did you have anything to do with creating what the British authorities call the "Novice"? - Yes. This was the basis of my doctoral dissertation.
At that time I worked in Shikhany, in the branch of GosNIIOKhT (State Research Institute of Organic Chemistry and Technology, during Soviet times was engaged in the development of chemical weapons), was a leading researcher and head of the laboratory.
Professor Rink says that:
  • 'Novichok' or 'novice' was never used as a program name. New Soviet formulas had alphanumeric codes.
  • Several new nerve agents were developed in Shikhany in the 1970s and 80s.
  • These new substances can cause immediate deadly reactions when applied to humans.
  • Vil Mirzayanov was head of the chromatographer group, chemists who deals with the separation and analysis of various mixtures of substances. He was responsible for environmental control and not a developer of any new substances.
The Associated Press summarizes other parts of the interview with Professor Rink:
Rink told Russia’s state RIA Novosti news agency Tuesday that Britain and other western nations easily could have synthesized the nerve agent after chemical expert Vil Mirzayanov emigrated to the United States and revealed the formula.

Echoing Russian government statements, Rink says it wouldn’t make sense for Moscow to poison Sergei Skripal, a military intelligence officer who spied for Britain, because he was a used asset “drained” by both Russia and Britain.

He claims Britain’s use of the name Novichok for the nerve agent is intended to convince the public that Russia is to blame.
The English-Russian magazine The Bell interviews another Russian scientists involved in the issue:
The Bell was able to find and speak with Vladimir Uglev, one of the scientists who was involved in developing the nerve agent referred to as “Novichok”. [...] Vladimir Uglev, formerly a scientist with Volsk branch of GOSNIIOKHT (“State Scientific-Research Institute for Organic Chemistry and Technology”), which developed and tested production of new lethal substances since 1972, spoke for the first time about his work as early as the 1990s. He left the institute in 1994 and is now retired.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs insists that there was no research nor development of any substance called “Novichok”, not in Russia, nor in the USSR. Is that true?

– In order to make it easier to understand the subject matter, I will not use the name “Novichok” which has is now commonly used by everyone to describe those four substances which were conditionally assigned to me to develop over a period of several years. Three of these substances are part of the “Foliant” program, which was led by Pyotr Kirpichev, a scientist with GOSNIIOKHT (State Scientific-Research Institute for Organic Chemistry and Technology). The first substance of a new class of organophosphorous chemical agents, I will call it “A-1972”, was developed by Kirpichev in 1972. In 1976, I developed two substances: “B-1976” and “C-1976”. The fourth substance, “D-1980”, was developed by Kirpichev in the early 1980s. All of these substances fall under the group referred to as “Novichkov”, but that name wasn’t given to the substances by GOSNIIOKHT.

All four chemical agents are “FOS” or organophosphorous compounds which have a nerve paralyzing effect, but they differ in their precursors, how they were discovered and in their usage as agents of chemical warfare.
The four substances were developed by Pyotr Kirpichev and Vladimir Uglev. These substances were not readily usable by the military as they could not be safely transported and used in the field like binary chemical weapons can. Once synthesized they were extremely dangerous. Professor Leonid Rink, working later in a different group, tackled the problem but did not succeed. Uglev confirms that Vil Miranzayanov was not involved in the development at all. His group was responsible for chemical analysis and for environmental control around the laboratory.

Vladimir Uglev, via The Bell - bigger
 Vladimir Uglev, like Renk and Miranzayanov, notes that these agents "of a type developed by Russia" can now be produced by any sufficiently equipped laboratory, including private ones.

Uglev mentions a criminal use of one of the agents in the 1990s:
One of these substances was used to poison the banker, Ivan Kivelidi and his secretary in 1995. A cotton ball, soaked in this agent, was rubbed over the microphone in the handset of Kivelidi’s telephone. That specific dose was developed by my group, where we produced all of the chemical agents, and each dose which we developed was given its own complete physical-chemical passport. It was therefore not difficult to determine who had prepared that dose and when it was developed. Naturally, the investigators also suspected me. I was questioned several times about this incident.
Journalist Mark Ames, who worked in Moscow at that time, remarks:
This muddles the narrative a bit —"novichok" used in 1995 Moscow mafia poison hit on top mobster Ivan Kivelidi. So:

1) novichok [is] in mob hands too

2) used during reign of #1 Mobfather Boris Yeltsin, Washington's vassal
Uglev further notes that blood samples from the Salisbury victims, which Moscow demands but Britain has not handed over, can show what agent (if any) were involved and "where the specific dose was produced and by whom."

A new article in the New Scientists confirms the claims by the Russian scientists that the 'Novichok' agents which may have affected the Skripals may have been produced elsewhere:
Weapons experts have told New Scientist that a number of countries legally created small amounts of Novichok after it was revealed in 1992 and a production method was later published.
In 2016 Iranian scientists, in cooperation with the OPCW, published production and detection methods for such agents. It is likely that the various government labs secretly re-developed and produced these chemicals for their own purposes even prior to the Iranian publication.

[UPDATE] In an interview with Deutsche Welle British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson admits that Porton Down had (illegal?)  'Novichok' agents when the incident in Salisbury happened:
DW: You argue that the source of this nerve agent, Novichok, is Russia. How did you manage to find it out so quickly? Does Britain possess samples of it?

Boris Johnson: Let me be clear with you … When I look at the evidence, I mean the people from Porton Down, the laboratory …

DW: So they have the samples …

Boris Johnson: They do. And they were absolutely categorical and I asked the guy myself, I said, "Are you sure?" And he said there's no doubt.
But Porton Down did not agree with the British government to claim that the supposed nerve agent was "made by Russia." It only agreed to the compromise formulation "of a type developed by Russia" i.e. it could have been made anywhere. [End Update]

The claims by the British government that a. the Skripals were affected by a nerve agent and that b. Russia was involved in the Skripal incident because it has some exclusive access to these agents seem both baseless. Unless there is significant further evidence the British incrimination of Russia looks like a cynical plot invented for political and/or commercial purposes.

As usual in the military-industrial complex the people who push such scares, are the ones who profit from them.

The British Morning Star points to one former British military intelligence officer, Colonel (rtd) Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, as a common protagonist in the Skripal case, in the claims of Syrian chemical weapon use and in commercial interests around chemical weapon defense:
Quoted daily by multiple media outlets on the Skripal case, de Bretton-Gordon has become a very public expert, relied upon for unbiased comment and analysis by the British and foreign media on chemical weapon threats from Salisbury to Syria.

He is a former assistant director of Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Land Forces with the Ministry of Defence. Before that de Bretton-Gordon was commanding officer of Britain’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Regiment and Nato’s Rapid Reaction CBRN Battalion.

While his CBRN background is often mentioned, his military intelligence links are rarely referred to publicly.

Long before the Salisbury event, de Bretton-Gordon was urging greater government expenditure on chemical protection counter-measures and equipment.
de Bretton-Gordon is managing director CBRN of Avon Protection Systems, based in Melksham, Wiltshire.
In 2017, the company made £50m from its US military contracts and a further £63.3m from other “protection and defence” revenue.
The former(?) army intelligence officer is also deeply involved in the "moderate rebels" chemical weapon scams in Syria:
On April 29 2014, the [Daily Telegraph] reported that it “obtained soil samples collected from sites of chemical attacks inside Syria by Dr Ahmad — a medic whose real identity cannot be revealed for his own protection — who had previously received training in sample collection by western chemical weapons experts.

“Mr de Bretton-Gordon, a British chemical weapons expert and director of Secure Bio, a private company, was one of the trainers.”

And who carried out the tests? None other than de Bretton-Gordon himself.
The "White Helmets" propaganda group in Syria was founded and is run by the former(?) British army intelligence officer James Le Mesurier with British and U.S. government money. His former(?) colleague de Bretton-Gordon is running the parallel Syria chemical weapon scam. Both profit from their government financed operations.

Other British agents involved in the Skripal case are Pablo Miller who recruited Skripal for the MI6. He was a friend of Skripal, also lived in Salisbury and worked for Christopher Steele, the former(?) MI6 agent who produced the 'dirty dossier' about Donald Trump for the Clinton campaign. Both are involved with Russian mafia emigres in Britain like Boris Berezovski and the deceased Alexander Litvinenko who's father says that he was killed by an MI6 or CIA guy.

While the British government blamed the Russians just a week after the incident in Salisbury happened it now seems interested in delaying any further investigations. It took more than two weeks after the incident for the British government to invite the OPCW to help with the case. The head of the OPCW says it will take another three weeks for the organization to analyze the samples the British laboratory now handed over. The British police requires several months to find out what happened to the Skripals.

How could the British government be sure of "Russian" involvement within a week and even expel Russian diplomats when the primary chemical experts on the issue will need three weeks for their first analyses and the British police predicts a several months long investigation?

The Russian scientist and their government have explained their history and position in relation to 'Novichoks' and the Skripal incident. It is high time now for the British government, its scientists at Porton Down and its greedy mafia of former(?) British intelligence officer and their criminal Russian emigres to come clean about their own roles in it.
Previous Moon of Alabama reports on the Skripal case: