Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Have You Had Your Daily Dose of Polonium-210 Today?

Ah, yes. Polonium-210. Highly radioactive and very rare. A by-product of advanced nuclear technology.

Former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, who has lived in London for many years, felt ill on November 1 several days after meeting with some unidentified Russian men. As his illness grew worse and hospital workers could neither diagnose his illness or reverse the deadly symptoms he accused Russian President Vladmir Putin of ordering his asassination. The polonium-210 was found in his body after his death on November 23.

Since only a minute amount of polonium-210 can bring death, investigators quickly retraced Litvinenko's movements from the time he believed he had been poisoned. So far six London locations have been found to show traces of polonium-210 and 49 out of 106 hospital personnel who cared for him have been asked to give urine samples to see if they have been contaminated.

Worse than this, today three British Airways jetliners were grounded after traces of polonium-210 were found on two of them. The three jets were tested because either Litvinenko or others, suspected in his murder, were believed to have flown on them as passengers after what he believed was his poisoning on October 25.

British Airways has now listed the 200 flights these airliners have made since that date and are asking the 33,000 passengers and 3,000 crew and maintenance personnel who have worked on them to contact the airlines for potential health assessments.

Litvinenko, along with others, had been actively pursuing leads in the murder of Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya on October 7th. Politkovskaya had been about to publish an expose on the use of torture in Chechnya when she was shot in the head in her Moscow apartment building.

Her death, as well as Litvinenko's, has been tied to Putin . . . who has denied any knowledge or involvement in either case.

This story keeps growing more and more each day. Who knows where it will lead . . . perhaps to more murders and assassinations?

In any case, I wonder how much polonium-210 contamination might be found if random tests were done on various Moscow-routed airliners and other known habitues of shadowy Russian hit-men and hit-women?

It makes me wonder just how many times this has happened before and whether this toxic poison is splattered somewhere near where I live? Or where you live?

The world has just grown a little bit less welcoming and safe thanks to the potenially potent poison of paranoia.