UK Announces Public Inquiry into Russian Spy’s Poisoning

Originally published on July 25, 2014, at NationofChange.org

Blaming Russia for the deaths of the 298 passengers aboard Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, including 10 passengers from the UK, the British government has announced a public inquiry into poisoned former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko. Seeking justice for her husband’s murder, Marina Litvinenko has met resistance from the British government until recent actions in the Ukraine and deteriorating diplomatic relations with Russia.

While investigating the assassination of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, former FSB agent Litvinenko met with three former KGB officers at the Millennium Hotel in London on November 1, 2006. Forensic evidence has revealed Litvinenko’s teacup had been poisoned with the radioactive isotope, polonium-210. Enduring intense agony, Litvinenko entered a hospital and eventually died of heart failure 22 days later.

Before his death, Litvinenko revealed the names of his killers: Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, the former KGB officers who had tea with him, and Vladimir Putin, the man who had ordered his execution.

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Demand Samsung Stop Worker Abuse and Child Labor

Originally published on July 25, 2014, at ForceChange.com

Target: Boo-Keun Yoon, CEO of Samsung Group

Goal: Provide Samsung employees in China and Korea with safe work environments and put an end to illegal child labor practices

To keep costs down, Samsung regularly commits worker abuse in its cell phone factories. Exposed to harmful chemicals without the required safety equipment, hundreds of employees have developed serious medical conditions. Children illegally working in the plants are forced to work 11 hours a day, six days a week while earning less than their older counterparts.

Workers often do not receive protective gear, such as masks or gloves, when operating unsafe equipment or coming into contact with toxic chemicals. Samsung does not even provide safety training for their employees in Korea, China, and around the world.

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Save the Last Captive Polar Bear in Argentina

Originally published on July 25, 2014, at ForceChange.com

Target: Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, President of Argentina

Goal: Convince the people of Argentina to liberate their last captive polar bear from extreme heat and poor living conditions

Arturo, Argentina’s last captive polar bear, suffers each day in Mendoza Zoo exposed to the excruciating heat of the sun. But zoo officials refuse to transfer Arturo to a colder climate or even provide Arturo with proper medical treatment. The government of Argentina needs to put an end to this animal cruelty and move Arturo from Mendoza Zoo before his health deteriorates any further.

Forced to live in a concrete cell in harsh temperatures, Arturo the polar bear languishes in the sun all day for the entertainment of zoo patrons. His current climate is anathema to his original polar environment. Arturo’s body was built to survive in snow, not sun-baked concrete.

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Boston Bombing Co-conspirator Found Guilty

Originally published on July 24, 2014, at NationofChange.org

On the night of April 18, 2013, Dias Kadyrbayev asked UMass-Darthmouth sophomore Andrew Dwinells to enter the dorm room Dwinells shared with the alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. After Dwinells agreed to let him in, Kadyrbayev searched the room for any incriminating evidence against his friend. He left the dorm room accompanied by Azamat Tazhayakov, Robel Phillipos, and a backpack containing Tsarnaev’s laptop, thumb drive, headphones, fireworks, Vaseline, a bag of marijuana, and an astray.

Earlier that day, photos of the Boston Bombing suspects had been released. While flippantly confronting Tsarnaev about seeing his face on the news, Kadyrbayev received this text from his friend: “Ifyu want yu can go to my room and take what’s there : ) but ight bro Salam aleikum.”

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California’s Dysfunctional Death Penalty System Ruled Unconstitutional

Originally published on July 22, 2014, at NationofChange.org

US District Judge Cormac Carney ruled California’s death penalty unconstitutional in a controversial decision last week. Judge Carney vacated the death sentence of Ernest Dewayne Jones in a desperate attempt to expose and possibly repair California’s dysfunctional death penalty system.

Judge Carney wrote, “In California, the execution of a death sentence is so infrequent, and the delays preceding it so extraordinary, that the death penalty is deprived of any deterrent or retributive effect it might once have had. Such an outcome is antithetical to any civilized notion of just punishment.”

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Russia Denies Reopening Cuban Spy Base as Ukrainian Conflict Escalates

Originally published on July 20, 2014, at NationofChange.org

Responding to recent allegations, Russian President Vladimir Putin publicly denied any intentions to reopen their signals intelligence (SIGINT) post in Cuba. While attending a BRICS summit in Brasilia on Thursday, Putin claimed, “Russia is capable of fulfilling the defense capacity tasks without this component.”

The Soviet-era spy facility in Lourdes, Cuba, began operation in 1967 after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban missile crisis. Located 155 miles from the US coast, the covert base intercepted classified radio signals from ships, submarines, and American spacecraft. At the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union required up to 3,000 personnel to staff the building.

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CDC Director Admits to Agency’s Incompetence

Originally published on July 18, 2014, at NationofChange.org

Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testified on Wednesday to members of Congress regarding the CDC’s recent history of potentially lethal mistakes and irresponsibility. Possibly exposing employees to deadly strains of anthrax and bird flu in separate incidents, the CDC has decided to temporarily cease deliveries of all infectious agents from its highest‐security labs.

“These events revealed totally unacceptable behavior,” Dr. Frieden said. “They should never have happened. I’m upset, I’m angry, I’ve lost sleep over this, and I’m working on it until the issue is resolved.”

In response to the anthrax scare, Rep. Tim Murphy, chair of the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee stated, “Dr. Frieden, this is like saying ‘I didn’t know the gun was loaded, but somebody got shot. But you should always assume it is. For someone to say, ‘Well, I didn’t think the anthrax was live,’ is unacceptable.”

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