Former Russian spy becomes critically sick after being exposed to an unknown substance

On Monday Reuters reported in Britain that Sergei Skripal, who is a former Russian spy, fell critically ill after being exposed to an unknown substance. Skripal was convicted by Russia of betraying its agents to British intelligence.

The British police reported that two people, who were a 66-year-old man & a 33-year-old woman, were been found unconscious on a bench inside of a shopping center on Sunday in the southern English city of Salisbury after exposure to the unknown substance.

British police have not released the names to the public of those who were being treated but two sources close to the investigation told Reuters in its report that the critically ill man was Skripal. It was unclear what the substance was, they said.

Wiltshire police’s Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Craig Holden said in a statement:

“This has not been declared as a counter-terrorism incident and we would urge people not to speculate.”

Relations between Britain and Russia have been tense since the murder of an ex-KGB agent, Alexander Litvinenko, who was killed with radioactive polonium-210 in London in 2006, a killing which a British inquiry said was probably approved by President Vladimir Putin.

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied any involvement in approving the killing.

Litvinenko was 43 years-old, and a outspoken critic of President Putin who fled Russia for Britain six years to the day before he was poisoned, died after drinking green tea laced with the rare and very potent radioactive isotope at London’s Millennium Hotel.


EPA shuts down office that protects children from harmful chemicals

The National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) will no longer exist as a standalone entity following plans to combine three EPA offices, the agency confirmed to The Hill on Monday.

One of the key functions of NCER was to give out grants to scientists that are investigating the effects of chemical exposure on human health.

The EPA states that the staff from the offices will be reassigned within the agency. It’s not clear what will happen to the grant and fellowship programs that NCER has been giving out for the past decade.

However, President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2019 would have dramatically slashed funding for NCER by more than 90 percent, but the most recent budget deal did not touch the program.

A detailed review of the Science to Achieve Results Research Program (a primary NCER grant program, referred to as STAR grants) by the National Academies of Sciences lauded its results:

“STAR has had numerous successes, such as in research on human health implications of air pollution, on environmental effects on children’s health and well-being, on interactions between climate change and air quality, and on the human health implications of nanoparticles. Those are just a few examples; many more could be cited.”

More examples from the STAR report:

“In 2016, a research project partially supported by a STAR grant recognized that infants could be exposed to arsenic through rice cereal (Karagas et al. 2016), and this recognition led the Food and Drug Administration to propose regulations to protect infant health (FDA 2016). Another example is the discovery by the University of Washington Children’s Center that farmworker children had increased exposure to the pesticide ingredient azinphos-methyl which is a neurotoxicant (Curl et al. 2002), which informed EPA’s decision to phase out the use of azinphos-methyl (EPA 2006).”

In the past, NCER programs also support prevention and/or treatment of childhood asthma, preterm births, leukemia, and the list goes on. The EPA stated that the office is being eliminated as part of a merger of three EPA offices “to create management efficiencies within the organization.

On top of this news, the White House announced on Friday that President Trump plans to nominate a Dow Chemical Co. lawyer to lead the Environmental Protection Agency’s office of solid waste.

Illinois Ash Pits leak BMN investigation fundraiser

A new report shows that toxic waste from coal ash pits in southern Illinois is leaking into the Vermilion River, Illinois most scenic & traveled river. These pits are from a now-closed Power Station that was owned by Dynegy Inc.

Back in January Prairie Rivers Network announced, citing problems documented in the Houston-based company’s own internal reports, that it plans to file a suit against Dynegy for repeatedly violating an Obama-era regulation, the Clean Water Act. The group said it decided to challenge the company on its own because federal and state regulators have failed to address well-known hazards at the shuttered plant near Oakwood, about 25 miles east of Urbana.

We hope to get on the ground coverage and water samples from the river and surrounding water supplies connecting to the river. To learn more about the situation visit the link at the bottom.

These funds will be used to purchase a raft, water testing kits, emergency equipment such as rope, life jackets, and a flare gun.

These funds will also help with travel costs such as gas and will help cover equipment costs such as batteries for camera and recording gear. Any extra funds will be saved and go towards other on the ground reports.

Click here to donate to our investigation for equipment.


Middle school teacher in Florida caught running white nationalist podcast

On Saturday Huffpost reported that a public middle school teacher in Florida has been secretly hosting a white supremacist podcast under a false name.

Dayanna Volitich is a 25 year-old social studies teacher at Crystal River Middle School, and also hosts a white nationalist podcast called “Unapologetic,” where she bragged about teaching her ideology to students and tricking the school’s principal into disregarding parent complaints that she was injecting political bias into the classroom and onto her students.

The name she went by was “Tiana Dalichov”, which we was known as in her podcast and on social media. She has also claimed that Muslim terrorism will continue “until we eradicate them from the face of the earth,” and has also praised neo-Nazi leaders.

The executive director of educational services for the Citrus County School District, Scott Hebert, told HuffPost that the district would investigate.

“She does not speak on behalf of the Citrus County School District,” Hebert said. “The views she’s listed [online] are really not in line with how our district operates.”

As of March 4th Dayanna Volitich has been “removed from the classroom,” Citrus County School District Superintendent Sandra Himmel announced Sunday in a statement:

Photograph via Facebook

This isn’t the first time a teacher has been caught spreading white nationalist views on school grounds. A article by Forward reported that a substitute teacher in Maryland was fired after it was discovered that he worked for a think tank run by prominent white supremacist Richard Spencer.

Featured photo via Twitter

Dow Chemical Attorney to lead an EPA office responsible for contaminated sites

On Friday the White House announced President Donald Trump will be nominating a senior attorney at Dow Chemical Co. to lead the Environmental Protection Agency’s office that is responsible for highly contaminated Superfund sites.

Peter Wright would lead the EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management if confirmed by the Senate. The office’s responsibilities include the Superfund program, the brownfield program for redeveloping sites, emergency response operations, landfill regulation and also underground storage tanks.

In a statement from Scott Pruitt in a Hill report, he said:

“Peter is exceptionally qualified to lead the Office of Land and Emergency Management, he has the expertise and experience necessary to implement our ambitious goals for cleaning up the nation’s contaminated lands quickly and thoroughly.”

Since being appointed, Pruitt has made the Superfund program a priority for his time at the EPA. The agency currently has more than 1,300 sites on its priority list, and Pruitt has accused the Obama administration of not doing enough to clean them up. Leaving potentially more environmental hazards for public health.

If confirmed, Wright would potentially be overseeing sites that Dow is responsible for cleaning up. The EPA has identified contaminated sites in California, Michigan and elsewhere as places that Dow is potentially responsible for.

Ethics guidelines may require Wright to recuse himself from matters relating to Dow, which merged last year with DuPont Co.

Featured photo via Common Dreams

Man shoots himself outside of White House

Several shots were heard on Pennsylvenia Avenue after a man approached the north fence of the White House and shot himself shortly before 12 PM. According to witnesses, the man was in a large crowd when he took out a concealed handgun and fired several times, but none of the shots appear to have been aimed at the presidential building. Cathy Milhoan, a Secret Service spokesperson, reported that the man has since died and nobody else was hurt, while White House personnel did not fire any shots.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump were not inside the building, but at Mar-a-Lago, in Florida, when the incident happened. They were scheduled to return to Washington later on in the day for the annual Gridiron Club Dinner.

Nancy Pelosi Endorses Illinois Congressman Who is Against Gay Rights and Abortion

Rep. Dan Lipinski’s is a Democratic representative for Illinois, and is currently serving his 7th term in Illinois’s 3rd congressional district. Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District has been represented by Dan Lipinski for 13 years.

The 3rd district has traditionally leaned from the moderate to conservative side, but has steadily become more progressive. In fact, in 2016 they supported Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton in the presidential election. And that move leftward has produced a progressive challenger to the centrist Lipinski.

Where is Illinois 3rd district?

This largely suburban, Democratic-leaning district reaches roughly from the southwest edge of the city, to the southwestern suburbs (parts of Western Springs and Burbank) and down to northeastern Will County (Lockport).

Lipinski however did fail to receive an endorsement from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and other elected Democrats have voiced support behind his opponent, Marie Newman.

Marie Newman is a progressive running for Illinois 3rd district, and her campaign has been fueled by the progressive anger at Lipinski’s opposition to reproductive rights, LGBT rights, and Obamacare. However, his views apparently aren’t enough for Nancy Pelosi to not throw her support behind him. Once again proving to do anything to protect establishment politics from being hurt by Progressives.

On Thursday, less than three weeks before the March 20 primary, Lipinski did pick up one notable supporter: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi has continued to show greater tolerance for Blue Dog Democrats than others in her caucus have. Since the 2016 elections, Progressives have criticized the DCCC for refusing to apply a reproductive rights litmus test to 2018 candidates, which it never has, yet Pelosi insisted there was room in the party for anti-abortion candidates. “This is the Democratic Party, this is not a rubber-stamp party,” she told the Washington Post.

So instead of throwing her support behind a progressive candidate that stands for something her party’s majority supports, she throws her support behind a man who has continuously voted against her as minority leader. Pelosi’s time may be running to an end as well, as she is facing a rising progressive candidate in California.

Featured photo via NYT