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April 06, 2018

The Best Explanation For The Skripal Drama Is Still ... Food Poisoning

Doctors at the Salisbury District Hospital announced today that Sergej Skripal's health is rapidly improving. He and his daughter Yulia will likely be well again.

It is unlikely that any targeted poisoning with a real 'military grade' nerve agent would have allowed for such an outcome. This brings us back to food poisoning as a possible cause of the Skripals' ordeal.

A friend of this blog, Tore, sent us his considerations which we publish below. He suggest that shellfish poisoning, which is caused by a neurotoxin known as Saxitoxin or STX, is the real culprit of the Skripal incident. He explains how this would fit to the observable behavior of the British government and other participants in the drama. In my view his theory has significant merit.   

On Wednesday the niece of Sergej Skripal, Viktoria Skripal, received a phone call from Yulia Skripal. She was interviewed by a Russian TV station and suggested that food poisoning might have been the real cause of the calamities her relatives were in:

“Did they eat a dish that one cannot eat, or is it banned in England?

"The first signs when they were found were very similar to fish poisoning.”

Victoria intended to visit the UK and to bring Yulia back home to Moscow. The United Kingdom just rejected Victoria Skripal's visa application because she "did not comply with the immigration rules." No further explanation was given.

For those who have not read our previous posts on the issue we offer a short recap of the case. Regular readers may want to scroll down to Tore's part.

Sergej and Yulia Skripal were found on a public bench in Salisbury at about 4pm on March 4. They had collapsed, were conscienceless and were brought into emergency care at the Salisbury District Hospital. Local media wrote of a potential Fentanyl overdose.

Half an hour before the Skripal's collapsed they had eaten at Zizzi, a seafood and pizza outlet.

Over the next days the British government started to make a fuzz about the case. Sergej Skripal was a British spy who had been caught in Russia, put into jail and, in 2010, exchanged for Russian spies. The British government hinted of Russian involvement in the Salisbury incident.

But that story smelled fishy from its very beginning. To target an exchanged spy would guarantee that no further exchanges would ever happen. Sergej Skripal had links to the "dirty dossier" about Donald Trump that was created for the Hillary Clinton campaign. Russia had no good motive, others potentially had one. If there was something nefarious going on it seemed unlikely that Russia was involved.

I now believe that the British government jumped onto the case because it needed to divert attention from the seriously bad results of the Brexit negotiations in Brussels. There are local elections coming up in May and Theresa May's Tory party was lagging in the polls. (There may have been additional reasons related to a planed 'chemical weapon' surprise in the east-Ghouta campaign in Syria.)

Whatever it was - the spin-masters in Downing Street 10 saw a chance to convert the poisoning of the Skripals into something big that would help their political aims. The general push was to blame Russia. The idea to speak of the fearsome nerve-agent 'Novichok' came from a spy drama that had just run on British TV.

On March 12 the British Prime Minister Theresa May spoke in Parliament and claimed that the Skripals were 'attacked' with 'Novichok', a "military grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia". It was her "45 minutes" moment. Russia was declared guilty without any evidence. Britain and other NATO countries expelled Russian diplomats.

'Novichok' is a name for a group of chemicals that are indeed deadly. But Russia never had a 'Novichok' program. It had worked on a different class of chemicals than the ones described in Vil Mirzayanov's 'Novichok' book. Moreover, if 'Novichok' chemicals were involved than Russia was only one of many suspect. The formulas for 'Novichoks' are known, various military laboratories have made some and any decent organic chemistry laboratory can create them too. The U.S., which had produced some of the 'Novichok' agents for itself, had long told its diplomats to avoid any discussions about them.

The first serious unraveling of the dubious case came on March 18 when a doctor at the Salisbury District Hospital publicly denied that any of its patients had been hurt by a nerve agent. We wrote at that time:

Commentator Noirette had suggested here that the Skripal case was about food poisoning or a food allergy, not nerve agents. The Skripals had visited a fish restaurant one hour before they were found. The letter points into a similar direction. Food poisoning would also explain why a doctor who gave emergency help to the unconscious Yulia Skripal for over 30 minutes was not effected at all.

To my best knowledge none of the main stream media picked up on the doctor's letter.

Then a miracle happened. On March 29, just in time for the Roman Christian Easter, the doctors in Salisbury said that Yulia Skripal was no longer in a critical condition. We headline: Last Act Of 'Novichok' Drama Revealed - "The Skripals' Resurrection":

It seems that the 'Novichok' fairy-tale the British government plays to us provides for a happy ending - the astonishing and mysterious resurrection of the victims of a "military grade" "five to eight times more deadly than VX gas" "nerve agent" "of a type developed by" Hollywood.

Happy Easter!

The alleged nerve agent should have killed anyone who came even into slight contact with it. Survival did not fit to the earlier claims by the British government.

Now, just in time for the Orthodox Christian Easter, the condition of Sergej Skripal is reported to be rapidly improving. Another Resurrection! Hallelujah!

In my view all the stories we were told about 'Novichok', the 'doorknob' or a 'Russian attack' are fairy tales. They simply do not make sense.

Commentators of this blog, Noirette, TomGard and others, had discussed several theories of food poisoning. Food poisoning makes sense but none of the ones discussed here fitted the picture of the case. Last week Tore, a friend of this blog from Norway, sent me his theory which makes eminent sense to me.

Tore writes:

Craig Murray's described the pressure on Porton Down to establish that a nerve agent was used in the alleged Skripal attack. I use 'alleged attack', because there is a fair chance that this was no attack, only a serious food poisoning from the very start.

The Skripals had a seafood risotto pesce with king prawns, mussels and squid rings at Zizzi, as reported here in the Daily Mail on March 6.

This is a dish with a well known reputation as a source of shellfish poisoning.

The Skripals were okay when they arrived, okay when they left, and passed out 40 minutes later on the bench with symptoms similar to a paralytic reaction from shellfish poisoning (PSP):

Symptoms of PSP could begin within a few minutes and up to 10 hours after consumption.

Symptoms of PSP can include:
Respiratory difficulty, salivation, temporary blindness, nausea and vomiting may also occur.

In extreme cases, paralysis of respiratory muscles may lead to respiratory arrest and death within two to twelve hours after consumption. Seriously affected people must be hospitalized and placed under respiratory care.

Another official PSP Fact Sheet (pdf) provides:

What is the treatment?

Unfortunately, there is no antidote for PSP toxins; however, supportive medical care can be life saving. For example, persons whose breathing muscles become paralyzed can be put on a mechanical respirator and given oxygen to help them breath, and people who develop a cardiac arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm) can be given medications to stabilize their heart rhythm.

The similarity with symptoms and effect derived from a nerve agent are striking, but no surprise:

In fact the substance at work in a case of paralytic seafood poison is a neurotoxin called Saxitoxin (STX) which is among the most potent poisons found in nature. It works the same way as a nerve agent: It acts on the neurons, preventing normal cellular function and leading to paralysis and in worst case death. In fact Saxitoxin is so potent that it was weaponized by the U.S. and used as a chemical weapon - a nerve agent.

The U.S. developed Saxitoxin into a chemical weapon in the 1960s. The U.S. military designation is TZ. It was also used by the CIA for covert operations and liquidations as evidenced by the Church commission - see: Excerpts of CIA inventory 1, 2.

Serotoxin is registered by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) as evidenced in the Wikipedia article Saxitoxin. The agent stays active even after boiling or steaming.

Now back to Porton Down and the pressure to come up with the 'traces of a nerve agent'. The Saxitoxin could obviously pass as a nerve agent, because it is a nerve agent - but without mention of its origin - the food poisoning.

The nerve agent claim was released by police on March 7, three days after the incident.

According to the Daily Mail article mentioned above, the hospital alarmed the police the day after, on March 5, when the staff became aware of Skripal's 'spy credentials', probably through BBC which first brought the news. This means Porton Down at the most had two days from first tests to the conclusion 'nerve agent' announced on the 7th.

This also implies that the hospital probably treated the Skripals for a food poisoning from the start, until they became aware of Skripals credentials the day after. This fits with the letter to the Times from Stephen Davies, the hospital doctor.

(The timeline used above is from the Associated Press' Key moments in the case of former spy Sergei Skripal.)

The media storm had been going on for a week when Theresa May on March 12 entered parliament and announced the 'Novichok'. The blame had been on Russia from the first moment.


Now suppose the government in the meantime had become aware they had a weak case from the start - because they had rushed Porton Down to a premature conclusion?

There would be no way back for May. The die had been cast. The government had walked out on a limb from the start, now they had to continue the theater by naming the agent.

No nerve agent would suit their narrative better than 'Novichok'. Developed in USSR, a substance with some foggy features and many variants - as opposed to other more well known agents with distinct features. And most important an agent that is not listed in OPCW and which was deliberately chosen to confuse. [b adds: 'Novichok' was also known to the British and U.S. public as a 'fearsome Russian agent'  through a current spy drama on TV. It increased the propaganda value.]

The initial reluctance to involve the OPCW also fits into this picture: the decision to involve OPCW came after May had landed the Novichok claim in parliament on March 12.

The day before, on March 11, police found traces of a nerve agent in the Zizzi restaurant.

Note that the police inside is unprotected - bigger

Did they find the mussel in the risotto? Or 'Novichok'?

More than three weeks into the investigation this is, as far as I know, the only confirmed police find of traces of the nerve agent. Zizzi fits in perfectly as the origin of the poisoning considering the 40 minutes it took before the Skripals passed out on the bench. Though I wonder how a "military grade nerve agent", destined to kill instantly on the battlefield, took that long to incapacitate the Skripals.

I am no doctor, nor a specialist in chemistry - only a retired journalist working with open sources. There are so many curiosities with this case, so many speculations, ...

Here in Norway we have an expression called blodtåke - best translated as blood fog - when all the media are rushing blindly in one direction, without asking the most elementary questions.

After I wrote this they found 'Novichok' on the door of the Skripals' home, which makes it even more unlikely, considering the time frame.

Did they have to divert attention from the restaurant as origin of the poisoning?

There are of course some holes in the above - just regard this as an idea to go along the line of food poisoning.

End of Tore's deliberations.

b here:

Tore's theory of food poisoning with Saxitoxin makes sense. It is a fitting explanation for what happened in Salisbury and for the murky tale the British government tries to sell.


Commenters noted that the theory does not immediately explain what happened to Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, who was also treated in the hospital but less severely effected than the Skripals. Off-Guardian noted on March 23:

It was announced today that Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey – allegedly the third victim of the alleged “nerve agent” poisoning in Salisbury, UK – has been released from hospital.

Bailey did not speak to the press, and no photographs or film of him leaving the premises and going home have yet emerged.
Where Bailey was poisoned, and how he was poisoned is still not clear – which is puzzling of itself. Was it while attending the Skripals as a first-responder, as claimed by Theresa May (improbable on the face of it, since CID officers in Britain do not act as first-responders). Or did he, on the contrary,“have no direct contact with the Skripals”, as put out by the Daily Mail? Was he poisoned while searching the Skripals home? Or was it somewhere else entirely?

And why did he become poisoned when no one else at the scene, and indeed no one else anywhere in Salisbury fell ill, or even showed signs of contamination in their bloodwork?

If Bailey was on the scene on Sunday afternoon, it was likely not because he was on duty, but because he happened to be in the area. Did he have a private lunch? At Zizzi's?  With mussels? We do not know and the government won't say.

(end update)

One of these days the Skripals, Nick Bailey, the doctors at the hospital, or some of the people at Porton Down will talk and let us know the truth.

The Zizzi website says that the restaurant in Salisbury is still - four and a half weeks after the incident - "temporarily closed". If it served healthy food and the Skripals were really poisoned by touching a doorknob at their home why would that still be the case?

But do not take off your tinfoil hat just yet.

If Saxitoxin was the cause of the Skirpals' illness, the story has still potential for a decent spy drama. Was the poison in the mussels Zizzi's served of natural occurrence, or had someone at the CIA rummaged through its old inventory? Who applied the dosage?

In another message Tore notes that there is a foreign member in the British Joint Intelligence Commission which advises Downing Street:

Ever since World War II, the chief of the London station of the United States Central Intelligence Agency has attended the JIC's weekly meetings.

These connections might yet bring us back to Skripal's participation in the 'dirty dossier' about Trump which MI6 agent Chris Steele prepared for the Hillary Clinton campaign. The U.S. and the British intelligence services under Clapper and Brennan waged a war against then candidate Donald Trump. They did not want him to win the election under any circumstance. Were the Skripals late casualties of this fight?

But no. I would not trust that story any more than I trust the British government's current tale.

Another possible explanation, more likely that the election manipulation mentioned above, is a false flag incident solely created to incriminate Russia. It would be a reproduction of the 1994 Operation Hades, a highly propagandized case made up by the German spy service BND to incriminated Russia with a (faked) plutonium smuggling case.

Then again - if it looks like food poisoning, Occam's razor says, it might just be that - food poisoning.

The Skripals' beloved animals though, were admittedly killed by the British government. The Skripal's should sue the responsible persons to hell for committing this murder and for lying about its circumstances.

Previous Moon of Alabama reports on the Skripal case:

March 8 - Poisioned British-Russian Double-Agent Has Links To Clinton Campaign
March 12 - Theresa May's "45 Minutes" Moment
March 14 - Are 'Novichok' Poisons Real? - May's Claims Fall Apart
March 16 - The British Government's 'Novichok' Drama Was Written By Whom?
March 18 - NHS Doctor: "No Patients Have Experienced Symptoms Of Nerve Agent Poisoning In Salisbury"
March 21 - Russian Scientists Explain 'Novichok' - High Time For Britain To Come Clean (Updated)
March 29 - Last Act Of 'Novichok' Drama Revealed - "The Skripals' Resurrection"
March 31 - Hillary Clinton Ordered Diplomats To Suppress 'Novichok' Discussions
April 3 - Operation Hades Blamed Russia - A Model For The 'Novichok' Claims?
April 4 - It's The Cover-Up" - UK Foreign Office Deletes Tweet, Posts False Transcript, Issues New Lies
April 5 - Novi-Fog™ In Fleet Street - Truth Cut Off

Posted by b on April 6, 2018 at 20:59 UTC | Permalink

next page »

What about the policeman, Nick Bailey? What about other patrons at Zizzi?

Posted by: Steve McIntyre | Apr 6 2018 21:04 utc | 1

Here you got the menu card at Zizzi's Restaurant

Posted by: Haiduk | Apr 6 2018 21:16 utc | 2

@Steve @1

1. The policemen, I believe, was 'staged'. The story was inconsistent. He was said to have been at the park bench. Later it was said he has been at the house. He never became conscienceless, was released after a few day. He played his role well telling great stories to the press.

2. Was that a meal typical British people would eat for lunch? If yes would those other patrons at Zizzi eat the same mussels?

Posted by: b | Apr 6 2018 21:19 utc | 3

thanks b... jen has been saying this all along...

i agree it's necessary to ask the same question as @1 steve does.. why only them? it is possible but it looks like a staged event that was planned beforehand..

Posted by: james | Apr 6 2018 21:23 utc | 4

And as I posted on prior thread, former FSB head says if it really was Novichuk the Skripals would have died very quickly. UK government behavior's been Barbaric to put it kindly proving itself to be as much an Outlaw as its ally the Outlaw US Empire. As such, the behavior of the UK/US/NATO allies has proven to the rest of the planet that they are the Barbaric Outlaws they most certainly are, while Russia and China are further elevated due to their civilized reaction attempting to uphold the Rule of Law. IMO, every non-English speaking former British colony will now ally itself with the emerging Multipolar Alliance led by Russia and China and partner with their Win/Win economic development goals.

Imperialism hasn't yet been 100% defeated, but it's lost this particular battle and isn't likely to recover.

Posted by: karlof1 | Apr 6 2018 21:26 utc | 5

Thank you again b for a sane discussion. On the frivolous side I suggest May will start ranting about 'Russia done it!' as rhey were red musscles not green ones, etc,etc. This wil become the source of many great jokes and novel recipes for some wags.

Posted by: flamingo | Apr 6 2018 21:30 utc | 6


Thanks and Thanks to b

Posted by: jo6pac | Apr 6 2018 21:31 utc | 7

reminds me of the slug-swallower--
Mar 7, 2018 - Sam Ballard, a strapping rugby player who became disabled after swallowing a garden slug as a dare, is now fighting the Government.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 6 2018 21:31 utc | 8

Q: What about the policeman, Nick Bailey? . . .A: The policemen, I believe, was 'staged'.. . He played his role well telling great stories to the press."

from timeline
Mar 15 -- Theresa May visits Salisbury and meets privately with DS Nick Bailey. . .here

A private meeting between the Prime Minister and a police sergeant? Why, except to enforce "the story" mainly by shutting up the sergeant? What inducements or threats were employed in that private meeting?

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 6 2018 21:39 utc | 9

Here in the Outlaw US Empire, we often have recalls and warnings of mussels and other shellfish contaminated by elevated levels of domonic acid. This news item describes such a recall. In Oregon where I live, our department of fish & game (ODFW) issue warnings, an example being from earlier this year when Dungeness crab season was delayed due to elevated levels of domonic acid and light body weight. Here's one current warning:

"Razor Clams: Closed from Cascade Head, north of Lincoln City, to the to the California border for elevated levels of domoic acid. This includes all beaches and bays."

Current crabbing informational/warning disclosure:

"It is still always recommended that crab be eviscerated and the guts or butter discarded prior to cooking. When whole crab are cooked in liquid, domoic acid may leach into the cooking liquid. It is recommended to discard the cooking liquid, and do not use it in other dishes, such as sauces, broths, soups, roux, etc."

As you can see, poisoning via shellfish can occur easily, and it's very likely tainted seafood gets sold well below market price to unknowing buyers. Note that the toxin isn't destroyed via the heat used in preparation.

But despite the warnings, several people die each year here from tainted shellfish, except they usually harvest it themselves as screening by ODFW's very complete and errs on the side of caution. But of course, one must know warnings are made, and they're usually posted at harvesting access points. Just because your shellfish opened while cooking doesn't mean it's not tainted!

Posted by: karlof1 | Apr 6 2018 21:50 utc | 10

It's Highly Likely that the story is fishy.

Aside from the damage to Russia, Theresa May working with Mi6 and CIA manufactured a blunder.
They cannot hide from the truth. The whole world is watching. No one believes Highly Likely.

Yulia Skirpal is awake, well, speaking. Yet Russian diplomats are not allowed access.

That tells us everything.

If it was fish poisoning, accidental, others eating the same ingredients would have been sickened.
What probably happened was the fish were used as medium for the poison by Intel operatives.
The Skirpals were to be sacrificed.
A low dosage left them alive.
That created more problems which were solved with the unified vassal obedience to eject Russian diplomats.

However, everything comes back to the Lie, Highly Likely.

Killing father and daughter would be small cost in order to mark Russia as a murderous regime.
The goal, destroy Russia. The project, kill 2 Russians. Cheap.

The UK got it half-right.

But the lie and the operation are failures.

No one bought the False Flag.

The poison is on the UK's hands.

Highly Likely the UK did it, using a fish toxin.

It is an easy-to-handle poison. Deadly in some cases of ingestion.

And very fitting choice. The whole thing has been a fishy fabrication. Smells like dead fish.

Posted by: Red Ryder | Apr 6 2018 22:16 utc | 11

Don Bacon, while whole affair is suspicious, I don't see anything suspicious per se about PM May meeting with an ailing first responder. US presidents do this ostentatiously all the time.

b, Porton Down would be able to distinguish between shellfish toxin and A234.

Posted by: Steve McIntyre | Apr 6 2018 22:24 utc | 12

Spiedini pescatore! The Skripals may have eaten the last one in Zizzi, very well hung.Is my proposal a reason to shut down Zizzi? It is closed now. Other guests had not a chance to get another spiedini pescatore. The policeman was not ill for a long time. Visited by his Chief of state, took a break for some days.

Posted by: Gerd Müller | Apr 6 2018 22:25 utc | 13

Results expected soon from OPCW, Apr 4:

Results of tests of samples collected from individuals exposed to a nerve agent in Salisbury, the United Kingdom, are expected to be received by early next week, the head of the United Nations-backed body working to rid the world of chemical weapons said on Wednesday.
“Once the results of the analyses of the samples are received, the Secretariat will produce a report on the basis of these results and will transmit a copy of this report to the United Kingdom,” Ahmet Üzümcü, the Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), told the body’s Executive Council “The UK has expressed its wish to be as transparent as possible and has already indicated its preference for disclosure of the report to other States Parties,” he added.
The samples were collected from Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, who have been hospitalized since when they were found on a public bench in the English city of Salisbury in early March, after reported exposure to a toxic chemical. . .here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 6 2018 22:30 utc | 14

@Steve @12 - Porton Down is a UK Defense institution, an instrument of the government. Tore explains why it may have said what it said without directly lying.

Posted by: b | Apr 6 2018 22:34 utc | 15

@SM 12
US presidents do this [private meetings with crime victims] ostentatiously all the time.
Baloney. And couple that with the sergeant's silence.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 6 2018 22:36 utc | 16

Ah, of course, it was the good old dodgy seafood chowder in a can trick all along!! Wtf is this an episode of Get Smart??

Who sells the continent down the path of confrontation with a nuclear powerhouse on the back of a suss mussel?

How big a vote of no confidence do you want, Brexit has been game over'd. This truly is a fitting destiny for the giant tit Boris Johnson.

Posted by: MadMax2 | Apr 6 2018 22:40 utc | 17

...or nothing at all hapened. No interview of the physician & nurse who "found" them, no video, no permission to visit them, Yula who logged on on her VK account while she was in the coma....

Posted by: jfb | Apr 6 2018 22:42 utc | 18

The food theory has two weak points:

1. No other customers were poisoned. Perhaps the dish was "cooked to order", and just one item was infected with the bacteria (cyano-bacteria) that produce the poison, so Skripals had monumental bad luck, unlike the rest of customers.

2. The door handle (or a knob) with traces of poison, plus other spots with such traces in the home of Sergey Skripal. Someone would have to introduce it there. Actually, huge delay in discovering a poison on that fatal door handle suggests that it was contaminated after the fact.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Apr 6 2018 22:49 utc | 19

HURRAY! I might yet be proven right about the seafood poisoning.

Thanks James for the support and regards.

Posted by: Jen | Apr 6 2018 22:54 utc | 20

>No other customers were poisoned.
1. No other customers ate mussels.
2. Contamination of some mussels doesn't necessarily apply to all mussels.
2. Every meal is separately prepared, and the Skripal mussels were undercooked.
>so Skripals had monumental bad luck
No, there are thousands of cases of food poisoning annually, of varying degrees, and mussels are a particular known danger.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 6 2018 22:59 utc | 21

jfb may be right. In fact, the Skripals may not even be victims, but rather participants, possibly paid. They may be playacting. They may have been told to lay low for a while in order to help the UK in its plot to demonize Russia and distract from the lousy Brexit conditions. Perhaps Yulia will be offered residency in the UK or even citizenship. Let's see if she returns to Russia. If she was a willing participant rather than a victim and hostage, she probably will not wish to return, where she may have to face the music for something that could be seen as tantamount to treason. Even if she were a victim, she my now be afraid to go back. We must wait and see. Unless an insider talks, we may never know the true story.

Posted by: Joseph Magil | Apr 6 2018 23:07 utc | 22


b, Porton Down would be able to distinguish between shellfish toxin and A234.

These are the questions of the Russian Embassy that remained unanswered at the 39.03.2018 briefing:

18) Where, how and by whom were blood samples collected from the Skripals?
19) How was it documented?
20) Who can certify that the data is credible?

Posted by: Haiduk | Apr 6 2018 23:07 utc | 23

What Porton Down reported is irrelevant, given the imminent OPCW report. (@14)

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 6 2018 23:18 utc | 24

DB @21--

Yes, and with global warming the incidents of domonic acid contamination have skyrocketed and it's rather amazing an underfunded, undermanned agency like ODFW is able to stay abreast of the situation to keep the public safe and informed.

FYI--Undercooked shellfish don't open their shells, and people are told not to eat unopened shellfish. As I posted above, the toxin associated with domonic acid doesn't get damaged by the usual cooking process, but the concentration of toxin certainly varies between individual shellfish. Hypothetically, it's entirely possible for the Skripals to be poisoned while other patrons weren't--a spy in the kitchen isn't required.

However, it's abundantly clear the UK government's lying about what actually occurred and it should get buried inside of the hole its dug for itself.

Posted by: karlof1 | Apr 6 2018 23:20 utc | 25

What's interesting is the panicked, hostile reaction in the UK and U.S. press regarding the recovery of the Skripals, like this one from WaPo which argues that it is perfectly normal to recover from military-grade nerve agent poisoning.

Trump's expanded Russian sanctions list issued today gives us an idea what's ahead. The media will blithely ignore all evidence and go on referring to Russian guilt in the Skripal case for years to come, just as it today refers to Assad's guilt in the 2013 sarin attack in eastern Ghouta long after it was debunked by Seymour Hersh, Theodore Postal, et al.

Posted by: Mike Maloney | Apr 6 2018 23:21 utc | 26

@K 25
Yes, from The Independent, Jan 2017
Global warming could see rise in toxic shellfish that can lead to memory loss and potentially kill. . .here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 6 2018 23:24 utc | 27

I doubt it. Or they want to start WWIII.

This affair does not work for Britain. It does not save May from BREXIT fallout, quite the contrary, it probably cost her to get part of Europe's back.

It does work for Putin trying to retain Russian capital in Russia. It does not work for uniting Europe against Russia (it is getting too close to real war, Europeans have no taste for that)

It is much more likely that there were chemical weapons involved and everybody panicked on how to explain that on the streets of Britain.

Viktoria Skripal prefers this version because it is the most safe, neutral version for her and her family.

Posted by: somebody | Apr 6 2018 23:28 utc | 28

@MM 26
Russia has made of joke about US sanctions and they will again. Like, Is that your best shot?
Yes, the US media will pile on but the real history these days is elsewhere, in Asia where the big mover China has recently tightened friendship with Russia, with both under US attack. The China defense chief visited Moscow. WaPo: "China's new defense minister says his visit to Russia is a signal to the United States about the increasingly close military ties between Moscow and Beijing."

The US media doesn't get it. Currently the US is being jerked around by three minor alleged enemies, Russia, Iran and North Korea, whose military budgets are respectively 2%, 1% and 1% of the Pentagon's budget.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 6 2018 23:32 utc | 29

@Don Bacon 29

Minor quibble: isn't the Russian defence budget more like about 9% of Pentagon? (Still makes your point though.)

Posted by: spudski | Apr 6 2018 23:40 utc | 30

@29 Which probably explains the trade war with China....still in it's early stages. It's probably supposed to make Xi tighten the screws on NK. In Trumpland that's called making a deal.

Posted by: dh | Apr 6 2018 23:41 utc | 31

The reason this case is falling apart is the failure to follow normal forensic and investigative procedures that have been well developed over the past 100 years. These include:

(1) Forensic preservation of the suspected crime scene; this would include the clothing of the victims, other personal effects, swabs taken at their homes, etc.

(2) Detailed chemical analysis and reporting of the evidence. Ludicrously, the claimed structure of this proposed nerve agent has not been revealed to the public. All that’s been reported is that is in the organophosphate class, and that’s been backed up by nothing - in a normal criminal case, the analyst who did the work with the recovered samples would testify in court and there would be a discovery process.

At this point, any further speculation is just baseless. People should be demanding to see the analytical work done to characterize the substance and to be presented with the chemical structure of the agent. Without that, there’s nothing at all.

All the other speculation is baseless; for example one has to consider the basic toxicological notion of ‘the poison is the dose’ - i.e. a very potent military grade organophosphate nerve toxin in a tiny dose could easily show the same effect as a fairly weak organophosphate pesticide in a large dose.

“The pesticides blamed for killing at least 25 children in India are widely used around the world, including in the United States, and health experts have raised safety concerns about this class of chemicals in the past.”

To reiterate: if the British government continues to refuse to release the analytical data and the chemical structure of the compound they claim is responsible for the Skripal poisoning, then it’s full stop - nothing else matters. At that point, their entire case falls apart. There’s no basis for ‘trust us’ on this.

What are they going to do then? Will everyone return their diplomats back to their old positions, apologies all around?

Posted by: nonsense factory | Apr 6 2018 23:42 utc | 32

What was the chain of custody?

Were the samples sent to the OPCW even the same as the alleged poison?

Could well have been substituted.

Posted by: Lenka.Penka | Apr 6 2018 23:43 utc | 33

@ 28
I doubt it. Or they want to start WWIII. This affair does not work for Britain. . .It is much more likely that there were chemical weapons involved
Given the timing of the Skripal's infirmities, which were long-delayed, and non-fatal, and the food poisoning a much more reasonable explanation, then why do you say that?

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 6 2018 23:45 utc | 34

I agree Don. It seems clear that the U.S. cannot maintain its current commitments in the Middle East, let alone pivoting to Asia to confront the Dragon or fighting the Bear in Eastern Europe. But where's the U.S. glide path to a post-"full-spectrum dominance" world? I don't see it. It's not going to be articulated by the Democratic Party, which is more hysterically Russophobic than the GOP. At least after WWII the Brits understood that their colonial empire had to be let go. There's no such comprehension among the governing elite today.

Posted by: Mike Maloney | Apr 6 2018 23:46 utc | 35

OCPW update, Apr 4
The OPCW experts visited the locations where two of the victims were reportedly exposed to a toxic chemical and collected several environmental samples. The team also took biomedical samples from these two victims, as well as from a third individual, a police officer reportedly exposed to a toxic chemical. . . .The chain-of-custody was fully maintained.. . .here

NOTE: "exposed to a toxic chemical"

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 6 2018 23:50 utc | 36

Reading the comment section of that WaPo article made very sad.

People are seriously deluded.

Posted by: Arkymedes | Apr 6 2018 23:50 utc | 37

nonsense factory @32--

Russia has already stated no apology will be accepted. May gov't's been utterly undiplomatic its barbaric behavior trampling longstanding tenets of domestic and international law. In essence, May et al are obstructing justice and should be charged.

Posted by: karlof1 | Apr 6 2018 23:59 utc | 38

@spudski 30
Mea Culpa, thanks, yes, Russia defense budget is about 10% (not 2%) of Pentagon budget, which BTW is about half of Russia GDP.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 7 2018 0:02 utc | 39

Thanks Tore and b,

Food poisoning makes sense, but it's also a convenient limited hangout story. In other words, if the UK fairy tale falls apart, then saying "Sorry, we jumped to conclusions" is very embarrassing, it is also much better than "Sorry. We really thought everyone would by our false flag." The latter can't ever be admitted under any circumstances.

Posted by: lysander | Apr 7 2018 0:07 utc | 40

"Will everyone return their diplomats back to their old positions, apologies all around?"

Posted by: nonsense factory | Apr 6, 2018 7:42:54 PM | 32

well, no.. that would signal a different type of attitude then has been on display for all these years... hostility is all the west have for russia at this point... the wests position at this point is shameless, given the fact that this event along with many other recent examples are baseless..

as @26 mike states "just as it today refers to Assad's guilt in the 2013 sarin attack in eastern Ghouta long after it was debunked by Seymour Hersh, Theodore Postal, et al." rinse, recycle, repeat...that is all we are going to get going forward..

Posted by: james | Apr 7 2018 0:26 utc | 41

Does any one remember MH-17. Sochi olympics/Georgia. How about the pharmaceutical factory in Sudan. Hell how about the Viagra the Libyan army took in 2011. Hell that was one doozy of a story.
Their is a long nose exceeding Pinocchio.
Who needs evidence when you are exceptional.

Posted by: falcemartello | Apr 7 2018 0:27 utc | 42

obviously @18 jfb's idea is credible here too... "or nothing happened." that is a more frightening possibility as i see it.. kind of reminds me of how quickly that russian jet was shot down over the idlib area back nov 24 2015... it would seem like britian had a whole 'get russia' game plan ready to kick into place and were just looking for an opportunity..

Posted by: james | Apr 7 2018 0:30 utc | 43

The 66 year old Sergei Skripal, overweight, severely diabetic and so found in 1997 to be unfit for intelligence service, supposedly attacked by Russia eleven years later by a nerve agent 10 times as fatal as VX (but not right away), is responding well to treatment, improving rapidly and is no longer in a critical condition.

Russia did what? Theresa May, you're despicable..

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 7 2018 0:35 utc | 44

I was never good at math -- 21 years later on Skripal.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 7 2018 0:40 utc | 45

B! U have 404!

"Zizzi restaurant.Note that the police inside is unprotected - bigger" - this link is broken, trivial fix is required

Posted by: Arioch | Apr 7 2018 0:54 utc | 46

By the way, that Skipals photo of many threads ago, with the reflection of the photographer in the mirror, was taken a couple years ago, I learned.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 7 2018 0:59 utc | 47

Why should there be such hostility towards Russia? Most ordinary people would take a live and let live attitude.

The answer could be that Russia is the only power capable of totally destroying the west (with it's nuclear weapons); that it is a threat. But that is really a greater reason for seeking a peaceful accommodation with Russia.

I would posit that the real reason for the hostility is that Russia is the great prize in terms of (future) resources and wealth and that is why the west will continue to move towards conflict with Russia. Now most (western) people will laugh at that and say that Russia is an economic basket case and that if wealth and resources were the motive for the west then the focus would be on China.

However, China really has a shortage of resources, has to rely on making and selling goods and will always struggle to meet the needs of its people. Also, climate change will impact negatively on China (just as it will on India, US, Europe, etc.)

Consider where Russia will be in the later half of this century. Climate change will make Russia's vast resources much more easy to exploit, fresh water (the predicted cause of future wars) will increase in availability, and Russia will probably become the bread basket of the world. So that's water, food and natural resources (of all kinds) that Russia will have in plenty just when most other nations will be challenged in all three areas.

The truth is that (while China may eclipse the US by 2150) it is very likely that this will be Russia's century. I believe the west know this very well and will do everything they can to capture Russia's resources and that means continuing isolation of, and tension and conflict with, Russia.

Btw: If you add Chinese industry, Russian resources and OBOR together it is obvious that the end of western dominion of the world is coming to an end and that, unfortunately, greatly increases the risk of a major war.

Posted by: Ace | Apr 7 2018 1:07 utc | 48

This is all from a book of Nazi propaganda, when stories were proliferated massively and incessantly of Jewish crimes, murder rapes, spreading deadly diseases like typhoids or other poisons presented as form of chemical weapon attacks on German population.

From reading German newspapers st that time all crimes committed between 1933 and 1935 were committed by Jews or communists, with sprinkle of homosexuals and gypsies.

All of that was to create non existent before support for Nuremberg Laws of 1935 about removing legal protections from Jews treated as second class citizen devoid of legal, civil and human rights of other Germans allowing for seizing property, relocation to camps with no "crime" committed only for "safety" of German population and other discriminatory moves like removing Jews from German representation for 1936 olympics in Berlin.

Western Nazism is here, and I am not talking about black shirted shaved head clowns who are just mostly unaware crisis actors but about Western elites and their governments that want to turn people into mindless sheeple, mindless animals that groupthink and submit to terror and exploitation. Now Russia in on the poison menu.

Posted by: Kalen | Apr 7 2018 1:08 utc | 49

@ Tore,

Fantastic info...thank you. What you say about food poisoning might also explain the UK media reporting 40-100 people complaining of some of the symptoms....a story that when quiet very quickly.

Posted by: Kathryn | Apr 7 2018 1:17 utc | 50

@Ace 48
Why should there be such hostility towards Russia?
Go to the Petras article here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 7 2018 1:20 utc | 51

One bad mussel in a dish prepared to order. Days ago, before the poisoning theories surfaced, I read at Sputniknews Yulia's first statement was "it didn't taste like chicken." Connect the dot.

So the Skripals recovered from the lethal nerve agent novichok. A miracle!

Mr. Skripal's guinea pigs are dead and his cat ran away with the real plot.

Farcical. I am waiting for the cat's return and meow a tell-all.

Question of the week. Will the Skripals be allowed to return home or be scurried into "protective custody"? Russia will then take legal action.

This FF has a lot more legs to run. Brexit is in a Catch 22. Keep an eye on Northen Ireland.

Posted by: Likklemore | Apr 7 2018 1:21 utc | 52

It will be interesting where the OPCW report goes...the UK narrative is so weak...they may not be willing to cover the narrative and the story may be straight...



Posted by: oldenyoung | Apr 7 2018 1:29 utc | 53

f for fakery
psy op with actors or bribed daughter and dad
big hoax

the problem reaction solution was all to quick for bad food.

you can do better b
i think

Posted by: simple simon | Apr 7 2018 1:59 utc | 54

Nick Bailey really is the weak link in the UK's story. If he really was a first responder and he really did fall ill from exposure to a nerve agent then the government would be parading him around like a prize show dog. Instead they are hiding him from all scrutiny. Very odd.

Because that's the thing: so long as the story of Bailey's "illness" can be maintained then the "Russia Did It!" narrative continues to have legs. Conversely, if it turns out that Bailey's "illness" was a made-up story (perhaps, who knows, a case of hysteria on his part) then the story thuds to the ground, and May's government must inevitably fall.

OK, sure, I understand that May would have slapped a D Notice on anything to do with Bailey's hospitalization, but that wouldn't prevent reporters from staking out his home. Nor would it prevent a reporter rushing up to Bailey as he emptied the trash and ask: "Hi Nick, how are you feeling? Feeling well?"

Heck, the press have always staked out a story, to the point where a no-show becomes the story itself as the news crew's stand around filming each other.... standing around.

But here? Nothing, as far as I can tell.
Does he even really exist?

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Apr 7 2018 2:01 utc | 55

Sergei and Youlia should be lawyering up. At the very least they have been assaulted (illegal blood supplies sent to Porton Down) and illegally imprisoned (denied consular access). And it seems a whole raft of UK and international laws have been violated. The British Govt will settle before this comes to court as it would make them an international laughing stock. Any number of QCs would love to get Boris or Theresa on the stand to justify their statements.

Posted by: cdvision | Apr 7 2018 2:09 utc | 56

Food poisoning makes sense, but it's also a convenient limited hangout story limited hangout no sir

66 year old Sergei Skripal and his daughter 33 what are the chances : )

this was a test
a data gathering exercise just like facebook and cambridge anals

thats a no brainer

Posted by: simple simon | Apr 7 2018 2:13 utc | 57

@ MadMax2 | 17

Wtf is this an episode of Get Smart??

I've acquired an almost morbid fascination with l'affaire Skripal. It just flashed upon me that geopolitical concerns and being well-informed are not the primary reasons for this fascination.

I've been pulled in because this is a crazy, slapstick-vérité British comedy. Classic stuff! We've already seen "Yes, Prime Minister" parallels, but consider this:

It could easily be one of those movies where the late Peter Sellers played multiple parts. Unless you're too young, or otherwise unfamiliar with the genre, just close your eyes and think of Sellers costumed as both Skirpals, PM May, UK Village Idiot Laureate Boris Johnson, etc.

Alec Guinness, or maybe one of the Pythons, could play the hapless public-relations flack Porton Down spokesperson. I don't even see it as a stretch.

Posted by: Ort | Apr 7 2018 2:51 utc | 58

@Ace - 48
I completly approve your references to the fundamental:
Russia Is the Price

and Vladimirovitch is the spoiler in the Big Chess Game.
does the North Stream 2 ring a bell ?
Petras piece is correct but stay on the surface: fundamental geophysic always win at the end.

@ b and Tore: thanks a lot for all these tremendous inestigation. Didn't participate but have been reading all and most comments
but in twenty years historian or journalist consulting archived press covering will be repeating ad nausea the WaPost, Guardian, LeMonde and others BS.

The dire need of energy may well erase in a not so far future all electronic-only based documentations; only printed copy will keep for centuries.

Posted by: Charles Michael | Apr 7 2018 3:03 utc | 59

So the bodies of the dead pets were incinerated - nice touch.

Posted by: the pessimist | Apr 7 2018 3:21 utc | 60

What I can tell you without doubt is that the lengthy recovery of the two people was almost undoubtedly produced by a medically induced coma using barbiturates. That at least is entirely possible. Hence, the length of time the patients spent in "critical condition", undoubtedly intubated and ventilated, had nothing to do with "poisoning" except by the medical staff themselves. The medical record in full should be released to the public, although it never will be. The British government makes Stormy Daniels look like a nun. They really are the absolute limit of dishonesty and amorality. To puke.

Posted by: Burt | Apr 7 2018 3:29 utc | 61

There were reports that the pets were removed earlier.
Mar 17, 2018
Poisoned Russian agent’s cat and guinea pigs ‘taken away for tests’
A poisoned Russian double agent’s cat and two guinea pigs were taken from his home to be tested, according to a source. Sergei Skripal’s pets were removed after the 66-year-old and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found unconscious in Salisbury after being attacked with a nerve agent on March 4. . . .Mr Skripal is very fond of his £1,500 black Persian cat called Nash van Drake and apparently spent thousands of pounds bringing the feline and guinea pigs to the UK from Russia. . .here.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 7 2018 3:31 utc | 62

As reported by the AP: "A Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman is questioning why British officials have incinerated the pets found at the poisoned ex-spy’s home.

Maria Zakharova said on Facebook Friday that the two guinea pigs and a cat who lived in former double agent Sergei Skripal’s home were important evidence.

Britain’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the guinea pigs were found dead at Skripal’s home after it was sealed off for investigations. It said the cat was also found “in a distressed state and a decision was taken by a veterinary surgeon to euthanize the animal to alleviate its suffering.”

Britain blamed Russia for the March 4 nerve agent attack on Skripal and his daughter. Russia vehemently denied the accusations and accused Britain of waging a deliberate defamation campaign."

AP posted at 12:20pm

Posted by: the pessimist | Apr 7 2018 3:44 utc | 63

Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey was discharged from hospital two weeks ago and hasn't been heard from since, probably a result of the private session Bailey had with the Prime Minister prior to his release. Bailey wasn't even allowed to make a statement upon his discharge from hospital. In a statement read by Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Kier Pritchard on March 22, DS Nick Bailey said he recognises his life will "probably never be the same" and thanks the public for their "overwhelming" support. . .here.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 7 2018 3:47 utc | 64

That's news, from AP--

The British government says two guinea pigs and a cat were victims of the Salisbury poisoning.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs says the two rodents were found dead at the home of Sergei Skripal after it was sealed off for investigations.
It said Friday that a cat was also found “in a distressed state and a decision was taken by a veterinary surgeon to euthanize the animal to alleviate its suffering.”

But they weren't evidence? The bodies were incinerated. hmmmm

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 7 2018 3:59 utc | 65

@64, yep 3, that's the death toll from the Salisbury Incident

Posted by: the pessimist | Apr 7 2018 4:18 utc | 66

@65 Don, I'm now completely confused: does AP want me to assume that the guinea pigs died because they touched the poison-impregnated-door-knob? How, exactly?

Or am I meant to conclude that the distressed cat left the house via the front door and - being fastidious as cats are - it was the cat that contaminated the door knob as it closed the door behind itself?

I simply don't understand how the pets could be exposed to a nerve agent that is supposed to have been applied to a door-knob.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Apr 7 2018 4:27 utc | 67

"PSP could begin within a few minutes and up to 10 hours after consumption."

Both became ill at the same time?
Saxitoxin does seem a likely candidate.
Novichok was kept quiet by the US/UK for over a decade and brought out on the spur of the moment?
The timing? Ghouta, the Russian general's warnings to the US, Steel dossier, Brexit - and as luck would have it, the Skripals happened to eat some mussels that had gone bad ?? Perhaps it was just a coincidence.

I might keep the chinstrap on my tinfoil hat buckled up for a bit.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Apr 7 2018 4:30 utc | 68

Ah, OK, I followed the link @66. So the authorities simply left those animals to die of malnutrition.

That's a bit..... amateur.... isn't it?

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Apr 7 2018 4:34 utc | 69

@b re the policeman and the doctors letter. Doctor wrote that three people were ill from poisoning. Who is the third if not the policeman?

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Apr 7 2018 4:34 utc | 70

I keep thinking about how this incident created definable sides in the international community.

And now the perpetrators of the incident are being exposed.

When you combine this with Trumps' trade war, how will the nations line up at the next "come to Jesus" moment of empire?

So, is empire in free fall over the cliff and this incident is just a touch of the wall to give the crash a bit of a spin on the way down?.....GRIN

Posted by: psychohistorian | Apr 7 2018 4:35 utc | 71

what did the guinea pigs know?

Posted by: roger | Apr 7 2018 4:42 utc | 72

Thanks to MoA, the government/media Salisbury England Information Operation doesn’t add up. If exposed to military grade nerve agent 5-8 times more toxic than America’s VX, the Skripals and first responders would be dead. If food poisoning, there should be more victims at Zizzi’s but not the police detective. Clearly the story was made up fast without the facts. Their pets were incinerated for god’s sake. The observable goal of the British Hierarchy is to stress Russia with more sanctions and to escalate the Syrian world war plus a cover up PM May’s catastrophic handling of Brexit.

As documented here, there are too many coincidences to be happenstance. I am leaning towards an oligarch faction contracted out a mob hit to take out a “contributor” to Steele’s Dodgy Dossier to give it credence and scare the crap out of everyone else involved. The Established as an afterthought tasked the incident to promote their greater ambitions.

Posted by: VietnamVet | Apr 7 2018 4:46 utc | 73

From Tore's PSP link

'Health Canada advises Canadians to limit their consumption of lobster tomalley to the equivalent of one lobster tomalley daily for adults, due to the possible presence of PSP. Health Canada has recommended that children not consume lobster tomalley.'

No notice on limiting shellfish - only lobster re PSP at that link. If bivalve shellfish could be more toxic than lobster, would a limit also have been mentioned? By weight, if shellfish acquire similar or less toxicity than lobster then the Skripals must have had a good feed of mussels.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Apr 7 2018 4:52 utc | 74

@ cdvision | 56

If Skripals werent in it from the start, they will HAVE to say whatever UK tells them to, otherwise they might "relapse" and no Easter miracles this time. At least until they get out of UK. If they will refuse to leave UK because they "fear evil ruskies", then we will know it was all a sham.

@ Yeah, Right | 67

Same thing I was thinking, it doesnt make any sense. Bottom line: police sealed pets to starve to death (due to neglect?), and poor cat which was still alive was killed too. Any normal person by seeing hungry cat would give her food, but no, it was "more merciful" just to kill it. Worse than animals.. And of course, to avoid any investigation later, burned them.

Posted by: Harry | Apr 7 2018 4:55 utc | 75

I searched using google for "saxitoxin deaths frequency," which turns up lots of papers on the subject. From the abstract of one titled, "Marine algal toxins: origins, health effects, and their increased occurrence" and published in 2000:

"Over the past three decades, the frequency and global distribution of toxic algal incidents appear to have increased, and human intoxications from novel algal sources have occurred. This increase is of particular concern, since it parallels recent evidence of large-scale ecologic disturbances that coincide with trends in global warming."

The paper suggests such poisoning is rare, but obviously it is possible. Further browsing for "shellfish poisoning" and so forth indicates that such poisoning is frequent enough for health agencies and governments to warn people about it. Perhaps one could calculate the frequency by which Russia poisons people, and compare the frequency with which people are accidentally poisoned by saxitoxin to form a better judgment of the situation.

(First time leaving a comment on this blog. I found your blog somewhat recently because of Naked Capitalism, and having been reading your posts ever since. )

Posted by: Peter L. | Apr 7 2018 5:08 utc | 76

They cannot hide from the truth. The whole world is watching. No one believes Highly Likely.
Posted by: Red Ryder | Apr 6, 2018 6:16:45 PM | 11

Especially when one recalls that 'Highly Likely' is the tr-r-raditional excuse used by the Judeo-Christian Barbarians, since 2001, for slaughtering 'suspects' (from a safe distance) without properly identifying them.

All those Afghan Wedding parties, Chelsea Manning's infamous Collateral Murder gun-sight video in Iraq. And the CIA's Drone campaign is ongoing.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Apr 7 2018 5:28 utc | 77

Sorry, but the odds of these two getting food poisoning is one thing but they just happen to be THE SKRIPALS! getting food poisoning? - no way! Even if there was bad mussels or even if dozens came down with food poisoning, still THE SKRIPALS just happen to eat there - what are the odds? IMPOSSIBLE!

UNLESS... the food poisoning was intentional (to silence him re Steele) and then blame Russia. But if food poisoning was the method, then TPTB would have known better than to go the nerve agent route. UNLESS... they planned it all along to plant nerve agent but not use it on the Skripals due to the danger posed to others.

Posted by: wrw | Apr 7 2018 5:36 utc | 78

Peter L @ 76:

British celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal's old Fat Duck restaurant was hit by a massive shellfish poisoning incident that made 529 diners ill in 2009.

In that case the culprit was norovirus (bane of passenger cruise liners, I believe) transmitted through raw oysters, improperly prepared razorback clams and staff practices (such as staff working while they were still sick) that enabled the spread of the norovirus.

Posted by: Jen | Apr 7 2018 5:55 utc | 79

WRW @ 78: Isn't it just possible that if the Skripals had had food poisoning, their condition would have been treated the same as any other patient with food poisoning - but once hospital staff noticed that Sergei Skripal had some connection with British security through checking his medical records, they called police and from then on the Skripals were treated differently from other patients, and were kept confined or sedated while the authorities decided that they must have been targeted by Moscow or saw an opportunity to bash the Russians?

Sometimes, sooner or later, incidents can happen in such a way that most observers would believe there must be more to them than coincidence and that such incidents must have been planned. They needn't be planned - all that's needed is someone or a group of people looking for opportunities to exploit situations, use innocent victims and throw blame onto third parties.

Posted by: Jen | Apr 7 2018 6:05 utc | 80

The truth is that (while China may eclipse the US by 2150) it is very likely that this will be Russia's century. I believe the west know this very well and will do everything they can to capture Russia's resources and that means continuing isolation of, and tension and conflict with, Russia.

Btw: If you add Chinese industry, Russian resources and OBOR together it is obvious that the end of western dominion of the world is coming to an end and that, unfortunately, greatly increases the risk of a major war.

Posted by: Ace | Apr 6, 2018 9:07:04 PM | 48

That makes a certain amount of sense but overlooks a vital component of the current World Order. If the current World Order wasn't dominated and controlled by Greedy Rich Pigs then TRADE would be the friendly and logical way to address any global imbalances in local water, food and resources availability (to which one could add Funds/Finance).
The underlying problem is, imo, the factoid that the Greedy Rich Pigs crowd got rich by monopolising essential industries and resources centuries ago and don't want to surrender their 'right' to OWN everything of value, including politicians, and to continue their Command of the Gravy Train.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Apr 7 2018 6:37 utc | 81

@75 "police sealed pets to starve to death"

I doubt that the police were responsible, though it is inevitable that they will be saddled with the blame.

I have no doubt that there are police procedures that would see the police remove all pets before sealing a premises.

But I doubt very much that the police were anything other that props by that stage i.e. they were not doing anything by the book but, rather, they were Doing As They Were Told.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Apr 7 2018 6:43 utc | 82

Greedy Rich Pigs.
It was neither coincidence nor happenstance that inspired Orwell to cast 'un-clean' pigs as the movers & shakers in Animal Farm.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Apr 7 2018 6:54 utc | 83

Being close to Porton Down, the hospital must have all kinds of procedures to deal with chemical accidents.

Anyway, here is the US patent for the treatment of "Novichok"

Oh all those experts..... no antidote, only Russian ....

Posted by: somebody | Apr 7 2018 6:58 utc | 84

IMHO it could have been food poisoning and it fits the timing perfectly but doesn't explain all the other traces of whatever agent they are presenting as evidence. I still feel that these idiots used an old stock of Foliant agents recovered during the cleanup of the Uzbekistan lab. I believe that Porton Down made their own stock from the formulae they recovered. This doesn't explain the presence of the Novichok A234 which was never developed or a part of the Soviet research.It was developed at Edgewood Arsenal back in the late 90's and published back then. However, the weasel wording of the claims by DSTL are that is was highly likely (read that as we are guessing) that there was Novichok or from the novichok family (meaning it could also be anything). I am a scientists and we use very precise language when describing something. I also have a forensic background and you would never put something like this vague report out there. It is actually embarrassing to be this vague and it would be tossed as evidence.

What I think happened was they used old stock (which would have the correct chemical fingerprint from Russia having been made there in the first place) but after 38 years the potency is way off. If the agent was in fact 10 times stronger than VX then perhaps there was just enough potency left to cause what we saw in the Skripals. This, of course, assumes that the UK attacked them in the first place which explains their certainty of what agent it was. However, if it was in fact A234 then you could never attribute this to Russia as it is actually an American product. If it was one of the original Foliant agents that is something different but that is not what was claimed. The finding of agent on the doorknobs is ridiculous and a very bad misstep by the UK. These agents are viscous (like honey) and smell horrible similar to your household bug sprays. Putting it on a doorknob would be patently obvious to anyone touching the door and you would examine the goo on your finger and smell it. Obviously, this didn't happen. So, if agent is present on the doorknob then it was deliberately put there well after the fact. These agents can be soluble in water (2 of the Foliant agents are water soluble and 2 are not). If so, it was raining in Salisbury which would have removed it by rainfall dilution. If it isn't water soluble it was there for 3 weeks.

The persistence of these agents in the environment is not long and it rapidly begins to decompose, especially if in the presence of sunlight (UV), and disappears. When salting a battlefield with nerve agent we expect it to remain lethal for 72 hours. These weapons are designed specifically to keep the enemy forces from travelling through a contaminated area and the purpose of chemical agents is denial of terrain. You use it when you have a front line which is too large to defend with your forces at hand or to funnel the enemy attack into an area where you have amassed your defenses. This is what this stuff is designed to do. You can also use it to mess up rear area support operations but that is a secondary use. Think of it as an aerial delivered (artillery or aircraft) temporary minefield. The key word being temporary. After all, this is the territory you are fighting over and it is useless if it is permanently poisoned. As the FEBA moves you may end up occupying that area in the days following a defensive operation. It is possible; however, to attack through a contaminated area and modern tanks now have air filtration and all combat troops have MOPP gear which will protect a soldier in that environment. However, anyone who has practiced infantry assaults wearing full MOPP gear knows how awful that is and how ineffective you are as a soldier. It is hot, heavy, with poor visibility in a full mask, not to mention inadequate breathing which is rough at best, plus you are also carrying your basic load so it is an awful experience. Also by doctrine attacking forces need to have a 3 to 1 force superiority to be successful and things like chemical agents on the battlefield are force multipliers whereas attacking forces operating a full MOPP are suffering a force detractor. My point is it is an effective way to mount a defense and no one would willingly attack through a contaminated area.

So, I see many problems trying to put this together and all of them add up to me to be a false flag operation which was botched. All the subsequent actions by the UK government including denial of consular privileges to see their citizens, failure to follow fixed procedures as mandated by the CWC, long delay in reporting to the OPCW, failure to provide any physical evidence (GC-MS printouts would be enough), taking the investigation away from the police, not mounting a manhunt for the perpetrators, changing story over time and the miraculous recovery of the victims all indicate to me a completely botched operation. I feel sorry for the British citizens having a government as inept as this is. Of course, mine (the USA) is far worse but I always respected the UK as being somewhat responsible. Now it looks like it has fallen down to American levels of ineptitude.

Posted by: Old Microbiologist | Apr 7 2018 7:06 utc | 85

Michael Hudson's take on Skripal poisoning.

Posted by: Blue | Apr 7 2018 7:09 utc | 86

Binary food-poisoning anyone ? With all this talk about creating these mysterious binary nerve agents, did anyone consider a similar scenario involving two separate strains of bacteria (or even two of the same/similar strain), from two separate foods.
The Russians and Eastern Europeans spend a lot of time preserving foods (for their long cold winters) and they can become a source for the Clostridium botulinum bacteria to grow in. So for breakfast the Skripals have some pickles that Yulia brought with her and a few hours later the botulinum toxin begins to affect them, but only mildly. Their seafood risotto also happens to contain traces of Clostridium botulinum and that combined with the original is enough to knock them out 30 minutes or so later.
Botulism can be hard to track down, but when you have the world's leading experts on it just down the road at Porton Down it should be easy to get a quick positive test and to have all the information necessary to treat any victims.
But can you imagine what would happen if you tell the world that a Russian spy has been poisoned with botulinum toxin, just a few miles away from the world's leading reasearch centre for that toxin. A different explanation is needed and a quick flood of DSMA-Notices needs to be issued to prevent any unwanted details emerging whilst the new explanation is being created.
Bailey the other poisoning victim may have had just a mild dose from the seafood risotto.

Posted by: Al-Pol | Apr 7 2018 7:12 utc | 87

The newest theory: novichok was produced in Tehran and delivered by an Iranian agent, Persian cat who was own by Sergey Skripal. The cat was allowed to periodically leave home for walks and got the poison from other Persians. As UK authorities decided to pin the blame on Russia (they actually oppose the renewal of sanctions on Iran but want to extend sanctions on Russia), the inconvenient witness was liquidated.

The intricate plot was to cover the palms of gloves of Mrs. Skripal so the father-daughter pair would get into contact with the poison misleadingly far from home. The door handle got contaminated by a gloved hand of Yulia. Later, when the pair sat on a bench after their meal, father complemented the brand new gloves and Yulia handed them to him for a closer look. As both handled the poisoned surface with bare hands, the onset of symptoms was swift.

I posted this theory, without the role of Persian cat mafia earlier elsewhere. It is easy to explain how car avoided contamination: Sergey locked the seatbelt of Yulia and she set like a proper young lady, with hands on her lap with gently curved fingers. It is harder to explain how the gloves eventually vanished, but cats that were observing Skripals could remove them from the scene and drop into the nearby Avon river.

Thus the cat met poetic justice, while the hapless Guinea pigs were collateral damage.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Apr 7 2018 7:15 utc | 88

Deutsche Welle article - in German

claiming that Theresa May got European support by claiming they could prove that the Skripal poison came from Russia (vetoed by Porton Down). The article asks for an independent investigation.

Deutsche Welle is the German equivalent of BBC.

Posted by: somebody | Apr 7 2018 7:19 utc | 89

@yeah right 55 Yep I think you are on the right track

@wrw 78 Yes you too

I would like to see the cash register bill for the lunchtime meal at zizzi - I would be particularly interested in number of diners

I believe our det sgt hero was a minder and may also have been present at said lunch. Would explain a lot wouldn't it?

Posted by: m | Apr 7 2018 7:21 utc | 90

How about a case of inconceivable coincidence?

The Skripals were on the 'kill list' for the known reasons regarding the Steele dossier. Yulia was just collateral damage. Porton Down had the substance and it was applied to the house door after the Skripals had left to go about what they had planned to do.

Unscripted, the Skripals come down with a food poisoning from eating at the restaurant. They are unable to return home, where they would have been poisoned by whatever services involved. But the cop goes there and comes into contact with whatever was applied there.

Noteworthy is of course, that any assassination will not be perpetrated based on a 10% chance of succeeding. The people with the abilities to take somebody out do just that. Although it must also be mentioned that assassinations by means of causing cancer in the victim are very popular in the valuable West.

Just a thought to connect the dots.

Posted by: notheonly1 | Apr 7 2018 7:40 utc | 91

Posted by: Old Microbiologist | Apr 7, 2018 3:06:13 AM | 85

I think its military use has shifted since WWI. It is used on civilian populations for ethnic cleansing, on underground makeshift facilities like tunnels and in PR.

Posted by: somebody | Apr 7 2018 7:51 utc | 92

It is Saturday April 7th. Europe 10:00.

There is not one single mention of a poisoned spy Skripal story nowhere near headline or important news columns to be noticed or seen. Like the story never happened.
I am saying the BBC, The Guardian and CNN just forgot that there was any news concerning Russia poisoning or even mention of it.

Posted by: laserlurk | Apr 7 2018 7:55 utc | 93

Posted by: MadMax2 | Apr 6, 2018 6:40:36 PM | 17

Brexit has been game over'd.

I'm not so sure. There are increasing demands to have another referendum over the Brexit "package". Also, one thing the Conservative Brexiters have overlooked is what happens when the Labour Party forms a government? Inside the EU there are strict limits and controls to what it could do to return the UK from a neo-liberal economy to either a social democratic or democratic socialist economy. Once the UK leaves the EU all those limits and controls disappear, which is probably why Corbyn is ambivalent about Brexit - he knows we need to remain part of Europe but not part of the neo-liberal EU ruled by a quasi-dictatorship in Brussels.

BTW, the UK has been the United States' enforcer inside the EU since it joined. When the UK voted for Brexit, I suspect that deep-state Washington thought that Poland could take over as enforcer, but the nationalist politicians in Poland are just not up to the job. So what could deep-state Washington do? Discredit Theresa May as she is probably the only Conservative politician capable of getting terms for Brexit that the British electorate will accept? Put in her place a thoroughly damaged Boris Johnson who would screw it up completely?

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Apr 7 2018 7:58 utc | 94

your "best explanation ... " label is a little deceptive, as you yourself concede in the last paragraphs of your piece. Food poisoning explains the recovery of the Skripals, the conflicting allegations about means and location of the poisoning and the lies and secrecy about DS Baileys alledged affection by the poson, nothing more.

The simplest explanation why the British government should have taken food poisoning as an opportunity for a global PsyOp in a manner, that was definitely highly unprofessional and panic-like, is still the repeated Russian warnings of an imminent large-scale chemical False Flag attack in Syria, to which an attack on the government district was to follow, plus numerous reports of the capture of British Special Forces in Ghouta, which were, with due reservations, relayed by Maxim A. Suchkov. Suchkov is not in a position to indulge in levity in such a case.

On the other hand, Russia would not waste the opportunities of the evidence on Public Relation. The Kremlin would refer it to reasonably selected confidential military and civil contacts within the EU to bolster the rifts within the imperial camp, especially transatlanticists and their opponents in the European Council. Brexit could have become even more detrimental for the UK.

Posted by: TomGard | Apr 7 2018 8:08 utc | 95

The more I read about it that better is the fit:
Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning

Clinical Presentation:
Ingestion of molluscs contaminated with PSP results in the following clinical picture (Bower et al, 1981, Kao 1993). Five to 30 minutes from consumption, there is slight perioral tingling progressing to numbness which spreads to face and neck to moderate cases. In severe cases, these symptoms spread to the extremities with incoordination and respiratory difficulty. There are medullary disturbances in severe cases evidenced by difficulty swallowing, sense of throat constriction, speech incoherence or complete loss of speech, as well as brain stem dysfunction. Within 2-12 hours, in very severe cases, there is complete paralysis and death from respiratory failure in absence of ventilatory support. After 12 hours, regardless of severity, victims start to recover gradually and are without any residual symptoms within a few days (Bower et al, 1981, ILO 1984, Halstead 1988).

This fits the eyewitness reports of the Skripals on the bank. A women who had watched them said they were behaving erratic before collapsing. She thought they were way out on drugs.

Posted by: b | Apr 7 2018 8:09 utc | 96

"I suspect that deep-state Washington thought that Poland could take over as enforcer, but the nationalist politicians in Poland are just not up to the job."

It is debatable if the current Polish government is barking mad or batshit insane, but in either case, they lack influence on other countries that an "enforcer" needs. In any case, what would an "enforcer" enforce? On most matters, the French are eager to please and Germans usually follow the suit, even if Merkel utters something feisty in a biergarten on occasion.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Apr 7 2018 8:12 utc | 97

We still do not know for a fact how the Skripals were poisoned (several avenues of "investigation" - buckwheat, door handle, gift, something in a suitcase) and how Detective Sergeant Bailey fits into this picture. If he was in the house (early stories suggested this) how did he get in and was he there on his own? Was he in the house at all? Where was he?

The ER consultant and his letter. There is no follow-up by media. There is apparently no official reaction to the letter. This letter is the only half-way external confirmation there were 3 people with considerable poisoning. Maybe this letter is not a white hat letter?

I think it is best to just take a step back and look at this from some distance. You then realize there is not a single thing here you can be sure about. There are no facts; whatever there is is presented by British government agents (that includes Porton Down). The "defense" cannot get hold of anything to build a meaningful defense on. Embassy is denied access. Close relatives are denied access.

How does Yulia Skripal know that "nobody here" will give her cousin a visa? Is she familiar with the intricacies of the Visa process? The whole phone call sounds like the acoustic equivalent of the device ships in StarTrek have installed - a deflector shield. Calm down things, make her cousin not apply for a visa. This phone call came (just like that) after her cousin started to go public in Russia and probably was identified as a potential disruptor. Yulia Skripal tried to make her not apply for a visa - by assuring her everything and everyone is OK (including Sergey) and then, when Victoria insisted, tackling the Visa issue right away - don't apply the message is, no need to come to the UK and see me. It appears this had to be avoided at all costs.

Followed by an official confirmation Sergey is recovering, too.

Someone decided that they could not keep the Skripals in intensive care forever since somehow the doubt is more widespread than expected? Now it is about calming things down? All is well since the Skripals are fine? Damage control mission?

Someone had a look at Yulia's social media account after March 4.

Sergey Skripal is totally dependent on the UK.

I don't think the animals are dead.

Posted by: BX | Apr 7 2018 8:25 utc | 98

What torpedoes the food-poisoning theory is that the UK response was so quick, coordinated and word perfect - till Boris overstepped the mark (he is just an attention seeking buffoon). So whatever transpired they knew it was coming.

What is odd is that the Skripals are still alive. Maybe its the special Russian DNA. Thankfully, the medics in Salisbury declined to go with the official line, and stated so, publicly, early on. The Skripals could, plausibly, have been taken to Porton Down for sSpecialist treatment", like the Guinea Pigs (it seems the pets have been incinerated - ie destruction of evidence).

There is more to this than food poisoning.

Posted by: cdvision | Apr 7 2018 8:42 utc | 99

adding to my comment @96

March 6 - ‘He looked out of it’ Witness says Russian spy Sergei Skripal slumped on Salisbury bench

Freya Church, from Salisbury, said: “On the bench there was a couple, an older guy and a younger girl.

She was sort of leant in on him, it looked like she had passed out maybe.

“He was doing some strange hand movements, looking up to the sky. It looked like they had been taking something quite strong.”

Sergei Skripal was found unconscious on a shopping centre bench in Salisbury, Wiltshire, along with a woman he is thought to know.

Skripal and a 33-year-old woman are believed to have come into contact with a poisonous substance at the city’s Zizzi restaurant, which has since been closed by emergency teams.

Posted by: b | Apr 7 2018 8:48 utc | 100

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