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Scientists create micro-battery using 3D printing

Friday, June 21, 2013

Scientists have successfully created a Lithium ion micro-battery the size of a grain of sand. A team of researchers from Harvard University and the University of Illinois were able to create the tiny battery using 3D printing technology.

In order to achieve this feat, the separate parts of the battery were printed layer-by-layer using materials thinner than a human hair. This resulted in two separate comb-like structures which, when interlocked, act as the anode and cathode. These were then immersed in an electrolyte solution which created a working battery.

This created a micro-battery comparable to what is commercially available in “charge and discharge rate, cycle life and energy densities.” For years, scientists have been trying to develop miniature devices in a range of areas including medicine and communications. However, due to current manufacturing techniques, the batteries have often been larger than the devices they are supposed to power.

This development could pave the way for new types of miniature technologies, as well as technologies deemed not feasible due to limitations in existing battery design.



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Lula’s future in the hands of Brazilian Parliament

Sunday, June 12, 2005

The government of Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is in a severe political crisis. The crisis began after the exposure of a series of scandals which involve the Workers’ Party, the Brazilian ruling party.

In 2002, Celso Daniel, the mayor of Santo André, 10 km (6 miles) away from the São Paulo city, was murdered. Daniel was a member of the ruling Workers’ Party. The mayor’s brother says that Daniel died because he was in disagreement to a supposed bribe conspiracy organized by some Workers’ Party members. The case remains under investigation by police.

In 2004, the former adviser to the government of President Lula, Waldomiro Diniz, was accused of negotiating with “bicheiros” (men who deal with: “Jogo do Bicho”, or illegal gambling) and extorting money for Workers’ Party (PT) electoral campaigns. A supposed victim of extortion released a tape exposing Diniz. The tape’s authenticity has been verified by experts and it was aired by the major Brazilian television stations. A Congressional special commission was proposed by non-government parties so the denunciation could be investigated. The government succeeded in stopping the creation of the commission.

On March 16, the leading Brazilian magazine Veja published a story saying that according to documents of the Brazilian Agency of intelligence (Abin) the Workers’ Party received 5 million dollars to be used by political campaigns of their candidates in 2002 from the Colombian communist armed group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP). Abin said that the documents were not authentic.

Last month, some men, supposedly involved in illicit negotiations with the Brazilian Post Service recorded a video which shows former Post Office Chief, Maurício Marinho, during a supposed bribe negotiation. In the tape, Marinho receives and puts in his pocket R$3,000 (about 1,259 USD) in cash. He insinuates that the scheme is commanded by deputy Roberto Jefferson. The recording was aired by the major Brazilian television stations.

Roberto Jefferson is the president of the government-allied Brazilian Labor Party (PTB). Lula da Silva said in a earlier occasion that he “would give to Jefferson a bank check in blank”, what means that he had high confidence on Jefferson.

Still related to the Post Office case, on June 2, Lídio Duarte, the former president of IRB, a government enterprise, denied allegations that money from some Brazilian government enterprises was going to PTB, Jefferson’s party. An earlier story published by magazine Veja, said that Duarte was a victim of extortion by a representative of PTB. According to Veja, Duarte resigned from the Presidency of IRB, because he had difficulties in continuing to give more money to PTB. Lídio denied this story to the police, and furthermore he said that he never have had an interview with Veja’s journalists.

On June 8, the magazine Veja released for download in its webpage, an audio tape where it can be heard the voice of Lidio Duarte during an alleged interview to Veja. In the tape, Lidio Duarte talks about being under pressure because someone was asking him more contribution in money for PTB. The tape contradicts the Duarte’s testimony to the police and because of that, he became subject of investigation by the authorities. The name of the deputy Roberto Jefferson is cited by Duarte in the alleged recorded interview to Veja.

After the Post Office scandal been exposed, the Brazilian Congress proposed the creation of a Congress’ special commission, so it could be investigated by the Parliament. The government, however, protested against it, arguing that political adversaries were anticipating the dispute to the next election for Brazil’s Presidency. Workers’ Party senator Eduardo Suplicy protested in Senate against his party decision. Because that he was very criticized and he got subject to punishment by the Workers’ Party.

On June 6, Roberto Jefferson told the Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo that the ruling Workers’ Party (PT) has payed Brazilian deputies 30 thousand Brazilian Reals (US 12 thousand) each, every month. The stock markets went down and the U.S. Dollar increased its value in relation to the Brazilian Real. A new Congress’ special commission was proposed by some Brazilian senators, so Jefferson’s allegations could be investigated. The Workers’ Party says that Jefferson’s allegations were untrue and that he had no proofs.

After Jefferson’s denunciation the focus of the scandal moved to the government and the ruling Workers’ Party. Because the government were under pressure, the Workers’ Party changed his earlier decision of stopping the creation of a Congress’ special commission for the Post Office scandal. The proposal for the creation of a Congress’ special commission for the Post Office scandal was approved.

On June 9, there was the first meeting of members of the Congress’ special commission for the Post Office scandal. Because of unsolved disputes between government’s parliamentarians and the other parties representatives, the meeting could not continue. The government’s block argued that it must choose the president and the report for the commission, since the government commission members are the majority. Other parties argue that according to Parliament tradition the government should choose one member for the presidency or report and the opposition should choose the other member.A new meeting was scheduled to the next week, on Tuesday, June 14.

Besides these scandals, the current Social Security Minister, Romero Jucá, is accused of havingoffered seven non-existent farms as guarantee for a financing from the Banco of Amazonia, among other denunciations of misuse of public loans. The current President of Brazilian Central Bank, Henrique Meirelles, is accused of financial fraud among other accusations. Also there is a denunciation of a irregular transference of founds of Central Bank to the construction of a new headquarter for the Workers’ Party.

On June 4, during the so called Curupira operation, the Brazilian Federal Police arrested members of IBAMA, a Brazilian agency for environment. Among other accusations, they are accused of selling irregular licenses for deforestation in Amazon. At least one of the suspects, a Workers’ Party affiliate, is under suspection of have used the money for the political campaign of a Worker’s Party candidate in Mato Grosso.

Besides the commission to investigate the Post Office scandal, another Congress’ special commissions were suggested by non-government members of Brazilian Senate: a commission to investigate the IRB scandal and another one to the investigation of Roberto Jefferson’s allegations. Also, it is expected that the Brazilian Courts rule against the earlier government decision of stopping the creation of a commission for the investigation of the alleged Waldomiro Diniz scandal.

Contents

  • 1 Repercussions
  • 2 Lula’s future
  • 3 Related news
  • 4 Audio
  • 5 Sources


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Bush’s Iraq ‘Strategy’ seen as public relations exercise

Sunday, December 4, 2005

The US commander of the Multinational Security Transition Command in Iraq said that he had no knowledge of the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq document released by the US President. This, along with speculation that the document was chiefly authored by a public opinion analyst recruited by the White House have led to some critics claiming that the drafted ‘strategy’ is targeting US public opinion, not the Iraqi insurgency.

The military, political and economic strategy for Iraq, outlined last week by President Bush in a speech at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, was based by a 35-page document titled the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq. A metadata tag on the document posted on the White House website identified its author as a computer user ‘feaver_p’. It is believed to refer to Dr. Peter D. Feaver, a special advisor to the National Security Council staff.

A political scientist at Duke University, Dr. Feaver analyzed public opinion polls about the Iraq war and attitudes towards war casualties. Dr. Feaver found that US public opinion will support military engagement abroad, despite growing casualties, provided that the public believed that the war was being fought for a worthy cause and that victory was achievable.

Dr. Feaver was one of the people who helped “conceive and draft” the document, according to a White House staffer, who said that Meghan L. O’Sullivan, the deputy national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan, and her staff played a larger role. White House officials confirmed to the New York Times that the document’s “creation and presentation strongly reflected the public opinion research”.

The document “reflects the broad interagency effort under way in Iraq” according to an NSC spokesman Frederick Jones and had received major contributions from the Departments of Defense, State, Treasury and Homeland Security, as well as the director of National Intelligence.

On Friday, Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, whose Multinational Security Transition Command is responsible for building Iraq’s security forces, told reporters that he had seen the strategy document for the first time when it was released to the public. The White House had said that not all senior officers in Iraq had necessarily seen the document and Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said that he had read and critiqued the document on several occasions.

Earlier, replying to questions about the President’s strategy, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said that the document was an “inter-agency document” and an “unclassified version” of the administrations “strategy for victory in Iraq” published for the public to view.

Christopher F. Gelpi, of Duke University, who co-authored Dr. Feaver’s work titled Casualty Sensitivity and the War in Iraq, stated, “The Pentagon doesn’t need the president to give a speech and post a document on the White House Web site to know how to fight the insurgents. The document is clearly targeted at American public opinion.” In their work together, Gelpi, Feaver and Reifler found that the most important factor which determines the US public’s tolerance for US military deaths in a war is the public’s beliefs about the likelihood of success, and a secondary, but still important, factor, was found to be the public’s belief in the rightness of a war.



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Viktor Schreckengost dies at 101

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Viktor Schreckengost, the father of industrial design and creator of the Jazz Bowl, an iconic piece of Jazz Age art designed for Eleanor Roosevelt during his association with Cowan Pottery died yesterday. He was 101.

Schreckengost was born on June 26, 1906 in Sebring, Ohio, United States.

Schreckengost’s peers included the far more famous designers Raymond Loewy and Norman Bel Geddes.

In 2000, the Cleveland Museum of Art curated the first ever retrospective of Schreckengost’s work. Stunning in scope, the exhibition included sculpture, pottery, dinnerware, drawings, and paintings.



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US Capitol lockdown lifted after shooting

Sunday, April 12, 2015

In Washington D.C., the U.S. Capitol building has reopened after shots were fired in front of it. For safety, no entry or exit was permitted from the building after a man committed suicide just before 2pm local time yesterday. The lockdown lasted until around 3:50pm while members of the bomb squad investigated the man’s backpack, suitcase, and the surrounding area.

A witness estimated 60 other persons were in the area at the time of death. Witnesses reported the man had a sign of protest about taxation and social justice.

The shooting occurred during the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, a busy Washington tourist season. Congress was not in session during the attack but are returning from recess tomorrow.



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Canada’s Beaches—East York (Ward 32) city council candidates speak
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

Friday, November 3, 2006

On November 13, Torontonians will be heading to the polls to vote for their ward’s councillor and for mayor. Among Toronto’s ridings is Beaches—East York (Ward 32). Four candidates responded to Wikinews’ requests for an interview. This ward’s candidates include Donna Braniff, Alan Burke, Sandra Bussin (incumbent), William Gallos, John Greer, John Lewis, Erica Maier, Luca Mele, and Matt Williams.

For more information on the election, read Toronto municipal election, 2006.

Contents

  • 1 Sandra Bussin (incumbent)
  • 2 William Gallos
  • 3 Erica Maier
  • 4 Luca Mele


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As increase in digital music sales slows, record labels look to new ways to make money

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Every September, the Apple iPod is redesigned. Last year saw the release of the iPod Nano 5th generation, bringing a video camera and a large range of colours to the Nano for the first time. But as Apple again prepares to unveil a redesigned product, the company has released their quarterly sales figures—and revealed that they have sold only 9m iPods for the quarter to June—the lowest number of sales since 2006, leading industry anylists to ponder whether the world’s most successful music device is in decline.

Such a drop in sales is not a problem for Apple, since the iPhone 4 and the iPad are selling in high numbers. But the number of people buying digital music players are concerning the music industry. Charles Arthur, technology editor of The Guardian, wrote that the decline in sales of MP3 players was a “problem” for record companies, saying that “digital music sales are only growing as fast as those of Apple’s devices – and as the stand-alone digital music player starts to die off, people may lose interest in buying songs from digital stores. The music industry had looked to the iPod to drive people to buy music in download form, whether from Apple’s iTunes music store, eMusic, Napster or from newer competitors such as Amazon.”

Mark Mulligan, a music and digital media analyst at Forrester Research, said in an interview that “at a time where we’re asking if digital is a replacement for the CD, as the CD was for vinyl, we should be starting to see a hockey-stick growth in download sales. Instead, we’re seeing a curve resembling that of a niche technology.” Alex Jacob, a spokesperson for the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which represents the worldwide music industry, agreed that there had been a fall in digital sales of music. “The digital download market is still growing,” they said. “But the percentage is less than a few years ago, though it’s now coming from a higher base.” Figures released earlier this year, Arthur wrote, “show that while CD sales fell by 12.7%, losing $1.6bn (£1bn)in value, digital downloads only grew by 9.2%, gaining less than $400m in value.”

Expectations that CDs would, in time, become extinct, replaced by digital downloads, have not come to light, Jacob confirmed. “Across the board, in terms of growth, digital isn’t making up for the fall in CD sales, though it is in certain countries, including the UK,” he said. Anylising the situation, Arthur suggested that “as iPod sales slow, digital music sales, which have been yoked to the device, are likely to slow too. The iPod has been the key driver: the IFPI’s figures show no appreciable digital download sales until 2004, the year Apple launched its iTunes music store internationally (it launched it in the US in April 2003). Since then, international digital music sales have climbed steadily, exactly in line with the total sales of iPods and iPhones.”

Nick Farrell, a TechEYE journalist, stated that the reason for the decline in music sales could be attributed to record companies’ continued reliance on Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, saying that they had considered him the “industry’s saviour”, and by having this mindset had forgotten “that the iPod is only for those who want their music on the run. What they should have been doing is working out how to get high quality music onto other formats, perhaps even HiFi before the iPlod fad died out.”

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When Jobs negotiated a deal with record labels to ensure every track was sold for 99 cents, they considered this unimportant—the iPod was not a major source of revenue for the company. However, near the end of 2004, there was a boom in sales of the iPod, and the iTunes store suddenly began raking in more and more money. The record companies were irritated, now wanting to charge different amounts for old and new songs, and popular and less popular songs. “But there was no alternative outlet with which to threaten Apple, which gained an effective monopoly over the digital music player market, achieving a share of more than 70%” wrote Arthur. Some did attempt to challenge the iTunes store, but still none have succeeded. “Apple is now the largest single retailer of music in the US by volume, with a 25% share.”

The iTunes store now sells television shows and films, and the company has recently launced iBooks, a new e-book store. The App Store is hugely successful, with Apple earning $410m in two years soley from Apps, sales of which they get 30%. In two years, 5bn apps have been downloaded—while in seven years, 10bn songs have been purchased. Mulligan thinks that there is a reason for this—the quality of apps simply does not match up to a piece of music. “You can download a song from iTunes to your iPhone or iPad, but at the moment music in that form doesn’t play to the strengths of the device. Just playing a track isn’t enough.”

Adam Liversage, a spokesperson of the British Phonographic Industry, which represents the major UK record labels, notes that the rise of streaming services such as Spotify may be a culprit in the fall in music sales. Revenues from such companies added up to $800m in 2009. Arthur feels that “again, it doesn’t make up for the fall in CD sales, but increasingly it looks like nothing ever will; that the record business’s richest years are behind it. Yet there are still rays of hope. If Apple – and every other mobile phone maker – are moving to an app-based economy, where you pay to download games or timetables, why shouldn’t recording artists do the same?”

Well, apparently they are. British singer Peter Gabriel has released a ‘Full Moon Club’ app, which is updated every month with a new song. Arthur also notes that “the Canadian rock band Rush has an app, and the industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails, led by Trent Reznor – who has been critical of the music industry for bureaucracy and inertia – released the band’s first app in April 2009.” It is thought that such a system will be an effective method to reduce online piracy—”apps tend to be tied to a particular handset or buyer, making them more difficult to pirate than a CD”, he says—and in the music industry, piracy is a very big problem. In 2008, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry estimated that 95% of downloads were illegitimate. If musicians can increase sales and decrease piracy, Robert says, it can only be a good thing.

“It’s early days for apps in the music business, but we are seeing labels and artists experimenting with it,” Jacob said. “You could see that apps could have a premium offering, or behind-the-scenes footage, or special offers on tickets. But I think it’s a bit premature to predict the death of the album.” Robert concluded by saying that it could be “premature to predict the death of the iPod just yet too – but it’s unlikely that even Steve Jobs will be able to produce anything that will revive it. And that means that little more than five years after the music industry thought it had found a saviour in the little device, it is having to look around again for a new stepping stone to growth – if, that is, one exists.”



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Virginians melee at used Apple iBook sale

Thursday, August 18, 2005

“Total chaos” is how many described the melee that resulted from a sale of used Apple iBook laptop computers at the Richmond International Raceway (RIR) by the Henrico County, Virginia school system.

Officials estimated nearly 5,000 people thronged the sale for the $50, four-year-old computers. Among them were 17 injured, four requiring hospitalization – one for a leg injury, and three for heat-related illness, said Henrico County Police. Reports of trampling in the stampede were not uncommon, and one driver reportedly tried to drive through the throng of prospective buyers.

Alice Jemerson, an elderly customer said, “They bum rushed the gates and I was knocked over, fighting for my life. All these people were on top of me.”

Shortly after 7am EST officials opened the gates and many residents ran hysterically toward the building where the sale was to occur at 9am.

At a post sale press conference, Henrico County Police spokesman Lieutenant Doug Perry told reporters, “A few bad apples found their way inside. It looked worse than it was.”

Apple iBooks are the preferred computer for Henrico County schools, and Director of General Services of Henrico County Paul Proto, said changes were made to the event after tremendous interest was generated, some as far away as Europe and California. Officials closed and moved the sale from the Henrico county school warehouse to the RIR, after residents complained that their tax dollars were used to buy the computers, and they ought to have first right to repurchase them. The Henrico County Board of Supervisors voted to amend the County Code so that only residents could purchase the laptop computers.

Although officials had prohibited camping out and overnight parking, some in attendance reported that people began arriving at midnight.

Henrico Police Chief H.W. Stanley, Jr. said five patrol officers were originally planned for the event, a customary presence for an event the size authorities had estimated. But by 6 am, an enormous crowd was assembled at the front gate.

Officials present before opening told the crowd that automobiles would be allowed to enter first, which prompted many to run to their cars. But while some were running back to their cars, others rushed the gate. The resulting confusion created much anger, and guards closed the gates shortly thereafter.

Long lines encircling the sale building were commonplace, and one observer noted, “They’re going to see themselves on the news tonight, and see what fools they are.”

Some citizens, however, considered their wait worthwhile. Hairstylist and mother of two Sheress Blunt was one of the first hundred to buy one of the iBooks; she came with her mother and said they sneaked into the raceway through a side gate.

Tonya Vaughan arrived at 5:30 a.m., also bought one of the first iBooks and said three people offered to buy it from her for as much as $200. She declined however, saying, “I told them no way! I had worked too hard for it.”

Lt. Perry said many officers were complimented on the way they handled the crowd, adding that police were seen letting children who had been pushed aside, into the building.

Mr. Proto said, “There are no plans right now to have another iBook sale.”

Henrico County Battalion Police Chief Steve Wood said no arrests were made and the iBooks were sold out by 1pm EST.



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FDA issues proposed rules requiring calorie content on menus

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued proposed calorie labeling rules requiring most retail food vendors to display the calorie counts in items on their menus and menu boards. The proposed rules, issued Friday and expected to be finalized in 2012, would apply to most restaurants, snack bars, vending machines, coffee shops, drive-through restaurants, and convenience and grocery stores.

The US Congress required the rules in the health-care reform law passed in 2010. The rules proposed by the FDA must undergo a public comment period before they are finalized and take effect, said Michael R. Taylor, Deputy Director for Foods at the FDA.

The proposed regulations pertain to businesses devoting more than 50 percent of their floor space to the sale of food or that consider themselves restaurants, specifically food-selling chains with at least 20 stores nationally. Included are candy stores, bakeries, and ice-cream parlors.

The FDA’s proposed guidelines specify that chains post the calorie counts of foods and drinks on menus and menu boards or next to the food item, such as at a salad bar. The menu is to prominently exhibit the calorie content of each item in a way customers can see easily, giving them the same information packaged foods prepared at home currently provide. The information must be displayed in “clear and conspicuous” print and colors.

Giving consumers clear nutritional information makes it easier for them to choose healthier options that can help fight obesity and make us all healthier.

Many cities and states have passed laws requiring calorie labeling on menus, beginning with New York City in 2008. California implemented a similar law in January, although many counties are waiting for the release of the federal guidelines before they begin enforcement. Some fast-food chains there, such as McDonald’s and Starbucks, are displaying calorie counts on menus in some of their stores.

The rules are intended to curb the national obesity epidemic since, according to FDA estimates, one third of the calories people consume yearly come from food eaten out. In a statement issued yesterday, Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services said, “Giving consumers clear nutritional information makes it easier for them to choose healthier options that can help fight obesity and make us all healthier.”

Excluded from the rules are businesses whose primary product is not food sales but that sell it, such as bowling alleys, airports and airplanes, amusement parks, hotels and movie theaters. Alcohol is also excluded.



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Mystery surrounds ricin discovery in Las Vegas hotel

Saturday, March 1, 2008

On February 14, a man staying at the Valley View Extended Stay America hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada was hospitalized after experiencing respiratory distress. The man lapsed into unconsciousness and has been at the hospital ever since.

Since the bills at the hotel were going unpaid, Extended Stay America began to evict the man from the room. Another man, described as either a friend or relative, went to the hotel on Thursday to collect the personal belongings of the hospitalized man.

According to Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Deputy Chief Kathy Suey, he found several vials of a white substance. He brought them to the attention of the hotel manager, who called police.

Initial tests, which further tests confirmed on Friday, the substance was the deadly toxin ricin, an extremely dangerous biological agent. Ricin is extracted from castor beans through the waste produced in the manufacture of castor oil. It is currently being used in cancer treatment research. There has been research for its use as a chemical/biological warfare agent. An amount smaller than the point of a pin will kill a human being. It is estimated to be several thousand times more toxic than cyanide and there is no known antidote.

Police cordoned off the area around Valley View between Flamingo Road and Harmon Avenue. Three employees and the man who made the discovery were taken to the hospital as a precaution. So were three police officers. They are all reported to show no signs of poisoning.

Nevada National Guard and other emergency services responded to secure the area. Residents at the Extended Stay America were allowed back into the building late Thursday. The hotel reopened fully on Friday after the room and other areas of the hotel were decontaminated.

The man whose room it was “is in critical condition and he is unable to speak with us right now. We have no indication why the ricin was in that room,” said Deputy Chief Suey.

“Usually, if [ricin victims] survive the first three to five days, they usually do fine,” Dr. Lawrence Sands told CNN. However, survivors often have long-term organ damage.

At least three pets were found in the room. “Two of those pets are fine. One of the pets is deceased or was put down,” Suey said. “The dog that was in there was without food and water for a week,” she added that there was no reason to supect it was exposed to ricin. Castor beans were also found in the room.

Officials have also recovered from the room a firearm, as well as an “anarchist” text containing an article on ricin.

Federal Bureau of Investigation spokesperson Richard Kolko said the incident is being treated as a criminal matter and did not appear to be related to terrorism “based on the information gathered so far.”

Captain Joe Lombardo of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said that ricin is not illegal to own unless it is intended for the poisoning of a person, adding that “We did have enough ricin to be of concern.”

In 2003, a man committed suicide in Las Vegas using ricin. There have also been a few incidents where ricin powder was found in the mail. Also in 2003, the United Kingdom had the Wood Green ricin plot which in the end found no ricin.

In 1978, Bulgarian defector Georgi Markov was famously assassinated in London with ricin injected with the tip of an umbrella.



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