This past weekend saw the advent of a new Christmas blockbuster short film. The feature involves the hastily set-up and staged visit of Ukrainian presidential candidate, Viktor Yushchenko, to the private Austrian clinic Rudolfinerhaus, where he came to be quickly diagnosed as POISONED -- a diagnosis that previously eluded doctors for months. The morality play was a nauseating piece of frivolity designed to take the heat off Yushchenko who was, at first, dealt with sympathetically by all for many recent medical problems. However, increasingly, with all the questions (especially regarding alcohol consumption) about Viktor's true medical condition, the Ukrainian leader was determined to get this topic off the public’s radar as a new election looms.
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If you don’t want to read the whole post
Top Ten Reasons Why This Weekend’s Yushchenko Diagnosis is a Fraud:
10. It is hard to believe that while Viktor was acutely poisoned (with poison everywhere in his blood, sputum, sweat, and semen); they missed the diagnosis but now, MONTHS later they make the diagnosis in twelve hours (they say someone fortuitously developed a new test recently to make the diagnosis).
9. A real expert in poisoning says this would be a unique case in the history of forensic toxicology.
7. There are many major medical institutions and hospitals throughout
6. Rudolfinerhaus had to send the blood samples to another hospital/clinic in
5. Viktor’s wife was brought in to tell some egregious and laughable tales, like “I just remembered... I tasted the poison that night when I kissed him.” As my daughter would say: OH… MY… GOD!
4. Dioxin is a chlorine-based fat- soluble compound. Chlorine stinks. And Dioxin doesn’t dissolve in water. So the brilliant spies are trying out a new way to poison someone with a chemical that stands out in water like an oil slick and stinks like Limburger cheese left all day in the dry sauna --- is that likely?
3. Being fat-soluble, Dioxin would be absorbed by many organs – especially the liver – and these organs would contain that fatty compound for months, at least, if not years. Yet Zimpfer says there are no traces of Dioxin in Viktor’s liver or pancreas. He also said Yushchenko’s Dioxin levels “have returned to normal.” That is not possible.
Research shows without doubt that Dioxin remains in humans – in their fat and liver – for many years. The half life of Dioxin in humans is seven years. So, if Yushchenko’s Dioxin levels are normal – then he was never poisoned!
3 a. Zimpfer cannot know #3 unless they did a large core liver biopsy this weekend, which they could not have done. And these biopsies take days to fix, stain and analyze.
2. The doctors in
1. Yesterday Yushchenko announced that he does not want any official investigation into his “poisoning” until after the elections. Ha! Why? Because he says he doesn’t want it to affect the outcome. Hasn’t it done that already? He means he doesn’t want it to affect the outcome the wrong way!
The Whole Christmas Story
The Cast Arrives
Filming done, Viktor Yushchenko will go on with the Ukrainian presidential election today, after he and his Rudolfinerhaus claque (or quacks?) acted out a poorly scripted passion play this weekend manufactured solely to prove – for once and for all – that Yushchenko had been poisoned. With widespread and immediate acceptance by the entire world – including every single media outlet – this bold and silly
Did any one fall for this? I hope not. I certainly expect that readers of this column were more skeptical of the ridiculous sequence of events this weekend.
Four days after announcing he would not return to Rudolfinerhaus -- the Viennese medical clinic that couldn’t diagnose Viktor’s disease the FIRST time he was there -- the Ukrainian presidential candidate showed up, unexpectedly, on Friday afternoon in dramatic fashion.
He returned – whisked in by a black motorcade of limousines -- for the “blood and tissue tests” that doctors assured us they
Because Your Kiss is on My Lips!
They hustled Viktor into the clinic and left his wife, Katerina standing outside for an interview, at which time she gave a performance that not even Marlene Dietrich in her prime could have topped. Passionately, Katerina breathlessly spoke to spellbound reporters, delivering this set-up line:
"I know in my heart that he was poisoned and it will be medically established today,"
Oh really? What Katerina didn’t tell the reporters is that her statement was not said with prescience; rather, it was said with advance information. No time for that, however, as Katerina was not done playing the opening act of this weekend’s gig. She had one little zinger to add. Speaking of an embrace she had with Viktor the night he was eating with the Ukrainian Secret Service she blurted out something I’m sure I read in Anna Karenina:
I smelled the poison on his kiss
As my daughter would say OH… MY… GOD!!! She just remembered this? Did the reporters start CHOKING? You smelled the poison on his breath? Are you sure? I mean, he did have sushi, right?
Who wrote this script anyway, the Brothers Grimm?
Bing Bang Boom – Case Closed
Saturday morning – twelve hours later -- Rudolfinerhaus releases a statement saying they will tell the world the answer to the poisoning question at precisely 1400. That’s a pretty good prediction for a team that has admitted the case is baffling, difficult to solve, and one that may not have an answer. I mean it was just a couple of months ago when they had Yushchenko in their clinic for an extensive stay during the acute illness (when the poison would have been EVERYWHERE detectable in his system – in his blood, urine, sputum, semen) and yet they were stumped for all those weeks – and
Time arrives for the announcement (Stage Left: bring on the dancing girls):
Rudolfinerhaus’ director, the frequently confused, double-talking Dr. Zimpfer straightens out his pince nez and clears his throat. The amazing Doktor, in the weeks since Yushchenko’s discharge, has become an expert in Dioxin and Dioxin poisoning.
Before I let the Zimpferisms spin your head, let’s get a few things straight about Dioxin.
Oily, Stinky, and Unknown – Borscht?
Dioxin is an unintentional breakdown product formed in many industrial processes involving chlorine, such as waste incineration, chemical and pesticide manufacturing, and pulp and paper bleaching. So, it’s a chlorinated compound – and chlorine products generally STINK (take a whiff of the pool cleaner some time). In an EPA dioxin report, they refer to dioxin as hydrophobic (water-fearing) and lipophilic (fat-loving). This means that dioxin will not mix with water – only fat-containing substances—so, in order to poison someone with Dioxin you need to mix the Dioxin in with fat. NOT soup (what kind of soup are they eating?).
Asked what he thought about the details of trying to poison someone with Dioxin, a real expert, British toxicologist John Henry threw up his hands:
We've never had a case like this — a known case of large, severe dioxin poisoning
And You Thought Yogi Was Quotable?
With this preface, let’s examine some Zimpferisms that came out of the press conference (my replies in italics):
“If this dose had been higher, it may have caused death”
No one knows how much Dioxin it takes to kill someone – even nefarious spies, apparently, eh? So, how do YOU know what the dose was and that more would have been fatal?
“It would be quite easy to administer this amount in a soup”
What amount? See above.... being hydrophobic, Dioxin would stand out in soup like an oil slick
If they did dose his soup with the chlorinated poison, don’t you think Yushchenko would have sniffed it out – I personally HATE the taste of chlorine in MY soup; and, didn’t his wife smell it on his breath HOURS later? So what did it smell like IN THE BOWL? Maybe Viktor had a cold.
(Zimpfer …added) it is impossible to determine exactly how the poisoning took place
So the soup thing is a guess? Is this something Austrian doctors regularly do in tough cases?
The hospital believed it had been a deliberate act of poisoning; “We suspect a cause triggered by a third party”
I thought it was “ impossible to determine exactly how the poisoning took place?”How do you work backwards from that to deduce a third party?
Besides, what new high-technology test indicated this? A motiveometer? These doctors are GOOD.
Zimpfer said it would take years for Yushchenko's body to rid itself of the dioxin
This is one correct thing Zimpfer said. Fat-soluble compounds (especially poisons) will remain in the liver (especially) and other organs for months or years or a lifetime
Doctors said dioxin levels in Yushchenko’s liver have now returned to normal and he is expected to be released from the hospital in the next few days
Oops! A bad contradiction. Zimpfer cannot know the concentration of Dioxin in Yushchenko’s liver unless they did a large core liver biopsy this weekend, which they could not have done in this time frame. And these biopsies take days to fix, stain and analyze.
Yushchenko was in satisfactory condition and his dioxin levels have returned to normal
So if Yushchenko’s Dioxin levels are normal now, that means he was never exposed to the agent! Here’s a small sampling from the literature:
The extreme persistence of dioxin in humans means that, once exposed, we continue to receive low doses from our body fat
Men have no ways to get rid of dioxin other than letting it break down according to its chemical half-lives
Dioxin's "half-life" in the human body is about seven years. In other words, it takes about seven years for half of the dioxin in your body to be removed
Dioxin binds very strongly to intracellular receptors in the nuclei of animal and human cells throughout the body. So dioxin can easily get into the nucleus, where the cell's
DNA is located
Researchers from four countries across
Europe, supported by one of the EU's research programmes, have produced further evidence of the multiple, long-term effects of dioxin on human health. Follow-up of 159 workers in the Austrian chemical industry who were exposed to dioxin shows that these effects can be detected more than 20 years after exposure. The findings have just been published in the international scientific journal, Environmental Research. The extremely long half-lives of dioxins in humans means that exposure can still be assessed in blood fat many years after the event.
Confused? Don’t worry, they are too
This whole little drama was staged because Yushchenko’s poisoning was starting to work against him. People were more interested in what was wrong with Yushchenko than in the election itself. So he had to put the whole thing to rest. Viktor called up the accommodating Dr. Zimpfer, briefed his wife (who probably ad-libbed the melodrama kiss part much to the director’s chagrin), and sped away to the private little clinic where they made quick work out of a diagnosis that previously had stumped the world, and now everything is OK and Viktor is going to be OK and the Dioxin will GO AWAY and let’s not talk about this anymore, OK?
A Frank Capra Denouement
1. Why has not anyone at any time this weekend – in all the fanfare and all the pomp – given us
2. Yesterday, Yushchenko said that he does not want anyone looking at any of this Rudolfinerhaus poisoning work-up carefully because he does not want it to affect the election! His words:
"This question will require a great deal of time and serious investigation. Let us do it after the election - today is not the moment."
Tell you what, Viktor, just show us one lab slip that has the box: Substance Confirmation: Dioxin checked on it. Show us one computer print out. Let us hear from one lab expert or pathologist who saw the quantitative data and agrees: this is definitely, no doubt, absolutely, Dioxin poisoning.
In a scene that was hokier than Jimmie Stewart finding Zuzu’s petals in his pocket, Yushchenko spoke, with his wife, to the press on Sunday, as he left the triumphant Rudolfinerhaus clinic – a children’s choral group singing in the background! Yushchenko addressed the world thanking the Zimpfer-lead team:
And I want to thank their team. They've spent many days and nights with me. I am very happy to be alive in this world today. And I thank these people for this.
Cut! That’s a wrap.