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Radioactive Cigarettes: Germany Warns Of Deadly Contraband Shipment

German officials confirm that contraband cigarettes laced with Strontium 90, which is used in nuclear weapons, were intercepted at a Warsaw airport in June. Was it a personal attack?

Doubly lethal
Doubly lethal

MUNICHAfter contaminated cigarettes were intercepted in Poland last June, German customs offices were warned last month that the shipment could actually be radioactive.

A spokesman for the German Customs Investigation Bureau in Cologne said Sunday that customs agents have been notified to be on the lookout for such perilous merchandise.

Meanwhile, Germany's Federal Ministry of Finance said it had no indication that any of the poisoned tobacco had reached Germany, and that it was possible that the shipment constituted a targeted attack on specific people.

The Finance Ministry, which is responsible for customs affairs, confirmed a piece in the Bild am Sonntag, which reported that packets of cigarettes were found in a crate of frozen crab at the Warsaw Airport on June 9. The cigarettes were contaminated with Strontium 90, an isotope which is used in nuclear weapons. If inhaled, it can lead to fatal poisoning.

Authorities do not know if the cigarettes were meant for the German market, though they confirm that typical warning labels ("Smoking kills") and excise stamps on the packages were written in German and Polish.

The crate was with a Vietnamese passenger who had flown from Vietnam to Warsaw via Paris. Investigators said that the man had been asked in Vietnam if he could take the crate with him and give it to a contact person in Poland.

The German press agency DPA reported that the quantity of cigarettes found was too small to suggest a broad-based attack. In Poland, the investigation is being handled by the police department's section for terrorism and capital crimes. Interpol was informed of the shipment in August.

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Influencer Union? The Next Labor Rights Battle May Be For Social Media Creators

With the end of the Hollywood writers and actors strikes, the creator economy is the next frontier for organized labor.

​photograph of a smartphone on a selfie stick

Smartphone on a selfie stick

Steve Gale/Unsplash
David Craig and Stuart Cunningham

Hollywood writers and actors recently proved that they could go toe-to-toe with powerful media conglomerates. After going on strike in the summer of 2023, they secured better pay, more transparency from streaming services and safeguards from having their work exploited or replaced by artificial intelligence.

But the future of entertainment extends well beyond Hollywood. Social media creators – otherwise known as influencers, YouTubers, TikTokers, vloggers and live streamers – entertain and inform a vast portion of the planet.

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For the past decade, we’ve mapped the contours and dimensions of the global social media entertainment industry. Unlike their Hollywood counterparts, these creators struggle to be seen as entertainers worthy of basic labor protections.

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