Connect with us

Global Affairs

Zaporizhia: The spoils of war: How Russia is leveraging Europe’s largest nuclear power plant | International

Voice Of EU

Published

on

Separated by a few miles of water, Russian and Ukrainian soldiers watch each other through binoculars. A small detachment of the Ukrainian Army is stationed in the village of Illinka, on the western bank of the Dnipro River in southern Ukraine. Across the river stands Europe’s largest nuclear power plant – Zaporizhzhia. According to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, more than 500 Russian soldiers, 50 military vehicles, ammunition, and artillery batteries are positioned in the plant.

The captain of the Ukrainian unit stationed in Illinka says they don’t have the heavy weapons to defend against Russian artillery attacks. This is the first time, he says, that any reporters have come here. There are danger signs alerting people to the mines placed along the riverbanks to defend against an invasion from across the river. Our interview proceeds quickly, as the presence of journalists with visible press credentials could attract unwanted attention from the Russian forces watching from the other side. As we talk to the captain, a plume of smoke rises from the occupied side of the river – the Ukrainians are shelling Russian positions about six miles (10 kilometers) from the nuclear power plant.

The Russian invaders captured the Zaporizhzhia power plant and its environs in March. The images of bombs hitting the nuclear facilities sparked a wave of international indignation. The largest nuclear catastrophe in history occurred in Ukraine in 1986, when a reactor at the Chernobyl plant exploded.

Zaporizhia nuclear power plant seen from the other bank of the Dnipro river, in Ukraine.
Zaporizhia nuclear power plant seen from the other bank of the Dnipro river, in Ukraine.Cristian Segura

On July 20, the Ukrainians launched a kamikaze drone against Russian units positioned near the nuclear power plant. The DiXi Group, a Kyiv think tank focused on the Ukrainian energy sector, confirmed the “precision [drone] attack.” According to Energoatom, the Ukrainian state-owned company that still manages the Zaporizhzhia plant, the Russians countered by storing “14 pieces of heavy weaponry, ammunition, and explosives,” inside the turbine room of one of the reactors.

Russia routinely shells Nikopol from Enerhodar, the city that surrounds the Zaporizhzhia power station. Ukrainian commanders prevented EL PAÍS from entering Nikopol on July 24, citing the Russian bombing, although other civilians were allowed to come and go freely that day.

Energoatom staff threatened

Energoatom employees in Zaporizhzhia work in partial freedom. Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), recently expressed “… growing concern about the difficult conditions facing the workforce.” The Russians intend to take over the plant’s operation in September and connect it to their own power grid. Zaporizhzhia provides 20% of Ukraine’s electricity.

In May, Ukrenergo, the public company that manages Ukraine’s electricity grid, stated, “Ukraine’s power system currently has no physical connections with Russia’s power system. Therefore, the supply of electricity from Ukrainian power plants to Russia is currently physically impossible.” However, according to a map from the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSOE), Ukraine not only has direct high-voltage connections with Belarus and Russia, but the country’s grid is also connected to Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that was illegally seized from Ukraine and annexed by Russia in 2014. Crimea is connected to Russia with high-voltage power lines, and all of these transmission lines run through Russian-controlled territory.

Energoatom and Ukrenergo would not specify to EL PAÍS what would prevent connecting Zaporizhzhia to the Russian power grid. Eugeni Panov, a retired employee of the plant, stays in touch with former colleagues still working there. He says that Ukrainian forces knocked down the pylons supporting the high-voltage transmission lines to Crimea when the Russians captured Zaporizhzhia. Panov acknowledges that repairing these pylons “isn’t difficult,” but assumes that the Ukrainian army would just knock them down again. Meanwhile, Energoatom spokesperson Leonid Olinik told the BBC in May that the Zaporizhzhia plant “… only works with the Ukrainian power line. The Russians could theoretically build another power line, but that would take several years.”

Yuri Vitrenko, president of the Ukrainian state natural gas company Naftogaz, met with US congressional representatives in June and said that Moscow “… is trying to disconnect the plant from the Ukrainian power grid and connect it to Russia’s grid.” Vitrenko did not say it was impossible, but claimed that it would be “very dangerous… No one can guarantee that something catastrophic will not happen.” Oleh Korikov, chairman of the Ukrainian Nuclear Energy Authority, explained why this would be dangerous in a June statement. “The main concern is that the [nuclear] fuel will cool down when the power supply is interrupted. If power is not restored immediately and cannot be repaired, radioactive fuel could start leaking and eventually lead to an accident.”

Sunflower fields on the bank of the Ukrainian-controlled Dnipro river. On the other side, the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, occupied by Russia.
Sunflower fields on the bank of the Ukrainian-controlled Dnipro river. On the other side, the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, occupied by Russia.Cristian Segura

Lluís Batet, professor of nuclear engineering at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña) in Barcelona (Spain), agrees that it’s a fragile situation, but believes that if the high-voltage transmission lines appearing on the ENTSOE map remain operational, connecting Zaporizhzhia to the Russian grid shouldn’t be problematic. “They would need to shut down power at the plant, synchronize it with the Russian grid, and then bring the power back up again. Grid disconnection and reconnection is a procedure that nuclear power plants routinely perform once or twice a year.”

Korikov claims that the Russian blockade of the plant has prevented shipments of spare parts such as valves and other components from getting through, but Batet thinks that Russia could just as well supply these spare parts. The Zaporizhzhia plant was built in the 1980s when Ukraine was still part of the Soviet Union, and began full operation in the 1990s after Ukrainian independence. Former Zaporizhzhia employee Eugeni Panov says that the plant’s technology is more advanced than in other Russian plants, so their engineers are still learning how to operate it. Ukrainian intelligence services claim that the Russian government is trying to attract technicians to Zaporizhzhia with very lucrative work and retirement conditions.

The IAEA has requested access to the plant for its inspectors, a demand so far ignored by the Russians. Ukrainian authorities are also against an IAEA visit because they cannot guarantee the safety of the inspectors. “The reports coming in are very worrisome and point to the importance of the IAEA gaining access to the plant,” said IAEA Director General Grossi. “It is extremely important that no action is taken that would put the plant at risk.”

Three of Zaporizhzhia’s six reactors are currently operating. The plant’s installed power capacity is six gigawatts – Spain’s entire nuclear power capacity is seven gigawatts. “Chernobyl would be child’s play compared to what might happen here,” said Eugeni Panov. Missiles were not launched over Chernobyl every day. Russia’s seizure of the plant is nuclear terrorism, says the Ukrainian government.

Source link

Global Affairs

Brazilian woman and fake seer con elderly mother out of $142 million | International

Voice Of EU

Published

on

A woman was arrested on August 10 by Rio de Janeiro police who charged her with conning her mother out of millions. In a strange story of greed abetted by fake psychics, Sabine Boghici and her accomplices stole more than $142 million in money, jewelry and artwork from Boghici’s mother over a two-year period.

Geneviève Boghici, the widow of a major art collector and dealer named Jean Boghici, was walking out of a bank in January 2020 near the famous Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) when she was approached by a supposed psychic prophesying her daughter’s imminent death unless she underwent “spiritual therapy.” They walked together to Boghici’s apartment, where the psychic threw some shells in a mystical ritual that confirmed the tragic prophesy. The 82-year-old victim knew that her daughter suffered from psychological problems, and her affinity for the supernatural swayed her to transfer $980,000 to the swindlers.

Soon after the two-year con began, the elderly woman became suspicious and halted the money transfers when her daughter started to isolate her from friends. Sabine would not allow her mother to use the phone and dismissed all the domestic workers, justifying them as Covid-19 precautions. Yet Sabine and her cronies entered freely to loot her mother’s home of its valuables. Several psychics took items from the home, saying they were “cursed” and needed to be “prayed over.” The increasingly suspicious Geneviève tried to resist, but Sabine began threatening her life. According to the police, she wouldn’t allow her mother to eat and put a knife to her throat.

Police recover 'Sol Poente' by Brazilian painter, Tarsila do Amaral.
Police recover ‘Sol Poente’ by Brazilian painter, Tarsila do Amaral.Policia Civil de Rio de Janeiro (EFE)

The victim told the police that her daughter had some sort of relationship with one of the supposed psychics, Rosa Stanesco Nicolau, who practiced her trade in Rio de Janeiro as “Mãe Valéria de Oxossi” (Mother Valeria), and was a known con artist. Starting in September 2020, under constant threat from her daughter and accomplices, the elderly woman made another 38 bank transfers to the thieves.

Sabine and her cohorts stole 16 paintings and sculptures, and sold them all to art galleries or private buyers. Two of these works – Elevador Social (Social Elevator) by Rubens Gerchman, and Maquete para o menú espelho (A model for my mirror) by Antonio Dias – were bought by Eduardo Costantini, owner of the Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires (Argentina), for his private collection. The São Paulo (Brazil) gallery owner who brokered the deal said he was not suspicious because he had known the family for a long time and the seller was the daughter of the deceased art collector. Constantini released a statement saying that he bought the paintings in good faith and was in direct contact with Genevieve Boghici.

In 2012, a fire in the Boghici’s Copacabana apartment destroyed part of their valuable collection, including Di Cavalcanti’s Samba and Alberto Guignard’s A Floresta (The Forest). Sol Poniente (Setting Sun), painted by Tarsila do Amaral in 1929, is one of the most valuable works in the Boghici collection ($49 million). It survived the 2012 fire but not the rampant greed of their daughter. The stolen painting was found under a bed by police, who arrested Sabine and three other people, including the fake seer. In a final twist to the whole bizarre story, the scamming psychic was apprehended trying to escape through a window.

Source link

Continue Reading

Global Affairs

India’s HIV patients say shortages leaving hundreds of thousands without drugs | Global development

Voice Of EU

Published

on

Hundreds of thousands of people living with HIV in India are struggling to access treatment because of a shortage of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs, according to campaigners.

Up to 500,000 people have not been able to get hold of free ARVs from government health centres and hospitals over the past five months, they say, as the country experiences stock shortages of key drugs.

ARVs that are available in privately run pharmacies and shops can be prohibitively expensive. Some people have been given alternative drugs, but others have stopped taking any medication.

“Does the government even realise that at least 500,000, or one-third of the patients, are affected by this? Some adults are being given 11 doses of paediatric medicine to compensate,” said Loon Gangte, president of the Delhi Network of Positive People (DNP+), an NGO that works to improve the treatment and facilities for people living with HIV and Aids. “We only demand an uninterrupted monthly supply. This treatment is our right.”

According to Gangte, who has been protesting with about 30 others outside India’s National Aids Control Organisation (Naco) in Delhi for 22 days, at least 12 other states, including Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab, are facing ARV shortages. He said several state governments have asked patients to change their longstanding drug regimes.

“The [Covid-19] pandemic had already broken our backs. Now this shortage is pushing us further into penury,” Gangte said.

Kedar Nath, a 30-year-old street vendor taking part in the protest, said he has not taken his ARVs on several occasions over the past two months. He cannot afford the £50 a month it would cost to buy the drugs on the open market.

“I have been taking these drugs for the last 13 years. They have helped me continue with my life despite the virus in my body. But the recent shortage has turned my life upside down since I can neither find the strength to work, nor have any savings to live off,” he said.

According to government figures, 2.35 million people in India are HIV-positive. About 1.5 million people are on antiretroviral therapy, far lower than the World Health Organization’s “90-90-90 target” – under which 90% of people with HIV are diagnosed, 90% are on ARV treatment, and 90% are no longer infectious.

India says it aims to end the HIV epidemic by 2030. In 2019, an estimated 58,900 Aids-related deaths were reported in the country.

The government has refuted Gangte’s claims of a shortage. The Indian health ministry said it had “reviewed the entire situation and held a series of meetings with the protesters. ARV drugs are being provided for [a] duration of less than one month, but at no point in time has there been any shortage of drugs for any of the PLHIV [patients living with HIV]. There is adequate stock nationally for 95% PLHIV.”

Naco did not wish to comment. However, in a letter seen by the Guardian that was dated 30 May, Naco asked all state Aids prevention and control societies, which oversee HIV testing and treatment in each state, to switch to other regimes “to tide through the crisis situation as an interim arrangement”.

Sign up for a different view with our Global Dispatch newsletter – a roundup of our top stories from around the world, recommended reads, and thoughts from our team on key development and human rights issues, delivered to your inbox every two weeks:

Sign up for Global Dispatch – please check your spam folder for the confirmation email

Source link

Continue Reading

Global Affairs

J&J Stops Global Sales of Scandalous Talc-Based Powder After 130 Years

Voice Of EU

Published

on

https://sputniknews.com/20220812/jj-stops-global-sales-of-scandalous-talc-based-powder-after-130-years-1099524790.html

feedback@sputniknews.com

+74956456601

MIA „Rosiya Segodnya“

2022

Tim Korso

https://cdnn1.img.sputniknews.com/img/07e6/03/0d/1093831826_0:0:216:216_100x100_80_0_0_e3f43a960af0c6c99f7eb8ccbf5f812c.jpg

Tim Korso

https://cdnn1.img.sputniknews.com/img/07e6/03/0d/1093831826_0:0:216:216_100x100_80_0_0_e3f43a960af0c6c99f7eb8ccbf5f812c.jpg

News

en_EN

Sputnik International

feedback@sputniknews.com

+74956456601

MIA „Rosiya Segodnya“

https://cdnn1.img.sputniknews.com/img/107521/29/1075212912_0:211:3030:2484_1920x0_80_0_0_485148bce02446b42edc0b28f2667d83.jpg

Sputnik International

feedback@sputniknews.com

+74956456601

MIA „Rosiya Segodnya“

business, johnson & johnson

Subscribe

International
India

Once one of its top products for families, J&J’s talc-based powder has been haunted by claims of causing cancer in recent years even as the company consistently denied what it has called rumors and “misinformation”.

Johnson & Johnson has announced it will be ceasing the sales of its talc-based powder, two years after stopping them in the US and Canada, after keeping it in its product line for 130 years. The company will be replacing the product with a cornstarch-based powder.

“As part of a worldwide portfolio assessment, we have made the commercial decision to transition to an all cornstarch-based baby powder portfolio,” the company’s statement said.

The J&J talc-based powder has been at the epicenter of several lawsuits claiming it caused ovarian cancer due to the presence of a known cancer-causing material – asbestos. However, the company has repeatedly denied these allegations, despite losing $3.5 billion in these lawsuits.

As the firm announced the retirement of the talc-based powder, it once again repeated its long-held position on the controversial product’s safety.

“Our position on the safety of our cosmetic talc remains unchanged. We stand firmly behind the decades of independent scientific analysis by medical experts around the world that confirms talc-based Johnson’s baby powder is safe, does not contain asbestos, and does not cause cancer,” the statement said.

Apart from losing a number of lawsuits, J&J faced tough questions following a 2018 Reuters investigation, which claimed the company knew about the asbestos contamination since at least 1971 but failed to act on it. As the veins of asbestos are often found in talc deposits, the extracted talc used to make the powder can be contaminated with the cancer-causing mineral.

A view of the Supreme Court in Washington, U.S. January 19, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.06.2021

Pay Up: Supreme Court Rejects J&J’s Request to Appeal $2 Bln Verdict in Talc Cancer Case
Despite continuing to maintain its innocence, J&J stopped selling talc-based powder in the US and Canada in 2020, citing the harm done to the sales by the “misinformation” about its safety. However, the company continued to distribute it around the world alongside the cornstarch-based alternative, which will now completely substitute it.



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates 
directly on your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!