First Thing: Russians Flee Chernobyl With Radiation Sickness, Says Ukraine |





Hello and good morning.

The UN’s atomic watchdog is investigating Ukrainian allegations that Russian soldiers occupying the Chernobyl nuclear power plant left after receiving heavy doses of radiation.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it could not confirm the claims made by Ukraine’s state-owned power company Energoatom and was seeking an independent assessment. It will send its first “assistance and support mission” to Chernobyl in northern Ukraine in the coming days.

Energoatom said the Russians dug trenches in the forest inside the exclusion zone at the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986, and troops ‘panicked at the first sign of illness’ which “showed up very quickly” and began to prepare to leave.

Meanwhile, Energoatom also said that the Russian side has officially agreed to return the responsibility for protecting Chernobyl to Ukraine. He shared a scan of a document signed by people he identified as a senior Chernobyl official and the Russian military official assigned to guard Chernobyl.

  • What is Chernobyl? The plant was the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident in 1986. Staff continue to oversee the safe storage of spent nuclear fuel and oversee the concrete-encased remains of the exploded reactor.

  • When did Russia take control of Chernobyl? Russian troops seized the nuclear plant shortly after the February 24 invasion. Over the past month, concerns have been raised about power cuts and fighting which have made it difficult to rotate teams.

  • What allegations is the UN agency likely to investigate? Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk claimed Russian troops dug trenches in the forest and were exposed to radiation. Some reports suggest soldiers are being sent to a special medical facility in Belarus after driving tanks through the “dead zone” around the nuclear power plant, kicking up radioactive dust. (These claims are unverified.)

Mariupol officials say Russians are blocking aid to beleaguered Ukrainian city

People walk past a destroyed building in Mariupol.
People walk past a destroyed building in Mariupol. Photograph: Alexander Ermoshenko/Reuters

An aide to the mayor of Mariupol said the besieged southern Ukrainian city remains closed to anyone trying to enter and is “very dangerous” for anyone trying to leave.

Petro Andryushchenko said Russian forces were preventing even the smallest amount of humanitarian supplies from reaching trapped residents.

A convoy of buses bound for Mariupol did not reach the city, Ukrainian officials said last night. Russia had promised a limited ceasefire along the Mariupol road to the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia.

Repeated efforts to set up humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of up to 170,000 people who remain in Mariupol, which has suffered four weeks of shelling and dwindling supplies, have failed. Ukraine has accused Russian forces of bombing supposedly safe roads outside several combat hotspots, Moscow claims.

Meanwhile, insiders at Britain’s intelligence agency are divided over GCHQ boss Jeremy Fleming’s intelligence leak strategy, reports my colleague Dan Sabbagh. Fleming revealed details such as Russian forces “accidentally shooting down their own plane”, sparking debate among insider spies over the strategy.

Trump could be brought to justice thanks to the lawsuit of reggae singer Eddy Grant

Guyanese-British reggae musician Eddy Grant claims copyright infringement and seeks $300,000 in damages.  On the scene.
Guyanese-British reggae musician Eddy Grant claims copyright infringement and seeks $300,000 in damages. Photography: Jean-Christophe Bott / AP

Reggae singer Eddy Grant may succeed where the New York State Attorney General and other powerful figures have struggled – by forcing Donald Trump to answer questions under oath in a court proceeding.

Grant sued the former president and his campaign for the use of his song Electric Avenue in a 2020 ad.

In the ad, Grant’s song plays over an animation of Joe Biden traveling slowly in a handcart, after a Trump campaign train speeds by. Biden’s remarks are also heard. Trump was unsuccessful in having the lawsuit dismissed and claims it was fair use under a satire exemption.

  • Who is Eddy Grant? A 74-year-old Guyanese-British reggae musician. The song Electric Avenue was released in 1982.

  • How much is Grant asking for in damages? $300,000 for copyright infringement.

  • How many times has the video been viewed? More than 13.7 million times, according to the lawsuit.

In other news…

Amazon Labor Union members Mitch Israel and Angelika Maldonado embrace after gathering to watch the NLRB vote count to unionize Amazon workers in Brooklyn.
Amazon Labor Union members Mitch Israel and Angelika Maldonado embrace after gathering to watch the NLRB vote count to unionize Amazon workers in Brooklyn. Photography: Caitlin Ochs/Reuters
  • A Palestinian baby has died after his treatment was delayed by Israel’s blockade of Gaza. Fatima al-Masri, a 19-month-old girl with a hole in her heart, waited five months for Israel to issue her a permit allowing her to travel for treatment.

  • Amazon workers in New York are set to vote to form a union today. It represents a major victory for union activists who have failed in previous efforts to organize at the tech giant, which is the second largest private employer in the United States. “Workers here have shown what is possible,” said one activist.

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has backtracked on banning LGBT conversion therapy. On Thursday, reports said Johnson intended to block planned legislation banning LGBT conversion therapy. But he backed down after a furious response and decided to move forward to ban the practices.

  • H&M has pledged to end sexual violence in India’s workshops after a garment worker was murdered by her supervisor. The company has signed a legally binding agreement with a major Indian garment supplier. Last January, Jeyasre Kathiravel was found dead after her shift her supervisor reportedly confessed to the murder and was awaiting a lead.

  • Los Angeles police have offered to arrest actor Will Smith for slapping host Chris Rock at the Oscars, said the producer of the ceremony Will Packer. But authorities took no action as Rock refused to press charges.

Stats of the day: more than 9,500 Indigenous people missing in 2021

Meskee Yatsayte of Gallup, left, and Vangie Randall-Shorty of Farmington hold signs to raise awareness for missing and murdered Native Americans in Albuquerque, New Mexico, October 11, 2021.
Meskee Yatsayte of Gallup (left) and Vangie Randall-Shorty of Farmington hold signs to raise awareness for missing and murdered Native Americans in Albuquerque, New Mexico, October 11, 2021. Photography: Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal/Albuquerque Journal/ZUMA/REX/Shutterstock

In 2021, the National Crime Information Center identified more than 9,500 missing Indigenous people, including 1,554 cases still active at the end of the year. A year after the Department of the Interior announced it was launching a new investigative unit to prioritize the missing and murdered Native American crisis, at least nine Indigenous families have seen jurisdictional issues and miscommunication hinder the unit’s efforts to investigate the cases of their loved ones, or met with months of silence.

Don’t miss this: “I’ve hugged 500,000 people worldwide”

David Sylvester claps the hands of a passerby in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he lives.
David Sylvester claps the hands of a passerby in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he lives. Photography: Kyle Kielinski / Kyle and Linette Kielinski

“I carry a clicker to count the number of people I’ve kissed – my record is 1,300 in one day, at a retail convention in Las Vegas – and choose the cities where I hope to be the welcome”, explains David Sylvester. “On September 12, 2001, I learned that one of my best childhood friends had died at the World Trade Center. The grief was so terrible that I was determined to channel it into something with a purpose.

Climate toll: UN-affiliated global seabed regulator accused of ‘reckless’ deep-sea mining failures

An Ocean Rebellion protest in Rotterdam against seabed mining, with the deep-sea mining vessel Hidden Gem in the background.
An Ocean Rebellion protest in Rotterdam against seabed mining, with the deep-sea mining vessel Hidden Gem in the background. Photography: Sipa USA/Alamy

The International Seabed Authority, the UN-affiliated organization that oversees the controversial new industry of deep-sea mining, has been accused of lacking transparency after the expulsion of an independent body charged with reporting negotiations account. Scientists have warned that damage to ecosystems from mining nickel, cobalt and other metals from the seabed will be “irreversible” and “reckless”.

Last thing: do the feeders bring out the aggressiveness of the birds?

Male siskin and goldfinch on a seed feeder.
Male siskin and goldfinch on a seed feeder. Photography: SoopySue/Getty Images

Sometimes violent conflicts break out between siskins, greenfinches and tree sparrows over roosting on the feeder, writes Phil Gates in his campaign diary. Perhaps that’s what providing unlimited luxury food in one place does to bird behavior: it fosters competition and conflict. A siskin needs to harvest about 10,000 alder seeds to match its body weight. He could spend most hours of the day foraging for natural food. Or, he could spend an hour jostling near the sunflower seed feeder.

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