Ukraine and Russia Accuse Each Other of Plotting Attack on Nuclear Plant | Big Indy News
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Ukraine and Russia Accuse Each Other of Plotting Attack on Nuclear Plant



KYIV, Ukraine — Tensions around the nuclear power plant on the front lines of the war in Ukraine escalated sharply on Thursday, as the Russian and Ukrainian militaries traded charges that each was preparing to stage an attack on the plant in coming days, risking a catastrophic release of radiation.

The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that the Ukrainian military was preparing a “terrorist attack” on the sprawling Zaporizhzhia power plant complex on the Dnipro river, prompting the Ukrainian military intelligence agency to respond that the Russian warning was in fact a pretext for Moscow to stage a “provocation” of some kind there on Friday.

Invading Russian forces seized control of the plant, Europe’s largest nuclear power station, in early March and put it under the control of Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear company. But they have kept Ukrainian staff there to operate it.

On Thursday, the Ukrainian intelligence agency said that Rosatom engineers had “urgently” left the plant and that only “operative personnel” would be allowed at the plant on Friday.

“Entrance for all other employees will be closed,” it said.

An employee at the plant, communicating to The New York Times through a colleague in Kyiv, said that workers were terrified.

“The situation is terrible, everyone is scared of tomorrow’s provocations announced by Russia,” said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear for her safety. “Russia’s Defense Ministry said they expect provocations from the Ukrainian side, but we understand perfectly well what that means. Even more people are trying to leave.”

The fears of a possible attack came even as the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, held talks in the city of Lviv, in western Ukraine, with the Ukrainian and Turkish presidents in an effort to ease military tensions around the site and restart diplomatic engagement to end the nearly six-month-old war. U.N. nuclear regulators have been pleading for access to the plant to ensure its safety.

For the first time in history, the invasion of Ukraine ordered by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has put nuclear power plants squarely in a war zone. For many Ukrainians, the risk is all too familiar: The Chernobyl plant, site of the world’s worst nuclear accident in 1986, lies in Ukraine, north of Kyiv, the capital. Russian forces seized that plant, too, early in the war, before withdrawing.

The Zaporizhzhia complex has been hit several times by shelling, with each side blaming the other, noting that a single errant shell hitting the wrong spot could spell disaster. Russian military units have taken up positions on and around the grounds, prompting charges that they are using it as a shield, able to lob shells and rockets across the Dnipro knowing that the Ukrainians are reluctant to fire back.

“The world is on a verge of nuclear disaster due to occupation of world’s third largest nuclear power plant in Energodar, Zaporizhzhia region,” President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “How long will it take the global community to respond to Russia’s irresponsible actions and nuclear blackmailing?”

Speaking at a news conference after the Lviv talks, Mr. Guterres urged Moscow and Kyiv to show the “spirit of compromise” that led to an agreement last month allowing Ukrainian grain exports to resume flowing from Black Sea ports, easing global food shortages.

“From day one, the parties have worked professionally and in good faith to keep the food flowing,” Mr. Guterres said. “I appeal for this to continue and for them to overcome all obstacles in the spirit of compromise and permanently settle all differences.”

Mr. Guterres said he was gravely concerned about the Zaporizhzhia power plant and called for a demilitarized zone around the site — an idea that the Russian Foreign Ministry rejected on Thursday. He acknowledged the complex issues involved but did not blame either side for the persistent shelling there.

“We must tell it like it is — any potential damage to Zaporizhzhia is suicide,” Mr. Guterres said, echoing comments he made earlier this month. He added that an agreement was urgently needed to re-establish the plant as a purely civilian-run facility.

U.N. officials have warned of the risks that fighting poses to the plant and its six reactors. Rafael Mariano Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the U.N. Security Council last week that the situation had deteriorated “to the point of being very alarming.”

What we consider before using anonymous sources.
How do the sources know the information? What’s their motivation for telling us? Have they proved reliable in the past? Can we corroborate the information? Even with these questions satisfied, The Times uses anonymous sources as a last resort. The reporter and at least one editor know the identity of the source.

The uncertainty surrounding the security of the plant was underscored by a video that circulated online on Thursday, showing at least five apparent military trucks inside one of the complex’s buildings. By using archival photos of the interior of the different facilities on the premises of the nuclear complex, The Times determined that the video was taken inside the machine room of one of the plant’s reactors.

Why Russia would place military vehicles so close to a reactor is unclear. The reactors themselves are heavily fortified.

Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said on Thursday that Mr. Grossi had accepted a Ukrainian invitation to lead a delegation to the plant. “I emphasized the mission’s urgency to address nuclear security threats caused by Russia’s hostilities,” Mr. Kuleba wrote on Twitter.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said on Twitter that he had spoken with Mr. Kuleba about “our ongoing concerns” at Zaporizhzhia.

But whatever Ukrainian officials say, it is the Russians who are in possession of the plant, and it was not clear that a visit by the international nuclear agency could be organized amid the fighting. Russia has expressed support for having international monitors inspect the site, but Ukraine had until recently indicated reluctance, possibly out of concern that such a visit could somehow legitimize Russia’s occupation there.

Speaking on Thursday at the summit in Lviv, Mr. Zelensky insisted that no agreement to safeguard the plant was possible unless Russia withdrew its forces from the complex.

Mr. Zelensky recounted that earlier in the day, when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey said the grain deal had pointed the way to possible peace talks, he retorted, “There is no trust of Russians who rape and shell and fire cruise missiles at Ukrainians.”

“First, they have to free all of our territories and then we will see,” he added.

Russia, however, has continued to pound Ukrainian cities and towns with attacks. On Wednesday night and Thursday morning, a barrage of rockets hit the northeastern city of Kharkiv, destroying a dormitory for deaf and older people, pulverizing scores of homes and killing at least 15 civilians, Ukrainian officials said.

The civilian death toll in the city over the course of the six-month war has now surpassed 1,000, according to local officials.

“Last night became one of the most tragic for Kharkiv Region during the entire war,” the regional administrator, Oleh Syniehubov, said on Thursday morning. Rescue crews were still racing between blast sites, he said, adding that the casualty count could grow.

The Russian Ministry of Defense said it had struck a target in Kharkiv housing foreign mercenaries, but offered no evidence to support the claim.

The assaults began at around 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, when a Russian cruise missile slammed into a dormitory that was home to older people and people with hearing impairments, according to Ukrainian officials. At least 10 civilians were killed and another 17 wounded, including an 11-year-old child.

Because some of those living in the building were deaf, Ukrainian officials said, they might not have heard the wail of the alarm warning of the incoming missile, or the shouts of firefighters calling out for survivors.

Video of the rescue efforts showed relatives of people inside one destroyed building screaming, crying and calling out for loved ones. “My grandmother is there,” one man shouts. There was no reply

Marc Santora reported from Kyiv, Ukraine and Thomas Gibbons-Neff from Lviv, Ukraine. Reporting was contributed by Michael Levenson and Christiaan Triebert from New York, Dan Bilefsky from Montreal, Elif Ince from Istanbul and Natalia Yermak from Lviv.

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The F.D.A. Now Says It Plainly: Morning-After Pills Are Not Abortion Pills



The F.D.A. said it made the change now because it had completed a review of a 2018 application to alter the label that was submitted by Foundation Consumer Healthcare, a company that in 2017 bought the Plan B brand from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. Agency officials said the pandemic delayed the review process and that the timing was not motivated by political considerations.

A spokeswoman for the company, Dani Hirsch, said in an interview that for its 2018 application, the company had not conducted any new studies but had submitted “what was already out there.”

In a statement, the company’s marketing director, Tara Evans, said “the misconception that Plan B works by interfering with implantation can present barriers to broader emergency contraception access. The Plan B labeling correction will help protect continued over-the-counter emergency contraception access and reduce confusion about how Plan B works and further clarify that Plan B does not affect implantation.”

Plan B One-Step and its generic versions — including brands like Take Action, My Way and Option 2 — contain levonorgestrel, one of a class of hormones called progestins that are also found at lower doses in birth control pills and intrauterine devices. The pills are most effective in preventing pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse, although they can sometimes work if taken within five days.

Another type of morning-after pill, marketed as Ella and containing a compound called ulipristal acetate, is only available by prescription and is not affected by the F.D.A.’s label change. There has been less research on this type of pill, but studies suggest that it is highly unlikely to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. In 2009, after months of scrutiny, Ella was approved for sale in overwhelmingly Catholic Italy, where laws would have barred it if it had been considered to induce abortions.

According to data published in 2021 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one-quarter of women of reproductive age who have sex with men answered yes to the question: “Have you ever used emergency contraception, also known as ‘Plan B,’ ‘Preven,’ ‘Ella,’ ‘Next Choice,’ or ‘Morning after’ pills?” The agency did not break down the data by the type of pills taken.

As far back as the 1999 approval process, the maker of Plan B — Barr Pharmaceuticals, later acquired by Teva — asked the F.D.A. not to list an implantation effect on the label, The Times reported in 2012.

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Who are Caroline Ellison’s parents? Fraudster’s mom and dad are MIT economists



This apple fell far from the tree.

Caroline Ellison — who pleaded guilty to fraud charges related to her role in the FTX cryptocurrency scandal, which led to the extradition of Sam Bankman-Fried this week — is the daughter of high-profile economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

According to his curriculum vitae, Ellison’s father, Glenn Ellison, was educated at Harvard, Cambridge and MIT before becoming the Gregory K. Palm (1970) Professor of Economics at the latter. 

In addition to coaching youth softball and his daughters’ middle school math teams, he writes “Hard Math,” a series of textbooks and workbooks about teaching arithmetic to younger students.

Glenn Ellison is also an Elected Fellow of the Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory and American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Caroline Ellison’s parents, Glenn and Sara Ellison, outside their Newton, Mass., home in early December.
Robert Miller

Ellison’s mother, Sara Ellison, is also an accomplished academic. Armed with an undergraduate degree from Purdue University and a mathematical statistics diploma from Cambridge University, her profile shows she completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993. 

Sara Ellison is currently a senior lecturer in the department alongside her husband.

“We were definitely exposed to a lot of economics [growing up],” Ellison, 28, once told Forbes.

Ellison, 28, plead guilty to fraud this week.
Ellison, 28, pleaded guilty to fraud this week.
Twitter / @AlamedaResearch
Caroline Ellison's sister, Anna, now lives in the West Village.
Caroline Ellison’s sister, Anna, now lives in the West Village.

Glenn and Sara Ellison were photographed by The Post outside their home in Newton, an affluent Boston suburb, earlier this month. Armed with several bags, they told reporters they were too “busy” to comment on the FTX scandal.

The eldest of three sisters — including Anna, 25, who now lives in Manhattan’s West Village — Ellison distinguished herself as a precocious math whiz at a young age. 

When she was just 8 years old, she reportedly presented her father with a paper analyzing stuffed animal prices at Toys ‘R’ Us.

Sam Bankman-Fried leaving Manhattan Federal Court on Thursday.
Sam Bankman-Fried leaving Manhattan federal court on Thursday.
Matthew McDermott
Both Glenn and Sara Ellison are economists at MIT.
Both Glenn and Sara Ellison are economists at MIT.
Robert Miller

She went on to compete in the Math Prize for Girls while at Newton North High School before studying mathematics at Stanford University, where former professor Ruth Stackman described her to Forbes as “bright, focused, [and] very mathy.”

Ellison and Bankman-Fried, 30, crossed paths at the Wall Street trading firm Jane Street. Bankman-Fried’s parents are also both university lecturers, at Stanford in California. They became good friends and she joined Alameda Research, the hedge fund arm of the FTX crypto exchange, in 2018. She then became CEO in 2021. However, the company remained owned 90% by Bankman-Fried and 10% by another member of his circle.

In addition to documenting her supposed foray into polyamory on Tumblr, Ellison once boasted about drug use on social media.

Sara Ellison completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993.
Sara Ellison completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993.
Robert Miller

“Nothing like regular amphetamine use to make you appreciate how dumb a lot of normal, non-medicated human experience is,” she tweeted in 2021.

Ellison reportedly admitted to Alameda employees that FTX had used client funds to bail out the fledgeling hedge fund during a video call in November. She was eventually terminated as CEO by insolvency professional and current FTX CEO John J. Ray III after FTX and Alameda filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

She pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges on Monday, and has subsequently been released on $250,000 bail.

Ellison was spotted getting coffee in New York City on Dec. 4.
Ellison was spotted getting coffee in New York City on Dec. 4.
Twitter / @AutismCapital

Although she could be sent to jail for up to 110 years for her part in the FTX-Alameda scandal — which has been said by federal prosecutors to have lost between $1 billion and $2 billion of customers’ cash — she is thought to have struck a deal with the feds for a much lighter sentence in return for her cooperation.

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Iran condemns Zelensky’s remarks to Congress as ‘baseless.’



Iran has condemned President Volodymyr Zelensky’s remarks to the U.S. Congress, warning the Ukrainian leader against further accusing Tehran of supplying weapons to Russia for use in the war.

Mr. Zelensky told Congress on Wednesday that Iranian-made drones “sent to Russia in hundreds” had been threatening Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, a view shared by American and European officials. In Iran, he said, Russia had found an “ally in its genocidal policy.”

A spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry, Nasser Kanaani, called Mr. Zelensky’s comments “rude” and “baseless.”

“Mr. Zelensky had better know that Iran’s strategic patience over such unfounded accusations is not endless,” Mr. Kanaani said in a statement on Thursday.

Although Iran has officially denied supplying Russia with the weapons since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, U.S. officials have said that the first shipment was delivered in August.

Mr. Zelensky has said that drones used in Monday’s wave of predawn attacks on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities were from a batch recently delivered to Russia by Iran. The strikes came after Biden administration officials said that Russia and Iran were strengthening their military ties into a “full-fledged defense partnership.”

The European Union last week condemned Iran’s military partnership with Russia as a gross violation of international law and announced new sanctions against Iranian individuals and entities over their roles in supplying the drones that Moscow has used to attack Ukrainian civilians and infrastructure. That followed a round of sanctions on Iranians over the drone deliveries in October.

Mr. Kanaani “once again emphasizes” that Iran has not supplied military equipment for use in Ukraine, the statement issued on Thursday added, and urged Mr. Zelensky to learn “the fate of some other political leaders” who were happy with U.S. support. It was not clear which other leaders the statement was referring to.

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