Connect with us

Latest

Ukraine’s utilities threatened by Russia in war’s new phase

Avatar photo

Published

on

Ukraine’s utilities threatened by Russia in war’s new phase

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — When a missile struck a power station less than a mile from his apartment on the outskirts of Kyiv, Oleksander Maystrenko didn’t panic, run to a bomb shelter or consider evacuating, even though he lives close to what suddenly has become the Russian military’s main target in the war: anything related to Ukraine’s vital infrastructure.

His neighbors also haven’t budged, despite the fact that Tuesday’s attack — marked by a loud explosion — killed three people, severely damaged two facilities inside the plant’s compound and temporarily knocked out power to about 50,000 households, according to Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko.

“We aren’t afraid because we aren’t just prepared logistically; we are morally prepared,” Maystrenko said outside his apartment building, where he and two neighbors sat on a bench and smoked only hours after the attack.

This is what the latest phase of Russia’s nearly 8-month-old war in Ukraine looks like. Moscow has openly declared its intention to increasingly strike power stations, waterworks and other key infrastructure. One Ukrainian energy official said Wednesday that 40% of the country’s electric power system had been severely damaged, and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Russian forces have destroyed 30% of Ukraine’s power stations since Oct. 10.

But Maystrenko and his neighbors say they are prepared.

If the Russians knock out the power, there are stocks of flashlights and candles, he said. If there’s no gas for stoves, he has a plan to build a rudimentary stove in front of the building’s entrance and use firewood that has been collected to heat it. Water has been bottled and jars of pickled vegetables and canned goods have been safely stored.

Everyone knows to have plenty of blankets and warm clothes for the winter, he added.

“It’s never been a secret that this power plant is a target, but we’ve been preparing since this war started,” Maystrenko said. The preparations have created a sense of community as well as a united front among neighbors, who once knew each other only in passing and are face a common enemy, he said.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

The attacks have come at a critical time, with winter approaching. Klitschko said that Thursday marks the start of the heating season for Kyiv, which like most urban centers in Ukraine and even Russia uses a Soviet-era central system controlled by the city that provides heat for apartment buildings and businesses.

Following a meeting between Zelenskyy, government ministers, members of energy enterprises and some local officials, presidential adviser Kyrylo Tymoshenko said there would be power supply restrictions across Ukraine from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. beginning Thursday, along with the use of street lights being limited in some cities..

“Please take this seriously,” Tymoshenko said on his Telegram channel. “This applies to residents of ALL regions of the country. … These are forced steps. Therefore, we all work together on our front!”

One area where power and water were reported knocked out by shelling was Enerhodar, the southern city is next to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, one of the war’s most worrisome flashpoints. Missiles also severely damaged an energy facility near Zelenskyy’s hometown of Kryvyi Rih in south-central Ukraine, cutting power to villages, towns and to one city district, the regional governor said.

Using energy supplies as a weapon isn’t a new tactic for the Kremlin, particularly when it comes to Ukraine.

“Energy was always quite a holy cow for the Russians, and they claim that by controlling energy they can control the country,” said Hanna Shelest, the director of security programs at Foreign Policy Council Ukrainian Prism, based in Kyiv.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who declared martial law in four illegally annexed regions of Ukraine, has used his ability to turn off the gas that passes through the country’s extensive, Soviet-era pipeline as leverage. His tactic has been used not just against the government in Kyiv, but also against energy-dependent nations in Europe, who built pipelines via the Baltic Sea for Russian gas.

Under its new strategy, the Russian military hopes to destroy enough of Ukraine’s infrastructure to make life so intolerable that residents will blame their own government, Shelest said.

Putin has called Ukraine a failed state and a historical part of Russia. In trying to make Ukrainians suffer, he hopes they will believe him, she said.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

“What we see now is that it is definitely not working so well,” Shelest said, adding that Ukrainians are increasingly directing their rage at Putin.

Zelenskyy’s admission that Russia had knocked out nearly a third of Ukraine’s power stations was noteworthy, said Mason Clark, an analyst at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War.

“If the Russians can keep up that sustained damage, and the Ukrainians can’t repair it, that could actually start to have an effect,” he said.

Clark said he didn’t believe Russia would be able to affect the Ukrainian population’s overwhelming support for their military in taking back the territory seized by Moscow.

Recent attacks by what Kyiv describes as Iranian-supplied drones and missiles against civilian housing and other nonmilitary targets “seem to be just terror attacks, essentially to try to intimidate the Ukrainian population,” he said.

Russia has used such scare tactics throughout the war out of “a misguided belief that they will be able to force the Ukrainians to surrender and force negotiations,” Clark said.

From a military sense, Russia’s use of the Iranian-supplied drones and Kalibr and Iskander cruise missiles against Ukrainian infrastructure is a “very poor use of limited-precision munitions,” Clark said.

The Russians are struggling with dwindling supplies of these high-end weapons, he said, adding that a more strategic move would be to save them for the battlefield, because Ukraine’s air defenses have succeeded in intercepting and shooting down many of the drones.

“It’s a waste by the Russians of very expensive and limited systems in an attempt to likely achieve a terror effect that isn’t going to sway the Ukrainian government or population,” Clark said.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

Repairing infrastructure often falls to local administrations to handle. The port city of Odesa in southern Ukraine designated crews to help neighboring Mykolaiv, which has been under Russian bombardment for weeks.

In the Kharkiv region, government official Roman Semenukha said Sunday that while repairs to heating systems were underway around the recently liberated city of Kupiansk, it’s a slow process that first must restore electricity, gas and water.

“I want to emphasize that private households will be connected to the gas supply, but the situation with high-rise buildings is a bit more complicated, for various reasons,” said Andrii Besedin, an adviser to the head of the Kharkiv military administration.

Regional authorities in Kharkiv also are assessing the need for firewood, Besedin said, adding that warming shelters will be set up and authorities would offer to evacuate those who want to leave for the winter.

“Those who wish to do so (will move) to safe areas, where there are all communications. We will work every day to restore the critical infrastructure of these networks,” he said.

___

Justin Spike contributed to this report from Kupiansk.

___

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

___

This story has been corrected to show that the pipelines run through the Baltic Sea, not the North Sea; and the AP’s style on the Kyiv mayor’s first name is Vitali, not Vitaliy.

Read More

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Austin Local News

Remember last year’s Memorial Day travel jams? Chances are they will be much worse this year

Avatar photo

Published

on

Remember last year’s Memorial Day travel jams? Chances are they will be much worse this year

The patience of Memorial Day weekend travelers was tested Thursday by widespread delays across the country, but there were relatively few canceled flights, raising hopes that airlines can handle bigger crowds expected Friday.

By early evening on the East Coast, more than 6,000 flights had been delayed Thursday, with the biggest backups at the three major airports in the New York City area and Dallas-Fort Worth International.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pasha Pidlubniak waits for a domestic flight at Miami International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Miami. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

 

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback
Pasha Pidlubniak waits for a domestic flight at Miami International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Miami. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

 

The Transportation Security Administration predicted that Friday will be the busiest day for air travel over the holiday weekend, with nearly 3 million people expected to pass through airport checkpoints. It could rival the record of 2.9 million, set on the Sunday after Thanksgiving last year.

“Airports are going to be more packed than we have seen in 20 years,” said Aixa Diaz, a spokesperson for AAA.

When they aren’t waiting out flight delays, travelers are reporting sticker shock at the prices.

At Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, Larisa Latimer of New Lenox, Illinois, said her airfare was reasonable but other expenses for a getaway to New Orleans were not.

 

 

 

 

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

 

 

Motorists travel along Interstate 24 near the Interstate 40 interchange Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to hit the pavement over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

Motorists travel along Interstate 24 near the Interstate 40 interchange Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to hit the pavement over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

“I just have to make the accommodation,” she said. “The rental car is up … this year, the hotel accommodations were very unusually expensive.”

Kathy Larko of Fort Meyers, Florida, used frequent-flyer miles — and some flexible scheduling — to pay for her trip to Chicago.

“I’m really conscious of looking at the cost of the entire trip. We’re staying a little farther out than we normally would” to get a lower hotel rate, she said. “We’re also flying back a day later, because we could get cheaper miles.”

More travelers will be on the road. AAA estimates that 43.8 million people will venture at least 50 miles (80 kilometers) from home between Thursday and Monday, with 38 million of them taking vehicles.

 
Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

 

 

 

 

 

Travelers wait at a TSA checkpoint at the Los Angeles International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Los Angeles. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

 

Travelers wait at a TSA checkpoint at the Los Angeles International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Los Angeles. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

 

Airport unions are using the holiday weekend to highlight their demands.

About 100 workers who clean airplane cabins and drive trash trucks at the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, started a 24-hour strike Thursday, demanding better pay and healthcare, according to the Service Employees International Union. About 15% of flights were delayed, but it was unclear whether the strike played any role.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

A planned strike at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York was averted, however. Teamsters Local 553, which represents about 300 workers who refuel passenger and cargo jets at JFK, said that it reached a settlement with Allied Aviation Services and called off a walkout planned for Friday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

George Ridley, 4, left, rides on a suitcase as he and his father Chris Ridley make their way through the Nashville international Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

George Ridley, 4, left, rides on a suitcase as he and his father Chris Ridley make their way through the Nashville international Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

“We are happy an agreement has been reached, a need for a strike averted, and we are hopeful that the deal will be ratified by our members,” said Demos Demopoulos, the secretary-treasurer of the local.

___

Associated Press video journalist Melissa Perez Winder in Chicago and Associated Press radio reporter Shelley Adler in Washington contributed to this report.

Read More

Continue Reading

Austin Local News

Texas health department appoints anti-abortion OB-GYN to maternal mortality committee

Avatar photo

Published

on

Texas health department appoints anti-abortion OB-GYN to maternal mortality committee

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas’ health department has appointed an outspoken anti-abortion OB-GYN to a committee that reviews pregnancy-related deaths as doctors have been warning that the state’s restrictive abortion ban puts women’s lives at risk.

Dr. Ingrid Skop was among the new appointees to the Texas Maternal Morality and Morbidity Review Committee announced last week by the Texas Department of State Health Services. Her term starts June 1.

The committee, which compiles data on pregnancy-related deaths, makes recommendations to the Legislature on best practices and policy changes and is expected to assess the impact of abortion laws on maternal mortality.

Skop, who has worked as an OB-GYN for over three decades, is vice president and director of medical affairs for the Charlotte Lozier Institute, an anti-abortion research group. Skop will be the committee’s rural representative.

Skop, who has worked in San Antonio for most of her career, told the Houston Chronicle that she has “often cared for women traveling long distances from rural Texas maternity deserts, including women suffering complications from abortions.”

Texas has one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the U.S., and doctors have sought clarity on the state’s medical exemption, which allows an abortion to save a woman’s life or prevent the impairment of a major bodily function. Doctors have said the exemption is too vague, making it difficult to offer life-saving care for fear of repercussions. A doctor convicted of providing an illegal abortion in Texas can face up to 99 years in prison and a $100,000 fine and lose their medical license.

Skop has said medical associations are not giving doctors the proper guidance on the matter. She has also shared more controversial views, saying during a congressional hearing in 2021 that rape or incest victims as young as 9 or 10 could carry pregnancies to term.

Texas’ abortion ban has no exemption for cases of rape or incest.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which says abortion is “inherently tied to maternal health,” said in a statement that members of the Texas committee should be “unbiased, free of conflicts of interest and focused on the appropriate standards of care.” The organization noted that bias against abortion has already led to “compromised” analyses, citing a research articles co-authored by Skop and others affiliated with the Charlotte Lozier Institute.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

Earlier this year a medical journal retracted studies supported by the Charlotte Lozier Institute claiming to show harms of the abortion pill mifepristone, citing conflicts of interests by the authors and flaws in their research. Two of the studies were cited in a pivotal Texas court ruling that has threatened access to the drug.

Read More

Continue Reading

Business

Michigan farmworker diagnosed with bird flu, becoming 2nd US case tied to dairy cows

Avatar photo

Published

on

Michigan farmworker diagnosed with bird flu, becoming 2nd US case tied to dairy cows

A Michigan dairy worker has been diagnosed with bird flu — the second human case associated with an outbreak in U.S. dairy cows.

The male worker had been in contact with cows at a farm with infected animals. He experienced mild eye symptoms and has recovered, U.S. and Michigan health officials said in announcing the case Wednesday.

A nasal swab from the person tested negative for the virus, but an eye swab tested Tuesday was positive for bird flu, “indicating an eye infection,” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said.

The worker developed a “gritty feeling” in his eye earlier this month but it was a “very mild case,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan’s chief medical executive. He was not treated with oseltamivir, a medication advised for treating bird flu, she said.

The risk to the public remains low, but farmworkers exposed to infected animals are at higher risk, health officials said. They said those workers should be offered protective equipment, especially for their eyes.

Health officials say they do not know if the Michigan farmworker was wearing protective eyewear, but an investigation is continuing.

In late March, a farmworker in Texas was diagnosed in what officials called the first known instance globally of a person catching this version of bird flu from a mammal. That patient reported only eye inflammation and recovered.

Since 2020, a bird flu virus has been spreading among more animal species — including dogs, cats, skunks, bears and even seals and porpoises — in scores of countries.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

The detection in U.S. livestock earlier this year was an unexpected twist that sparked questions about food safety and whether it would start spreading among humans.

That hasn’t happened, although there’s been a steady increase of reported infections in cows. As of Wednesday, the virus had been confirmed in 51 dairy herds in nine states, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. Fifteen of the herds were in Michigan.

The CDC’s Dr. Nirav Shah said the case was “not unexpected” and it’s possible more infections could be diagnosed in people who work around infected cows.

U.S. officials said they had tested 40 people since the first cow cases were discovered in late March. Michigan has tested 35 of them, Bagdasarian told The Associated Press in an interview.

Shah praised Michigan officials for actively monitoring farmworkers. He said health officials there have been sending daily text messages to workers exposed to infected cows asking about possible symptoms, and that the effort helped officials catch this infection. He said no other workers had reported symptoms.

That’s encouraging news, said Michael Osterholm, a University of Minnesota epidemiologist who has studied bird flu for decades. There’s no sign to date that the virus is causing flu-like illness or that it is spreading among people.

“If we had four or five people seriously ill with respiratory illness, we would be picking that up,” he said.

The virus has been found in high levels in the raw milk of infected cows, but government officials say pasteurized products sold in grocery stores are safe because heat treatment has been confirmed to kill the virus.

The new case marks the third time a person in the United States has been diagnosed with what’s known as Type A H5N1 virus. In 2022, a prison inmate in a work program picked it up while killing infected birds at a poultry farm in Montrose County, Colorado. His only symptom was fatigue, and he recovered. That predated the virus’s appearance in cows.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Read More

Continue Reading