The Wider World

Russians give Chernobyl back

VEHICLE and housing abandoned in the contaminated area around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant (Flickr/Bankroft).

Perhaps the world’s strangest real estate deal took place on Thursday, when Russian forces relinquished control of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant to the Ukrainians.

An accident there in April 1986 in one of the reactors in the plant if the northern part of Ukraine – then a part of the now-defunct Soviet Union – had a meltdown and released radioactive contaminants that killed up to 100 people, and may be responsible for an unknown number of deaths after that.

It’s considered to be the worst nuclear disaster in history.

The area was seized by Russian forces in the early fighting of the war, now in its sixth week.

In other related news:

  • Russia may be rethinking its frustrated invasion of Ukraine. According to The New York Times, more humanitarian aid is being allowed into the besieged port city of Mariupol, but reports from Ukrainian sources say that some of that aid was seized by Russians. On the economic front, Moscow has backed off on a demand that any oil or natural gas exported to Europe be paid in rubles, the Russian national currency, according to United Press International.
  • President Joe Biden on Thursday went ahead with an anticipated release of an extra 1 million barrels of oil a day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help combat the rising cost of gasoline in the U.S., an increase sparked in part by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Sports: USA in the World Cup but ….

The American men’s soccer team has qualified for the 2022 World Cup, but a strong performance by Uncle Sam’s squad is not expected. FIFA, the governing body of world soccer (football, as it’s known in most of the planet), has ranked the red-white-and-blue as the 15th-best, a drop from a high of 11th as recently as February.

Top-ranked is Brazil, followed by Belgium, France, Argentina and England in the top five. The next quintet is Italy, Spain, Portugal, Mexico and the Netherlands. In spots 11 to 15 are Denmark, Germany, Uruguay, Switzerland and USA.

A draw to determine the seeds for top teams is scheduled for Friday.

Weather: If you like clouds …

You’ll enjoy the coming weekend. The forecast for the West Orange County area calls for a daytime high of 70 (overnight low of 57) on Friday under partly cloudy skies. Saturday will be similar with a high of 68 (58). Sunday will have morning clouds and afternoon sun and a daytime high of 66 (55). But warmer and sunnier days are coming with next Thursday (April 7) hitting a high of 93.

Business: Mixed results for unions at Amazon

The labor shortage has led to a surge in union organizing, and two of the most closely-watched campaigns involve Amazon warehouse workers.

One vote by employees at a facility in Alabama shows the pro-union tally trailing by 993 to 875, according to But there are still over 400 contested ballots that have to be evaluated and the final count and process of certification could take several weeks.

In Staten Island, New York, the union effort is leading 1,518 to 1,154, as reported by the National Labor Relations Board. Hundreds more ballots are yet to be counted.

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