A Highly Radioactive Capsule Fell Off a Truck Somewhere in an 870-Mile Australian Expanse

PERTH, Australia — Authorities in Western Australia are searching for a tiny but potentially deadly radioactive capsule that got lost while being transported on a truck from a mine to a depot in the city of Perth, officials said Saturday.

Emergency services said they were hampered by a lack of equipment and have called on the Commonwealth and other states to provide assistance.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services has deployed teams with handheld radiation detection devices and metal detectors along 36 kilometers (22 miles) of a busy freight route to look for the 8 millimeters by 6 millimeters (0.31 inches by 0.24 inches) unit.
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It is believed to have fallen off the back of a truck on a 1,400-kilometer (870-mile) journey from the Rio Tinto mine in Newman to the the Perth suburb of Malaga.

“What we’re not doing is trying to find a tiny little device by eyesight,” said Superintendent Darryl Ray, adding they were concentrating on populated areas north of Perth and strategic sites along the Great Northern Highway.

“We’re using the radiation detectors to locate the gamma rays,” he said.

Authorities were also using the truck’s GPS data to determine the exact route the driver took and where it stopped after it left the mine on or about Jan. 10.

There are concerns the solid capsule may have already become lodged in another vehicle’s tyre and potentially be hundreds of kilometers (miles) away from the search area.

It is believed a screw became loose inside a large lead-lined gauge and the unit fell through a hole.

Rio Tinto said it contracted an expert radioactive materials handler to package the capsule and transport it “safely” to the depot and was not told it was missing until Wednesday.

Chief Health Officer Andrew Robertson defended the Western Australia government’s decision to wait two days to inform the public on Friday, saying the mine and depot had to be searched and excluded, and the route confirmed.

He said the capsule was packed in accordance with the radiation safety transport and regulations inside a box bolted onto a pallet.

“We believe the vibration of the truck may have impacted the integrity of the gauge, that it fell apart and the source actually came out of it,” he said. “It is unusual for a gauge to come apart like this one has.”

An investigation will look at the handling of the gauge and capsule at the mine site, the transport route used and …read more

Source:: Time – World


Europe Is Banning Diesel Imports From Russia. What to Know About the Potential Effects

FRANKFURT, Germany — Europe is taking another big step toward cutting its energy ties with Russia, banning imports of diesel fuel and other products made from crude oil in Russian refineries.

The European Union ban takes effect Feb. 5 following its embargo on coal and most oil from Russia. The 27-nation bloc is trying to sever its last uses of Russian energy and stop feeding the Kremlin’s war chest as the anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine nears.

The newest ban has risks: Diesel prices have already jumped since the war started on Feb. 24, and they could rise again for the fuel that is key to the global economy.
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“We’re leaving money in the road to provide our services,” said Hans-Dieter Sedelmeier of the family-run German bus and travel company Rast Reisen.

Most things people buy or eat is transported at some point by trucks, which mostly run on diesel. It also powers farm equipment, city buses and industrial equipment. The higher cost of diesel is built into the price of almost everything, helping push up inflation that has made life harder for people worldwide.

Here are key facts about the upcoming European embargo:

Will the Embargo Push Up Diesel Prices?

That depends. Diesel, like crude oil, is sold globally, and Europe could look for new sources, such as the U.S., India or countries in the Middle East. If that goes smoothly, the impact on prices might be temporary and modest.

Europe has already cut Russian diesel imports almost in half, from 50% of total imports before the war to 27%. U.S. suppliers have stepped up supplies to record levels, from 34,000 barrels a day at the start of 2022 to 237,000 barrels per day so far in January, according to S&P Global.

The EU’s top energy official, Kadri Simson, says markets have had time to adjust after the ban was announced in June. Europeans also appear to have stocked up on Russian diesel before the deadline, with imports rising last month.

There is a complicating factor: The Group of Seven major democracies are talking about imposing a price cap on Russian diesel heading to other countries, just as they did on Russian crude. As with oil, the idea is to keep Russian diesel flowing to world markets but reduce Moscow’s revenue.

If the cap works as advertised, global diesel flows should reshuffle, with Europe finding new …read more

Source:: Time – World


In Israel, India, and Elsewhere the Civilization State is Taking Over

Israel is no longer a liberal democracy. As Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government took office on 29 December, its illiberalism was evident. No longer a matter for debate or polite embarrassment, the contempt for liberal ideas brings all the disparate factions together: against the media and intellectuals and increasingly against the old Western-inspired Israeli political system and the existing Israeli constitution, including its Basic Laws.

Bezalel Smotrich, for example, calls gay pride parades “worse than bestiality” and in 2017 published a violent political manifesto detailing how best to force Palestinians to “truly internalise the loss of national hope,” “killing those who need to be killed.” In 2019, he told students at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem that his Union of Right-Wing Parties wanted to be put in charge of the ministry of justice “because we want to restore the Torah justice system.” Instead, he was appointed finance minister in Netanyahu’s government.
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His colleague Itamar Ben Gvir, arguably even more radical, oversees the critical Ministry of National Security.

Yariv Levin, the new justice minister, announced on January 5 a set of sweeping changes to the powers of the High Court, limiting its ability to strike down legislation, while placing the power to appoint judges in the hands of the executive. No effective checks and balances would survive in the reformed Israeli political system, the very checks and balances that define a liberal democracy. Many of the reform’s proponents view the High Court as an undemocratic organ with the ability to thwart the will of the people.

None of these developments are unexpected. The state of the Law of Return (“every Jew has a right to immigrate to this country”), whose flag includes representations of the Star of David and the traditional Jewish prayer shawl, is not and will never become a liberal state. But there is still a battle to be fought. Will Israel become a nationalist or even theocratic state, excluding everyone who does not accept the oneness of people, land and religion? Or can the tradition of Jewish values flourish in the context of a civilization state open to other cultures and civilizations?

There is a powerful case for a civilization state, but the idea of civilization needs to be distinguished from national or ethnic identity. The latter is irrational and takes pride in accepting race or revelation as a basis for political power. …read more

Source:: Time – World


Hong Kong to Ban CBD, Categorize It a ‘Dangerous Drug’ With Harsh Penalties

HONG KONG — Hong Kong will ban CBD starting Wednesday, categorizing it as a “dangerous drug” and mandating harsh penalties for its smuggling, production and possession, customs authorities announced Friday.

Supporters say CBD can treat a range of ailments including anxiety and that, unlike its more famous cousin THC — which is already illegal in Hong Kong — CBD doesn’t get users high. Cannabidiol, derived from the cannabis plant, was previously legal in Hong Kong, where bars and shops sold products containing it.

Read More: CBD Oil Is Everywhere, But Is It Really Safe and Healthy?

But Hong Kong authorities decided last year to prohibit the marijuana-derived substance — a change that will soon go into effect. Residents were given three months from Oct. 27 to dispose of their CBD products in special boxes set up around the city.
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“Starting from February 1, cannabidiol, aka CBD, will be regarded as a dangerous drug and will be supervised and managed by the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance,” customs intelligence officer Au-Yeung Ka-lun said at a news briefing.

“As of then, transporting CBD for sale, including import and export, as well as producing, possessing and consuming CBD, will be illegal,” Au-Yeung said.

Penalties include up to life in prison and Hong Kong $5 million ($638,000) in fines for importing, exporting or producing CBD. Possession of the substance can result in a sentence of up to seven years and Hong Kong $1 million ($128,000) in fines.

In announcing the ban last year, the Hong Kong government cited the difficulty of isolating pure CBD from cannabis, the possibility of contamination with THC during the production process and the relative ease by which CBD can be converted to THC.

“We will tackle all kinds of dangerous drugs from all angles and all ends, and the intelligence-led enforcement action is our major goal,” Chan Kai-ho, a divisional commander with the department’s Airport Command, told reporters Friday.

Despite the harsh penalties mandated, Chan said authorities would handle enforcement on a case-by-case basis and “seek legal advice from our Department of Justice to determine what the further actions will be.”

Hong Kong maintains several categories of “dangerous drugs,” which include “hard drugs” such as heroin and cocaine, as well as marijuana.

Hong Kong’s first CBD cafe opened in 2020 and the ban will force scores of businesses to remove CBD-infused gummies, drinks and other products, or shut down altogether.

The ban is in keeping with a zero-tolerance policy toward drugs …read more

Source:: Time – World