About that nuclear accident in Russia … – USA TODAY


Ashley Shaffer


Published 7:32 PM EDT Aug 13, 2019

A list of things you might want to avoid: the site of a recent Russian nuclear explosion, “forever chemicals” and not-safe-for-work rants inspired by a character from “The Godfather.”

It’s Ashley. Leave the news, take the cannoli. 

But first, leg room: When was the last time you got an entire row to yourself on a flight? How about an entire plane? This guy did. 

A rocket explosion: What exactly happened in Russia?

A mysterious explosion at a Russian offshore military site involved a missile’s nuclear power source and is fueling international speculation. Few details have trickled in, but here’s what we know:

  • Five scientists were killed in the explosion Thursday during a test of “a nuclear isotope power source” for a rocket, a Russian nuclear energy company said.
  • Residents were temporarily evacuated in Nyonoksa, according to reports from Russian newswire Interfax, The Washington Post and CNN, citing Russian news outlets. Russian officials canceled the evacuation order hours later.
  •  A radiation increase four to 16 times above normal background levels occurred in the nearby town of Severodvinsk after the incident, according to news agency TASS, which cited Russian weather service Rosgidromet.
  • Nuclear experts say the accident occurred during a test of a missile that Russian President Vladamir Putin has touted in the past year, The New York Times and Reuters reported. 
  • Damage appears much smaller than that from the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, the Times reported, though the extent was not immediately clear.

A CNN host’s NSWF rant: ‘I should be better’

A profanity-laced video showing CNN anchor Chris Cuomo confronting a heckler who called him “Fredo” prompted nationwide debate over the term, which he described as a slur toward Italian Americans. In the clip, Cuomo says he’s been taunted as “Fredo” before, likening it to slurs hurled at other racial and ethnic groups. (The term stems from the 1972 film “The Godfather.”) As the altercation gained national attention Monday, President Donald Trump tweeted the term as an insult to Cuomo. The CNN anchor later tweeted that such harassment “happens all the time” these days. “No need to add to the ugliness,” Cuomo tweeted. “I should be better than what I oppose.”

What everyone’s talking about

  • Many animals need protection now more than ever. Consider the critically endangered vaquita: There are less than 20 left in the world.
  • 49ers assistant Katie Sowers said one NFL team told her it wasn’t ready for a female coach.
  • Beer, wine or liquor? America’s favorite booze varies by gender and education level. 
  • A tragic day for pet parents: A couple’s three dogs died after coming in contact with water full of toxic blue-green algae.
  • Has the food in your fridge expired? This guide to food dates can help.
  • Trump saves Christmas? Tariffs on some Chinese goods are delayed until December.

‘Cancer-linked’ chemicals in Chipotle packaging?

Everything about your burrito bowl from Chipotle or your salad from Sweetgreen seems earthy and health-conscious, right down to the packaging. But harmful chemicals may lurk in those eco-friendly containers. A story published last week by the New Food Economy reported the “cancer-linked” presence of PFAS, also called “forever chemicals,” in the fiber bowls the companies use. The chemicals are being investigated amid concerns over links to cancer, obesity and other health problems. The methodology used in the report has been questioned by the Foodservice Packaging Institute, a group that claims the report’s chemical indicators may not always prove accurate. In a statement to USA TODAY, Chipotle said that it only partners “with suppliers who make fluorochemical sciences and food safety a top priority.” 

Real quick 

  • Kids will be kids: Kelly Ripa’s daughter Lola didn’t seek parents’ approval before altering her prom dress.
  • A man opened fire during a traffic stop in California, killing a patrol officer, wounding two other people and sending drivers fleeing as bullets flew.
  • Women accused opera legend Placido Domingo of sexual harassment and retaliation in an AP report. 
  • A Taylor Swift fan got the surprise of a lifetime when her favorite pop star surprised her with money for her college tuition.
  • Protests at Hong Kong International Airport have escalated. Here are 10 dramatic images from the protests and clashes with police.

False alarms for mass shootings have a ‘hidden cost’ 

Minutes after a 911 call reporting a man with a weapon at the USA TODAY headquarters in Virginia, 89 police officers and other authorities arrived to secure the area. It was thankfully a false alarm. After a string of mass shootings shook Americans, multiple false reports and hoaxes of active shooters have spread around the country, highlighting an acute fear many Americans feel in the wake of the incidents. All that police manpower has a cost even if threats don’t materialize: Police officers incur stress and trauma responding to what they believe are life-and-death situations, and a psychological effect unfolds within a community.

This is a compilation of stories from across the USA TODAY Network. Want this snappy news roundup in your inbox every night? Sign up for “The Short List” newsletter here. 

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