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Supporters gather in front of the house of Argentina's Vice-President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner after she was attacked in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

What We’re Watching: Argentine VP assassination attempt, Ethiopian escalation, Zaporizhzhia tour

Argentine VP survives assassination attempt

Argentina's influential VP Cristina Fernández de Kirchner survived an assassination attempt on Thursday night outside her residence in Buenos Aires. A gunman took aim from close range, but his loaded weapon failed to fire. Cops then arrested the man, a Brazilian national with a history of following hate groups on social media. We don’t know the motive and political violence in the country rarely gets bloody, but political tensions have been running very high since last week, when a prosecutor asked for the far-left firebrand VP and former president to be sentenced to 12 years in prison for corruption. Still, her trial will be anything but swift, and Cristina — as she’s universally known — is unlikely to go to jail for charges she calls a "witch hunt." President Alberto Fernández (no relation, nor a big fan of the VP) declared a national holiday on Friday, which the conservative opposition decried as a gambit to turn out crowds in favor of Cristina.

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US Energy Secretary on the Imperiled Ukrainian Nuclear Plant | GZERO World

US Energy Secretary on the Ukrainian nuclear power plant in peril

"We are in the fog of war," says US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm about the increasingly dangerous situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, which is currently caught in the crossfire of Russian and Ukrainian fighting. Granholm says the Department of Energy is monitoring the situation closely and has "no indications of increased radiation levels right now" but added that the situation could change at any moment.

Even if disaster is averted this time, Granholm believes that a line has been crossed: "No country should turn a nuclear power plant into an active war zone." Her comments were part of a larger conversation with Ian Bremmer which will air in an upcoming episode of GZERO World.

Annie Gugliotta

What We're Watching: Biden's climate bill, Gaza ceasefire, Ukrainian nuclear jitters

US Senate passes Biden's big climate bill

Following a marathon vote-a-rama session that started late Saturday, the US Senate on Sunday passed a $740 billion package aimed at fighting climate change and lowering the cost of prescription drugs by raising certain corporate taxes. Although the legislation is a trimmed-down version of the Biden administration's doomed $3.5 trillion Build Back Better spending plan, it’s still the most ambitious climate legislation passed to date in America. Dubbed the “Inflation Reduction Act” — though economists doubt it'll live up to its name immediately — it allocates $369 billion for climate and clean energy investments, enables the government to negotiate some prescription drug prices, and slaps a 15% minimum tax on large corporations. Republicans say the tax hikes in the bill will kill jobs and spur inflation, but politically it's the latest in a series of victories for President Joe Biden at just the right time: three months ahead of November’s midterms. The legislation now heads to the House, where it is expected to be approved in a few days, before hitting Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

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McDonald's restaurant logo seen during the sanctions against Russian banks.

Maksim Konstantinov/SOPA Images

Hard Numbers: Golden Arches close in Russia, Kremlin lists its enemies, nickel blows up, North Korean nuclear program stirs

850: McDonalds will temporarily close its 850 restaurants in Russia in response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The 62,000 people it employs there will, however, stay on payroll. The opening of the first McDonalds in the Soviet Union, in 1990, was a historic and optimistic moment during the Cold War.

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Gabriella Turrisi

Europe's nuclear dilemma

Last Friday’s attack by Russian forces on Europe’s largest nuclear power plant triggered outcry over the potential for a Chernobyl-like disaster. The US called it a “war crime,” and the issue was debated in an emergency session of the UN Security Council, where Russia received a global dressing down.

The blaze resulting from artillery use at Zaporizhzhia’s nuclear facility was eventually controlled. But Ukraine’s nuclear regulator told the IAEA on Sunday that it is having problems communicating with staff at the plant, and that a Russian general now controls the facility.

Putin’s next target, according to Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace, could be the three reactors at the Yuzhnoukrainsk power plant, which generates 10% of Ukraine’s electricity and is a major energy supplier throughout southern Ukraine. “Loss of cooling function to the reactor cores and spent fuel pools could lead to a disaster far worse even than the [2011] Fukushima Daiichi [disaster],” Burnie warns.

While the war is threatening Ukraine’s nuclear power operations — not to mention impacting world energy supplies and prices — it’s also raising questions about the safe use of nuclear energy. The continent has been accelerating its nuclear power usage — now officially, and controversially, labeled “green” by the European Commission, despite the threat of accidents and radioactive waste.

But the fast-changing security landscape poses a dilemma for European policymakers. How can they fight global warming while balancing their energy needs with this new security threat posed by Vladimir Putin?

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Ari Winkleman

The Graphic Truth: Who's nuclear in the EU?

When Russian troops shelled the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southeastern Ukraine on Friday, many feared it could cause a Chernobyl-like catastrophe. But even before this event, the status of nuclear energy within Europe has been a massive point of contention. Since the Fukushima disaster in 2011, European Union states have bolstered their guidelines for nuclear power safety, but some have been trying to phase it out altogether. Last month, the European Commission outlined how nuclear energy could be labeled a “green” investment (presuming the plants can safely dispose radioactive waste). Critics labeled the move as “greenwashing,” and Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer tweeted that “Nuclear power is neither ‘green’ nor sustainable.” So how might this latest scare in Ukraine change Europe’s nuclear calculus, if at all? We take a look at which EU states produce the most nuclear heat, and how that’s changed since 2011.

Gabriella Turrisi

Hard Numbers: France bets big on nuclear, Africa underreporting COVID, Chinese space tug, NYC fires unvaxxed workers, Turkish electric protest

50 billion: France plans to spend 50 billion euros ($57.4 billion) to further boost its already big nuclear program. The EU recently classified nuclear power as a sustainable investment despite strong objections from Germany.

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Gabriella Turrisi

Hard Numbers: Germany ditches nuclear, (some) Americans justify anti-government violence, Mali’s election in danger, Scottish witches pardoned

3: Germany has closed three of its remaining six nuclear power plants as it hastens its withdrawal from nuclear in favor of renewable sources of energy. Berlin decided to speed up its shift away from nuclear power after Japan's Fukushima disaster in 2011.

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