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UAE starts up first Arab nuclear plant

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The oil-rich United Arab Emirates on Saturday announced the startup of its Barakah nuclear power plant, a first for the Arab world.

“UAE first nuclear reactor at the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant has achieved first criticality and successfully started up,” tweeted Hamad Alkaabi, the country’s representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

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“This is a historic milestone for the nation with a vision set to deliver a new form of clean energy for the nation,” he tweeted in English, along with a photograph of technicians raising their arms in celebration.

The UAE premier and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, tweeted that work at Barakah had “succeeded in loading nuclear fuel packages, carrying out comprehensive tests and successfully completing the operation”.

“Congratulations on realising this historic achievement in the energy sector & marking this milestone in the roadmap for sustainable development,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

The UAE started loading fuel rods into the reactor at Barakah in February, after regulators gave the green light for the first of the plant’s four reactors, opening the way for commercial operations.

The plant on the Gulf coast west of Abu Dhabi had been due to go online in late 2017 but faced a number of delays that officials attributed to safety and regulatory requirements.

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The Nawah Energy Company said at the time that Unit 1 will begin commercial operations after a “series of tests” leading to the start-up process.

During the process, the unit will be synchronised with the power grid and the first electricity produced.

The UAE has substantial oil and gas reserves, but with a power-hungry population of 10 million it has made huge investments in developing clean alternatives, including solar energy.

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The plant is a regional first — Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, has said it plans to build up to 16 nuclear reactors, but the project has yet to materialise.


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Endangered Republicans follow Trump’s lead and turn to racism as Senate majority is in doubt

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Republicans are hoping to save their election chances by stoking fear and anger against the BlackLives Matter movement.

Taking their cues from President Donald Trump, GOP congressional candidates in safe seats are painting the civil rights movement as "Marxist" and anti-family, while Republicans in swing districts are portraying their Democratic opponents as "left-wing radicals," reported Politico.

The Trump-endorsed Bill Hagerty, who's running for Senate in Tennessee, told the website that the BLM movement wants to see the "destruction of the nuclear family," and Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) has attacked WNBA players for supporting the movement's message, which she has repeatedly claimed in Marxist.

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Captive beluga whales released into Iceland sea sanctuary

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Two beluga whales from a Shanghai aquarium have returned to the sea in an Icelandic sanctuary, conservationists said Monday, expressing hopes of creating a model for rehoming some 300 belugas currently in captivity.

Little White and Little Grey, two 13-year-old females, left behind their previous lives entertaining visitors at the Changfeng Ocean World in June 2019 when they were flown to Iceland's Klettsvik Bay in the Westman Islands, in specially tailored containers.

On Friday, they were moved from their landbased facility to care pools in the sea at Klettsvik Bay -- the first time the two belugas have been in the sea since they were taken from a Russian whale research centre in 2011, the conservation charity Sea Life Trust said in a statement on Monday.

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2020 Election

Morning Joe busts Trump for trying to scam the public with a fake tax cut proposal

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Taking up the executive orders signed by Donald Trump on Saturday, MSNBC "Morning Joe" co-host Joe Scarborough pointed out a big loophole in the president's proposal for a tax cut, saying he is hiding the fact that voters will be on the hook for deferred taxes after the election.

After first pointing out the president's contempt for Americans struggling to make ends meet during the coronavirus pandemic that has crippled the economy.

"It was a huge, gigantic nothingburger when you look through the policies at the end," Scarborough began. "In fact, some of the policies he put forth are going to hurt people, hurt small business owners the most. Again I go back to the payroll tax cuts -- economists, Republicans, Democrats, everybody is opposing this.

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