“Knowingly or not, people swim near nurse sharks every day without incident,” a spokesperson for the National Park Service told the newspaper. “Attacks on humans are rare but not unknown and a clamping bite typically results from a diver or fisherman antagonizing the shark with hook, spear, net or hand.”
Gordon Edwards is interviewed on the 30th anniversary of the event that the IAEA has called “the worst industrial disaster on record”: the explosion, fire and core meltdown at Chernobyl reactor unit 4 in the Ukraine near the border with Belarus. Canada AM.
Lea’s story ended brutally on 24 November 2009 with her murder in a plot orchestrated by Cosco as much in revenge for the ‘dishonour’ of being abandoned as because she had broken ranks. However, the fact that testimony provided by Denise against her father following her mother’s disappearance (Lea’s remains only came to light in 2013 as a result of evidence emerging at trial) should have led to his life imprisonment is a source of inspiration for all.
The tale of the two women returned to the fore in Italy last week with the television premiere of Marco Tullio Giordana’s film ‘Lea’ starring a spell-binding Vanessa Scalera in the lead role and Linda Caridi as Denise.
The film not only gave a fascinating insight into the workings of the country’s most powerful mafia organisation, but it also highlighted the need for adequate support and protection for people wanting out.
Lea was born into the Garofalo clan in Petilia Policastro near Crotone in 1974. Her father and brother were both local bosses and met their death in feuds with rival clans. Cosco was an ‘ndrangheta affiliate with dealings in Milan.
Lea decided she had had enough of the mob lifestyle in 1996, when Denise was just five, but she only began collaborating with investigators as a testimone di giustizia (a citizen informant without a criminal record, not to be confused with a collaboratore di giustizia or pentito, namely someone who turns state’s evidence after being arrested or convicted of a crime) in 2002.
She and her daughter subsequently entered a witness protection programme and lived under a false identity in various locations around Italy for the next four years until their protection was removed on grounds Lea’s testimony had not been sufficiently effective.
Lea appealed against the decision and was readmitted to the programme, but she opted out voluntarily in April 2009 for reasons that remain unclear (there are suggestions that she feared for her safety and was frustrated with the apparent reluctance of investigators to take her testimony seriously). This is when she made the tragic error of renewing contact with Petilia Policastro and Cosco.
Her estranged partner orchestrated an unsuccessful attempt on her life in May 2009 before luring her to Milan allegedly to discuss their daughter’s future the following November. Her lawyer Enza Rando urged her not to go but she ignored the advice, insisting that with Denise’s presence her safety was ensured.
On 24 November while Denise was with relatives Lea was abducted, tortured and killed. Her body was then burned and the remains buried on a plot in Monza outside the Lombardy regional capital.
Denise, then 17, reported her mother’s disappearance and accused her father of murder. In March 2012 six people including Cosco and his two brothers were jailed for life at first instance for the crime, even as the defense continued to claim Lea had abandoned her daughter and moved to Australia.
One of the convicts, Denise’s ex boyfriend Carmine Venturino, subsequently made statements allowing investigators to uncover Lea’s scant remains, which were laid to rest following a civil funeral in Milan in October 2013 attended by several thousand people.
In May 2013 a Milan appeals court upheld the life sentences against four of the defendants including Cosco, reduced Venturino’s sentence to 25 years and overturned the guilty verdict against a sixth defendant on grounds there was no crime to answer.
These sentences became definitive in a supreme court ruling in December 2014.
Meanwhile Denise has been living under a new identity in a secret location under the same witness protection scheme that ‘betrayed’ her mother.
“The protection system for informants has undergone a series of improvements in recent years […] but testimoni di giustizia have a dignity of their own and deserve a specific law,” said Rando after the film Lea’s television premiere on 18 November.
Currently provisions for testimoni and collaboratori are set out under a single law, leading to confusion between the two.
“Informants and collaborators should never again be confused and a law would help resolve the current critical points,” the lawyer continued.
Davide Mattiello of the Democratic Party (PD), a member of Italy’s bicameral anti-mafia commission, agreed.
“If the mafia kills a magistrate the roles are clear and the law works for family members, but if the mafia tears to pieces those who rebel from within their own circle the law comes unstuck,” Mattiello said.
“A person who wants to break with those family ties, even if they don’t have precious information for the judiciary, must find the State.”
Cruelty began quickly
Denise says her mother became pregnant with her at just 16. “She told me once that she had thought about having an abortion, even about committing suicide,” she says. “My father had already started treating her badly. Mom knew that he was murdering people, and she didn’t want to bring up a baby in that kind of environment. My father said there was no way she was having an abortion. I was to be an instrument that would unite the powerful Garofalo family. But then, everything capsized. Mom gave birth, alone, in a hospital almost 80 kilometers away, and I became her reason to live. Up until she died, we were inseparable.”
Denise says she doesn’t have any real memories of her father. “He was never at home. One image, however, remains seared into my memory. I was five and it was nighttime. There was banging at the door and then they [the police] came in with dogs and arrested him. From then on, I only saw my father in prison at scheduled visits because my mother still went to visit him.”
Denise suspects that it was during one of her mother’s visits to the prison that her father decided to murder her. “It’s a moment I remember well. She was exasperated, fed up with her life, so she told him she was going to leave him,” Denise recalls. “He leapt over the dividing screen between us and beat her. Women don’t leave mob bosses! I’m sure that he killed her for that insult to his honor.”
Denise can’t say whether her father ever loved her because she says she just doesn’t know. “I do know that he bought me presents, though, and people tell me that when he spoke about me his eyes shined. I don’t think he wanted to bring me into his world. He dreamed of me getting a university degree and meeting a great guy.”
Leaving the mob life
In 2001, Lea Garofalo decided that she had had enough with the mob lifestyle and began collaborating with judiciary and mafia investigations. She and Denise entered the witness protection program.
“Our lives totally changed,” Denise says. “We had to lay low and change our names. First I was Sarah De Rossi. When I was 15, we went to (the northern city of) Udine and we passed for sisters. I always called her mom [mamma], though, and so she had to change her name to Maria, as after I said ‘ma’ she corrected me in time,” Denise recalls, laughing. “I was Denise Petalo and she was Maria Petalo. Isn’t that hilarious? Petals of carnations!” (Petalo means petal, and Garofano means carnation in Italian. The flower is a symbol of violence against women.)
In 2005, Lea’s protection was removed because her testimony wasn’t deemed effective enough. She appealed the decision and won. But in April 2009, the same thing happened again. Tired of not being believed, she waived the protection, and in doing so made the tragic error of trusting Cosco again.
She went to live in Campobasso, in the Molise region, in a house that Cosco rented for her. On May 5, he sent someone over pretending to fix the washing machine but, really, it was to kidnap and murder her. Thanks to Denise, though, the kidnapping was foiled. “I was asleep in my room and woke up to the noise,” she recalls. “I saw him holding my mom, and I jumped on him. I’m skinny, but I scared him. He ran off because he had been given orders to specifically leave her alone ‘if the girl was in the house too.’”
But this only delayed the criminal plot. A few months passed, and Cosco made an appointment in Milan with Lea under the pretense of discussing a separation. She wanted to sever all relations with him and was determined to leave Italy. “He wants to kill me and the state doesn’t believe me. Better to go somewhere else,” Denise recalls her saying.
A double loss
On Nov. 24, 2009 Denise said goodbye to her mother, who was on her way to the appointment. She would never see her mother again. That evening, Lea was strangled to death and burned. Denise had the courage to retrace the path her mother began. She went to the Carabinieri, reported the incident and told them everything she knew about her father.
Denise’s suffering wasn’t over yet. She went back to Calabria, and moved in with her mother’s sister. She soon found comfort in the love of a young man three years her senior, Carmine Venturino. Life seemed like it was starting anew. But on the night of Oct. 18, 2010, Denise’s world collapsed again. She was at the beach with Venturino when the Carabineri came and arrested him. “He’s one of the men who killed your mother,” the police told her, as they took her to the station.
Even today, this extraordinary woman can find it within her to say nice things about Venturino. “He was my first boyfriend, and I haven’t had others,” Denise says. “Obviously, he did trick me, but I’m sure that he really did love me and that his part in the ‘Ndrangheta is another story of weakness and fear.” After he was sentenced to first-degree murder, Venturino confessed to the crime, telling the police where Lea’s remains were buried.
Denise tells me that she needs to thank the many people who gave her back her life, beginning with Father Luigi Ciotti, a priest deeply involved in fighting mafia crime. She also says that she’s delighted that Pope Francis recently met with mafia victims. Then she says, “On the day of the sentencing I didn’t rejoice. My life had been turned upside-down, but I still don’t hate anyone. Not even my father — sometimes I feel sorry for him. He didn’t understand what he lost: a family, a daughter, love that he could have had.”
Today, many women have begun to break ties with the mafia, says Enza Rando, a lawyer who helps Denise. Thanks to Lea’s sacrifice and Denise’s courage, perhaps a quiet revolution can begin.
We’ve been leaving a variety of food at an isolated spot in Bigfoot territory in the high mountains of Western North Carolina since November 2015. Periodically, we also have left nonedible gifts. Of the five gifts we’ve left so far, only two were taken – an image of a butterfly wood burned on a thin disk of balsa wood and a mirror.
Then it became puzzling. The butterfly was returned six weeks later and the mirror only a week after it was taken. Why?
In an attempt to understand this Bigfoot take-and-return behavior, we contacted several people we thought might have insights into this. The best answer came from Joan Ocean,the world renowned dolphin expert who also has had face-to-face interactions with Bigfoot/Sasquatch in the West Coast Mountains. Here is what she said:
“Yes, I have experienced on occasion the Sasquatch behavior where they return or comment on something I gave them. Once a friend of mine gave them a rod for spearfishing. They were appreciative, but when we asked if they would like another one, they said, “No, we have enough.”
(R) Joan Ocean
“On other occasions my friend who communicated with them regularly and lived in close proximity to the Sasquatch family, made the female Sasquatch some moo-moo dresses to wear – very large ones! They kept them for a while (don’t know if they tried them on) but then they gave them back. My friend always kept a tent set up in the woods so when the Sasquatch wanted to give something back; they could put it in the tent.
“They once gave me a 7-inch plastic Sasquatch doll that had moveable arms and legs. I kept it for a year and then I gave it back for them to give to the little one that had recently been born. They kept it after that – or maybe they gave it to someone else.
“On some occasions when I gave them things they didn’t want, they chose the food they wanted and left the rest. For example, one day they ignored an entire bag of apples I left for them on the picnic table. Afterwards I thought that perhaps those apples from the grocery store were GMO apples and they preferred to pick their own apples from trees in the area. They always liked jars of honey and sandwiches, and especially leftover vegetables that I cooked in foil on the grill.
“I actually learned about this ‘giving back behavior’ from the dolphins I swim with here in Hawaii every day. Back in 1990, a dolphin swam to me with a leaf on his pectoral fin and right in front of me shook his fin and released it. I was so amazed to see a ‘wild’ dolphin bring me a leaf that he had found. So I tucked it into my bathing suit and brought it home to save forever – a gift from a dolphin!
“Then on another day, the dolphins showed me how they play with leaves in the ocean. First, one dolphin caught it and then he released it for another to catch. They played this catch-and-carry-the-leaf game for a long time. That was when I realized I wasn’t supposed to take the leaf gift home; I was meant to play the game with them. From that time on, I never took another one away. To this day, we pass the leaf back and forth, diving down, coming up, and often playing for hours with many swimmers and many dolphins.
“The Sasquatch often left me special stones as gifts. Only now am I realizing the inter-dimensional capabilities of some of these stones. They are more than mere rocks.”
Let’s remember the poor people who died because of Fukushima. It is five years since this has happened.
Five years after a powerful earthquake and tsunami sent the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan into multiple meltdowns, cleaning up the mess both onsite and in surrounding towns remains a work in progress. Here’s a look, by the numbers, at the widespread effects of radiation from the March 11, 2011, disaster:
164,865: Fukushima residents who fled their homes after the disaster.
97,320: Number who still haven’t returned.
49: Municipalities in Fukushima that have completed decontamination work.
45: Number that have not.
30: Percent of electricity generated by nuclear power before the disaster.
1.7: Percent of electricity generated by nuclear power after the disaster.
3: Reactors currently online, out of 43 now workable.
54: Reactors with safety permits before the disaster.
53: Percent of the 1,017 Japanese in a March 5-6 Mainichi Shimbun newspaper survey who opposed restarting nuclear power plants.
30: Percent who supported restarts. The remaining 17 percent were undecided.
760,000: Metric tons of contaminated water currently stored at the Fukushima nuclear plant.
1,000: Tanks at the plant storing radioactive water after treatment.
10.7 million: Number of 1-ton container bags containing radioactive debris and other waste collected in decontamination outside the plant.
7,000: Workers decommissioning the Fukushima plant.
26,000: Laborers on decontamination work offsite.
200: Becquerels of radioactive cesium per cubic meter (264 gallons) in seawater immediately off the plant in 2015.
50 million: Becquerels of cesium per cubic meter in the same water in 2011.
7,400: Maximum number of becquerels of cesium per cubic meter allowed in drinking water by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
8March 2016 (Toronto)– In the run-up to the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima disaster, over a dozen environmental groups are asking Prime Minister Trudeau to strengthen Canada’s key nuclear safety law to address weaknesses exposed by the Fukushima disaster and public concern regarding the independence of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).
“While other countries increased the independence and transparency of their nuclear regulators in the wake of Fukushima, Canada under Harper went in the other direction. It’s time for Canada to catch up and strengthen our nuclear safety legislation,” said Shawn-Patrick Stensil, Senior Energy Analyst at Greenpeace Canada.
In an open letter to the Prime Minister Trudeau, 14 organizations ask for a Parliamentary review of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act. The letter reminds the Prime Minister that investigations into the Fukushima nuclear accident concluded it was “man-made” because a lax regulator ignored the known potential for earthquakes and tsunamis in the region.
The groups also say the Harper government’s dismissal of former CNSC president Linda Keen damaged public confidence in the CNSC and exposed conflicts in the responsibilities of the president. Since then the CNSC’s impartiality has been publicly questioned. As an example, the groups cite CNSC president Michael Binder’s criticism of Quebec’s independent environmental assessment board last year after it recommended against uranium mining.
“We’re worried the CNSC has become the cheerleader for the industry it is supposed to regulate. In light of the lessons learned from Fukushima, we urge the Prime Minister to restore the necessary independence and public trust in the CNSC,” said Theresa McClenaghan from the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA).
Beyond strengthening the independence, transparency and public participation opportunities at the Commission, the groups identified five key areas the legislative review should address: upgrades to the CNSC’s legislated approach to environmental assessment; the need to affirm Aboriginal engagement; clarification of the Commission’s role during nuclear emergencies; establishing term limits for licences; and shifting the CNSC to a Ministry without the mandate to promote nuclear power.
“Based on ongoing dealings with the CNSC and lessons from the Fukushima disaster, there’s an urgent need to modernize Canada’s nuclear safety law,” said Mark Mattson president of Lake Ontario Waterkeeper.
The groups who signed the public letter include the Association de protection pour l’environnement des Hautes-Laurentides, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, CELA, Coalition pour que le Québec ait meilleure mine, Coalition for a Green Clean Saskatchewan, Conservation Council of New Brunswick, Ecojustice, Greenpeace, the Inter-Church Uranium Committee, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, Mining Watch Canada, Nature Quebec, New Clear Free Solution, Northwatch.
Even the Chinese are warning people about their country’s food supply. The “China Digital Times” posted photos of 50 Chinese foods or products that are dangerously toxic. Below are 30 of those captions as they appeared on that website. A few of the photos are included. – The Editor
Toxic rice noodle dish – Toxic bean sprout production
TOXIC RICE NOODLES, made from stale rice with whitening chemicals. Stale rice itself contains carcinogens.
TOXIC BEAN SPROUTS, whose growth is expedited by chemicals that could cause cancer, liver or stomach damage.
TOXIC TEA LEAVES, with chemical-intensive pesticides before picking and coloring compounds after with high concentrations of lead, and other heavy metals.
TOXIC BOTTLED WATER, with the bottles made from recycled plastic materials, some imported trash.
TOXIC POPCORN, made with excessive amounts of saccharin, a sweetener that causes neural and kidney damage, and sometimes cancer.
TOXIC TOFU, made from stale food materials and whitening chemicals that cause kidney or liver damage, sometimes cancer.
TOXIC STINKY TOFU, made with blackening chemicals or liquid made from rotten meat or flies to soak dried tofu.
TOXIC VINEGAR, made from mixing water with acetate or diluting vinegar acid with water or other liquids, causing concentrations of heavy metals.
USED OIL, collected from dirty oily liquids mixed in the sewage from hotels or restaurants.
TOXIC INSTANT NOODLES, made from used oil collected from hotels or restaurants instead of high quality oil for frying the noodles.
Dish made with toxic dog meat
TOXIC DOG MEAT, from dogs killed by baiting with rat poison, etc.
TOXIC SUNFLOWER/WATERMELON SEEDS, pan fried by chemicals that give the seeds a polished look but with dangerous chemicals.
TOXIC SEAFOOD, inflated and whitened by chemicals that cause skin infections and could damage the digestive system.
TOXIC SOY SAUCE, made from human hair, animal bones, blood clots and other chemicals, with concentration of carcinogens.
TOXIC LIQUOR, made from industrial ethanol with water and other liquids, could cause coma or even death.
TOXIC CHILI SAUCE, made by adding chemicals such as “Sudan red,” which tainted sauces at McDonald’s and KFC’s in China a few years ago.
TOXIC NOODLES, made by adding whitening compounds and other poisonous materials that make the noodles more tender.
TOXIC RICE, reprocessed from stale rice, which itself contains carcinogens.
TOXIC FRUITS, whose growth is stimulated by chemicals that may cause neural disruptions, cancer etc.
TOXIC DRIED FRUITS, processed with preservatives and other coloring chemicals that are poisonous.
TOXIC FUNGI, processed with trashed fungus products and soaked with ink and other chemicals for drying and coloring.
TOXIC MILK POWER, with low concentrations of protein and other nutrients, worse than water for babies.
TOXIC MEAT, from animals that were injected with hormones or antibiotics to stimulate growth.
TOXIC SHREDDED MEAT, made from dead pigs and processed with bad bread crumbs.
TOXIC SEAWEED, added chemicals for color and softness.
TOXIC FOAM LUNCH BOXES, made from used plastic materials and other banned chemicals.
TOXIC FISH, whose growth is stimulated by adding chemicals that may contain contraceptive drugs or carcinogens.
Toxic sausage production – Toxic oil made from dead and ill pigs
TOXIC SAUSAGES, made from the meat of sick pigs or other animals.
TOXIC PIG FAT OIL, made from burning the fat of dead pigs or ill pigs.
How to avoid Chinese food products
Once you could avoid Chinese food products simply by looking for the country of origin printed somewhere on the packaging. Regretfully, many businesses have gotten wise to this and only print the distribution source. So what can be done?
Reading barcodes can help. Products made in China have barcode numbers that begin with 690 to 699. The first three numbers for Taiwan are 471. While products made in the United States begin with ZERO, many U.S. products are made with Chinese ingredients. Regretfully, this means a ZERO does not assure that a product is without Chinese ingredients.
Uranium: New Report Documents Misinformation from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
March 3 2016 For Immediate Release
Montreal – The Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (CCNR) today issued a report that is highly critical of a presentation given on January 22 by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to senior Quebec government officials. Entitled “Uranium in Quebec – Facts and Consequences”, the CCNR report states that “the credibility of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is seriously compromised” by “biased and misleading” statements made in the January presentation.
Last year, the Quebec Government established an interdepartmental committee to consider the future of uranium mining in the province. The Committee is reviewing the content and recommendations of a 2015 BAPE report, following a one-year inquiry, recommending that the province not allow uranium mining for the foreseeable future. (The BAPE is Quebec’s Bureau des audiences publiques sur l’environnement.)
On January 22, CNSC’s Patsy Thompson assured the Committee that radionuclides released into the environment from uranium mines and mills are not toxic although these radionuclides – such as radium, radon and polonium – are all highly toxic materials. She also stated that uranium miners in Ontario have no greater incidence of lung cancer than members of the general population, despite a 2015 CNSC-funded study that shows the exact opposite. She told the Committee that uranium tailings are not more problematic than any other type of mine tailings, contrary to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s own conclusions.
The CCNR critique, entitled “Uranium in Quebec – Truth and Consequences”, demonstrates that these statements, and others in the CNSC presentation, are either untrue or strongly misleading. “The CNSC presentation demonstrates an alarming lack of accuracy, scientific rigour, balance and objectivity. That is incompatible with the CNSC’s statutory role as a regulator”, said Gordon Edwards, CCNR president and author of the critique.
The CCNR critique is available in both English and French on the CCNR web site:
Noela Rukundo sat in a car outside her home, watching as the last few mourners filed out. They were leaving a funeral — her funeral.
Finally, she spotted the man she’d been waiting for. She stepped out of her car, and her husband put his hands on his head in horror.
“Is it my eyes?” she recalled him saying. “Is it a ghost?”
“Surprise! I’m still alive!” she replied.
Far from being elated, the man looked terrified. Five days ago, he had ordered a team of hit men to kill Rukundo, his partner of 10 years. And they did — well, they told him they did. They even got him to pay an extra few thousand dollars for carrying out the crime.
Now here was his wife, standing before him. In an interview with the BBC Thursday, Rukundo recalled how he touched her shoulder to find it unnervingly solid. He jumped. Then he started screaming.
“I’m sorry for everything,” he wailed.
But it was far too late for apologies; Rukundo called the police. The husband, Balenga Kalala, ultimately pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nine years in prison for incitement to murder, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (the ABC).
The happy ending — or, as happy as can be expected to a saga in which a man tries to have his wife killed — was made possible by three unusually principled hit men, a helpful pastor and one incredibly gutsy woman: Rukundo herself.
Here is how she pulled it off.
Rukundo’s ordeal began almost exactly a year ago, when she flew from her home in Melbourne with her husband, Kalala, to attend a funeral in her native Burundi. Her stepmother had died and the service left her saddened and stressed. She retreated to her hotel room in Bujumbura, the capital, early in the evening; despondent after the events of the day, she lay down in bed. Then her husband called.
“He told me to go outside for fresh air,” she told the BBC.
But the minute Rukundo stepped out of her hotel, a man charged forward, pointing a gun right at her.
“Don’t scream,” she recalled him saying. “If you start screaming, I will shoot you. They’re going to catch me, but you? You will already be dead.”
Rukundo, terrified, did as she was told. She was ushered into a car and blindfolded so she couldn’t see where she was being taken. After 30 or 40 minutes, the car came to a stop, and Rukundo was pushed into a building and tied to a chair.
She could hear male voices, she told the ABC. One asked her, “You woman, what did you do for this man to pay us to kill you?”
“What are you talking about?” Rukundo demanded.
“Balenga sent us to kill you.”
They were lying. She told them so. And they laughed.
“You’re a fool,” they told her.
There was the sound of a dial tone, and a male voice coming through a speakerphone. It was her husband’s voice.
“Kill her,” he said.
And Rukundo fainted.
Rukundo had met her husband 11 years earlier, right after she arrived in Australia from Burundi, according to the BBC. He was a recent refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and they had the same social worker at the resettlement agency that helped them get on their feet. Since Kalala already knew English, their social worker often recruited him to translate for Rukundo, who spoke Swahili.
They fell in love, moved in together in the Melbourne suburb of Kings Park, and had three children (Rukundo also had five kids from a previous relationship). She learned more about her husband’s past — he had fled a rebel army that had ransacked his village, killing his wife and young son. She also learned more about his character.
“I knew he was a violent man,” Rukundo told the BBC. “But I didn’t believe he can kill me.”
But, it appeared, he could.
Rukundo came to in the strange building somewhere near Bujumbura. The kidnappers were still there, she told the ABC.
They weren’t going to kill her, the men then explained — they didn’t believe in killing women, and they knew her brother. But they would keep her husband’s money and tell him that she was dead. After two days, they set her free on the side of a road, but not before giving her a mobile phone, recordings of their phone conversations with Kalala, and receipts for the $7,000 in Australian dollars they allegedly received in payment, according to Australia’s The Age.
“We just want you to go back, to tell other stupid women like you what happened,” Rukundo said she was told before the gang members drove away.
Shaken, but alive and doggedly determined, Rukundo began plotting her next move. She sought help from the Kenyan and Belgian embassies to return to Australia, according to The Age. Then she called the pastor of her church in Melbourne, she told the BBC, and explained to him what had happened. Without alerting Kalala, the pastor helped her get back home to her neighbourhood near Melbourne.
Meanwhile, her husband had told everyone she had died in a tragic accident and the entire community mourned her at her funeral at the family home. On the night of Feb. 22, 2015, just as the widower Kalala waved goodbye to neighbours who had come to comfort him, Rukundo approached him, the very man whose voice she’d heard over the phone five days earlier, ordering that she be killed.
“I felt like somebody who had risen again,” she told the BBC.
Though Kalala initially denied all involvement, Rukundo got him to confess to the crime during a phone conversation that was secretly recorded by police, according to The Age.
“Sometimes Devil can come into someone, to do something, but after they do it they start thinking, ‘Why I did that thing?’ later,” he said, as he begged her to forgive him.
Kalala eventually pleaded guilty to the scheme. He was sentenced to nine years in prison by a judge in Melbourne.
“Had Ms Rukundo’s kidnappers completed the job, eight children would have lost their mother,” Chief Justice Marilyn Warren said, according to the ABC. “It was premeditated and motivated by unfounded jealousy, anger and a desire to punish Ms. Rukundo.”
Rukundo said that Kalala tried to kill her because he thought she was going to leave him for another man — an accusation she denies.
But her trials are not yet over. Rukundo told the ABC she’s gotten backlash from Melbourne’s Congolese community for reporting Kalala to the police. Someone left threatening messages for her, and she returned home one day to find her back door broken. She now has eight children to raise alone, and has asked the Department of Human Services to help her find a new place to live.
And lying in bed at night, Kalala’s voice still comes to her: “Kill her, kill her,” she told the BBC. “Every night, I see what was happening in those two days with the kidnappers.”
Despite all that, “I will stand up like a strong woman,” she said. “My situation, my past life? That is gone. I’m starting a new life now.”
In a letter to Ontario‘s energy minister, obtained by The Canadian Press, Frank Greening warns of the formidable technical hazards he says will undermine rosy projections for the project.
“I am quite mystified that you would consider the refurbishment of Darlington to be some sort of solution to Ontario’s economic woes, when in fact the premature failures of (nuclear reactors) are a major cause of Ontario’s economic problems,” writes Greening, a frequent critic of the industry.
“Spending billions of dollars trying to patch up Darlington’s four dilapidated reactors will simply continue the bleeding.”
Earlier this month, the province’s publicly owned generating giant, Ontario Power Generation, announced plans to start refurbishing Darlington — situated east of Toronto on Lake Ontario — this fall. The project aims to extend the life of the CANDU reactors, scheduled for permanent shutdown in 2020, by 30 years.
The government projects the rebuild will create up to 11,800 jobs a year at the height of construction and generate $14.9 billion in economic and spinoff benefits.
Greening argues the units are in need of rebuilding prematurely because their pressure tubes and feeder pipes will soon fail fitness tests. He also warns the reactors’ massive steam generators, which are not part of the proposed project, have had a less than stellar track record and will more than likely need replacement.
“Replacing these steam generators is fraught with very serious problems, both technical and economic, that could prevent the continued operation of Darlington beyond 2030,” says Greening, a senior scientist with OPG until he retired in 2000.
“The decision to proceed with the refurbishment of Darlington could prove to be a disastrous mistake if it is discovered that steam generator replacement is in fact needed in the next 10 to 15 years.”
Environmental groups also argue such projects always run massively over budget and have cost taxpayers untold billions in the past and refurbishment is simply not worth the potential radiation risk to public safety.
The Ontario cabinet has so far given the green light to refurbish one of Darlington’s reactors. OPG would need separate approvals for each of the other three units. The government said that process would allow it to call off the project at each stage if things are going awry.
Energy MinisterBob Chiarelli, who argues the province needs Darlington’s power, referred questions about Greening’s criticism to Ontario Power Generation.
OPG spokesman Bill McKinlay said Wednesday the federal nuclear regulator noted Greening’s concerns before giving the project its stamp of approval.
“We’ve been preparing since 2009 and we’re ready to deliver the job safely, on time and on budget,” McKinlay said. “We expect it will provide 30-plus years of clean, reliable base-load power at a cost lower than other alternatives.”
Greening, however, argues the project is an attempt to put a “dying industry on life support” at the taxpayer’s expense.
“The inconvenient truth is that, after less than 25 years of operation, Darlington NGS is a mess,” he says.
“Its feeder pipes are falling apart and its pressure tubes are ready to crack. Darlington is another failed CANDU station desperately in need of a fix.”
The performance of four other refurbished CANDUs in Ontario, he argues, has fallen well short of what a new reactor typically delivers.
“This reveals the uncomfortable truth: A refurbished CANDU reactor is no substitute for a new one.”