even tougher winter next year as natural gas stocks are used up and as new supplies to replace Russian gas, including increased shipments from the United States or Qatar, are slow to come online, the International Energy Agency said in its annual World Energy Outlook, released last week.

Europe’s activity appears to be accelerating a global transition toward cleaner technologies, the I.E.A. added, as countries respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by embracing hydrogen fuels, electric vehicles, heat pumps and other green energies.

But in the short term, countries will be burning more fossil fuels in response to the natural gas shortages.

gas fields in Groningen, which had been slated to be sealed because of earthquakes triggered by the extraction of the fuel.

Eleven countries, including Germany, Finland and Estonia, are now building or expanding a total of 18 offshore terminals to process liquid gas shipped in from other countries. Other projects in Latvia and Lithuania are under consideration.

Nuclear power is winning new support in countries that had previously decided to abandon it, including Germany and Belgium. Finland is planning to extend the lifetime of one reactor, while Poland and Romania plan to build new nuclear power plants.

European Commission blueprint, are voluntary and rely on buy-ins from individuals and businesses whose utility bills may be subsidized by their governments.

Energy use dropped in September in several countries, although it is hard to know for sure if the cause was balmy weather, high prices or voluntary conservation efforts inspired by a sense of civic duty. But there are signs that businesses, organizations and the public are responding. In Sweden, for example, the Lund diocese said it planned to partially or fully close 150 out of 540 churches this winter to conserve energy.

Germany and France have issued sweeping guidance, which includes lowering heating in all homes, businesses and public buildings, using appliances at off-peak hours and unplugging electronic devices when not in use.

Denmark wants households to shun dryers and use clotheslines. Slovakia is urging citizens to use microwaves instead of stoves and brush their teeth with a single glass of water.

website. “Short showers,” wrote one homeowner; another announced: “18 solar panels coming to the roof in October.”

“In the coming winter, efforts to save electricity and schedule the consumption of electricity may be the key to avoiding electricity shortages,” Fingrad, the main grid operator, said.

Businesses are being asked to do even more, and most governments have set targets for retailers, manufacturers and offices to find ways to ratchet down their energy use by at least 10 percent in the coming months.

Governments, themselves huge users of energy, are reducing heating, curbing streetlight use and closing municipal swimming pools. In France, where the state operates a third of all buildings, the government plans to cut energy use by two terawatt-hours, the amount used by a midsize city.

Whether the campaigns succeed is far from clear, said Daniel Gros, director of the Centre for European Policy Studies, a European think tank. Because the recommendations are voluntary, there may be little incentive for people to follow suit — especially if governments are subsidizing energy bills.

In countries like Germany, where the government aims to spend up to €200 billion to help households and businesses offset rising energy prices starting next year, skyrocketing gas prices are hitting consumers now. “That is useful in getting them to lower their energy use,” he said. But when countries fund a large part of the bill, “there is zero incentive to save on energy,” he said.

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Europe Points to Sabotage in Pipeline Leaks and Pledges ‘United Response’

Credit…Irakli Gedenidze/Reuters

At least 200,000 Russians have left the country in the week since President Vladimir V. Putin announced a partial military mobilization after a series of setbacks in the country’s war with Ukraine, according to figures provided by Russia’s neighbors.

The mobilization could pull as many as 300,000 civilians into military service, from what Russian officials have said is a pool of some 25 million draft-eligible adults on their rolls, suggesting that the departures, though unusual, may not prevent the Kremlin from achieving its conscription goals.

Video posted on social media platforms showed long lines of cars approaching border checkpoints in countries including Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Georgia and Finland. The rapid outflow, as well as a series of protests in different parts of the country, are a stark display of discontent with Mr. Putin’s policy.

“I left because of my disagreement with the current government in Russia,” said Alexander Oleinikov, 29, a bus driver from Moscow who had crossed overland into northeastern Georgia. He said that many people he knew were against the war, which he called a “tragedy” caused by “one crazy dictator.”

The size of the exodus is difficult to determine, however, given that Russia has borders with 14 countries, stretching from China and North Korea to the Baltic States, and not all governments release regular data about migration.

The government of Kazakhstan said on Tuesday that 98,000 Russians had entered the country in the last week and Georgia’s interior minister said more than 53,000 people had crossed into the country from Russia since Sept. 21, when the mobilization was announced. The daily number climbed over those days to around 10,000 from a normal level of about 5,000 to 6,000.

The European Union’s border agency, Frontex, said in a statement that nearly 66,000 Russian citizens entered the bloc in the week to Sunday, up 30 percent from the previous week.

Those numbers give some additional credence to the scale of exodus described in a report over the weekend by the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which cited what it said was a security service estimate, provided by an unnamed source, of 261,000 men having left the country by Sunday.

There is also evidence that Russia may be moving to stem the flow of departures. On Wednesday, Russia’s North Ossetia republic imposed restrictions on cars arriving from other parts of the country. The republic’s governor, Sergei Menyaylo, said the ban was being introduced after 20,000 people crossed the border in two days.

Some European countries have already imposed border restrictions with Russia, including Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, which have closed their doors to most Russian citizens. Finland is considering similar measures.

On Wednesday, the United States Embassy in Moscow, which had previously urged its citizens to leave Russia, restated the position in the light of the mobilization drive, warning that those with dual Russian and American nationality could be at risk of being drafted.

Russia is also attempting to clamp down on citizens trying to leave the country. On Tuesday, the state news media reported that men waiting to flee at the Georgia border were being served call-up papers.

Some analysts, however, cautioned that the practical impact of the departures was likely to be limited.

“Many young Russian men are departing in a mass exodus from Russia,” said Mick Ryan, an Australian military expert who has commented extensively on the war in Ukraine. “But millions of others will not have the means to leave Russia to escape their draft notices.”

Ksenia Ivanova contributed reporting.

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Deutsche Bank in $26.3 million shareholder settlement over Epstein, Russian oligarch ties

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NEW YORK, Sept 23 (Reuters) – Deutsche Bank AG agreed to pay $26.25 million to settle a U.S. shareholder lawsuit accusing the German bank of lax oversight while doing business with risky, ultra-rich clients like Jeffrey Epstein and Russian oligarchs.

The preliminary all-cash settlement filed on Friday in federal court in Manhattan requires approval by U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff, who in June allowed the proposed class action to proceed.

Shareholders led by Yun Wang, who traded Deutsche Bank stock in 2018 and 2020, claimed that the bank had known its know-your-customer and anti-money laundering controls were ineffective, and that its share price fell as problems emerged.

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Deutsche Bank denied wrongdoing in agreeing to settle. Chief Executive Christian Sewing and his predecessor John Cryan are also defendants, and also denied wrongdoing.

A bank spokesman declined to comment. Sewing has since taking over in 2018 tried to show investors that Deutsche Bank has addressed its internal controls shortfalls.

The lawsuit faulted Deutsche Bank’s work with Epstein, the late financier and sex offender, and with Danske Bank’s (DANSKE.CO) Estonia branch, which become embroiled in a money laundering scandal.

New York’s Department of Financial Services fined Deutsche Bank $150 million in July 2020 over its relationships with Epstein and Danske Estonia.

Shareholders also objected to Deutsche Bank’s taking on oligarchs like billionaire Roman Abramovich as clients, in what they called the bank’s “relentless pursuit of profits.”

Friday’s settlement covers Deutsche Bank investors in the United States from March 14, 2017 to Sept. 18, 2020.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs said the $26.25 million payout is 49.4% of the “likely recoverable” damages available, compared with a median 1.8% in settled securities class actions in 2021.

The lawyers may seek up to one-third of the settlement fund for legal fees.

The case is Karimi v Deutsche Bank AG et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 22-02854.

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Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Blinken Visits Kyiv and Announces More Military Aid for Ukraine

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said during a visit to Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, on Thursday that he would notify Congress that the United States intends to send another $2 billion in long-term military support to Ukraine and 18 other countries that are at risk of Russian invasion.

Separately, President Biden has approved a further $675 million in military support for Ukraine, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said, as the United States seeks to bolster Ukraine’s defenses and its efforts to reclaim territory lost to Russia.

The combined aid makes for a total of $13.5 billion in assistance to Ukraine from the Biden administration since Russia’s invasion in February.

Mr. Blinken’s visit to Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry was his second since the Russian invasion began. The State Department did not publicly disclose his travel in advance for security reasons.

His visit came as Mr. Austin met with allied defense ministers at a monthly gathering of the Ukraine Contact Group, which aims to coordinate the flow of military aid to Ukraine. The arrival of Western equipment, particularly longer-range HIMARS missile systems, has enabled Ukrainian forces to attack Russian military infrastructure behind the front lines and supported a counteroffensive in the south — although some military experts argue that the aid so far is insufficient to turn the war decisively in Ukraine’s favor.

“Ukrainian forces have begun their counteroffensive in the south of their country, and they are integrating the capabilities that we all have provided to help themselves to fight and reclaim their sovereign territory,” Mr. Austin said at the start of the meeting, at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

“This contact group needs to position itself to sustain Ukraine’s brave defenders for the long haul,” he said. “That means the continued and determined flow of capability now.”

Russian forces are struggling to capture new territory but show no sign of backing down from the invasion, which has resulted in tens of thousands of casualties on both sides, according to U.S. estimates, and left vast areas of eastern and southern Ukraine in ruins. On Wednesday, President Vladimir V. Putin delivered a defiant address that whitewashed the war’s huge toll and his army’s faltering performance, proclaiming to an economic conference in Russia’s far east: “We have not lost anything, and will not lose anything.”

In Germany, Mr. Austin said that the new package of weapons included air-launched HARM missiles designed to seek and destroy Russian air defense radar; guided multiple-launch rocket systems known as GMLRS; howitzers and other artillery; armored ambulances; and small arms.

The State Department said the $2 billion package, which will be drawn from pools of money already authorized by Congress but whose specific allocation Congress must approve, would be divided roughly in half between Ukraine and 18 other nations. They are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

The money will be used “build the current and future capabilities” of Ukraine’s armed forces and those of the other countries, including by strengthening their cyber and hybrid warfare capabilities, specifically to counter Russian aggression, the State Department said.

The money will also help integrate non-NATO members with the alliances’s military forces.

On Thursday afternoon, Mr. Blinken met with Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba. Earlier, he visited the U.S. Embassy and a children’s hospital that is treating children injured in Russian attacks.

Mr. Blinken was also introduced at the hospital to Patron, a Jack Russell terrier that Ukrainian forces have credited with helping unearth hundreds of Russian land mines. Mr. Blinken declared the dog “world famous.”

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U.S. Unveils $2B In Additional Military Aid For Europe

By Associated Press

and Newsy Staff
September 8, 2022

Pending approval from Congress, about $1 billion will go to Ukraine and the rest will be divided among 18 neighboring countries.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an unscheduled visit to Kyiv on Thursday as the Biden administration announced major new military aid worth more than $2 billion for Ukraine and other European countries threatened by Russia.

In meetings with senior Ukrainian officials, Blinken said the Biden administration had notified Congress of its intent to provide $2 billion in long-term Foreign Military Financing to Ukraine and 18 of its neighbors, including NATO members and regional security partners, that are “most potentially at risk for future Russian aggression.”

Pending expected congressional approval, about $1 billion of that will go to Ukraine and the rest will be divided among Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, the State Department said.

It will go to help those countries “deter and defend against emergent threats to their sovereignty and territorial integrity” by enhancing their military integration with NATO and countering “Russian influence and aggression,” the department said.

Foreign Military Financing, or FMF, allows recipients to purchase U.S.-made defense equipment, often depending on their specific needs.

The financing comes on top of a $675 million package of heavy weaponry, ammunition and armored vehicles for Ukraine alone that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced earlier Thursday at a conference in Ramstein, Germany.

That package includes howitzers, artillery munitions, Humvees, armored ambulances, anti-tank systems and more.

Austin said that “the war is at another key moment,” with Ukrainian forces beginning their counteroffensive in the south of the country. He said that “now we’re seeing the demonstrable success of our common efforts on the battlefield.”

“The face of the war is changing and so is the mission of this contact group,” Austin told the meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, which was attended by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Ukraine’s defense minister as well as officials from allied countries.

Germany and the Netherlands will provide training in demining to Ukrainian soldiers as well as demining equipment, the countries’ defense ministers said on the sidelines of the meeting with Austin. The training will be carried out in Germany. The two countries previously joined forces to send howitzers to Ukraine.

Thursday’s contributions bring total U.S. aid to Ukraine to $15.2 billion since President Biden took office. U.S. officials said the new commitments were intended to show that American support for the country in the face of Russia’s invasion is unwavering. 

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Finland Drastically Cuts Russian Tourist Visas

By Associated Press
September 1, 2022

Starting Thursday, Finland will only permit Russians to apply for tourist visas once a week and in just four Russian cities.

Finland on Thursday slashed the number of visas issued to Russian citizens to a tenth of the regular amount in a move seen as a show of solidarity with Ukraine.

Finland, which shares the longest border with Russia of all European Union member countries, announced the decision in August amid growing pressure from politicians and ordinary citizens to restrict the movement of Russian tourists through the Nordic country as Moscow continues its war in Ukraine.

“It’s important that we show that at the same time when Ukrainians are suffering, normal tourism shouldn’t continue business as usual,” Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said during a European Union foreign ministers meeting in the Czech capital Prague on Wednesday.

Starting Thursday, Finland will only permit Russians to apply for tourist visas once a week and in just four Russian cities: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Murmansk and Petrozavodsk close to the Finnish border.

Haavisto said he was particularly worried about a kind of Russian “tourist route” through Helsinki airport which has been used by thousands of Russians before Moscow’s Feb. 24 attack on Ukraine. Russians are now crossing into Finland before flying to other European nations as a way of circumventing flight bans imposed after the invasion.

On top of its visa decision, the Finnish Foreign Ministry said the government is currently exploring the possibility of helping Russian human rights defenders, civil society members and journalists critical to the Kremlin by establishing a new kind of humanitarian visa enabling them to access the Nordic country.

At this week’s Prague meeting, EU foreign ministers decided to tighten travel rules for Russians within the 27-member bloc but found no consensus to issue a full-scale tourist visa ban, something that has been urged by Poland and the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Moscow on Thursday described the EU’s decision to scrap a simplified visa regime for Russian tourists as absurd and bad news for Russian citizens. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia was considering options to respond to the move.

Finland shares a 830-mile border with Russia and the country has regularly ranked among one of the most popular Western travel destinations or stopovers for Russian tourists.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Serena Williams Beats Anett Kontaveit At U.S. Open To Reach 3rd Round

Williams has ensured she will play at least one more singles match at what she’s hinted will be the last tournament of her illustrious career.

Serena Williams can call it “evolving” or “retiring” or whatever she wants. And she can be coy about whether or not this U.S. Open will actually mark the end of her playing days. Those 23 Grand Slam titles earned that right.

If she keeps playing like this, who knows how long this farewell will last?

No matter what happens once her trip to Flushing Meadows is over, here is what is important to know after Wednesday night: The 40-year-old Williams is still around, she’s still capable of terrific tennis, she’s still winning — and, like the adoring spectators whose roars filled Arthur Ashe Stadium again — she’s ready for more.

Williams eliminated No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-2 in the U.S. Open’s second round to ensure that she will play at least one more singles match at what she’s hinted will be the last tournament of her illustrious career.

“There’s still a little left in me,” Williams said with a smile during her on-court interview, then acknowledged during her post-match news conference: “These moments are clearly fleeting.”

After beating 80th-ranked Danka Kovinic in straight sets Monday, then collecting her 23rd victory in her past 25 matches against someone ranked Nos. 1 or 2 against Kontaveit on Wednesday, the six-time champion at Flushing Meadows will play Friday for a spot in the fourth round.

Her opponent will be Ajla Tomljanovic, a 29-year-old Australian who is ranked 46th. They’ve never met, but Tomljanovic, who said she considers herself a Williams fan, figures she knows what to anticipate from the American — and from those in the seats.

“I was playing on Court 7 both of my matches so far at the same time as her, and I could hear the crowd. I’m like, ‘Court 7 isn’t that close.’ I kept thinking, ‘Oh, my God, that’s annoying me and I’m not even playing against her,'” Tomljanovic said. “I don’t know how I’m going to do it.”

Making Williams’ potential path possibly simpler if she can get past Tomljanovic: 2021 U.S. Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez and 2021 French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova both lost.

On Wednesday, Williams hit serves at up to 119 mph, stayed with Kontaveit during lengthy exchanges of big swings from the baselines and conjured up some of her trademark brilliance when it was needed most.

After pulling out a tight first set, then faltering in the second, Williams headed to the locker room for a bathroom break before the third.

Something had to give, someone had to blink.

When they resumed, it was Williams who lifted her level and emerged as the better player.

Just as she’s done so many times, on so many stages, with so much at stake.

“I’m just Serena. After I lost the second set, I thought, ‘Oh, my goodness, I better give my best effort because this could be it,'” Williams said, surely echoing the thoughts of everyone paying any attention.

“I never get to play like this — since ’98, really,” she said. “Literally, I’ve had an ‘X’ on my back since ’99,” the year she claimed her first Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open at age 17.

Whatever rust accumulated when Williams missed about a year of action before returning to the tour in late June appears to have vanished. She was 1-3 in 2022 entering the U.S. Open.

“Now it’s kind of coming together,” Williams said. “I mean, it had to come together today.”

Williams has doubles to play, too. She and her sister, Venus, have won 14 major championships as a team and will begin that event Thursday night.

Kontaveit, a 26-year-old from Estonia, is a powerful hitter in her own right, the sort that spread across women’s tennis over the past two decades after a pair of siblings from Compton, California, changed the game.

But there’s a caveat attached to Kontaveit’s ranking: She has never won so much as one quarterfinal match at any Grand Slam tournament in 30 career appearances.

So maybe that’s why, much like with Kovinic 48 hours earlier, Williams’ opponent was introduced just by her name, and Kontaveit walked out to a smattering of applause. Williams, in contrast, got the full treatment: highlight video, a listing of her many accolades and a loud greeting from folks part of the largest U.S. Open attendance ever at a night session, 29,959, eclipsing the record set Monday.

“It was her moment,” said Kontaveit, who began crying during the Estonian portion of her news conference and cut it short. “Of course, this is totally about her.”

As strident a competitor as tennis, or any sport, has seen, as rightly self-confident in her abilities as any athlete, Williams was not about to think of this whole exercise as merely a celebration of her career.

She came to New York wanting to win, of course.

Wearing the same glittery crystal-encrusted top and diamond-accented sneakers — replete with solid gold shoelace tags and the word “Queen” on the right one, “Mama” on the left — that she sported Monday, Williams was ready for prime time.

The match began with Kontaveit grabbing the first five points, Williams the next five. And on they went, back and forth. Kontaveit’s mistakes were cheered — even faults, drawing an admonishment for the crowd from chair umpire Alison Hughes about making noise between serves.

Early in the third set, Kontaveit hit a cross-court forehand that caught the outermost edge of a sideline. A video on the stadium screens showed just how close it was, confirming that the ball did, indeed, land in. That brought out boos from the stands. Williams raised her arm and wagged a finger, telling her backers not to cause a fuss.

If anything, Kontaveit received more acknowledgment from the player trying to defeat her than anyone else, as Williams would respond to great shots with a nod or a racket clap.

“They were not rooting against me. They just wanted Serena to win so bad,” Kontaveit said, calling the treatment she received “fair,” even if it was “something I never experienced before.”

Williams broke for a 5-4 edge when Kontaveit pushed a backhand long, spurring yelling spectators to rise to their feet — and Williams’ husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, jumped right in, too, waving his arms in her direction, in front of where Venus and Tiger Woods were two seats apart.

Eventually they went to a tiebreaker, and at 3-3, a chant of “Let’s go, Serena!” broke out, accompanied by rhythmic clapping. Soon, Williams delivered a 101 mph service winner and a 91 mph ace to seal that set.

To Kontaveit’s credit, she raced to a 3-0 edge in the second with 10 winners and zero unforced errors.

In the third, after a swinging forehand volley winner put Williams a game from victory, she raised both arms, then clenched her left fist.

One game, and five minutes later, it was over — and her stay at the U.S. Open could proceed.

Asked whether she’s a title contender, Williams answered: “I cannot think that far. I’m having fun and I’m enjoying it.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Inflation Tightens Its Grip on Europe

At the Saku beer factory in Estonia, the mammoth copper brew kettles sit side by side like household sink plungers stored on a shelf in a manor house for giants. The brewery has been around for 200 years, but this is the first time in memory that the company has planned two price rises — of 10 percent each — in a single year.

And even that double-barreled increase won’t be enough to cover the brewery’s skyrocketing costs, said Jaan Harms, a board member at Saku.

“We are in an environment of increasing inflation, and, of course, energy is by far the main driver,” Mr. Harms said. When its energy contracts run out at the end of the summer, the company’s gas costs will rise 400 percent and the electricity bills will double, he said. And because the providers of every product and service they buy are also dealing with soaring fuel prices, those costs are rising as well.

estimates released Wednesday by the European Commission’s statistical office.

3 percent — a level that at the time set off alarms for reaching a decade-long high, but that would now be greeted with relief.

European Central Bank is scheduled to meet, is likely to reinforce the view that interest rates need to be raised again to curb inflation, despite the risk of recession.

Speaking at an economic summit near Jackson, Wyo., over the weekend, Isabel Schnabel, a member of the bank’s executive board, warned that inflation was more persistent than expected and said the bank needed to act “forcefully.”

“Inflation volatility has surged beyond the levels seen during the 1970s,” Ms. Schnabel said, a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the war in Ukraine and climate change that is causing widespread drought, wildfires and other extreme weather.

nearly double in October, making it difficult for millions of people to heat their homes this winter.

inflation hit 8.5 percent in July, still high but a decline from the 9.1 percent registered in June as prices for gas, airfares, used cars and hotel rooms fell.

agreement with the European Union to temporarily cap electricity prices at €40 per megawatt-hour. Professors at the Instituto Superior de Engenharia in Lisbon and at Complutense University in Madrid calculated that prices were 15 to 18 percent lower than they would have been without the cap.

Elsewhere in Europe, prices for electricity in August set eye-popping records, according to Rystad Energy, a consultancy in Norway, with an average price of €547 per megawatt-hour.

glass bottles from its Russian supplier after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. Since then, wholesale bottle prices have shot up 20 to 80 percent.

solar panels atop its warehouses and brewery this summer, and it now boasts the country’s largest industrial rooftop solar park. In addition, the thermostats in offices will be lowered by 2 degrees this winter.

The energy crisis has also spurred the brewery to reconsider a proposal it had shelved as too expensive: the construction of a water treatment plant. The energy savings previously were not large enough to justify the cost. “But we are now thinking of doing this because the rules of the game have changed so much,” Mr. Harms said.

Saku’s initial price increase has gone through, but so far, there has not been a drop in sales. Summer vacation is prime season, Mr. Harms said, and when the weather is warm in this northern European country, people spend and drink.

But like the rest of Europe, Estonia is preparing for a dark winter.

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Serena Williams Not Done Yet; Wins 1st Match At U.S. Open

Three weeks ago, Williams told the world that she was ready to concentrate on having a second child and her venture capital firm.

They came from far and wide for Serena — no last name required, befitting someone as much an icon as superstar athlete — to see her practice and play and, it turned out, win a match at the U.S. Open on Monday night, turning out in record numbers to fill Arthur Ashe Stadium and shout and applaud and pump their fists right along with her.

Serena Williams is not ready to say goodbye just yet. Nor, clearly, are her fans. And she heard them, loud and clear.

In her first match at what is expected to be the last U.S. Open — and last tournament — of her remarkable playing career, even if she insists that she won’t quite say so, Williams overcame a shaky start to overpower Danka Kovinic 6-3, 6-3 amid an atmosphere more akin to a festival than a farewell.

What memory will stick with her the most from the evening?

“When I walked out, the reception was really overwhelming. It was loud and I could feel it in my chest. It was a really good feeling,” said the owner of six U.S. Open championships and 23 Grand Slam titles overall, numbers unsurpassed by any other player in the sport’s professional era.

“It’s a feeling I’ll never forget,” she added. “Yeah, that meant a lot to me.”

This opening outing against Kovinic, a 27-year-old from Montenegro ranked 80th, became an event with a capital “E.” Spike Lee participated in the pre-match coin toss. Former President Bill Clinton was in the stands. So were Mike Tyson and Martina Navratilova, sitting next to each other. And sitting with Dad and Grandma was Williams’ daughter, Olympia, who turns 5 on Thursday, wearing white beads in her hair just like Mom did while winning the U.S. Open for the first time at age 17 back in 1999.

Williams is now 40, and told the world three weeks ago via an essay for Vogue that she was ready to concentrate on having a second child and her venture capital firm.

Asked after her victory Monday whether this will definitively be her final tournament, Williams replied with a knowing smile: “Yeah, I’ve been pretty vague about it, right?”

Then she added: “I’m going to stay vague, because you never know.”

The night session drew 29,000 folks, a high for the tournament — more than 23,000 were in Ashe; thousands more watched on a video screen outside the arena — and the place was as loud as ever. Certainly louder than any other first-round match in memory.

Both players called the decibel level “crazy.” Kovinic said she couldn’t hear the ball come off Williams’ racket strings — or even her own.

Early, Williams was not at her best. Maybe it was the significance of the moment. There were double-faults. Other missed strokes, missed opportunities. She went up 2-0, but then quickly trailed 3-2. Then, suddenly, Williams looked a lot like the champion she’s been for decades and less like the player who came into this match with a 1-3 record since returning to action in late June after nearly a year off the tour.

“At this point, honestly, everything is a bonus for me, I feel,” Williams said. “It’s good that I was able to get this under my belt. … I’m just not even thinking about that. I’m just thinking about just this moment. I think it’s good for me just to live in the moment now.”

She rolled through the end of that opening set, capping it with a service winner she reacted to with clenched fists and her trademark cry of “Come on!” That was met with thunderous cheers and applause — as was the ending of the 1-hour, 40-minute contest, as if another trophy had been earned.

Instead, there is plenty more work to be done. Williams will play in the second round of singles on Wednesday against No. 2 seed Anett Kontveit of Estonia. And there’s also doubles, too: Williams and her sister, Venus, are entered together in that competition, with their initial match slated for Wednesday or Thursday.

“Just keep supporting me,” Williams told the spectators, “as long as I’m here.”

They surely will. They were there to honor her and show appreciation for what she’s done on the court and off. After watching the victory over Kovinic, spectators held up blue, white or red placards that were distributed at their seats to spell out “We (Heart) Serena.”

After Kovinic was introduced simply by name, making clear to even her what an afterthought she was on this muggy evening, Williams’ entrance was preceded by a tribute video narrated by Queen Latifah, who called the American the “Queen of Queens.” The arena announcer called Williams “the greatest of all time,” and intoned: “This U.S. Open marks the final chapter of her storied tennis history.”

She means a lot to a lot of people. As a tennis player. As a woman. As an African American. As a mother. As a businesswoman.

“When she started out, female athletes weren’t getting recognized. She’s done so much,” said Quintella Thorn, a 68-year-old from Columbus, Georgia, making her eighth trip to the U.S. Open. “And now, she’s …”

“Evolving,” chimed in Thorn’s friend, Cora Monroe, 72, of Shreveport, Louisiana, using the word Williams says she prefers to “retirement.”

Which is why Monday mattered more than the usual Day 1 at a major tournament. And why the daily program did not make mention of any other of the dozens of athletes in action, showing instead a montage of six images of Williams holding her six U.S. Open trophies above the title: “Serena Williams, A Legacy of Greatness.” And why there was a sense of less importance for matches involving wins for other elite players such as past U.S. Open champions Bianca Andreescu, Andy Murray and Daniil Medvedev, or French Open finalist Coco Gauff, an 18-year-old American.

After her own 6-2, 6-3 victory over Leolia Jeanjean earlier in the day, Gauff looked forward to sitting in Ashe herself to watch Williams, someone she credits with inspiring her to play tennis. Gauff’s original plan was to tune in on TV, but then she decided this was too important to miss.

“Everybody is going to be on her side. I’m going to be cheering for her,” Gauff said. “It’s going to be probably one of the most electric matches that will ever happen in tennis.”

She lived up to the billing. And now there is more to come for Williams and her supporters.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Russia Blames Ukraine For Nationalist’s Car Bombing Death

By Associated Press
August 22, 2022

Ukraine’s presidential adviser has denied any Ukrainian involvement in the killing.

Russia’s top counterintelligence agency on Monday blamed Ukrainian spy services for organizing the killing of the daughter of a leading Russian nationalist ideologue in a car bombing just outside Moscow.

Daria Dugina, the 29-year-old daughter of Alexander Dugin, a philosopher, writer and political theorist whom some in the West described as “Putin’s brain,” died when an explosive planted in her SUV exploded as she was driving Saturday night.

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the main KGB successor agency, said that Dugina’s killing had been “prepared and perpetrated by the Ukrainian special services.”

On Sunday, Ukraine’s presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak denied any Ukrainian involvement in the killing.

In Monday’s statement, the FSB accused a Ukrainian citizen, Natalya Vovk, of perpetrating the killing and then fleeing from Russia to Estonia.

The FSB said Vovk arrived in Russia in July with her 12-year-old daughter and rented an apartment in the building where Dugina lived to shadow her. It said that Vovk and her daughter were at a nationalist festival, which Alexander Dugin and his daughter attended just before the killing.

The agency said that Vovk and her daughter left Russia for Estonia after Dugina’s killing, using a different vehicle license plate on their way out of the country.

Dugin has been a prominent proponent of the “Russian world” concept, a spiritual and political ideology that emphasizes traditional values, the restoration of Russia’s global clout and the unity of all ethnic Russians throughout the world. He has vehemently supported Russian President Vladimir Putin’s move to send troops into Ukraine and urged the Kremlin to step up its operations in the country.

The explosion took place as Dugin’s daughter was returning from a cultural festival she had attended with him. Russian media reports cited witnesses as saying the SUV belonged to Dugin and that he had decided at the last minute to travel in another vehicle.

The car bombing, unusual for Moscow since the turbulent 1990s, is likely to aggravate tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

On Sunday, Denis Pushilin, head of the Russia-backed separatist “Donetsk People’s Republic” in Ukraine’s east, quickly blamed the blast on “terrorists of the Ukrainian regime, trying to kill Alexander Dugin.”

While Dugin’s exact ties to Putin are unclear, the Kremlin frequently echoes rhetoric from his writings and appearances on Russian state television. He helped popularize the “Novorossiya,” or “New Russia” concept that Russia used to justify the 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and its support of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Dugin, who has been slapped with U.S. and European Union sanctions, has promoted Russia as a country of piety, traditional values and authoritarian leadership, and spoken with disdain about Western liberal values.

His daughter expressed similar views and had appeared as a commentator on nationalist TV channel Tsargrad, where Dugin had served as chief editor.

Dugina herself was sanctioned by the United States in March for her work as chief editor of United World International, a website that the U.S. described as a disinformation source. The sanctions announcement cited a United World article this year that contended Ukraine would “perish” if it were admitted to NATO.

In an appearance on Russian television just Thursday, Dugina said, “People in the West are living in a dream, in a dream given to them by global hegemony.” She called America “a zombie society” in which people opposed Russia but couldn’t find it on a map.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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