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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55 Million People Under Heat Alerts In Western U.S.

Much of Southern California remains under an excessive heat warning, with the state’s grid operator warning of record temperatures.

Leaders in the West have been digging in for days of dangerous temperatures. 

“Projected to be as high as 122 in California, in Death Valley, tomorrow,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom.  

Across the West, there are blazing hot highs. 

Major cities from Washington to Arizona hit triple digits Wednesday; with even hotter temperatures in the forecast.  

In Salt Lake City, schools without air conditioning are trying to keep students cool as temperatures approach 100. 

“This school, Sunset Junior, was built in 1963, so it wasn’t constructed to have air conditioning,” said Doug Anderson, the dean of the Davis School District in Utah.  

Air quality is diminishing in impacted areas. 

“On days that are especially hot, like we have coming this week, ozone is extra high,” said Scott Epstein, the program supervisor at South Coast Air Quality Management District. 

In the San Francisco Bay area, experts are worried a toxic algae bloom is already killing off scores of marine life, and could get much worse in the heat. 

“This is a fish kill of unprecedented magnitude in San Francisco Bay. It’s an uncountable number of fish, literally uncountable,” said Jon Rosenfield, a senior scientist at San Francisco Baykeeper.   

Governor Newsom is worried primarily about strain on the electric grid. 

“Energy reliability becomes more and more challenging, energy reliability becomes more and more stressed because demand increases at the same time supply decreases,” said Newsom. 

He worries dwindling water supplies will make hydroelectric plants more fragile and will contribute to the strain. 

“We are anticipating this extreme heat to be a length and duration the likes of which we haven’t seen in some time,” said Newsom.

He is aware this is not a short-term problem as record-breaking heatwaves strangle infrastructure and human tolerance from China to Europe. 

Source: newsy.com

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Inflation Hits Record 9.1% In Countries Using The Euro

By Associated Press
August 31, 2022

In the 19 countries using the euro currency, inflation rose 0.2% from a record high 8.9% in July, according to the EU statistics agency Eurostat.

Inflation in the European countries using the euro currency hit another record in August, fueled by soaring energy prices mainly driven by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Annual inflation in the eurozone’s 19 countries rose to 9.1%, up from 8.9% in July, according to the latest figures released Wednesday by the European Union statistics agency Eurostat.

Inflation is at the highest levels since record-keeping for the euro began in 1997. The latest figures add pressure on European Central Bank officials to continue raising interest rates, which can tame inflation, but also stifle economic growth.

Prices are rising in many other countries as Russia’s war in Ukraine grinds on, triggering unprecedented increases for energy and food that are squeezing household finances. Disruptions to global manufacturing supply chains caused by the coronavirus pandemic have also played a role in pushing up prices. This summer has seen a wave of protests and strikes around the world by workers pushing for higher wages and people fed up with the high cost of living.

Inflation in Britain, Denmark and Norway, which have their own currencies, is also surging, according to official data released earlier this month. U.K. residents face an 80% jump in annual household energy bills, regulators warned last week.

Inflation is also high in the U.S., adding urgency for the Fed to keep raising interest rates. Prices were up 8.5% in July compared with a year earlier, thought that was lower than 9.1% in June.

In the eurozone, energy prices surged 38.3%, though the rate was slightly lower than the previous month, while food prices rose at a faster pace of 10.6%, according to Eurostat’s preliminary estimate. The agency’s final report, released about two weeks later, is usually unchanged.

Russia, a major energy producer, has been reducing the flow of gas to European countries that have sided with Ukraine in the war, a move that’s wreaked havoc with prices.

At the same time, nearly half of Europe has been afflicted by an unprecedented drought that’s hurting farm economies, crimping production of staple crops like corn, and driving up food prices.

Price rises for manufactured goods like clothing, appliances, cars, computers and books accelerated to 5%, and the cost of services rose 3.8%. The euro’s weakness is another factor keeping prices high. 

The currency has slipped below parity with the dollar, which can make imported goods more costly, particularly oil, which is priced in dollars.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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U.S. To Hold Trade Talks With Taiwan

The announcement of trade talks comes after Beijing fired missiles into the sea to intimidate Taiwan after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited.

The U.S. government will hold trade talks with Taiwan in a sign of support for the island democracy that China claims as its own territory, prompting Beijing to warn Thursday it will take action if necessary to “safeguard its sovereignty.”

The announcement of trade talks comes after Beijing fired missiles into the sea to intimidate Taiwan after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this month became the highest-ranking American official to visit the island in 25 years.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s government criticized the planned talks as a violation of its stance that Taiwan has no right to foreign relations. It warned Washington not to encourage the island to try to make its de facto independence permanent, a step Beijing says would lead to war.

“China firmly opposes this,” Ministry of Commerce spokesperson Shu Jueting said. She called on Washington to “fully respect China’s core interests.”

Also Thursday, Taiwan’s military held a drill with missiles and cannons simulating a response to a Chinese missile attack.

Taiwan and China split in 1949 after a civil war and have no official relations but are bound by billions of dollars of trade and investment. The island never has been part of the People’s Republic of China, but the ruling Communist Party says it is obliged to unite with the mainland, by force if necessary.

President Joe Biden’s coordinator for the Indo-Pacific region, Kurt Campbell, said last week that trade talks would “deepen our ties with Taiwan” but stressed policy wasn’t changing. The United States has no diplomatic relations with Taiwan, its ninth-largest trading partner, but maintains extensive informal ties.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s announcement of the talks made no mention of tension with Beijing but said “formal negotiations” would develop trade and regulatory ties, a step that would entail closer official interaction.

Being allowed to export more to the United States might help Taiwan blunt China’s efforts to use its status as the island’s biggest trading partner as political leverage. The mainland blocked imports of Taiwanese citrus and other food in retaliation for Pelosi’s Aug. 2 visit.

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry expressed “high welcome” for the trade talks, which it said will lead to a “new page” in relations with the United States.

“As the situation across the Taiwan Strait has recently escalated, the U.S. government will continue to take concrete actions to maintain security and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” it said in a statement.

U.S.-Chinese relations are at their lowest level in decades amid disputes over trade, security, technology, and Beijing’s treatment of Muslim minorities and Hong Kong.

The U.S. Trade Representative said negotiations would be conducted under the auspices of Washington’s unofficial embassy, the American Institute in Taiwan.

“China always opposes any form of official exchanges between any country and the Taiwan region of China,” said Shu, the Chinese spokesperson. “China will take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard its sovereignty.”

Washington says it takes no position on the status of China and Taiwan but wants their dispute settled peacefully. The U.S. government is obligated by federal law to see that the island has the means to defend itself.

“We will continue to take calm and resolute steps to uphold peace and stability in the face of Beijing’s ongoing efforts to undermine it, and to support Taiwan,” Campbell said during a conference call last Friday.

China takes more than twice as much of Taiwan’s exports as the United States, its No. 2 foreign market. Taiwan’s government says its companies have invested almost $200 billion in the mainland. Beijing says a 2020 census found some 158,000 Taiwanese entrepreneurs, professionals and others live on the mainland.

China’s ban on imports of citrus, fish and hundreds of other Taiwanese food products hurt rural areas seen as supporters of President Tsai Ing-wen, but those goods account for less than 0.5% of Taiwan’s exports to the mainland.

Beijing did nothing that might affect the flow of processor chips from Taiwan that are needed by Chinese factories that assemble the world’s smartphones and consumer electronics. The island is the world’s biggest chip supplier.

A second group of U.S. lawmakers led by Sen. Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, arrived on Taiwan on Sunday and met with Tsai. Beijing announced a second round of military drills after their arrival.

Taiwan, with 23.6 million people, has launched its own military drills in response.

On Thursday, drills at Hualien Air Base on the east coast simulated a response to a Chinese missile attack. Military personnel practiced with Taiwanese-made Sky Bow 3 anti-aircraft missiles and 35mm anti-aircraft cannon but didn’t fire them.

“We didn’t panic” when China launched military drills, said air force Maj. Chen Teh-huan.

“Our usual training is to be on call 24 hours a day to prepare for missile launches,” Chen said. “We were ready.”

The U.S.-Taiwanese talks also will cover agriculture, labor, the environment, digital technology, the status of state-owned enterprises and “non-market policies,” the U.S. Trade Representative said.

Washington and Beijing are locked in a 3-year-old tariff war over many of the same issues.

They include China’s support for government companies that dominate many of its industries and complaints that Beijing steals foreign technology and limits access to an array of fields in violation of its market-opening commitments.

Then-President Donald Trump raised tariffs on Chinese goods in 2019 in response to complaints that its technology development tactics violate its free-trade commitments and threaten U.S. industrial leadership. President Biden has left most of those tariff hikes in place.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Ukraine Live Updates: Griner Appeals Drug Sentence, as U.S. and Russia Discuss Prisoner Swap

Credit…Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

KYIV, Ukraine — The wedding registration center in the heart of Kyiv was a whirlwind of romance and celebration, a reflection of the defiant optimism on display across the Ukrainian capital these days.

Some people were tying the knot on a summer Saturday, after the war delayed their plans. Others, like Larisa, 31, and Roman, 30, raced to wed, mindful of how quickly things can change.

“We decided that no matter what the situation in the future, we will always be together,” said Larisa, who like others interviewed did not give her full name for safety reasons. “Our family is sure that love always wins, and Ukraine will definitely win.”

Across Kyiv — a city where the future is far from clear but many yearn to find pleasure in the present — Ukrainians are trying to reclaim the rhythms and joys of daily life amid the vagaries, uncertainties and sorrows of war.

Credit…Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

There may be no better place to feel the pulse of Kyiv in the summer than on the banks of the Dnipro River. Before the war, people kayaked and wake-boarded, music boomed from concerts and raves, crowds sunbathed or played sports. That riotous cacophony has not yet returned. But people are coming back.

Credit…Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

Alexander Savchenko, a champion bodybuilder, was swimming on Saturday with his coach and his girlfriend, Valeria Baildalia, 27, all of them visiting from Odesa. Ms. Baildalia’s home is in Berdiansk, deep in the heart of the occupied south. She does not know when she will be able to return.

Credit…Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

Valentina Shevchenko, 64, was leading a class in valeology, the science of healthy living through proper exercise and diet. She led a half-dozen devotees in dancing and twisting to a pop song. For several months in the spring, they were unable to meet because of the war. But they have now resumed their routine, with one change: They all wear blue and gold outfits, the colors of the Ukrainian flag.

Volodomyr, 79, said they end the class with the phrase: “Glory to Ukraine, health to all her people and thank you to our Western allies.”

Credit…Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

On an island in the middle of the river, Petro, a 53-year-old former soldier and retired lawyer, stood on the sandy shores dressed in hip waders, a jar of fly larvae tucked into his pocket. He had come to fish for perch and carp, while also searching for peace of mind.

Six months ago, instead of a fishing rod, Petro carried a machine gun and prepared to defend his home as Russian forces bore down on Kyiv in the initial weeks of their invasion. More than four months since the Russians were forced to retreat from the city’s outskirts, Petro returned to his favorite fishing spot.

“It takes away all the tension from the war and all the negative thoughts,” he said, waiting for a bite. “I just want to switch off my mind. And if I catch a fish, I thank god.”

Credit…Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

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China’s Options for Punishing Taiwan Economically are Limited

In retaliation for Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last week, China conducted large-scale military exercises around the self-governing island democracy and suspended some trade between the sides.

The exercises led to a few shipping disruptions, but they did not affect traffic at Taiwanese or Chinese ports, analysts say. And the trade bans were notable mainly for what they did not target: Taiwan’s increasingly powerful semiconductor industry, a crucial supplier to Chinese manufacturers.

The bans that Beijing did impose — on exports of its natural sand to Taiwan, and on imports of all Taiwanese citrus fruits and two types of fish — were hardly an existential threat to the island off its southern coast that it claims as Chinese territory.

Taiwanese pineapples, wax apples and grouper fish, among other products.

a self-governing island democracy of 23 million people, as its territory and has long vowed to take it back, by force if necessary. The island, to which Chiang Kai-shek’s Chinese forces retreated after the Communist Revolution of 1949, has never been part of the People’s Republic of China.

“The political message is greater than the economic hit,” said Chiao Chun, a former trade negotiator for the Taiwanese government.

Even though about 90 percent of Taiwan’s imported gravel and sand comes from China, most of that is manufactured. China accounted for only about 11 percent of Taiwan’s natural sand imports in the first half of this year, according to the Bureau of Mines.

The two types of Taiwanese fish exports that China restricted last week — chilled white striped hairtail and frozen horse mackerel — are collectively worth about $22 million, less than half the value of the Taiwanese grouper trade that was banned earlier this year. They are also less dependent on the Chinese market.

As for Taiwan’s half-a-billion-dollar citrus industry, its shipments to China account for only 1.1 percent of the island’s total agricultural exports, according to Taiwan’s Agriculture Council. A popular theory is that Beijing singled out citrus farmers because most orchards are in southern Taiwan, a stronghold for the governing political party, the Democratic Progressive Party, a longtime target of Beijing’s anger.

Future bans may become more targeted to punish industries in counties that are D.P.P. strongholds, said Thomas J. Shattuck, an expert on Taiwan at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perry World House. There may also be less retaliation against counties run by the Kuomintang opposition party “in an attempt to put a finger on the scale for Taiwan’s local, and even national, elections,” he added.

increasingly indispensable node in the global supply chains for smartphones, cars and other keystones of modern life. One producer, the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, makes roughly 90 percent of the world’s most advanced semiconductors, and sells them to both China and the West.

simulated a blockade of Taiwan.

Even though some of the exercises took place in the Taiwan Strait, a key artery for international shipping, they did not disrupt access to ports in Taiwan or southern China, said Tan Hua Joo, an analyst at Linerlytica, a company in Singapore that tracks data on the container shipping industry. He added that port congestion would build only if the strait was completely blocked, port access was restricted or port operations were hampered by a labor or equipment shortage.

“None of these are happening at the moment,” he said.

Vessels that chose to avoid the Taiwan Strait last week because of the Chinese military’s “chest beating” activities would have faced a 12- to 18-hour delay, an inconvenience that would generally be considered manageable, said Niels Rasmussen, the chief shipping analyst at Bimco, an international shipping association.

If Beijing were to escalate tensions in the future, it would indicate that it was willing to put at risk China’s own economy as well as its trade and relations with Japan, South Korea, Europe and the United States, Mr. Rasmussen said by phone from his office near Copenhagen.

“That’s just difficult to accept that they would take that decision,” he added. “But then again, I didn’t expect Russia to invade Ukraine.”

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European Drought Dries Up Rivers, Kills Fish, Shrivels Crops

By Associated Press
August 12, 2022

The European Commission’s Joint Research Center warned that drought conditions will get worse and potentially affect 47% of the continent.

Once, a river ran through it. Now, white dust and thousands of dead fish cover the wide trench that winds amid rows of trees in France’s Burgundy region in what was the Tille River in the village of Lux.

From dry and cracked reservoirs in Spain to falling water levels on major arteries like the Danube, the Rhine and the Po, an unprecedented drought is afflicting nearly half of Europe. It is damaging farm economies, forcing water restrictions, causing wildfires and threatening aquatic species.

There has been no significant rainfall for almost two months in the continent’s western, central and southern regions. In typically rainy Britain, the government officially declared a drought across southern and central England on Friday amid one of the hottest and driest summers on record.

And Europe’s dry period is expected to continue in what experts say could be the worst drought in 500 years.

Climate change is exacerbating conditions as hotter temperatures speed up evaporation, thirsty plants take in more moisture and reduced snowfall in the winter limits supplies of freshwater available for irrigation in the summer. Europe isn’t alone in the crisis, with drought conditions also reported in East Africa, the western United States and northern Mexico.

The European Commission’s Joint Research Center warned this week that drought conditions will get worse and potentially affect 47% of the continent.

The current situation is the result of long periods of dry weather caused by changes in world weather systems, said meteorologist Peter Hoffmann of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research near Berlin.

“It’s just that in summer we feel it the most,” he said. “But actually the drought builds up across the year.”

Climate change has lessened the temperature differences between regions, sapping the forces that drive the jet stream, which normally brings wet Atlantic weather to Europe, he said.

A weaker or unstable jet stream can result in unusually hot air coming to Europe from North Africa, leading to prolonged periods of heat. The reverse is also true, when a polar vortex of cold air from the Arctic can cause freezing conditions far south of where it would normally reach.

Hoffmann said observations in recent years have all been at the upper end of what the existing climate models predicted.

The drought has caused some European countries to impose restrictions on water usage, and shipping is endangered on the Rhine and the Danube rivers.

Millions in the U.K. were already barred from watering lawns and gardens under regional “hosepipe bans,” and 15 million more around London will face such a ban shortly.

The Rhine, Germany’s biggest waterway, is forecast to reach critically low levels in the coming days. Authorities say it could become difficult for many large ships to safely navigate the river at the city of Kaub, roughly midway between Koblenz and Mainz.

The drought is also hitting U.K. farmers, who face running out of irrigation water and having to use winter feed for animals because of a lack of grass. The Rivers Trust charity said England’s chalk streams — which allow underground springs to bubble up through the spongy layer of rock — are drying up, endangering aquatic wildlife like kingfishers and trout.

Even countries like Spain and Portugal, which are used to long periods without rain, have seen major consequences. In the Spanish region of Andalucia, some avocado farmers have had to sacrifice hundreds of trees to save others from wilting as the Vinuela reservoir in Malaga province dropped to only 13% of capacity.

Some European farmers are using water from the tap for their livestock when ponds and streams go dry, using up to 26 gallons a day per cow.

EU corn production is expected to be 12.5 million tons below last year and sunflower production is projected to be 1.6 million tons lower, according to S&P Global Commodity Insights.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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