Wagner Group and close air cover because of the proximity to the Russian border. They can also rely on separatist fighters and a well-financed network of citizen-spies who relay secret information to the invaders, often with devastating consequences.

Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s pro-Russia president, out of office. Mr. Yanukovych came from a Donbas steel town. In one stroke, Russia lost its ally and the Donbas elite its godfather. That is when the trouble started.

People flooded into the Donbas streets waving Russian flags. At first, said Alisa Sopova, a journalist for a Donbas newspaper at the time, “We were sure they were fake people brought in from Russia to pose for Russian TV.”

to speak so much Russian. A critical aspect of Ukrainian independence was reviving the Ukrainian language, marginalized during Soviet times. But those arguments were typically confined to social media posts or intellectual debates, until this moment.

“I’d go into the supermarket to buy some meat, and the shopkeeper tells me, ‘If you don’t speak Ukrainian, I’m not going to sell you any meat,’” Mr. Tsyhankov said. “I’ve been speaking Russian my whole life. How do you think that made me feel?”

done something similar in 2008 in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two regions of Georgia, and before that the Russians had meddled in Moldova, backing the breakaway Transnistria region. The tools were generally the same: bankrolling pro-Russia political parties; deploying intelligence agents to foment protests; sowing disinformation through Russian TV.

Mr. Putin’s strategy was to turn strategic slices of the former Soviet Union into separatist hotbeds to hobble young nations like Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, all struggling to break free from Moscow and move closer to Europe.

Under the Kremlin’s wing, Donbas’s separatists killed Ukrainian officials, took territory and declared the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic. When Ukrainian forces rolled in to quell the rebellion, some residents saw them as occupiers. They spoke a different language, hailed from a different region, embraced a different culture — or so went the pro-Russia narrative. In some villages, babushkas lay down in the roads blocking Ukrainian tanks, officers said, and in one, an especially cunning babushka kept stealing the soldiers’ helmets.

“It was frustrating,” said Anatolii Mohyla, a Ukrainian military commander. “We’d come to liberate them and they’d give us the finger.”

Mr. Putin dispatched thousands of Russian troops to support the separatists, later saying he had been “forced to protect” the Russian-speaking population. Towns like Chasiv Yar were occupied by separatist fighters, then liberated by Ukrainian troops a few months later. By 2015, the heavy fighting had died down. But it was not like Mr. Putin forgot about the Donbas.

He upped the ante in 2021, saying, “Kyiv simply does not need the Donbas.” And on Feb. 21 of this year, three days before he invaded Ukraine, Mr. Putin accused the Ukrainian government of perpetrating a “genocide.” He justified the most cataclysmic war in decades by citing the very tensions he himself stoked.

In early April, the agricultural land around Chasiv Yar began to thaw. Mr. Khainus, the pro-Ukraine farmer, drove out to check a sunflower field. A Ukrainian military vehicle raced up. A soldier leaned out the window and fired an assault rifle, the bullets skipping up in the dirt. Mr. Khainus slammed on the brakes.

A Ukrainian commander he recognized, a man whom Mr. Khainus said he had complained about before, jumped out. The commander greeted him with a punch to the head, Mr. Khainus said, and then smashed him in the face with a rifle butt.

He does not remember much after that. He shared photographs of himself lying in a hospital bed with two black eyes. Military and law enforcement officials declined to comment.

Mr. Khainus remains a supporter of the military, saying, “One stupid person doesn’t represent the army.”

But, he added wryly: “It’s one thing to be a patriot in Kyiv. It’s another to be a patriot in the Donbas.”

At 9 p.m. on July 9, four cruise missiles slammed into a dormitory at the old ceramic plant. The buildings crumbled as if they were made out of sand. Viacheslav Boitsov, an emergency services official, said there were “no military facilities nearby.”

But according to Mr. Mohyla and Oleksandr Nevydomskyi, another Ukrainian military officer, Ukrainian soldiers were staying in that building. The night before, they said, a mysterious man was seen standing outside flashing light signals, most likely pinpointing the position.

The military calls such spies “correctors,” and they relay navigational information to the Russians to make missile and artillery strikes more precise. Ukrainian officials have arrested more than 20 and say correctors are often paid several hundred dollars after a target is hit. The strike in Chasiv Yar was one of the deadliest: 48 killed, including 18 soldiers, the officers said.

“For sure there are Russian agents in this town,” Mr. Mohyla said. “There might even be spies in our unit.”

Few in Chasiv Yar are confident that the town will stay in government hands.

Mr. Khainus said the Russians were steadily moving closer to his sunflower fields. About a week ago, a friend’s house was shelled. A day later, in an online messaging channel, separatist supporters said Mr. Khainus should be next, calling him a “hero” — adding an epithet.

Is he scared?

“Why should I be?” he said. “They’re nobodies.”

Mr. Tsyhankov, the retired dump truck driver nostalgic for the Soviet times, seemed pained by all of the bloodshed but did not blame the Russians or the separatists. “They’re doing the right thing,” he said. “They’re fighting for the Russian language and their territory.”

As he said goodbye, insisting that his guests take with them a jug of his homemade apple juice and some fresh green grapes, he shook his head at the enormity of it. “Why can’t we be friends with you guys, the Americans?” he asked. “Politics are keeping all of us hostage.”

Every night, the horizon in Chasiv Yar lights up with explosions. Ukrainian soldiers operate here almost as if they are on enemy territory, hiving themselves off from the public, watching their backs, traveling by night in long convoys of cars with the lights blacked out, the drivers wearing night vision goggles. According to separatist messaging channels, the Wagner mercenaries have reached the outskirts of Bakhmut, a major Donbas town. As for Soledar, it is now off limits to journalists, but volunteers there trying to rescue civilians say it is as deadly as ever.

People here used to describe the Donbas in simple terms like “beautiful,” “honest,” “unbreakable” and “free.”

Now it is destroyed, depopulated, sad and empty.

“It’s like the Rust Belt,” Ms. Sopova said. “It’s not needed anymore. All that industry is obsolete.”

Countless communities have risen in the Donbas. Many are now falling. Ms. Sopova glimpses a perhaps not so faraway future where the Donbas goes back to what it once was: a wild field.

Oleksandra Mykolyshyn contributed reporting.

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This Remote Mine Could Foretell the Future of America’s Electric Car Industry

Hiding a thousand feet below the earth’s surface in this patch of northern Minnesota wetlands are ancient mineral deposits that some view as critical to fueling America’s clean energy future.

poor environmental record in the United States, and an even more checkered footprint globally. While some in the area argue the mine could bring good jobs to a sparsely populated region, others are deeply fearful that it could spoil local lakes and streams that feed into the Mississippi River. There is also concern that it could endanger the livelihoods and culture of Ojibwe tribes whose members live just over a mile from Talon’s land and have gathered wild rice here for generations.

provoked outrage in 2020 by blowing up a 46,000-year-old system of Aboriginal caves in Australia in a search for iron ore.

at higher rates than any other racial or ethnic group in the state. Locals say the only Tesla for miles is Talon’s company car.

“Talon and Rio Tinto will come and go — greatly enriched by their mining operation. But we, and the remnants of the Tamarack mine, will be here forever,” Mr. Applegate said.

near tribal land.

approved a plan to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035.

Indonesia and the Philippines, releasing vast amounts of carbon dioxide before being refined in Chinese factories powered by coal.

Another source of nickel is a massive mining operation north of the Arctic Circle in Norilsk, Russia, which has produced so much sulfur dioxide that a plume of the toxic gas is big enough to be seen from space. Other minerals used in electric vehicle batteries, such as lithium and cobalt, appear to have been mined or refined with the use of child or forced labor.

With global demand for electric vehicles projected to grow sixfold by 2030, the dirty origins of this otherwise promising green industry have become a looming crisis. The Democrats’ new tax and climate bill devotes nearly $400 billion to clean energy initiatives over the next decade, including electric vehicle tax credits and financing for companies that manufacture clean cars in the United States.

New domestic high-tech mines and factories could make this supply chain more secure, and potentially less damaging to the global environment. But skeptics say those facilities may still pose a risk to the air, soil and water that surrounds them, and spark a fierce debate about which communities might bear those costs.

can leach out sulfuric acid and heavy metals. More than a dozen former copper mines in the United States are now Superfund sites, contaminated locations where taxpayers can end up on the hook for cleanup.

canceled leases for another copper-nickel mine near a Minnesota wilderness area, saying the Trump administration had improperly renewed them.

Talon Metals insists that it will have no such problems. “We can produce the battery materials that are necessary for the energy transition and also protect the environment,” said Todd Malan, the company’s chief external affairs officer and head of climate strategy. “It’s not a choice.”

The company is using high-tech equipment to map underground flows of water in the area and create a 3-D model of the ore, so it can mine “surgically” while leaving other parts of the earth undisturbed, Mr. Malan said. Talon is also promising to use technology that will safely store the mine’s toxic byproducts and do its mining far underground, in deep bedrock where groundwater doesn’t typically penetrate.

Talon has teamed up with the United Steelworkers union on work force development. And Rio Tinto has won a $2.2 million Department of Energy grant to explore capturing carbon near the site, which may allow the mine to market its products as zero emission.

estimates, the world will need roughly 20 times as much nickel and cobalt by 2040 as it had in 2020 and 40 times as much lithium.

Recycling could play a bigger role in supplying these materials by the end of the decade, and some new car batteries do not use any nickel. Yet nickel is still highly sought after for electric trucks and higher-end cars, because it increases a vehicle’s range.

The infrastructure law passed last year devoted $7 billion to developing the domestic supply chain for critical minerals. The climate and tax law also sets ambitious thresholds for ensuring that electric vehicles that receive tax incentives are partly U.S.-made.

has begged miners to produce more.

is home to deposits of nickel, copper and cobalt, which were formed 1.1 billion years ago from a volcano that spewed out miles of liquid magma.

Talon has leased 31,000 acres of land in the area, covering an 11-mile geological feature deep under the swamp. The company has zealously drilled and examined the underground resources along one of those 11 miles, and discovered several other potential satellite deposits.

In August, the company announced that it had also acquired land in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to explore for more nickel.

Talon will start Minnesota’s environmental review process within a few months, and the company says it anticipates a straightforward review. But legal challenges for proposed mines can regularly stretch to a decade or more, and some living near the project say they will do what they can to fight the mine.

Elizabeth Skinaway and her sister, Jean Skinaway-Lawrence, members of the Sandy Lake Band of Minnesota Chippewa, are especially concerned about damage to the wild rice, which Ms. Skinaway has been gathering in lakes several miles from the proposed mine for 43 years.

Ms. Skinaway acknowledges the need to combat climate change, which also threatens the rice. But she sees little justice in using the same kind of profit-driven, extractive industry that she said had long plundered native lands and damaged the global environment.

“The wild rice, the gift from the creator, that’s going to be gone, from the sulfide that’s going to leach into the river and the lakes,” she said. “It’s just a really scary thought.”

“We were here first,” said her sister. “We should be heard.”

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Planning for Your Retirement, and for a Child’s Special Needs, All at Once

Rachel Nagler, 39, has worked part time since she was 22, but she will never be financially independent, according to her father. She is legally blind with a seizure disorder and mild cognitive impairment, the result of birth trauma.

For her parents, Sam and Debra Nagler of Concord, Mass., planning for retirement required them to focus on Rachel’s future as well as their own.

“She has very limited earning capacity,” Mr. Nagler, 70, said. “The concern is, is this sufficient for her for the rest of her life?”

His wife, who is 68, has been their daughter’s primary caregiver since her birth.

“Nobody knows Rachel, and takes care of Rachel, and knows every need of Rachel, and is on top of everything other than my wife,” Mr. Nagler said. “That’s a worry because she’s not going to live forever.”

For parents of children who have serious disabilities or special needs, the challenges of growing and preserving their wealth are magnified exponentially, and the stakes are much higher. While they are trying to plan for their own retirements, these parents need to simultaneously secure the ‌ stability of a son or daughter who will be dependent on them‌ until — and even after — their deaths.

“We want to make 100 percent sure that after we’re gone, there’s no issue,” Mr. Nagler said.

Under the best of circumstances, caring for an adult child with special needs is physically and emotionally taxing. As these parents age, the question of who will house, feed and drive their son or daughter after they no longer can becomes an urgent one.

But not all parents in this situation are aware of the myriad challenges they face. “Getting them to understand that they need to think differently about their retirement in this scheme of things is a key step. And it’s not simple,” said Mary Anne Ehlert, a certified financial planner and founder of Protected Tomorrows, a financial planning firm that specializes in families with special needs.

For example, Ms. Ehlert said, she has to consider a multigenerational time horizon for these clients’ portfolios. “We might be a little more conservative, but we still need growth. We need growth longer,” she said. But a conservative-leaning asset mix has drawbacks, too. “Conservative doesn’t always give us the growth we need,” she said. In addition, many families opt for a portion of their portfolio to be in cash or cash-like liquid investments in the event that their child suddenly needs a new piece of expensive equipment, like a speech-assistive device.

Often, one spouse will sideline a career or leave the work force entirely to provide care, reducing their own ability to save for retirement. These families find their budgets strained by a host of ancillary costs: paying for gas to drive their children to therapy appointments and day programs; buying supplies like adult diapers and waterproof bedding, compression tights to promote circulation, specialized diets — the list goes on.

Even when the disabled individual qualifies for public health assistance, finding affordable, adequate housing is especially difficult. Some people require supervised care in a group home, while others need in-home care in a dwelling modified to accommodate physical limitations. In both cases, waiting-list times are measured in years.

As a result, many parents feel they have no choice but to keep their son or daughter at home, said Harry Margolis, an estate planning lawyer near Boston who works with families with special needs. “Often, they’re still living with parents even when everybody’s getting older,” he said.

This can be expensive in terms of lost opportunity costs. To spare their child the upheaval, parents might forgo the opportunity to downsize into a less-expensive or more accessible home while they are still healthy enough to do so.

Since most of the public benefits available to special-needs and disabled people are administered at the state level through Medicaid, parents of a special-needs child might not be able to move to a state with a lower cost of living. Doing so could mean the adult child would lose access to their benefits and be placed at the bottom of waiting lists for services in a new state.

Some families, however, move to states that offer more generous benefits, even if it means a higher cost of living. “That’s a real struggle for these families, particularly as Mom and Dad age,” said Debra Taylor, founder of Taylor Financial Group in Franklin Lakes, N.J. “Some look to relocate to different states because some states are more hospitable than others.”

Douglas and Susan Rohrman moved out of the Chicago area five years ago, alarmed at the declining health of their daughter Liz, who suffered a traumatic brain injury just before the age of 2. Now, 38, the younger Ms. Rohrman has a host of physical challenges, including partial paralysis that impairs her mobility and ability to swallow and cognitive impairment.

“Liz was not getting great care in Illinois, so it was time to sell the house and move everything,” Ms. Rohrman, 74, said. “I researched this up the wazoo.”

The Rohrmans moved to the San Diego area because resources such as housing and day programs were more readily available. But when Covid struck, the couple felt that the only way they could keep their daughter safe — she had been hospitalized with pneumonia three times in 2019 — was to take her out of the care home they had moved her into just a few years earlier, the one they’d uprooted their lives for.

It was an enormous adjustment in responsibilities, but also in finances.

“When we were doing our taxes, I sort of sat down to see where my money was going. And Liz is a large part of it,” Ms. Rohrman said, ticking off items for which she has to pay out of pocket now that her daughter is living at home.

For example, swallowing difficulties mean that the younger Ms. Rohrman has to have a thickening agent added to her water. That alone costs several thousand dollars a year, her mother said, and there are a host of other unique expenses, such as for stabilizing footwear that helps her daughter walk. “I came up with like $9,000, not counting everything I buy at the grocery store and Walmart,” she said.

Mr. Rohrman, 80, had deferred his retirement at a law firm several years to keep earning income, but he stopped working when the family moved. The combination of much higher expenses, a drop in income and a flagging stock market demanded they re-evaluate their finances.

These financial struggles are magnified for single parents. “Care is inevitably more expensive when you have a single parent,” Ms. Taylor said, because they have to rely much more on paid caregivers.

Laura Weinberg, 59, became the sole caregiver for her son Will, who is autistic and nonverbal, when her husband, a lawyer for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, was killed in the Sept. 11 attacks.

“I was in the weird situation of being widowed when I was 38, dealing with a 4-year-old who was a danger to himself,” she said. She was also a caregiver for her ailing mother and maintaining the family home in northern New Jersey. “I was overwhelmed,” she said.

“Estate planning was confusing and extremely expensive when I started to put a toe in the water,” she said. “I got all kinds of wrong information.”

Ms. Weinberg said she would like to have speech-assistive equipment for her son so that he can communicate, but the cost is prohibitive. Instead, she has pieced together a solution with an iPad and specialized apps. “It’s more modest than it might have been, but some of them are in the many thousands of dollars,” she said.

For parents of special-needs children, retirement planning and estate planning have to take place in tandem. Special-needs trusts and life insurance policies in one or both parents’ names are two of the most commonly used tools. Both have to be structured in compliance with the complex eligibility regulations for public health benefits, since many are means-tested.

Mr. Margolis said that even wealthy families have to navigate the byzantine landscape of government benefits, because many of the services available, including housing, are administered entirely through these programs. “In order to qualify for S.S.I. and Medicaid, in most cases you’re limited to $2,000 in countable assets,” he said.

“For a disabled individual, a lot of time, maintaining eligibility is critical,” said Joellen Meckley, executive director of the American College of Financial Services’ center for special needs. “I can’t tell you how many times family members, with the best of intentions, will name a disabled adult child as a beneficiary, not understanding that getting that money could immediately jeopardize their ability to access public benefits,” she said, referring to parents’ wills, retirement plans or life insurance policies.

This makes it imperative that money intended for a disabled individual be held in a specialized financial instrument such as a special-needs trust.

The money in a trust can go toward quality-of-life enhancements for the special-needs individual like cable TV, a cellphone or computer, better food, care providers and rent or utilities, without jeopardizing their public benefits, Mr. Margolis said.

There are two main categories of special-needs trusts. First-party trusts are established with assets that belong to the individual. The drawback is that these trusts have a payback clause: After the individual dies, any money remaining in the trust goes to reimburse the state for the cost of their care over the years.

Third-party special needs trusts are established and funded by someone else for the benefit of the disabled individual. “A third-party one takes in the assets of other people, like gifts, inheritances or life insurance proceeds,” said Brian Walsh, senior manager of financial planning at SoFi.

These trusts are often funded or supplemented with parents’ life insurance proceeds. “A lot of times, life insurance can be used to kind of create a funding source when one or both of them passes away,” Mr. Walsh said.

A “second-to-die” life insurance policy is a frequently used tool. Both members of a couple are covered under it, and the policy pays out after the second spouse dies, providing a more affordable option than insuring each parent separately.

“The purpose of this policy is that it’s going to pay out a death benefit to fund the child’s remaining needs no matter when the parents die,” Mr. Walsh said.

Since the funds in these trusts are generally conservatively invested, experts say the final challenge is making sure that the amount in the trust will provide an adequate income stream.

Getting that balance right is something that the Rohrmans, in California, struggle with.

When Mr. Rohrman stopped working, that meant not only paring back household spending, but revisiting their investing strategy as well.

“We’re financially very conservative. We know we can’t be like we were in our 30s and 40s in terms of our investment mix, spending and so forth,” Mr. Rohrman said. “We think about it a lot. We don’t let it dominate us.”

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Heat and Drought in Europe Strain Energy Supply

ASERAL, Norway — In a Nordic land famous for its steep fjords, where water is very nearly a way of life, Sverre Eikeland scaled down the boulders that form the walls of one of Norway’s chief reservoirs, past the driftwood that protruded like something caught in the dam’s teeth, and stood on dry land that should have been deeply submerged.

“You see the band where the vegetation stops,” said Mr. Eikeland, 43, the chief operating officer of Agder Energi, pointing at a stark, arid line 50 feet above the Skjerkevatn reservoir’s surface. “That’s where the water level should be.”

thousands of northern homes without electricity.

reignited talk of investing in nuclear power and has dried up the waterways crucial for transporting coal.

most severe drought on record in France has also cost the country’s energy production, as nuclear plants responsible for more than 70 percent of the country’s electricity had to cut down activity temporarily to avoid discharging dangerously warm water into rivers.

Many of France’s 56 nuclear plants were already offline for maintenance issues. But the rivers that cool reactors have become so warm as a result of the punishing heat that strict rules designed to protect wildlife have prevented the flushing of the even warmer water from the plants back into the waterways.

power grid operators to hire more workers amid fears of electricity shortages.

In Norway, a winter without much snow and an exceptionally dry spring, including the driest April in 122 years, reduced water levels in lakes and rivers. Shallow waters in Mjosa, the country’s largest lake, kept its famed Skibladner paddle wheel boat tied up at port and prompted city officials in Oslo to send out text messages urging people to take shorter showers and avoid watering lawns.

“Do that for Oslo,” read the text message, “so that we’ll still have water for the most important things in our lives.” In May, Statnett SF, the operator of the national electricity grid, raised the alarm about shortfalls.

But the skies offered no relief and this month, as the country’s hydro reservoirs — especially in the south — approached what Energy Minister Terje Aasland has called “very low” levels, hydropower producers cut output to save water for the coming winter.

The reservoirs were about 60 percent full, about 10 percent less than the average over the previous two decades, according to data from the energy regulator.

Southern Norway, which holds more than a third of the country’s reservoirs, is dotted with red barns on green fields and fishing boats along the coast. On a stream in the Agder region, a sign put up by the energy company, like a relic from another time, warned, “The water level can rise suddenly and without warning.”

But recent months have shown that there is danger in the water level dropping, too. Reservoirs had dwindled to their lowest point in 20 years, at just 46 percent full. One, Rygene, was so low as to force the temporary closing of the plant. On Tuesday, the rainstorms returned, but the ground was so dry, Mr. Eikeland said as he surveyed the basin, that the earth “drinks up all the water” and the water levels in the reservoirs barely rose.

He sped his electric car farther south toward Kristiansand, where a large grid sends electricity around the country’s south and to Denmark. In a fenced-off area above the hill, a Norwegian industrial developer was building a data center for clients such as Amazon, which would suck up a significant share of locally produced electricity in order to cool vast computer servers.

This year’s drought has only highlighted the urgent need for a wider energy transformation, Mr. Eikeland said.

“The drought shows that we are not ready for the big changes,” he said, but also “that we will not accept the high prices.”

Reporting was contributed by Christopher F. Schuetze from Germany, Constant Méheut from France, Gaia Pianigiani from Italy, Isabella Kwai from London and Henrik Pryser Libell from Norway.

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Interior Department Restricts Water Supply To Multiple Western States

The Colorado River supplies water to tens of million of people, but restrictions will reduce many western states’ supply.

In the West, drying lakebeds and shrinking rivers are reaching a breaking point. Now the Department of the Interior is slashing water supplies to several western states, as the Colorado River shrinks and the vital Lakes Powell and Mead which it feeds get lower and lower.

“I wish I had a crystal ball for what will happen in the Colorado River basin,” said Simone Kjolsrud, water resource adviser to Chandler, Arizona. “When you live in the desert you have to have that conservation ethic of embracing that desert lifestyle.”

In Arizona, cities are now planning around a coming cut of 21% of the state’s original water allocation. 

Part of a package of cuts was announced Tuesday. That also includes slashes to supply for Nevada and parts of Mexico. 

“We have known for decades that there’s a real possibility that our water supplies would be cut, and so for the most part the cities have planned very proactively,” said Kathryn Sorensen, researcher at ASU Kyl Center for Water Policy.

Cities near Phoenix are now contending with some of the steepest cuts in the West, amid some of the most dire water conservation efforts ever.

The Interior Department is now looking to save some 2 to 4 million acre feet of water over the next four years under the right conservation conditions. One acre foot can supply three houses for a year.

“We have invested in infrastructure,” Kjolsrud said. “We’ve been storing water underground that we can access during times of surface water shortages. We’re not anticipating that in the next few years.”

Still, the cuts aren’t good news for the millions who rely on the Colorado River and the $15 billion agricultural industry.

“If we got some good rains in here that would go ahead and green up,” said Nancy Caywood, an Arizona farmer.

Lately, Caywood hasn’t been doing much farming, though it’s her job.

She’s giving tours of her land instead to make up for the money she’s losing – without any crops to sell.

“I drive around, and I look at empty canals,” Caywood said. “Literally I burst into tears over it a couple of times because I’m thinking it’s just such a hopeless situation.”

At a nearby farm, her son is leasing land to supplement income.

“I don’t know if there’s going to be enough water to keep going, if he’s gonna run out, with his allocation,” Caywood said.

Arizona is the hardest hit of the southwestern states that rely on the emptying Colorado River. Seven states — Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California — were told to come up with a plan to cut their overall water use by 15% next year.

But the ensuing fight, with upper basin states fighting to keep their allocations amid growing populations and lower basin states fighting to ward off the deepest cuts, left the state governments at an impasse, prompting the federal government to make the cuts for them.

“We will lose 10% of our water supply by 2040,” California Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

California has no cuts under the plan, but it’s not lost on Gov. Newsom that the state still faces a dwindling water supply. He just unveiled a plan to invest billions in water recycling, storage and desalination. 

“What we are focusing on is creating more supply… creating more water,” Gov. Newsom said.

The cuts announced Tuesday are just a teaser of what could be ahead, as the Interior Department looks to save far more water coming from the critical Colorado River. 

Source: newsy.com

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U.K. Weather Turmoil Spurs Calls To Adapt To Climate Change

The country got a break Wednesday from the dry, hot weather that is gripping much of Europe as cooler air moved in from the west.

Britain’s record-breaking heatwave has spurred calls for the government to speed up efforts to adapt to a changing climate, especially after wildfires created the busiest day for London firefighters since bombs rained down on the city during World War II.

The country got a break Wednesday from the dry, hot weather that is gripping much of Europe as cooler air moved in from the west. Forecasters predict London will reach a high of 79 Fahrenheit on Wednesday, down from the national record 104.4 F set Tuesday at Coningsby in eastern England.

Even so, travel was disrupted for a third day as rail operators repaired damage caused by the heat, and firefighters continue to mop up hotspots at the scene of Tuesday’s fires.

Britain needs to prepare for similar heatwaves in the future because manmade carbon emissions have already changed the climate, said Professor Stephen Belcher, chief scientist at the Met Office, the U.K.’s national weather service. Only aggressive emissions reductions will reduce the frequency of such events, he said.

“Everything is still to play for, but we should adapt to the kind of events we saw yesterday as an occasional extreme event,” Baker told the BBC.

Climate scientists have been surprised by the speed at which temperatures in Britain have risen in recent years and the widespread area affected by this week’s event. Thirty-four locations around the U.K. on Tuesday broke the country’s previous record-high temperature of 100 F, set in 2019.

The weather walloped a country where few homes, schools or small businesses have air conditioning and infrastructure such as railroads, highways and airports aren’t designed to cope with such temperatures. Thirteen people, including seven teenage boys, are believed to have died trying to cool off after getting into difficulty in rivers, reservoirs and lakes.

Fifteen fire departments declared major incidents as more than 60 properties around the country were destroyed on Tuesday, Cabinet Office Minister Kit Malthouse told the House of Commons.

One of the biggest fires was in Wennington, a village on the eastern outskirts of London, where a row of houses was destroyed by flames that raced through tinder-dry fields nearby. Resident Tim Stock said he and his wife fled after the house next door caught fire and the blaze rapidly spread.

“It was like a war zone,” he said. “Down the actual main road, all the windows had exploded out, all the roofs had caved, it was like a scene from the Blitz.”

The London Fire Brigade received 2,600 calls Tuesday, compared with the normal figure of about 350, Mayor Sadiq Khan said, adding that it was the department’s busiest day since the World War II. Despite lower temperatures on Wednesday, the fire danger remains high because hot, dry weather has parched grasslands around the city, Khan said.

“Once it catches fire it spreads incredibly fast, like wildfires like you see in movies or in fires in California or in parts of France,” Khan told the BBC.

Phil Gerigan, leader of the National Fire Chiefs Council’s resilience group, said wildfires are an emerging threat tied to climate change that is stretching the capacity of fire departments. Britain may need to expand its capacity to fight wildfires, adding more aerial tankers and helicopters, he told the BBC.

“As we look towards the future, it’s certainly something that the U.K. government and fire and rescue services need to consider,” he said. “Have we got the capability, the assets, to be able to meet what is a significantly emerging demand?”

Wildfires continue to spread destruction in other parts of Europe. Nearly 500 firefighters struggled to contain a large wildfire that threatened hillside suburbs outside Athens for a second day as fires burned across a southern swath of the continent.

A respite from the severe heat helped improve conditions in France, Spain and Portugal, countries that have battled blazes for days.

Britain’s travel network also suffered during the hot weather, with Luton Airport briefly shut down by a heat-damaged runway and trains forced to run at reduced speeds because of concerns the heat would warp rails or interrupt power supplies.

Some disruptions remained Wednesday, with the main train line from London to Edinburgh closed as crews worked to repair power lines and signaling equipment damaged by fire.

Among those stranded was Lee Ball, 46, who was trying to travel with his wife, Libby, and 10-year-old daughter, Amelie, from Worcestershire to London to get to Brussels for an Ed Sheeran concert. Their train was cancelled with less than 30 minutes notice, so they drove to another station — and waited.

“I’ve been up since 4:30 a.m., anxious, trying to get an answer from anywhere we can,” he said.

Communication from the train companies has been “appalling,” he said.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Hoover Dam Transformer Explodes; No One Hurt

By Associated Press
July 19, 2022

No one was hurt in the explosion near the base of the dam.

A transformer exploded Tuesday at Hoover Dam, one of the nation’s largest hydroelectric facilities, producing a thick cloud of black smoke and flames that were quickly extinguished.

No one was hurt in the explosion near the base of the dam, an engineering marvel on the Colorado River that straddles the border of Arizona and Nevada. Electricity continued to flow to 1.3 million people in Arizona, Nevada and Southern California

The cause of the fire was under investigation and officials were working to determine the extent of damage to the transformer, one of 15 at the complex that control the voltages for power sent to customers.

“There is no risk to the power grid,” said Jacklynn Gould, a regional director for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

The fire ignited around 10 a.m. and was out within a half-hour, Gould said in a statement. It captured the attention of tourists who quickly started recording and sharing video on social media.

William Herro, 13, of San Francisco, was on a viewing bridge with his parents when he saw the explosion and then heard a “big boom.”

“A ton of black smoke just exploded in the air. It looked almost like a mushroom and then a fire followed,” Herro said. “I was really surprised and I started filming.”

The explosion occurred on the apron of a building housing turbines that is slightly downstream from the base of the dam, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) southeast of Las Vegas. Hoover Dam is one of the tallest dams in the U.S. at 726 feet (221 meters). Each of its 17 generators can supply electricity to 100,000 households.

As many as 20,000 vehicles a day drive across the wide top of the dam, which is a National Historic Landmark and is seen in films including “Transformers” and “Fools Rush In.”

The Bureau of Reclamation owns and operates the dam, powerhouses and turbines. The power produced at the site is transferred to a substation where it’s marketed through the Western Area Power Administration.

Hoover Dam is considered a baseload source of power, meaning it can respond quickly to the need for additional power on the grid or dial back supply.

The fire triggered an alert at the Western Area Power Administration’s control center in Phoenix. Spokesman Lisa Meiman said while the loss of a transformer or other equipment on power generating stations can put pressure on a grid, “no single source is integral to the health of the power grid.”

Hydropower from both Hoover Dam and Glen Canyon Dam upstream have been threatened lately by the declining levels of Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the two largest human-made reservoirs in the U.S. that hold water from the Colorado River.

Federal officials have taken action in recent years to prop up the lakes to preserve the dams’ ability to generate power and keep water flowing to the Western states and Mexico that rely on it. Drought and climate change have sunk the lakes to their lowest levels in decades.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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U.K. Breaks Record For Highest Temperature Amid European Heat Wave

By Associated Press

and Newsy Staff

and John Bevir
July 19, 2022

The U.K. Met Office registered a provisional reading of 104.4 degrees Fahrenheit at Heathrow Airport, breaking the 101.7 F Britain recorded in 2019.

Britain shattered its record for highest temperature ever registered Tuesday amid a heat wave that has seared swaths of Europe — and the national weather forecaster predicted it would get hotter still in a country ill prepared for such extremes.

The typically temperate nation was just the latest to be walloped by unusually hot, dry weather that has triggered wildfires from Portugal to the Balkans and led to hundreds of heat-related deaths. Images of flames racing toward a French beach and Britons sweltering — even at the seaside — have driven home concerns about climate change.

The U.K. Met Office registered a provisional reading of 104.4 degrees Fahrenheit at Heathrow Airport in early afternoon — breaking the record set just an hour earlier and with hours of intense sunshine still to go. Before Tuesday, the highest temperature recorded in Britain was 101.7 F, set in 2019.

The sweltering weather has disrupted travel, health care and schools in a country not prepared for such extremes. Many homes, small businesses and even public buildings, including hospitals, don’t even have air conditioning, a reflection of how unusual such heat is in the country better known for rain and mild temperatures.

The intense heat since Monday has damaged the runway at London’s Luton airport, forcing it to shut for several hours, and warped a main road in eastern England, leaving it looking like a “skatepark,” police said. Major train stations were shut or near-empty on Tuesday, as trains were canceled or ran at low speeds out of concern rails could buckle.

A huge chunk of England, from London in the south to Manchester and Leeds in the north, remained under the country’s first “red” warning for extreme heat Tuesday, meaning there is danger of death even for healthy people.

Such dangers could be seen in Britain and around Europe. At least six people were reported to have drowned across the U.K. in rivers, lakes and reservoirs while trying to cool off. Meanwhile, nearly 750 heat-related deaths have been reported in Spain and neighboring Portugal in the heat wave there.

Climate experts warn that global warming has increased the frequency of extreme weather events, with studies showing that the likelihood of temperatures in the U.K. reaching 104 F is now 10 times higher than in the pre-industrial era.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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U.K. Government Issues First-Ever Extreme Heat Warning

By Associated Press

and John Bevir

and Newsy Staff
July 18, 2022

The excessive heat alert covers a large chunk of England and is set to last through Tuesday, when temperatures may reach 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

Millions of people in Britain stayed home or sought shade Monday during the country’s first-ever extreme heat warning, as hot, dry weather that has scorched mainland Europe for the past week moved north, disrupting travel, health care and schools.

The red heat alert covers a big chunk of England and is due to last through Tuesday, when temperatures may reach 104 degrees Fahrenheit for the first time, posing a risk of serious illness and even death among healthy people, according to the Met Office, Britain’s weather service.

The highest temperature ever recorded in Britain is 101.7 F, a record set in 2019. The country is not at all prepared to handle such heat — most homes, schools and small businesses in Britain do not have air-conditioning.

London’s Kew Gardens hit 99.5 F by 3 p.m. and Wales provisionally recorded its highest-ever temperature, the Met Office said, a recording of 95.5 F at Gogerddan on the west coast.

At least four people were reported to have drowned across the U.K. in rivers, lakes and reservoirs while trying to cool off.

While Monday may bring record highs to southeastern England, temperatures are expected to rise further as the warm air moves north on Tuesday, Met Office CEO Penelope Endersby said. The extreme heat warning stretches from London in the south to Manchester and Leeds in the north.

“So it’s tomorrow that we’re really seeing the higher chance of 40 degrees and temperatures above that,’’ Endersby told the BBC. “Forty-one isn’t off the cards. We’ve even got some 43s in the model, but we’re hoping it won’t be as high as that.”

Hot weather has gripped southern Europe since last week, triggering wildfires in Spain, Portugal and France. Almost 600 heat-related deaths have been reported in Spain and Portugal, where temperatures reached 117 F last week.

Climate experts warn that global warming has increased the frequency of extreme weather events, with studies showing that the likelihood of temperatures in the U.K. reaching 104 F is now 10 times higher than in the pre-industrial era. Drought and heat waves tied to climate change have also made wildfires harder to fight.

Officials in southern France’s Gironde region announced plans to evacuate an additional 3,500 people from towns threatened by the raging flames. More than 1,500 firefighters and water-bombing planes are trying to douse the flames in the region’s tinder-dry pine forests.

In Britain, train operators asked customers not to travel unless absolutely necessary, saying the heat was likely to warp rails and disrupt power supplies, leading to severe delays. Some routes were running at reduced speed or shutting down entirely from mid-afternoon, when temperatures were expected to peak.

Some medical appointments were canceled to relieve strains on the health service. Some schools closed, and others set up wading pools and water sprays to help children cool off. Most British schools have not yet closed for the summer.

The extreme heat even led Parliament to loosen its strict dress code. The Speaker of the House of Commons said male lawmakers could dispense with jackets and ties for the week.

The high temperatures are even more of a shock since Britain usually has very moderate summer temperatures. Across the U.K., average July temperatures range from a daily high of 70 F to a low of 53 F.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Eid Under the Taliban Shows a Changed Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — Thousands of Afghans had piled into buses and set out down the country’s once perilous highways bound for relatives they had not seen in years. Afghanistan’s only national park was filled with tourists who had only dreamed of traveling to its intensely blue lakes and jagged mountains when fighting raged across the country.

And Zulhijjah Mirzadah, a mother of five, packed a small picnic of dried fruit, gathered her family in a minibus and wove for two hours through the congested streets of the capital, Kabul, to a bustling amusement park.

From the entrance, she could hear the low whoosh of a roller coaster and the chorus of joyous screams from Afghans inside celebrating Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan. But she could not go further. Women, she was told at the gate, were barred by the Taliban from entering the park on Eid.

“We’re facing economic problems, things are expensive, we can’t find work, our daughters can’t go to school — but we hoped to have a picnic in the park today,” said Ms. Mirzadah, 25.

country’s economic collapse since the Taliban toppled the Western-backed government, the freedom of travel and luxury of celebratory outings remained out of reach.

City Park, the amusement park in Kabul, and the city’s zoo, had less than half of the number of visitors that typically come each Eid, according to park managers. The low turnout was a reflection of both the country’s economic downturn and the Taliban’s edict barring women from visiting on Eid — the latest in a growing roster of restrictions on women in public spaces.

In a modest house tucked into one of Kabul’s many hillsides, Zhilla, 18, gathered with relatives at her aunt’s house on the second day of Eid. Her young cousins and siblings chased each other in the small courtyard. Inside, Zhilla marveled over her new cousin, just six days old, sleeping peacefully in her mother’s lap.

“The baby knows we’ve been through a lot, she needs to behave for us,” Zhilla joked.

The previous year, she and her relatives had gathered by the city’s Qargha reservoir for a picnic by the river, as boys and girls rode bicycles along its banks and took boats out on the water — a memory that feels like a lifetime ago, she said.

“This Eid is the same as any other day — we cannot go out, we cannot be free,” she said.

Najim Rahim contributed reporting from Houston.

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