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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Elon Musk says SpaceX will keep funding Starlink in Ukraine despite losing money

Oct 15 (Reuters) – Elon Musk said on Saturday his rocket company SpaceX would continue to fund its Starlink internet service in Ukraine, citing the need for “good deeds,” a day after he said it could no longer afford to do so.

Musk tweeted: “the hell with it … even though starlink is still losing money & other companies are getting billions of taxpayer $, we’ll just keep funding ukraine govt for free”.

Musk said on Friday that SpaceX could not indefinitely fund Starlink in Ukraine. The service has helped civilians and military stay online during the war with Russia.

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SpaceX founder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks on a screen during the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain, June 29, 2021. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

Although it was not immediately clear whether Musk’s change of mind was genuine, he later appeared to indicate it was. When a Twitter user told Musk “No good deed goes unpunished”, he replied “Even so, we should still do good deeds”.

The billionaire has been in online fights with Ukrainian officials over a peace plan he put forward which Ukraine says is too generous to Russia.

He had made his Friday remarks about funding after a media report that SpaceX had asked the Pentagon to pay for the donations of Starlink.

SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment. The Pentagon declined to comment.

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Reporting by David Ljunggren, Matt Spetalnick and Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Sandra Maler

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Toll of Russian Strikes Mounts, Adding Urgency to Ukraine’s Pleas for Weapons

Credit…Jean-Francois Badias/Associated Press

PARIS — France began pumping natural gas directly to Germany for the first time on Thursday, part of a landmark agreement struck by both governments to help each other confront Europe’s energy crisis as Russia cuts off gas supplies to Europe.

Volumes of gas capable of producing around 31 gigawatt-hours per day of electricity began flowing early on Thursday into Germany, the French network operator GRTgaz said. The connection has a maximum capacity of 100 gigawatt-hours per day, equal to the power output of four nuclear reactors, or about 10 percent of the amount of liquefied natural gas that France imports each day, the company said.

GRTgaz said that months ago it had begun modifying its pipeline networks to be able to send gas to Germany. For years, the German economy has relied on Russian gas exports, but this year Moscow has slashed them in response to Western sanctions for its invasion of Ukraine.

France gets its gas from the Netherlands, Norway and Russia, according to the International Energy Agency, although supplies from Russia were cut off in September. It also receives deliveries of liquefied natural gas from several L.N.G. terminals.

To face the energy crunch, France has been storing gas and getting more of it from its European partners and Qatar. Recently, President Emmanuel Macron has burnished relations with Algeria, a former French colony, which has agreed to sharply increase gas exports to France.

In exchange for the gas from France, Germany has pledged to export more electricity to that country as it grapples with an unprecedented crisis in its nuclear power industry that has reduced power production.

“Germany needs our gas, and we need the electricity produced in the rest of Europe, and in particular in Germany,” President Emmanuel Macron said last month after speaking with the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, about the agreement. “We will contribute to European solidarity in gas and benefit from European solidarity in electricity.”

“Merci beaucoup,” Klaus Müller, the head of Germany’s federal network agency, wrote in a Twitter message to GRTGaz on Thursday. “The gas deliveries from France, through Saarland, help Germany’s energy security.”

European countries have pledged to work together to get through winter as Russia’s aggression in Ukraine raises the prospect of a prolonged energy crisis. On Thursday, Spain proposed increasing its gas deliveries to France by 18 percent in the coming months, Spain’s ecological transition minister, Teresa Ribera, said.

As Europe’s largest economy and the one most dependent on Russian gas, Germany has been among the countries worst affected by the energy crisis rippling across Europe, where natural gas costs about 10 times what it did a year ago. Both Berlin and Paris have imposed a broad range of conservation measures, including lowering thermostats and hot water heaters, encouraging the use of public transport and requiring public buildings to turn off lights early.

The energy crunch has forced European governments to fall back on less-desirable power sources that they had been trying to phase out in a push to go green. Germany, for instance, has decided to keep coal-fired power plants online and restart several others that had been mothballed.

In addition, Germany decided to keep two of its three remaining nuclear power plants operational as an emergency reserve for its electricity supply, breaking a political taboo and delaying its plans to become the first industrial power to go nuclear-free for its energy.

And in France, the government is facing an energy crisis of its own after half its fleet of nuclear power plants — the largest in Europe — was taken offline earlier this year for inspections and repairs. The electricity shortage has driven prices to record levels, forcing factories to cut production and put tens of thousands of employees on furlough.

Bruno Le Maire, France’s economy minister, warned Thursday that high energy prices continued to pose a “major risk” to French industry and would lead to a 10 percent decline in industrial production this winter.

Berlin this month announced a 200 billion euro (about $196 billion) aid plan for German households, businesses and industries. It includes policies to curb natural gas and electricity prices domestically. And France has already spent around €100 billion since last winter doing the same.

But with Mr. Scholz facing pushback over his government’s decision to keep nuclear plants running, Germany’s ability to uphold its end of the energy-swap deal with France may wind up depending on the French themselves: GRTgaz said that the exported French gas would allow Germany to produce more electricity, which in turn would be sent back to the French grid during peak hours.

“If we did not have European solidarity,” Mr. Macron said in a televised interview on Wednesday, “we would have serious problems.”

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Worldwide Passivated Emitter Rear Cell Industry to 2027 – Key Drivers and Challenges – ResearchAndMarkets.com

DUBLIN–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The “Global Passivated Emitter Rear Cell Market By Component (Anti-Reflective Coating, Silicon wafers, Passivation layer, Capping Layer, Others), By Type (Monocrystalline, Polycrystalline, Thin Film), By Application, By Region, Competition, Forecast and Opportunities , 2017-2027” report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com’s offering.

The global passivated emitter rear cell market is projected to register a significant CAGR during the forecast years, 2023-2027. Increasing demand for better and more efficient energy storage solutions to meet the growing energy requirement worldwide is the primary driver for the global passivated emitter rear cell market.

Solar panels with passivated emitter rear cells (PERCs) contain an extra layer covering the typical solar cells’ backs, increasing the efficiency and output of electrical energy from solar radiation. The safety of the solar panels can be enhanced by using PERC (passivated emitter rear cell) modules.

These modules are able to reduce back recombination and prevent longer-wavelength solar light from turning into heat energy, both of which are detrimental to the device and its performance. Market players are continuously making high-end investments in research and development activities to find new innovative solutions and upgrade the existing infrastructure.

Further improvements to the device are being made to lower installation and maintenance costs in addition to improving its efficiency. Modern PERC panels make better use of available space and operate more efficiently even when fewer panels are put in, which reduces installation time and expense.

The global passivated emitter rear cell market segmentation is based on component, type, application, regional distribution, and competitive landscape. Based on type, the market is divided into monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin film. The monocrystalline segment is expected to hold the largest market share during the forecast period, 2023-2027.

Monocrystalline passivated emitter rear cell is a combination of single-crystal cell, passivated emitter cell, and back cell. The solar panel provides high flexibility and has various placements viability & tilt options without compromising efficiency. Monocrystalline passivated emitter rear cells are also efficient in case of low lighting; thus, regions such as Europe can effectively use these for power generation.

Years considered for this report:

Objective of the Study:

Companies Mentioned

Report Scope:

In this report, global passivated emitter rear cell market has been segmented into the following categories, in addition to the industry trends which have also been detailed below:

Passivated Emitter Rear Cell Market, By Component:

Passivated Emitter Rear Cell Market, By Type:

Passivated Emitter Rear Cell Market, By Application:

Passivated Emitter Rear Cell Market, By Region:

For more information about this report visit https://www.researchandmarkets.com/r/n6onw8

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With Brittney Griner In Jail, WNBA Players Skip Russia In Offseason

By Associated Press
September 20, 2022

WNBA players often compete in Russia because of the high salaries, but they are skipping out due to Brittney Griner’s imprisonment.

Brittney Griner’s highly publicized legal woes in Russia and the country’s invasion of Ukraine have the top WNBA players opting to take their talents elsewhere this offseason.

For the past few decades, Russia has been the preferred offseason destination for WNBA players to compete because of the high salaries that can exceed $1 million and the resources and amenities teams offered them.

That all has come to an abrupt end.

“Honestly my time in Russia has been wonderful, but especially with BG still wrongfully detained there, nobody’s going to go there until she’s home,” said Breanna Stewart, a Griner teammate on the Russian team that paid the duo millions. “I think that, you know, now, people want to go overseas and if the money is not much different, they want to be in a better place.”

Griner was arrested in February, then detained and later convicted on drug possession charges amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Griner was sentenced last month to nine years in prison.

Now, Stewart and other WNBA All-Stars, including Jonquel Jones and Courtney Vandersloot — who also have made millions of dollars playing in Russia — are going elsewhere this winter. All three played for Ekaterinburg, the same Russian team as Griner. That club won five EuroLeague titles in the past eight seasons and has been dominant for nearly two decades with former greats DeLisha Milton Jones and Diana Taurasi playing there.

Nearly a dozen WNBA players competed in Russia last winter and none of them are heading back this year.

After the World Cup tournament, Stewart is going to Turkey to play for Fenerbahçe. Top players can make a few hundred thousand dollars playing in Turkey, much less than their Russian salaries. Playing in Turkey also allows Stewart to be closer to her wife’s family in Spain.

“You want to have a better lifestyle, a better off-the-court experience, and just continue to appreciate other countries,” Stewart said.

Like Stewart, Vandersloot also isn’t headed back to Russia, choosing to play in Hungary where she obtained citizenship in 2016.

“I am Hungarian. I thought it would be special since I haven’t played there since I got the citizenship,” Vandersloot said.

The 33-year-old guard said a lot would have to change before she’d ever consider going back to Russia to play even though she has many fond memories of the Russian people.

“The thing about it is, we were treated so well by our club and made such strong relationships with those people, I would never close the door on that,” she said. “The whole situation with BG makes it really hard to think that it’s safe for anyone to go back there right now.”

Jones will be joining Stewart in Turkey, playing for Mersin. The 6-foot-6 Jones said she would consider going back to Russia if things change politically and Griner was back in the U.S.

The Griner situation also is weighing heavily on the minds of young WNBA players.

Rhyne Howard, the 2022 WNBA Rookie of the Year, is playing in Italy this winter — her first overseas experience. She said was careful when deciding where she wanted to play.

“Everyone’s going to be a bit cautious seeing as this situation is happening,” she said.

It’s not just the American players who are no longer going to Russia. Chicago Sky forward Emma Meesseman, who stars for the Belgium national team, had played in Russia with Stewart, Jones and Vandersloot. She also is headed to Turkey this offseason.

The WNBA has also been trying to make staying home in the offseason a better option for players. Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said at the WNBA Finals that top players could make up to $700,000 this year between base salary, marketing agreements and award bonuses. While only a select few players could reach that amount, roughly a dozen have decided to take league marketing agreements this offseason.

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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White House Sends Extra Monkeypox Vaccines Ahead Of Pride Events

The White House is sending tens of thousands of monkeypox vaccine doses to areas hosting Labor Day pride events.

Federal and state health officials are sharing their plans to prevent Labor Day pride events from becoming monkeypox super spreaders.

The White House monkeypox response team says they’re sending an extra 6,000 vaccine doses to the Southern Decadence event in New Orleans, 2,400 extra to Pridefest in Oakland, California and 5,500 doses to Atlanta Black Pride in Georgia.

“It was a great opportunity to get folks ready for the event in terms of getting vaccines on the ground early, but also a great opportunity to reach people who don’t feel comfortable in a clinic but do feel comfortable in less stigmatizing spaces that can occur in the events,” said Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, White House national monkeypox response deputy coordinator.

It comes as Texas health officials confirm the first U.S. monkeypox death. They say an adult patient in the Houston area also was severely immunocompromised. An autopsy is expected in the next few weeks.

“Death is possible due to monkeypox but remains rare,” said Dr. Jennifer McQuiston, the CDC’s monkeypox response incident manager.

Anyone can get monkeypox. The World Health Organization and the CDC say gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men make up the majority of the cases.

In the U.S., cases are slowly trending down compared to July.

The WHO say the Americas accounted for 60% of global monkeypox cases in the past month. 

“There are encouraging early signs, as evidenced in France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and other countries that the outbreak may be slowing,” said Hans Kluge, WHO Europe regional director.

Federal officials are cautiously optimistic, but challenges remain, like getting vaccines equally distributed. About 10% of monkeypox vaccine doses have been given to Black people. They account for one-third of U.S. cases, according to the CDC.

The FDA also recently green lit a different method for giving the JYNNEOS shot: underneath the skin, but not as deep in the muscle. Federal officials say that should help get two doses of the vaccine to the 1.6 million people in the U.S. who are most at risk of contracting the virus.

Source: newsy.com

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Winds Drive Major Wildfire In Spain; Portugal Goes On Alert

By Associated Press
August 19, 2022

Efforts to bring it under control Thursday failed and strong winds have made the fire “very aggressive,” the Valencian regional government said.

A wildfire burning out of control in Spain’s eastern province of Valencia has become one of the country’s biggest fires this year, and 35 aircraft were deployed to fight it as the blaze entered its fifth day, authorities said Friday.

The wildfire has already scorched more than 47,000 acres along an 85-mile perimeter. Efforts to bring it under control Thursday failed and strong winds have made the fire “very aggressive,” the Valencian regional government said.

In neighboring Portugal, the government on Friday announced a nationwide three-day state of alert beginning Sunday. Portugal is in the grip of a severe drought and has also seen devastating wildfires this summer.

The measure, which grants authorities special, temporary powers such as barring people from woodlands, is a response to forecasts of inland temps above 104 degrees Fahrenheit beginning Sunday in what could be the country’s third heat wave this summer.

Portuguese Interior Minister José Luís Carneiro said the armed forces would provide extra forest patrols on those days. He also announced that the Civil Protection Agency will get additional funding to hire another 500 firefighters.

In Spain’s Valencia, meanwhile, four people were still hospitalized after suffering severe burns Wednesday when several passengers tried to jump off a train that had stopped and tried to go back amid surrounding flames. The train had inadvertently headed into the fast-spreading wildfire.

Regional government head Ximo Puig has requested a report from the firefighting services to clarify why the train was allowed to proceed through an area that was burning.

Spain has been hit harder than any other European country by forest fires this year, according to the European Commission’s Copernicus Earth observation program. This year, wildfires in Spain have burned four times more land than they did during the last decade.

Up to early August, 43 large wildfires — those affecting at least 1,235 acres — were recorded in the Mediterranean country, while the average in previous years was 11.

The European Forest Fire Information System estimates Spain has seen 704,000 acres burn this year — four times higher than the average since records began in 2006.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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The Meaning Behind Pope Francis’ Meeting With Transgender People

Some say Pope Francis’s meeting with transgender people may not translate into doctrinal change, but it could lead to cultural acceptance.

Father James Martin has taken his message of prayer and inclusivity just about everywhere, from “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” to the halls of the Vatican.

In May, he wrote to Pope Francis with a few questions.

“I just wanted to give him a time to briefly talk to LGBTQ Catholics,” Martin said.

Francis has extended apologies to the abused and a welcome to the historically rejected. According to the Vatican News, he recently met with transgender people near Rome, Italy.

So Martin’s questions aren’t so random.

“I asked him, ‘What would you most like them to know about the church?'” Martin said. “He said, ‘Read Acts of the Apostles,’ which was really interesting because there’s a church that’s kind of mixing it up. Then also, ‘What would you say to an LGBTQ Catholic who felt rejected by the church?’ And he said very interestingly to remember that it’s not the church that rejects you, the church loves you, but it might be individual people in the church.”

It isn’t the first time Francis has corresponded directly with Martin on LGBTQ relations or the first time he has spoken up about their place within the Catholic church.

In 2016, Francis agreed the church should apologize to not only gay people but other marginalized groups, like the poor. He’s also called for parents to accept their LGBTQ children.

Francis’ gestures are one thing; changing church doctrine, which teaches that the act of homosexuality is sinful, is another.

“What would have happened really, in a sense, is for theologians working together, along with church officials, to come to some newer understanding of how they can accommodate for older church teaching on these issues, to show that the church evolves rather than dramatically changing,” said Michele Dillon, professor of sociology at the University of New Hampshire. “Because the church is not going to say, ‘Oh, we were wrong.’ It’s very rare.”

“If he were to do that, which I don’t think Pope Francis will, but if he were to do that, he would not want to do it without support from the Curia and the College of Cardinals,” said Cristina Traina, professor of Catholic theology at Fordham University. “He would not want to do it without tracing a pathway theologically.”

Instead, Francis has gone another direction: one met with both criticism and praise, uplifting LGBTQ Catholics while simultaneously reiterating church doctrine.  

NEWSY’S AMBER STRONG: Is he sort of riding the line between saying that this is doctrine, and doctrines not going to change. But, we also still need to love and affirm people as well?

FATHER JAMES MARTIN: I think that’s a good question, and I think he is kind of trying to straddle that line. But I think one thing to remember is that what seems very bland and tepid in the United States — overseas is a big deal. In the U.S., we might say, ‘Oh, big deal. Of course, you should welcome your kids.’ If you’re in Eastern Europe or sub-Saharan Africa or Latin America or India, that’s a big deal. So, we have to remember that he’s speaking to the whole church.”

According to Pew Research, 76% of U.S. Catholics say society should be accepting of homosexuality. That’s below the rate of Catholic support in countries like Spain and the Netherlands but far higher than places like Lebanon and Nigeria.

Some theologians argue that Francis’ support could have a trickle-down impact on individual Catholics and parishes.

“These things can do a lot to encourage Catholics to embrace LGBTQ people with love and compassion and mercy and not to see them as the Antichrist, the anathema, the enemy of salvation,” Traina said.

In 2021, a group of catholic leaders, including a cardinal and archbishop, signed a statement calling for widespread support of at-risk LGBTQ youth. According to an NCR analysis of recent listening sessions among U.S. Catholics, there was a growing call for LGBTQ inclusion and more opportunities for women.  

“To me, there’s no such thing as an empty gesture because, yes, many times people want to see more clear cut evidence of change and of their acceptance within the church, but sometimes it’s in small steps,” Dillon said.

In 2021, Martin, a Vatican appointee under Francis, launched Outreach: a website that provides resources to LGBTQ Catholics and leaders. It’s an effort Pope Francis has encouraged.

“He hasn’t changed any church teaching,” Martin said. “I’m not advocating for any church teaching, but he’s advocated a more pastoral response, listening to them, welcoming them, treating them with the respect.

Source: newsy.com

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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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