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After Record Heat Wave, Parts of Europe Now Face Drought 

After weathering record-breaking temperatures, parts of Europe are now gripped by a punishing drought that is shriveling harvests, sparking water shortages and taking a toll on wildlife. experts now warn Europeans must better prepare for today’s ‘new normal.’Weeks of dry weather have left two-thirds of French departments facing water restrictions. Plants and wildlife are stressed. More than 20 departments are in the critical red category that restricts water use to only essential needs.France is not the only European country facing a parched summer. This weather forecast in neighboring Spain indicates some rain up north, but overall the country is baking in its third driest year this century.Dry weather also has hit parts of Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic and Scandinavian countries. This month, Lithuania declared an emergency, with drought expected to cut its harvests by half.All of this follows a string of record-breaking temperatures in June across much of the continent.People cool off by the Vistula River during a heatwave in Warsaw, Poland, June 30, 2019.Climate change and adaptation expert Blaz Kurnik, of the European Environment Agency in Copenhagen, says that’s no coincidence.“Drought and heatwaves are connected,” he said. “And they are amplifying each other afterwards.”Kurnik says its hard to just blame everything on climate change. But the last couple of years were the warmest ever recorded in Europe, mirroring the global temperature rise. And this is Europe’s second drought in as many years.Not surprisingly, farmers are worried. We’re going to irrigate some plots, this farmer told French TV, while noting that not all of the crops can be saved.Insurance companies estimate last year’s drought cost Europe several billion dollars. Expert Kurnik points up that’s only part of the bill.“There are also losses, which cannot directly translate into money, which are the permanent damage of the forest, the loss of biodiversity … which can recover in the next years — or not,” he said.Europe has long been considered a climate change leader. Experts say many European Union countries have drafted comprehensive plans to mitigate the impact of hotter and drier weather in the years to come. But that’s not enough.When it comes to sustainable water management, for instance, environmental group WWF’s European Water Policy Officer Carla Freund says there’s a disconnect between good legislation and action.“I think we see a lack of will overall,” she said. “It’s not an area of priority for a lot of member states. I think water is seen as something that’s ubiquitous regardless. So I don’t think governments are really aware that we’re going to be facing a huge shortage problem in the future.”A different EuropeA Swiss study out earlier this month predicts that like other parts of the world, Europe will be drastically different by 2050. London’s climate may be more like Barcelona’s today. Madrid will be more like Marakesh.Climate change expert Kurnik says that in some ways, Europe is preparing for these changes. France’s 2003 heatwave killed 15,000 people. That didn’t happen this year. Some farmers are planting drought-resistant crops and adopting more efficient irrigation methods. But he says the efforts are patchy.Meanwhile, next week’s forecast predicts yet another heatwave in France — with no rain in sight.

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US Cuts Turkey Out of F-35 Fighter Jet Program 

The United States is officially removing Turkey from its F-35 stealth fighter jet program after Ankara accepted the Russian delivery of its S-400 missile defense system.”Unfortunately, Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defense systems renders its continued involvement with the F-35 impossible,” the White House said in a statement Wednesday. “The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities.”U.S. officials believe NATO ally Turkey’s decision to use Russian advanced radar technology could compromise the alliance’s military systems in the country. The S-400 could potentially be used to target NATO jets in Turkey, including the U.S.-made F-35, which is NATO’s newest stealth fighter jet.Defense Secretary nominee Mark Esper testifies before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination in Washington, July 16, 2019.On Tuesday, President Donald Trump’s nominee to be the next secretary of defense slammed Turkey’s acceptance of the S-400, parts of which were delivered last week, as “wrong” and “disappointing.” Mark Esper told lawmakers he emphasized in a phone call to Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar that “you can either have the S-400 or the F-35. You can’t have both.”A Russian transport jet delivered the first parts of the $2.2 billion missile system last Friday to a Turkish military air base outside Ankara.Turkey’s Ministry of National Defense has said its purchase of the S-400 defense systems was “not an option but rather a necessity.”The ministry said last week that Turkey was still assessing the bid to acquire U.S. Patriot air defense systems.But the White House countered Turkey’s assertion on Wednesday.”The United States has been actively working with Turkey to provide air defense solutions to meet its legitimate air defense needs, and this administration has made multiple offers to move Turkey to the front of the line to receive the U.S. PATRIOT air defense system,” the White House said.The White House added that Turkey has been a “longstanding and trusted partner and NATO Ally for over 65 years,” but that “accepting the S-400 undermines the commitments all NATO Allies made to each other to move away from Russian systems.”Potentially more damaging for Turkey are U.S. sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which could hit Turkey’s already weakened economy.The top Republican and Democratic senators of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Jim Inhofe, Jack Reed, Jim Risch and Bob Menendez, issued a joint statement Friday condemning the delivery and urging President Trump to fully implement the sanctions.Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan waves to supporters following a rally to honor the victims of the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt, part of the ceremonies marking the three-year anniversary, in Istanbul, July 15, 2019.”By accepting delivery of the S-400 from Russia, President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan has chosen a perilous partnership with Putin at the expense of Turkey’s security, economic prosperity and the integrity of the NATO alliance,” the senators said.”It did not have to come to this,” they added, stating that Turkey had “rejected multiple attempts” by the United States to preserve the relationship while protecting Turkish airspace with F-35 fighter jets and the U.S.-made Patriot surface-to-air defense system.Turkish officials argue Turkey is in a complicated geopolitical region, as it borders Iran, Iraq, and Syria. Three years ago, the Turkish presidential palace was bombed by rogue elements of its military in an attempted coup, and some analysts suggest the missiles could be used to protect Turkish President Erdogan.While the S-400 is widely recognized as one of the most advanced missile systems in the world, its practical use is in question, given its incompatibility with the rest of Turkey’s NATO military systems.From a military perspective there is no logic,” said retired General Haldun Solmazturk, who now heads the Ankara-based 21st Century Institute research institution. “This is not only a problem between Turkey and the United States, but it is a problem between Turkey and the rest of the 28 NATO members, so it’s a serious problem.”

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Зеленський: Путін запропонував обмін «усіх на всіх»

За даними МЗС, Росія незаконно утримує понад 70 українців. До цього числа не входять 24 моряки, захоплені Росією біля Керченської проток

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A Breathless Ocean

The ocean provides many benefits to our planet and all the creatures that live there. It regulates the earth’s climate, produces 60 percent of the oxygen for the earth and is an important source of food.   Denise Breitburg is a marine ecologist with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. Her research and studies center on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, a large water system that stretches from New York to Virginia. The Bay itself receives about half its volume from the Atlantic Ocean. “I do work on a wide range of organisms, from fish, jellyfish to oysters. Any of the things large enough to see without a microscope. But, I’m also really interested not just in individual animals, but in how it all fits together, how food webs change, how the environment influences evolution and really the ecosystems as a whole.” Breitburg says one thing that has a negative impact on the ecosystem is oxygen decline in the ocean.   “Animals need oxygen to breathe, grow, reproduce and survive. The marine ecosystems require oxygen. But, oxygen is declining in the open ocean and coastal waters because of increasing global temperatures and excess nutrients.”Marine ecologist Denise BreitburgFinding a solution to this problem, Breitburg says, requires spending much of her time doing research and instead of being in the open waters. She also spends time speaking to policy makers and environmental managers to educate them on the issues so they can develop policies that are going to be effective. Breitburg says ocean deoxygenation does not occur in isolation or only in waters in the United States. “I’ve been co-chairing a working group that’s part of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission from UNESCO. It  includes about 20 researchers and scientists from around the world, who all work on various aspects of the problem of low oxygen in the oceans. Waters are warming and acidifying, food webs are changed by fishing and habitat can be degraded by plastics and other pollutants.” This is a problem around the world, says Breitburg. “Everything from fisheries to global models to trying to understand the effects of climate change. Many many places around the world have the same sort of problems that we have here.” Breitburg says the Clean Air Act and other kinds of management of coastal waters has reduced the amount of nitrogen coming into the Chesapeake Bay. In other words, policies, regulations, and research can make a difference over time, Breitburg says. “The Earth’s population has increased. It’s almost tripled since 1950, and things that we used to be able to do when there were many fewer of us just don’t work in a global population this size, and at a time when we still need to think about how to bring people from poorer developing countries up to a better standard of living so that they’re healthy and can lead long lives. And for that to happen, that means each of us having less of an impact on this earth and supporting government actions that will encourage that to happen. So, we can hopefully leave a healthier environment for our children and grandchildren.”     

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US House Holding Trump Impeachment Vote

The U.S. House of Representatives is voting Wednesday on whether to immediately consider impeaching President Donald Trump. It’s a proposition likely to fail, although the vote could show where the Democratic-controlled chamber stands on attempting to begin the process of removing the Republican from office.The impeachment vote is being forced by Congressman Al Green, a Democrat from the southwestern state of Texas, against the wishes of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She and other House leaders instead have supported numerous legislative investigations of Trump’s 2016 campaign links to Russia, his finances and taxes, and whether, as president, he obstructed justice by trying to thwart special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the election.Green has previously used the legislative rules in the House to force two impeachment votes, in December 2017 and a month later, with the then-Republican-controlled House overwhelmingly voting both times against his efforts. But the new vote is the first time Green has pressed the issue since Democrats took control of the chamber in January.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., arrives for a closed-door session with her caucus before a vote on a resolution condemning what she called “racist comments” by President Donald Trump at the Capitol in Washington, July 16, 2019.Pelosi has blocked the start of a House impeachment inquiry in favor of the ongoing investigations. She has voiced fears of the political fallout for Democrats pursuing an impeachment effort when, even if the House did vote to impeach Trump, the Republican-controlled Senate is highly unlikely to convict Trump of wrongdoing by the required two-thirds vote to remove him from office.Pelosi was non-committal Tuesday about how it would handle Green’s demand for the impeachment vote.”That will be up to our leadership team to decide,” she said.House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said, “We haven’t really discussed how to dispose of it. I’m not going try to discourage him, you know, he has to do what he thinks is right.”FILE – Robert Mueller, then-special counsel probing Russian interference in the 2016 election, departs Capitol Hill following a meeting with lawmakers, in Washington, June 21, 2017.Mueller is set to testify before two House investigative committees for hours next week about his 22-month probe.He concluded that Trump and his campaign did not conspire with Russia, while laying out several instances in which Trump possibly obstructed justice, the basis for about 80 of the 235 Democrats in the House, and one Republican-turned-independent lawmaker, to call for Trump’s impeachment or at least the start of an impeachment inquiry. Roughly two-thirds of the Democratic majority has not weighed in on Trump’s possible impeachment or voiced support for the current legislative investigations.Mueller reached no conclusion on whether Trump should be charged with obstruction, in part because of a long-standing Justice Department policy that sitting U.S. presidents cannot be criminally charged. Subsequently, Attorney General William Barr and then Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein decided no charges were warranted against Trump. The president  has often claimed exoneration.Green omitted references to Trump’s alleged obstruction of Mueller’s investigation in his impeachment resolution, instead citing Trump’s incendiary comments this week telling four progressive lawmakers, all women of color, to “go back” to their homelands and other racially-provocative comments Trump has made during his presidency. The House condemned Trump’s remarks about the four congresswomen as racist.Green said he believes that if the House does not impeach Trump, it “will only intensify his ugly behavior. It just seemed to me that we should bring these articles before the House of Representatives so that we could not only condemn him, but impeach him so that he will understand that there are some boundaries.”

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Turkish Diplomat Killed in Irbil

An official with Turkey’s consulate in the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Irbil was killed Wednesday when a gunman opened fire at a restaurant, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry has confirmed.Turkey’s Anadolu news agency, citing the restaurant’s owner, said the attacker with two weapons fired on a group of consulate workers shortly after arriving at the restaurant.Iraq’s state-run news agency reports the victim was Turkey’s deputy general consul. The news agency also reported several other members of the group were killed.Kurdish security members gather near a restaurant where a gunman opened fire in Irbil, Iraq, July 17, 2019.Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said the victim had been “martyred as a result of a heinous attack” and called on Iraqi and regional authorities “to find the perpetrators of the attack swiftly.”Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the attack as “hateful.” There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the shooting. Kurdish security officials said the attacker fled the scene in a car driven by an accomplice.The attack occurred at a popular restaurant in a high-security area near the Turkish consulate.Turkey is in the midst of a large military offensive in Iraq’s mountainous northern region to rid the area of pockets controlled by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).The PKK has been designated as a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union. The group, which has waged a revolt against Turkey since 1984, operates bases in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region.

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Boeing to Spend $50 Million to Support 737 MAX Crash Victim Families

Boeing Co said on Wednesday it will dedicate half of a $100 million fund it created to address two crashes of its 737 MAX planes to financial relief for the families of those killed, with compensation expert Ken Feinberg hired by the world’s largest plane maker to oversee the distribution.The announcement of Feinberg’s hiring came minutes before the start of a U.S. House of Representatives hearing that featured dramatic testimony by Paul Njoroge, a father who lost three children, his wife and mother-in-law in a 737 MAX Ethiopian Air crash in March.Feinberg told Reuters his team will “start immediately drafting a claims protocol for those eligible,” with the first meeting with Chicago-based Boeing later this week in Washington.The 737 MAX, Boeing’s best-selling jet, was grounded globally in March following the Ethiopian Airlines crash after a similar Lion Air disaster in Indonesia in October. The two crashes killed 346 people.Njoroge told reporters after he testified that he did not think the public would trust Boeing going forward. “Do you want to fly in those planes? Do you want your children to fly in those planes?” he asked. “I don’t have any more children.”Njoroge told a House subcommittee that he still has “nightmares about how (his children) must have clung to their mother crying” during the doomed flight.Njoroge said Boeing has blamed “innocent pilots who had no knowledge and were given no information of the new and flawed MCAS system that could overpower pilots.”Boeing did not immediately comment on his testimony.A Boeing official told Reuters last month that after a new software flaw emerged the company will not submit an MCAS software upgrade and training revision until September, which means the planes will not resume flying until November at the earliest. U.S. airlines have cancelled flights.Boeing said on July 3 it would give $100 million over multiple years to local governments and non-profit organizations to help families and communities affected by the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.Feinberg, who will jointly administer the fund with lawyer Camille Biros, said the other $50 million in the fund is earmarked for government and community projects.Boeing reiterated on Wednesday that the money distributed through the fund would be independent from the outcome of any lawsuits.The company is facing a slew of litigation from the families of victims of both crashes.”Through our partnership with Feinberg and Biros, we hope affected families receive needed assistance as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg said in a statement.Feinberg has administered many compensation funds including for victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, General Motors ignition switch crashes and numerous school shootings.Boeing’s initial announcement of the $100 million fund was met with anger by some victims’ families, who described the offer as a publicity stunt.At the hearing in Washington, Representative Peter DeFazio, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, said he would call Boeing officials to testify at a hearing. DeFazio said the committee is in the middle of an in-depth investigation and had just received a “trove” of documents that panel investigators are reviewing.

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Finland Says Russian Aircraft Suspected of Air Violation

Finland’s defense ministry says a Russian aircraft is suspected of having violated the Nordic country’s airspace.The ministry said in a short statement that the alleged violation took place Wednesday morning on the Baltic Sea near the town of Porvoo, east of Helsinki. It provided no further details and said the Finnish Border Guard is investigating the matter.Spokesman Kristian Vakkuri separately told Finnish newspaper Iltalehti that the alleged violation by a Russian aircraft lasted for about two minutes, entering about one kilometer (0.6 miles) into the airspace of Finland, which is not a member of NATO.It was the second reported air violation of Finland’s airspace this year.
 
In April, the Portuguese Air Force said one of its surveillance planes unintentionally strayed into Finnish airspace during a NATO mission over the Baltic Sea.