Breaking records Inflation highest since 1982

Rev 6:6 NAS And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”

Important Takeaways:

  • US inflation soared 7% in past year, the most since 1982
  • Ayers and other economists say prices may cool off some as snags in the supply chain ease, but inflation will remain elevated throughout 2022
  • Rising prices have wiped out the healthy pay increases that many Americans have been receiving, making it harder for households, especially lower-income families, to afford basic expenses
  • Used car prices have soared more than 37% over the past year
  • Clothing costs rose 1.7% just in December, its second month of sharp increases, and are up 5.8% from a year ago.
  • Gas 50% higher than a year ago.
  • Many restaurants have been passing along higher labor and food costs onto their customers

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Exodus to jungles, villages as Myanmar troops retake town

(Reuters) – Thousands of residents of a hill town in northwest Myanmar were hiding in jungles, villages and valleys on Monday after fleeing an assault by state troops, witnesses said, as the army advanced into the town after days battling local militias.

Mindat, about 100 km (60 miles) from the Indian border in Chin state, has seen some of the most intense fighting since a Feb. 1 coup that has led to the emergence of ragtag local armies that are stifling the junta’s bid to consolidate power.

Martial law was declared in Mindat on Thursday before the army launched its assault, using artillery and helicopters against a newly formed Chinland Defense Force, a militia armed mainly with hunting rifles, which said it had pulled back to spare civilians from being caught in the crossfire.

Several residents reached by Reuters said food was in short supply and estimated as many as 5,000 to 8,000 people had fled the town, with roads blocked and the presence of troops in the streets preventing their return.

“Almost everyone left the city,” said a volunteer fighter who said she was in a jungle. “Most of them are in hiding.”

A representative of the local people’s administrative group of Mindat said he was among some 200 people, including women and children, who had trekked across rocky roads and hills carrying blankets, rice and cooking pots.

He said the group was attacked with heavy weapons when troops spotted smoke from their cooking fires.

“We have to move from one place to another. We cannot settle in a place in the jungle,” he told Reuters by phone.

“Some men were arrested as they went into town to get more food for us. We cannot get into town currently. We are going to starve in few days.”

The Chinland Defense Forces in a statement on Monday said it had killed five government troops in Hakha, another town in Chin State.

The United Nations children’s fund UNICEF in a tweet urged security forces to ensure safety of children in Mindat, the latest international call for restraint after human rights groups, the United States and Britain condemned the use of war weapons against civilians.

MULTIPLE FRONTS

The United States, Britain and Canada on Monday announced more sanctions against businesses and individuals tied to the junta. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged more countries to follow suit.

Myanmar has been in chaos since the coup, with the military battling armed and peaceful resistance on multiple fronts, adding to concerns about economic collapse and a humanitarian crisis from old conflicts reigniting in border regions.

The fighters in Chin State say they are part of the People’s Defense Forces of the shadow government, which has called on the international community for help.

In an effort to coordinate the anti-junta forces, the shadow government on Monday issued a list of instructions to all the civilian armies, which it said must operate under its command and control.

Aid groups in direct contact with residents of Mindat made urgent calls on social media on Monday for donations or food, clothing and medicine.

Salai, 24, who has been organizing an emergency response, said she had spoken to people hiding in a valley and on farmland who had fled the advance of soldiers.

“They looted people’s property. They burned down people’s houses. It is really upsetting,” said Salai.

“Some in the town were injured by gunshots, including a young girl. She cannot get medical treatment.”

A military spokesman did not answer calls or messages seeking comment.

In its nightly news bulletin, state-run MRTV said security forces returned fire after coming under attack from insurgents in Mindat, who fled, and that government troops had been attacked elsewhere in Chin State.

So far, 790 people have been killed in the junta’s crackdown on its opponents, according to the activist group the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

The military disputes that figure. Reuters cannot independently verify arrests and casualty numbers.

The military says it intervened after its complaints of fraud in a November election won by Aung San Suu Kyi’s party were ignored.

An international monitoring group on Monday said the results of that election “were, by and large, representative of the will of the people of Myanmar”.

(Reporting by Reuters Staff; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Hundreds urged to wash clothes after UK nerve agent attack

Soldiers wear protective clothing in Salisbury, Britain, March 11, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

By Henry Nicholls and Alex Fraser

SALISBURY, England (Reuters) – Hundreds of people who visited the Zizzi restaurant or the Mill pub in the English city of Salisbury were told on Sunday to wash their clothes after traces of nerve agent used to attack a former Russian spy last week were found at both sites.

Public Health England said there was no immediate health risk to anyone who may have been in either the restaurant or the pub, but their was a small chance that any of the agent that had come into contact with clothing or belongings could still be present in minute amounts and contaminate skin.

Former double agent Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, have been in hospital in a critical condition since March 4, when they were found unconscious on a bench in the southern English cathedral city of Salisbury.

People walk past a restaurant which has been secured as part of the investigation into the poisoning of former Russian inteligence agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, in Salisbury, Britain March 11, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

People walk past a restaurant which has been secured as part of the investigation into the poisoning of former Russian inteligence agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, in Salisbury, Britain March 11, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

“We have now learned there has been some trace contamination by the nerve agent in both the Mill pub and Zizzi restaurant in Salisbury,” chief medical offer Sally Davies said on Sunday.

She said she was confident that no one who was in the restaurant or the pub on March 4 or 5 had been harmed, but their clothing should be washed and personal items like phones wiped as a precaution against any long-term exposure to any substance.

Skripal and his daughter remained in a “critical but stable condition in intensive care,” the chief executive of the local hospital said at a news conference.

A police officer who initially responded was “conscious and in a serious but stable condition,” she added.

British police have said a nerve agent was used against Skripal and his daughter, but have not made public which one.

SMALL RISK

Public Health England said it had weighed new evidence before issuing its advice on Sunday, and it said the general public had not been at risk in the days since the attack.

“This is about a very, very small risk of repetitive contact for any traces of contamination that people may have taken out,” Public Health England’s deputy medical director Jenny Harries said at the same press conference.

“In risk terms one or two days is not what we are concerned about, what we are worrying about is whether there could be an ongoing risk that could build over the future.”

Cordons were still around the restaurant and the pub on Sunday, and police could not say how long they would remain.

A number of police cars and other vehicles were removed from a local car park by soldiers wearing protective clothing and gas masks on Sunday, a Reuters eyewitness said.

Items from the Zizzi restaurant, including a table, had been removed and destroyed, the BBC said.

Local residents said they were concerned by the warnings about contamination issued to the people who had visited the venues.

“It’s worried a lot of people,” dog walker Phil Burt said. “This town is usually packed on a Sunday, but I think a lot of people are just staying away.”

Many in British media and politics have speculated that Russia could have played a part in the attack on Skripal, but interior minister Amber Rudd said on Saturday it was too early to say who was responsible.

Skripal betrayed dozens of Russian agents to British intelligence before his arrest in Moscow in 2004. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison in 2006, and in 2010 was given refuge in Britain after being exchanged for Russian spies.

Finance minister Philip Hammond said Britain would respond “appropriately” if a foreign state is found to have been involved in the poisoning.

“This is a police investigation and it will be evidence-led and we must go where the evidence takes us,” Hammond told BBC television on Sunday.

“So we have to allow the police investigation to run its course. But if there were to be an involvement of a foreign state evidenced by this investigation, then obviously that would be very serious indeed and the government would respond appropriately,” he said.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle and William Schomberg; Editing by Mark Potter and David Evans)

People evacuated from Papua New Guinea island after volcano explodes

The remote island volcano of Kadovar spews ash into the sky in Papua New Guinea, January 6, 2018. SAMARITAN AVIATION/via REUTERS

By Alison Bevege

SYDNEY (Reuters) – About 1,500 people are being evacuated from an island off the northern coast of Papua New Guinea (PNG) after a nearby volcano erupted, the local Red Cross said on Sunday.

A volcano on the island of Kadovar, located about 24 km (15 miles) north of the Papuan mainland, began erupting on Jan. 5. That prompted the evacuation of 590 people on Kadovar to the nearby island of Blup Blup.

After venting ash for several days, the volcano exploded on Friday, blasting out glowing red rocks and sulphur dioxide, the Rabaul Volcanological Observatory said in a bulletin. The PNG government then decided to evacuate Blup Blup as well because of issues with supplying people on the island along with the danger from the eruption.

The evacuees are being moved to the mainland and the International Red Cross is providing about 87,000 kina ($26,274) in funding to help them, said PNG Red Cross Secretary General Uvenama Rova by telephone from the capital of Port Moresby.

“The people there, as the volcano erupted, they rushed immediately to escape. So they are in immediate need of food, water, shelter and clothing as well,” he said.

In the latest bulletin issued on Sunday, the Observatory said a dome of lava on Kadover was visible in the sea at the base of thick white steam clouds that are rising to 600 meters (1,969 feet) above sea level.

Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced on twitter that the Australian Government was contributing A$25,000 ($19,775) worth of humanitarian supplies for those affected.

There are no confirmed records of a previous eruption of Kadovar, said Chris Firth, a vulcanologist at Macquarie University, but scientists speculate it could have been one of two “burning islands” mentioned in the journals of a 17th-century English pirate and maritime adventurer, William Dampier.

(Reporting by Alison Bevege; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

Floods, landslides kill more than 800 people across South Asia

People use a boat as they try to move to safer places along a flooded street in West Midnapore district, in West Bengal

By Ruma Paul and Zarir Husain

DHAKA/GUWAHATI, India (Reuters) – Widespread floods have killed more than 800 people and displaced over a million in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, with aid workers warning of severe food shortages and water-borne diseases as rains continue to lash the affected areas.

Seasonal monsoon rains, a lifeline for farmers across South Asia, typically cause loss of life and property every year between July and September, but officials say this year’s flooding is the worst in several years.

At least 115 people have died and more than 5.7 million are affected in Bangladesh as floods submerged more than a third of the low-lying and densely populated country.

“The water level has gradually dropped. The flood situation will improve if it does not rain upstream any further,” Sazzad Hossain, executive engineer of Bangladesh’s Flood Forecasting and Warning Center, told Reuters.

Reaz Ahmed, the director general of Bangladesh’s Disaster Management Department, said there are rising concerns about food shortages and the spread of disease.

“With the flood waters receding, there is a possibility of an epidemic. We fear the outbreak of water-borne diseases if clean water is not ensured soon,” Ahmed told Reuters.

With some rivers running above danger levels, 225 bridges have been damaged in Bangladesh, disrupting food and medicine supplies to people displaced from their homes, said aid workers.

In the Indian state of Assam bordering Bangladesh, at least 180 people have been killed in the past few weeks.

“With the floods washing away everything… there is not even a trace of our small thatched hut,” said Lakshmi Das, a mother of three, living in Kaliabor, Assam.

“We do not even have a second pair of clothes to wear. The government is not providing any aid.”

Villagers use a boat as they row past partially submerged houses at a flood-affected village in Morigaon district in Assam,

Villagers use a boat as they row past partially submerged houses at a flood-affected village in Morigaon district in Assam, July 14, 2017. REUTERS/Anuwar Hazarika

Torrential rains have also hit the northeastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur, killing at least 30 people.

Flood waters of the Brahmaputra river had earlier in July submerged the Kaziranga wildlife sanctuary in Assam. The floods have since killed more than 350 animals, including 24 endangered one-horned rhinoceros, five elephants and a tiger.

“We are facing a wildlife disaster,” Assam Forest Minister Pramila Rani Brahma told Reuters.

Meanwhile, in the eastern state of Bihar, at least 253 people lost their lives where incessant rains washed away crops, destroyed roads and disrupted power supplies.

A senior official in Bihar’s disaster management department, Anirudh Kumar, said nearly half a million people have been provided with shelter.

In Nepal, 141 people were confirmed dead, while thousands of survivors returned to their semi-destroyed homes.

“Their homes are in a state of total destruction,” said Francis Markus from International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

 

(Reporting by Gopal Sharma in Kathmandu, Zarir Husain in Assam, Jatindra Das in Bhubaneswar, Ruma Paul in Dhaka; Writing by Rupam Jain in New Delhi,; Editing by Tommy Wilkes and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)