Bakery products increased by 40 percent in Greece

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:

  • Bread prices rise sharply in Greece
  • Some types of bakery products increased by almost 40% due to the rise in the price of flour and electricity.
  • Raising prices started somewhere in September. There is a big increase in prices for everything. The last time it was about 10% about half a month ago. It started with a rise in prices for gasoline and natural gas, for transportation, and gradually everything grew.

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Power Outage across southeast

Luke 21:7 & 11 “Teacher,” they asked, “when will all this happen? What sign will show us that these things are about to take place?”  11 “There will be great earthquakes, and there will be famines and epidemics in many lands, and there will be terrifying things (that which strikes terror), and great miraculous signs in the heavens.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Winter Storm Knocks Out Power Across Southeast
  • More than 250,000 customers in Virginia were without electricity, with an additional 176,000 outages in North Carolina and more than 100,000 in Georgia, according to PowerOutage.us
  • Ahead of the storm, Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington declared a snow emergency in the District of Columbia
  • Larry Hogan of Maryland mobilized state resources, and Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey declared a state of emergency for five counties, warning residents to stay off the roads.
  • In Delaware, state government offices were closed
  • Parts of Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey could see up to a foot of snow on Monday, with wind gusts as high as 40 miles per hour

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New York City set to ban natural gas in new buildings

By Scott DiSavino

(Reuters) -The New York City Council is expected to vote on Wednesday to ban natural gas in new buildings, following in the footsteps of dozens of other smaller U.S. cities seeking to shift from fossil fuels to cleaner forms of energy.

Should the law pass, new buildings in the city of 8.8 million residents – biggest in the United States – will have to use electricity for heat and cooking.

In the near-term, the new law will do little to reduce carbon emissions in the Big Apple, as numerous older buildings will not be affected, and the new structures would use electricity generated with fossil fuels anyway. Longer-term, however, the state plans to stop using fossil fuels to generate power.

The law would apply to new buildings under seven stories high at the end of 2023 and those over seven stories in 2027. Until now, the most populated U.S. city that has banned natural gas in new buildings is San Jose in California with about 1 million residents.

There are exceptions for some buildings used for certain activities, including manufacturing, hospitals, commercial kitchens and laundromats.

In 2020, U.S. carbon emissions from fossil fuels fell to their lowest since 1983, but were expected to rise about 7% in 2021 because power providers were burning more coal to generate electricity due to a sharp increase in natural gas costs.

New York’s move could mean a higher price tag for buildings using electricity for heat than those relying on natural gas. This winter, the average household in the U.S. Northeast is expected to pay $1,538 to heat their home with electricity, compared with natural gas at about $865.

“Using gas to produce power and then subsequently heat buildings is less efficient than using gas for heating directly,” analysts at energy consultancy EBW Analytics Group said.

Almost half of the power generated in New York State so far this year came from burning fossil fuels – 45% from gas and 4% from oil – with another 24% from nuclear power and 22% from hydropower, according to federal energy data.

The power sector’s carbon emissions in New York State should decline in the future because the state passed a law in 2019 requiring all electricity to come from clean, carbon-free sources of energy like renewables and nuclear by 2040.

Burning fuels for space and water heating in buildings accounts for nearly 40% of the city’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to environmental advocacy group RMI, which evaluated city greenhouse gas data.

“Burning fracked gas to power buildings is a main driver of climate change and air pollution, which leads to catastrophic climate events and the premature death of an estimated one thousand New York City residents per year,” Food & Water Watch and other environmental groups said in a statement.

The oil and gas industry, which opposed the proposal, said using gas for space heating would keep customer costs lower and reduce emissions especially when combined with clean fuels like hydrogen and renewable natural gas from landfills.

“Energy-efficient, low-carbon buildings could be powered by an innovative combination of natural gas and renewable energy (such as hydrogen) to both lower emissions and utility bills,” the American Petroleum Institute, an oil and gas lobby group, said as part of the city council hearings on the bill.

In Europe, meanwhile, where natural gas shortages have caused energy prices to spike to record highs in recent months, the European Union is considering whether to label gas-fired power plants as a green investment in efforts to reach climate goals.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

Brazil in recession as drought, inflation and interest rates bite

By Marcela Ayres and Camila Moreira

BRASILIA (Reuters) -Brazil’s economy contracted slightly in the three months to September, government data showed on Thursday, as surging inflation, steep interest rate hikes and a severe drought triggered a recession in Latin America’s largest economy.

The 0.1% decline in Brazil’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the third quarter, reported by official statistics agency IBGE, was below a median forecast for zero growth in a Reuters poll.

Brazil’s economic rebound from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic has sputtered as inflation surged into double digits, forcing the central bank to raise borrowing costs aggressively despite the downturn.

Economists have said that the stubbornly high levels of inflation in Brazil have steadily eroded consumers’ purchasing power, proving a drag on the economy.

Some analysts said Thursday’s weak data may discourage the bank’s monetary policy committee, called Copom, from an even larger interest rate increase at its December meeting.

“Against this backdrop, we no longer see Copom upping the pace of monetary tightening next week,” William Jackson, chief emerging markets economist at Capital Economics, told clients in a note, forecasting another rate increase of 150 basis points.

Big rate hikes from the central bank, whose autonomy was written into Brazil’s constitution this year, are one more headwind for a weak economy, which is weighing on President Jair Bolsonaro’s popularity as he prepares to seek reelection in 2022.

Revised data showed a 0.4% drop in the second quarter, worse than the 0.1% decline reported previously. Two straight quarters of contraction meet the definition of a recession.

Unusually dry weather this year has also hurt key Brazilian crops such as corn and coffee. Vanishing reserves at hydropower dams drove up electricity costs, adding to price shocks.

Agricultural production fell 8.0% in the third quarter, while industrial output was flat and services advanced 1.1%.

Brazil’s auto industry has struggled to ramp up production amid a shortage of components such as microchips in global supply chains. Shortages have also hurt manufacturing in Mexico, whose economy contracted more than expected in the quarter.

WORSE TO COME

Some economists are warning of a deeper downturn next year.

The market outlook for 2022 economic growth has fallen from 2.3% in June to less than 0.6% in the latest central bank poll of economists, released on Monday.

Brazil’s Economy Ministry dismissed that consensus in a statement on Thursday, reaffirming its forecast of economic growth above 2% next year and pointing to recent job creation data as evidence of a resilient recovery.

Brazil’s unemployment rate fell to 12.6% in the third quarter from 14.2% in the prior quarter, data showed this week, hitting the lowest point since the beginning of the pandemic.

“The government has an obvious bias to overestimate (growth) as long as possible. But there comes a point when you can’t,” said José Francisco Gonçalves, chief economist at Banco Fator.

Compared to the third quarter of 2020, Brazil’s economy grew 4.0%, IBGE data showed, below a median forecast of 4.2% growth.

(Reporting by Marcela Ayres in Brasilia and Camila Moreira in Sao Paulo; Writing by Brad Haynes; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Daniel Flynn and Richard Chang)

 

La Palma evacuees see no end to ordeal after month of volcanic eruption

By Guillermo Martinez

LA PALMA, Spain (Reuters) -One month after the Cumbre Vieja volcano erupted on the Spanish island of La Palma spewing red-hot lava and ash, Culberta Cruz, her husband and their dog are living in a tiny caravan on a parking lot and see no end of the ordeal in sight.

“I’m tired, so tired … but who are we to fight against nature?,” the 56-year-old hospital kitchen worker said, sitting on a camping chair.

Her husband, banana grower Tono Gonzalez, was pulling electric cables and water hoses to connect to the vehicle, with their French bulldog looking on. The couple have been living in the small camping car for a month, constantly brushing off volcanic ash from the vehicle.

“One day it’s exploding there, the other a vent opens here, it’s just anguish and living in fear, waiting and praying for it to stop erupting,” Cruz said. “And it’s a lot of sadness for those who lost their homes.”

Streams of red-hot lava have engulfed almost 800 hectares (2000 acres) of land, destroying about 2,000 buildings and many banana plantations since the eruption started on Sept. 19. More than 6,000 people have had to leave their homes.

Carmen del Fresno, from the National Geographic Institute’s volcano monitoring department, told Reuters the eruption was unlikely to stop for at least another week, but there was no way to predict how long it would last.

“Historical records show eruptions lasting 24 to 84 days … It would be logical to assume something within those bounds, but we cannot risk (predicting) anything.”

After being ordered to evacuate, Cruz and Gonzalez first stayed at a relative’s farm and then took the caravan to the parking lot where they could get fresh water and a bit of electricity. They are now looking into renting an apartment that accepts pets.

“We don’t know when it’s going to stop, that’s the problem. This is nature and we have to deal with it, it’s bigger than us,” said Gonzalez.

Added Cruz: “The future is to try to remove what (belongings) we had and to wait for it to end, then get back to the lives we had before, even if it will be more difficult.”

(Additional reporting by Emma Pinedo in Madrid, writing by Inti Landauro and Andrei Khalip; Editing by Peter Graff)

At least 112 dead in India as rains trigger floods, landslides

By Rajendra Jadhav

MUMBAI (Reuters) -At least 112 people have died in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, authorities said on Friday, after torrential monsoon rains caused landslides and flooded low-lying areas, cutting off hundreds of villages.

Parts of India’s west coast received up to 594 mm (23 inches) of rainfall over 24 hours, forcing authorities to evacuate people from vulnerable areas as they released water from dams that were threatening to overflow.

“Unexpected very heavy rainfall triggered landslides in many places and flooded rivers,” Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who heads Maharashtra’s state government, told journalists.

“Dams and rivers are overflowing. We are forced to release water from dams, and, accordingly, we are moving people residing near the river banks to safer places.”

The navy and army were helping with rescue operations in coastal areas, he added.

At least 38 people were killed in Taliye, 180 km (about 110 miles) southeast of the financial capital Mumbai, when a landslide flattened most of the small village, state government officials said.

In nine other landslides in other parts of Maharashtra 59 people died and another 15 were killed in accidents linked to the heavy rainfall, they said.

A few dozen people were also feared to have been trapped in landslides in Satara and Raigad districts, said a state government official who asked not to be named.

“Rescue operations are going on at various places in Satara, Raigad and Ratnagiri. Due to heavy rainfall and flooded rivers, we are struggling to move rescue machinery quickly,” he said.

Thousands of trucks were stuck on a national highway linking Mumbai with the southern technology hub of Bengaluru, with the road submerged in some places, another Maharashtra government official said.

Meanwhile, hundreds of villages and towns were without electricity and drinking water, he said.

Rivers were also overflowing in the neighboring southern states of Karnataka and Telangana where authorities were monitoring the situation, government officials there said.

Seasonal monsoon rains from June to September cause deaths and mass displacement across South Asia every year, but they also deliver more than 70% of India’s rainfall and are crucial for farmers.

(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Joe Bavier and Giles Elgood)

Belgium sets day of mourning as flood deaths hit 20

By Bart Biesemans

TROOZ, Belgium (Reuters) -Belgium declared a national day of mourning next week as the death toll from burst rivers and flash floods in the south and east of the country rose to 20 on Friday, with another 20 people missing.

“What should have been beautiful summer days suddenly turned into dark and extremely sad days for our fellow citizens,” Prime Minister Alexander De Croo told a news conference. “These are exceptional circumstances that our country has not seen before.”

A week of rain finally came to an end after reaching levels in some places normally expected once in 200 years. But several communities across parts of Belgium were nervously watching as the river Meuse, which flows through the city of Liege in eastern Belgium, continued to rise and threatened to overflow.

Others were trying come to terms with disaster.

“We did work, we renovated everything, we’re losing everything we’ve got. Now we have to start from zero and work at it little by little to put it back in order.” said Sylvia Calvo Lorente, 33, surveying damage in her home in the small town of Trooz near Liege.

In the eastern town of Verviers, the swollen river was still rushing through neighboring streets, where people gingerly tried to salvage ruined shops, homes and cars.

“We made it through COVID, we were hoping we’d get back on our feet and now look!” a shopkeeper said through tears in a pause from his work.

Several towns and villages were submerged, including Pepinster near Liege, where around 10 houses collapsed. Belgium’s king and queen visited the town on Friday, wading through flooded streets.

The government set next Tuesday as a day of mourning and decided to tone down festivities for Belgian National Day the day after.

Interior minister Annelies Verlinden said 20 people had lost their lives, with a further 20 missing.

The crisis center, which is coordinating rescue efforts, urged people in the affected areas to avoid all travel.

Belgium has called on the European Union’s civil protection mechanism, resulting in contributions from France, Austria and Italy, principally boats, helicopters and rescue personnel.

It also received help from Luxembourg and the Netherlands, despite these countries also suffering from flooding. More than 250 foreigners, including helicopter pilots and divers, have come to aid the search.

Over 20,000 people in the southern region Wallonia were without electricity. Others lacked clean water. Large parts of the rail network in southern Belgium were unusable, with certain sections of track swept away.

(Additional reporting and writing by Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

Rare tornado rips through southern Czech Republic, killing five

By Jason Hovet

HRUSKY, Czech Republic (Reuters) -Emergency workers and residents combed through wreckage in southern Czech Republic on Friday after a tornado ripped roofs off buildings and sent cars flying through the air, killing at least five people and injuring hundreds.

The tornado, which hit towns and villages around Hodonin along the Slovak and Austrian borders on Thursday evening, may have reached windspeeds above 332 kph (206 mph), a Czech Television meteorologist said.

“It was terrible what we went through,” said Lenka Petrasova in Hrusky who recounted taking shelter with her 11-year old-son after spotting the tornado minutes before it hit. “It was unbelievable. I saw a car fly, and dogs flying.”

Firefighters searched the rubble on Friday while the army sent in a team with heavy engineering equipment to deal with the aftermath of the strongest storm in the central European nation’s modern history and its first tornado since 2018.

In the village of Hrusky with a population of 1,600, a deputy mayor estimated that a third of the houses were destroyed and many needed inspections before people could safely return.

“Part of the village is levelled, only the perimeter walls without roofs, without windows remain,” Marek Babisz told news site iDNES.

“The church has no roof, it has no tower, cars were hurled at family houses, people had nowhere to hide. The village from the church down practically ceased to exist,” he said.

South Moravia regional administration chief Jan Grolich said that five people had died in the storm, and regional hospitals treated some 150 injured while others were sent elsewhere.

Emergency crews from neighboring Poland, Austria and Slovakia fanned out across the region, 270 km (167 miles) southeast of Prague, to assist.

Officials said thousands of homes had been destroyed and appealed to people not to drive to the affected areas so rescue services could work, urging them to send donations instead.

More than 100 residents of a home for the elderly in Hodonin had to be evacuated.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis cut short his attendance at the European Council summit in Brussels to visit the area where electricity and water remained shut off in a number of villages.

Speaking on his return, Babis said the government’s priority was to tap the European Union’s solidarity fund in which around 1.3 billion euros are put aside for such situations in member countries.

“The footage I saw is absolutely catastrophic,” said Babis, who also toured damaged homes in Hrusky. “We have offers of help from across Europe and many prime ministers have approached me to offer assistance.”

Czech TV reported as many as seven small towns were “massively” damaged, citing an emergency services spokesperson.

Residents on Friday surveyed the damage.

“There used to be two rooms above this,” Mikulcice resident Pavel Netopilik said pointing to the rubble surrounding his house where the upstairs floors collapsed. “Now they are not here. The ceiling collapsed.”

(Additional reporting by Robert Muller in Prague, Writing by Michael Kahn; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Philippa Fletcher)

Delivering super-cooled COVID-19 vaccine a daunting challenge for some countries

By Matthias Inverardi and Ludwig Burger

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Getting a coronavirus vaccine from manufacturing sites to some parts of the world with rural populations and unreliable electricity supply will be an immense challenge, given the need to store some vials at temperatures as low as minus 80 degrees Celsius (-112 Fahrenheit), Deutsche Post warned on Tuesday.

The German logistics firm said that distribution of an eventual vaccine across large parts of Africa, South America and Asia would require extraordinary measures to keep deliveries of so-called mRNA vaccines refrigerated at Antarctic-level temperatures.

Companies developing vaccines requiring exceptional cold storage, such as Moderna and CureVac, are working hard to make their injections last longer in transit.

The novel class of mRNA vaccines is among the furthest advanced in a field of 33 immunization shots currently being tested on humans globally, but they may need to be cooled at minus 80 degrees Celsius.

But upgrading cold storage infrastructure in regions outside the 25 most advanced countries, home to one third of the global population, will pose an immense challenge, said Deutsche Post in its study, conducted with consultancy firm McKinsey.

Vaccine developers Translate Bio and Moderna said in June they are working to produce evidence in time for the roll-out that their respective products can be shipped and stored at less extreme temperatures.

A spokesman for CureVac said its vaccine candidate is based on an experimental rabies vaccine which has already been shown to keep its molecular structure when stored in a regular fridge for months. Tests are underway to show the COVID-19 product has the same durability and the company is confident the data will be “competitive”, he added.

Deutsche Post said that even if the vaccine cold chain requires temperatures of only minus 8 degrees Celsius the share of the world’s population with reliable access to it increases only to about 70%, with substantial parts of Africa at risk of missing out.

“We anticipate 10 billion vaccine doses will have to be distributed across the world, and that includes regions that don’t have motorway access every five miles,” Katja Busch, Chief Commercial Officer of Deutsche Post’s DHL global forwarding unit, told Reuters.

(Additional reporting by Lisa Baertlein, editing by Louise Heavens)

Iraq is open for U.S. business, prime minister says; Trump eyes oil prospects

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Thursday said U.S. companies were involved in many prospects in Iraq’s oil business, as Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi declared his country open for American business and investment.

Trump told reporters before a meeting with the Iraqi leader that the U.S. military had very few troops in Iraq and looked forward to the day when it did not have to be there, but would help the country if neighboring Iran should do anything.

Al-Kadhimi took office in April, becoming the third Iraq head of state in a chaotic 10-week period that followed months of deadly protests in the country, which has been exhausted by decades of sanctions, war, corruption and economic challenges.

The meeting comes amid a new spike in tensions between the United States and Iran after Washington said it would move to reinstate all U.S. sanctions on Iran at the United Nations.

Washington is pushing to extend a U.N.-imposed arms embargo against Iran that is due to expire in October under Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Trump withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran.

Five U.S. firms, including Chevron Corp, signed agreements on Wednesday with the Iraqi government aimed at boosting Iraq’s energy independence from Iran.

The U.S. Department of Energy said in a statement that Honeywell International Inc, Baker Hughes Co, General Electric Co, Stellar Energy and Chevron signed commercial agreements worth as much as $8 billion with the Iraqi ministers of oil and electricity.

The agreements were signed following a meeting of the Iraqi ministers with U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, as well as a roundtable in Washington on Wednesday with the Iraqi prime minister and the U.S. energy industry.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; writing by Andrea Shalal; editing by Diane Craft and Dan Grebler)