Europe is experiencing Extreme Temperatures breaking records early in the summer season

Revelation 16:9 “They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Historic June heat wave smashes records in Europe
  • Temperatures between 104 and 110 degrees (40 to 43 Celsius) were common from Spain to Germany. The most extreme temperatures compared to normal focused in France, where monthly and even all-time records were broken.
  • The combination of a heat plume off the North African deserts and a low pressure off Europe’s west coast pumping that hot air north fueled the heat wave’s intensity.
  • Cottbus, to the southeast of Berlin, set a new all-time high for any month of 102.6 degrees (39.2 Celsius). Dresden also reached that mark.
  • Husinec, in the Czech Republic, rose to 102.2 degrees (39 Celsius)
  • Poland set a new June record, when it hit 100.9 degrees
  • Switzerland had its hottest June temperature, as it hit 98.4 (36.9 Celsius) in Beznau
  • At the edge of Europe, temperatures of 114.4 degrees (45.8 Celsius) and 114.1 degrees (45.6 Celsius) in Cizre and Silopi, Turkey, were close to June records.

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Experts believe ‘apocalyptic’ sandstorm could travel to Europe in the coming days

Luke 21:11 “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:

  • An ‘apocalyptic’ dust storm that killed four people and hospitalized thousands could hit Europe as early as next week.
  • At least four people are reported to have died in Iraq and Syria from the gritty haze in the atmosphere
  • The impact of dust storms exceeds regional and continental boundaries.

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UN security council warns weeks away from global food crisis

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:

  • Zelenskyy’s global food crisis prediction may be 10 weeks away, UN official says: ‘Seismic’
  • “Russia has blocked almost all ports and all, so to speak, maritime opportunities to export food – our grain, barley, sunflower and more. A lot of things,” Zelenskyy said Saturday. “There will be a crisis in the world. The second crisis after the energy one, which was provoked by Russia.”
  • “Now it will create a food crisis if we do not unblock the routes for Ukraine, do not help the countries of Africa, Europe, Asia, which need these food products,”
  • The world has only 10 weeks’ worth of wheat left to deal with the crisis, according to Sara Menker, CEO of Gro Intelligence.
  • “This is seismic,” Menker said during a special meeting of the U.N. Security Council. “Even if the war were to end tomorrow, our food security problem isn’t going away anytime soon without concerted action.”

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Russian invasion of Ukraine is “greatest threat to peace and security of Europe and perhaps the world”

Revelations 6:3-4 “ when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

Important Takeaways:

  • Top US General: Potential for ‘significant international conflict’ is increasing
  • Milley said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is “the greatest threat to peace and security of Europe and perhaps the world” in his 42 years serving in the US military, but added it was “heartening” to see the world rally around Ukraine
  • “We are now facing two global powers: China and Russia, each with significant military capabilities both who intend to fundamentally change the rules based current global order,” Milley added. “We are entering a world that is becoming more unstable and the potential for significant international conflict is increasing, not decreasing.”
  • Mike Rogers of Alabama, the panel’s top Republican, said he would support the US setting up permanent bases in eastern NATO countries like Poland and the Baltics in order to deter Russia

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North Korea using Cyber-attacks to develop their nuclear weapons

Important Takeaways:

  • Gangster Regime: UN Experts Say North Korea Stealing Millions in Cyber Attacks
  • The panel of experts said that according to an unnamed government, North Korean “cyber-actors stole more than $50 million between 2020 and mid-2021 from at least three cryptocurrency exchanges in North America, Europe, and Asia, probably reflecting a shift to diversify its cybercrime operations.”
  • A year ago, the panel quoted an unidentified country saying North Korea’s “total theft of virtual assets from 2019 to November 2020 is valued at approximately $316.4 million.”
  • The experts noted “a marked acceleration” of North Korean missile launches through January that used a variety of technology and weapons. The experts said North Korea “continued to seek material, technology and know-how for these programs overseas, including through cyber means and joint scientific research.”

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Europe for sale and China is cashing in

Matthew 24:6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.

Important Takeaways:

  • China: Buying Up Europe
  • For more than a decade, China has been stealthily buying up European companies in strategic sectors, particularly in technology and energy.
  • China has been covering up its European purchases by passing them off as ostensibly commercial investments. It has been hiding the state-owned companies involved in the investments behind “layers of ownership, complex shareholding structures and deals executed via European subsidiaries,” according to Datenna, a Dutch company that monitors Chinese investments in Europe
  • A staggering 40% out of 650 Chinese investments in Europe in the years 2010-2020, had “high or moderate involvement by state-owned or state-controlled companies, including some in advanced technologies”.
  • What appears to be urgently needed in Europe now is a deeper understanding of the threat that China poses, as well as the political will to act on it. Action is urgently needed to block investments that serve up Europe’s strategic assets on a silver platter to China’s state-owned companies, which the Chinese Communist Party then use to advance its expansionist ends.

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U.S. President Biden signs $770 billion defense bill

By Kanishka Singh

(Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, for fiscal year 2022, which authorizes $770 billion in defense spending, the White House said on Monday.

Earlier this month, the Senate and the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly for the defense bill with strong support from both Democrats and Republicans for the annual legislation setting policy for the Department of Defense.

The NDAA is closely watched by a broad swath of industry and other interests because it is one of the only major pieces of legislation that becomes law every year and because it addresses a wide range of issues. The NDAA has become law every year for six decades.

Authorizing about 5% more military spending than last year, the fiscal 2022 NDAA is a compromise after intense negotiations between House and Senate Democrats and Republicans after being stalled by disputes over China and Russia policy.

It includes a 2.7% pay increase for the troops, and more aircraft and Navy ship purchases, in addition to strategies for dealing with geopolitical threats, especially Russia and China.

The NDAA includes $300 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which provides support to Ukraine’s armed forces, $4 billion for the European Defense Initiative and $150 million for Baltic security cooperation.

On China, the bill includes $7.1 billion for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative and a statement of congressional support for the defense of Taiwan, as well as a ban on the Department of Defense procuring products produced with forced labor from China’s Xinjiang region.

It creates a 16-member commission to study the war in Afghanistan. Biden ended the conflict – by far the country’s longest war – in August.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Porter and Matthew Lewis)

Austria locks down, Merkel says new steps needed, as Europe faces COVID freeze

By Francois Murphy and Maria Sheahan

VIENNA/BERLIN (Reuters) -Austria became on Monday the first country in western Europe to reimpose lockdown since vaccines were rolled out, shutting non-essential shops, bars and cafes as surging caseloads raised the prospect of a third winter in deep freeze for the continent.

Germany will also need tighter restrictions to control a record-setting wave of infections, outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel was quoted as saying, remarks that erased gains on European stock markets and sent bond yields down.

With Europe once again the epicenter of the global pandemic, new restrictions and vaccine mandates are expected to spread nearly two years after the first COVID-19 case was identified in China.

“We are in a highly dramatic situation. What is in place now is not sufficient,” Merkel told leaders of her German CDU party in a meeting, according to two participants, confirming comments first reported by Bloomberg.

Austria told people to work from home if they can, and shut cafes, restaurants, bars, theatres and non-essential shops for 10 days. People may leave home for a limited number of reasons, such as going to workplaces, buying essentials or taking a walk.

The Austrian government has also announced it will make it compulsory to get inoculated as of Feb. 1. Many Austrians are skeptical about vaccinations, a view encouraged by the far-right Freedom Party, the third biggest in parliament.

“It’s like a luxury prison. It’s definitely limited freedom and for me it’s not great psychologically,” said Sascha Iamkovyi, a 43-year-old entrepreneur in the food sector, describing his return to lockdown on a chilly, overcast day in an unusually quiet Vienna.

“People were promised that if they got vaccinated they would be able to lead a normal life, but now that’s not true.”

The return of severe government restrictions in Austria had already brought about 40,000 protesters to Vienna’s streets on Saturday, and protests turned to violence in Brussels and across the Netherlands over the weekend.

The Czech Republic and Slovakia banned unvaccinated people from services including pubs from Monday.

Around a third of Austrians are unvaccinated, one of the highest rates in western Europe, and authorities mainly blame the unvaccinated for the current COVID wave, though protection from vaccines given early this year is also waning. Inoculation greatly reduces the risk of serious illness or death, and reduces but does not prevent viral transmission or re-infection.

Austria’s conservative-led government imposed a lockdown on the unvaccinated last week, but daily infections kept rising far above the previous peak, requiring this week’s full lockdown.

In many parts of Germany, including its capital Berlin, Christmas markets opened for the first time in two years on Monday. But states bordering Austria and the Czech Republic that have Germany’s highest case numbers have introduced stricter rules, cancelling Christmas markets, barring the unvaccinated from restaurants and bars and imposing curfews at night.

WATER CANNON AND TEAR GAS

Eastern European countries where vaccination rates are even lower have been experiencing some of the highest death tolls per capita in the world, with hospitals becoming overrun in countries such as Bulgaria and Romania.

In cities across the Netherlands, riots broke out as police clashed with mobs of angry youths who set fires and threw rocks to protest at COVID-19 restrictions. More than 100 people were arrested during three nights of violence, which saw police open fire at rioters in Rotterdam on Friday.

Police and protesters clashed in the streets of Brussels on Sunday, with officers firing water cannon and tear gas at demonstrators throwing rocks and smoke bombs.

In France, proof of vaccination or a recent negative test is required to go to restaurants and cinemas. President Emmanuel Macron said last week more lockdowns were not needed.

But violence erupted last week in the French Caribbean region of Guadeloupe amid protests over COVID-19 restrictions such as the mandatory vaccines for health workers.

Police have arrested at least 38 people and dozens of stores have been looted. Macron said on Monday the protests had created a “very explosive” situation as a general strike entered a second week on Monday and many stores remained shuttered.

(Additonal reporting by Jason Hovet and Jan Lopatka; Writing by Nick MacfieEditing by Alison Williams, Mark Heinrich and Peter Graff)

Austria locks down unvaccinated as COVID cases surge across Europe

By Francois Murphy

VIENNA (Reuters) – Austria imposed a lockdown on people unvaccinated against the coronavirus on Monday as winter approaches and infections rise across Europe, with Germany considering tighter curbs and Britain expanding its booster program to younger adults.

Europe has again become the epicenter of the pandemic, prompting some countries to consider re-introducing restrictions in the run-up to Christmas and stirring debate over whether vaccines alone are enough to tame COVID-19.

The disease spreads more easily in the winter months when people gather inside.

Europe last week accounted for more than half of the 7-day average of infections globally and about half of latest deaths, according to a Reuters tally, the highest levels since April last year when the virus was at its initial peak in Italy.

Governments and companies are worried the prolonged pandemic will derail a fragile economic recovery.

Austria’s conservative-led government said that about two million people in the country of roughly nine million were now only allowed to leave their homes for a limited number of reasons like travelling to work or shopping for essentials.

But there is widespread skepticism, including among conservatives and the police, about how the lockdown can be enforced – it will be hard to verify, for example, whether someone is on their way to work, which is allowed, or going to shop for non-essential items, which is not.

“My aim is very clear: to get the unvaccinated to get vaccinated, not to lock up the unvaccinated,” Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg told ORF radio as he explained the lockdown, which was announced on Sunday.

The aim is to counter a surge in infections to record levels fueled by a full vaccination rate of only around 65% of the population, one of the lowest in western Europe.

Pensioner Susanne Zwach said the lockdown would be “very, very difficult” to police.

“It is definitely a way of introducing a requirement to get vaccinated through the back door,” she said as she waited in line for her booster shot.

‘STORM OF INFECTION’

Germany’s federal government and leaders of Germany’s 16 states are due to discuss new pandemic measures this week.

Three German state health ministers urged parties negotiating to form a new government to prolong the states’ power to implement stricter measures such as lockdowns or school closures as the seven-day COVID incidence rate hit record highs.

Chancellor Angela Merkel urged unvaccinated people to reconsider their decision in a video message on Saturday.

“Difficult weeks lie ahead of us, and you can see that I am very worried,” Merkel said, speaking in her weekly video podcast.

France, the Netherlands and many countries in Eastern Europe are also experiencing a surge in infections.

Britain is to extend its COVID-19 booster vaccine rollout to people between 40 and 49, officials said on Monday, to boost waning immunity ahead of the colder winter months.

Currently all people 50 and over, those who are clinically vulnerable and frontline health workers are eligible for boosters.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he saw no need to move to a “Plan B” of mask mandates and vaccine passes, even though he was cautious of rising infections in Europe.

“We’re sticking with Plan A,” he said in a broadcast clip on Monday. “But what we certainly have got to recognize is there is a storm of infection out there in parts of Europe.”

Back in Austria, skepticism about vaccines is encouraged by the far-right Freedom Party, the third-biggest in parliament, which is planning a protest against the government’s coronavirus policies on Saturday.

Party head Herbert Kickl, 53, said in a Facebook posting he had tested positive for COVID-19. He has mild symptoms and no fever but will not be able to attend Saturday’s protest because of quarantine requirements.

(Additional reporting by Lisi Niesner in Vienna, Josephine Mason and Alistair Smout in London, Emilio Parodi in Milan and Victoria Waldersee and Maria Sheahan in Berlin; Writing by Nick Macfie, Editing by William Maclean and Philippa Fletcher)

COVID cases break records across Europe as winter takes hold

By Krisztina Than and Nikolaj Skydsgaard

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Coronavirus infections are hitting record levels in many countries across Europe as winter takes hold, prompting a call for action from the World Health Organization which described the new wave as a “grave concern.”

Soaring numbers of cases, especially in Eastern Europe, have prompted debate on whether to reintroduce curbs on movement before the Christmas holiday season and on how to persuade more people to get vaccinated.

That conversation comes as some countries in Asia, with the notable exception of China, reopen their tourism sectors to the rest of the world.

“The current pace of transmission across the 53 countries of the European Region is of grave concern,” regional WHO head Hans Kluge said, adding that the spread was exacerbated by the more transmissible Delta variant.

The virus spreads faster in the winter months when people gather indoors.

Kluge warned earlier that if Europe followed its current trajectory, there could be 500,000 COVID-related deaths in the region by February.

“We must change our tactics, from reacting to surges of COVID-19, to preventing them from happening in the first place,” he said.

The region saw a 6% increase in new cases last week, with nearly 1.8 million new cases, compared to the week before. The number of deaths rose 12% in the same period.

Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, reported 33,949 new infections, the highest daily increase since the start of the pandemic last year. Cases in Russia and Ukraine are soaring.

Austria’s daily new coronavirus infections surged towards a record set a year ago, making a lockdown for the unvaccinated ever more likely.

COVID-19 prevalence in England rose to its highest level on record in October, Imperial College London said, led by a high numbers of cases in children and a surge in the southwest.

Slovakia reported 6,713 new cases, also a record, while daily new cases in Hungary more than doubled from last week to 6,268. Poland, Eastern Europe’s biggest economy, reported 15,515 daily cases on Thursday, the highest figure since April. Croatia and Slovenia on Thursday both reported record daily infections.

CHINA ON ALERT AHEAD OF OLYMPICS

China is also on high alert at ports of entry to reduce the risk of COVID-19 cases entering from abroad, and has stepped up restrictions amid a growing outbreak less than 100 days before the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Authorities have also tightened curbs in the capital ahead of a major gathering of the top members of the Communist Party next week.

Since mid-October, over 700 locally transmitted cases with confirmed symptoms have been reported in China. While the number is tiny compared with other countries, it has led to a growing wave of restrictions under Beijing’s zero-tolerance policy.

In Central Europe, Hungary has trimmed its 2021 GDP growth projection to 6.8% from 7.0-7.5% due to a rise in inflation, energy prices, and the risks stemming from COVID-19, the finance minister said, flagging the possibility of some new restrictions in a country where there are currently hardly any curbs in place.

Slovakia’s Finance Ministry cut its forecasts for 2021 and 2022 growth in September, saying a new wave of COVID-19 cases will hit consumer demand and the labor market at the end of the year although the impact will not be as strong as earlier in the pandemic. Poland’s central bank left its projections unchanged.

FRESH CURBS

The Hungarian government has urged people to take up vaccines and last week announced mandatory vaccinations at state institutions, also empowering private companies to make jabs mandatory for employees if they believe that is necessary.

Romania – where hospitals cannot cope with a surge in COVID-19 patients – the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland have all tightened rules on mask wearing and introduced measures to curb infections.

The Czech Republic has introduced a requirement for restaurant customers to show proof of vaccination or a test. It also has tough mask regulations and some children are again being tested in schools in areas where cases are higher.

In Poland, mask wearing is mandatory in enclosed public spaces while cinemas, theatres and hotels have a 75% capacity limit. The Hungarian government has not replied to Reuters questions on potential measures.

(Reporting by Krisztina Than in Budapest and Nicolaj Skydsgaard in Copenhagen; Additional reporting by Jason Hovet, Alan Charlish and bureaux worldwide; Writing by Nick Macfie; Editing by Frances Kerry)