Worst Drought in 40 years has Kenya importing genetically modified maize

Luke 21:11 “There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Kenya to import 1st genetically modified maize amid drought, food shortage
  • Food supply has depleted as Kenya faces its worst drought in 40 years
  • Local media reported that Kenya will on Friday authorize the duty-free importation of 10 million bags of maize over the next six months, and for the first time it will include genetically modified maize.
  • Annual rains have failed across Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia for the last four seasons, forcing 1.5 million people out of their homes in search of water and food elsewhere.

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Americans take for granted clean drinking water

Luke 21:11 “There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Baltimore officials issue boil water advisory after high levels of E. Coli are detected across several neighborhoods – making Charm City just the latest American municipality this year to grapple with the failure of its water system
  • Several cities, including New York City, Jackson, Mississippi and Benton Harbor, Michigan have had issues with their main water systems this year
  • Baltimore is encouraging its residents to use only bottled water after a boil water advisory was issued earlier this week after the detection of E. coli
  • coli contamination can cause intestinal distress, with symptoms that include stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting
  • Parts of Detroit were under a boil water advisory after storms last week, and Jackson, Mississippi has been under an advisory since July after massive flooding.
  • In New York City, arsenic-laced water was found last week at the Riis Houses in the East Village.
  • In Benton Harbor, Michigan, toxic lead was found in the city’s drinking water which caused it to dip below the federal safety threshold of 15-parts-per-billion, according to MLive.com.

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20 years of drought creates big problems and tough decisions in the West

Leviticus 26:18-20 “And if in spite of this you will not listen to me, then I will discipline you again sevenfold for your sins, and I will break the pride of your power, and I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze. And your strength shall be spent in vain, for your land shall not yield its increase, and the trees of the land shall not yield their fruit.

Important Takeaways:

  • Years of Mega-Drought Add Up to Mega Problems for the West
  • Twenty years of drought in the western United States are causing havoc once again this spring. Wildfires fueled by parched land and high winds have been whipping across northern New Mexico for weeks, the country’s largest reservoirs are at historic lows and California just recorded the three driest months on record.
  • “When the wind is this dangerous and this unpredictable and we’ve got gusts up to 70 miles per hour on many days, there is no way you can actively pursue putting the fire out.”
  • The National Weather Services said in addition to New Mexico, parts of Arizona, Colorado, and Texas face extreme fire danger right now.
  • Other visible signs of the mega-drought include Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the country’s two largest reservoirs. Their water levels are at historic lows with capacity at just 30 percent.
  • In southern California, the Metropolitan Water District is asking consumers to cut water use by up to thirty percent in response

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Megadrought grips Lake Mead exposing intake valve

Leviticus 26:18-20 “And if in spite of this you will not listen to me, then I will discipline you again sevenfold for your sins, and I will break the pride of your power, and I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze. And your strength shall be spent in vain, for your land shall not yield its increase, and the trees of the land shall not yield their fruit.

Important Takeaways:

  • Lake Mead falls to an unprecedented low, exposing one of the reservoir’s original water intake valves
  • The West is in the grips of a climate change-fueled megadrought, and Lake Mead – the largest manmade reservoir in the country and a source of water for millions of people – has fallen to an unprecedented low.
  • The valve had been in service since 1971 but can no longer draw water, according to the Southern Nevada Water Authority
  • As a result, the water authority has begun operating new, low-lake pumping station for the first time – a valve situated deeper at the bottom of Lake Mead
  • New Mexico’s drought has been steadily intensifying since the beginning of the year, and extreme or exceptional drought now covers 68% of the state.
  • Further west, water officials in Southern California are now demanding that residents and businesses limit outdoor watering to one day a week.
  • It’s the first time they’ve implemented such a strict rule.

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Another Warning about Cyberattack from White House Official

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:

  • White House warns Russia prepping possible cyberattacks against US
  • The White House on Monday urged private companies to bolster their cyber defenses, citing evolving intelligence suggesting the Russian government is exploring “options for potential cyberattacks” targeting U.S. critical infrastructure.
  • The administration has warned in recent weeks that Russia could look to target infrastructure in the U.S. or elsewhere with cyberattacks, but officials previously said there were no specific or credible threats against the U.S.
  • Neuberger would not say Monday which specific critical infrastructure sectors could be targeted. Critical infrastructure encompasses a range of sectors, including water, energy, health care, and financial services.

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U.S. gives Myanmar $50 million in aid as humanitarian crisis worsens

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States said on Tuesday it was giving Myanmar more than $50 million in aid as surging COVID-19 infections worsened a humanitarian crisis in the Southeast Asian country already reeling after generals overthrew a democratically elected government earlier this year.

It is also providing Thailand with $5 million to cope with novel coronavirus, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, announced the funding during a visit to Thailand, he added.

In Myanmar, the U.S. funding will aid “those forced to flee violence and persecution” as well as help groups provide health care services in addition to essentials such as food, shelter and water, the State Department said.

“This funding comes at a critical point of rising humanitarian needs and will help mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on the lives of the people of both Thailand and Burma,” Price said. “In the wake of the February 1 coup, people from Burma continue to flee their homes due to ongoing violence.”

Six months after the army seized power, Myanmar’s economy has collapsed and its health system has buckled as coronavirus cases surged.

COVID-19 cases peaked in Myanmar last month, with 3,824 new daily infections now reported on average, Reuters data show. It has seen 333,127 infections and 12,014 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began.

In Thailand, the average number of new COVID-19 infections are at their peak, with more than 20,400 cases reported daily, according to Reuters data.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

Texas power grid passes test, more to come as heat wave lingers

(Reuters) – The Texas power grid passed the first of what could be many tests over the next week by meeting very high demand on Monday without problems as homes and businesses cranked up their air conditioners to escape the latest heat wave.

The United States has been beset by extreme weather events this year, including February’s freeze in Texas that knocked out power to millions, and record heat in the Pacific Northwest earlier this summer.

High temperatures over the next week were expected to reach the mid 90s Fahrenheit (35 Celsius) in Houston and the low 100s in Austin, Dallas and San Antonio, according to AccuWeather.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the grid in most of the state, said power use hit a preliminary 72,856 megawatts (MW) on Monday and would reach 72,925 MW on July 30, 73,275 MW on Aug. 1 and 74,160 MW on Aug. 2.

Those peaks were lower than ERCOT forecast on Monday and would remain below July’s 74,244-MW record and the all-time high of 74,820 MW in August 2019. One megawatt can power around 200 homes in the summer.

Officials at ERCOT were not immediately available to say if Monday’s peak was the highest this year.

ERCOT has already broken monthly records, including 70,219 MW in June and 69,692 MW in February when millions of Texans were left without power, water and heat for days during a deadly storm as ERCOT scrambled to prevent an uncontrolled collapse of the grid after an unusually large amount of generation shut.

Despite Monday’s high demand, real-time prices remained below $100 per megawatt hour (MWh).

That compares with an average of $208/MWh at the ERCOT North so far in 2021 due primarily to price spikes over $8,000 during the February freeze. The 2020 average was just $26.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

Israel to sell Jordan additional water this year, minister says

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel will this year double its supply of water to Jordan, Israeli officials said on Thursday after a meeting between the countries’ foreign ministers, adding that Amman’s exports to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank could also increase.

Jordan is a key security partner for Israel but relations have suffered in recent years over Israeli-Palestinian tensions.

Yair Lapid, foreign minister in a cross-partisan coalition that ousted conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government a month ago, said Israel would sell Jordan 50 million cubic meters of water this year.

An Israeli official said that would effectively double the supply for the year – measured between May 2021 and May 2022 – as around 50 million cubic meters was already being sold or given to Jordan. A Jordanian official said Israel gives the kingdom 30 million cubic meters annually under their 1994 peace treaty.

In a statement issued after he held a first meeting in Jordan with its foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, Lapid said the countries also agreed to explore increasing Jordan’s exports to the West Bank to $700 million a year, from $160 million now.

“The Kingdom of Jordan is an important neighbor and partner,” Lapid said. “We will broaden economic cooperation for the good of the two countries.”

(Writing by Dan Williams and Suleiman al-Khalidi; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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)

Little food and water for Congolese fleeing volcano

By Djaffar Al Katanty

SAKE, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) -Families fleeing a volcano eruption in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo said on Friday they were struggling to find enough food and water as the United Nations called for aid and warned about the risk of cholera.

At least 31 people died when Mount Nyiragongo sent a wall of lava spreading towards Goma on Saturday last week, destroying 3,000 homes along the way and cutting a major road used to bring aid to the strife-torn region.

The lava stopped just short of the city limits, but thousands more people fled early on Thursday when the government warned that the volcano, one of the world’s most active, could erupt again.

Many escaped to Sake, a town 13 miles (20 km) northwest of Goma that is prone to cholera outbreaks, UNICEF said.

People slept wherever they could – on the side of the road and inside classrooms and a church. Kabuo Asifiwe Muliwavyo, 36, told Reuters she and her seven children had not eaten since arriving on Thursday.

“They told us that there will be a second eruption and that there will be a big gas explosion,” she said as she cradled her crying one-year-old. “But since we moved, there is nothing here … We are starving.”

Around 400,000 people need support or protection, the U.N. children’s fund (UNICEF) said in a statement.

“With an increased risk of a cholera outbreak, we are appealing for urgent international assistance to avert what could be a catastrophe for children,” UNICEF’s representative in Congo, Edouard Beigbeder, said.

UNDER THE STARS

Danga Tungulo and his four children slept next to the road in Sake. Some local residents brought them water, but they had not eaten since they left Goma the previous day, he said.

“They told everyone that assistance would be organized, that money would be disbursed by the government,” said Hassan Kanga, a lawyer who fled after the eruption. “And yet, you find us under the stars.”

The evacuation order was issued around 1 a.m. local time on Thursday after radar images showed molten rock flowing under Goma.

The movement of magma caused cracks in the ground and hundreds of earthquakes, which could allow it to burst through to the surface in a fresh eruption, the Goma Volcano Observatory (OVG) said.

The frequency and intensity of the ground tremors had lessened in the last 24 hours, suggesting the risk of a fresh eruption was subsiding, Celestin Kasareka Mahinda of the OVG said on Friday.

“I don’t think we will have a second eruption. The problem is the risk of fractures, but the risk is small, around 20%,” he told Reuters.

Some people who had fled to Sake crowded into trucks later on Friday to return to Goma. Dozens of people who had fled in the opposite direction to neighboring Rwanda also crossed back into Congo, photos shared by the Rwandan government showed.

Congolese authorities, meanwhile, reopened the main road which was split in two by lava, the U.N. Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Thursday.

Goma is major humanitarian hub supplying aid to a region hit by decades of unrest.

(Reporting by Djaffar Al Katanty, Aaron Ross and Hereward Holland; Writing by Hereward Holland; Editing by Aaron Ross and Andrew Heavens)