Turkey Evacuates Panicked Tourists by Boat From Wildfires 

Panicked tourists in Turkey hurried to the seashore to wait for rescue boats Saturday after being told to evacuate some hotels in the Aegean resort of Bodrum because of the dangers posed by nearby wildfires, Turkish media reported.Coast guard units were leading the operation and authorities asked private boats and yachts to assist in evacuation efforts from the sea as new wildfires erupted. Video showed plumes of smoke and fire enveloping a hill close to the seashore.The death toll from wildfires raging in Turkey’s Mediterranean towns rose to six Saturday after two forest workers were killed, the country’s health minister said. Fires across Turkey since Wednesday have burned down forests and some settlements, encroaching on villages and tourist destinations and forcing people to evacuate.The minister of agriculture and forestry, Bekir Pakdemirli, said Saturday that 91 of the 101 fires that broke out amid strong winds and scorching heat had been brought under control. Neighborhoods affected by fire in five provinces were declared disaster zones by Turkey’s emergency and disaster authority.Government assistancePresident Recep Tayyip Erdogan inspected some damage Saturday from a helicopter.Speaking from the town of Manavgat, Erdogan announced that the Turkish government would cover the rents for people affected by fire and rebuild their homes. He said taxes, social security and credit payments would be postponed for those affected and small businesses would be offered credit with zero interest.”We cannot do anything beyond wishing the mercy of God for the lives we have lost, but we can replace everything that was burned,” he said.A man watches wildfires in Kacarlar village near the Mediterranean coastal town of Manavgat, Antalya, Turkey, July 31, 2021.Erdogan said the number of planes fighting the fires had been increased from six to 13, including planes from Ukraine, Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran, and that thousands of Turkish personnel, as well as dozens of helicopters and drones, were assisting the firefighting efforts.At least five people have died from the fires in Manavgat and one died in Marmaris. Both towns are Mediterranean tourist destinations. Tourism is an important source of revenue for Turkey, and business owners were hoping this summer would be much better than last year, when pandemic travel restrictions caused tourism to plummet.Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said 400 people affected by the fires in Manavgat were treated at hospitals and released, while 10 others were still hospitalized for fire injuries. In Marmaris, 159 people were treated at a hospital and one person was still undergoing treatment for burns.In southern Hatay province, flames jumped into populated areas but later apparently were brought under control.Common occurrencesWildfires are common in Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean regions during the arid summer months. Turkey has blamed some previous forest fires on arson or outlawed Kurdish militants. Erdogan said Saturday that authorities were investigating the possibility of “sabotage” causing fires.Meanwhile, a heat wave across southern Europe, fed by hot air from Africa, has led to wildfires across the Mediterranean.Firefighters on the Italian island of Sicily battled dozens of blazes Saturday fueled by high temperatures, prompting the region’s governor to request assistance from Rome. Some 150 people trapped in two seaside areas in the city of Catania were evacuated late Friday by sea, where they were picked up by rubber dinghies and transferred to Coast Guard boats.Temperatures in Greece and nearby countries in southeast Europe are expected to climb to 42 degrees Celsius (more than 107 Fahrenheit) Monday in many cities and towns.

Virus Pass Protesters March in France, Clash With Police in Paris 

Thousands of people protested France’s special virus pass by marching through Paris and other French cities on Saturday. Most demonstrations were peaceful but some in Paris clashed with riot police, who fired tear gas.About 3,000 security forces deployed around the French capital for a third weekend of protests against the pass that will be needed soon to enter restaurants and other places. Paris police took up posts along the Champs-Elysees to guard the famed avenue.With virus infections spiking and hospitalizations rising, French lawmakers have passed a bill requiring the pass in most places as of August 9. Polls show a majority of French support the pass, but some are adamantly opposed. The pass requires a vaccination or a quick negative test or proof of a recent recovery from COVID-19 and mandates vaccine shots for all health care workers by mid-September.For anti-pass demonstrators, liberty was the slogan of the day.Hager Ameur, a 37-year-old nurse, said she resigned from her job, accusing the government of using a form of blackmail.”I think that we mustn’t be told what to do,” she told The Associated Press, adding that French medical workers during the first wave of COVID-19 were quite mistreated. “And now, suddenly we are told that if we don’t get vaccinated it is our fault that people are contaminated. I think it is sickening.”Tensions flared in front of the famed Moulin Rouge nightclub in northern Paris during what appeared to be the largest demonstration. Lines of police faced down protesters in up-close confrontations during the march. Police used their fists on several occasions.Protesters attend a demonstration called by the “yellow vest” movement against France’s restrictions, including a compulsory health pass, to fight the COVID-19 outbreak, in Paris, July 31, 2021.Tear gas, water cannon, injuriesAs marchers headed eastward and some pelted police with objects, police fired tear gas into the crowds, and plumes of smoke filled the sky. A male protester was seen with a bleeding head and a police officer was carried away by colleagues. Three officers were injured, the French press quoted police as saying. Police, again responding to rowdy crowds, also turned a water cannon on protesters as the march ended at the Bastille.A calmer march was led by the former top lieutenant of far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who left to form his own small anti-EU party. But Florian Philippot’s new cause, against the virus pass, seems far more popular. His contingent of hundreds marched Saturday to the Health Ministry.Among those not present this week was Francois Asselineau, leader of another tiny anti-EU party, the Popular Republican Union, and an ardent campaigner against the health pass, who came down with COVID-19. In a video on his party’s website, Asselineau, who was not hospitalized, called on people to denounce the “absurd, unjust and totally liberty-killing” health pass.French authorities are implementing the health pass because the highly contagious delta variant is making strong inroads. More than 24,000 new daily cases were confirmed Friday night, compared with just a few thousand cases a day at the start of the month.The government announcement that the health pass would take effect August 9 has driven many unvaccinated French to sign up for inoculations so their social lives won’t be shut down during the summer holiday season. Vaccinations are now available at a wide variety of places, including some beaches. More than 52% of the French population has been vaccinated.About 112,000 people have died of the virus in France since the start of the pandemic.

Україна субсидує виробників «зеленої» енергії на суму до 2 мільярдів доларів щороку – Вітренко

На підвищення енергоефективності і розвиток відновлюваної енергетики йдуть у тому числі гроші, які український бюджет отримує від транзиту газу

Olympics: French Men’s Basketball Team Coasts to Quarterfinals With Win Over Iran

France secured a comfortable win over Iran in Olympic men’s basketball on Saturday to qualify for the quarterfinals and remain undefeated in the preliminary round.Real Madrid’s Thomas Heurtel led with 16 points in France’s 79-62 victory at the Saitama Super Arena, north of Tokyo. They swept their opponents in Group A, including a shock defeat of Team USA on Sunday, the first Olympic loss for the Americans since 2004.”The focus really was more about us and trying things out,” Evan Fournier, who plays for the NBA’s Boston Celtics, said about France’s decisive win. Despite his team’s dominant showing so far, he wouldn’t speculate on medal odds.”Quarter-final first. Focus on that,” he said. “Too many times we’ve beaten very, very good teams and we lost in the semi-final, so no more of that.”The men’s quarterfinals are Tuesday.Iran finished 0-3 in the group stage. Arsalan Kazemi lamented that the travel restrictions imposed on Iran affected their performance.”We cannot really get out of Iran for any good friendly game,” he said at a press conference. “For Olympic preparation, we could have gone to a lot of different countries like other teams and played like 10, 11, 12 good games, and would have come here and would have competed differently.”The United States bounced back with a win over Iran earlier this week and will face the Czech Republic later on Saturday.Team USA has historically been the team to beat at basketball, with a 139-6 record and 15 gold medals since 1936. But as the sport has grown in popularity around the globe, many national teams can field teams with NBA experience, and the U.S.’s talent advantage has shrunk.Before losing to France at these Games, the United States dropped two straight exhibition games this month, including a defeat to world 22nd-ranked Nigeria. 

US Complies With Russia Ban, Lays Off Local Embassy Staff

The United States said Friday it has laid off nearly 200 local staffers working for its diplomatic missions in Russia ahead of an August 1 deadline set by the Kremlin for their dismissal. The move is the latest in a series of measures taken by both sides that have strained U.S.-Russia relations. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the layoffs are regrettable and something the U.S. had hoped to avert, despite a sharp deterioration in ties between Moscow and Washington, which show few signs of improvement.  FILE – Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at the State Department in Washington, July 12, 2021.”These unfortunate measures will severely impact the U.S. mission to Russia’s operations, potentially including the safety of our personnel as well as our ability to engage in diplomacy with the Russian government,” Blinken said in a statement. “Although we regret the actions of the Russian government forcing a reduction in our services and operations, the United States will follow through on our commitments while continuing to pursue a predictable and stable relationship with Russia,” he said.  The Russian Foreign Ministry was silent on the matter, and the Russian Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a query. Russia earlier this year announced a ban on almost all non-American staff at the embassy in Moscow and consulates in Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok. That came in response to U.S. expulsions of Russian diplomats and tit-for-tat closures of numerous diplomatic facilities in each country. Those expulsions and closures came in the context of U.S. sanctions imposed over Russian interference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain, and the arrest of opposition figure Alexey Navalny and crackdown on his supporters, as well as involvement in the SolarWind hack of U.S. federal agencies. All are activities that Russia has denied. After the announcement of the ban, the embassy suspended routine consular services and since May has been processing immigrant visas only in the case of life-or-death emergencies.  The suspension of consular services has also left Russian businessmen, exchange students and romantic partners adrift because they are no longer able to obtain U.S. visas in Russia.  Still, the U.S. had been cautiously optimistic that the Russian decision might be reversed at last month’s meeting between Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin in Geneva. But those hopes evaporated even after the two sides resumed strategic arms control talks this week. FILE – U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin meet at Villa La Grange in Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2021.Thus, Friday’s announcement sealed the employment fate of 182 locally employed staffers who worked as office and clerical staff, drivers and contractors at the U.S. facilities. Only security guards who work outside the gates of the compounds were exempted from the ban.  “The United States is immensely grateful for the tireless dedication and commitment of our locally employed staff and contractors at U.S. Mission Russia,” Blinken said. “We thank them for their contributions to the overall operations and their work to improve relations between our two countries. Their dedication, expertise and friendship have been a mainstay of Mission Russia for decades.”We value our deep connection to the Russian people,” Blinken added. “Our people-to-people relationships are the bedrock of our bilateral relations.” 

Millions in 23 Hunger Hot Spots Face Famine, Death, UN Agencies Say

The United Nations warns global hunger is increasing and urgent action is needed to stave off famine and death over coming months in nearly two dozen unstable, violence-prone countries.A report by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Program said more than a half-million people are experiencing catastrophic levels of acute food insecurity and 41 million are at risk of famine.The report from the WFP and FAO focuses on the particularly serious situation in 23 so-called hunger hot spots.  Most of those countries are in sub-Saharan Africa, with others in Central America, Asia and the Middle East.Patrick Jacqueson, FAO officer in charge of the Geneva office, said acute hunger is set to increase in those countries over the next four months without urgent, scaled-up humanitarian assistance.“Conflict continues to be the primary driver for the largest share of people facing acute food insecurity,” Jacqueson said. “Closely associated with conflict are humanitarian access constraints, which remain significant, compounding food insecurity. Weather extremes and climate variability are likely to affect several parts of the world during the outlook period.”The report said dry conditions are likely to affect Haiti, Nigeria’s Middle Belt and the “Dry Corridor” in Guatemala, while above-average rainfall and flooding are forecast in South Sudan, central and eastern Sahel, and Gulf of Guinea countries.400,000 face starvation in TigrayThe report highlighted the perilous situation in Ethiopia and Madagascar, the world’s newest highest-alert hunger hot spots.Annalisa Conte, WFP Geneva Office director, said the aggravation of conflict in recent months is having a catastrophic impact on the food security of the Tigrayan population in Ethiopia.  She warned that more than 400,000 people would face starvation if they did not receive sufficient humanitarian aid.“If we move to Madagascar, Madagascar is experiencing the worst drought in 40 years,” Conte said. “On top of that, economic decline largely caused by COVID. As a result, 1.3 million people are currently facing the acute food insecurity.”The FAO and WFP said fighting, blockades that cut off lifesaving aid to families on the verge of famine, and a lack of funding were hampering efforts to provide emergency food aid to millions of desperate people.The agencies said families who rely on humanitarian aid to survive were hanging by a thread. They noted that most of those on the verge of famine in the 23 hot spots were farmers and must receive help to resume food production.  That, they said, will allow them to feed themselves and become self-sufficient.

Firefighters Continue to Battle Deadly Wildfires in Southern Turkey

Firefighters continued to battle raging wildfires in southern Turkey Friday that have killed at least four people and forced the evacuation of villages and hotels.More than 70 wildfires broke out this week in Turkey’s Mediterranean and southern Aegean region and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters that crews were still trying to contain them in 14 locations after bringing 57 other wildfires under control since Wednesday. Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said the uncontained wildfires were in six provinces and vowed to hold accountable anyone found to be responsible for starting them. Authorities said Thursday that investigations into the fires had begun.The mayor of the Turkish resort town of Marmaris said he could not dismiss the possibility of “sabotage” as the cause of a mountainside fire that threatened holiday homes and hotels on Thursday.Erdogan said a plane from Azerbaijan would join planes from Russia and Ukraine to battle the fires, adding “with the arrival of the planes, we are turning in a positive direction.”In addition to at least five planes, the Turkish president said 45 helicopters, drones and nearly 1,100 firefighting vehicles are involved in the effort.Wildfires are common in Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean regions during the dry summer season, but arson or Kurdish militants have been blamed for some previous forest fires.

Amazon Hit With Record EU Data Privacy Fine

Amazon.com Inc has been hit with a record $886.6 million (746 million euros) European Union fine for processing personal data in violation of the bloc’s GDPR rules, as privacy regulators take a more aggressive position on enforcement.The Luxembourg National Commission for Data Protection (CNPD) imposed the fine on Amazon in a July 16 decision, the company disclosed in a regulatory filing on Friday.Amazon will appeal the fine, according to a company spokesperson. The e-commerce giant said in the filing it believed CNPD’s decision was without merit.CNPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, requires companies to seek people’s consent before using their personal data or face steep fines.Globally, regulatory scrutiny of tech giants has been increasing following a string of scandals over privacy and misinformation, as well as complaints from some businesses that they abuse their market power.Alphabet’s Google, Facebook Inc, Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp have drawn heightened scrutiny in Europe.In December, France’s data privacy watchdog handed out its biggest ever fine of 100 million euros ($118.82 million) to Google for breaching the nation’s rules on online advertising trackers.

‘Wow! Wow!’ Women Get Olympic Track Off to Sizzling Start

Usain Bolt might be long gone from the sprint scene. It doesn’t mean Jamaica has slowed down one bit.Nobody has, at least not on the women’s side of the sport.An opening day at the Olympics that’s supposed to produce little more than a brisk jog for the world’s best at 100 meters turned into something very different Friday.Reigning world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce ran her heat in the nearly empty Olympic Stadium in 10.84 seconds. Her Jamaican rival, defending Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah, finished in 10.82. And Marie-Josee Ta Lou, the Ivory Coast sprinter who finished an excruciating fourth in Rio de Janeiro, kept saying “Wow! Wow!” after she crossed the finish line in a blistering personal best of 10.78.“I’m in shock, actually,” Ta Lou said. “But I know I’m ready.”They were the fifth, sixth and seventh-fastest times of the year, produced on a day when seven of 54 sprinters hit a personal best — all in an opening round that’s supposed to be designed more for shaking out cobwebs than watching the clock.All that even though the field was missing this season’s third-fastest runner, Sha’Carri Richardson, who is back home in the United States following a doping ban.By comparison, only one runner, Fraser-Pryce, cracked 11 seconds in the opening round five years ago in Rio de Janeiro. She went on to win the bronze, behind Thompson (who has since gotten married) and American sprinter Tori Bowie.“I mean, a lot of sprinters are dominating,” Thompson-Herah said.Fraser-Pryce came in as the favorite for Saturday’s final, which is already showing signs of living up to the hype. She ran a 10.63 back in June that has some thinking even Florence Griffith Joyner’s 33-year-old world record of 10.49 seconds could finally be at risk this year.“Honestly, I have no idea,” Fraser-Pryce said when asked about the mark. “It’s super, super competitive. You want to make sure you focus on each round and the things you’re supposed to do.”There were so many unknowns coming into the Olympics – namely if the year-long delay, the empty stadium or the stress of being cooped up in a hotel room in the lead-up to the Tokyo Games would hurt the athletes. At least one group — the women’s sprinters — answered all those questions with an emphatic “No.”Another unknown: Would this be a fast track?“Clearly,” said Daryll Neita of Britain, who ran a personal best 10.96. “It’s going to be a very fast championship, let’s put it that way. It feels amazing.”The first of 48 gold medals on the line over the nine-day meet was up for grabs later Friday in the men’s 10,000. Favorites include Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda and Selemon Barega of Ethiopia.Other morning action on Day 1 went to form. Rai Benjamin of the United States and world-record holder Karsten Warholm of Norway cruised easily through their heats in the 400-meter hurdles, keeping a gold-medal showdown in the cards. Will it take another world record to win?“Maybe someone else will do it,” Warholm joked. “I’ve done my job.”Athing Mu, a contender in the women’s 800, moved through the first round of her race and didn’t seem too bothered that the track announcer mispronounced her name. (For the record, it’s pronounced “uh-THING moh”).“I’m sure everyone saw my face,” the American said. “I don’t even know what he said. It was terrible.”Ju’Vaughn Harrison made it to the high jump final, keeping alive the American’s quest for a high jump-long jump double. Also advancing in high jump was world champion Mutaz Barshim, who wowed his home crowd two years ago when he won the world title in Doha.With thousands of empty green, white and burgundy seats staring back at them, all the “oohs” and “ahhs” for this one came from the athletes themselves. After Round 1 of that women’s 100, there was plenty to get excited about.“It’s whoever gets to the line first wins,” said another contender, Blessing Okagbare of Nigeria, whose 11.05 felt ordinary on this day. “Sometimes it’s not about the time, but about the position.”But sometimes, maybe this time, it could be about both.

France Calls British Travel Rules ‘Discriminatory,’ Not Science-Based

France’s European Affairs Minister on Thursday called Britain’s decision to lift quarantine requirements for all fully vaccinated travelers arriving from Europe except France “discriminatory and incomprehensible” and said he hopes it is reviewed as soon as possible. Clement Beaune made the comments during an interview on French television a day after Britain announced it was dropping the quarantine requirement for fully vaccinated visitors from the European Union and the United States but that it would review rules for travelers from France only at the end of next week. FILE – French minister for European affairs Clement Beaune arrives at a General Affairs meeting in Luxembourg, June 22, 2021.The British government has said it is keeping quarantine rules for travelers from France because of the presence of the beta variant there. But Beaune told French broadcaster LCI the beta strain accounted for fewer than 5% of COVID-19 cases in France, and mostly occurred in overseas territories from where relatively few people traveled to Britain.  “We are saying to the British that, on the scientific and health levels, there are no explanations for this decision,” he said. In a Wednesday interview, British Transportation Minister Grant Shapps said the government will not be able to review the decision until the end of next week because they need to see the data. Beaune said he will continue pressuring Britain to review the requirement, but said, for now, he is not planning to impose similar measures on British travelers to France.  Some information in this report came from Associated Press, Reuters and AFP. 
 

World Leaders Pledge $4 Billion to Public Education Affected by Pandemic

Thursday marks the second and final day of the Global Education Summit in London, hosted by Kenya and the United Kingdom. International governments and corporations pledged to donate $4 billion for the Global Partnership for Education, which provides fair access to public education in 90 countries and territories that account for 80% of children out of school. The summit emphasized the importance of equitable access to education amid warnings that COVID-19 has exacerbated already under-resourced public education programs in less economically developed countries. Experts alerted the organization that it was unlikely for those forced out of schools due to the pandemic to return. Australia’s former prime minister Julia Gillard gestures as she speaks during the closing ceremony on the second day of the Global Education Summit in London, Britain, July 29, 2021.Julia Gillard, former Australian prime minister and chair of the partnership, noted that the pandemic affected access to education in all nations but poorer countries where families may lack internet connection or electricity were devastated. Gillard said that this pledge puts the partnership on track for completing the goal of raising $5 billion over five years. Ambassador Raychelle Omamo, Kenyan Cabinet secretary for foreign affairs, warned of the pandemic’s devastating impact on global education, saying “education is the pathway, the way forward.” Malala Yousafzai, a Nobel Peace Prize winner from Pakistan and activist for female education, spoke to the summit leaders and stressed the significance of accessible education for young girls who are often discriminated against. She warned that 130 million girls were unable to attend school because of the pandemic and said that “their futures are worth fighting for.” Addressing the conference with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his government’s commitment to girls’ education and its goal of enrolling 40 million more girls in school by 2026. Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson applaud during the closing ceremony on the second day of the Global Education Summit in London, Britain, July 29, 2021.”Enabling them to learn and reach their full potential is the single greatest thing we can do to recover from this crisis,” Johnson said. Johnson faced criticism for advocating for girls’ education while simultaneously cutting the U.K.’s overseas aid budget. The prime minister pledged $602 million to the Global Partnership for Education, while slashing $5.6 billion from the U.K.’s international development allowance. British officials said that the budget cut is temporary and was a necessary action due to the economic strain from pandemic recovery. The Global Partnership for Education also received criticism for continuing funding to partner countries that openly discriminate against students. Investigations by Human Rights Watch uncovered open exclusion of pregnant students in Tanzania and Rohingya refugee children in Bangladesh.  Some information for this report came from the Associated Press.