Supplies in exporting countries may also be eroded: Severe weather in Europe has coincided with adverse growing conditions in other major grain producing zones such as Russia and Australia, raising the risk that supplies in exporting countries will be eroded to their smallest in years. Extreme weather has gripped northern Europe from Britain to the Baltic states, and the combination of poor harvest yields and shriveled grassland has led to spiraling costs for animal feed, putting pressure on livestock farms. READ MORE
Germany will compensate farmers for harvest losses: The German government said Wednesday it would compensate thousands of farmers whose harvests have suffered as a result of this year’s extreme drought, which many experts have linked to climate change. Federal and state governments will release some 340 million euros ($390 million) in aid, fall short of the three billion euros ($3.45 billion) in economic damage reported by just eight of Germany’s 16 states. The president of the German Farmers Association said that cereal crop harvests nationwide were down 25.6 percent compared with the average of the previous five years, and the harvest in some parts of Germany could be said to have failed entirely. READ MORE
Sweden, Finland facing even greater losses: Things are even worse elsewhere in Europe. Sweden and Finland are facing significantly lower cereal harvests due to this summer’s heatwave and lack of rainfall, with farming unions expecting production losses of up to 50 percent. READ MORE
Austin puts restrictions on water use: Austin’s water utility announced Thursday it is putting restrictions on water use after drought conditions returned to Central Texas and lake levels have dropped dangerously low. Austin Water said it is implementing Stage 1 water restrictions, which means people may only water on assigned days and times and can only wash their vehicles at home with a bucket or using a hose that can be shut off automatically. READ MORE
‘When you see me, cry’: Drought across Europe has caused hidden messages carved on rocks to warn of “hard times ahead” to reappear. Known as hunger stones, they are reappearing in the Elbe River. Over a dozen of the hunger stones, chosen to record low water levels, can now be seen in and near the northern Czech town of Decin near the German border. Low water levels in the river have exposed the stones, whose appearances used to warn people that hard times were coming. The oldest water mark, which dates to 1616, bears a chiseled inscription in German that says: ‘When you see me, cry.’ READ MORE
Glyphosate crackdown would have far-reaching impact: A regulatory crackdown on glyphosate would not only hit sales of pesticides and weedkillers, but also the seeds that firms have developed to be used with them, writes The Economist. In fact, a recent court case that awarded millions to a man who believes Roundup caused his cancer could trigger an international regulatory battle. READ MORE
About that coconut oil: For certain health food shops and well-being sites, coconut oil is the panacea that helps everything from bad hair and mental grogginess to obesity and haemorrhoids. But the carefully-crafted image of coconut oil as a cure for many ills has been roundly rejected by Harvard epidemiologist Karin Michels, poured scorn on the superfood movement and singled out the fad for coconut oil in particular. READ MORE
Knife attacks: Two women were killed and multiple people injured at a restaurant stabbing in Belgium, according to reports. Le Ramier, a popular restaurant in Moresnet-Chapelle, Plombières, was closed. Authorities confirmed there were “several” fatalities, while local news outlets reported three people had died—two women, reportedly mother and daughter, and the male knifeman. Thursday, two people were killed and one other was wounded in a knife attack outside Paris. While the first incident was believed to domestic, the second was claimed by ISIS. Read more HERE and HERE.
Life expectancy declining: Life expectancy is declining in high-income countries worldwide, driven in part by the effects of the opioid epidemic on younger adults in the U.S. and the impact of a severe flu season on older adults in other nations, two new studies suggest. Widespread or sustained declines in life expectancy may signal problems in a nation’s social and economic conditions or in the provision or quality of its healthcare services, researchers write in The BMJ. READ MORE
San Francisco’s poop patrol: In a city where filthy sidewalks are many residents’ No. 1 complaint, the San Francisco City Hall has come up with a new way to deal with No. 2. San Francisco is about to launch the Poop Patrol. In September, a team of five Public Works staffers will begin patrolling the alleys around “hot spots” in a vehicle equipped with a steam cleaner. The Poop Patrol’s mission? To spot and clean piles of feces before anybody complains about them. Read more HERE and HERE.
MERS reported in England: A case of Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, has been detected in a patient in England, the first case since 2013, according to Public Health England. The individual is the fifth person ever to be diagnosed with the disease in the country. READ MORE
ISIS leader calls on followers to fight on: Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in his first purported speech in nearly a year, has called on followers to fight on despite recent defeats, according to an audio recording posted on the group’s media outlet. In the 55-minute statement, Baghdadi congratulated what he described as the “striking lions” behind recent attacks in Canada and Europe and called on followers to use bombs, knives or cars to carry out attacks. READ MORE
Travel advisory for Mexico: The U.S. has issued a travel advisory for Mexico after authorities found eight bodies in Cancún this week. Travelers to Mexico are advised to “exercise increased caution,” according to the State Department advisory, which notes that “violent crime, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery, is widespread.” READ MORE
Trump’s attention turns to South Africa: After a Fox News segment Wednesday night focusing on the controversial issue of land expropriation in South Africa, President Trump tweeted that he has asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to investigate. Trump said has asked Pompeo “to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers.” READ MORE