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An unprecedented drought is afflicting nearly half of Europe. It is damaging farm economies, forcing water restrictions, causing wildfires and threatening aquatic species. Water levels are falling in major rivers such as the Danube, the Rhine and the Po, endangering shipping. There hasn't been significant rainfall for almost two months in Western, Central and Southern Europe. Britain on Friday officially declared a drought across southern and central England amid one of the driest summers on record. Human-caused global warming is exacerbating conditions as hotter temperatures speed up evaporation and reduced snowfall limits supplies of fresh water for irrigation. One French farmer has already started using his stores of winter fodder to feed his dairy cows as the grass turns brown.

Palestinian mourners have held a funeral for a militant who succumbed to wounds suffered during three days of heavy fighting between Israel and Gaza militants last weekend. His death on Friday brings the total number of Palestinians killed in the flare-up to 49, including 17 children. That's according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not differentiate between militants and civilians. Israel launched a wave of airstrikes a week ago in the face of what it said was an imminent threat by the Islamic Jihad militant group. Islamic Jihad began firing rockets at Israel hours later. The violence ended with an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire on Sunday. No Israelis were killed or seriously wounded.

Since its independence in 1947, India has transformed from a poverty-stricken nation into one of the world's fastest-growing economies. Over the years it also became a democratic counterweight to its authoritarian neighbor, China, and made strong gains in electoral participation and peaceful transitions of power. But as India, the world’s largest democracy, celebrates 75 years of independence on Monday, its independent judiciary, diverse media and minorities are buckling under the strain, putting its democracy under pressure. Experts and critics partly blame Prime Minister Narendra Modi's populist government for this backsliding, accusing him of using unbridled political power to undermine democratic freedoms and preoccupying itself with pursuing a Hindu nationalist agenda.

Conservative groups pushing for a convention of the states as a way to amend the U.S. Constitution have been spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in state legislative primaries to elect Republican lawmakers sympathetic to their cause. Much of the money comes from groups that do not have to disclose their donors, masking the identity of who is funding the push to change the Constitution. Their goals are vague and include limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and imposing fiscal restraints. No amendment to the Constitution has ever been done through a state convention.

    Hundreds of Black NFL retirees denied payouts in the $1 billion concussion settlement now qualify for awards after their tests were rescored to eliminate racial bias.  That's according to a report released Friday by the law firm handling claims against the NFL. Changes to the settlement made last year are meant to make the tests race-blind. The use of “race norming” in the dementia testing made it more difficult for Blacks to prove they had the kind of cognitive decline that qualifies retired players for awards averaging $500,000 or more. Now, nearly 650 men who didn't initially qualify have had their tests automatically rescored. They met other criteria for a successful claim.

    A ship is approaching Ukraine to pick up wheat for hungry people in Ethiopia. That will be the first food delivery to Africa under a U.N.-brokered plan to unblock grain trapped by Russia’s war and bring relief to some of the millions worldwide on the brink of starvation. For months, fighting and a Russian blockade meant grain produced in Ukraine, known as the world’s breadbasket, piled up in silos. In recent days, several ships carrying grain have left Ukrainian ports under the new deal — but most of the shipments were of animal feed and went to Turkey or Western Europe. On Friday, European Council President Charles Michel announced that the first shipment by the U.N.’s World Food Program of humanitarian aid for Africa would soon load and then depart.

    Mexican officials say three inmates are dead following a fight between rival gangs at a prison in Ciudad Juarez, a city across the border from El Paso, Texas. The prosecutors' office in the border state of Chihuahua said Thursday that authorities had called in the army and National Guard to control the fight. The office said the dispute at the Number 3 prison was between “rival gangs,” but did not identify which groups were involved. Ciudad Juarez has seen years of battles between gangs like the Artistas Asesinos, backed by the Sinaloa cartel, and the La Linea and Aztecas gangs and the Juarez cartel.

    Gas prices hit record highs just two months ago, but now they're sinking below $4 a gallon. The auto club and insurer AAA said Thursday that the nationwide average price was $3.99 a gallon. There are several factors behind the dramatic drop, and the biggest is a sharp pullback in oil prices. The price of benchmark U.S. crude is down about one-fourth from its peak. Investors bidding down the price of oil are worried that the global economy is shaky, and that demand for energy will get weaker.

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