- CPR GmbH, the largest condom manufacturer in Europe, has gone bankrupt. An indicator for how hard Europe is getting fucked.
- Gazprom cuts gas supplies to Poland, Bulgaria
Gazprom said Poland and Bulgaria had been told in a “timely manner” that payment for gas supplied from April 1 must be made it roubles. It also warned the two countries that if they siphon gas intended for other European customers, the deliveries to Europe will be reduced to that amount.
That last line is very interesting. I guess I hadn’t fully appreciated that it was all on one continuous pipeline up until this point. Also, Intelslava reports: “The EU will temporarily increase gas purchases from the Russian Federation through countries ready to pay in rubles to compensate for the cessation of supplies to Poland and Bulgaria, a TASS source said.” And:
Poland and Bulgaria are receiving gas from EU neighbors, European Commission president says
EU warns companies not to buy Russian gas in rubles
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned companies not to bend to Russia’s demands to pay for gas in rubles, as the continent scrambles to respond to Moscow’s move to start switching off supplies.
Europe is trying to maintain a united front, but according to a person close to Gazprom, some European companies are taking steps that would allow them to comply with Moscow’s new rules.
- Four European gas buyers have paid Russia in rubles for supplies, bucking the EU’s urging in the energy face-off
The report didn’t mention which four European buyers have made ruble payments.
Separately, the report said 10 European companies have opened accounts at Russia’s Gazprombank as a means to meet Putin’s payment demands. No company names were mentioned in the report.
Finland will not pay for Russian gas in rubles. Only 6% of Finland’s energy comes from natural gas, and 65% of that comes from Russia. So no big deal. Thanks for letting us know, I guess, Finland.
Austria with EU’s support to abandon Russian gas by 2027. Meanwhile: “Austria has accepted Russian conditions for a new payment for gas, the country’s chancellor said.”
Italian energy company Eni is preparing to open ruble accounts in Russian bank Gazprombank, Bloomberg reports.
European gas prices rise by more than 20% after supply halts to Poland and Bulgaria
Gas supplies to Bulgaria guaranteed for coming month, says energy minister
Gas is being supplied to Bulgaria now, with gas to suffice for domestic consumers for the coming month, Bulgarian Energy Minister Alexander Nikolov told a briefing on Wednesday.
- US, UK trade officials to meet for 3rd round of talks in Boston
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and British Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan agreed to work in coming weeks on an “ambitious roadmap” on digitizing U.S.-UK trade, supporting small- and medium-sized businesses, building resilience in critical supply chains, and addressing the global trade impacts of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the statement said.
Slashing food tariffs will not fix UK’s cost of living crisis, warns farmers’ union
The EU Looks to Cut Ukraine Tariffs on Goods Like Steel
While the war has caused half of Ukrainian businesses to shut down completely, it could make it easier for the remainder to sell their goods to the European marketplace.
- Euro crashes to five-year low
Asia and Oceania:
- Major Japan railway now powered only by renewable energy
- Indonesia widens export ban to include crude palm oil
- World Bank to provide struggling Sri Lanka with $600m
- India Reaps Economic Gains From Sri Lanka’s Crisis
- Australia’s prices surge at fastest pace in two decades
- Can Japan Keep the Lights On? The Ukraine War Upends a Big Energy Bet.
The world’s third-largest economy has counted on imported liquefied natural gas as it shuts coal-fired plants and keeps nuclear sites closed. But Russia’s invasion has pushed prices sharply higher.
- Xi Calls for ‘All Out’ Infrastructure Push to Boost Economy
- UAE and Turkey aim to double bilateral trade - minister
- Senegal: Ahead of Eid, high wheat prices affect consumers
In Senegal … nearly 60 percent of the wheat came from Russia and Ukraine in 2021.
- Bitcoin becomes official currency in Central African Republic
In 2019, just 4% of people in CAR had access to the internet, according to the WorldData website. The internet is needed to use any cryptocurrency.
A reminder that only 5% of Salvadorians use cryptocurrency after it was made an official currency.
- China slashes African infrastructure loans but ICT funding holds firm
Chinese lending to Africa fell by 78 per cent to its lowest level in more than a decade in 2020, with just 11 deals signed worth US$1.9 billion – partly because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The researchers said it might be “down now, but not out” since “a loan reduction in 2020 may not reflect a definite pullback of Chinese lending to the region, as the decline highlights how Chinese loan amounts tend to fluctuate during times of crisis and exposure to structural risk levels”.
- Canada’s workforce ‘has never been older’, statistics agency says
- Bank Stocks Unravel in Worst Rout Since 2020
- A new report diving into the data on vital measures of health and social determinants of health finds that women, and particularly women of color, continue to experience steep pay gaps, that many Americans cannot afford child care and many school districts may be underfunded.
- Millions must cut water use in drought-stricken California
Southern California’s gigantic water supplier has taken the unprecedented step of requiring about 6 million people to cut their outdoor watering to one day a week as drought continues to plague the state
- Over the past few days, senior US officials have frequently spoken out on the issue of lowering tariffs on Chinese goods
Psaki: “We talked about how some of the tariffs implemented by the previous administration were not strategic and instead raised costs on Americans,”
- Boeing posts $1.2bn loss in first quarter as jet issues persist
The loss was bigger than Wall Street had forecast, and the company’s quarterly revenue also fell short of expectations. Boeing burned through $3.2bn in cash.
- Profits Skyrocket for US LNG Companies
- Robinhood cutting 9% of full-time staff as ‘hyper growth’ ebbs
- Biden Cynically Uses Ukraine to Cover Food Sabotage
- The White House is Turning the War in Ukraine into a New Gold Rush
- Top US corporations raising prices on Americans even as profits surge
One widely accepted narrative holds that companies and consumers are sharing in inflationary pain, but a Guardian analysis of top corporations’ financials and earnings calls reveals most are enjoying profit increases even as they pass on costs to customers, many of whom are struggling to afford gas, food, clothing, housing and other basics.
- War, pandemic drive companies to shift supply chains, WTO chief says
The war in Ukraine — coupled with the pandemic’s chronic supply chain snarls — has persuaded global manufacturers to cut their reliance on China and spread factories across a wider array of countries, the director general of the World Trade Organization (WTO) said Tuesday.
The supply line shake-up — which Okonjo-Iweala bills as “re-globalization” — probably would come at the expense of China. But it could be a boon for some developing countries.
- Putin ordered to extend restrictions on the export of fertilizers to unfriendly countries until August 31, 2022, with the option of prolonging this decision in the future.
Diplomatically and Politically:
Involving Ukraine or Russia:
- NATO’s Credibility Is on the Line with its Cyber Defense Pledge. That’s a Bad Idea. Thanks for clarifying how we’re meant to feel about it.
- Putin: Russia-South Africa relations dynamically develop in strategic partnership spirit
- Lavrov: Russia highly appreciates good relations with Eritrea
- Brussels triggers rule of law mechanism for very first time against Hungary
The mechanism was approved by the European Court of Justice earlier this year following a challenge by Hungary and Poland, which have drawn the Commission’s ire in recent years over reforms curbing the independence of the judiciary and civil society, or targeting the rights of minorities including women and LGBTQI+ citizens.
EU officials stressed that if it proceeds with the mechanism and withholds funds from Hungary, these will not be sanctions or fines but “measures to protect the budget.”
Asia and Oceania:
- Australian minister accuses China of election interference
A senior Australian minister on Wednesday suggested that China had deliberately announced its security pact with the Solomon Islands during an election campaign to undermine her government’s chances of reelection.
- China issues ‘color revolution’ warning
The Chinese defense minister has said Beijing stands opposed to foreign intervention in Kazakhstan, warning of “color revolutions” launched under the guise of protests while also vowing to support the country’s efforts to “safeguard national security.”
- China angered as US sends destroyer through Taiwan Strait
China’s military has accused the United States of undermining regional peace and security after it sent a naval destroyer through the Strait of Taiwan on Tuesday as part of a routine freedom of navigation exercise.
- Demographics push China-India-Russia triple entente
India will have far more working-age people than China as the present century progresses. And the population of poorly educated people in Muslim Asia will equal India and China combined if present trends continue.
The rest of East Asia, meanwhile, will shrink to insignificance. Japan now has 50 million citizens aged 15 to 49 years, but will have only 20 million at the end of the century at current fertility rates. South Korea will have only 6.8 million people in that age group, compared with 25 million today. And Taiwan will fall from 12 million 15-to-49-year-olds today to only 3.8 million at the century’s end.
At some point, China may decide to write off its investment in Pakistan and upgrade its relationship with India. And that would turn all strategic calculations inside-out.
- Is the Philippines ready for another Duterte?
Davao Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio is the leading candidate for vice president in the Philippines’ May elections. She is also the daughter of the president, Rodrigo Duterte, a tough-talking strongman known for his bloody drug war, chauvinistic attitudes and bombastic insults.
A survivor of rape and a miscarriage, she nonetheless defended her father when he notoriously made a joke about rape at the expense of a murdered Australian missionary.
Duterte, who also said a woman should never be president, has been somewhat conflicted about his daughter’s political career. … Despite his frequent denigration of women, however, he has endorsed his daughter.
Duterte-Carpio is an army reservist and supports mandatory military service for young people.
Last month, she identified herself as LGBTQ, saying she sometimes leans toward a more masculine gender expression — cutting her hair short when she feels “like a man” and growing it out when she feels feminine.
However, her foreign policy stance is unclear, as she and Marcos shy away from interviews and shun election debates.
- Parliament pushes for capital controls law as Lebanese protest
Lebanon’s array of commercial banks imposed their own capital controls after the country’s financial system crashed in late 2019, by setting withdrawal and transfer limits.
Since then, 75 percent of the population has slipped into poverty, while the Lebanese pound has lost 90 percent of its value. Power cuts and skyrocketing fuel prices have crippled much of public life, while food inflation in the troubled country is among the highest worldwide.
- Saudi Arabia, France launch humanitarian projects in Lebanon
Agreement will provide about $32m for projects focusing on food security and the battered healthcare system.
- Pakistan rebel group warns China of harsher attacks
Baloch Liberation Army threatens Beijing with ‘even harsher’ attacks unless China halts ‘exploitation projects’ in Pakistan. The Baloch Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the attack which killed three Chinese teachers and a Pakistani driver near the gate of the Confucius Institute at the University of Karachi.
Chinese nationals and business and investment interests have regularly been targeted by separatists in Balochistan, where Beijing is involved in lucrative mining and energy projects. Baloch separatist fighters have been fighting for a greater share of their province’s natural resources for decades, mostly focusing attacks on natural gas projects, infrastructure and the security forces.
- New Israeli rules on foreigners visiting West Bank stir outrage
- Many injured in a clash between police and students in Ivory Coast
Students at the university have been on strike since Monday to demand better study conditions and in particular the possibility of taking their exams elsewhere than in Abidjan, the country’s main city, more than 300 km away.
- Tunisian opposition announces new alliance
A veteran left-wing Tunisian politician announced the creation a new alliance aimed at restoring constitutional normality in the country following President Kais Saied’s power grab last year.
“We’re here to announce the creation of the National Salvation Front, a political front that comprises, up till now, five political parties and five political groups, including six parliamentary groups. It’s only the beginning, we plan to keep on consulting with other parties to join the alliance”, said Ahmed Nejib Chebbi, founder of the National Salvation Front.
- Ambassadors from several African states (Congo, CAR, Benin, Guinea) met in Moscow on Tuesday with Russian Special Presidential Envoy for the Middle East and Africa Mikhail Bogdanov, and demonstrated solidarity with the position of Russia and the aims of the special military operation in Ukraine.
- Uruguay Doesn’t Support Sanctions Against Russia
- Chinese drone giant DJI temporarily suspends business in Russia and Ukraine
- Russian telegram, unverified: The Swedish government has requested compensation from the EU for military supplies to Ukraine, Swedish Radio reports.
- West should provide warplanes, says Liz Truss
In a major speech in London, Ms Truss will argue that the West “must be prepared for the long haul and double down on our support” for the country.
“If Putin succeeds there will be untold further misery across Europe and terrible consequences across the globe. We would never feel safe again,” she will say on Wednesday evening.
- Everything you need to know about the anti-aircraft tank Germany will send to Ukraine
The German news outlet Welt reported that Germany has approved the delivery of 50 refurbished “Gepard” (cheetah) anti-aircraft tanks from the arms manufacturer KMW.
According to the manufacturer’s site, the Gepard is an all-weather tank that can be deployed against both ground and air targets. It also has a search radar with a range of up to 15 kilometers and can hit targets at a distance of 6,000 meters. It has an engine power of 830 horsepower with a fuel range of 550 kilometers, making it well-suited for ground combat.
- Moon of Alabama has a nice piece about these “tanks”.
That Scholz decided to offer these, instead of real tanks or armored infantry carriers as the U.S. and the camouflage-Green party demanded, is a nice way out. It guarantees that the Ukrainians will not be able to use them before the war is over.
I remember them well from my time in the Bundeswehr. While my primary training was as a gunner on a real tank, the Leopard 1A3, two people I knew were trained as gunners for the Gepard. There was a huge difference though. It took 6 months of training to become a reasonably good tank gunner. It took 12 month, including hundreds of hours in a simulator, to become a gunner on a Gepard. The commander role required even more training.
There are probably less than ten people in the current Bundeswehr who still know how to operate and maintain a Gepard. There is thus little chance to find German crews for them.
If the Ukrainians really want to use these outdated systems they will have to train fresh crews for at least a year. Otherwise those guns will be ineffective and of little use.
My hunch though is that none of these will ever be delivered. The Swiss, who manufactured the cannons and their ammunition, have seen to that.
- Top Zelenskyy aide said explosions in 3 Russian provinces were ‘karma’ for the invasion, but doesn’t say Ukraine was responsible
- Ammo depot on fire in Belgorod Region
- Ukrainian drones/airplanes shot down over Voronezh City in Russia, which is 180km(!) from the Ukrainian border.
- Footage of captured Ukrainian soldiers at Yampol, Donetsk.
- Footage of dead Ukrainian paratroopers in Avdiivka, Donetsk.
- Footage of Russian heavy equipment moving to the Donbass front.
- Looks like Russia has advanced ~5km south of Izyum?
- Ukraine’s Minister of Defense: “Russia has already accumulated forces for a large-scale offensive … There are several extremely difficult weeks ahead. Aid to Ukraine will grow, but in the coming days, all our resilience and extraordinary unity will be required.”
- Putin agrees ‘in principle’ to UN role in Mariupol evacuations. ASB is saying that the UN is mobilizing a team to evacuate civilians from Azovstal. There must be important people in there, right?
- Major batch of Western-supplied arms in Ukraine destroyed in Zaporozhye.
- Ukraine tries to hit center of Kherson with a Tochka-U missile, but is shot down.
Dipshittery and Cope:
- Russia is ‘bullying’ Poland and Bulgaria by cutting off their gas supply, UK minister says
“This is unjustified and unacceptable, and it shows once again the unreliability of Russia as a gas supplier,”
Alright, who’s gonna sit down with the EU leaders, get the crayons out, and explain how commodities have prices? Or have they all gone anarcho-primitivist, or better yet, communist?
- Ukraine’s Artillery Might Be Winning The War With Russia
Russia in theory has developed a sophisticated fire-control system that combines electronic eavesdroppers, radars and unmanned aerial vehicles pinpointing targets for artillery. That system worked to devastating effect during the initial phase of the war in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region starting in 2014.
But in the current phase of the war, it’s Ukraine’s own fire-control system that’s proved most effective. Radars, off-the-shelf drones, special operations forces and even civilians calling in enemy positions on their cell phones have helped the Ukrainian army’s artillery relentlessly to pound Russian formations. Moscow is believed to have lost more than 1,700 vehicles in just over 60 days of fighting.
Russia’s under-supplied, poorly-led army never managed fully to deploy its artillery fire-control system. … Ukraine’s own fire-control system by contrast grew more sophisticated as the war wore on.
The Russian army has a chance to do better. After pulling battered battalions from the Kyiv suburbs in late March, the Kremlin reinforced its combined arms armies in Donbas and Ukraine’s south. Russia’s original war aim—regime change—is beyond reach. But Moscow still might succeed in expanding the territory it controls in Donbas as well as securing a land bridge between Donbas and occupied Crimea.
RUSSIA NEVER SAID THEY WERE GOING TO DO REGIME CHANGE! I’m so fucking sick of this shit. “Russia’s claims that they would control the entire Milky Way galaxy met a serious snag after a video comes out showing an entire battalion of Ukrainian soldiers bravely destroying a single Russian artillery piece before tragically being murdered by bombing runs”. Also, I love how it’s basically just said “Yeah, Russia is probably gonna succeed in taking Donbass, despite the fact that we spent the last few paragraphs explaining how amazing the Ukrainian military is and how stupid and inept the Russian military is.” Doublethink galore.
- Xi Lays Bare China’s Economic Delusion
Has self-delusion peaked in China? Maybe so.
Chinese premier Xi Jingping says he wants economic growth in the communist country to outpace that of the U.S., according to a recent report from the Wall Street Journal. The story states the following:
The problem is that China’s official economic statistics have long been aspirational rather than actual. Put another way, what the Chinese government reports about its economy each quarter, reflects the desire of the country’s top leadership rather than what is really happening.
So yes, no doubt China’s growth will exceed that of the U.S. this year because Xi has mandated that the data will show that. However, what’s going on in the Chinese economy — and the global outlook — is going to make those forthcoming economic reports hard to swallow.
How much of the US economy fundamentally requires trillions of dollars’ worth of money that is literally conjured out of thin air?
As most of us know from our experience of the last two or so years, locked down cities don’t grow the economy. If anything they shrink it.
Dead people don’t grow the economy. If anything, they shrink it.
It also looks like China is going to suffer some serious food price inflation for one of its key staples: Rice. Likely reduced supply and increased demand will make it far more expensive, experts say.
Well, thank god China has that massive food reserves you guys were talking about a week or two ago, that made China look bad because it was hoarding grain or whatever. You guys didn’t forget about that when you wrote this shitty article, right? Right?
It’s worth remembering that rising prices tend to agitate people in authoritarian countries. The Chinese Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, which led to a massacre, were partly the result of high pork prices in that country.
- Do Billionaires Have Too Much Money? This is really low-hanging fruit, I know. But I like to think of it as hanging up a pinata for you all to hit. So, enjoy some particularly great quotes.
The proper question to ask is not whether America’s overall disparity of wealth is increasing, but whether the standard of living is improving across the board. And the answer to that is yes. Widespread advances in technology have helped improve the overall quality of life across the nation. Phones, computers and e-commerce are such examples. Behind each influential technology stand billionaires who played instrumental roles in its development. We should consider their wealth as a small percentage of the overall value that they helped create, with most of the gains being captured by consumers.
A cursory glance at the group of ultra-wealthy Americans reveals that much of their money was earned meritoriously, through a combination of skill, hard work and drive.
Successful business moguls like Elon Musk are a fruit of U.S. culture, not symptoms of its rot.
The economy is not zero-sum, and the commerce made by innovation creates value across socioeconomic ranks.
Are the outcomes fair or proportionate? No. And these tech moguls can have grating personalities. But just as one must separate the art from the artist, Americans should laud our economy’s rapid growth even if we do not find ourselves personally invested in the people behind it.
Wealth is nothing new. What’s particular to our time is the urging by progressives to get billionaires to succumb to their cultural control.
The general populace, however, doesn’t understand the limits of Elon Musk’s wealth. He may well be worth hundreds of billions, but that wealth doesn’t exist in a bank account.
- Further arming Ukraine will only destroy it. The west must act to end this war now. Dipshittery, cope, and… acceptance!?
Few people in the west doubt that Ukraine is fighting a just war. Russia’s invasion was entirely unprovoked. Whatever complaints it may have had about Nato expansion or Ukraine’s mistreatment of Russians in Donbas, nobody had attacked Russia, and nobody was planning to. Vladimir Putin launched a straightforward war of aggression and territorial conquest.
The longer this war rages on, the more Ukrainians will flee their homeland, and the more devastation will be wrought upon their homes, cities, industry and economy. Yet the west’s current approach of supporting Ukraine’s war aim of defeating the aggressor, and providing arms for that purpose while pointedly avoiding direct military intervention, is guaranteed to prolong the war. Russia’s progress may be slowed, but it’s highly unlikely to be stopped, far less pushed out of Ukraine, and in the meantime the grinding destruction and hideous war crimes will continue.
The trouble is, there are only two ways to stop the war quickly, and neither is palatable to most western leaders.
One would be for Nato to enter the war and make a quick, massive and decisive strike to cripple Russia’s invasion forces. Unlike with Russia’s actions, it would have every right under international law to do so.
Saying “well, at least it was legally sound!” as I see the mushroom clouds light up in the distance.
The other option is to persuade Putin to implement an immediate ceasefire, by inviting Russia to comprehensive peace talks. Western leaders are disinclined to parley with a butcher such as Putin. But they did it with Serbia’s Slobodan Milošević, only months after the massacre at Srebrenica, and the result was the Dayton agreement that put an end to the war in Bosnia in 1995.
But if one thing is certain it is that Putin will never accept defeat. He is already too deeply invested in this war to back off with nothing to show for it. If western leaders think that their arms-length encouragement of Ukraine will bring about a Ukrainian military victory, then they are fatally misreading Putin’s intentions and resolve.
It’s interesting watching people, and MSM journalists, slowly at first perhaps, realize that Ukraine is doomed.
I Thought I’d Mention:
- UN says up to 40% of world’s land now degraded
- The Climate and the Republic, Melting Down in Real Time