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Both U.S. President Joe Biden and the Commission’s von der Leyen warned Beijing of “consequences” and “reputational risks” should it help Russia circumvent sanctions or provide it with weapons. British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss went further, saying last week: “By talking about the rise of China as inevitable we are doing China’s work for it. In fact, their rise isn’t inevitable. They will not continue to rise if they don’t play by the rules.”

“We are against all ideas of decoupling,” Scholz said. “But one thing is clear: our companies and we ourselves will do everything we can to ensure that nobody is dependent on supply chains from one country at a time. That is the experience we have now had with the Ukraine crisis. It will take time, but will have to play a big role for us.”

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Martin Frick said about 4.5 million tonnes of grain in containers at Ukrainian ports could not be shifted due to unsafe or occupied sea routes, some of which had been mined, as well as inaccessible ports. … About 30m tonnes of corn and about 25m tonnes of wheat were harvested in the country in 2020.

  • European Port Workers Are Refusing To Unload Russian Diesel

  • Russian natural gas exports to China jump 60 per cent in first 4 months

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The new pipeline is expected to be up and running by 2026 and will mean that – together with the existing pipeline – the annual supply of natural gas could increase to 48 billion cubic metres from around 10 billion cubic metres in 2021.

  • Russia makes gas payments easier
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President Vladimir Putin signed a bill into law amending Russia’s tax code on Sunday, and it was published on the official portal for legal information.

The law aims to help foreign firms pay for Russian gas in rubles, in line with the new mechanism adopted last month. Foreign entities will be able to register with Russia’s tax authority after the bank that opens an account for them submits an application.

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“No real unemployment growth has been observed with us so far. Nevertheless, alarming trends are in place. There are people warned about layoffs. Certain foreign companies, investors depart and then return,”

  • Germany to build LNG terminals at ‘Tesla speed’ in shift away from Russian gas

  • German Used-Car Prices Hit Record on Tight Supply Chains

  • Germany, India sign $10.5B green development deal

  • Germany to continue paying for Russian gas in euro, says minister

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Asked about the possibility of suspension of gas supplies from Russia, Robert Habeck said: “It is possible”

Asked about the possibility of suspension of gas supplies from Russia as was the case with Poland and Bulgaria, he said: “It is possible. We stick to the EU’s directions. This means we pay in euro, after which Russia converts money into rubles in accordance with its logic.” “If it should be so I do not care,” the minister added.

  • Germany would weather Russian oil ban despite shortages - minister. Also: Quitting Russian oil by late summer is “realistic”
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“We have managed to reach a situation where Germany is able to bear an oil embargo,” Habeck, of the ecologist Greens, told a news conference. “This means it won’t be without consequences.”

Finance Minister Christian Lindner went even further, telling a German broadcaster that the German economy would even be able to stomach an immediate ban.

  • France: Renault to sell Russian assets for one ruble

  • Italian minister suggests temporarily allowing companies to pay for Russian gas in rubles

  • Finland ends deal with Russia for Hanhikivi Nuclear Power Plant

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It was proposed to house a Russian-designed pressurized water reactor, with a capacity of 1200 MW and the nuclear power plant was to generate approximately 10% of Finland’s electricity needs, the company said.

  • UK: Retail workers need protection from automation, general secretary Paddy Lillis warns
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The retail union’s general secretary said artificial intelligence is exacerbating a lack of job security and mental health issues for workers.

Addressing delegates on the opening day of Usdaw’s 2022 conference in Blackpool, Mr Lillis also slammed Tory ministers for scrapping England’s Union Learning Fund last year. This was despite nine in 10 workers across Britain needing retraining over the next decade due to automation, he added.

Asia and Oceania:

  • New Zealand: Ardern confirms interest in US economic framework

  • India: The Russia-Ukraine war is making Indians poorer and hungrier

  • Philippines: Unemployment easing? SWS survey says 1 in 3 Filipinos jobless

  • Australia hopes digital trade agreement with India by the year-end

  • China’s Economy Appears to Be Stalling, Threatening to Drag Down Global Growth

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A recession commonly means two straight quarters of contraction, and that remains unlikely for China, many economists say. The country has many ways to ensure it posts stronger growth than the U.S. and Europe this year, including the ability to unleash heavy government spending.

But economists say that underlying conditions, worsened by Covid lockdowns in Shanghai and elsewhere, are starting to feel more akin to a recession—something China hasn’t experienced in decades.

Middle East


  • Kenya raises minimum wage by 12% as inflation soars

  • Ghana’s electronic levy (e-levy) faces bumpy take-off

  • Nigeria: Consumer Goods - Inflation Triggers 40% Jump in Raw Materials Cost

  • Nigerian Workers Struggle As Cost of Living Outstrips Incomes

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The alarming situation is that the 30,000 Naira (US$72) minimum wage is insufficient to meet the value of basic foodstuffs for the healthy living of an adult in a month, let alone an entire family.

Most of the low-income earners we interacted with said they could only afford one meal a day. And they could afford it by either borrowing or begging from those they believed had better income, and doing additional jobs to make ends meet.

  • Malawi looks to cannabis for profits amid declining Tobacco demand

  • South Africa: The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is planning to launch its own union soon.

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He added that South African unions were taking the side of employers, saying this created a vacuum for the workers, which the EFF intends to fill.

  • Uganda: We Are Soon Finding a Solution to Skyrocketing Commodity Prices

  • Uganda in Urgent Need for Funds as Refugee Figures Swell

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Since January, Uganda has received over 35,000 refugees, a third of whom arrived in the past three weeks from the DRC, fleeing intense fighting in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces.

  • Tanzania: Embrace Organic Food Production, Farmers Advised
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East Africa Impact center (ECHO) Technical advisor, Charles Bonaventure observed that organic food production allows farmers to lower input costs and decrease reliance on nonrenewable resources in production.

According to Mr Bonaventure, such production is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides, oils, and farm machinery, and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony.

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Mnangagwa’s administration may announce plans as early as this week for government departments in Zimbabwe – under US sanctions for economic mismanagement and human rights violations for the past two decades – to show “high preference” for the Zimbabwe dollar in the payment of services

  • Zimbabwe: Labour Blasts Government’s Refusal to Pay U.S.$ Salaries - Cost of Living Now $92,000 but Majority Earn Below $20,000

  • Zimbabwe: It’s Time Every Farmer With Irrigation Considers Wheat Production

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For the past few seasons, Government has worked with important stakeholders to ensure all things were in place for wheat production. This saw farmers being put into clusters so they could have uninterrupted power supply while inputs providers availed seed and fertilisers on time.

Efforts were also made to avail combine harvesters so that the wheat could not be damaged by early rains. The country registered significant yields in wheat and had to only import low volumes to meet the deficit.

Now that Russia and Ukraine are in conflict, it is important that farmers maximise wheat production to ensure self-sufficiency.

North America:

  • Jacobin: Justin Trudeau Insists That Fixing Infrastructure Requires Paying Tithes to the Rich

  • Calcasieu Pass, the seventh USA liquefied natural gas export terminal, begins production

  • USA Gas Production Slows At The Worst Possible Time

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Growth in natural gas production in the biggest producing regions in the United States is on the decline due to the lack of sufficient pipeline network, as prices soar at home alongside a major uptick in LNG exports destined for gas-thirsty Europe.

  • North American oil companies scramble to find workers despite boom

  • USA: GDP Report Inspires Fears, But They Are Premature

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Its recent report on the first quarter’s gross domestic product (GDP) showed a real decline of 1.4% from the final quarter of 2021. Suddenly everyone is talking about recession. This report, though clear confirmation of the already evident slowdown in the post-Covid recovery, overstates the economy’s weakness and is more a reflection of statistical particulars than anything fundamental. A fundamental recession, a real one so to speak, will confront the economy soon enough, say in some 18-24 months, largely because of severe inflationary pressures.

  • USA: The Fed can’t afford to make the wrong moves
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Hopefully, when the Fed meets this week, it won’t commit to raising interest rates or reducing its balance sheet too aggressively and overcorrect for last year’s policy mistakes. If it chooses to do so, we should brace ourselves for a particularly hard economic landing.

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If imports end because of the war, American companies may look to increase domestic mining, which has a toxic history on Indigenous lands.


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“Tesla might actually have to get into the mining & refining directly at scale, unless costs improve,” Musk said in his tweet. “There is no shortage of the element itself, as lithium is almost everywhere on Earth, but pace of extraction/refinement is slow.”

“Put very simply, all the world’s cell production combined represents well under 10% of what we will need in 10 years,” Mr. Scaringe told reporters touring his plant in Normal, Ill. “Meaning, 90% to 95% of the supply chain does not exist.”

So, this is an entire industry that must be built and scaled up, almost from scratch. And, with China dominating the processing and global supply chain for lithium, the U.S. and other western governments have noted the importance of changing that paradigm to increase their own levels of energy security. But onshoring the mining for lithium or extraction of it from brines - by far, the most abundant form of the resource - would be highly controversial in the environmentalist community and take years to achieve. Indeed, the opening of a single new mining operation in the U.S. would likely take over a decade to accomplish.

Diplomatically and Politically:

Involving Ukraine or Russia:

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The impassioned American reaction is matched only in Europe, Canada, and the handful of U.S. allies in East Asia. For many people in the rest of the world, the Russia-Ukraine conflict is just another pointless Western war in which they have no stake.

Russia’s Occupation of Southern Ukraine Hardens, With Rubles, Russian Schools and Lenin Statues

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Russian occupation authorities are swiftly integrating these areas into Russia, appointing collaborationist administrations and introducing Russian documents, education programs and currency. On Saturday, Russian authorities disconnected most of the occupied areas in southern Ukraine from Ukrainian cellphone service and internet providers by cutting fiber-optic cables and turning off power at base stations so as to hide “truthful information about the course of the war,” the Ukrainian government said.

… signaling a comeback to Soviet-style totalitarian rule, they have started returning to central squares the monuments to Lenin that were dismantled by Kyiv after 2014. They have also removed and repainted Ukrainian symbols, flying Soviet flags alongside the Russian banner on public buildings.

“It’s out of the question to return the Kherson region back to Nazi Ukraine…. Kyiv will no longer be able to force its ugly Nazi policies upon our land,” the Russian-appointed deputy head of the military-civil administration of Kherson region, Kirill Stremousov, told Russia’s state news agency RIA on Thursday.


  • Violence erupts in Paris as thousands of May Day protesters raise pressure on Macron

  • France: French Greens, far-left party in deal before June elections

  • Finland wants stronger border fence with Russia

  • Finland will decide to apply for NATO membership on May 12

  • Hungary will veto any EU decision to limit gas imports from Russia

Asia and Oceania:

  • China: Beijing concerned with rising North Korea tensions, envoy says in Seoul

  • Philippines: Front-Runner Bongbong Marcos Could Help America’s Retail Supply Chain

Middle East

  • Israel wants apology from Russia over Hitler remark
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Israel has summoned the Russian ambassador, after Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggested that Adolf Hitler may have had some Jewish blood, and that the “most ardent” anti-Semites are Jews themselves.

“Foreign Minister Lavrov’s remarks are both an unforgivable and outrageous statement as well as a terrible historical error,” Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid tweeted on Monday.

“Jews did not murder themselves in the Holocaust. The lowest level of racism against Jews is to accuse Jews themselves of antisemitism.”


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The workers employed by Sibanye-Stillwater mine are demanding a wage increase of 1,000 rand (63 US dollars) per month instead of the 850 rand (54 US dollars) being offered by the mine.

  • Nigeria: Death toll rises to 8 dead in Lagos building collapse

North America:

  • The Difference Between America’s 2 Cold Wars

  • The US and Russia, faded relics of the Cold War, unable to accept their terminal decline, launch futile and self-defeating wars to reclaim their lost imperial power.

  • USA: In the capital of Blue State America, a new ferment over homelessness

  • Big majority of Americans back sanctions on Russia, aid to Ukraine, poll finds

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In all, 73 percent say the United States is doing either the right amount or too little to support Ukraine.

At the same time, 72 percent oppose the U.S. taking direct military action against Russian forces, while 21 percent support the idea.

About 2 in 3 Americans, or 66 percent, say they are concerned about sanctions contributing to higher food and energy costs at home. The anxiety is bipartisan, with 68 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of Republicans saying they are concerned.

But even among those concerned that sanctions are spurring inflation, 64 percent support increasing them, as do 67 percent of Americans overall.

Specifically, 42 percent of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of the situation between Russia and Ukraine, up from 33 percent when Russia launched its invasion just over two months ago. Now, 47 percent of Americans disapprove of his handling of the crisis, the same percent that disapproved in February, while fewer people say they have no opinion.


General news

  • Ukraine says it destroyed Russia’s Izyum command center, killing 200 but just missing Russia’s top general

  • A former NATO says there’s ‘no situation comparable’ to the deaths of top Russian military officers amid the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

It’s almost as if it’s not real.

  • Analysis: Russia’s Ukrainian quagmire providing tough lessons for China
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“China probably should think about conducting a much stronger and much more comprehensive operation at the very beginning to shock and awe the Taiwanese forces to secure a major advantage,” Zhao said, referring to observations from Chinese strategists.

“If you are going to ‘shock and awe’ Taiwan with overwhelming force in the initial stages, there might be a lot of civilian casualties,” said Koh, of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. That would make occupation difficult and harden international opposition."

Some Chinese strategists believe that the control of information has created a much worse impression of Russian performance than is warranted.

Eastern Ukraine:

  • Tons of NATO weapons seized during the Russian assault on Liman. A bridge was destroyed behind the Ukrainians, which means they cannot easily retreat, nor get ammo or equipment.
  • Kadyrov says that soon, Popasnaya will be completely liberated.
  • DPR attacking near the settlement of Novoselovka.
  • Lots of footage all over the front of dead Ukrainians scattered all about.

Southern Ukraine:

  • Bridge near Odessa through which western weapons were being supplied to Ukraine was completely destroyed

Dipshittery and Cope:

Huh, it’s BOTH countries we just so happen to hate? That’s so weird.

  • Ukrainian citizens forced into Russia by Putin’s forces were tortured and had their limbs amputated due to frostbite, human rights chief alleges
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Denisova said the Ukrainians came back with sepsis, severe wounds, and amputated limbs and toes due to frostbite. She said the Russians filled people’s boots with water — then made them put the boots back on after — and forced them to lie on the ground in the cold.

“Interrogations took place two or three times a day, after which the men were severely beaten and later forced to sign documents stating that they had been treated well,” Denisova said, adding that the Ukrainians were forced to learn Russian patriotic songs and perform them to the guards.

Stop alledging shit and give us evidence. Right now, this just sounds like the mobile crematorium shit.

  • Biden considering income stipulations on student loan cancellation
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Officials are looking at limiting cancellation to those making below $125,000 or $150,000 as an individual or $250,000 or $300,000 for couples who file taxes together.

Do you reckon Democrats go into withdrawals when they don’t get to means-test something? In post-revolutionary America, we’ll need to make sure the re-education camps come with virtual simulations where you can means-test people in the simulation in order to help the ex-Democrats cope with their symptoms.

  • Ukraine can win. Don’t let Putin scare us.
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Having lost the Battle of Kyiv, Russian war criminal Vladimir Putin is trying to salvage military success in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. His army’s progress has been “slow and uneven,” and that’s even before all of the heavy weaponry committed by the West reaches the defenders. Once the Ukrainian armed forces incorporate all of their new equipment, they should be poised to launch a counteroffensive that could regain lost territory.

What will Putin do then? There is a widespread concern that he can’t afford to lose and therefore will double down. He could escalate either with more conventional military power or with chemical or nuclear weapons. Some still expect that, one way or another, Russia will win. “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,” writes a British journalist and former “consultant to the Kremlin.” That article sounds as if it’s from February, but it actually ran in the Guardian last week.

One scenario mooted by analysts is that Putin will use the May 9 Victory Day celebrations in Red Square, commemorating the end of World War II, to announce an expanded war effort in Ukraine. Having previously tried to pass off the invasion as a “special military operation,” he could now declare war and announce a total, World War II-style mobilization. He might imagine that he could crush Ukraine with vastly more tanks and troops. But that will risk social unrest and still probably won’t deliver victory.

Russia is a big country (population 144 million), but Putin does not have a big pool of trained military manpower on call. Russia conscripts roughly 260,000 men a year in two drafts, in the spring and fall, for a one-year period. But even if Putin were to send conscripts into Ukraine (which he vows he won’t do), they would still require at least four months of training — and even that would produce low-quality, unmotivated troops. Russia’s best units, made up of contract soldiers, have performed abysmally. Conscript-heavy forces would do even worse.

On paper, Russia has more than 2 million former servicemen in reserve, but, according to the Institute for the Study of War, few of them receive any refresher training. A 2019 Rand report found that only 4,000 to 5,000 reservists would be considered comparable to U.S. National Guard or reserve members. The defense ministry launched an initiative in 2021 to expand the reserves to 80,000 to 100,000 troops, but there is no indication that this ambitious objective is being achieved.

Even if Russia were to throw vast numbers of ill-trained conscripts into battle, it would have difficulty equipping them. The Russians claim to have more than 10,000 tanks and 36,000 other armored vehicles in storage, but most are likely antiquated and dilapidated. Russia is losing its best military equipment in Ukraine and will find it hard to field replacements. Western sanctions are strangling Russian military production lines by stopping the flow of microchips. The Russian military, for example, is running short on precision-guided munitions.

And even if Russia could field a lot more low-quality troops equipped with out-of-date equipment, it would have difficulty supplying them. Russian logistics haven’t been able to keep up with an invasion army that initially numbered about 150,000 men. How would they supply a larger force? More Russian troops would just create more targets for all of Ukraine’s modern weapons.

A scarier scenario would be if Putin were to use chemical or, especially, nuclear weapons. Russian propagandists regularly threaten to wage nuclear war if their forces lose in Ukraine, and Putin himself engages in nuclear saber-rattling to intimidate the West.

  • Russia will face a coup after Putin’s defeat in Ukraine, says interior minister’s adviser
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“Historically, Russia collapses after a military defeat – the Russian authorities experience coups and destruction after military defeat,” Andrusiv said.

“I don’t rule out a coup after (Russia is) defeated in Ukraine,” he said. “Putin’s extradition to The Hague may be one of the conditions for settling relations between Russia, the West and us.” Andrusiv said justice is a long process, but the most important thing is that it is done.

“(Nazi dictator Adolf) Hitler’s defeat ensured 70 years of world stability,” he said.

“Now Putin’s defeat must ensure lasting peace and a new system of international security for years. So it’s not a matter of deadlines, but of the justice that is to come.”

“I drew a parallel with Germany. It had to suffer two major defeats to completely transform itself, its consciousness and attitude,” he said.

“(Defeat in Ukraine) will be the second for the Russians. The first one was the collapse of the Soviet Union, the defeat of one generation. And the second is defeat in this war. And I’m sure that after that they will start the same processes as in Germany, when they come to the conclusion that it’s no longer possible to resolve an issue by force.”

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By reasserting state control over Mexico’s natural resources, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is once again slowing the nation’s economic recovery and its potential for longer-term growth. As sad and predictable as his actions may be, however, their damage will extend beyond Mexico’s borders, affecting the North American continent’s ability to shorten and strengthen its supply chains, address the damaging effects of climate change and regulate migration. More broadly, they will retard the process of integration on which the region’s future depends.

Since 2013 Mexico’s constitution has allowed private investment in energy. Money has flooded in. Deepwater and onshore oil fields have brought in billions of dollars from global companies including Shell Plc, Chevron Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp., and BP Plc. Private domestic and international capital has gone into pipelines, gas storage facilities and retail outlets. Exxon and BP stations now dot busy commercial corners, eroding state-controlled Pemex’s monopoly over gas pumps. Private investment has transformed electricity production as well. As available wattage has soared, rolling blackouts no longer pepper Mexico’s industrial heartland. Overall prices have fallen, too, as the auction process favored lower-cost generators. The influx of private funds kicked off Mexico’s green energy transition, building out much of the nation’s wind and solar capacity.

Since taking office, Lopez Obrador, known as AMLO, has systematically undermined these changes. He suspended auctions for new oil fields. His administration has refused or revoked permits for private sector energy projects, and abruptly canceled contracts for others. Regulatory changes have made it prohibitively expensive for independent electricity generators to sell to the national grid. And his government has taken to arbitrarily shutting down operations, for instance closing privately owned gas importing and storage terminals that compete with Pemex, on specious permitting grounds.

  • China is obsessed with disinfection against Covid. But is it causing more harm than good?
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In some Shanghai neighborhoods, special chemical producing stations have been set up, while in others vehicles have been outfitted with chemical tanks and cannon-like devices to shoot disinfectant onto the streets, according to local media. Disinfection robots have been stationed at railway stations, and have been set up to patrol some quarantine centers.

But these efforts – and others, like the insistence that workers wear hazmat suits and the blaring, recorded messages playing on loop reminding people of how to prevent the disease – may be a waste of time, effort and resources.

Experts say transmission of the virus via contaminated surfaces is exceptionally low – and that sanitizing outdoor areas such as parks and city streets is largely pointless and worse still, could even pose a danger to public health.

In a science brief last year, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said scientific studies suggest that each contact with a surface contaminated with Covid-19 has less than a 1 in 10,000 chance of causing an infection. Such research has prompted many to view an overt focus on disinfection as “hygiene theater” as opposed to any meaningful disease prevention measure.

One in 10,000 in a country of 1.4 billion, and high urban densities, is a shitload of people.

Earlier in the pandemic, a group of Chinese scientists warned in a letter to the journal Science that the over-use of chlorine disinfectants runs the risk of polluting water and even putting ecosystems in nearby lakes and rivers at risk.

Finally, an actual concern!

  • Europe Is in Danger. It Always Is.
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Many people seem to think that the European Union, which in different forms has provided Europeans with prosperity and peace since the 1950s, is always on the cusp of ruin. The past decade — encompassing a debt crisis, a refugee crisis, Brexit, the rise of the far right and, not least, the pandemic — has set off regular cries about the coming end of the union. And yet, despite everything, it endures. In a world of war and calamity, it needs to pull together even more.

The European Union’s solidity is perhaps its greatest asset. But it can’t rely on institutional stability alone. Europe is a dangerous place again. As a former prime minister of Sweden, Carl Bildt, once said, the union used to be surrounded by friends, but now it is surrounded by fire. Some neighbors are actively trying to undermine the union and destroy all that Europe stands for — with the war in Ukraine the latest terrifying example. In the face of such peril, which threatens to return the continent to barbarism, the case for binding together more tightly is all the more compelling.

The French election, Mr. Macron said, was “a referendum on Europe.” The problem with Europe is exactly that: Every election is a referendum about Europe, in every corner of the continent. It would be strange if a state election in Montana or Mississippi risked undoing the Republic or derailing its foreign policy. In Europe, this is normal practice. That’s partly why, despite its success as a global economic powerhouse and a beacon of stability, Europe often lacks confidence and looks vulnerable in the mildest headwind.

Yet this paradox needn’t be permanent. In a world defined by instability, great power competition and rising prices, Europe must look after itself — and it has the means to do so. A phased embargo on Russian oil, likely to be finalized this week, is just a start. In the wake of the war in Ukraine, collective provision of defense and security is also a must, as is an energy union. What’s more, some kind of fiscal union — augmenting the current monetary union — might also be necessary, to coordinate the serious investments needed to shore up Europe’s resilience. Recognizing the need for bolstered unity, a group of European intellectuals last week even called for a United States of Europe.

  • The NHS used to be a religion. But the faith is being tested like never before
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Not a week passes without a bad news cloud enveloping Britain’s healthcare systems. This is partly shared with pandemic-hit services worldwide, but the British headlines seem particularly awful.

A mass survey put the UK behind Canada, Germany, France and the US in terms of access to high-quality healthcare. So many GPs are leaving or switching to part-time – 800 practices have closed since 2015 – that some areas are likely to become GP deserts as well as dental ones.

To Britons, the NHS used to be a religion, evoking a loyalty akin to the medieval church. But their faith is being tested like never before. Surveys show satisfaction at an all-time low. A recent YouGov poll found almost a third of under-35s would be willing to pay for better care in the private sector, while the figure for dentistry must be higher.

This corporation is rotten at its centre and fraying at its edges. Its three pillars, hospital trusts, GP partnerships and the care sector, are uncoordinated. Politics keeps the Treasury chequebook prised open with the war cry of “free at the point of delivery”. The result is an NHS waiting list in England of 6 million patients, of whom 24,000 have been waiting more than two years.

There are many other ways of organising public health. Most are regional or local, benefiting at very least from smallness. Many are insurance-based or rely on small payments with reclaims for those in need, a mild deterrent to abuse. Look abroad and you can see better health outcomes and higher user satisfaction. Germany has three times the UK’s beds per head of population and France more than double. No other country displays the public agony and turmoil of Britain’s NHS.

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With oil prices still over $100 a barrel, one thing is certain. Oil companies are going to make big profits. But misconceptions abound about the connection between high oil prices and high profits.

After years of observing the reactions of both the public and our political leaders, it seems like they believe something like the following fictional narrative.

They can see ExxonMobil executives sitting around a smoke-filled boardroom, saying “Well, we have the public right where we want them. It’s time to jack up the price of gasoline and gouge them while we can. Put a bulletin out to all of our gas stations and let them know. Oh, and call Chevron and Shell and make sure they are on board.”

I know people believe this, because I have had them repeat every element of this story to me at one time or another. So they rage at the oil companies. They demand that they be held accountable. Politicians call them up to Washington and chastise them for the harm they are doing to consumers.

However, no part of that fictional story is realistic. The only thing that is true is that high oil prices translate to high profits for oil companies. But think about this. Why do oil companies ever lose money if they are in control of prices? Do you ever see Apple lose money selling iPhones? You see, Apple is an example of a company that actually has full control over its pricing. But that’s not how oil prices work.

Consider that in the past 10 years, major oil and gas companies suffered tremendous losses in 2014, 2015, and 2020. In fact, in 2020 the five integrated supermajors (i.e., “Big Oil”) – ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, Chevron, and Total – lost $76 billion. Oil prices plunged into negative territory in 2020. Were the oil companies feeling especially generous then?

Apple, on the other, hasn’t lost money once in the past decade. Are their executives being called to Congress to explain why an iPhone costs $800 when they are reaping huge profits? No, of course not.

If I may extend the Apple analogy a bit further, it’s just about as silly to ask why a share of Apple costs $162 or why Apple is a $2.7 trillion company as it is to wonder why oil companies are charging over $100 for a barrel of oil. Apple doesn’t control what people are willing to pay for a share of their stock. Likewise, oil prices are set on an open market by buyers and sellers.

ExxonMobil doesn’t set oil prices. They are set in the market by how much people are willing to pay, just like with Apple stock. U.S. oil companies are price takers, not price makers. Yes, speculators have an influence, just as they do with Apple stock.

The final thing I would point out is that oil companies own few of the gas stations in the U.S. You may see the ExxonMobil name on a gas station, but they don’t own any gas stations in the U.S. According to the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), over 60% of the retail stations in the U.S. are owned by an individual or family that owns one store. They make their own decisions on pricing, based on a number of factors.


I Thought I’d Mention:

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Lawmakers find out that the DoD’s premier fighter can’t pass tests and will cost $1.3 trillion over its lifetime to sustain.

“Over the past few years, it has become abundantly clear that sustainment is the most acute long-term challenge facing the F-35 program. Sustainment will amount to more than 80 percent of the program’s total lifecycle costs, at a mind-boggling $1.3 trillion. Largely because of supply issues and poor reliability and maintainability, average F-35 mission capability rates are barely over 55 percent, with a paltry 30 percent of the aircraft capable of performing all of their assigned missions.”

Despite all of the F-35 program’s design errors — 845 of them according to a recent testing report — the Pentagon is still on track to acquire one-third of the total number of F-35s before the aircraft even finishes operational testing.