In which the US has serious fuel woes, Cuba has friends, and WaPo posts the worst article I’ve seen in the two months I’ve been doing this.
- EU unveils €300bn plan to quit Russian fossil fuels by 2027 and boost clean energy Climate Change News
The European Commission submitted on Wednesday (18 May) a €300 billion plan to eliminate Russian energy imports by 2027, although it admitted this would require short-term investments in new fossil fuel infrastructure to replace imports of Russian oil and gas.
Europe admits it’ll have to burn more coal as it tries to wean itself off Russian energy CNBC
How The UK’s 35% Duty On Russian Platinum And Palladium Will Impact Markets OilPrice
Reports indicate that Russia supplies about 40% of the world’s palladium and 15.52% of global platinum. The UK alone imported £1.2 billion ($1.47 billion) worth of platinum and palladium from Russia in 2021. The DIT official told MetalMiner this amounted to 14.1 metric tons and 17 metric tons of palladium.
Platinum’s primary application is in catalysis, which is used in automobile catalytic converters. It is also utilized in the production of petroleum and fuel cells. Of course, the hyper-rare element is also a major investment commodity. Palladium is useful in catalysis as well. It also has applications in dentistry, surgical tools, and jewelry.
The UK’s import tariff on Russian and Belarusian platinum and palladium is the country’s first action on non-ferrous metals. Meanwhile, on May 5, the HM Treasury’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) announced an asset freeze against Evraz. A global metal producer headquartered in London, Evraz has several steel-making assets in Russia.
Back in March, the Department for International Trade and HM Treasury imposed a 35% import tariff on iron and steel from Russia and Belarus. This was part of a package stripping both countries of their “Most Favored Nation” status on hundreds of exports. How will these moves affect pricing? There’s no simple answer. However, we can assume that Russian metals companies will feel a significant financial pinch.
Fearing Russian cutoff, German industry braces for gas rations race Inquirer
UK Retail Sales Unexpectedly Jump on Alcohol, Tobacco Spending Bloomberg
Russia is trying to force Ukraine to buy electricity from its own nuclear power plant after capturing it by force BusinessInsider
I heard about this a couple days ago, but this is the first MSM article I’ve seen on it.
Asia and Oceania
China in Talks With Russia to Buy Oil for Strategic Reserves Bloomberg
Thailand to join talks on US-led Indo-Pacific framework Bilaterals
Trend of stable economic performance remains unchanged in China EU Reporter
Refinery Explosion And Fire Threatens Supply In South Korea OilPrice
Soaring Energy Imports Put Japan’s Economy Under Pressure OilPrice
Sri Lanka defaults on debts for first time Guardian
Indonesia To Lift Palm Oil Export Ban TeleSUR
Indonesia will lift an export ban on crude palm oil, cooking oil, refined, bleached and deodorized (RBD) palm oil, and RBD palm olein starting May 23, as the country has brought domestic cooking oil prices and supply under control.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo said at a virtual press briefing on Thursday that the cooking oil supply in the local market has reached 211,000 tons, far higher than 64,000 tons the country had before the ban was imposed on April 28.
“Now we already have more (supply) than we need nationally,” Widodo said.
The decision to lift the export ban came after protests from palm oil farmers and producers as they suffered declining prices and oversupply in fresh fruit bunches.
Separately, Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said the export ban has been estimated to reduce the country’s revenue by 6 trillion rupiahs (407.33 million U.S. dollars).
- ‘Difficult to believe’: Biden’s economy plan a tough sell in Asia Al Jazeera
While many of China’s regional neighbours share Washington’s concerns about the burgeoning superpower’s ambitions, the IPEF’s lack of clear trade provisions could make it an uninspiring prospect for potential members, especially in Southeast Asia.
“You can sense the frustration for developing, trade-reliant countries,” Calvin Cheng, a senior analyst of economics, trade and regional integration at Malaysia’s Institute of Strategic and International Studies, told Al Jazeera. “There’s always talk about engaging Asia, the idea, but what exactly is it – and what are the incentives for developing countries to take up standards that are being imposed on them by richer, developed countries?”
A fact sheet distributed by the White House in February describes the framework as part of a wider push to “restore American leadership” in the region by engaging with partners there to “meet urgent challenges, from competition with China to climate change to the pandemic”.
Nevertheless, Biden’s decision not to pursue a major trade deal harks back to the protectionist leanings of former US President Donald Trump, and, in particular, his administration’s abrupt pullout from the landmark Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Only 33% of export receipts flow back to Laos’ economy Phnom Penh Post
There’s One Way to Wean India Off Russian Weapons Bloomberg
Switching to Western platforms is too expensive. Instead the country needs to do the hard work of developing a viable domestic defense industry.
The Indian government’s unwillingness to condemn Russia forcefully for its invasion of Ukraine seems to have woken up leaders in Washington to a long-simmering problem: how to wean the Indian military off its dependence on Russian arms. According to Bloomberg News, the U.S. government is considering a $500 million defense package for India, to finance the purchase of US weapons systems.
While half a billion dollars may seem like a lot of money, it really isn’t when compared to the scale of the problem. Until recently, India bought almost all its frontline weaponry from Russia. Researchers at the Stimson Center calculate that, thanks to decades of collaboration, India’s major weapons are overwhelmingly — about 85% — of Russian origin. Moreover, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute says that “new orders [from India] for a variety of Russian arms in 2019–20 … will probably lead to an increase in Russian arms exports in the coming five years.”
The fact is that, like all developing nations, India confronts an impossible trinity when it comes to weapons programs: It cannot simultaneously achieve autonomy, affordability and quality.
For decades, India has tried to establish a local defense industry, building its own battle tank and jet. Unfortunately, our military hates the results — the Arjun tank and the Tejas fighter. The Arjun, the Indian Army complains, can’t be part of any battle plans on the canal-heavy, militarized border with Pakistan: It weighs almost 70 tons and would collapse most bridges in the Punjab.
Meanwhile, the Indian Air Force has a long list of reasons why the Tejas is not good enough: Its payload is smaller than the F-16’s, the plane takes too long to service and so on.
In the short run, indigenization offers affordability and autonomy, at the cost of quality. The question is whether India has the patience and political will to fight through early stumbles. China’s government invested for decades in the Shenyang J-8 fighter jet, which was significantly less-sophisticated than other interceptors of its time. Indian defense analysts might point out that it’s only through buying large numbers of subpar equipment, for decades, that China finally built the Chengdu J-20 stealth jet, which may well be a “near-peer” of US fifth-generation fighters.
Nevertheless, that’s what needs to be done. If Indian leaders want a reliable and affordable pipeline of weapons of decent quality that arrive quickly enough to deter an aggressive China, they are going to have to fund homegrown defense companies, convince voters of the need for big military budgets, suffer through failures and scandals, and field less powerful weapons until they can develop better ones. The task will be messy and politically difficult. They should probably get started.
President Biden Considers Meeting Saudi Crown Prince As Oil Prices Soar. He must touch the orb, and then all will be forgiven. OilPrice
More Russian oil going east squeezes Iranian crude sales to China Al Jazeera
- Canadian mining companies keep targeting developing countries in dispute settlements Bilaterals
Canadian mining companies continue to sue developing countries for environmental policies that affect their profitability and often win huge payouts from these poorer countries, a new report states.
Canada is banning Huawei from its 5G network, forcing telecom operators to scrap over $500 million of Chinese hardware Fortune
U.S. Consumer Spending On Gasoline Has Doubled In 12 Months OilPrice
Oil Prices May Not Drop, Even If There Is A Recession OilPrice
Gas Stations In Washington State Are Running Out Of Fuel OilPrice
Analyst Warns Of A Fuel Shortage Crisis In The U.S. OilPrice
Truckers Are Facing An Existential Crisis As Fuel Prices Soar OilPrice
New York Is Facing a Pandemic-Fueled Home Energy Crisis, With No End in Sight Inside Climate News
More than a million households are 60 days in arrears on their energy bills, with an average of $1,427.71 in debt, and shut-offs are increasing.
Virginia Target Workers Seek To Unionize Popular Resistance
Nationalize Baby Formula Production Jacobin
Pete Buttigieg: Hungry Babies, Regrettably, Are Just the Price of the Free Market Jacobin
CEOs Say They Are Bracing for a Recession—Even as the Economy Remains Strong WSJ
US Growth Seen Outpacing China’s for First Time Since 1976 Bloomberg
Colombia has formalized its free trade agreement with the United Kingdom Bilaterals
How Latin America’s Transportation Mega-Projects Could Revolutionize Trade OilPrice
One of the region’s most ambitious projects, the Bioceanic Corridor, aims to connect the Brazilian port of Santos on the Atlantic Ocean with the Chilean ports of Iquique and Antofagasta on the Pacific Ocean through a series of roads. Alongside this transnational motorway, space is also being left for the eventual construction of a parallel freight railway.
In recent months the corridor has progressed significantly. In February the Paraguayan government inaugurated the first stage of its part of the project, a 276-km dual carriageway from Carmelo Peralta, on the border with Brazil, with Loma Plata in the centre of the country.
One of the main things I remember from Mike Duncan’s Revolution series on South America and Bolivar is just how much it fucking sucks to get across the continent. Rainforests and mountains and marshes.
Diplomatically and Politically
Involving Ukraine or Russia
- Xi, Putin, and the irony of Biden’s war on autocracies Responsible Statecraft
It’s a little Great Man-y and idealist but it’s a decent liberal refutation of the “war between democracy and autocracy” and quite rightly says that Russia and China’s world views are in tension and contradiction but are being bound together by the US antagonizing them both, which is the opposite of divide-and-conquer.
- NATO Vows to Settle Turkey’s Concerns Over Its Expansion TeleSUR
“We are addressing the concerns that Turkey has expressed,” [Jens Stoltenberg] said at a press conference held jointly with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.
Turkey’s Erdogan Told Allies It Will Say ‘No’ To Finland And Sweden’s NATO Bids, In His Most Definitive Statement Yet Forbes
Finland and Sweden to buy firearms, anti-tank weapons together [Reuters] (https://archive.ph/zWQy8) Just bros being bros.
Asia and Oceania
- Philippine Election Marred by Violence, Vote-Buying: Monitoring Mission The Diplomat
The thing I have trouble with is determining how much of the complaining to due to opposition to a candidate who isn’t necessarily the US’s first choice as he’s willing to work with China, vs what’s actually there. Like, I have absolutely zero doubt that there are serious issues with the democratic process there, but equally, if the Philippine version of Pinochet was “elected”, then the democracy of the Philippines would be praised. Either way, probably shouldn’t be electing the family members of dictators, especially if there’s little difference between them, and good luck to the protestors.
East Timor’s new president pledges stronger ties with China Reuters
Sri Lanka bank says fuel shortage set to ease as students protest Al Jazeera
The central bank says it has secured foreign exchange to pay for fuel and cooking gas shipments as police clash with student protesters.
- North Korea shuns outside help as COVID catastrophe looms Al Jazeera
Pyongyang has not responded to offers of help and inquiries from the US, South Korea, the WHO and UNICEF.
Yeah, why would the DPRK distrust those countries and organizations?
- Palestine Groups Donate $16,400 In Medical Supplies To Cuba TeleSUR
“This donation is a modest symbolic gesture, with which we wish to support Cuba’s massive immunization campaign against COVID-19,” said Watan Al Abadi, a member of the Association of Palestinian Graduates in Cuba.
Cuban-Arab Friendship Association Vice-President Alfredo Deriche thanked the gesture and ratified Cuba’s position in defense of the cause of the Palestinian people and the need for a comprehensive solution to the conflict.
Pakistan’s Relations With Taliban Regime Worsen The Diplomat
Pakistan’s New Government Mends Ties With the US The Diplomat
Pakistan’s newly appointed Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari met U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in New York on Wednesday. During the meeting, both leaders reaffirmed the need to strengthen broad-based and comprehensive ties.
After the meeting, Bhutto Zardari took to Twitter to announce that he had a “very productive” meeting with Blinken on “issues impacting regional peace and security including Afghanistan.”
Yeah, I don’t know why Pakistanis might have thought the US had something to do with outing Imran Khan.
- Why is Washington Looking to Make Even More Concessions to Iran? Newsweek
Yeah, the US only broke the fucking deal!
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov placed the onus for restarting the talks on Washington, saying, “We are waiting for the U.S. to return to the legal framework of this nuclear deal, and we are also waiting for the lifting of the illegal sanctions.” In the interim, according to The Times of Israel, “Moscow had received guarantees from the U.S. on its ability to trade with Tehran.”
Why does Russia get to make pronouncements—let alone make demands or get guarantees from Washington?
The U.S. is not in the room at the talks, because Iran refused to sit with us. The Biden administration should have left Vienna when that happened. Instead, our EU allies, plus China and Russia, are talking with Tehran. Even after it invaded Ukraine, we relied on Russia to be our voice.
This is in line with the Biden administration’s habit of handing out bribes to get an Iranian signature on a piece of paper. The president took the terrorist designation off Iran’s Houthi proxy and withdrew American support from Saudi Arabia in the Yemen war, pressed South Korea to release frozen Iranian funds, waived sanctions to permit Iran to sell electricity to Iraq and oil to China, downgraded the Abraham Accords between Israel and Arab States concerned about Iranian threats and removed American support from the EastMed Pipeline consortium.
Those are, indeed, excellent bribes, but Iran wants more.
Now Iran insists that the 2019 State Department designation of the IRGC as a terror organization be lifted. This would have some implications for the organization, although the U.S. government has considered the IRGC a terrorist organization since 2007, when the Quds Force was first listed by the Treasury Department, followed later by other listings. Only President Donald Trump’s terror designation appears at issue—presumably because the Iranians thought the Biden administration would be happy to undo another piece of Trump administration policy. But for the senators' objection, they might have been right.
Iran and its proxies, through overt and covert conventional activity, have killed hundreds of thousands of people combined in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Israel and elsewhere. Iranian precision missiles have been exported to militias in Iraq, as well as to Hezbollah and proxy groups in Syria, Gaza and Yemen. Tehran’s first covert nuclear program was discovered in 2002 and a second one in 2009. The IAEA announced in 2011 that “Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device.” Much of what we thought we knew—or knew we knew—was confirmed in 2018 when Israel stole nuclear archives from Tehran.
Iran is a conventional and nuclear menace in the Middle East and beyond. It should not be offered the opportunity to press for additional concessions from America and the West—and the Biden administration should stop begging.
Damn, that sucks. Now, I’m assuming Newsweek will go over the number of people the US has killed in those countries, the weaponry it’s exported to militias-turned-terrorist groups (or just terrorist groups from the beginning), and the history of the US’s nuclear program.
Wait, never mind, the article ends here. Well, I shall patiently wait for the edit.
- Peace Advocates Sound Warnings as Progressive Lawmakers Go All-In for $40 Billion Ukraine War Package CommonDreams
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine must be condemned,” says one activist. “But the administration has been telegraphing for weeks that its war aims now go well beyond defending Ukraine.”
- US is Increasing the Military Pressure in its Dealings with China NEO
The US President therefore will visit Japan and South Korea from May 20 -24, and will have meetings with the leaders of Australia and India in Tokyo “to further strengthen ties.” According to Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, Mr. Biden will take part in two-party meetings with leaders in the region, including Yoon Suk-yeol, the recently-elected Korean President, and Fumio Kishida, the Japanese Prime Minister, “to discuss the potential for deepening vital security relations, and expanding close cooperation in order to achieve practical results”. In view of the Pentagon’s recent tendency to emphasize military confrontation with China, it is clear what “practical results” it has in mind.
With this in mind the US has recently been developing its military capabilities in the Indo-Pacific Region and strengthening the reformed Marine Corps Forces, which have been tasked with working together with armed forces from allied countries in the region in order to oppose Beijing.
The US authorities are also trying to apply their experience in the Ukrainian conflict to Taiwan. Washington is “quietly” pushing Taipei to adopt armament systems suitable for asymmetric warfare in the hope that this will enable it to resist an attack by China, The New York Times reports. According to the NYT, the development of Taiwan’s defense capabilities has taken on a new urgency since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and US officials are trying to determine whether the Taiwanese armed forces would be able replicate the Ukrainians’ successes. In the view of US officials, the Ukraine conflict has demonstrated the need for the US to help transform Taiwan into a “porcupine”, in order to deter potential attacks from China. However, Taiwan is not Ukraine, and if Taiwan were in a state of siege the US and its allies might find it difficult to deliver the armaments required. A number of US officials have therefore proposed stockpiling large supplies of munitions in Taiwan, the article adds.
- Caribbean Asks For Reparations Popular Resistance
Colonialism Reparation supports the request of the members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) for reparations for the genocide of the native people and the slavery and calls on the former colonizers (United Kingdom, France, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark etc.) to apologize and pay compensations for the colonial period without being forced to appear before a court.
- Cuba Backs Global Security Initiative Proposed by China TeleSUR
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla on Thursday ratified his country’s support for the Global Security Initiative recently presented by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
On his Twitter account, the foreign minister stated that Cuba welcomes this initiative and pointed out that “we agree on the need for a cooperative and sustainable security vision, based on respect for the United Nations Charter and contrary to unilateralism.
Last month, the Chinese leader launched this mechanism aimed at promoting global security during his inaugural speech at the Boao Forum, a meeting that periodically brings together Asian leaders to promote regional economic integration and coordinate plans to achieve the development goals.
- Cuba and Iran Agreed To Develop Banking Ties TeleSUR
Ali Salehabadi, the governor of the Central Bank of Iran, said on Thursday that the country has agreed to develop economic relations and cooperation ties with Cuba, where the banking sphere is included.
- U.S. appears set to deem Cuba not cooperating fully against terrorism Reuters
Formal publication of the decision was scheduled for Friday, but Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, apparently responding to a draft notice in the Federal Register signed by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, condemned it as “one more lie” coming from Washington.
“I hereby determine and certify to the Congress that the following countries are not cooperating fully with United States antiterrorism efforts,” Blinken wrote, listing Cuba along with…
There are four other countries on this list. I bet you can name them all. Have a go and then open the spoiler.
Iran, North Korea, Syria and Venezuela.
US meddling in Colombia’s election, warns left-wing vice presidential candidate Francia Marquez Multipolarista
CELAC Is a Meeting Point for Latin Americans: President Ortega TeleSUR
On Wednesday, Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega called for strengthening the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) as the most appropriate space for the meeting of the peoples and their governments of the region.
“CELAC was born with the strength and energy of the revolutionary processes that were multiplying in Latin America and the Caribbean,” Ortega recalled, stressing that its promoters had the courage not to include the United States in that community.
US Approves $40 billion In Aid For Ukraine TeleSUR
U.S. Preparing Plan To Destroy Russia’s Black Sea Fleet—Ukraine Newsweek
On Friday, Ukrainian ministry of internal affairs adviser Anton Gerashchenko tweeted that the U.S. “is preparing a plan to destroy the Black Sea Fleet.”
“The effective work of the Ukrainians on warships convinced (the USA) to prepare a plan to unblock the ports,” he said. “Deliveries of powerful anti-ship weapons (Harpoon and Naval Strike Missile with a range of 250-300 km) are being discussed.”
- US aims to arm Ukraine with advanced anti-ship missiles to fight Russian blockade Inquirer
Dipshittery and Cope
- The U.S. Is Considering Sanctioning Countries That Buy Russian Oil OilPrice
The U.S. Administration is considering imposing secondary sanctions on buyers of Russian oil as a means to deprive Putin of oil revenues and undermine Russia’s position as an energy export powerhouse in the long term, the New York Times reported on Thursday, quoting current and former U.S. officials.
Secondary sanctions that are being studied would mean that the U.S. would block buyers of Russian oil from doing business in America or with American and European companies, much like the U.S. tried to do with Iran when the Trump Administration re-imposed sanctions on Iranian oil exports in 2018.
It would be pretty hilarious to watch the US (and the west) sanction India and China, especially as the EU is trying to do a whole “yeah, actually we’ve been besties with Modi this whole time” thing.
- America, China, Russia and the Avalanche of History Bloomberg
This is a long article, so I’m not gonna quote all of it. It’s not even that bad, so it’s quite a mild Dipshittery, I’m just struck by the general idea of “Well, ain’t that strange! History has some kind of pattern! What caused the crisis of the 1970s? A war! Look at how terrible things are getting!” and then not tying it into anything deeper. He mentions capitalism once in this article, and it’s when he’s semi-quoting Fukuyama. Never mentions profit, though he does say “capital accumulation”. I know it’s Niall fucking Ferguson, and liberals have brainworms, but this is a fairly deep dive into current conditions! It’s just very capitalist-realist, where the economic system we’re all under has become like a transparent vapour that none of these people can see, let alone mention.
Does the arc of history bend toward justice? Or is everything falling apart?
In a recent essay, Francis Fukuyama reasserted his old claim that history tends towards the triumph of liberal-democratic capitalism and the nation-state. In his words, “there is, indeed, an arc of history, with justice as its terminus.” This bold assertion is hard to reconcile with the perception of those who follow trends in mass psychology, social media and education that democracy is in the grip of a “stupefaction process” (Jonathan Haidt’s phrase) in the US and elsewhere.
I disbelieve in both cycles of history and ends of history. History is the interaction of many complex systems. There are certain long-run processes (notably exponential gains in productivity through the development of technology and the “suprasecular” decline of nominal and real interest rates as a result of capital accumulation) punctuated by, well, one disaster after another. These disasters are either randomly distributed or follow a power law (i.e. there are lots of little earthquakes, pandemics or wars, but a few cataclysmic ones).
At unpredictable intervals, the global system is tipped into a major transition by a disturbance that can be quite small, if not quite as small as Edward Lorenz’s famous butterfly in the Amazon setting off a tornado in Texas. Russia’s war in Ukraine — destructive certainly, but still a relatively small conflict by 20th-century standards — can be enough to trigger a “conflict avalanche.”
The historical period all this most closely resembles is the 1970s, though the analogy is far from perfect. Then, as now, errors of monetary and fiscal policy dislodged inflationary expectations in the US. Then, as now, a war made matters worse. A geopolitical shock (the Yom Kippur War of 1973) added supply-side disruption in the form of the oil-price hike by the Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, in retaliation for US and other countries’ support for Israel.
Then, as now, the dominant feature of the international order was cold war. Today, the superpower rivalry is between Washington and Beijing. Then, it was with Moscow — though Russia remains a superpower in terms of the nuclear threat it poses, if in no other respect.
Just a gas station. It goes on for a while, then:
There is also a nontrivial risk that unexpected internal crises in Russia, or even in Ukraine, could provide some relief for nail-biting investors. Mao died in 1976, Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev (finally, after a protracted decline) in 1982. The Grim Reaper will remove Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin from the scene sooner or later, if political rivals do not preempt him. Right on cue, the UK’s Daily Mail ran a story on Monday that Xi is resisting surgery to treat a brain aneurysm, preferring to rely on traditional Chinese remedies.
Like the numerous rumors about Putin’s failing health, this may have political as well as medical significance. On Russian state television, we are starting to hear criticism of the war in Ukraine, while the US Defense Department says some Russian officers and soldiers are disobeying orders.
At the same time, a political rift can be discerned at the top of the Chinese Communist Party between Xi’s supporters and critics of his zero-Covid policy, apparently led by Premier Li Keqiang. Is Xi really sick, or are people just sick of Xi? Roger Garside’s speculative book, “The China Coup,” looks less fanciful every week.
In the US, the 1970s originals are still in office: Biden, who entered the Senate in 1972, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was elected to the Democratic National Committee four years later. These days, it’s the 1970s who are calling to ask for their politics back.
If history is an accurate guide, this would imply a high probability of a recession beginning in 2023. While the GDP decline in the first quarter of this year was mostly driven by idiosyncratic factors — exports, inventories, and government spending — surveys suggest that consumers are suddenly more pessimistic than at any point since the 2008-2009 financial crisis.
Across the Atlantic, the longer the war in Ukraine lasts, the more likely Europe is to go into recession. The European Union is still debating the details of an oil embargo on Russia, but an accelerated phasing out of Russian energy imports now looks likely. This would drive the price of oil higher, as Russia would take time to find new buyers for the 2-2.5 million barrels per day it currently sells to Europe.
Natural gas prices are also rising sharply, due to the risk of Russia preemptively cutting off gas supplies to Europe. A complete stop would force many European countries to ration gas for major industry consumers, such as chemicals producers.
The British economic predicament is worse than either the American or the European. Unlike the US, the UK is a net energy importer, so higher energy prices subtract from its GDP. Unlike the EU, it is witnessing substantial wage pressures, so its monetary policy makers are under more pressure to raise rates.
So far, 2022 has been an annus horribilis, for consumers and investors alike. Do not expect it to get better in the short term. The pain is greatest in those few countries that have been invaded or have collapsed into chaos, or for those investors whose net worth has plunged by a quarter or more. But it is a crisis that all of us feel to some extent in the forms of higher prices, higher anxiety, less fun and lower wealth.
- Does Erdogan’s Turkey Belong in NATO? WSJ
Yeah, I can’t name any other quasi-dictatorial countries with deeply embedded racism and nationalism inside the great organization of NATO. Also, this was written by Joe Lieberman. I should really start putting authors' names next to the article titles so we can trace our amazing journalists' work over time.
Every member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has enthusiastically welcomed Finland and Sweden except one: Turkey, which on Wednesday blocked an early vote to begin accession talks. For reasons that are political, parochial and irrelevant to the decision, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken a hard line in his efforts to derail the prospective members. This should raise the question of whether Turkey under Mr. Erdogan’s leadership belongs in the alliance.
The article goes into many legitimate issues with Turkey, then:
NATO’s open-door policy stipulates that membership is open to any European country that can contribute to the security of the Euro-Atlantic region as long as it meets certain democratic requirements. Except for Mr. Erdogan, no member of the alliance questions the Nordic countries’ fulfillment of those criteria. But would Turkey, which joined NATO in 1952, meet the standard for membership today?
NATO’s greatest strategic failure of the past two decades was to play down Mr. Putin’s malign intent while underestimating its own members’ capacity for collective resolve. The alliance runs the risk of repeating the same mistake with Mr. Erdogan.
Turkey is a member of NATO, but under Mr. Erdogan it no longer subscribes to the values that underpin this great alliance. Article 13 of the NATO charter provides a mechanism for member states to withdraw. Perhaps it is time to amend Article 13 to establish a procedure for the expulsion of a member nation that meets neither the principled nor the practical requirements for membership.
- American leadership is thriving abroad. It’s a disturbingly different story at home CNN
This article fucking sucks. Like, it’s easily in the top 10% of Dipshittery articles. Just a warning.
The United States has performed impressively in its efforts to counter Russia’s brutal aggression against Ukraine. The combination of Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s miscalculation, Ukraine’s bravery and Washington’s effective global leadership is reshaping the geopolitical landscape in a way that favors democracy, strengthens a NATO alliance that is now attracting new members and restores America’s place as the leader of the world’s democracies.
I… okay, whatever.
Unless, that is, you look at what is happening within the United States.
A White man allegedly drove more than 200 miles to a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, last week, looking to kill Black Americans, according to social media posts the suspect is believed to have made in the months leading up to the attack. He shot 13 people, killing 10. He was allegedly fueled by the racist and anti-Semitic “replacement theory,” which weaponizes a normal, centuries-old pattern of migration and ethnic diversity to perpetuate the idea that White people are slowly and intentionally being replaced by minorities.
Racism, anti-Semitism and a resentment of immigrants are nothing new. What is new is that in America, a land of diversity and immigrants, what used to be a fringe theory has found sympathetic voices in one of the two main political parties.
As if to confirm the dangerous trajectory of the Republican Party, which is steadily moving away from its more reasonable ideas and leaders and embracing extremism, primary elections in several states this week showed a clear pattern. Republican voters overwhelmingly supported fierce proponents of the “Big Lie” who rejected the legitimate results of the 2020 election.
Please show me a reasonable Republican idea since Lincoln’s presidency.
The country is deeply polarized. But it’s not just a matter of diverging views about policy. Something else, something much more dangerous is happening.
Sure, there are people in the Democratic Party who espouse views that many view as radical. And there are Republicans who are reality-based conservatives. But looking at the GOP as a whole, the fringe has become more and more the mainstream.
Ironically, the growing threat to democracy in the United States is occurring at a moment when US foreign policy has accomplished an extraordinary, historic feat; one that among other things serves to fortify democracy around the world.
This week, Finland and Sweden, two countries that had for decades sought to remain neutral on great power clashes, submitted their applications to join NATO.
It’s difficult to fathom just how dramatic a shift this is. It was only recently that the very survival of NATO seemed in doubt. French President Emmanuel Macron had warned about the “brain death of NATO” in 2019. Trump had disparaged the alliance as irrelevant and cast doubt on the US’s commitment to mutual defense.
It’s really not a dramatic shift at all. Finland and Sweden were quasi-NATO countries already, and a German politician admitted it.
But Finland and Sweden saw what everyone else did after Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine, prompting the US to respond by warning Russia that it would face “the full force of American power” if it moved into NATO territory. It became apparent that belonging to NATO, an alliance of democracies, protects against aggressive countries with imperial designs.
Remove the “against” there and I agree.
Despite some internal disagreements, NATO now looks stronger, more united and more necessary than it has in decades.
Without Washington’s diplomatic, political, financial and military support, Ukraine could now be in a much worse position; Putin could be stronger than ever, with his eye on Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and who knows where else. China could be rejoicing in its links with Moscow, revving up for an assault on Taiwan. Other world leaders, seeking to boost their standing at home, might be looking to history to reclaim lost territories.
The last 8 years don’t exist. The tensions in the Donbass? Nah, not a factor, Putin just woke up on January 1st 2022 and said to himself “I’ve gotta invade Ukraine."
Biden and his team rallied the world to Ukraine’s side. They made sure NATO was united in its support of Kyiv, and they provided a massive supply of armaments that helped Ukrainian defenders push the Russians back. Three men – Putin, Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky – are most responsible for this turn of events.
Today, Russia looks like a paper tiger, albeit a brutally destructive one. China is surely less enthusiastic about its “no limits” friendship with Russia.
What the fuck is a brutally destructive paper tiger? That’s just a tiger!
And the United States has regained its undisputed place as the leader of a mighty alliance of democracies. And yet, when the world looks at what is happening in the US, it sees a struggling democracy riven with violence, hate and division.
It’s not just the House, the Senate and the White House that are in play in the upcoming midterm elections. It’s democracy itself.
Like in 2020. And 2018. And 2016. And 2014. And…
If the candidates who reject election results, demonize minorities and fuel internal divisions continue to gain power in 2022 and 2024, it’s very possible American democracy will not survive. And, of course, the US’s position as a global beacon of freedom and a leader of the world’s democracies will perish along with it.
- Commentary: How Biden can work with countries that can’t afford to alienate China ChannelNewsAsia
When it became clear that Biden would win the presidency, many US partners in Asia, including in Southeast Asia, were concerned that the new president, like Obama in his second term, would be reluctant to use hard power to counter Chinese assertiveness. These fears about the new administration have not materialised.
Early actions in the Taiwan Strait and in the South China Sea, where US warships have asserted the right to freedom of navigation in the face of extravagant Chinese maritime claims and attempts at intimidation, provided reassurance that the Biden administration would not repeat Obama’s fundamental mistake of believing that eloquent speeches could substitute for the exercise of military muscle.
And yet Putin is bad for putting his military on his own fucking borders. THE USA IS LITERALLY PUTTING ITS NAVY ON THE OTHER SIDE OF AN ENTIRE OCEAN.
Aggressive Chinese behaviour in the South China Sea and elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific has underscored the reality that the United States is an irreplaceable element of any strategic balance in the wider region.
WHY? WHY IS IT IRREPLACEABLE? DO THE CITIZENS OF THOSE COUNTRIES AGREE? HOW IS THIS ANY DIFFERENT FROM THE MIDDLE EAST?
Singapore’s Yusof Ishak Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) 2022 State of Southeast Asia Survey, a survey of elite opinion in the ten ASEAN member states, showed that 63 per cent of those surveyed welcomed US regional, political and strategic influence and 52 per cent trusted the United States to do the right thing to contribute to global peace, security, prosperity and governance. Only 19 per cent said the same about China.
Oh, okay, never mind, the American Institute For Epic Freedom And Democracy has a poll of elite opinion. Real egg on my face.
That doesn’t mean that the United States can rest on its laurels. Southeast Asians recognise the importance of China to the region’s future. In 2022, almost 77 per cent of those surveyed by ISEAS considered China the most influential economic power in Southeast Asia, compared to a meagre ten per cent who thought that the United States was most influential.
Nevertheless, around 76 per cent were worried about China’s political and strategic influence. When asked which they would choose if ASEAN were forced to align itself with either China or the United States, 57 per cent of respondents chose the United States and 43 per cent chose China.
The United States’ indispensability renders concerns about its reliability moot. Vietnam has been cautiously establishing defence relations with the United States.
THIS ARTICLE SPENT SEVERAL PARAGRAPHS SHITTING ON TRUMP AND HOW MUCH HE SUCKED BECAUSE OF THE ONLY GOOD THING HE DID IN HIS ENTIRE PRESIDENCY - NOT INTERFERING IN SOUTH-EAST ASIA THAT MUCH!
- Why it’s so hard to make progress fighting right-wing domestic terror CNN
Why is it so hard to make progress when it comes to right-wing domestic terror? It’s not that experts haven’t developed ideas or suggestions. They’ve mapped out the networks, identified vulnerable communities, made policy recommendations for government and media companies and created resources for deradicalization, including guides for parents worried about their children encountering extremist networks online. But what they haven’t done – what they likely cannot do – is disincentivize the wide range of actors who are invested in thwarting anti-extremism efforts.
If the left did anything like this, it would be crushed ruthlessly and without a hint of remorse.
- The European Union needs its own army WaPo
That’s… that’s just NATO.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has forced leaders of the European Union to confront an uncomfortable reality: Europeans have neglected their own security for far too long. Europe has for decades been content to be a soft-power superpower — focusing on peacekeeping, democracy and prosperity within the union. It has been all too comfortable delegating its security concerns to the United States, which provides military cover through its NATO commitment.
First, and most important, establishing an E.U. armed forces would provide a degree of security independence from the United States — all the more important, given recent political trends in America.
What exactly would a theoretical EU army provide that NATO currently does not? Like, what, is it gonna go invade even more places that NATO doesn’t?
The second argument concerns efficiency. Currently, the 27 member states of the E.U. can field an impressive 1.3 million active-duty military personnel, roughly on par with the size of the U.S. armed forces (approximately 1.4 million) and significantly bigger than Russia’s military (850,000). The combined military expenditure of the E.U. states is an impressive $225 billion, more than twice the size of Russia’s military budget of a little over $100 billion and roughly three-quarters of China’s $290 billion.
GDP the size of Italy, yet it has hypersonic missiles while the West does not. Interesting.
The third argument concerns responsiveness. When the Afghan government collapsed last summer, NATO states scrambled to get their citizens and Afghan allies out of the country. Only the quick and determined deployment of some 6,000 U.S. troops prevented an already catastrophic situation from becoming even worse. And while some European countries sent their own small troop contingents to evacuate citizens, Europeans largely acknowledged their inability to run such an operation on their own. This assessment was shared by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who remarked, “Only the United States could organize and execute a mission of this scale and this complexity.”
Yeah, that operation was a marvel of organization.
Such emergencies are sadly likely to recur, so the E.U. would do well to increase its own capabilities for rapid response on a large scale.
Likely to recur where, exactly? Surely you’re not occupying any other countries that might decide they wouldn’t want to be under Western rule and occupation - that sounds like an imperialist thing to do, which is what Putin does!
The last argument concerns the development of a European identity. The E.U. prides itself on its diversity of languages, cultures and histories.
The whole spectrum from white to caucasian.
This heterogeneity does come at a price, though. Most E.U. citizens define themselves by their country of birth first; few consider themselves Europeans primarily. What’s more, roughly 40 percent of E.U. citizens have never left their home country. The E.U. armed forces could foster the formation of a European consciousness, a necessary condition for a more confident European stance in geopolitics. This would especially be true if there were a period of mandatory service — perhaps six to nine months — for citizens ages 17 to 26. (Many E.U. countries had mandatory military service of some kind during the Cold War.)
Okay, whatever, I’m not reading this clown shit anymore.
- Zelenskyy says Donbas region completely destroyed; Russia likely to swiftly redeploy Mariupol forces CNBC
Any time Zelensky says that something has been completely destroyed, he’s secretly saying that it’s taken or being taken by Russian forces, but wants to make it seem like Russia isn’t really conquering anything of worth when the news comes out about it.
- The Russians Are Throwing Everything They’ve Got At One Ukrainian Garrison Forbes
That “one Ukrainian garrison” is the city of Severodonetsk.
The three or so Ukrainian brigades in and around Severodonetsk include 5,000 or more troops. They’ve dug in and blown bridges leading into the city. Still, they’re vulnerable.
Just one main road threads through the town of Bakhmut across the pocket to Severodonetsk. It’s along this route that the main Ukrainian army pushes supplies to the city’s garrison.
The westward Russian thrust from Popasna might be aiming for Bakhmut, 13 miles away. The northern thrust could be attempting to complete the encirclement of Severodonetsk, 17 miles away.
It’s fair to say the Kremlin has concentrated its best remaining forces along the Popasna axis for this offensive. Airborne units, possibly reinforced by Chechen troops and mercenaries from the Wagner Group, are fighting alongside armored units with the latest T-90 tanks and BMP-T fighting vehicles.
Inasmuch as the Russian army has suffered extensive casualties after attempting to roll across Ukraine along three fronts—northern, eastern and southern—and ultimately abandoning the northern front, the Battle of Severodonetsk might represent Moscow’s best opportunity for a near-term win.
A win that could allow Russian president Vladimir Putin to declare a sort of victory in Ukraine. Even if that victory is modest compared to the Kremlin’s original goal of capturing Kyiv, destroying the Ukrainian armed forces and cutting off Ukraine from the sea.
What happens over the next few days could be critical—and should set the conditions for the next few weeks of fighting. If the Russians cut the road through Bakhmut and encircle Severodonetsk, the ensuing urban fighting could be brutal for the Ukrainian garrison.
They eventually would run out of food, fuel and ammunition. Barring a breakthrough by Ukrainian forces outside the pocket, Severodonetsk’s fall might be only a matter of time under those circumstances. Kyiv could lose several thousand troops and a key strongpoint in Donbas.
If the Russians fail to cut the road, they could end up expending their last reserves of combat strength trying to starve a small portion of the Ukrainian army in one small city.
The Russian offensive already is partially compromised. The original plan apparently was to attack from the north and south. But to do that, Russian battalions needed to erect pontoon bridges across the Seversky Donets River, northwest of Severodonetsk.
Ukrainian artillery earlier this month caught a whole brigade on the riverbanks and wiped it out, destroying the better part of two BTGs and killing as many as 400 Russians. If the Russian army completes its encirclement, it’ll have to be from the south.
That Ukrainian artillery brigade that killed 600 Russians is so brave. Truly, the killing of 1000 Russian troops in a single attack should be put in the history books. I hope every Ukrainian who took part in slaughtering those 3500 Russians is given a medal.
The situation is fluid. As recently as Wednesday, the Ukrainian armed forces’ general staff noted Russian attacks from Popasna but insisted the Russians “had no success.” But the main assault apparently began on Thursday.
The best part of this article is like - the mainstream media is repeatedly reporting on how Russia is losing, dying, already lost no matter what, and now, these people have to sort of maintain that charade while also being like “Oh yeah, and Russia has made some advances - not “significant, of course - but they face a challenging future” while not questioning at all why the area of Ukraine occupied by Russia is getting larger and larger. If Russia really did annex all of Ukraine, I would totally expect there to be articles like this being like “Russia faces a tremendous challenge with its extremely weakened military taking Lviv, a massive city and stronghold for Ukraine” right up until the Russians and Poles are staring at eachother across the border. All western journalists are just given 3 or 4 points to report on today by the Ukrainian government and you don’t think or write about why Ukraine continues to lose territory if like half the fucking Russian troops are dead because every day is an entirely discrete unit which has no relations to the previous day and no trends or patterns are allowed to be drawn aside from those which make Russia look bad.
And if America was invading, like, Mexico, and it was going identically to how this war is going (which it wouldn’t because the US relies more on rapid strikes and aircraft and not necessarily drawn-out artillery barrages, but just for the sake of argument), then every single journalist would be like “IT DOESN’T MATTER THAT TODAY/THIS WEEK/THIS MONTH DIDN’T GO WELL, LOOK AT THE BIGGER PICTURE, WE’RE STILL OBVIOUSLY WINNING, WE HOLD A QUARTER OF THEIR TERRITORY, USA! USA! USA!"
- Putin May Soon Be Declared War Criminal By Ukrainian Government Resolution Newsweek
Finally, now we can send him to jail.
- ‘The Russians are running’: Meet Ukraine’s soldiers near Kherson on the southern frontline EuroNews
Ukrainian forces in southern Ukraine have been trying to retake Kherson, the only large city in the country to be occupied by Russia.
Really? The only large city in the country? Are you sure about that?
- Italy proposes four-stage plan to end war in Ukraine Yahoo
a ceasefire in Ukraine and the demilitarization of the front line under UN supervision;
negotiations on the status of Ukraine, which provide for the country’s accession to the EU, and non-accession to NATO;
bilateral agreement between Ukraine and Russia on Crimea and Donbas: at the suggestion of the Italian authorities, the “disputed territories” will have full autonomy with the right to ensure their own security, but sovereignty over the regions will belong to Kyiv;
Anybody else have circus music playing in their head right now?
concluding a multilateral agreement on peace and security in Europe, covering disarmament and arms control, conflict prevention, and confidence-building measures.
Those are just words, but whatever.
The plan stipulates that Russian troops are then withdrawn from Ukraine.
This plan is completely unworkable (though you might kill Putin by making him laugh too hard at it), but it’s still an order of magnitude more sensible than anything coming out of Zelensky’s mouth, which is astounding.
- The world must not forget Mariupol’s defenders WaPo
This is singlehandedly the worst article I’ve ever put in this section. I literally cannot express my burning fucking hatred for the Washington Post, and every other MSM journalist, without blatant fedposting. The fact that these people have jobs is, by itself, a stunning takedown of the idea that meritocracy does and could ever exist in this godforsaken country. In an entirely unrelated point, the weakening of abortion protections will be a tragic loss for America.
“Another such victory and we shall be utterly ruined,” the Greek King Pyrrhus of Epirus supposedly muttered after his army lost thousands of soldiers while defeating the Romans at Asculum in 279 B.C.
Similar words might well apply to Russia’s conquest of Mariupol, Ukraine, which the forces of Russian President Vladimir Putin completed Monday. The city’s last few hundred Ukrainian defenders, holed up inside the vast Azovstal steel plant on the outskirts of town, have surrendered and been taken to Russian-held areas of Ukraine. Russia thus achieved a strategic objective: to control an uninterrupted swath of territory along Ukraine’s southeastern edge, including Crimea and most of its Black Sea coast.
Yet Moscow paid an extraordinary price during the nearly three months it had to fight — contrary to all prewar expectations — for Mariupol. The civilians of what is now a ruined city, tens of thousands of whom died during a ferocious and indiscriminate Russian bombardment, endured the worst of it, of course. Russian casualties in what was often house-to-house combat, though undetermined, were presumably high as well, however. So was the cost, to Russia’s overall war effort, of having to divert many military resources to a single battle. There was an undeniable contradiction between upbeat Russian war propaganda and the reality that, in the end, Moscow had to negotiate a surrender for defenders that it had vowed to annihilate.
The fighters who held out at Mariupol not only survived but also helped Ukraine prevent Russia from seizing other territory, including cities such as Kyiv and Kharkiv. They deserve the accolades they are receiving from their government. Mr. Putin and his propaganda machine, of course, have branded them as Nazis and terrorists, based on the fact that some came from the Azov Regiment, which began as a far-right paramilitary organization in 2014 in the war against Russia but has since been reformed and absorbed into the regular Ukrainian army. The relevance of this history is that Russia might invoke it as an excuse to violate the promise Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Mr. Putin had made during surrender talks: that those who laid down their arms would be treated “consistent with the respective international laws.” Many in Russia are already clamoring for their punishment instead of sending them back to Ukraine in exchange for Russian POWs as President Volodymyr Zelensky has proposed. There are reports that some might be subjected to interrogations and accused of war crimes.
The United States and its partner democracies must remain vigilant regarding the fate of these fighters now that they are essentially at Mr. Putin’s mercy. He must be held accountable for his promise of decent, lawful treatment. One lesson of Mariupol is that the Russian president did, in the end, agree to evacuate both civilians and military personnel from the Azovstal plant, as he should have. He did so, however, only because armed Ukrainian resistance gave him no other choice.
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I Thought I’d Mention
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Iraqi man seeks Guinness World Record for longest mustache IraqiNews
It is an impressive mustache.