Today marks the third full month of this conflict. And also two full months of me creating updates, way back when I was still putting “What’s been happening over the last 12 hours or so?” in the header.
Link back to the discussion thread.
- Spain paints itself as the answer to Europe’s Russian energy problem CNBC
Sanchez highlighted that Spain represents 37% of the European Union’s total regasification capacity — where liquefied natural gas is turned back into the end product of natural gas. He also said the Iberian Peninsula, occupied by Spain and Portugal, is home to around half of the EU’s LNG storage.
“This war also gave us a very important lesson, which is that renewable energy, hydrogen, energy efficiency is not only a great ally for countries and economies to tackle the climate change efforts, but also in this very complex and very uncertain geopolitical scenario that will provide us also means to increase our resilience and autonomy,” he added.
Sanchez said the EU’s energy market is not fit to respond to the current crisis. “This is just the beginning of a big reflection that we need to face at the European level,” he said.
Spain angered Algeria earlier this year after Madrid decided to re-export gas to Morocco, amid a diplomatic standoff between the two North African nations who share a land border.
Sanchez on Monday dismissed the idea that Spain was substituting Russia for another unstable supplier Algeria, which has threatened to shut off gas flows to Madrid due to its deal with Morocco.
- EU Despairs Over Quick Deal on Oil Embargo Bloomberg
The EU’s embargo on Russian oil seems unlikely to move ahead during next week’s leaders summit in Brussels, where Ukraine, energy and defense will dominate the agenda. Although Hungary, the main obstacle to a deal, had earlier said that a summit would be needed to end the deadlock, agreement doesn’t seem to be in the cards before next month, as we’re told Budapest’s position appears to be hardening. A two-year deferral on the embargo and hundreds of millions of euros in investments dangled by the commission have so far failed to sway Viktor Orban to lift his veto.
- EU oil embargo ‘in days’ as Russia flags closer China ties Al Jazeera
Germany says bloc is on verge of “breakthrough” on banning Russian oil imports over its war in Ukraine.
- Russia’s economy is ‘imploding’ as exports to the sanctioned country plummet, economists say Yahoo
Exports from 20 countries to Russia were down -50% from the same time a year prior.
Monthly exports from Russia to other countries, however, were up 64% in April compared to the same time a year prior, Brooks said on Monday, as oil and gas sales become a bigger part of Moscow’s revenue.
Brooks said the country’s current account surpluses were “massive,” meaning Russia was exporting far more than it was importing.
“We forecast a GDP collapse of -30% by end-2022,” a chief economist at Institute of International Finance wrote.
Moscow’s Economy Withstands Western Sanctions - Putin TeleSUR
Ruble surges as Russia considers looser capital controls Al Jazeera
The ruble’s rebound has left it more than 30 percent stronger against the dollar than it was before Russia invaded Ukraine.
Asia and Oceania
Sri Lanka hikes fuel prices, hires financial and legal advisers Al Jazeera
Singapore chicken importers say it is difficult to pivot to other sources on short notice as Malaysia curbs exports ChannelNewsAsia
- Turkey’s Erdogan says Greek PM Mitsotakis ‘no longer exists’ for him Reuters
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis “no longer exists” for him, accusing the Greek leader of trying to block sales of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey during a visit to the United States.
- Johannesburg Needs $1.6 Billion for Power Supply, Mayor Says Bloomberg
South Africa has been hit by intermittent power cuts since 2008 because Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., the state power utility, can’t meet demand. The country is on course to have a record number of outages this year.
- Fed’s Daly says she does not expect a recession Reuters
San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank President Mary Daly on Monday said the U.S. economy has a lot of momentum, and said the central bank can raise interest rates to where they are no longer stimulating economic growth without starting a recession.
“We really have a strong economy,” Daly said in an interview on Fox News. “I think that we can weather this storm, get the interest rate up…price stability restored and still leave Americans with jobs aplentiful and with growth expanding as we expect it to.”
Rising Risk of Recession Creates New Headache for Biden WSJ
The Fed raising interest rates won’t fix inflation and the US needs a different kind of intervention, says Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz BusinessInsider
Supply-side interventions would better serve the world’s largest economy, said the Columbia University professor.
“I think we can do a lot more than we’re doing,” said Stiglitz. “Killing the economy through raising interest rates is not going solve inflation any timeframe,” he said.
Good to hear that I’m as smart as a Nobel Prize winning economist.
- Americans’ financial health reached near decade high in 2021 Al Jazeera
Almost eight in 10 adults said late last year that they were either “doing okay or living comfortably” when it came to their finances in 2021, according to an annual Fed survey, the highest proportion to say so since the survey began in 2013.
A record 68% of American households said their savings could cover a $400 emergency in 2021 Fortune
More Americans plan road trips this summer despite record-high gas prices SeattleTimes
Good Times for the Consumer Economy Come to an End Bloomberg
A Gallon of Gas Now Costs More Than the Federal Minimum Wage Newsweek
U.S. retail diesel prices increase to over $6 per gallon in the Northeast EIA
Biden Could Tap Diesel Reserve In A Bid To Ease Fuel Crunch OilPrice
America’s Supply Chains Are Too Efficient. What We Need Is a Resilient Economy Newsweek
Written by Marco Rubio. I was fully expecting a Dipshittery article but on the surface the identification of the problem is reasonable, even if the actual solutions offered are rather tepid and ineffectual, and I have literally no belief whatsoever that he or his Republican ilk would do anything like this because it would substantially alter the fundamental reality of capitalism in America and so would be lobbied incessesantly, even if enough Republicans were interested in it, which I don’t think they would be. While it possesses some inevitable brainworms, I put this in the Heartbreaking category.
Supply chain disruptions are always an inconvenience, one that Americans are becoming increasingly familiar with. But in this case, they could mean life or death. And our society’s relentless drive for efficiency is to blame.
Efficiency is important, of course. It drives down consumer costs and makes products available across our vast country. But efficiency without resiliency is a recipe for disaster. Those Americans whose grocery stores went bare during the Texas blackout last winter or couldn’t find masks during the early months of COVID can testify to that.
The sad truth is that for years, politicians, corporate CEOs, shareholders, and consumers alike have ignored the need for resiliency and redundancy. There was a naive belief that major, long-term supply chain disruptions were a relic of the past. There was an assumption that because computer algorithms could ensure goods arrived “just in time,” there was no need to plan for a “just in case” scenario. And now we are experiencing the consequences.
A combination of factors brought us to this point. First, efficiency became king when America transitioned from an economy with robust manufacturing to one dominated by service and finance. 30 years ago, foreign cheap labor and government subsidies made manufacturing less profitable in the U.S. As a result, under pressure to cut costs, industries began sending their factories and jobs abroad, a trend accelerated by our government’s “normalization” of trade relations with Communist China in 2000.
At the same time, our tax code encouraged companies to prioritize stock market gains over productivity and security. This schooled corporate elites to avoid investments in workers, equipment, and facilities and to churn out short-term financial gains to shareholders instead.
Why didn’t we have enough masks or ventilators on hand for a pandemic? Why didn’t we have a buffer stock of baby formula? Because, as Professor Willy Shih of Harvard Business School explains, “Lower inventories, less cash tied up—these things make investors happy.” These things also make Americans more vulnerable.
It will take more than expanded inventories to make our economy more resilient, though. With supply chains stretched around the globe, we are vulnerable to the whims of other nations. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China’s lockdown of Shanghai—the list of international events impacting our markets goes on. It’s an unsustainable situation, one that we must end by bringing critical supply chains back home.
This will mean creating federal incentives for domestic industry through tax policy and robust federal guarantees. It will require eliminating tax preferences for unproductive corporate behavior like stock buybacks. And it will necessitate government action when foreign subsidies lure American jobs and production overseas.
This isn’t just about having goods on shelves, though that is important; it’s a matter of national survival. Large power transformers, for example, are key to America’s electric grid, but it might take “months, if not years” to build replacements. Having robust domestic manufacturing and a reserve stockpile could mean the difference between bad and catastrophic in the event of a future crisis.
Building a more resilient, productive economy is also about creating more stable, well-paying jobs, which have become a rarity in the U.S.—jobs that provide dignity, create space for families to grow, and foster real community.
These things cannot be quantified on a spreadsheet or summarized on a quarterly return. But they are foundational to the common good. And public policy should always seek to advance the common good, even if it makes us a little less efficient in the process.
- Aramco CEO warns of global oil crunch due to lack of investment Reuters
The world is facing a major oil supply crunch as most companies are afraid to invest in the sector as they face green energy pressures, the head of Saudi Aramco told Reuters, adding it cannot expand production capacity any faster than promised.
Diplomatically and Politically
Involving Ukraine or Russia
Kherson’s Russian leader says that the goal is not to become an independent republic, but to directly join Russia. Annexation, essentially.
Moscow to deepen ties with China, Lavrov says Guardian
Russia was working to replace goods imported from western countries, he said, and in future, would depend only on “reliable” countries not beholden to the west.
“If they [the west] want to offer something in terms of resuming relations, then we will seriously consider whether we will need it or not,” Lavrov said, according to a transcript on the foreign ministry’s website.
Lavrov set down grievances with western countries that he said were determined to change the rules of international relations to Russia’s detriment.
“We must cease being dependent in any way on supplies of absolutely everything from the west for ensuring the development of critically important sectors for security, the economy or our homeland’s social sphere.”
“Now that the west has taken a ‘dictator’s position’, our economic ties with China will grow even faster. In addition to direct revenue for the state budget, this is a chance to develop (Russia’s) far east and eastern Siberia.”
“Now the centre of world development has shifted to Eurasia. At the moment, we have the most extensive network of partnerships in the Eurasian region. We must rely on them in the further development of our country, its transport, transit, and logistics capabilities. I am convinced that this is the right way.”
“Our western partners have proved, and not for the first time, that they are incapable of negotiating,” he added.
- At Least 4 Russian Officials Have Quit Over Putin’s Ukraine War—Full List Newsweek
Am I wrong to think that this is just the Russian equivalent of libs being like “YES! Trump’s admin is turning against him!” when some of his ghouls quit and then became part of the “Resistance” and sold their shitty books to Democrats?
- Russia’s Putin jokes about being blamed for all the world’s woes Reuters
“What is happening over there is that they really underestimated it by reading their own media. They got inflation yet the truth is ‘Putin is to blame’, ‘Putin is to blame for everything’,” Lukashenko said.
Putin pursed his lips and nodded.
“We will have a serious talk to them,” Putin said with a forced smile.
Lukashenko chuckled and said “Yes”.
Lukashenko accuses Poland and NATO of plotting to partition Ukraine Reuters
Kremlin says West triggered global food crisis with sanctions Reuters
Once again, a reminder: the blockade, even if you accept the Western framing that Russia is stopping ships from leaving because Putin is eating it all with a giant spoon or something, is only a small part of the giant global storm that is the food crisis, and this storm was caused by the sanctions in response. You do not need to sanction a country when it declares war on another. It is not a fundamental law of the universe. Einstein did not encode it into general relativity, nor is it in the Maxwell equations, nor is there a sanction lobe in the human brain. Therefore, the West caused the food crisis. They can either own it and say “Yes, but this is worth it because we’re showing the Putler what-for!” or they can have a fit and blame it on Putin. They’re doing the latter.
- Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four was about liberalism, not totalitarianism, claims Moscow diplomat Guardian
Okay, I believe in you, Russia. All you’ve gotta do is keep to the story, and don’t go off on a tangent about cancel culture or stupid shit like that. Okay. Let’s go.
“For many years we believed that Orwell described the horrors of totalitarianism. This is one of the biggest global fakes … Orwell wrote about the end of liberalism. He depicted how liberalism would lead humanity to a dead end,”
Zakharova had been asked by a member of the public how to respond to friends and relatives abroad when they suggested that Russia was living in a modern-day replay of Orwell’s novel.
“Orwell did not write about the USSR, it wasn’t about us,” she said. “He wrote about the society in which he lived, about the collapse of the ideas of liberalism. And you were made to believe that Orwell wrote it about you.” Zakharova suggested the audience member tell her relatives abroad: “It’s you in the west who live in a fantasy world where a person can be cancelled.”
God DAMN it!
Despite, or perhaps because of, Moscow’s efforts, sales of Nineteen Eighty-Four have risen sharply in Russia recently, with one marketplace saying they had witnessed a 75% increase.
There has also been anecdotal evidence that Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine have turned to Nineteen Eighty-Four. When one Ukrainian couple returned to their home last month after the Russian retreat from Irpin, a town just outside of Kyiv, they found that a Russian-language copy of Nineteen Eighty-Four had been removed from their shelf and lay open on the sofa, suggesting that the Russian soldiers had been reading it.
There’s a 0% chance this happened.
Viktor Golyshev, a prominent linguist who translated the novel into Russian, disputed Zakharova’s assertions and said the novel was “not at all” about the decline of liberalism.
“I think it is a novel about a totalitarian state. When he wrote it, totalitarian states were already in decline, but between the first and second world wars, half of Europe had totalitarian governments. At the time there was no decline of liberalism, not at all,” the translator said.
It’s so weird that Orwell was writing a book about a … well, an Orwellian society for lack of a better term, when liberalism was rising. That’s so strange and odd.
It is not the first time Russian officials have blasted liberalism. In 2019, Putin told the Financial Times that liberalism was “obsolete”.
In 2017, while comparing mainstream western media to “Big Brother”, the leader of the totalitarian state in Orwell’s novel, Zakharova mistakenly called the book 1982.
She was ahead of the bit! Credit where credit’s due.
Asia and Oceania
US-ASEAN Summit Leaves Washington Empty-handed NEO
Quad leaders meet in Japan to discuss China, Russia tensions Al Jazeera
At Tuesday’s meeting, the leaders of the informal alliance, which was set up to counter China’s influence, are discussing climate change, technology, maritime surveillance, as well as the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – an issue that has risked division among the group.
“We are navigating a dark hour in our shared history,” he said. “The Russian brutal and unprovoked war against Ukraine has triggered a humanitarian catastrophe … This is more than just a European issue. It’s a global issue.”
WHAT ABOUT YEMEN? THE MIDDLE EAST?! ANYBODY!?! WHY IS UKRAINE THE BREAKING POINT FOR THESE PEOPLE AND NOT THE WAR THAT IS CURRENTLY ONGOING AND HAS KILLED ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE MORE PEOPLE EVEN IF YOU ACCEPT THE MOST EXAGGERATED FIGURES FROM UKRAINE?
At Tuesday’s summit, the leaders are expected to launch a new maritime surveillance initiative to track illegal fishing in the Indo-Pacific, according to the White House.
The Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA) will provide countries in the Pacific, Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean with the “tools to better maintain sovereignty, better combat illegal fishing and better be able to do rescue at sea and other humanitarian activities,” the US official said.
The leaders will also launch the Quad Fellowship, which will sponsor 100 American, Australian, Indian and Japanese students to study in the US each year for graduate degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
- China’s foreign minister to visit Solomon Islands amid push for more deals with Pacific countries Guardian
China’s foreign minister will visit Solomon Islands this week, one month after signing a security agreement with the Pacific country, on a broader tour where China is seeking more deals in the region.
After Honiara, Wang will go on to Fiji, followed by Papua New Guinea next week, with suggestions the tour could also visit Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga and Kiribati, though this part of the itinerary has not been confirmed.
Jonathan Pryke, director of the Lowy Institute’s Pacific Islands program, said it was an “extraordinary and unprecedented marathon of the region … that will leave a lot of people in the west nervous”.
- Xinjiang in focus as U.N. rights chief arrives for China visit NBC
Michelle Bachelet’s trip is the first to China by a U.N. high commissioner for human rights since 2005, and rights groups warn it threatens to whitewash abuses by the ruling Communist Party in Xinjiang.
China locked up an estimated million or more members of Uyghur, Kazakh and other Muslim minorities in what critics describe as a campaign to obliterate their distinct cultural identities. China says it has nothing to hide and welcomes all those without political bias to visit Xinjiang and view what it describes as a successful campaign to restore order and ethnic cohesion.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin confirmed Bachelet’s arrival and said she would have “extensive exchanges with all sectors.” No journalists will travel with her in China, but Bachelet will “brief the media on her visit in due course,” Wang said at a daily briefing on Monday.
“I hope that this visit will further promote exchanges and cooperation between the two sides and play an active role in advancing the international human rights cause,” he said.
A key question is whether Bachelet will be allowed to visit the former internment camps that China called vocational training and education centers and meet with people imprisoned over calls for greater religious, political and cultural freedoms, such as Ilham Tohti, an economist and winner of the Sakharov Prize.
India-Australia Free Trade Agreement: Why the FTA is different, unprecedented Bilaterals
Australia’s Left Is Breaking Through Jacobin
- Iran vows to avenge killing as it buries Revolutionary Guard colonel Guardian
An Iranian colonel shot dead in Tehran by assailants on motorcycles has been buried as officials vowed to avenge an assassination that they continue to lay at the feet of Israel.
The murder of Col Hassan Sayad Khodayari is the highest-profile killing of an Iranian official since the violent death of top Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in November 2020 and appears to fit a pattern of assassinations that began more than a decade ago.
Iran deputy FM meets Bulgarian, South African counterparts TehranTimes
Iran never condones Israeli bases in the region: IRGC TehranTimes
Why Iranians are taking to the streets again CNN
The Iranian government mobilized tens of thousands of supporters on Friday in a domestic show of force after weeks of price protests turned violent, leading to nationwide arrests and injuries.
Thousands of pro-government supporters rallied outside Tehran, including 50,000 Revolutionary Guards and Basij militia members, according to state media.
The anti-government protests, reported in at least 40 cities and towns across Iran, started over economic matters but have turned political, with demonstrators chanting anti-government slogans and calling for the fall of the regime, social media videos posted by activists showed.
- World Bank funds new education project in Iraq IraqiNews
According to INA, a statement issued by the World Bank revealed that the new project worth 10 million USD aims to support innovations for learning in three Iraqi governorates.
The project aims to enhance teaching practices of Arabic and Mathematics teachers, and improve literacy and numeracy skills among the most vulnerable primary students in lagging Iraqi governorates.
No Iran nuclear deal ‘worse’ than even a bad one: Israel sources Al Jazeera
Pakistan-Uzbekistan free trade deal on the cards Bilaterals
How Will NATO’s Nordic Expansion Impact Georgia? OilPrice
As Sweden and Finland move swiftly toward NATO membership, Georgians – who have been seeking for more than a decade to enter the alliance – are watching the process with mixed feelings.
The accession of the two Scandinavian states would seem to override what has been seen as a “Russian veto” over further NATO expansion near its borders. That could help break the stalemate that has kept Georgia and Ukraine from joining since they were first promised membership in 2008, according to one line of thinking.
But pessimists in Georgia fear that the current round of expansion will be enough for NATO to swallow and leave Georgia continuing to wait on the outside.
For Georgians, the Nordic expansion is “bittersweet,” said Kornely Kakachia, the director of the Georgian Institute of Politics, a Tbilisi-based think-tank.
“On one hand, it’s good that NATO’s open-door policy is in place, which is good for Georgia, also that Russia can’t have veto power on this,” Kakachia told Eurasianet. “It could be seen as an opening for Georgia, but the opposite could also happen – NATO could be happy with the status quo, losing appetite for further enlargement,” Kakachia said. The key variable, he said, was how the war in Ukraine ends.
“Georgia is willing to become a member,” the officer, German Navy Chief Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach, said at an event in India. “Do they meet requirements? Yes, yes, they do. Is it smart to have them as a member? No, it’s not, no it’s not.”
Schönbach was forced to resign over the comments (he had made a similar argument about Ukraine), but optimists in Georgia emphasized the positive points he had made about Georgia.
Schönbach “says that Georgia is, in fact, ready for NATO membership and only needs a single move from the West, an approval, to enter NATO,” Giorgi Khelashvili, deputy chair of the parliament’s foreign affairs committee told Georgian Public Television.
Biden says no change to US ‘strategic ambiguity’ on Taiwan Inquirer
Blinken to unveil long-awaited China strategy in Thursday speech Politico
Britain launches free trade deal talks with Mexico Bilaterals
Abortion in Cuba vs US shows which country is truly democratic Multipolarista
Canadians Turn to Euthanasia as Solution to Unbearable Poverty TeleSUR
The Permanent War Economy Common Dreams
A long but good read.
The United States, as the near unanimous vote to provide nearly $40 billion in aid to Ukraine illustrates, is trapped in the death spiral of unchecked militarism. No high speed trains. No universal health care. No viable Covid relief program. No respite from 8.3 percent inflation. No infrastructure programs to repair decaying roads and bridges, which require $41.8 billion to fix the 43,586 structurally deficient bridges, on average 68 years old. No forgiveness of $1.7 trillion in student debt. No addressing income inequality. No program to feed the 17 million children who go to bed each night hungry. No rational gun control or curbing of the epidemic of nihilistic violence and mass shootings. No help for the 100,000 Americans who die each year of drug overdoses. No minimum wage of $15 an hour to counter 44 years of wage stagnation. No respite from gas prices that are projected to hit $6 a gallon.
The permanent war economy, implanted since the end of World War II, has destroyed the private economy, bankrupted the nation, and squandered trillions of dollars of taxpayer money. The monopolization of capital by the military has driven the US debt to $30 trillion, $ 6 trillion more than the US GDP of $ 24 trillion. Servicing this debt costs $300 billion a year. We spent more on the military, $ 813 billion for fiscal year 2023, than the next nine countries, including China and Russia, combined.
We are paying a heavy social, political, and economic cost for our militarism. Washington watches passively as the U.S. rots, morally, politically, economically, and physically, while China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, and other countries extract themselves from the tyranny of the U.S. dollar and the international Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), a messaging network banks and other financial institutions use to send and receive information, such as money transfer instructions. Once the U.S. dollar is no longer the world’s reserve currency, once there is an alternative to SWIFT, it will precipitate an internal economic collapse. It will force the immediate contraction of the U.S. empire shuttering most of its nearly 800 overseas military installations. It will signal the death of Pax Americana.
Democrat or Republican. It does not matter. War is the raison d’état of the state. Extravagant military expenditures are justified in the name of “national security.” The nearly $40 billion allocated for Ukraine, most of it going into the hands of weapons manufacturers such as Raytheon Technologies, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing, is only the beginning. Military strategists, who say the war will be long and protracted, are talking about infusions of $4 or $5 billion in military aid a month to Ukraine. We face existential threats. But these do not count. The proposed budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in fiscal year 2023 is $10.675 billion. The proposed budget for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is $11.881 billion. Ukraine alone gets more than double that amount. Pandemics and the climate emergency are afterthoughts. War is all that matters. This is a recipe for collective suicide.
There were three restraints to the avarice and bloodlust of the permanent war economy that no longer exist. The first was the old liberal wing of the Democratic Party, led by politicians such as Senator George McGovern, Senator Eugene McCarthy, and Senator J. William Fulbright, who wrote The Pentagon Propaganda Machine. The self-identified progressives, a pitiful minority, in Congress today, from Barbara Lee, who was the single vote in the House and the Senate opposing a broad, open-ended authorization allowing the president to wage war in Afghanistan or anywhere else, to Ilhan Omar now dutifully line up to fund the latest proxy war. The second restraint was an independent media and academia, including journalists such as I.F Stone and Neil Sheehan along with scholars such as Seymour Melman, author of The Permanent War Economy and Pentagon Capitalism: The Political Economy of War. Third, and perhaps most important, was an organized anti-war movement, led by religious leaders such as Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King Jr. and Phil and Dan Berrigan as well as groups such as Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). They understood that unchecked militarism was a fatal disease.
None of these opposition forces, which did not reverse the permanent war economy but curbed its excesses, now exist. The two ruling parties have been bought by corporations, especially military contractors. The press is anemic and obsequious to the war industry. Propagandists for permanent war, largely from right-wing think tanks lavishly funded by the war industry, along with former military and intelligence officials, are exclusively quoted or interviewed as military experts. NBC’s “Meet the Press” aired a segment May 13 where officials from Center for a New American Security (CNAS) simulated what a war with China over Taiwan might look like. The co-founder of CNAS, Michèle Flournoy, who appeared in the “Meet the Press” war games segment and was considered by Biden to run the Pentagon, wrote in 2020 in Foreign Affairs that the U.S. needs to develop “the capability to credibly threaten to sink all of China’s military vessels, submarines and merchant ships in the South China Sea within 72 hours.”
The handful of anti-militarists and critics of empire from the left, such as Noam Chomsky, and the right, such as Ron Paul, have been declared persona non grata by a compliant media. The liberal class has retreated into boutique activism where issues of class, capitalism and militarism are jettisoned for “cancel culture,” multiculturalism and identity politics. Liberals are cheerleading the war in Ukraine. At least the inception of the war with Iraq saw them join significant street protests. Ukraine is embraced as the latest crusade for freedom and democracy against the new Hitler. There is little hope, I fear, of rolling back or restraining the disasters being orchestrated on a national and global level. The neoconservatives and liberal interventionists chant in unison for war. Biden has appointed these war mongers, whose attitude to nuclear war is terrifyingly cavalier, to run the Pentagon, the National Security Council, and the State Department.
Since all we do is war, all proposed solutions are military. This military adventurism accelerates the decline, as the defeat in Vietnam and the squandering of $8 trillion in the futile wars in the Middle East illustrate. War and sanctions, it is believed, will cripple Russia, rich in gas and natural resources. War, or the threat of war, will curb the growing economic and military clout of China.
These are demented and dangerous fantasies, perpetrated by a ruling class that has severed itself from reality. No longer able to salvage their own society and economy, they seek to destroy those of their global competitors, especially Russia and China. Once the militarists cripple Russia, the plan goes, they will focus military aggression on the Indo-Pacific, dominating what Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, referring to the Pacific, called “the American Sea.”
You cannot talk about war without talking about markets. The U.S., whose growth rate has fallen to below 2 percent, while China’s growth rate is 8.1 percent, has turned to military aggression to bolster its sagging economy. If the U.S. can sever Russian gas supplies to Europe, it will force Europeans to buy from the United States. U.S. firms, at the same time, would be happy to replace the Chinese Communist Party, even if they must do it through the threat of war, to open unfettered access to Chinese markets. War, if it did break out with China, would devastate the Chinese, American, and global economies, destroying free trade between countries as in World War I. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.
Washington is desperately trying to build military and economic alliances to ward off a rising China, whose economy is expected by 2028 to overtake that of the United States, according to the UK’s Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR). The White House has said Biden’s current visit to Asia is about sending a “powerful message” to Beijing and others about what the world could look like if democracies “stand together to shape the rules of the road.” The Biden administration has invited South Korea and Japan to attend the NATO summit in Madrid.
But fewer and fewer nations, even among European allies, are willing to be dominated by the United States. Washington’s veneer of democracy and supposed respect for human rights and civil liberties is so badly tarnished as to be irrecoverable. Its economic decline, with China’s manufacturing 70 percent higher than that of the U.S., is irreversible. War is a desperate Hail Mary, one employed by dying empires throughout history with catastrophic consequences. “It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable,” Thucydides noted in the History of the Peloponnesian War.
A key component to the sustenance of the permanent war state was the creation of the All-Volunteer Force. Without conscripts, the burden of fighting wars falls to the poor, the working class, and military families. This All-Volunteer Force allows the children of the middle class, who led the Vietnam anti-war movement, to avoid service. It protects the military from internal revolts, carried out by troops during the Vietnam War, which jeopardized the cohesion of the armed forces.
The All-Volunteer Force, by limiting the pool of available troops, also makes the global ambitions of the militarists impossible. Desperate to maintain or increase troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military instituted the stop-loss policy that arbitrarily extended active-duty contracts. Its slang term was the backdoor draft. The effort to bolster the number of troops by hiring private military contractors, as well, had a negligible effect. Increased troop levels would not have won the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but the tiny percentage of those willing to serve in the military (only 7 percent of the U.S. population are veterans) is an unacknowledged Achilles heel for the militarists.
“As a consequence, the problem of too much war and too few soldiers eludes serious scrutiny,” writes historian and retired Army Colonel Andrew Bacevich in After the Apocalypse: America’s Role in a World Transformed. “Expectations of technology bridging that gap provide an excuse to avoid asking the most fundamental questions: Does the United States possess the military wherewithal to oblige adversaries to endorse its claim of being history’s indispensable nation? And if the answer is no, as the post-9/11 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq suggest, wouldn’t it make sense for Washington to temper its ambitions accordingly?”
This question, as Bacevich points out, is “anathema.” The military strategists work from the supposition that the coming wars won’t look anything like past wars. They invest in imaginary theories of future wars that ignore the lessons of the past, ensuring more fiascos.
The political class is as self-deluded as the generals. It refuses to accept the emergence of a multi-polar world and the palpable decline of American power. It speaks in the outdated language of American exceptionalism and triumphalism, believing it has the right to impose its will as the leader of the “free world.” In his 1992 Defense Planning Guidance memorandum, U.S. Under Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz argued that the U.S. must ensure no rival superpower again arises. The U.S. should project its military strength to dominate a unipolar world in perpetuity. On February 19, 1998, on NBC’s “Today Show”, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright gave the Democratic version of this doctrine of unipolarity. “If we have to use force it is because we are Americans; we are the indispensable nation,” she said. “We stand tall, and we see further than other countries into the future.”
This demented vision of unrivaled U.S. global supremacy, not to mention unrivaled goodness and virtue, blinds the establishment Republicans and Democrats. The military strikes they casually used to assert the doctrine of unipolarity, especially in the Middle East, swiftly spawned jihadist terror and prolonged warfare. None of them saw it coming until the hijacked jets slammed into the World Trade Center twin towers. That they cling to this absurd hallucination is the triumph of hope over experience.
There is a deep loathing among the public for these elitist Ivy League architects of American imperialism. Imperialism was tolerated when it was able to project power abroad and produce rising living standards at home. It was tolerated when it restrained itself to covert interventions in countries such as Iran, Guatemala, and Indonesia. It went off the rails in Vietnam. The military defeats that followed accompanied a steady decline in living standards, wage stagnation, a crumbling infrastructure and eventually a series of economic policies and trade deals, orchestrated by the same ruling class, which deindustrialized and impoverished the country.
The establishment oligarchs, now united in the Democratic Party, distrust Donald Trump. He commits the heresy of questioning the sanctity of the American empire. Trump derided the invasion of Iraq as a “big, fat mistake.” He promised “to keep us out of endless war.” Trump was repeatedly questioned about his relationship with Vladimir Putin. Putin was “a killer,” one interviewer told him. “There are a lot of killers,” Trump retorted. “You think our country’s so innocent?” Trump dared to speak a truth that was to be forever unspoken, the militarists had sold out the American people.
Noam Chomsky took some heat for pointing out, correctly, that Trump is the “one statesman” who has laid out a “sensible” proposition to resolve the Russia-Ukraine crisis. The proposed solution included “facilitating negotiations instead of undermining them and moving toward establishing some kind of accommodation in Europe…in which there are no military alliances but just mutual accommodation.”
Trump is too unfocused and mercurial to offer serious policy solutions. He did set a timetable to withdraw from Afghanistan, but he also ratcheted up the economic war against Venezuela and reinstituted crushing sanctions against Cuba and Iran, which the Obama administration had ended. He increased the military budget. He apparently flirted with carrying out a missile strike on Mexico to “destroy the drug labs.” But he acknowledges a distaste for imperial mismanagement that resonates with the public, one that has every right to loath the smug mandarins that plunge us into one war after another. Trump lies like he breathes. But so do they.
The 57 Republicans who refused to support the $40 billion aid package to Ukraine, along with many of the 19 bills that included an earlier $13.6 billion in aid for Ukraine, come out of the kooky conspiratorial world of Trump. They, like Trump, repeat this heresy. They too are attacked and censored. But the longer Biden and the ruling class continue to pour resources into war at our expense, the more these proto fascists, already set to wipe out Democratic gains in the House and the Senate this fall, will be ascendant. Marjorie Taylor Greene, during the debate on the aid package to Ukraine, which most members were not given time to closely examine, said: “$40 billion dollars but there’s no baby formula for American mothers and babies.”
“An unknown amount of money to the CIA and Ukraine supplemental bill but there’s no formula for American babies,” she added. “Stop funding regime change and money laundering scams. A US politician covers up their crimes in countries like Ukraine.”
Democrat Jamie Raskin immediately attacked Greene for parroting the propaganda of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Greene, like Trump, spoke a truth that resonates with a beleaguered public. The opposition to permanent war should have come from the tiny progressive wing of the Democratic Party, which unfortunately sold out to the craven Democratic Party leadership to save their political careers. Greene is demented, but Raskin and the Democrats peddle their own brand of lunacy. We are going to pay a very steep price for this burlesque.
After revamping Venezuela’s smallest oil refinery, Iran to fix the largest Reuters
Joe Biden Has Botched the Summit of the Americas Jacobin
Denmark gives Harpoon anti-ship missiles to Ukraine.
Czechia gives helicopters, tanks, and missiles systems to Ukraine.
Estonia has, over the last 3 months, transferred 1/3 of its military budget to Ukraine.
Putin Sells Nuke-Capable Missiles to Ally Belarus Newsweek
U.S. Isn’t Dictating Ukraine’s Terms for Peace Deal With Russia: Pentagon Newsweek
Yes. Obviously. Of course.
Russia now controls 20% of Ukraine, or an area half the size of the UK, or about the size of Pennsylvania.
Russia’s military is offering signing bonuses 4 times as big as monthly salaries to recruit soldiers amid a manpower crunch in the Ukraine war BusinessInsider
Russia strikes multiple towns in Donbas region, Ukraine says; Russian-occupied Kherson will now accept rubles CNBC
US Trying to Create a “Second Front” against Russia in Syria NEO
Washington already calling for thousands of new troops, permanent bases in Europe Responsible Statecraft
Turkey To Launch Military Operation on Turkish-Syrian Border TeleSUR
UK backs Lithuania’s plan to lift Russian blockade of Ukraine grain Guardian
Russia assaults the city of Lyman directly, after artillery barrages and bombing by aircraft above, overwhelming Ukrainian trenches and positions. Russia reports 500 Ukrainians surrendered, and Russia has made serious gains.
Ukrainians attempt to blow up the dam in Svetlodarsk, on the front northeast of Horlivka, threatening to flood the land downstream, after Russia makes gains in that area.
Russia reports that they’ve now taken Svetlodarsk.
Ukrainian officials claim that Russia is preparing to advance towards Zaporozhye city.
St. Petersburg is announced to be the sister city of Mariupol and will aid in its reconstruction.
Ukraine Placed Heavy Weaponry at Two Odessa Schools TeleSUR
Dipshittery and Cope
- Biden’s Taiwan ‘Gaffe’ Might Just Be Good Policy Bloomberg
I don’t know about you, but I was getting kind of bored with having only 14 different existential crises happening at once. Covid, war, climate, famine, inflation, market meltdown, monkeypox, Johnny Depp stans taking over the internet? Yawn! Got anything else, Worst Imaginable Timeline?
Instant VIP ticket to the re-education camps.
Fortunately, President Joe Biden came to the rescue by accidentally-on-purpose saying the U.S. would defend Taiwan if China should ever decide to pull a Full Ukraine on it. This made China very, very mad because it wants everybody to think Taiwan is its property. So now we have “possible war with China” to finally spice things up around here.
Official US policy on Taiwan has long been to agree with China while shoveling arms to Taiwan and maintaining “strategic ambiguity” about what we would do in an actual attack, which amounts to saying, “Ha ha, just kidding about defending Taiwan. Unless … ???” There are good arguments that the whole “strategic ambiguity” act is past its sell-by date. It’s possible Biden has Inspector Clouseau-ed his way into better foreign policy.
It does ratchet up the tension between the US and China, but that was rising anyway. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and China’s support thereof, means the end of hoping free trade will turn China into a nation that plays well with others. A stronger stance toward Beijing will hearten allies such as Japan, which is ending its long era of pacifism and spending more on its own defense, writes Gearoid Reidy. Biden’s visit to Asia this week marks an opportunity to also re-strengthen ties with the Philippines, where a new, possibly more US-friendly regime will soon take over, writes James Stavridis.
More excitement may feel like the last thing our hearts needed, but the extra cardio might do us good in the long run.
Actually, re-education probably won’t do this guy any good.
- High Gas Prices Are a Problem. But Let’s Not Moralize About It. NYT
Prices of gasoline and diesel fuel are crazy high and oil refiners are earning stupendous profits. But the refiners, who convert crude oil into consumable products, aren’t price gouging — that is, they aren’t deliberately charging an unfairly high price.
Highlighting that combination of facts isn’t convenient for either side in the debate over what to do about high fuel prices. The refiners don’t like attention being called to their fat profit margins. And proponents of anti-gouging legislation — such as the Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act, which passed the House on Thursday — don’t like to hear that their solution is based on a false premise.
It’s also undeniable that refiners’ profit margins have widened. The following chart explains why. It shows what’s known as a “crack spread,” which is the difference between the price of crude oil and the price of products made from it. … The spread has roughly quintupled this year. It doesn’t reflect the fixed costs of running a refinery, but when it widens out the way it has, you can be sure refiners are doing very well.
So isn’t this prima facie evidence of price gouging? I would say no. To gouge, which is by definition a deliberate action, you have to be able to control the price you charge. But refiners have little to no control in the short term over the prices they get for the products they make. In the language of antitrust, refiners are “price takers,” not “price setters.”
Monopolists can and do raise prices by withholding supply from the market, but refiners generally can’t do that. They are producing about as much as they can — not because they’re good citizens but because the more product each one produces, the more money it can make.
But forcing refiners to accept lower prices for their products would only create shortages. The demand for gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined products at the artificially low price would be greater than the supply, a recipe for chaos. Lawrence Summers of Harvard, who served as Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration, told Bloomberg Television this month, “The ‘price gouging at the pump’ stuff, the more general price gouging stuff, is to economic science what President Trump’s remarks about disinfectant in your veins was to medical science.”
A more enduring cause of high prices is a reduction in U.S. refining capacity. A major refinery in South Philadelphia experienced an explosion and fire in 2019 and has never reopened. Other refineries have shut down in California, Louisiana, New Mexico, North Dakota and Wyoming. Industrywide operating capacity is down 5 percent since the start of 2020. “No country has lost more capacity than ours, though global projects are planned that will make up for the losses within the decade,” Ericka Perryman, a spokeswoman for American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, wrote in an email.
While refiners have a short-term incentive to produce as much as they can, their long-term incentive is to be cautious about adding capacity. The world needs to move away from hydrocarbon fuels as quickly as possible to save the planet from climate change. Knowing that, refiners are reluctant to invest heavily in plants that could soon be rendered obsolete by regulation or renewable forms of energy. “How do you invest in long-lived assets if the administration is signaling that they want you out of business by 2030?” asked Dean Foreman, chief economist at the American Petroleum Institute.
I can think of one way, though I don’t think the American Petroleum Institute would like it.
Moralizing about “profiteering” and “gouging” isn’t the solution to high fuel prices. Refiners aren’t setting prices too high, because they aren’t setting prices at all. They receive the going rate for their products. At the moment that is extremely profitable.
Moralizing about “unfairness” and “vigilante action” isn’t the solution to the blade swiftly falling towards your neck. The rioters aren’t making it fall, gravity is, and steel exerts a strong force compared to your spine. At the moment, it is very sharp.
- Before and after photos show how Russia’s assault turned Mariupol from an industrial port city into rubble BusinessInsider
It’s interesting to contrast these carefully selected photos with the ones coming out of Russia and Patrick Lancaster’s channel, showing the power coming back on and life returning to some normalcy.
- Don’t worry about Putin’s feelings. Russia must pay for its invasion. WaPo
Another amazing article from Maximum Bootlicker.
It’s been more than a month since Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, having failed to take Kyiv, launched an offensive in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine to salvage some glimmer of victory from his unprovoked war of aggression.
Putin looking at the map of Ukraine, seeing that he holds 20% of the country and almost three entire oblasts: “NOOOOO! How can I possibly salvage victory out of this colossal defeat!"
How’s that going? Well, Russia did finally take the southern city of Mariupol after the last defenders surrendered — not that there is much left of the city after the Russian bombardment. But Ukrainian troops have pushed the invaders out of artillery range of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, located only about 20 miles from the Russian border. The Russian offensive is now focused on Severodonetsk, one of the last remaining Ukrainian strongholds in the Luhansk region, which the Russians are trying to turn into the “new Mariupol.”
“Pushed” is certainly a word for “Ukraine advanced into places Russia retreated from”.
Overall, the Pentagon assesses Russian progress as “uneven” and “incremental.” To achieve such small gains, the Russians have suffered heavy losses, with the British government estimating last week that the invaders had lost a third of the 190,000-strong force that initially attacked Ukraine. One particularly spectacular Russian setback occurred during an attempted crossing of the Siverskyi Donets River in Donbas. Ukrainian artillery zeroed in on the Russian troops, leading to the loss of an estimated 485 soldiers and 80 pieces of equipment.
I already made the joke a few days ago about how the number of dead Russian troops in that crossing keeps increasing every time the media reports on it and now they’re actually doing it and for the 72 trillionth time this conflict, parody has been proven to be dead.
Even Putin is implicitly conceding that things have not been going according to plan by reportedly firing the general in command of the 1st Guards Tank Army, after its failure to capture Kharkiv, and the admiral in charge of the Black Sea fleet after its flagship, the Moskva, was sunk by Ukrainian anti-ship missiles. The Kremlin is so strapped for manpower that is lifting age restrictions for new recruits. How long before they send a brigade of babushkas into Ukraine?
Ukraine is already sending old men into battle, though?
The Russian offensive appears to be petering out, and a major Ukrainian counteroffensive is still to come. Retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, former commander of the U.S. Army Europe, predicts that the Russian army will collapse by the end of the summer and that Ukraine will reclaim all of the territory it has lost since the invasion began on Feb. 24. While that scenario may be over-optimistic, it is more likely than any kind of Russian victory.
But instead of celebrating the Ukrainians’ progress, many in the West are reacting with trepidation. French President Emmanuel Macron is warning that Russia must not be humiliated. Italy is circulating its own four-point peace plan. The New York Times editorial board is tut-tutting that “a decisive military victory for Ukraine … is not a realistic goal” and advising President Volodymyr Zelensky to give up land for peace.
This is faux-realism. Given that the world widely expected Kyiv to fall within three days of a Russian invasion, it is the height of hubris to say what Ukraine can or cannot achieve on the battlefield.
I expect Russia to take Warsaw in ten seconds. … They didn’t do it! What a catastrophic failure of their military because they didn’t meet my personal expectation.
Given the horrors that Russia has inflicted on the areas it has conquered — which include rape, murder and deportation — it is the height of inhumanity to insist that Ukraine turn over any of its people to indefinite Russian occupation. And given that Russia has shown no sign of stopping the war or entering into serious negotiations, it is the height of wishful thinking to imagine that Ukrainian concessions now would bring the war to an end. More likely, Putin would view any preemptive concessions as a sign of faltering resolve and simply redouble his determination to outlast his enemies.
It is time to stop worrying about sparing Putin’s feelings. That is the mind-set that led to the invasion of Ukraine in the first place. Russia transgressed before — the invasion of Georgia in 2008, the seizure of Crimea in 2014, the bombing of Syria beginning in 2015, the attack on the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the poisoning of dissidents in the West — and the West never really cracked down because of the assumption that we had to do business with Moscow. Enough mollycoddling. Russia must suffer such a devastating defeat that it will be many decades before another Russian leader thinks of attacking a peaceful neighbor.
What is everyone afraid of anyway? There is no conventional escalation that Putin can now undertake as a practical matter; his air force is being held back not by Russian restraint but by Ukrainian air defenses. The concern — let’s be honest — is that, if Putin is humiliated, he will go nuclear. But the chances of Putin nuking a NATO country and initiating World War III are infinitesimally small. If Putin uses a nuclear weapon it would be against Ukraine. The Ukrainians are willing to run that small risk to defend their country — and the entire civilized world — from an evil war of aggression.
Yeah, why should we care about something like “global thermonuclear war” or “the end of all human civilization for centuries”? We’ve gotta make Putin look like a bad man!
We who sit safely and watch the war from the sidelines have no right to tell the Ukrainians what their war aims should be. We have a moral and strategic obligation to simply support them. The Ukrainians need more weapons from the West, including HIMARS rocket artillery and F-16 fighter planes. They don’t need lectures from second-guessers who claim to know better than they do what is in their own self-interest.
- We must stop letting Russia define the terms of the Ukraine crisis Guardian
By Slavoj Zizek. This one’s already in the dunk tank so I’m just gonna link it here
- Democrats Are Massive Hypocrites on So-Called ‘Great Replacement Theory Newsweek
The mass shooting on May 14 in Buffalo, New York, was an atrocity. The killer will pay in this life and the next one for his crime. Unfortunately, however,
the Democratic Party, led by President Joe Biden and its allies in the corporate media, wasted no time weaponizing the slain victims.
The suspect left behind a 180-page document outlining a schizophrenic worldview. “On the political compass I fall in the mild-moderate authoritarian left category,” he wrote, while expressing qualified support for the “LGB (drop the t)” community. More importantly, it also described the so-called “great replacement,” the idea that, as conservative commentator Michael Knowles put it, “Democrats are using immigration policy to change the demographics of the United States in a way that would seem to help them politically.”
Biden and company latched onto that part of the murderer’s incoherent screed to pin the shooting on their political opponents, from Fox News to the GOP. In essence, Democrats argue that Republicans’ rhetoric and positions on immigration radicalized the shooter.
But there’s a small problem: Democrats and progressive activists, based on their own rhetoric over the years, subscribe to “replacement theory” more than anyone else. As vice president, Biden himself said that a “constant” and “unrelenting” stream of immigration would reduce Americans of “white European stock” to an “absolute minority,” and that this was “a source of our strength.”
Obviously, Democrats have changed their tune since Kennedy’s day, abandoning their historic political bloc of white working-class (oftentimes Catholic) voters for the so-called “coalition of the ascendant,” in which immigrants are key. This is not a conspiracy theory; it “happens to be the same demographic argument Ruy Teixiera made in The Emerging Democratic Majority,” as conservative commentator Ben Shapiro noted.
Teixeira published The Emerging Democratic Majority in 2004. That book argued, in his words, that Democrats should exploit “economic and demographic changes, including the growth of minority communities and cultural shifts among college graduates.” And simply put, the “growth” of those communities has been due to policies that have facilitated mass migration. (It is worth also noting that Teixeira has said Democratic activists “bowdleriz[ed]” his thesis as part of their efforts to coalition-build on “identity politics.")
In 2013, Politico concluded that amnesty for millions of illegal aliens “would produce an electoral bonanza for Democrats and cripple Republican prospects in many states they now win easily.” The following year, James G. Gimpel, a professor of government at the University of Maryland, College Park, published a study that found the “flow of legal immigrants into the country—29.5 million from 1980 to 2012—has remade and continues to remake the nation’s electorate in favor of the Democratic Party.”
Looking back on Trump’s election, New York Times opinion columnist Charles Blow reduced Trump’s victory to “white extinction anxiety.” He cheered that the 2020 Census showed “the browning of America, the shrinking of the white population and the explosion of the nonwhite.” Jennifer Rubin, an opinion columnist for The Washington Post, echoed Blow, tweeting that the census results heralded “a more diverse, more inclusive society. She added: “[T]his is fabulous news. [N]ow we need to prevent minority White rule.” If anyone is radicalizing people in this country, it’s those who have so ostentatiously declared themselves to be on the “right side of history.”
Whether and how much immigration is a good thing is a secondary question to the fact of Democrats' disingenuousness about so-called “great replacement theory”: “It’s not happening, and it’s good that it is.” Political scientist Michael Anton calls this the “celebration parallax,” which states: “[T]he same fact pattern is either true and glorious or false and scurrilous depending on who states it.”
Buffalo was a terrible tragedy, but it cannot be weaponized like this. No group has more openly discussed exploiting demographics and immigration for political gain than the Democratic Party, along with its liberal allies in the corporate media. So to their hypocrisy, Democrats now add an unfathomable level of gross cynicism.
This article tries to a thread a needle through fascism and racism like a blackout drunk man trying to piss in a urinal at 3am in a nightclub bathroom.
- We Don’t Need No (British) Education in China Bloomberg
These aren’t great days to be in the international school business in China. Teachers are leaving, and getting visas for replacements is difficult. Those that remain are contending not only with the threat or actuality of Covid lockdowns, but with increased scrutiny amid an atmosphere of tightened regulation and rising nationalism. After a decade of explosive growth, it’s difficult to be optimistic about the outlook.
Harrow Beijing being forced to drop the British name of its bilingual school is just the latest sign of the cooling climate for foreign education providers. That branding is an essential part of the value proposition for Chinese parents looking to set their children on track for admission to prestigious overseas universities. The 450-year-old Harrow is among the most famous of British schools, having educated seven U.K. prime ministers including the most celebrated of all, Winston Churchill (albeit he was reputedly a bad student while there). Lide, the bilingual school’s new name, doesn’t have quite the same resonance.
Westminster School, another ancient institution sited in the shadow of London’s Houses of Parliament, dropped plans in November for a 2,000-pupil bilingual academy in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, blaming the pandemic and changes in Chinese education policy. It had been working on the project, which envisaged the creation of six such schools, for four years. Mark Batten, chair of the school’s governing body, said in a letter then that it was “highly unfortunate” the landscape for developing such schools was now very different from 2017.
Parse those changed policies, and it seems mildly surprising that international-affiliated schools open to local students still exist at all. After all, President Xi Jinping consigned the $100 billion private-tutoring industry to near-oblivion last year as part of the government’s regulatory overhaul, with little apparent regard for the knock-on effects (one company alone fired 60,000 workers). The international tuition market is a fraction of that size, estimated to reach $11.9 billion last year by market researcher Daxue Consulting.
“Private schools shall adhere to the leadership of the Communist Party of China, adhere to the socialist direction of running schools, adhere to the public welfare nature of education, strengthen the education of socialist core values for the educated, and implement the fundamental task of building morality and cultivating people,” reads article 4 of “Implementing Regulations on the Private Education Promotion Law of China (2021).”
That sits a little uncomfortably alongside the concept of a Western liberal education, which emphasizes critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. Such attributes are one reason parents opt for an international school program over a local system that is traditionally top-down, teacher-led and often contains a punishing amount of rote learning. Clearly, some subjects won’t be up for debate at any stage, including the merits of the ruling party and its leader. Last year, the Ministry of Education said it would introduce Xi Jinping Thought into the national curriculum, to help teenagers “establish Marxist beliefs.” All schools, international or otherwise, delivering the compulsory first nine years of education to Chinese students are now required to teach this curriculum.
Private schools in the West are famously critical of the ideology of capitalism and the people that rule us, or if the system that produces such godawful politicians and journalists can be called ‘meritocratic’ in the slightest.
- Farewell, Chinese Tourist. We’ll Miss Each Other. Bloomberg
It’s been more than two years since countries started closing their borders to visitors to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Now China, facing its worst outbreak of the pandemic, is trying a new tactic.
Henceforth, “unnecessary” overseas travel by Chinese citizens will also be restricted, supposedly to keep residents from bringing the virus home from abroad. The policy, announced earlier this month, will also make it harder to get passports and other travel documents.
It’s possible that these are temporary measures to be lifted when China decides that Covid is no longer a threat. The regulations don’t say. But China’s recent decision to cancel international sporting events scheduled for mid-2023 implies that it won’t be next year. The government’s growing concern about talent and capital fleeing China suggests that the regulations, in some form, will probably last much longer and become a kind of new, restricted normal.
The consequences for China and the world, would be profound. Before the pandemic, tourism and travel accounted for over 10% of global gross domestic product, and no country sent more travelers abroad than China. A long-term decline would devastate businesses and economies that have come to depend upon them. A younger, curious Chinese generation raised on travel would be grounded, its expectations and living standards reduced.
On Chinese social media, news of the outbound restrictions has been greeted with pessimism and censorship. But even if the curbs eventually expire — say, at the end of 2023 — the damage will still be severe. International tourist destinations will face billions of dollars in losses while young Chinese, buffeted and depressed by endless lockdowns and shrinking horizons, will need to come to terms with another bleak year or two without the freedom of movement they had come to enjoy.
- BP Moves Ahead on Clean Hydrogen Projects With UAE Energy Firms Bloomberg
BP Plc is moving ahead with a plan to develop a clean hydrogen project with two of the UAE’s biggest energy firms as oil producers seek to develop alternative fuels that will help limit the emissions contributing to climate change.
BP will also looking at working with Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy developer, on another potential green hydrogen project at Teeside.
Could hydrogen ease Germany’s reliance on Russian gas? BBC
Climate crisis makes South Asia heatwaves ’30 times more likely’ Al Jazeera
Study says heatwaves in India and Pakistan should be ‘extraordinarily rare’ but current level of global warming makes them 30 times more likely.
Greenhouse Gases Trapped Nearly 50% More Heat In 2021 Than 1990 Forbes
Sanction countries not reducing carbon emissions – Duterte Inquirer
“Unless the industrialized countries would really help with all their might and commit to reduce the carbon emissions, we cannot do anything about it. Unless they come to their senses, they cannot expect the smaller nations with the least emissions to be forced [to follow] because they themselves refused to do so,” Duterte said, speaking in a mix of English and Filipino.
- How the US plans to plug 1 million toxic ‘orphan’ oil wells BusinessInsider
Nine million Americans live near an orphan oil and gas well.
These wells have no owner and were never sealed, so they’re leaking out tons of methane and deadly gases unchecked. Some are 150 years old and were lost with time. Finding and plugging them with cement can be costly, and most states don’t have the funds to do it.
Congress allotted $4.7 billion to address this problem in the recent infrastructure package, inspiring renewed hope.
Tensions rise as drought worsens and heat surges across California WaPo
China’s Wind Power Push Threatens US Strategic Interests Forbes
Government priorities feature prominently in discussions over the transition to renewable energy. Enthusiasm may abound for wind power, but if the United States is serious about its future, it must address critical supply chain disruptions and market-distorting foreign competition. Western companies will falter if these issues are not addressed while their state-supported Chinese competitors outperform them. The United States can expect major ramifications if Chinese companies further expand in this critical market.
Globally, wind turbine makers experienced heavy losses in Q1 of 2022 due to production costs and downward pressures on prices. GE Renewable Energy REGI, Siemens Gamesa, and Vestas, which control 70% of the market outside China, all reported disappointing first quarter results.
The industry’s profits began to fall in 2017 when governments embraced competitive bidding for contracts to adapt to new tariffs— leaving companies scrambling to reduce costs and squeezing profit margins. Profits have been hit further by high metal prices, import duties, and broad economic turmoil from the war in Ukraine. Disappointing profits continue despite worldwide interest in wind development, but low-profit margins are deterring future investment.
For Chinese companies, wind power is not just a growth market; it is a political project. China’s cities are notoriously polluted. For years, Beijing has been comprehensively investing in wind power, attempting to corner the market as they did in photo-voltaic panels.
Following President Xi Jinping’s calls for an “energy revolution” and a “battle against pollution,” the country’s energy sector has changed drastically. This transformation is not just one of domestic production; it is also one of foreign trade policy, investment, and influence.
China wants to become a Saudi Arabia of renewables. In March, Beijing stated that it aims to create 450 GW of solar and wind capacity in the Gobi and other desert regions. China is capitalizing on the vast landscapes of Tibet, Xinjiang, and Inner Mongolia in conjunction with offshore turbines for electricity generation. For comparison, President Biden has pledged to create 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030.
Disregarding profit and loss may get you someplace. China built more offshore wind turbines in 2021 than every other country did in the past five years. It installed 55.8 GW worth of turbines in 2021, beating its own 2020 record of 52 GW— a 19.4% increase. China now has 344 GW worth of wind turbine electrical generation. During the same period, the US grew by approximately 12.5 GW for a total capacity of 135 GW.
[…] Solar provinces and wind corridors may become as desirable as oil and gas fields. The realization of Chinese territorial ambitions in the South China Sea would mean an exclusive economic zone not only strategically valuable and rich in resources but also perfect for offshore wind farms. Uncontested control over the Fujian straits between China and Taiwan or victory in one of its many territorial disputes with India or Japan may be similarly impactful.
Direct territorial aggrandizement is complemented by Chinese soft power and investments. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) includes multiple energy, hydro, nuclear, coal, and solar power projects totaling 21,690 MW – new projects include the 50MW Cacho Wind Power Project. Wind infrastructure within the corridor will provide ample energy and leverage for Beijing. Beyond Pakistan, many worldwide examples could be enumerated, showcasing the vast scale of Chinese investment in global wind power. In only three years, Chinese turbine makers Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co. Ltd. and Ming Yang Smart Energy Group Ltd. more than doubled their exported wind capacity; included in those exports is Italy’s first offshore wind farm in the Mediterranean.
Declining US turbine manufacturing combined with a reliance on Chinese manufacturers for much of the world’s rare earth metals required to make solar panels pose a long-term challenge for American interests. To this end, the Biden administration must prioritize easing American companies’ burdens to expand and export by making impact statements less burdensome for emerging energy technologies while streamlining existing energy regulations. A comprehensive and globally conscious energy security strategy and regulatory reform are required.
American allies worldwide are invested in wind energy to diversify away from hydrocarbons, avoid dependence on authoritarian petro-states, and build a more sustainable future. Unfortunately, unless a comprehensive change is forthcoming, expect the Chinese storm to continue. The US must lead to avoid it.
- China Boosts Solar Investments OilPrice
Investments in solar power totaled some $4.3 billion for the period from January to April, the report said, citing figures from the National Energy Administration. This was 204 percent higher than investment in solar in the first four months of 2021 and represents more than half of China’s total solar investments for the first 11 months of 2021.
China is already the biggest renewable energy market in the world and is not slowing down. This year, plans are to add 220 GW of new power capacity in total—a record-high—of which a substantial amount will be renewables as China seeks to reach a peak for its emissions by 2030.
Meanwhile, Chinese solar panel makers are also set to benefit from the European Union’s new plan for the accelerated buildout of wind and solar as it seeks to reduce its energy dependence on Russia.
Rising Sea Levels Are Driving Faster Erosion Along Senegal’s Coast AllAfrica
Heatwaves Will Crush the World’s Energy Supply Bloomberg
War. Drought. Production shortages. Historically low inventories. And pandemic backlash. Energy markets across the planet have been put through the wringer over the past year, and consumers have suffered the consequences of soaring prices. And things are on track to get even worse.
Blame the heat. It’s already so hot in parts of South Asia that the air temperatures are blistering enough to cook raw salmon. Scientists are predicting scorching months ahead for the US, and power use will surge as homes and businesses crank up air conditioners.
The problem is that energy supplies are so fragile that there just won’t be enough to go around, and power cuts will put lives at risk when there are no fans or air conditioners to provide relief from the heat.
- Deloitte lays out 4 steps to keep the climate crisis from tanking the global economy over the next 50 years BusinessInsider
If the world stays on its current path, average temperatures will climb 3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. That will cost the global economy about $178 trillion in just the next 50 years, according to the study. Human costs including food scarcity, job losses, and reduced standards of living will also mount, the team said.
Conversely, pushing for net-zero emissions can set the stage for stronger economic growth in the coming decades. Such a pivot can grow the world economy by $43 trillion by 2070, according to the report.
The deadline for achieving that windfall is fast approaching. Deloitte’s rosier estimate hinges on the world decarbonizing its economy by 2050, a feat that would limit warming to about 1.5 degrees Celsius. But getting to net-zero emissions is no easy task, and Deloitte sees four phases as key to bringing about an environmentally sustainable future.
The first steps toward achieving net-zero will be more theoretical than concrete. The world needs to “set the stage” for decarbonization with policies and frameworks for a low-carbon future, the team said, adding that the first step will be focused on “bold climate plays.”
Reaching net-zero emissions will take some serious investment. Economies will have to pay up for clean energy, sustainable supply chains, and replacements for emissions-intensive industries if they’re to make the transition in time, according to the report.
The net-zero experiment will start to pay off in about 25 years, when investments in “structural economic adjustment” near completion, the team said.
25 years?!?! That’s like, 3 to 6 US presidents! Way too long a time frame!
Staying the path can, ideally, create a decarbonized economy, but the work won’t be all done then. Governments and companies will have to maintain “interconnected, low-carbon systems” to keep the green economy alive and growing, the team said. This world economy will expand “at an increasingly faster rate than its carbon-intensive alternative,” they added.
Well, it’s awesome that we can still keep capitalism and neoliberalism around so long as they exhibit behaviour that favours long-term profit over the short-term. Phew.
- UK-wide protests over £11bn legal threat to climate goals Bilaterals
Campaigners from Global Justice Now are protesting around the country today to demand the UK withdraws from the Energy Charter Treaty, an international agreement allowing fossil fuel companies to claim billions from governments when they take action against climate change.
I Thought I’d Mention
A record-breaking 100 million people have fled conflicts around the world, says United Nations EuroNews
92 Confirmed Cases of Monkeypox in 12 Countries TeleSUR