In which the Washington Post gets EXTREMELY angry about the fact that 100 trillion Ughyurs haven’t been killed in China.
- Erdogan Declares NATO Talks With Finland & Sweden Unsuccessful TeleSUR
Over the course of last week, negotiations were held concerning the candidatures of Sweden and Finland to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), in which a concensus was not reached, said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
- EU unity on Russia sanctions ‘crumbling’ – Germany RT
“After Russia’s attack on Ukraine, we saw what can happen when Europe stands united. With a view to the summit tomorrow, let’s hope it continues like this. But it is already starting to crumble and crumble again," Habeck told a news conference.
EU fails to agree on Russia oil embargo, to try again Monday before summit Reuters
Oil prices climb to over 2-month highs ahead of EU meeting on Russia sanctions Jakarta Post
- British Media ‘Whitewashing’ Ukrainian Neo-Nazis: UK Editor TeleSUR
Major British media outlets are providing one-sided coverage of the Ukrainian conflict and are wasting no efforts to clean the image of neo-Nazis in the country, Steve Sweeney, an international editor at London newspaper the Morning Star said in an interview with Russian outlet RT.
“You have the Times, the Telegraph, the Guardian, the BBC, Sky News, Channel 4 all really producing identical reports from Kiev and Lviv that don’t deviate at all from the government line, from the NATO line on what’s happening” in Ukraine’s conflict with Russia, he said.
Sweeney, recently back from Ukraine where he traveled to Lviv near the border with Poland, said he had to go for himself there because “the British media reporting [on Ukraine] is now incredibly restricted.”
“A great effort is being made to really whitewash or rehabilitate the [Neo-Nazi] Azov [military battalion] as either having no influence in Ukraine or being just simply misunderstood nationalists,” the journalist pointed out.
Sweeney went as far as to describe the BBC’s reporting on the Azov battalion as “a masterclass in fascism denial.” The Morning Star editor described what he saw in Lviv, saying “the city itself was essentially full of fascists and mercenaries, and people in military fatigues that are using civilian transport networks to enter Ukraine” from Poland.
- This age of inflation reveals the sickness ailing Britain’s economy: rentier capitalism Guardian
- Consequences of Russia’s possible default to be ‘largely symbolic’ TASS
The consequences of Russia’s possible technical default on its external debt are expected to be ‘largely symbolic’ against the backdrop of sanctions imposed on Moscow by Western countries, a US expert has told TASS.
“Major sovereign defaults tend to have some lasting consequences and economic difficulties. One thing that is different about this default: the sanctions have already isolated the Russian economy a great deal. So, in some ways, the implications might be largely symbolic. For instance, if the United States sanctions force Russia into an involuntary default, that would reflect a disparity in the sovereignty of the two governments, for sure,” the US expert added.
“The closest parallel I can see is with Argentina’s 2014 default. Argentina was blocked from making payments to bondholders by an injunction imposed by federal court in New York. The court’s injunctions, of course, were not the kind of sanctions facing Russia. But they had similar effect: Argentina, though willing to pay, was unable to pay,” he said.
- Russia explains how it will pay its debts RT
A scheme similar to the one Russia uses to get foreign payments for its natural gas will be used to service its sovereign debt, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov explained to a Russian business daily. Debtholders will need to open two accounts in a designated Russian bank to get what is due to them, Vedomosti reported on Sunday.
Russia used the West-controlled financial system for payments related to its debt, but access to it was restricted under the sanctions imposed in retaliation for attacking Ukraine. The US previously allowed payments to Russian Eurobond holders – first using its frozen foreign reserves and later proceeds from its foreign trade – but last week the US Treasury announced that the waiver won’t be extended.
Speaking to Vedomosti, the minister said that Russia intends to use a scheme like the one it demanded from buyers of its natural gas based in “unfriendly nations” to circumvent the US ban. The ministry previously said the debt would be paid in rubles.
“The eurobonds payment mechanism will work the same way, but in reverse,” Siluanov said, adding the ministry will soon finalize the arrangement and will be ready to present it to debtholders. The minister previously said Russia will have a mechanism ready to pay eurobond coupons by late July.
- Negative views of Russia mainly limited to western liberal democracies, poll shows Guardian
The sharp polarisation between mainly western liberal democracies and the rest of the world in perceptions of Russia has been laid bare in an annual global poll of attitudes towards democracy.
Within Europe, 55% of those surveyed for the Alliance for Democracies said they were in favour of cutting economic ties with Russia due to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, whereas in Asia there was a majority against, and in Latin America opinion was evenly split.
Negative views of Russia are largely confined to Europe and other liberal democracies. Positive views of Russia have been retained in China, Indonesia, Egypt, Vietnam, Algeria, Morocco, Malaysia, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Despite the mixed views about Russia, strong sympathy was shown for Ukraine. Most people surveyed in Asia, Latin America and Europe thought Nato, the US and the EU could do more to help Ukraine. In Latin America, 62% of respondents thought Nato has done too little and only 6% too much. In Europe 43% said Europe has done too little and 11% too much. In China, 34% said the US has done too much to help. Nearly half (46%) globally said that the European Union, United States and Nato were doing too little to assist Ukraine, while 11% said they are doing too much.
I wonder if the people being surveyed thought that “help” was actual aid rather than lethal aid.
- U.S., Russia Relations Over Ukraine Are So Bad Their Ambassadors Are Frozen Out WSJ
At the American Embassy in Moscow, Ambassador John Sullivan says tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions by the U.S. and Russia have reduced the staff so much that nearly half of those remaining are Marines and contract security personnel guarding the perimeter of the 12-acre compound in downtown Moscow. Today 130 are left working at the embassy, compared with 1,200 five years ago.
Neither ambassador says he has enough staff to conduct meaningful diplomacy. Even if they did, hostility between the two countries over the war has left their missions more isolated and disengaged than even during the lowest moments of the Cold War, according to U.S. diplomats.
- Russian gas embargo would dent Italy’s GDP RT
“A possible blocking of natural gas imports from Russia, Italy’s main supplier in recent years, could have a very strong impact on the already weakened Italian economy. Such a shock would cause a serious shortage of gas volumes for industry and services and an additional increase in energy costs,” the analysts behind the study state.
The study claims that Italy being deprived of Russian gas would knock an average of 2% per year off of GDP in 2022-2023.
- The Weakest Link in Germany’s Economic Engine Is Fraying Bloomberg
Germany’s energy security hinges on a utility whose bets on Russian energy are backfiring in the geopolitical standoff over President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Amid volatility on gas markets, Uniper SE — created six years ago to run aging fossil-fuel assets — has shown increasing signs of financial strain, raising the prospects that Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government and parent Fortum Oyj may have to extend the Dusseldorf-based company even more money.
The latest blow came earlier this month when S&P Global Ratings downgraded Uniper to the lowest investment grade, with a “negative” outlook. The energy company had already warned that such a move could prompt lenders to restrict access to credit and peers to demand more collateral to back trades.
- Germany agrees $107 bn fund to modernise military in face of Russia threat Iraqi News
Germany’s government and conservative opposition have agreed a deal that will release 100 billion euros ($107 billion) to modernise the army in the face of the Russian threat. An agreement was reached late Sunday to create a special fund for military procurement that will also allow Berlin to achieve NATO’s target of spending two percent of GDP on defence.
- Putin promises uninterrupted natural-gas supply to Serbia, which has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but has not joined in sanctions against it Business Insider
Asia and Oceania
- China, Russia Again Veto UN Statement on Myanmar Conflict The Diplomat
According to the Associated Press, which obtained a copy of the draft statement authored by the United Kingdom’s delegation, the statement expressed its concern at the violence and serious humanitarian situation in Myanmar, 16 months on from the February 2021 coup that overthrew the government led by Aung San Suu Kyi. It also expressed misgivings about the “limited progress” on the implementation of ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus peace plan.
The proposed statement stressed the central role of ASEAN “in facilitating a peaceful solution to the crisis” and reiterated council members’ calls to pursue dialogue “with all parties concerned” in the interests of the people of Myanmar, the AP reported.
“However, they expressed concern at the limited progress against the Five-Point Consensus over a year since it was agreed, and called for concrete actions to effectively and fully implement the consensus,” the proposed statement said.
According to other reports, the delegations from the U.K. and China blamed each other for the failure of the day-long negotiations. For the U.K. officials, Beijing was asking for “too much,” which led to the collapse of the negotiations, according to AFP. One of the sticking points for the Chinese delegation was the use of the word “limited” to refer to the progress on ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus, which it suggested replacing with the word “slow.” A spokeswoman told AFP that China’s proposed wording was “factual but less condescending,” adding that “it’s a real shame” that there was no agreement.
- 2 of the world’s top rice producers are reportedly in discussions about hiking prices, and it’s bad news for buyers BusinessInsider
Thailand and Vietnam — two of the world’s top rice producers — are talking about hiking prices.
Thailand’s government spokesperson said they are aiming to increase farmer income and bargaining power.
Thailand and Vietnam are the world’s second- and third-largest rice exporters after India.
- China To Provide South Pacific ‘What US, Australia Failed To Offer’ Popular Resistance
As China and South Pacific island countries are going to strengthen their cooperation to better serve local people’s demand for development, some voices from the West or Western media have started to distort the cooperation and hype the fear of a new “Cold War.” Chinese experts said the US and Australia always see the island countries as their puppets. So when China help them to become independent and prosperous, the West will definitely feel anxious.
Wang’s trip will cover cooperation and deals in many fields including economy, infrastructure, climate change, public health, policing and security. The reason why China’s presence has been welcomed by the regional countries is that China could promote the livelihood of the locals and activate the economic potentials of those islands, experts said. However, some Western media have focused only on the cooperation about security, and tried to exaggerate that the cooperation could spark “new Cold War” between China and the West in the region.
- China, Pacific islands unable to reach consensus on security pact Reuters
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Monday urged the Pacific region not to be “too anxious” about his country’s aims after a meeting in Fiji with his counterparts from 10 island nations was unable to agree to a sweeping trade and security communique.
After the meeting, which included Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Niue and Vanuatu, Wang said the nations had agreed on five areas of cooperation, but further discussions were needed to shape more consensus.
The five areas he listed included economic recovery after the COVID pandemic, and new centres for agriculture and disaster, but did not include security.
- China-Swiss trade talks stall over rights issues Bilaterals
Efforts by Switzerland to refresh its free trade agreement with China have stalled as Bern takes a more critical view of Beijing’s human rights record, Swiss newspapers reported on Sunday.
- China’s Covid Policy Is Costing It Foreign Investors’ Confidence Forbes
Shanghai over the weekend unveiled a 50-point plan to ease the economic fallout from its “zero-Covid” policy after lockdowns in the past several weeks in the global business hub created financial losses, disrupted global supply chains, and stirred concerns about a lack of transparency and predictability.
The impact on foreign businesses from the tumult isn’t likely about to go away anytime soon, according to Alan Beebe, a former president of the American Chamber of Commerce in China and long-time China hand who is now an external consultant at Bain & Co. based in Beijing.
“Confidence is being lost. China’s always been, relatively speaking, a very predictable business environment. You may not like all the policies, but at least it’s been predictable,” Beebe said in a Zoom interview. “Now, it’s very unpredictable, and businesses of course don’t like that. And this comes on top of last year’s crackdown in the Chinese private sector, for tech companies and education companies in particular.” New York-listed shares in Internet heavyweight Alibaba have lost 57% of their value in the past year, while those of education businesses such as TAL Education and New Oriental Education have each plunged 89% in the past 12 months.
- Vietnam’s Growing Strategic Partnerships with European Countries The Diplomat
Since launching the Doi Moi (or “renewal”) reforms in the late 1980s, Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party has significantly expanded the scope of its foreign relations. As of December 2021, Vietnam had established diplomatic ties with 189 countries: of which it has a “special relationship” with three countries; a “strategic partnership” with 17 countries; a “comprehensive partnership” with 13 countries. Of the 17 strategic partnerships, five are with European countries, including Spain, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Italy. Except for the U.K., the other four remain members of the European Union (EU). Their EU membership has both pros and cons for Vietnam’s relations with the bloc, but the advantages have generally outweighed the disadvantages.
- Indonesia, Switzerland sign bilateral investment treaty Bilaterals
- President Thongloun Says Laos Will Not Take Sides in Today’s Conflicts Laotian Times
President of Laos, Thongloun Sisoulith, said economic sanctions and embargoes “would not make the world a better place,” in response to Western nations and a few of their Asian allies.
- Japan Q2, full-year growth to be weaker than previously estimated Reuters
- Iran-Saudi Arabia Talks are Nearing Closure NEO
The negotiations between Iran and Saudi Arabia on security issues, which have been under way for more than a year, now appear to be making progress, and an agreement on the two countries’ restoration of diplomatic relations is in sight. But the Saudis’ insistence on linking the talks to the war in Yemen may have the effect of delaying an agreement. Following the successful completion of the most recent round of talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia, held in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, many observers believe that the prospects for a restoration of diplomatic relations between Tehran and Riyadh are much better than they were a few months ago.
Iran, Germany private sectors to expand cooperation TehranTimes
Iran Says Revenue From Energy Exports up 60% From Last Year Bloomberg
Iran’s top security official urges the world to stand up against U.S. unilateralism TehranTimes
- Qatar Exports Surge as Demand for Gas Climbs on Ukraine War Bloomberg
- Iraq Passes Law Making Ties With Israel Criminal Offence Popular Resistance
- The U.S. Is Losing a Strategic, Nuclear-Armed Ally to China Yahoo
In a rousing speech delivered on May 26, Pakistan’s recently ousted Prime Minister, Imran Khan, gave the ruling coalition until June 1 to hold fresh elections, which were originally scheduled for October next year. Speaking after a night of political turmoil, when thousands of his supporters had laid siege to capital Islamabad, the cricket-star-turned-politician doubled down on his claim that he had been removed from office through a U.S.-funded plot. “Our people will not accept under any circumstances an imported government foisted upon us by an American conspiracy,” he said.
Khan’s anti-American pitch marks the lowest ebb in U.S. relations with a country that used to be one of Washington’s strongest allies and a trusted Cold War partner. President Joe Biden concluded his first tour of Asia last week, with trips to Japan and South Korea to reinforce ties with old allies in the face of growing Chinese influence in the region—but with a former friend in another part of the continent, Washington has been steadily ceding ground to Beijing. Pakistan’s newly appointed foreign minister, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, has already been touring China and calling it his “second home.”
The decline of American influence in this South Asian country has been precipitated by the end of America’s Afghanistan campaign, which has brought long-simmering tensions between the two countries to the surface, with each side holding the other responsible for its failure. Pakistan contends that it was coerced into joining the “war on terror,” and accused former deputy secretary of state, Richard Armitage, of threatening to bomb the country “back to the stone age” if it refused to cooperate.
- Why The West Shouldn’t Expect More Oil From Saudi Arabia OilPrice
Seven years ago, the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States—and by extension with Europe—was pretty cordial. Sure, some rights activists did have a problem with Saudi Arabia’s actions in Yemen, but governments were happy enough to continue doing business with Riyadh.
Then the Biden administration came into office, and they decided to put it bluntly to their partners in the Middle East: the current host of the White House did not like the war in Yemen and was not going to support it. With the Yemeni Houthis regularly targeting Saudi sites, this could not have sat well with the decision-makers in Riyadh. The Saudi Crown Prince made that abundantly clear in his first interview for a Western media, The Atlantic.
In the context of deteriorating bilateral relations, it could hardly be a surprise that Riyadh repeatedly refused to increase its oil production after first being asked and then being threatened by President Biden to boost-or-else. Apparently, the or-else part was never there to begin with.
Europe has not been the smartest tool in the shed either. After years of championing wind, solar, and hydrogen, arguing that oil is on its way out, and discouraging investments in new oil and gas exploration, it is hardly a surprise that countries like Saudi Arabia are itching to teach it a lesson.
- Nigeria’s Crude Oil Will Soon Become Very Useless, Says Rector AllAfrica
The Rector of the Ogun State Institute of Technology, Igbesa, Engr. Olufunke Akinkurolere, says Nigeria’s crude oil would soon dry up and become “very useless,” warning the country to reduce its over dependence on finite and non-renewable resources.
Akinkurolere submitted that the crude oil drilling or extraction is like mining, saying whatever is being mined would be exhausted one day.
The Rector expressed concerns that even if the oil does not dry up, it would soon become “very useless” owing to the fact that many developed nations are now finding alternative sources of energy to power cars and generate electricity.
- Sudan lifts state of emergency AllAfrica
Sudan’s leading general lifted, Sunday, a state of emergency that was imposed in the country following the October coup he led. The country experienced over the weekend yet another day of protest against the military coup.
- Chinese Mining Billionaire To Invest $300 Million In Zimbabwe Lithium Project Forbes
Prospect Lithium Zimbabwe, the holding company of the Arcadia project, will use the investment to rapidly develop the lithium mine and construct a plant with a processing capacity of 4.5 million tonnes of ore and a production capacity of 400,00 tonnes of lithium concentrate per year.
During the construction period, Prospect Lithium Zimbabwe will employ 600 local workers, which will be increased to 900 people once production begins. The Arcadia project is slated for commencing delivery of its first batch of production next year.
- US Farmland Is a Hot Commodity. That’s Not Great for Farms. Bloomberg
Across the Midwest, values are up 23% from a year ago, fueled by surging commodity prices. Rents on Iowa farmland have surged 10.22% so far in 2022. And more opportunity is on the way. More than 40% of US farmland is owned by people older than 65, so hundreds of millions of their acres will transfer to new owners in the coming years.
That’s good news for real estate brokers, but a challenge to would-be farmers, who consistently cite the high cost of land as their greatest barrier to entry. That’s not just a rural problem. During the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, supermarket shelves went empty due in part due to farm-industry consolidation. Smaller, innovative and more productive farmers are a means of counteracting the trends that led to those shortages. But to do it, they need land.
The article briefly discusses history, plus big vs small farmers, then:
To encourage [young farmers], the administration of President Joe Biden is proposing to begin scoring banks on how well they extend credit to new and beginning farmers. Its rule, which is in the midst of a 60-day comment period, would encourage lending. It should be adopted. Meanwhile, Congress should consider measures that will encourage retiring farmers to sell their land to new ones. One model can be found in Ohio, which recently created a program to provide tax credits to farmers who sell or lease land to young farmers under certain conditions.
None of these measures could produce an immediate uptick in land ownership by younger and beginning farmers facing record land prices. But over time, they could help grow the next generation of resilient and productive US farmers.
- Robot orders increase 40% in first quarter as desperate employers seek relief from labor shortages, report says Business Insider
As employers around the country seek ways to fill labor gaps, many are increasingly turning to the assistance of automated technology and robots.
While pivoting to automation is certainly not a new phenomenon, it’s become a salve for companies struggling to meet demand in a recent tight market, the Wall Street Journal reported. Robot orders increased 40% in the first quarter of 2022, and were up 21% overall in 2021, according to the Association for Advancing Automation, driving the industry to an estimated value of $1.6 billion.
Robots are providing at least a temporary solution for businesses confronted by difficulty hiring in the tightest job market since World War II, marred by the pandemic, record-high quitting rates, and vast economic turmoil.
- Trump: Ruble Will Remain Strong Due To Expensive Russian Oil TeleSUR
“The ruble is at an all-time high because oil prices are at an all-time high,” the former president said at a rally of his supporters in the western state of Wyoming. He then added that to stop the crisis in Ukraine it is necessary to “bring prices down to 30 or 40 dollars a barrel”.
According to Trump, Russia is amassing a fortune by selling oil at high prices and charging it in rubles. “Well, there you go, you will be left with no dollars, you will be left with nothing,” he said.
Trump took credit for achieving energy independence and affirmed that if he had remained in power, the United States would surpass Russia and Saudi Arabia in terms of oil production volumes and Venezuela would not be asked for help.
“We could end up in World War III with the stupid things we say and do,” Trump declared. This war, he warned, “would be like no other war” because of “modernized and brand new nuclear weapons.”
The former president described what is happening in Ukraine as “a terrible thing.” “We have to go back to the [negotiating] table. It would never have happened in my administration,” he affirmed.
- Mexico wants a trade agreement with South Korea Bilaterals
- At least 44 dead, 56 missing in Brazil downpours Iraqi News
- Colombia presidential election: leftist former guerrilla and populist outsider head to runoff Guardian
Colombia’s election will go to a runoff between two opposing anti-establishment candidates on 19 June after voters on Sunday were unable to pick a president outright.
Gustavo Petro, a leftist former guerrilla and onetime mayor of Bogotá, won the largest share of the vote, with 40%, but fell short of the 50% required to win outright and prevent a second round. Petro’s rival in the runoff will be Rodolfo Hernández, a business magnate and social media firebrand, who is viewed as a conservative, populist outsider.
The price of key battery metals used in electric vehicle production is expected to fall in coming years Business Insider
Global recession? Not yet, economists say — but brace for high prices, low growth CNBC
As the war in Ukraine and pandemic disruptions continue to wreak havoc on supply chains, stagflation is here to stay — marked by low growth and high inflation “for at least the next 12 months,” Simon Baptist, global chief economist at the Economist Intelligence Unit.
The Ukraine War
- Intelslava telegram:
There have been reports of a complete retreat of the Armed Forces of Ukraine from Severodonetsk towards Lysichansk.
Judging by the video from the city, the Allied forces at least completely cleared all the eastern outskirts of the settlement up to Kosmonavtov Street.
The Gauleiter of the territories of the Lugansk People’s Republic occupied by the Armed Forces of Ukraine confirmed that the fighting is taking place directly in the center of Severodonetsk. Russian troops, after occupying a number of key facilities on the northern outskirts of the city, moved forward.
The Artemovsk-Lysichansk supply route has actually been cut off - due to tight fire control, it is practically impossible to use it in the interests of supplying troops - vehicles and equipment are simply destroyed on the route.
It is reported that the Mi-6 transmitted intelligence to the office of the President and the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, according to which Russian troops are regrouping forces to prepare for the assault on Seversk and Berestovoe in order to close the encirclement of the Severodonetsk grouping of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Poland has stopped supplying fuel to Ukraine for free
- ASB telegram:
201 corpses of Ukrainian armed forces found after their attempted counter offensive on Kherson
Large numbers of Russian soldiers are moving from Kursk, Russia— into the border with Ukraine’s Sumy
- Mine clearance effort in LPR city of Severodonetsk 70% complete TASS
“For the time being, about 70% of the city’s residential areas have been cleared from mines and explosives. The city will be fully cleared in a day or two. A humanitarian cargo from the Hero of Russia Akhmad-Khadzhi Kadyrov Regional Public Foundation will be sent here,” Kadyrov wrote.
- Blast hits Russian-controlled city in Ukraine RT
A powerful explosion was reported on Monday morning in Melitopol, a Russian-controlled city in Ukraine’s Zaporozhye Region. It is believed to have been caused by a car bomb. The local administration blamed the incident on Ukrainian “saboteurs,” who they claimed had targeted aid workers in what they consider to have been a terrorist attack.
The blast went off in the center of the city at around 7:40am local time. According to preliminary reports, two people were injured.
- Sergey Poletaev: What sort of losses can Ukraine tolerate before it’s forced to seek a peace deal with Russia? RT
How many people is Ukraine prepared to lose? Politically, it appears, the answer is quite a lot. At this point, the total number of troops killed, injured or captured is estimated at tens of thousands, and the country’s public opinion accepts these figures for now. Yes, the losses are high, but they are successfully holding back “the orcs,” as Russian troops are dubbed in Kiev’s propaganda. However, these are the best, most experienced and most motivated fighters, and – at least in the coming months – it will be hard to replace them. In addition, the defensive tactics of the Armed Forces of Ukraine work well in the fortified positions that have been created in the Donbass in recent years. How untrained recruits will perform outside of such positions and against an army experienced in assault operations, only the future will show.
How many weapons is Ukraine prepared to lose? On the face of it, given Kiev seems to have a ‘cheat code’ for an endless supply of ammunition and guns from the West, this issue is irrelevant. But the backbone of an army, especially a defending army, is not hipster drones or single, obsolete armored vehicles, but artillery: guns, howitzers, MLRS, and mortars. With the current scale of combat operations, thousands or tens of thousands, and millions of pieces of ammunition for them are needed.
Yes, the USSR accumulated weapons for a couple of world wars, and the lion’s share of these weapons was kept in Ukraine and now serves Kiev’s needs. Yes, military aid is brought in from around the world, but the flow is less than the losses at the front. As the Soviet stockpile is exhausted, the West will face the task of fully supplying Ukraine with military supplies on a scale not seen in decades; it will have to supply a battle-hardened but severely depleted army with a significant percentage of untrained recruits, which means even more casualties and the need for even greater supplies.
- Lithuania crowdfunds $5.4 million to buy Ukraine a feared Bayraktar combat drone Business Insider
“This is the first case in history when ordinary people raise money to buy something like a Bayraktar,” he said. “It is unprecedented, it is unbelievable.”
It was not immediately clear how the funds would be used to buy the drone or how soon one could be deployed in Ukraine.
Climate and Space
- United Nations Warns Of ‘Total Societal Collapse’ Popular Resistance
When the United Nations published its 2022 ‘Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction’ (GAR2022) in May, the world’s attention was on its grim verdict that the world was experiencing an accelerating trend of natural disasters and economic crises. But not a single media outlet picked up the biggest issue: the increasing probability of civilizational collapse.
Buried in the report, which was endorsed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, is the finding that escalating synergies between disasters, economic vulnerabilities and ecosystem failures are escalating the risk of a “global collapse” scenario.
This stark conclusion appears to be the first time that the UN has issued a flagship global report finding that existing global policies are accelerating toward the collapse of human civilization. Yet somehow this urgent warning has remained unreported until now.
- Hydrogen Or Electric: Why Not Both? OilPrice
Renault has just announced its first hydrogen-electric hybrid concept car, using hydrogen to push its EV models further. While automakers continue to argue over which technology will power the future of transport – electric batteries or hydrogen fuel cells – Renault is combining the two to offer an alternative option. Unlike a traditional hybrid car, which uses fossil fuels to power the vehicle, a hydrogen-electric hybrid incorporates a hydrogen fuel cell into the design. This means that the vehicle can run off electricity or hydrogen fuel, much in same the way as a traditional hybrid.
In the case of Renault, its Scenic Vision has a hydrogen engine, electric motor, battery, fuel cell and a hydrogen tank. The tank weighs around 2.5kg and takes approximately five minutes to fill. The battery component is expected to be recyclable. The addition of a hydrogen fuel cell could significantly increase the range of the EV, to around 800 km, allowing drivers to switch to fuel on longer journeys.
- In a Bid to Save Its Coal Industry, Wyoming Has Become a Test Case for Carbon Capture, but Utilities are Balking at the Pricetag InsideClimateNews
Wyoming produces 40 percent of the nation’s coal, and relies on fossil fuels to generate nearly 60 percent of state and local revenues. The goal has been to find a way for the coal industry to thrive even as the nation reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
But two years later, Wyoming may be no closer to willing this coal-friendly climate solution into being. In March, the utilities covered by the law submitted filings to regulators saying that carbon capture was not economically feasible. Retrofitting their plants would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, at the least, they said, forcing them to raise customers’ electricity bills.
Beyond that, the filings said operating carbon capture equipment could spike water use at the coal plants and increase emissions of some air pollutants, as well as solid and liquid waste.
Disaster upon disaster: Wildfires are contaminating the West’s depleting water with ashy sludge CNN
U.S. EPA approves emergency fuel waiver in Texas after refinery outage Reuters
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an emergency air-quality waiver through June 6 to boost supplies of gasoline in East Texas after production was cut at a regional refinery.
The waiver allows the sale in 34 Texas counties of higher-volatility, winter-grade gasoline. The Biden administration has released emergency oil stocks and is considering lifting smog rules nationwide to combat rising fuel prices.
Waivers typically are issued after hurricanes or other disasters that broadly cut fuel supplies and not for outages at a single refinery as in the Texas case.
- Faster, cleaner, greener: What lies ahead for the world’s railways CNN
Faster, cleaner, greener and packed with advanced technology; rail is the only transport mode currently well placed to provide the backbone of our future mobility needs.
But, while a few niche projects promise ultra high-speed travel, much of the industry is focused on keeping the world’s increasingly urbanized population moving while simultaneously limiting the effects of climate change.
According to a 2019 report by engineering consultant Arup, the global population is expected to reach around 9.5 billion by 2050, 75% of whom will live in cities.
The company estimates that the global urban population is growing at two people per second, creating 172,800 new city-dwellers every day. While populations decline in some regions of the world, such as parts of Europe and Japan, an estimated 90% of population growth is expected to occur in the cities and megacities of the developing world.
Sleek new “bullet trains” grab headlines as the network of lines across Europe and Asia continues to grow, with new lines planned or underway in countries such as France, Germany, Spain, India, Japan and, on a much bigger scale, in China, where the high-speed network will reach 50,000 kilometers by 2025.
When its High Speed 2 (HS2) route – controversial because of budget overspends and route through sensitive landscapes – is complete in the early-2030s, England will have the world’s fastest conventional trains, operating in regular service at 225 mph, but capable of 250mph (400kph).
Now, the established high-speed heavyweights in Japan and China are looking beyond “steel-on-steel” technology to develop trains capable of up to 373mph (600kph).
The concept of superfast trains propelled along dedicated tracks using magnetic levitation (maglev) has been touted as “the future of travel” for more than 50 years, but apart from a couple of experimental lines and a Chinese route linking Shanghai city center with its airport, it has remained largely theoretical.
Not for much longer. Japan is investing nine trillion yen ($72 billion) in the Chuo Shinkansen project; the culmination of more than 40 years of maglev development. The 178-mile line will link Tokyo and Nagoya in just 40 minutes and should eventually extend to Osaka, reducing the 311-mile journey from the capital to just 67 minutes.
Delays and enormous cost increases have led many to question to economic value of the project – factors that have not gone unnoticed elsewhere in the world.
No such difficulties are likely in China, which is also building maglev lines as an alternative to short-haul air travel and to provide lightning-fast trips across its densely populated city regions.
China’s plan is to create “three-hour transportation circles” around its major cities, developing groups of cities into economic powerhouses.
In the south of the world’s most populous country, the Pearl River Delta region encompassing Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Shenzhen is already home to more than 120 million people.
Chinese planners hope to merge nine cities in the region to create a 26,000 square kilometer urban sprawl 26 times larger than Greater London.
Around $240 billion will be spent integrating transport, energy, water and telecommunications networks, including the development of new high-speed underground metros traveling at up to 160kph (100mph) and dozens more metro, tram and train routes.
Maglev routes are envisaged for the Shanghai-Hangzhou and Chengdu-Chongqing routes, with many others likely if they prove successful.
Dipshittery and Cope
Buckle in for a three-parter of delicious, juicy, ripe copium from WaPo about the UN visit to China.
- U.N. human rights chief disappoints Uyghur advocates on visit to China WaPo
In a surprising turn of events, weapons of mass destruction (WMD) investigator David Kelly did not find these weapons after a thorough investigation in Iraq despite long-standing claims by Western countries that the country did possess them, and–
Ah. Shit. Sorry, got the wrong article. Okay, here we go:
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet ended a long-awaited trip to China with cautious criticism of the country’s crackdown in the Xinjiang region, balanced with praise for Chinese authorities, in what rights advocates called a propaganda win for Beijing.
Bachelet said she encouraged Beijing to review its “counterterrorism” policies to ensure that they complied with international human rights standards and that they were not applied in an arbitrary and discriminatory way. “I have heard you,” she said, regarding those who made appeals to her about specific human rights cases.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken raised concerns Saturday about China’s “efforts to restrict and manipulate her visit,” and he said Bachelet was unable to access individuals who were part of labor transfer programs from Xinjiang to other parts of the country.
“We are further troubled by reports that residents of Xinjiang were warned not to complain or speak openly about conditions in the region, that no insight was provided into the whereabouts of hundreds of missing Uyghurs,” Blinken said in a statement.
- How the U.N. became a tool of China’s genocide denial propaganda WaPo
Before U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet made her long-awaited tip to China last week, the Biden administration and the human rights community urged her not to let Beijing turn the visit into a propaganda win for the Chinese Communist Party. But Bachelet ignored those warnings. Her trip ended up helping China deny its genocide against Uyghur Muslims and other repressive policies, harming the cause of human rights accountability in the process.
On Saturday, Bachelet completed her six-day trip to China, the first in 17 years by someone with her title, with a statement to the media that summed up a visit many observers view as a tragic failure. As Human Rights Watch U.N. director Louis Charbonneau rightly observed, she grotesquely praised China’s “tremendous achievements” in human rights by pointing to poverty alleviation — which is exactly how Beijing defines human rights these days. The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Bachelet is supposed to be following, calls for a higher standard.
I’m reminded of that section in Blackshirts and Reds, where Parenti mentions somebody, who is meant to be a socialist, who mockingly talks about the little children that were fed under communism in the USSR.
After a two-day visit to the Xinjiang region, Bachelet failed to clearly condemn the government’s campaign of repression there, which the Uyghur community and two successive U.S. administrations have said amounts to genocide. She acquiesced to Beijing’s framing of the issue there as “counterterrorism and radicalization.” She also reported without skepticism that Chinese officials in Xinjiang claim to have closed the “reeducation centers” where an estimated 2 million innocent people have been imprisoned.
“She has failed her mandate,” Dolkun Isa, the president of World Uyghur Congress, said Saturday. “The Uyghur community deserves accountability more than ever.”
Perhaps Bachelet was too busy hobnobbing with Chinese officials to notice that a huge cache of leaked documents from the Xinjiang police files were released last week. They show the faces of thousands of prisoners thrown into the camps for such “crimes” as traveling abroad, studying Islam or growing a beard. Critics say that Bachelet allowed the Chinese authorities to stage-manage her trip so thoroughly that Beijing will be able to use it to deflect responsibility for its atrocities.
“Nothing that we’ve seen from the high commissioner’s trip to China dispels our worry that this will be used as a massive propaganda victory for the Chinese government,” Charbonneau told me in an interview. “Bachelet needs to work to put an end to, and not enable, the perception that the U.N. is letting China get away with massive abuses at no cost.”
There were plenty of other signs Bachelet was heading into a debacle. Chinese authorities compelled her advance team to quarantine for 21 days upon arriving in Beijing, relegating their meetings during that time to video calls. Bachelet was not allowed to travel with any media, just her Chinese government handlers. She later claimed that her meetings in Xinjiang were “unsupervised,” without acknowledging that even her nongovernment interlocutors were handpicked by the authorities and were likely heavily pressured and surveilled.
Leaders in Beijing are now surely more confident than ever they can commit mass atrocities without fearing significant costs imposed by the international community. When the history books are written about the world’s failure to stop the Uyghur genocide, Bachelet’s trip will go down as one of many shameful episodes.
And what will those history books say about America’s complicity in the Palestinian genocide?
- Truth emerges about Chinese repression of Uyghurs — no thanks to the U.N. WaPo
A consortium of U.S., European and Japanese media organizations has published an extraordinary cache of leaked photographs and documents from inside China’s vast system of “reeducation” internment centers, making plain beyond any doubt that millions of Muslim Uyghurs — including children and elderly people — have been oppressed since Beijing launched its program, officially labeled genocide by the United States, in 2017. The Xinjiang Police Files, as the cache is known, prove that, in a single Xinjiang county, 22,762 residents, more than 12 percent of the adult population, were interned in a camp or prison during 2017 and 2018. The files include the text of a speech in which the official in charge of the crackdown mentions President Xi Jinping’s detailed knowledge of the repression, and his orders to continue it. This devastating material, especially the images of clearly bewildered, even tearful, detainees, “blows apart the Chinese propaganda veneer,” as Adrian Zenz, a scholar at the U.S.-based Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation who received, authenticated and collated the material, told the BBC.
Yet Beijing insists on its coverup, with the Chinese Embassy in Washington declaring, in response to the Xinjiang Police Files revelations, that the critics are disseminating “lies and disinformation.” Which brings us to the just-completed six-day visit to China by Michelle Bachelet, the former president of Chile and current U.N. high commissioner for human rights. Billed as the first such trip to China by an occupant of her office since 2005, it comes roughly three years since Ms. Bachelet first proposed a fact-finding mission related to the Uyghurs and six months since her office announced it was about to release a highly critical report on their plight. That report has still not been published, however. The timing of her visit, permission for which Beijing announced in March, creates an appearance that the document was withheld in return for access to China for Ms. Bachelet.
If so, it wasn’t worth it. It’s absurd on its face to suppose that Ms. Bachelet could conduct any sort of serious inquiry while being guided through what the Chinese foreign ministry itself has described as a “closed loop” of contacts, ostensibly necessitated by the covid-19 pandemic. What was highly foreseeable were attempts by Beijing to exploit a distinguished U.N. envoy’s presence for propaganda purposes. Mr. Xi lectured the visitor in their one meeting — on Wednesday, via video link. “There is no need for ‘preachers’ to boss around other countries, still less should they politicize the issue, practice double standards or use it as an excuse to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs,” he told her. Adding injury to this insult, the official Xinhua News Agency reported that Ms. Bachelet had told Mr. Xi that she “admire[d]” China’s efforts to protect human rights, an apparent fabrication that Ms. Bachelet was obliged to deny hours later.
The State Department labeled Ms. Bachelet’s trip “a mistake,” which is an understatement. Heavily influenced by China, a permanent member of the Security Council, the United Nations is poorly positioned to hold the communist dictatorship accountable. That takes people such as the courageous — and necessarily anonymous — whistleblower in China who leaked the Xinjiang Police Files, and Mr. Zenz, who made sure that they would be available for all the world to see.
- What America Needs Is a Liberalism That Builds NYT, by Ezra Klein.
Early in Joe Biden’s presidency, Felicia Wong, the president of the liberal Roosevelt Institute, told me that Biden was badly misunderstood. He’s been in national politics for decades, and so people look at him and “default to a kind of old understanding of what Democrats stand for, this idea that Democrats are tax-and-spend liberals.” Wong thought he wanted more: “What Biden is trying to push is much more about actually remaking our economy, so that it does different things, and it actually regularly produces different outcomes.”
I think Wong was right about what Biden, or at least the Biden administration, wanted. But its execution has lagged its vision. And the reason for this is uncomfortable for Democrats. You can’t transform the economy without first transforming the government.
In April, Brian Deese, the director of Biden’s National Economic Council, gave an important speech on the need for “a modern American industrial strategy.” This was a salvo in a debate most Americans would probably be puzzled to know Democrats are having. Industrial strategy is the idea that a country should chart a path to productive capacity beyond what the market would, on its own, support. It is the belief that there should be some politics in our economics, some vision of what we are trying to make beyond what financial markets reward.
Trying to build clean energy infrastructure is a form of industrial strategy. So is investing in domestic supply chains for vaccines and masks and microchips. For decades, the idea has been disreputable, even among Democrats. You don’t want government “picking winners and losers,” as the adage goes.
The argument, basically, is this: When governments bet on technologies, or companies, they typically bet wrong. Markets are more efficient, more adaptable, less corrupt. And so governments should, where possible, get out of the market’s way. The government’s proper role is after the market has done its work, shifting money from those who have it to those who need it. Put simply, markets create, governments tax, and politicians spend.
It’s remarkable, the assumptions that lurk beneath what’s taken for common sense in Washington. Consider the phrase “winners and losers.” Winners at what? Losers how? Markets manage such questions through profits and losses, valuations and bankruptcies. But societies have richer, more complex goals. To criticize markets for failing to achieve them is like berating a toaster because it never produces an oil painting. That’s not its job.
So I won’t say markets failed. We failed. Growth slowed, inequality widened, the climate crisis kept getting worse, deindustrialization wrecked communities, the pandemic proved America’s supply chains fragile, China became more authoritarian rather than more democratic and then Vladimir Putin’s war revealed the folly of relying on countries we cannot trust for goods we desperately need.
I’m assuming he’s talking about capitalist markets here, not the general concept. If so: how on earth can you detach the profit-seeking incentive of industrial capitalists to shift factories to places with lower labor costs - that is, the cause of deindustrialization, which has fundamental roots in trying to raise the rate of profit for another couple decades before its inevitable decline continues - from the markets?
No one considers this success. Deese, in his speech to the Economic Club of New York., declared the debate over: “The question should move from ‘Why should we pursue an industrial strategy?’ to ‘How do we pursue one successfully?’”
I am unabashedly sympathetic to this vision. In a series of columns over the last year, I’ve argued that we need a liberalism that builds. Scratch the failures of modern Democratic governance, particularly in blue states, and you’ll typically find that the market didn’t provide what we needed, and government either didn’t step in, or made the problem worse through neglect or overregulation.
Blah blah blah, more word salad, let’s just skip to the end:
I’ve spent most of my adult life trawling think tank reports to better understand how to solve problems. When I go looking for ideas on how to build state capacity on the left, I don’t find much. There’s nothing like the depth of research, thought and energy that goes into imagining health and climate and education policy. But those health, climate and education plans depend, crucially, on a state capable of designing and executing policy effectively. This is true at the federal level, and it is even truer, and harder, at the state and local level.
The problem might be that you’re only going through think tank reports. “Man, I’m so fucking annoyed, I’ve been searching for a way to create the state capacity that other governments across the world have that can actually affect change, and I’ve got a stack of books as tall as I am from the American Institute Definitely Not Run By Billionaires Wanting To Exploit The System And Populace As Much As Possible Before We Retreat To Our Bunkers In New Zealand, Oh Shit We Forgot To Add Buzzwords, Uh, Freedom and Justice, and they offer no solutions at all on how to repair our government!"
So this is what I have become certain of: Democrats spend too much time and energy imagining the policies that a capable government could execute and not nearly enough time imagining how to make a government capable of executing them. It is not only markets that have failed.
- Green Energy Complicates the Taliban’s New Battle Against Opium NYT
For years, opium has been the monster too big to slay. One Afghan government after another has pledged to stamp out opium production and trafficking, only to prove unable to resist billions of dollars in illicit profits.
The Taliban government of the 1990s ultimately managed to reduce opium cultivation. But after the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, opium taxes and smuggling helped fuel the Taliban’s own 20-year insurgency.
That’s certainly one interpretation of events.
Now, with the Taliban back in power, the insurgents turned politicians are again struggling to eradicate opium cultivation and the rampant addiction problem that has come with it. The Taliban announced on April 3 that poppy cultivation had been outlawed, with violators to be punished under Shariah law.
But stamping out opium will be more difficult than ever because of a shift by poppy farmers to green energy.
Water pumps powered by cheap and highly efficient solar panels are able to drill deep down into rapidly dwindling desert aquifers. The solar panels have helped generate bumper opium harvests year after year since farmers in southern Afghanistan’s poppy-growing belt began installing them around 2014.
Now, solar power is a defining feature of southern Afghan life. Tiny solar panels power light bulbs in mud huts, and solar-driven pumps irrigate cash crops like wheat and pomegranates, as well as subsistence farmers’ vegetable plots.
The Taliban, for their part, have condemned opium as anti-Islamic, as Afghanistan’s poppy crop sustains addicts in Europe and the Middle East, as well as a huge number inside Afghanistan. But given their own deep ties to opium smuggling during the insurgency, Taliban leaders are walking a fine line between hypocrisy and holiness.
A widespread crackdown would exacerbate Afghanistan’s already devastating postwar economic collapse and antagonize the Taliban’s core constituency among Pashtun farmers, impoverishing families that rely on the crop to be able to afford food. Eradication would require not only seizing farmers’ solar panels, but also confronting Taliban commanders complicit in the trade — at a time when the movement is facing internal dissatisfaction as the money dries up.
It would be so fucked up if, during this difficult transition for the Afghan government, if the United States had taken a shitload of money from them for no good reason. Like, can you imagine how bad things would be if that exact thing had happened? Surely, the US would complicit in the exacerbation of poverty there.
The opium ban comes amid catastrophic levels of hunger, poverty and drought. The United Nations estimates that 23 million Afghans are suffering acute food deprivation.
Can’t they now grow food in the poppy fields rather than using it as a cash crop, thus alleviating the hunger?
An economy once propped up by Western aid has collapsed under sanctions and freezing of Afghan government funds abroad.
“Okay, fine, we did steal their money. though, of course, this statement and the previous one are entirely unrelated."
Taliban forces this spring seemed unable or uninterested in initiating a swift eradication campaign. Taliban patrols drove leisurely past bountiful opium fields where the spring crop was being harvested. Workers flanked by bright solar panel arrays used curved knives to scrape sticky opium paste from poppy bulbs.
The government has indicated that it will allow the spring harvest because it was already underway. But the Taliban have vowed to crack down on farmers who try to cultivate any new crops.
As the United States did during its long presence in Afghanistan, the Taliban have suggested shifting to alternative crops like wheat, pomegranates, cumin and almonds. But even if poppy growing were eliminated, alternative crops would still be at risk because desert aquifers are being rapidly depleted.
Dr. Mansfield said that determining how long the aquifers could continue to supply water was uncharted territory because no one had been able to conduct a rigorous scientific study of the desert groundwater.
Ah, okay, couldn’t figure out how much water this country has in the occupation timeframe, but they could figure out that Afghanistan sits on $1 trillion in minerals. Y’know, 23 million people or some rocks… easy choice.
Anyway, article continues:
When farmers used diesel-powered pumps, groundwater levels dropped about three meters a year, Mr. Armani said. But since solar panels arrived, they have sometimes sunk up to nine meters annually. His well is 30 meters deep, he said, but his neighbor’s well across the river is 60 meters deep. “We have to continue to dig our wells deeper and deeper,” Mr. Armani said.
Many farmers in Arghandab, a district in Kandahar famous for its pomegranates, have chopped down pomegranate trees killed by drought or fighting. They planted poppies instead.
Even when prices are high, many poppy farmers say, they earn only about $2 a day for each family member. They are at the very bottom of a narcotic trafficking system in which profits increase exponentially from growers to middlemen to processing labs to major cross-border traffickers.
Ehsanullah Shakir, 31, an opium smuggler in Helmand Province, said Taliban enforcement of the ban this year had been uneven so far. Some farmers had planted almonds, cumin or basil after harvesting their spring poppies, he said, but others had ignored the ban and planted poppies for a second harvest. And opium markets continue to operate as usual in many areas, Mr. Shakir said.
In the Maiwand District of Kandahar, Nek Nazar, 41, worked to install a new water pump at the edge of his poppy field. He began growing poppies five years ago, he said, because they produced far more income than the wheat he had grown. Mr. Nazar spoke as though the crop shift had been preordained and was not a matter of choice. For him, it was either plant poppies or starve. “Growing poppies is the only option to survive right now,” he said.
- Ukraine must negotiate from a position of strength. But the world’s attention is fading Guardian
This article has dealt me -5 sanity points. It’s the kind of article you write if you SPECIFICALLY want to piss off leftists because every claim against Russia (and China) can be applied much more accurately to the United States, and then if you state that fact, then they smugly say “Whataboutism.” This is designed to inflict psychic injuries on you to weaken your resolve.
Russia needs to stop being a threat: to its neighbours, to its own people, to the world. Minimising that threat should be the goal of our policies and the only way to face up to the reality of the Kremlin’s boot stamping on so many faces. The hope that the current iteration of Russia is ready to recognise that other states have rights is gone. Putin’s Russia is not an ordinary country seeking some rational security guarantees. It’s a predator that works according to its own logic of internal oppression and external aggression. With such a state there is no going back to “normal”. No clever “deal” that can be cut to restore previous relations.
As we work out what minimising Russia’s threat means in practice, we may also get to something bigger: a set of security, humanitarian and economic interconnections that redefine how we reduce aggression in an interconnected age. Russia’s aim in its invasion of Ukraine was to reset the world order, tilt it towards dictatorships, impunity and the right of great powers to crush the small. Instead, it may produce a desire to strengthen rights, sovereignty and democracy. In pushing for the worst, it might produce something better.
When I met President Zelenskiy, together with colleagues from the Atlantic magazine a few weeks ago, his greatest fear was that the victory in the battle for Kyiv meant that too many people would think the war over when it was just shifting to a different, more deadly phase in the Donbas. The world’s attention has faded. Allies are being slow to arm Ukraine sufficiently. Positions are being ceded daily because of a lack of basic munitions for artillery. This needs to change fast. Any eventual negotiations have to be taken from a position of Ukrainian strength, not weakness, or else they risk being another deal that gives up all the leverage to Russia, only augmenting the threat it poses.
If and when those negotiations happen, Ukraine has to be armed to the teeth to deter future Russian incursions. It is also hoping for security guarantees, including from the UK. But there’s a greater context here too. The Russian invasion is relevant to any nation that lives unprotected in the neighbourhood of nuclear bullies: think Moldova, Georgia and the central Asian states around Russia; Japan, Australia and Taiwan around China. It’s no coincidence that Australia, a country that could have chosen to sit out this conflict, has been such an enthusiastic advocate of the Ukrainian cause, even providing $70m-worth of defensive equipment.
Or the entire American supercontinent? Or the whole world? AMERICA STILL HAS A FIRST-STRIKE NUCLEAR POLICY! CHINA AND RUSSIA DON’T! HOW ARE THEY NUCLEAR BULLIES BUT NOT AMERICA? AMERICA LITERALLY DROPPED NUKES ON A COUNTRY IN WARTIME!
So far, the economic power dynamics lie the other way. At the moment, a country such as Australia, which criticised Beijing’s human rights record, is bullied by China with grain sanctions. Russia holds the world hostage to hunger by limiting its own grain exports and blocking Ukraine’s, demanding sanctions against Russia are lifted. In central Europe, a gruesome calculation is emerging: what hike in gas prices are people willing to bear before they close their eyes to Putin’s crimes against humanity? Everywhere, human rights are subservient to economic needs. For us to rein in the aggression of the Russias and Chinas of this world, it needs to be the other way round.
While such measures can act as a deterrent, Russia will also have to change internally before it stops being a threat. Can we ever hope for a Russia that is ready to give up imperial pretensions, live in harmony with its neighbours and even establish rule of law at home? It seems a far-off dream. All talk about “regime change” from outside is foolish: Russia is a great power no one can influence or attack that brazenly. But what we can do is remain steadfast in our sanctions and commitment to indicting war criminals, showing Russian elites that their punishment is long and serious.
Awesome, let’s start with George Bush and Henry Kissinger.
Anecdotal research from inside the country suggests many think the sanctions will be lifted soon. This betrays great weakness. In his memoirs of life in Nazi concentration camps, the psychiatrist Viktor Frankl noted that those who thought their imprisonment would end soon were in denial of reality – and the first to then break and collapse.
- Putin’s Ukraine War Is a Replay of Russia’s Atrocities of 1919 Bloomberg
When the Bolsheviks signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Germany in 1918, enabling their precarious regime to escape from the war, there were 30,000 Allied troops in the country, half British and others American, Canadian and French. They had originally been sent to guard stores shipped to aid Tsarist Russia’s war effort and to conduct training.
Churchill, then Britain’s secretary for war, wanted these men, plus 70,000 Czech troops bizarrely stranded in Siberia, to turn their efforts to aiding anti-Bolshevik Russian forces.
After World War I ended in the West on Nov. 11, he told Prime Minister David Lloyd George that his chosen policy, had the premier not vetoed it, would have been “peace with the German people, war on the Bolshevik tyranny.”
Churchill said the choices were either to allow the Russians “to murder each other without let or hindrance” or for the Allies to intervene “thoroughly, with large forces, abundantly supplied with mechanical contrivances.”
In most societies, leaders aspire to rule by securing respect. Russia, however, has always exalted fear. A British officer posted to St. Petersburg just before World War I was quizzed by a tsarist counterpart about the customs of his service. The Russian was shocked to be told that the British, while off duty, abandoned their uniforms and even their swords in favor of civilian clothes. “But people will not be afraid of you!” he exclaimed.
Well, yeah, obviously, everybody’s done the measurements, everybody’s seen that bump on the cranium of the Russian skull that makes them naturally predisposed to rule through terror.
- Ukrainian Presidential Office: Russians hysterical after US shipment of MLRS systems to Ukraine Yahoo
Mykhailo Podoliak, adviser to the President of the Ukrainian President’s Office, pointed out that Russians became hysterical after US authorities decided to provide Ukraine with MLRS launchers, and called on the West not to hesitate going forward and continue to put pressure on Russia.
“All these Russian subjects are disgusting. At all levels… They enter the territory of another country and destroy infrastructure on a large scale, massacre civilians, and deliberately demolish all our cities. They call it a disgusting and false term: ‘special military operation’. All types of heavy artillery, heavy flamethrowers, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, heavy aircraft bombs, and cruise missiles of various modifications with a range of over 1000 km are used in Ukraine.
But as soon as it became known that Ukraine would still receive MLRS with a normal range (100+ km), the Russians immediately fell into hysterical hysteria. A wild scream now stands over the entire Russian swamp: “Not only that! Just don’t give them jet long-range systems! Only not weapons of retaliation!”
The conclusion? As simple as it is. Two savage Russian screams: ‘lift sanctions!’ and ‘we beg on our knees: do not give Ukrainians MLRS!’ – direct proof of the extreme effectiveness of these two steps… "
Oh, come on Ukraine, has the budget run out for creating fake phone calls attributed to Russian soldiers? You could totally have a recording of a Russian soldier crying and shitting himself because the US is going to send the next failure of a weapon system to Ukraine.
- This Memorial Day, remember the young lives cut short WaPo
The article doesn’t mention the people that America has killed, of course not, just their soldiers. A global genocide of tens of millions of men, women, and children is nothing compared to some soldiers feeling real sad about doing it.
Good Takes that are Dope
- NATO Should Think Twice Before Accepting Finland and Sweden Bloomberg
This article straddles the line between Cope and Dope - it’s right, but for the wrong reasons.
One of the ironies of Russia’s war against Ukraine — ostensibly fought to prevent that nation from joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization — has been its impact on two of Europe’s traditionally neutral states, Finland and Sweden. On May 18, just 84 days after the invasion, Swedish and Finnish ambassadors handed over applications to join NATO in a public ceremony at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels.
“This is a historic moment which we must seize,” said Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. “You are our closest partners, and your membership in NATO will increase our shared security.” It seems likely that their applications will be swiftly approved, and NATO will soon grow to a 32 member states.
Yet in the rush to give Putin a black eye by embracing Finland and Sweden, US and NATO leaders may be failing to consider the potential costs of inducting two more countries into what, after all, is intended to be a collective defense organization.
There are only two clear-cut benefits to bringing in the two Nordic nations. The first is symbolic: providing a clear demonstration of European and democratic solidarity against Russian aggression in Eastern Europe. The second is technical: Admitting Finland and Sweden would better align the membership of NATO with that of the EU, avoiding the unlikely but problematic scenario in which an EU member state is subject to aggression but is not covered by NATO’s Article 5 mutual-defense pact.
In every other respect, however, the question of Finnish and Swedish membership is more complicated and worrisome. Consider overall European defense capacity.
Yes, Finland and Sweden have highly advanced economies. They could be net contributors to NATO’s technological capabilities through national champions like Ericsson AB and Nokia Oyj. They are also more capable militarily than some other European states — particularly Finland, which has maintained conscription into the post-Cold War period and has a relatively wide range of military competencies, including the continent’s largest artillery force.
Yet from the point of view of existing NATO members — and particularly the US — it’s still not necessarily a net win. Finland and Sweden have long focused their militaries on defending their own territories, raising doubts about their value in contributing to a common defense, which is at the heart of NATO’s charter.
And while both nations have pledged to increase their military spending and ability to bolster Europe’s broader defenses, it is also possible that they would not. Instead, they may free-ride on America’s military strength — and its nuclear umbrella — as so many European states have done for years. According to the International Monetary Fund, neither country comes close to meeting the NATO goal of spending 2% of GDP on defense.
History suggests the most likely outcome is two more states adding to America’s defense burden at a time when Washington should be pivoting to Asia.
Consider also the question of the defensibility of new NATO territory. Admitting Sweden could be strategically beneficial, allowing NATO forces to better control the Baltic Sea and to use Gotland Island, at an important chokepoint off the Baltic States, as a staging ground for any future conflict.
Finnish territory, in contrast, is a strategic nightmare. It would dramatically increase the alliance’s exposure to any future attacks by Moscow: the country shares an 800-mile border with Russia that, as a recent study from the Center for Strategic and International Studies put it, is “highly exposed to Russian military threats.”
[…] it’s not clear that Finland and Sweden are at increased risk unless they are allowed NATO membership. They have long relied on their neutral status and domestic defense capacity to prevent crises. Refusing to admit them to NATO is not hanging them out to dry, but simply retaining a workable status quo.
Bloomerism and Hope
- Colombia: a turn to the left? TheNextRecession
Colombia has a presidential election today (29 May). According to public opinion polls, in the lead is Gustavo Petro. A former M-19 guerrilla member, Petro took part in peace talks that paved the way for the M-19 to disarm and form a left-wing political party in 1990. He later served a term as mayor of Bogota, the country’s capital. Afro-Colombian feminist and human rights activist Francia Márquez is his running mate.
Petro is well ahead in the polls for the first round over establishment candidate, former Medillin mayor Federico Gutierezz. If Petro wins and if former president Lula da Silva pulls off a comeback victory in Brazil this October, the seven most populous nations in Latin America — Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Venezuela and Chile — will all be under left-wing rule.
Petro is certain to lead in the first round but will probably fall short of 50% of the votes and so there will be a run-off against either Gutierrez or independent ‘business’ candidate Rodolfo Hernandez. If the latter makes the second round, the runoff could be close.
- Organizers Herald 100th Win as Starbucks Unionization Wave Continues CommonDreams
The tally of unionized Starbucks locations is continuing to swell, with the latest additions coming after pro-unionization votes late last week in Seattle and Birmingham, Alabama.
The coffee giant’s CEO “Howard Schultz and Starbucks are getting creamed in union vote after union vote,” labor journalist Steven Greenhouse tweeted Saturday.
By the union’s count, there are now 100 stores across the nation that have unionized.
- Eugene V. Debs: Socialist Internationalism Versus Capitalist Nationalism Jacobin
If the principles of socialism have not international application and if the socialist movement is not an international movement then its whole philosophy is false and the movement has no reason for existence.
Karl Marx, founder of the modern socialist movement, based his whole theory upon the internationality of the working class and called upon the workers of all countries to unite in the struggle for their emancipation.
Before the war broke out in Europe there was no question about the international character of the socialist movement, but when the tocsin sounded, international obligation was swept away, or forgotten, and in the frenzy aroused by the military clackers, thousands of socialist party members became the intensest of nationalists and “patriots,” utterly denying their international principles and obligations and turning traitors to the movement to which they had solemnly pledged their honor and their lives.
If the international socialist movement is to be organized on a bedrock foundation, if it is to endure in the future, instead of collapsing as in the past; if, in a word, it is to give expression and direction to the social revolution, it can only be by a rigid observance of the fundamental principles of internationalism and upon the sound basis of the class struggle.
True socialists cannot at the same time be nationalists, militarists, and capitalist “patriots.” They are either one or the other; they cannot be both. The self-called socialists who are nationalists first and who set the “fatherland” of their masters above the whole earth and above all the workers of the world are not socialists at all but either mild and harmless capitalist reformers and stool pigeons or traitors to the cause.
THE SOCIALIST MOVEMENT IF IT STANDS AT ALL MUST STAND UNFLINCHINGLY AND UNCOMPROMISINGLY FOR SOCIALIST INTERNATIONALISM VERSUS CAPITALIST NATIONALISM!
Upon that rock it can stand against the world; upon that rock it can withstand the shock of war, and all the powers of capitalism and hell cannot prevail against it.
We must get rid of nationalism, militarism, and the kind of “patriotism” which is responsible for the socialists of Europe now drenching the soil of the “fatherland” of their masters with the blood of comrades, and we must beware lest nationalism get a foothold in the party here in the United States, for as certain as it does, the party will go the way of the socialist parties of the old world which have been all but destroyed by its vicious and disrupting influence.