Day 100! Give it up for Day 100!

Link back to the discussion thread


  • EU Approves Sixth Russia Sanctions Package, Including Phased Oil Embargo WSJ

The European Union has approved a sixth sanctions package against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, including a phased-in oil embargo, diplomats said on Thursday, with the measures set to take force on Friday.

Under the measures, the EU will impose a phased-in ban on Russian crude and refined fuels that arrive on ships, which account for at least two-thirds of imports from Russia. By the end of the year, with Germany and Poland also pledging to stop buying oil via pipelines, the embargo should cover 90% of previous Russian oil imports.

By exempting pipelined oil, Hungary and several neighboring landlocked EU member states can still buy Russian oil and there is no deadline for the exemption. However EU leaders said when they met on Monday they would return to the issue of the exemption’s duration as soon as possible.

Mr. Orban, who enjoys warm ties with Mr. Putin, had been lobbying for weeks for Patriarch Kirill to be excluded from a proposed sanctions list targeting Russian officials tied to the Kremlin. All sanctions need the backing of the EU’s 27 member states.

[…] the package won’t include individual sanctions against Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, a leading advocate of the invasion of Ukraine and a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

  • Moscow calls EU move to phase out Russian oil ‘self-destructive’ Reuters

Russia warned on Thursday that the European Union’s decision to partially phase out Russian oil would likely destabilize global energy markets, calling it a ‘self-destructive’ step that could backfire on the bloc.

“The European Union’s decisions to partially phase out Russian oil and oil products, as well as to ban insurance on Russian merchant ships, are highly likely to provoke further price increases, destabilize energy markets, and disrupt supply chains,” Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement.


  • Ukraine more than doubles interest rates as it fights economic crisis The Guardian

Ukraine more than doubled interest rates to 25% on Thursday in a move to try to stem double-digit inflation and protect its currency, which has collapsed since Russia’s invasion.

In the first interest rates intervention since Vladimir Putin’s troops attacked on 24 February, the Ukrainian central bank’s governor, Kyrylo Shevchenko, increased the benchmark interest rate from 10% to 25%.

  • Ukrainian embassy says Russia ships ‘stolen’ wheat to Syria Reuters

“The wheat must go!"

“Who must go?"


  • Russian malls half-empty after Western firms exit Seattle Times

Life in Moscow and St. Petersburg remains largely normal as Russia’s military operation in Ukraine enters its 15th week.

People are out and about, enjoying the first rays of late spring sun; restaurants are full, and most seem to have forgotten about the panic that created long lines in front of ATMs and grocery stores in February and March.

However, some changes are visible – mostly those prompted by Western sanctions and a massive, unprecedented pullout of Western businesses that had become entrenched in the landscape of Russia’s daily life over three decades.

Dozens of foreign and international companies have withdrawn from the country, leaving behind half-empty malls and closed doors in places that once buzzed with customers. Popular clothing brands, both luxurious and affordable, coffee and fast-food chains became unavailable to many Russians.

  • US adds Russian airplane factories to economic blacklist Inquirer

The United States on Thursday added 71 Russian and Belarusian entities to its trade blacklist including several aircraft factories and shipbuilding and research institutes in its latest effort to deprive the Russian military of U.S. technology and other items.

  • Russian Pacific fleet begins week-long exercises with more than 40 vessels Reuters

  • Why Russia isn’t hurting even as it cuts off Europe’s gas CNN

Russia’s increasingly aggressive actions against its European gas customers are taking a toll. The country’s natural gas exports have tumbled by more than a quarter since January. But surging prices have kept Russia’s coffers bulging as it continues to cut off deliveries.

So far, Gazprom has cut off at least 20 billion cubic meters of its annual gas supplies to customers in six European countries — Poland, Bulgaria, Finland, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands — because they failed to make payments in rubles, a demand President Vladimir Putin made back in March.

That amounts to nearly 13% of the European Union’s total annual gas imports from Russia, according to data from the International Energy Agency.

But James Huckstepp, head of EMEA gas analytics at S&P Global Commodity Insights, told CNN Business that gas prices have risen to an average of €96 per megawatt hour ($102) in 2022 from last year. As a result, “it is unlikely that [Russia] will see significantly less revenue until further cuts are made,” Huckstepp said.

  • Russia is winning the economic war - and Putin is no closer to withdrawing troops The Guardian

It is now three months since the west launched its economic war against Russia, and it is not going according to plan. On the contrary, things are going very badly indeed.

Sanctions were imposed on Vladimir Putin not because they were considered the best option, but because they were better than the other two available courses of action: doing nothing or getting involved militarily.

The first set of economic measures were introduced immediately after the invasion, when it was assumed Ukraine would capitulate within days. That didn’t happen, with the result that sanctions – while still incomplete – have gradually been intensified.

There is, though, no immediate sign of Russia pulling out of Ukraine and that’s hardly surprising, because the sanctions have had the perverse effect of driving up the cost of Russia’s oil and gas exports, massively boosting its trade balance and financing its war effort. In the first four months of 2022, Putin could boast a current account surplus of $96bn (£76bn) – more than treble the figure for the same period of 2021.

When the EU announced its partial ban on Russian oil exports earlier this week, the cost of crude oil on the global markets rose, providing the Kremlin with another financial windfall. Russia is finding no difficulty finding alternative markets for its energy, with exports of oil and gas to China in April up more than 50% year on year.

That’s not to say the sanctions are pain-free for Russia. The International Monetary Fund estimates the economy will shrink by 8.5% this year as imports from the west collapse. Russia has stockpiles of goods essential to keep its economy going, but over time they will be used up.

But Europe is only gradually weaning itself off its dependency on Russian energy, and so an immediate financial crisis for Putin has been averted. The rouble – courtesy of capital controls and a healthy trade surplus – is strong. The Kremlin has time to find alternative sources of spare parts and components from countries willing to circumvent western sanctions.

  • Hewlett Packard Enterprise announces exit from Russia, Belarus TASS

  • Experts improve forecast for decline in Russia’s GDP to 7.5% from 9.2% in 2022 TASS

  • Inert gas export restriction to strengthen Russia’s position on microelectronics market TASS

  • As sanctions fail to work and Russia’s advance continues, Western media changes its tune on Ukraine RT

Even as the collective West continues to insist – against all observable reality – that the conflict in Ukraine is going well for Kiev, major media outlets are becoming increasingly uneasy with the situation on the economic front. More and more observers are admitting that the embargoes imposed by the US and its allies aren’t crushing the Russian economy, as originally intended, but rather their own.

Meanwhile, some major publications have begun to report on the actual situation on the frontlines, rather than uncritically quoting myths like the ‘Ghost of Kiev’ or the ‘Snake Island 13’ propagated by Volodymyr Zelensky’s office, as they did early on. There have even been hints, however vague, that the West should perhaps stop unconditionally supporting Kiev and promote a negotiated peace instead.

“Russia is winning the economic war,” the Guardian’s economics editor Larry Elliott declared on Thursday. “It is now three months since the west launched its economic war against Russia, and it is not going according to plan. On the contrary, things are going very badly indeed,” he wrote.

Elliott actually argues that the recent US announcement of sending rocket launchers to Ukraine is proof that sanctions are not working: “The hope is that modern military technology from the US will achieve what energy bans and the seizure of Russian assets have so far failed to do: force [Russian President Vladimir] Putin to withdraw his troops.”

In a May 30 essay, Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins also said that the embargo had failed to force a Russian withdrawal, but argued the EU should “stick to helping Ukraine’s war effort” instead, while withdrawing the sanctions because they are “self-defeating and senselessly cruel.”

The collective West’s failure to break Russia was apparent even to The Economist, not exactly a publication sympathetic to Moscow. The newspaper reluctantly admitted a month ago that the Russian economy had bounced back from the initial sanctions shock. Meanwhile, it’s the West that has to deal with energy shortages, spiraling costs of living, and record inflation. It’s Americans, not Russians, who can’t find baby formula in stores and can’t afford gas.

“The United States is trying to maintain the fiction that arming one’s allies is not the same thing as participating in combat,” Caldwell wrote, pointing out that this distinction is getting “more and more artificial” in the information age. A day later, the head of the US Cyber Command admitted to conducting offensive operations against Russia on Ukraine’s behalf.


  • Not So Fast - Switzerland Will Have Another Referendum on the F-35 Forbes

It’s taken less than 9 months for a coalition of Left-wing political groups including The Group for a Switzerland without an Army (GSoA) to fulfill the first part of a pledge to get the country to reverse course on its acquisition of 36 F-35As. Now they say they have gathered the required 100,000 signatures to trigger a new referendum on buying Lockheed Martin’s 5th generation fighter.

As I wrote last fall, GSoA and others opposing the fighter purchase vowed to make the “luxury jet crash at the ballot box”. The alliance, including Switzerland’s left-wing Swiss Green Party and Social Democratic Party, has tapped into significant public opposition to what it says is an overly expensive, overtly strike-capable, fiscally unsustainable “luxury toy for some army officers.”

Timing is important. The $6.1 billion contract with Lockheed Martin was provisionally signed last year and Swiss authorities had planned to await the outcome of the “Stop The F-35” initiative before formally agreeing to the deal. However, in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the government signaled its intention to officially sign the contract before it expires in March 2023.

That leaves a further nine months from now for the Stop The F-35 organizers and Swiss authorities to stage the referendum vote before contract expiration. The anti-F-35 coalition says that’s doable if the Swiss parliament and government act without intentional delay.


  • French diplomats go on rare strike over planned reform Al Jazeera

Members of the French diplomatic corps went on a rare strike on Thursday, angered by a planned reform they worry will hurt their careers and France’s standing in the world.

In posts ranging from Tokyo to the Middle East and Washington, some ambassadors and numerous diplomats have said they would honour the day-long strike.

They want President Emmanuel Macron to scrap a plan to merge career diplomats with a larger body of civil servants, starting in January next year.

The action, announced by Macron in an April decree, will reportedly affect about 800 diplomats. Opponents claim that is just the beginning.


  • Finland will not extradite Kurds, FETO members to Turkey TASS

Finland will not extradite to Turkey the Kurds affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and members of the FETO organization, whom Ankara regards as terrorists and wants to be extradited, a member of the Finnish parliament and chairman of the Kurdish Friendship Group, Johan Kvarnstrom, a said in an interview to the Kurdish TV channel Rudaw on Thursday.

Holy shit, did Finland finally grow a backbone?

  • Finland compares NATO delay to ‘purgatory’ RT

Nope, never mind.

Helsinki wasn’t ready for such complications on its way to becoming a member of the US-led bloc, its top diplomat admitted

This reminds me of when Trump said, in 2017:

“We have come up with a solution that’s really, really I think very good … Now, I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject,” he added. “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated."


  • The Ban on Russian Oil Is Another Way for Germany to Assert Its Power Jacobin

So, what of Germany’s widely discussed “dependence” on Russian imports? A recent report in the Süddeutsche Zeitung adds important context. It explains that “according to the economics ministry, Germany’s dependence on Russian gas has indeed fallen since the beginning of the war from 55 percent previously to about 35 percent. By summer 2024, a gradual reduction to ten percent of gas consumption was possible, it said. The German government had warned of severe damage to the German economy in the event of a gas embargo against Russia.”

The diversification of energy sources and Germany’s freedom to renegotiate the existing treaties with Russia was thus anything but a passive project of energy self-sufficiency. This was never about becoming wholly independent of other countries, but simply of producing the necessary electricity for itself using renewable energies. With carefully calibrated language, the German government speaks of seeking energy sovereignty. This means gaining cheap access to the energy raw materials of other nations on terms dictated by Germany. The ever-lamented dependence on Russian gas was simply reversed, making Russia dependent on Germany as an importer.

Asia and Oceania


  • Japan’s de facto aircraft carrier Izumo to be dispatched to Indo-Pacific from mid-June Asia News

Japan’s helicopter-carrying destroyer Izumo, which continues to be upgraded as a de facto aircraft carrier, will be part of a Maritime Self-Defense Force deployment in the Indo-Pacific starting June 13.


  • China Nears Launch of Advanced Aircraft Carrier, Satellite Images Show WSJ

China is poised to launch its newest, most advanced aircraft carrier, in a major step that will enable its navy to expand its military operations on the high seas.

New satellite imagery reviewed by The Wall Street Journal shows that after several years of work in the Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai, China’s third carrier, known as a Type 003, may be afloat in coming weeks or even days, analysts said. The Type 003 is China’s third aircraft carrier, and its largest and most advanced. It uses new electromagnetic catapult technology akin to what the U.S. and French carriers have to launch aircraft, analysts said.

This carrier is the first built indigenously by China. Beijing’s first aircraft carrier was a former Soviet vessel that was rehabilitated years ago. Its second was of a design based largely on the first Soviet one.

But the new carrier is only as good as the aircraft it launches, and China still has a way to go to make a next-generation fighter, the Chengdu J-20, compatible for carriers, said Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.

“It’s not a significant development because the weakness of the Chinese carrier capability is the air wing,” said Mr. Clark. However, he said, when that time comes, in three or four years, the U.S. could face a Chinese navy with an effective capability in the region.

​“It could be a challenge for them because it’s pushing out the range for Chinese air power even further,” he said.

Man, it’s gotta suck to have put in orders for aircraft carriers in an age of hypersonic missiles.

  • Beijing chafes at Moscow’s requests for support, Chinese officials say WaPo

Russian officials have raised increasingly frustrated requests for greater support during discussions with Beijing in recent weeks, calling on China to live up to its affirmation of a “no limits” partnership made weeks before the war in Ukraine began. But China’s leadership wants to expand assistance for Russia without running afoul of Western sanctions and has set limits on what it will do, according to Chinese and U.S. officials.

Moscow has on at least two occasions pressed Beijing to offer new forms of economic support — exchanges that one Chinese official described as “tense.” The officials familiar with the talks spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity.

I think this is indicative of how it’s scared that it’s $3.3 trillion foreign reserves could be seized. Hopefully they manage to sort that out sooner rather than later - I know there are already moves in that direction already.


  • Economic committee proposes keeping nuclear plant project Vietnam News

The National Assembly Economic Committee has proposed the Government remains committed to plans for two nuclear power plants in the central province of Ninh Thuận instead of scrapping the project altogether, for the sake of future development potential.


Thai energy consumption is expected to rise by 9.2% this year, based on an economic growth estimate of 2.5-3.5%, driven by an uptick in economic activities as pandemic restrictions ease, says the Energy Policy and Planning Office (Eppo).


  • Amid criticism, North Korea takes over as UN disarmament president CNN

North Korea, which is under sanctions for developing nuclear weapons in defiance of United Nations Security Council Resolutions, has taken over as head of a UN body aimed at striking disarmament deals amid scorn from critics.

This year North Korea has tested a flurry of ballistic missiles – also banned by UNSC resolutions – and appears to be preparing to conduct a new nuclear test for the first time since 2017.

It gained the presidency of the Conference on Disarmament because it rotates alphabetically among its 65 members.

“The DPRK remains committed to contributing to global peace and disarmament and attaches importance to the work of the conference,” Ambassador Han Tae Song told the Geneva meeting, saying it was an “honor and a privilege” to hold the role.

  • North Korea’s virus outbreak ‘getting worse, not better,’ WHO says NBC A top official at the World Health Organization said the U.N. health agency assumes the coronavirus outbreak in North Korea is “getting worse, not better,” despite the secretive country’s recent claims that it is slowing down.

At a news briefing on Wednesday, WHO’s emergencies chief Dr. Mike Ryan appealed to North Korean authorities for more information about the virus outbreak there, saying, “We have real issues in getting access to the raw data and to the actual situation on the ground.”

He said WHO has not received any privileged information about the epidemic — unlike in typical outbreaks when countries may share more sensitive data with the organization so it can evaluate the public health risks for the global community.

  • Kim Jong-un extends greetings to Queen Elizabeth II on her official birthday TASS

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sent a congratulatory letter to Queen Elizabeth II of Britain on Thursday on her official birthday, says a statement on the country’s Foreign Ministry website.

“I am sending congratulations to You and Your people on the official birthday of Your Majesty,” the ministry quoted Kim Jong-un as saying.


  • How Australia May Finally Redress Two Centuries of Injustice Bloomberg

Talk is easy. Political change is hard. In Australia, it’s more than two centuries overdue.

Claiming victory in last month’s election, new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s first words were a vow to redress the unfinished business from the colonial invasion of 1788. His promise to “commit to the Uluru Statement from the Heart” — a set of political demands from Indigenous groups, first outlined in 2017 — puts Australia on the path to the most substantive constitutional change it’s seen in more than half a century. If the resulting referendum succeeds, the country may wind up with a new First Nations elected chamber, an array of treaties with state and federal governments, and a truth and reconciliation commission.

Middle East

  • Gulf countries will not impose sanctions on Russia, says Russian FM MEE

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries will not join the West in imposing sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine war, Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, said yesterday.

“Aspects of the international situation, which are connected with the events unfolded by the West around Ukraine, are well understood by our partners from the Gulf Cooperation Council States,” Lavrov told reporters in Saudi Arabia’s capital city, Riyadh. His visit included meetings with GCC Foreign Ministers.


  • No more Turkey: Country in push to be known as ‘Turkiye’ IndiaTV

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has sent a letter to the United Nations formally requesting that his country be referred to as “Türkiye,” the state-run news agency reported. The move is seen as part of a push by Ankara to rebrand the country and dissociate its name from the bird, turkey, and some negative connotations that are associated with it.

  • U.S.-backed Syrian force warns against new Turkish attack, Russia alarmed Reuters

he U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Thursday a new offensive threatened by Turkey in northern Syria would create a humanitarian crisis and undermine its campaign against the Islamic State group.

SDF commander Mazloum Abdi called on all sides to “prevent any new tragedies and support de-escalation”, warning that a new assault would fuel yet more displacement in Syria’s 11-year-long conflict.

Turkey is one of several powers drawn into the war in Syria, where Russia backs the government.

Russia, expressing alarm, said it hoped Turkey “refrains from actions which could lead to a dangerous deterioration of the already difficult situation in Syria”.

A foreign ministry spokeswoman told Interfax news agency that if Ankara launched an attack it would represent a direct violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria and provoke further escalation of tension.

  • New operation in Syria to give Turkey control of 600 km of border, daily says TASS

The Turkish armed forces will “clear” 470 villages and towns in Syria in the course of the operation


  • Pakistan: Chinese banks to give $2.3 billion funding to boost foreign reserves IndiaTV

China on Thursday agreed to refinance Pakistan with USD 2.3 billion worth of funds amid the dwindling foreign exchange reserves of the country. “Good News: The terms and conditions for refinancing of RMB 15 billion deposit by Chinese banks (about US$ 2.3 billion) have been agreed. Inflow is expected shortly after some routine approvals from both sides. This will help shore up our foreign exchange reserves,” Ismail tweeted.


  • Indian officials hold first talks with Taliban in Afghanistan Al Jazeera

A team of Indian officials has met the acting foreign minister of Afghanistan to discuss bilateral ties and humanitarian aid, the Taliban said, in what was the first such visit to Kabul since the group took control of the country last year.

“The meeting focused on India-Afghan diplomatic relations, bilateral trade and humanitarian aid,” Taliban foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi said on Twitter. Balkhi said the minister called the visit a “good beginning in ties between the two countries”.


A severe drought brought on by climate change revealed an ancient Bronze Age city in Iraq, and gave archaeologists a chance to map it, researchers announced Monday.

The drought hit the region in December, prompting locals to draw large amounts of water from a reservoir on the Tigris River, in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, to prevent crops from drying out. The lower water levels resurfaced ancient structures from a 3,400-year-old city along the river.

Iraq is the fifth most vulnerable country to climate change in the world, according to the United Nations. Warming temperatures have made the country drier and prone to drought, threatening agriculture and the livelihoods of those who live there. “Water reserves are far lower than what we had last year, by about 50 percent,” a senior adviser at Iraq’s water resources ministry told AFP in April. The advisor attributed the concerning situation to “the successive years of drought: 2020, 2021 and 2022.”

Saudi Arabia

  • “Russia and Saudi Arabia closer than ever”, ahead of OPEC+ meeting MercoPress

The OPEC+ alliance is solid and the tight cooperation between Russia and Saudi Arabia has never been stronger, said Russian Foreign Ministry Sergey Lavrov, following a meeting with his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, and ahead of this week´s OPEC+ meeting to consider output levels.

The news comes on the heels of a Wall Street Journal report that said some OPEC members are considering excluding Russia from the extended cartel as Western sanctions weigh on its production.

United Arab Emirates

The Biden administration is reportedly discussing a new agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that would include new U.S. strategic security guarantees for the client government in Abu Dhabi.

If the reports are correct, this would mark another step in the wrong direction for U.S. policy in the Middle East. Coming on the heels of Secretary Blinken’s reported apology to Mohamed bin Zayed for the supposedly slow U.S. response to a Houthi attack on Abu Dhabi in March, a new security agreement with the UAE would be more proof that the administration’s “back to basics” approach to the region amounts to nothing more than catering to client states and making additional unnecessary commitments to them.

While the security agreement in question would seem to fall far short of the formal treaty that the UAE might have preferred, it rewards the UAE with greater U.S. protection despite their government’s destructive regional behavior and their efforts to interfere in our domestic politics. If the U.S. provides security guarantees to the UAE, Biden will be repeating the errors of his predecessors by “reassuring” a bad regional actor at our own country’s expense.


  • Putin, African Union head meet Friday to discuss food crisis Al Jazeera

On Friday, Putin will receive Senegalese President Macky Sall, who chairs the African Union, at his Black Sea residence in Sochi.

The visit is aimed at “freeing up stocks of cereals and fertilisers, the blockage of which particularly affects African countries”, along with easing the Ukraine conflict, Sall’s office said on Thursday.

Sall will be accompanied by the president of the African Union Commission.

The Kremlin said talks would address “issues of Russia’s interaction with the African Union, including the expansion of political dialogue, economic and humanitarian cooperation”.


  • Chad declares food emergency, calls for help from local and foreign partners Africa News

Chad declared a food emergency in the country on Thursday. The government calls on “all national and international partners to help the population”, a decree signed by the chief of the military transition Mahamat Idriss Déby read. Citing a “constant deterioration of the food and nutritional situation and a growing risk” of food scarcity if no assistance was given to the Sahelian nation.


  • Nigeria: Vandals Fuel Nigeria Oil Sector’s Decline AllAfrica

The oil and gas sector, for years the main revenue generator in Africa’s largest economy, is the sole under-performer in Nigeria’s economic recovery.

  • Nigeria approves proposal for gas pipeline project to Morocco Africa News


  • Brazil signs investment agreement with Angola to diversify economy Africa News


  • Paris Lost Direction or What’s going on in Mali? NEO

Franco-Mali relations have been feverish for the past two years, following the August (2020) coup in Mali, when President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta was replaced by the military. And for an outside observer it looks like a bout of split personality in Paris.

France has announced, since June 2021, through the mouth of its President E. Macron, that it is operating a “profound transformation” of the French military presence in the Sahel-Sahara region, above all in Mali, according to which the French contingent carrying out the “anti-terrorist” operation Barkhane will be reduced from 5,000 to 2.5-3,000 men.

And before this abrupt U-turn in its policy, Paris was doing everything it could to gain a foothold in this strategic zone of French interest. Not only had it been carrying out Operation Serval since 2013, formally aimed at separatist Tuaregs dreaming of their own state of Azawad, which was then transformed into the now ill-fated Barkhane, but it also actively contributed to the creation in 2014 of the so-called “Sahel Five” (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger) to combat terrorists. Paris has also actively motivated the EU to create a European special force, Tacuba, to assist France in the fight against terrorism.

South Africa

  • South Africa’s economy has taken some heavy body blows: can it recover? The Conversation

Economists are growing increasingly concerned about South Africa’s economy. This is because the country’s three major macroeconomic problems – lacklustre economic growth, growing inflation and very high unemployment – have been exacerbated by a series of major disruptions.

These include the COVID pandemic that started as a health crisis but escalated quickly to an economic crisis. Millions of people lost their jobs as economic activity came to a halt under lockdown.

In the middle of the pandemic violence that lasted for eight days erupted in Kwa-Zulu Natal and Gauteng. Further pressure has been piled on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which is pushing up food prices.

The most recent blow has been devastating floods in some parts of the country that caused loss of lives and massive destruction of infrastructure, including to the country’s biggest port in Durban.

These events hit an already fragile economy. The South African economy has been on the receiving end since 2009. It has, since then, never returned to its initial levels of economic growth pre-2007/2008 global downturn (financial crisis). The crisis is reported to have lead to job losses of about 1 million. Moreover, the economic growth saw a decline from 2011 onward due a decline in demand for commodities resulting from changes in commodity prices.

North America

Antigua and Barbuda

Public servants are being assured that there will be an increase in their pay before the end of 2022. The commitment came from Cabinet spokesperson Melford Nicholas who addressed a recent appeal from the Antigua and Barbuda Union of Teachers for an increase in educators’ wages.

United States

  • America’s Mineral And Metal Insecurity Is A National Security Threat. It Doesn’t Have To Be. Forbes

This should be a Dipshittery and Cope article but there’s way too much down there already.

If we’ve learned one thing from Putin’s illegal war, it’s that Energy Security is our most invaluable strategic advantage.

Great start, really tying it in to current events.

The Europeans ignored it for decades, and it has exploded on them in the worst possible way. In fact, Energy Security is now being seen for exactly what it has always been: the basis of National Security.

Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor should’ve taught us that reality over 80 years ago.


So, the silver lining in Putin’s illegal war is that it’s been a great wakeup for the West. The goal to pursue more and more self-sufficiency on energy is a constant. Energy-Climate is an equation, of course, and we’ve had far too many smart and important people ignoring the first part.

Yeah, e = mc^2 stands for energy = money x climate^2.

The disaster that has been unfolding in Europe, where supply shortages and incredibly high energy prices continue to wreak havoc, show us exactly what happens when energy policy becomes utterly unrealistic and over reliant on precarious outside forces. It demonstrates the essential to “produce as much as possible at home.”

For the U.S., there’s no better area for this now than our need to rapidly expand the American mining and processing system. As the Great Energy Transition marches on, mining will increasingly become the driving force behind our Energy Security (i.e., National Security).

When we think about adding much more wind, solar, and electric vehicles (EVs), we must immediately think about mining, for the minerals and metals that comprise them (hereafter “critical materials”). In pursuing renewables, EVs, and their associated infrastructure (e.g., charging stations), we’ve no choice but to build up the industrial base to build them. Without these critical materials, we risk losing our Energy Security just like Europe did.

I mean, you could also just continue to trade with these nations and not deliberately piss them off.

Ethically, how can we ever justify relying on slave labor from China for solar panels or child labor in the DR Congo to mine the cobalt for EVs? It’s all horrifically wrong.

I think Elon Musk would disagree on that latter point. Also - there are plenty of corporations based in the US that use slave labor or very close to it in countries that we’re formally allied with. Why single out China? Well, I know why, it’s a rhetorical question.

S&P Global reports on Russia’s strategic hoarding: “Russia is home to 16.8% of global rare earth reserves, but it contributed less than 1% of global production in 2021.”

If America hoards, then that’s good. If Russia hoards, then that’s bad.

  • Gas prices are skyrocketing. Here’s why people haven’t cut back on spending - yet CNN

Typically when the price of a good goes up, the consumption of it goes down, a process known as “demand destruction.” But gasoline is what economists call an “inelastic” purchase, which means its consumption is not greatly affected by its price.

Consumption of gasoline shows no significant signs of slowing even in the states with the highest average prices, such as California, where the statewide average now stands at $6.21 a gallon, the highest in the nation.

“We’re seeing demand destruction around the world, but in the United States it seems like people will be stubborn about it,” said Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis for OPIS. “California has taught us that $6.20 a gallon can be tolerated.”

Huh, it looks like the unwashed masses, who live in a society where it’s nigh-impossible in many if not most areas of the country to get around without a car, aren’t using their cars less! How stubborn of them!

  • Slump in New Car Sales in May Raises Specter of US Recession Bloomberg

Slumping US new car sales in May on continued high prices and low inventories have some analysts worried those lower-than-expected results could be a harbinger of a broader economic downturn.

Sales of new cars last month fell to 12.8 million vehicles at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, representing an 11% drop from April, according to data compiled by Wards Intelligence. That is the lowest level since December and reflects shrunken inventories amid a persistent shortage of semiconductors and near record-high vehicle prices.

“The market appears increasingly concerned about the economy, inflation, rising interest rates and a recession,” Joseph Spak, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, said in a research note to clients published Thursday.

  • CEOs warn that US households are burning through savings at an alarming rate, and could run out within months Yahoo

  • Even rich people are living paycheck to paycheck Fortune

Inflation at a 40-year high is making life difficult for everyone, even the country’s highest earners.

More than one-third of paycheck-to-paycheck consumers in the U.S. earn at least $250,000, according to a new report by loan issuer LendingClub and commerce media platform PYMNTS, suggesting that inflation is affecting how Americans of all income levels handle their budgets.

I know this is supposed to be a propaganda piece about how “we’re all in this together, and actually the rich are suffering too, so stop complaining, dirty prole!”. But the difference between a person who makes $250,000 and a person who makes millions or billions of dollars is so incomprehensible to people, let alone journalists.

  • A recession could throw cold water on the housing market — but that doesn’t mean it’s going to get any easier to buy a home Business Insider

The US economy is in a strange place– and that means the housing market is too. As rising interest rates do their job to tamp down demand, fears of a coming recession are on the rise. Prospective buyers may be wondering what it all means for their dreams of owning a home.

In short, price growth will likely slow down as demand falls, and mortgage rates have begun to edge lower after soaring earlier this year. But with a persistent lack of available homes for sale, an economic slowdown won’t bring a new era of affordability to the US housing market.

  • It’s getting more and more expensive to use your credit card Business Insider

It’s a bad time to rack up a credit card balance. That’s not stopping Americans from opening accounts at a blistering pace — and all this activity threatens to erase the financial progress many households made during the pandemic.

That swift recovery could soon have consumers overextending themselves. Americans have opened a record 11.5 million credit card accounts in the first two months of 2022, according to data from credit-reporting firm Equifax. Credit limits on those new cards total $55.5 billion, up nearly 60% from the same period last year. Retail sales data has already shown Americans spending more than ever through April, and Equifax’s report suggests the spending spree has room to run.

The timing, however, couldn’t be worse. The Federal Reserve is squarely in inflation-fighting mode, with policymakers expected to back double-sized rate hikes in June and July. Those increases lift borrowing costs throughout the economy, including through higher credit card rates.

  • ‘Let Us Finally Do Something’: Biden Pleads for Gun Control Amid Mass Shooting Surge Common Dreams

Who the hell’s the president in charge of this place, jack? Lemme talk to him! This country is one oar short of a canoe, and it’s going down shit creek!

South America


  • Nicaragua cancels nearly 200 NGOs in sweeping purge of civil society The Guardian

Nicaragua’s Sandinista-controlled congress has cancelled nearly 200 non-governmental organizations, ranging from a local equestrian center to the 94-year-old Nicaraguan Academy of Letters, in what critics say is Daniel Ortega’s attempt to eliminate the country’s civil society.

Lawmakers from the president’s party and their allies voted unanimously on Thursday to cancel 96 organizations. That followed 83 more on Tuesday. Since popular street protests turned against Ortega’s government in April 2018, the government has cancelled more than 400.

At first, the targets were often tied to prominent opposition figures who Ortega accused of working with foreign interests in an attempt to topple his government. But now the government seems intent on wiping the landscape clean of any organization it does not control.

“These cancellations have the objective of eliminating all social and political vision that differs from that established by the regime,” the Paris-based Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders said in a statement on Thursday. “It doesn’t concern only political or defense of human rights associations, but rather artistic, journalistic, educational, scientific, environmental and social organizations are also victims of persecution. The ultimate objective is to eliminate all possibility of an independent civil society in the country.”

The government maintains that the organizations are cancelled because they have not complied with a 2020 requirement to register as “foreign agents”. On Thursday, lawmaker Filiberto Núñez said they had also failed to provide financial statements as required by law.


  • Lulu slams US billions for Ukraine RT

Brazilian presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called out US President Joe Biden in two campaign speeches this week, citing the $40 billion in military aid Washington has pledged to Ukraine. Lula is polling far ahead of the incumbent, Jair Bolsonaro, in the upcoming presidential election.

“Biden, who has never made a speech to give $1 to those who are starving in Africa, announces $40 billion to help Ukraine buy weapons,” Lula said on Wednesday in Porto Alegre. “This can’t be!” he added.

Speaking in Sao Paulo on Tuesday, Lula brought up the $40 billion in another context. How is it possible, he asked, that the world’s supposedly strongest economy is reduced to scouring the globe for baby formula – amid shortages in the US – even as Biden pledges billions in weapons sales to Kiev?

“The United States has a lot of political clout. And Biden could have avoided [the conflict], not incited it,” Lula said in an interview with Time magazine in early May.

“And now we are going to have to foot the bill because of the war on Ukraine. Argentina, Bolivia will also have to pay. You’re not punishing [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. You’re punishing many different countries, you’re punishing mankind,” he added.


  • Gas or renewables? With the world in an unprecedented energy crisis, top CEOs are searching for solutions CNBC

Events in Europe over the past few months have thrown the fragility of this planned energy transition into sharp relief. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency, said he thought we were “in the middle of the first global energy crisis.”

“We are at a crossroads,” María Mendiluce, CEO of the We Mean Business Coalition, said. “One could think that, because of the energy crisis, it makes sense to invest in fossil fuels, but it’s rather the opposite,” she said.

Gas was now more expensive than solar or wind, Mendiluce argued. The goal of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels — a key part of the Paris Agreement — was, she said, “pretty much dead unless we accelerate the transition.”

Clean energy, Mendiluce said, provided energy security, jobs, a healthy environment and was cost competitive. “So it is now or never … if you’re going to invest, you’d rather invest in renewables than … in an asset that might become stranded pretty soon.”

Patrick Allman-Ward is CEO of Dana Gas, a natural gas firm listed in Abu Dhabi. Appearing alongside María Mendiluce on CNBC’s panel, Allman-Ward, perhaps unsurprisingly given his position, made the case for gas’ continued use in the years ahead.

“As you can imagine, I’m a firm believer in gas as a transition fuel and the combination, particularly of gas together with renewable energy, to solve the intermittency problem,” he said. “Because yes, we have to go with renewables as fast as we possibly can in order to achieve our net zero objectives. But … wind doesn’t blow all the time, and the sun doesn’t shine all the time. So we have to solve that intermittency problem.”

Surely nuclear energy would be better because you could continue to use it after the renewable transition because they’re (aside from the waste problem) fairly clean energy, rather than needing to build a ton of gas pipelines and terminals and then take them all down at the end of the transition?

  • Oil slips after OPEC+ hike, tight suppply limits loss Reuters

Oil slipped on Friday after OPEC+ decided to increase production targets by slightly more than planned, although tight global supply and rising demand as China eases its COVID restrictions limited the decline.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, or OPEC+, on Thursday increased their output boost to 648,000 barrels per day (bpd) in July and August rather than 432,000 bpd as previously agreed.

Still, expectations that supply will stay tight limited losses. OPEC+ divided the hike across its members and still included Russia, whose output is falling due to sanctions and some buyers avoiding its oil over the invasion of Ukraine, suggesting the boost will undershoot.

  • OPEC Move Is Not Worth Biden’s Hype, And Won’t Stop Record Gasoline Prices Forbes

Another day, another record for gasoline prices, which hit an average of $4.715 a gallon in the United States. That’s up 50% in a year and double what they were when President Joe Biden took office in January 2021. At current daily demand of 8.9 million barrels (374 million gallons), that means Americans are paying nearly $900 million more at the pump, every day.

So it wasn’t surprising when a White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre this morning cheered “the important decision from OPEC+ today” to ostensibly increase its oil exports by 650,000 barrels per day over each of the next two months. This instead of the 430,000 bpd per month rate of supply increases that the cartel had planned for the next three months.

More oil faster is good news right now. Unfortunately, behind the headlines, OPEC’s move is less momentous than it seems. That’s because the group has already shown itself unable to live up to its existing post-pandemic plan to return oil supply to the market. For a year OPEC has been restoring the deep cuts of 10 million bpd (nearly a third of output) made in 2020 when lockdowns kept cars and planes parked, sending oil prices to zero. But many OPEC members like Libya, Venezuela and Nigeria appear already maxxed out. Beset by internal strife and years of underinvestment, they are already pumping all they can, but not enough. According to Argus data, OPEC is underperforming quotas by more than 1 million bpd.

And then there’s Russia. Though an unofficial cartel member, Russia (the “+” in OPEC+) has been strategizing with OPEC since the pandemic. OPEC included Russia in its updated quota schedule released today, which calls for Russia to pump 10.8 million bpd in July. This is fantasy, considering that OPEC data shows that Russia produced just 9.16 million bpd in April, dropping precipitously from more than 10 million bpd in March. Even if the war in Ukraine ends today, the die is cast: western oil giants have fled Russia with their know-how, the European Union this week approved a ban on Russian oil which will cut another 1.5 million bpd of Russian oil demand, and insurers are balking at underwriting Russian tankers (which Putin can’t get enough of anyway). The IEA says 3 million bpd of Russian oil could be off the market by end of year.

  • Red-Hot Coal Prices Threaten More Increases in Power Bills WSJ

Natural gas isn’t the only power-plant fuel on fire this year. Thermal-coal prices from Appalachia to Australia have soared, threatening more increases in manufacturing costs and power bills this summer.

Futures for coal delivered to northwestern Europe have risen 137% so far this year, to $323.50 a metric ton. The benchmark price in the Pacific region, set at an Australian export facility, is up 143% this year. Cash prices in central Appalachia have climbed 40% in 2022—and more than doubled over the past year—to $129.65 a short ton last week, the highest price on record.

  • The world may be careening toward a 1970s-style energy crisis – or worse CNN

The world is grappling with gravity-defying energy price spikes on everything from gasoline and natural gas to coal. Some fear this may just be the beginning.

Current and former energy officials tell CNN they worry that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in the wake of years of underinvestment in the energy sector have sent the world careening into a crisis that will rival or even exceed the oil crises of the 1970s and early 1980s.

No, the SANCTIONS have done this. Not Russia, the SANCTIONS.

“Now we have an oil crisis, a gas crisis and an electricity crisis at the same time,” Fatih Birol, head of the International Energy Agency watchdog group, told Der Spiegel in an interview published this week. “This energy crisis is much bigger than the oil crises of the 1970s and 1980s. And it will probably last longer.”

The global economy has largely been able to withstand surging energy prices so far. But prices could continue to rise to unsustainable levels as Europe attempts to wean itself off Russian oil and, potentially, gas. Supply shortages could lead to some difficult choices in Europe, including rationing.

“We have a serious problem around the world that I think policymakers are just waking up to. It’s kind of a perfect storm,” McMonigle, whose group serves as a go-between for energy producing and consuming nations, told CNN in a phone interview.

The tendency of the rate of profit to fall is a spectre haunting Europe.


The Ukraine War

  • Ukraine waits for West to tip balance against Russia after 100 days of war Reuters

After 100 days of war, Ukraine is fighting for time, trying to hold out against overwhelming Russian fire on its eastern front long enough for Western weapons to arrive and give it a badly needed edge.

With casualties mounting and some delays in Western capitals with deliveries, Ukrainian officials fear the relief may not come quickly enough.

“Our Western partners are helping us, but the quantity of weapons and ammunition that they are providing are not enough,”

  • Ukraine Isn’t Just Getting American-Made Killer Drones. It’s Getting A Whole System For Remote Warfare. Forbes

The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden plans to offer to Ukraine the General Atomics MQ-1C Gray Eagle, the U.S. Army’s best unmanned aerial vehicle.

The possible forthcoming offer, which Reuters first reported, would be subject to approval by the U.S. Congress. But if the president follows through, lawmakers sign off on the deal and the White House can arrange financing—likely via the federal government’s fund for foreign weapons deals—Kyiv’s forces soon could operate one of the world’s best killer drones.

But the drone itself—a two-ton, propeller-driven vehicle with a 56-foot wingspan—isn’t the most exciting component of the possible deal for Ukraine. The four MQ-1Cs that the White House reportedly is offering comprise just one “orbit.”

Four drones are enough to keep one drone flying over a small area around the clock. One vehicle is on station. Another is getting ready to take its place. The third is undergoing light maintenance after returning from battle. The fourth might be in overhaul.

The great thing, for Ukraine, is that the MQ-1Cs and the eight Hellfires each one carries are expensive—$20 million and $150,000 per copy, respectively. Still, they’re expendable. When you use them or lose them, you just buy more via the U.S. government from manufacturers General Atomics and Lockheed Martin.

Oh great, it’s an advertisement piece. Nevermind.

  • Russian Senator Urges Missile Strikes on U.S. Bases in Europe Newsweek

A Russian senator has suggested that his country should attack U.S. military bases in Europe in response to the Biden administration’s decision to send rocket systems to Ukraine.

Senator Frants Klintsevich told Russian state TV that Russia should “wreck” American bases using the country’s “high-precision long-range weapons” after the U.S. announced it will send Ukraine the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).

The idea that Putin is like, an abnormally brutal dictator is so hilarious. Compared to the people in Russia’s government, Putin may as well be a moderate in terms of war, maybe even slightly dove-ish.

  • LPR officers says civilians taking refuge in bomb shelters at Azot plant in Severodonetsk TASS

“There is intelligence data that, under various pretexts, people were lured to the territory of the Azot plant,” Marochko said on an RT streaming program on Thursday, referring to actions of the Ukrainian forces. “There are local residents on the territory of the enterprise, so one needs to tread very carefully there.”

Here we go again…

  • Refusal to negotiate with Russia may lead to total loss of Ukraine’s sovereignty TASS

Kiev’s refusal to negotiate with Russia will lead to more Ukrainian casualties and loss of territories, and may eventually cause a total loss of Ukrainian sovereignty, Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Security Council Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview to Qatar’s Al Jazeera television.

He said that a while ago, Ukraine “seemed to be willing to negotiate about key issues,” approaching the talks from a fairly realistic position. But, at some point, the country suspended negotiations. According to the Russian official, the u-turn was “clearly made under the influence of calls, coming to Kiev from Washington and Brussels.”

  • Zaporozhye residents will start getting Russian passports in four-six weeks TASS

Climate and Space

  • ‘Apocalyptic skies’: the dust storms devastating Gulf states and Syria The Guardian

Blankets of thick gritty haze and ominous orange skies since early April have sent thousands to hospitals and resulted in at least four deaths in Iraq and in Syria.

The apocalyptic scenes have impacted everyone. Hospitals in Syria have been on standby for residents unable to breathe. Iraq forced schools and offices to close in some provinces, and on 16 May declared a state of emergency. In the Gulf states, flights were halted in Kuwait, and both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates issued dust storm alerts.

“The increasing frequency of dust storms means more problems, more loss of life and property, and more destruction,” said Nasim Hossein Hamzeh, a researcher specialising in dust projects at the Air and Climate Technology Company in Iran.

Dust and sand storms are an atmospheric phenomenon, representing one of the most severe, if underrated, natural hazards in dry regions. In the Middle East, they frequently cover arid and semi-arid land, typically in late spring and summer. This year has been especially severe, experts say. They have come far earlier than normal, and are spreading across a much wider area.

  • The Alps are getting greener — but that’s not a good thing NBC

The European Alps are an iconic, crescent-shaped mountain range associated with images of wintry peaks and snow-covered villages. But new research confirms a worrying trend about the winter-sports destination: The Alps are turning from white to green.

This phenomenon is occurring across 77 percent of the European Alps above the tree line — the edge of alpine habitats where trees stop growing. An earlier estimate reported this was happening in just 56 percent of the region.

  • How humid air, intensified by climate change, is melting Greenland ice WaPo

  • Once eager to drill, oil companies exit leases in Arctic refuge WaPo

Three major oil companies have given up opportunities to explore for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, after the industry and Republican politicians have spent decades working to gain access to the sensitive region.

Regenerate Alaska, a division of an Australian firm and the only oil company to directly acquire a tract on the refuge’s nearly 1.6 million-acre coastal plain, canceled its lease last month, after Chevron and Hilcorp, two other major oil companies, had also jettisoned their claims.

The exits make it far less likely that drilling will take place soon in a vast, unspoiled landscape that has achieved iconic status among environmentalists and has been fought over for half a century. An Anchorage real estate investor and the state-owned Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority still hold leases there, but industry analysts say they lack the financial power and expertise to develop the remote area on their own.

  • Study Reveals Alarming Lack Of Climate Change Research In Central Asia Oil Price

A new study shows there is an alarming lack of research on climate change patterns and mitigation possibilities in Central Asia, one of the most at-risk regions on earth. The paper, A Void in Central Asian Research: Climate Change, was published recently in the journal Central Asian Survey. It states that temperatures in Central Asia are rising faster than the global average, thereby accelerating a variety of problems, including glacier melt, unreliable river flows, and increasing aridity. The environmental shifts, in turn, can have profound social and economic consequences, spurring destabilizing migration from rural areas to urban centers, disrupting agriculture, and exacerbating inter-state competition for dwindling resources.

Dipshittery and Cope

  • Vladimir Putin has ‘almost messianic belief in himself’, says Hillary Clinton The Guardian

You know what? I don’t need to read this terrible, terrible article. This is one of the few cases where you truly get the entire story from the headline, and that story is that parody and irony is dead.

  • Russia’s war on Ukraine could shake up global trade blocs. Here are the winners and losers CNBC

You’ll never guess who they think the biggest loser is going to be!

Any diversion as a result of changes to global trade would cause some economies to benefit, such as Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa, according to Martin.

“Russia will likely be the biggest loser as, although it can pivot some trade links, it will become excluded from a large proportion of the global economy,” Martin said.

“What we are expecting to see in the coming times is clearly a lower reliance on the Big East-West trade routes between China and Europe, as well as China and the U.S. That’s typically the stretches where you have mega vessels calling anything between two and five stops in China,” said Christian Roeloffs, founder and CEO of container booking firm Container xChange.

Routes could change and may benefit some Southeast Asia countries such as Vietnam, where more companies are already manufacturing their goods.

On the other hand, places like Singapore — where ships commonly pass through on the way to the U.S. —could lose out, he added, explaining that Singapore may be bypassed as shippers go from the emerging manufacturing hubs of Vietnam and Cambodia directly to the U.S. West Coast.

“Some companies are starting to produce closer to home in order to limit delivery delays due to plant closures, reduced labor supplies, and other factors,” said Jason McMann, head of geopolitical risk analysis for Morning Consult.

Of course, Ukraine and Europe and the West generally aren’t losers, because they’ve won in our hearts and minds.

  • Ukrainian forces have had some success in Sievierodonetsk, says Zelenskiy Reuters

Ukrainian forces have had some success fighting Russians in the city of Sievierodonetsk but the overall military situation in the Donbas region has not changed in the day, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Thursday.

  • Ukraine is desperate for peace, but we won’t sign up to a bogus Russian deal The Guardian, by Andriy Zagorodnyuk, a former Ukrainian defence minister.

We Ukrainians want peace more than anyone in the world. For about 100 days, we have been fighting Russian forces on the ground, in the sky, on the sea, and in cyber and information spaces. Defence experts originally gave us little hope of success. They changed their position when we showed our ability to resist. Now we need to demonstrate the strength to hold our course and resist the temptations of a false resolution.

In this existential battle for our future, ostensibly friendly or consoling pundits and politicians persistently suggest we should surrender to achieve peace more quickly. Of course, we do not want a war to take longer than necessary, but we will not get trapped into a bogus deal which will only make things worse.

Among those who advised a quick fix was the former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, who suggested we should cede territory in exchange for ending the war. His intervention was appalling and, for a well-known strategic thinker, he was amazingly non-strategic. Conceding territory will not end the war. It will reinforce it. Russia has not abandoned its primary objective of getting rid of Ukraine, wiping us off the map. Any concessions would reward and legitimise its strategy. Far from stopping Russia’s pursuit of its broader military goals, it would feel emboldened.

Responding to force with territorial concessions would also have tragic global consequences. It would open the door to similar cases around the world. We do not want to live in a world where brute force decides which country we live in and which regime we belong to. We do not want to live in a world where only large countries can be truly sovereign.

Receiving that suggestion from a renowned expert was very surprising. However, the idea was immediately picked up by the Russians, who cynically blamed Ukraine for a desire to continue an unnecessary war. Some media commentators also started to debate the need for a compromise to secure peace. This is manipulative and wrong.

Imagine the harrowing scenario of your home being invaded by a street gang which then occupied part of your house. What peaceful compromise is possible? None. You would expect the police to deal with it. Suggesting that compromising with a criminal act leads to peace is ridiculous. It is similarly absurd in the case of the Russian invasion.

Indeed! I assume you are therefore pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel, given that’s LITERALLY exactly what they’re doing there?

Many armed conflicts do end with a compromise, but it would be illogical to assume all of them should. The only reason for this invasion was Putin’s obsession with subjugating Ukraine. What compromise is possible when your adversary’s goal is that you should not exist? The unspeakably brutal way in which Russians treat our occupied towns and villages is known throughout the world. True peace can only be secured when the invader leaves our country.

The truly disgusting brutality is particularly prevalent in Mariupol, where the residents receive large amounts of humanitarian aid from Russia and people are generally happy with it.

As the old saying has it, the night is darkest just before the dawn. Russia is now applying maximum available force, but the evidence of 1960s tanks being dusted off for battle, use of conscripts and the patching up of new military units without collective training demonstrate that it has exhausted its options. That is why Russia is pushing the idea of a compromise. It needs a pause to show gains to the Russian public and to give itself time to recover before moving on further with its attempt to subjugate Ukraine.

Winning is losing. And yet Russia is the Orwellian bloc and the West is not?

Ukraine’s forces are more efficient than Russia’s. With more equipment and ammunition, pushing Russia back and out of the country is a realistic prospect. The flow of western help is only beginning and will increase. Putin’s desperate attempts to intercept the supplies from the west by bombing rail lines and fuel depots are strikingly similar to Hitler’s attempts to attack allied convoys in the Atlantic.

What the fuck? “Russia is destroying logistical supply lines! That’s not fair! You can only bomb people in war! HITLER!"

But they are failing to affect the overall situation, and equipment is successfully getting to the frontline. US weapons from the unprecedented $40bn aid package, which we expect will include much-needed multiple rocket launch systems, will start arriving soon.

The free world has decided to stop accepting Russia’s bullying behaviour, but it must be consistent in its application of that approach. For many years, western leaders tolerated Russian aggression: invading Georgia; invading Ukraine; occupying Crimea; occupying the Black Sea; carrying out targeted assassinations in the UK; carrying out cyber-attacks; allegedly meddling with elections; abusing human rights. Every time it was said: “It is Russia. It has always been like that.”

It is time to stop accepting such injustices. How often have people been told to tolerate something because “it has always been like this”? Racial discrimination, sexual abuse, domestic violence, corruption, social inequality and organised crime have been endemic in societies. The only time things have changed is when people have challenged the old ways and refused to accept them any more.

Once again, the tired old method of attempting to remove all context and complexity from a situation by being like “Russia attacking Ukraine is like an abuser hitting a victim.” I genuinely find it really sinister.

We cannot allow past approaches to dominate the way we live now. Kissinger may have played a significant role in creating the world as it was – a less than perfect world, I must say. But no longer we will accept an unjust and unfair past defining our future.

Maybe you should have thought about that before the government and country was taken control of by several neo-Nazi paramilitary groups worshipping war criminals and then expressed a desire to join the explicitly anti-Russia alliance which was pumping military equipment into your country, and also express a desire to get nuclear weapons. You cannot sow and then complain that you then need to reap.

  • Putin thinks West will blink first in war of attrition, Russian elites say WaPo

Russian President Vladimir Putin is digging in for a long war of attrition over Ukraine and will be relentless in trying to use economic weapons, such as a blockade of Ukrainian grain exports, to whittle away Western support for Kyiv, according to members of Russia’s economic elite.

The Kremlin has seized on recent signs of hesitancy by some European governments as an indication the West could lose focus in seeking to counter Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, especially as global energy costs surge following the imposition of sanctions on Moscow.

Putin “believes the West will become exhausted,” said one well-connected Russian billionaire, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution. Putin had not expected the West’s initially strong and united response, “but now he is trying to reshape the situation and he believes that in the longer term he will win,” the billionaire said. Western leaders are vulnerable to election cycles, and “he believes public opinion can flip in one day.”

He was so utterly surprised by the unified response by the West to his invasion that he said to me, while giving me some Putinbux, “Wow, I just spent the last two decades transforming Russia into a self-sustaining fortress because I wanted a project in my downtime! Huh! Well, I guess it’s good I have it now! Didn’t see it coming at all!"

  • Opinion: How I (almost) got Putin wrong CNN

This is what Great Man Theory does to a motherfucker. All my homies hate Great Man Theory.

Vladimir Putin thinks no one in the West listens to him. The Russian President has been saying it for years.

In 2018, boasting of Russia’s new and more fearsome nuclear weapons which, he claimed, he had warned the United States he would have to develop to counter their anti-missile systems, he said: “No one listened to us then. So, listen to us now.”

This January, as he inched closer to attacking Ukraine, Putin told French President Emmanuel Macron that the United States and NATO “did not take into account Russia’s fundamental concerns” about NATO expansion. Days later, he repeated that claim to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, saying “fundamental Russian concerns were ignored.”

Being ignored by the US, apparently, gets under Putin’s skin. On Feb. 24, the day he announced what he called his “special military operation” against Ukraine, he contemptuously challenged the US, saying: “They sought to destroy our traditional values and force on us their false values that would erode us, our people, from within, the attitudes they have been aggressively imposing on their countries, attitudes that are directly leading to degradation and degeneration, because they are contrary to human nature. This is not going to happen. No one has ever succeeded in doing this, nor will they succeed now.”

I admit it: During the 22 years I reported on Putin, I didn’t listen to him as closely as I should have. Or, rather, I listened to the parts I wanted to hear, the parts that sounded good to the ear of a Westerner. Like the first time I sat next to the Russian President in the Kremlin Library.

It was June 2000, six months after Boris Yeltsin chose Putin as his political heir, three months after Putin won an all-but-guaranteed presidential election. He invited a small group of Western journalists to the Kremlin. We gathered at a large round table in the library. I was seated at Putin’s right, a good vantage point to observe him close-up, as he dissected a small pastry and sipped tea.

He confidently took questions for three hours; I was impressed. He was cool and in control – that is, until he was challenged with a question about the war in Chechnya. Suddenly, his entire body stiffened, he leaned in toward us, his gestures became jerky and angry as he justified his scorched-earth tactics against the breakaway republic.

I vividly remember a conversation I had in those days with a senior aide to Putin, whom I knew quite well. “Do you actually believe in democracy for Russia?” I asked him. “Of course!” he answered. “Just not quite now. If people are left to their own devices, they will elect the wrong people.”

As I look back at that speech [in Munich, 2007] now, more than three months into the grinding obliteration of cities and human beings unleashed by Putin’s army in Ukraine, I realize I should have listened, really listened, to Putin. Listened to his obsession with Chechnya, yes, and to his obsession with Ukraine. But really paid attention to his deep and abiding resentment of the US. Understood it the day he declared war on Ukraine but spent most of his speech calling the US an “empire of lies” and accusing it of “con artist behavior.”

A Russian friend once told me that, in Putin’s world view, he draws a line between an enemy and a traitor. An enemy he respects; a traitor he despises. For Putin, the US is both enemy and traitor: a powerful nation that, on one level, he respects yet deeply resents, a country that must be confronted, that, as he sees it, stabbed Russia in the back.

He reserves a boiling yet impotent fury for the US. “Where did this insolent manner of talking down from the height of their exceptionalism, infallibility and all-permissiveness come from? What is the explanation for this contemptuous and disdainful attitude to our interests and absolutely legitimate demands?” he said in his February 24 address.

  • The Russian navy’s surprising losses against Ukraine are reminders of another humiliating defeat 117 years ago Yahoo

Since Russia launched its attack on Ukraine in late February, the Russian navy has suffered high-profile losses against a heavily outnumbered and outgunned adversary.

The Russians have lost at least five Raptor-class patrol boats, one Tapir-class landing ship, one Serna-class landing craft, and most notably the Moskva, a Slava-class guided-missile cruiser that was also the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet.

The losses themselves are not catastrophic for the Russian navy and are unlikely to alter the course of the war or the balance of power in the Black Sea, but they are blows to Russian prestige and come a little over a century after another historic debacle for Russia: the Battle of Tsushima, the last time a Russian navy flagship was sunk in combat.

The mainstream media in general has this hilarious idea that a country that was under a different system and set of material circumstances in the past is actually the same country as it is today. You might as well say “Russia losing this tank battle is actually quite reminiscent of the Battle of Jaxartes in 329 BC, in which Alexander the Great killed 1200 of the Saka people and captured 1800 horses.” Like, you can certainly draw comparisons, but saying that they’re somehow related events in a continuation of Russian military defeats is nonsense. Nobody would say that a hypothetical battle fought between Native American groups pre-colonization in what later became a Civil War battle site is an example of an battle fought by the United States just because it happened in the same overall geographical country and in the same location a century or so ago.

  • Russian Soldiers Looted Underwear, Appliances From Bucha Civilians: Ukraine Newsweek

Panty raid?!

  • Is the NRA Funded by Russia? What We Know and What We Don’t Newsweek

Oh, so Putin has money for the NRA but he said he’s giving me less Putinbux because of economic difficulties? Bullshit.

  • In Hong Kong, memories of China’s Tiananmen Square massacre are being erased CNN

Once again, the West has to pull an incident from over 30 years ago to attack China on, whereas there’s a new atrocity every other fucking day either caused by, or taking place inside, the United States. The famous image of the man in front of the tanks has gotta be among the greatest propaganda self-owns from the West - the unspoken truth of the image is that the tanks stopped so they didn’t run over that man, because the Communist Party and the PLA has genuine care for their citizens. If that was a similar protest in the West, it would be a photo of tanks with gore on their treads.

For decades it was a symbol of freedom on Chinese controlled soil: every June 4, come rain or shine, tens of thousands of people would descend on Victoria Park in Hong Kong to commemorate the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

The atmosphere would be at once defiant and somber. Speakers would demand accountability from the Chinese Communist Party for ordering the bloody military crackdown that cost the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of unarmed pro-democracy protesters on that fateful day in Beijing.

In memory of the dead, at 8 p.m. every year the park would turn into a sea of candles, held high by people vowing never to forget.

This year, whether those candles light up once again will offer a litmus test for Hong Kong, its freedoms and aspirations, and its relationships to both the rest of China and the world.

Authorities in mainland China have always done their best to erase all memory of the massacre: Censoring news reports, scrubbing all mentions from the internet, arresting and chasing into exile the organizers of the protests, and keeping the relatives of those who died under tight surveillance. As a result, generations of mainland Chinese have grown up without knowledge of the events of June 4.

It’s really funny that CNN is acting as if the average Chinese citizen doesn’t know what happened on June 4th 1989. They do know, and they know that the western narrative is complete fucking bullshit.

Critics say Hong Kong has taken an authoritarian turn ever since its own pro-democracy protests emerged. Indeed, its next leader, just weeks from power, has been named as John Lee – who rose to prominence as the security chief who helped to subdue those protests.

Many critics say the Hong Kong government would be stretching credulity if it again bans the event on the grounds of Covid. Yet that appears to be what the outgoing Chief Executive Carrie Lam has suggested. At the end of May, Lam gave an equivocal response when asked whether people who gathered at Victoria Park on June 4 would face legal repercussions.

“As far as any gathering is concerned, there are a lot of legal requirements,” Lam told reporters. “There is a national security law, there are the social-distancing restrictions, and there is also a venue question… whether a particular activity has received authorization to take place in a particular venue has to be decided by the owner of the venue.”

Even before the massacre, when student protesters in Beijing would use the square as a base to push for governmental reform and greater democracy, Hong Kong residents would hold rallies in solidarity. Many would even travel to the Chinese capital to offer support.

And when Beijing decided to send in People’s Liberation Army troops armed with rifles and accompanied by tanks to forcibly clear the square of one such protest – that had attracted tens of thousands of students – in the early hours of June 4, 1989, Hongkongers were among the first to offer support.

There is no official death toll for how many of the mostly student protesters were killed that day, but estimates range from several hundred to thousands, with many more injured. It has also been estimated that as many as 10,000 people were arrested during and after the protests. Several dozen protesters have been executed.

  • China a ‘glaring example’ of religious repression, US says Al Jazeera

Did the United States offer a shining counterexample for religious freedom when they vaporized over a million Iraqis in the Iraq War? Did they show a great degree of tolerance for the beliefs of others when they funded (and obviously continue to fund) Israel’s apartheid and genocide of Palestinians? Or this is purely an argument about the mosques or churches or synagogues per square mile of a country?

Good Takes that are Dope

  • 10 Negative Consequences of Boundless US Militarism and Imperialism Common Dreams

In recent years, the U.S. has seen great numbers of people and mass movements take to the streets to challenge the status quo. While domestic outrage grows, resistance to the U.S. war machine remains limited, even as President Joe Biden is looking to pass a military budget of $813 billion. This bloated budget proposal comes as inflation makes basic products unaffordable and funds for the ongoing pandemic are gutted.

The militaristic and imperialist foreign policy of the United States has negative consequences for every aspect of life in the U.S. and abroad. As long as we’re investing so much in the military, not only will we not have the money to invest in better things, but we are also exacerbating countless problems on a global level. In order to create the world we want and need, U.S. social movements must take up the struggle against militarism. Here are just ten ways that injustices in the United States are fueled by the war machine.

  1. Police violence is armed by the Pentagon.
  1. The War on Terror has fueled the criminalization of immigrants.
  1. U.S. warmongering fuels hate.
  1. The U.S. military furthers settler colonial occupation of Indigenous lands.
  1. The U.S. military is the world’s largest institutional polluter in the world.
  1. The military upholds patriarchy.
  1. U.S. imperialism suppresses LGBTQ+ communities.
  1. Student debt is a predatory trap used for military recruitment.
  1. When warfare is a priority, healthcare is not.
  1. The military budget must go towards reparations for Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities.
  • NATO’s Mission Imperative: Break Russia Even If Millions Worldwide Perish NEO

“There can be no peace in Europe without Russia” was once the mantra of European political philosophers. Now, the desperate liberal order is determined to smother out this logic with all or nothing propaganda and a proxy war NATO strategists say will weaken Russia. Unfortunately, their strategy will probably starve half the world to death.

The other day, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said “bystander countries” are suffering due to sanctions against Russia. The European Union’s aggressive support of the American sanction regime aimed at severing of economic ties try and force Moscow our of Ukraine is already causing serious collateral damage to far distant states. And while western analysts and leaders prefer to blame Russia for the situation, many dissenting nations understand Vladimir Putin’s hand was forced by the NATO cadre.

Not only have millions been forced to flee Ukraine, tens of thousands more have died needlessly because of the United States and NATO arming Ukraine’s military against neighboring Russia. Ramaphosa, and other African leaders see the situation for what it is, a desperate moment made more devastating because of the great game. Africa, which has already seen millions pushed into desperation by the COVID-19 pandemic, is now being devastated by rising food costs caused in part by disruptions linked to the Ukraine conflict.

Sadly, instead of trying to work a peace agreement in the Russia/Ukraine affair, the EU is using the situation to try and sway African nations back into the fold of former colonial powers. This is evidenced by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz ‘visit to South Africa on the final leg of a trip to the continent that aimed at just this. Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a third of global wheat and barley, as well as two-thirds of the world’s supply of sunflower oil used for cooking. And despite the fact Russia is opening sea corridors to let out shipments from Ukraine, western propaganda channels continue to harp on how Russia is causing shortages.

Bloomerism and Hope

  • The Amazon, Starbucks, Apple union push is capturing what a majority of all American workers now say they want CNBC

From Starbucks to Amazon to Apple, the recent headlines show that the biggest companies in the world can’t duck the union issue. But the issue isn’t isolated to a few iconic companies operating in retail. While union membership remains at a multi-decade low, a CNBC survey finds that a majority (59%) of workers across the U.S. and across all sectors say they support increased unionization in their own workplaces.

UAW members who manufacture Case and New Holland equipment say they were inspired by last year’s strike at John Deere. UAW Region 4.

Eleven hundred workers who manufacture agricultural and construction equipment for CNH Industrial in Burlington, Iowa, and Racine, Wisconsin, have been on strike since May 2.

At the core of the strike is the company’s three-tier pay system. Workers hired before 1996 make $6 to $8 more per hour than those hired after 2004; those hired between 1996 and 2004 earn somewhere in between. Workers want to see at least the bottom tier abolished.

  • As More Students, Faculty Back BDS, Universities Maintain Apartheid Ties Popular Resistance

This month, City University of New York’s (CUNY) law school faculty unanimously passed a resolution endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, joining a chorus of American universities advocating for Palestinian rights. Harvard University’s Crimson newspaper endorsed the movement earlier this year, with 50 of the school’s faculty members supporting the decision. And in March, the Middle East Studies Association also voted to endorse the BDS movement.

As college campuses across the U.S. grow in their support for Palestine, their administrations – many still having relations with major Israeli universities complicit in Israel’s occupation of Palestine – appear less likely to agree. With that in mind, BDS activists urge supporters to boycott Israeli academic institutions.

In March, both the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), collectively representing more than 300,000 workers in the state, passed a resolution calling for the state of Oregon to divest from the fund that owns Israeli spyware firm NSO.

The resolution also calls on the state to implement a human rights screening for all future investments.

And just weeks ago, the Oregon Education Association, representing more than 40,000 teachers, passed a similar resolution at its convention.

The passing of these resolutions comes after multiple investigations revealed a shocking record of human rights abuses committed by governments around the world using NSO’s controversial Pegasus spyware.

On May 31 General Mills announced that it divested its 60% stake in its Israeli subsidiary. For the last two years the company has been targeted by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) over the fact that some of its Pillsbury products are manufactured in an illegal Israeli settlement.

General Mills’s statement doesn’t reference the BDS campaign and claims that the move simply reflects the company’s “strategic choices about where to prioritize our resources to drive superior returns.” Bodan Holdings, an Israel-based company who previously owned the other 40% of the business, will take over the entire operation. As AFSC points out on Twitter, it remains unclear whether Pillsbury products can still be made in the factory under General Mills’s license agreement.

This Pride month and beyond, against the attacks on LGBTQ+ rights, the rights of trans youth and the right to bodily autonomy, we fight with all our strength for queer liberation.

We are facing a moment of unprecedented roll backs of victories won over the last 50 years. Attacks on queer people and queer rights are mounting as the right wing advances their political agenda of limiting our right to our bodies. Over 300 anti LGBTQ+ pieces of legislation have been put forward in state legislatures across the country. Many have passed. Many of these laws specifically target trans children and their ability to access healthcare, play sports, and even go to the bathroom. One especially horrific policy in Texas deems gender affirming healthcare as child abuse and demands that trans children be separated from their supportive parents.

In the last 50 years, we’ve fought and gained a tiny amount of space and acceptance for queer people through more rights, more support for our rights and a little bit of media representation. Now, we face a furious reaction against that tiny sliver of rights that we won. This should make us all deeply enraged.

And while the corporations pander to us, painting rainbows on their products, rainbow capitalism is just a façade to cover up the brutal exploitation of the workers in sweatshops who produce these products. Starbucks stands as a clear example — although they wrap themselves in rainbow colors every Pride month and talk about standing for LGBTQ+ rights, the company is currently engaging in disgusting union busting and have especially been targeting queer people.

And we are a part of a new fighting generation that needs to take up that struggle. We see that in the queer folks who are leading unionization drives all over the country, from Amazon, to Starbucks, to Trader Joe’s, Target and more. We see that in our straight and cis co-workers who are also taking up that struggle alongside us, like the Starbucks worker in Minneapolis who said, “I need a union as a worker, but I know that it’s especially essential for my trans co-workers to defend their rights. That’s why I’m fighting for a union.”

We are a part of a generation that knows that Black lives matte, and that the cops have no place at Pride.

We’re a generation that rejects pinkwashing and fight for a free Palestine.

This Pride month is not like the others; it’s a month of rage, of defiance. A month to kick off a mass movement to change everything.

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