In which Russian oil goes clandestine, climate change results in much more dengue in Singapore, Syria continues to be ravaged, Americans are very unhappy about the economy, AMLO confirms he won’t go to the Summit of the Americas, journalists get annoyed that developing countries aren’t joining the West in opposing Russia, and how dare China oppose the neo-Monroe Doctrine?

Link back to the discussion thread.


  • EU faces legal challenge over plan to fast-track gas projects The Guardian

An EU plan to fast-track funding and permits for 30 gas projects is facing a legal challenge from NGOs including ClientEarth and Friends of the Earth Europe.

The European Commission has been asked to review its backing for infrastructure projects such as the EastMed pipeline, a 1,180-mile (1,900km) gas pipeline to connect offshore gas fields in Israel and Cyprus to Italy.

The EU’s executive branch has up to 22 weeks to revise its initial decision or show that it does not violate environmental law, under a new way of challenging Brussels introduced last year.

Should the commission fail to offer a satisfactory legal justification, the case could be taken to the European court of justice, potentially holding up progress on €13bn (£11bn) worth of projects.

  • The EU’s 3 biggest shipping countries have doubled Russian oil shipments since the invasion of Ukraine, and it’s undermining attempts to hurt Putin Business Insider

Shipping companies in the European Union’s three largest maritime nations of Greece, Cyprus, and Malta have doubled the quantity of Russian oil they transport since the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, The Independent reported on Monday.

Shipping companies and vessels linked to the three countries moved an average of 58 million barrels of Russian oil in the month of May, the UK media outlet reported, citing an analysis from Global Witness, a non-government organization. That’s almost double the 31 million barrels they collectively transported in February. The three countries have the largest shipping fleet in the EU, according to Reuters.

The jump in the transportation of Russian crude came on the back of a tripling in oil tanker freight rates since the invasion of Ukraine on February 24 — and it’s undermining EU sanctions against Russia.

“Ships linked to Greece, Cyprus and Malta are making a mockery of the EU effort to sanction Putin’s war machine, keeping cash flowing to Russia as the country’s armed forces continue to pummel Ukraine,” Louis Goddard, a senior data investigations adviser at Global Witness, told The Independent.


  • Russian oil is getting transferred in the high seas for the first time as wary buyers try to avoid affiliation with Moscow Business Insider

In May, a ship-to-ship transfer of Russian oil happened in the high seas of the Atlantic — an unusual distance from typical sheltered waters where risks of oil spills are lower, according to Bloomberg.

Russian crude sellers are more often leaning into alternative methods to get products to buyers as war in Ukraine rages on. Wary buyers have attempted to avoid affiliation with the sanctioned nation through obfuscating the origins of crude and trading oil marked “destination unknown.”

“As normal trade routes start to close for Russian crude and products, and as purchases are increasingly punished and vilified, we should expect to see more subterfuge and obfuscation in the months ahead,” Matt Smith, lead oil analyst at Kpler, told Insider.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported that Russian oil products are still reaching the US market because traders are blending and refining it elsewhere. Supplies believed to be at least partially composed of Russian oil arrived in New York and New Jersey last month, which likely came from India, the report said.

“It is impossible to completely extricate Russian energy from the global market,” Smith told Insider previously. “If India is taking Russian crude and blending it with other crudes and then refining it into gasoline or diesel, there’s no way to separate what is made from Russian crude and what isn’t. On this basis, any clean products refined in India and sent to the US could have originated from Russian crude, it is just impossible to tell.”

  • Russia is pulling in less oil profits even though it’s shipping more crude as buyers in Asia get huge wartime discounts Business Insider

Russia’s oil exports have ballooned to a six-week high but the warring nation is earning a smaller profit because buyers in Asia are snapping up crude at a discount.

According to Bloomberg data, seaborne crude shipments rose in the week leading up to June 3 to their highest rate since April. But total revenue fell by $9 million, or about 5%, the report shows, reflecting a lower per-barrel rate for the exports.

Total volume shipped out of Russia increased in the week leading up to June 3, as Russian vessels moved an average of 3.94 million barrels a day, Bloomberg reports — about a 10% jump compared to the week ending May 27.

  • U.S. broadcaster Radio Liberty fined $325,000 in Russia for ‘fake news’ Reuters

The U.S.-backed broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) has been fined 20 million roubles ($325,000) in Russia for failing to delete what Moscow calls “fake” news about its military operation in Ukraine, the Interfax news agency reported on Monday.

Based. I hope Radio Free Asia gets owned next.


  • Russian TV Banned in Latvia Until Putin Gives in to Ukraine’s Demands Newsweek

Latvia’s ban will go into effect on June 9 and will not end until Russia ends the war or surrenders and gives back Ukrainian territory, according to Latvian news outlet Delfi. It is the latest rebuke of the invasion from European leaders, who have overwhelmingly backed Ukraine amid the conflict, which began in late February.


  • German factory orders unexpectedly plunge; pound under pressure The Guardian

The pound touched its lowest level in over two weeks this morning, as a strengthening dollar, weakening economy, and political uncertainty all weigh on sterling.

Sterling dropped 0.7% in early London trading to around $1.243, its lowest level since May 20 at $1.2433.

Germany’s manufacturing sector is a European powerhouse, so a surprise drop in factory orders this morning has fuelled worries over the economic outloook.

German factory orders fell by 2.7% in April, new figures show, dashing hopes of a 0.3% rise after a 4.7% tumble in March.

It’s the third consecutive monthly fall in factory orders. On an annual basis, factory orders were 6.2% lower than a year before.

Asia and Oceania


  • China Rejects Canadian, Australian Charges of Unsafe Air Intercepts The Diplomat

China defended its military pilots on Monday, saying they acted properly and were protecting its sovereignty, following recent complaints by Canada and Australia that Chinese planes engaged in risky maneuvers with their aircraft over the Pacific.

  • China secretly building PLA naval facility in Cambodia, Western officials say WaPo

China Naval Base

China is secretly building a naval facility in Cambodia for the exclusive use of its military, with both countries denying that is the case and taking extraordinary measures to conceal the operation, Western officials said.

The military presence will be on the northern portion of Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base on the Gulf of Thailand, which is slated to be the site of a groundbreaking ceremony this week, according to the officials, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity.

The establishment of a Chinese naval base in Cambodia — only its second such overseas outpost and its first in the strategically significant Indo-Pacific region — is part of Beijing’s strategy to build a network of military facilities around the world in support of its aspirations to become a true global power, the officials said.

China’s only other foreign military base right now is a naval facility in the East African country of Djibouti. Having a facility capable of hosting large naval vessels to the west of the South China Sea would be an important element of China’s ambition to expand its influence in the region and would strengthen its presence near key Southeast Asian sea lanes, officials and analysts said.

“We assess that the Indo-Pacific is an important piece for China’s leaders, who see the Indo-Pacific as China’s rightful and historic sphere of influence,” one Western official said. “They view China’s rise there as part of a global trend toward a multipolar world where major powers more forcefully assert their interests in their perceived sphere of influence.”


  • India could import even more Russian oil under new agreement as state-run refiners look to load up on discounted crude Business Insider

Refiners are looking at six-month contracts with Rosneft PJSC, Russia’s top state-run producer, on a delivery basis with India handling insurance and shipping. India’s state-run refiners include Indian Oil Corp., Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum. Rosneft partially owns some of India’s private refiners including Reliance Industries and Nayara Energy.

Sanctions from the US and UK have pummeled the Russian economy but have not been able to shut Russian oil out of the market, and India has been able to amass stockpiles at large discounts. The panic over global oil supplies and gas prices has pushed President Biden to plead with Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries to increase output to make up for the Russian embargo.

But Russia still reported a 50% increase in revenues despite global condemnation, signalling the country is still finding ample buyers.


  • Vietnam’s Communist Party Dumps Officials Over COVID-19 Test-Kit Scam The Diplomat

Two high-ranking Vietnamese government officials have been kicked out of the ruling Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP) over accusations that they were involved in a $172 million COVID-19 test kit scandal.

In an emergency session of the VCP’s Central Committee, Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long and Chu Ngoc Anh, the party chairman of the capital Hanoi, were expelled for involvement in the Viet A Technologies Company scandal, in which officials were allegedly bribed to supply hospitals with vastly overpriced COVID-19 test kits.


US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will travel to the Republic of Korea (ROK), the Philippines, Vietnam, and Laos from 5 June to 14 June.

The US state department has announced that the Deputy Secretary’s travel to the region reflects the United States’ continued commitment to the Indo-Pacific. It follows last month’s US-ASEAN Special Summit, President Biden’s visit to the ROK and Japan, the Quad Leaders’ Summit in Tokyo, and the launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.


  • Australian Leader’s Visit Affirms Deeper Ties to Indonesia The Diplomat

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Monday looked to move beyond regional issues that have been key in his trips abroad by promoting the importance of building stronger economic ties with neighboring Indonesia.

The visit was Albanese’s second overseas trip since his inauguration two weeks ago.

Albanese said the two countries’ trade and investment relationship is a “priority,” highlighting their ambition to better utilize the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. They also discussed Australia’s proposed $200 million climate and infrastructure fund with Indonesia.

After meeting with Widodo, Albanese said in a joint news conference that Indonesia, Australia’s closest major neighbor, is on track to be one of the world’s five largest economies.


  • Singapore’s dengue ‘emergency’ is a climate change omen for the world CNN

Singapore says it is facing a dengue “emergency” as it grapples with an outbreak of the seasonal disease that has come unusually early this year.

The Southeast Asian city-state has already exceeded 11,000 cases – far beyond the 5,258 it reported throughout 2021 – and that was before June 1, when its peak dengue season traditionally begins.

Experts are warning that it’s a grim figure not only for Singapore – whose tropical climate is a natural breeding ground for the Aedes mosquitoes that carry the virus – but also for the rest of the world. That’s because changes in the global climate mean such outbreaks are likely to become more common and widespread in the coming years.


  • Australia’s central bank raises rates by 50 bps in hawkish surprise Reuters

Australia’s central bank on Tuesday raised interest rates by the most in 22 years and flagged more tightening to come as it battles to restrain surging inflation, stunning markets and sending bond yields flying.

Wrapping up its June policy meeting, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) lifted its cash rate by 50 basis points to 0.85%, wrong footing investors who had wagered on a move of either 25 or 40 basis points.

Middle East


  • Israeli coalition suffers loss, faces uncertain prospects Yahoo

Israel’s government on Monday failed to pass a bill extending legal protections for settlers in the occupied West Bank, marking a major setback for the fragile coalition that could hasten its demise and send the country to new elections.

The failure to renew the bill also highlighted the separate legal systems in the West Bank, where nearly 500,000 Jewish settlers enjoy the benefits of Israeli citizenship while some 3 million Palestinians live under military rule that is now well into its sixth decade. Three major human rights groups have said the situation amounts to apartheid, an allegation Israel rejects as an assault on its legitimacy.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s coalition remains in power. But Monday’s vote underscored the weaknesses and divisions in the fragile alliance and raised questions about how long it can survive.

Emergency regulations in place for decades have created a separate legal system for Jewish settlers in the West Bank, applying parts of Israeli law to them — even though they live in occupied territory and not within sovereign Israeli land.

These regulations expire at the end of the month and if they are not renewed, that legal system, which Israel has cultivated for its settlers in the West Bank since it captured the territory in 1967, will be thrown into question. It could also change the legal status of the 500,000 settlers living there.


  • Syria’s climate-scorched wheat fields feed animals, not people Iraqi News

Syria is among the countries most vulnerable and poorly prepared for climate change, which is forecast to worsen, posing a further threat to the wheat harvests that are an essential income source for a war-battered population.

The trend is most evident in Syria’s once-fertile northeast where wheat fields are drying to a crisp because of severe drought and low rainfall, challenges also faced by Iraq and other neighbouring countries.

In Umm Hajrah, a village northeast of Hasakeh city, Fatimi meandered through a wheat field dotted with sheep munching on the crops.

“It’s just straw. There’s no seeds,” he said after pulling up a stunted stalk.

Trucks used to queue to ferry bags of Fatimi’s wheat to granaries, but now he largely relies on income from other farmers who use his field to graze their animals.

“I feel sorry when I see the sheep eating from the field,” he said.

Saudi Arabia

  • Saudi Arabia is losing the war in Yemen after seven years of mayhem and destruction MEMO

According to the United Nations (UN), the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and the Houthis have extended their truce for a further two months. This follows an initial two-month truce reached between the warring parties in April 2022. The war in Yemen started in 2015, following the ousting of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi on 22 January 2015 by the Houthis. President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi fled to Saudi Arabia where he started lobbying for support from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States.

After seven years of human suffering and infrastructural destruction, Mohamad Bin Salman and the coalition he led into this war are negotiating with the Houthis. Houthis are emboldened by the truce, notwithstanding the fire power they have endured from the coalition. Bin Salman, on the other hand, enters this truce with a wounded ego and humiliation. Furthermore, his main allies with whom he started the war abandoned the war, adding financial strain to Saudi Arabia. In October 2019, the UAE announced it was pulling its last troops out Yemen. Qatar was forced to pull out of the war in 2017 when Bahrain, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt led a land, sea and air blockade of the state of Qatar.

Iran certainly feels emboldened, and its foreign policy vindicated as it scores yet another goal. In the recent past, President Bashar Al-Assad of Syria, another ally of Iran, was admitted back to the normal global political arena, notwithstanding heinous crimes he committed and the use of chemical weapons against his people. In Lebanon, Iran also continues to enjoy popular support and dominate the politics there, through its proxy in that country, Hezbollah. Hezbollah is widely regarded as “a Muslim army against the oppressed people of Palestine” in an absence of credible fighting forces outside occupied Palestine.

The outcome of the war in Yemen is not what Bin Salman expected. Saudi Arabia finds itself with huge global public image problems, which were further complicated by the murder of journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi was killed, and his body dismembered by the highly trained Saudi technical team linked to Mohammed Bin Salman. Bin Salman entered the war hoping to prove his critics wrong and to establish himself as a leader in global politics; he has failed to achieve that objective. Instead, the actions in Yemen have emboldened both Iran and the Houthis.


  • Oman discovers new oil reserves, able to increase output by 100,000 barrels MEMO

Oman has announced the discovery of newly-found crude reserves that would increase its oil output by 100,000 barrels over the next few years.

According to the Oman News Agency on Saturday, the country’s crude oil reserves now stand at 5.2 billion barrels and its gas reserves amount to 24 trillion cubic feet.


  • More Iranian Crude May Be Coming To World Markets Oil Price

The U.S. may relax its sanction pressure on Tehran to allow more Iranian oil barrels to enter the global market, the head of Asian operations at Vitol, Mike Muller, told Bloomberg over the weekend.

“Uncle Sam might just allow a little bit more of that oil to flow,” Muller said. “If the midterms are dominated by the need to get gas prices lower in America, turning a somewhat greater blind eye to the sanctioned barrels flowing out is probably something you might expect to see. US intervention in these flows has always been pretty sparse.”


  • Kazakhstan set to extend its wheat and flour export quotas till September 1 TASS

Kazakhstan currently allows local grain traders to export up to 1 mln metric tons of wheat and 300,000 metric tons of wheat flour from the country

  • Kazakh President wins consitutional referendum with 77% support EU Reporter

A constitutional reform package put forward by Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has been overwhelmingly approved by voters in a referendum. Turnout was 68%. That’s a healthy figure by European standards but both the turnout and the 77% in favour show that there were people who remained unconvinced.

When he cast his own vote, the President said it was “an important historical day” and “a fateful decision” but there was no compulsion to take part or to vote in favour. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev doubled down on constitutional reform as a response to the events at the start of the year, known as Tragic January, when protests about price rises were followed by armed violence.

“We believe there will be no recurrence of Tragic January in our country. Today’s referendum serves as a guarantee. We have learned the lessons”, the President said. His reforms will mean that Kazakhstan is no-longer a ‘super-presidential’ republic, with a greater role for parliament and with judicial and legal reforms aimed at securing human rights.

It will also become easier to register political parties and to hold legal protests. In a sign of the times, women, apparently from an unregistered political party, chanted slogans after casting their votes in a polling station in Almaty. They were simply asked to leave and they carried on outside. Police watched but did not intervene, tolerating behaviour that would almost guarantee arrest in many countries.


  • U.S. Warns Starving African Nations to Not Buy Grain Stolen by Russia Newsweek

U.S. officials are cautioning African countries against buying grains plundered from Ukraine as some nations draw closer to Russia to slow surging food prices and stave off hunger.

The U.S. sent out a warning in mid-May to 14 countries, primarily in Africa, that Russian cargo ships were selling “stolen Ukrainian grain,” The New York Times reported Monday. The report comes as humanitarian agencies warn of dire consequences from food supply lines disrupted by the conflict in Ukraine and days after African leaders met with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss exporting needed grains.


  • Egypt close to completing $3bn arms deal with Italy MEE

Egypt is close to finalising a $3bn deal with Italy to acquire combat aircraft, following three years of negotiations, according to an Italian newspaper.

Il Fatto Quotidiano quoted an Italian government official as saying that the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is awaiting confirmation from Italian Prime Minister Mario Dargi to finalise the deal, which includes the purchase of 24 Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft.

The sale of fighter jets is part of a wider arms deal, valued at between $10-12bn, involving warships, combat and training aircraft, and a military satellite.

If completed, it would be the largest arms deal in Egypt’s recent history and one of the largest arms deals by Italy since World War Two.


  • Ethiopia’s central bank warns against trading in digital currencies Africa News

Whiles Central Africa Republic has taken a bold step to legalise digital currency (Bitcoin), Ethiopia’s central bank on Monday warned citizens not to engage in “illegal” transactions in digital currencies.

The National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) said digital currencies like crypto-currencies and bitcoins haven’t been recognized by the NBE as a transactional and payment method, state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate (FBC) reported.

North America

United States

  • Record U.S. natural gas demand this winter led to largest storage withdrawal in four years EIA

  • A gallon of gas costs 25 cents more than it did last week Business Insider

  • Pushed by Progressives, Biden Invokes Defense Production Act to Boost Renewable Energy Common Dreams

The White House announced on Monday executive actions to help “create a bridge” to a “clean energy future” including invoking the Defense Production Act to ramp up production of U.S.-made solar panels.

Beyond tapping the DPA for renewable technology, Biden’s plan includes a two-year pause on “anti-dumping” tariffs imposed on solar panels and other key energy components from Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia that could result from a Commerce Department investigation into whether Chinese companies are dodging penalties by moving operations to those Southeast Asian nations. China also stands accused of using Uyghur slave labor in its production of solar parts.

I keep reading DPA as Defense Politics Asia.

  • Most Americans think the US is already in a recession. Economists disagree. Business Insider

Fifty-five percent of surveyed adults believe the US is currently experiencing an economic recession , according to a new poll conducted by The Economist and YouGov. Just 21% of surveyed adults don’t believe the country is in a downturn, and 24% said they weren’t sure if the economy was in a slump or not.

The survey highlights just how large a gap exists between the actual path of the economy and Americans' perceptions of it. A wide range of indicators show the country still firmly in recovery mode, and with little sign of a near-term recession. The economy added 390,000 jobs in May, beating forecasts and signaling the economy is settling down while still featuring strong job growth. Americans' spending held at record highs through April, and historically low jobless claims hint there hasn’t been a sizable uptick in layoffs. The recovery isn’t moving as quickly as it was last year, but it’s far from reversing course.

The economy is fine, according to the Cumballs Justice and Freedom Index! Why are the poors complaining so much?

That performance hasn’t been enough to quash Americans recession worries. Consumer sentiment has hovered around decade lows through much of the year, with most citing sky-high inflation for their soured moods. Two-thirds of surveyed adults said inflation was a “very important” issue, while another 26% deemed it a “somewhat important” problem, according to the Economist/YouGov survey.

  • More than 8 in 10 Americans hate this economy. That’s the highest number since the poll began Fortune

Pessimism about the U.S. economy is at its highest level in 50 years amid decades-high inflation rates and rising interest rates.

Roughly 83% of respondents said the state of the economy was poor or not so good, according to a new poll from the Wall Street Journal and NORC at the University of Chicago. That’s the highest dissatisfaction level since NORC—one of the largest independent research organizations in the U.S.—began conducting the poll in 1972.


  • Canada votes against health care for Palestinians at the World Health Assembly Canadian Dimension

On May 25, 2022, the World Health Assembly held a vote regarding the dire health conditions in occupied Palestine. The WHA report on which representatives voted called on the Israeli state to end its open and systemic denial of health care to Palestinians in the occupied territories, to supply Palestinians who require medical procedures with travel permits to reach a suitable facility, and to refrain from perpetrating acts of violence against health care workers, in accordance with international law.

The report notes 235 attacks against health care workers and facilities in the occupied territories in 2021, causing injury to 106 health workers and damage to 57 ambulances and 124 health care facilities. Likewise, the World Health Organization has confirmed 58 attacks on health care workers and facilities in 2022. One person died and 47 were injured by these Israeli attacks.

Canada was in the minority of countries that voted “no” to the report’s recommendations and its call for international cooperation to promote health conditions in occupied Palestine. In total, 14 representatives voted against the measure while 83 voted in favour. Thirty-nine countries abstained. The “no” tally is largely comprised of the usual suspects⁠—Canada, the United States, Australia, Israel itself, Bolsonaro’s Brazil, Colombia, numerous European states⁠—but also a disappointing surprise in Xiomara Castro’s Honduras, whose representative chose to align themself with some of the world’s most extreme supporters of Israeli apartheid on an international forum.

Later, Canada co-sponsored a resolution condemning Russian attacks on health care workers and facilities in Ukraine.

lol. lmao, even.

South America

  • Mexico’s Leader to Skip Regional Summit After U.S. Snubs Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela WSJ

The Biden administration has excluded Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela from a key regional summit this week, said U.S. administration officials, prompting Mexico’s leader to back out and send his foreign minister instead.

“I’m not going because not all the countries of America are invited,” said Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Monday at his daily press conference. The Mexican leader said he had a good relationship with Mr. Biden and that he planned to visit the White House in July.

The leaders of Bolivia, Guatemala, Honduras and St. Vincent and the Grenadines also said they wouldn’t attend. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro had also threatened not to go, but later opted to attend.


  • Wheat soars more than 5% as a poor US harvest and India’s grain-for-fertilizer swap deal threaten global supply Business Insider

Wheat prices jumped by the most in almost a month on Monday, after India and Egypt considered a deal to swap grain for fertilizer and as the US government predicted a poor harvest that could put global supply under even more pressure.

The price of wheat has risen by 40% so far this year, down to a number of factors. […]

  • Oil tops $120 a barrel on Saudi pricing despite OPEC+ deal Inquirer

Oil prices topped $120 a barrel in choppy trade on Monday buoyed by Saudi Arabia raising its July crude prices but amid doubts that a higher output target for OPEC+ oil producers would ease tight supply.

Brent crude was up 64 cents, or 0.5%, to $120.36 a barrel at 1339 GMT after touching an intraday high of $121.95.

  • Russia calls for coordinated BRICS action against global economic risks Reuters

Russia, hit by Western sanctions, has called on the BRICS group of emerging economies to coordinate measures to stabilise the economic situation, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Monday.

Siluanov told a ministerial and central bankers' meeting of the BRICS countries, which consists of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, that global monetary tightening and the unprecedented sanctions' policy carried out by the West create risks of global stagflation and a food crisis.

Siluanov also noted risks of a global economic crisis amid undermined trust in the world’s forex and financial systems.

  • The End of Energy Free Trade WSJ

Russia’s attack on Ukraine is redrawing the world’s energy map, ushering in a new era in which the flow of fossil fuels is influenced by geopolitical rivalries as much as supply and demand.

Over the past half-century, oil and natural gas have moved with relative freedom to the markets where they commanded the highest prices around the world. That ended abruptly when Russian tanks rumbled across the Ukraine border on Feb. 24, triggering a barrage of trade sanctions by the U.S. and Europe targeting Russia that have plunged global commerce into disarray.

This week, the European Union agreed to its toughest sanctions yet on Russia, banning imports of its oil and blocking insurers from covering its cargoes of crude.

Whatever new order emerges won’t be fully clear for years to come. But traders, diplomats and other experts in energy geopolitics generally agree that it will be more Balkanized, and less free-flowing, than what the world has seen since the end of the Cold War.

Three likely axes of energy influence are emerging: the U.S. and other Western nations, which have used their massive economic and purchasing power as a political weapon; China and large emerging nations such as India, Turkey and Vietnam, which have rebuffed Western pressure and continued doing business with Russia; and Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern oil-producing nations, which have sought to maintain neutrality, and may stand to gain market share in the years to come.


The Ukraine War

  • Putin orders $81,500 payment to families of National Guards who died in Ukraine Inquirer

President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Monday ordering the payment of 5 million roubles ($81,500) to the families of members of Russia’s National Guard who died in Ukraine and Syria.

The decree amounted to official recognition that members of the guard, known as Rosgvardia, are among the casualties of the war in Ukraine that Russia describes as a special military operation.

  • America’s “Game-Changing” HIMARS: The Rest of the Story NEO

The United States has announced that it will be sending yet another heavy weapon system to Ukraine amid its ongoing proxy war with Russia. After sending thousands of Javelin anti-tank missiles and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, and over 100 M777 howitzers (including several sent by US allies Australia and Canada), the US is preparing to send the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), America’s latest multiple-launch rocket system (MLRS).

Rocket launchers were not a capability Ukraine was without at the beginning of this current conflict in late February. It had a large number of rocket launchers that have since been destroyed or captured by Russian forces and their allies. The HIMARS would at best help replace these losses, at worst provide false hope with a system that will overtax Ukraine’s already crumbling logistical efforts.

The Guardian in its article, “Himars: what are the advanced rockets US is sending Ukraine?,” would report:

“Himars units carry one preloaded pod of six 227mm guided missiles (the M270 carries two pods), or one large pod loaded with an Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) tactical missile. The US will not supply Ukraine with the ATACMS, which has a range of 300km.

With a small crew, the Himars can remove a spent pod and load a fresh one in minutes, without other vehicles helping. The crews will require some training.”

However, the Guardian fails to point out that while HIMARS vehicles can load additional ammunition themselves without supporting vehicles, a large number of transport trucks are required to bring ammunition to be loaded in the first place. This is just one of several issues going unreported about the use of HIMARS in Ukraine.

  • Russia Vows to Take More of Ukraine if West Provides Long-Range Missiles Newsweek

Several high-ranking Russian officials have issued warnings to the United States and its allies against supplying Ukraine with long-range missiles, threatening the seizure of more land in response amid the ongoing war that began in late February.

On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said during a press conference that if countries helping Ukraine, like the United States and Britain, provide Ukraine with long-range missile capability, Russia will be forced to retaliate by taking more territory in Ukraine, Reuters reported.

“The longer the range of the systems that will be delivered, the further we will move back the Nazis from that line from which threats to Russian speakers and the Russian Federation may come,” he said, according to Reuters.

  • Defense Politics Asia (from a day or two ago):

Russia captures Sosnove on the Izyum front, on the way to Svyatorhirsk. Ukraine retreats to Sydorove.

  • Russia captures Nyrkove on the Popasna front. Fighting reported at Mykolaivka

Russia counterattacks on the Kherson front, with fighting reported at Bila Krynytsya. Meanwhile, on the same front, Ukraine captures Lozove and then Sukhyi Stavok a few fields forward from Lozove. These villages are a little to the southwest of Davydiv Brid, the place of the initial failed Ukrainian assault.

  • Russian telegram:

  • Situation at the Kherson front:

Kherson Map

ARESTOVICH: “The cauldron is coming. The Russian army is moving towards the Artyomovsk-Lysichansk highway, the capture of which is blocking the UAF grouping in the Luhansk region.”

“They are advancing there. We cannot stop them. They are moving slowly, but they are indeed moving. And there is a good chance that they will cut it off. If the pot is closed now, it will be the second Mariupol for us.”

Russia: “In the event of a new agreement with Ukraine, if Kyiv makes contact with Moscow, the status of the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions will not be up for discussion, same as issue with Crimea and Donbass — these issues are closed for Moscow.”

Svyatogorsk has been captured by Russia.

I’m not completely sure if this is the same place as Svyatorhirsk. Google Maps suggests that Sosnove = Svyatorgorsk, which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. This news about Svyatogorsk comes after DPA’s announcement that there is fighting at Svyatorhirsk, so the timeline makes sense if they’re the same place.


  • SDF ‘open’ to joining forces with Assad regime to repel Turkey military operation MEMO

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has revealed that it is “open” to working and coordinating with Syrian regime forces in order to repel an incoming Turkish military operation in north-east Syria.

Speaking to the news agency, Reuters, yesterday, the SDF’s commander-in-chief, Mazloum Abdi, said that military coordination with the Bashar Al-Assad’s regime would not impact the group’s semi-autonomous rule in north-east Syria, addressing long-standing fears that seeking help from regime forces would grant Damascus control over those territories.

Abdi insisted that in the effort to repel a Turkish operation, “Our priority is defending Syrian territory, and no one should think about taking advantage of that situation to make gains on the ground”. Outlining his view of how the Syrian military could help in that effort, he said that “The essential thing that the Syrian army could do to defend Syrian territory would be use air defence systems against Turkish planes”.

Climate and Space

  • Critics Warn US ‘Doomed’ After Even NY Dems Fail to Pass Renewables Bill Common Dreams

One climate campaigner wondered what “giant majorities” are for “if we can’t pass big climate legislation” like the Build Public Renewables Act.

A major renewable energy bill never got a vote before the New York State Assembly’s session ended early Saturday, leading its supporters and political observers to call out the Democratic speaker and cast doubt on the party’s commitment to climate action on a national scale.

Noting that it only takes 76 votes to pass a bill in the chamber and 83 members confirmed their support for the Build Public Renewables Act (BPRA), the Public Power NY Coalition on Friday pushed Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-83) to hold a vote before lawmakers left Albany for the year and charged that “failure to do so is unequivocally climate denial.”

The solution is simple: we must vote even harder, to make an even bigger supermajority.

  • Ketchup at risk from climate change Telegraph

Tomato ketchup, a stalwart of British dinner tables, may soon be a much rarer commodity as climate change threatens to halve the fruit’s global harvest this century, according to a new study.

Ketchup is made from so-called processing tomatoes, which are predominantly cultivated in California, Italy and China, all of which are at risk from global warming.

Finally, a good reason for the British to fight climate change.

  • A huge Atlantic ocean current is slowing down. If it collapses, La Niña could become the norm for Australia The Conversation

Climate change is slowing down the conveyor belt of ocean currents that brings warm water from the tropics up to the North Atlantic. Our research, published today in Nature Climate Change, looks at the profound consequences to global climate if this Atlantic conveyor collapses entirely.

We found the collapse of this system – called the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation – would shift the Earth’s climate to a more La Niña-like state. This would mean more flooding rains over eastern Australia and worse droughts and bushfire seasons over southwest United States.

  • Funding needed for climate disasters has risen ‘more than 800%’ in 20 years The Guardian

  • Dead dolphins: how nature became another casualty of the Ukraine war The Guardian

Every spring for the past 30 years, conservationists at the Tuzly Lagoons national park on the Black Sea in Ukraine have been digging shallow channels from the coastal lagoons down to the shoreline, linking the bodies of water together.

The rivulets, which used to occur naturally until industrial agriculture plugged the small rivers that fed them, are a busy through-route for billions of small fish, which winter in the sea then return to the lagoons to breed.

This year, there will be no digging. The beaches are now littered with mines, laid by the Ukrainian army to ward off a Russian offensive. Researchers have had to abandon decades of work, and the consequences for the more than 5,000 herons that feed in the lagoons each spring could be disastrous.

“For 30 years, we organised scientists to do restoration in this area, to save this steppe and support this exchange of water. Now there is no entrance from the Black Sea, no migration of these fish, and the egrets need to eat them,” says Ivan Rusev, the park’s head of research. “It really is a tragedy.”

Dead dolphins have also been washing up in huge numbers on Black Sea beaches, not just in Ukraine but also in Turkey and Bulgaria. Researchers suggest sound pollution is likely to be a factor in their deaths, including possible sonar interference from the Russian navy ships along the coast.

  • China plans to start building first-ever solar power plant in space by 2028 SCMP

China plans to launch an ambitious space solar power plant programme in 2028, two years ahead of the original schedule, according to scientists involved in the project.

A satellite will be launched that year to test wireless power transmission technology from space to the ground from an altitude of 400km (250 miles), according to the updated plan in a paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Chinese Space Science and Technology on Thursday.

In the paper, the researchers said the satellite would convert solar energy to microwaves or lasers and direct the energy beams to various targets, including fixed locations on Earth and moving satellites.

The power generated will reach 10 kilowatts, just enough to meet the needs of a few households.

But the technology could be scaled up significantly and become “an effective contributor to reaching carbon peak and neutrality goals”, Professor Dong Shiwei with the National Key Laboratory of Science and Technology on Space Microwave under the China Academy of Space Technology in Xian said in the paper.

Dipshittery and Cope

The United States Empire

  • The West Must Bridge the Global Divide Over Ukraine Bloomberg

One aspect of the war in Ukraine demands much closer attention — the failure of the US and its rich-country friends to build strong partnerships with the developing world. Many governments in Africa, Latin America and Asia have distanced themselves from the allies’ response to Russia’s aggression. This is helping Moscow and does nothing to discourage other regimes with expansionist ambitions. The neglect that allowed it to happen was a serious error, and putting it right should be a high priority.

When the General Assembly of the United Nations voted to condemn the invasion shortly after it started, 35 countries abstained. It wasn’t just China and fellow dictatorships such as Cuba and Nicaragua, but also India, South Africa and Senegal. Others, including Ethiopia and Morocco, didn’t vote at all. A combination of Russian arms supplies, Chinese investment and American inattention persuaded too many governments that their interests weren’t served by aligning with the US.

It’s part of a wider pattern. The Summit of the Americas, taking place this week in Los Angeles, was seen partly as a way to atone for Donald Trump’s refusal to attend the event in 2018. It’s instead become another source of friction, with the region’s leaders balking at US efforts to manage the guest list. President Joe Biden’s administration has little goodwill to fall back on and continues to struggle with basics like appointing ambassadors. Obstructionist senators are partly to blame for that — but the White House doesn’t disguise the fact that it has other priorities.

Get fucked.

In May, a US-ASEAN summit in Washington fizzled, ending with just $150 million of new initiatives for Southeast Asia. The Biden administration is now talking up its Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity — an initiative notable for its lack of ambition, which left many of America’s would-be partners distinctly unimpressed. Last year’s promise of a summit with Africa’s leaders to counter China’s triennial Forum on China-Africa Cooperation gathering has gone nowhere.

Get fucked.

Meanwhile, China’s policy banks have provided more than $130 billion in loan commitments for Latin America and the Caribbean alone between 2009 and 2019. Beijing supplied Covid-19 vaccines to many desperate nations. Russia is a crucial seller of weapons to India and much of Africa, and a main supplier of grain and fertilizer. Neither Moscow nor Beijing asks too many questions about free elections and human rights.

Oh my fucking god, are you kidding me? Yeah, the United States is really critical of the human rights records of the countries it makes deals with. Oh, but those deals were for really important things, like stopping the spread of the mind-virus of communism, and not these petty little issues, like these countries affording food and basic goods, so it’s okay that America supported those regimes.

To win better support from developing countries, on Russia and other matters as well, Western governments should, for a start, be less quick to admonish. Appeals to liberal values tend to fall flat with people who remember less principled Western interventions. Also, many see the war in Ukraine as a proxy fight between Moscow and Washington — one where they have little at stake. The remedy is to frame the conflict not as punishing Russia and its autocratic leader, but as aiding Ukraine’s fight for self-determination. A powerful nation started this war by scorning sovereign borders: That’s a threat all can recognize.

And those countries realize that the United States scorns sovereign borders all the time! The United States points and cries and wails and pisses and shits its pants at the hill of dead soldiers that this war is creating, while behind it is a mountain range of the corpses of innocents, and rivers of viscera feeding into canyons full of gore that stretches past the horizon, and then if asked about it, just screams “WHATABOUTISM! LOGICAL FALLACY! YOU JUST DID A AD HOMINEM!” America has created a global topography of agony and carnage, and while it gurgles and chokes on its bile and the dying colossus of capitalism begins shuddering to a halt, all it can think to do is to turn the microplastic-infested oceans red with the blood of billions in revenge.

Here’s another. A prolonged war will keep food, energy and fertilizer prices elevated, and this puts poor countries, with fewer resources to buffer the impact, in particular danger. It makes sense for the allies to say so, but their warning will get a better response if combined with prompt and generous support for the countries worst affected and most in need. Looking farther ahead, new efforts to address deeper economic vulnerabilities — for instance, by supporting African agriculture and logistics — would serve the diplomatic purpose and help deliver longer-term prosperity.

The SANCTIONS keep the food, energy, and fertilizer prices elevated! IT’S THE SANCTIONS! YOU PUT THE SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA! IT’S YOUR FAULT! YOU DON’T GET TO PUT A FUCKING DAM IN FRONT OF A RIVER AND THEN GO “Well, this is just extremely unfortunate that those people upstream aren’t sending you water anymore, you really should blame them for this."

Resources aren’t infinite, but supporting closer cooperation with the developing world would be money well spent. Whether it’s weaning countries off Russian weapons, improving food security for the planet’s poorest people, or promoting efforts to address climate change, the benefits would be huge. The Global South’s unnerving tolerance of Putin’s crimes marks a failure on the part of the US and its friends. It needs urgent attention.

The phrase “urgent attention” is utterly dripping with malice, here.


  • The US military is watching China’s presence grow in Latin America, and it doesn’t like where things are going Business Insider

Chinese Residents in Argentina

As the US increases its focus on global competition with China, officials have singled out Beijing’s inroads into Latin America as a growing threat to countries there and to US interests in the region.

At recent congressional hearings and public events, those officials have cautioned that China is investing in digital and physical infrastructure, natural resources and extractive industries, and in political and military relationships across Latin America and the Caribbean in a multipronged effort to secure access and influence and gain leverage over countries there in order to advance its own commercial and strategic interests.

Although China’s engagement with the region has focused on economic ties and it has not established a military presence there, US military commanders, national-security officials, and lawmakers believe Beijing’s investments have implications for US security.

At an August 2021 hearing on her nomination to lead US Southern Command, which is responsible for Central and South America, Gen. Laura Richardson said China comes to the region “with very sophisticated plans in order to capture the interests of the countries, willing to loan billions of dollars.”

“I look at that from the military lens of projecting and sustaining military power for the [Chinese People’s Liberation Army] with this expansion,” Richardson said at the time.

Richardson’s remarks echoed those of her predecessor, Adm. Craig Faller, who told the Senate Armed Services Committee in March 2021, his final appearance as commander, that China was “rapidly advancing” toward

its goal of “economic dominance” in Latin America within the next decade.

Beijing “is also seeking to establish global logistics and basing infrastructure in our hemisphere in order to project and sustain military power at greater distances,” Faller told lawmakers.

It’s so infuriating that I don’t really have anything to say. Just pure projection.


  • Its like a horrifying version of Counter-Strike: battalion commander on battles in Sievierodonetsk Yahoo

“The enemy prevails to a certain degree in cannon artillery, quantity of tanks, maybe, in personnel, and is actively using this advantage. They are constantly attacking, shelling, ruining houses and our fortifications. We always have to manoeuvre…

There have been counterattack attempts – some successful, others not. There is constant pressure from their side. Some divisions had to pull back a block, while other divisions, including ours, were able to hold their positions. But all this is happening in extremely tough conditions. It’s horrifying, but reminds me of the video game Counter-Strike…

Counter Strike on the ground in the war zones, and Factorio over in the industrial zones far from the fighting. And if you zoom out, it looks more like the video game Civilization. And all contained within Universe Simulator. Let’s just hope it doesn’t become Fallout.

  • Blinken says there are ‘credible reports’ Russia is stealing Ukraine’s grain and selling it, accusing Moscow of trying to ‘blackmail’ the world with a food crisis Business Insider

We must destroy Putin’s giant spoon with long range missiles.

  • Russia’s failure to achieve major goals in Ukraine is ‘quite embarrassing,’ ex-U.S. official says CNBC

“Over 100 days, the Russians have pulled back their aims at least tactically, perhaps not strategically, quite a lot. The original goal was to seize three major cities: Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odessa. Russian troops had to withdraw from Kyiv and Kharkiv. And [they] have not been able to get close to Odessa,” said Courtney, who also served as U.S. ambassador to Georgia and Kazakhstan.

Courtney said there’s a chance that the war could lead to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ouster from office. “There could be regime change in Russia. The intense pressure that Western sanctions are beginning to put on the Russian economy combined with battlefield setbacks could cause … popular unrest, elite infighting,” he said.

Noting that these “setbacks” on the battlefield are embarrassing for Russia, Courtney said the Ukrainians had even been able to retake some parts of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine despite Russia amassing its forces in that area.

Good Takes that are Dope

  • Collectivism — not individualism — is the path to reducing social and economic inequality The Conversation

Last month, two large demonstrations took place in Ontario: the Rolling Thunder biker rally in Ottawa and a series of rallies across Ontario organized by the Ontario Federation of Labour.

While both aimed to appeal to the frustration and anxiety of the average working person during this period of turbulence and uncertainty, the demonstrations couldn’t have been more different.

The bike rally emphasized individual freedom over all else, arguing that social obligations, like wearing masks to protect vulnerable people from disease, restricted freedom to an unreasonable extent. The labour rallies, in contrast, called for collective action and better government standards.

The Rolling Thunder biker rally took up where the so-called freedom convoy left off. It appealed to people’s rage and frustration and directed these emotions toward pandemic protections, and the experts and politicians who put them in place. Catharsis and disparagement were the dominant tone and few coherent goals for change were expressed.

There is much to be genuinely angry and scared about. Pandemic lockdowns, and the economic and social disruption they bring, are frustrating. There is still ongoing colonialism, systemic racism and sexism. Climate change is widespread and only getting worse. Wealth inequality is ever-growing. Young people can’t afford homes. Jobs provide less stability.

These challenges feel truly daunting. It’s not surprising that some have turned to individualistic solutions for broader social problems. Over 40 years of government policy has explicitly undermined the generosity and effectiveness of public services and our collective commitment to the common good.

We’ve been hammered with the message that there is no alternative to individual striving, and many have lost hope that something better is possible. But another way is possible, and we can look to the labour rallies as inspiration.

Instead of succumbing to toxic individualism in the face of profound anger and grief, the labour protesters rallied around a clear, hopeful set of goals — a plan to improve workers’ rights and repair the deep inequalities both highlighted and deepened by the pandemic.

Among other things, the labour federation’s Workers First Agenda calls for a $20 minimum wage, affordable housing and permanent paid sick days.

This alternate path of solidarity means joining with others to provide mutual support on the premise that small individual sacrifices result in bigger collective gains that make everyone better off.

Collectivism means engaging in the difficult work of negotiating for our collective needs, which is a more complex task than simply tearing things down. It means providing people with hope, even if the answers aren’t simple.

For decades, unions in Canada have been in a holding pattern. As Statistics Canada reported recently, while the overall percentage of workers in unions has remained fairly stable at about 30 per cent since the 1990s, private sector union membership has declined significantly and now stands at 15.3 per cent.

As of this writing, 100 Starbucks locations have won certification and many more are in the middle of union drives. The historic victory of Amazon workers at a warehouse in Staten Island in early April has inspired many, although workers at a second nearby Amazon location voted against unionizing on April 25.

Union efforts are also underway at Amazon locations in Alberta, Ontario and Québec, but none have succeeded yet. A Starbucks successfully unionized in Victoria, B.C., in August 2020. More breakthroughs could reignite hope for many private sector workers in Canada.

Amid all this, a new generation of labour leaders are coming to the forefront in Canada. The Canadian Labour Congress, the Ontario Federation of Labour and the Toronto and York Region Labour Council are all headed by women, reflecting the fact that 53 per cent of union members are now women.

More women and racialized people now lead central labour bodies’ executives: large unions like the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario are headed by Black women. For the first time, a woman is running for president of UNIFOR, the country’s largest private sector union.

Research shows that, when union leadership reflects the demographics of its workers, membership engagement and organizing success improve. Workers believe their interests will be better met by leaders who understand and relate to their experiences. These lessons are important if Canadian unions are to connect with workers seeking better lives.

Beyond this, workers are aware that union leaders must be able to meet the urgent calls to address the ongoing systemic racism and discrimination in schools, workplaces, unions and beyond. As community and labour researcher Maya Bhullar notes, structural injustices are often normalized in collective bargaining agreements, grievance-handling and other union processes.

In order to address these issues, union directives must reflect the needs of the racially and gender diverse communities they serve, and leaders who understand and relate to these experiences are the best ones for the job.

Bloomerism and Hope

  • Intelligentsia Coffee Workers Join Starbucks And Colectivo In Unionizing Popular Resistance

As Starbucks Workers United racks up victory after victory in union elections across the country, workers at Intelligentsia Coffee — a small, specialty coffee company based in Chicago — are also aiming to improve their pay and working conditions by unionizing.

Last week, dozens of workers at Intelligentsia’s five Chicago cafes and roasting works center filed for a union representation election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). They are seeking to organize with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1220, a union they’ve been in contact with since November.

  • LA Korean Restaurant Workers Just Won a Pathbreaking Union Contract Jacobin

Workers at Genwa, a Korean BBQ chain in the Los Angeles area, have ratified a first contract. The three-year collective bargaining agreement between owners Jin Won Kwon and Jay B. Kwon and the workers’ independent union, the California Retail and Restaurant Workers Union (CRRWU), is the first at a privately owned Korean restaurant in the United States, and covers the company’s three locations in downtown Los Angeles, Mid-Wilshire, and Beverly Hills.

  • Poor People’s Campaign Demands Meeting With Biden As Millions Face Rising Costs, Stagnant Wages Common Dreams

Low-wage workers, union presidents, and progressive faith leaders on Monday urged President Joe Biden to meet with a handful of the millions of Americans living in poverty before the Poor People’s Campaign rallies in Washington, D.C. on June 18 to demand an economy and democracy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few.

At the upcoming Mass Poor People’s and Low-Wage Workers' Assembly and March on Washington and to the Polls, activists from around the United States plan to highlight “the urgent need to prioritize the 140 million poor and low-income people in our laws, policies, systems, and structures, so that we may heal this nation from the interlocking injustices of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the denial of healthcare, militarism, and the war economy, and the false narrative of Christian nationalism.”

Indigenous coastal communities and environmental organizations in South Africa argue that Shell did not consult affected communities, and did not obtain environmental authorization.

On Monday, May 30, communities from South Africa’s Wild Coast gathered in front of a court in the city of Gqeberha. The day marked the beginning of a landmark 3-day legal challenge brought by these communities against gas and oil multinational Shell, Impact Africa, and the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE). The case is the culmination of a long struggle to protect the Wild Coast against oil and gas exploration. In 2014, the DMRE granted Impact Africa an exploration right off the East Coast. Impact Africa then sought to develop an Environment Management Programme (EMPr) required under the Mineral and Petroleum Services Development Act (MPRDA).


  • Russian forces left roughly 100 liters of ‘high-quality vodka’ at the Chernobyl nuclear plant before they retreated, Ukrainian workers say Yahoo

I’m imagining that island that Canada and Denmark “fight” over by leaving alcohol for each other, but with Chernobyl.

Link back to the discussion thread.