The crown jewel of the Dipshittery section in this update is a hilarious article about how well the English, French, and Spanish empires “disentangled” themselves from their colonial holdings, compared to Russia’s colonial holdings in… eastern Europe? Also, Jennifer Rubin releases two takes back to back that bring my sanity to dangerously low levels. To make up for it, a nice picture of a Cambodian politician and a Chinese politician swimming.

Link back to the discussion thread


  • In Russia’s shadow, LGBTQ people across the Baltics fight for their rights NBC

“The first time I heard about queer people was in the church, so it wasn’t a very positive portrayal, as you can imagine,” Balčiūnaitė, who uses he/she/they pronouns, told NBC News. “You Google stuff, you talk to your friends, and hopefully you learn something about yourself — but not with the help of the school or your teacher.”

Around 10,000 people, mostly young adults, flocked to the capital, Vilnius, from across Lithuania — a country of 2.8 million and the biggest Baltic country — and its neighbors Latvia and Estonia to join the annual Baltic Pride march Saturday.

“This is incredible,” said Juan Miguel, a Spaniard who studied abroad in Lithuania and arranged a reunion with his friends who are now spread across the continent. “Nine years ago, there were neo-Nazis at both sides and more police than participants.”

Since 2009, the annual event has rotated among the capitals of the three countries, gathering local activists and international allies. Vilnius hosted Baltic Pride for the first time in 2010. Back then, only 400 people marched.

“It wasn’t easy. People looked at us like they were in a zoo,” said Vladimir Simonko, executive director of LGL, Lithuania’s biggest LGBTQ group. “Our community is very brave to show up, and we have lots of allies that march with us.”

Big companies such as Google, Moody’s and the Nordic-Baltic bank Swedbank were among the participants and sponsors of this year’s march, as well as the embassies of countries such as the United States, Canada and Norway. The parents of Matthew Shepard, the American student brutally killed in Wyoming in 1998, also attended.

Under Soviet occupation from 1944 until 1991, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia all joined the European Union in 2004, together with other countries of the Eastern bloc, including Poland and Hungary. But unlike their Nordic neighbors — only a short plane trip away — their human rights records lag behind, particularly when it comes to sexual minorities.

In the E.U., only Poland, Romania and Bulgaria rank worse than Lithuania and Latvia for LGBTQ rights, according to the LGBTQ advocacy group ILGA-Europe. And Estonia, an economic success story in the region for its impressive digital transition, remains in the lower half of the ranking in legal protections for queer people. Estonia is, for example, the only Baltic country that has so far introduced civil unions for same-sex couples.

Yet, things are slowly changing. Both the Lithuanian and the Latvian parliaments are currently debating similar bills that would introduce civil partnerships for same-sex couples, granting them some — but not all — the rights of marriage.

  • European Gas Prices On The Decline Oil Price

  • U.S. liquefied natural gas exports to Europe increased during the first 4 months of 2022 EIA

Gas Exports


  • Ukraine’s Zelenskiy ‘very happy’ at Boris Johnson confidence vote win The Guardian

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has declared himself “very happy” at Boris Johnson’s confidence vote win, hours after one of his senior advisers tweeted a picture of the two men and thanked the UK prime minister for helping to protect “the free world from barbaric invasion”.

Zelenskiy described Johnson’s narrow victory on Monday evening as “great news”, in remarks via video link to an event hosted by the Financial Times on Tuesday. “I’m glad we haven’t lost a very important ally. This is great news,” he said.

Shortly after the result, Nadhim Zahawi, the education secretary, said he knew what Ukraine’s president “would be thinking tonight”. He said in a TV interview: “Zelenskiy will be punching the air because he knows his great ally Boris Johnson will be prime minister tomorrow morning.”

  • World Bank approves $1.49 billion in support for Ukraine Investing

The World Bank has approved $1.49 billion in financial support for Ukraine to help pay wages for social workers and civil servants, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said on Wednesday.

“Funding will be used to pay wages for social workers & civil servants. Recovery & victory will be the victory of democracy & whole civilized world,” the Ukrainian politician tweeted.

  • Schools in Melitopol to switch to Russian in new school year, Mayor says TASS


  • Russian MPs vote to quit European Court of Human Rights Al Jazeera

The Russian parliament has passed a pair of bills ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in the country.

Tuesday’s move formalised the broken ties between Russia and the Council of Europe, the continent’s foremost human rights body.

The Russian parliament approved two bills, one removing the country from the court’s jurisdiction and a second setting March 15 as the cut-off point, with rulings against Russia made after that date not to be implemented.

The bills were passed nearly unanimously, with only one deputy from the opposition Communist Party voting against them. They must now be signed by President Vladimir Putin before becoming law.

On March 15, Russia withdrew from the organisation, of which the ECHR is part. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe had planned to vote to expel Russia on March 16, in response to Putin’s deployment of troops to Ukraine in February.

Russia has said that it independently decided to leave the Council of Europe, with former President Dmitry Medvedev saying that Russia’s exit from the organisation represented an opportunity to restore the death penalty, which the Council of Europe’s rules prohibit.

Thousands of Russians in recent years have turned to the court as a last resort, after failing to win in Russian courts, on human rights issues ranging from political persecution to domestic violence.

“The European Court of Human Rights has become an instrument of political battle against our country in the hands of Western politicians,” Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of lower house of parliament, the State Duma, said following the vote.

“Some of its decisions were in direct contradiction to the Russian constitution, our values and our traditions,” he said in a statement.

  • Russia softens capital controls to allow companies to transfer forex overseas Reuters

Russia on Tuesday said export-focused companies can transfer foreign currency to accounts overseas under certain conditions in a move aimed at helping to pay for imports and to dampen the surging rouble.

  • Russian oil production could drop 18% by 2023 as the EU imposes a ban on all seaborne imports, the EIA says Business Insider


  • Germany doesn’t want to be ‘too successful’ at replacing Russian natural gas because it wants to move away from the fuel in the long run, economy minister said Yahoo

I wouldn’t worry about it.

  • Germans warned of further food price hikes RT

Food prices in Germany will continue to rise, the German Farmers’ Association warned on Wednesday, citing soaring energy costs as a major factor.

The conflict in Ukraine and its economic fallout have had “a massive impact on German agriculture,” Joachim Rukwied, president of the German Farmers’ Association, said in an interview with the Passauer Neue Presse.

“Energy prices have doubled, the price of fertilizers, especially nitrogen fertilizers, has quadrupled on average, and fodder costs more,” he explained, adding that the situation was “disastrous” for pig farmers in particular.


  • Sweden’s government survives confidence vote amid NATO tensions with Turkey EuroNews

Sweden’s government has narrowly survived a vote of confidence in parliament amid surging crime in the country.

The vote of confidence in justice minister Morgan Johansson took place as the country aims to join the NATO military alliance, despite strong opposition from Turkey.

Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson had said that she would resign if her Social Democrat minority government lost the confidence vote.

The decisive move that avoided a major political crisis came from Amineh Kakabaveh, an independent and pro-Kurdish Iranian-born lawmaker.Kakabaveh – a vocal critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – abstained from voting to leave just 174 votes against Johansson.

In Tuesday’s ballot in Sweden’s 349-seat parliament, the right-leaning opposition needed a majority of 175 to topple the government and therefore fell just one vote short. There were 97 votes in favour of the Swedish justice minister, as well as 70 abstentions and eight absentees.


  • Norway’s Offshore Oil Workers Threaten To Strike Oil Price

About 11% of Norway’s offshore oil workers have threatened to strike, according to labor union data cited by Reuters on Tuesday.

Of Norway’s 7.500 offshore oil and gas workers, about 845 are threatening to strike starting on Sunday should wage mediation with the state fail.

The strike, according to trade unions Industri Energi, Lederne, and Safe, the 845-member strong strike would have a limited impact on Norway’s oil throughput.

“A strike would not initially affect Norway’s gas exports, given the current situation in Europe,” Safe said on Tuesday.


  • Denmark’s Social Democrats Want to Move Even Further to the Right Jacobin

Social Democratic prime minister Mette Frederiksen has called on the Danish right to join her government and end her reliance on the Red-Green Alliance. The center-left in Denmark is rejecting socialism and embracing allies of big business instead.

The prime minister’s call may seem like a radical step. Indeed, it breaks with a long-standing political settlement in which a left-of-center and a right-of-center bloc take turns governing Denmark. This instead marks a new era of united ruling-class governance, in which an emboldened right-leaning Social Democratic government seeks to consolidate and extend its power.

Faced with such a nadir in relations between the ruling party and the Left, socialists have to grapple with its causes and its likely fallout. Yet it should also be recognized that this moment continues a long history of anti-socialist policies by the Social Democrats — especially when faced with a more radical opposition.

Social democrats? Breaking with socialists to side with the right wing?! What the fuck, this has literally never happened before! What a completely unpredictable and shocking event!


  • Poland to raise minimum wage twice in 2023 Reuters

Poland plans to raise the minimum wage twice in 2023, government spokesperson Piotr Muller said on Tuesday, as households grapple with soaring inflation.

The minimum wage will rise to 3,383 zlotys gross a month in January, and 3,450 zlotys in July. It currently stands at 3,010 zlotys.

Inflation in Poland was 13.9% in May, according to a flash estimate from the statistics office. Poland has introduced a raft of measures to help households deal with the cost of living crisis, including slashing VAT to zero on basic food items and allowing mortgage holders to take payment holidays.

Asia and Oceania


  • Are the Brakes Coming Off China’s Economy? Bloomberg

The Covid Zero strategy has seen the megacities of Shenzhen and Shanghai locked down, denting output and retail sales. The property slump stems from deliberate efforts to curb speculation and rein in developers. And a regulatory overhaul has hammered giant internet platform companies.

To China bears, all that government intervention shows the nation has become largely un-investible.

Bulls see it differently, priming for a recovery in markets and the economy once the brakes are eased on Covid, housing and internet companies. And in the past few days, the bulls have had some things to cheer about:

Beijing seems to have contained its Covid outbreak for now, meaning it’ll avoid the kind of lockdowns seen elsewhere

China property bond issuances are being revived with government policy support, a development S&P sees as beginning to restore confidence to parts of the liquidity-strained sector

And Chinese regulators are preparing to wrap up their investigation into Didi Global Inc. and restore the ride-hailing giant’s main apps to mobile stores as soon as this week, the Wall Street Journal reported

Whether that’s a harbinger of better times ahead, as the bulls would argue, or yet more policy unpredictability as the bears maintain, remains to be seen. But one thing that both camps can probably agree on: In today’s China, Marxism is back, and investors had better take note.

As Tom Hancock reports for Bloomberg Markets Magazine, the intellectual shift hasn’t happened overnight, but it has become more evident in the past two years. Since the end of 2020, when China’s Communist Party began vowing to rein in the “disorderly expansion of capital,” a regulatory onslaught has swept through the economy and stock market.

At first, economists at investment banks interpreted the party’s statements on disorderly capital expansion as a call to curtail the power of big companies that was similar to antitrust efforts the US and Europe were bringing to bear on tech platforms. But political economists empowered by President Xi Jinping have seen it differently: as calling for a wholesale revamp of the relationship between the state and private business.

“What Xi is trying to do is use the state to order away the problems of capitalism,” says Yuen Yuen Ang, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan and an expert on Chinese policy.

There’s little doubt that Xi’s mission has been a constraint on China’s near-term economic outlook. The question is, will an ease up in the braking see China’s economy accelerate back to pre-Covid growth levels?

  • Beijing should seize Apple’s iPhone chipmaker in Taiwan if US sanctions China, top Chinese economist says Business Insider

“Should the US and the West impose devastating sanctions on China just like how they did to Russia, we must reclaim Taiwan,” Chen Wenling, chief economist at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE), said during an online forum discussing US-China relations on May 30. The CCIEE is managed by China’s National Development and Reform Commission, a state agency that oversees China’s economic development.

Especially when we’re talking about production and supply chains, we must seize corporations that rightfully belong to China, such as TSMC," Chen added, referring to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the chip manufacturer that Apple relies on for its iPhones. TSMC is expected to make $17 billion in revenue this year from Apple alone, according to MacRumors.

“TSMC is speeding up its transfer to the US with six factories planned in America. We must not allow it to achieve its aim,” she said.

  • China offers $15,000 cash — or a ‘spiritual reward’ — for national security tip-offs CNN

China is offering its citizens cash rewards of up to and above 100,000 yuan ($15,000) for tip-offs about people who endanger national security, as authorities intensify a years-long campaign to weed out what they see as growing threats from foreign espionage and “hostile forces.”

Successful informants can receive either “spiritual rewards” in certificates or “material rewards” in cash, according to regulations released by the Ministry of State Security on Monday.

The cash rewards are graded into four levels based on the value of the tip-off, ranging from less than 10,000 yuan ($1,500) to more than 100,000 yuan.

Tip-offs should be specific about the people or actions involved, and the information needs to be new to the authorities. The reports can be made in person, online, by post or through the state security hotline.

In 2017, the Beijing municipal government began offering rewards of up to half a million yuan ($75,000) for anyone who helps to expose a spy. Within a year, authorities had received nearly 5,000 reports and handed out rewards to informants ranging from scientific researchers to cab drivers, according to state-run Beijing News.


  • Muslim Nations Slam India Over Insulting Remarks About Islam The Diplomat

India is facing major diplomatic outrage from Muslim-majority countries after top officials in the governing Hindu nationalist party made derogatory references to Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, drawing accusations of blasphemy across some Arab nations that have left New Delhi struggling to contain the damaging fallout.

At least five Arab nations have lodged official protests against India, and Pakistan and Afghanistan also reacted strongly Monday to the comments made by two prominent spokespeople from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party. Anger has poured out on social media, and calls for a boycott of Indian goods have surfaced in some Arab nations. At home, it has led to protests against Modi’s party in some parts of the country.

The controversial remarks follow increasing violence targeting India’s Muslim minority carried out by Hindu nationalists who have been emboldened by Modi’s regular silence about such attacks since he was first elected in 2014.

Over the years, Indian Muslims have often been targeted for everything from their food and clothing style to inter-religious marriages. Rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have warned that attacks could escalate. They have also accused Modi’s governing party of looking the other way and sometimes enabling hate speech against Muslims, who comprise 14 percent of India’s 1.4 billion people but are still numerous enough to be the second-largest Muslim population of any nation.


  • Japan, NATO Boost Ties Amid Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine The Diplomat

Japanese and NATO officials agreed Tuesday to step up military cooperation and joint exercises as they shared concerns that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is causing a deterioration of the security environment in Europe and Asia.

Japanese Defense Minister Kishi Nobuo said at the beginning of his meeting with NATO Military Committee chief Rob Bauer that Japan hopes to strengthen its ties with European countries and welcomes NATO’s expanded involvement in the Indo-Pacific region.

“The security of Europe and Asia are closely intertwined, especially now with the international community facing serious challenges,” Kishi said.

Bauer’s visit in Tokyo comes as Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force is participating in NATO naval exercises in the Mediterranean Sea.

  • Japan Asks People And Firms To Save Electricity To Avoid Blackouts Oil Price

Japan on Tuesday called on households and companies to conserve as much electricity as possible this summer, seeking to prevent blackouts as spare reserve capacity is expected to drop to critically low levels.

The nationwide energy-conservation effort will be implemented from July 1 to September 30, amid concerns that Japan’s power system may not handle demand in peak summer. Air conditioning should be set at 28 degrees Celsius (82 F), and the public should turn off all unnecessary lights, the government said.


  • Deputy PM and Chinese Ambassador enjoy swim to ‘strengthen closer brotherhood and cooperation’ Khmer Times


Tea Banh, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense of Cambodia, and Mr. Wang Wentian, Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia, enjoyed a friendly dip off the coast of Sihanoukville yesterday.

The Ambassador and the Minister are in Sihanoukville for the opening ceremony for construction of the Drydock Ship Repair Workshop, Slipway Harbor and Rehabilitation Center in Ream Marine Base Modernization Center.

The Deputy PM later commented “This afternoon, on the occasion of my visit to Sihanoukville, I and His Excellency Wang Wentian, Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia… dived into the sea to strengthen closer brotherhood and cooperation.”

  • China, Cambodia Breaking Ground on Joint Port Project The Diplomat

Cambodia denied again Tuesday that it will allow any Chinese military presence at a port where it and China are beginning an expansion this week. The joint project has prompted concern in the United States and elsewhere that it will be used by Beijing as a naval outpost on the Gulf of Thailand.

Chief government spokesman Phay Siphan described the expansion of the Ream Naval Base as “cooperation between China and Cambodia” and said the Chinese ambassador to Cambodia will preside over the groundbreaking on Wednesday along with Cambodia’s defense minister and other senior military officials.

He denied, however, a report in the Washington Post citing an anonymous Chinese official that the facility on the northern side of the Cambodian base would be used in part by the Chinese military.

  • US creates fakes about China building base in Cambodia to put pressure on it TASS

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian noted that China and Cambodia are partners, and their cooperation is transparent and rational

Middle East


  • Israel Makes the Right Choice on Natural Gas Exploration Bloomberg

Six months ago, at the climate summit in Glasgow, Israel’s newly elected prime minister Naftali Bennett pledged to cut carbon emissions to zero by 2050. Israel’s small but vociferous community of environmental activists were jubilant over the reversal of the aggressive natural gas drilling of the government of Benjamin Netanyahu.

In a show of seriousness, Israel’s Energy Ministry announced a one-year freeze on gas exploration and on further export permits. From now on, thought the green lobby, renewables would be the future of Israeli energy. It was an exciting time to be on the right side of the international environmental consensus.

That excitement came to a screeching halt last week, when the Bennett government announced a 180-degree shift in its natural gas policy. The reason was obvious. As the director-general of the ministry, Lior Schillat, unapologetically put it, “The energy crisis in Europe has shuffled the deck. We are not sticking to dogma.”

The climate community was outraged. Greenpeace Israel called the decision “scandalous” and accused the government of bad faith. It demanded a return to the Glasgow pledge. But even many activists understand the irresistible logic of the government’s decision. Israel has spent two decades creating an offshore natural gas industry. Europe has now awoken to the realization that it can’t rely on imported Russian gas. Supply, meet demand.

The war in Ukraine has made it clear that it’s dangerous for a country to count on the goodwill of foreign suppliers for its energy needs. This is especially true for a country like Israel, a small nation in a hostile region.

It’s a tiny little meow meow in the middle of countries that just so happen to hate it, for whatever reason, probably anti-semitism or something.

In the past 20 years, Israel has gone from being a net importer of fossil fuels to being self-sufficient, thanks to offshore gas drilling. The government is wise to preserve that independence and to take advantage of the demand from European nations looking for a substitute for Russian imports.

  • Israel Sends Navy To Escort Drilling Rig In Disputed Gas Field Oil Price

At a time when the world’s gas supply is having to catch up with demand, two prospective gas majors in the eastern Mediterranean have locked horns over a disputed field that could delay the development of local resources. Israel and Lebanon have been at odds about their maritime border ever since gas was found. The issue seems to be of particular importance for troubled Lebanon: a big gas find could change the country’s quite grim fortunes. It is also important for Israel, however, as it eyes the position of a regional gas major.

The focus of the rift is an offshore field called Karish. According to Israel, Karish lies in its territorial waters. According to Lebanon, it falls within a triangle of contested waters because the two cannot agree where exactly the border passes. As Reuters put it, “Israel claims the boundary runs further north than Lebanon accepts, while Lebanon claims it runs further south than Israel accepts, leaving a triangle of disputed waters.”

This weekend, UK’s Energean, which has been awarded the right to drill at Karish, arrived on the site with a rig, prompting an immediate reaction from Beirut. The Lebanese president and the caretaker prime minister of the country accused Israel of violating Lebanon’s sovereignty.

The Lebanese side also says the Israeli armed forces accompanying the rig on its trip to Karish have sent battleships to the field even though the drilling rig has yet to be connected to the deposit, Israel’s Haaretz reported this week.

Saudi Arabia

  • Saudi economy sees fastest growth in decade on higher oil output Al Jazeera

Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product grew 9.9 percent in the first quarter, the fastest in a decade and more than a flash estimate last month of 9.6 percent, official data shows.

It was the fastest expansion since the third quarter of 2011 with the increase in oil production a key factor, said Monica Malik, chief economist at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank.

  • Why Saudi Arabia Isn’t Giving Up On Its Russian Oil Alliance Oil Price

Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, and his Saudi counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, met at length last week in Riyadh after which they released statements highlighting: “The level of cooperation in the OPEC+ format.” The two ministers underlined the: “Stabilising effect that tight coordination between Russia and Saudi Arabia in this strategically-important area has on the global hydrocarbon market.”

Shortly afterward, the OPEC+ alliance, comprising all the OPEC member states plus most notably Russia, announced a theoretical increase in crude oil production - of 648,000 barrels per day (bpd) in July and August, instead of by 432,000 bpd as previously agreed. In practice, as it also includes Russian exports that are already banned by the U.S. and are being banned in the E.U., the increase is meaningless. Subsequent Saudi assurances that any deficit in Russia’s output caused by the ban will be met by other OPEC states is similarly meaningless in practical terms, given enduring question marks over genuine output capabilities.

Any residual notion that Saudi Arabia might be trying to alleviate the economic problems of many countries resulting from high oil prices was dispelled over the weekend, as the Kingdom raised its official selling price for its flagship Arab Light crude to Asia to a US$6.50 per barrel (pb) premium for July to the average of the Oman and Dubai benchmarks, up from a premium of US$4.40 pb in June. The net effect of OPEC+’s production increase, therefore, will be zero, which Saudi Arabia, Russia, and all other OPEC members, know perfectly well. So, why is Saudi, for so long a staunch ally of the U.S. after the landmark relationship deal made in 1945, now so resolutely sticking with Washington’s long-time nemesis, Russia, even with the invasion of Ukraine still in full swing?

The core of the answer lies in the immediate aftermath of the 2014-2016 Oil Price War launched by Saudi Arabia with the specific intention of destroying – or at least disabling for as long a period as possible – the then-nascent U.S. shale oil sector. In 2014, the Saudis had correctly identified this sector as the biggest threat to its finances and political power – both of which were, and still are – founded exclusively on its oil resources. In addition, but incorrectly at that point, the Saudis believed that the U.S. intended to cease, or at least significantly scale back, its on-the-ground support for Saudi Arabia in the region as Washington’s principal bulwark there against the increasing influence of Iran, Russia, and China. These fears in Riyadh were being stoked at that time by the ongoing talks of a ‘nuclear deal’ between the major powers, led by the U.S. itself, and Iran – Saudi Arabia’s longstanding nemesis. These talks did indeed result less than a year later in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) deal that effectively brought Iran back into the mainstream of global political interplay.

Due mainly to the remarkable, and unexpected, ability of much of the U.S.’s shale oil companies to survive with oil prices that had been pushed extremely low through OPEC overproduction, the 2014-2016 Oil Price War resulted in devastation for the economy of Saudi Arabia and for its brother states in OPEC. An additional negative result for Saudi Arabia was that it had lost its credibility as the de facto leader of OPEC and that OPEC had lost its credibility as the indomitable force in global oil markets. This meant that OPEC’s pronouncements on future oil supply and demand levels – and therefore, on pricing – had lost much of their potency to move markets in and of themselves and that their joint production deals were diminished in effectiveness.

In the interim, many of the positive rationales on both sides of the core 1945 agreement between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia had disappeared. The U.S. did not trust Saudi Arabia anymore not to go after its shale oil sector. It also did not trust Saudi Arabia to try to keep oil prices within the US$35-75 per barrel (pb) of Brent price band that was ideal for Washington: the first number being the floor at which many U.S. shale producers could at least breakeven, if not make a slight profit, and the second number being the cap after which extremely serious negative economic and political threats begin to emerge.

For these reasons, the U.S.’s view had changed into the very one that Saudi Arabia had long feared. This was that Washington intended to cease, or at least significantly scale back, its on-the-ground support for Saudi Arabia in the region once it could ramp up its own oil production so that it did not need Saudi oil anymore, and once it had made other potentially Iran-countering alliances in the Middle East. This process in fact began with the ‘relationship normalisation’ deals drive begun in 2020.

For Saudi Arabia in the immediate aftermath of the 2014-2016 Oil Price War, there appeared little choice but to stand by and watch as the U.S. inexorably increased its own shale oil and shale gas supplies and made new alliances in the Middle East, whilst all the while gradually reducing all elements of its support for the Kingdom. It is little wonder, then, that Saudi Arabia at the end of the 2014-2016 Oil Price War, grasped on to Russia’s offer of help. The Kremlin at that point was fully aware of the enormous economic and geopolitical possibilities that were available to it by becoming a core participant in the crude oil supply/demand/pricing nexus, so agreed to support the next OPEC production cut deal in what was to be called from then-on ‘OPEC+’.

This ‘unholy alliance’, as more than one source in Washington characterised it to at the time, was of deep concern to the U.S., and served only to compound the growing feelings of distrust towards Saudi Arabia. These feelings were exacerbated when the Kingdom launched yet another oil price war in 2020 with the same intention as 2014-2016 of hurting the U.S.’s shale oil and shale gas sectors, which Washington perceived as a hostile act. These negative feelings have subsequently worsened due to several factors, with a key one being Saudi Arabia’s unwillingness or inability to do anything meaningful to bring down still-high oil prices.

It can be argued that the only reason why Saudi Arabia has not yet gone even further in terms of political alliance with Russia than continuing to stand with it in OPEC+, is that it does not yet feel supported enough from the China-Russia axis to want to incur the full wrath of the U.S. The resuscitation by Washington of the ‘No Oil Producing or Exporting Cartels’ (NOPEC) bill is the surest sign yet that Washington has finally run out of patience with Riyadh. It has been – rightly - construed by Saudi Arabia as a warning shot to more profound further actions if it does move further directly and overtly into the China-Russia sphere of influence. However, Saudi Arabia’s plethora of deals with Russia since 2016, and with China too – plus its re-energising of the Gulf Cooperation Council within an apparently ‘Pan Arabist’ context – seem to portend an even clearer and decisive shift of Saudi Arabia and its own allies, including OPEC and OPEC+, away from the U.S. and towards China-Russia going forward.


  • Germany won’t recognize Taliban as ‘dire’ Afghan conditions persist Inquirer

Germany will not recognize the Taliban as the legitimate rulers of Afghanistan as long as “dire” conditions under the Islamists persist, Germany’s foreign minister said on Tuesday, calling for a united international call on the Taliban for change.

No foreign government has formally recognized the Taliban since they took over Afghanistan last August as U.S.-backed foreign forces withdrew after two decades of war.


  • Kazakhstan Sees Oil Exports Constrained Due To Sanctions On Russia Oil Price

The CPC pipeline carries oil from Kazakhstan’s Tengiz oilfield to export infrastructure along the Black Sea coast. Most of the crude oil carried by the CPC pipeline belongs to Russia, Kazakhstan, and international oil majors such as Chevron. It remains a vital crude oil artery for Kazakhstan, accounting for two-thirds of the country’s crude oil exports.

However, after the Western sanctions against Russia over Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Kazakhstan has had to accept discounts on the crude it sells as buyers have generally shunned exports out of Russia, KazMunayGas’s deputy executive chairman Dauren Karabayev said earlier this week, as carried by Upstream.

KazMunayGas reported on Tuesday increased revenues and profits for the first quarter of 2022, but the net profit rose by just 9 percent year over year despite soaring crude prices, as operating and tax costs other than income tax soared in Q1.


  • Iran cuts two IAEA cameras in response to IAEA unlawful acts Tehran Times

The statement read, “Iran has so far had extensive cooperation with the IAEA, but unfortunately the IAEA, without considering that this cooperation is due to Iran’s goodwill, not only did not appreciate it but also considered it Iran’s duty.

For this reason, it was decided to stop the operation of the OLEM enrichment surface line metering camera and the IAEA flow meter from today, which has been ordered by the relevant authorities.”

Meanwhile, an AEOI official told Al Jazeera that two CCTV cameras have stopped working in one of Iran’s nuclear facilities, starting Wednesday.

The cameras that were stopped are not part of Iran’s commitment to the comprehensive Safeguards agreement, he added.

80% of the Agency’s cameras continue to work in Iran’s nuclear facilities, he concluded.


  • Russia-Turkey transition to settlements in national currencies well underway TASS

Transitioning to national currencies in mutual settlements between Russia and Turkey is well underway, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a press conference after talks with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.

“We have a good opportunity to switch to using national currencies for mutual settlements. This process is already well underway. We are also discussing the use of the Russian Mir payment card in Turkey, which will certainly restore tourist flows to pre-pandemic levels. The record was at around 7 million tourists per year, last year this figure was 4 million, and it continues to grow,” he said.


  • Let Africa exploit its natural gas reserves, says Mary Robinson The Guardian

African countries should be able to exploit their vast natural gas reserves despite the urgent need to cut global greenhouse gas emissions, the former UN climate envoy Mary Robinson has said.

Robinson, the chair of the Elders group of former world statespeople and business leaders, said African countries’ need for energy was so great that they should use gas widely, in contrast to developed countries that must halt their gas use as quickly as possible to stave off climate breakdown.

“Africa is trying to get its voice out about its needs for just, equitable energy, and of course that implies some use of gas as a just transition,” she told the Guardian in an interview.

She pointed to the 600 million people in Africa without access to electricity and the 900 million who use biomass or dirty oil cooking stoves, who could use gas as a less polluting alternative. “There has to be a certain leeway to tackle the energy poverty in Africa, and give Africa a faster capability to move,” she said.


  • Bread prices jump 70% in Zimbabwe as economic crisis worsens News24

North America

United States

  • Gen Z and millennials are having the hardest time paying off their cars, and it speaks to their economic pain Fortune

With record inflation hiking up prices for everything from groceries to rent, and economists and industry leaders speculating about a recession on the horizon—or maybe already here, according to Cardi B—it’s a hard time for young Americans in this economy.

And while general economic pain has put some goals, like buying a house, out of reach for young Americans, now it’s getting harder even to afford a car.

The Cox Automotive/Moody’s Analytics Vehicle Affordability Index, which measures the ability of a household making the median income to afford an average-priced car, reported in May that it now takes a record 40.6 weeks to buy a car.

  • Americans ramp up credit card usage as high prices continue to bite CNN

Americans are continuing to lean on credit cards and loans, as consumer credit surged by $38 billion in April amid the highest inflation in 40 years.

Revolving credit, which mostly includes credit card balances, grew at an annualized rate of 19.6% and totaled $1.103 trillion in April, just breaking a pre-pandemic record of $1.1 trillion, according to the report.

But record-high revolving debt isn’t all bad news, said Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst for Bankrate. “Some of this reflects rising consumer spending, which is good for the economy, of course, and also things like population growth and increased card usage (rather than cash).”

  • 4 reasons high gas prices aren’t Joe Biden’s fault—and one critical way he’s adding to the problem Fortune

Those 4 reasons are the pandemic, war in Ukraine, no serious increase in production, and oil companies hoarding profits. Then:

Biden does bear at least some blame on the production side, however, according to Hatfield, who flagged his decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline as a key factor.

“What a lot of people don’t appreciate is canceling one pipeline is really canceling all the pipelines,” Hatfield said. “Because we need federal government support to get pipelines done in the United States, there’s always going to be tremendous local opposition, so if the federal government is not behind you, then you’re definitely not going to get any pipeline built.”

Hatfield also said that it is “nearly impossible to build a new refinery in the United States” due to stiff regulation, which makes it more difficult for oil companies to increase production.

  • JPMorgan’s chief economist says there’s no reason to be worried about a US recession, with the private sector in ‘remarkable’ shape Business Insider

  • The Fed is fighting inflation like it’s hunting an elephant with a peashooter, investing chief Richard Bernstein says Business Insider

  • Largest US Ports See Cargo Volumes Start to Creep Up Bloomberg

  • The fallout from the next recession will be almost the exact opposite of the 2020 crash Business Insider

In early 2020, the US economy took an unprecedented nosedive as the first wave of COVID-19 spread across the country. Spending on in-person services cratered. Unemployment hit its highest level in modern history as companies announced sweeping layoffs. Overall economic growth slumped the most in history.

But the next recession is set to be the complete opposite: Goods spending will return to its pre-crisis trend, services will keep booming, and economic pain is expected to be much less severe.

Whether or not the US tumbles into a recession in the next year remains to be seen. That hasn’t stopped economists from making their best guesses, and their projections suggest the coming downturn could be the perfect foil to the recession of early 2020.

The differences come from what will likely be the cause of the next recession. Bearish economists largely agree the slump will be powered by the Federal Reserve’s efforts to cool inflation, which should lead to a more “normal” recession than the 2020 downturn that was triggered by an unprecedented public health crisis.

While rate hikes and weaker demand might slow growth to a halt, it won’t power the same kind of nosedive seen just over two years ago. Gross domestic product shrank at an annualized rate of 31.2% in the second quarter of 2020, marking the worst quarter of economic growth since at least 1947 by an incredibly wide margin. Unless a new, far more severe virus variant or another “black swan” event emerges, it’s unlikely the US will face another plunge quite like the one from two years ago.

“2020 was, of course, a very unique situation … the speed and the magnitude of decline was just something that we’d never seen before,” Alex Lin, a senior US economist at Bank of America told Insider in May. “The consumer has accumulated a ton of wealth over the course of this cycle, and so there is going to be some resilience.”

  • The Treasury is blocking US investors from buying all Russian debt and stocks as sanctions against Moscow continue to pile up Business Insider

The US Treasury increased its sanctions against Russia on Tuesday, now prohibiting US investors from buying all Russian debt and equity securities.

According to updated guidance from the Treasury, US investors can no longer purchase Russian debt or stocks in secondary markets. Buying newly issued stocks and bonds was already banned. The new trading restrictions apply to both ruble and non-ruble denominated debt, as well as both corporate and sovereign debt.

Removing a big chunk of global buyers from the equation means it will likely be harder to sell any Russian debt or stocks, and could put further downward pressure on Russian security prices. The move could also make it harder for Russia and its domestic companies to raise debt from foreign investors.

“Consistent with our goal to deny Russia the financial resources it needs to continue its brutal war against Ukraine, Treasury has made clear that U.S. persons are prohibited from making new investments in the success of Russia, including through purchases on the secondary market,” a Treasury spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal.

  • US seeks to ban Russian uranium RT

A $4.3 billion plan aimed at weaning the US off Russian supplies of enriched uranium is awaiting the approval from Congress, according to unnamed sources close to the matter, as quoted by Bloomberg.

If approved, the plan will provide funds to purchase the nuclear-reactor fuel directly from US producers, allowing Washington to halt imports from Russia.

The US is the world’s largest producer of nuclear energy, accounting for roughly 20% of domestic electric output. Russia reportedly accounted for 16.5% of the uranium imported into the US in 2020 and 23% of the enriched uranium needed to power the country’s commercial nuclear reactors.

The US has the capacity to mine uranium, but the country still heavily relies on Russia when it comes to uranium enrichment. To jump-start the domestic uranium industry is not an easy step for the US, the agency said on Tuesday, adding that the country has only one remaining commercial enrichment facility – a New Mexico plant run by Urenco, a British-German-Dutch consortium. A shift away from Russian uranium may force the US to turn to Canada and Australia.

  • US tech giant leaving Russia RT

US technology firm IBM announced, on Tuesday, that it plans to pull out of the Russian market due to the conflict in Ukraine.

The company’s chief executive Arvind Krishna said in a statement: “Let me be clear: we have suspended all operations in Russia.”

Uh, let me be clear. If you like your war in Ukraine, you can keep it.

South America

  • Biden’s ‘ambitious’ economic plan for Latin America offers a ‘social contract,’ not trade agreements Politico

When President Joe Biden travels to Los Angeles for the Summit of the Americas this week, he will pitch leaders from across the Western Hemisphere on what the White House is dubbing a “new and ambitious economic agenda” — but it will not include new trade agreements.

Biden will outline a proposal on Wednesday called the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity that aims to mobilize new investments in the region, fortify supply chains, promote decarbonization and biodiversity, facilitate inclusive trade and update the “social contract” between governments and their people, a senior administration official told reporters Monday.

“The overall objective is to build our economies from the bottom up and the middle out by building on the foundation established by our free trade agreements with the region to better address the inequality and lack of economic opportunity and equity,” the official said.

The partnership is one of several initiatives the administration will put forth over the three-day summit as it looks to salvage a gathering that has been mired in rifts over which world leaders would receive an invite and a sense that the administration is prioritizing domestic issues like immigration over meaningful economic engagement. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Monday he would skip the gathering after Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua were excluded.

It’s also a key component of the administration’s broader agenda for bolstering ties with its southern neighbors in order to address persistent challenges like immigration and climate change, while also fending off the growing economic and political influence of its main geopolitical rival, China. But the president’s proposals, which mirror its approach to economic engagement in other regions of the world, are unlikely to satisfy the desire among Latin American countries for more trade access in the U.S. — and, among those that already have free trade agreements, for more economic engagement and investment, writ large.

“I really worry America has sort of walked away from our engagement in Central and Latin America, and I think it’s going to take a deliberate, concerted effort to reengage,” said Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the House Ways and Means Committee’s ranking member and a vocal supporter of free trade. “I don’t see that happening at the Americas summit, principally because the whole world knows the president’s not interested in enforceable trade agreements that can help boost investment in two-way trade,” he continued.


  • Excluded from Americas Summit, Maduro visits Turkey Iraqi News

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro arrived in Turkey on Tuesday for an official visit as other Latin American leaders gathered for a summit in Los Angeles, to which the United States did not invite him.

The VTV state channel showed footage of Maduro arriving at the airport in Ankara, where he was received by senior officials of Turkey, an important ally of Venezuela.

“I am delighted to start this international tour, in the lands of the sister Turkish nation,” Maduro wrote on Twitter.

“I appreciate the warm welcome and affection they have shown us. I am sure that we will consolidate the ties of union and cooperation between our peoples.”


The Ukraine War

  • Russian Telegram:

“We are inferior [to Russia] in hardware, and therefore we cannot advance,” Zelensky said. “We will sustain more losses, while saving people’s lives is my priority.”

Once again, he called on the Western countries to increase weapon supplies to Kiev and criticized them for not being tough enough, in his opinion, towards Moscow. “They support Ukraine, but at the same time they are looking at what can be done to ease sanctions so that their businesses do not suffer,” Zelensky said, adding the Western policy of sanctions “has not really influenced the position of Russia.”

Ukraine regime: “Israel does not want to leave the comfort zone while Ukrainians are being killed, - Ukrainian Ambassador Yevhen Korniychuk.

“While Russia is killing our citizens, the Israeli government remains in its comfort zone and refrains from providing Ukraine with any minimal defensive means.”

The United Kingdom plans to submit an appeal to the DPR on the possible death sentence that threatens two Brits in the (DPR) - Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice - UK

Deputy Yevgeny Fedorov submitted to the State Duma of the Russian Federation a bill to repeal the resolution of the USSR State Council “On recognition of the Independence of the Republic of Lithuania”.

ASB: “… we’re highly confident that a huge majority of the forces deployed around Kiev during the first 4 weeks of the “special operation” were all conscripts — as we said on twitter back then. We had a lot of information to support our opinion. This will all be revealed in time just like this was now.”

  • Ukraine must not be pressured into a bad peace deal, says UK PM Johnson Reuters

“He said it was vital that President Zelenskiy was not pressured into accepting a bad peace, noting that bad peace deals do not last. He said the world must avoid any outcome where Putin’s unwarranted aggression appears to have paid off,” the spokesman said.

The art of the deal.

  • Russia holding 600 Ukrainians at Kherson, says Kyiv Inquirer

Ukraine on Tuesday accused Russian forces of detaining some 600 people, mainly journalists and pro-Kyiv elements in the southern region of Kherson, which Moscow’s military now holds in its grip.

“According to our information, some 600 people are … being held in specially converted basements in the region of Kherson,” said Tamila Tacheva, the Ukraine presidency’s permanent representative in the Crimea, the peninsula to the south of Kherson which Moscow annexed in 2014.

  • Huge grain stockpile burned by Ukrainian militants RT

The Russian Defense Ministry has accused Ukrainian “militants of the nationalist battalions” of deliberately setting fire to a large granary in Mariupol’s sea port while fleeing from Russian forces.

According to a ministry statement, the alleged act of arson was down to the unwillingness of the “militants” to leave grain supplies to Mariupol’s residents. As a result, according to the military, more than 50 thousand tons of grain were destroyed.

“This inhuman crime demonstrates to the entire world community the ‘true face’ of the Kiev regime, which, in fact, uses the methods of food terrorism against its own people,” it claimed.

The Defense Ministry stressed that Russian forces during their “special military operation” support the civilian population, treat it humanely and “do not strike at the social infrastructure of the country, unlike the Ukrainian armed formations.”

  • Bulgaria Won’t Send Weapons to Ukraine as Zelensky Faces Calls to End War Newsweek

“We’ll do what we have promised to do and there’s no need to reignite the debate every two weeks,” Petkov told local media on Tuesday. “We’ve supported the incoming refugees, we have sent all kinds of humanitarian aid, we have also been involved with repairing Ukraine’s heavy weapons and we’re in line with all sanctions against Russia.”

“We’ve done enough and we’ll continue to support Ukraine,” he said in response to Kyiv’s plea for military aid.

  • Ukraine Wants Israel’s Iron Dome Defense System Newsweek

  • Britain to send M270 rocket launchers to Ukraine EU Reporter

Climate and Space

  • Microplastics discovered in Antarctic snow for the first time Al Jazeera

Microplastics have been discovered in freshly fallen snow in Antarctica for the first time, according to newly published research, raising concerns about the pollutant’s effects on ecosystems, ice melting, and possible health risks.

Alex Aves, a student at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, collected snow samples from 19 sites across the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica in 2019 and said she was shocked to find microplastics – any piece of plastic smaller than five millimetres in length – in every sample.

  • Island states say fund for climate disaster victims must be created by Cop27 Climate Home News

Vulnerable island states say they cannot wait another three years for a funding mechanism to help victims of climate disasters.

Developing countries demanded the creation of a fund to respond to the losses and damages caused by increasing climate impacts during last year’s Cop26 climate talks in Glasgow, UK.

But in the face of US and EU opposition, they settled for a “dialogue”, co-chaired by the US and Singapore, which runs until June 2024 and is tasked with discussing potential funding arrangements.

At the first session of the dialogue on Tuesday, small island states said 2024 was too late for money to start flowing to communities on the frontline of climate impacts. They want to establish a finance facility at this year’s climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, and work out the details along the way.

“There is no clear finance for the loss and damage that is right now undermining fundamental human rights in our region. This is essential,” Kathy Jetn̄il-Kijiner, climate envoy for the Marshall Islands, told the meeting during preparatory climate talks in Bonn, Germany.

Jetn̄il-Kijiner said no climate finance, neither humanitarian aid nor adaptation funding, “even comes close to the scale of resources required”.

Dipshittery and Cope

United States

  • The US Should Be Paying More Attention to the Pacific Bloomberg

The region’s far-flung islands may be small, but they’re critical to America’s ability to project power and defend its allies.

Oh my god, EVERY country is critical to America, isn’t it? Is there a single country on Earth where you couldn’t make an argument that involvement there is 100% necessary to counter “our enemies”?

China suffered a rare diplomatic setback last week when 10 Pacific Island nations deflected its offer of a sweeping trade and security deal. However, the rebuff won’t end China’s efforts to exert influence over these tiny and far-flung countries. The US needs to respond with equal resolve – or risk losing ground in a strategically vital region.

Though lightly populated, the Pacific Islands are critical to the security interests of the US and its allies. In particular, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau — which are bound by so-called Compacts of Free Association that offer the US exclusive military access to their territory — serve as a “power-projection superhighway” linking US forces in Hawaii to forward positions in the theater. Western planners assume China’s ultimate aim is to counter the US by gaining a military foothold itself in countries such as the Solomon Islands or Kiribati, from where it could extend the reach of its navy and threaten lines of communication to Australia and New Zealand.

But why would it do that? What gives you the impression that China would even WANT to use its navy to do that? If it was Russia, then maybe you could PRETEND that that was a credible threat, but China has done very little to interfere with anything the US is doing outside of its borders.

  • Could a new political party defang radical politicians? WaPo, by Jennifer Rubin.

Let’s see how long I can get into this article before I lose my mind.

Pundits and political scientists have claimed for years that there is no hope for a third party. The structural advantages for a two-party system and voters’ aversion to “throwing away their votes” pose a major hurdle for alternative candidates.

Yet in a couple of states, alternate parties thrive. In New York, the Conservative Party and the Working Families Party both endorse candidates. In the case of the Conservative Party, such candidates may also run on the Republican Party line. These sort of “fusion parties” used to be common throughout the 19th century, but the entrenched parties set about to outlaw them to protect their political turf.

Now, as Republicans leap into the abyss of the MAGA movement, such parties might once again serve a useful purpose. The test case is the highly competitive race in New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District, where moderate Democrat Tom Malinowski will likely face off against Tom Kean Jr., son of the former New Jersey governor and co-chair of the 9/11 commission who used to personify moderate Republican politics.

Kean Jr., unlike his father, cast a Faustian bargain with the far-right wing of the GOP. Like so many cynical careerists, he preferred to jump onto the MAGA bandwagon over the moderate politics that once made his father a revered figure in the state. Local coverage has ridiculed his pandering to the MAGA crowd, including his refusal to condemn the Republican National Committee’s description of the Jan. 6 insurrection as “legitimate political discourse.” The Star-Ledger editorial board lambasted him for “squandering” his family’s legacy.

Malinowski tells me, “I think there’s a desperate need in this country for Democrats, independents and moderate Republicans to strike an alliance” against the increasingly radical, “election-denying” GOP. He adds, “I think a substantial share of Republican-leading voters in districts like mine would be willing to vote for a moderate Democrat if they could do so under the flag of a party reflective of their values.” These are people who say “I don’t want to vote for AOC’s party” but would gladly cast their ballot for a candidate who sounded like, well, the elder Tom Kean.

Alright, there we go, my sanity has left me. Completely divorced from reality. Literally in a fucking bubble of pure idealism. You could only think this if you were a journalist who hasn’t talked to somebody who wasn’t also a journalist or in politics for several years.

  • Why aren’t there more Republicans like Liz Cheney? WaPo … also by Jennifer Rubin. Oh god. She’s trying to kill me.

Sure, politicians want to be re-elected. They will rarely take risks that run contrary to their political self-interests. But it sure seems like Republicans — with one glaring exception — have been much more inclined to sell their souls in recent years than Democrats.

Regarding the House select committee investigation the Jan. 6 insurrection and the former president’s attempted coup, Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) is the sole Republican on the committee still seeking re-election. She has made clear she does not care whether it costs her in November. She readily agrees that her colleagues have lost their nerve. As she said during an interview with CBS News’s Robert Costa:

“We have too many people now in the Republican Party who are not taking their responsibilities seriously, and who have pledged their allegiance and loyalty to Donald Trump. I mean, it is fundamentally antithetical, it is contrary to everything conservatives believe, to embrace a personality cult. And yet, that is what so many in my party are doing today.”

Republicans are so petrified about the committee and its work that the MAGA crowd’s network of choice, Fox News, won’t even broadcast Thursday’s hearings live. (Disclaimer: I am an MSNBC contributor.)

As the common saying goes, “Democrats fall in love. Republicans fall in line.” But falling in line is one thing; selling out every prior principle you once had, contributing to mass slaughter of children and undermining democracy are entirely different. Sadly, for too many Republicans, it’s only losing their seats and their right-wing TV spots that seem inconceivable.

The Democrats do all those things, they just do them in the Middle East and Africa instead.

  • When the pronoun police come for eighth-graders WaPo

If the pronoun police of Wisconsin’s Kiel Area School District were just another woke excrescence on American education, they would be merely local embarrassments. These enforcers are, however, a national disgrace because they are a direct consequence of federal lawlessness with a progressive pedigree.

In April, the district lodged a complaint against three eighth-grade boys for the offense of “mispronouning,” referring to a classmate using the biologically correct pronoun “her” instead of the classmate’s preferred “them.” This, district officials — supposed educators — said, constitutes “sexual harassment,” a Title IX violation.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 was enacted long before Congress could have imagined today’s progressive dogma that grammar should reflect, through pronouns, the most advanced thinking about gender fluidity. Title IX’s operative language says no person “shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination” in education.

A bunch of incomprehensible legal bullshit, then he gets back to his point:

Represented by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, the boys are arguing that their use of biologically correct, if politically incorrect, pronouns is speech protected by the First Amendment. The Constitution also forbids the district from compelling them to speak as district bureaucrats suddenly — how long ago did they embrace this orthodoxy? — prefer. Furthermore, the institute says it has spoken with another Kiel Area family “whose daughter was recently given an in-school suspension for ‘sexual harassment’ based on a single statement using an allegedly ‘wrong’ pronoun — and the statement was said to a third party, not even to the allegedly ‘misgendered’ student.”

Perhaps Kiel Area schools can waste time trying to bully children into conformity to this or that fad because the schools have so splendidly accomplished their actual task: education. It might, however, be best if schools that are eager to engage in pronoun policing not even attempt education.

Truly Orwellian 1984 farm animal.

  • Ignore the GOP spin. The nation still hasn’t reckoned with Jan. 6. WaPo



  • A Tale Of Four Empires Forbes

If you know anything at all about history, this article might ruin your day a little. Just a warning.

The British, French and Spanish empires have all disappeared and these historical imperial powers have long come to terms with that evolution, even as they might have opposed it while it was taking place. Although the loss of the empire was at times painful and the withdrawal sometimes messy (or bloody), there was a successful disentanglement even if it took decades to implement. Spain had to come to terms with Simon Bolivar and the growing sense of nationhood in Latin America. France experienced the same anti-colonial movement, most forcefully in Vietnam and Algeria. Britain realized after World War II that the empire was no longer sustainable or affordable, and withdrawal with dignity was the best path.

And the end of empire turned out to be the best not just for the former colonies, but for the former colonial powers as well. With some exceptions, the three countries all enjoy positive relations and even occasional goodwill with their former imperial possessions. There was never much question in the colonies that London, Paris, and Madrid had something to offer a relationship, but other considerations such as sovereignty and autonomy mattered even more. Colonial rulers were resented, but with independence, and a little time, most countries were happy to engage with the former colonial power. The British Commonwealth boasts 54 members, the Organization Internationale de la Francophonie has 88 members. And Spain connects regularly with the twenty other Spanish-speaking countries on matters from high politics to soccer.

In other words, countries value these historical relationships if they can engage with the colonial power on their own terms. If they are treated with respect, if the consultations are authentic, there can be considerable utility in these bodies—both for the former colonies and for the former colonial power. My argument is not that these three were without fault. My argument is that they have come to terms with their faults.

It’s hilarious that he’s writing this as France is being booted out of Africa because the nations there are still very angry at it for continuing to be militarily involved. As well as the former English colonies being mostly indifferent to anything that happens in that accursed nation. And, like, I read Wretched of the Earth, it was horrific and not that long ago at all.

So, with the premise being fundamentally flawed, we proceed.

Why has Russia followed such a different path in the journey to a post-imperial world? When the Soviet Union collapsed and nations in that Soviet empire were free to make choices, many of them showed a strong desire to avoid close links with Moscow. Not one of the six treaty allies of the Soviet Union, the Warsaw Pact nations of Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland and Romania (Albania withdrew in 1968)—chose to maintain a military treaty with Moscow. This blanket rejection must have been difficult for Moscow to accept. After all, the Soviet Union has supplied all training and weaponry to these countries for decades, yet seems to have failed in cultivating friendships or a lasting relationship. East Germany was absorbed peacefully into West Germany, and all other former Warsaw pact nations all joined NATO between 1999 and 2009.

Yeah, that’s so strange! What reason could there possibly be for that?

This pattern repeated outside the Warsaw Pact, as three former members of the Soviet Union also signed up for NATO: Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. However, Russia did not fail completely. It established its own alliance, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, through which five other countries (Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan) have joined Russia in a mutual security pact.

Why have Britain, France, and Spain generally succeeded and Russia generally failed in post-colonial relationships? Some supporters of Putin try to make the case that this collapse was due to U.S. provocation or other sinister designs.

Yeah, that sounds pretty reasonable to me, given that the US decided to lock itself into a propaganda war with Russia and weakened it by driving wedges between ethnic groups to the point of shattering by exerting its global imperial power towards that aim for the purpose of establishing global capitali–

Let me offer some alternative explanations.

Firstly, imperialism is an attitude as much as a political structure. France, Britain, and Spain, have all offered apologies and aid to their former colonies. Russia disclaims any misdeeds and with regard to Poland, for example, states that its subjugation was both necessary and welcomed.

France has offered so much fucking aid to Haiti.

Secondly, domestic experience with open societies and open political systems. Britain, Spain, and France boast thriving democracies, with broadly established freedoms. These countries are comfortable with differences of opinion and are thick-skinned when encountering divergences. Russia, unfortunately, has become less tolerant and less open domestically under Putin. It should not be a surprise it takes a less tolerant view toward criticism from its former colonies.

Thriv– thriving democracies? Really? Is that how you would describe the post-WW2 period for England, France, and SPAIN? I bet the striking workers under Thatcher felt like they were in an open societies with open political systems when she took a great big shit on them and ruined that country’s unionism for decades.

Lastly, personal leadership. Harold Wilson wrote of “The Winds of Change” and was able to lead Britain out of colonialism in Africa. De Gaulle put his presidency—and his life—on the line to accomplish France’s withdrawal from Algeria. These two statesmen knew that what made a Great Power “Great” was not so much the assertion of power, but the restraint of power.

What the fuck are you talking about? Literally what the fuck?

We are seeing all of this play out, sadly, in Ukraine. Russia seems unable to come to terms with the end of empire, unable to try to reach a relationship of equality with its former colonies, and still adhering to imperial myths that it was welcomed in territories it occupied.

Pure projection. Oh my fucking god. Yeah, Russia can’t cope with the end of empire as the 50th fucking article comes out on how we need to teach developing nations a lesson for not opposing Russia and how we need to keep up sanctions and continue to be the world police despite everybody fucking hating us.

Russia needs a de Gaulle. It has a Bonaparte.

I get what he means, but like - yeah, Napoleon Bonaparte, a famously bad commander, famous for being incompetent, just like the Putler, and losing tons of battles. Putin is history on bearback, I suppose.

  • Vladimir Putin Paints Rosy Picture of Russia’s Crumbling Economy Newsweek

Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a positive spin on some aspects of Russia’s economy despite the prospect of sanctions imposed after his invasion of Ukraine hitting his country hard in the coming months.

While there is uncertainty about the impact of isolating Russia from the world financial system as punishment for his war, Putin said unemployment was low, inflation had been curbed and the rouble had stabilized.

Last week, Germany’s Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck said Putin “can’t keep going much longer” due to sanctions which include no longer buying Russian energy, freezing access to some of its foreign reserves and kicking it out of the SWIFT global banking system. On Tuesday, the U.S. Treasury said it would restrict investors from buying Russia’s debt in the latest step to sanction the Kremlin for the war.

But Putin gave a more upbeat assessment of the economy in a video meeting with officials on Tuesday that included Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and Central Bank head Elvira Nabiullina.

Russia’s tightly controlled media are reporting on the impact of sanctions. The government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta reported Monday that sanctions are impacting the supply of automotive parts and so airbags, anti-lock braking systems and other safety features will no longer be mandatory for Russian-produced cars.

Meanwhile, the mass circulation newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets reported that rising food prices were hurting Russians with fruit and vegetables seeing sharp price rises.

However, Putin did admit on Tuesday there had been a “noticeable decline” in the automotive industry and oil refining. Other industries like ferrous metallurgy could face “a significant decline in production in the medium term.”

Good Takes that are Dope

  • The US/UK Proxy War Forestalling Peace Negotiations in Ukraine Common Dreams

The British government, as ever following the US lead, is sending longer range missile systems to Ukraine for the first time. The government described the M270 weapon system they are despatching as a “cutting edge” military asset which can strike targets up to 80 kilometres away “with pinpoint accuracy.” Ukrainian soldiers are due to be brought to Britain for training in how to use the missiles.

As even some of the mainstream media point out, on top of the four precision-guided, medium-range rocket systems sent by the US last week, this decision marks a new stage in the war in which the West is prepared to provide the Ukrainian military with the capacity to strike deep in to Russian territory, something they previously carefully avoided.

This is one in a series of escalations on the part of the Western powers. It provoked immediate retaliation in words and deeds from Vladimir Putin—including the first bombardment of Kiev for five weeks—as Western leaders must have known it would.

It underlines the fact that the West is still pushing for nothing less than the complete defeat of Russia while Russian troops continue their offensive.

As British Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, said in a statement announcing the new weapons shipment, “If the international community continues its support, I believe Ukraine can win”.

It is first and foremost the Ukrainians who will suffer from this approach, as the conflict turns into a terrible war of attrition. But the war has global implications and the risks of a frightening military clash between nuclear armed great powers are higher than at any time for half a century.

To understand this situation and to be able to challenge it, we have to see beyond the West’s simplistic story that this is a war between the western values of freedom and democracy and Russian despotism.

The anti-war movement opposed the Russian invasion from the start. But the West bears a heavy responsibility for this disaster. Senior US foreign policy figures from Henry Kissinger to Madeline Albright and from George Kennan to William J. Burns, the current head of the CIA, have advised that the eastward expansion of NATO up to the Russian borders would be deeply provocative to the Russian ruling class. NATO decision makers knew this, but carried on regardless.

Last minute diplomacy might well have averted the war. Many senior former US diplomats and Russia experts urged the US to accept Vladimir Putin’s offer of talks before the invasion took place in January. The advice was rejected. As Ivan Katchanovski, a Ukrainian professor of political studies at the University of Ottawa argues, “The US and UK governments show no efforts or desire to achieve peaceful settlement of the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine”.

Now Britain and the US appear to have abandoned even the limited military restraint they showed early on in the war. Their policy of pumping in the weapons and pushing for outright victory risks disaster. They must be stopped.

Bloomerism and Hope

  • Anti-Labor Starbucks ‘Getting Wrecked’ as Memphis Workers Win Latest Union Drive Common Dreams

Seven workers at a Memphis, Tennessee Starbucks who were fired earlier this year after starting a unionization campaign declared victory Tuesday after employees at the store overwhelmingly voted in favor of forming a union.

Amid a nationwide tsunami of Starbucks worker organizing, employees at the company’s store at the intersection of Poplar Avenue and Highland Street voted 11-3 to unionize, according to More Perfect Union.

“The Memphis Seven have been vindicated,” the outlet tweeted following the vote. “The blowout victory comes four months after Starbucks illegally fired seven pro-union workers. A historic victory.”

This is a long article, so I’ll quote the first section.

Larry Fink, the CEO of the world’s largest asset manager, recently wrote in his letter to shareholders that globalization as we know it is over. The war in Ukraine, he argues, marks a turning point in the world economy—though the momentum of globalization had been slowing for many years.

Fink’s pronouncement caused a stir among the international capitalist class. The Financial Times featured an editorial opining that ‘global capital has, for the past 40 years or so, flown too far ahead of national economies, creating stresses and inequalities within many nations.’ FT journalists, of course, have been some of the greatest cheerleaders of this process, which made the conclusion all the more striking.

But before we decide whether globalization is over, it’s worth considering what it actually amounts to. In a sense, it isn’t anything new—more than two thousand years ago the Silk Road connected East and West. But under capitalism, and particularly its neoliberal variety of the latter part of the twentieth century, globalization came to mean something quite specific.

The world economy is a complex system composed of a multitude of intertwined but distinct networks—networks of people, goods, money, or even ones and zeros. These networks are characterized by constant movement. People move, goods move, money moves and data moves—and they always have. Under capitalism, however, this movement takes a new form. Movement becomes the prerequisite for growth, which is in turn the prerequisite for the stability of capitalist social relations. The system, in other words, cannot survive without movement.

Capital has to circulate to generate value, just as blood has to circulate around the human body to deliver oxygen to our organs. If there is a blockage, the whole system breaks down—often rapidly and without warning—whether that blockage is a build-up of plaque in a human artery, or a ship stuck in the Suez Canal.

The Covid-19 pandemic provided a vivid demonstration of what a stagnant global economy looks like. The world economy contracted by 3.3 percent in 2020—the largest recorded contraction in global GDP since the Second World War. Much of this decline was driven by falling trade volumes, which fell farther and faster than at any point since 1945. While in some respects, Covid-19 united the world in a common cause, it had a profoundly deglobalizing impact on the economy.


  • UK upgrades monkeypox threat RT

The monkeypox threat level has been ramped up in the UK and it is set to be listed as a “notifiable disease” in law starting from June 8, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) announced on Tuesday. The move means doctors in England will have to notify local authorities when they detect a patient suspected to have the virus.

“This new legislation will support us and our health partners to swiftly identify, treat, and control the disease,” the monkeypox incident director at UKHSA, Wendi Shepherd, said in a statement.

“It also supports us with the swift collection and analysis of data which enables us to detect possible outbreaks of the disease and trace close contacts rapidly, whilst offering vaccinations where appropriate to limit onward transmission.”

Link back to the discussion thread