- Some European Factories, Long Dependent on Cheap Russian Energy, Are Shutting Down WSJ
For decades, European industry relied on Russia to supply low-cost oil and natural gas that kept the continent’s factories humming.
Now Europe’s industrial energy costs are soaring in the wake of Russia’s war on Ukraine, hobbling manufacturers’ ability to compete in the global marketplace. Factories are scrambling to find alternatives to Russian energy under threat that Moscow could abruptly turn off the gas spigot, bringing production to a halt.
Europe’s producers of chemicals, fertilizer, steel and other energy-intensive goods have come under pressure over the last eight months as tensions with Russia climbed ahead of the February invasion. Some producers are shutting down in the face of competition from factories in the U.S., the Middle East and other regions where energy costs are much lower than in Europe. Natural-gas prices are now nearly three times higher in Europe than in the U.S.
“Overall, the big concern for Europe is increasing imports and falling exports,” said Marco Mensink, director general of Cefic, Europe’s chemical-industry trade group.
Europe’s high energy costs are forecast to drag on the region’s industrial production and overall economic growth this year. Economists at the European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, expect the German economy to shrink in the second quarter under pressure from high energy prices. Germany, the region’s largest economy, is also the biggest buyer of Russian natural gas. Europe’s consumers are unlikely to pick up the slack, as high energy costs are filtering through into prices across the economy, sapping their purchasing power.
The phaseout of Russian supplies risks putting European industry at a long-term competitive disadvantage unless manufacturers can deploy technologies that will sharply reduce their fossil-fuel consumption. But many of these technologies, such as using wind and solar energy to power chemical factory furnaces or hydrogen to make steel, are years from becoming commercially viable and will require massive investments, executives say.
Manufacturers depend on natural gas both as a source of energy and a raw material in production. In Europe, natural gas usually sets the price of electricity, hitting factories with a double-whammy if gas prices increase. Ammonia is the most sensitive product, accounting for around 70% of the gas Europe uses as a raw material. Most of that ammonia is used to make fertilizer.
- Von der Leyen Hopes EU Does ‘Right Thing’ on Ukraine Bloomberg
Fresh off her second trip to Kyiv since Russia’s invasion, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is trying to push Ukraine’s EU membership bid along without glossing over the significant obstacles. Noting the country has made progress, she told the small group of reporters who traveled with her to Kyiv, including Bloomberg, that “much still needs to be done.” She toured a city where life and activity is reviving despite sandbags and barricades. She went as far as she could in hinting that the Commission’s opinion — which will come Friday — will likely be positive, as we reported last week. But the final signoff from her commissioners is still pending. Von der Leyen’s cautious tone reflects continued resistance to Ukraine’s application in half a dozen countries, including the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden. For some, reaching consensus at the EU leaders’ summit June 23-24 will depend on what conditions are attached. Von der Leyen’s remarks made clear she was thinking about the bloc’s place in history: “I hope in 20 years when we are looking back, we can say we did the right thing.”
- Ukraine grain exports via Poland, Romania face bottlenecks, deputy foreign minister says Retures
Ukraine has established two routes through Poland and Romania to export grain and avert a global food crisis although bottlenecks have slowed the supply chain, Kyiv’s deputy foreign minister said on Sunday.
Dmytro Senik said global food security was at risk because Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had halted Kyiv’s Black Sea grain exports, causing widespread shortages and soaring prices.
Ukraine is the world’s fourth-largest grain exporter and it says there are some 30 million tonnes of grain stored in Ukrainian-held territory which it is trying to export via road, river and rail.
Ukraine was in talks with Baltic states to add a third corridor for food exports, Senik said.
He did not give details on how much grain has already moved or would be moved through these routes.
- French, German and Italian Leaders to Meet With Zelensky in Kyiv WSJ
The leaders of France, Germany and Italy plan to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv this week, officials said, as reports showed Russia making gains in the country’s east and Ukrainian officials urgently sought arms from Western nations to hold Russian forces at bay.
French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi were planning to visit the Ukrainian capital on Thursday, said two European officials, who cautioned that plans could yet change. The trip would be the first to Ukraine since the beginning of the war for the three Western leaders.
News of the planned meeting came as Ukrainian officials said Russia had made fresh gains in its efforts to encircle and capture the city of Severodonetsk, which would bring Moscow significantly closer to its goal of controlling the Donbas area in the country’s east, its foremost target recently in the war.
- Russian telegram: the Minister of Education of Russia:
All schools and universities in the liberated territories from September 1, 2022 will work according to Russian standards.
Russian will be the main language of instruction (in Kherson and Zaporozhye regions it will be the state language).
Education in the Ukrainian language will be preserved, so those who wish to study in schools in Ukrainian will not be deprived.
All school graduates from the liberated territories will have every opportunity to enter the budget departments of Russian universities.
Earlier it was reported that retraining of teachers has already begun in Crimea to transfer education in the liberated territories to Russian standards.
It was also previously reported that Russia will provide local schools with the necessary textbooks and various educational materials.
Textbooks and training manuals with stories about Bandera, Shukhevych and other carrion in schools will now by itself not be.
But that’s not fair! Heritage, not hate!
- Putin says it’ll likely be years before the West can cut itself off from Russian oil and natural gas Business Insider
Russian President Vladimir Putin said it’ll be several years before the West can stop using Russian oil and gas, Interfax reported, citing a meeting between the leader and young entrepreneurs on Thursday.
“In terms of rejecting our energy resources — this is unlikely over the next few years,” said Putin, per Interfax.
Putin’s comments came amid forecasts of bumper revenues for Russia’s oil and gas exports this year. Oil prices have risen about 50% this year and are trading at 13-year highs amid tight supplies that predated the war, with a strong recovery in demand as the coronavirus pandemic eased. The war in Ukraine adds to supply concerns, as heavily sanctioned Russia is a major energy producer.
- Finland won’t join NATO without Sweden RT
Finland will not join the US-led NATO bloc without Sweden should the latter run into an impasse on its ascension path, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto has said. The official made the remarks during a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Helsinki on Sunday.
“I say that Sweden’s case is ours. That means we will go further hand in hand,” Niinisto stated.
The NATO chief, for his part, signaled that the alliance has not imposed any deadline to accept the bids of Finland and Sweden but seeks to iron out the differences between them and Turkey “as soon as possible.” Stoltenberg insisted that the upcoming summit of the alliance, scheduled for late June, has been never seen as the deadline to accept the two prospective members.
“The Summit in Madrid was never a deadline; at the same time, I would like to see this solved as soon as possible. And therefore we are working hard with our NATO Ally Turkiye, and also with Finland and Sweden, to address those issues that Turkiye has raised,” Stoltenberg said, referring to Turkey by its new official English-language name.
- Norway oil firms, workers agree wage deal in principle, avert strike for now Reuters
Norwegian oil firms and employees have agreed in principle a new wage deal, avoiding for now a strike at nine fields that could have hit the country’s petroleum output, employers and unions said on Sunday.
Two of the three unions that negotiated with oil firms will seek approval from their members before they formally approve the deal, the lobby representing employers and two union leaders told Reuters.
- Norway dumps NATO helicopter contract RT
Norway, one of the founding NATO members, is terminating a contract for NH-90 military helicopters it signed back in 2001, the country’s Defense Minister Bjorn Arild Gram announced at a press conference on Friday. The model, which was developed specifically to meet the military alliance’s requirements, has been deemed suboptimal by the Norwegian military, which cited multiple defects and delays.
As the model “will never be in a position to fulfill the requirements of the Norwegian armed forces,” Oslo is now demanding that the nearly €500 million it has paid so far be reimbursed. The operation of the helicopters, which had already been delivered to Norway, was ceased with immediate effect on Friday. The machines will be returned to the manufacturer, France-based multinational company NHIndustries.
In the meantime, Oslo is reportedly looking for a replacement, which could come from the US, Germany’s Die Welt outlet indicated.
- Macron wrong about Putin – Czech Republic RT
“Russia is the aggressor, and we shouldn’t take into account if Russia is humiliated or not,” the official told CNN Prima News on Sunday. “Macron probably doesn’t understand the issue very well. Putin doesn’t care how Russia is perceived in the West,”
The minister argued that Europe “should not forget about Ukraine,” and talks with Russia “must be primarily conducted by Ukrainians themselves.”
Earlier this month, Macron told French media: “We must not humiliate Russia, so that the day when the fighting stops we can build an exit ramp through diplomatic means.”
- Takeaways from the first round of France’s parliamentary elections France 24
In the seven weeks since Macron was reelected president in a runoff against far-right leader Le Pen, France’s political landscape has shifted. A new alliance between the four largest left-wing parties made the left, rather than the hard right, the main challenger to the presidential coalition in the race for France’s 577 parliamentary seats. On Sunday, that dynamic was borne out as Macron’s Ensemble coalition virtually tied with the NUPES bloc, led by leftist firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon, even amid record-low turnout.
Macron’s coalition is looking far weaker than in 2017, when it dominated the first round and went on to win a commanding majority of seats. This time, its vote share (25.75 percent) was very nearly matched by NUPES’ (25.66 percent), with just 21,000 ballots separating the two, according to official results published by the Interior Ministry.
Next up is Le Pen’s National Rally with 18.68 percent. Far-right candidates largely failed to capitalise on Le Pen’s success in the presidential election, in which she claimed more than 40 percent in the second round.
Nevertheless, Sunday’s vote does promise a significant boost for Le Pen’s party in parliament. The National Rally currently has just eight seats in the National Assembly, short of the 15 needed to form a parliamentary group – a prerequisite to having any real weight in the chamber. That is likely to change next Sunday, with the National Rally projected to win anywhere from 20 to 45 seats, according to FRANCE 24 polling partner Ipsos/Sopra Steria.
By contrast, Les Républicains are set to lose up to half of their seats. The party won 10.42 percent on Sunday – better than the 4.78 percent claimed by their presidential candidate Valérie Pécresse in April, but nevertheless a sharp drop for the party that for decades was the standard bearer of the French right.
With such an open-ended result in the first round, the stakes next Sunday will be high. The two leading coalitions are both touting their chances of winning an absolute majority (289 of 577 seats). The latest projections, however, suggest that both could well fall short – a highly unusual scenario for the Fifth Republic.
According to the latest Ipsos/Sopra Steria projections, Macron’s coalition could win anywhere from 255 to 295 seats. NUPES is projected to win between 150 and 190.
The goal for the left is to force Macron into “cohabitation” by winning a majority and forcing him to appoint members of the NUPES coalition as government ministers. Current projections make that scenario seem unlikely, but the left has a strong chance of imposing itself as the dominant parliamentary opposition and making it much harder for Macron’s group to pass laws unilaterally.
“The truth is that the president’s party is beaten and defeated,” Mélenchon said on Sunday night.
- Germany slips behind China as top importer of Russian energy Seattle Times
China has overtaken Germany as the biggest buyer of Russian energy exports since the start of the war in Ukraine, an independent research group said Monday.
The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air said Russia received about 93 billion euros ($97 billion) in revenue for the sale of oil, natural gas and coal since Feb. 24, when it invaded Ukraine.
About 61% of the fossil fuels worth some 57 billion euros was exported to the European Union during the conflict’s first 100 days, the Helsinki-based group said.
That included 12.1 billion euros worth of exports to Germany, 7.8 billion euros each to Italy and the Netherlands, and 4.4 billion euros to Poland, the group said.
Germany, which was the biggest importer of Russian fossil fuels during the first two months of the war, slipped to second place behind China, which has purchased some 12.6 billion euros worth of energy from Moscow.
The shift reflects the growing importance of China and other non-European economies for Russian energy exports, which provide about 40% of the country’s federal budget, the group said.
- Olaf Scholz gets lost in communication over war in Ukraine Politico
Olaf Scholz promised Germans direct, no-nonsense politics. Yet befuddlement and obfuscation have often reigned since the chancellor started selling his approach to the war in Ukraine.
In recent months, Scholz has left many scratching their heads with various policy pronouncements, justifications and defenses. Even as the chancellor has helmed a historic military shift for Germany, he has still found himself mired in criticism — often over how he is pitching that epochal change.
Sometimes, the issue is simply Scholz’s enigmatic sentences — the chancellor long ago earned the nickname “Scholzomat” for his mechanic, austere speaking style.
Other times, he has been caught over-promising or changing his story. At various points, the chancellor has offered misleading claims about Germany’s aid to Ukraine, given multiple accounts of why he hasn’t visited Kyiv yet and shifted the timelines for important weapons deliveries.
Most recently, Scholz raised eyebrows with the bold — and untrue — claim that “no one” had supplied Ukraine “on a similar scale as Germany does.”
People with knowledge of Scholz’s thinking say the chancellor is merely trying to avoid escalatory rhetoric. They note the chancellor is aware his communication style doesn’t always produce applause, but that he’s willing to withstand the criticism if it means keeping things more even-keeled. Scholz himself has told journalists he does not want to repeat the mistakes of Kaiser Wilhelm II, the German emperor who aided Europe’s descent into World War I.
But the result has been that Scholz’s government — despite being a major donor for Ukraine, injecting vast sums into its own military and soon supplying Ukraine with state-of-the-art German howitzers — is getting slammed at home and internationally. The opprobrium seems to have even had a spillover effect at the polls, with Scholz’s SPD recently falling behind the Greens in a national poll for the first time in months.
- UK faces stagnation and recession risk, CBI warns Reuters
Britain’s economy faces stagnation next year and could easily fall into recession, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) warned on Monday after it slashed its outlook for growth due to surging inflation.
The CBI is the third major body to cut its growth forecasts for Britain in the past week, following a downgrade from the British Chambers of Commerce and a warning from the OECD that Britain had the weakest outlook of any major economy bar Russia.
- Security trumps obesity in Britain’s first food strategy Reuters
Britain will set out its first national food strategy on Monday, focused on increasing domestic production to boost food security rather than on tackling obesity after a recommendation to tax salt and sugar in processed food was rejected.
The government said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had hit food supplies and caused prices to spike, underlining the need to boost Britain’s food security.
The plan will broadly maintain the current level of food produced domestically, while boosting output in some sectors such as horticulture and seafood, it said.
Farming will receive a total of 270 million pounds ($333 million) of investment in innovation until 2029, it said.
- UK slowdown fears mount as GDP unexpectedly shrinks in April Reuters
Britain’s economy unexpectedly shrank in April, official figures showed on Monday, adding to fears of a sharp slowdown just three days before the Bank of England announces the scale of its latest interest rate response to the surge in inflation.
Gross domestic product contracted by 0.3% after falling by 0.1% in March, the first back-to-back declines since April and March 2020, at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Economists polled by Reuters had on average expected GDP to grow by 0.1% in April from March.
- Thousands of UK pubs may go bust RT
Britain’s hospitality sector is facing “as big a crisis, if not bigger” than during the Covid pandemic, the chief executive of trade body UKHospitality, Kate Nicholls, has told The Daily Mail.
She warned that 10,000 pubs and restaurants could soon be out of business thanks to a “perfect storm” of inflation, with soaring energy and rental costs.
“We’re already seeing a lot of independent operators handing in the keys and walking away,” she said on Sunday.
Nicholls estimates that 20,000 of UKHospitality members’ businesses are still operating at a loss and 30,000 have no cash reserves.
- Despite Epstein scandal, Prince Andrew wants royal status back RT
Britain’s Prince Andrew has begged his mother, Queen Elizabeth, to allow him to return to royal life and is seeking to reclaim some of the titles and duties stripped from him after revelations about his alleged involvement in the Jeffrey Epstein underage sex ring, the UK Telegraph reported on Sunday.
The Duke of York has not only asked to be reinstated as Colonel of the Grenadier Guards, a role he inherited from his late father Prince Philip and which is currently held by the Queen, but for his daughters, princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, to be promoted to working royals.
- Spain sweltering amid hottest pre-summer heatwave in at least 20 years Euro News
Asia and Oceania
- China’s military buildup needs to be transparent: Australia Al Jazeera
“In security, the feeling of insecurity by nations is what gives rise to an arms race. It’s important there is transparency associated with countries which seek to modernise their military. We totally understand the right of countries to do that – we are doing that ourselves.
But it’s important that there is transparency around that. It’s important that there is reassuring statecraft that goes with that so that those around you can feel a sense of confidence about what you are doing and the behaviour you are engaging in.
Because we are seeing a significant buildup by China, it’s the biggest military buildup that we’ve seen in the world since the end of the second world war. It’s very important that occurs in a transparent way, so insecurity does not come as a result of it.”
What the fuck? Imagine if China asked the US or Germany to be transparent about their military buildup.
- Wall Street’s China Problems Multiply With Warning on Banker Pay Bloomberg
One after another, the big names in global finance were summoned by Chinese officialdom.
On the agenda: pay — specifically, telling Credit Suisse Group AG, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and UBS Group AG to report details on how they compensate their top bankers.
Don’t reward your top people too lavishly, Chinese regulators warned the banks this year in meetings in Shanghai and Beijing, or you might run afoul of the Communist Party, according to people familiar with the matter.
The say-on-pay meetings, reported here for the first time, are just one of the many potholes that global banks have hit lately on their long, rocky road into China. After years of losses or skimpy returns, some of them are reassessing their prospects. Short term, the outlook isn’t good.
Hopes that banks’ business in China finally might be paying off have been dented and dented again. China’s Covid-19 lockdowns, its volatile markets and moves by its leader, Xi Jinping, to reshape the business scene—and reassert the state’s control—have reverberated through banks in New York, London and Zurich.
Publicly, executives say they’re as committed as ever to China. Filippo Gori, the Asia-Pacific chief for JPMorgan Chase & Co., captured the prevailing line in a recent interview with Bloomberg Television, saying his bank was focusing on the next 25 years in China, not the next quarter.
But privately, a growing number of executives in the region are expressing doubts about their banks’ immediate futures here.
Interviews with eight senior bankers at firms including Goldman, Morgan Stanley and UBS – all of whom spoke on the condition that they not be named to avoid angering their superiors, clients or Chinese authorities – point to a litany of problems. Questions about pay are but one worry (among other things, regulators have pressed banks to reduce cash compensation and extend deferred bonuses to three years or more, people familiar with the meetings say). Other concerns involve licenses, recruiting, data security and more.
Overriding everything is Xi’s campaign to combat what the Communist Party considers undesirable economic and social elements. Xi wants to rein hyper-rich entrepreneurs, narrow the country’s stubborn wealth gap and promote “common prosperity.” In a sign of the new times, several major banks, among them Credit Suisse, JPMorgan and UBS, recently shuffled senior executives in China. After hiring about 200 people here last year, Credit Suisse now is delaying plans to form a local bank and could let go of dozens, according to people familiar with the matter. Other banks could make similar moves.
“Wall Street banks really need to ask themselves now, why do I want to be in China?” said Veronique Lafon-Vinais, an associate professor at Hong Kong University of Science & Technology. “Are they truly profitable, what is the true return on capital for their China business?”
- China sees Pacific islands as ‘equals’, US sees a ‘backyard’, claims Beijing’s former envoy CNN
China’s former ambassador to the United States claims Western countries are treating the South Pacific like their “backyard” in a throwback to the colonial era, while Beijing sees the small island nations as equals.
Cui Tiankai made the remarks in an interview with CNN on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue defense summit in Singapore on Sunday.
In the interview, Cui – who served as Beijing’s envoy in Washington from 2013 to 2021 – attempted to play down growing Western concerns over Beijing’s controversial push for new economic and security agreements with Pacific islands.
He insisted China was taking a so-called modern approach to its relationship with its neighbors, and offering to help in “whatever way” it can, while claiming the mindset of Western countries was stuck in the past.
Beijing says ties with US won’t improve unless Washington stops trying to contain China Inquirer
China urges college graduates to work in villages as urban unemployment soars CNN
China is urging college graduates to seek jobs in the countryside as youth unemployment in urban areas soars to the highest level in history.
Local governments should attract college graduates to work as village officials, according to a joint statement issued last week by the ministries of education, finance, civil affairs, and human resources and social security.
The government will offer tax incentives and loans to college graduates who start businesses to serve the rural community, the statement added. Similar benefits will be offered to existing small businesses in villages that hire college graduates, including in fields such as housekeeping and elderly care.
These appeals have reminded many on Chinese social media of a government initiative in the tumultuous days of the founder of Communist China, Mao Zedong. Known as the “Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside Movement,” the original policy was launched by Communist leaders in the 1960s, ostensibly to move privileged urban youth to far-flung corners to learn about farming and politics from poverty-stricken peasants. The result: China’s “lost generation” who squandered their best years in the countryside.
But, this year, students are running out of options.
Chinese college graduates are facing the toughest graduation season as a record 10.76 million are set to finish college in the next two months.
- 3 reasons Biden’s ‘gaffe’ about defending Taiwan doesn’t matter Business Insider
Next article: top 5 reasons why Biden said that he was smelling toast in the middle of his speech. Number 1: somebody left the toaster on. Number 2: perfume that smells like toast. Number 3…
- Philippines may import more agricultural products from US Philstar
The United States is seeing high growth potential for the export of its agricultural products to the Philippines mainly driven by soybean meal and wheat.
In a report by the Foreign Agricultural Service, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) said soybean meal and wheat have long been the United States’ top agricultural export products to the Philippines and in 2021 accounted for more than half of all shipments.
“They will likely remain top performers for many years,” the USDA said.
- Russia says ‘ready to cooperate’ with Philippines on oil, energy supply Philstar
Russia said it will work with and help the Philippines find other sources of fuel in the face of rising oil prices and limited options.
Following a courtesy call on president-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Marat Pavlov said Russia is “ready to cooperate” with the Philippines on sourcing fuel.
“We discussed this area of cooperation and we found out that in this turbulent period of our life, the Russian Federation could extend its hand to help the Philippines in much-needed oil, gas, and other sources of [energy],” Pavlov said in a briefing following his meeting with Marcos Jr.
- Japan’s Assertive Foreign Policy Can Start in Southeast Asia Bloomberg
“Ukraine today may be East Asia tomorrow,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told an international security gathering in Singapore, a catchphrase that speaks to the harsh lessons learnt over the past few months. Better deterrence and response capabilities, he told a room packed with defense officials and diplomats, will be “absolutely essential if Japan is to learn to survive in the new era and keep speaking out as a standard-bearer of peace.” Cranking up rhetoric, though, is the easy part.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has jolted the pacifist nation into making bigger promises on spending, security and a foreign policy that relies on more than economics — welcome news for allies eager to have a muscular Japan discouraging provocations from its nuclear-armed neighbors. Tokyo now needs to overcome what remains of domestic resistance, free up funds and strengthen alliances, and fast. But this “courteous power” can already use diplomatic tools to do more for the “rules-based free and open international order” that Kishida talked up at the Shangri-La Dialogue on Friday. He could do worse than to start in Southeast Asia. It’s a region that, like much of the emerging world, has largely distanced itself from allies’ response to President Vladimir Putin’s aggression, and where Japan has more credibility than most.
Ukraine has made even Tokyo’s most ardent pacifists realize that a totally unprovoked war is not a distant prospect. It’s a tough neighborhood: North Korean missiles, Russian saber-rattling around islets it says are part of its Kuril chain and Japan calls its Northern Territories, and tensions in the East China Sea — never mind the dramatic consequences of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. Joint military exercises by Russia and China have done little to ease nerves. Little wonder that even if an overhaul of Japan’s constitutional article forbidding “land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential,” remains unlikely, public opinion is shifting, and limits are becoming more flexible, with counterstrike capabilities now up for discussion. Even Kishida, whose family hails from Hiroshima and is less hawkish than others in his party, is pledging a substantial increase in defense spending, a step further from the pacifist mindset of recent decades.
Even so, it will be challenging to move quickly at home. Kishida gave no specifics, but an increase in the defense budget to 2% of gross domestic product, or NATO levels, as his party has proposed — roughly doubling the current share — may be a tough sell in practice, given post-pandemic demands and already stretched public finances. Kishida can still add manpower to the Self-Defense Forces, as Japan’s military is known, bolster missile defense and cybersecurity (a major concern), while working on strengthening the alliance with America — though Kishida has, for now, pushed aside nuclear sharing, or the possibility of hosting US nuclear weapons on Japanese soil.
But Japan, which has already broken with precedent by accepting refugees and sending bulletproof vests to Ukraine, can take other steps to protect not just itself but the rules-based order it depends on, with more forceful diplomatic efforts to help widen the alliance of nations condemning Russia’s aggression and pushing to isolate its economy. Southeast Asa is a good place to begin.
- South Korea cargo truckers’ strike deepens inflation, supply chain woes Asia News
South Korea’s unionized cargo truckers continued their sixth day of a general strike on Sunday, posing a fresh threat to the local economy amid lingering woes over higher inflation and supply chain disruptions.
Cargo truckers here began a nationwide indefinite strike on Tuesday, urging the government to extend a freight rate system that guarantees a basic level of pay. Drivers say that without the higher rate, they feel under pressure to drive dangerously fast to make ends meet.
The interim system, adopted in 2020 as part of a revision to related laws, is set to expire in Dec. 31 this year, with parliamentary talks stalled largely due to resistance from businesses complaining about heightened financial burdens.
According to government estimates, some 27 percent, or 5,860 members, of the 22,000-strong Cargo Truckers Solidarity, under the wing of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, are participating in the weeklong strike, as of Sunday afternoon.
Especially hit hard are industries like auto, steel and construction that heavily rely on truckers to secure a supply of key parts and materials.
The Transport Ministry said trade volume at Busan Port, the nation’s largest, is estimated to have plunged more than 75 percent since the walkout, while other ports and logistics hubs also have seen some 10 percent fall in their cargo volumes.
On Sunday, business lobby groups released a joint statement urging the government to act immediately to speed up talks with the union and prevent further damage across industries.
- South Korea to restore security ties with neighbor RT
South Korea is looking to mend fences with Japan, at least when it comes to security matters. Seoul is seeking help in addressing escalating missile and nuclear threats from North Korea.
“Although several bilateral issues remain unsolved between South Korea and Japan, we intend to have the two sides put their wisdom together to reach reasonable solutions in a way that reflects the shared interests of the two countries,” South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup said on Sunday at a security forum in Singapore.
- Malaysia firms turn down orders as migrant labour shortage hits Reuters
Malaysian companies from palm oil plantations to semiconductor makers are refusing orders and forgoing billions in sales, hampered by a shortage of more than a million workers that threatens the country’s economic recovery.
Despite lifting a COVID-19 freeze on recruiting foreign workers in February, Malaysia has not seen a significant return of migrant workers due to slow government approvals and protracted negotiations with Indonesia and Bangladesh over worker protections, say industry groups, companies and diplomats.
- Fiji says climate change, not conflict, is Asia’s biggest security threat NBC
Fiji’s defense minister said on Sunday that climate change posed the biggest security threat in the Asia-Pacific region, a shift in tone at a defense summit that has been dominated by the war in Ukraine and disputes between China and the United States.
The low-lying Pacific islands, which include Fiji, Tonga and Samoa, are some of the most vulnerable countries in the world to the extreme weather events caused by climate change.
Fiji has been battered by a series of tropical cyclones in recent years, causing devastating flooding that has displaced thousands from their homes and hobbled the island’s economy.
“In our blue Pacific continent, machine guns, fighter jets, gray ships and green battalions are not our primary security concern,” Inia Seruiratu, Fiji’s minister for defense, said at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s top security meeting.
“The single greatest threat to our very existence is climate change. It threatens our very hopes and dreams of prosperity.”
The meeting, which was held in Singapore and closed on Sunday, has been dominated by debate over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and rising tensions between the United States and China over everything from the sovereignty of Taiwan to naval bases in the Pacific.
- North Korea plans crackdown as Kim pushes for internal unity ABC
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his top deputies have pushed for a crackdown on officials who abuse their power and commit other “unsound and non-revolutionary acts," state media reported Monday, as Kim seeks greater internal unity to overcome a COVID-19 outbreak and economic difficulties.
It wasn’t clear what specific acts were mentioned at the ruling Workers’ Party meeting on Sunday. But possible state crackdowns on such alleged acts could be an attempt to solidify Kim’s control of his people and get them to rally behind his leadership in the face of the domestic hardships, some observers say.
Kim and other senior party secretaries discussed “waging a more intensive struggle against unsound and non-revolutionary acts including abuse of power and bureaucratism revealed among some party officials,” the official Korean Central News Agency said.
Kim ordered the authority of the party’s auditing commission and other local discipline supervision systems to be bolstered to promote the party’s “monolithic leadership” and “the broad political activities of the party through the strong discipline system,” KCNA said.
- Debt-laden Sri Lanka eyes discounted Russian oil RT
Sri Lanka may start buying oil from Russia amid a critical fuel shortage and an unprecedented economic crisis, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in an interview with the AP news agency, published on Sunday.
According to Wickremesinghe, Sri Lanka would first look to other sources to get the much-needed fuel, for instance, to its major suppliers in the Middle East.
“Certainly, we are looking at the Gulf as our main supply… If we can get [oil] from any other sources, we will get from there. Otherwise, we may have to go to Russia again,” he stated.
- Iran’s cereal production to rise 34% in 2022: FAO Tehran Times
Based on the said report, the Islamic Republic is expected to produce 19.2 million tons of cereals in 2022, 4.9 million tons more than the figure for the previous year in which the total production stood at 14.3 million tons.
With the increase in Iran’s cereal production, the import of such products will decrease by 25 percent, the report said noting that the country’s cereal imports will drop to 16.2 million tons from the previous year’s 21.6 million tons.
Iran’s cereal exports are projected at 100,000 tons this year, which is not significant and will not change compared to 2021.
- Iran currency drops to lowest value ever amid US sanctions Yahoo
Iran’s currency Sunday dropped to its lowest value ever as talks to revive the country’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers remained deadlocked.
Traders in Tehran exchanged the rial at 332,000 to the U.S. dollar, up from 327,500 on Saturday. That marked more than a 4.4% change compared to June 1 when it traded at 318,000 to the dollar.
Iran’s currency was trading at 32,000 rials to the dollar at the time of Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
- UN agency urges Iran to resume stalled nuclear talks ‘now’ Iraqi News
The International Atomic Energy Agency on Sunday urged Iran to resume talks “now” to avoid a crisis that could make it “extremely more difficult” to salvage the 2015 nuclear accord.
Iran this week disconnected some cameras allowing international inspectors to monitor its nuclear activities in response to a Western resolution passed June 8 in which the UN agency denounced Tehran’s lack of cooperation.
Twenty-seven surveillance cameras “have been removed,” IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said in an interview broadcast Sunday by CNN, calling it a “very serious move.”
- Iraq to import 1.5 million tons of wheat from Australia and America Iraqi News
The Director of the General Company for Grain Trade at the Iraqi Ministry of Trade, Muhammad Hanoun, stated on Sunday that Iraq intends to import 1.5 million tons of wheat from the United States and Australia this week, according to Al-Sabah newspaper.
The Iraqi News Agency (INA) cited a statement issued by the Ministry of Trade earlier explaining that the country is moving forward to allocate two million tons of wheat as a strategic stockpile for six months.
- Biden says Israel’s security and not oil prices key reason for any Saudi visit MEE
US President Joe Biden has said on Sunday that Israel’s national security is behind a possible visit to Saudi Arabia, denying any trip would be to try to lower gasoline prices in the United States.
The president will travel to Saudi Arabia and Israel next month and the White House is planning to announce the trip this week, a source familiar with the planning told Reuters on Sunday.
The visit, which is expected to take place around mid-July, could include a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the source said.
“The commitments from the Saudis don’t relate to anything having to do with energy,” Biden said outside Air Force One on Sunday.
- Turkey is a ‘vital ally’ with legitimate security concerns, says NATO head MEMO
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday that Turkey is a “vital ally” which has legitimate concerns" about terrorism.
“When a vital key ally such as Turkey raises concerns about terrorism then of course we have to sit down and take them seriously,” Stoltenberg said during a joint press conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö. “And that’s exactly what we do.”
He added that no other NATO member state has suffered more terrorist attacks than Turkey. “These are legitimate concerns. This is about terrorism, it’s about weapons exports. We have to address the security concerns of all allies, including Turkish concerns about the PKK terrorist group.” The NATO head stressed that Turkey also plays an important role in the fight against the Daesh terrorist group.
Asked whether an agreement will be reached about Sweden and Finland being able to attend the NATO summit in Madrid on 29-30 June, Stoltenberg said that efforts are being made to respond to Turkey’s concerns as soon as possible. He welcomed what he called the “clear message” coming from Finland and Sweden that they are ready to discuss Turkish concerns.
Finland’s president said that his country does not have a different attitude towards Turkey’s concerns when compared with those of other NATO member states.
- Jihadi attacks mount in Burkina Faso despite junta’s efforts Yahoo
The mutinous soldiers who ousted Burkina Faso’s democratically elected president early this year vowed they would do a better job at stopping the jihadi violence rocking the country. Five months later, however, attacks are increasing and patience with the junta appears to be waning.
Many in Burkina Faso supported the military takeover in January, frustrated with the previous government’s inability to stem Islamic extremist violence that has killed thousands and displaced at least 2 million. Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who led the coup and was later installed as interim president, vowed to restore security.
But violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State increased nearly 7% during the junta’s first three months of rule compared with the three months prior, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.
- Egypt, Latvia’s FMs discuss energy cooperation Africa News
Egypt’s Foreign minister Sameh Shoukry held talks with his Latvian counterpart Edgar Rinkevich in Cairo Sunday. The officials discussed a broad array of issues including E.U.-Egypt relations, as well as security policy migration matters in the Mediterranean.
A stronger cooperation for food security was also top of the agenda as the consequences of the war in Ukraine continue to unfold. The Latvian minister insisted particularly on the key key role Egypt could play as a new energy supplier to the Baltic state.
- Algeria is increasingly aligned with Russia, Spanish minister says Reuters
“Yeah, I knew that they were gonna abandon me. That’s what fake friends do. But guess what? I’m actually laughing. I’m healing and living my best life now that I don’t have these backstabbers in my life. These are tears of joy."
Algeria’s decision to suspend a friendship treaty with Spain last week was not surprising because Algiers is increasingly aligning itself with Russia, Spanish Economy Minister Nadia Calvino said on Monday.
Calvino said she had noticed a growing rapprochement between Algeria and Russia at the spring meeting of the International Monetary Fund in April.
“I saw back then that Algeria was more and more aligned with Russia, so this (decision to suspend the treaty) didn’t surprise me,” Calvino said in an interview with Radio Catalunya.
- US Navy begins building its ‘largest, most advanced’ ballistic-missile sub as China’s navy continues to expand Business Insider
The US has begun building its most advanced Columbia-class nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarine (SSBN), as the country’s military tries to maintain its edge over rivals including a fast-expanding Chinese navy.
A keel-laying ceremony for the USS District of Columbia (SSBN 826) took place on June 4, according to the US Naval Institute’s USNI News website. The event marked the ceremonial start to the construction of the first in a new class of ballistic-missile submarines expected to be commissioned in 2027, the report said.
“The Columbia-class will be the largest, most capable and most advanced submarine produced by our nation,” congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton was quoted as saying during the ceremony.
Building the 12 Columbia-class subs has been the US Navy’s top priority for the last decade, with preliminary design work starting in 2007 for what will be the largest submarines ever built by the US.
The fleet will replace the Ohio-class SSBNs as the US Navy’s number one strategic deterrent, starting with District of Columbia’s first patrol in 2031.
- Phoenix, Vegas, Denver post record temps amid Southwest heat wave NBC
Phoenix, Las Vegas, Denver and California’s Death Valley all posted record temperatures on Saturday, as dangerous heat swept across the American Southwest.
The National Weather Service in Phoenix reported a temperature of 114 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius), tying the record high for the date set back in 1918.
Las Vegas tied a record for the day set in 1956, with temperatures soaring to 109 F (43 C). The National Weather Service said there was a chance the high temperatures in both cities could rise even more.
In Colorado, Denver hit 100 F (38 C), tying a record set in 2013 for both the high temperature and the earliest calendar day to reach 100 F.
Temperatures in several inland areas of California reached triple digits by the afternoon, with a record high for June 11 of 122 F (50 C) reached in Death Valley.
The Fed has a ‘decent chance’ of a ‘soft-ish landing’ that averts full-on recession, Bernanke says Fortune
‘We’re now in a period of stagflation’ that could devolve into recession, top economist Mohamed El-Erian says Fortune
Larry Summers sees likely U.S. recession in next 2 years, says GOP support of Jan. 6 Capitol riot worsens inflation Fortune
We need all our communist witches on deck to exert their psychic energies to avoid a recession. Prepare your rituals.
- US farmers struggle amid high fuel prices RT
Soaring fuel prices in the US have added thousands of dollars to farmers’ costs this year, according to Ty Higgins, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
He told Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency this week that record-high diesel prices have resulted in the cost of sowing crops to double.
“Diesel is not the only, but the most necessary fuel in agriculture,” Higgins said. “When you think about the sowing season, imagine how many tractors use diesel, working day and night. What used to require $300-400 a day last year now reaches a thousand dollars,” he added.
In the United States, diesel accounts for as much as 15% of a farm’s overall expenses, according to the California Farm Bureau.
Data by the American Automobile Association showed that the cost of diesel set another historic record this week, reaching $5.64 per gallon. To compare, last June it cost about $3.19 and in 2020 it was just $3.03 per gallon.
- Mexico Takes Aim at Private Companies, Threatening Decades of Economic Growth WSJ
Must be fucking chaos in the alphabet boys' offices right now. The ‘A COUNTRY IS TRYING TO NATIONALIZE ITS INDUSTRIES’ alarm is blaring, the journalists are being sent their tasks to create bitter articles to set the stage for a coup, and the heart attack gun is being taken off the walls.
For the past 20 years, a 1,100-megawatt power plant owned by Spain’s Iberdrola SA outside Mexico’s industrial capital has kept the lights on for scores of companies such as brewing giant Heineken NV, despite winter freezes, a hurricane and the occasional brush fire.
But since January, half the gas-fired plant has been forcibly shut down by Mexico’s government, which argues that private energy companies have plundered Mexico like Spanish conquistadors of old. The electricity shutdown forced dozens of firms in Monterrey to return to the inefficient and more costly state-run utility for their power.
Going after private companies might seem like something from the playbook of Socialist Venezuela rather than Mexico, which in recent decades has transformed itself into one of the world’s most globalized nations, signing free-trade deals with more than 40 countries and using manufacturing exports to become the U.S.’s second largest trading partner. Along the way, it lifted millions of its citizens out of poverty.
But Mexico’s populist leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who took office in 2018, is shifting the country to a 1970s industrial policy focused on the domestic market, natural resources such as oil and greater state intervention, from backing state-run energy giants to using the army for major public-works projects.
“It’s a closing off of Mexico,” says Gabriela Siller, an economist at Mexico’s Tecnológico de Monterrey.
The change is especially stark in Mexico’s crucial energy sector, where the government has launched a broad effort to stop new private investment and restore the dominant position of former government monopolies in both oil and gas and electricity—effectively reversing a 2013 constitutional overhaul that opened both markets to private firms.
The moves will cost Mexico billions of dollars in forgone investment; raise domestic energy prices; limit the growth of oil and electricity output; and damage the competitiveness of Mexican companies and hundreds of multinationals that operate here, according to the U.S. government, private companies and economists. It also risks prompting more migration by job-seeking Mexicans to the U.S.
The president says, without offering evidence, that past governments were paid off by multinationals to allow them to enter the market and destroy the state oil giant Petróleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, and the state-run utility, Federal Electricity Commission, or CFE, leaving Mexico’s energy security at risk and consumers at the mercy of profiteers. He also argues that Mexico’s turn to an open economy left too many poor people behind.
In many ways, the decommissioned electricity plant outside Monterrey is a metaphor for Mexico’s stalled economy and a glimpse of the country’s potential economic future.
From 2019 through 2021, the first full three years of Mr. López Obrador’s presidency, Mexico’s economy shrank an average of 1.14% a year, according to government data. While the U.S. regained its prepandemic level of economic output by mid-2020, Mexico is among the few countries in the hemisphere, along with the leftist dictatorship of Venezuela, that hasn’t yet recovered, according to estimates from the International Monetary Fund.
Antigua and Barbuda
- Prime Minister Browne calls for strengthened economic cooperation amongst countries in the Americas Antigua Observer
- The Oil Price Shock Will Reverberate Into Next Year WaPo
Wall Street may be abuzz with talk of recession next year, but it’s a different story in the energy market. Most traders, policy makers and analysts see oil demand growing through 2023 and supply struggling to keep pace.
In private, Western officials worry Brent crude will reach $150 a barrel soon from about $120 now. Some fear it keeps going higher, with wild chatter about oil hitting $175 or even $180 by the end of 2022, driven by post-Covid pent-up demand and European sanctions against Russia. And the shock won’t end this year.
Amid widespread fears of an oil price spike this summer, another storm is developing over the horizon: The oil shock won’t end in 2022. It’s almost certain to roll into next year.
The International Energy Agency will publish its first look at the 2023 supply and demand oil balance on Wednesday – marking the start of the annual pivot when investors increasingly focus their attention on the following year. Already, money has been flowing into the December 2023 Brent contract, lifting its price close to $100 — a clear sign traders see the tight market lasting. The higher-for-longer oil price outlook will add to global inflationary pressures and erode the margins of manufacturing companies.
The Ukraine War
- Russian telegram:
First footage of Russia forces using the SMERCH missile system. ASB says that 1 SMERCH has at least the same destructive capability of 10 GRADs, and probably considerably higher that than.
“I think that a full-fledged referendum here will be possible when people stop being afraid [of persecution by the Kyiv authorities]. As soon as they stop being afraid, then, probably, they will be able to absolutely calmly, without fear, express their personal opinion, ”said Igor Kastyukevich, a deputy of the State Duma of the Russian Federation from the United Russia.
Basurin: “Severodonetsk is actually blockaded after yesterday they blew up the last bridge that connected with Lysichansk. Those Ukrainian military units that are stationed there remain forever. They have two options: either follow the example of their colleagues and surrender, or die.”
- Up to 300,000 tonnes of grain in destroyed warehouses, Ukraine deputy agriculture minister says Reuters
- Momentum in Ukraine Is Shifting in Russia’s Favor NYT
A war in Ukraine that began with a Russian debacle as its forces tried and failed to take Kyiv has seemingly begun to turn, with Russia now picking off regional targets, Ukraine lacking the weaponry it needs and Western support for the war effort fraying in the face of rising gas prices and galloping inflation.
On the 108th day of President Vladimir V. Putin’s unprovoked war, driven by his conviction that Ukraine is territory unjustly taken from the Russian Empire, Russia appeared no closer to victory. But its forces did appear to be making slow, methodical and bloody progress toward control of eastern Ukraine.
On Saturday, Ukraine’s agile president, Volodymyr Zelensky, once again promised victory. “We are definitely going to prevail in this war that Russia has started,” he told a conference in Singapore in a video appearance. “It is on the battlefields in Ukraine that the future rules of this world are being decided.”
Yet, the heady early days of the war — when the Ukrainian underdog held off a deluded and inept aggressor and Mr. Putin’s indiscriminate bombardment united the West in outrage — have begun to fade. In their place is a war that is evolving into what analysts increasingly say will be a long slog, placing growing pressure on the governments and economies of Western countries and others throughout the world.
Nowhere is that slog more evident than in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. Despite urgent pleas to the West for more heavy weapons, Ukrainian forces appear to lack what it takes to confront Russian use of artillery for scorched-earth shelling of towns and villages. While Ukraine is holding Russia back in the major regional city of Sievierodonetsk, it is suffering heavy losses — at least 100 fatalities a day, though their full extent is not yet known — and desperately needs more weapons and ammunition.
Russia also appears to be making headway in establishing control in towns it has captured, including the leveled Black Sea port of Mariupol. It has set out to convince and coerce the remaining population that its future lies in what Mr. Putin views as his restored empire. Citizens there and in cities like Kherson and Melitopol face a bleak choice: If they want to work, they must first obtain a Russian passport, a blandishment offered to secure a semblance of loyalty to Moscow.
Propaganda that compares Mr. Putin with Peter the Great, Russia’s first emperor, blares from cars in Mariupol in what Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to the city’s mayor, called a “pseudohistorical” onslaught.
The comparison, one that Mr. Putin has made himself, is dear to the Russian president’s heart. He has repeatedly insisted that Ukraine is not a real nation and that its true identity is Russian. His invasion has, however, cemented and galvanized Ukrainian national identity in ways previously unimaginable.
Russia has its own difficulties, particularly in southern Ukraine, where the provincial capital of Kherson captured earlier in the war is still contested. Attacks by former Ukrainian soldiers and civilians have picked up in recent weeks. Russian losses in the war are not yet known, but certainly run into the tens of thousands, a potential source of anger toward Mr. Putin, whose autocratic hold on Russia keeps tightening.
If the Russian economy has shown surprising resilience, it has been hard hit by Western sanctions; a brain drain will undermine growth for many years. Mr. Putin’s pariah status in the West appears unlikely to change.
Elsewhere, however, in Africa and Asia, support for the West — and for Ukraine — is more nuanced. Many countries see little difference between Mr. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and the United States’ invasion of Iraq in 2003; they seem unlikely to be persuaded otherwise.
More generally, there is resentment in much of the developing world of what is seen as American domination, viewed as a hangover from the 20th century. In this context, the strong partnership between China and Russia is viewed not with the hostility and anxiety it provokes in the West, but rather as a salutary challenge to a Western-dominated global system.
- ‘We Are Out of Ammo’: Ukraine Awaits Aid as Russian Artillery Bears Down Newsweek
“Russia’s army is more powerful, they have a lot of artillery and ammo. For now, this is a war of artillery… and we are out of ammo,” Kim said. “The help of Europe and America is very, very important.”
- Tough Questions for West as Ukraine Cities Teeter NYT
With Russia about to encircle Sievierodonetsk, a city critical to its goal of seizing Ukraine’s east, and with a neighboring city squarely in Moscow’s sights, the question of how realities on the ground will shape the next phase of the war became still more pressing Sunday for Ukraine’s Western allies.
“The Russians are making every effort to cut off Sievierodonetsk,” the regional governor, Serhiy Haidai, said Sunday on Telegram, the messaging app. “The next two or three days will be significant.”
Across the river, Ukrainians trying to hold fast against the Russians in Lysychansk had the advantage of good terrain — but dwindling weaponry to defend it with.
“If there is no help with military equipment, of course they will drive us out,” said Oleksandr Voronenko, 46, a military police officer stationed in Lysychansk. “Because everyday the equipment is destroyed. You have to replace it with something new.”
Ukrainian officials have been imploring NATO allies for faster delivery of longer-range weapons, and the urgently needed replenishment of still more basic supplies, including ammunition.
But with the momentum of the war shifting more decisively in Russia’s favor, Ukraine’s allies, their economies threatened and their resolve tested, may soon find themselves forced to confront far more fundamental questions than what sort of weapons to provide, including whether to put pressure on Ukraine to reach a peace agreement with Russia or risk Russian escalation with more aggressive military support.
“There was always a sense that, when the center of gravity shifted to the south and east, there would be the potential for greater Russian gains based on greater mass and their existing territorial acquisitions,” said Ian Lesser, a former American official who heads the Brussels office of the German Marshall Fund.
“But it does raise more serious longer-term questions about the nature of the conflict, Ukraine’s aims and Western aims in relation to those,” he said.
As Ukrainians wait, they are suffering horrific losses in the Donbas region where the fight for Sievierodonetsk is playing out. By Ukraine’s own assessment, it is losing between 100 and 200 people a day as the bloodshed there worsens, in part because of Russian material superiority and in part because of Ukraine’s determination to fight on despite the increasingly bleak picture in the east.
Those Western supplies that have made it through to the front line are neither as plentiful or as sophisticated as Ukraine would like. And some never even make it into battle, hit by Russian strikes before they can even be deployed.
On Sunday, from atop a hill in Lysychansk, it was evident why the soon to be focal point of the Russian offensive appears easier to defend than other parts of Donbas: It is on high ground. The sprawling plains of the region are rich in natural resources, but elevation is a rarity. That leaves the city’s Ukrainian defenders in an advantageous position.
But it’s impossible to defend Lysychansk, a city with a prewar population of roughly 100,000, without the supplies needed to keep Ukrainian tanks and artillery stocked with shells and the thousands of troops garrisoned there fed and equipped.
This is the challenge the Ukrainian military is facing now as Russian forces near the end of their campaign to seize neighboring Sievierodonetsk. Even with Sievierodonetsk captured, Ukrainian troops could most likely defend Lysychansk, in part because the Seversky Donets River separates the two cities — unless Russian forces succeed in severing the city’s supply routes.
It was clear Sunday that the Russians were attempting to accomplish just that by steadily advancing from the southeast.
- Ukraine Fears Defeat in East Without Surge in Military Aid WSJ
The war in Ukraine has turned into a grinding artillery contest where Russia is steadily gaining ground thanks to its overwhelming advantage in firepower. As the U.S. and allies gather Wednesday to discuss fresh military aid to Kyiv, Ukraine’s fate will largely depend on how fast and in what quantities these heavy weapons arrive.
Without a broad and rapid increase in military assistance, Ukraine faces a defeat in the eastern Donbas region, Ukrainian officials warn. That would pave the way for Russia to pursue its offensive to Odessa and Kharkiv after regrouping in coming months, they say, and potentially all the way back to the capital, Kyiv, after that.
Western officials and analysts question whether Russia has the wherewithal to achieve this, even if it makes further gains in the Donbas area. They say Russia’s military has been severely battered in the war, and might lack the manpower and equipment to advance beyond the Donbas region soon.
Yet Russia still enjoys a significant superiority over Ukraine in artillery and armor. Ukrainian forces estimate that they have one artillery piece per 10 to 20 Russian ones on the front lines, with each of these guns allotted only a fraction of the ammunition at the Russian gunners’ disposal. As a result, every day that Western heavy-weapons supplies are delayed is measured in hundreds of Ukrainian casualties, they say.
Dipshittery and Cope
- The West’s Energy War Against Russia Demands Sacrifice Bloomberg
Even as Russia and Western countries avoid a shooting war over Ukraine, they have already joined an energy war. Opening skirmishes have taken the form of selective cutoffs of, and encroaching sanctions on, Russian supply. Yet there is a yawning gap between the rhetoric of war and the realpolitik of energy diplomacy — one that Russia will exploit and that the West must find a way to close.
In a recent essay in the New York Times, President Joe Biden wrote that standing by Ukraine and making Russia pay “a heavy price” was in our vital national interest, in part because not doing so: “… will put the survival of other peaceful democracies at risk. And it could mark the end of the rules-based international order and open the door to aggression elsewhere, with catastrophic consequences the world over.”
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, in a speech last month commemorating the end of World War II, explicitly linked today’s war with that earlier conflict, saying “there must not be a victor’s peace dictated by Russia.” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki warns that European leaders “have forgotten the lesson offered by the Munich agreement of 1938.” In short, this is existential for the West.
The US and Europe have provided vital military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. But without direct intervention, defeating Russia means choking off its resources. And that means grappling with the world’s dependency on Russia’s resources, especially its oil and gas. As it stands, despite sanctions to date, higher commodity prices mean Russia’s war machine is raking in more money than last year.
Biden began his essay by saying “the invasion Vladimir Putin thought would last days is now in its fourth month.” He could have replaced “Vladimir Putin” with “everyone” and been just as accurate. Ukraine was expected to collapse, and swiftly. Presumably, the US and Europe would have responded with harsh words, more sanctions and reinforcement of NATO’s eastern defenses. I doubt, however, they would have sanctioned Russian energy in a meaningful way, because of considerations that Scholz also mentioned: “We will not do anything that could inflict more damage on ourselves and our partners than on Russia.”
That, in the short term at least, is pretty much what sweeping sanctions on Russian energy would do. Yet Ukraine’s resilience and Russian brutality have made energy sanctions unavoidable. The most important ones were agreed by the EU earlier this month after much wrangling. Natural gas was left out — Russia accounts for about one-third of Europe’s supply — and the oil sanctions were carefully calibrated: Crude oil imports on ships are banned six months from now, and refined products in eight months. But crude oil delivered by pipeline — about a fifth of Europe’s Russian oil imports overall — is exempt. A few countries such as Bulgaria and Croatia get carve-outs for certain products. Potentially far-reaching bans on providing insurance to ships carrying Russian barrels don’t kick in until December.
As energy divorces go, this is more of an attempt at conscious uncoupling. Yet it isn’t in Putin’s interests to play the understanding partner. Assuming a long campaign of attrition is in store, he needs Europe and the US to quickly tire of this war and its inconveniences. Higher energy prices are already a liability for leaders on both sides of the Atlantic.
Disrupting energy supply unilaterally is madness if your concern is for the long-term health of Russia’s energy industry and economy. But Putin is now taking foreign policy cues from Peter the Great — the first Russian emperor, hint hint — so the economy is not his main concern. Rather, it is dividing the West both within itself and from Ukraine by any means possible. As war drags on and next winter nears, Putin’s temptation and ability to upend the EU’s choreography will strengthen. Last year’s not-so-mysterious rundown in Russian-controlled natural gas inventories in Europe, and subsequent price spikes, provide a template to expand upon. Beyond energy, Russia is also brandishing real threats to other vital supply chains ranging from grain to industrial gases.
If this struggle really is as existential as the op-eds and speeches say — and I believe it is — then our approach to the energy dimension must be commensurate. “There is a price to be paid for upholding these foundational principles,” as Helima Croft, head of global commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, puts it.
The US and Europe are openly involved in this war and have expansive war aims even if they aren’t pulling triggers. And while the fighting is localized, Russia’s commodity exports make this a global problem that, if the West is serious, could demand the sort of measures associated with war economies.
This implies robust government intervention. We have seen signs of Biden moving this way already, with his diplomatic push to direct more liquefied natural gas to Europe and almost certain climb-down vis-a-vis Riyadh to get more OPEC barrels into the market. His use of the Defense Production Act to encourage domestic output of critical minerals and to unstick solar panel imports, while not directly linked to the Ukraine crisis, also suggests a willingness to intervene more forcefully.
This should involve more than just efforts to accelerate the energy transition, which is one of the surest long-term strategic energy weapons against Russia the US has. It must also involve encouraging more production of oil, gas and other fuels at home or in friendly countries to displace as much Russian production as possible. Balancing this near-term need with decarbonization objectives is tricky because it requires companies to invest in assets today that may not be fully utilized in future — drill, baby, don’t drill, in other words. Capital markets won’t accept this without government taking on some of the risk. Such intervention would dismay environmentalists, but it could be structured to encourage shorter-cycle energy sources such as shale or come with conditions for repurposing infrastructure for transition-compliant purposes down the line.
None of this can happen, however, unless it is openly acknowledged that the gathering emergency in energy markets calls for sacrifices and compromises. Progressives would be asked to swallow measures to support drilling. Conservatives would be asked to accept the climate-related conditions. And the sacrifice may also extend to the demand side. Higher prices are applying pressure already, but strengthened sanctions and actual cutoffs of Russian supply may ultimately require rationing or other mandates to curb demand, at least in Europe. This is of course the last thing any president already fending off comparisons to Jimmy Carter wants to hear. But when you have made the face-off between democracies and autocracies a defining principle of your presidency, and you are now engaged in an actual conflict to defend a democracy from a major autocracy, such contingencies must be contemplated.
Jason Bordoff, founding director of the Columbia Center on Global Energy Policy, recently coauthored a terrific piece in Foreign Affairs on “how governments will transform energy markets” as they seek to balance climate goals with security. When I asked him about the disconnect between the strident language of war and the more cautious application of energy policy, he noted a similar dynamic with regard to climate change: “If we really believed it was existential, we would be thinking differently about the trade-offs.”
As with addressing climate change, even though a majority of citizens in the West support Ukraine, it remains unclear how much personal cost, including changes to behavior, they would bear to back that up. Putin is betting their support will prove to be ephemeral. Equally unclear, however, is whether that assumption will tempt him into the sort of dramatic escalation that stiffens their resolve.
- Europe Is a Vast Idea. How Does Ukraine Fit in? WaPo
If the leaders of the European Union listened only to their hearts, they’d fully embrace Ukraine into the bloc at their summit in Brussels this month.
As French President Emmanuel Macron put it, “We feel in our heart that Ukraine, through its fight and its courage, is already today a member of our Europe, of our family and of our union.” In that spirit, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, went to Kyiv in April and personally handed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy the application questionnaire.
Europeans have not only hearts but also heads. And the heads of many leaders and Eurocrats — including Macron’s — are shaking rather than nodding.
This is the worst writing I’ve seen in my life.
Giving full membership to Ukraine now would create so many new problems for the EU that the bloc — never a paragon of effective governance to begin with — might break down, or even apart. The same warning applies to accepting Moldova or Georgia, and even Albania, North Macedonia and the other Balkan nations already in the queue.
Rushing their memberships would be a bad idea not only because these countries — their economies, judiciaries and other institutions — aren’t ready. It would also be reckless because the EU has never resolved an intrinsic tension between what Eurocrats call “widening” and “deepening” — that is, admitting new members vs. integrating the existing ones.
With each of the seven rounds of enlargement — from the original six countries to the 27 today — running the show has become messier and more unwieldy. The growing number of institutions and Commissioners — each country appoints one — is the least of it, as is the Babel-like chaos of languages, traditions and national interests. The real problem is that the EU, as it grew, didn’t rewrite its treaties thoroughly enough to allow the bloc to stay coherent and deal with real-world problems.
Often a single country can veto joint action even when it’s urgent. An egregious recent example is Hungary, which held up the EU’s sixth sanctions package against Russia for weeks, and even then signed off only after blackmailing the other 26 countries to make changes that range from self-serving to bizarre.
These design flaws all but condemn the EU to failure whenever a big problem turns up. Lacking a common fiscal policy, the bloc barely saved its currency union during the euro crisis, and may yet lose it in a future upheaval. Unable to reform its migrant regime, it was bitterly split during the refugee crisis of 2015. In foreign and defense policy, the EU (as distinct from individual member states, like France) is a joke. Thank goodness the West still has that other Brussels institution called NATO.
“Europe” today is a geopolitical concept and a civilizational ideal based on peace, prosperity, liberty and justice. It consists of multiple national identities, while being open to new ones. All this must be recognized. This, maybe, is what Macron has in mind when he speaks nebulously of adding a “European political community” to the existing Union.
Can I have… gee, you know what, 7 Freedoms? And perhaps 3… no, 4 squirts of democracy? Oh yeah, we’ll also need a serving of peace and liberty. Oh, it’s not lunchtime yet, uh… okay, just give me a packet of prosperity. WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? THE EU IS AN INSTITUTION DESIGNED TO HARVEST THE MONEY AND RESOURCES FROM POORER COUNTRIES WHILE GERMANY AND A FEW OTHERS DOMINATE.
Such a Europe of many — shifting but harmonious — “unions” is the future. The best way to start building this vision is not to prematurely admit Ukraine into the EU. It is to welcome the Ukrainians into the European fraternity right now, and simultaneously make the whole family more flexible and strong.
- Politics Have Distorted Americans’ Views of the Economy Bloomberg
According to a recent survey, a majority of Republicans and a plurality of Democrats believe the US is in a recession. The question is how seriously to take their complaints.
Most Americans probably do not know the formal definition of a recession — “a significant decline in economic activity that is spread across the economy and lasts more than a few months” — but they do know that current prices of gas and food are especially high, and inflation is rising the fastest in 40 years. At the same time, unemployment is below 4% and the US economy continues to create new jobs at a rapid pace.
When it comes to the economy, Republicans tend to focus on the negative and Democrats on the positive. If the parties were intellectually consistent, it would be the opposite.
Think back to the presidency of George W. Bush. Republicans offered a consistent (albeit debatable) vision of economic success: an “ownership society” where net worth was relatively high, savings were high, and people relied on their own resources to deal with the vicissitudes of the marketplace. With secure property rights and high savings, momentary disturbances could be offset by individual economization. People could manage temporarily higher prices by consuming less or by seeking appropriate substitutes. The initial problem, to the extent there was one, was that not enough households had enough ownership and material resources.
The Bush administration never succeeded into turning the ownership society vision into reality. But fast forward to the present: Quite unintentionally, the pandemic has brought about the ownership society — a distorted and somewhat dystopian version. Household balance sheets have been remarkably strong and liquidity is high, in part because the pandemic reduced spending and in part because of the federal government’s fiscal policy response.
You might think Republicans would find this situation at least tolerable. Yet because they are not in power, they are emphasizing the negative aspects of the current economy.
Many Democrats are also inconsistent. The broadly Democratic approach to household well-being is to use subsidies and regulations to lower the prices of important commodities. Such programs might include food stamps, public and subsidized housing, and Medicaid. The theory is that high and volatile market prices in these areas are harmful, which creates a case for subsidies or in some cases direct provision.
These transfer programs, which many Democrats want to expand, have the longer-run impact of lowering savings rates. If unemployment insurance and Medicaid are made more generous, for instance, the demand to save will go down, because government will be picking up more of the tab.
At the risk of oversimplification, it can be said that the Democratic ideal is one of low prices, with government helping to block or blunt large price increases for household products. Under this ideal, robust household balance sheets are not a priority, as many of the preferred policies would lower savings rates.
You might then think that Democrats would view the current mix of high savings with high and volatile prices as pretty disastrous. Yet the apologists for the current economic situation are more frequently Democrats. Paul Krugman, for instance, has argued repeatedly that there is a huge disconnect between how people portray the economy and how they actually are doing. In essence, he thinks there is too much complaining.
So who is right? Is America’s economy something to be happy about, or not? There is no simple answer. I will say that I have noticed that many people quickly internalize wealth gains and focus emotionally on losses, such as higher prices for many consumption items.
But in at least one sense, the optimists are correct. A few years from now, some of the added wealth to household balance sheets will remain. At the same time, prices for food and energy may well have returned to more normal levels. Happiness levels should rebound.
Such a future may feel too distant and uncertain to make Americans happy now. People are myopic, and discount the future excessively. That is a reason for policy to lean the other way — which may mean that there is something to the vision of an ownership society after all.
- We can’t let Ukraine lose. It needs a lot more aid, starting with artillery. WaPo
The latest insight from Maximum Boot.
The battle of Donbas — with momentous implications for the future of Ukraine and the entire postwar world — is poised on a knife edge.
The Ukrainians are resisting bravely, but they are suffering terrible casualties and slowly losing ground. They are able to fire only 5,000 to 6,000 artillery rounds a day, compared with 50,000 rounds a day from the Russians. The Ukrainians are running out of ammunition for their old Soviet artillery, and they don’t have enough Western artillery tubes to make up for the shortfall.
I wouldn’t worry too much about it - in early March, I was reassured by people like you that Russia is running out of ammo, as well as fuel and food, so those factors ought to kick in soon.
I am reminded of the old poem about how “for want of a nail a shoe was lost,” then a horse, then a rider, then a battle, then a kingdom. We cannot afford to see Donbas lost for want of artillery shells.
If Russian dictator Vladimir Putin captures this region, after having already secured a land corridor from Crimea to the Russian border, he will hold roughly a fourth of Ukraine, including its industrial heartland and most of its Black Sea coast. The Ukrainian economy is already in dire shape (estimated to shrink by 45 percent this year). Putin will then be in a position to further squeeze the rump state, while preparing a final offensive to finish it off.
Even a limited Russian victory will send a dangerous signal to the world that the West is weak and aggression pays. We must send lots more aid to Ukraine now to avert the loss of Donbas and to enable a counteroffensive to retake ground already occupied, but not yet fortified, by the invaders.
The most obvious Ukrainian need is for more artillery tubes and shells. The Biden administration has already provided 108 M777 155mm howitzers and more than 220,000 artillery rounds. More recently, it promised to send four High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (Himars) and ammunition with a maximum range of roughly 45 miles. That is wholly insufficient; even the 220,000 rounds would not last five days at current rates of use.
The West should be sending hundreds of howitzers and multi-launch rocket systems, thousands of rockets and hundreds of thousands of artillery rounds. This should include Excalibur GPS-guided rounds for the M177 (range: 24 miles) and Army Tactical Missile Systems for the Himars (range: 186 miles). Those longer-range munitions would enable the Ukrainians to target Russia’s artillery, rockets and supply lines without risking their new weapons close to the front lines. Of course, it will take time to train Ukrainians on these systems, but they have shown they are fast learners.
All you really need is google.
Ukraine is also in desperate need of more aircraft to stop Russian airstrikes and to mount its own attacks on Russian ground formations. Biden made a serious mistake in March when, because of overblown fears of Putin’s reaction, he refused to facilitate the transfer of Poland’s MiG-29 fighter jets. But it’s not too late to rectify that blunder.
Yeah, that was the reason. It’s not that Russia would instantly shoot them out of the sky if they tried to fly. Biden is too scared to send Ukraine jets, but not scared enough to send them several billions of dollars worth of equipment. I swear, these people have had their brains so melted by the overwhelming airforce that the US typically employs in their imperialist wars that they see it as a hammer, and every battle as a nail.“Why don’t they just call a dronestrike on that village and then go back to the only Burger King in the whole country? It’s so simple!"
While the MiG-29s would still be useful, in general we should be transitioning Ukraine to NATO equipment such as MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones, F-16 fighter jets, A-10 “Warthog” ground-attack aircraft and Patriot air-defense systems. The Gray Eagle, capable of carrying Hellfire antitank missiles, is a much larger drone than the U.S. Switchblades and Turkish TB2s that Kyiv has been receiving. The A-10, designed to withstand ground fire, would be perfect for pulverizing Russian artillery. The F-16 would allow the Ukrainians to shoot down more Russian warplanes and bomb Russian troops. The Patriot system could shoot down not only aircraft but also missiles.
The immediate objection is that Ukraine doesn’t have personnel trained to operate these systems. Well, if we had started a crash course back in March, that problem might have been fixed. It’s imperative to start training Ukrainians as soon as possible.
In the meantime, a stopgap can be employed. Ukraine already has foreign volunteers fighting in its ground forces. Why not ask for foreign volunteers or contractors to operate and maintain F-16s, A-10s, Gray Eagles and Patriots?
There is ample precedent for such a move. In 1941, Nationalist China bought U.S. P-40 fighter aircraft and set up the American Volunteer Group, better known as the Flying Tigers, to operate them. The Flying Tigers, composed of former U.S. military personnel led by Claire Chennault, helped save China from Japanese invasion.
Ukraine has millions of volunteers willing to risk death to defend their homeland. What it doesn’t have is enough weapons to arm its fighters. There is no excuse for this shameful failure. The nations imposing sanctions on Russia account for 65 percent of global GDP; Russia accounts for less than 3 percent. Russia cannot be allowed to outproduce Ukraine’s allies in armaments.
I’ll have you know that we make up two thirds of the global Big Money Number! So where the fuck did my industry go?! There’s no way that our GDPs are just meaningless free-floating values that signify the people at the top trading money back and forth!
Don’t worry about depleting our stockpiles; we can always produce more later. And don’t worry about provoking Putin; nothing would be more provocative than a Ukrainian defeat. We have a strategic and moral imperative to step up now to help Ukraine prevail in its fight for freedom. It is our fight, too.
It really isn’t.
- Should Russia pay reparations for the Ukraine war? The Guardian
By Barry Eichengreen, professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, and a former senior policy adviser at the IMF. Which is all you really need to know.
Russia’s war on Ukraine shows no sign of ending, but it is not too soon to start thinking about how to ensure postwar Ukraine’s stability, prosperity, and security. Already, two discussions are occurring: one about financing economic reconstruction, and the other about affirming Ukraine’s external security. The problem is that these discussions are proceeding separately, even though the issues are intimately related.
Reconstruction costs are uncertain because the course of the war is uncertain. Ukraine’s prewar GDP was about $150bn (£120bn). Given a capital-output ratio of three, and assuming that a third of the capital stock will be destroyed, we are again talking about $150bn. As always, alternative assumptions yield alternative scenarios, but $150bn seems like a reasonable starting point.
This is not an impossible amount of aid for donors to commit. It is one-sixth the size of the NextGenerationEU program on which EU states agreed in July 2020. It is one-twelfth the size of the American Rescue Plan Act signed by Joe Biden in March 2021.
Still, it seems wrong to ask the US and Europe to repair what Russia has broken. So, it is tempting to suggest that Ukraine’s reconstruction should be financed by garnishing Russian assets. At $284bn, the Bank of Russia’s frozen reserves would certainly fit the bill.
True, there is a moral case for reparations: Russia started an unprovoked war and has almost certainly committed war crimes in prosecuting it. There is also an argument grounded in deterrence. As Volodymyr Zelenskiy put it at Davos this year: “If the aggressor loses everything, then it definitely deprives him of his motivation to start a war.”
The only durable solution is a Russia reconciled to Ukraine’s political independence and territorial integrity. And reparations are the last thing needed to achieve that. They would mean additional hardship for a Russian population already experiencing hardship. With the economy on course to contract by 10-20% this year, it is not as if Russia is getting off scot-free.
To be sure, going too easy on Russia risks shading into appeasement. And under no circumstances should Russian President Vladimir Putin be rewarded for his aggression. But there is also the opposite risk. Russia must recognise the political and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Punishing it further in the course of peace negotiations will not make this easier. We want future Russian governments to respect international norms. Invoking those norms to extract every pound of flesh will not make achieving this more likely.
There is an obvious analogy with German reparations after the first world war and the war-guilt provision of the Treaty of Versailles. Rightly or wrongly, Russians now, like Germans then, do not see themselves as solely responsible for the war. The treaty’s war-guilt clause gave nationalistic German politicians a grievance on which to campaign. The victors’ financial demands gave German governments cover to disregard the treaty’s disarmament provisions and the prohibition on establishing a customs union with Austria. And reparations complicated the task of stabilising and reconstructing the international system. John Maynard Keynes anticipated all this and more in his prescient Economic Consequences of the Peace.
This indictment of post-WWI reparations should not be overdone. Reparations alone did not cause the Great Depression, and Germany’s depression alone did not lead to Hitler and the second world war. The analogy to today’s circumstances, like all historical analogies, is imperfect. Still, this experience is a cautionary tale.
There are still other arguments against reparations. The legality of seizing frozen Russian assets is unclear. Western governments could pass enabling legislation, although they might then be seen as bending the law to their convenience. The UN could create a commission with the power to seize those assets, though countries such as China, imagining that they might one day be targeted, would oppose the step. Either way, seizing Russia’s foreign assets will cause other governments to think twice before investing abroad.
Good Takes that are Dope
- The Haitian People Deserve Better Common Dreams
Today, the dire situation in Haiti has increased exponentially. The country has the combined negative effects of political and social violence, the economic crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic. Since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021, there is continuous civil unrest and gang violence. Also, should a new resurgence of the infection occur, the country is unprepared to deal with it.
A month after Moïse’s assassination, on August 14, 2021, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck the Tiburon Peninsula, followed by Tropical Storm Grace. The natural disasters affected two million people; left 2,246 dead; more than 12,700 injured; at least 329 missing, and up to 26,000 displaced. The Haitian government estimates it needs $2 billion to recover from the earthquake. As of last February, donors have pledged only $600 million.
The country is undergoing a serious political and constitutional crisis. Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who had been appointed by Moïse two days before his assassination, was found to have close links to a prime suspect in the assassination and to have maintained contact with him after the president’s assassination.
At this time of crisis for the country, Human Rights Watch has denounced the deportation of Haitians back to Haiti by the U.S. and other countries. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), from January 1, 2021 through February 26, 2022, 25,765 people were returned to Haiti, including 4,674 children, who make up 18 percent of returnees.
“No government should return people to Haiti. And the United States, which accounts for the vast majority of returns, should end the unnecessary and illegitimate use of public health regulation for abusive expulsion of Haitians,” stated César Muñoz, senior Americas researcher at Human Rights Watch. Muñoz is referring to Title 42 of the U.S Public Health Services Law.
Title 42 is a clause which the Trump Administration began using in 2020 to prevent migrants from entering into the U.S. It grants the government the ability to take emergency action to stop immigrants from entering the U.S. on the premise that it will prevent the introduction of Covid-19. On March 11, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ceased its authorization of Title 42 expulsion authority regarding unaccompanied children.
Is there is a future for Haiti? Unlike those who look on with despair at the difficulties the country is facing, Haiti’s human resources could be the foundation of a new revitalized society that would address the crises imposed by inept governments and foreign powers’ interference. Haiti needs economic and technical help, and effective financial assistance judiciously provided. The Haitian people deserve no less.
Bloomerism and Hope
- At March For Our Lives, A Call For A Nationwide Strike Of Schools Popular Resistance
Hundreds of thousands took to the streets in over 450 protests across the country Saturday demanding lawmakers take action on gun control laws in the wake of recent mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York. March for Our Lives, the youth-led organization created by students who survived the mass shooting at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018, organized Saturday’s rallies.
Patricia and Manuel Oliver, whose son, Joaquin, was among those killed in Parkland, addressed the Washington, DC crowd announcing a new campaign called I Will Avoid. “Our elected officials have betrayed us and avoid the responsibility to end gun violence…Today we announce a new call to action, because I think it’s time to bring a consequence to their inaction.”
Manuel said, “If lawmakers who have the power to keep us safe from gun violence are going to avoid taking action,” then he’s calling for a nationwide strike of schools, from elementary to college.
“Avoid attending school if your leaders fail … to keep us safe,” he said. “Avoid going back to school if President Biden fails to open a White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention so that we can finally give this issue the attention that it deserves.”
He added, “If lawmakers who have the power to keep us safe from gun violence are going to avoid taking action that will save our lives, then young people across this country, everyone else who can hear my voice should also avoid. Avoid attending school if your leaders fail to do the job and keep us safe from gun violence.”
Parkland shooting survivor and activist X Gonzalez also spoke at the Washington rally: “What I say here today is mostly directed at Congress. I’ve spent these past four years doing my best to keep my rage in check, to keep my profanity at a minimum so that everyone can understand and appreciate the arguments I’m trying to make, but I have reached my fucking limit!”
Gonzalez drew loud cheers from the crowd. “We are being murdered. Cursing will not rob us of our innocence. You say that children are the future, and you never fucking listen to what we say once we’re old enough to disagree with you, you decaying degenerates! You really want to protect children? Pass some fucking gun laws!”
In Portland, Maine, hundreds rallied in a park outside the courthouse before they marched through the Old Port and gathered outside of City Hall. As they marched, they chanted, “Hey, hey, hey, NRA, how many kids have to die today.”