Link back to the discussion thread.


  • Italy Says Proposal to Cap Gas Prices Is Gaining Support in EU Bloomberg

An Italian proposal to cap natural gas prices in Europe is gaining traction across the region as countries increasingly see it as the “only solution” to soaring costs, Energy Minister Roberto Cingolani said Tuesday.

Italy has recommended that European Union member states put a limit on the price of gas imports from Russia to help curb inflation in the bloc, but nations including Germany have shown skepticism.

“Gas prices are rising not for a physical reason,” Cingolani said at a conference in Rome. “The price is rising just because someone somewhere from a keyboard has decided so.”

Yet an actual reduction in deliveries from Russia has helped drive prices higher in recent days, with shipments through the key Nord Stream pipeline shrinking to about 40% of capacity. Benchmark European gas futures are up about 4% from Friday, and are trading at more than four times their level of a year ago.

  • Europe should be prepared for Russia to totally cut all natural gas supplies this winter, IEA chief says Business Insider

“The nearer we are coming to winter, the more we understand Russia’s intentions,” IEA head Faith Birol said. “Europe should be ready in case Russian gas is completely cut off,” he added.

  • Biden anticipates ‘waiting game’ between Western Europe and Russia RT

The confrontation between Western Europe and Russia over Ukraine is likely to turn into a “waiting game,” US President Joe Biden has said.

After delivering his speech on Covid-19 vaccines for children under five in the White House on Tuesday, Biden was asked by a journalist if he was “afraid” there was a fracture emerging among Ukraine’s Western allies. The reporter quoted British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who recently spoke of “Ukraine fatigue,” and claimed that some leaders “are calling for negotiations with Putin.”

The US president replied in the negative, adding, however, that “at some point, this is going to be a bit of a waiting game: What the Russians can sustain and what Europe (sic) is going to be prepared to sustain.”

He also said this was one of the things that Western leaders were “going to be speaking… in Spain about” – an apparent reference to the NATO summit, which kicks off next Tuesday in the Spanish capital, Madrid.


  • Companies Find Leaving Russia Difficult, Though Many Are Trying WSJ

Philip Morris International Inc. is embroiled in the most complicated transaction in the company’s history, but the headache isn’t the recent $16 billion deal to buy rival Swedish Match. It is trying to get out of Russia.

The process, begun in March shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, includes navigating Moscow’s shifting regulations, avoiding missteps that could prompt the government to seize the business and trying to protect employees from becoming targets for arrest.

Philip Morris is trying to sell its Russian business and has had talks with suppliers interested in buying it. At the outset, it wasn’t clear which Russian authority would approve such a sale or what the process was for seeking that approval, Chief Executive Jacek Olczak said. Nearly three months later, the tobacco company is still trying to work it out.

“It’s so bloody complex,” Mr. Olczak said in an April interview. “This one is really mind-blowing.”

  • The new McDonald’s in Russia sold 120,000 burgers on its opening day, surpassing daily records in its past life, CEO says Business Insider

  • Russian commodities traders replace Switzerland with Dubai Al Jazeera

Traders of Russian commodities are rushing to set up businesses in Dubai as Switzerland makes it increasingly challenging for them to deal with Moscow.

Switzerland has for decades been home to middlemen helping to match Russian producers with buyers all over the world. Now, a ratcheting up of sanctions is prompting a migration to the emirate in the Persian Gulf.

Russia’s three largest oil producers are in the process of evaluating Dubai for trading operations, and several other firms have already relocated there. For Switzerland, some kind of exodus appears inevitable after the country followed European Union bans targeting exports from Russia.

“The trade will go on,” said Wouter Jacobs, director of the Erasmus Commodity & Trade Center at Erasmus University in Rotterdam. “Middle Eastern and Eastern jurisdictions will gain in importance relative to the rather euro-centric situation of the commodities business up to now.”

  • Russia needs ‘golden ruble’ – report RT

Russia needs a new mechanism for international settlements to be able to operate under Western sanctions, a report by the country’s development corporation VEB.RF says.

According to the report, the introduction of financial sanctions against Russia, which, despite state measures, results in economic losses for the country, also indicates that a transition to a completely different national financial and monetary system is in order.

VEB.RF analysts suggest that Russia should create a gold-backed stablecoin under the working title ‘golden ruble’. According to their research, Western countries will have no opportunity to block operations carried out in such a currency, since its exchange rate will be pegged to the gold rate on the world market, not to the dollar, the euro or, for that matter, the fiat ruble itself. Gold backing would ensure the currency’s immunity to sanctions, and the ‘golden ruble’ could be used freely in external transactions, including those between third countries without the participation of Russia.

United Kingdom

  • Britain Is in the Midst of a Massive Household Debt Crisis Jacobin

Toward the end of last year, a trade unionist told me that a growing number of their members were increasingly reliant on credit card borrowing. At the time, the financial press was pointing to “increasing consumer confidence” and hopefulness about the “reopening of the economy.” But given what I had heard, I was skeptical that increasing confidence in the economy could be the cause of this extra lending.

Analysis of household surveys conducted by Debt Justice late last year confirmed that behind the boosterish headlines, things were getting worse for millions of UK households. An extra 1.3 million were pushed heavily into debt in 2021, even before Universal Credit was cut by £20, the Omicron wave, and the surge in the cost of living.

With inflation currently running at least three times the rate of benefits and double that of wages, borrowing is largely driven by need. Polling and analysis from the debt advice charity Stepchange confirmed that people are getting into debt to pay bills and make it through to payday, with households in the United Kingdom having taken out an estimated £13 billion of borrowing just to survive.

  • Brexit is making cost of living crisis worse, new study claims The Guardian

The Resolution Foundation thinktank and academics from the London School of Economics said the average worker in Britain was now on course to suffer more than £470 in lost pay each year by 2030 after rising living costs are taken into account, compared with a remain vote in 2016.

  • Food prices push UK inflation to 40-year high of 9.1 percent Al Jazeera

Rising food prices pushed the United Kingdom’s consumer price inflation to a 40-year high of 9.1 percent last month, the highest rate out of the Group of Seven countries.

Historical records from the Office for National Statistics show May’s inflation was the highest since March 1982 – and worse is likely to come.

Sterling, one of the worst-performing currencies against the US dollar this year, fell below $1.22, down 0.6 percent on the day.

Some investors judge the UK to be at risk of persistently high inflation and recession, reflecting its large imported energy bill, and continuous Brexit troubles which could further hurt trade ties with the European Union.

  • UK Unveils $18.4 Billion Package To Help Customers Pay Energy Bills Oil Price

Household energy bills will spike to over £3,000 per year next January, putting more pressure on cash-squeezed Brits in the coldest month of the year.

Energy specialist Cornwall Insight has forecast that the price cap could rise to £2,980 when it is next updated in October, and climb again January to £3,003 per year, when energy demand is at its peak.

The government has unveiled a £15bn support package for households – which will provide vulnerable energy users up to £1,200 per year savings on their bills.

Nevertheless, the industry remains in crisis with Ofgem announcing a raft of reforms to improve the energy sector and make supplier more resilient to market shocks.


  • Volkswagen CEO says the shift away from Russian energy is not happening fast enough and car plants could be at risk Businnes Insider

Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess has said that Germany’s shift away from Russian energy is not happening fast enough to account for a major disruption of Russian gas.

Diess said the German carmaker was concerned but preparing for the possibility of a disruption to Russian gas supply. He added that the company would keep the ability to power factories on coal for the time being.

The carmaker’s CEO said although the long-term plan was a move toward renewables, insecurity over Russian gas supply to Germany meant a short-term fallback to fossil fuels.

Although Germany has set a target to wean its economy off Russian gas by 2024, the country is still heavily reliant on Russian oil and gas. Russia supplied around 55% of Germany’s natural gas in 2021 and 40% in the first quarter of 2022, according to Reuters.


  • Major European nation buys tons of Russian gold RT

Switzerland imported gold from Russia in May for the first time since February, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday. According to the article, the move suggests that the industry’s stance toward Russian precious metals may be softening.

The country shipped more than three tons of the precious metal from Europe’s largest state last month, Bloomberg reported citing data from the Swiss Federal Customs Administration. The purchase represents about 2% of the nation’s bullion imports in May. Switzerland is a key refining hub that handles two-thirds of the world’s gold.



  • ‘We’ll burn anything to keep people warm’ – Czech official RT

Czech Ambassador-at-Large for Energy Security Vaclav Bartuška has promised his country will do everything in its power to generate heat and electricity if gas supplies run low this winter.

“We basically have a repeat of the 1973 oil shock … If there is a gas cut out this winter, we will burn anything we can to keep our people warm and to make electricity,” Bartuška said on Monday, speaking to Brussels-based journalists, as cited by Euractiv. His comments came ahead of the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU, which begins on July 1st and will last six months.

Asia and Oceania

  • Asia’s Supply-Chain Strains Start the Long Healing Process Bloomberg

Supply chains in Asia look to be on the mend — they’re just taking their time.

That’s according to the latest update from Bloomberg Economics, which shows that a nascent production revival in China has reduced delivery times for factories. Shanghai’s reopening was the biggest driver, according to the work of Chang Shu, Bloomberg’s chief Asia economist.

The improvement crept into the data for May and should be clearer in June with a further rollback of Covid restrictions, she writes in the report.


  • China Vows More Pro-Growth Policies as Banks Urged to Step Up Bloomberg

Beijing ratcheted up calls to boost China’s Covid-battered economy, with the nation’s finance minister saying more pro-growth policies are being studied and a newspaper affiliated with the Cabinet urging banks to step up lending for infrastructure projects.

The government will further accelerate fiscal spending as well as the sale of special local government bonds, Finance Minister Liu Kun said Tuesday during a meeting of the standing committee of the National People’s Congress, according to a report by the Xinhua news agency posted on the parliament’s website. Special local bonds are mainly used for financing infrastructure investment.

The authorities are studying new policy tools to support the economy, Xinhua cited Liu as saying in a separate report. They are also planning to front-load stimulus, accelerate the implementation of existing policies and enhance the adjustment of their macro policies as part of efforts to keep economic growth within a reasonable range, he said.

Liu made the comments to the NPC standing committee while reporting on the outcome of the 2021 central government budget. The legislators are meeting this week through Friday to review revisions to a slew of laws including the Anti-Monopoly Law, according to its agenda.

Separately, the Economic Daily, a newspaper affiliated with the State Council, said in a front-page commentary Wednesday that banks should step up funding support for infrastructure projects to help stabilize growth. A number of water conservation and rural road renovation projects unveiled recently by the State Council, China’s Cabinet, will require assistance from the financial system, it said.

Policy banks should make good use of the 800 billion yuan ($120 billion) loan quota granted by the State Council, and optimize their lending approval process along the principle of low profit margins in order to help projects start early, according to the article under the name Jin Guanping.

Large state-owned commercial lenders should provide medium to long-term credit support for indirect financing of the projects, and smaller banks should meet the funding demand of small firms in the upstream and downstream sectors relevant to the projects, it added.

  • China floods force tens of thousands to evacuate with more rainfall expected The Guardian

  • Chinese Military Analyst Floats Idea to Hack Musk’s Starlink Bloomberg

Starlink, Elon Musk’s satellite service that provides internet access in more than 30 countries, is starting to make Chinese military analysts nervous, if a recent report is any indication.

Elon Musk is getting better at satellite technology and it’s making the Chinese nervous.

In a paper published this spring by the Beijing Institute of Tracking and Telecommunications Technology, a researcher urges the Chinese military to track and monitor every satellite in the sprawling Starlink network.

The ubiquity of the satellites, their ability to provide internet service, and the potential for the US government to leverage the satellites in the event of a conflict with China is enough reason for Beijing to develop a means of targeting Starlink, wrote researcher Ren Yuanzhen.

  • China Could See Another Power Crunch This Summer Oil Price

Despite a boom in coal production in recent months, China could experience another power crunch this summer as miners race to meet government targets with lower-quality coal, analysts and traders told Reuters.

Faced with power shortages last autumn, Chinese authorities ordered an increase in domestic coal production as global coal prices soared. However, Chinese miners are looking to meet the required quantity regardless of the quality, which is often low and less efficient when burnt at coal-fired power stations.

“For miners, they don’t have much incentive to produce high quality coal as margins are so low due to the price caps. Their priority is to churn out enough volume of coal to fulfil the targets set by government,” a coal trader based in China told Reuters' Muyu Xu.

Sri Lanka

  • ‘We want justice, not fuel’: Sri Lanka’s Tamils on north-south divide The Guardian

For months now, the sounds of protest and anger have rung out across Colombo, Sri Lanka’s largest city. Every day, along the city’s seafront promenade of Galle Face, people have gathered in their tens of thousands to rage against the government for plunging the country into its worst financial crisis in modern history.

But 200 miles north, in the district of Mullaitivu, the streets are silent. The economic crisis has hit Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority, who are concentrated in the north and eastern provinces, as hard as those in the south; the fishermen here say they are already starving. But they will also tell you that protesting is a privilege in Sri Lanka – one they have never been afforded.

“If we staged a protest here like they are doing in Galle Face, they would shoot us dead,” said Ravikaran Thurairajah, 58, a former councillor from Mullaitivu who has been arrested 14 times for his involvement in local peaceful demonstrations. “We respect their struggle, but we don’t see our struggles represented there.”

It was 13 years ago that Sri Lanka’s three-decade civil war between the Tamil separatist militant group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) – commonly known as the Tamil Tigers – and the Sri Lankan military came to a bloody end in this district. Tens of thousands lost their lives as the LTTE was defeated and up to 100,000 people, mostly Tamils, were abducted by the Sri Lankan armed forces and never seen again.

“Where were the protests in the south when the military killed and took away our families?” asked Eswari, as she recounted clambering over dead bodies with her children in her arms as they tried to flee to safety at the end of the war. “It’s easy for them to protest there, it’s not the same here. When I see the Colombo protests, all I see is discrimination.”

While those in Mullaitivu are supportive of the calls in Colombo for the resignation of the president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is part of Sri Lanka’s most powerful political family, there is also frustration. The Rajapaksa dynasty had always played on Sri Lanka’s ethnic tensions to gain the votes of the Sinhalese majority, and has almost no support among Tamils.

“We already rejected the Rajapaksas and their racist majoritarian politics a long time ago,” said Thurairajah, the former councillor. “Unlike those people in Colombo who are now protesting, we never voted for them in 2019. We always said this family would destroy this country.”

Mahinda Rajapaksa, the former president, was in power and Gotabaya Rajapaksa was head of the armed forces during the final, brutal phase of the war when most deaths occurred in the north. Since Gotabaya Rakapaksa became president, all progress towards war crimes tribunals and accountability mechanisms for wartime atrocities has been halted.

  • Sri Lanka petroleum company in extreme debt, country hitting “rock bottom” Thaiger

Sri Lanka’s economic crisis is snowballing even further. The island nation’s PM Ranil Wickremesinghe said Sri Lanka might be falling to “rock bottom” now that its major petroleum corporation is in extreme debt. He said that because of the debt, no other countries are willing to provide Sri Lanka with fuel.

“Currently, the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation is $700 million in debt…As a result, no country or organization in the world is willing to provide fuel to us.”

Although Sri Lanka has been trying to keep its head above water with US$4 billion in credit lines from India, PM Ranil says India won’t be able to chip in for much longer. Ranil became Sri Lanka’s PM last month after former PM Mahinda Rajapaksa quit his position and went into hiding. This was after tens of thousands of Sri Lankans across the country took to the streets to protest Mahinda’s powerful family.

New PM Ranil says Sri Lanka’s situation would be different if steps had been taken to slow down the economic collapse. He says Sri Lanka missed the opportunity, and now its economy has collapsed.

  • Crisis-hit Sri Lanka plans donor conference with China, India and Japan Reuters

Sri Lanka will call China, India and Japan to a donor conference to drum up more foreign assistance to find a way out of its worsening economic crisis, the prime minister said on Wednesday, amid ongoing talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).


  • Photos: Bangladesh’s garment-driven economic boom killing rivers Al Jazeera

In the half-century since a devastating independence war left its people facing starvation, Bangladesh has emerged as an often unheralded economic success story.

The South Asian country of 169 million has overtaken its neighbour India in per capita income and will soon be removed from the United Nations list of the world’s least developed countries.

Underpinning years of runaway growth is the booming garment trade, servicing global fast-fashion powerhouses, employing millions of women and accounting for about 80 percent of the country’s $50bn annual exports.

But environmentalists say the growth has come at an incalculable cost, with a toxic melange of dyes, tanning acids and other dangerous chemicals making their way into the water.

Dhaka was founded on the banks of the Buriganga more than 400 years ago by the Mughal empire.

“It is now the largest sewer of the country,” said Sheikh Rokon, the head of the Riverine People environmental rights group.

“For centuries people built their homes on its banks to bask in the river breeze,” he added. “Now the smell of toxic sludge during winter is so horrible that people have to hold their noses as they come near it.”


Vientiane Times reported on Monday that a total of 100 MW will be supplied by Laos to Singapore as a trial run.

The power purchase agreement was signed in Vientiane Capital on Friday by Managing Director of the Lao state-owned Electricite du Laos (EDL) Chanthaboun Soukaloun, and Executive Director of Keppel Infrastructure Holdings, Janice Bong.


  • Taiwan Increasingly Confident U.S. Will Help Stop China Invasion Newsweek

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine crossed the 100-day mark this month, Taiwanese citizens told a recent survey that the island was unlikely to last the same amount of time in the event of a Chinese attack. But after Joe Biden’s recent pledge to defend Taiwan, local residents reported a rise in confidence about potential U.S. support.

Taipei rejects Beijing’s territorial ambitions; in light of Ukraine’s resistance, Taiwan’s officials say the Taiwanese people are even more determined to defend themselves, with or without outside help.

However, only 51 percent of respondents in a recent poll believed Taiwan could withstand a Chinese invasion for more than 100 days, according to results published Tuesday by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation.

In contrast, only 37.8 percent of respondents felt Taiwan’s armed forces could hold out for the same period of time, said the TPOF survey, which was conducted between June 12 and 14 by collecting valid samples from 1,079 Taiwanese adults above the age of 20, the current presidential voting age.


  • Thailand and UK sign ambitious bilateral trade deal Thaiger

  • Thailand at risk of fuel crunch with imported gas too pricey Bangkok

The government is curbing imports of liquefied natural gas due to surging prices, potentially putting the country at risk of fuel shortages.

State-run importers cut purchases of LNG from the spot market because of skyrocketing prices and limited availability, according to traders.

And while they plan to boost purchases of cheaper alternatives, like diesel and fuel oil, the deficit left by cutting LNG may be too large to be filled by other sources, said the traders who didn’t want to be named as they’re not authorised to speak to the media.

“We won’t let a fuel shortage happen,” deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek said in response to a Bloomberg News inquiry on the prospect of a deficit. Thailand is not struggling to get supplies, she said.

  • Energy Ministry encourages consumers to use charcoal stoves to combat gas hike Thaiger

The Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency has a solution to solve the recent gas hike: use a charcoal stove if cooking gas is too expensive.

The department’s official Facebook page yesterday uploaded a picture of a stove, with a caption saying ‘a charcoal stove is durable, helps save money, uses less charcoal, and offers a lot of heat.”


  • Floating city in the shape of a brain coral rises from the Indian Ocean Asia News

The floating city large enough to house 20,000 people is being built in a turquoise lagoon – just 10 minutes by boat from Male, the Maldivian capital, CNN reports.

The city will be built in the shape of a brain coral, with 5,000 floating units including houses, restaurants, shops, and schools with canals running in between. The first units will be unveiled this month, with residents expected to begin moving in early 2024, and the entire city is expected to be finished by 2027, the CNN report said.

The project, a collaboration between property developer Dutch Docklands and the Maldives government, is not intended to be a wild experiment or a futuristic vision. It is being built as a practical solution to the harsh reality of sea-level rise, CNN said.

New Zealand

  • New Zealand korora penguins dying because of climate change with food more difficult to reach MercoPress

Middle East


  • Israel-Russia relations are in decline MEMO

A decline in relations between Israel and Russia has been noticeable recently after a few developments that cast a shadow on both countries. These include Israel’s bombing of Damascus International Airport and its continued siding with the West over Ukraine, as well as its agreement with the EU to supply natural gas as an alternative to Russia.

The attack on the airport disrupted commercial services and prompted questions about the real objective of this escalation towards Syria. It was the first attack of its kind since the start of the Israeli aggression in 2013.

The exchange of accusations about it was not limited to Tel Aviv and Tehran; it also involved Moscow. Israel’s Ambassador to Russia, Alex Ben-Zvi, was summoned to a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry to provide more details about the bombing. Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov stressed that the Kremlin would not allow Syria to become a battlefield for other countries.

According to Moscow, the Israeli explanations are not acceptable, and it issued a strong condemnation of the attack, which it described as an “irresponsible act” and a violation of international law. Such attacks, said Russia, not only pose serious risks to international air traffic, but also endanger the lives of innocent people. It demanded that Israel must stop these “wicked” practices. Israel’s explanations focused on intelligence reports and satellite images which revealed that one of the transport lines serves the civilian part of the airport, while the other route serves the military, and heavy vehicles were visible near the runways.


  • Iran Revives Plan To Build Its Own Passenger Plane Forbes

Iran is reviving plans to develop its own passenger plane, amid deadlock over talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal. Without progress on the nuclear agreement, international sanctions are likely to remain in place, preventing Iran from importing new jets from the likes of Boeing and Airbus.

The idea of Iran building its own aircraft has often been raised in the past, but the plans have rarely progressed far. That has not dissuaded President Ebrahim Raisi, who called for a renewed effort during a visit to the Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company (Hesa) in the city of Isfahan on June 16. Images from the visit showed Raisi inspecting helicopters, small propeller aircraft and jets made for the Iranian Air Force.


  • Pakistan: Cash-strapped nation secures deal with IMF to restore stalled $6 billion aid IndiaTV

Cash-strapped Pakistan has secured a deal with the International Monetary Fund to restore the stalled USD 6 billion assistance package and unlock doors for financing from other international sources, according to a media report on Wednesday. The make or break deal was reached on Tuesday night following the IMF staff mission and the Pakistani team, led by Finance Minister Miftah Ismail, agreeing on an understanding on the 2022-23 budget after the authorities committed to generate Rs 43,600 crore more taxes and increase petroleum levy gradually up to Rs 50 per litre, the Dawn newspaper reported.


  • EU and Kazakhstan aim to forge ‘ever closer’ relations EU Reporter


  • ‘Villages Have Been Completely Destroyed’: Earthquake Kills 900+ in Afghanistan Common Dreams

A powerful earthquake in Afghanistan killed more than 900 people and injured hundreds more on Wednesday, flattening homes and devastating entire villages in a nation already ravaged by decades of U.S.-led war and an ongoing economic collapse.

The earthquake, which hit overnight, had an estimated magnitude of 6.1 with an epicenter near the nation’s border with Pakistan.

“The death toll is likely to rise as some of the villages are in remote areas in the mountains and it will take some time to collect details,” said Salahuddin Ayubi, an official with the country’s interior ministry, as disaster relief efforts continued.


  • How Russia has outflanked Ukraine in Africa BBC

Addresses to summits and national parliaments around the world by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky have become a staple of the diplomatic calendar over the last few months.

But when he spoke to the African Union (AU) on Monday only four heads of state from the continent listened in, with the others represented by subordinates or officials.

The disappointing turnout was symptomatic of the unequal struggle that Kyiv faces in getting across its message in a continent of 54 countries where it has just 10 embassies - only a quarter of the Russian presence.

So, in trying to shift African perspectives on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion, Mr Zelensky cannot deploy political or security clout comparable with Moscow’s.

Ukraine is not a global military power and it is not a permanent member of the UN Security Council, unlike Russia.

As a result, many African leaders have concluded that they simply cannot afford to emulate direct Western confrontation with Moscow.

  • Africa Won’t Give Ukraine What It’s Asking for, Analysts Say All Africa

Analysts say the African Union (AU) is unlikely to offer Ukraine much support against Russia despite a passionate address Monday by Ukraine’s president. Many African nations have historical ties to Russia and have refused to condemn its invasion of Ukraine.

In his speech to the African Union Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of holding Africa hostage by not allowing Ukrainian grain exports to reach the continent unless Western sanctions are lifted.

Zelenskyy, speaking via videolink, also reminded AU leaders about Africa’s history of being colonized and said the continent should never support any attempt by one nation to colonize another.

Abdi Rashid, chief Horn of Africa analyst for Sahan Research, a Nairobi-based research group, said that while many Africans have expressed support toward Russia because of the former Soviet Union’s backing of liberation movements against colonial powers and apartheid, Russia has changed.

“And I think Africans probably have not come to grips with the reality of modern Russia,” he said. “So, we need to modernize our views of Russia and understand that today’s Russia is essentially an imperial power, which is weakened and which wants to get back the kind of clout and supremacy it had.”

After the address, Moussa Fakit Mahamat, chairperson of the African Union Commission, tweeted that the African Union “reiterates its position of the urgent need for dialogue to end the conflict [in Ukraine] to allow peace to return to the region and to restore global stability.”

Hassan Khannenje, director of the Horn International Institute for Strategic Studies, said the response by the African Union was short of what Zelenskyy expected.

Taking sides with Ukraine, Khannenje argues, would be seen very negatively by China, which has close relations with Moscow. He said Africa’s geopolitical calculations and relative power in the international system doesn’t allow it to make a decisive turn toward one of the two warring parties.


  • Nigeria: Russia Invasion - Nigeria Rejects Medical, Dental Degrees From Ukraine All Africa

The decision is because of the ongoing war in Ukraine that has seen many of its higher institutions closed for physical classes. Many of them are still, however, holding online classes, something the MDCN is against for medical and dental programmes.


  • Algeria meets with Nigeria and Niger for trans-Sahara gas pipeline project MEMO

Algeria’s Energy Ministry has revealed details of a meeting with Nigeria and Niger to discuss a trans-Sahara gas pipeline project, the Algeria Press Service reported on Monday. The meeting was held in the Nigerian capital Abuja.

This has laid the “first building blocks” of the project which is intended to be implemented as soon as possible, said Algeria’s Minister of Energy and Mines, Mohamed Arkab, after discussions with Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Timipre Sylva, and Niger’s Minister of Energy and Renewable Energies, Mahamane Sani Mahamadou. According to Arkab, the meeting was “important and successful”.


  • No time for complacency: Somalia’s unfolding famine catastrophe The Conversation

Somalia is on the brink of catastrophe. A recent assessment suggests that 7.7 million Somalis need emergency aid right now, a similar number to those affected by the Ethiopian famine in 1984, one of the worst humanitarian disasters in history. About one million people died then.

South Africa

  • Price Shock May Spur Biggest South African Rate Hike Since 2002 Bloomberg

South African inflation surged above the central bank’s target range for the first time in more than five years, raising the prospect of policy makers raising borrowing costs by the biggest margin in almost two decades this year.

Annual inflation accelerated to 6.5% in May, from 5.9% a month prior, Statistics South Africa said in a statement on its website on Wednesday. That’s the highest level since January 2017. The median of 11 economists’ estimates in a Bloomberg survey was 6.1%.

North America

United States

  • Citi sees a 40% chance of US recession going into next year and expects the Fed’s policies to take up to 18 months to take effect Business Insider

  • The US Economy Is Headed for a Hard Landing Bloomberg

If you’re still holding out hope that the Federal Reserve will be able to engineer a soft landing in the US economy, abandon it. A recession is inevitable within the next 12 to 18 months.

  • White House says it’s ‘appalling’ Russia won’t rule out executing detained Americans who volunteered to fight for Ukraine CNN

“We still are trying to learn more about these two individuals,” said John Kirby, the coordinator for strategic communications at the National Security Council.

“It’s appalling that a public official in Russia would even suggest the death penalty for two American citizens that were in Ukraine. And we’re going to continue to try and learn what we can about this,” he said.

It is deeply unfair, and goes against the rules-based international order, that actions committed by US citizens have consequences.

  • Only 11% of Americans blame Putin for gas prices – poll RT

Just 11% of Americans believe Russian President Vladimir Putin is to blame for record high gas prices in the US, according to a Rasmussen poll published on Tuesday. The majority instead have pointed the finger at US President Joe Biden.

More than half (52%) of respondents to the Rasmussen poll conducted last week cited Biden’s poor energy policies as the reason gas has become unaffordable, meaning the administration’s “Putin’s price hike” narrative does not appear to be catching on.

Those who blame neither Biden nor Putin mention the oil companies, with 29% of respondents suggesting the industry is leveraging the current geopolitical instability to jack up its prices.

  • Restricting U.S. oil exports would betray European allies and benefit Russia Washington Post

As the Biden administration scrambles to find ways to bring down soaring gas prices, several old ideas are gaining new life in public debate and inside the White House. The latest is a proposal to ban or restrict U.S. oil exports, which wouldn’t fix the problem and would very likely hurt our European allies while handing a financial windfall to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On June 16, Bloomberg News reported that the White House is considering capping U.S. exports of gasoline and diesel fuel, a step short of a full ban on all petroleum product exports. The White House’s National Economic Council has already been exploring legal justifications for restricting exports, the report stated, because the president doesn’t have explicit authority to make this unprecedented move.

The following day, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) publicly called for a full ban on U.S. oil exports, resurrecting an idea he and other progressive Democrats had advocated for last autumn, when gas prices began to rise. At that time, CNN reported that White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain had also suggested halting oil exports to bring down gas prices.

“Why are we sending more oil to other countries when we have a problem here with supply?” Khanna said on CNBC. “We could have that ban now, and it would dramatically reduce gas prices.”

In December, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said a ban on crude oil exports was “off the table.” Asked about this last month, Granholm changed her message and said nothing was off the table.

Oil producers and exporters point out that progressive Democrats have been trying unsuccessfully for years to reverse the Obama administration’s 2015 decision to lift the U.S. ban on exports. Progressives want to move on from petroleum, not expand the industry’s global markets.

In the current crisis, though, the Biden administration and Democrats are caught between that priority and the reality that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has made oil exports a crucial instrument of foreign policy. Russia is right now cutting off gas supplies to European countries as punishment for aiding Ukraine, and those countries are scrambling to compensate.

The Biden administration has promised European allies it would help them mitigate Putin’s use of energy as a weapon by increasing U.S. supplies. If the White House banned or even restricted exports, that would reduce the quantity of petroleum available in world markets, leaving allies in a lurch and driving prices higher. And that, in turn, would mean more profits in Putin’s coffers — which are already filling, despite sanctions, because of soaring worldwide oil and gas prices.

If only we had information in the 1970s that suggested that fossil fuels were causing climate change, because then we could have switched to renewables by now and we wouldn’t be in this problem. Alas, climate change was discovered in 2018 by Timothy C. Change, and we haven’t had time to shift to renewables since that discovery.

  • Chevron, ExxonMobil CEOs Set The Stage For Thursday Meeting With Biden Officials Forbes

In a public letter to President Biden, Chevron CEO Mike Wirth detailed investments his company has made to raise both production levels and refinery throughputs in the U.S. in recent months. Wirth pointed to the fact that, in the Permian Basin alone, Chevron expects its crude oil output to reach 750,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd), an increase of 15% over its 2021 levels. Wirth also pointed to the fact that “Chevron’s U.S. refinery input grew to 915,000 barrels per day on average in the first quarter of this year from 881,000 in the same quarter last year.”

Acknowledging that high prices for oil, natural gas and gasoline have been impacted by an array of geopolitical factors during Biden’s presidency, Wirth also expressed concerns that the President’s administration “has largely sought to criticize, and at times vilify, our industry. These actions are not beneficial to meeting the challenges we face and are not what the American people deserve."

Striking a conciliatory tone, Wirth pledged Chevron’s active participation in Thursday’s meeting and expresses hope that Biden will also send his senior advisors to the meeting to ensure “a robust conversation” takes place. “The U.S. energy sector needs cooperation and support from your Administration for our country to return to a path toward greater energy security, economic prosperity, and environmental protection,” he added.

  • Federal Reserve Is Losing Asia Faster Than In 1994 Forbes

Memories of the Federal Reserve’s 1994 tightening cycle still tend to trigger financial PTSD here in Asia.

Under the direction of then-Chairman Alan Greenspan, the Fed doubled short-term interest rates in just 12 months. The ferocity of the moves racked up some serious collateral damage: Mexico’s economic meltdown; the bankruptcy of Orange County, California; the death of 129-year-old bond dealer Kidder, Peabody & Co.; and developing Asia.

It took a few years, but the dollar’s powerful rally in response to higher U.S. rates made currency pegs in Bangkok, Jakarta and Seoul impossible to maintain. The resulting devaluations in 1997 set the region back decades in terms of living standards and economic confidence.

Now, the Jerome Powell-led Fed seems set to outdo the worst of the Greenspan era. Not because of the magnitude of the rate hikes Team Powell might engineer, but because of how far it’s fallen behind the inflation curve.


  • Mexico will ask Biden to free Assange RT

WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange has been treated “very unfairly” to the shame of the entire world, and Mexico is willing to take him in, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador told reporters on Tuesday. He said he would bring up Assange’s case with his US counterpart Joe Biden when they meet in July.

South America


  • Indigenous protester dies in Ecuador as violence increases Al Jazeera

An Indigenous protester has died in Ecuador as violence increased amid days of anti-government protests that the country’s military has labelled as a “grave threat” to democracy.

On Tuesday, an estimated 10,000 Indigenous people took to the streets in the capital Quito, continuing demonstrations that began on June 13 over fuel prices, unemployment and President Guillermo Lasso’s conservative government.

Protesters carried sticks, fireworks and shields made out of road signs and were met with crackdowns by security forces, particularly in the north of the capital where officers, including some on motorcycles and horseback, attempted to disperse the crowds using anti-riot vehicles equipped with tear gas and water cannon.

Several hours south, in the Amazon town of Puyo, a member of the Quichua Indigenous group died during a confrontation with law enforcement while participating in a roadblock.

Lina Maria Espinosa, a lawyer with the Alliance for Human Rights organisation, told AFP news agency the man was “hit in the face, apparently with a tear gas bomb”.

Police, however, said: “It was presumed that the person died as a result of handling an explosive device.”


  • A Decade After Lugo Was Ousted, Paraguay’s Left Has a Chance to Regain Power Jacobin

The 2012 coup against Fernando Lugo cut short the only period of left-wing rule in Paraguay’s modern history. But in elections next year, the country’s progressives have their best shot in years at unseating the corrupt, reactionary Colorado Party.


  • OPEC+ Mulls When to Fire Its Last Oil Production Bullets Bloomberg

It’s an ironic turn of events. Just as global central banks finally raise interest rates to fight oil-boosted inflation, OPEC+ faces the very same problem policy makers encountered when they loosened monetary conditions to rescue the global economy: the zero bound.

For the last year, the oil cartel has been injecting liquidity into the energy market, boosting output in a series of pre-planned monthly hikes. The final boost will come in August. By then, OPEC+ will be running out of spare production capacity.

The zero bound is far more conclusive for the oil bloc than for the Federal Reserve, which augmented its economic support via quantitative easing, or the European Central Bank, which introduced negative interest rates. Put simply, Saudi Arabia and its allies can’t pump barrels they don’t have.

OPEC+ will meet virtually on June 30 to rubber-stamp the final monthly hike that, on paper, would boost August production back to pre-Covid levels. In reality, output is lower because of sanctions on Russia and the inability of several nations including Nigeria and Libya to boost output in recent months.

What happens next is crucial for both the global economy and politicians such as US President Joe Biden under pressure from high gasoline prices. OPEC+ needs another online gathering for late July or early August to establish output levels from September. Running low on production ammunition, the cartel needs to make sure each final bullet counts.

OPEC+ officials are adamant that talks about September haven’t yet started. As far as I can gather, no member has put forward a proposal, and it’s difficult to identify the outline of any deal beyond an underlying acknowledgment that more oil will be needed. Still, in private, officials are weighing their limited options. One thing is clear: The group is likely to act in small steps, keep Russia on board despite pressure from Washington, and be data-driven, with an eye on how interest-rate hikes start to affect economies. Gradualism is the buzzword.

  • At BRICS summit, China sets stage to tout its governance model Al Jazeera

China will host the 14th BRICS Summit on Thursday in what analysts see as a chance for Beijing to promote its governance and development model at a time of global instability.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will join with the leaders of Brazil, India, Russia and South Africa via video link to discuss issues of mutual concern as part of the summit themed around ushering in a “new era” for global development.

In May, Xi called on the group to “reject Cold War mentality and bloc confrontation, and work together to build a global community of security for all”.

Despite their substantial differences, the leaders of the five countries maintain a certain distance from the United States-led liberal order.

None of the leaders of Brazil, China, India, or South Africa openly condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin for his country’s invasion of Ukraine earlier in the year.

“BRICS is a kind of diplomatic counteroffensive by China to both the revival of NATO and the increase in Indo-Pacific mechanisms that are designed to keep its power in check,” Huang Yanzhong, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, told Al Jazeera.

“Beijing is feeling increasingly isolated right now, as tensions with the US and its allies continue as a result of its tacit support for Russia’s invasion.”

Phar Kim Beng, former director of the Political-Security Community at ASEAN’s secretariat in Jakarta, said Beijing would use the summit to “highlight and criticise the ubiquitous nature of American sanctions that are imposed on thousands of individuals and entities around the world”.


The Ukraine War

  • Ukraine Gets More MiG Parts. But Kyiv’s Old Fighters Won’t Last Forever. Forbes

The Ukrainian air force could get another influx of MiGs—potentially keeping the air arm in the fight as Russia’s wider war on Ukraine grinds into its fourth month.

The German government on Tuesday confirmed it has donated to the Ukrainian government a stock of MiG-29 parts, apparently left over from the period following the Cold War when the German air force operated ex-East German MiGs.

When the Ukrainian air force last got a shipment of MiG parts, back in April—presumably from Poland, which bought Germany’s old MiG-29s in 2002—the Ukrainians were able to return to service 20 fighters, more than making up for recent losses.

The Ukrainians apparently have written off a few MiGs since then. The German parts could compensate for those losses. It’s not a permanent solution to the air arm’s long-term problems, of course—it still could run out of airplanes, eventually.

But for now, the Ukrainian air force has enough pilots, planes, weapons and fuel to launch up to 30 sorties a day, according to recent reporting by Foreign Policy’s Jack Detsch.

Climate and Space

  • Coal investments set to rise 10% this year as nations fret over energy security CNBC

Global energy investment is on course to jump by more than 8% in 2022 and hit $2.4 trillion, with a notable uptick for coal supply chains, but far more money will be required if climate-related goals are to be met, according to the International Energy Agency.

Published Wednesday, the latest version of the IEA’s World Energy Investment report said clean energy investment is set to exceed $1.4 trillion this year and account for “almost three-quarters of the growth in overall energy investment.”

  • Governments, firms make new bet on green hydrogen as climate fix Al Jazeera

It has been billed as the fuel of the future – touted as a solution to everything from Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels to Asia’s ferocious growing appetite for sustainable energy.

After years of being talked up as a potential game-changer, green hydrogen is at last receiving serious financial and labour force commitments from governments and big business.

In the Asia Pacific, Australia, with its vast areas where either sunshine or wind is in near-constant supply, is emerging as the region’s hub for green hydrogen production, which relies on renewable energy sources such as wind and solar to produce the fuel.

Australian mining magnate Andrew Forrest is building a 2-gigawatt electrolyser and ammonia producing plant in the state of Queensland, with plans to use the project to kick-start green steelmaking.

There are four other green hydrogen projects in the works in Australia, including a plant in Western Australia covering an area half the size of Belgium that is expected to have a generating capacity of up to 26 gigawatts (GW) – enough to produce 90 terawatt-hours per year (TWh), or about one-third of Australia’s total electricity production in 2020.

Europe has even bigger plans. In Spain, the HyDeal Ambition project will come online in 2025, with an expected capacity of 67GW. Germany is pouring 9 billion euros ($9.4bn) into the space to help end its reliance on gas and coal, including a 100-megawatt electrolyser in Hamburg, a hydrogen research centre in Bavaria that has roped in Audi, BMW and Siemens, and a “hydrogen alliance” with Morocco.

In Texas, Green Hydrogen International has announced plans to build an electrolyser to produce clean rocket fuel for Elon Musk’s SpaceX. Hong Kong-based InterContinental Energy is seeking to build a 14GW electrolyser in Oman, while Kazakhstan has announced a 30GW plant.

China, the world’s largest producer and consumer of hydrogen, has set up 30 green hydrogen plants since 2019 and already dominates the market for hydrogen fuel cells. Last year, its production of hydrogen vehicles increased by nearly half to 1,777 units, according to the China Auto Association.

“What we have that we have never had before is a really strong global market pull for decarbonisation. People really want to see things change,” Daniel Roberts, leader of the Energy Technologies Research Program at Australia’s CSIRO science agency, told Al Jazeera.

“Every six months, Siemens and other companies are announcing an electrolyser that is cheaper and bigger. It is remarkable how quickly things are changing from no green hydrogen to massive investments.”

Dipshittery and Cope

  • Could India Fall Under the Same Spell as Russia? Bloomberg

I don’t disagree that India is falling (and has fallen) into a dangerous place with its Muslim population - but the framing and explanations for why Russia or India does things is completely bogus. It’s just the “they’re jealous of our freedom” thing but for large countries instead of terrorist groups.

Three months into Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine, he faces no effective opposition in Russia or damaging defections from his regime. Indeed, rising public support for the Russian leader points to a society that has gone rogue together with its state. It shows how a nation wounded by the denial of its superpower status can find solace in an aggressive chauvinism.

An insecure Chinese regime has for years engaged in similar demagoguery, stoking hyper-nationalism among its citizens. Now this geopolitical trend is more insidiously and with much less attention entrenching itself in India, another aspiring and frustrated superpower.

Routine praise for India by US President Joe Biden and other Western leaders as a great democracy (and a counterweight to Russia and China) raises a crucial question: Are we sufficiently aware of a radicalizing society that poses a threat to itself and could even menace, like Putin’s Russia, global stability?

Don’t forget that the Russian descent into a deranged fantasy of omnipotence was also long under-analyzed. Journalist Masha Gessen warned in her 2012 Putin biography, “The Man Without a Face,” that US foreign policy strategists had been too slow to comprehend the Russian demagogue’s widely endorsed megalomania. The Russian poet and essayist Maria Stepanova wrote in 2014 of an unprecedented number of Russians who seemed “to derive pleasure from the way our wheels have spun out of control,” happy at least that they were “in the midst of history.”

The spread of a similarly nihilist sentiment in India has not been adequately appreciated. Last fortnight’s controversy and its aftermath is a case in point. Insults to the Prophet Muhammad by spokespersons of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party incited fury and outrage in Muslim countries around the Persian Gulf. Yet the comments seemed perfectly commonplace to those who have watched anti-Muslim prejudices take root during eight years of Narendra Modi’s prime ministership.

After seeing well-connected Hindu supremacists openly calling for the extermination of India’s largest minority, there were no surprises, either, in the way the government responded to domestic protests over the incident: Bulldozers demolished the homes of several protesters and at least two were allegedly killed by police.

Meanwhile, parts of the Indian media orchestrated a nationwide chorus of sympathy for the rebuked BJP spokespersons. As the Editors Guild of India pointed out, some television channels “were seemingly inspired by the values of Radio Rwanda, whose incendiary broadcast caused a genocide in the African nation.”

Medvedev warned presciently that a volatile mix of feelings in Russia’s “collective subconscious” — “global ambitions,” “wounded pride,” “thirst for revenge,” and a dire “inferiority complex”— was driving Putin’s “crazy geopolitical gestures done for effect” in Syria as well as Ukraine. Such unchecked mass chauvinism could also overdetermine foreign policy in India, a country that has already fought several wars with its nuclear-armed Muslim neighbor.

The Indian government can occasionally see that unchecked Islamophobia threatens the national self-interest. Modi was quick to suspend one anti-Muslim spokesperson and sack another, fully aware that India receives 60% of its petroleum supplies and more than $50 billion in remittances from Muslim countries in the Gulf.

But there is no evidence that the government intends to cease efforts to build support by stoking the anxieties and resentments of its supporters. Certainly, everything that empowered Putin in Russia — from crony capitalism, organized disinformation and stigmatization of minorities to abuse of the security apparatus, crackdown on dissent and militant vigilantism — can be witnessed today in India. No one should say they weren’t warned if another wounded and frustrated society goes rogue.

  • Africa ‘taken hostage’ by Russia’s invasion, Zelenskyy says Africa News

“Africa is actually taken hostage” in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine amid catastrophically rising food prices, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the African Union continental body during a closed-door address on Monday.

It took weeks of requests for Zelenskyy to address African nations, many of whom retain close ties to Russia and failed to support a U.N. General Assembly resolution condemning the invasion earlier this year.

Ukraine and the West hope to weaken those ties by emphasizing that Russia’s actions are to blame for dramatic shortages of wheat and edible oils and skyrocketing food and fuel prices across the African continent of 1.3 billion people.

“They are trying to use you and the suffering of the people to put pressure on the democracies that have imposed sanctions on Russia,” Zelenskyy told the AU, whose leaders recently met in Russia with President Vladimir Putin and echoed Moscow’s assertion that Western sanctions are in part to blame for the food security crisis.


  • A former US general compared Russia’s war in Ukraine to a ‘heavyweight boxing match’ and said a ‘knockout blow’ is coming Yahoo

A former US general compared back-and-forth fighting between Russia and Ukraine to a boxing match, as the war in the eastern European country nears the four-month mark.

“It’s a heavyweight boxing match,” Mark Hertling, the former top commander of the US Army forces in Europe, wrote in a Twitter thread late Monday night. “In 2 months of fighting, there has not yet been a knockout blow. It will come, as [Russian] forces become more depleted.”

Hertling said fighting between the two sides in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region is like a “punch-counterpunch” fight, where artillery exchanges, counterattacks, and moving frontlines makes progress hard to come by.


  • Take a look at China’s biggest destroyer, a $920 million cruiser that’s said to be the second-most powerful in the world after the USS Zumwalt Yahoo

Isn’t that the ship that doesn’t work?

United States

  • Biden predicts ‘second pandemic’ RT

The US needs more money to plan for “the second pandemic,” President Joe Biden said during a press briefing on Tuesday, as he praised his government’s efforts to ensure children under five can get Covid-19 vaccines.

Biden also hailed as “a very historic milestone” that the US has become the first country in the world to offer “safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines for children as young as six months old.”

When asked about how long the administration could keep up the new vaccine campaign, Biden suggested that the current budget would be enough to “get through at least this year” but stressed that “we do need more money.”

He went on to insist that he needed even more money for an unspecified “second pandemic.” “We need more money to plan for the second pandemic. There’s going to be another pandemic,” the president warned, without going into detail about what this new wave might entail.

I wasn’t aware that the ‘first pandemic’ ever ended.


  • Western Move to Choke Russia’s Oil Exports Boomerangs, for Now NYT

When the United States and European Union moved to curtail purchases of Russian fossil fuels this year, they hoped it would help make the Russian invasion of Ukraine so economically painful for Moscow that President Vladimir V. Putin would be forced to abandon it. That prospect now seems remote at best.

China and India, the world’s most populous countries, have swooped in to buy roughly the same volume of Russian oil that would have gone to the West. Oil prices are so high that Russia is making even more money now from sales than it did before the war began four months ago. And its once-flailing currency has surged in value against the dollar.

Russian officials are smirking over what they are calling a spectacular failure to cow Mr. Putin. And the economic pain the oil boycott was meant to inflict is reverberating not so much in Moscow but in the West, especially the United States, where skyrocketing oil prices pose a potent threat to President Biden less than halfway into his term.

Some point out that Europe’s oil embargo has yet to take effect, and say the long-term effects of Russia’s economic ostracism over the war remain a powerful determiner of the country’s fate. Those effects extend far beyond the trade in fossil fuels, hobbling Russian banking and other industries, but it is largely the sale of oil and gas that keeps the government — and its military — afloat.

“Things are much better than the worst case, and probably even better than the base case,” Yevgeny Nadorshin, the chief economist at the PF Capital consulting company in Moscow, said of Russia’s energy revenue. “Unfortunately, the most difficult period is only beginning.”

According to Rystad Energy, an independent research and business analytics company, Russian crude sales to Europe dropped by 554,000 barrels a day from March to May, but Asian refiners increased their take by 503,000 barrels a day — nearly a one-for-one replacement.

Although Russia is selling the oil at a steep discount because of the risks associated with sanctions imposed over the Ukraine invasion, soaring energy prices have compensated. Russia took in $1.7 billion more last month than it did in April, according to the International Energy Agency.

It remains unclear whether Asia will buy all the Russian oil once destined for Europe, as the European Union works to wean itself from dependence on the Kremlin’s energy exports. But for now, the shift has enabled Moscow to maintain oil production levels and confound expectations that its output would plunge.

China’s purchases in particular have underscored the support Mr. Putin enjoys from his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, who has pledged to deepen cooperation with Moscow, whatever his qualms about the war in Ukraine.

The combination of discounted Russian crude and higher prices at the pump also means that Indian refiners are profiting doubly, according to analysts. Some of the oil products exported by India have been shipped to the United States, Britain, France and Italy, according to the Finnish-based Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air.

Once the refiners turn oil into diesel or gasoline, no one can distinguish whether the fuels they ship to Europe and elsewhere come from Russian crude. That means Western motorists who think they are paying more for non-Russian fuel may be mistaken.

“Those molecules, a lot of them are Russian,” Jeff Brown, the president of F.G.E., an energy consulting firm, said of the refined oil products exported to the West.

The high global demand for Russia’s oil and gas is prompting Russian officials to declare that the West’s efforts to limit Russian exports have flopped.

Bloomerism and Hope

Hundreds of demonstrators continued to enter Ecuador’s capital on Monday during the eighth day of a mobilization against the government called by the indigenous movement, while the blockade of roads connecting the city of Quito (north) with the north and south of the country is maintained,

Images published on social networks show people walking on the road or in buckets of pick-up trucks in their eagerness to mobilize.

Here’s your ‘reserve currency’ thought for the day: Every US dollar is a check written on an account that is overdrawn by 30 trillion dollars.

It’s true. The “full faith and credit” of the US Treasury is largely a myth held together by an institutional framework that rests on a foundation of pure sand. In fact, the USD is not worth the paper it is printed on; it is an IOU flailing in an ocean of red ink. The only thing keeping the USD from vanishing into the ether, is the trust of credulous people who continue to accept it as legal tender.

But why do people remain confident in the dollar when its flaws are known to all? After all, America’s $30 trillion National Debt is hardly a secret, nor is the additional $9 trillion that’s piled up on the Fed’s balance sheet. That is a stealth debt of which the American people are completely unaware, but they are responsible for all the same.

In order to answer that question, we need to look at how the system actually works and how the dollar is propped up by the numerous institutions that were created following WW2. These institutions provide an environment for conducting history’s longest and most flagrant swindle, the exchange of high-ticket manufactured goods, raw materials and hard-labor for slips of green paper with dead presidents on them. One can only marvel at the genius of the elites who concocted this scam and then imposed it wholesale on the masses without a peep of protest. Of course, the system is accompanied by various enforcement mechanisms that swiftly remove anyone who tries to either break free from the dollar or, God help us, create an alternate system altogether. (Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi come to mind.) But the fact is– aside from the institutional framework and the ruthless extermination of dollar opponents– there’s no reason why humanity should remain yoked to a currency that is buried beneath a mountain of debt and whose real value is virtually unknowable.

Now– due to the economic sanctions on Russia– an entirely new order is emerging in which the dollar will be substituted for national currencies (processed through an independent financial settlement system) in bilateral trade deals until– later this year– Russia launches an exchange-traded commodities-backed currency that will be used by trading partners in Asia and Africa. Washington’s theft of Russia’s foreign reserves in April turbo-charged the current process which was further accelerated by banning of Russia from foreign markets. In short, US economic sanctions and boycotts have expanded the non-dollar zone by many orders of magnitude and forced the creation of a new monetary order.

How dumb is that? For decades the US has been running a scam in which it exchanges its fishwrap currency for things of genuine value. (oil, manufactured goods and labor) But now the Biden troupe has scrapped that system altogether and divided the world into warring camps.

Proponents of Washington’s proxy-war have no idea of the magnitude of their mistake or how much damage they are inflicting on their own country. The Ukraine debacle is the culmination of 30 years of bloody interventions that have brought us to a tipping point where the nation’s fortunes are about to take a dramatic turn-for-the-worse. As the dollar-zone shrinks, standards of living will plunge, unemployment will soar, and the economy will go into a downward-death spiral.

Washington has greatly underestimated its vulnerability to catastrophic geopolitical blowback that is about to bring the New American Century to a swift and excruciating end.

Link back to the discussion thread.