Link back to the discussion thread.
- Many Winters Are Coming. Start Saving Energy Now. Bloomberg
The European manufacturing sector is crumbling under the weight of sustained high electricity and natural gas prices. With little prospect of relief, another wave of curtailments and closures looms.
And that’s before any rationing of natural gas, potentially later this year, in Germany in the event Russia reduces supply even further. In that scenario, many companies will have no choice but to shut down.
Gas rationing may still be a distant prospect, but the crisis is already here. The price impact on industrial activity is arriving well before the gas supply is interrupted. Governments need to decide right now which companies will get financial support, and which ones won’t.
European leaders should sit down at an emergency summit devoted to the energy crisis. Next month will not be too early. Europe needs a continent-wide campaign to save energy and reduce demand. Start now; don’t wait for winter.
We’re reaching the point of ‘no idea is too crazy’: keeping nuclear power plants running, wholesale energy price caps, suspension of markets, removal of CO2 costs and limits, burning more coal, re-starting domestic gas production even if that triggers local earthquakes in the Netherlands. Everything has to be backed up with multi-billion-euro loans from governments to key sectors.
No idea is too crazy? What about undoing the sanctions, then?
The problem isn’t just the current eye-watering prices for power and gas. The forward contracts for 2023, 2024 and even 2025, which are used to lock in energy costs, are getting more expensive by the day. “This may be a sustained price rise, rather than something that disappears quickly,” Jonathan Brearley, the head of the UK energy regulator Ofgem, said earlier this month.
The months-long crisis that many industrialists penciled into their plans has morphed into a years-long problem. The prospect of bleeding cash for a few months, perhaps half a year, or even a year, was one thing; losing money indefinitely is another thing entirely.
For example, an aluminum smelter would lose about $200 million annually at current forward prices for electricity and carbon dioxide for the next year. And that’s despite elevated prices for the metal in the markets. Aluminum may be an extreme example, but it’s evidence of the pressures faced by industrialists.
- Balkan membership hopefuls leave EU summit empty handed EU Reporter
The summit of European Union leaders and Balkan leaders failed to resolve a deadlock on Thursday (23 June) over a stalled EU membership application by North Macedonia, Albania and the European Union. This was despite Ukraine being officially invited to join.
Separately from the Ukraine decision on Thursday, leaders of six Balkan countries, Albania, Bosnia and Kosovo, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Montenegro expressed disappointment that negotiations have not begun or remain stalled after years of promising eventual EU membership.
“What has occurred is a serious blow (to the credibility) of the European Union,” Dimitar Kuvacevski, North Macedonia’s prime minister, said at a news conference after the Balkan-EU summit. He was referring to the lacklustre progress.
The EU reiterated its promise almost two decades back to the Balkans that it would grant them membership if they implemented deep economic, judicial, and political reforms.
- EU countries adopt mandatory gas storage amid Russia’s cuts ABC
European Union countries agreed Monday that all natural gas storage in the 27-nation bloc should be topped up to at least 80% capacity for next winter as they prepare for the possibility of Russia further reducing deliveries.
The EU is trying to slash its use of Russian energy amid the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine and find other sources. A ban on imports of Russian coal will start in August, and an embargo on most oil from Russia will be phased in over the coming eight months.
- Number of foreign businesses planning to leave Russia revealed RT
Only a small percentage of German and Japanese businesses reportedly wish to completely halt all operations in Russia in response to Moscow’s military operation in neighboring Ukraine, which was launched in late February.
According to the latest figures released by the Russian-German Chamber of Commerce on Sunday, only 4% of the 1,050 member companies surveyed that once operated in the sanctions-hit country wanted to leave.
“The rest are planning either to continue their activities in the market without any changes, or partially abandon new projects or change their structure,” the business lobby said.
Among the Japanese firms, less than 3% said they wanted to withdraw from Russia following the events in Ukraine, Kyodo News reported earlier in the day.
- ‘Kindred spirits’ Biden, Scholz work to heal U.S.-German ties Reuters
Panned by critics for dragging his feet on Ukraine, called a “sulky liver sausage” by the Ukrainian ambassador, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Sunday won public praise from a man he has long privately admired: U.S. President Joe Biden.
Reaching over to touch Scholz’s arm as they sat at the start of a G7 meeting in the Bavarian Alps, Biden said it was “in no small part because of you” that the West had stuck together against Russia four months after the invasion of Ukraine.
The two men, who are from different political generations but both took office last year, have made common cause over Ukraine as they sought to heal ties that were sorely strained under Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump.
Both leaders have vowed to strengthen Ukraine’s armed forces, increase sanctions pressure on Moscow and counter surging food and energy prices that have undermined their popularity at home and tested their own domestic alliances.
- Boris Johnson says new N.Ireland trade law could be passed this year Reuters
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday parliament could pass legislation this year to scrap some of the rules on post-Brexit trade with Northern Ireland that his government agreed in 2020 with the European Union.
- Uprooted by war, some Ukrainians in the UK now face homelessness alone CNN
CNN spoke to half a dozen newly-arrived refugees from Ukraine who have become homeless in the UK after their relationships with British hosts deteriorated, leaving them confused and isolated – and facing a daunting amount of red tape.
The scale of the problem is not yet clear. The UK government says 77,000 Ukrainians have arrived in the UK since the war started, through two different programs: the Ukraine Family Scheme, where Ukrainians can be hosted by relatives in the UK; and the Homes for Ukraine scheme, where Ukrainians find a local “sponsor” through friends, charities or even social media, and jointly apply for a visa. According to the UK government, “the overwhelming majority… are settling in well.”
However, new preliminary data collected by the UK government shows 660 Ukrainian households sought homelessness assistance from local authorities between February 24 and June 3. And that data does not tell the whole story. Social media groups for Ukrainian communities in London are awash with messages from people falling out with their UK hosts.
Almost a quarter of local authorities have yet to provide any data, and CNN has spoken to several refugees made homeless in those areas.
- France working on contingency plans as energy crisis looms Reuters
France is working on energy contingency plans to cope with cuts to gas flows from Russia as the bosses of its top energy companies urged individuals and businesses to reduce power use to prepare for a looming energy crisis.
France is less reliant than some of its European neighbours on gas imports from Russia, which account for about 17% of its gas consumption. But concerns about supply from Russia come as France grapples with already limited electricity generation due to unexpected maintenance issues on some of the country’s aging nuclear reactors, prompting concern over a winter crunch.
- France’s Public Finances Are at ‘Alert Level,’ Le Maire Says Bloomberg
France’s public finances have reached an “alert level” amid rising interest rates, surging inflation and dwindling growth, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said.
The candid warning comes as President Emmanuel Macron’s government seeks to negotiate a revised 2022 budget with opposition parties after he lost his majority at the National Assembly in elections earlier this month.
“Not everything is possible, quite simply because we have reached an alert level for public finances,” Le Maire said on BFM TV Monday. “We used to be able to borrow at 0% or at negative rates, but today we are borrowing at more than 2%.
The finance minister also said debt charges on inflation-linked bonds will rise by “several billion euros” as prices surge at a record pace.
Before presidential elections in April and the legislative vote in June, Macron’s government had earmarked around 25 billion euros ($26.4 billion) for a so-called “inflation shield” to protect households from surging prices this year.
But Le Maire said proposals from opposition parties to further reduce fuel bills would now be “too expensive” at 20-25 billion euros.
- Refugees to be kicked out of homes en masse in EU state RT
Hundreds of Ukrainian refugees currently hosted by Dutch families are facing eviction during the summer holidays, local media says. The families providing them shelter do not want to go on vacation and leave their guests alone in their homes unattended, ANP news agency reported on Sunday.
Asia and Oceania
- Asia’s largest cities lack water security Jakarta Post
Tokyo, Shanghai and Delhi: global cities, fast-paced and exciting, symbolic of the rise of the new Asian century. These cities are the three biggest in the world, engines of economic growth, producing billions in economic activity for their residents and the world. But they have a problem: there is not enough fresh water available per person for their daily needs.
Freshwater availability is half that of the global average in Asia. Water efficiency is also among the lowest in the world and a low water productivity means crop yields are low despite the relatively large amount of water supplied in agriculture production. Being able to assess how resilient urban water supply is to changing conditions, like droughts or increasing demands, is key to being prepared for future crises.
Many large cities are prone to water issues. Population and economic growth have led to environmental degradation. Existing water supplies simply can’t keep up with the growing needs. The issue is exacerbated by climate change where extreme weather events such as drought and floods are becoming more common. Water security — having enough water to meet all living, irrigation and industry needs as well as a healthy surplus to adapt to major disasters — is steeply in decline.
For example, over-exploitation in Bangkok, Thailand, has severely reduced groundwater levels, causing land to subside. Water sources around the city are also polluted due to the direct discharge of domestic sewage into drains and canals. Similarly, Bangkok’s inadequate drainage capacity and its location in the Chao Phraya River floodplains make it susceptible to flooding.
Hanoi, Vietnam, is one of the fastest-growing cities in terms of GDP growth, contributing more than 19 percent of the country’s total GDP. The repercussions of this growth are felt directly in its polluted lakes and rivers due to wastewater from residential and industrial areas. Madaba in Jordan is a water-scarce city. Although 98 percent of the city’s population has access to water, residents are often forced to rely on alternative sources of storage such as large tanks or private water vendors to meet their needs due to inconsistent water supplies.
- Asia’s Inflation Buffers Weaken Bloomberg
Many Asian economies have managed to shield their citizens from the surging energy and food prices that are sweeping the world economy through subsidies and other fiscal support.
But now, as the months tick by since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, those same governments are being forced to narrow their aim to the most-needy in order to ease the strain on their pandemic-battered budgets.
Indonesia and Malaysia are refocusing subsidies to ease the financial burden after two years of big spending to weather Covid-19 and the Philippines’ incoming president has proposed a similar plan.
Thailand is asking its oil industry to help fund fuel subsidies. India is warning of the need to rein in some spending.
Waning fiscal support couldn’t come at a worse time for the region. Inflation is yet to peak in Asia, according to economists at Nomura, which sees risks from global supply chain snarls and protectionism, as well as continued Covid-19 lockdowns in China and weaker harvests in India.
A worsening inflation outlook across Asia threatens disposable incomes and consumption, which are already under pressure from economy-cooling, inflation-fighting interest rate increases.
- North Korea denounces U.S. ‘aggression’ as it marks war anniversary Reuters
North Korea on Saturday condemned “aggression moves” by Washington and Seoul, vowing to take revenge as it marked the 72nd anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War at a time of rising tension on the Korean Peninsula.
The North’s state news agency KCNA said on Saturday a number of workers' organisations had held meetings to “vow revenge on the U.S. imperialists”, blaming the United States for starting the 1950-1953 Korean War.
- Tokyo warned of power crunch as Japan endures heat wave NBC
The Japanese government warned of possible power shortages Monday in the Tokyo region, asking people to conserve energy as the country endures an unusually intense heat wave.
Weather officials have announced the earliest end to the annual summer rainy season since the Japan Meteorological Agency began keeping records in 1951. The rains usually temper summer heat, often well into July.
- Asian country offers to ensure global food security RT
Vietnam is prepared to increase rice exports if the world’s largest exporter, India, imposes a ban on overseas deliveries, news site VietNamNet reported on Monday, citing the Agriculture Ministry.
According to Nguyen Nhu Cuong, from the Department of Crop Production at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam produces 26-28 million tons of rice a year, and up to 7 million tons can be exported.
“The rice production has been going smoothly. If there are no unexpected effects such as natural calamities, we will always ensure food security,” Cuong said, as cited by VietNamNet.
- Concerns grow that India is ‘back door’ into Europe for Russian oil The Guardian
[…] The Asian nation’s willingness to snap up Russian crude at discounts of up to 30% has undermined efforts from the US, Europe and the UK to deplete Vladimir Putin’s war coffers by curtailing imports. Russia raked in $20bn from oil exports in May, bouncing back to pre-invasion levels. Now, concerns are growing that India is being used as a potential back door into Europe for Russian oil supplies,given the surge in imports.
Before the invasion of Ukraine, India’s imports of Russian oil were negligible due to high freight costs. But recently, imports of Russian oil to India have increased. […] The volumes that India has been buying and exporting, however, suggest that some of the refined Russian crude may ultimately be used in Europe’s filling stations.
In May, India imported about 800,000 barrels of oil per day from Russia in Mayand the rating agency Fitch predicts that imports could soon increase further to 1m barrels per day, or 20% of India’s total imports. India, China and the United Arab Emirates have picked up the slack as Russian crude oil imports into the EU fell by 18% in May.
India’s 1.4 billion-strong population gives it reason to seek cheap supplies. But it’s a dangerous political game. “India is walking a tightrope,” said Alan Gelder, the vice-president of refining, chemicals and oil markets at Wood Mackenzie. “If you take too much, you do not want the west to sanction the rest of your economy.”
The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air said Reliance Industries’ Jamnagar refinery in Gujarat received 27% of its oil from Russia in May, up from 5% in April. The centre said about 20% of exported cargoes from Jamnagar left for the Suez canal, indicating that they were heading to Europe or the US. Shipments were made to France, Italy and the UK. However, there is no evidence that these shipments included Russian oil.
- Sri Lanka sends 2 ministers to Russia for oil amid crisis Seattle Times
Sri Lanka is sending two government ministers to Russia to negotiate for fuel — one of the necessities nearly exhausted amid the Indian Ocean island nation’s economic collapse.
- Sydney climate protests: Activists block streets and harbour tunnel BBC
The Blockade Australia activists began disruptions on Monday in protest of “Australia’s ecological destruction”.
Police said the protesters were “violent” and “erratic” while marching through the city and blocking streets with barricades and bins.
Their actions angered some motorists, with one filmed driving through the protest and colliding with people.
New South Wales Police said more than 10 people had been arrested so far.
They included a woman who used a car to block the Sydney Harbour Tunnel.
- U.S. Held Secret Meeting With Israeli, Arab Military Chiefs to Counter Iran Air Threat WSJ
The U.S. convened a secret meeting of top military officials from Israel and Arab countries in March to explore how they could coordinate against Iran’s growing missile and drone capabilities, according to officials from the U.S. and the region.
The previously undisclosed talks, which were held at Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, marked the first time that such a range of ranking Israeli and Arab officers have met under U.S. military auspices to discuss how to defend against a common threat.
The meeting brought together the top military officers from Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt and Jordan and came as Israel and its neighbors are in the early stage of discussing potential military cooperation, the officials said.
The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain also sent officers to the meeting. The U.S. was represented by Gen. Frank McKenzie, then the head of the U.S. Central Command.
For decades, such military cooperation wasn’t considered possible. U.S. commanders in the Middle East sought to encourage Arab states to coordinate their air defenses without involving Israel, which was seen as an adversary in much of the Arab world.
The talks were enabled by several changes, including common fears of Iran, improved political ties signaled by the Abraham Accords and the Trump administration’s decision in January 2021 to expand Central Command’s area of coverage to include Israel.
Another factor driving expanding military cooperation has been Arab countries’ desire for access to Israeli air defense technology and weapons at a time when the U.S. is shifting its military priorities toward countering China and Russia.
Discussions among the Middle East nations about cooperating on air defense, however, have a long way to go and are still diplomatically sensitive.
Iranian Army will soon unveil new missiles with 300km range Tehran Times
Raisi says Iran fully backs peace and lifting siege on Yemen Tehran Times
Iraq to start producing 1000 megawatts from solar energy Iraqi News
The Ministry of Electricity announced on Sunday it will start producing 1000 megawatts from solar energy through a project implemented in four governorates, according to the Iraqi News Agency (INA).
- Iranian Food Consumption Plummets As Prices Soar Oil Price
Iranians are consuming fewer fruits and vegetables as skyrocketing prices shake the country’s food security.
Ismail Moradian, the vice-president of the Fruit and Vegetable Sellers Association, told the ILNA news agency on June 22 that consumption has decreased by between 25 and 30 percent because of price rises and the implementation of the economic policies of President Ebrahim Raisi’s government.
“Many people are confused and do not know which basic products to spend their money on,” Moradian said.
- Iran launches space rocket RT
Tehran has conducted a new test of its three-stage satellite carrier rocket, according to state media, in an alleged bid to expand its national space program. The US, however, believes it to be part of a military ballistic missile research program to develop long-range nuclear strike capabilities.
The footage of the countdown and blastoff was aired by Iranian television on Sunday, but it was not clear exactly when or where the rocket was launched. The projectile is said to be a three-stage Satellite Launch Vehicle dubbed Zuljanah, which uses both solid and liquid fuels.
A spokesman for Iran’s Defense Ministry said the launch was conducted for “predetermined research purposes,” and claimed it proved that Zuljanah is competitive with the world’s top satellite carriers in technical aspects, according to Press TV. The 25.5-meter-long rocket is reportedly designed to carry a single 220-kilogram or multiple smaller satellites into orbit.
- Egypt mulls supplying railways with hydrogen a source of alternative fuel Egypt Independent
- Higher oil prices help Angola pay off debts to Chinese banks SCMP
A surge in crude oil prices following the Russian invasion of Ukraine is hurting many economies around the world, but high prices are helping Angola, the second-largest oil producer in Sub-Saharan Africa, pay off debts to Chinese lenders.
Angola’s oil revenue rose from US$1.4 billion in April to US$2.1 billion in May, according to data from the country’s finance ministry. Brent crude was trading at US$113.12 a barrel on Friday, up more than 48 per cent since the start of this year.
Data from Angola’s central bank indicates that Luanda resumed principal repayments of Chinese debt in the first quarter of this year, 18 months before the scheduled end of a three-year debt moratorium agreed with Chinese lenders in June 2020.
According to market research company REDD Intelligence, debt owed to Chinese creditors decreased by US$351 million in the first quarter of this year to US$21.4 billion, after having been stable at close to US$22 billion for the past two years.
Angola fell into recession between 2016 and 2020 following a crisis caused by falling oil prices, and China agreed in 2020 to allow it to defer debt payments after the Covid-19 pandemic worsened its economic prospects.
The debt payment freeze was to end in the second quarter of next year.
- South Africa’s Eskom Extends Power Cuts Amid Worker Protests Bloomberg
Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. will continue power cuts until at least June 29 as worker protests that have delayed maintenance and repairs persist.
In a statement, Eskom said that it’s extending the power cuts due to “unlawful and unprotected” labor action at a number of power stations. The protests have been going on since June 23.
- Well run by Nigeria’s Eroton spills oil and gas for over a week Reuters
A well at a site operated by local Nigerian firm Eroton Exploration and Production Limited has been spilling oil and gas into the Niger Delta for more than a week, the company and an agency responsible for detecting oil spills said.
Last year, a nearby well run by Aiteo Eastern E&P spilled oil for more than a month, polluting the Delta creeks before it was successfully shut.
- Personal Income Cannot Support More Rapid Spending Growth Forbes
American consumers have been the backbone of the post-pandemic recovery, but they are losing their ability to sustain their pace of spending. Signs of weakness were evident earlier in the uneven pace of spending growth. Now in the Commerce Department’s report on household income, matters have become clear. Households are already sacrificing savings flows just to keep up current rates of spending, much less to expand them. The future cannot help but see spending slowdowns and likely cutbacks that will slow or halt the overall pace of economic growth.
- Every branch of the U.S. military is struggling to make its 2022 recruiting goals, officials say NBC
Every branch of the U.S. military is struggling to meet its fiscal year 2022 recruiting goals, say multiple U.S. military and defense officials, and numbers obtained by NBC News show both a record low percentage of young Americans eligible to serve and an even tinier fraction willing to consider it.
The officials said the Pentagon’s top leaders are now scrambling for ways to find new recruits to fill out the ranks of the all-volunteer force. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks consider the shortfall a serious issue, said the officials, and have been meeting on it frequently with other leaders.
“This is the start of a long drought for military recruiting,” said Ret. Lt. Gen. Thomas Spoehr of the Heritage Foundation, a think tank. He said the military has not had such a hard time signing recruits since 1973, the year the U.S. left Vietnam and the draft officially ended. Spoehr said he does not believe a revival of the draft is imminent, but “2022 is the year we question the sustainability of the all-volunteer force.”
The pool of those eligible to join the military continues to shrink, with more young men and women than ever disqualified for obesity, drug use or criminal records. Last month, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville testified before Congress that only 23% of Americans ages 17-24 are qualified to serve without a waiver to join, down from 29% in recent years.
An internal Defense Department survey obtained by NBC News found that only 9% of those young Americans eligible to serve in the military had any inclination to do so, the lowest number since 2007.
More than half of the young Americans who answered the survey — about 57% — think they would have emotional or psychological problems after serving in the military. Nearly half think they would have physical problems.
- Canada has a path to “soft landing,” finance minister says Reuters
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland on Sunday said Canada still has a path to a “soft landing,” where it could stabilize economically after the blow by the COVID-19 pandemic, without facing a severe recession that many fear, CBC News reported.
- Ecuador warns protests could force halt to oil production Iraqi News
Ecuador’s energy ministry warned Sunday that oil production had reached a “critical” level and could be halted entirely within 48 hours if protests and roadblocks continue in the crisis-wracked South American country.
- The Wide Role Brazil’s Military Has Played In Amazon’s Destruction Popular Resistance
In the Brazilian Amazon, as deforestation reaches record levels and rivers are increasingly polluted, the illegal gold mining contributing to these problems continues largely unabated. The response of the government has been to increase military action to curb environmental crimes in Brazil. Far from achieving this purpose, however, the military intervention has only led to tragedies in the region, directly or indirectly.
A source from the Brazilian Amazon wrote to us at Revista Opera two years ago to warn us about something strange that was going on there: illegally mined gold was being sold at the same price as legally mined gold. “If the nugget is a big one,” said the source, “they give the miner extra [money].” There was no investigation based on this information since it would have required great resources and risks, neither of which we could afford. It was just another fascinating story that was buried in the green hell (Inferno Verde) or El Dorado—terms often used to describe the immensity of the Amazon rainforest.
In August 2021, a study by the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) in partnership with the Brazilian Federal Public Ministry (MPF) showed that in two years—2019 and 2020—28% of all gold that was both produced by and sold in Brazil appeared to have been mined illegally. Perhaps such a large influx of gold for some exceptional reason had an effect on the price paid out for mining it at a given time, or perhaps the information provided was fabricated by the source, we thought.
The study further stated that of the gold produced in the Amazon, 44% was found to be “irregular” or illegal, revealing how the activity continued unchecked in the region.
- Food export bans, from India to Argentina, risk fueling inflation Reuters
It only took 24 hours last month for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in India - the world’s second-largest producer of wheat - to shelve its plans to “feed the world”.
In April, Modi had said publicly that the world’s most populous democracy was ready to fill part of the gap left by Ukraine in global grains markets by increasing its wheat exports, following five consecutive record harvests. India traditionally exports only a modest amount of wheat, retaining most of its crop for domestic consumption.
On May 12, India’s Ministry of Commerce & Industry said it was preparing to send delegations to nine countries to export a record 10 million tonnes of wheat this fiscal year - sharply up the previous season.
But a barrage of alarming data changed all that.
First came a downward revision to India’s wheat crop in early May as a sudden heatwave hammered yields. Then data on May 12 showed inflation in the nation of 1.4 billion had jumped to a near eight-year high due to higher food and fuel prices, driven by the Ukraine war.
Alarmed by rising inflation, which had contributed to toppling the previous Congress party government in 2014, Modi’s office told the Ministry of Commerce on May 13 to put the “brakes on” wheat exports immediately, according to one government official, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.
“This (inflation data) prompted the government to issue an order at midnight” imposing a ban on wheat exports, said a second source.
From Delhi to Kuala Lumpur, Buenos Aires to Belgrade, governments imposed restrictions, at a time when the economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with factors such as extreme weather and supply chain bottlenecks, had already driven hunger across the globe to unprecedented levels.
The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) said in April the number of people facing acute food insecurity - when their inability to consume adequate food puts their lives or livelihoods in danger - had already more than doubled since 2019 to 276 million in the 81 countries in which it operates, before the Ukraine conflict began. The war - which disrupted exports from Russia and Ukraine, two agricultural powerhouses - was forecast to increase that number by at least 33 million, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, it forecast.
Under World Trade Organization rules, members can impose export prohibitions or restrictions of foodstuffs or other products if they are temporary and required to relieve “critical shortages”.
But export restrictions risk worsening the rise in global food prices: producing a domino effect as a deepening crisis prompts other countries to take similar steps, said Michele Ruta, the lead economist in the Macroeconomics, Trade & Investment Global Practice of the World Bank Group.
Many economists say the global food crisis is already more severe than the last one that peaked in 2008, which was driven by factors including droughts, global population growth, higher consumption of meat in major developing economies, and the increased use of crops to produce biofuels.
Shortages at that time triggered protests across the globe, particularly in Africa where food represents a comparatively high proportion of household budgets.
- World Bank chief says inflation might last for two years, and some countries will find it ‘very hard’ to avoid recession Fortune
The head of the World Bank thinks it might take years to get prices back under control as the U.S. and other economies face inflation rates not seen in decades.
“It’s going to take months and months, and maybe two years to bring inflation back down,” said David Malpass on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday.
Record inflation and shortages of key commodities like oil, fertilizer, and wheat, mean “it’s going to be very hard” for some countries to avoid recession, Malpass said.
“A lot of the world is shutting down for lack of fertilizer. And then those shortages of crops will last for multiple years,” said Malpass, warning that food shortages might lead to “instability” in poorer countries.
The Ukraine War
- Russian telegram:
500 civilians have been evacuated from the Azot industrial zone.
- U.S. likely to announce this week purchase of missile defense system for Ukraine Reuters
The United States is likely to announce this week the purchase of an advanced medium to long range surface-to-air missile defense system for Ukraine, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Sunday.
Washington is also expected to announce other security assistance for Ukraine, including additional artillery ammunition and counter-battery radars to address needs expressed by the Ukrainian military, the source added.
- US has purchased ‘advanced’ weapons for Ukraine RT
The US plans to announce as soon as this week that it has purchased “an advanced medium-to-long range surface-to-air missile defense system” for Ukraine, a number of news agencies reported on Sunday and Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The Associated Press quoted a source as saying that the weapon in question is the Norwegian-developed NASAMS anti-aircraft missile system. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky requested the NASAMS to be delivered to his country when he addressed the Norwegian parliament in late March.
- Russia’s neighbors fear NATO’s defense plans are not fit for purpose and they could be quickly overrun CNBC
Member states of both NATO and the European Union, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have repeatedly called on NATO to provide a substantial increase in the number of foreign troops stationed in the region following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.
The Baltic countries have also pushed for an urgent update to the alliance’s so-called “tripwire” approach.
That’s because, under NATO’s existing strategy, Estonia’s Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has warned that the former Soviet state and its historic capital city of Tallinn would be “wiped off the map” in the event of a Russian attack, according to The Financial Times.
Kallas told reporters last week that NATO’s tripwire approach, which involves a relatively small number of troops, would likely see Estonia overrun before NATO then took measures to liberate them after 180 days.
“There is a shared understanding that the tripwire approach is obsolete — Bucha and Irpin cannot be repeated,” a spokesperson at Estonia’s foreign ministry told CNBC, referring to atrocities committed by Russian forces in two western suburbs of Kyiv.
“Look, we really don’t wanna have to bombard our own civilians with rounds that only we use and frame it on Russia to make them look bad. We will, of course, because fuck those little dirty proletarian ants, but we would prefer not to."
“Simply put, we’re saying ‘don’t come because you will lose. Don’t even think of coming,’” they added. “We need to move to deterrence by denial. We need a credible military construct on the Eastern flank that will deter Putin. This should include more Allied presence.”
Climate and Space
- Floating Cities May Be One Answer to Rising Sea Levels Bloomberg
Thanks to climate change, sea levels are lapping up against coastal cities and communities. In an ideal world, efforts would have already been made to slow or stop the impact. The reality is that climate mitigation remains difficult, and the 40% of humanity living within 60 miles of a coast will eventually need to adapt.
One option is to move inland. A less obvious option is to move offshore, onto a floating city.
It sounds like a fantasy, but it could real, later if not sooner. Last year, Busan, South Korea’s second-largest city, signed on to host a prototype for the world’s first floating city. In April, Oceanix Inc., the company leading the project, unveiled a blueprint.
Representatives of SAMOO Architects & Engineers Co., one of the floating city’s designers and a subsidiary of the gigantic Samsung Electronics Co., estimate that construction could start in a “year or two,” though they concede the schedule might be aggressive. “It’s inevitable,” Itai Madamombe, co-founder of Oceanix, told me over tea in Busan. “We will get to a point one day where a lot of people are living on water.”
If she’s right, the suite of technologies being developed for Oceanix Busan, as the floating city is known, will serve as the foundation for an entirely new and sustainable industry devoted to coastal climate adaptation. Busan, one of the world’s great maritime hubs, is betting she’s right.
This seems like a terrible idea for any population that approaches the size of a city if you think about it for more than five seconds, let alone applying it to most or all of the coastal urban populations on the planet.
- Drought increases rural suicide, and climate change will make drought worse The Conversation
By looking at drought data and suicide data from 1971-2007, we found suicides among working-age rural men increase as drought worsens.
We then used this correlation to calculate how many deaths can be attributed to drought in every month over the 37-year study period.
We used this statistic to calculate a total number of suicides, and because some years are drought years and some are not, we calculated an annual average figure. We found on average each year, 1.8% of suicides among rural working-age men could be attributed to drought.
Dipshittery and Cope
- Boris Johnson: Reports about the ‘death of democracy’ in the US are ‘grossly, grossly exaggerated’ Business Insider
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he’s not concerned about the state of US democracy after the 2020 election.
“I think that reports of the death of democracy in the United States are grossly, grossly exaggerated,” Johnson told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday.
Johnson, who was born in New York City, called America a “shining city on a hill,” adding that it will continue to be so.
“The mere fact that Joe Biden has stepped up to the plate in the way that he has shows that instincts of America are very much in the right place,” Johnson said. “Look, there were some weird and unattractive scenes… but I don’t believe American democracy is under threat.”
He added that he still believes that America is the biggest “guarantor of democracy and freedom.”
- Putin’s Inner Circle Could Oust Him ‘All of a Sudden’: Ex-CIA Insider Newsweek
“Well, we ain’t got nothing else, so… maybe they’ll just… get rid of him? Hopefully?
- A Minnesota publisher just gave away his newspaper to fight in Ukraine WaPo
Lee Zion spent three decades building a journalism career, one that culminated four years ago when he spent $35,000 to buy his own newspaper. As the boss, Zion kept toiling as a jack-of-all-trades — writing columns, selling ads, assigning and editing stories — all to keep the citizens of western Nicollet County, Minn., informed about what was happening in their community.
Not anymore. Zion just gave away the Lafayette Nicollet Ledger to pursue a new line of work — going to Ukraine to possibly pick up a gun and fight.
“There is death going on,” Zion told The Washington Post, “and right now, I’m sitting here doing nothing to stop it.”
Yet another data point added to the hypothesis that most Americans are bored, driven slowly insane by daily life, and ultimately suicidal.
- Zelensky Warns Belarusians: Don’t Let Putin Drag You Into War Newsweek
“You are being drawn into the war. The Kremlin has already decided everything for you,” Zelensky said during a video address on Sunday night. “But you are not slaves and cannon fodder. You don’t have to die.”
“Your lives are worthless to them,” he continued. “And you cannot let anyone decide what awaits you next.”
Man, this sucks so fucking bad. You can’t even really make a clever joke about it, he’s literally just saying it. What, am I meant to just say “no u” to this? Because that’s the only thing you can say. There’s only so many times I can say “projection” until it gets boring.
- Russia’s Oligarch Wives Claim Putin Is Suffering From a Secret Illness Daily Beast
According to everyone featured in Secrets of the Oligarch Wives, Vladimir Putin is a ruthless, greedy, sociopathic monster who cares only about his own power, wealth, and legacy as a titan who united and restored the glory of Mother Russia. The ongoing war in Ukraine, as well as the continued imprisonment and mistreatment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, corroborates those claims, although the true hook of the Paramount+ documentary about the Russian president is its insider commentary from the women who were closest to the authoritarian’s oligarchs. What they have to say isn’t particularly shocking, but it’s certainly further evidence that the world is in peril from a man willing to do anything, to anyone, to achieve his own ends.
Narrated by Ranvir Singh and executive produced by Justine Kershaw, Laura Jones and David McNab, Secrets of the Oligarch Wives (out June 28) is a portrait of Putin as “the most dangerous man on the planet,” told largely by a collection of women with ties to bigwigs whose lives were deeply affected by him. There are only two nominal “oligarch wives” spotlighted by this 90-minute documentary—Countess Alexandra Tolstoy (a distant relative of Russian writer Leo Tolstoy), who spent years alongside oligarch Sergei Pugachev; and Tatiana Fokina, the spouse of exiled cellphone oligarch Evgeny Chichvarkin—and even then, the former was never formally married to her Russian billionaire partner. In terms of false advertising, this is a moderate case, if not an ultimately disastrous turn of events, given that the speakers do an adequate job providing first-hand accounts of the turmoil and terror wrought by Putin against anyone who dares stand in his way.
The ongoing siege of Ukraine is briefly addressed toward the close of Secrets of the Oligarch Wives, and it serves as the latest and most heartbreaking example of Putin’s viciousness. Fokina surmises that Putin is willing to do anything because he’s secretly ill, while Browder suggests that he’s a mentally unwell madman who lacks empathy, a conscience, and normal human emotions—and has for his entire life. A wealth of old clips cast Putin in an unflattering light, depicting him as a stone-faced creep. Unfortunately, just about any nightly news broadcast could tell you the same thing, and without the pretenses of this rather shallow documentary, which purports to deliver untold secrets about Russia’s elite from the women who were once a part of it, and yet mostly mixes well-publicized facts and scattered anecdotes to produce unenlightening results.
- Russia To Rely More on Reserve Forces as War Continues—U.K. Intelligence Newsweek
Russia’s military will be relying more on its reserve forces as the war in Ukraine amid slow military progress in the east and the war drags on into its fifth month, according to U.K. intelligence.
Before too long, it’ll be: “Russia is almost out of soldiers as it nears 50% capture of Ukraine’s land territory, but military experts say that despite this, not a single significant or important Ukrainian city has been taken."
- The taboo around Russia bombing hospitals is fading and the WHO needs to do more, international legal expert says Business Insider
For decades, international human rights protocols were created and enshrined to protect the bombing of civilian hospitals during wartime – until the war in Syria, and more recently, in Ukraine.
“We see that that taboo is now gone,” said Gissou Nia, an international human rights lawyer with the Atlantic Council, who co-authored a report in June urging the international community to do more to hold Russia to account for what international human rights groups have said is a cruel campaign of bombing hospitals in Syria and Ukraine.
In just the first 100 days of the war in Ukraine, Russian forces have attacked approximately 200 hospitals, according to the World Health Organization. In a grim parallel, during the Syrian war, 600 medical facilities were attacked, according to Physicians for Human Rights. The US, too has bombed medical facilities in Afghanistan, but Nia said the difference is Russia’s systematic campaign of hitting medical centers.
“Okay, yes, the US HAS reduced countries to rubble - HOWEVER, those campaigns weren’t specifically directed against the hospitals - those were just destroyed too. Anyway, now we need more protections against this sort of thing. Not earlier, like two decades ago, for uh… because, uh, well… well, Putler is doing really hard now."
- Russia slips into default zone as payment deadline expires Reuters
Russia looked set for its first sovereign default in decades as some bondholders said they had not received overdue interest on Monday following the expiry of a key payment deadline a day earlier.
Russia has struggled to keep up payments on $40 billion of outstanding bonds since its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, as sweeping sanctions have effectively cut the country off from the global financial system and rendered its assets untouchable to many investors.
The Kremlin has repeatedly said there are no grounds for Russia to default but it is unable to send money to bondholders because of sanctions, accusing the West of trying to drive it into an artificial default.
Russia’s efforts to avoid what would be its first major default on international bonds since the Bolshevik revolution more than a century ago hit a insurmountable roadblock in late May when the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) effectively blocked Moscow from making payments.
While a formal default would be largely symbolic given Russia cannot borrow internationally at the moment and doesn’t need to thanks to plentiful oil and gas export revenues, the stigma would probably raise its borrowing costs in future.
The payments in question are $100 million in interest on two bonds, one denominated in U.S. dollars and another in euros , Russia was due to pay on May 27. The payments had a grace period of 30 days, which expired on Sunday.
Russia’s finance ministry said it made the payments to its onshore National Settlement Depository (NSD) in euros and dollars, adding it has fulfilled obligations.
Some Taiwanese holders of the bonds had not received payments on Monday, sources told Reuters.
For many bondholders, not receiving the money owed in time into their accounts constitutes a default.
- Sanctions Push Russia to First Foreign Default Since Bolshevik Revolution WSJ
Litigation over the lack of payment could span years. Russia has accused the West of manufacturing an artificial default, and has gone to great lengths in recent months to route money in roundabout ways to get the required payments into the hands of bondholders.
Finance Minister Anton Siluanov on Thursday said Western nations created artificial barriers in order to “hang the label ‘default’ ” on Russia and called the situation a farce.
Because Russia has the money and intent to pay, its default is expected to pose unique legal challenges. Once the grace period is breached, bond investors can declare a default. Russia will claim its obligations were fulfilled. Unusual for most sovereign bonds, Russia’s don’t specify a jurisdiction to decide disputes. Lawyers say English or U.S. courts are likely venues to decide who is right.
The first step is for holders of 25% of the bonds to agree to invoke the so-called acceleration clause, which allows them to demand immediate repayment on the bonds’ outstanding amount. Bondholders have three years to bring claims against Russia to court.
“This is the messiest and most legally uncertain case of sovereign default that I can think of,” said Mark Weidemaier, a sovereign-debt specialist and law professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “That’s got to be one of many things that makes investors nervous when they think about the prospect of suing the Russian government.”
One investor said clearinghouse Euroclear received funds for the May interest payments just before the Treasury’s exemption expiration. But the funds were frozen there due to sanctions, unable to be forwarded to his account. Lawyers say the bond documents are unclear over whether payments that reached the clearinghouse, but not the bondholder account, would constitute a formal default.
Russia last week codified plans to pay bondholders in rubles under a decree signed by President Vladimir Putin. Russia will send ruble payments to accounts for foreign bondholders at unsanctioned Russian banks. Foreign investors could then convert the rubles into foreign currencies. The Russian Finance Ministry said it made roughly $400 million in payments on Thursday and Friday to bondholders under the new mechanism.
- Russia slips into default zone as payment deadline expires Inquirer
- The price of freedom is worth paying, says Boris Johnson BBC
Speaking to the BBC’s political editor Chris Mason from the summit, Mr Johnson said there was “no alternative” to supporting Ukraine regain its sovereignty.
He argued that the consequences of letting Mr Putin “get away with the violent acquisition of huge chunks of another country” would be “absolutely chilling”.
“In terms of the economic effects, that would mean long-term instability and anxiety across the world,” he said.
Asked if there was any limit on the amount of money or support the UK would offer Ukraine, Mr Johnson replied: “The price of freedom is worth paying.”
He said defeating dictators in World War Two “took a long time” and was “very expensive” but brought “decades and decades of stability” and delivered “long-term prosperity”.
Addressing the economic impact on the UK at a time of rising costs of living, Mr Johnson said: “Just to reassure people at home, I think the economic impacts on the UK will start to abate. Cost pressures will start to come down.”
- Zelensky tells G7 leaders he wants war with Russia over by the end of the year CNN
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told G7 leaders during a virtual meeting Monday that he wants the war in Ukraine to end by the end of 2022, according to a source familiar with his remarks.
Zelensky delivered the message during a video-link during a morning session at the Schloss Elmau castle in the Bavarian Alps. He called for a major push to end the war before the winter sets in in several months time, the source said. The message was as clear a sign as Zelensky has given about how he sees the trajectory of the war headed.
- Russian Strike on Kyiv Looms Over G7 Summit NYT
Leaders of the Group of 7 nations said Sunday they would stop buying gold from Moscow and discussed a new American proposal to undercut its oil revenues, even as Russian forces rained missiles on Kyiv for the first time in weeks. The dueling escalation underscored how the war in Ukraine has consumed global politics and the world economy.
President Biden and the British government said members of the Group of 7 — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain and the United States — would move on Tuesday to ban imports of Russian gold. Representatives for the assembled countries were also negotiating toward an agreement to buy Russian oil only at a steep discount.
American officials see both the gold import ban and the possible oil price cap as ways to undercut key sources of revenue for Moscow’s war effort and further isolate it from the international financial system. Such a push was a theme at the meeting, both publicly and behind the scenes, as leaders sought to project solidarity with Ukraine. On Monday, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, will address the summit.
As the fighting in Ukraine grinds into its fifth month, the leaders of Group of 7 countries — the world’s wealthiest large democracies — are seeking to maintain unity against Russia in the face of the war’s growing toll on the global economy. Western sanctions intended to create pain for Russia have sent food and energy prices skyrocketing across the world, even as Moscow’s war machine has shown little sign of slowing down.
Russia appeared to be sending a message of defiance to the G7 leaders on Sunday morning, when it unleashed a new round of missiles at an apartment building in Kyiv, killing at least one person. The top three floors of the nine-story building were reported destroyed. Rescuers were able to pull a 7-year-old girl from the rubble, but her father was killed and her mother, a Russian citizen, was injured, the authorities said.
Russia also escalated its use of cruise missiles over the weekend, launching dozens of strikes at targets across the country. Besides the attack in Kyiv, explosions were reported on Sunday in the northeastern city of Kharkiv, and air raid sirens were heard in several other cities.
- G7 to ban Russian gold imports, choking key market for Putin The Jakarta Post
The United States said Sunday that the G7 group of nations will ban imports of Russian gold with the aim of tightening sanctions screws on Moscow and crippling its war effort in Ukraine.
“Together, the G7 will announce that we will ban the import of Russian gold, a major export that rakes in tens of billions of dollars for Russia,” President Joe Biden said on Twitter.
- G-7 leaders seek price cap on Russian oil to ‘starve’ Putin’s war effort WaPo
President Biden and his Group of Seven counterparts plan to unveil additional economic measures Monday to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin to end his war in Ukraine — including an effort to set a global price cap for Russian oil shipments.
“The goal here is to starve Russia, starve Putin, of his main source of cash and force down the price of Russian oil to help blunt the impact of Putin’s war at the pump,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity under terms set for the briefing call.
- G7 launches $600bn infrastructure plan to counter China Al Jazeera
The leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) nations have pledged to raise $600bn in private and public funds over five years to finance infrastructure in developing countries and counter China’s older, multitrillion-dollar Belt and Road project.
US President Joe Biden and other G7 leaders relaunched the newly renamed “Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment” on Sunday at their annual gathering being held this year at Schloss Elmau in southern Germany.
“Developing countries often lack the essential infrastructure to help navigate global shocks, like a pandemic, so they feel the impacts more acutely and they have a harder time recovering,” Biden said.
“That’s not just a humanitarian concern, it’s an economic and a security concern for all of us.”
The United States, he said, would mobilise $200bn in grants, federal funds and private investment over five years to support projects in low- and middle-income countries that help tackle climate change as well as improve global health, gender equity and digital infrastructure.
“I want to be clear. This isn’t aid or charity. It’s an investment that will deliver returns for everyone,” Biden said, adding that it would allow countries to “see the concrete benefits of partnering with democracies”.
Biden said hundreds of billions of additional dollars could come from multilateral development banks, development finance institutions, sovereign wealth funds and others.
Europe will mobilise 300 billion euros ($317bn) for the initiative over the same period to build up a sustainable alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative scheme, which Chinese President Xi Jinping launched in 2013, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the gathering.
The leaders of Italy, Canada and Japan also spoke about their plans, some of which have already been announced separately. French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson were not present, but their countries are also participating.
China’s investment scheme involves development and programmes in more than 100 countries aimed at creating a modern version of the ancient Silk Road trade route from Asia to Europe.
White House officials said the plan has provided little tangible benefit for many developing countries, and that it traps receiving countries in debt and with investments that benefit China more than their hosts.
The entire US project across the planet for decades has been trapping developing countries in debt and peonage to prevent them from actually developing their countries to the point where they can resist that foreign influence. That’s how US imperialism fundamentally works, even more so than the many invasions and coups.
Biden highlighted several flagship projects, including a $2bn solar development project in Angola with support from the Commerce Department, the US Export-Import Bank, US firm AfricaGlobal Schaffer, and US project developer Sun Africa.
Together with G7 members and the European Union, Washington will also provide $3.3m in technical assistance to Institut Pasteur de Dakar in Senegal as it develops an industrial-scale, flexible, multi-vaccine manufacturing facility in that country that can eventually produce COVID-19 and other vaccines, a project that also involves the EU.
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) will also commit up to $50m over five years to the World Bank’s global Childcare Incentive Fund.
- Democratic leaders get cozy in Bavaria Politico
Actually, this article is fairly okay (albeit with the standard Politico brainworms), but I just wanted to keep it with the G7 section.
The coziest club on the global summit circuit is back together, but its inability to solve global problems is raising questions about whether G-7 leaders need to spend more time out of their democratic comfort zone.
The G-7 is useful as an organizing space for democracies, because of gridlock at institutions like the U.N. Security Council, where Russia or China can easily use their veto power to stymie action.
But the G-7 — which now represents less than 50 percent of global GDP — also risks being out-of-sync with a global community tired of Western paternalism.
The signs are everywhere: from African and Asian abstentions at the U.N. General Assembly over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, to the Solomon Islands signing a security pact with China, and India regularly threatening to derail trade negotiations.
A new G-7 goal, announced Sunday, to pump $600 billion into emerging economy infrastructure by 2027 isn’t likely to change that calculus.
That’s both because China is well ahead in infrastructure diplomacy — spending $50 billion to $100 billion a year on foreign infrastructure for a decade now — and because the G-7 plan is old news. The 2021 G-7 summit promised a Build Back Better World initiative, and didn’t deliver.
The EU did announce a $315 billion Global Gateway plan back in December, money that’s yet to be spent but which was recycled into Sunday’s announcement. The Biden administration wants to “leverage” $200 billion of public and private money — but hasn’t asked Congress to pony up.
Reinhard Butikofer, a member of the European Parliament, and former leader of the German Greens, is not impressed: “committing $200 billion without knowing whether Congress will sign on to his initiative at all is a pretty empty gesture from POTUS,” he told POLITICO.
The larger G-20 group was elevated to the level of a leaders summit in 2008 to bring more emerging economies and middle powers to the global decisionmaking table.
Instead of prioritizing that more complicated G-20 group, with its mix of democracies and autocracies, the Biden administration is doubling down on the G-7. A senior Biden administration official said Wednesday that “President Biden and his administration’s focus on the G-7 has elevated it to being the premier vehicle for multilateral engagement.”
In recent years, however, summit organizers have understood that the G-7 feels empty when restricted to its core seven governments.
While the 2022 guests represent nearly 3 billion people, dwarfing the 700 million or so residents of G-7 countries, they’re only playing minor roles. The guests didn’t even make the cut for dinner Sunday. They were instead entertained separately by the Bavarian state premier, nearly two hours away from Schloss Elmau, the main venue.
In contrast, the EU receives two permanent observer seats at the G-7 table, and is fully integrated into the summit program.
There’s the unmistakable feeling of elitism here in Upper Bavaria’s Wetterstein mountains. Elmau is guarded like Davos: roughly 18,000 police are keeping the leaders safely locked away from the plebes.
Eighteen THOUSAND police officers? What the fuck?! If you need a small army of police to guard you while you stay in an isolated mountain resort then how do you not look at that and go “Huh, there’s something up here”. It’s so funny that this is being framed as a battle of autocracy vs democracy, and then going “Oh yeah, and the side of democracy and peace and freedom and justice and the international rules-based order needs 18 battalions of police officers in a fucking shield wall phalanx with tasers and batons deterring protestors, surrounding these leaders to protect them."
Most press and all protesters are kept far away from the leaders — a mountain separates the main summit press center and Schloss Elmau. Accessing Elmau involves a three-hour wait and a trip on a climate-unfriendly military helicopter.
Protesters spent Sunday penned into the town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, their anti-G-7 songs battling with the noise from the helicopters throughout the afternoon. Local residents are frustrated.
In policy terms, the G-7 members make an elaborate show of their commitments and compliance. But it has the feel of an ESG corporate report that misses the point.
The University of Toronto’s G-7 research group says G-7 members hit a record 90 percent compliance rate with their commitments during the past year, even as they presided over skyrocketing inflation, remained behind schedule on their climate commitments, mismanaged the withdrawal from Afghanistan and were unable to prevent Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- Germany puts brake on G7 Russian gold ban RT
The US proposal to ban the export of gold from Russia to European countries should be discussed within the EU and not decided by the Group of Seven (G7), German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in an interview with the TV channel ZDF on Monday.
“We are discussing this issue, but it will also have to be discussed within the EU. Therefore, this is not a matter where the G7 will make a final decision,” Scholz stated, noting, however, that those who support anti-Russia sanctions can rely on the fact that the EU will “continue to make sanctions more specific.”
Banning Russian gold was first proposed last week by US President Joe Biden as a way to put more pressure on Moscow for its military operation in Ukraine. Then, in a statement on Sunday, London announced that the UK, US, Japan and Canada plan to ban new imports of Russian gold. The ban is expected to come into force shortly and apply to both newly mined and refined gold.
Russia, which accounts for about 8.5% of global gold production, is the third largest producer after China and Australia. Some analysts say that, similar to what happened with energy, a ban on Russian gold imports will backfire on those who impose it.
Bloomerism and Hope
- British Rail Workers Lead Fight Against Cost Of Living Crisis Popular Resistance
As working class sections and low income households in the UK are suffering from the ongoing cost of living crisis, rail workers are organizing a massive mobilization against proposed austerity measures and job cuts. Over 50,000 rail workers of 13 train operating companies and the London Tube began a strike action on Tuesday, June 21, under the leadership of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) demanding higher wages at par with the soaring inflation and protesting against the job cuts that will result from the austerity policies proposed by the authorities. The strike continued on Thursday, June 23, and the workers will again go on strike on Saturday, June 25. Progressive sections in the UK, trade unions like Unite the Union, and groups including ACORN UK, Young Communist League (YCL-Britain), Communist Party of Britain (CPB), and Socialist Party, among others, have expressed solidarity with the rail workers’ strike.
- How Latin American Women Are Winning Abortion Rights Popular Resistance
It was inconceivable, just five years ago, that ultra-conservative Colombia would decriminalize abortion, or that Catholic, neoliberal Chile would be gearing up to vote on a new constitution that enshrines sexual and reproductive rights, including on-request abortion.
Yet in February, Colombia’s constitutional court removed abortion (up to 24 weeks) from the criminal code in response to a court case brought by Causa Justa—the spearhead of a wide-ranging social and legal campaign of more than 120 groups and thousands of activists.
Colombia is now “at the forefront of the region and the world,” according to doctor and feminist activist Ana Cristina González, a spokesperson for Causa Justa.
A similar breeze was blowing in Uruguay in 2012, when the country legalized abortion up to 12 weeks. And again in 2020, when Argentina’s parliament passed a law to allow abortion up to 14 weeks, after a decades-long struggle. The “green wave,” named after the green scarves worn by campaigners for legal, safe, and free abortion, inspired and energized the whole region.
Latin America continues to push the limits of what is possible. Barely a month after the Colombian ruling, Chile’s constitutional convention—which is drafting a new constitution for the country—passed (by a large majority) an article enshrining sexual and reproductive rights as fundamental and guaranteed by the state. These rights include abortion on request.
The article establishes that “all people are holders of sexual and reproductive rights [including] the right to decide freely, autonomously and in an informed way about their bodies, the exercise of sexuality, reproduction, pleasure and contraception.”
In addition, the state will guarantee the exercise of these rights “without discrimination, with a focus on gender, inclusion and cultural relevance,” and “assuring all women and persons with the capacity to gestate, the conditions for pregnancy, for voluntary termination of pregnancy, and for protected and voluntary childbirth and maternity.”
Abortion was banned in Chile in all instances during Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship and only permitted in 2017 in cases of rape, fetal inviability, and risk to the woman’s life. The public will vote on the new constitution in September; if approved, it will become the first country in the world to give constitutional status to the right to abortion.
Last year, Mexico’s supreme court ruled the criminalization of abortion unconstitutional, and invalidated a federal law that allowed health personnel to refuse to perform terminations on the grounds of “conscientious objection.”
This ruling means no woman can be imprisoned for ending her pregnancy, sets jurisprudence, and puts pressure on states to legalize abortion.
In fact, seven Mexican states have already legalized voluntary abortion up to 12 weeks, five of them in the last 18 months: Mexico City (2007), Oaxaca (2019), Veracruz, Hidalgo, Baja California, Colima (2021), and Sinaloa (2022).
Today, we can say that 37% of Latin America and the Caribbean’s population of 652 million live in countries where women have won rights to legal abortion or are no longer imprisoned for terminating a pregnancy (including Cuba, Guyana, and Puerto Rico). Five years ago, it was less than 3%.
None of this would have been possible without feminist activism, networks, and demonstrations and public conversations about the autonomy of women.