Link back to the discussion thread.


  • Amid energy crisis, E.U. says gas, nuclear can sometimes be ‘green’ WaPo

European lawmakers voted Wednesday to move ahead with a plan to label some nuclear and natural gas power as “green” energy, a closely watched decision that could shape climate policy for years to come.

In February, weeks before Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine, the E.U.’s executive arm presented a plan to classify some natural gas and nuclear power as “transitional” green investments in some circumstances, spurring a furious backlash.

Five months later, as Russia wields natural gas as a weapon and the global energy crisis intensifies, legislators at the European Parliament rejected an objection to the proposal in a 328-to-278 vote.

Those who support including gas and nuclear argue that they are needed to ease the transition to renewables, especially given the impact of the war on energy prices.

Critics are not convinced. There were audible “boos” when the tally was read at the seat of Parliament in Strasbourg, France. A news release from the Greenpeace environmental activist group called it “dirty politics” that would “keep more money flowing to Putin’s war chest.”

It will also keep the heat running people’s homes come winter. I disagree with calling natural gas a “green” energy source, and all of Europe should have finished transitioning to cleaner sources of energy decades ago, but if there was ever a bad time to fuck with natural gas inflows, it’s right now. Nuclear, of course, is much better and can be reasonably, if not completely accurately, described as “green” - I’m not sure why the two are lumped together here.


  • Russian-held part of south Ukraine aims to sell grain to Middle East, TASS reports Reuters

Russian-installed authorities in the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine, partly under Russian control, said on Tuesday that an agreement had been reached to sell grain abroad, mainly to the Middle East, Russian state news agency TASS said.

  • Exclusive: Kyiv asks Turkey to probe three more Russian ships it alleges transported stolen grain Reuters

Ukraine has asked Turkey to help investigate three Russian-flagged ships as part of Kyiv’s efforts to probe what it alleges is the theft of grain from Russian-occupied territory, according to official documents.

In a June 13 letter, which hasn’t previously been reported, the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office asked Turkey’s justice ministry to investigate and provide evidence on the three named ships it suspects have been involved in transporting grain allegedly stolen from recently occupied Ukrainian territories, such as Kherson.

The letter, which Reuters reviewed, said the ships travelled from Crimea’s main grain terminal in Sevastopol in April and May and pressed Ankara to obtain documentation about their cargo and arrival at Turkish ports. Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.


  • Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said he thought ‘forgetful Europe’ should face a ‘moral cleansing’ Business Insider

During a government meeting at the weekend, Lukashenko talked about fighting Nazis in the Second World War and said: “The time has come for the forgetful Europe to give itself a moral cleansing.”

“They — all who chose to forget — will have to look again at the grueling evidence of the bloody crimes of their own fathers and grandfathers,” he said, according to Belta.

“I must admit that we were delicately silent. In our Slavic way, we believed that children were not responsible for their parents. We still think so.”

He did not elaborate on what such a cleansing would entail.


  • Russian parliament passes first vote on war economy measures Reuters

The Russian government will be able to compel businesses to supply the military with goods and make their employees work overtime under two laws to support Moscow’s war in Ukraine that were approved in an initial vote in parliament on Tuesday.

The measures will effectively place Russia on a war economy footing, nearly 19 weeks into the invasion which it describes as a “special military operation”.

“The load on the defence industry has increased significantly. In order to guarantee the supply of weapons and ammunition, it is necessary to optimize the work of the military-industrial complex and enterprises that are part of cooperation chains,” Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov said.

  • Russia snagged $24 billion in just three months from its energy sales to India and China, report says Business Insider

China spent a staggering $18.9 billion on Russian oil, gas and coal in the three months to the end of May, which is almost double the amount it bought last year, while India splashed out $5.1 billion in the same time period.

Overall, Russia earned an extra $13 billion in revenue from India and China’s energy shopping spree compared to the same time last year.

Western sanctions and boycotts on Russian energy over its war with Ukraine have backfired after Asian countries including India and China snap up its commodities at discounted prices. The two countries now account for 50% of Russia’s seaborne oil exports, undermining efforts by the US and EU to punish Russia for its unprecedented aggression.

This year alone, Russia is on track to earn $285 billion from the boost in oil and gas sales, Bloomberg Economics forecasts.

  • Russia To Hit Gazprom With $20 Billion Windfall Tax Oil Price

Russia’s lower house of parliament approved on Tuesday amendments in the country’s tax code that would slap a windfall tax on Gazprom of the equivalent of $20 billion between September and November, which will boost Russia’s tax revenue income.

The amendment still needs to be approved by the upper house of the Russian Parliament and President Vladimir Putin before becoming law.

  • Russian executive with Gazprom contracts found dead in his swimming pool after being shot in the head Business Insider

A Russian executive with connections to the energy industry was found dead in his swimming pool on Monday with a gunshot wound to the head, according to local media.

Yuri Baranov, 61, had a point-blank gunshot wound to the head, and a Grand Power pistol was found nearby in his villa outside St Petersburg, local outlet 47news reported. Two spent shell casings were found at the bottom of the pool, per the outlet.

It is the fifth death of a Gazprom-linked executive in recent months and one of numerous deaths of high-level executives linked to the Russian energy industry.

The mental health epidemic plaguing Russia right now is truly awful. I’m going to set up the Jeffrey Epstein Mental Health Fund to help these victims of suicidal depression, which the eponymous figure also suffered from to a tragic end.


  • Latvia to reinstate compulsory military service as Russia tensions rise The Guardian

Latvia is to reinstate compulsory military service amid growing tension with Russia in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The current military system of Latvia has reached its limit. Meanwhile, we have no reason to think that Russia will change its behaviour,” the Latvian defence minister, Artis Pabriks, told reporters on Tuesday.

Latvia had scrapped mandatory service a few years after joining the Nato military alliance. Since 2007, the EU member’s military has consisted of career soldiers along with national guard volunteers who serve in the infantry part-time at weekends.

The country of fewer than 2 million people, which borders Belarus and Russia, has only 7,500 active-duty soldiers and national guard members, backed by 1,500 Nato troops.

Pabriks said the mandatory military service requirement would apply only to men and would come into effect next year, with several options available.


  • Norway’s government halted an oil and gas worker strike that could have cut natural-gas exports by 60% and worsened Europe’s energy crisis Business Insider

Norway’s government has stepped in to halt a strike by oil and gas workers that would have slashed natural-gas exports by up to about 60%, exacerbating the energy crisis in Europe.

The strike by the Lederne union that started Tuesday could have been disastrous for Europe. Norway is the continent’s second-largest energy supplier after Russia — which is already slowing natural-gas supplies via a key pipeline to Germany.

Planned escalation would have cut about 56% of the country’s gas exports by Saturday, said the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association, an employers' group. In the worst-case scenario, Belgium and the UK would not have been able to receive piped gas from Norway starting Saturday, Norwegian pipeline operator Gassco told Reuters.

The escalation in industrial action would also have cut oil production by 341,000 barrels a day, the employers' group said. That has been averted by the government’s intervention on Tuesday.

The Norwegian government has the power to intervene in labor disputes under certain conditions, per Reuters. It has proposed compulsory wage arbitration between the Lederne union and employers.

Mjøs Persen said the Norwegian government typically exercises “significant restraint” before intervening in industrial action, but “the serious consequences of the announced escalations have forced my hand.”


  • Switzerland resists Ukrainian plan to seize frozen Russian assets The Guardian

Ukrainian plans to seize as much as $500bn (£418bn) in frozen Russian assets to fund the country’s recovery have met firm resistance from Switzerland, the hosts of an international two-day Ukraine recovery conference.

The Swiss president, Ignazio Cassis, pushed back on the plan, saying protection of property rights was fundamental in a liberal democracy. He underlined at a closing press conference the serious qualms of some leaders that proposals to confiscate Russian assets will set a dangerous precedent and needed specific legal justification.

“The right of ownership, the right of property is a fundamental right, a human right,” he said in Lugano, adding that such rights could be violated, as they had during the pandemic, but only so long as there was a legal basis.

He added: “You have to ensure the citizens are protected against the power of the state. This is what we call liberal democracies.”


  • Italy declares state of emergency for drought-stricken north EU Reporter

Italy declared a state emergency Monday for the areas around the river Po. The river Po accounts for about a third of Italy’s agricultural output and is currently experiencing its worst drought in 70 years.

United Kingdom

The UK government is going through a shitload of resignations from ministers right now. At the time of me making this update, I didn’t find anything about it on my RSS feed (that doesn’t mean it’s not being reported or anything - my feed is necessarily not comprehensive so it’s possible to make these daily) - but it’s being discussed in the megathread regardless.

  • From Scotch Whisky to Welsh Lamb, Famous British Goods Could Lose Out in UK-Australia Deal Bloomberg

They’re missing one of the largest UK exports - racism - though, Australia has enough of that anyway.

Some famous British goods could lose out under the UK trade deal with Australia, a Commons committee has said.

The International Trade Committee Chair criticised “flat-footed” Government negotiating tactics, as cross-party MPs flagged concerns that household-name British products are set to lose out under the first full trade deal to be signed since Brexit.

The Department of International Trade (DIT) hit back at that criticism, accusing the committee of “fundamentally misunderstanding” the trade deal provisions and stressing that protections do indeed exist aside from so-called “geographic indications”.

The deal has been heralded by the Government as the first negotiated from scratch since leaving the EU amid a promise that it would leave the country £2.3 billion better off.

But the International Trade Committee on Wednesday warned the Government against overselling the benefits of the deal, and called for a full assessment of the winners and losers from the agreement with Australia.

“The Government must level with the public - this trade deal will not have the transformative effects ministers would like to claim,” said International Trade Committee Chair, Angus Brendan MacNeil.


  • Renewables provide 49% of power used in Germany in first half of 2022 Reuters


  • Shell to start construction of renewable hydrogen plant in Netherlands Reuters

Shell Plc said on Wednesday it would start building a renewable hydrogen plant in the Netherlands, which according to the energy giant will be Europe’s largest once it is operational in 2025.

Shell said the 200 megawatt electrolyser, named Holland Hydrogen I, in the port of Rotterdam would produce up to 60,000 kilograms of renewable hydrogen per day.


  • Austria starts to eject Gazprom from gas storage facility Reuters

Asia and Oceania


  • Russian warships sailing near Taiwan puts Beijing in ‘an awkward position’, say analysts SCMP

The recent sailing of three Russian warships close to Taiwan has put Beijing in an awkward position, given that the two countries are nominally allied to counter the United States and that the passage could be considered a violation of Beijing’s sovereignty, according to analysts.

Beijing, which sees Taiwan as its own and has vowed to take it back by force if necessary, has warned other countries against any moves that would undermine its territorial claim over the self-ruled island.

According to the joint staff office of Japan’s Ministry of Defence, the three vessels were spotted some 70km south of Yonaguni on July 1 and made their way northeast through waters between Yonaguni and Iriomote Island.

Beijing has so far made no comment on the Russian warship movements near Taiwan and the Diaoyus.

But analysts said the Russian warships’ activities near Taiwan and in the East China Sea created a dilemma for Beijing.

“Russia has never come close to the Taiwan Strait or the waters near the East China Sea,” said Ni Lexiong, a professor at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law.

Ni said since the Soviet Union era Moscow’s approach had been that the Taiwan issue was an internal matter for Beijing and it would never intervene.

But observers said Russia’s recent action appeared to be in conflict with that principle.

“The Russians have gone too far this time,” said Zhou Chenming, a researcher at the Beijing-based Yuan Wang Military Science and Technology Institute.

“China does not want the Americans to come close to [Chinese waters], nor does it want the Russians to do so,” Zhao said.

  • ‘Not a joint drill’: Chinese frigate ‘sent to monitor Russian warship’ near Diaoyus SCMP

A Chinese navy vessel was monitoring a Russian warship – and not taking part in joint exercises – in an incident in the East China Sea that prompted a protest from Japan, according to a defence analyst.

Japanese news agency Kyodo reported on Tuesday that vessels from China and Russia were seen near the disputed Diaoyu Islands, known in Japan as the Senkakus, on Monday.

Japan controls the uninhabited islands, which are also claimed by China.

The incident comes as China and Russia have sought to show a united front in the face of US and Japanese pressure, including flying strategic bombers over the Sea of Japan in May. Japan is renewing ties with the US to counter China and has criticised Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

But Kyodo quoted a Japanese Ministry of Defence source as saying that this time the Chinese frigate was deployed to chase the Russian ship.

The ministry said it was “an apparent attempt to demonstrate to others that Beijing has sovereignty over the Tokyo-controlled islets” by “chasing and monitoring Russian warship moves” in the area.

  • China Is Taking Advantage Of Western Sanctions On Russia Oil Price

When the Trump administration slapped sanctions on Venezuela and Iran, China became the largest buyer of these countries’ crude oil despite repeated warnings by Washington officials—and not just warnings but action, too—that there is such a thing as secondary sanctions.

Now, China has also become an even bigger buyer of oil from the world’s biggest exporter, incidentally the subject of not just U.S. but European Union sanctions, too. And while oil prices for most of the world are rising, for China, they are falling.

Bloomberg reported this week that Iran has had to cut the price of its already discounted crude in order to be able to compete with Russian crude sent to China. The market is important for Iran, as it is one of very few where its crude is accepted amid the still continuing U.S. sanctions.

“The only competition between Iranian and Russian barrels may end up being in China, which would work entirely to Beijing’s advantage,” said energy analyst Vandana Hari, as quoted by Bloomberg. “This is also likely to make the Gulf producers uneasy, seeing their prized markets taken over by heavily discounted crude.”

This might hint at the possibility of discord within OPEC+, but then again, it will take a while for such discord to manifest itself. Meanwhile, Iran, per the Bloomberg report, is cutting its oil prices to some $10 per barrel below the Brent benchmark to compete with Urals, which has comparable properties and which Russia heavily exports to China.


  • Russian Foreign Minister Visits Mongolia in Drive for Support The Diplomat

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with leaders in Mongolia on Tuesday during a trip to Asia to seek support amid his country’s diplomatic isolation by the West and punishing sanctions leveled over its invasion of Ukraine.

Lavrov met with Mongolian Foreign Minister Battsetseg Batmunkh and paid a courtesy call on President Khurelsukh Ukhnaa, Mongolian state media reported.

Mongolian and Russian state media gave no details of any specific discussions about the Ukraine conflict, while emphasizing strong bilateral relations. The two sides have signed a series of trade agreements, and a pipeline carrying Russian natural gas to China is being built through Mongolian territory.

“Reaffirming his commitment to strengthening bilateral relations, (Lavrov) expressed readiness to cooperate with Mongolia in all aspects,” Mongolia’s official Montsame news agency said of Lavrov’s meeting with Khurelsukh.

South Korea

  • South Korea seeks to reinvigorate economic ties with Latin America Asia News

South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin proposed resuming talks on free trade with Mexico, the ministry said Tuesday, as the government seeks to reinvigorate ties with South America.

  • South Korea bets on nuclear power, restarting construction on two reactors CNN

South Korea, one of the world’s most fossil fuel-reliant economies, is re-embracing nuclear energy, with the government announcing Tuesday it will restart construction on two nuclear reactors and extend the life of those already in operation.

By 2030, the Energy Ministry wants nuclear to make up at least 30% of the country’s power generation – a step up from its previous goal of 27%.

Sri Lanka

  • Far from Ukraine, Sri Lanka is the epicenter of a global crisis WaPo

The war in Ukraine may still dominate international headlines. But it’s a country far from the battlefield that has turned into a kind of crucible of the global moment. For months, Sri Lanka has been in an economic death spiral: A public debt crisis, exacerbated first by the toll of the pandemic and then the disruptions provoked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has led to shortages in food, fuel, cooking gas, medicines, cash and other essential commodities.

In a United Nations survey, some 70 percent of Sri Lankan households reported cutting back on food consumption, with food price inflation running at around 57 percent (contrast that to roughly 10 percent in the United States from the previous year). The country of 22 million people is more or less out of fuel and fresh shipments are still days away.

Mounting public anger and protests brought down the government of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in May, but crisis conditions endure and fears grow over the potential of new clashes between security forces and ordinary, irate civilians. Rolling power cuts are now standard parts of daily life, as are days-long lines for fuel. Schools and offices have been closed at least through the week in a bid to keep Sri Lankans off the roads.

Last week, doctors, medical staff, teachers and bankers in the capital Colombo marched in protest of their inability to get the necessary petrol or diesel to carry out essential work. “Things have become unbearable for the common man,” said a teachers union official to Reuters.


  • Australia flood, boosted by climate change, making history in Sydney WaPo

A potent weather system near Australia’s east coast has unloaded tremendous rainfall in the state of New South Wales for days, putting Sydney on track for its wettest year on record.

The torrents have spurred widespread flooding in eastern parts of New South Wales, for the fourth time in less than 18 months. The flooding has triggered more than 100 evacuation orders.

Since Friday, Sydney has observed 8.6 inches (220 mm) of rain, while surrounding areas have seen far more — some approaching 28 inches (700 mm) — which is around the amount London sees in an entire year.

Sydney amassed the same amount of rain over four days that it typically sees in a month and a half, according to WeatherZone, an Australian weather information company.

The city has registered about 70 inches (1,769 mm) of rain this year, leaping 7.5 inches past 1890, its next-wettest year through July 4. And, with nearly five months of the year still to go, it has already clinched at least its 11th-wettest year on record.

Middle East


  • US oil companies pledge to withdraw from Kurdistan Iraqi News

The Iraqi Ministry of Oil announced on Monday that Schlumberger, Baker Hughes and Halliburton companies confirmed that they will not apply for new projects in Kurdistan Region, in compliance with the decision of the Federal Supreme Court of Iraq.

Saudi Arabia

  • Saudi Arabia Hikes Oil Prices To Asia Once Again Oil Price

Saudi Arabia on Tuesday raised again the price of its oil going to Asia in August to close to record differentials, in a widely expected move that tracks strong refining margins and expectations of robust demand.

Saudi Aramco announced on Tuesday that it was lifting its official selling prices (OSP) to all regions except the United States, where no change in differentials was made.

The price of Saudi Arabia’s flagship Arab Light crude grade to Asia in August was raised by $2.80 a barrel to $9.30 per barrel over the Dubai/Oman benchmark, off which the Middle Eastern crude to Asia is priced. That was in line with a Bloomberg survey of refiners and traders from last week, and slightly above the average $2.40 per barrel increase expected by traders and refiners in a Reuters poll.


The Gambia

  • World Bank to give The Gambia $68m grant to revive tourism sector Al Jazeera


  • The United States Extends Its Military Reach Into Zambia Popular Resistance, by Vijay Prashad, talking to Fred M’membe, the President of the Socialist Party of Zambia.

On April 26, 2022, the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) announced that they had set up an office in the US Embassy in Lusaka, Zambia. According to AFRICOM Brigadier General Peter Bailey, Deputy Director for Strategy, Engagement and Programs, the Office of Security Cooperation would be based in the US Embassy building. Social media in Zambia buzzed with rumors about the creation of a US military base in the country. Defense Minister Ambrose Lufuma released a statement to say that “Zambia has no intention whatsoever of establishing or hosting any military bases on Zambian soil.” “Over our dead bodies” will the United States have a military base in Zambia, said Dr. Fred M’membe, the president of the Socialist Party of Zambia.

Brigadier General Bailey of AFRICOM had met with Zambia’s President Hakainde Hichilema during his visit to Lusaka. Hichilema’s government faces serious economic challenges despite the fact that Zambia has one of the richest resources of raw materials in the world. When Zambia’s total public debt grew to nearly $27 billion (with an external debt of approximately $14.5 billion), it returned to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in December 2021 for financial assistance, resulting in an IMF-induced spiral of debt.

Two months after Hichilema met with the AFRICOM team, he hosted IMF Deputy Managing Director Antoinette M. Sayeh in June, who thanked President Hichilema for his commitment to the IMF “reform plans.” These plans include a general austerity package that will not only cause the Zambian population to be in the grip of poverty but will also prevent the Zambian government from exercising its sovereignty.

Dr. M’membe, president of the Socialist Party, has emerged as a major voice against the United States military presence in his country. Defense Minister Lufuma’s claim that the United States is not building a base in Zambia elicits a chuckle from M’membe. “I think there is an element of ignorance on his part,” M’membe told me. “This is sheer naivety. He [Lufuma] does not understand that practically there is no difference between a US military base and an AFRICOM office. It’s just a matter of semantics to conceal their real intentions.”

The real intentions, M’membe told me, are for the United States to use Zambia’s location “to monitor, to control, and to quickly reach the other countries in the region.” Zambia and its neighbor, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said, “possess not less than 70 percent of the world’s cobalt reserves. There are huge copper reserves and other minerals needed for modern technologies [in both these countries].” Partly, M’membe said, “this is what has heightened interest in Zambia.” Zambia is operating as a “puppet regime,” M’membe said, a government that is de jure independent but de facto “completely dependent on an outside power and subject to its orders,” M’membe added, while referring to the US interference in the functioning of the Zambian government. Despite his campaign promises in 2021, President Hichilema has followed the same IMF-dependent policies as his unpopular predecessor Edgar Lungu. However, in terms of a US base, even Lungu had resisted the US pressure to allow this kind of office to come up on Zambian soil.

After news broke out about the establishment of the office, former Zambian Permanent Representative to the African Union, Emmanuel Mwamba, rushed to see Hichilema and caution him not to make this deal. Ambassador Mwamba said that other former presidents of Zambia—Lungu (2015-2021), Michael Sata (2011-2014), Rupiah Banda (2008-2011) and Levy Mwanawasa (2002-2008)—had also refused to allow AFRICOM to enter the country since its creation in 2007.

The article continues discussion of the “office” - read the article if interested.


  • African country eyes gold currency RT

Seeking to curb inflation, which reached 191% in June, the Central Bank of Zimbabwe announced on Monday it will soon start issuing gold coins. The government in Harare hopes this will reduce the demand for US dollars and at least slow down the further debasement of the local currency, but the general public appears unconvinced.

North America

United States

  • Inflation is even worse than the official numbers suggest WaPo

If you’re having trouble grasping why inflation is so politically potent, consider that Americans who enjoyed a Fourth of July cookout on Monday paid 17 percent more for their food than last year, according to a survey from the American Farm Bureau Federation.

That’s a perfect illustration of a poorly understood aspect of inflation: For most Americans, the inflation they actually experience is often much worse than the 8.6 percent headline rate.

The official government inflation rate comes from the consumer price index, which measures the prices of a basket of goods that reflect the overall annual consumption of items and services that an average urban household pays for.

As a national average, it can never exactly reflect what a particular household faces in any particular city. It assumes that the average family purchases all these goods and services in the same quantities. But that simply isn’t true, and it unintentionally hides how high inflation is for millions of people.

Prices for the goods that people regularly purchase are rising much faster than those for things they don’t. Food used at home, for example, rose by almost 12 percent over the past year, while gasoline prices jumped by nearly 50 percent. Prices for eggs skyrocketed by more than 32 percent in the last year.

  • U.S. factory orders rise more than expected in May Reuters

New orders for U.S.-manufactured goods increased more than expected in May, bucking a slew of recent data showing a softening in the economy and underscoring that demand for products remains strong even as the Federal Reserve aggressively tightens financial conditions.

The Commerce Department said on Tuesday that factory orders rose 1.6% in May after advancing 0.7% in April. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast factory orders would rise 0.5%.

Other indicators have shown less resilience. A survey on Friday showed the Institute for Supply Management’s national factory activity index contracted for a second straight month, though an “overwhelming majority” of companies indicated they were hiring.

That followed moderate consumer spending growth in May along with weak housing starts, building permits and factory production.

Manufacturing accounts for 12% of the U.S. economy and is being held up by strong demand for goods even as overall spending rotates more toward the services sector. The U.S central bank is seeking to cool demand across the economy as it tries to tamp down high inflation.

  • Are U.S. Gasoline Refiners Running Out Of Steam? Oil Price

U.S. refineries have been operating at or near maximum utilization levels in recent weeks as demand recovers. Petroleum stocks are sitting at multi-year lows, and refining margins are sky-high. Refinery utilization at 95% is at its highest since before COVID—September 2019. Yet, refiners don’t have much room to safely raise capacity usage further, while the summer season with heat waves and hurricanes could suddenly take some capacity off the market, further straining gasoline supply and putting upward pressure on gasoline prices.

South America


  • Resumption of deliveries to Europe boosts Venezuela oil exports -data Reuters

The first Venezuelan crude cargoes sent to Europe in two years helped lift the OPEC nation’s oil exports by 61% last month after a series of setbacks earlier in the year, tanker tracking data and documents from state-run PDVSA showed.

Italy’s Eni and Spain Repsol started taking Venezuelan crude after receiving a green light from the U.S. State Department. The U.S. decision, a move to help Europe compensate for the loss of Russian oil following its invasion of Ukraine, also marks a step toward better relations between Caracas and Washington.

The oil-for-debt exchanges, viewed by analysts as a sign of the easing of Washington’s sanctions on the South American nation, happened as U.S. officials visited Caracas to discuss the release of jailed Americans. That visit failed to secure their release.

  • Venezuela billing Colombian pipeline for oil spills -report Reuters

Venezuelan authorities “frequently” bill Colombian oil companies over contamination caused by crude leaking from a pipeline that runs adjacent to the border shared by the two countries, a German non-profit organization said in a report this week.

Colombia’s oil pipelines, which are managed by Cenit, a subsidiary of majority state-owned oil company Ecopetrol, are plagued by criminal gangs that steal thousands of barrels of crude per day to make pategrillo, a rudimentary gasoline used for making cocaine.

Illicit valves installed on the Cano Limon-Covenas pipeline to siphon crude fall off easily when oil is pumped along the infrastructure, the report from foundation Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung said, leading to spills that pollute rivers which flow into Lake Maracaibo, in Venezuela.

“Venezuelan authorities frequently send invoices to Colombian companies responsible for oil infrastructure,” the report added.


  • Colombia’s President-elect Petro calls for ELN talks, ceasefire Al Jazeera

Colombia’s President-elect Gustavo Petro has proposed a “bilateral ceasefire” with the National Liberation Army (ELN), the last major rebel group in the country, in hopes of restarting stalled peace negotiations.

Petro, who is a former rebel with the M-19 movement and is set to be the country’s first left-wing president, said on Tuesday he had “sent a message” to the ELN and “all existing armed groups” that the “time for peace has come”.


  • Copper plunges to its lowest mark in 17-months as the economic bellwether slumps further into a bear market Business Insider

Prices fell as much as 2.3% Tuesday to $7,825 a ton on the London Metal Exchange — its lowest mark since February 2021.

The metal, which is considered a bellwether of the global economy, is coming off its worst quarter since 2008 as it dropped nearly 20% in the span that ended last Thursday.

The key industrial material has sunk in recent months along with aluminum, nickel, iron, and zinc amid mounting recession concerns.

  • Oil Prices Pulled Lower by Dimming Demand WSJ

Oil prices dropped Tuesday, easing further off recent highs.

Contracts for Brent crude, the international benchmark, dropped 10% to $101.59 a barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. standard, was recently down 9.7% to $97.92 a barrel, on track for its first close below $100 since early May.

Just under a month ago, Brent futures were trading above $120 a barrel, with global supply pressured by fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The war shows no signs of winding down, but traders’ attention is shifting to the possibility that a downturn in economic growth could cool demand for fuel, bringing prices lower. Consumer spending and industrial orders both showed signs of slowing in data released last week, underscoring investors’ building concerns about the possibility of a recession.


The Ukraine War

  • Russia’s offensive gains pace in Donetsk; focus shifts to Slovyansk WaPo

After sweeping through Luhansk, Russian forces are now gaining ground in the neighboring Donetsk region. Both are part of the prized industrial Donbas heartland of eastern Ukraine that Moscow is seeking to control. Donetsk’s regional governor is urging the area’s 350,000 residents to evacuate as Russia intensifies its bombardment campaign, telling reporters Tuesday: “The destiny of the whole country will be decided by the Donetsk region.”

Britain’s Defense Ministry said Wednesday that Russian forces are now about 10 miles north of the strategic city of Slovyansk in Donetsk, making it likely the next key battleground in the war. Fighting has intensified in the city, and at least two people were killed and seven injured after Russia fired missiles at a market and residential area, according to local authorities Tuesday.

Elsewhere, Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Haidai said the recently captured cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk are still reeling, with thousands of civilians now living under Russia occupation. “Overall, over 300,000 people have left the Luhansk region” since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion, he said Wednesday. He vowed: “We will return. We will rebuild everything.”

  • Russians moving into Ukraine’s Donetsk, says regional governor Reuters

Russian troops are engaged in heavy fighting and making their way into Ukraine’s Donetsk region after taking control of the last two towns in neighbouring Luhansk, the regional governor of Luhansk said on Tuesday.

Serhiy Gaidai said the Russian troops had sustained heavy losses in the long process of capturing the twin towns of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, but were channelling their efforts into moving southward.

It’s incredible how Russia sustains such heavy losses and yet keeps advancing at the same pace. Literally, it is beyond credulity.

Dipshittery and Cope


  • Russia’s Brain Drain Is Officially Underway Bloomberg

Thank god the West hasn’t been experiencing a brain drain of skilled workers into the finanacial sector becoming professional astrologists and alchemically creating new types of mortgage scams and thus destroy the lives of people every ten years or so. Because that would suck for us. But given Chinese and Indian investment into Russia, I wouldn’t worry too much about the future of Russia’s tech sector.

Georgia’s government estimates that 80,000 Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians now reside in this small Caucasus nation of 4 million. Of those, 20,000-25,000 work in IT and software, and about 30,000 are Russian citizens who arrived since the war began. Many came recently from Belarus and Ukraine, too.

As IT specialists, they see little future in Russia as the security services tighten control of the internet, international sanctions squeeze the economy and foreign companies exit. They’ve flocked to other neighboring states such as Armenia and Kazakhstan as well as to Turkey, Dubai and Israel, while the US is seeking to lure them by waiving some visa requirements. The exodus comes as Russian tech companies including internet giant Yandex NV struggle amid deepening censorship, shortages of key equipment, and a backlash in foreign markets.

Young, educated and financially self-sustaining, the arrivals are the kinds of people that tech hubs such as Berlin, Lisbon and London spend fortunes trying to lure. Keeping them in Georgia as they serve clients around the globe from their laptops represents a huge economic opportunity for a poor country with a liberal tax and business environment.

“The whole world is competing to attract these people,” said former central bank Governor Giorgi Kadagidze, over coffee in downtown Tbilisi. He argues that Georgia should market itself aggressively as a safe haven from repressive regimes that offers a strong financial sector, beaches, mountains, a warm climate and good food. “We can be the Portugal of the East.”

  • Russia is reaping bumper revenue from oil and gas sales — but Iran and Venezuela should serve as cautionary tales for Moscow’s energy industry Business Insider

I’m frantically searching for differences between Venezuela/Iran and Russia, and I can’t find any. Fuck, they might be right, Putler might still be owned yet.

“Oil-producing nations like Iran and Venezuela, which have been hit with economic sanctions in the past, suffered grave hits to their oil production, from which they still haven’t recovered,” said Takahide Kiuchi, an economist at Nomura Research Institute.

That’s because the sanctions are designed to lower demand, in turn forcing the country’s oil producers to cut output, experts told Insider. The Russian oil industry is also likely to suffer from a decline in technological advancements as foreign investments pull out en masse from the country.

And Russia could be affected even worse than Iran and Venezuela, as most of their sanctions are imposed by the US, Kiuchi told Insider. Restrictions on Russian trade are far more wide-ranging, he said, and the US is not the only one sanctioning Russia: The UK, too, has banned Russian oil imports, and EU countries have agreed to ban 90% of Russian crude purchases by the end of the year.

All of these factors combined, experts say, point to a decline for Moscow’s cash cow as trade restrictions gnaw their way through the economy.

The article goes on to describe how Venezuela and Iran were affected by the US sanctions on their oil.

  • NATO Is Sending the Right Message to Putin Bloomberg

At their summit in Madrid last week, NATO’s leaders agreed to add two new members, Finland and Sweden, and to beef up the alliance’s presence in Eastern Europe. Taken together, the moves will greatly enhance NATO’s firepower and strengthen its ability to deter Russian aggression. They also could create new risks, which all member states will need to be attentive to.

The summit’s most significant breakthrough came before it officially began, when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to support the Nordic countries’ bids to join NATO. In exchange, Erdogan received assurances that both countries would not support Kurdish groups that Turkey considers terrorists — as well as a pledge from US President Joe Biden to support the sale of new F-16 fighter jets to Turkey.

However distasteful to give in to Erdogan’s demands, the price was worth it. Adding Finland and Sweden will significantly upgrade the alliance’s air-defense and intelligence capabilities and help NATO counter Russian activity in the Baltic Sea and the Arctic. It also sends a powerful message to Russian President Vladimir Putin: namely, that his attempt to use the invasion of Ukraine to weaken and divide NATO has done just the opposite.

“By essentially sentencing Kurds in Finland and Sweden to death, we’ve shown the Putler that those two countries, who were already basically part of NATO, won’t be able to be invaded by the Russian dictator, which he wasn’t planning on doing anyway, and made the organization stronger by adding two utterly insignificant military powers to our alliance. A stunning and world-altering change to the global power balance, all for the low, low price of giving into a authoritarian regime’s demands. Long live the free and democratic world, and down with autocracy! We don’t negotiate with terrorist dictators that invade other countries, except when we do!"

  • Biden’s Ukraine strategy risks prolonging a violent stalemate WaPo

Last week, the United States and its NATO partners convened in Madrid to celebrate their unity in support of Ukraine as it fights Russian President Vladimir Putin’s brutal aggression. This week, the grim reality on the ground is reemerging. Ukrainian forces don’t have the weapons they need to resist the Russian onslaught in the east, much less push Russian troops off their land.

The Biden administration deserves credit for giving Ukraine massive amounts of help and rallying European allies to the cause. At the same time, concerns are rising that President Biden’s risk-averse strategy amounts to giving Kyiv just enough weapons to maintain a violent stalemate but not to win the war. Winter is coming, and if Russia controls large chunks of Ukrainian territory when the Donbas region freezes over, Putin’s gains will become harder, if not impossible, to roll back in the spring.

The article continues to go through the regular creeds about how Ukraine needs more weapons, etc etc, then:

But at the current pace of support, the stalemate is only likely to persist — a recipe for endless war, destruction and human suffering. Zelensky reportedly told the NATO leaders Ukraine needs to push back Russian forces within months, not years. This week, he unveiled a recovery plan that calls for $750 billion in international investment and support. What will that tab be if the war goes on another year, or another five years?

All wars end with a negotiation, when one or both sides are exhausted enough to seek an end to the fighting. What’s clear is that neither Ukraine nor Russia is at this point of exhaustion yet. But the longer the war goes on, the more pressure mounts on Western economies and the greater the devastation and suffering of Ukrainians.

“Urgency is very important,” Risch said. “This has got to be done before the world looks the other way.”

By dragging its feet on giving Zelensky the weapons he is asking for, the United States risks ensuring that the stalemate persists, which ultimately redounds to Putin’s benefit. The Biden administration underestimated Ukrainian forces in the first stage of the war. It must not repeat the same mistake now.

  • Give Ukraine more artillery, and let the Navy break Russia’s blockade WaPo

Before he bestrode the continent and prefigured the ghastliness of modern European history — religious impulses sublimated in politics — Napoleon Bonaparte was an artillery captain.

Oh god, here we go.

Today, another brutalist of about 5-foot-6 is waging a war dominated by artillery. Vladimir Putin will win it unless Ukraine’s allies quickly provide it with more sophisticated modern artillery.

The war in Ukraine is “an extended artillery duel,” according to the Economist, whose “science and technology” section recently explained ingenious weapons that can hurl a shell equipped with a rocket onto a moving vehicle 40 miles away. Shrapnel from an airburst shell, detonated at programmable heights, can kill infantry across 2½ acres. Both sides have drones to spot the enemy’s artillery. Russia has counter-battery radars that can calculate the place where an incoming shell was fired, and hit that place in four minutes. Hence the Ukrainian tactic of “shoot and scoot.”

But “smart” artillery is not necessary for Russia’s barbaric way of war, exemplified by the 1995 use of low-tech artillery to pulverize Grozny, Chechnya’s capital. A Russia-based military analyst tells the Financial Times that Russia’s culture of military callousness “derives from a broader authoritarian culture where nobody trusts anybody” — “a culture of irresponsibility.”

Serhii Plokhy, a Harvard professor of Ukrainian history, says in the Spectator “how the Russian army fights its wars doesn’t change much” and “artillery is an extremely important part of the story,” a story of crude artillery’s multiplication of collateral damages. British military historian Antony Beevor agrees: “We’re seeing a repetition of the atrocities committed, particularly in, say, 1945, by the Red Army.”

Remind me - who were the Red Army fighting in 1945, the poor little meow meow victims of unspeakable atrocities?

As to where “this brutality … this casual savagery” comes from, Beevor says: “Russian soldiers are treated rather as the Red Army was often treated by its own commanders,” with “contempt” and “a total lack of feeling.” This expresses a “national self-image” that “goes back a very long way, perhaps to the Mongol invasions of the 13th century.” The belief is that “brutality is a form of strength” and that “cruelty and savagery are legitimate or natural war weapons.”

He continues: “You see, if you compare the diameter and circumference of the Slavic skull to the English, French, or Italian…"

Today, one potential Putin weapon is starvation: waging war on distant children, in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere. Their distended stomachs might soon testify to his success in deterring Ukraine’s allies from defeating his policy of preventing more than 20 million tons of Ukrainian grain from reaching the world market.

The Economist reports that, last year, Russia and Ukraine were the world’s first- and fifth-largest wheat exporters. They provide almost an eighth of the calories traded worldwide, and nearly 50 countries depend on either Russia or Ukraine or both for more than 30 percent of their wheat imports — for 26 of them, more than 50 percent.

Looks like you better let Russia export that stolen Ukrainian wheat, then, and stop holding it up at Turkey’s ports! It’s gotta get into the stomachs of those African children, who were definitely not going to suffer and starve due to a gradual increase in food prices as well as climate-caused agricultural failures without the West doing a single fucking thing to stop it and we’re therefore definitely not blaming those failures on the whims of Putin! If we’re serious about wanting people to not starve, we should send money and free GMO seeds to these people, as well as meet and exceed our climate pledges, which you’re obviously doing, right? You’re not trapping poor farmers across the world in debt and awful conditions and then dumping heavy metals and microplastics all over the global south, right?

Although neither the world nor Americans want the United States to be “the world’s policeman,” for decades, the world’s (relative) orderliness and prosperity have depended on the U.S.


Navy policing the global commons: the oceans. Hence, for example, the Navy’s freedom-of-navigation exercises that today contest China’s lawless sovereignty claims concerning the South China Sea.

Why is the US navy in the South China Sea at all? Why do we need to be there? And why on earth did we need to be blockading and attacking Yemen!

However, the Navy’s strenuous but noble and global mission is perhaps being abandoned where today it matters most: in the Black Sea. Russian naval forces there are preventing exports of the Ukrainian grain that the Russians are not stealing.

Oh my god. He’s not actually going to suggest what I think he’s going to suggest, is he?

Residents of poor nations spend large portions of their incomes on food — in sub-Saharan Africa, 40 percent. A wave of pain from soaring prices and scarce food might be imminent, but it can be ameliorated if naval forces of nations supporting Ukraine end Russia’s blockade of Odessa and other Black Sea ports, and escort grain transports to places from which the cargo can be distributed.

Naval forces — including Britain’s mine-clearing talents (to remove mines Ukraine placed to deter Russian attacks from the sea) — should be promptly employed to break Putin’s illegal blockade before it has its intended effect of mass starvation. If Putin’s nuclear saber-rattling deters the nations supporting Ukraine from using their ample naval competencies to execute a humanitarian policy, his contempt for the West will be ratified, and his appetite for additional aggressions will be whetted.


United States

  • Dollar dominance is going to stick around in global markets as there’s nothing on the horizon to rival the greenback, Fed study says Business Insider

The organization partially dedicated to maintaining the hegemony of the US dollar says that the hegemony of the US dollar is under no threat, actually.

The US dollar’s dominance will remain unchallenged even with the rise of digital assets and other geopolitical factors, according to a new study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

“The dollar’s international role, whether for trade, investment or use as a global reserve currency, remains quite strong, with nothing on the horizon likely to rival it,” Federal Reserve researchers wrote in a Tuesday blog.

The greenback’s role as an international currency has been bolstered in recent years by a reduced emphasis on unilateralism and protectionism, according to the authors.

Additionally, the dollar’s role as a reserve currency means other nations hold it as a reserve currency — even if its dominant position has slipped over the last two decades — and it is sometimes used as an anchor currency against local exchange rates.

The wartime sanctions against Moscow, which the US has spearheaded, could encourage some de-dollarization by other countries nervous about the US’s financial influence, which could stem the dollar’s role.

At the same time, the rise of central bank digital currencies and cryptocurrencies could eventually reduce the traditional dollar’s sway as a cross-border asset and investment, the authors noted, though this remains far off.

Meanwhile, the Chinese yuan, which China has continued to try and push onto the world stage, still only accounts for about 2.9% of global reserves and analysts say it’s unlikely to pose a true threat to the greenback for a long time.

Bloomerism and Hope

  • Americans have lost confidence in everything from organized religion to Congress, but their faith in unions is staying strong Business Insider

Every year, Gallup surveys Americans about their confidence in different institutions from public schools, to banks, to organized religion. This year, Gallup asked Americans about 16 “major institutions” throughout June. The results: They’re not very confident in everything, with confidence overall across 14 institutions that Gallup surveys on every year at a record low.

For instance, from 2021 to 2022, people who said they had a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in the presidency fell by 15%, and confidence in the Supreme Court also fell by 11%. Even organized religion took a 6% hit.

Of the 16 institutions that Gallup polled on, just one didn’t see confidence drop: Organized labor. In 2021, 28% of respondents said they had a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in organized labor. That was true in 2022 as well.

Democrats still have the most confidence in organized labor, with 41% saying that they have a great deal or a lot of confidence in it — the same figure as 2021. Republicans' confidence in organized labor grew from 13% to 15%, while independents were more skeptical, with their confidence falling from 28% to 27%.

The stable confidence in organized labor comes after a year of prominent union efforts from the likes of workers at behemoths like Starbucks and Amazon — and one where the court of public opinion is playing a larger role in organizing drives. Indeed, Gallup found in 2021 that approval of labor unions was at 65% — its highest level since 1965. Approval was particularly high among Democrats, younger workers, and lower-earning workers.

Last December, The Industrial Workers of the World’s Burgerville Workers Union signed their first collective bargaining agreement with management, officially becoming the only fast food restaurant in the country covered by a federally recognized contract. This historic win comes as the culmination of three-and-a-half years of heated negotiations with management, seven strikes, and dozens of major picket lines. Over 75% of workers covered by the contract participated in the vote, with 92% in favor.

The contract brings major gains to the five Portland-area stores with federal union recognition such as a grievance process, a three-month set schedule, and paid parental leave. Additionally, some improvements like free shift meals and paid holidays were won for workers at other locations of the Vancouver, WA-based fast food chain. “The part of the contract that I think that we’re all very proud of is we were effectively able to force the employer to bargain sectorally with us, so that the gains that our members got also damn near all [sic] the other shops got,” says Mark Medina, union representative, “Which means we were able to get those benefits for not just our members, but the other 1600 employees at that company, which is a benefit to everybody.”

Organizing has continued in the months since the ratification vote. Soon after signing the contract, workers petitioned the company to provide them with free KN95 masks as well as COVID-19 testing for anyone suspected to have been put at risk on the job. “And within days we got that,” stated Medina. “Shop stewards did this, workers did this, they self-mobilized and that’s a wonderful thing.”

BVWU is looking to continue expanding to other Burgerville locations, as well as building solidarity with other organizing efforts in the city. “In Portland when workers think of food service organizing they recognize our campaign and the victories of that and they want to replicate that in their workplaces,” Medina says, adding “I definitely think that we played a role in the consciousness changing that food service workers can organize and that their jobs can be dignified.”

  • Biden Seems No More Able Than His Predecessors To Stop Beijing’s Technology Thefts Forbes

America and China have long had a contentious trade relationship. Aside from ever-present trade imbalances, a major source of tension emerges from China’s continuous efforts to acquire American technology and trade secrets, sometimes with bullying, sometimes in more illicit ways. For decades American business has complained to Washington about this, and every president since Ronald Reagan has made efforts to change Beijing’s practices. These efforts have all failed. The Biden administration seems set to follow in this pattern. Indeed, this White House has made little effort at all to remedy things.

Every nation, every business tries to get the trade secrets and technological edge of its competitors. That is why governments and international agreements enforce patents and copyrights as well as recognized trademarks. Because Beijing has largely ignored these international norms and laws, business has turned to Washington for help instead of to courts and international agencies.

Beijing’s most visible means of acquiring technologies and secrets is its insistence that any foreign firm operating in any China must have a Chinese partner to which it must transfer its trade secrets and technology. Though not strictly illegal, Beijing’s insistence does fly in the face of international norms. Still more objectionable to American business is the tendency for those secrets and techniques to leak out of their partners so that other Chinese firms, including state-owned entities as well as the designated partner, often use those secrets and techniques to outcompete the original American innovator.

Link back to the discussion thread.