Link back to the discussion thread.
- Europe’s scramble for gas is depriving poorer nations from getting enough amid the energy crisis Business Insider
Developing nations are struggling to get enough liquefied natural gas while European countries are snapping up huge amounts as they seek alternatives to Russian supplies.
So far in 2022, Europe has upped its LNG imports by 49%, Wood Mackenzie data shows, according to the Wall Street Journal. Comparatively, India, China, and Pakistan have cut imports by 16%, 21%, and 15%, respectively.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Europe has faced a spiraling energy crisis as Moscow curbs its gas exports. LNG used to be cheaper than crude, but the price is now equivalent to $230 per barrel of oil after soaring 1,900% from pandemic lows.
And as LNG prices have shot up, companies are preferring to sell to more creditworthy countries in Europe, the Journal said. Even cargo that was on the way to poorer nations has been rerouted to Europe, as it presents a profitable trade for suppliers despite penalties for breaking contracts with developing countries.
“Because of the Ukraine war, every single molecule that was available in our region has been purchased by Europe, because they’re trying to reduce their dependence on Russia,” Pakistani Petroleum Minister Musadik Malik said, as the country’s LNG tender for $1 billion drew no offers on Thursday.
In Bangladesh, the government has had to shut off electricity for some hours of the day. India, meanwhile, has started to use more coal power and domestic gas, according to the report.
“The European gas crisis is sucking the world dry of LNG,” Valery Chow, head of Asia Pacific gas at Wood Mackenzie, told the Journal. “Emerging markets in Asia have borne the brunt of this and there is no end in sight.”
- Ukraine restores Danube River ports in emergency effort to get grain out The Guardian
Ukraine is restoring and expanding some of its long-decommissioned river ports on the Danube to facilitate the exportation of grain due to Russia’s Black Sea blockade.
Before the war, Ukrainian river ports on the Danube were seldom used, with some of them in complete disrepair. But following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its control of exit routes to the Black Sea , Kyiv is resuscitating its old river harbours in order to avoid the sea blockade and accelerate the exportation of the country’s wheat.
- Russia signals an end to U.N. aid into Syria from Turkey Reuters
Russia on Friday signaled an end to a long-running U.N. aid operation into northwest Syria from Turkey after vetoing a one-year extension and then failing in its own push for a six-month renewal and greater international reconstruction efforts.
The current U.N. Security Council mandate for U.N. humanitarian aid - including food, medicine and shelter - to some 4 million people in opposition-controlled northwest Syria from Turkey expires on Sunday.
Russia’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy said the only solution that Moscow would not veto was its own. That draft resolution failed on Friday after only Russia and China voted in favor. The United States, Britain and France voted against the Russian text, while the remaining 10 council members abstained.
“I do not see at this point any other option. Given the fact of the words that have been said today, I think this has been made almost impossible,” Polyanskiy told reporters, adding that another council member could again put Russia’s text to a vote.
- Germany’s largest landlord to reduce heating for tenants to save energy Reuters
Germany’s largest residential landlord Vonovia will reduce heating for tenants in many of its apartments at night, as Europe’s biggest economy braces for a possible gas crunch with falling Russian fossil fuel imports.
The company, which owns around 490,000 apartments in Germany and heats apartments through various energy suppliers, will cut the heating output between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. to 17 degrees Celsius, a spokesperson for the company said.
Let’s hope that the German people, in Minecraft, reduce the blood flow going to the brains of these landlords, using an elaborate system of redstone and pistons.
- Germany Reopens Coal Plants Because Of Reduced Russian Energy Forbes
Germany’s parliament on Friday agreed to reactivate retired coal power plants to generate electricity, decreasing their reliance on precarious Russian supplies, but potentially bringing the country further from its climate goals.
- World War II Bombs Hamper Germany’s Retreat From Russian Gas WSJ
A long-submerged problem is complicating Germany’s attempts to wean itself off the vast pipelines pumping gas from Russia: Over a million tons of weapons and explosives rusting at the bottom of the sea.
Berlin plans to build three liquefied-natural gas terminals along its northern coast to break its dependence on Russian energy as the war in Ukraine grinds on. The idea is to ship gas in from the U.S., Canada or Qatar instead, diversifying Germany’s energy supplies as Moscow throttles deliveries, squeezing manufacturers and the rest of the German economy.
But before the terminals can start taking shipments, specialists such as Dieter Guldin and his company SeaTerra GmbH will have to find and remove all the unexploded wartime ordnance, or UXOs, surrounding the sites. There could be a lot.
“We’ve found something,” said Mr. Guldin as he ferried a visitor from the harbor out to the bomb removal platform stationed offshore. “It’s probably just junk. But we have to remove every piece of metal we find because it could be a bomb.”
Much of Europe still bears traces of World War II in the form of unexploded ordnance, but the problem is especially acute in Germany, where an estimated 1.6 million tons of weapons and explosives were dumped in the North Sea and Baltic Sea. Most were put there after the war, when Allied commanders ordered the destruction of Germany’s stockpiles of weapons. Now the UXOs, from large cannon-fired grenades to torpedoes and sea mines, are setting back new developments, including offshore wind farms.
One project, TenneT TSO GmbH’s Riffgat wind park, went online a year late in 2014, after 30 tons of World War II munitions had to be cleared to lay the cable connecting the turbines to the grid onshore.
One of the proposed sites for the new liquefied-natural gas terminals is Minsener Oog, the first of a chain of East Frisian islands that hug the northern German coast west of Wilhelmshaven, home to Germany’s largest naval base and a small commercial harbor.
There are an estimated 10,000 tons of munitions in the area. To reach the site, ships have to make a hard right turn through a narrow passage past the weapons-dump site. The presence of the explosive has already delayed pre-Ukraine war plans to widen the shipping lane.
- Dutch Farmer Protests Inspire More Actions Amid Food Shortages Popular Resistance
Dutch farmers are blocking roads, airports and food distribution centers in an effort to shut their country down. These actions are in response to climate laws designed to lower nitrogen levels that will result in putting farms out of business and underscore why addressing the climate crisis requires a just transition for displaced workers. Farmers want the government to know that without farmers, there won’t be food.
The protests are now spreading to more countries. They are occurring as inflation hit double digits in June, especially for food and fuel, and food shortages are expected this fall.
What began with farmers in The Netherlands has now expanded with fisher people blocking ports and conspiracy theorists and anti-government protesters joining in. The protests are being supported, in part, by Big Ag and Big Business.
According to Otto ter Haar of the Dutch Green Party (in a personal communication), the origins of the protests were not ideological but were due to farmers and their family members “fighting for their farms.” He adds that “They are supported by right wing parties and agro-corporations. They are opposed by (left wing) environmental, climate and animal welfare organisations.”
This is similar to what happened initially in the French Yellow Vest protests as right wing elements tried to co-opt the movement for their own interests. The French protests were portrayed as anti-climate because they were opposed to a rise in diesel fuel prices, but in reality they were a reaction to the decline of worker rights and economic security.
As the protests spread this week, German farmers helped Dutch farmers shut down roads and the border. In Poland, people marched in Warsaw complaining that they are bearing the brunt of an inflation they did not create. Italian farmers are copying the Dutch.
- Greece, Bulgaria complete ‘energy bridge’ to cut Russia gas reliance Reuters
Greece and Bulgaria marked the completion on Friday of a long-delayed gas pipeline between the two countries which they hope can contribute to ending Europe’s dependence on Russian gas.
Russian energy giant Gazprom cut off gas deliveries to European Union member Bulgaria on April 27 over its refusal to pay in roubles. Bulgaria consumes about 3 billion cubic metres of gas per year, of which more than 90% came from Russia.
“This interconnector will transform the energy map of the region,” Bulgaria’s outgoing Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said of the 220 million euro ($226 million) pipeline.
The Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB) will carry gas from the northern Greek city of Komotini to Stara Zagora in Bulgaria and be linked to another pipeline carrying Azeri gas.
“Bulgaria is achieving a real diversification and will start receiving Azeri gas in the next few weeks,” Petkov said, adding that the pipeline needed some software checks and permits before gas could start flowing from Azerbaijan.
The 180 kilometre pipeline, which will have an initial capacity of 3 billion cubic metres (bcm) with plans to later raise this to 5 bcm, is expected to be operational by early August, Greek and Bulgarian officials have said.
Greece’s annual gas consumption was about 7 billion cubic metres last year.
- Norway’s Hydropower Reserves Hit Hard By Drought Oil Price
While Europe scrambles to procure natural gas for winter power generation and heating, Western Europe’s biggest oil and gas producer, Norway, has a whole different power problem this summer—dry weather, which depletes water reservoirs for hydropower, which accounts for 90% of Norwegian power generation.
The remaining around 10% of the electricity supply in Norway comes from wind power.
Although Norway doesn’t use gas for power generation, the gas and energy crisis in Europe is felt there, too. Hydropower producers have been discouraged in recent weeks to tap more water for hydropower generation and save water for the winter. Operators were also asked not to export too much electricity to the rest of Europe as reservoirs are not as full as in previous years, and not to rely on imports from Europe, which is struggling with energy supply.
At the end of last week, Norway’s water reservoirs were 59.2 percent full, below the 20-year average, according to data from the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE).
In comparison, water reservoirs were 67.9 percent full at this time of the year, on average, for the years 2002 through 2021. Central Norway had its reservoirs 82.3 percent full, but southwestern Norway had the lowest water levels at 45.5 percent full at the end of last week.
Asia and Oceania
- Blinken and Wang meet in bid to defuse US-China tensions The Guardian
The top diplomats from the US and China met on Saturday in a new effort to try to rein in or at least manage rampant hostility that has come to define recent relations between Washington and Beijing.
The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, and China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, were holding talks on the Indonesian island of Bali, a day after they both attended a gathering of top diplomats from the Group of 20 wealthy and large developing countries which failed to reach consensus over Russia’s war in Ukraine and how to deal with its impacts.
Wang and Blinken were to discuss a range of contentious issues from tariffs and trade and human rights to Taiwan and disputes in the South China Sea. Just two days earlier, the US and China’s top military officers met over Taiwan during a virtual meeting.
Blinken said as the pair headed into the closed-door meeting: “In a relationship as complex and consequential as the one between the United States and China, there is a lot to talk about and I’m very much looking forward to a productive, constructive conversation.”
Wang said that “it is necessary for the two countries to maintain normal exchanges” and “to work together to ensure that this relationship will continue to move forward along the right track”.
- China’s June factory inflation cools counter to global trends Reuters
China’s factory-gate inflation cooled in June to the lowest in 15 months as the country continues to buck the global trend of accelerating prices.
The producer price index (PPI) rose 6.1% year-on-year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Saturday, after a 6.4% rise in May. Analysts had expected an increase in the PPI rate of 6.0% in a Reuters poll.
The slower rise in the PPI was driven by the resumption of additional industrial production, stable supply chains in key sectors and government polices to stabilise commodity prices, NBS official Dong Lijuan said in a separate statement.
- Australia Supports Laos in Improving Transport and Trade Connectivity Laotian Times
A new Subsidiary Arrangement, under a broader agreement between Australia and Laos on development cooperation, was signed by Australia’s Ambassador to Laos, Paul Kelly, and Vice Minister of Public Works and Transport, Vilaykham Phosalath on 7 July in Vientiane Capital.
Australia is expected to provide more than AUD 10 million in support under the arrangement.
Australia’s assistance will be made through the Partnerships for Infrastructure (P4I) initiative, in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Ministry of Planning and Investment, and provincial stakeholders, and delivered as part of the Southeast Asia Regional Economic Corridor and Connectivity (SEARECC) program.
- Tehran, Moscow agree on expansion of monetary, banking co-op Tehran Times
During the trip of Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Governor Ali Saleh-Abadi to Moscow and his meetings with the Russian officials, the two sides agreed on the expansion of cooperation in the monetary and banking fields.
In this trip, Saleh-Abadi met Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, the country’s Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov, the governor of Central Bank of Russian Federation, and senior directors of some major Russian banks.
Issues related to joint investment making, and the ways to expand monetary and banking cooperation and remove barriers in this due were the main pivots of negotiations in this trip.
- Iran, Uganda confer on expansion of trade ties Tehran Times
Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Diplomacy Mehdi Safari held talks with the President, Prime Minister, and Foreign Ministry Advisor of Uganda in Kampala for strengthening bilateral ties in all fields.
During this visit, Safari discussed avenues of mutual cooperation with Uganda’s Minister of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives Amelia Kyambadde, and Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries Frank Tumwebaze.
In the meetings, the two sides held talks on the imminent holding of a joint economic committee meeting, and expansion of investment in coffee, herd breeding, oil, small industries, and agricultural products as well as the establishment of a permanent fairground for Iran-made products in the African country.
- ‘It’s getting scary.’ How the war in Ukraine plunged this Middle East nation into crisis CNN
Egyptian households of all income levels are seeing their spending power erode fast. The economic crisis raises prospects of unrest in a country where a regime was overthrown just a decade ago in an uprising calling for “bread, freedom and social justice.”
In recent months, scores have protested because of delays to new car deliveries caused by import restrictions and the devaluation of the local currency; Facebook groups were set up to find local alternatives for pet foods after imports were restricted […]
Moody’s credit rating agency warned in May about “social and political risks” as it downgraded Egypt’s economic outlook for the year from stable to negative. And the government appears to share those concerns.
Anticipating unrest, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has initiated a national dialogue with opposition figures, a change of tack from a crackdown on dissent that has kept thousands of people behind bars for years.
Egypt’s official inflation rate stood at 14.7% in June, up from around 5% at the same time last year, but consumers say prices have skyrocketed beyond this figure since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February.
The war in Ukraine has brought uncertainty to global grain markets and driven up prices. Egypt, which depends on Russia and Ukraine for 80% of its wheat imports, now pays $435 per tonne instead of $270 last year, according to the government.
The invasion has also dented Egypt’s tourism industry. Russian and Ukrainian tourists used to make up a third of the country’s annual visitors but those numbers have dipped.
- Sudan activists to unite under ‘revolutionary council’ Africa News
Pro-democracy groups in Sudan announced a “revolutionary council” Thursday to close ranks against coup leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, rejecting his offer of a civilian government, as protesters keep pressing for his resignation.
Burhan led a coup in October last year that derailed a transition to civilian rule, unleashing near-weekly protests and prompting key donors to freeze much-needed funding.
The transitional government he uprooted was forged between the military and civilian factions in 2019, following mass protests and a sit-in outside army headquarters that prompted the military to oust long-time dictator Omar al-Bashir.
But in a surprise move on Monday, Burhan vowed to make way for a civilian government – an offer quickly rejected by the country’s main civilian umbrella group as a “ruse”.
On Thursday, pro-democracy groups, including local resistance committees, announced their plans to establish a revolutionary council in opposition to Burhan.
- US will plunge into recession — but it didn’t have to, former IMF chief economist says CNN
It’s “almost impossible” for the Fed to tamp down inflation without tipping the US economy into a recession, says Former IMF Chief Economist Ken Rogoff.
“[The Fed] would have to be very lucky,” Rogoff told CNN’s Christine Romans on Early Start. “They have to decide: Do they have to have inflation get down quickly, or are they going to throw us into a recession? I think they are saying that they will get inflation down. I think they will blink,”
“I don’t think this had to happen. We stepped on the gas pedal for too long and it was too much stimulus too late. I am sympathetic to all the goals, but the stimulus, they kept on going too long and they didn’t calibrate it,” Rogoff said.
“I think personally they should take it easy and let inflation stay high a few years and go slow,” rather than spark a recession. “There is no easy way out.”
- A deep recession is needed to bring down soaring inflation, and high prices are going to be very sticky, BofA says Business Insider
Inflation has proven to be anything but transitory, and it’s going to take a deep recession to tame the sticky high prices, according to Bank of America.
In a Friday note, the bank’s analysts noted that market pricing implies that inflation will fall to or below the 2% target in about two years, but the economy will need to see a severe downturn to achieve that.
Job growth is set to slow and the Fed may regret hiking rates too aggressively going into 2023, JPMorgan Asset Management chief strategist says Business Insider
Biden’s labor secretary is ‘not sold’ on the idea that we’re heading towards a recession Business Insider
More Americans gave up on working in June, and it shows that not everyone is finding the job they want Business Insider
The economic recovery chugged along in June with a still-booming job market, but that doesn’t mean everyone in the country was working.
The latest data release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the US added 372,000 jobs in June — handily beating economists' estimates for 268,000 new payrolls, according to Bloomberg.
But even as the unemployment rate stayed low at 3.6% for the fourth consecutive month, and job growth boomed across industries, some workers were giving up on work altogether and left the labor force. In June, the labor force participation rate — which measures the number of people who were working or actively looking for work — dipped.
“The drop is disappointing, but it does take us back to levels that we saw just a few months ago,” Daniel Zhao, senior economist at Glassdoor, told Insider. “It is a setback, but I think the overall trend over the course of the recovery has still been improving labor force participation.”
- Mortgage Rates Fall to 5.30%, Reflecting Recession Fears WSJ
Mortgage rates recorded their largest decline since 2008 as investors raise their bets that the economy is headed for a downturn.
The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 5.30%, mortgage-finance giant Freddie Mac said Thursday. That is down from 5.70% last week. Mortgage rates haven’t recorded such a big weekly decline since December 2008, when the rate fell from 5.97% to 5.53%.
- Top U.S. LNG producer Cheniere asks Biden admin to drop pollution rule Reuters
Cheniere Energy Inc has asked the Biden administration to exempt it from limits on emissions of cancer-causing pollutants, arguing they would force the top U.S. exporter of liquefied natural gas to shut for an extended period and endanger the country’s efforts to ramp up supplies to Europe, according to documents reviewed by Reuters.
The request imposes an uncomfortable dilemma on President Joe Biden’s administration as it tries to balance efforts to slash pollution from the fossil fuel industry against promises to help European allies cut energy ties with Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
Denying Cheniere could shut off the bulk of America’s LNG exports for months or years, while granting its request would mean ongoing emissions of toxic pollutants into poor and minority neighborhoods Biden has vowed to protect.
- Gas Prices Have Fallen for Three Weeks. The Relief May Be Temporary WSJ
The price of gasoline in the U.S. fell for 23 consecutive days through Thursday, after hitting a record last month. But analysts said prices may rise again if demand from drivers increases and supplies are constrained.
The average cost of a gallon of unleaded gas was $4.75 Thursday. That’s down about 5% since prices hit their highest point, $5.02, on June 14, according to data from OPIS, an energy-data and analytics provider.
The drop is primarily due to diminished demand at the pump, according to a AAA report released this week. An increased supply of gas and lower oil prices have also contributed to the recent price drop, AAA said. Crude oil futures were at about $102 a barrel Thursday evening, down about 16% in the past month.
Gas prices may continue to fall if the trends continue, the AAA report said. However, “July is typically the heaviest month for demand as more Americans hit the road, so this trend of easing prices could be short-lived,” AAA spokesman Andrew Gross said in a statement.
- Americans aren’t very happy about Biden’s Middle East visit: poll Responsible Statecraft
President Joe Biden is set to make his first visit to the Middle East next week, with stops in Israel and Saudi Arabia. The trip was never going to be simple from a PR perspective. After all, Biden campaigned on making Saudi Arabia a “pariah,” and his stopover in Israel comes just after U.S. officials said Tel Aviv was “likely responsible” for the death of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
If a recent poll is to be believed, the trip risks becoming a public relations disaster. Biden’s official justification is that the trip is important for Israeli national security, and he is likely to highlight Saudi Arabia’s importance as an oil exporter if pushed on his much-softened stance toward the Gulf monarchy. As it turns out, neither of these framings is a winner for the president.
The University of Maryland survey broke a sample of 2208 Americans into three groups, each of which was presented with a different framing for the visit. A neutral phrasing showed ambivalence about the trip, with 24 percent approval and 25 percent disapproval.
But when pollsters told the second group that Biden’s visit was about protecting Israeli national security — a historically airtight justification for U.S. policy in the region — disapproval actually went up, jumping from 25 to 31 percent, while approval stayed flat. And a lot of that movement came from Biden’s own party, highlighting Israel’s damaged image among Democrats.
A focus on Israeli security “doesn’t seem to help [Biden] sell his trip,” Shibley Telhami, who conducted the poll, wrote in the Washington Post. “In fact, it may be hurting him among his Democratic constituency.”
The third group got a harsher framing, emphasizing Biden’s “pariah” comments while also noting Riyadh’s importance to “the global energy market.” Unsurprisingly, this was the least popular justification for the trip, earning 33 percent disapproval and 23 percent approval.
Of course, the poll does present one silver lining for the Biden administration: A plurality of respondents from each group answered “I don’t know” or “I neither approve nor disapprove,” meaning that many Americans remain on the fence about the trip.
But ambivalence is a double-edged sword. Neither the second nor the third framing was as harsh as it could have been. No specific human rights concerns were mentioned, and pollsters left out any reference to Abu Akleh’s killing and the Saudi state-sanctioned murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
With just a few days left before the trip, only time will tell if widespread disinterest will turn into ire.
Which will turn into… nothing. It’s an interesting result but completely meaningless. Public policy is almost always the opposite of what most people want in the US. The government always zigs when the people zag.
- Canada’s unemployment rate falls to record low Al Jazeera
Canada’s jobs market showed signs of extreme tightening last month, with the unemployment rate falling to a record low, wage gains accelerating and large numbers of Canadians dropping out of the labor force.
The economy shed 43,200 jobs in June, Statistics Canada reported Friday in Ottawa, a surprise negative reading compared to the 22,500 gain anticipated by economists. But the drop appears to reflect the voluntary exit of workers from the labor force, which dropped by nearly 100,000 in June — the biggest one-month decline on record outside of the pandemic.
- Mexico to stay neutral on Ukraine, president says ahead of Biden meeting Reuters
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Friday his administration would maintain its neutral stance on the Ukraine-Russia conflict after his upcoming meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden.
Lopez Obrador was asked a series of questions at a news conference about how his visit next week to Washington could affect Mexico’s position on the conflict. He said Mexico would stay neutral, and that he hoped there would be a ceasefire.
- Multinational Corporations Are Sucking Mexico Dry Jacobin
Imagine a city of 5 million people where temperatures routinely top a hundred degrees. Now imagine that city without water. Two of the city’s reservoirs have run dry, schools have cut class hours, and supermarket shelves are emptied of bottled water in fits of panic buying. Lines of cars snake through the streets to buy whatever water they can, while residents from the hardest-hit areas roam from one neighborhood to another looking for a tank, a spigot, anything that will allow them to fill the empty containers they’ve lugged along. Lines stretch for hours on end.
This is not an exercise in dystopian imagination or some Mad Max spin-off: this is Monterrey, Mexico, today.
This industrial hub and capital of the state of Nuevo León, barely two and a half hours from the Texas border along Route 85, is not just the epicenter of a burgeoning water crisis — it is a case study of the inequities that have produced it. In between untimely trips abroad and furious outbursts about the lack of support he is supposedly receiving from other states, the governor — frivolous social media influencer Samuel García — blames climate change for the record drought. And while global warming is undoubtedly an important and ever-increasing factor, there is much more to this story.
Monterrey is also home to the nation’s soft-drink and beer industry, whose factories — much to the anger of local residents — have not ceased pumping millions of gallons of water throughout the crisis. In fact, fifteen of the largest water hogs (including the steel giant Ternium and two subsidiaries of Coca-Cola) are based in the city and account, alone, for 11.8 billion gallons annually — more than sixty times the amount assigned for domestic use.
In the nearby countryside, luxury ranches boast of private dams and artificial lakes filled with water deviated from nearby rivers. And while Governor García engages in quixotic attempts to seed clouds for rain, he also found time to attend the kickoff ceremony of another deep well for Heineken, another top water hog, which bought out Mexico’s emblematic Cuauhtémoc beer company in 2010. All of this goes a long way toward explaining why local activists have adopted the following slogan on the source of the crisis: No es sequía, es saqueo (It’s not drought, it’s plunder).
- Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon hits record for first half of 2022 Reuters
Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest reached a record high for the first six months of the year, as an area five times the size of New York City was destroyed, preliminary government data showed on Friday.
From January to June, 3,988 square km (1,540 square miles) were cleared in the region, according to national space research agency Inpe.
That’s an increase of 10.6% from the same months last year and the highest level for that period since the agency began compiling its current DETER-B data series in mid-2015.
- OPEC+ Is Still 2.5 Million Bpd Below Its Production Target RT
OPEC+ pumped more than 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) below its target in June, despite a rebound in Russia’s oil production that helped the group’s output rise by 730,000 bpd from May, according to the Argus survey published on Friday.
Saudi Arabia and Iraq, OPEC’s largest and second-largest producers, raised their output as domestic demand from power plants that burn oil increased seasonally. Russia, the largest non-OPEC producer part of the OPEC+ pact, saw its production rebound last month and rise by 550,000 bpd compared to May.
Russia’s oil production rose in June and was approaching the levels last seen in February, just before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Most of the rebound was due to higher intake from domestic refiners.
Elsewhere in the OPEC+ group, non-OPEC Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan saw production declines in June due to maintenance at key oilfields, the Argus survey showed.
Kazakhstan’s crude oil supply to the global markets has just become more uncertain in the coming weeks after a Russian court this week ordered the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC), which operates a key export route for crude oil from the huge oilfield Tengiz, to suspend activities for 30 days, citing environmental violations.
OPEC’s Nigeria continued to experience severe production problems. Its output slumped to a 17-month low in June as shipments of the Forcados and Qua Iboe crudes fell, per the Argus survey.
The Ukraine War
- Russia says it destroyed two British-supplied anti-ship missile systems Reuters
Russia’s defence ministry said in a briefing on Friday that Russian forces had destroyed two British-supplied Harpoon anti-ship missile systems in Ukraine’s Odesa region overnight.
- Russian military warehouses in Kherson struck by Ukrainian forces CNN
Ukrainian forces continue to target Russian military supplies and warehouses far behind the front lines in the southern region of Kherson, according to regional officials.
Ukrainian fire destroyed “the warehouses [and] rear reserves of the occupiers,” Serhii Khlan, adviser to the head of the Kherson military administration, told Ukrainian television.
Khlan said that before dawn on Friday, there was “a powerful explosion” in Nova Kakhovka, a town occupied by Russian forces in Kherson.
- As Russia Looms, a Ukrainian City’s Loyalties Divide NYT
I’m really not a fan of these wartime articles that the MSM does for all the obvious reasons, but this one is, in a way, entertaining. “This poor souls, the victims of Russian aggression, told us to get the fuck out of their city, and called us various slurs and said that we were all lying pieces of shit. Truly, this shows the inherent helplessness and lack of resistance to propaganda that all humans have deep down.
A woman berated visiting reporters, accusing them of publishing lies. Others turned away, reluctant to talk. Tensions were running high in the central market of Sloviansk, after rocket strikes earlier this week killed seven people and destroyed shops and houses.
This depleted eastern Ukrainian city is in the cross hairs of the next Russian offensive. After capturing the eastern region of Luhansk, Russian forces have begun a heavier barrage in the neighboring Donetsk region, which includes Sloviansk and several other cities in a pocket of Ukrainian control. The intensified rocket attacks led the mayor to urge remaining residents to leave town ahead of an impending attack.
Visits to Sloviansk by The New York Times over several days revealed a town both angry and defiant, and far from united. While many people have already left and others are preparing to flee, some residents are staying put, with many accusing the Ukrainian Army of shelling the market to scare the population into leaving or even as a ruse to gain more international support.
“They hit it on purpose,” said Serhii, 62, of the Ukrainian forces as he helped a friend retrieve goods from his damaged store. Like most people interviewed he preferred to be identified only by his first name to avoid censure in time of war.
There is no evidence to back such claims, which have become a staple of a Russian propaganda barrage to try to turn Ukrainians against the government in Kyiv. The head of a fire brigade fighting the flames in the market shook his head when he heard such talk. The direction of the strikes left little doubt that they had come from Russian-held territory, he said.
Oh, come on, they’re not even really hiding it. They’re literally like “This person who we interviewed is inherently more trustworthy than everybody else who we interviewed, because they said the thing that confirms our inherent biases."
While Russian troops have not yet unleashed the kind of intense, all-day artillery strikes that they used to capture Lysychansk, they have begun launching daily strikes on the next cluster of cities in neighboring Donetsk — Kramatorsk and Bakhmut, in addition to Sloviansk.
All three cities have been hit by Russian strikes in recent days, and Ukrainian troops have dug in to prepare a defense.
“They are shelling the city, they are shooting at civilians, the number of attacks has increased,” the mayor said of the Russian forces, in an interview in the heavily sandbagged town hall. Previous strikes came in ones and twos, he said, but on Sunday and again on Tuesday, 15 to 20 rockets exploded in intense barrages in the center of town.
“They are actually terrorizing the population,” he added. “In this way, probably, they are preparing for the offensive.” But he was familiar with the line accusing the Ukrainian Army of conducting the strikes.
“Everyone sees what they want,” he said. “They want to believe it.”
Climate and Space
- Is Hydrogen The Future Of Clean Aviation? Oil Price
As the auto and land transportation industries shift away from fossil fuels to renewable alternatives, other sectors look to do the same. While running freight, ships, and planes with electric batteries or green fuel seems a long way off, greater investment in recent years has made companies more optimistic about what they might be able to achieve within the next decade. As energy firms around the world see innovations in green hydrogen, suggesting this may well be the fuel that will power the future of clean aviation.
The aviation industry is responsible for around 2 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions globally and is seen as extremely difficult to decarbonize. But many major players have been discussing the potential for hydrogen-fuelled planes for several years, with greater innovations seen recently as funding for fuel cell technology has increased. Liquid hydrogen could potentially replace kerosene as the plane’s fuel, emitting only water – making them carbon-free. Hydrogen planes have four main components – a storage system to safely store liquid hydrogen, fuel cells to convert hydrogen to electricity, a device to control the power of the cells, and a motor to turn a propeller.
Several ambitious hydrogen plane projects are already taking off around the world, with numerous major aviation firms announcing investments in green-powered planes. In 2020, Airbus announced three hydrogen fuel concept planes, under the project ZEROe. The fleet includes a jet airliner with a liquid hydrogen tank aimed at carrying 200 passengers over 3,500km, a similar ‘blended-wing body’ design with a different hydrogen storage and propulsion system, and a propeller plane with hydrogen combustion in modified gas-turbine engines to carry 100 passengers over shorter distances. Delta Air Lines has already announced a partnership with Airbus to develop its hydrogen technologies.
Budget airlines are also demonstrating their interest in decarbonized flying, with European aviation firm Wizz Air announcing its preliminary agreement with Airbus to explore the potential for hydrogen-fuelled aircraft last month. The companies will evaluate how hydrogen fuel planes would affect scheduling, ground bases, and airport operations. In addition, they will assess the potential range, refueling time, and regulatory requirements for the planes to see whether an LH2 fleet is achievable.
Dipshittery and Cope
- Putin says Russia ready to fight until the ‘last Ukrainian is left standing,’ reversing initial claims to want to help them Business Insider
You motherfuckers. I can’t think of a good analogy for what this is like, so all I can say is that these journalists are intentionally dishonest little fucking gremlins, and if we lived in a just world, they would be [REDACTED]
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Thursday that his invasion of Ukraine could continue until the “last Ukrainian is left standing,” Reuters reported.
During a speech to parliamentary leaders, Putin said Russia was just getting started with the war in Ukraine, more than four months after he ordered an invasion into the neighboring country.
“Today we hear that they want to defeat us on the battlefield. Well, what can I say? Let them try,” Putin said, according to Reuters.
“We have continuously heard that the West is ready to fight with us until the last Ukrainian is left standing. This is a tragedy for the Ukrainian people. However, it seems like everything is going towards this,” he added.
Putin’s reference to fighting until no Ukrainians are left is a sharp reversal from his position at the start of the invasion that his intention was to help the Ukrainian people, particularly in its east, by removing its government. Moscow routinely refer to its seizure of territory as “liberation.”
(Putin made baseless claims of genocide in support of that argument, and ignored the fact that Ukraine’s government was chosen by its people in 2019.)
Not in 2014, however.
Putin’s rationale for the war has shifted numerous times. In early June Putin said in public that Russia was attacking Ukraine to take its land, which he had said before was not the case.
At the end of the day, who cares? Let’s pretend that the author has a point - all you’re actually saying is “Putin’s being a hypocrite, the worst thing you can be!"
But while boasting that Russia was prepared to fight until the end, Putin also made reference to the possibility of negotiations with Ukraine.
“We are not refusing peace negotiations. But those who do refuse should know that the further [the conflict continues], the more difficult it will be for them to negotiate with us,” he said, per Reuters.
Peace talks between the two countries have been on pause as Russia continues its attack on the eastern Donbas region.
Ukrainian officials have said there is no point negotiating with Russia while it continues to kill Ukrainians and destroy Ukrainian city’s [sic].
Its chief negotiator, Mykhailo Podolyak, said on Twitter this week that conditions to resume talks with the Kremlin would include: “Ceasefire. Z-troops withdrawal. Returning of kidnapped citizens. Extradition of war criminals. Reparations mechanism. Ukraine’s sovereign rights recognition.”
That’s not how fucking negotiations work! If you were on the winning side, then there would be a slight chance that you would achieve a few of those things. It’s actually incredible how many of the same people saying that Ukraine should never negotiate, never surrender, even from a position of losing the war quite hard, are the same people who look at their own “““left-wing””” parties like the Democratic Party and when they propose a spending deal, they go “Ah, well, we’ve gotta bring this down before we even talk to the Republicans, they’ll never accept this. Let’s go from a $20 billion plan to a $10 billion plan!” before the Republicans all reject it and bring it down even further, like LITERALLY EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU’VE DONE THIS EXACT THING FOR DECADES. Never negotiate with terrorists and dictators, and also the Republicans want to end democracy via January 6th-esque riots, thus definitionally making them one of those things, but we need to not only negotiate with them, but also negotiate with the imaginary image we have of them beforehand. Sorry, an electoralism brainworm clearly has burrowed into my skull, but “these people suck” is the basic idea I’m trying to express.
- Progressives eye longshot bid to protect abortion rights for troops Politico
Reality once ahead pulls ahead of parody in the unending arms race. “““Progressive””” democrats being like “Alright, fine, we’ll accept not having the right to an abortion for everybody - but our GOSH-DARN TROOPS better be able to get them!” would be an unfunny joke that would get like 7 upvotes in the comment section of a post on Hexbear and the comment under it would be “nah, that would be too on-the-nose for them to do, they wanna still deny that we’re living in a genocidal, militaristic world empire”
Progressive Democrats are eyeing must-pass defense legislation as the next battleground to protect abortion rights following the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, a longshot move that reflects the fierce push within the party to fight for abortion access.
The issue will come to a head when the House returns next week, as Democratic leaders decide whether to consider a progressive push to the annual defense legislation that would roll back restrictions on performing abortions at military medical facilities as well as limits on Pentagon funding for the procedures.
- Opinion: Republicans, look across the pond and take note. Now’s the time to dump Trump CNN
I usually don’t discuss domestic US/UK politics as the rest of the website does that pretty well and comprehensively, but I saw this headline and instantly lost 3 sanity points, so I’m putting it here. I quote in full.
As the scandals – and the questions of honesty – piled up, so too did the concerns about the health of the United Kingdom’s democracy before members of the Conservative Party forced the resignation of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
That the Tories dumping Johnson went from an unthinkable idea to an inevitable outcome should be a lesson to Republicans here in America. They, too, can bypass more political chaos by dumping Donald Trump, once and for all.
To be fair, comparisons between Johnson and Trump have always been overblown, tending to focus on the superficial (the hair) while ignoring that Johnson, while colorful, was a serious politician with considerable experience as both a member of Parliament and the mayor of a world capital. So, too, is the belief that British Conservatives and American Republicans are two peas in a pod. But there is kinship.
The partnership between President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher remains a tie that binds. While they may disagree on issues like climate change or government involvement in health care, GOP members of Congress and Tory MPs often know each other, meeting in London and Washington and becoming friends and confidants with a depth and frequency that simply doesn’t happen with other European countries. It is, to use the overworked term, a special relationship.
I really don’t think that Conservatives and Republicans broadly disagree on healthcare or climate change - at least in terms of what we physically DO about each of them, as opposed to pointless rhetoric.
What Tory MPs have publicly said about Johnson mirrors what so many Republican members of Congress have privately said about Trump. And as the House select committee on January 6 continues its investigation, it’s clear we will hear more evidence and testimony that will lead to more private GOP grumbling.
Which is why Republicans – whether they are brave, retiring or simply politically self-serving – can seize the moment, knowing the news about Trump could get worse as the investigations by the House committee and the Department of Justice continue.
Just as every resignation increased the pressure on Johnson to step down, every statement denouncing Trump and every call for a different presidential candidate weakens Trump’s standing in the party.
Republicans, of course, have distanced themselves from Trump twice before. In the aftermath of the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape in 2016, Speaker Paul Ryan told House Republicans he would no longer defend Trump and encouraged them to look out for their own interests. And following the attack on January 6, many Republicans who had been in the besieged Capitol laid the blame squarely on Trump.
The backlash, of course, didn’t last. But the political realities are somewhat different now – Trump is no longer in office. His ability to make news has been diminished. His endorsement record is blemished and, importantly, the overwhelming majority of Republicans are past their primaries or running in safe Congressional districts.
In his 2014 book, “The Churchill Factor,” Johnson writes that the wartime prime minister’s “prestige, his reputation, his prospects, his ego – all those things that matter to politicians – were engaged in the cause of fighting on; and this has led some historians to make the mistake that it was all about him, and not about the British interest.”
While many will see irony in those words, given Johnson’s brief attempt to cling to power for his own sake, the quote highlights the tension we often see in politicians between self interest and public interest. Trump, who made the GOP and the White House all about him and his political and financial interests, threatens to do so again in a way that could damage the GOP and revive flagging Democratic voter enthusiasm.
“At some point we have to conclude that enough is enough,” the former British Health Secretary Sajid Javid told the House of Commons hours after his resignation.
Republicans seem to have reached that conclusion before, only to reverse course. This time, however, they have an example directly in front of them, not only of how it can be done, but, crucially, that it can be done with finality. If, as Johnson said himself, “In politics, no one is remotely indispensable,” surely then that is as true of former presidents as it is sitting prime ministers.
Republicans, let’s learn from our British political brethren.
- China’s internet expresses glee at Abe’s assassination Politico
Japan and much of the international community reacted to the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with shock and dismay. But not in China, where social media response was sprinkled with glee and anti-Abe vitriol.
Multiple commentators on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform, greeted news of Abe’s shooting — allegedly by a 41-year old Japanese man whose motives remain unclear — at a campaign event Friday by calling for “wine and dine” to toast his death. Some said his killer is a “hero,” as Abe pioneered a foreign policy geared to countering the expansion of China’s growing economic, diplomatic and military footprint in the Indo-Pacific that infuriated Beijing.
The response in China reflects how decades of government propaganda designed to stoke Chinese nationalism by vilifying the Japanese for wartime atrocities has poisoned public attitudes toward Japan. The propaganda also complicates Beijing’s efforts to improve relations with Tokyo to offset the Biden administration’s China-countering Indo-Pacific Strategy.
“An American audience [should] remember that the Japanese were the Nazis of Asia [in World War II] — they killed millions of Chinese and the modern Chinese founding myth is a fight against Japan,” said Matthew Schmidt, director of international affairs at the University of New Haven. “Abe was a controversial figure [in China] because his basic position was, ‘I want a Japan that’s no longer tied to the history of World War II.’”
“This person [Abe’s assassin] will be written in Japanese history,” a top comment said as “Shinzo Abe’s death” became one of the top trending items Friday on Weibo. “Good and evil will always be rewarded,” said another. Users also pointed to Thursday’s anniversary of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, which marked the start of Japan’s full-scale invasion of China in 1937.
“We are not qualified to forgive the wicked for the millions of compatriots who died in the war against China and the Nanjing Massacre! ! ! Don’t forget national humiliation! ! !” said a post.
The Chinese embassy in Tokyo said in a statement that the government was “shocked” by Abe’s assassination and credited him with “the improvement and development of China-Japan relations.” But Chinese government censors haven’t removed the anti-Abe comments from the internet, suggesting a degree of official tolerance. Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Zhao Lijian refused to comment on Friday about netizens’ reactions. “This unexpected incident should not be linked to China-Japan relations,” he said.
The anti-Abe online commentary reflects how the Chinese educational system — geared to a national “patriotic education” curriculum threaded with a virulent anti-Japanese historical narrative — has conditioned a generation of young Chinese to revile Japan.
Can you imagine Politico writing this article about any other two countries? I know it’s cliche or bad or whatever to be like “if you replace this word with this word then look at how it seems!”, but just for a second, imagine that, say, Angela Merkel was an apologist for German Nazi atrocities and thought that the genocide of the Jews didn’t happen, and that she was just assassinated, and Jewish people around the world and especially in Israel were celebrating. If Politico wrote an article about that in the exact same style as this, the author would be fired in an hour and would never find work in their field again.
- A Russian plastic surgeon has developed breast implants emblazoned with the colors of the country’s flag after sanctions hit imports Business Insider
As Russia faces a breast-implant supply crunch on the back of Western sanctions, one Russian plastic surgeon has developed a prototype for implants emblazoned with the colors of the country’s national flag. If that’s too much for you, they’re also available in a camo print.
Most breast implants in Russia are imported, with 60% coming from the US and another 13% from Germany, the AFP reported, citing industry estimates. Breast implants in the country are now about 20% more expensive than they were before Russia invaded Ukraine and was slapped with sweeping sanctions, the news agency reported, citing plastic surgeon Evgeny Dobreikin.
The shortage inspired Dobreikin to design the patriotic implants, which he calls “RosGrud,” or “Russian Breasts.” He’s currently looking for an overseas supplier for the implants, according to the AFP.
The implants are for those who want to wear the patriotic symbols “close to their hearts,” Dobreikin said in a May Telegram post. They also offer “a stylish solution for those who love their Motherland and want to have something more than just a sticker on a car or a tattoo on their shoulder,” he said in a video posted on the platform in which he showed off “experimental models” of the implants.