Link back to the discussion thread.


Europe

  • European Central Bank raises interest rates for first time in 11 years Guardian

The European Central Bank (ECB) has raised interest rates for the first time since 2011 to tackle eurozone inflation that increased to 8.6% last month.

In a surprise move the ECB pushed its base rate up by 0.5 percentage points, after economists pencilled in a smaller 0.25 point hike.

  • EU Urges Countries To Cut Gas Consumption By 15% Oil Price

The European Commission unveiled on Wednesday measures for the EU to conserve gas in the face of risks of further reduction or a shutoff of Russian gas deliveries, asking member states to reduce gas consumption by 15% until the spring.

The Commission proposed today a new legislative tool and a European Gas Demand Reduction Plan, setting a target for all member states to reduce gas consumption by 15% between August 1, 2022 and March 31, 2023.

Ukraine

  • Erdogan wants Ukraine grain sea exports deal in writing this week Reuters

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday said he wants a general agreement reached between Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations on a U.N.-led plan to resume Ukrainian Black Sea grain exports to be put in writing this week.

Ankara on Monday said that a meeting between the four parties would “probably” be held this week. The Ukraine war has sent prices soaring for grains, cooking oils, fuel and fertilizer, stoking a global food crisis.

  • Germany’s railway operator plans Ukraine “grain bridge” Reuters

Germany’s State-owned rail company Deutsche Bahn said it was planning to transport grain by freight train from Ukraine to Germany’s ports.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine - two major global wheat suppliers - has sent prices for grains and other food products soaring. It has stalled Kyiv’s exports, leaving dozens of ships stranded and some 20 million tonnes of grain stuck in silos at Odesa.

Deutsche Bahn said it will transform its network that was set up to transport humanitarian aid to bring grain from Ukraine to the German ports of Rostock, Hamburg and Brake near Bremerhaven.

The railway operator plans to run several trains per week and a large part of the grain would be transported via Romania and Poland, the company said, adding that the company couldn’t yet quantify how much grain it could transport.

  • Ukraine’s central bank has devalued the nation’s currency by 25% against the dollar in a bid to shore up its war-torn economy Business Insider

Ukraine’s central bank said on Thursday it had slashed the value of its hryvnia currency by a quarter in response to the strength of the US dollar and the impact of Russia’s invasion on Ukraine’s economy.

  • Ukraine pushes for debt freeze to dodge hard default Reuters

Ukraine has asked its creditors for a two year payment freeze on its international bonds in a bid to focus its dwindling financial resources on repelling Russia.

Creditors have until Aug. 9 to vote on the proposal. Ukraine has called its plan a liability management exercise, indicating Kyiv’s efforts to spare bondholders a writedown on the bonds.

Official creditors have already said they would suspend payments owed to them and urged bondholders to accept the country’s request for the freeze.

Russia

  • Russian gas flows to Germany again, Moscow eyes giant Ukrainian power plant Reuters

Russian gas began flowing to Europe via a major pipeline on Thursday after a 10-day pause but fears of broader supply cuts remained and Russian forces in Ukraine were seen eyeing the capture of the country’s second biggest power plant.

  • Also: Russia resumes gas supply to Europe via Nord Stream 1 at lower capacity Guardian

Gas has started to flow at reduced levels from Russia to Germany through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline after fears a scheduled shutdown for maintenance work would be used as a pretext to permanently close off the supply.

However, the resumption at an estimated 40% of supplies is insufficient to keep an energy crisis at bay in Europe this winter, experts said.

  • Putin predicts ‘revolutionary’ changes RT

A new epoch of world history is approaching and only “truly sovereign” states will be able to succeed in the changed environment, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a business forum, Putin claimed that “truly revolutionary,” “enormous” changes would lead to the creation of a new, “harmonious, fairer and more community-focused and safe” world order. In this new epoch, “only truly sovereign states can ensure high growth dynamics,” he said.

This is it. Putler is secretly announcing that he’s going to restart the Soviet Union and kill us all with the new Red Army. We must expand NATO to include every country on Earth except Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and Cuba.

By the term ‘sovereignty’ the Russian president means “freedom of national development, and thus of each person individually,” as well as “technological, cultural, intellectual, educational viability of the state” and a “responsible, active and nationally minded, nationally oriented civil society.”

Such a state, the president said, will serve as an example for others when it comes to “the standards and quality of people’s life, the protection of traditional values and high humanistic ideals.”

I cringe every time he mentions “traditional values”. It would be so cool if Russia just wasn’t so conservative.

This kind of world is in sharp contrast to the Western-dominated unipolar world order, which, in Putin’s opinion, is “becoming a brake on the development of our civilization.”

He accused the West of being “racist and neo-colonial,” saying that its ideology “is becoming increasingly more like totalitarianism.”

100% correct. Though, again, it really induces whiplash to hear these kind of left-oriented terms from somebody with his social views.

Italy

  • Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi Resigns As Coalition Government Crumbles Forbes

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi resigned on Thursday after his coalition government unraveled, raising the prospect of snap elections and months of political turmoil as the country battles soaring inflation and energy costs, Russian aggression and moving forward from the Covid-19 pandemic.

United Kingdom

  • Britain counts cost of historic heatwave as 13 die Inquirer

  • Support for more sanctions falls as cost of living grows – poll RT

Support for imposing further sanctions against Russia is decreasing in the UK amid growing living costs, a YouGov poll published on Tuesday revealed.

The survey, conducted on June 28-29 among 1,664 respondents, shows that 44% of Brits oppose a further increase in sanctions if it entails a rise in the overall cost of living, while 40% would still support intensifying pressure on Moscow. For comparison, in mid-March, three weeks after the launch of Moscow’s military offensive in Ukraine, a clear majority of Brits – 54% – supported more sanctions, even if it meant an increase in their cost of living, with only 32% opposing it.

Asia and Oceania

  • US Adds Vietnam, Cambodia, Brunei to Human Trafficking Blacklist The Diplomat

Human trafficking worsened considerably in Southeast Asia in 2021, with the United States government adding Vietnam, Cambodia, and Brunei to its trafficking in persons blacklist and downgrading Indonesia.

In this year’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, released on Tuesday, the U.S. State Department scrutinized 188 nations’ efforts to halt human trafficking and punish those responsible.

The report sorts nations into three tiers, with its lowest grade – Tier 3 – reserved for “countries whose governments do not fully meet the minimum [anti-trafficking] standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.”

In this year’s report, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Brunei were both dropped down to Tier 3, while Indonesia was lowered from Tier 2 to the Tier 2 watchlist. Tier 3 status opens nations to a range of potential sanctions and penalties, though Washington often waives sanctions for close partners and other nations that promise to take swift remedial action.

These three nations joined their Southeast Asian neighbors Malaysia and Myanmar on the Tier 3 blacklist, bringing the number of Southeast Asian nations in this category to five out of 11 – a remarkable indictment of the region’s efforts to stem labor and sex trafficking. Malaysia was downgraded last year, while Myanmar has been at Tier 3 since 2018. Only two of the region’s countries – Singapore and the Philippines – were designated Tier 1.

China

  • China snaps up over US$2 billion of Russian LNG as energy trade bucks economic downturn SCMP

Despite a suppressed appetite for energy amid its economic downturn, China has been absorbing more Russian natural gas so far this year, while imports from most other sources declined.

In the first six months of the year, China bought a total of 2.35 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) – valued at US$2.16 billion, detailed Chinese customs data released on Wednesday showed.

The import volume increased by 28.7 per cent year on year, with the value surging by 182 per cent, according to the Post’s calculations based on the customs figures.

It meant Russia surpassed Indonesia and the United States to become China’s fourth-largest supplier of LNG so far this year.

  • China fines Didi $1.2bn over ‘egregious’ data security violations Al Jazeera

  • China gaming crackdown: revenue, user base shrink for first time under harsh regulations, slowing economy SCMP

Total revenue generated by Chinese video gaming companies and the number of gamers in the country both fell in the first half of 2022 from a year ago, marking their first decline since data became available in 2008, according to a report published by the country’s semi-official gaming association.

The combined revenue in China’s video gaming market decreased 1.8 per cent, while the number of gamers fell slightly to 665.69 million at the end of June from 666.57 million in December, the Game Publishing Committee of the China Audio-Video and Digital Publishing Association said in a report released at an industry conference on Thursday in Shaoxing, a city in eastern Zhejiang province.

That decline suggests that the era of unfettered growth in the world’s largest video gaming market has come to an end.

Domestic revenue from Chinese gaming companies shrank 4.25 per cent during the period from a year ago, down from the 8.3 per cent growth in the first half of 2021, and the 30.4 per cent growth in the first half of 2020.

  • China solar installations more than double in first half Reuters

China built nearly 31 gigawatts (GW) of new solar power capacity from January to June, up 137% from a year earlier, with full-year installations on course to hit a record high, an industry group said on Thursday.

Total solar power capacity now stands at 340 GW, up 25.8% compared to last year, Wang Bohua, the honorary chairman of the China Photovoltaic Industry Association, said in a presentation.

Total installations over the year are expected to stand at between 75 GW and 90 GW over 2022, Wang said, breaking last year’s record of 54.9 GW.

  • China Accelerates Approvals Of Coal-Fired Power Plants Oil Price

China has accelerated the approval of coal-fired power plants this year, and in the first quarter alone, it approved new coal capacity equal to nearly half of all the coal-fired capacity approved for the whole of 2021, Greenpeace said on Wednesday.

China gave the green light to as much as 8.63 gigawatts (GW) of new coal-fired power plants in the first quarter of 2022 alone, which was equal to 46.55% of all the coal capacity approved throughout 2021, the environmental group said in a research report.

A Chinese court has quashed a cryptocurrency mining contract on the grounds that the emissions it generates accelerate climate change.

The judgment last week shows judges in China are starting to make a link between national carbon targets and energy-intensive activities.

The case relates to a dispute between one company that contracted another to buy and operate cryptocurrency mining machines but did not get all the bitcoin it believed it had paid for. The first company sued. Its claim was rejected by a court which judged the mining agreement itself invalid because it harmed the public interest.

Sri Lanka

  • New Sri Lanka president sworn in eyeing unity government Iraqi News

Sri Lanka’s six-time prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in Thursday as president of the crisis-hit South Asian nation, as officials said he was looking to form a unity government to manage the turmoil.

The 73-year-old veteran politician, who was overwhelmingly elected as head of state in a parliamentary vote Wednesday, took his oath of office before Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, his office said.

Live coverage of the swearing-in at the tightly-guarded parliament complex was cut off just as Wickremesinghe and his wife Maithree walked into the building after reviewing a military parade.

Man, every leader is old as fuck nowadays. Not that that’s automatically good or bad - Finland has the youngest PM ever and… well…

Africa

  • China seen as better than EU in completing African projects, survey finds SCMP

China holds a substantial lead over the EU concerning perceptions about decision-making and timely completion of projects in Africa, according to a survey about the activities of Europe and China on the continent.

China beats European countries in building projects such as roads, power dams, railways and bridges while Europe dominates the abstract like soft power exchanges, high standards and climate change consciousness, according to a study released Tuesday by the Inter Region Economic Network (IREN), a Kenya-based think tank.

The survey’s findings are based on responses in the last quarter of 2021 from more than 1,000 policymakers from 25 African countries who monitor the tight competition between the European Union and China in Africa.

China scores much higher than the EU on what the survey respondents consider Africa’s priority needs – physical infrastructure, speedy results and non-interference in internal political affairs.

“China is thus headed towards closing the gap on the EU on most of the aspects of its engagement with Africa, including where the EU traditionally presumed to have commanded an unassailable lead,” said the study, which was commissioned by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation Global Partnership Hub, a German NGO.

Survey participants rate China highly for quick decision-making, with an approval of 75.2 per cent; approval for the European Union was at 55.8 per cent.

There has been a deteriorating situation within various African states related to the impact of drought and the consequent lack of food for hundreds of millions of people.

These events on the continent cannot be analyzed separately from the broader international economic and security crises which has impacted the ability of the existing global markets to provide adequate food to the peoples of the world.

The acute shortages of food in various regions across Africa have not yet reached the officially designated category of a famine. However, if food assistance is not provided soon, estimates from the World Food Program (WFP) and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) suggest that tens of millions of people will be on the verge of starvation.

WFP officials indicate that their efforts to address the current crisis, particularly in East Africa, would require an additional $192 million to provide the necessary food to prevent hunger. In comparison to what is being provided to the war in Ukraine along with the massive tax breaks and subsidies to multinational corporations, $192 million pales in comparison.

Egypt

  • Russia begins building Egypt’s first nuclear power plant RT

Russian state-owned Rosatom has begun construction on the El Dabaa nuclear power plant, the company said in a press release published on Wednesday.

“The start of construction on the El Dabaa power plant’s first reactor means Egypt is now joining the club of the world’s nuclear energy producing nations,” Rosatom CEO Alexey Likhachyov said at a ceremony launching the construction.

Located on Egypt’s northern coast some 130 kilometers northwest of Cairo, El Dabaa will be Egypt’s first nuclear power plant as well as Rosatom’s first major project in Africa. The plant, which is set to be completed by 2028, will have four VVER-1200 reactors with a total nameplate capacity of 4,800 megawatts.

The construction is financed jointly by Moscow and Cairo, with the Russian government providing 85% of the $30 billion cost in the form of a state loan. The rest will be funded by Egypt with financial backing from private investors.

North America

United States

  • Turbocharged Americans Have Yet to Give US Supply Chains a Break Bloomberg

Two years into the crisis that disrupted global trade lanes and exposed cracks in the US logistics network, not even inflation running at the fastest pace in four decades has been enough to stop the turbocharged American consumer — and give supply chains a break.

The US’s largest ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach registered their busiest June on record, and are projected to handle even more cargo this month as retailers stock shelves ahead of the holiday season.

  • Even if the US is in a recession, it’s likely to be mild and there’s no need to panic over ‘fixable’ inflation, BlackRock’s Larry Fink says Business Insider

Has there ever really been a “mild” recession? Every recession I can think of has been fucking awful for people. Maybe there were some recessions in the past that were only recessions by a technicality and didn’t really have a widespread effect? This one doesn’t seem like it would be that.

The US may well already be in a recession — but even if that is the case, it should be quite mild, and long-term investors have no need to panic over “fixable” inflation, according to BlackRock’s Larry Fink.

Fink, the CEO of the world’s biggest asset manager, said it’s “definitely business as usual” for long-term investors, even after inflation topped 9% to hit 41-year highs and several economic indicators suggested activity is slowing.

  • Biden approval rating falls to 36%, matching record low: Reuters/Ipsos poll Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden’s public approval rating fell to 36% this week to tie the lowest rating of his 19 months in the White House as inflation takes its toll on American life, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll completed on Tuesday.

The two-day national poll found that 59% of Americans disapprove of Biden’s job performance.

  • Biden plans talks with China’s Xi soon, casts doubt on Pelosi Taiwan trip Jakarta Post

US President Joe Biden plans to speak with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, by the end of the month at a moment of simmering tensions between the countries over Taiwan and trade.

“I think I’ll be talking to President Xi within the next 10 days,” Biden told reporters as he returned from a climate-related trip to Massachusetts.

  • Biden stops short of declaring climate emergency, takes steps on wind power Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that climate change is an emergency but stopped short of a formal declaration, announcing a modest package of executive actions and promising more aggressive efforts.

Biden made the comments during a visit to Massachusetts and as a historic heat wave batters Europe and the United States. Some 100 million Americans from New York City to Las Vegas will be under heat warnings this week.

“Climate change is literally an existential threat to our nation and to the world,” Biden said. “This is an emergency, an emergency, and I will look at it that way.”

“Not an emergency emergency emergency, that might require real action and hundreds of billions if not trillions in funding - just an emergency emergency.

  • Keystone Force Majeure Cuts Oil Flows To U.S. Oil Price

TC Energy, the operator of the Keystone Pipeline, declared force majeure on Monday following a power outage in South Dakota, which reduced the flows on the link carrying crude from Canada to the U.S.

TC Energy said in a statement late on Monday that it was made aware of a non-operational incident resulting from third-party damage to the power supply to a facility on the Keystone Pipeline System near Huron, South Dakota. The system continues to operate safely, but it is operating at a reduced rate due to damage to the third-party power utility.

  • Biden: U.S. military does not support Nancy Pelosi visiting Taiwan WaPo

President Biden said the U.S. military does not support House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visiting Taiwan this summer.

Stepping off Air Force One late Wednesday, Biden was asked about the possibility of a Pelosi trip, which has not been confirmed by the State Department or her office.

Biden said that “the military thinks it’s not a good idea right now,” but he noted that he was not sure “what the status of it is.”

Today, the ACLU published thousands of pages of previously unreleased records about how Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and other parts of the Department of Homeland Security are sidestepping our Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable government searches and seizures by buying access to, and using, huge volumes of people’s cell phone location information quietly extracted from smartphone apps.

Haiti

  • Across Haiti, fuel shortages and power outages bring life to a halt Inquirer

With gang violence racking Haiti’s capital, other cities across the island nation face another major issue: a shortage of both fuel and electricity threatens daily life for millions.

In addition to their deadly battles in Port-au-Prince, where at least 234 people have been killed or injured in the Cite Soleil neighborhood since early July, Haitian gangs have also hampered activity at the country’s three main oil terminals.

Armed groups regularly block access to the facilities, halting the flow of fuel into the country.

In Jeremie, a coastal town on the southwestern tip of the island, gas stations have been running low on fuel for months.

Residents are forced to turn to the black market, where gasoline and diesel are readily available — but at prices six times higher than the rate set by the government.

“You can find fuel everywhere, except in the gas stations,” says Yvon Janvier, a law professor.

South America

  • 2022 ‘mining risk index’ takes aim at left wing governments in Latin America Canadian Dimension

Florida-based market research firm Americas Market Intelligence (AMI) released a report on “mining risk” in Latin America. The report identifies seven categories of risk to foreign investment in the countries of the region—political interference, economic pressure, community opposition, legal and regulatory instability, reputational risk, safety and security, and operational risk—and assigns each country a numerical value based on these risks. The higher the number, the more favourable the country is to foreign mining investment.

According to its methodology, Gabriel Boric’s Chile is the Latin American country that is most open to foreign mining investment, with a score of 68 out of 70. But while lauding the investment climate in Chile, the authors also evince trepidation about Boric’s left-of-centre political inclinations. In fact, the section on Chile celebrates the fascist military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, quoting an unidentified political scientist who says that “many Chileans still fondly remember the days of Pinochet,” and that “political overreach” by the Boric government “could take Chile on the path to political radicalism.” The report also notes that the mining-friendly Pinochet-era constitution, the basis of “the world’s most neo-liberal democratic economic mode,” is in the process of being rewritten following public support for its elimination, and that this could create a “potentially disruptive new constitution in 2022.”

Uruguay

  • Uruguay seeking China trade deal despite misgivings from neighbors Inquirer

Uruguay will push for a free trade agreement with China, the South American country’s top diplomat said on Wednesday, even as it faces resistance from some of its neighbors who favor regional trade talks over deals involving just one nation.

Panama

After more than two weeks of mobilizations and strikes and several attempts by the national government to fragment the movement, the people of Panama continue their struggle to demand immediate solutions to the cost of living crisis. On July 19, the People United for Life Alliance announced that it would partake in dialogues mediated by the Catholic Church.

The organizations part of the Alliance which drafted the list of 32 demands for the national government and organized the series of national mobilizations that began on July 1, have in the meanwhile continued their nationwide protests. On July 18 and 19, thousands mobilized in cities and towns across Panama, maintaining road blockades and organizing pickets outside public institutions.

The announcement of a unitary dialogue mediated by the Catholic Church comes after a series of attempts by the government of President Laurentino Cortizo to create dialogue processes with select groups, which movements read as attempts to fragment the Alliance and people’s unity. It also comes after several incidents of police repression against protesters. The repression was vehemently condemned by the Alliance which affirmed that negotiations cannot take place amid repression of the people. The groups have vowed to remain in the streets until a satisfactory response to their demands is received.

Nicaragua

Masaya, Nicaragua – July 19th is a day of celebration in Nicaragua: the anniversary of the overthrow of the Somoza dictatorship. But the international media will have it penciled in their diaries for another reason: it’s yet another opportunity to pour scorn on Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. We’ll hear again about how the government “clamps down on dissent,” about its “political prisoners,” its recent “pantomime election,” its “damaging crackdown on civil society” and much more. All of these accusations have been answered but the media will continue to shut out any evidence that conflicts with the consensus narrative about Nicaragua, that its president, Daniel Ortega, has “crushed the Nicaraguan dream.”

Global

  • Revealed: oil sector’s ‘staggering’ $3bn-a-day profits for last 50 years Guardian

The oil and gas industry has delivered $2.8bn (£2.3bn) a day in pure profit for the last 50 years, a new analysis has revealed.

The vast total captured by petrostates and fossil fuel companies since 1970 is $52tn, providing the power to “buy every politician, every system” and delay action on the climate crisis, says Prof Aviel Verbruggen, the author of the analysis. The huge profits were inflated by cartels of countries artificially restricting supply.

The analysis, based on World Bank data, assesses the “rent” secured by global oil and gas sales, which is the economic term for the unearned profit produced after the total cost of production has been deducted.


Military

The Ukraine War

  • EU agrees another €500 million for Ukrainian arms EU Reporter

  • U.S. Air Force General Says West May Send Jets To Ukraine After All Forbes

Western countries could provide the Ukrainian air force with jets and pilot training, the U.S. Air Force’s chief of staff said Wednesday, an idea that would significantly ramp up Western assistance to Ukraine as it fights off invading Russian troops—but military officials say no firm decisions have been made yet.

Please god, do this. I really wanna see US jets face Russian anti-air defenses, which are the best in the world.

  • US to send more HIMARS to Ukraine RT

Ukraine will receive four more high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS) from Washington as part of the next security assistance package, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced on Wednesday.

Send them a hundred! You’ve proved that you’ve finally found a weapon that’s at least somewhat effective, even if it won’t change the outcome of the war, so why not just send them a shitload?

  • Europe’s largest Nuclear Power Plant attacked by Ukraine RT

Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant has been attacked by three ‘kamikadze drones’ belonging to the Ukrainian armed forces, Russian media has reported, citing local officials.

According to statements, Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant, located in southeastern Ukraine but under the control of Moscow’s forces, has not been damaged and its reactor was not impacted by the attack.

This is not the first time the NPP has been targeted by the Ukrainian military. On July 12, Ukrainian UAVs dropped several 120mm shells on a building located next to the power plant, causing damage to its roof and window, the press-service of the Energodar city administration told RIA Novosti. According to the spokesperson of the administration, 11 employees were injured during that attack, with four of them remaining in serious condition.

Remember in the early days of the war, when people were apoplectic that Russia was attacking near Chernobyl and such?

  • Russia Steps Up Kamikaze Drone Strikes Forbes

U.S.-supplied HIMARS guided rocket launchers are inflicting severe punishment on Russian forces in Ukraine, most recently punching holes in Antonivsky bridge in Kherson. The agile, truck mounted systems can shoot and scoot before they can be targeted, but now Russia wants to seek and destroy them with kamikaze drones.

In the first few months of the war Russian loitering munitions only carried out a handful of strikes, now they are appearing on a daily basis. Loitering munitions, otherwise known as kamikaze drones offer something that Russia desperately needs: the ability to find and hit mobile targets like HIMAR AR 0.0%S from long range. Unlike a missile, the operator can fly a loitering munition around looking for targets and does not need to know their location in advance.

The type most commonly seen so far is the KUB (“Cube”), a delta-winged drone with a four-foot wingspan launched by catapult and powered by an electric motor. The KUB, made by Kalashnikov subsidiary Zala, can carry out either reconnaissance or attack missions, with alternative payloads of cameras or a three-kilo warhead. This creates ambiguity: and with crashed KUBs is not clear whether the remains are of a scout or a dud loitering munition.

However, Russian forces have started to release videos of KUB strikes, shot from other drones; the KUB is visible as a small white triangle coming in at its 80 mph maximum speed before detonating. Other videos can be seen here and here. As with U.S. Switchblade drones the small warhead means strikes are usually unimpressive unless they trigger secondary explosions of fuel or ammunition in the target, leading some to believe they are ineffective. In fact it is difficult to judge, but at this point the KUB does not seem to strike fear into Ukrainians – unlike Russia’s Orlan-10 artillery spotter drone, with an engine which sounds like a motor scooter which signals the imminent danger of accurate artillery or rocket fire.

  • A Village Retaken, and a Confidence Boost for Ukraine’s Troops NYT

I’m assuming that everybody reading this cares about the same amount about this as I do, which is zero. NYT puts out an article like this about every other day - usually about Ukrainian resistance or something - and I don’t bother to put them here because they’re tiny instances that will be forgotten and smoothed over when the war’s progress is looked back on in a year - but I do wanna just quote something quick:

Amid the smoke and rubble, Pavlivka might seem like a dubious prize. But for the Ukrainian troops defending it last week, after recapturing it from Russian forces three weeks ago, it counted as a rare success when much of Ukraine, and the rest of the world, was transfixed by the fall of the last two cities in eastern Luhansk Province to overwhelming Russian firepower.

Despite the destruction, Pavlivka had provided a needed boost, Kryha said. “We rolled back, rolled back, rolled back,” he said. “Then we stood up and stopped. We gained strength and resources. People have gained more experience. Now they realized that they really can fight.”

It’s interesting to see this description of Ukrainians taking a bombed-out village as a “success” or a “prize”, compared to Russia taking two strategically critical cities as (to paraphrase) “hollow victories”, as the two cities had been “reduced to rubble” and so weren’t really worth holding anymore. Zelensky does this all the time - he said the same when Russia took Mariupol, that there was “nothing left”, in order to minimize the perceived loss. This is just a mini case study in how the media uses biased language to variously inflate and deflate victories, depending on which side is doing them. Have no doubt that if Ukraine somehow ever does retake a major city from Russia, then the same city which was previously described as “insignificant” or “completely destroyed” will instead be seen as the most crucial, important city in all of Ukraine.


Climate and Space

  • Climate emergency is a legacy of colonialism, says Greenpeace UK Guardian

The climate and ecological crises are a legacy of systemic racism and people of colour suffer disproportionately from their harms, a Greenpeace UK report says. Globally, the report says, it is people of colour who, despite having contributed the least to the climate emergency, are now “disproportionately losing their lives and livelihoods” by the millions because of it.

“The environmental emergency is the legacy of colonialism,” the report says. This was because colonialism had “established a model through which the air and lands of the global south have been … used as places to dump waste the global north does not want”, the report says.

It adds that similar inequalities are visible in the UK, where almost half of all of waste-burning incinerators are in areas with high populations of people of colour. In London, black people are more likely to breathe illegal levels of air pollution, and black people in England are nearly four times as likely as white people to have no access to outdoor space at home, it says.

YouGov polling alongside the report shows widespread ignorance of the racial divide in environmental impacts. of those polled, 35% believed that people of colour were no more likely than others to live close to a waste incinerator; 55% believed there was no difference in exposure to air pollution between white people and people of colour in London; and 47% believed there were no significant differences between ethnicity groups in access to green outdoor spaces.


Dipshittery and Cope

Russia/Ukraine

  • When Russia is the only way out of a war zone, Ukrainian refugees must hide their hatred CNN

I laughed when I saw this headline.

On a sweltering summer day in July, hundreds of Ukrainians try to rest on metal beds lined up in a basketball court-turned-shelter. Their tales of horror and hardship along with a few belongings are all they have left.

But with this safe haven being inside Russia, they are hesitant to share those stories.

Alexey Nechipurenko, 45, was maimed as Russian forces entered the southern port city of Mariupol. His foot was shot to pieces and his wife was killed before his eyes, he tells CNN.

But, as a Russian doctor tends his wounds, he insists Ukraine, not Russia, is to blame for his suffering.

“The Russians were just beginning to enter the city. Therefore, they just couldn’t actually have been on the side where we were,” he told CNN.

“No, seriously, I’m telling you - the Russians weren’t anywhere near us. There were Ukrainians, they were wearing the flag on them, and some had tattoos, I think the Black Sun, maybe some viking runes, something like that, and they killed my wife, and shot my foot, but I managed to escape to the Russian side. It was horrific.” says a delusional Ukrainian man who has no idea what he’s talking about. A shame that some has succumbed to Putin’s propaganda.

CNN was given exclusive access to the center set up to process some of the more than 2 million refugees estimated to have poured onto Russian soil since the invasion began on February 24.

Human rights groups say Ukrainians are being “filtered” before being taken to the temporary shelters in Russia and any suspected of posing a threat are not allowed through.

…yes? This seems like an entirely reasonable thing to do when you’re fighting against a country on your border and you want to prevent potentially undercover enemies from entering your country to cause trouble there. Presenting this as sinister is absurd. What country wouldn’t do this? “Yeah, just come on through, we aren’t checking people’s backgrounds before they enter, that would be 1984!"

And those who passed Russia’s first test and made it to Taganrog are reluctant to say too much.

“Now I’m here [in Russia] so please don’t press me, said a 30-year-old man from Mariupol who asked not to be identified and only wanted to be recorded talking to CNN with his back to the camera.

“I didn’t see who killed my relatives,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, they’re just a casualty of this conflict,” he added.

Dmitry Vaschenko, an official with Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations in Taganrog, said housing would be given to Ukrainians, who were also free to seek work and send their children to school.

“When hostilities end in the future, all these arrivals can make the decision to return to their homeland. Whoever wishes to remain in Russia, the Russian government takes such an obligation – they will receive a full range of social services and are protected,” he said.

When asked about the process to allow refugees into Russia, he said there were “filtration points” on the border.

“They are checking people who appear aggressively disposed towards the Russian Federation,” he said. “Filtering occurs precisely upon arrival, there are no ‘mass camps.’ They are border-crossing points, nothing more.”

Across the gymnasium sits another refugee from Mariupol – Irina, who fled with her nine-year-old son Rostislav and their cat Bolik. She said their city is in ruins but chooses not to apportion blame.

“I don’t want to get messed up in all of that. This side’s not right, and that side’s not right. Both sides are guilty. Both sides have shelled us. Both have killed us,” she said.

Entirely and completely reasonable reaction. CNN expecting mass outrage by Ukrainians, particularly in the East, at Russia for this proves that they believe their own bullshit that there isn’t REALLY any internal divisions in Ukraine, and Russia is just inventing them for their own benefit.

Daniil, 22, who feared being conscripted to fight against Ukraine, said he pretended he wanted to make Russia his permanent home. He said he was stripped and had his tattoos inspected.

“They checked if I was involved in any way with the Ukrainian army and if I know anyone who is serving there,” said Daniil, who also used to live in Mariupol.

“They asked if I know when Vladimir Putin’s birthday is, as ‘He is your president now,’ they said.

“I told them I did not know and they confronted me about my lack of knowledge,” Daniil continued. “They said ‘You must know it.’ I had to tell them that I did not have the opportunity to find that out yet but reassured them that I will learn it. So, they let me through.”

I don’t remember a single world leader’s birthday… guess I should hope that I’m never a war refugee…

China

  • In China, they lost their shirts, then their right to protest WaPo

Try as they might, the world’s despots can never hide their fear of their own people. For all the bluster and displays of power, they panic at the sight of protests. Just look at what happened to demonstrations in recent years in Belarus, Cuba, Myanmar, Russia and China, to name a few places where street protest ended in tears — and prison. Now comes a fresh example of vocal complaints being silenced, in China.

Don’t make me tap the Parenti quote.

Hundreds of bank depositors in Henan province have been increasingly restive about their accounts being frozen, demanding that provincial authorities help recover savings from at least four small “village” banks. Many small banks in recent years attempted to compete with larger institutions by offering higher interest rates and signing up depositors online from far and wide. The four Henan banks stopped withdrawals April 18. The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission has said a major shareholder of the village banks, Henan New Fortune, was under investigation for financial crimes in the way it raised funds.

Unable to retrieve their money, depositors started to protest online and in person. On May 23, protests broke out before security services stopped them. The leaders of China’s party-state system, obsessed with maintaining social “stability,” reacted with alarm. In June, many jilted depositors from around the country planned to converge on the capital of Henan province, Zhengzhou, in hopes of getting their money back. But before they could travel, they were blocked by software that the government uses to control the spread of covid. The green code on their phones turned red. They could not travel.

Then, on July 10, more protesters from around China came to Zhengzhou, this time with green health codes, and assembled in front of the branch office of the nation’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China. They unfurled banners alleging corruption, including one in English that declared “No deposits. No human rights.” Another banner read, “The Chinese dreams of 400,000 depositors in Henan have been shattered.” According to a report in The Post by Christian Shepherd and Pei-Lin Wu, the demonstrations were met by dozens of uniformed police officers as well as heavyset men mostly wearing white tops. The blue-shirted officers stood by as the burly men in white shirts attacked the crowd. Protesters were dragged down a flight of steps before being carried away. Some were loaded onto buses, bruised from the clashes. A parallel wave of protests has swelled in recent weeks among people who took out mortgages to pay for apartments that developers never finished. They are threatening a boycott. According to Reuters, Chinese censors have been blocking protest messages online and deleting videos of demonstrations.

Just another day in the life of what China’s government boasts is a “democracy that works.” What does not work is freedom to speak, to assemble, to protest or to change the leadership. Even something as straightforward as a legitimate protest over lost deposits ends with beatings, bruises and arrests.

A LEGITIMATE NATIONAL PROTEST OVER A BLACK PERSON HAVING THEIR NECK KNEELED ON FOR SEVEN MINUTES STRAIGHT, KILLING THEM, WAS MET BY WAVES OF TEAR GAS, A WEAPON BANNED FOR USE IN WARFARE, AND POLICE BRUTALITY. PEOPLE WERE SNATCHED OFF THE STREETS IN RETALIATION FOR PROTESTING. THE NEW YORK POLICE FORCE IS ONE OF THE LARGEST MILITARY FORCES ON EARTH. THE UNITED STATES HAS BY FAR THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF IMPRISONED PEOPLE PER CAPITA IN THE WORLD. AND THE WASHINGTON POST REGARDS AMERICA AS THE SHINING BEACON OF DEMOCRACY ON THE HILL.

United States

  • Trump getting reelected in 2024 would solve ‘all of Russia’s problems,’ top political scientist warns Business Insider

Francis Fukuyama, one of the US’s most influential political scientists, in a new interview with DW warned that Russia would benefit immensely if former President Donald Trump is reelected in 2024.

“If Donald Trump makes a comeback in 2024, that solves all of Russia’s problems because he’s apparently committed to pulling the US out of NATO. Russia will have achieved its major objectives simply by this change in American politics,” Fukuyama said.

Throughout his presidency, Trump repeatedly criticized NATO — often taking aim at allies over their defense spending — and at times raised fears that he would move to withdraw the US from the alliance. Trump’s first impeachment also occurred, in part, as a result of him withholding congressionally approved military aid from Ukraine as it fought an ongoing war with Kremlin-backed rebels in the eastern Donbas region of the country.

Along these lines, Fukuyama — a Stanford professor known for arguing that Western democracies are the end point of all political and economic systems — characterized a Trump comeback as dangerous for Ukraine and potentially fatal to the unified front the West has put up in the face of Russia’s unprovoked invasion.

If your end stage Western democracy, which you regard as the pinnacle of human achievement, can be torn apart by Donald Trump, a gameshow host and one of the stupidest men in America, then there might be something amiss in your theory. Either you admit that it doesn’t have any kind of long-term stability, in which case it necessarily isn’t capable of being the end stage of human progress as global conditions worsen, as every serious scientist and environmentalist predicts they will, or you admit that it doesn’t actually matter who is presiding over the system because it will function almost the exact same way no matter who is officially in control, in which case it definitionally is not a democracy. No matter what, Donald Trump being president proves that your theory is wrong. It’s like making an equation to describe something in real life and then finding out that observations don’t match the predicted outcome. If you’re scientific, like Marxists are, you say “Well, we need a better equation.” If you’re a liberal political scientist, you cry and piss and shit yourself and scream “REALITY IS WRONG! THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY CANNOT FAIL, IT CAN ONLY BE FAILED BY ITS VOTERS! YOU DIDN’T VOTE HARD ENOUGH!"

“That’s why I think it is really important that Ukraine make some progress and regain military momentum over the summer, because unity in the West really depends on people believing that there is a military solution to the problem in the near term,” Fukuyama said. “If they feel that we’re simply facing an extended stalemate that’s going to go on forever, then I think the unity will start breaking, and there’ll be more calls for Ukraine to give up territory in order to stop the war.”

Sucks for you then, I guess.


Good Takes that are Dope

The United States is an empire. It has 800 military bases around the world . More than $840 billion has been set aside for the latest Pentagon budget, a sum bigger than the military expenditure of the next nine countries combined. U.S. military operations, whether overt or covert, have devastated more than eighty countries since the end of World War II and killed more than 30 million people. And these numbers are likely undercounts since the U.S. national security state is far from transparent.

The American Empire is protected by a series of lies otherwise known as the ideology of American exceptionalism. American exceptionalism has normalized imperialist violence by rendering it nothing more than a crusade for “democracy,” “liberty,” and “freedom.” Innocence is bestowed upon the American empire through the creation of “enemies” and scapegoats. Brutal crimes against humanity such as torture were sanctioned by the threat of “terrorism” that the U.S. created in Afghanistan beginning in 1979. Military encirclement and sanctions have since been justified by a never-ending quest to defeat “authoritarianism,” communism, and other threats to the so-called “rules-based international order.”

The deeper the world moves into the 21st century, the clearer it becomes that the American Empire has bitten off more than it can chew. U.S capitalism is in decline and its economic influence over the world is shrinking by the decade. The “end of history” declared after the fall of the Soviet Union is being challenged by the rise of China’s modern socialist economy and the pursuit of sovereign governance in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. The American Empire offers neither investment nor prosperity. China and Russia are leading a multipolar world where peace, stability, and prosperity for the vast majority of humanity is prioritized over the narrow interests of U.S. hegemony.

The American Empire has responded with a violent campaign to suffocate multipolarity in its crib. Warmongering servants of the duopoly have ripped off whatever clothes remained to conceal its violent interests from the masses of people. On July 12th, former Trump national security advisor John Bolton told CNN that he personally “planned coups,” making him an expert judge on the January 6th 2020 incident on the Capitol. When pressed by Jake Tapper, Bolton responded that he would not go into specifics. He did mention that his memoir included information about the role he played in facilitating a crisis in Venezuela to remove President Nicholas Maduro from power.

Of course, Bolton is a known neocon hawk who has published many op-eds calling for the bombing of Iran and other acts of war and aggression. But warmongering isn’t reserved for the most hawkish elements of the GOP-side of the duopoly. President Joe Biden has demonstrated a willingness to publicly express the most dangerous ambitions of the American Empire, whether in his statement that “Putin cannot remain in power” last March or the three times that he openly affirmed a commitment to use U.S. military force to “defend” Taiwan from China. The same week that Bolton made clear his role as a coup plotter, Biden visited Israel where he verbalized equally aggressive remarks about the U.S.’s relationship with its fellow settler colonial entity.

Biden’s maneuvers with Israel and Saudi Arabia are yet another slap in the face to Democratic Party voters. A majority of Democrats want the United States to increase support for Palestine and more than 99 percent fail to rank Israel as a top ally of the United States . Nearly two-thirds of Democratic Party voters oppose U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia due to its brutal war on Yemen and leading role in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. While Biden feigned criticism of Saudi Arabia to the press following the trip, his fist bump with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman received widespread condemnation on social media for sending a different message entirely.

The American Empire is not in the business of permanent strategies, just permanent interests. These interests have been met by a myriad of crises that have caused the political overseers of the empire to shed whatever clothes they had left to conceal their endless warmongering. Public confidence in the duopoly is at its lowest point. Mainstream corporate news media is widely distrusted. Economic instability fueled by endless austerity and war has chipped away at the already questionable legitimacy of the American Empire.

War is an extension of politics through state violence. State violence at all levels is a form of social control meant to reproduce and strengthen a given social order. Arming reactionary regimes such as Israel and Saudi Arabia, waging proxy wars, and militarizing the planet to build toward a hot conflict with Russia and China are all expressions of the American Empire’s addiction to state violence, apartheid, and regime change. Peace is an impossibility under such an arrangement. While a naked American Empire is indeed on its death bed, only a people’s movement can rid the planet of the enduring dangers that its rotting carcass holds for humanity.


Bloomerism and Hope

  • 1 Soldier Killed, 9 Injured In Lightning Strike At Georgia Army Base Huffington Post

One soldier was killed and nine others were injured by a lightning strike at Fort Gordon, an Army base in Georgia, according to military officials.

China and Latin American and Caribbean countries have agreed on deeper cooperation in poverty reduction, with joint efforts in areas such as post-pandemic economic recovery, infrastructure construction and digital technology, officials and experts said at the second Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)-China Forum on Poverty Reduction and Development, held virtually on Wednesday.

At the forum, officials and experts from CELAC also praised China’s efforts to eradicate absolute poverty, especially through rural-urban integration and digital technology support, which are seen as valuable for Latin American countries to alleviate poverty and promote the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

CELAC estimates that the number of people living in extreme poverty rose by about 5 million between 2020 and 2021 due to the deepening of the social and health troubles prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, official data showed in January.

As part of the cooperation in addressing rising poverty, China and CELAC will work jointly to ease the negative effects of the pandemic. China’s efforts to ensure broad access to vaccines, donate medical supplies, and offer supports to fortify local health systems, which are key to the recovery, are widely recognized and applauded by representatives from the UN and CELAC countries.

China’s efforts to help Latin America and Caribbean countries via medical donations and vaccine offers have been widely recognized by countries across the region.

China is the first and largest vaccine supplier to many Latin American countries, and has carried out joint research, development and production cooperation with many countries in the region on COVID-19 vaccines, drugs and medical equipment.


Extra

  • Monkeypox: how a public emergency could be declared Inquirer

The World Health Organization’s expert monkeypox committee will meet on Thursday to decide whether to deploy the UN health agency’s rarely used top alert for the worsening virus outbreak.

The WHO could declare the situation to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

Link back to the discussion thread.