- New rights to improve work-life balance in the EU enter into application EU Reporter
As of 2 August, all member states must apply EU-wide rules to improve work-life balance for parents and carers adopted in 2019. These rules set out minimum standards for paternity, parental and carers' leave and establish additional rights, such as the right to request flexible working arrangements, which will help people develop their careers and family life without having to sacrifice either. These rights, which come in addition to existing maternity leave rights, were achieved under the European Pillar of Social Rights and is a key milestone towards building a Union of Equality.
The details on the rights are in the article, for those interested.
- Most ‘Fact-Checking’ Organizations Facebook Uses In Ukraine Are Funded By Washington Popular Resistance
Most of the fact-checking organizations Facebook has partnered with to monitor and regulate information about Ukraine are directly funded by the U.S. government, either through the U.S. Embassy or via the notorious National Endowment for Democracy (NED).
In light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, an information war as bitter as the ground fighting has erupted, and Meta (Facebook’s official name) announced it had partnered with nine organizations to help it sort fact from fiction for Ukrainian, Russian and other Eastern European users. These nine organizations are: StopFake, VoxCheck, Fact Check Georgia, Demagog, Myth Detector, Lead Stories, Patikrinta 15min, Re:Baltica and Delfi.
“To reduce the spread of misinformation and provide more reliable information to users, we partner with independent third-party fact-checkers globally,” the Silicon Valley giant wrote, adding, “Facebook’s independent third-party fact-checkers are all certified by the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN). The IFCN, a subsidiary of the journalism research organization Poynter Institute, is dedicated to bringing together fact-checkers worldwide.”
The problem with this? At least five of the nine organizations are directly in the pay of the United States government, a major belligerent in the conflict. The Poynter Institute is also funded by the NED. Furthermore, many of the other fact-checking organizations also have deep connections with other NATO powers, including direct funding.
Russia bars entry to dozens more Britons including Starmer, Cameron and Piers Morgan EU Reporter
Russia turns to Turkey, other trading partners to blunt sanctions’ impact WaPo
Russia is turning to Turkey and other potential new trading partners as it tries to circumvent Western sanctions that are starting to bite even deeper into its economy following its invasion of Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to meet his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Sochi on Friday, and the meeting — the leaders’ second in just over two weeks — is setting off alarms that the Kremlin could strengthen economic ties with a NATO nation that has not joined in imposing sanctions on Moscow.
A Russian proposal intercepted ahead of the meeting indicates Russia hopes Turkey will agree to new channels to help it avoid those restrictions on its banking, energy and industrial sectors.
The proposal, which this week was shared with The Washington Post by Ukrainian intelligence, calls for Erdogan’s government to permit Russia to buy stakes in Turkish oil refineries, oil terminals and reservoirs — a move that economists say could help disguise the origin of its exports after the European Union’s oil embargo kicks in fully next year. Russia also is requesting that several state-owned Turkish banks allow correspondent accounts for Russia’s biggest banks, which economists and sanctions experts say would be a flagrant breach of Western sanctions, and that Russian industrial producers be allowed to operate out of free economic zones in Turkey.
There is no indication that Turkey would support these arrangements since they would leave the country’s own banks and companies at risk of secondary sanctions and cut off their access to Western markets. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not respond to requests for comment. The Kremlin previously described the Putin-Erdogan meeting as focused on military-technical cooperation.
A senior Turkish official, in response to questions about the Russian proposal, did not address its details but said the country remains “committed to Ukraine’s independence and sovereignty.” He added that Turkey “as a matter of principle…exclusively joins sanctions that are imposed by the United Nations.”
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive diplomatic meeting, noted that Turkey is “the only NATO ally that both Ukraine and Russia speak with and trust. That is why no other country has been able to bring together the two foreign ministers or official delegations.”
- Ruble Rally Is a Headache for Banks Stuck in Russia Bloomberg
You don’t often hear bankers embarrassed about a surge in profits. But Johann Strobl, chief executive officer of Austria’s Raiffeisen International Bank, sounded almost exasperated explaining its exceptionally strong gains driven by its business in Russia.
“While we are of course pleased to report record results … we have seen an unusual, high contribution out of Russia and an unprecedented appreciation of the ruble against the euro,” Strobl said on the bank’s second-quarter earnings call this week. “But I will do my best to walk you through the moving parts.”
The ruble’s rally has become another complication in the efforts of banks to exit the country. Companies that chose to get out quickly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have taken some hefty losses. French lender Societe Generale SA confirmed a 3.3 billion-euro ($3.3 billion) pretax hit from its retreat as part of its second-quarter results on Wednesday.
Others acting more slowly have seen exposures grow and profits jump as the currency strengthened. The question is whether these gains might tempt banks to drag their feet on disposals or even hold onto their Russian business. In truth, this is unlikely: They might escape with smaller losses if they act fast, but with no end in sight to Russia’s aggression, they are still committed to getting out. Political and regulatory pressure isn’t going away — even if public interest has faded slightly — and financial risks could quickly worsen again.
Right now, however, banks’ Russian assets are growing faster than they are being ditched. Citigroup Inc. has been cutting loans and shedding customers, getting rid of $3.1 billion of assets in local currency terms in the second quarter, it reported last month. However, currency moves still increased the size of its remaining Russian assets by $3.6 billion, leaving it with net growth of $500 million.
Raiffeisen, which has the biggest exposure to Russia relative to its size, cut loans in the country by 22% in the second quarter but saw its assets grow by 3.1 billion euros. All this is because the Russian currency rose by about 40% against both the dollar and the euro during the second quarter of the year.
- Bank of England raises rates by most since 1995 despite recession’s approach Reuters
The Bank of England raised interest rates by the most in 27 years on Thursday in an attempt to smother surging inflation on track to top 13%, even as it warned a long recession is coming.
Reeling from a surge in energy prices after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the BoE’s rate-setters voted 8-1 for a half percentage-point rise in Bank Rate to 1.75%, its highest since late 2008.
The big hike had been expected by most economists in a Reuters poll as central banks around the world scramble to contain soaring prices.
- UK recruiters report slowest hiring rise in 17 months Inquirer
British employers slowed their hiring via recruitment agencies by the most in 17 months in July as they worried increasingly about the outlook for the economy, a survey showed on Friday.
With the Bank of England now warning of a recession between late 2022 and early 2023, hiring of temporary workers outgrew permanent staff appointments, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) said.
- UK Looks To Ramp Up Rare Earths Production Oil Price
For the first time ever, the United Kingdom (UK) Government has released a “Critical Minerals Strategy.” The policy spells out the country’s game plan for developing a more consistent, UK-based supply of rare earths. The multi-pronged strategy includes ramping up domestic production of minerals like lithium, graphite, and silicon. The UK will also conduct research and development in this field while attempting to boost reuse and recycling across the country. The Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) recently posted the entire plan on its website. Some of the fine points include effort to:
Accelerate the growth of the UK’s domestic capabilities.
Collaborate with international partners.
Enhance international markets to make them more responsive, transparent and responsible
Currently, the UK has pockets of mineral wealth stretching from the Scottish Highlands to Cornwall. The country also has at least some expertise in material manufacturing and refining. In recent interviews, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng stressed that the UK would maximize what it produces along the critical minerals value chain in a way that creates jobs and growth. However, they wish to protect communities and the natural environment at the same time.
- Greek air-conditioning limits test country’s resolve to support Ukraine WaPo
Outside the trim, whitewashed building that serves as the headquarters of Greece’s public fish markets, the harsh Mediterranean sun was baking the port. Inside, the head of the country’s fish markets, a 64-year-old lifelong civil servant named Vassilis Katsiotis was trying to figure out how to use less air conditioning.
Ever since the Greek government, aiming to conserve energy supplies hard hit by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, ordered public building thermostats to be set no cooler than 81 degrees, he has been trying to cajole co-workers and subordinates into sweating more alongside him. The old rule was to set the thermostat so that employees felt comfortable. Now the temperature needs to keep geopolitics in mind.
“It’s very difficult. This is a cultural change,” said Katsiotis, whose office in Keratsini, a port just outside Athens, is plastered with posters of fish species and watercolors of Greek village streets.
Greece’s decision to limit air conditioning in public buildings may seem like a simple enough response to Europe’s energy shortfall, but as with so many aspects of the crisis, it has turned fraught, raising questions of which parts of society should be asked to make sacrifices, and for what. Greeks are asking what they should be sacrificing for Ukraine after years of suffering under austerity that cut pensions and slashed government spending. And they question how much they should help energy challenges in Germany, which they blame for a decade of economic depression and suffering.
Similar kinds of questions are surfacing throughout Europe. Russian natural gas flows to the continent are slowing to a trickle as the Kremlin seeks leverage in the war in Ukraine. The Kremlin’s bet is that by late winter, Europe will be facing an energy shortage so crushing that it will have no choice but to abandon support for Ukraine and beg Russia for fossil fuel. Europe’s task now is to prove that wrong.
Germany is turning off streetlights and telling its citizens to take shorter showers. French citizens have been asked to unplug WiFi routers when they leave the house. And Greece, Spain and Italy — all southern European countries contending with heat waves — are trying to dial back their air conditioning and bear with the heat. European leaders agreed last week to slash gas use by 15 percent ahead of the cold season. If they don’t, leaders warn, some countries could run out of energy for heat and factories.
The government order “came during a heat wave,” Katsiotis he said, with temperatures routinely zipping toward 100 degrees Fahrenheit. There were no trees in sight at the wharf to offer any shade.
“How can I convince people to do what they should be doing?” he said he was asking himself. “It’s not like it’s April. But if I can do it now, it will be a lot easier in October” if more energy savings becomes necessary, he said.
- Italy drought: Risotto rice harvest fears as paddy fields dry up amid lack of rainfall Euro News
Risotto rice production in Italy’s Po River valley is under severe threat as a historic drought continues to cause paddy fields to turn bone dry and become toxically salty.
Farmers say harvests of the rice used for risotto could be damaged for years by the increased salt content, which is seeping into the earth.
“As you can see, the situation is tragic, because we are talking about a loss of nearly 60%,” said rice grower Elisa Moretto. “These losses are not yet definitive because, besides the saltwater problem, we also have the problem of the huge heat.”
“The 2022 harvest is at risk,” she added, saying rice plants may not even be able to make an ear and ripen this year due to the extreme conditions.
Rice plants in Italy’s northern Po River Basin rely on water from aquifers. These are turning increasingly salty due to the Po River being at an all-time low, which is allowing more seawater to flow up the delta.
The amount of water in the Po River – the largest in Italy – hit just 95 cubic metres (3,350 cubic feet) a second last month, due to drought conditions caused by a lack of both snow melt and seasonal rain.
This water level is one-tenth of the annual average.
- German Power Climbs to Record as Plants Start to Buckle in Heat Bloomberg
German power prices rose to a record as utilities are increasingly reducing electricity output in western Europe because of the hot weather.
The next-year contract in Europe’s biggest market rose as much as 2% after Switzerland’s Axpo Holding AG announced curbs at one of its nuclear plants. Electricite de France SA is also reducing nuclear output because of cooling water restrictions, while Uniper SE in Germany is struggling to get enough coal up the river Rhine.
Europe is suffering its worst energy crunch in decades as gas cuts made by Russia in retaliation for sanctions drive a surge in prices. The extreme heat led to the driest July on record in France and is underscoring the impact that a warming climate is having on vital infrastructure.
Water levels on Germany’s Rhine have fallen so low that the river may effectively close soon, impacting supplies of coal to the plants next to it. The Rhone and Garonne in France and the Aare in Switzerland are all too warm to be used to cool nuclear plants effectively.
The German year-ahead contract gained 1.2% to 410 euros a megawatt-hour on the European Energy Exchange AG. Long-term prices are coming under pressure because producing less power from nuclear and coal will increase the demand for natural gas, which is badly needed to fill storage sites ahead of the winter.
Uniper SE said on Thursday that two of its coal-fired stations along the Rhine may need to curb output during the next few weeks as transporting coal along the Rhine becomes impossible.
- There’s A Run On Fuel In Germany: Refiner Oil Price
There is a run on fuels such as diesel and heating oil in the southern parts of Germany as supplies are constrained due to critically low water levels on the River Rhine, the German unit of refiner OMV told Bloomberg on Thursday.
The Rhine River, which runs northwest from Switzerland through Germany, France, and the Netherlands into the North Sea, is a major petroleum product transportation corridor in Europe. Due to heat waves and drought this summer in Europe, the levels on the river are low and have now become too shallow for many barges shipping petroleum products to pass.
The German unit of Austria-based OMV has a refinery in southern Germany and told Bloomberg in an emailed response to questions that it “is observing a current run on heating oil and diesel.”
- Commission approves €2.98 billion German scheme to promote green district heating EU Reporter
The European Commission has approved, under EU state aid rules, a €2.98 billion German scheme to promote green district heating based on renewable energy and waste heat. The measure will contribute to the implementation of Germany‘s National Energy and Climate Plan and to the EU’s strategic objectives relating to the EU Green Deal, in particular the EU’s 2050 climate neutrality target.
Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “This €2.98 billion scheme will contribute to greening the district heating sector in Germany, by supporting the construction of more efficient district heating systems and the decarbonisation of existing ones. With this measure, Germany will be able to increase the share of renewable energy and waste heat in the heating sector, thereby considerably decreasing its emissions. The German aid measure we have approved today will contribute to achieving the EU Green Deal objectives and help Germany meet its environmental targets, while limiting possible distortions of competition.”
- Norway Mulls Curbing Electricity Exports to Avoid Shortages Bloomberg
Norway, one of Europe’s biggest electricity exporters, is considering measures to limit power shipments to prevent domestic shortages amid surging prices, according to local media reports.
The government may propose a rule to limit exports if the water level for Norway’s hydro reservoirs drops to “very low” levels, to ensure security of supply, said Energy Minister Terje Aasland, according NTB newswire. The limit would take account of seasonality and would differ across the about 1,800 hydro reservoirs, he said.
Russia’s gas supply cuts in retaliation for European sanctions over the war in Ukraine have triggered the continent’s worst energy crisis in decades, with demand surging for cheap Norwegian hydro electricity. Yet the government faces increasing calls from the public and opposition to limit flows abroad. Prices are near record levels in some parts of the Nordic nation as hydro-reservoir levels have plunged in the south after a drier-than-normal spring.
Asia and Oceania
- U.S. urges China not to overeact to Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan Reuters
The United States urged China not to overeact to U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan after Beijing deployed planes and fired live missiles near Taiwan, some of which Japan said appeared to land in its economic zone.
“We’re watching this closely. We continue to urge the Chinese not to overreact here. There’s no reason to react the way that they have or to escalate the tensions,” White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told MSNBC.
- China sanctions Pelosi over Taiwan visit: foreign ministry Inquirer
China’s foreign ministry announced sanctions against US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday, after her visit to Taiwan this week prompted fury and shows of military force from Beijing.
The ministry said Pelosi was “seriously interfering in China’s internal affairs and seriously undermining China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” with the visit, and that Beijing would “impose sanctions on Pelosi and her immediate family,” without giving further details.
China has announced sanctions on a number of US officials in recent years for acting against what it views as its core interests and speaking out on human rights issues in Hong Kong and the northwestern region of Xinjiang, often without specifying punitive measures.
In March this year Beijing said it was imposing visa restrictions on an undisclosed list of United States officials who had allegedly “concocted lies on human rights issues involving China.”
Former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, as well as Peter Navarro — a trade adviser to former president Donald Trump — were among those hit by earlier waves of sanctions and are forbidden from entering China as well as doing business with Chinese entities.
- China’s military makes dozens of crossings of Taiwan median line Reuters
About 10 Chinese navy ships and 20 military aircraft briefly crossed the Taiwan Strait median line on Friday morning, a Taiwan source briefed on the matter told Reuters.
- China Starts Construction Of $22B Expansion Of Transmission Line Network Oil Price
China’s largest utility will soon begin the construction of some $22 billion of new long-distance, ultra-high-voltage transmission lines to connect more wind and solar installations to the grid.
State Grid Co., according to a Bloomberg report, supplies power to more than 1 billion people and is the biggest builder of ultra-high-voltage transmission lines in the world.
China plans to build a total of 1,200 GW in wind and solar capacity by 2030 to meet its emission reduction targets. In line with these plans, the country is expanding its grid with transmission lines to carry the low-carbon energy from the unpopulated areas where wind and solar farms are built to its megacities.
According to some estimates cited by Bloomberg last year, this grid expansion undertaking will take 30 years and cost around $300 billion. Currently, China has 30 ultra-high-voltage transmission lines in operation and is one of only two countries to have them. The other is Brazil, with two UHV lines, both built by a Chinese company.
China is the biggest investor in renewable energy in the world as well as the biggest emitter. In the first half of the year, China once again led in terms of investments, spending $98 billion on wind, solar, and other low-carbon energy sources.
- China halts high-level military dialogue with U.S., suspends other cooperation Inquirer
China is halting cooperation with the United States in a number of areas, including dialogue between senior-level military commanders and climate talks, in retaliation for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, it said on Friday.
China’s foreign ministry also said that it was also suspending cooperation with Washington on prevention of cross-border crime and drug trafficking, and on repatriating illegal migrants, among eight specific measures.
In a statement released soon after Pelosi left Japan on the final leg of her Asian tour, China also cancelled a planned bilateral meeting on a maritime military security mechanism.
Beijing separately announced that it would personally sanction Pelosi and her immediate family in response to her “vicious” and “provocative” actions.
- China warns that its temperatures are rising faster than global average Kathmandu Post
China’s average ground temperatures have risen much more quickly than the global average over the past 70 years and will remain “significantly higher” in the future as the challenges of climate change mount, a government official said.
In its annual climate assessment published this week, China’s weather bureau described the country as “a sensitive region in global climate change”, with temperatures rising 0.26 degrees Celsius (0.47 degrees Fahrenheit) a decade since 1951, compared to the global average of 0.15 degrees.
“In the future, the increase in regional average temperatures in China will be significantly higher than the world,” said Yuan Jiashuang, vice-director of China’s National Climate Center (NCC), at a Wednesday briefing.
- China locks down tropical island to contain new Omicron subvariant BA.5.1.3, trapping tourists who must take 2 PCR tests to leave Fortune
Every year, tens of millions of Chinese urban-dwellers escape to the tropical island of Hainan for its white-sand beaches, year-round warm weather, and all-inclusive resorts. But the beach getaway has turned into a literal tourist trap, with Chinese authorities stranding thousands of travelers in the tropical paradise due to a small COVID outbreak.
On Friday, China’s Hainan island reported 127 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 48 in the capital Sanya. That number of cases may seem minuscule for an island of 9.2 million people, but Chinese authorities still adhere to a COVID-zero policy that does not tolerate any spread of the virus. China deploys harsh lockdowns, mass testing measures, and strict border controls to ensure that it stamps out all COVID cases, even as nearly every other country on earth has given up on fully eliminating the virus.
Shut the fuck up, you blood-drinking ghoul. If a person has cancer and they give up on chemotherapy, it means that they’ve given up on staying alive for a reason (in this case, to make the Money Line go up at the expense of millions of lives) - it doesn’t mean that the cancer isn’t still killing them.
Local authorities said the Hainan outbreak started at a fishing port, and likely emerged from locals who traded fish with fisherman from outside China. Authorities also said that the Omicron sub-variant BA.5.1.3, an offshoot of the BA.5 strain that is dominant in the U.S., is driving the current wave of infections.
Chinese tourists have few alternatives besides Hainan for beach getaways. They have stopped traveling overseas due to pandemic restrictions that still require anyone entering China to undergo a seven-day hotel quarantine, at minimum. Countries around the world have lost out on the booming business of Chinese travelers, but domestic operators have not been able to fully capitalize on China’s travel demand either. Amid sporadic COVID lockdowns, China’s domestic tourism industry generated roughly $500 billion last year, down 40% from pre-pandemic highs.
Since Wednesday, people caught in regions of Hainan that the government has designated “high-risk zones” for COVID have been unable to leave their homes other than to buy groceries and other essential goods, according to local authorities. The local government also shut down all public transport including buses and trains in the locked-down areas. In non-high risk zones, authorities still closed all non-essential shops and restaurants and said that people would need to present a negative PCR test to access public areas like parks or their offices.
- China extends compensation for Henan banking crisis victims to 250,000 yuan, 2 more officials probed SCMP
Financial authorities in Henan and Anhui provinces have announced a fourth round of repayments to victims of the rural banking scandal, although many customers are still waiting for previously promised compensation.
Individuals with deposits between 150,000 yuan and 250,000 yuan (US$37,000) at four rural banks in Henan province will be repaid on Monday, said a joint statement from the local branch of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) and the provincial financial supervision bureau.
The statement on Friday also mentioned that repayments to depositors with savings under 150,000 yuan will continue, having initially started from 50,000 yuan last month.
Since April, deposits estimated at around 40 billion yuan (US$6 billion) at Yuzhou Xinminsheng Village Bank, Shangcai Huimin County Bank, Zhecheng Huanghuai Community Bank and New Oriental Country Bank of Kaifeng in Henan province and Guzhen Xinhuaihe Village Bank in the neighbouring Anhui province have been affected.
Police in Henan have arrested a number of suspects allegedly involved in a “complicated” cash crisis involving rural banks, while three financial officials were placed under investigation for “suspected severe disciplinary violations” at the end of last month.
- TikTok owner ByteDance buys China’s biggest private women and children’s hospital chain in major healthcare investment SCMP
ByteDance, operator of short video app TikTok and its Chinese version Douyin, has acquired China’s largest private hospital chain specialising in obstetrics and gynaecology, in one of the unicorn’s largest healthcare investments.
Beijing Amcare Medical Management Co, the corporate vehicle of Amcare clinics and hospitals, is now wholly-owned by two ByteDance affiliates, Xiaohe Health (Hong Kong) Ltd and Xiaohe Health Technology (Beijing) Co, according to changes made in company records in June, tracked by corporate information site Qichacha.
- Japan’s households increase spending for first time in 4 months Reuters
Japan’s households increased spending for the first time in four months in June, as demand for travel services rose in a positive sign for broader recovery prospects.
Spending jumped 3.5% in June from a year earlier, government data showed on Friday, posting its first year-on-year rise since February as households opened their purse strings for overnight stays, package tours and outdoor goods.
- Japan’s economy likely rebounded in Q2 with unleashing of consumers Inquirer
Japan’s economy likely rebounded in April-June from contraction in the previous quarter thanks to solid consumer spending in face-to-face services no longer hindered by coronavirus curbs, a Reuters poll showed on Friday.
For the current quarter, however, analysts are concerned about rising risks, including the possibility of global economic slowdown and a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Japan.
- Russia becomes India’s 3rd largest coal supplier Jakarta Post
Russia became India’s third-largest coal supplier in July, with imports rising by over a fifth compared with June to a record 2.06 million tonnes, data from Indian consultancy Coalmint showed.
Russia has historically been the sixth-largest supplier of coal to India, behind Indonesia, South Africa, Australia, and the United States, with Mozambique and Colombia alternatingly featuring in the top five.
- Russia is competing with Saudi Arabia by selling discounted oil as Putin’s cheap crude flows to India Business Insider
Russia is slashing prices on its crude, undercutting the price of oil from Saudi Arabia as Moscow moves to send more barrels to Asia.
Bloomberg calculations and Indian government data show that Russian barrels were cheaper than Saudi Arabian barrels from April through June. That spread widened to nearly $19 a barrel in May, before easing to a $13 difference in June.
In June, Russia beat out Saudi Arabia as India’s second-biggest crude supplier, ranked behind Iraq. Oil from Iraq as about $9 a barrel more expensive than Russian crude in May, but sold cheaper in all other months, per Bloomberg calculations.
- India’s central bank hikes key rate by 50 bps as inflation seen staying high Inquirer
The Reserve Bank of India’s key policy repo rate was raised by 50 basis points on Friday, the third increase in the current cycle to cool stubbornly high inflation that has remained above the central bank’s tolerance band for six straight months.
With June retail inflation hitting 7 percent, economists polled by Reuters had expected the third rate hike in four months, but views were widely split between a 25 bps to a 50 bps increase.
The monetary policy committee (MPC) raised the key lending rate or the repo rate to 5.4 percent.
- India approves climate plan with increased ambition, clarifying energy goals Climate Home News
India’s cabinet has approved an updated national climate plan, cementing targets pledged by Narendra Modi in November, including a 2070 net zero goal and 45% reduction in emissions intensity by 2030.
The document increases ambition from India’s previous target, set in 2016, to reduce emissions for each unit of GDP 33-35% from 2005 levels by 2030.
It clarifies the target for clean energy, which caused some confusion among experts when Modi announced it at the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow, UK. India is aiming for half of installed electricity generation capacity to come from non-fossil sources at the end of the decade, not half of energy use, which would have been harder to achieve.
Non-fossil capacity, which includes nuclear and large hydro dams as well as wind and solar, is around 40% today.
- Philippine senator chides Beijing’s envoy over one-China advice after Pelosi’s Taiwan trip SCMP
A Philippine senator on Friday said Beijing’s envoy should not lecture Manila on upholding the one-China policy if it could not accept a 2016 UN tribunal ruling rejecting most of its South China Sea claims.
Risa Hontiveros’ chiding statement came after Chinese ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian called on the government to adhere to the principle following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s meeting with Taiwan’s leaders on Wednesday.
“In fact, the ambassador shouldn’t pontificate on such policies, especially considering that his country stubbornly and steadfastly refuses to recognise a decision rendered by an international arbitral court, and ignores and flouts international law in the South China Sea when it suits her interest,” Hontiveros said on Facebook.
She added the Philippines pursues an independent foreign policy, and had every right, at any time, to review or amend it. “It is unfortunate that the good ambassador felt the need to impose his will on our country, disrespecting our agency and autonomy.”
But other senators such as Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III urged Manila to stick to the one-China policy and “call for the lessening of tension in this part of the world”.
- Saudi Arabia And The UAE Won’t Be Tapping Emergency Oil Capacity Oil Price
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have the capacity to produce more crude oil, but they won’t tap that capacity—at least not yet, according to three anonymous Reuters sources.
The message is a critical one for the OPEC producers to get across to the market, which cannot be seen as losing its control over the market—control that comes only from having the spare capacity to affect the market should the need arise.
According to the sources, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are ready to deliver a “significant increase” in crude oil production if the market should run up against a severe supply crisis this winter. The sources said that this spare capacity would only be tapped in the event of a supply crisis.
“With possibly no gas in Europe this winter, with a potential price cap on Russian oil sales in the New Year, we can’t be throwing every barrel on the market at the moment,” one of the Reuters sources said, “The only time we can prove we have more spare capacity is when it comes to a long-lasting crisis.”
The sources said that combined, OPEC members have between 2 million bpd and 2.7 million bpd in spare production capacity.
Nevertheless, OPEC+–and OPEC—has failed to meet the current production targets laid out by the OPEC+ agreement agreed to two years ago. The most recent data suggests that the group’s compliance rate with its production cuts is 320%, producing more than 2.5 million bpd under target.
- Saudi Arabia Lifts Crude Prices To Asia To Record High Oil Price
OPEC’s most prolific oil producer and exporter, Saudi Arabia, has raised the official selling price of its crude oil to new highs for September loadings.
Saudi Arabia raised the price of all of its crude grades to its prized market, Asia, for September. Saudi Arabia raised the September price of Arab Light to the Far East by $0.50 per barrel to $9.80 over the Oman/Dubai benchmark.
- African climate diplomats reject African Union’s pro-gas stance for Cop27 Climate Home News
African climate negotiators have quashed a proposal by the African Union to promote gas as a bridge fuel for the continent at UN talks.
The executive council of the African Union had proposed that African nations adopt a common position at the Cop27 climate summit on Africa’s energy development.
It called on nations to “continue to deploy all forms of its abundant energy resources including renewable and non-renewable energy to address energy demand”. This would involve financing for gas, green and low-carbon hydrogen and nuclear energy to “play a crucial role in expanding modern energy access in the short to medium term”.
African Union officials presented the proposal to the African Group of Negotiators (AGN) during a three-day meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which ended on Thursday. They hoped climate negotiators would adopt it as the group’s position at the next UN climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in November.
But climate diplomats, including representatives of the Egyptian presidency of Cop27, argued a pro-gas stance was too controversial and would distract from priorities like adaptation and climate finance, sources close to the discussion told Climate Home News.
- General Labour Union threatens public sector strike MEMO
The Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) yesterday threatened to arrange a strike in order to improve member social benefits, the secretary-general said.
Noureddine Taboubi said the UGTT will launch “another general strike in the public sector and the public positions to demand social benefits, but we have not determined the date yet.”
“After the last strike on 16 June, we did not find anyone who would listen to us,” he said, adding that the union’s hands “are always stretched out for dialogue.”
“The government did not act to respond to the high prices and the loss of some medicines … and it must bear its full responsibilities in this regard.”
On June 16, the UGTT carried out a strike in the public sector throughout Tunisia to demand an improvement in social conditions.
- U.S. employers added 528,000 jobs; unemployment falls to 3.5% Politico
America’s hiring boom continued last month as employers added a surprising 528,000 jobs despite raging inflation and rising anxiety about a recession.
July’s hiring was up from 398,000 in June. The unemployment rate slipped to 3.5%.
The U.S. economy shrank in the first two quarters of 2022 — an informal definition of recession. But most economists believe the strong jobs market has kept the economy from slipping into a downturn.
The American job market has repeatedly defied skeptics this year. Economists had expected only 250,000 new jobs this month.
- White House summoned Chinese ambassador to condemn provocations CNN
The White House summoned Chinese Ambassador to the US Qin Gang on Thursday to condemn China’s “irresponsible” military activities near Taiwan, Nation Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby told CNN.
- NLRB Demand For UMWA To Pay Warrior Met Coal Strike Costs Is ‘Outrageous’ Popular Demand
The United Mine Workers of America today made it clear that it will vigorously challenge an outrageous assessment of damages made by the National Labor Relations Board Region 10 regarding the UMWA’s 16-month strike against Warrior Met Coal in Alabama.
“This is a slap in the face not just to the workers who are fighting for better jobs at Warrior Met Coal, but to every worker who stands up to their boss anywhere in America,” UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said. “There are charges for security, cameras, capital expenditures, buses for transporting scabs across picket lines, and the cost of lost production.
“What is the purpose of a strike if not to impact the operations of the employer, including production,” Roberts asked. “Is it now the policy of the federal government that unions be required to pay a company’s losses as a consequence of their members exercising their rights as working people? This is outrageous and effectively negates workers’ right to strike. It cannot stand.”
The union entered into a settlement agreement in June with NLRB Region 10 regarding charges the company had made about picket line activity in order to save striking members and families from days of hostile questioning by company lawyers. On July 22, the NLRB sent the union a detailed list of damages totaling $13.3 million dollars, more than 33 times the estimated amount NLRB lawyers had initially indicated would be assessed.
Warrior Met has reported millions of dollars in costs it has incurred over the course of the strike. “It appears that Warrior Met wants us to reimburse it for those costs, including costs it incurred before the strike even began,” Roberts said. “What’s extremely troubling here is that the NLRB appears to have taken up the company’s cause without a second thought.
“I want to be clear: Warrior Met Coal instigated this strike and has brutally extended it through its sustained unwillingness to reach a fair and reasonable agreement at the bargaining table,” Roberts said. “We have no intention of paying its costs for doing so. The right to strike in America must be preserved. We will fight this at every level, in every court. We will spend every penny of our resources rather than give in to something like this from the NLRB, Warrior Met or any other entity.”
- Call For Solidarity After FBI Raids African People’s Socialist Party And Uhuru Movement Popular Resistance
The specter of a Biden administration-authorized Department of Justice (DOJ) initiated McCarthy-era witch hunt was posed in bold relief last week as FBI agents took aim at a Black liberation organization that has been a sharp critic of the U.S./NATO-backed war in Ukraine and a defender of poor nations threatened with U.S. sanctions, coups, embargoes and blockades. These include Cuba, Syria, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Iran.
Replete with flash/bang grenades deployed at 5:00 am on Friday, July 29 to startle African Peoples Socialist Party (APSP) leader Omali Yeshitela and his wife at their home in St. Louis, Missouri, FBI agents, carrying federal search warrants, ordered them to come out with their hands up. They were handcuffed and ordered to sit on the curb. The armed agents, accompanied by local police, proceeded to ransack their home, confiscating their files, computer equipment and cell phones.
The FBI raid is connected to a federal indictment of a Russian man, Aleksandr Ionov, who the U.S. government alleges orchestrated a “political influence campaign” targeting local U.S. elections with the direct assistance of the APSP and its associated group, the Uhuru Movement. FBI and local police also raided the Uhuru Solidarity Center in St. Louis and APSP headquarters in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Ionov, a Russian national, is a leader of the Anti-Globalization Movement in Russia that the DOJ alleges worked on behalf of the Russian Federal Security Service to use U.S. political groups “to spread pro-Russia propaganda and interfere with local elections.”
APSP founder and chair Yeshitela and Uhuru Movement representatives denied being part of any Russian conspiracy campaign or receiving money from the Russian government.
- Drought Emergency in Mexico Rekindles Demand for Water Law Reform Climate News
In 2012, Mexico wrote the human right to water into its constitution, but 10 years later, the number of people without access to clean water has spiked. In recent weeks, parched protesters have filled the streets demanding the precious liquid, and, on July 12, the government declared the water shortage a national emergency.
Since the beginning of the year, northern Mexico has been experiencing a severe drought that has left millions of citizens without water. By July, when people in Chihuahua, Nuevo León, Baja California, Sonora, Coahuila and Mexico City states began taking the streets, 70 percent of the national territory was experiencing some level of drought and 25 percent was in severe, extreme or exceptional drought. Samuel García, the mayor of Monterrey, one of the most parched cities, even asked people to light candles and pray for rain.
Global warming is increasing drought and aridity in the region, and climate cycles like La Niña have historically dried out Mexico. But critics say neither of those are the main cause of this crisis. Instead, they point to the failure of the country to write laws that support its constitutional right to water. Some Mexicans, enraged by their government’s mismanagement of the resource, which they say is being turned into a commodity for sale rather than something they have a right to, are demanding that their water supply be restored.
- Crude oil prices have tanked to their lowest levels since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine Business Insider
Oil prices have fallen to their lowest levels since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as recession fears sent futures tanking 10% in a week.
Benchmark US West Texas Intermediate settled 2.1% lower at $88.54 a barrel on Thursday — down about 10% this week so far. They were trading at $88.98 a barrel at 12:10 a.m. EDT on Friday.
Benchmark international Brent crude oil futures settled 2.75% lower at $94.12 a barrel on Thursday — down 14% this week to date. They were trading at $94.42 a barrel at 12:09 a.m. EDT on Friday.
Both grades surged to well over $120 a barrel earlier this year after Russia invaded Ukraine.
- Global supply chain stress at 18-month low in July, NY Fed’s index shows Reuters
Stress on global supply chains eased in July to the lowest level since January 2021 as port congestion and other snags eased, the New York Federal Reserve reported on Thursday, in its latest update to a worldwide index of supply problems.
It was the third straight month of declines in an encouraging sign for U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers who are keen for supply chain issues to ease in order to help tame inflation, which is running at a four-decade high in the world’s largest economy.
The Ukraine War
- France to donate mobile DNA lab to Ukraine- Macron EU Reporter
President Emmanuel Macron stated Monday (1 August) that France is determined to ensure war crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine are not unpunished and will donate a mobile DNA laboratory to Kyiv authorities.
- Outrage in Kyiv after Amnesty accuses it of endangering civilian life Euro News
Ukraine has reacted furiously to an Amnesty International report that accuses it of riding roughshod with civilians in the country’s fight against Russia.
In a report, the humanitarian organisation claimed the Ukrainian military has endangered civilians by placing bases and weapons in residential areas – including schools and hospitals – as it has sought to repel the Russian invasion.
“Ukraine’s tactics have violated international humanitarian law as they’ve turned civilian objects into military targets,” said Amnesty. “The ensuing Russian strikes in populated areas have killed civilians and destroyed civilian infrastructure.”
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy denounced the findings.
Amnesty “transfers the responsibility from the aggressor to the victim,” he said in his daily video address, accusing the NGO of “attempting to grant amnesty to the terrorist state” of Russia.
“The aggression against our state is unjustified, invasive and terrorist,” Zelenskyy added.“If someone writes a report in which the victim and the aggressor are in some way put on an equal footing, if some data on the victim is analysed and the actions of the perpetrator ignored, this cannot be tolerated.”
In its report, which was based on several weeks of research in the Kharkiv, Donbas and Mykolaiv regions, Amnesty called on Ukraine’s armed forces to adhere to the law.
“Being in a defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian military from respecting international humanitarian law,” said Agnès Callamard, the NGO’s secretary general.
- It Seems Ukraine Is Struggling To Form Tank Brigades Forbes
I don’t take David Axe seriously regardless of whether they’re posting articles that favour or disfavour Ukraine - it’s just interesting that they finally have one that is somewhat critical of the mythical counteroffensive.
The Ukrainian army’s tank brigades are spread thin. That could help to explain why the army’s highly-anticipated counteroffensive in southern Ukraine hasn’t yet picked up much momentum.
It seems likely manpower, rather than hardware, is the main reason the Ukrainians haven’t stood up more armored units.
It’s not totally clear exactly how many tank brigades the army has. Maybe six. Maybe five. Maybe fewer. The Ukrainian army has a habit of keeping undermanned—practically non-existent—units on paper and occasionally touting them in the media.
So observers should look for hard evidence of a brigade in combat before concluding that brigade is real. By that standard the 1st, 3rd, 4th and 17th Tank Brigades definitely exist.
The 5th and 14th Tank Brigades, by contrast … might be mostly fictional.
That’s four tank brigades that we can confirm. The ones we can’t confirm are the 5th and 14th. The 5th Tank Brigade, ostensibly a reserve unit with T-72s, was part of the garrison defending Odesa, Ukraine’s main Black Sea port, from a possible Russian amphibious attack.
That attack never came. And as the Ukrainians have acquired more and more anti-ship missiles, the chance of the Russians ever attacking Odesa from the sea seems to have declined nearly to zero. It would make sense, then, for the 5th Tank Brigade to quit Odesa and join the fight around the Inhulets and Kherson.
Indeed, some analysts place the brigade around Krivyi Rih, safely inside Ukrainian lines north of the southern front. But there’s so little hard evidence of the 5th Tank Brigade marching or fighting that it’s possible the brigade is either seriously under-equipped and under-manned … or exists mostly on paper.
You could say the same of the reserve 14th Tank Brigade with its T-64s—another unit that may have disappeared from the Ukrainian order of battle.
It seems trained manpower, rather than a shortage of battle-ready tanks, is the major factor in Ukraine’s apparent struggle to field a larger armored force. The Ukrainian army had around 900 tanks—T-64s, mostly—in its arsenal on day one of the war. More than enough for four, five or even six tank brigades plus tank battalions in infantry brigades.
In five months of hard fighting the Ukrainians have lost around 230 tanks that analysts can confirm. But they’ve captured 280 Russian tanks and also have acquired around 300 fresh tanks from foreign allies.
Of course, it’s likely many tanks have sustained damage and await repair. Even so, Ukraine in theory has more tanks now than it did before the war.
I love the mathematical sleight of hand, it’s so fucking great. You see writers like Axe do this with Ukraine’s planes, too - that they technically have more than they did before the war. All you have to do is believe Ukraine’s numbers wholeheartedly, and they’re still winning this war, despite all physical evidence to the contrary, such as that displayed by our the megathread’s official youtuber, Defense Politics Aaaaaasia.
But a tank without a trained crew is just a lump of metal and rubber. Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of Ukraine’s best soldiers have been killed or wounded since Russia attacked in late February. Their skills and experience aren’t easy to replace.
Climate and Space
- South Korea launches first lunar orbiter as space bid gathers pace Reuters
South Korea launched its first lunar orbiter on Friday as it doubles down on its space programmes, aiming to land a probe on the moon by 2030.
The Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter, nicknamed Danuri, meaning “enjoy the Moon”, was launched on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket from Florida’s Cape Canaveral U.S. Space Force Station at 8:08 a.m. on Friday (2308 GMT on Thursday), South Korea’s science ministry said.
Dipshittery and Cope
For bad takes, awful analysis that makes you wonder why these people get paid, predictions that reveal a staggering lack of knowledge, and hope for a future that would be worse than the present.
- It’s an artillery war, but Ukraine still kills tanks with Javelins WaPo
We’re back to the Javelin advertisements in the media. The propaganda around the Javelin missiles and the Turkish drones has been viscerally sickening. Like, everybody knows at some level about the military-industrial complex and that capitalists benefit from war and there’s some level of competition between military contractors, but just outright being like “Buy our weapons! We tested them out on some Russian soldiers and they have an amazing casualty rate! Sure to solve your problems with whatever ethnic minority is causing problems in your country, today!” is some shit that you would put in a dystopic novel and then delete for being too heavy-handed.
It turns out, some Ukrainian soldiers discovered, that Javelin cases make great beds. The U.S.-made antitank missiles are packed in large, black rectangular capsules — perfect for elevating a slim cot off the dirty, cold floors of front-line positions.
“Make sure you mention they’re empty,” said a soldier, showing off the makeshift beds. “The last thing we need is Americans thinking they’re sending us Javelins just so we can sleep on them.”
It’s the opposite, actually: The 93rd Mechanized Brigade had fired so many Javelins at Russian tanks that they needed something to do with the pile of empty cases.
Etc, etc. You can imagine the rest.
- Putin is doing his best to out-fascist Mussolini WaPo
I don’t even really know what to say to that headline. I guess we’ll just jump in and stay for as long as I remain sane.
Fascism’s vitality in the 21st century marks it as the most successful fighting faith from the 20th century. So, it is well to understand fascism’s founder, who 100 years ago this October orchestrated the March on Rome (he arrived there by railroad sleeper car) that propelled him into power at 39, the youngest ruler in the world at that time. The destroyer of Italy’s parliamentary democracy has a political descendant occupying the Kremlin today.
Antonio Scurati’s “documentary novel” about Benito Mussolini, “M: Son of the Century,” was published in Italy in 2018, has received Italy’s premier literary award, and has been translated for publication in 46 countries. It is a long — 761-page — exploration of il Duce’s mind and of this: Fascism does not merely condone violence, it is violence. Set in Italy’s agony, 1919-1924, the novel bludgeons readers with depictions of the beatings and killings that made Italy resemble a nation without a state.
Mussolini’s roving bands of Blackshirts, “bursting with appetites,” wielded clubs with precision, “bashing both sides of the mouth, both mandibular joints, in order to fracture the jaws.” And there was “the castor oil routine”: “You seize a diehard socialist, ram a funnel down his throat, and force him to drink a quart of laxative. Then you tie him to the hood of a car and drive him through town …”
Three days after denouncing a massacre by his followers, Mussolini “proclaimed a general amnesty for politically motivated blood crimes committed for ‘national ends.’” This “master of exhaustion” came to power promising to tame his violent followers but instead indulged their addiction to “carefree ferocity.”
Mussolini, the anti-Enlightenment embodied, was a fervent socialist until he became a fervent fascist, a transformation from one anti-individualism to another. Scurati’s Mussolini muses:
“All people [are] shaken to their inner-most core by an irresistible desire to submit to a strong man and, at the same time, to hold sway over the defenseless. They are ready to kiss the shoes of any new master as long as they too are given someone to trample on.”
Mussolini was an unimposing 5 feet 6 inches tall — 2 inches shorter than Adolf Hitler, 2 inches taller than Francisco Franco — but was fascism: pure energy in search of occasions for aggression. As a fascist, he had no precursors; he was, however, a precursor of the performative masculinity of the bare-chested, judo-practicing, stallion-riding Vladimir Putin.
Okay, here we go…
An essay in last week’s Economist establishes that Putinism is fascism: a simmering stew of grievances and resentments (about post-Soviet diminishment) expressed in the rhetoric of victimhood. Putin’s regime relies on violence wielded by the state and by state-tolerated assault brigades akin to Mussolini’s militias. Mussolini’s cult of personality was bound up with restoring the grandeur that was the Roman Empire — or at least tormenting Ethiopia. The cult of Putin the strong man promises the restoration of a supposed golden age that ended with the Soviet Union’s ignominious collapse.
As in Mussolini’s Italy, there is in Putin’s Russia what the Economist calls a “culture of cruelty” where “domestic abuse is no longer a crime” and “nearly 30% of Russians say torture should be allowed.”
Just going to butt in here: from Pew Research, in 2017:
As Donald Trump’s administration reviews U.S. policies on the detainment and interrogation of terrorism suspects, the public is divided over whether it is ever acceptable for the country to use torture in anti-terror efforts.
Overall, 48% say there are some circumstances under which the use of torture is acceptable in U.S. anti-terrorism efforts; about as many (49%) say there are no circumstances under which the use of torture is acceptable.
About seven-in-ten Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (71%) say there are some circumstances where it is acceptable for the U.S. to use torture. By contrast, 67% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say there are no circumstances under which this is acceptable. Within both parties there are differences in views by ideology: Conservative Republicans are 18 percentage points more likely than moderate and liberal Republicans to say there are circumstances where it is acceptable for the U.S. to use torture in anti-terrorism efforts (79% vs. 61%); among Democrats, liberals are 11 points more likely than moderates and conservatives to say there are no circumstances where the U.S. use of torture is acceptable (74% vs. 63%).
30% in Russia compared to 48% in the United States. And Russia is the “culture of cruelty”?
As the Economist notes, Alexander Yakovlev, a democratic reformer who worked under Mikhail Gorbachev, warned us in the late 1990s: “The danger of fascism in Russia is real because since 1917 we have become used to living in a criminal world with a criminal state in charge. Banditry, sanctified by ideology — this wording suits both communists and fascists.”
The fascist aesthetic of redemptive, regenerative violence serves the fascist philosophy of national purification through the “self-detoxification of society” (Putin’s phrase). So, genocide, understood to encompass the erasure of an entire people’s cultural identity, flows inexorably from fascism. Andrew Stuttaford, writing for National Review, notes that Russians are not only destroying Ukraine’s cultural signifiers (churches, monuments, etc.), they are forcibly relocating to Russia more than “a million Ukrainians … among them hundreds of thousands of children, including, reportedly, orphans — some young enough to forget their identity and their language.”
As opposed to just, like, killing them? Like, okay, I don’t fundamentally disagree with the idea that forced relocations of large groups of people can constitute a genocide - it certainly can, given the circumstances - but in this case, the alternative was…? Either they’d be shot by Ukrainian artillery, or they’d be in pretty terrible conditions either way living in a bombed-out region of their country. Living in Russia doesn’t sound bad compared to that, provided they’re well-cared for and so on.
“The engine of fascism,” the Economist says, “does not have a reverse gear. … It will seek to expand both geographically and into people’s private lives.” As Mussolini, the first fascist, said: “Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.”
You know what else doesn’t have a reverse gear? You know what depends on infinite, exponential growth to function as an ideology and system?
Putin’s regime encourages the public to show support for the Ukraine war by displaying the “Z” sign, which the Economist calls a “half-swastika.” Fascism might flourish more in this century than it did in the previous one.
You know what? I agree with that last sentence. Well, not entirely, as fascism fundamentally requires mass politics and I don’t see any indication that we’re getting much of that on the right wing, due to a mixture of atomization and simply that the capitalists have enough power to not need mass politics to build political legitimacy. But the modern equivalent of fascism will certainly bloom, like a corpse-flower, in the West in the coming decades. Not so much in the East.
- Can America Save AMLO’s Energy Policy From Himself? Forbes
Man, American imperialists are really running out of material here. We’re about 5 years away from a headline like “America needs to go into Venezuela and take all their resources for our own industries.” Because why even bother hiding it behind a veil of “[insert country] needs freedom and democracy - their citizens beg to be liberated from [their leader]”? Virtually nobody in America gives a shit about their foreign policy aside from their own little affectations that they then proceed to do nothing about.
The Biden Administration is considering trade action against Mexico because of its nationalistic energy policy. In point of fact, under NAFTA, energy was excluded from free trade actions because of recognition that oil was such a sensitive subject for Mexico that it would have blocked the entire deal. However, Mexico began reforming its energy sector under one of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO)’s predecessor, Enrique Pena Nieto, and it was relatively successful, with new oil discoveries and a spate of renewable energy projects.
But AMLO, upon achieving power, argued for undoing the reforms claiming, among other things, that the reforms had created the well-established mess at Pemex. In reality, not only did that mess predate the reforms, but the mess was the result of just the type of political interference that AMLO was embracing.
The company had been used as a piggy-bank for the government, forcing it to borrow tens of billions of dollars to cover its operations. The labor union, with its ties to the long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), had excessive power over personnel decisions leading to feather-bedding while politicians often rewarded allies with contracts. Mexican oil production had been in a long-term slump and it has been importing natural gas—and sometimes gasoline […]
Of course, importing gasoline is not necessarily unwise, since the refinery industry usually operates with very thin (even negative) margins, so that it is often cheaper to import gasoline than build a new refinery. Unfortunately, AMLO made building a new refinery one of his flagship projects, with a price tag that has now reached $12 billion and may go higher, as Pemex struggles to meet the President’s unrealistic deadline.
The situation is even more absurd than this, with the country’s existing refineries operating at less than 50% of capacity, an abysmal record the result of years of underfunding the sector. Lacking detailed inside knowledge about the company, it is nonetheless a rule of thumb that repairing/rejuvenating existing capacity costs much less than building a greenfield facility. Which merely affirms that the new refinery, being built in the President’s home state of Tabasco (shocking, I know), is merely a prestige project, not one that makes economic sense.
Like many politicians, AMLO seems impervious to reality, embracing a 1960s leftist ideology that demonizes the private sector. In this, he is emulating such economic thinkers as Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro — except their thinking has resulted in abysmal economic performance.
Because of the sanctions you put on them. Right? Either sanctions do nothing and it’s every sanctioned country’s fault 100% that they are failing to achieve a healthy Money Line, in which case we should remove them all from every country, or they do something, in which case Venezuela and Cuba’s poor economic performance (whatever that happens to mean to a capitalist) is not the fault of socialism. There’s a certain term for when somebody believes two contradictory ideas at the same time… hmm…
- I’m Taiwanese and I Want to Thank Nancy Pelosi NYT
I read the headline and was like “Finally, a good Dipshittery article for today.” The journalists have been distracted by Taiwan as of late but the takes haven’t been all that juicy - or, they’re just making the same bullshit articles about Ukraine that they’re written three times a week since the beginning of the war.
As a Taiwanese, I’m sometimes asked what it’s like living in “the most dangerous place on earth.”
I’m not sure if Taiwan ranks even in my top 10 of most dangerous places on Earth. Top 20, even.
That’s what The Economist labeled Taiwan last year, and not without reason. Taiwan’s people have lived for decades under Chinese rhetorical threats to absorb the island. And as our huge Communist-ruled neighbor has developed into a military power, those threats now have teeth, which China has repeatedly bared in recent years through military exercises and violations of our air space in an escalating bullying campaign.
We are bracing for more pressure now after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s whirlwind visit to Taipei. China often reacts furiously when any U.S. official visits Taiwan, but this time feels different. Beijing has a special loathing for Ms. Pelosi because of her frequent criticism of the Chinese Communist Party’s political repression and human rights violations, and President Xi Jinping of China, in a call with President Biden, had earlier warned the United States not to intervene in Taiwan.#
We are not afraid. After years of constant threats by Beijing, Taiwan’s people do not panic easily.
But we also cannot stand alone. Ms. Pelosi’s visit was a welcome expression of U.S. solidarity with Taiwan and I, for one, am deeply grateful to her for shrugging off Beijing’s threats of retaliation. But other democracies must also summon the courage to stand with us.
Taiwan is critical to the entire democratic project. We are a vibrant democracy, the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, and one of the first to elect a female leader — our current president Tsai Ing-wen — who won office in her own right without the aid of family political connections. We are a successful economy, with some of the highest living standards in Asia and a center of the global semiconductor industry. We have maintained one of the world’s lowest Covid death rates without resorting to the harsh lockdowns imposed by China.
If Taiwan were brought to heel by China, the world would lose a shining example of democracy and the liberal international economic order at a time when the authoritarian tentacles of the likes of Russia and China are expanding.
Huh, this Taiwanese person sure has an opinion that is 100% exactly the fucking same as every single western outlet on Taiwan. It’s strange how they have absolutely nothing of real substance to add to those arguments other than the fact that she happened to be born there, or perhaps currently lives there.
In fact, it is precisely for these reasons that China threatens Taiwan: because China is afraid of us. Each of Taiwan’s 23 million people is a living, breathing rebuttal of the Communist Party’s insistence that its repressive, authoritarian model is superior to democracy and the only mode of government suitable for Chinese society. Seizing Taiwan would not only fulfill Mr. Xi’s nationalistic goal of annexing the island but would also destroy the evidence that glaringly disproves Beijing’s Communist propaganda.
These critical points are often overlooked. Taiwan is usually treated as a marginalized pawn on the chessboard of the big powers and portrayed as such by the global media. Ms. Pelosi’s trip was a perfect example. Most media coverage focused on the tension that her trip created between the United States and China. Rarely does anyone bother to ask what the Taiwanese want. The answer: To live our democratic way of life without outside interference, just as any democracy would.
When Mao Zedong’s Communist forces won the Chinese Civil War in 1949, China’s Nationalist regime, led by Chiang Kai-shek, fled to Taiwan and ruled with martial law. Civil liberties were curtailed, and regime opponents suffered greatly.
Growing up in the 1980s, my fellow classmates and I were forbidden at school from speaking in the Taiwanese dialect that we spoke at home. Chiang died in 1975 but his regime still clung to the fantasy that it would someday “recover the mainland.” Our Taiwanese identity was viewed as a threat and was suppressed.
That seems so long ago. Through the efforts of democracy advocates and pragmatic post-Chiang leaders, Taiwan evolved peacefully into a firm democracy with its own political system, judiciary and military. We freely elect our own leaders and openly criticize them. People no longer talk about “recovering the mainland.”
It was 40 extremely long years ago that we were under brutal repression by our government, but that’s all in the past now! So much has changed! By the way, it was only 30 short years ago that China executed ten trillion protestors in the Tiananmen Square protests, and nothing has changed since then.
Many Taiwanese grew up in a time of democracy and prosperity, and all of us — young and old — cherish our homeland just the way it is. China’s threats only make us appreciate it more.
This is not to say that we are completely sanguine about our situation.
We watched with shock and sadness as Beijing cracked down on Hong Kong’s freedoms — a disturbing glimpse of our own possible future. And Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted fears that China could do the same to us. Beijing insists that there is no comparison between Taiwan and Ukraine, repeating its tired old gospel that Taiwan is an ancient and inseparable part of the Chinese motherland. But we have never been ruled by Communist China for a single day.
The majority of Taiwanese are pragmatic. We do not want a war with China. But we are ready to protect our home if attacked. There are now discussions of defense reform and extending the military conscription period from four months to one year. Some reservists are attending weapons boot camps to refresh their combat training. Others share information on how to pack an emergency kit and on where to shelter if the island is shelled.
A poll in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine showed that 73 percent of Taiwan’s people were willing to take up arms to defend against a Chinese invasion. Our determination to safeguard our beloved homeland should not be underestimated.
How would those numbers compare to literally every single country on Earth? If you polled any person on Earth, and said “Your country is under direct attack by a hated foreign enemy. Would you take up arms to defend your homeland?”, do you think that at least 3/4 of them would say “Yes” in that situation (which of course, differs from the number who would actually resist when the missiles start flying, which would be a small minority)? If anything, I think that the fact that 27% of your fellow countrymen do not want to defend themselves against China is fairly striking.
Not everyone in Taiwan supported Ms. Pelosi’s visit. Many just want Taiwan to keep its head down and refrain from rocking the boat. But that’s one more reason Taiwan should be protected: In a democracy, such differences can be expressed, debated openly and compromises reached. That doesn’t happen on the other side of the Taiwan Strait.
China’s militaristic menacing of Taiwan is a threat to freedom everywhere. Drawing a line in the sand here will require genuine, meaningful support from like-minded democracies, including signing bilateral economic agreements with Taiwan, allowing it to join regional trade organizations to diminish Taiwan’s economic overreliance on China, supporting Taiwan’s participation in international organizations and more gestures like Ms. Pelosi’s visit.
Not all these gestures will be easy, and they carry great risks, often because of China’s infliction of economic pain. After Taiwan opened a representative office in Lithuania last year, for example, China used its economic clout to retaliate with a crippling boycott of Lithuanian products. China applies “divide and conquer” tactics to isolate countries that oppose it. But when democracies, including Taiwan, band together economically, diplomatically and militarily, they stand a better chance of holding their ground against China’s capricious retribution, which is not cost-free for itself either.
Freedom is worth fighting for, and all democracies will be strengthened by standing with Taiwan.
What an absolutely fucking pointless article. You just found a brainwashed university-brained lib to write an article for you and they offer nothing at all besides that which the rest of the westoid journalists could conjure up. I was at least hoping for SOMETHING to latch on to here, to differentiate it somehow from the rest of the shitty articles on Taiwan, but no. This is actually meta dipshittery. It’s even terrible at being a terrible article.
Good Takes that are Dope
For good, or at least decent, analysis of an event or situation - particularly one that hasn’t been covered endlessly before or has a fresh angle.
- Nancy Pelosi Is Rolling the Dice on World War III Jacobin
Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan — a pointless trip that ratchets up tensions with one nuclear-armed superpower just as the United States finds itself knee-deep in a potentially catastrophic proxy war with another.
President Joe Biden is hardly a pacifist. But even he discouraged her from going, noting that the military thought it was a stupid risk. Hell, Thomas Friedman, a New York Times columnist who can generally be counted on to be recklessly enthusiastic about American military power, has described Pelosi’s visit as “dangerous and irresponsible” — arguing that “Taiwan will not be more secure or more prosperous as a result of this purely symbolic visit, and a lot of bad things could happen.”
The United States has poured tens of billions of dollars into Ukraine’s war effort as well as being more directly involved in semi-covert operations to assassinate Russian generals and sink Russian ships. (I don’t know how “covert” an operation is if “intelligence sources” turn right around and brag about it to the New York Times.) Crucially, China so far has not provided similar assistance to its ally Russia — or at least not yet.
According to a “senior U.S. official” quoted by Friedman, President Biden and his national security advisor Jake Sullivan have held a “series of very tough meetings with China’s leadership” — including Biden personally threatening Chinese president Xi Jinping about the economic consequences of military assistance to Russia. So far, it’s worked.
But a calculated diplomatic provocation, like the Speaker of the House paying what looks suspiciously like a state visit to an island claimed by China as part of its territory, could provide fodder to anyone within the Chinese government arguing for a more hawkish posture toward the United States.
Really take a beat to let that part sink in. We’re already closer to the brink of World War III than we’ve been since the Cuban Missile Crisis. The prospect of a third major power being added to a hot war is disturbing. And that’s not even close to the worst-case scenario from increased US-China tensions.
In response to Pelosi’s visit, China has announced live-fire drills that include coordinates within ten miles of Taiwan’s coast — a direct challenge to Taiwanese sovereignty. (China conducted similar drills during another standoff twenty-six years ago, but these are aimed much closer to Taiwan’s coast.) While the probability of an all-out war between China and Taiwan is still low, there’s no doubt that Pelosi has raised that probability — a few months after Joe Biden recklessly abandoned the long-term American posture of “strategic ambiguity” about what the United States would do in such a war.
“You didn’t want to get involved in the Ukraine conflict militarily for obvious reasons,” a reporter asked Biden in late May. “Are you willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan if it comes to that?”
Biden’s terrifying monosyllabic answer was, “Yes.”
In Taiwan, Pelosi suggested that China’s reaction to her deliberate diplomatic provocation reflects a sexist double standard. Referring to a visit in April from Lindsey Graham and several other senators, Pelosi said that China “didn’t say anything when the men came.”
This is a nonsensical defense for at least two reasons. First, Pelosi seems to have forgotten that the Speaker of the House, being constitutionally in the line of succession to the presidency, has always been regarded by foreign governments as an official representative of the United States in a way that rank-and-file senators are not. Second, China did say something about these senatorial visits, officially warning the United States that it was “going down a dangerous path.”
This is the first time an American of Pelosi’s rank has visited the country since then speaker Newt Gingrich went there in 1997. And as Michael Swaine of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft explained on Democracy Now, even citing that apparent precedent for Pelosi’s trip is misleading.
That understanding was that, on the Chinese side, Beijing wouldn’t surrender its territorial claim to Taiwan or disclaim its right to use force within what it considers to be its sovereign territory, but, implicitly, it would focus on a long-term pursuit of peaceful unification. On the US side, Washington would accept Beijing’s claim that there was only “One China” but refrain from adjudicating which government — Beijing’s or Taipei’s — had the valid claim to sovereignty over it. Meanwhile, it would reserve the right to arm Taiwan for the purpose of self-defense. That awkward compromise has sometimes felt very shaky. But it’s kept the peace for decades.
Bloomerism and Hope
For events that show that a better, more equitable, and happier world is possible than the neoliberal hell we inhabit.
- Kansas Votes Overwhelmingly To Protect Abortion Popular Resistance
Kansans have voted to protect abortion rights in their state. Yes, Kansas — the deep red state where Trump won by more than 15 percentage points last election cycle has voted to protect abortion rights. In fact, Kansas has a history of violence against abortion providers, including the murder of abortion doctor George Tiller in 2009.But the vote wasn’t even close. At the time of publishing, the vote was roughly 60% in favor of abortion rights and 40% against. It was overwhelmingly in favor of protecting abortion rights in the state, with a huge voter turnout and by a wide margin.