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- Ukraine halts Russian oil supply to EU RT
Ukraine’s state oil pipeline operator Ukrtransnafta has stopped pumping Russian crude through the southern branch of the Druzhba system to the EU, RIA Novosti news agency reported on Monday, citing Russia’s Transneft.
According to the report, transit supplies have been halted to Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Igor Demin, spokesperson for the president of Transneft, told the agency that transit through Belarus in the direction of Poland and Germany continues.
Demin explained that Russia cannot make payments for transit due to EU sanctions, although the Ukrainian company is insisting on 100% prepayment for its oil transportation services.
Transneft stressed that it is working on alternative payment options for oil transit services via Ukraine, and has sent an appeal to Gazprombank.
Druzhba, which is one of the longest pipeline networks in the world, carries crude some 4,000 kilometers from the eastern part of European Russia to refineries in the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.
- Oil Prices Jump As Russian Oil Supplies Halted To Eastern Europe Forbes
Ukraine’s suspension of Russian oil to Eastern Europe sent oil prices soaring Tuesday morning, after Russian oil company Transneft announced Ukraine had not received transfer fees for the oil for nearly a week due to Western sanctions, renewing fears of supply shortages.
Brent Crude Oil shot up 1.13% Tuesday morning, hitting $97.78 per barrel, while West Texas Intermediate increased 1.3%, to $92.06, following the announcement from Transneft, Russia’s pipeline monopoly.
Transneft wrote in a statement obtained by Reuters that it had paid a transfer fee to Ukraine, but the money was returned because of European Union sanctions against Russia for its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
Ukraine’s decision to halt Russian oil affects the southern leg of the Druzhba pipeline, which feeds Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, according to Transneft.
Hungary’s oil reserves now sit at 28.6 million barrels, leaving it with enough oil for one year of consumption, while the Czech Republic has 15 million barrels (less than a year) and Slovakia has 9 million barrels in reserves (less than a year), according to the site Worldometer.
The Czech Republic imported 3,417 kilotons (2.2 million barrels) of Russian oil in 2021, more than it imported from any other country, according to Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade.
The news came amid a steady two-month decline in gas prices, which had momentarily assuaged fears of a pending recession in Europe (Brent crude prices had been declining since it hit a $123.58 peak on June 22). The European Union has also been embracing a potential energy shortage as Russia threatens to cut off oil and gas supplies to the West. Speaking to member countries in a conference last month, European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pushed for a 15% cut in gas use through March, in response to a shutoff of Russian gas — which she called a “likely scenario.” The plea came a week after Russia shut down the Nord Stream I pipeline for maintenance, sparking fears a routine measure could be prolonged into a long-term closure in response to Western sanctions. The pipeline has since been restarted. In June, the EU adopted a round of sanctions (the sixth overall) targeted at Russian oil, with embargoes starting Dec. 5 on crude oil, and Feb. 5, 2023 on petroleum products — with an exemption from oil imported via pipeline.
- Ban Russian visitors, Zelensky urges West BBC
Russians should “live in their own world until they change their philosophy”, Mr Zelensky told The Washington Post.
Such a ban, he argued, would be more effective than the current sanctions, which bar Russian airlines and officials linked to the Kremlin.
Russians can still get EU and US visas.
Mr Zelensky’s call may get only limited support, as Russia - despite sanctions - has extensive global business ties and Russian tourists are still welcome in holiday destinations such as Egypt, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
But on Tuesday, Estonia’s Prime Minister Kaja Kallas tweeted: “Stop issuing tourist visas to Russians. Visiting Europe is a privilege, not a human right.”
Last month, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics told the Politico website that EU countries should restrict issuing visas for Russians, with an exemption for humanitarian reasons.
And on Monday their Nordic neighbour Finland also backed restrictions on Russian visitors.
- Russian state-owned airline Aeroflot is stripping parts from working planes because of a spares shortage, report says Business Insider
Russian state-owned airline Aeroflot has begun stripping parts from working aircraft to mitigate a shortage of spares caused by Western sanctions, Reuters reported.
At least one nearly-new Airbus A350 and a Russian-made Sukhoi Superjet 100, as well as a couple Boeing 737s and Airbus A320s, are among the planes being cannibalized, a source told the news agency.
- Strong ruble draws foreign workers to Russia RT
Over 3.12 million people entered Russia in the second quarter of 2022 to work, TASS reported on Monday citing data from FinExpertiza audit and consulting network.
“In the second quarter of 2022 there were 4.16 million foreigners on migration registration… while 3.12 million people (75%) indicated work as the purpose of arrival. This is a record high quarterly value for the entire period of available statistics since 2017,” the analytics firm said in its report, seen by TASS.
The number of arrivals seeking work is a third more than the same time last year, when 2.34 million foreigners came to work in Russia.
According to the head of FinExpertiza Elena Trubnikova, the first quarter of the year was marked by an outflow of labor migrants due to the sharp ruble drop amid pressure of Ukraine-related sanctions. However, since the ruble recouped its losses in early April due to changes in Russia’s monetary policy and counter-sanctions, the number of arrivals surged. According to the analyst, while some of the migrants were in Russia before, many new people were registered over the past three months.
- Russian exclave exhausts EU’s goods transit limits RT
EU sanctions, regulating the quantity of goods that can be delivered from mainland Russia to Kaliningrad, are preventing the exclave from receiving all the items it needs, the local governor said on Tuesday.
“Today we have exhausted the EU limits on transportation of some types of cargo, for example, certain types of iron, steel, oil and oil products, fertilizers, antifreeze and timber,” Anton Alikhanov was quoted by RBC news agency as saying at the Valdai Discussion Club.
- Finland explains removal of monument to ‘world peace’ RT
Finland removed a peace monument, which was donated by Russia during late Soviet times, from its pedestal in Helsinki on Monday. The sculpture was deemed inappropriate after Moscow launched its military operation in Ukraine in February.
The 6.5-meter (19.6-foot) bronze monument titled ‘World Peace’ was taken down on Thursday, but due to its size and weight, it took the authorities several days to ferry it out of the city by barge.
The monument, which consists of five figures raising their fists, was donated to Helsinki by Moscow and unveiled to the public in January 1990.
I’m assuming that Finland has also taken down the monument when America invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, toppled Libya’s government, everybody got involved in Syria, and Saudi Arabia and the US teamed up to kill hundreds of thousands of Yemeni citizens?
- German economy to lose $265 billion in added value due to war, high energy prices, study says Reuters
Germany’s economy will lose more than 260 billion euros ($265 billion) in added value by 2030 due to the Ukraine war and high energy prices, spelling negative effects for the labour market, according to a study by the Institute for Employment Research (IAB).
In comparison with expectations for a peaceful Europe, Germany’s price-adjusted gross domestic product (GDP) will be 1.7% lower next year and there will be about 240,000 fewer people in employment, said the study published on Tuesday.
The employment level is expected to stay at around this level until 2026, when expansive measures will gradually begin to outweigh the negative effects and lead to a plus of about 60,000 gainfully employed in 2030.
- Germany Forced To Tap Gas Storage As Russia Halts Nord Stream Operations Oil Price
Germany withdrew on Tuesday more natural gas from storage than the gas volume injected into storage sites for the first time since April, Russian news agency TASS reported on Thursday, citing data from Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE).
The first German net withdrawal of gas since April occurred as Russia halted on Monday all gas deliveries via Nord Stream with the start of the two-week annual maintenance of the pipeline carrying gas from Russia to Germany.
Belgium also withdrew more gas on Tuesday than injections to storage because of an incident at the Sleipner gas field offshore Norway, which impacted supply to the Zeebrugge gas receiving terminal in Belgium, Russia’s agency TASS reports.
Europe is racing against time to fill its gas storage sites to at least 80% by November 1, per the new EU recommendations for energy security after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
As of July 13, gas storage in the EU was 62.6% full, according to data from Gas Infrastructure Europe. Germany’s storage sites were 64.53% full.
- Europe’s energy crisis has gotten so bad that French power stations are being allowed to break environmental rules as a fresh heatwave looks set to cause more chaos Business Insider
The European energy crisis set into motion by the Russian invasion of Ukraine shows no signs of abating and looks to deepen further in coming weeks as record heatwaves hit the continent.
In France, the crisis is so bad that power stations are being permitted to break environmental rules to stay open as the country struggles to maintain national energy supplies, according to a report from Bloomberg.
The French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) granted a temporary waiver allowing five nuclear plants across the country to dispense more than the authorized amount of hot water into rivers, the news agency reported.
The waiver, reportedly in place until September, allows Electricite de France to keep the energy plants operating amid national pressure on supply.
- Historic French site bans all Russians RT
The French Defense Ministry has banned Russian nationals from entering the medieval royal residence of Chateau de Vincennes, Agence France Presse (AFP) has learned. The castle east of Paris is the headquarters of the Defense Historical Service, the French ministry’s archive.
The ministry issued an internal directive restricting access for Russians to all military facilities, including the historic site, after Russia attacked Ukraine, AFP reported on Monday, citing a source.
The revelation emerged after the news agency followed up on a story of two Russian women, who were denied entry to the chateau in late July. One of them said the guards checked their passports before telling them they could not enter due to their nationality.
The woman is a journalist and said she left her home country five months ago because of the conflict with Ukraine, the report said.
I’m fascinated by the idea that Russia could be sending in spies to break into the archive of the Chateau de Vincennes, in the garb of simple tourists and journalists, and steal all the information.
- Bank of England will probably need to raise rates again, Ramsden says Reuters
The Bank of England will probably have to raise interest rates further from their current 14 year-high to tackle inflation pressures that are gaining a foothold in Britain’s economy, BoE Deputy Governor Dave Ramsden said.
Inflation’s spread was now showing up in rising British pay and companies' pricing plans, having originally been triggered by the reopening of the world economy from COVID-19 lockdowns and then by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Ramsden told Reuters.
- A third of Brits face poverty with energy bills set to hit $5,000 CNN
Nearly one third of households in the United Kingdom will face poverty this winter after paying energy bills that are set to soar again in January, campaigners say.
About 10.5 million households will be in fuel poverty for the first three months of next year, according to estimates from the End Fuel Poverty Coalition (EFPC) published on Tuesday — meaning that their income after paying for energy will fall below the poverty line.
The UK government defines poverty as household income of less than 60% of the UK median, which stood at £31,000 ($37,500) in 2021, according to official statistics.
- UK Electricity Theft Breaks Records As Energy Bills Soar Oil Price
A record number of people stole electricity in England and Wales last year, according to new figures released by the Home Office.
Police forces received 3,600 reports of “dishonest use of electricity” in the 12 months to March 2022, an increase of 13 percent on the previous year and the highest level since records began in 2013.
It comes after a protest website launched recently urging people not to pay their electricity bills from October.
The average annual UK gas and electricity bill rose from £1,400 in October 2021 to £2,000, after the government removed a price cap, which limited how much suppliers could charge customers.
- UK braced for drought conditions in October Guardian
The UK is braced for drought conditions until October, with rivers forecast to be low and exceptionally low in central and southern England, according to the UK Centre of Ecology and Hydrology.
This could have dire consequences for farming, as soil in much of the country is too dry to drill, and many crops for harvest next year and the end of this year need to be drilled by the end of October to be viable.
South-east England has had 144 days with little or no rain since January, which is the longest dry period since the 1970s, according to Met Office figures.
- Britons Advised To Stop Showering To Conserve Energy Oil Price
Water utilities in the UK are advising customers to save water and energy by using damp towels or spray bottles instead of taking showers during a heatwave and drought this summer.
Customers say the pieces of advice water companies are giving are “laughable,” including looking up a four-minute-long song to take a shower or collecting the cold water in the shower until the water heats up, the Mail on Sunday reports. Other advice includes using oak barrels to collect rainwater.
Water supplies in the UK are reduced due to the recent heatwaves and a lack of rain, and some utilities have already introduced hosepipe bans in some areas to save water resources.
Cat Hobbs, a campaigner at We Own It, which calls for water companies to be put into public ownership, told Mail on Sunday: “Are the firms competing to offer the daftest advice? Who has an oak barrel, even if there was any chance of rain to fill it? ‘Water firms’ hypocrisy is incredible.”
Customers and campaigners accuse water utilities of paying millions of pounds to their bosses and shareholders while giving “daft” advice to people to save resources.
- UK government honoured anti-abortion figure before editing women’s rights statement Guardian
Every day, the UK desperately tries to prove that it can also strip away human rights from its people just like the big boy, America, does.
The British government presented a vehemently anti-abortion former US envoy with an award for his services to freedom of religion just days before watering down a statement on gender equality to remove commitments to reproductive rights.
Sam Brownback, a former governor of Kansas who targeted abortion rights while in office and then became Donald Trump’s ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, was given the award during the international ministerial conference for freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) held in London last month.
Organised by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and opened by the Tory leadership candidate Liz Truss, the gathering has since become engulfed in controversy after a statement signed by more than 20 countries was quietly removed from the FCDO website and significantly edited.
It has now emerged that a number of participants to the conference, which Fiona Bruce, the prime minister’s special envoy for religious freedom or belief, was involved in organising, are known for their strong anti-abortion views.
Three, including one speaker, were from ADF International, the global wing of a US legal advocacy organisation considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC), which monitors extremist groups in the US.
Founded by leaders of the Christian right, the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) has long opposed abortion. It writes on its website: “In 2022, the pro-life movement achieved what was thought impossible by many: the overturning of Roe v Wade. But there’s more work to be done.”
Other participants were from the Religious Freedom Institute (RFI), a rightwing thinktank based in Washington DC, which, alongside the ADF, is pushing for more laws protecting anti-choice medics from performing “procedures in violation of their conscience”, from abortion to gender transition surgery.
100% chance that the abortion ban in the UK that will arrive in the next few years will be blamed on trans people. If a fucking ladder falls over in that country, the TERFs get their pitchforks out and begin saying the ominous sentence: “I just have some concerns…"
- Poland threatens to turn ‘all our cannon’ on EU in rule-of-law row Guardian
Poland’s national-conservative government has significantly toughened its rhetoric in its rule-of-law standoff with Brussels, threatening to turn “all our cannon” on the European Commission and if necessary build a coalition to unseat its president.
If the EU executive “tries to push us against the wall we will have no choice but to pull out all the weapons in our arsenal” and respond “an eye for an eye”, said Krzysztof Sobolewski, the general secretary of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party.
Sobolewski told Polish state radio that if the commission did not release €35bn (£29.5bn) in pandemic relief funds Warsaw would take legal action against Brussels, veto EU initiatives and assemble an alliance to dismiss Ursula von der Leyen and her college of commissioners.
The threat came after Jarosław Kaczyński, who resigned as deputy prime minister in June but remains the chair of PiS and Poland’s de facto leader, said in an strongly worded interview in Sieci magazine that Warsaw had “no reason to fulfil its obligations” to the bloc.
“We have shown maximum goodwill, but [our] concessions have yielded nothing,” Kaczyński said, insisting Poland had respected its side of an agreement to roll back some of its controversial judicial reforms in exchange for EU funds.
Putin is looking on at Europe’s unity and stability in complete shock and fear. I bet he didn’t expect us to be such a unified bloc against him when he started his war!
Asia and Oceania
- Chinese scientists develop salt-tolerant soybean that may reduce reliance on imports SCMP
Chinese scientists say they have created a salt-tolerant soybean species that could reduce the country’s dependence on imports from places like Brazil, where soy production is driving deforestation.
The team from the Shandong Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Jinan say their new soybean species can yield 4.5 tonnes per hectare – more than twice the average – in saline-alkali soil, the official Science and Technology Daily reported on July 28.
- China’s exports to Russia soar RT
Russia bought $6.7 billion worth of goods from China in July, an increase of more than a third from the previous month, Bloomberg reported on Monday, citing data from China’s customs authority.
According to the report, Chinese goods are filling the void left by the exodus of western brands amid unprecedented sanctions.
Chinese shipments to Russia surged 22.2% in July from a year earlier in dollar terms, shaking off the decline of 17% in June and marking the first growth since March, Reuters has calculated based on the data released.
Imports growth from Russia sustained an elevated pace at 49.3% in July, though slower than the 56% gain in June and the 79.6% rise in May.
Overall, China-Russia bilateral trade stood at $97.71 billion in the first seven months of 2022, up 29% on a yearly basis.
- Sri Lanka asks China to postpone ship visit after India protests Al Jazeera
Sri Lanka says it has asked China to defer a planned visit of a Chinese ship to the island country after initially approving its arrival this week, yielding to diplomatic pressure from neighbour India to keep the military vessel out.
The Yuan Wang 5 was due to arrive on Thursday at the Chinese-built and leased Hambantota port in Sri Lanka’s south for five days for replenishment. It is currently sailing in the east Indian Ocean, according to Refinitiv Eikon.
Foreign security analysts describe the Yuan Wang 5 as one of China’s latest generation space-tracking ships, used to monitor satellite, rocket and intercontinental ballistic missile launches.
The Pentagon says Yuan Wang ships are operated by the Strategic Support Force of the People’s Liberation Army.
New Delhi fears its bigger and more powerful rival China will use Hambantota as a military base in India’s back yard. The $1.5bn port is near the main shipping route from Asia to Europe.
- Bill to delay Solomon Islands election until December 2023 prompts concern Guardian
A bill to delay elections in Solomon Islands has been submitted to its parliament, officials said, prompting concern from opposition politicians.
Xi Jinping has injected the Totalitarianism Virus into the country and soon it will be an Orwellian nightmare. God help us all.
Manasseh Sogavare’s government has said it wants to extend parliament until after it hosts the Pacific Games in November 2023, for which China has donated seven stadiums and venues that are being built by Chinese companies.
The United States and other Pacific nations have expressed concern over Solomon Islands’ security ties with China, which they say have regional implications.
China has also sought to strike a sweeping regional trade and security deal with Pacific islands, including governance exchanges.
The prime minister’s office said in July that Solomon Islands did not have the resources to host the Pacific Games and hold an election in 2023.
- Erdogan and Assad may hold Putin-brokered talks RT
The leaders of Turkey and Syria - Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Bashar al-Assad - could hold telephone talks after it was suggested by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish state media reported on Tuesday citing sources within the Ankara government.
The news comes after Erdogan’s visit to the southern Russian city of Sochi last week, where he discussed the issue of Syria with President Putin. The Turkiye newspaper reports that after the meeting, Putin recommended that Ankara work as much as possible with the Assad government to combat terrorism as such an approach would be “much more accurate.”
The Russian leader also reportedly suggested to Erdogan that Turkey and Syria should hold a meeting, but, as reported by Turkiye, Ankara said it was “too early” for something like that. However, it was stated that a telephone conversation between Erdogan and Assad was likely to take place.
Erdogan and Putin reaffirmed their commitment to the political process in Syria and agreed it was important to maintain the “political unity and territorial integrity” of the Middle Eastern nation and vowed to act “together in full coordination” to fight any terrorist organizations.
- Hezbollah says will ‘sever’ Israel’s hands if it reaches for disputed gas Iraqi News
Lebanon’s Hezbollah chief Hasan Nasrallah warned Israel on Tuesday against reaching for offshore gas reserves at a time US-mediated talks are aiming to settle a maritime border dispute.
“The hand that reaches for any of this wealth will be severed,” Nasrallah, head of the Iran-backed Shiite Muslim political and military movement, told supporters in southern Beirut, a Hezbollah stronghold.
“Lebanon’s oil, gas and water resources must remain under its control and no one should be allowed to rob the country,” he said in his televised speech marking the Shiite mourning ritual of Ashura.
- Buyer rejects Ukrainian grain cargo RT
The first grain cargo to leave Ukraine’s newly reopened ports has been rejected by a buyer in Lebanon due to a five-month delay in shipment, Bloomberg reported on Monday.
According to the outlet, citing Ukraine’s embassy in Beirut, the Sierra Leone-flagged vessel the Razoni, which was loaded with about 26,500 tons of corn, is currently in the Mediterranean.
The Lebanese government reportedly is not involved with the shipment, as the cargo was bound for the private sector.
A new buyer is being sought for the grain in Lebanon or elsewhere, according to the Ukrainian embassy. The vessel’s destination changed on Sunday from Tripoli to “awaiting orders,” ship-tracking data showed.
- 30 Palestinians wounded as Israel mounts West Bank raid Iraqi News
At least 30 Palestinians were wounded in heavy clashes Tuesday as Israeli troops raided a house in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, two days after deadly fighting in Gaza was halted by a truce.
“Israeli army and special forces are surrounding the house of a wanted man in Nablus. There is exchange of fire,” the army said in a statement.
- We are not Ukraine, so they will not support our resistance Al Jazeera
It felt a little like bad taste to put an article about Palestinian oppression in Good Takes, but for the record, this is a good article about the hypocrisy of liberals. The minimum position for me to take you seriously about your sympathy for Ukrainians is that you support Palestine and BDS and firmly denounce Israel. If not, please hop on your unicycle and go back to the circus.
This week, in an operation chillingly named Truthful Dawn, the Israeli regime once again rained bombs on the besieged Gaza Strip. The three-day bombardment killed at least 44 Palestinians, including 15 children, and injured hundreds of others.
As if 15 years of crippling siege was not enough, year after year the coastal strip has been subjected to horrific “operations” in which thousands have been killed, hundreds of thousands have been injured and essential infrastructure has been completely destroyed.
Back in 2012, the UN had predicted Gaza would be unliveable by 2020. By so many measures, the prediction has proved right. And yet, more than two million Palestinians continue to live there. Most of them do not live there by choice – recent polls estimate that some 40 percent of those residing in Gaza would leave if they could.
It is not surprising that so many cannot see a future for themselves in Gaza.
Life has not been easy for Palestinians in Gaza for many years, but with every “war”, every “operation” and every attack by the Israeli leaders, the conditions are becoming even more difficult.
Gaza’s Ministry of Health now predicts, for example, that the health services – which have long been suffering because of the blockade – will soon come to an almost complete stop due to the power outages and depletion of fuel for the generators. Indeed in addition to this latest bombardment, the Israeli regime has kept all the crossings into Gaza closed, preventing the entry of fuel and other essential goods.
The article continues to describe the conditions in Gaza, then:
In this state of ongoing and continuous trauma, after the latest devastating assault on Gaza, the international community once again did what it does best and provided the Israeli regime with full impunity.
Countless politicians and diplomats issued statements of concern over the so-called “escalation of violence” and pleaded for a “reduction in tensions” and for “calm”. And they have been careful not to cast Israel as the “perpetrator” of Palestinian suffering – as if five-year-old Alaa Qadoum and five- and 11-year-old brothers Ahmed and Momen Al Nairab simply died of natural circumstances rather than Israel’s bombs. As if the Israeli regime has not been killing, maiming and traumatising Palestinians with zero consequences for decades.
Others in the international community did not even bother to sugarcoat their unconditional support for Israeli violence. British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, for example, issued a statement soon after the beginning of operation Truthful Dawn in support of the Israeli regime without mentioning the killing of dozens of Palestinians. “The UK stands by Israel and its right to defend itself,” she said. This sentiment was of course hardly surprising considering the consistent and unwavering support the UK has given to the Israeli regime since its inception. It was also not surprising considering the UK supplies the Israeli regime with military hardware to bomb Gaza.
Palestinians are not naïve. We know that we are not Ukraine. We know that we will not receive the same outpouring of support as Ukrainians. No one will defend our right to resist an occupying force. The international media will not post images glorifying our martyrs. Pop stars, Hollywood actors, and prime ministers will not come and visit families amidst the rubble in Gaza.
The reality is, that without seismic shifts in the global political landscape, the Israeli regime will continue to bomb and kill Palestinians with impunity.
- Palestinians deserve their land and freedom just like Ukrainians do, says South African minister MEMO
South Africa’s Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor has said that the people of Palestine deserve the same attention from the international community that the people of Ukraine receive. Pandor made her comment during a joint press conference with her US counterpart, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in Johannesburg on Monday.
“There is no one in South Africa who supports war,” said the South African minister. “We’ve made that very clear. And we have said that we wish to see intensified efforts at increased diplomacy… and negotiate a settlement of this awful conflict.”
Pandor added that the South African government believes that all principles that are germane to the UN Charter and international humanitarian law must be upheld for all countries, not just some. “Just as much as the people of Ukraine deserve their territory and freedom, the people of Palestine deserve their territory and freedom. And we should be equally concerned at what is happening to the people of Palestine as we are with what is happening to the people of Ukraine.”
- Russia puts Iranian satellite into orbit Reuters
Russia launched an Iranian satellite into orbit on Tuesday from southern Kazakhstan, just three weeks after President Vladimir Putin and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei pledged to work together against the West.
The remote Khayyam sensing satellite, named after the 11th Century Persian poet and philosopher Omar Khayyam, was launched by a Russian Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and entered orbit successfully, Russia’s space agency said.
Iran’s space agency has received the first telemetry data sent from the satellite, the official IRNA news agency said.
- Iran makes first import order using cryptocurrency Reuters
Iran has registered its first official order for importing $10 million worth of goods in cryptocurrency this week, the semi-official Tasnim agency reported on Tuesday quoting an official from the Ministry of Industry, Mine and Trade.
- Iran Nuclear Talks End With ‘Final Text’, No Agreement Oil Price
Talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran ended in Vienna on Monday, with a final draft that, if agreed upon by all parties, will see a restoration of the accord and an increase in Iranian exports to world markets.
The final draft, submitted by European officials, must be signed by both U.S. President Joe Biden and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in the coming weeks, when the deadline for talks expires, Bloomberg reports.
On Monday, Iran’s chief negotiator in the talks returned to Tehran where the final draft will be reviewed and decided on by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“We worked for four days and today the text is on the table,” a European official speaking on condition of anonymity told reporters. “The negotiation is finished, it’s the final text… and it will not be renegotiated.”
- Algeria to host Desert Shield military drills with Russia for the first time MEMO
The press service of the Russian Southern Military District announced on Tuesday that joint Russia-Algeria anti-terrorism exercises, called Desert Shield 2022, will be held in Algeria for the first time. The exercises are scheduled to be held in November.
According to the Russian news agency TASS, the training will take place at the Hammaguir testing ground in Algeria.
The press service indicated that the exercises will include 80 Russian soldiers from the motor rifle units stationed in the North Caucasus, and 80 Algerian soldiers. The troops will practice searching for, detecting and eliminating terrorist groups in a desert setting.
The first joint Russian-Algerian exercises were held in North Ossetia in October 2021, with the participation of 200 soldiers.
The 2022 schedule of the Russian Southern Military District includes joint exercises with the armed forces of Egypt, Kazakhstan and Pakistan.
- Kenyans Are Being Violently Evicted From Their Homes to Make Room for Developers Jacobin
Rsther Wanjiku Gitau does not like to remember what transpired in May 2020, when she and thousands of others were forcibly evicted from their homes during brutal mass demolitions of a long-established community in Kenya’s capital Nairobi.
“I can’t think about that day without crying,” says Gitau, who is in her seventies. More than two years ago, government demolitions flattened her home in Kariobangi, an informal settlement located about ten kilometers from the city’s central business district.
When Gitau remembers her neighborhood, the Kariobangi North Sewerage estate — or simply the sewage estate, where hundreds of families had established themselves over almost three decades on about twelve acres of land, a rare smile takes over her face.
“I was very happy to be in that place because it was mine,” Gitau says, sitting on a stool in her small one-room home in another area of Kariobangi, where she moved following the evictions. A ray of sunshine enters from outside, illuminating her tear-streaked face. “No one could ask me for rent or why I was there. The community was like one big family. If I ever ran into problems I could immediately go to my neighbor and ask for help. I loved that place because we were united as one.”
But on this morning, during one of Kenya’s worst rainy seasons, Gitau’s life would change forever. About five bulldozers arrived in the area at around 5:30 AM, along with hundreds of police officers. At the time, there was a dusk-to-dawn curfew enforced throughout the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Gitau was inside her small home, made from iron sheets, with her disabled son, who is now forty-five-years-old and cannot live independently.
“I was sleeping at the time,” she says. “I heard people screaming and a lot of noise. So I woke up and ran outside. That’s when I saw bulldozers crushing homes around me. I can still hear the noise of the metal being flattened under the excavators.”
The article continues for quite a while, for those interested.
- Americans are more pessimistic about the housing market than at any time in the last decade Business Insider
Americans haven’t felt this bad about the housing market since 2011, according to a monthly survey.
The Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index fell 2.0 points in July to 62.8%, its lowest in a decade, according to a Monday report. That print also reflects a level well below the all-time high it reached in 2019.
The decline was charged by higher borrowing costs as the Federal Reserve ramps up interest rates to ward off hot-inflation pervading through the US economy, while home affordability is still sky high.
- Shrinking U.S. cattle herd signals more pain from high beef prices Reuters
U.S. consumers grappling with soaring inflation face more pain from high beef prices as ranchers are reducing their cattle herds due to drought and lofty feed costs, a decision that will tighten livestock supplies for years, economists said.
The decline in cattle numbers, combined with stiff costs for other production expenses, illustrate why a recent fall in grain prices to levels not seen since Russia’s invasion of major corn and wheat exporter Ukraine may not immediately translate into lower food prices at the grocery store.
Feed is the largest cost component of raising a cow for beef, so lower grain prices often help to reduce meat prices. But meat companies like Tyson Foods Inc. which reported weaker-than-expected earnings on Monday, must pay top dollar for animals when there are fewer to slaughter. Processors are also paying more for labor, fuel and other items.
“There’s really a lot of distance between the price of those grains and the price of those products at the meat counter,” said Bernt Nelson, economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation.
- U.S. Solar Shipments Are Hit by Import Ban on China’s Xinjiang Region WSJ
The U.S. solar industry is confronting fresh disruptions as U.S. officials crack down on human-rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang region, which produces almost half the world’s supply of a crucial component in solar panels.
Several Chinese solar-panel suppliers, among the world’s largest, have had shipments to the U.S. detained or sent back during the past several weeks as customs agents enforce a new law, industry executives and analysts say.
The extent of the disruption is still hard to gauge: The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, or UFLPA, went into effect at the end of June, and importers, suppliers and customs agents are still feeling their way on what it will take to get goods into the country, the industry executives and analysts say.
Companies must prove that imports weren’t produced by forced labor, and the level of documentation required by authorities so far has caught many in the industry off guard, analysts say.
The industry has struggled in the past few years with a series of disruptions, from rising materials costs to the threat of new tariffs on major panel manufacturers. Lawmakers are trying to address some of those problems with tax incentives and other measures to support the solar industry included in the Inflation Reduction Act, which could pass Congress as soon as this week.
“Look, mack! We can’t have a good climate unless the Uruguayans are set free! It’s like Moses! Hold China accountable, that’s what I said in my phone call to the man, uh, the, uhh, umm, the president of, of, Shangh– Beijing! …Mr Xi, that’s the guy! My big man always said, and god could he drive, if you try and look at the sun without protection, your eyes will hurt! And that’s true for solar as well! Those muslims need protection!"
- Canada’s Oil Province Will Soon Be A Renewable Energy Leader Oil Price
The Canadian province of Alberta, home of the country’s oil and gas sector for decades, is set to undergo a renewable energy capacity surge in the coming years, attracting investments given its vast natural resources and favorable regulatory landscape.
The country’s total renewables capacity is expected to grow from 19.6 gigawatts (GW) in 2021 to almost 45 GW in 2025, driven primarily by growth in onshore wind and solar energy projects. This is not surprising for a country whose power mix is predominantly hydropower-based, but the region leading the charge is surprising.
The bulk of these additions is set to take place in the western province of Alberta – known as the home of the Canadian fossil fuel industry – which today only holds about 3 GW of renewable capacity. Significant large-scale projects in the region are scheduled to come online this year that will push Alberta’s capacity to close to 10 GW before 2023. That total will double again by 2025, reaching almost 21 GW, nearly half of the country’s total.
- Canada is trying to stop Mexico from becoming energy sovereign Canadian Dimension
President of Mexico Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) is currently embroiled in an international dispute that has pitted his government against two of its largest trading partners, the United States and Canada. At the centre of this dispute is energy—always a fraught geopolitical domain, but even moreso in today’s worldwide energy crisis.
AMLO’s administration—a progressive, nationalist, and broadly anti-imperialist one—has made strengthening Mexico’s state-owned energy companies a priority as he attempts to move his country closer to full energy sovereignty. The US and Canada, both of whom favour a steady neoliberal arrangement in Mexico in which the state does little or nothing to impede foreign capital, are attempting to prevent AMLO from making the prospect of Mexican energy sovereignty a reality, as such a development would obstruct the free operation of US and Canadian energy companies in the country.
The Mexican state’s commitment to pursuing energy sovereignty is not only a central pillar in AMLO’s wider project to reassert Mexican sovereignty domestically and abroad; it is also a simple pragmatic move in the midst of the global energy crisis that intensified earlier this year with the war in Ukraine and Western sanctions against Russia. As a result, energy sovereignty is even more popular in Mexico today than it was on the year of AMLO’s election. As Nick Corbishley explains in Naked Capitalism, this growth in popularity is “partly due to the recent masterclass the European Union has given the world on the dangers of depending excessively on foreign states [i.e. Russia] to meet your own energy needs.”
- Third Oil Tank Catches Fire In Massive Fire In Cuba Oil Price
The massive fire at a Cuban oil storage facility started by a lightning strike on Friday has now spread to a third storage tank as firefighters from three countries attempt to gain control of the inferno that has so far claimed the life of at least one person and injured over 125 others, the Associated Press reports.
Late on Friday, lightning struck one of eight tanks at Cuba’s oil storage facility at a supertanker base in the western province of Matanzas, where firefighters–some of whom are still reported missing–struggled to contain the blaze.
On Saturday, the fire spread to a second tank, setting off numerous explosions and causing the tank to collapse. By Monday, strong winds had fanned the flames from the explosion of the second tank, and a third tank caught fire.
- Brazilians fear return to dictatorship as ‘deranged’ Bolsonaro trails in polls Guardian
They were cruel, brutish years. Dissidents languished in torture chambers. Rebels were shot in cold blood. Artists fled abroad.
“It was a time of constant sorrow and fear,” the Brazilian lawyer and former justice minister José Carlos Dias said of the military dictatorship that hijacked his country in 1964 and would rule for more than two decades. “Violence wasn’t just something the torturers enjoyed. It was government policy.”
In 1977, Dias and a group of like-minded legal experts decided they could no longer tolerate the repression and spoke out with a historic pro-democracy manifesto called the “Letter to the Brazilians”.
The document – an extraordinary rebuke to Brazil’s military rulers and watershed moment in the fight for freedom – was read at a packed assembly at São Paulo’s top law school one evening in August that year.
“We denounce as illegitimate all governments that are based on force … A dictatorship is a regime that governs for us, yet without us,” the group’s spokesman, the conservative professor Goffredo da Silva Telles Júnior, proclaimed.
Exactly 45 years later Dias, who defended hundreds of political prisoners during the dictatorship and was arrested three times, will this week return to the same venue to make a similar appeal.
On Thursday morning, intellectuals, impresarios and artists will crowd into one of the university’s courtyards to champion another manifesto inspired by the 1977 rallying cry, called the “Letter to Brazilian Women and Men in Defense of the Democratic Rule of Law”.
“We are living through a moment of immense danger for democratic normality,” warns the 2022 proclamation, which has been signed by more than 800,000 people from across the political spectrum. “There is no room for authoritarian backsliding in today’s Brazil. Dictatorship and torture belong to the past.”
The document – whose signatories include wealthy bankers and tycoons, prominent members of the judiciary and three former presidents – makes no direct mention of the man whose actions inspired its authors. But his identity is crystal clear: Brazil’s dictatorship-admiring far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, who some fear is on the verge of trying to plunge the country back into another era of tyranny.
“I lived under one dictatorship and I do not want to live under another,” said Dias, who helped write both manifestos and is convinced Bolsonaro is plotting to cling to power ahead of a presidential election he looks set to lose.
“The polls show he will be defeated. But there’s no doubt that he’s laying the groundwork for a coup. It’s my belief that he wants to repeat what happened in the Capitol in the United States,” Dias claimed in reference to the 6 January assault on Congress by supporters of Donald Trump.
Is every coup going to be compared to January 6th now? Jesus fucking christ. 9/11 and 1/6 - first as tragedy, then as farce.
The Ukraine War
- Pentagon acknowledges sending previously undisclosed anti-radar missiles to Ukraine CNN
The Pentagon announced Monday that the US has sent anti-radar missiles for Ukrainian aircraft to target Russian radar systems, marking the first time the Defense Department has acknowledged sending the previously undisclosed missile to Ukraine.
- Russia destroys hundreds of US-made rockets in Ukraine - MoD RT
Russian forces have destroyed a large amount of munitions for American-made weapon systems after striking a depot in central Ukraine, Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.
In its daily update, the ministry claimed that the strike was carried out near the village of Uman in Ukraine’s Cherkasy Region via long-range high-precision sea-based weapons and destroyed over 300 rockets for HIMARS multiple rocket launch systems. A large amount of ammunition for American M777 howitzers was also taken out, it said.
The report follows an update from August 7, when the ministry claimed to have hit over 45,000 tons of NATO-supplied ammunition in southern Ukraine along with five other ammo depots.
- UN Calls For Inspection Of Shelled Ukrainian Nuclear Plant Oil Price
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on August 8 for international inspectors to be given access to the Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant after Ukraine and Russia traded accusations over the recent shelling of the facility.
Any attack on a nuclear plant “is a suicidal thing,” Guterres told a news conference in Japan.
Climate and Space
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.
- Biden suddenly is piling up wins. Can Dems make it stick? Politico
There’s actually been a few of these kinds of articles. I think these journalists doth protest too much about how amazing Joe Biden is. Hopefully nobody here is at all convinced that any of these “victories” are in fact wins in any real sense, and in 4-6 years we’ll be looking back and either not remember them at all or go “Yeah, those crashed and burned pretty hard.” But, hey, enough cynicism: I’m sure that THIS time, the US electoral system can produce good results!
Joe Biden has never had a more productive stretch of his presidency, with wins stacking atop wins at a most opportune time.
But just as the president is hitting his stride, culminating later this week with a major tax, health care and climate change bill, he’s preparing to set off for a long-planned and weeks-long family vacation. The timing of Biden’s downtime — after a bout with the coronavirus that rebounded and prolonged his isolation in Washington — has increased questions about whether the president will begin to reap political benefits of the successes.
White House aides say they aren’t sweating the interlude. But officials and party leaders are scrambling to try and capitalize with what is being described as a mammoth outreach effort coming well before the midterms. Several groups and party committees are lining up to begin amplifying popular aspects of the bill, with the Democratic National Committee soon launching paid TV and digital ads as well as new rounds of spots to run with Black, Latino, and Asian American and Pacific Islander outlets, officials told POLITICO. Separately, Biden-allied Building Back Together is planning to dramatically ramp up its spending on TV, digital and radio once the president signs the legislation.
Already the victories have enlivened beleaguered supporters and injected new optimism across the West Wing. Aides describe a burst of energy in the executive mansion, which had spent months battling in vain to accomplish its agenda, a struggle that stretched so long that many staffers came to believe the wins would never materialize.
Now, they are plotting how to keep Biden in the spotlight — at least intermittently — while he’s away on holiday before he begins the fall campaign in earnest. Alterations are being made to those vacation plans.
The article goes on for a while and I don’t really care about the midterms, so I’ll stop here. But that’s the gist.
- How Russian Propaganda Is Reaching Beyond English Speakers NYT
The day after a missile struck a shopping mall in central Ukraine in June, killing at least 18 people, the Spanish-language arm of Russia’s global television network, RT en Español, took to Facebook to challenge the facts of the attack.
On its account, available across much of Central and South America and even in the United States, the network posted a video statement from a military spokesman claiming that Russia’s air force had bombed a weapons cache supplied by Ukraine’s Western allies. A video released by the Ukrainian government, and survivors of the attack interviewed on the ground by The New York Times, showed otherwise.
When Russia’s war in Ukraine began, Facebook, Twitter and other social media giants moved to block or limit the reach of the accounts of the Kremlin’s propaganda machine in the West. The effort, though, has been limited by geography and language, creating a patchwork of restrictions rather than a blanket ban.
In Spanish in Latin America or in Arabic across the Middle East, a steady stream of Russian propaganda and disinformation continues to try to justify President Vladimir V. Putin’s unprovoked invasion, demonizing Ukraine and obfuscating responsibility for Russian atrocities that have killed thousands of civilians.
The result has been a geographical and cultural asymmetry in the information war over Ukraine that has helped undercut American- and European-led efforts to put broad international pressure on Mr. Putin to call off his war.
“There is not an airtight, worldwide stifling of Russia’s notorious ability to fight not only on the battlefield, the real battlefield, but also to fight with information and distortions of information,” said Paul M. Barrett, deputy director of the Stern Center for Business and Human Rights at New York University, who recently wrote a study about the spread of harmful Russian propaganda on YouTube.
The failure of Facebook, Twitter and even TikTok, the Chinese-owned app, to impose stronger checks on Russian posts in non-English languages has begun to draw criticism as the war drags on.
Two weeks ago, a bipartisan group of United States senators added to the criticism, accusing the platforms of allowing Russia to “amplify and export its lies abroad” in Spanish. While the targets of those efforts were in Central and South America, the disinformation also reached Spanish-speaking audiences in the United States, they said.
The lawmakers urged the companies to do more to block Russia’s Spanish outlets, including RT en Español and Sputnik Mundo, which have been spreading accusations that the United States, among other things, is manufacturing biological weapons in Ukraine. Disinformation experts say the oversights reveal flaws in the platforms’ international operations, which often get fewer resources than those in the United States.
The impact of Russia’s wartime propaganda on public opinion overseas is difficult to measure precisely. Polls have shown that Mr. Putin remains a reviled world leader, suggesting that the Kremlin’s efforts have not yet translated into significant improvement in global support for the invasion.
This isn’t true at all. Well, I don’t know, maybe there’s a general dislike of Putin in the non-western world, but personally I think most people there either don’t care or vaguely like him for sticking it to America - but yeah, the large majority of the world’s population lives in countries that haven’t sanctioned Russia. Denounced the invasion, probably, because that’s just the easy button you push that doesn’t actually mean anything.
At the same time, Russian disinformation is flowing freely in parts of the world where the war in Ukraine is viewed in less stark, good-versus-evil terms as in the United States and Europe.
“In these extraordinary circumstances, we must remain vigilant about the ability of known purveyors of Russian disinformation to propagate falsehoods about Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, whether in Spanish or any other language,” the senators, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Tim Kaine of Virginia, both Democrats, and Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana, wrote in a letter to Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg.
Facebook, in a written response to questions, said it had restricted access to RT and Sputnik accounts in the European Union, Britain and Ukraine after receiving requests from government officials. (The European Union’s Court of Justice dismissed an appeal by RT France to overturn a ban on the network’s work in the bloc.)
Facebook has also said it blocked ads from all Russian state media and “demoted” posts from accounts linked to it. Accounts in other languages face the same rules aimed at stopping disinformation or harmful content, the company said.
“We have multiple teams working across the company to limit the spread of misinformation in dozens of languages,” the company’s statement said.
It’s incredibly funny how the libs and chuds basically spent the last 6 years bringing up 1984 and Orwellian surveillance states and wrongthink and now… well, it was completely predictable, of course. Almost hilariously predictable. That’s not to say that we weren’t in a surveillance/police state before the war - obviously we were - but at least the media outlets that were villified weren’t literally being banned, generally. Liberals hated Breitbart and Fox News but access to them weren’t removed like, say, access to RT has been.
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.
- What ever happened to the “rules-based international order?” Responsible Statecraft
Early last week, President Joe Biden announced that the United States had killed al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul, Afghanistan. The news initially sparked widespread media attention, but in the end it came and went with relatively little fanfare, especially for the death of a long-time American enemy with a $25 million bounty on his head.
Perhaps the most telling aspect of the announcement (and the discourse that followed) was what was left unsaid. Despite the fact that Biden ran for president in part on restoring the “rules-based international order,” he made no effort to justify the attack under international law, and most news coverage has failed to even touch on the issue.
On the surface, the strike left relatively little to complain about. It was remarkably precise, killing only Zawahiri, and, for many analysts, it proved that America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan would not hinder its ability to conduct precise counter terror missions.
But experts say the killing lacks legal justification and shows that Biden has bought into one of the most pernicious ideas driving the past two decades of U.S. policy: Washington can and should use force wherever it sees fit, even if that means twisting international law beyond recognition. This is in many ways the underlying logic for America’s globe-spanning military presence, according to experts who spoke with Responsible Statecraft. Worse, it erodes international law, allowing other states to justify all sorts of questionable actions outside their borders.
As Russia’s illegal war on Ukraine enters its sixth month, international law has seldom been more important, according to Craig Martin, a professor at Washburn University.
“We say it’s an act of aggression. We allege that they’re committing war crimes. We’re up in arms,” Martin said. “But you can’t argue that Russia is somehow in violation of this international law — and that they should be held accountable for it — if you yourself are not willing to comply with that international law.”
- Why China’s People No Longer Look Up to America NYT, by Wang Wen, a Communist Party member and a forer chief opinion editor of The Global Times.
This article is not free of brainworms, but I thought it was worthy of inclusion in this update and this section is the best fit for it. The last paragraph is particularly odious, so hold your nose when you reach it, but broadly I think it has the take of a west-brainpoisoned Chinese academic who is being slowly pushed from that position due to American pressure.
My generation of Chinese looked up to the United States.
When I was a university student in northwestern China in the late 1990s, my friends and I tuned in to shortwave broadcasts of Voice of America, polishing our English while soaking up American and world news. We flocked to packed lecture halls whenever a visiting American professor was on campus.
It was a thrilling time. China was emerging from isolationism and poverty, and as we looked to the future we studied democracy, market economics, equality and other ideals that made America great. We couldn’t realistically adopt them all because of China’s conditions, but our lives were transformed as we recalibrated our economy on a U.S. blueprint.
Decades earlier, a reform-minded scholar said that even the moon in the United States was rounder than in China. My schoolmates and I wanted to believe it.
But after years of watching America’s wars overseas, reckless economic policies and destructive partisanship — culminating in last year’s disgraceful assault on the U.S. Capitol — many Chinese, including me, can barely make out that shining beacon anymore.
Yet as relations between our countries deteriorate, the United States blames us. Secretary of State Antony Blinken did so in May, saying that China was “undermining” the rules-based world order and could not be relied upon to “change its trajectory.”
I have misgivings about some of my country’s policies. And I recognize that some criticisms of my government’s policies are justified. But Americans must also recognize that U.S. behavior is hardly setting a good example.
The shift in Chinese attitudes wasn’t a given. But when U.S.-led NATO forces mistakenly bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, Serbia, in 1999 during the Kosovo war, our idolizing of America began to wane. Three people were killed in that attack, and 20 were wounded. Two years later, a U.S. spy plane and a Chinese fighter jet collided in the South China Sea, leaving a Chinese pilot dead. These incidents may have seemed relatively minor to Americans, but they shocked us. We had largely avoided foreign wars and were not used to our citizens dying in conflicts involving other countries. The shift in perception gained pace as the 2000s unfolded and more Chinese had televisions. We watched as the carnage of America’s disastrous involvement in Iraq, launched in 2003 on false pretenses, was beamed into our homes.
In 2008, China had to defend itself against the consequences of American greed when the U.S. subprime lending fiasco touched off the global financial crisis. China was forced to create a huge stimulus package, but our economy still suffered great damage. Millions of Chinese lost their jobs.
Following his predecessors, President Barack Obama announced a string of weapon sales to Taiwan and embarked on his so-called pivot to Asia, which we regarded as an attempt to rally our Asian neighbors against us. President Donald Trump declared a destructive trade war against us, and Chinese citizens were as shocked as anyone when a pro-Trump mob stormed the citadel of American democracy on Jan. 6, 2021. The visit to Taiwan last week by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has only further disappointed many Chinese, who saw it as a violation of U.S. commitments on Taiwan.
China’s critics in the United States need to realize that American actions such as these are causing outcomes in China that even the United States doesn’t want.
It’s no accident that China’s military spending — a source of concern in Washington for years — began rising in the early 2000s after the Belgrade bombing and the plane collision. It quickly took off after the war in Iraq showcased how far ahead the U.S. military was compared with ours. China’s past weakness had been calamitous: Western powers attacked and forced China to surrender territory in the 1800s, and Japan’s brutal invasion in the 20th century killed millions.
U.S. officials no doubt want China to follow the American path of liberalism. But in contrast to my university days, the tone of Chinese academic research on the United States has shifted markedly. Chinese government officials used to consult me on the benefits of American capital markets and other economic concepts. Now I am called upon to discuss U.S. cautionary tales, such as the factors that led to the financial crisis. We once sought to learn from U.S. successes; now we study its mistakes so that we can avoid them.
The sense of America as a dangerous force in the world has filtered into Chinese public attitudes as well. In 2020 I remarked on a Chinese television program that we still have much to learn from the United States — and was attacked on Chinese social media. I stick to my view but am now more careful in talking positively about the United States. When I do, I preface it with a criticism.
Chinese students still want to study at U.S. universities but are acutely fearful of American gun violence, anti-Asian attacks or being labeled a spy. They are sent off with ominous advice: Don’t stray from campus, watch what you say, back away from conflict.
And despite Chinese weariness with our country’s tough zero-Covid policy, America’s dismal record on the pandemic has only strengthened Chinese public support for our government.
To be clear: China needs to change, too. It needs to be more open to dialogue with the United States, refrain from using U.S. problems as an excuse to go slow on reform and respond more calmly and constructively to American criticism on things like trade policy and human rights.
But although we don’t enjoy the same rights as Americans, many in China like where we are right now.
In the late 1970s, China was exhausted and traumatized from the destruction and hardship caused by the Cultural Revolution, which nearly destroyed us. Deng Xiaoping initiated reforms that brought stability and helped lift 800 million people out of poverty. We have achieved spectacular increases in income and life expectancy and stayed out of foreign wars. Tough firearm regulations allow us to walk down any street in the country at night with virtually no fear of harm. When we look at America’s enormous pandemic toll, gun violence, political divisions and the attack on the U.S. Capitol, it only reminds Chinese people of our own chaotic past that we have left behind.
None of this is meant to gloat over America’s troubles; a strong, stable and responsible United States is good for the world. China still has much to learn from America, and we have a lot in common. We drive Chinese-built Fords and Teslas, wash our hair with Procter & Gamble shampoos and sip coffee at Starbucks. Solving some of the planet’s biggest problems requires that we work together.
But that doesn’t mean following America over the cliff.
- US gov’t is world’s worst violator of freedom of press, not its protector Multipolarista
The US government employs many strategies to try to justify its intervention in the internal affairs and violation of the sovereignty of foreign nations. Chief among these deceptive tactics is Washington’s weaponization of accusations that its adversaries violate the freedom of expression.
This is quite ironic, given that the United States is the world’s leading violator of press freedoms, according to any consistent definition of the term.
And unlike the countries that Washington claims supposedly repress the freedom of expression within their borders, US government censorship of independent media outlets and suppression of alternative voices is global, hurting people across the planet.
The Joe Biden administration has in particular gone to great lengths to depict itself as a defender of civil liberties.
In May, the White House published a statement commemorating World Press Freedom Day. The purpose of the declaration was to portray Russia as a leading violator of free speech and the United States as its noble protector.
But the reality is Washington is guilty of exponentially more persecution of journalists than anything Moscow is even accused of.
There is no more gruesome symbol of the ludicrous hypocrisy of the United States portraying itself as a protector of press freedoms than its authoritarian persecution of the most famous journalist on Earth: Julian Assange.
The US government’s ruthless attack on Assange, the founder and publisher of whistleblowing journalism website WikiLeaks, is likely the worst blow to freedom of speech carried out by any government in history, with dangerous implications for all human beings on the planet.
The US case against Assange essentially amounts to a criminalization of journalism.
Washington is seeking to extradite and prosecute Assange, an Australian national who has never lived in the United States, for the “crime” of publishing truthful information exposing US war crimes – in other words, for doing the kind of journalism that any good reporter should do.
Assange is facing up to 175 years in prison on 18 charges. If it succeeds in the extradition process, the United States will likely throw the WikiLeaks publisher in a medieval-style dungeon, where he will be held in solitary confinement for the rest of his life.
Due to persecution by the United States and United Kingdom, Assange has already been essentially imprisoned for a decade. Starting in 2012, the WikiLeaks journalist sought refuge in Ecuador’s embassy in London. He would end up being trapped there for seven years.
In 2015, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention determined that Assange had been “arbitrarily detained” and should be released and given compensation.
The British government ignored the UN legal experts. Instead, in 2019, UK authorities violated Ecuador’s territorial integrity, entered the embassy, and kidnapped Assange (who by that time was a naturalized Ecuadorian citizen, in addition to his Australian nationality).
Since 2019, Assange has been subjected to draconian treatment in Britain’s maximum-security Belmarsh prison, held alongside people convicted of “terrorism,” murder, and other violent crimes.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention once again condemned the UK government in 2019 for violating the freedoms and fundamental rights of the Australian journalist.
In Belmarsh, Assange has been held in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours per day. UN legal experts have repeatedly stated that this kind of prolonged solitary confinement, which is routinely carried out by the United States and Britain, amounts to psychological torture.
In other words, Julian Assange has been effectively imprisoned for a decade, has been subjected to grueling torture, and will likely spend the rest of his life in a US prison, all because he committed the “crime” of doing journalism.
It is impossible to imagine a tyranny more absolute than this. With the Assange case, the United States is establishing a precedent that says it can imprison any journalist or really any person on Earth, regardless of their nationality, throw them in a dungeon for the rest of their life, and torture them. All Washington needs to do is fabricate charges and claim that that individual violated its domestic laws.
Assange is not the only victim of this kind of Kafkaesque persecution by the US regime. The United States holds multiple political prisoners, including Black revolutionary journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Although it has less than 5% of the world’s population, the United States has nearly 25% of its prisoners.
The article goes on to describe how US censorship affects the rest of the world beyond America and Assange. I can really feel Norton wrote this while angry, and I approve. I do my best writing when I’m pissed off.
Bloomerism and Hope
For events that show that a better, more equitable, and happier world is possible than the neoliberal hell we inhabit.
- Philadelphia Unions: ‘Housing Is A Human Right!’ Popular Resistance
For months, 70 Black and Brown families have organized resistance to their threatened eviction by the Altman Company in Philadelphia. When supporters and residents set up a protest tent city on July 9, Altman got a judge to order what he called “trespassers” off his “private property.” The area labor movement galvanized with a strong response, pointing out that workers have little interest in cooperating with Altman to carry out the evictions.
The Philadelphia Workers Solidarity Network and the Save the UC Townhomes Coalition first put out a petition with a plea to workers and union members: “Don’t cross our picket line,” if the city attempts to tear down the encampment. (tinyurl.com/2p9fhx5y) Over 400 workers, labor activists, union locals and housing activists have signed on.
Further strengthening workers’ voices, the Labor for Black Lives Coalition sent a strong statement of solidarity with the UC Townhomes to Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and other city officials. Signed by 16 unions and labor organizations representing tens of thousands of Black and Brown workers — some of the largest unions in Philadelphia — the statement calls on the city to “immediately block the sale of UC Townhomes.”