- Retailers turn off lights, cut opening hours to save energy Reuters
As energy bills mount and the threat of rationing increases, some European retailers are turning off lights and considering shorter opening hours this winter.
Energy bosses and government officials have urged people and businesses to reduce power use and put in place contingency plans so they are less reliant on gas imports if there are shortages linked to the war in Ukraine.
The Austrian branch of multinational retail chain SPAR Group is reducing the hours of lighting for storefront advertising and outside its more than 1,500 stores across the country, a spokesperson said in an email.
Last month, the boss of Leclerc warned that France’s largest food retailer could reduce opening hours at its stores to deal with power shortages.
Just over a week earlier, rival French supermarket operator Carrefour signed an “EcoWatt Charter” with national energy grid operator RTE, reducing electricity consumption in its stores during periods of high demand.
Some retailers, including Belgium’s Colruyt and Ahold, might be partly insulated from potential disruptions and the higher costs due to existing sustainable energy programs that conserve power.
- Energy costs pushing Europeans into food poverty RT
Food producers across Europe are contending with soaring energy prices, with that increase quickly felt in the pockets of consumers grappling with a cost-of-living crisis, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.
According to the report, citing a Bank of England forecast, a third of UK households are set to spend more than 10% of incomes on energy, and now surging grocery costs are driving up food poverty.
“It is the domino effect that has happened with us having to take a huge increase on energy,” Ryan Peters, managing director of Brioche Pasquier UK, told the outlet. “We have to try and raise our prices to retailers a little bit, and unfortunately that goes on to consumers,” he said.
Kona Haque, head of research for commodities trader ED&F Man, warned: “I think the worst is still to come as energy prices rise. This winter will be a game changer and processing costs will likely go up.”
Europe’s largest sugar beet producer Suedzucker AG has reported its first quarter revenues had been hit by a “substantial rise” in raw material, energy and packaging costs.
Companies turning soybeans, rapeseed and sunflower seeds into cooking oils have reportedly been slowing output in the UK and Europe and shifting production to other regions with lower energy prices.
Meanwhile, energy-intensive food factories across the continent could be forced to shut down if natural gas shortages spark rationing, Bloomberg warned.
“Just like people are grappling with their home budgets, we’re having to manage highly volatile energy and input costs, making sure every penny our business spends and gets as income is actively managed in real time,” Tate & Lyle Sugars senior vice president Gerald Mason was quoted as saying by the outlet.“We’re not running a casino. We’re making food, which gives us a big responsibility to get it right.”
- Russian oil supply to EU set to resume RT
Transneft, a Russian company responsible for crude supplies to the EU, said on Wednesday it will resume pumping via the southern branch of the Druzhba pipeline at 16:00 Moscow time (13:00 GMT).
According to RIA Novosti, the payment for the crude transit through the territory of Ukraine was made by Hungary and Slovakia. Ukraine has reportedly confirmed that it received the funds. Hungary’s biggest crude refiner MOL said on Wednesday it had transferred the transit fee for the use of the Ukrainian section of the pipeline.
Earlier on Tuesday, MOL confirmed that Russian crude supplies via the southern branch of the pipeline stopped a few days ago, and offered to pay for the transit on behalf of Moscow.
Russia’s Transneft announced on Monday that Ukraine had suspended crude flows to parts of central Europe since August 4 because Western sanctions prevented Moscow from making payments for transit. According to Transneft, it made payments for oil transit in August to the Ukrainian pipeline operator on July 22, but the money was returned on July 28 as the payment did not go through.
- EU ramped up Russian coal imports before ban RT
EU member states imported 28% more coal from Russia between March and May compared with the same period last year, Vedomosti newspaper reported on Tuesday. The European Union’s ban on Russian coal came into force on Wednesday.
According to its analysis of UN Comtrade data, deliveries amounted to 29.4 million tons during that period. In monetary terms, supply increased by 3.9 times to $9.3 billion. The average price of imported coal was about $317 per ton against $105 per ton between March and May 2021.
According to UN Comtrade, the main importers of coal were Germany, Poland, Spain, Italy, and the Netherlands.
The European Union embargo was agreed in April and took effect on August 10. It is part of the bloc’s fifth wave of Russian sanctions.
- UK meteorologists, water firms issue warnings as extreme heatwave looms Inquirer
The UK’s meteorological agency on Tuesday issued an “amber” warning for extreme heat while the country’s biggest water provider said restrictions loom, as Britain braces for another punishing heatwave later this week.
The warning by the Met Office, covering much of southern England and parts of eastern Wales from Thursday through Sunday, predicts possible impacts to health, transport and infrastructure from the heat.
Temperatures are set to soar to the mid-30s Celsius for several days, it noted.
The sweltering conditions come just weeks after the last heatwave pushed the mercury over 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) for the first time in Britain.
- UK planning for worst-case energy scenario RT
Cold weather combined with gas shortages is expected to force UK authorities to enact a “reasonable worst-case scenario,” providing for four days of blackouts during the upcoming winter, Bloomberg reports, citing people familiar with the government’s planning.
The probable outages may affect not only industry, but also the country’s households, as a result of an electricity capacity shortfall amounting to about a sixth of peak demand – even after emergency coal plants have been fired up.
At the same time, Britons are expected to see average annual energy bills rise above £4,200 ($5,086) in January from the current fee of just under £2,000, adding to the soaring consumer price inflation.
Meanwhile, the government’s base case scenario doesn’t include blackouts. The first stage of the UK’s emergency plan reportedly involves the network operator directing flows of gas on the system, temporarily overriding commercial agreements, while the second stage includes halting supplies to gas-fired power stations, triggering planned power cuts for industrial and domestic users.
The UK energy industry regulator Ofgem has said it would adjust its cap quarterly rather than half-yearly due to current volatility in energy markets, meaning bills are likely to rise again in January.
- Germany’s largest crematorium comes up with plan to cope with high gas prices RT
Skyrocketing gas prices have forced Germany’s largest crematorium to switch to a 24/7 work schedule, its management has said.
The head of Rhein-Taunus-Krematorium in Dachsenhausen, Karl-Heinz Konsgen, told Bild on Monday that his establishment has come up with a new way to “cope without gas during cremations.”
The crematorium, which burns the remains of almost 35,000 people per year, heated up its furnaces in early August for what appears to have been the last time. Since then, they have been kept at 800 degrees Celsius, so the establishment no longer has to worry about gas bills.
The move has meat that staff now also have to work nights and weekends. But, according to Konsgen, this wasn’t a problem for them. “Our employees have understood this and accepted the new working hours,” the undertaker said.
- EDF sues French government for £7bn after being forced to sell energy at a loss Guardian
The French nuclear company EDF is suing its own government for €8.3bn (£7bn) after it was forced to sell energy to consumers at a loss.
The company, which is being nationalised by the French state, has filed a compensation claim over the extension of the country’s price cap in January.
Emmanuel Macron’s government forced EDF to sell more of its power to rivals at prices below the market rates as officials attempted to tackle the cost of living crisis and support households.
The energy company has to sell electricity to rivals at a heavy discount as a counterbalance to its monopoly position. French officials increased the cap on the discount by a fifth in January, hitting its finances.
- The unwitting winners of France’s drought: Salt farmers EU Reporter
The country’s record heatwave has seen salt yields nearly double this season as sunlight and light winds have driven the evaporation of seawater that’s let into the pans at high tides.
Through blistering heatwaves and drought that have parched the French countryside in recent weeks, one group has emerged a reluctant winner: salt farmers in the northwestern region of Guerande.
Guerande’s snow-white Fleur de Sel (‘flower of salt’), which crystallizes on the water’s surface, is one of the finer salts on world markets, retailing in the United States at over $100 a kilogram.
As temperatures climbed in recent months and almost inexistent rainfall turbo-charged salt water evaporation in the region, production has soared.
“We’re heading towards record production,” said producer Francois Durand, who has worked on the salt marshes for more than 20 years.
Sea salt production over the last 10 years had averaged around 1.3 tonnes per salt pan but this year the yield was nearly double at 2.5 tonnes, he said.
- Norwegian inflation raises expectations of faster rate hikes Reuters
Norway’s core inflation jumped in July to its highest in more than two decades, exceeding forecasts as the cost of food soared, raising analyst expectations of faster increases to interest rates.
The core annual inflation rate, which strips out changing energy prices and taxes, rose to 4.5% in July, up from 3.6% in June, Statistics Norway (SSB) data showed.
A Reuters poll of analysts had predicted price growth of 3.8%.
- Greece to exit EU’s ‘enhanced surveillance’ framework after 12 years Reuters
Greece will exit the European Union’s so-called enhanced surveillance framework on August 20, its finance minister said on Wednesday, a move that will allow the country greater freedom in making economic policy.
Greek economic developments and policy have been monitored under the framework since 2018, after Athens exited three international bailouts, totalling more than 260 billion euros, from the European Union and the IMF between 2010 and 2015.
“After 12 years … a difficult chapter for our country comes to a close,” said the minister, Christos Staikouras. “Greece returns to a European normality and will no longer be an exception in the euro zone.”
Athens has delivered on the bulk of policy commitments and reforms it promised and its Aug 20 exit from the framework was confirmed by a letter from EU Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis and Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni, he added.
Greece’s emergence from enhanced surveillance will mean more degrees of freedom in implementing economic policy and will bring closer the country’s goal to regain the “investment grade” status, Staikouras said.
- EU state may resume purchases of Russian gas RT
The Bulgarian government is considering holding talks with energy giant Gazprom on resuming Russian natural gas imports, Energy Minister Rosen Hristov said on Monday in an interview with bTV.
The minister stressed that Bulgaria is exploring all options for alternative gas sources, and that securing such supplies is a top priority.
“But if they are not enough, I will not become the minister who will leave people freezing in winter,” Hristov was quoted by DNESnews as saying.
According to the official, buying natural gas from the Russian company will not mean Sofia diverging from the EU position.
“We will not accept conditions different from those accepted by Germany and other EU countries,” he said.
Asia and Oceania
- Taiwan Starts Two-Day Defensive Drills as Tensions With China Remain High WSJ
Taiwan’s military fired dozens of shells off its southern coast on Tuesday in a simulation of a defense of the island, as Taiwan followed up nearly a week of Chinese military drills with preplanned defensive maneuvers of its own.
Taiwan kicked off its two-day military exercise—known as Tianlei, which can be loosely translated as “Heaven’s Thunder”—with an hour-long live-firing drill involving more than 700 troops, according to Taiwan’s Eighth Army Corps, with 38 howitzers firing 114 shells into the waters.
The annual drills, while planned months in advance, come amid tensions across the Taiwan Strait that are their highest in decades. China’s Communist Party, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory, was angered by a visit to the island last week by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the highest-ranking visit by a U.S. official in a quarter-century.
- U.S. Insists It Will Operate Around Taiwan, Despite China’s Pressure NYT
The Biden administration is vowing to continue sailing warships through the Taiwan Strait and to conduct air operations in the region in response to Chinese military drills that U.S. officials say are evolving into a long-term strategy of heightened military pressure on the island.
Administration officials said they did not want to escalate the tense confrontation, which China maintains was provoked by last week’s visit to the island by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But in interviews and public statements, American and Taiwanese officials made clear they now believe China used Ms. Pelosi’s visit as a pretext to step up its operations to intimidate Taiwan for months or years to come, and perhaps speed the timetable of its plans to establish control over the island’s 23 million people, much as it did in Hong Kong.
Within a few weeks, officials said, the U.S. Navy is planning to run ships through the Taiwan Strait, ignoring China’s recent claim that it controls the entire waterway. Officials said they would not send the Ronald Reagan, the Japan-based aircraft carrier, because it would be too provocative.
Colin H. Kahl, the under secretary of defense for policy, told reporters this week that China was trying to “coerce” Taiwan and the international community.
“And all I’ll say is we’re not going to take the bait, and it’s not going to work,” he said.
He insisted the United States would conduct business as usual: “What we’ll do instead, is to continue to fly, to sail and operate wherever international law allows us to do so, and that includes in the Taiwan Strait.”
Asked about the rising tensions, President Biden said Monday he was “concerned that they’re moving as much as they are,” an apparent reference to the Pentagon’s assessment that China has dispatched 20 destroyers and frigates to the waters surrounding Taiwan.
When asked whether it was a “wise move” for Ms. Pelosi to visit the island despite China’s warnings, Mr. Biden said simply: “That was her decision.”
- China withdraws promise not to send troops to Taiwan if it takes control of island Reuters
China has withdrawn a promise not to send troops or administrators to Taiwan if it takes control of the island, an official document showed on Wednesday, signalling a decision by President Xi Jinping to grant less autonomy than previously offered.
- Pandemic’s Impact On China’s Economy Is Only Short Term, U.S. Ambassador Says Forbes
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on China’s economy is only short-term, China Ambassador to the U.S. Qin Gang said a keynote speech at the 4th U.S.-China Business Forum organized by Forbes China in New York on Tuesday.
“The fundamentals of the Chinese economy for long-term, steady performance remain unchanged,” he said at the end of the event organized around the theme “New Paths Forward.”
“The biggest driving force for the ‘new paths forward’ for China-U.S. economic and trade ties is the bright prospects of China’s economic growth,” Qin said.
China’s GDP — the world’s second largest, grew by 4.8% in the first quarter from a year earlier. That slowed to 0.4% amid Covid lockdowns that disrupted global supply chains.
“The basic features of the Chinese economy — full potential, great resilience, strong vitality, vast room for maneuver and plenty of policy tools — remain unchanged,” Qin said. “The various advantages of China’s development remain unchanged. We have full confidence in the future of the Chinese economy.”
- Tech war: China condemns US Chips and Science act amid headwinds in semiconductor self-sufficiency SCMP
Chinese state media outlets and trade institutions have joined a chorus of government voices lambasting a new US law aimed at boosting semiconductor manufacturing on American soil, seen by Beijing as part of a plot by Washington to undermine China’s role in global supply chains.
US President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed the bipartisan Chips and Science Act into law to enhance the country’s competitiveness against China.
Under the legislation, the US would set aside nearly US$53 billion to fund domestic semiconductor production, a major battleground in the US-China tech war. Subsidy recipients are barred from expanding production in China beyond “legacy semiconductors” – defined as chips made with 28-nanometre process technology or older – for 10 years.
The law is designed to lure semiconductor talent and investments into the US, while trying to stop global chip giants – such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co and Samsung Electronics – from expanding their capacity in China if they use US funding.
“The future of the chip industry is going to be made in America,” Biden said in a Rose Garden ceremony.
For Chinese officials, the move has provided further confirmation that Washington is set on containing China’s technological advancement, as the US also pushes for a so-called Chip 4 Alliance with South Korea, Japan and Taiwan that excludes China.
The Global Times – a tabloid affiliated with the People’s Daily, the official mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party – said in an editorial on Tuesday that the new US law reflects Washington’s “growing lack of self-confidence” in the face of China’s rise.
“Be it the bill or the [Chip 4] alliance, they all come with a strong coercive nature – asking others to take sides between China and the US,” the piece read. “In a sense, they have gone beyond the scope of ordinary industrial supportive policies, and are more like a set of punches by Washington to ‘choke the throat of China’s development’.”
“The US wants to build ‘camps’ in chip making and artificially isolate China, the world’s largest market, from the industrial chain … Obviously, when the Chips and Science Act comes into force, it represents a regression of history.”
- Modi’s party loses crucial Indian state after ally switches sides Al Jazeera
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party has lost power in Bihar, the third-most populous state in India, after its regional ally broke ranks to join an opposition alliance that now has the majority to form the next government.
Bihar sends the fourth-most number of elected legislators to parliament and the fall in government there is a rare setback for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which dominates politics in the country.
Bihar’s coalition collapsed before the 2024 general election, which the BJP is still expected to win for a third straight term unless disparate opposition parties are able to come together to overcome Modi’s popularity.
- End protest crackdown: UN, rights groups tell Sri Lanka president Al Jazeera
The United Nations and several prominent international human rights organisations have condemned the repeated use of emergency regulations against peaceful protesters by the Sri Lanka government.
They have urged the newly appointed Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe to end the crackdown against the months-long protests over the island nation’s worst economic crisis in decades.
- Philippines cancels Russia helicopter deal over US sanctions Jakarta Post
The Philippines has scrapped an order for 16 Russian military helicopters, an official confirmed Wednesday, following reports former president Rodrigo Duterte decided to cancel it due to US sanctions on Moscow.
Manila – a longtime Washington ally – agreed in November to pay 12.7 billion pesos ($228 million) for the Mi-17 helicopters, as it seeks to modernise its military hardware.
- ‘Woefully parochial’: Poland’s Nazi death camps and Israel’s battle for narrative control MEE
It is an emotional rite of passage for most Israeli Jewish teens. Every year, some 40,000 high school students, most in 11th or 12th grade, travel to the Nazi death camps in Poland.
Arranged by schools, youth movements, and private institutions, these delegations are intended to teach the participants about the Holocaust and memorialise the victims. Set before the students' upcoming compulsory military service after high school graduation, the trips are critical in forming their identity as Jews and as Israelis.
This summer, according to data provided by the Israeli Ministry of Education, some 127 delegations, comprising approximately 14,000 students, were expected to go to Poland in July and August.
But in mid-June, then-foreign minister (and now prime minister) Yair Lapid announced that Israel was cancelling all of these trips, effective immediately.
The immediate reason for the cancellations was the Polish government’s newest interpretation of its Act on the Institute of National Remembrance.
Passed in 2018, the act penalizes any overt or inferred speech that claims that any Polish people bear responsibility for the Holocaust or collaborated with the Nazis.
The recent interpretation broadened this act to cover non-Polish citizens speaking on Polish soil.
In accordance with this interpretation, the Polish government insisted that it be involved in determining the educational content of the Israeli student groups.
“Poles can’t tell us what to teach Israeli children,” Lapid told the media.
Poland also objected to the carrying of weapons by Israeli security personnel on Polish soil during these trips, which have been taking place since 1986 when Poland and Israel renewed diplomatic relations. But the cancellation of the trips, which have over time created a broad economic infrastructure within Poland of hotels, guides, guards, and so forth, points to the increasing tensions between the two countries.
At the same time, while Lapid’s decision was widely supported in Israel, it also generated hot debate within the country regarding the purpose, content, and timing of the trips to the concentration camps.
- Turkey ‘seeks $20bn deposit from Saudi Arabia’ MEE
Turkey is reportedly seeking a $20bn deposit from Saudi Arabia in a bid to bolster its foreign currency reserves.
On Wednesday, Turkish newspaper Dunya, citing treasury sources, said Saudi Arabia was expected to deposit an initial $10bn into Turkish treasury bonds and accounts.
One Turkish treasury source confirmed to Middle East Eye that technical talks were underway to secure $20bn from Saudi Arabia.
- Mali gets more military equipment from Russia Africa News
Mali on Tuesday received military jets and a combat helicopter from Russia.
During a ceremony, L-39 and Sukhoi-25 jets as well as Mi-24P helicopter gunships were displayed.
No information was disclosed about the conditions for acquiring the gunships. Previous Russian arms deliveries made public this year, were helicopters and surveillance radars as well as mobile radar systems.
- US inflation falls to 8.5% in July but still close to multi-decade high Guardian
Prices fell in the US in July as gas prices eased bringing down the annual rate of inflation to 8.5%, still close to a multi-decade high but lower than the four-decade peak it hit in June.
July’s figure, while still high, represents a significant fall from the annual rate of 9.1% recorded in June and will raise hopes that inflation has finally peaked in the US. It follows other indicators that have suggested price rises are finally moderating.
But the report showed once again how broadly inflation has spread through the economy. After stripping out food and energy costs – which are highly volatile – prices climbed by 5.9% in the year to the end of July, matching last month’s reading.
- U.S. Gasoline Prices Drop Below $4 For The First Time Since March Oil Price
The average U.S. gasoline price dropped on Tuesday to below $4 per gallon for the first time since early March this year, as supply has risen and concerns about the economy have grown, data from fuel-savings app GasBuddy showed today.
The national average is now back down to $3.99 per gallon for the first time since early March. Gasoline prices have been declining over the past few weeks, and the national average is now $1 a gallon cheaper than it was at its peak at $5.03 on June 14, GasBuddy noted. Falling international crude oil prices have been the main reason for the lower gasoline prices over the past weeks.
Americans today will spend nearly $400 million less on gasoline than they did in mid-June, according to GasBuddy’s estimates.
- Biden approval rises to 40%, highest in two months, Reuters/Ipsos shows Reuters
U.S. President Joe Biden’s public approval rose this week to its highest level since early June following a string of legislative victories, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll completed on Tuesday.
The two-day national poll found that 40% of Americans approve of Biden’s job performance, a level of support that is historically low for a U.S. president.
But the recent upward turn in Biden’s approval rating - including gains in each of the last three weeks - could temper the concern among his Democrats that the party is poised to take a drubbing in the Nov. 8 midterm elections, when Republicans hope to seize control of the U.S. Congress.
- Most U.S. Oil And Gas Firms At Risk Of Cyberattack: Study Oil Price
Most U.S. oil and gas firms are exposed to risks of a cyber breach, a new study by cyber risk rating and monitoring company BreachBits showed on Tuesday.
The study and analysis of 98 upstream, midstream, downstream, and supply chain companies across the U.S. oil and gas sector showed that the risk for the sector overall is medium, but the risk is not evenly distributed across the industry.
For example, a total of 94% of all ransomware threats were held by only 51% of companies in the study, BreachBits said. Other findings concluded that the larger the company, the greater the risk of a cyber breach. The risk increases for companies with more than $50 million in annual recurring revenue, and the risk significantly increases for companies with more than 250 employees.
- Damning Report Shows Unions Have Plenty Of Money To Organize Popular Resistance
For The Past Decade, Organized Labor Has Gotten Richer Even As It Watched Its Membership Decline.
Many people who are passionate about the labor movement, myself included, have long had the vague but haunting sense that the most powerful institutions in the union world are not doing enough to stem the bleeding that has been sucking power from unions for decades. Well, there’s good news and bad news on that front. The bad news is: that sickening feeling was correct. The good news is: now we can put some numbers on it.
A new report from Chris Bohner, who runs the labor research firm Radish Research, has done an amazing service by systematically assembling thousands of financial records from unions over the past decade to assemble a report that gives the most comprehensive picture that I have ever seen of the current financial state of unions in America. Though unions are managed individually, anyone who believes in the necessity of a labor movement understands that all of organized labor must be able to act in concert to achieve broad social and economic goals — the most urgent of which is simply to give more people unions, since union density has now declined to barely over 10%.
The report shows that even as union density has continued its long decline over the past decade, the financial coffers of unions have expanded. That money, however, has not been used to do the organizing necessary to prevent all of those unions from shrinking. Instead, the report paints a picture of the union world as an exclusive club sitting in a walled garden, watching its bank accounts swell even as all of those workers on the outside who need its help are disappointed.
- Uruguay’s Parliament passes defense agreement with China Merco Press
Uruguay’s Congress Tuesday approved the implementation of joint defense efforts with China agreed upon in 2019, when the two countries pledged to increase cooperation between their respective Ministries of Defense, “within the limits of their competencies.”
The document also provides for “the exchange and cooperation in the areas of research and acquisition of defense goods and services and logistical support in the area of international peacekeeping operations” and “the promotion of combined exercises and training, cooperation in matters related to science, technology and military equipment, humanitarian assistance in case of disasters and cooperation in anti-terrorist matters, among others.”
- Colombia’s new president calls for debt swap to protect the Amazon Climate Change News
“We can turn the entire population of the Colombian Amazon into a population that cares for the forest, but we need the world’s funds to do it,” says Gustavo Petro.
Petro, a former rebel and the country’s first left wing president, was sworn into office on Sunday 7 August in a historic shift for the South American country.
In his first speech as president, he addressed the need to mobilize resources to protect Colombia’s rainforests. In 2022, the country experienced the highest fiscal deficit in recent years and its external debt accounted for half of the country’s GDP.
“I propose to humanity to exchange external debt for internal expenses to save and recover our jungles, forests and wetlands,” said Petro during his inauguration speech.
As the Covid-19 pandemic led to an increase in debt in Latin America, several nations turned to debt swaps to meet their climate goals.
Under this scheme, developing countries get their debts cancelled or reduced in exchange for commitments to finance green projects.
Ecuador, for example, significantly expanded the Galápagos marine reserve and financed it through this mechanism. Colombia’s previous government called for a similar measure in 2021, but didn’t announce new agreements.
- U.S. State Dept. approves long-delayed potential sale of Javelin missiles to Brazil Reuters
The U.S. State Department approved a potential $74 million sale of Javelin anti-tank missiles to Brazil that had been stalled for months by senior lawmakers, according to a formal notification sent to the U.S. Congress on Tuesday.
The State Department gave the package of 222 Javelins its final endorsement after what multiple sources said was a Democratic-led effort to hold it up due to concerns about far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, including his attacks on Brazil’s electoral system.
- Chipmakers tumble on fears of worst downturn in 10 years Al Jazeera
Semiconductors stocks tumbled after Micron Technology Inc. became the latest chipmaker to warn about slowing demand, triggering concern the industry is heading into a painful downturn.
In the US, the Philadelphia semiconductor index sank 4.6% on Tuesday with all 30 members in the red, its biggest fall in about two months. In Asia, chip stocks from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. to Samsung Electronics Co., SK Hynix Inc. and Tokyo Electron Ltd. slumped. Investors are growing increasingly skittish the notoriously cyclical industry is hurtling toward a prolonged slump after years of widespread shortages that led to heavy investments in capacity.
“We continue to believe we are entering the worst semiconductor downturn in at least a decade, and possibly since 2001 given the expectation of a recession and inventory build,” Christopher Danely, a Citigroup Inc. analyst, said in a report. “We expect every company in our coverage universe and every end market to experience a correction.”
The warning from Micron came after disappointing results from Nvidia Corp., Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. Highlighting the speed with which demand is evaporating, Micron said orders have deteriorated since the company last gave an update just over a month ago. While the personal computer market had already been in a slump, the weakness in demand is now spreading widely.
- Grain Is Starting To Ship From Ukrainian Ports But It Might Be Too Late For Starving Millions Forbes
For six months, ships filled with grain have been sitting idle in ports along the Black Sea, victims of Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine. Now some of those ships are moving, navigating the perils of a war zone with cargo of sometimes sketchy quality.
“It only takes one missile to fly across the place and hit something, and then it all stops,” says John Rich, chairman of Ukrainian agriculture giant MHP, which has continued operations in the country even while many of its competitors left when war broke out. “There’s light in the tunnel with the ports. But the tunnel could close rapidly. It only takes one act, and that’s gone. It’s a high risk.”
The first shipments are making their way out of Ukraine towards destinations in the Middle East and Africa where millions have been struggling through a worsening hunger crisis. There are now pockets of starvation worsened by drought in many regions. In East Africa, for example, one person is likely dying from acute hunger every 48 seconds, according to a May report from Oxfam.
The shipments are crucial to combating hunger, but the grain may not be the solution it could be. As war broke out in February, crews abandoned their ships, many of which didn’t run for six months. That means many of them haven’t been ventilated. It’s likely that a lot of grain has grown mold or even mycotoxins from the humidity of the high seas.
That’s if the ships make it. The first ship to leave the port of Odessa, the Sierra Leone-flagged Razoni, is anchored in the Mediterranean Sea near Turkey, according to the government of Lebanon. Rich, whose company typically processes 3 million tons of Ukrainian grain annually, says the shipment is likely delayed due to the quality of the grain deteriorating and possibly having to be resold. Usually shipments are unloaded within two weeks. This one had been at port in Odessa for months.
“The grain quality is dubious, from what we hear,” says Rich. “The false start to all of this has been difficult.”
- Ukrainian promises on African grain not being kept RT
None of the grain ships that have departed from Ukrainian ports as of Tuesday were headed for African countries most at risk of starvation, according to the New York Times. The first ship to leave via the “grain corridor” arrangement saw its cargo rejected by the buyers in Lebanon, who cited the delivery delay.
Since the arrangement took effect on August 1, ten ships have left Ukrainian ports, mainly carrying animal feed. One is headed to England, another to Ireland, while several are on their way to Turkey, Italy and China. None of them are bound for Yemen, Somalia, or other countries facing “catastrophic levels of hunger,” the Times reported on Tuesday.
The first ship to reach its destination was the Turkish-flagged Polarnet, which docked in Derince on Monday with 12,000 tons of maize. Celebrating its arrival, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said it “sends a message of hope to every family in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia,” adding, “Ukraine won’t abandon you.”
Meanwhile, President Vladimir Zelensky told his counterpart Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana on Monday that Ukraine was “ready to continue being the guarantor of world food security.”
However, most of the 20 million tons of grain held up in Ukrainian ports for the past several months is animal feed, and not intended for human consumption, according to experts quoted by AP.
Alright, now that we’ve tried THAT idea, can we now please undo the sanctions? Like every sensible person was suggesting this entire fucking time?
The Ukraine War
A few different outlets have hyperfocussed on this event, despite not being especially noteworthy of a strike - which is pretty entertaining if you’ve been paying attention this whole time, as Russia has been doing these kinds of longish range strikes basically every day for the whole war. It’s like zooming in and congratulating a toddler for walking ten feet in a race while the Olympic runner is way off in the distance, and calling this a crucial turning point in the race.
- The Ukrainians Hammered A Russian Air Base 120 Miles From The Front Forbes
A Russian air force Il-76 airlifter was rolling down the runway at Saki air base in Russian-occupied Crimea on Tuesday afternoon when something—or several somethings—exploded hundreds of yards behind it.
As many as a dozen blasts rocked the sprawling base, which houses the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s 43rd Independent Naval Attack Aviation Regiment and other units. Fireballs rolled into the sky, feeding a pall of black smoke and startling tourists sunbathing on nearby beaches.
The Kremlin claimed the explosions were the result of an accident. But the near-simultaneous blasts across the airfield indicated otherwise. It clearly was a Ukrainian attack. But exactly how the Ukrainians hit this major Russian facility 120 miles from the front line remains unclear.
But they had options. In the five months since Russia widened its war in Ukraine, the Ukrainian armed forces have deployed more and better means of conducting deep strikes. Even a hundred miles from the front, the Russians are vulnerable.
The Saki base immediately prior to the attack housed around a dozen each Su-24 bombers and Su-30 fighters plus Mi-8 helicopters and the Il-76, according to commercial satellite imagery. At least one of the Su-24s was destroyed in the Tuesday attack along with several support vehicles and possibly one of the base’s munitions dumps, if videos and photos of the damaged base are any indications.
It’s possible the damage is much more extensive than the initial evidence implies. The Tuesday raid marks the latest escalation by Ukrainian forces that steadily are growing more adept at pinpointing and hitting Russian bases, supply lines and command posts—sometimes inside Russia itself.
Add air bases to the long list of Russian facilities that no longer are safe as the wider war grinds toward its sixth month and the Ukrainians work to shape the battlefield and clear paths for what are, at present, tentative counteroffensives in the east and south.
Holy hell, a tiny amount of restraint on instant, whole-hearted belief in the Ukrainian narrative after over five months of constant falsehoods?!
- Ukraine’s long-awaited southern counteroffensive begins with a bang in Crimea Politico
Blasts that rocked a Russian military airfield in forcibly annexed Crimea signal the start of Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the south and a critical new phase of the war that could shape its ultimate outcome, two Ukrainian officials told POLITICO.
The series of explosions Tuesday sent huge fireballs and mushroom clouds of black smoke into the sky, scattering terrified Russian vacationers who were seen in videos shared on social media scrambling for safety on a beach and fleeing by car over the Crimea bridge to Russia.
Moscow downplayed the blasts, saying they were caused by ammunition that had accidentally detonated at the airfield, where satellite images showed several military planes had been parked.
Ukraine’s defense ministry coyly denied responsibility while warning about the dangers of smoking around explosives, and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said “this Russian war against Ukraine and against all of free Europe began with Crimea and must end with Crimea — with its liberation. … I know that we will return to the Ukrainian Crimea.”
But two Ukrainian officials who spoke to POLITICO suggested more directly that Kyiv was behind the explosions. While Ukrainian forces have in recent weeks been pushing to claw back ground toward the southern city of Kherson — which fell to the Russians in the early days of the invasion — the two officials said the explosions at the airfield indicated that this counterattack was now beginning in earnest.
Climate and Space
- Last month one of hottest Julys on record—UN Inquirer
Last month marked one of the three hottest Julys ever recorded, with global temperatures measuring nearly half a degree above average, the United Nations’ weather agency said Tuesday.
“The world just had one of the three warmest Julys on record,” Clare Nullis, spokeswoman for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), told reporters in Geneva.
Pointing to fresh data from the European monitoring service Copernicus, she said that July 2022 had been slightly cooler than the same month in 2019 and slightly warmer than the one in 2016.
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.
- Taiwan trip was ‘totally worth it’ – Pelosi RT
US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has stated that she has no regrets about her recent controversial trip to Taiwan and described it as “totally worth it” in an interview with the Today show on Tuesday.
The 82-year-old politician insisted that she had “overwhelming bipartisan support” for the visit and that she and her delegation were very well-received by the Taiwanese government and its people.
However, she stated that China’s position on her trip was irrelevant, and insisted that China would “not be allowed to isolate Taiwan” or dictate who can and cannot visit the island.
“What the Chinese are doing is what they usually do,” the speaker noted about Beijing’s response to the incident, adding that Chinese President Xi Xinping was acting like “a bully because of his own insecurities.”
There was “nothing disruptive” about the visit, Pelosi said, stating that the trip was in line with the US’ policy of maintaining the status quo. However, she also insisted that it was important to let China know that Washington would support Taipei under the Taiwan Relations Act while simultaneously adhering to the ‘One China’ policy.
The speaker noted that another bipartisan US delegation visited Taipei a few months ago, but “nobody said a word” back then, going on to suggest that there was “something wrong with this picture,” and that the controversy may have had to do with her being a woman.
“Either it was because China doesn’t like women, or because I’m the third in command to China’s only major geopolitical rival. And I think we all know which it is."
- A US-China War Over Taiwan Isn’t Happening Anytime Soon Bloomberg, by James Stavridis, a former supreme allied commander of NATO.
For the record, I’m not giving any opinion on whether his prediction that there won’t be war within 18 months is good or bad - I’m saying that giving such concrete statements about the certainty of events even a month from now is generally foolish in today’s world, and also his reasons are stupid.
Tensions, already very high between the US and China over Taiwan, were exacerbated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “farewell tour” visit to the island. Many analysts are warning that an invasion by Beijing could come sooner rather than later — within 18 months is a common projection — often citing the Ukraine conflict as a model: China playing the part of Russia and bringing what it views as a non-nation sharply to heel.
Based on many years of engagement with the Chinese around the Pacific both operationally and diplomatically, I believe we are years away from any potential military move by Beijing against Taipei, and it is particularly unlikely to happen in the immediate future. There are several reasons.
First, events in Ukraine are likely to give Chinese President Xi Jinping pause, not encouragement. He must be asking himself, “I wonder if my generals and admirals are as bad as those Russians appear to be?” Xi was probably assured by Putin, when they met at the Olympics in February, that this would be a sharp, short war and that the Russians would have full control of Ukraine before the West could get its collective boots on. Things turned out very differently for the Kremlin.
We start off and are immediately falling down a bottomless pit of pure idiocy. Sure, these people are stupid and meritocracy doesn’t exist, but I refuse to believe that a person like him reached his position by actually believing what he just said, so I’m assuming this is a fake position he’s putting on for the media and is secretly shitting his pants about Russia, like I assume that most governments are, or we wouldn’t be piling all our money into Ukraine and destroying our economies into a desperate attempt to beat Putin. So, what are the four actual reasons here?
A second reason for Chinese hesitancy is uncertainty about the Taiwanese. Would they fold or fight? Polling is never fully reliable, but all indications are that the Taiwanese have a strong sense of national identity and are unlikely to simply roll over when the first wave of Chinese missiles strike on the island. (Beijing gave a preview of its muscle in the exercises responding to the Pelosi visit.)
President Tsai Ing-wen is a steely leader — she’s not unlike Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy — and my assessment is that the Taiwanese will fight, and fight hard. The geography of the island — mountain and forest — is a nightmare for an invader, especially one that must mount the assault by sea.
This one does have SOME legs, but it quickly falls over. It’s easy to think that you would become an epic freedom fighter resisting the regime coming to enslave you, but in actuality, it’s a lot easier to just keep your head down and try and keep you and your family alive, especially if the people conquering you aren’t really all that bad - despite the propaganda that I assume Taiwanese people are instilled with about Orwellian communist China. No doubt that there will be resistance, and probably a significant amount of it, and that China is concerned about it, but I don’t really think it’s a major hurdle here.
Third, Beijing is watching the alignment of the Western democracies across Europe and the Far East in enacting crippling sanctions on Russia, causing Moscow to default on its debt for the first time in more than a century. Almost all Western corporations decamped from Moscow, helping cause a collapse in imports, and few look to be going back anytime soon. The NordStream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany will have nothing but air whistling through its long tubes for the foreseeable future, and the Europeans are making strides toward energy independence from Moscow.
Sure, the Chinese will say to themselves, our economy is too big to sanction, and they would be largely correct. But could the West produce real pain-inducing sanctions on specific sectors? Absolutely. And at a moment when the Chinese economy has been slowed by the ravages of zero-Covid lockdowns, this prospect is particularly unappetizing.
This one is framed in the most annoyingly stupid way, but yes, I will concede that the West has proven itself, against all my previous expectations, indeed stupid enough to sanction their own economies into recession, if it has the potential to hurt the enemy country. Even so, a growing alliance between China and Russia - plus help from countries around the world - will increasingly mitigate this.
Fourth, as the old saw goes, “all politics are local,” and Xi has a very delicate political situation before him. At the 20th Communist Party Congress late in the fall, he will almost certainly be given a third five-year term. It is a remarkable achievement, vaulting him into the company of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. He does not want a major conflict with the US to interfere with this anointment, and even after he fully consolidates control it seems unlikely he would quickly manufacture a crisis that could crater the global economy.
That’s less than 18 months away, for starters. And also, Xi being the president to finally bring in Taiwan to China would be a massive positive thing for his legacy as a leader.
Finally, China’s military and political leaders probably assess that they are not (quite) ready for a full-scale war with the US. They have a backlog of military capability they will want to fully integrate into the People’s Liberation Army: a new strategic nuclear force, nuclear-powered warships (notably aircraft carriers), hypersonic missiles, improved offensive cyberwarfare techniques, and a far better satellite network for reconnaissance and actual combat in space.
A war between the US and China, of course, is possible in the near term. I co-authored a novel a year ago with the depressing title, “2034: A Novel of the Next World War.” But I wrote the book not as predictive fiction, but rather as a cautionary tale. The US still has time to construct the coherent strategy — militarily, diplomatically, economically, technologically — that could deter such a conflict. The clock is ticking, but the hour of maximum danger almost certainly lies some years ahead.
Of course, the US must DETER that conflict. It wouldn’t be the one causing it, no no, it would just so happen that every country that isn’t firmly welded into the imperial framework is getting unhappy with America at about the same time, for completely independent reasons! Man, coincidences are strange sometimes!
For when people accept reality, though often not fully and not for very long.
- In the Energy Markets, Putin Is Winning the War Bloomberg
No matter what indicator you use, Russian President Vladimir Putin is winning in the energy markets. Moscow is milking its oil cash cow, earning hundreds of millions of dollars every day to bankroll the invasion of Ukraine and buy domestic support for the war. Once European sanctions against Russian crude exports kick in from November, the region’s governments will face some tough choices as the energy crisis starts to bite consumers and companies.
Electricity costs for homes and businesses are set to soar from October, as the surge in oil income allows Putin to sacrifice gas revenue and squeeze supplies to Europe. UK prices are likely to jump by 75%, while in Germany some municipal utilities have already warned prices will increase in excess of 100%. Russia has successfully weaponized energy supplies; Western governments will come under increasing pressure to spend billions either subsidizing household bills or, as is already the case in France, by taking control of power companies.
The first indicator showing how Putin has turned the oil tide is Russian crude production. Last month, the country’s output climbed back to near pre-war levels, averaging almost 10.8 million barrels per day, only marginally down from the 11 million pumped in January immediately prior to the invasion of Ukraine. Based on industry estimates, oil production is slightly higher so far this month.
It isn’t a blip: July marked the third consecutive month of oil production recovery, with output up significantly from this year’s low point of 10 million barrels set in April, when European buyers started shunning Russia and Moscow scrambled to find new buyers.
After that initial struggle, Russia has found new customers for the million barrels a day or so that European oil refiners have stopped purchasing due to self-sanctioning. Most of that crude is ending up in Asia — notably India — but also in Turkey and elsewhere in the Middle East. And some is still showing up in Europe, with buyers still purchasing Russian crude ahead of the planned introduction of official sanctions in early November. Everyone who bet that Russian oil production would continue to drop — myself included — got it wrong.
Ah, don’t worry too much about it. Journalists don’t face consequences from being wrong. They do, however, face consequences for being correct.
The second indicator is the price of Russian oil. Initially, Moscow was forced to sell its flavors of crude at huge discounts to other varieties to entice buyers. In recent weeks, however, the Kremlin has regained pricing power, taking advantage of a tight market.
ESPO crude, a category of Russian oil from the Far East, is a good example of the new trend. At the low earlier this year, it sold at a discount of more than $20 a barrel to Dubai crude, the regional oil benchmark for Asia. Recently, ESPO crude has changed hands at parity to Dubai. Urals crude, the flagship Russian oil export to Europe, isn’t benefiting as much as ESPO, as its key buyers have traditionally been countries such as Germany rather than India. But it’s also recovering in price, selling recently at $20 to $25 a barrel cheaper than the Brent benchmark, after trading at a discount of almost $35 in early April.
Moscow is finding new commodity traders, often operating from the Middle East and Asia and probably financed by Russian money, willing to buy its crude and ship it to hungry markets. With Brent crude hovering at close to $100 a barrel, and with Russia able to offer smaller discounts, there’s plenty of money coming in to the Kremlin. For now at least, energy sanctions aren’t working.
The final indicator of Russian success is political, rather than market related. Back in March and April, Western policy makers were optimistic that the OPEC cartel, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, would ditch its alliance with Russia. The opposite has been the case.
Despite a trip by US President Joseph Biden to Riyadh, Putin has retained his influence inside the OPEC+ alliance. Soon after Biden departed from Saudi Arabia, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, the nation’s point-person managing the relationship with the cartel, flew to the kingdom. A few days later, OPEC+ announced a minuscule oil production increase, keeping pressure on global energy markets.
The oil market victory means Putin can afford to forego revenue by restricting natural gas sales to Europe, putting pressure on Berlin, Paris and London, which are bracing for massive retail energy price increases and potential shortages that may lead to rationing this winter. Moscow is making so much money selling oil it can afford to restrict crude supply to Eastern European nations, too, as it did earlier this week.
A combination of cold weather, surging demand for electricity and soaring prices later this year risks undermining Western support for Ukraine. European politicians who’ve been eager to win international kudos by flaunting their support for Kyiv may be less willing to foot the domestic bill for averting energy poverty among their own voters.
In public, European governments are still resolute in their determination to wean themselves off Russian energy. Privately, they must be acknowledging the hardships that stance threatens to inflict on their economies. Putin is winning the energy battle; let’s hope that leverage isn’t powerful enough to prompt Western politicians to soften their stance in the real war.
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.
- US Interference in Somalia Has Been a Disaster for Somalis Jacobin
For the past three decades, Somalia has not had a functioning government capable of administering its national territory. The country’s troubled modern history has led foreign-policy analysts in the West to depict it as the archetype of a “failed state.” Since an abortive US military mission to Somalia in the early 1990s, it has most often featured on the Anglophone news agenda as a haven for terrorist attacks in neighboring countries or the source of piratical raids on international shipping routes.
Much of this coverage gives readers the impression that Somalia’s problems are self-generated and that the rest of the world has been trying to save it. In reality, there is a protracted history of outside interference in Somali affairs that has worsened its long crisis. From the Cold War to the “war on terror,” the United States has used Somalia as a battleground for its geopolitical schemes, with profoundly destructive consequences for Somalis.
A union of British and Italian colonies that were joined at independence in 1960, Somalia is strategically located on the Horn of Africa, which oversees Middle Eastern natural gas and oil routes. Although most of the country’s inhabitants are ethnic Somalis who share a language, culture, and religion, they have been divided by clan rivalry. Ethnic minorities have suffered from political, economic, and social discrimination.
Somalia’s internal conflicts have been mirrored in regional tensions. Colonial boundaries, retained at independence, placed millions of ethnic Somalis in neighboring Ethiopia, Kenya, and Djibouti. Campaigns to unite all ethnic Somalis in one nation have led to multiple border conflicts and regional wars.
Somalia’s early attempts at democracy ended in 1969, when its second president was assassinated and Major General Mohamed Siad Barre seized power. The next year, he announced that Somalia would pursue a scientific socialist agenda, beginning with a massive public works program.
In the early 1970s, Somalia made significant strides in mass literacy, primary education, public health, and economic development, particularly in the rural areas. However, Siad Barre also suspended the constitution, banned political parties, and assassinated rivals. Like its predecessors, his government was rife with clan patronage.
Wary of Somalia’s socialist orientation, the United States had suspended economic aid, and the Soviet Union became the country’s main source of military and economic assistance. By 1976, Somalia boasted a 22,000-strong army, one of the largest in sub-Saharan Africa. Cuban technicians trained Somali troops, while Soviet and East German agents strengthened Somalia’s repressive National Security Service.
However, by 1977, the relationship with the Eastern Bloc had begun to fray. Moscow pursued another alliance on the Horn with a new military regime in Ethiopia after the revolution that ousted Haile Selassie. The Kremlin claimed that this government had stronger Marxist credentials than the Somali one.
Hoping to promote socialist unity throughout the Horn, Moscow urged Somalia to relinquish its claims to Ethiopian territory. Instead, Somalia invaded Ethiopia, and the Soviet Union threw its full support behind the latter.
The United States, meanwhile, hoped to use Somalia to thwart Soviet encroachment in the Horn. But it worried that open support would damage its relations with other African countries, which viewed Somalia as the aggressor nation in the conflict. Washington therefore offered little overt assistance. Instead, the CIA hired an arms dealer that supplied US-made weapons, and other agencies coordinated a flow of weapons through third parties.
This support proved to be insufficient. Without a significant source of external aid, Mogadishu was unable to sustain the war. In March 1978, it was forced to withdraw from Ethiopian territory. After Somalia’s departure, the United States reverted to a stance of public support for Siad Barre’s regime. By 1986, Mogadishu was one of the largest recipients of US military aid in sub-Saharan Africa.
US aid notwithstanding, Somalia was in dire straits by the mid-1980s. The cost of the Ethiopian war had combined with corruption and mismanagement to run the economy into the ground, dissipating the developmental achievements of the previous decade. Onerous taxes stimulated rural unrest, which was brutally suppressed.
Siad Barre imprisoned or killed his critics or drafted them into the Somali army, while collectively punishing their clan members and encouraging clan rivalry to disrupt his opponents. Members of Siad Barre’s own clan and their allies increasingly dominated his regime. By 1989, clans that had suffered from harassment or discrimination had united in their opposition to Siad Barre’s rule, as had Islamists, whom the dictatorship had also repressed.
This is about half the article, which I thought was pretty interesting. You can read the rest on Jacobin if you want.
Bloomerism and Hope
For events that show that a better, more equitable, and happier world is possible than the neoliberal hell we inhabit.
- Palestine Action Occupy And Destroy Israeli Weapons Transport Company Popular Resistance
“Speak to any Gazan on the ground – they are shouting at the world, saying: ‘We don’t want your sympathy – we want action.’ And that’s exactly what we’re doing, targeting those complicit in the genocide of the Palestinian people and unravelling Israel’s military chokehold on the region. Now more than ever we need immediate action for Gaza.”
Gaza has spent three days and nights mourning the dead. Circling the skies, raining fire down below, are the drones and fighter jets of Elbit Systems – Israel’s largest arms company. Knowing that petitions, rallies and appeals to power will do nothing here in Britain, we’ve responded with direct action. We are currently occupying Elbit client “The Good Packing Company”, who package, transport and export Israeli weapons battle tested on the Palestinian people. The four activists’ rooftop occupation is ongoing, with extensive damage enacted and the activists set on staying as long as possible.
Activists have dismantled site CCTV, struck out at windows with sledgehammers, and coated the site in paint. At the Elbit transport hub, site operations are halted and the flag is being flown. The company’s website makes reference to specializing in “Ministry of Defense type packaging” and has been confirmed to provide shipping and military-grade packaging to Elbit. Included in this are the Hermes 450/900 drones, frequently used in Gaza, and produced (in part) in the same town.
Elbit combat drones account for a considerable 85% of Israel’s drone fleet. The Hermes 450 was pioneered by Elbit and has been used in attacks and surveillance in Gaza for years now. Their use ravages Gaza city, leaving Gazans with deep-seated trauma and anxieties from Israeli state-terror. Though Palestine Action target Elbit directly, the group also targets any firm in the killer supply chain.
A Palestine Action spokesperson said: “No impunity for Israel, nor for anyone involved in the massacres we have all witnessed. If you work with Elbit, we’re working against you too. When we know our own government won’t do it, the onus is on us to enforce a people-backed arms embargo on the Israeli occupation, using direct action. It’s crucial to remember that in Gaza, the economic blockade has stood for fifteen years – each year marked by deprivation and colonial warfare. Israel’s violence is everyday life for the average Gazan, and so the time is always right to take direct action in Gaza’s name, and cut military production in accomplice-Britain. We will unravel Britain’s Israeli arms industry.”
- Archaeologists in Quebec Are About to Sign Their First-Ever Collective Bargaining Agreement Jacobin
On June 18, 2022, union members from the Syndicat national des archéologues du Québec (SNAQ) voted for the adoption of a tentative agreement that will frame further bargaining proceedings with their employers. The adoption and signing of the agreement shows just how far cultural resource management (CRM) archaeologists have come in understanding — and agitating for — their labor rights. The agreement is a sign that CRM workers in Quebec are ready to put the last fifty years of poorly regulated and privatized archaeological practice in the rear window.
The members officially founded their first sector-wide union and elected their first executive committee in March 2020, following a three-year workplace self-organization process. This transformed a fragmented and dispersed workforce into a collective one. However, the members do not yet have a collective agreement, and what was signed was only agreed upon by three out of Quebec’s ten accredited archaeological firms. There is still much work to be done.