Link back to the discussion thread.
- Wildfires in Europe burn area equivalent to one-fifth of Belgium Guardian
Across Europe, an area equivalent to one-fifth of Belgium has been ravaged by flames as successive searing heatwaves and a historic drought propel the continent towards what experts say is likely to be a record year for wildfire destruction.
According to data from the European Forest Fire Information System (Effis), 659,541 hectares (1.6m acres) of land burned across the continent between January and mid-August, the most at this time of year since records began in 2006.
The figure is 56% higher than the previous record in 2017. Then, 420,913 hectares burned over the same period, and 988,087 were consumed by the end of the year. On present trends, more than 1m hectares could be lost to wildfires this year.
- Latvia and Estonia withdraw from China co-operation group EU Reporter
Xi Jinping called me, audibly weeping, when he heard this news. I can’t believe what they’ve done to China’s hopes to become the biggest superpower on the planet. The Chinese socialist experiment is over.
Latvian and Estonia pulled out of a co-operation framework with China and more than a dozen Central European and Eastern European countries on Thursday (11 August). This follows the withdrawal by Lithuania last May.
This move is made during Western criticism of China’s increasing military pressure on Taiwan, an island democratically ruled by China that China claims to be its territory.
According to the Latvian Foreign Ministry: “Past participation under the 16+1 format has not produced the desired economic results.”
After the opening of a de facto Taiwanese embassy by Taiwan late last year, relations between China and Lithuania deteriorated.
It stated: “Latvia’s continued participation to the China-led Cooperation Framework with Central and Eastern European Countries is not in line with our strategic goals in the current international climate.”
Why on god’s green fucking earth does Latvia care in the slightest what is going on in Taiwan? My god. The most nakedly transparent US puppet government I’ve ever seen in my life. “Our mutual agreement with China no longer serves its original purpose due to the changing political circumstances around the world. It is the Unite– I mean, Latvia’s, best interest that we no longer take part in this framework."
- Zelensky fires security chiefs amid crackdown RT
President Vladimir Zelensky on Monday fired the heads of three regional offices of the nation’s Security Service (SBU), Ukraine’s successor to the KGB. Earlier, he dismissed the top official in the agency, citing widespread treason among agents.
The top security officials in the Kiev, Lviv, and Ternopol regions were fired by presidential decree. A new leader was immediately appointed to the SBU’s Kiev office but replacements for the other two have yet to be revealed.
Zelensky’s move appears to be a continuation of the crackdown on the SBU that he launched in mid-July. At the time, he dismissed the head of the security agency, Ivan Bakanov, his deputy, and four regional SBU heads. He also sacked Prosecutor General Irina Venediktova. Zelensky claimed the shakeup was due to rampant “treason” under the leadership of the officials.
The move was reportedly not perceived positively by the US government, which publicly maintains unwavering support for the Ukrainian president. But according to US media, White House officials have said privately that there is growing mistrust in Washington over Zelensky’s increasingly authoritarian rule.
It has not been uncommon for Ukrainian officials to question the loyalty of citizens amid the armed conflict with Russia. Nikolaev Governor Vitaly Kim suggested he may place his region’s capital on lockdown to conduct a Bolshevik-style purge of Russian sympathizers, saying he trusts no one.
Man, it just goes to show that Russia has kept the communism mind virus in a psylab deep in Siberia and has released it on the Ukrainian authorities. Within a few months, Zelensky will have his own giant spoon.
- Ukraine to legalize guns soon – minister RT
Ukraine will adopt a law legalizing firearms in the near future, amid the nation’s ongoing armed conflict with Russia, Internal Affairs Minister Denis Monastirsky told local media on Saturday.
According to Monastirsky, the Ukrainian parliament may allow citizens to buy handguns and other weapons to protect their homes. While stating that he believes people should be able to do so, he said the Internal Affairs Ministry is against granting people the right to carry guns in public.
“We are opposed to carrying weapons freely in public places, because we believe that the risks to public safety outweigh the benefits,” he stated, adding that the ministry has been working with Ukrainian MPs on the issue, and that a law could be adopted soon.
“[It] has been approved in the first reading and is now being prepared for the second one. I think that it would be submitted to the Parliament for consideration in the near future.”
- Russia’s Crude Shipments to Asia Tumble to Post-Invasion Low Bloomberg
Russia’s crude shipments tumbled in the week to Aug. 12, dropping to their lowest since March. The volume sent to key Asian buyers, who have stepped in to take barrels shunned by Europe, fell to its smallest since Russian troops invaded Ukraine in February.
Even if all the crude on ships showing no final destination ends up in Asia, the flow would still be the smallest since March. While a single week’s figures are not enough to signal the start of a trend, lower flows to China and India, Russia’s two largest export markets, will cause concern in the Kremlin. Shipments to Asia have been drifting lower from a plateau of about 2 million barrels a day sustained from mid-April to mid-June.
There is no suggestion yet that India is turning its back on the Russian barrels that it has been so keen to buy at steep discounts after they were forced out of traditional European markets. India’s oil purchasing decisions will continue to “be guided by our energy security requirements,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Arindam Bagchi told reporters on Friday.
Russia is also continuing its efforts to develop new markets for its crude. A third tanker is heading to cash-strapped Sri Lanka and two vessels have arrived at El Hamra on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast since Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited the country last month.
Using a four-week moving average to smooth out some of the variability in the weekly figures, Russia’s seaborne crude shipments have stabilized at a level about 500,000 barrels a day below the peak they reached after Moscow’s troops invaded Ukraine, and remain little changed from where they were before the attack. On this basis, seaborne exports edged lower in the week to Aug. 12, slipping to 3.24 million barrels a day from 3.32 million the previous week, according to vessel-tracking data monitored by Bloomberg.
- Surge in EU exports to Russia RT
EU exports to Russia surged by 18% in June from the previous month, reaching €4.45 billion ($4.57 billion), foreign trade data from the statistics agency Eurostat shows.
This was the second consecutive month that exports to Russia rose, following the April low of just €2.78 billion. However, the value of goods shipped to Russia remains well below the June 2021 figure of €7.21 billion, as some 28% of EU exports to Russia remain under Ukraine-related sanctions.
- Crimea sets grain harvest record RT
A record grain crop has been harvested in the Russian Republic of Crimea, head of the region Sergey Aksyonov said on Thursday.
“Crimean farmers have harvested a record crop of more than 2.1 million tons, which is 700,000 tons more than last year,” he wrote on his Telegram channel.
In 2021, the grain crop reportedly amounted to 1.47 tons. In the previous year, Crimean farmers harvested one million tons of grain, while the peninsula’s own demand totals 300,000 tons. Before the pandemic in 2019, the grain crop amounted to about 1.7 million tons.
- Germany to give energy essentials priority by rail if Rhine disruption worsens Reuters
Germany plans to give the transportation of materials and equipment essential for energy production priority on the country’s rail networks should water levels on the Rhine fall further and hamper shipping by river, a draft decree shows.
DB Netz, the rail network arm of railway operator Deutsche Bahn (DBN.UL), has already rejigged usage conditions to give preference to trains carrying mineral oil products and hard coal for power generators as Germany tackles an energy crisis.
- A German refinery partly owned by Moscow has started mixing US oil with Russian crude Business Insider
Germany’s refinery in Schwedt — which is partly owned by Moscow’s Rosneft — is now mixing US crude with Russian Urals, sources told Bloomberg.
According to the report, about 20% of what the refinery is processing is US crude. The supplies are being imported via Germany’s Baltic coast port of Rostock, which only recently saw its first delivery of American oil in several years.
The US crude supplies mark a pivot for Schwedt, which is based near the Polish border, as it has long relied on Russian crude that comes in from the Druzhba pipeline.
- Poland and Germany face massive environmental disaster RT
Authorities in Poland and Germany are trying to determine the cause of a major environmental disaster in Poland’s second largest river, which also flows through the Czech Republic and eastern Germany.
Tons of dead fish have been seen floating or washed ashore on the banks of Oder River over the past two weeks. Photos and videos published on social media show the surface of the river covered by fish carcasses, while dead beavers can also be seen floating on the water.
The German broadcaster rbb24 reported on Saturday that the disaster had reached the Szczecin Lagoon at the mouth of the Oder that flows into the Baltic Sea. Hundreds of volunteers as well as some 300 German emergency service specialists have been collecting dead animals in the Oder in an area spanning some 80 kilometers.
On Friday, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki stated that “huge amounts of chemical waste were probably dumped in the Oder River with full awareness of the risks and consequences.” He also vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice. “We will not let this matter go. We will not rest until the guilty are severely punished,” he said in a video published on Facebook.
On Saturday, Poland offered a reward of a million zloty ($220,200) for any information about those responsible for what was described by some environmentalists as the nation’s biggest disaster in years.
The cause of the pollution remains unknown. On Friday, rbb24 reported, citing the Brandenburg State Laboratory, that extremely high levels of mercury had been detected in water samples taken from the river. The amount of the highly toxic substance in the river was reportedly so high the testing equipment could not properly display the test results and the test had to be repeated.
However, on Saturday Polish Environment Minister Anna Moskwa ruled out an increased mercury level as the cause of the massive fish deaths in the Oder. “The State Veterinary Institute tested seven species. It ruled out mercury as a cause of fish deaths,” she wrote on Twitter. The Polish authorities stated that a high salt concentration in the water might be the culprit.
The environment minister of the state of Brandenburg in eastern Germany, Axel Vogel, also said that large amounts of dissolved salt might have killed the fish. This is “absolutely atypical,” he told rbb24.
- Why UK farms are recruiting fruit pickers from 7,000 miles away Guardian
As a Guardian investigation reports that Indonesian workers picking fruit for leading UK supermarkets have ended up with debts of up to £5,000 for a single season, we look at what is driving a crisis in British agricultural labour and how exploitation can be avoided.
A shortage of farm workers created by Brexit led to 8,000 tonnes of berries going unpicked last year. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine only made the shortage more critical – Ukrainians made up two-thirds of all workers arriving on seasonal worker visas in 2021, with almost 20,000 working on British farms. When war broke out weeks before the picking season was due to start, recruiters had to look beyond Ukraine, with a rise reported in farm workers arriving from Indonesia, Nepal, Vietnam, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
How much do farms rely on seasonal workers from overseas? A great deal. In 2019 about 2,500 workers came to Britain on a pilot of the seasonal worker visa. This year the number is expected to be 40,000, with many coming from distant countries and little funding or infrastructure to investigate the circumstances of their recruitment.
AG Recruitment, one of only four licensed agencies allowed to recruit under the UK seasonal worker scheme, was tasked with filling a shortfall in farm workers quickly this year, including in Indonesia.
With no previous experience in Indonesia, AG sought help from the Jakarta-based Al Zubara Manpower, which appears to have gone to brokers on other islands who charged exorbitant fees to the workers they introduced.
The managing director of AG, Douglas Amesz, said he personally recruited candidates in Jakarta for Clock House farm in Kent, that applications and visas were only processed by AG, and he was unaware of brokers levying charges. He said he was “extremely concerned to learn of the allegations that have been raised”.
Some pickers at Clock House were worried when they started work that they could end up trapped in debt, as multiple labourers were initially on zero-hours contracts, despite this being against the rules for those on seasonal worker visas since April 2022.
With at least one worker making less than £300 a week once accommodation costs were charged, some were anxious about work running out as the picking season finishes before the end of their six-month visa.
Clock House changed the contracts to guarantee a minimum of 20 hours after the Guardian approached it for a response. The farm said it conducted an audit of its payroll and found workers picked for an average of over 48 hours a week, meaning an income of more than £2,000 a month.
- Scale of damage to UK companies by anti-Russia sanctions revealed RT
The vast majority of UK companies have suffered from Western sanctions imposed on Russia this year in response to the conflict in Ukraine, the Daily Mail reported on Monday, citing a survey by insurance agency Mactavish.
According to the survey, 71% of British businesses had assets that have been directly affected by the restrictions imposed on Moscow by the UK and other Western governments.
Nearly half of these firms reported cost increases and disruptions in production linked with the measures, while 44% said they had lost suppliers and 42% suffered personnel problems.
The financial sector was hit the hardest, with 92% of companies working in the industry reporting various problems due to exposure to assets and funds located in Russia.
Also, 84% of companies in the aviation industry reported losses because aircraft they had leased to Russian airlines have not been returned owing to Moscow’s counter-sanctions.
Asia and Oceania
- U.S. lawmakers arrive in Taiwan with China tensions simmering Reuters
A delegation of U.S. lawmakers arrived in Taiwan on Sunday for a two-day trip during which they will meet President Tsai Ing-wen, the second high-level group to visit while there are military tensions between the self-ruled island and China.
- China conducts fresh military drills around Taiwan as US congressional delegation visits CNN
China’s military said it conducted combat alert patrols and military drills in the waters and airspace around Taiwan on Monday, a day after the arrival of a US congressional delegation to Taipei.
The exercises are “a solemn response to political plays by the US and Taiwan that are undermining the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait,” Senior Col. Shi Yi of the Eastern Theater Command was quoted as saying on the command’s official Weibo account. “We will take all necessary measures and resolutely defend national sovereignty and the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait.”
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said 30 Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) warplanes and five vessels were detected in the Taiwan Strait on Monday.
A US congressional delegation led by Sen. Ed Markey arrived in Taipei on Sunday for a previously unannounced two-day visit that came on the heels of a trip from US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier this month.
- China unexpectedly cuts key rates as economic data disappoints Inquirer
China’s central bank cut key lending rates in a surprise move on Monday to revive demand as data showed the economy unexpectedly slowing in July, with factory and retail activity squeezed by Beijing’s zero-COVID policy and a property crisis.
The grim set of figures indicate the world’s second-largest economy is struggling to shake off the June quarter’s hit to growth from strict COVID restrictions, prompting some economists to downgrade their projections.
- China home prices fall for 11th straight month as suspended construction, mortgage boycott and weak economy hit sales SCMP
Home prices in China dropped for the 11th straight month in July, reflecting the woes of a property market suffering amid a developer debt crunch, an unexpectedly weak economy, a massive surplus of empty homes and a mortgage boycott by homebuyers fed up waiting for unfinished housing projects.
China’s 70-city index of home prices dropped 0.1 per cent compared with June and 1.7 per cent year over year, the National Bureau of Statistics reported on Monday.
New home prices dropped in 40 cities and secondary-market prices fell in 51 cities, an increase of two and three cities, respectively, compared with June, the data showed.
- China’s semiconductor output shrank 17 per cent in July as supply chains remained under pressure from strict Covid-19 policies SCMP
China’s semiconductor output suffered a steep fall in July after a brief rebound in previous months, as the country’s supply chain struggled to cope with strict Covid-19 control measures.
The production of integrated circuits (ICs) last month dropped 16.6 per cent year-on-year to 27.2 billion units, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Monday, reflecting disrupted production and oversupply of low-end semiconductor products.
The July performance ended the brief rebound seen in May and June, when China reported 27.5 billion and 28.8 billion units respectively. It was slightly higher than this year’s low point of 25.9 billion units in April when Covid lockdowns and travel restrictions disrupted manufacturing activities in the Yangtze River Delta, home to Shanghai and a major chip production base.
The chips data came against a background of robust downstream production, with China’s automobile volume output in July surging 31.5 per cent from a year ago, with new-energy vehicle output more than doubling. Meanwhile, China’s output of smartphones fell 9.1 per cent in July to 89 million units, according to the statistics agency.
- China’s Airlines Could Join the Multibillion-Dollar Exit From US Stock Markets Bloomberg
The decision by five Chinese state-owned companies to leave the US market adds to skepticism that authorities in both countries can reach an agreement on disclosure rules, with analysts seeing state-controlled airlines as the next potential group to depart, potentially followed by internet giants.
China and Hong Kong are the only jurisdictions worldwide that don’t allow inspections by the US Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, with Beijing officials citing national security and confidentiality concerns. With a deadline for delistings set for 2024 for those firms that aren’t compliant, US lawmakers are considering passing a bill to bring it forward to next year.
The announcement on Aug. 12 by giants including China Life Insurance Co. and PetroChina Co. to seek delisting from New York “is not a good sign for the auditing spat,” said Gary Ng, a senior economist at Natixis SA in Hong Kong. “It is likely to see more state-owned enterprises and private firms controlling a large amount of data to follow the same steps.”
China Eastern Airlines Corp. and China Southern Airlines Co. could “soon” announce similar intentions, according to Redmond Wong, a Greater China market strategist at Saxo Bank.
- Economic rebound for China expected in 3rd, 4th quarters Asia News
China is on track for a steady rebound in the third and fourth quarters as policy stimulus takes effect, and renewed COVID-19 outbreaks will be less disruptive to the supply chain, experts said.
They expect strong fiscal easing — notably in infrastructure spending — to shore up growth, better use of structural monetary tools and more government measures to further stimulate consumption, which will help boost domestic demand and build a strong national market.
Luo Zhiheng, chief economist at Yuekai Securities, expected the growth to recover to 5 percent in the third and fourth quarters of the year, making a full-year V-shaped rebound.
To stabilize overall growth, Luo said it would be advisable to allocate some of the 2023 quota for local government special bonds in advance in the fourth quarter and to increase financial support for small and medium-sized enterprises, technological innovation and green development.
- Yangtze River, lakes at record low levels as heatwaves, drought hit southern China SCMP
Water levels in China’s largest river and its two biggest freshwater lakes are at record lows as parts of the country’s south endure historic heatwaves and drought.
At Hankou, a key monitoring point on the Yangtze River in the central city of Wuhan, the water level had dropped to 17.54 metres on Saturday – about 6 metres lower than the average in recent years. It was also the lowest level seen for this time of year since records began in 1865, the official Science and Technology Daily reported on Sunday, citing disaster response authorities.
The Yangtze is the longest river in Asia – stretching 6,300km from the Tibetan Plateau in the west to the East China Sea near Shanghai – and the region is home to about one-third of China’s population.
- China boosts coal production RT
China’s daily coal output in July grew 16% year-on-year on growing energy demand sparked by the summer heat, Reuters reported on Monday, citing data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
Overall production in July amounted to 372.66 million tons, or 12.02 million tons per day, compared to 10.13 million tons produced in July 2021.
Since the beginning of the year, the country’s output jumped 12% from last year to 2.56 billion tons.
- Putin and Kim Jong Un pledge closer relations as Russia courts non-Western allies in the wake of its Ukraine invasion Business Insider
President Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un pledged closer ties in an exchange of notes on Monday, state-controlled media outlets reported.
It came as Russia continued a monthslong push to shore up alliances with non-Western countries in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine.
Putin wished Kim “good health and success” and expressed the will to continue their bilateral relations which would “would entirely conform with the interests of the peoples of the two countries,” as North Korean outlet Rodong Sinmun reported, per a translation by South Korea-based media monitor KCNA Watch.
Kim, for his part, responded with a message emphasizing that the friendship had put “have put on a new high stage in the common front for frustrating the hostile forces' military threat and provocation, and high-handed and arbitrary practices,” per per Rodong Sinmun.
Russia and North Korea, as well as sharing a small border, have in common the status of being among the most heavily-sanctioned economies in the world.
By one count, Russia overtook North Korea (and Iran, and Syria) in March to become the most sanctioned nation of all, subject to 5,532 sanctions compared to 2,077 on North Korea.
However, in practice North Korea is still the more reclusive of the two nations as Russia maintains and is indeed expanding links with countries like India, China, and Brazil.
I’m only half-joking when I say this: I don’t trust any nation that hasn’t been sanctioned by the United States. It’s a badge of honour that you should wear with pride. Unless you’re like, so fascist that even America is like “Bro.” and sanctions you.
- US fumes over India’s role in transporting banned Russian oil – Reuters RT
Washington has approached New Delhi with queries about Russian oil products that were allegedly shipped to the US from India, Reuters reported on Saturday, citing Reserve Bank of India Deputy Governor Michael Patra.
According to Patra, the US Treasury informed the country’s authorities that an Indian vessel allegedly picked up oil from a Russian tanker on the high seas and delivered it to a port in the state of Gujarat on the country’s west coast, where the oil was processed and then shipped to New York.
“You know that there are sanctions against people who are buying Russian oil, and this was reported to us by the US Treasury… It turns out, an Indian ship met a Russian tanker in mid-seas, picked up oil in the mid-seas, came to a port in Gujarat, it was processed in that port and converted into a distillate which actually goes into making single-use plastic. The refined output was put back on that ship and it set sail without a destination. In the mid-seas it received the destination so it reached its course, went to New York,” Patra said at an event in Odisha celebrating 75 years of Indian independence.
The official did not reveal the name of the ship in question, nor provide any other details on the matter, but said “that’s the way war works, it works in strange ways.”
- US says its presence in Middle East “is not going anywhere”, amid rumours of China ascendancy MEMO
Oh, thank god.
The United States and the administration of President Joe Biden have insisted that the country and its presence in the Middle East “is not going anywhere,” countering claims that China is replacing it as the hegemon in the region.
Speaking to the American news channel CNBC, the US’s special envoy for Yemen – Tim Lenderking – commented on the reported visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Saudi Arabia next week, saying that diplomatic visits by other world powers are to be expected.
He stated that Washington had firmly reiterated its commitment to maintaining its presence and influence in the Middle East during President Biden’s visit to the region last month. “The major message that the president brought to the region is that the United States is not going anywhere,” Lenderking said.
He stressed that the US is “a vital partner to not only Saudi Arabia but each of the countries in the region,” adding that it “can be counted on to remain in the neighborhood as a support for the countries and their security. That is an American priority.”
- Iran’s top automaker sets sights on Russian market Iraqi News
Iran’s leading automaker is seeking to prioritise exports to Russia, its CEO said Sunday, as both countries reel under Western economic sanctions.
Iran Khodro unveiled the latest model of its crossover Rira vehicle at its factory west of Tehran, where CEO Mehdi Khatibi announced the manufacturer’s ambitions for the Russian market.
“We are going to pay special attention to the Russian market, and we are also thinking of partnering with Russian investors,” he said.
“We have held good negotiations with Moscow. The Russian market, with its capacities, will be one of our important markets,” Khatibi added.
“We will begin exporting this year” to Russia, he said.
- Iran Supreme Leader: Israel is getting weaker as Palestinian resistance gets stronger MEMO
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei yesterday sent a letter to the Secretary-General of the Islamic Jihad Movement, Ziad Al-Nakhalah, in which he praised the movement’s resistance against the Israeli occupation.
Khamenei was responding to a letter sent by Al-Nakhalah.
“I have received your strong and promising letter, and I ask God to reward you and bring final victory to the oppressed Palestinian people,” Khamenei said in his letter.
“With your brave resistance, you neutralised the deceitful policy of the usurping regime. You proved that each part of the resistance bloc alone can rub the enemy’s nose to the ground,” he added.
“By linking the struggle in Gaza with the West Bank and other resistance forces with their support for the jihad movement, you were able to display the integrity of the Palestinian nation’s jihad against the evil and deceitful enemy,” Khamenei said.
“The usurping enemy is getting weaker, at the same time that the Palestinian resistance front is getting stronger,” Khamenei pointed out.
He went on to reiterate his country’s support for the Palestinian people.
- Saudi Aramco’s profits shoot up 90% to another record as the energy crisis sends oil prices soaring Business Insider
Saudi Aramco has posted an eye-watering 90% jump in quarterly profit, notching another record as oil prices soar during the energy crisis.
Saudi Arabia’s state oil and gas company pulled in $48.4 billion in the second quarter of 2022, according to its earnings report published Sunday. That’s up from $25.5 billion from the same period last year and above analyst expectations for $46.2 billion.
- Ghana: Climate Project Improves Crop Yields All Africa
The Climate Information Made Available to Entrepreneurial Farmers (CLIMATE) project has helped to improve agricultural practices amongst farmers in the northern part of the country resulting in improved crop yields and high incomes for farmers.
Mr Abdul-MuminFuseini Sochi, a farmer from Libga in the Savelugu Municipality of the Northern Region, who shared his experience under the project at a stakeholders' forum in Tamale to close the project, said it had saved him a lot of income.
He said “We used to farm normally. We apply fertiliser anytime and sometimes the rain comes to wash it away, which makes our crops not do well. Under the CLIMATE project, we have been connected to the Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMet). They update us with weather reports in the morning. This helps us to know when and how to apply fertiliser so that it is not washed away by rain. This saves us a lot of money and helps our crops to do well.”
Tell that to Jordan Peterson. Oh, right, that article is way down there. Damn it. The pros and cons of putting these articles in out of order. Well, it’ll be funny when you get down that. That article is great.
- US stock futures slip and oil prices drop after data shows China’s economy is slowing sharply Business Insider
US stock futures and oil prices fell Monday after a raft of data showed China’s economy is slowing more quickly than expected and its central bank unexpectedly cut key interest rates.
S&P 500 futures were down around 0.5% in European trading, while futures on the Nasdaq 100 and Dow futures were also in the red.
Brent crude futures, the global benchmark oil price, shed more than 4% as investors bet China’s slowdown would reduce the demand for energy.
Growth in output at China’s factories slowed to 3.8% year-on-year in July, data showed overnight, down from 3.9% in June and well below economists' expectations for a 4.6% reading. Retail sales growth also slowed, while youth unemployment ticked up to a record high of just under 20%.
- JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon told wealthy clients there’s a chance the US is heading into ‘something worse’ than a recession, report says Business Insider
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon estimated last week the probability that the US would head into a recession, according to a Yahoo Finance report published Saturday.
Dimon reportedly said on a client call Tuesday that the economy was “strong” but “storm clouds” were on the horizon, including federal monetary policies, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and rising oil prices. The categorization is an apparent downgrade from Dimon’s previous comments in June when he warned of an “economic hurricane.”
“Consumers' balance sheets are in good shape,” he said, per the Yahoo report. “Businesses are equally in good shape. When you forecast, you have to think differently. It is a bad mistake to say, ‘Here is my single-point forecast.'”
The CEO was said to have estimated the chances of a “soft landing” to be about 10% and the probability of a “harder landing” or “mild recession” to be closer to 20 to 30%. He also reportedly estimated a 20- to 30% chance of a “harder recession” and a 20- to 30% chance of “something worse.”
Dimon had originally used the storm-clouds metaphor to describe the US economy back in April, but his outlook grew more dire in June.
“I’m going to change the storm clouds out there. Look, I’m an optimist, I said there are storm clouds, they’re big storm clouds: It’s a hurricane,” he said at the Bernstein conference on June 1, adding: “You better brace yourself. JPMorgan is bracing ourselves and we’re going to be very conservative with our balance sheet.”
- Solar Panels Piling Up at US Border on Xinjiang Forced Labor Law Bloomberg
Solar equipment is piling up at the US border in an indication the passage of a law targeting forced labor in China’s Xinjiang region is having a major impact on trade flows.
Modules with capacity of more than three gigawatts have been held by US customs since June, Roth Capital analysts including Philip Shen said in a note that cited an industry contact. That’s the same month that the US Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act went into effect.
Nine to 12 gigawatts of modules could be detained by year-end, and many top Chinese manufactures have stopped exporting to the US, according to Roth Capital.
That’s likely to make it tougher for Washington to drive an expansion of renewable power capacity following the passage of a historic climate bill last week. The US is the second-largest solar market, but is heavily reliant on imports. China, by far the largest market, dominates the global supply chain, with Xinjiang a key region.
- Russia almost doubles exports’ value to Brazil in first half of 2022: mainly fertilizers and fuel MercoPress
Russia almost doubled the value of its exports to Brazil in the first half of this year and has climbed to fifth supplier of Latin America’s largest economy. This despite the trade, financial and diplomatic sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom following its invasion of Ukraine.
The West measures hoped to suffocate the Russian economy and force an end of the war, but president Vladimir Putin made it clear that he would redirect his sales: this was the message sent to other countries at the BRICS summit in June.
During the first months of the war, US, EU and UK pressured the Jair Bolsonaro government to adhere to initiatives to isolate Russia. And there was even a distrust reaction towards Bolsonaro when on the eve of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he visited the Kremlin. And more recently, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly criticized Bolsonaro’s stance on the war.
In mid-July, the two presidents spoke on the phone. “I ask that all trading partners join the sanctions against the aggressor,” Zelensky said on his social media when explaining the conversation with Bolsonaro.
But Bolsonaro did not respond to requests to adhere to sanctions and maintained the dialogue with the Kremlin, including opting for abstentions in UN resolutions against Putin. In certain cases, Brazilian diplomats criticized the sanctions against Russia, warning that the measures could cause a substantial increase in world hunger.
With no sanctions in place, government data confirmed the expansion of the flow of exports from Russia to Brazil. Between January and July 2021, the country imported the equivalent of US$ 2.6bn from Russia. And in the first seven months of 2022, the figure rose to US$ 5.1bn. Brazil sales to Russia also increased particularly, shipments of soybeans and sugar, but value was modest, from US$ 843 million in 2021 to US$ 1.1bn this year.
- Venezuela To ‘Rebuild Fellowship’ With Petro Government In Colombia Popular Resistance
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro celebrated the inauguration of Gustavo Petro as president of Colombia, with leaders pledging to rebuild the long but fraught relationship between the two Caribbean countries.
“I extend my hand to the people of Colombia, to President Gustavo Petro, to rebuild fellowship on the basis of respect and love between peoples,” said Maduro on Sunday.
For his part, Petro called for Latin American governments to leave aside their political differences and work toward regional integration.
“It is time to leave behind the [political] blocs, the groups, and the ideological differences in order to work together. Let us understand once and for all that there is much more that unites us than what separates us and together we are stronger,” said Petro during his inaugural address to his country from Bogotá’s Bolívar Square.
The leftist politician made references to a number of Latin American historical figures who pushed for integration, including Simón Bolívar, the 19th century independence leader who is widely celebrated in both Colombia and Venezuela.
- Colombian Foreign Minister Visits Cuba Popular Resistance
Colombian Foreign Minister Álvaro Leyva Durán announced that the Colombian government aspires to resume the dialogues with the ELN in Cuba and called it the land of peace. He also rejected Cuba’s classification by the United States as a state sponsor of terrorism, and called for its removal from that list.
A delegation of the Colombian government, headed by Foreign Minister Álvaro Leyva Durán, visited Cuba on Thursday, August 11, and was received by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez in the capital Havana. The purpose of the visit was to establish contact with the leadership of the National Liberation Army (ELN), the largest leftist guerrilla group active in Colombia, in order to advance towards peace negotiations.
Following a meeting between the Colombian government’s delegation, the ELN leaders, and the Cuban government’s representatives at the El Laguito Protocol Hall, Colombian Foreign Minister Leyva announced that the government will resume peace talks with the ELN in Havana. Leyva also confirmed that Cuba and Norway would be guarantors of the peace dialogues, which were interrupted in 2018 by the former conservative president Iván Duque.
“We aspire to resume the dialogues with the ELN in this land of peace in order to start the path proposed by President Gustavo Petro to achieve total peace,” said Leyva.
He also highlighted that “for more than 40 years, Cuba has welcomed in its territory, uninterruptedly, delegates from Colombian governments who have tried to solve the armed conflict in the country.” He recalled that the peace agreements between the then Colombian government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were signed in Havana in November 2016, which were exemplary for the entire world.
In this regard, on behalf of the Petro government, Levya rejected the classification of Cuba by the United States as a state sponsor of terrorism, and called for its removal from that list because “it disregards the island country’s commitment to the peace in Colombia and the world.”
Leyva also expressed Colombia’s support and solidarity with Cuba in the face of the damage caused by the fire that broke out at an oil storage facility in the city of Matanzas last week.
For his part, Cuban Foreign Minister Rodríguez on behalf of the Cuban government reiterated the country’s willingness to support the peace process.
“We see the negotiations with the ELN as an opportunity to move toward peace. We will be at the service of what both parties request,” said Rodríguez.
He also said that the Cuban government would continue to support and contribute, together with Norway, to the implementation of the peace agreement signed with the FARC.
The Ukraine War
- Russian forces pound Ukraine’s Donetsk region Reuters
Ukrainian forces reported heavy Russian shelling and attempts to advance on several towns in the eastern region of Donetsk that has become a key focus of the near six-month war, but said they had repelled many of the attacks.
The General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces also reported Russian shelling of more than a dozen towns on the southern front - particularly the Kherson region, mainly controlled by Russian forces, but where Ukrainian troops are steadily capturing territory.
I’ve never the seen the phrase “steadily advancing” refer to “not advancing at all”. I suppose a rate of 0 feet per second, per second, is a steady rate in the most technical sense?
- Zaporozhye official explains why inspectors can’t reach nuclear plant RT
Members of the UN are blocking a visit by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant (ZNPP) so they can avoid confirming Kiev shelled the Russian-controlled facility, local official Vladimir Rogov told RT in an interview on Monday.
Rogov, a member of the Zaporozhye military-civil administration, insisted that the ZNPP is always prepared to welcome the atomic energy watchdog, which has repeatedly expressed a desire to visit the facility, but noted that the UN has “directly started to block the possibility of an IAEA inspection.”
The official suggested that if the agency does visit the plant, it would be forced to conclude that it had been shelled by Kiev’s forces. “It is obvious, it’s all been documented, and not only that, it’s also well known who is being supplied with American guided missiles. Obviously, not Russia, but the Zelensky regime.”
We have a well-hidden (by the media) report by the Marine Corps Gazette about the Russia-Ukraine War. The author appears to be Lt. General Van Riper, who was the leader of the Red Team in the famous 2002 Millenium Challenge, who used asymmetric warfare to beat the US team (to the point where the US team had to change the rules to not lose).
It appears that it’s only available in picture form, so I will transcribe the whole thing here, which is going to delay the update considerably. It’s a very interesting piece, though it also 3000 words long, so if you don’t have time, then just scrolls on or skip forward in the sidebar. From now on, I quote:
When considered as purely physical phenomena, the operations conducted by Russian ground forces in Ukraine in 2022 present a puzzling picture. In the north of Ukraine, Russian battalion tactical groups overran a great deal of territory but made no attempts to convert temporary occupation into permanent possession. Indeed, after spending five weeks in that region, they left as rapidly as they had arrived. In the south, the similarly rapid entry of Russian ground forces led to the establishment of Russian garrisons and the planting of Russian political, economic, and cultural institutions. In the third theater of the war, rapid movements of the type that characterized Russian operations on the northern and southern fronts rarely occurred. Instead, Russian formations in eastern Ukraine conducted artillery-intensive assaults to capture relatively small pieces of ground.
One way to shed a little light upon this conundum is to treat Russian operations on each of the three major fronts of the war as a distinct campaign. Further illumination is provided by the realization that each of these campaigns followed a model that had been part of the Russian operational repertoire for a very long time. Such a scheme, however, fails to explain why the Russian leadership applied particular models in paticular sets of operations. Resolving that question requries an examination of the mental and moral purposes served by each of these three campaigns.
Raids in the North
American Marines have long used the term “raid” to describe an enterprise in which a small force moves swiftly to a particular location, completes a discrete mission, and withdraws as quickly as it can. To Russian soldiers, however, the linguistic cousin of that word (reyd) carries a somewhat different meaning. Where the travel is performed by the team conducting a raid is nothing more than a means of reaching particular points on the map, the movement of the frequently larger forces conducting a reyd creates significant operational effects. That is, in the course of moving along various highways and byways, they confuse enemy commanders, disrupt enemy logistics, and deprive enemy governments of the legitmacy that comes from uncontested control of their own territory. Similarly, where each phase of a present-day American raid necessarily follows a detailed script, a reyd is a more open-ended enterprise that can be adjusted to exploit new opportunities, avoid new dangers, or serve new purposes.
The term reyd found its way into the Russian military lexicon in the late 19th century by theorists who noted the similarities between the independent cavalry operations of the American Civil War and the already well-established Russian practice of sending mobile columns, often composed of Cossacks, on extended excursions through enemy territory. An early example of such excursions is provided by the exploits of the column led by Alexander Chernyshev during the Napoleonic Wars. In September of 1813, this force of some 2300 horsemen and two light field guns made a 400-mile circuit through enemy territory. At the middle point of this bold enterprise, this column occupied, for two days, the city of Kassel, then serving as the capital of one of the satellite states of the French Empire. Fear of a repetition of this embarrassment convinced Napoleon to detail two army corps to garrison Dresden, then the seat of government of another one of his dependencies. As a result, when Napoleon encountered the combined forces of his enemies at the Battle of Leipzig, his already outnumbered Grand Armee was much smaller than it would otherwise have been.
In 2022, the many battalion tactical groups that moved deeply into northern Ukraine during the first few days of the Russian invasion made no attempt to re-enact the occupation of Leipzig. Rather, they bypassed all of the larger cities in their path and, on the rare occasions when they found themselves in a smaller city, occupation rarely lasted for more than a few hours. Nonetheless, the fast-moving Russian columns created, on a much larger scale, an effect similar to the one that resulted from Chernyshev’s raid of 1813. That is, they convinced the Ukrainians to weaken their main field army, then fighting in the Donbass region, to bolster the defences of distant cities.
Rapid Occupation in the South
In terms of speed and distance travelled, Russian operations in the area between the southern seacoast of Ukraine and the Dniper River resembled the raids conducted in the north. They differed, however, in the handling of cities. Where Russian columns on either side of Kyiv avoided large urban areas wherever they could, their counterparts in the south took permanent possession of comparable cities. In some instances, such as the ship-to-objective maneuver that began in the Sea of Azov and ended in Melitopol, the conquest of cities took place during the first few days of the Russian invasion. In others, such as the town of Skadovsk, the Russian waited several weeks before seizing areas and engaging local defense forces they had ignored during their initial advance.
In the immediate aftermath of their arrival, the Russian commanders who took charge of urban areas in the south followed the same policy as their counterparts in the north. That is, they allowed the local representatives of the Ukrainian state to perform their duties, and, in many instances, to continue to fly the flag of their country on public buildings. It was not long, however, before Russian civil servants took control of the local government, replaced the flags on buildings, and set in motion the replacement of Ukrainian institutions, whether banks or cell phone companies, with Russian ones.
Like the model of the reyd, the paradigm of campaigns that combined rapid military occupation with thoroughgoing political transformation had been part of the Russian military culture for quite some time. Thus, when explaining the concept for operations on the southern front, Russian commanders were able to point to any one of a number of similar enterprises conducted by the Soviet state in the four decades that followed the Soviet occupation of eastern Poland in 1939. (These included the conquest of the countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in 1940; the suppression of reformist governments in Hungary and Czechoslovakia during the Cold War, and the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.)
While some Russian formations in the south consolidated control over conquered territory, others conducted raids in the vicinity of the city of Mykolaiv. Like their larger counterparts on the northern front, these encouraged the Ukrainian leadership to devote to the defense of cities forces that might otherwise have been used in the fight for the Donbass region. (In this instance, the cities in question included the ports of Mykolaiv and Odessa.) At the same time, the raids in the northern portion of the southern front created a broad “no man’s land” between areas that had been occupied by Russian forces and those entirely under the control of the Ukrainian government.
Stalingrad in the East
Russian operations in the north and south of Ukraine made very little use of field artillery. This was partially a matter of logistics. (Whether raiding in the north or rapidly occupying in the south, the Russian columns lacked the means to bring up large numbers of shells and rockets.) The absence of cannonades in those campaigns, however, had more to do with ends than means. In the north, Russian reluctance to conduct bombardments stemmed from a desire to avoid antagonizing the local people, nearly all of whom, for reasons of language and ethnicity, tended to support the Ukrainian state. In the south, the Russian policy of avoiding the use of field artillery served the similarly political purpose of preserving the lives and property of communities in which many people identified as “Russian” and many more spoke Russian as their native language.
In the east, however, the Russians conducted bombardments that, in terms of both duration and intensity, rivalled those of the great artillery contests of the world wars of the twentieth century. Made possible by short, secure, and extraordinarily redundant supply lines, these bombardments served three purposes. First, they confined Ukrainian troops into their fortifications, depriving them of the ability to do anything other than remain in place. Second, they inflicted a large number of casualties, whether physical or caused by the psychological effects of imprisonment, impotence, and proximity to large numbers of earth-shaking explosions. Third, when conducted for a sufficient period of time, which was often measured in weeks, the bombardment of a given fortification invariably resulted in either the withdrawal of its defenders or their surrender.
We can glean some sense of the scale of the Russian bombardments in the east of Ukraine by comparing the struggle for the town of Popasna (18 March – 7 May 2022) with the battle of Iwo Jima (19 February – 26 March 1945.) At Iwo Jima, American Marines fought for five weeks to annihilate the defenders of eight square miles of skillfully fortified ground. At Popasna, Russian gunners bombarded trench systems built into the ridges and ravines of a comparable area for eight weeks before the Ukrainian leadership decided to withdraw its forces from the town.
The capture of real estate by artillery, in turn, contributed to the creation of the encirclements that Russians call “cauldrons” (kotly). Like so much in Russian military theory, this concept builds upon an idea borrowed from the German tradition of maneuver warfare: the “battle cauldron” (Schlachtkessel.) However, where the Germans sought to create and exploit their cauldrons as quickly as possible, Russian cauldrons could either be rapid and surprising or slow and seemingly inevitable. Indeed, the successful Soviet offenses of the Second World War, such as the one that resulted in the destruction of the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad, made extensive use of cauldrons of both types.
Freedom from the desire to create cauldrons as quickly as possible relieved the Russians fighting in eastern Ukraine from the need to hold any particular piece of ground. Thus, when faced with a determined Ukrainian attack, the Russians often withdrew their tank and infantry units from the contested terrain. In this way, they both reduced danger to their own troops and created situations, however brief, in which the Ukrainian attackers faced Russian shells and rockets without the benefit of shelter. To put things another way, the Russians viewed such “encore bombardments” not merely as an acceptable use of ordnance but also as opportunities to inflict additional casualties while engaging in “conspicuous consumption” of artillery ammunition.
In the spring of 1917, German forces on the Western Front used comparable tactics to create situations in which French troops advancing down the rear slopes of recently captured ridges were caught in the open by the fire of field artillery and machineguns. The effect of this experience on French morale was such that infantrymen in fifty French divisions engaged in acts of “collective indiscipline”, the motto for which was “we will hold, but we refuse to attack.” (In May of 2022, several videos appeared on the internet in which people claiming to be Ukrainian soldiers fighting in the Donbass region explained that, while they were willing to defend their positions, they had resolved to disobey any orders that called for them to advance.)
Resolving the Paradox
In the early days of the maneuver warfare debate, maneuverists often presented their preferred philosophy as the logical opposite of “firepower/attrition warfare.” Indeed, as late as 2013, the anonymous authors of the “Attritionist Letters” used this dichotomy as a framework for their critique of practices at odds with the spirit of maneuver warfare. In the Russian campaigns in Ukraine, however, a set of operations made mostly of movement complemented one composed chiefly of cannonades.
One way to resolve this apparent paradox is to characterize the raids of the first five weeks of the war as a grand deception that, while working little in the way of direct destruction, made possible the subsequent attrition of the Ukrainian armed forces. In particular, the threat posed by the raids delayed the movement of Ukrainian forces into the main theatre of the war until the Russians had deployed the artillery units, secured th transporting network, and accumulate the stocks of ammunition needed to conduct a long series of big bombardments. This delay also ensured that, when the Ukrainians did deploy additional formations in the Donbass region, the movement of such forces, and the supplies needed to sustain them, had been rendered much more difficult by the ruin wrought upon the Ukrainian rail network by long-range guided missiles. In other words, the Russians conducted a brief campaign of maneuver in the north in order to set the stage for a longer, and ultimately more important, campaign of attrition in the east.
The stark contrast between the types of warfare waged by Russian forces in the different parts of Ukraine reinforced the message at the heart of Russian information operations. From the start, Russian propaganda insisted that the “special military operation” in Ukraine served three purposes: the protection of the two pro-Russian protostates, “demilitarization,” and “denazification.” All three of these goals required the infliction of heavy losses upon Ukrainian formations fighting in the Donbass. None, however, depended upon the occupation of parts of Ukraine where the vast majority of people spoke the Ukrainian language, embraced a Ukrainian ethnic identity, and supported the Ukrainian state. Indeed, the sustained occupation of such places by Russian forces would have supported the proposition that Russia was trying to conquer all of Ukraine.
The Russian campaign in the south served direct political aims. That is, it served to incorporate territories inhabited by a large number of ethnic Russians into the “Russian World.” At the same time, the rapid occupation of cities like Kherson and Melitopol enhanced the deceptive power of operations conducted in the north by suggesting the possibility that the columns on either side of Kyiv might attempt to do the same to cities like Chernihiv and Zhytomyr. Similarly, the raids conducted north of Kherson raised the possibility that the Russians might attempt the occupation of additional cities, the most important of which was Odessa.
The Russian program of guided missile strikes, conducted in parallel to the three ground campaigns, created a number of moral effects favourable to the Russian war effort. The most important of these resulted from the avoidance of collateral damage that resulted, not only from the extraordinary precision of the weapons used but also from the judicious choice of targets. Thus, Russia’s enemies found it hard to characterize strikes against fuel and ammunition depots, which were necessarily located at some distance from places where civilians lived and worked, as anything other than attacks on military installations.
Likewise, the Russian effort to disrupt traffic on the Ukrainian rail system could have included attacks against the power generating stations that provide electricity to both civilian communities and trains. Such attacks, however, would have resulted in much loss of life among the people working in those plants as well as a great deal of suffering in places deprived of power. Instead, the Russians chose to direct their missiles at traction substations, the remotely located transformers that converted electricity from the general grid into forms used to move trains.
There were times, however, when missile strikes against “dual use” facilities gave the impression that the Russians had, in fact, targeted purely civilian facilities. The most egregious example of such a mistake was the attack, carried out on 1 March 2022, upon the main television tower in Kyiv. Whether or not there was any truth in the Russian claim that the tower had been used for military purposes, the attack on an iconic structure that had long been associated with a purely civilian purpose did much to reduce the advantages achieved by the overall policy of limiting missile strikes to obvious military targets.
The three ground campaigns conducted by the Russians in Ukraine in 2022 owed much to traditional models. At the same time, the program of missile strikes exploited a capability that was nothing short of revolutionary. Whether new or old, however, these component efforts were conducted in a way that demonstrated profound appreciation of all three realms in which wars are waged. That is, the Russians rarely forgot that, in additional to being a physical struggle, war is both a mental contest and a moral argument.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine may mark the start of a new cold war, a “long twilight struggle” comparable to the one ended with the collapse o the Soviet Empire more than three decades ago. If that is the case, then we will face an adversary who, while drawing much of value from the Soviet military tradition, has bene liberated from both the brutality inherent in the legacy of Lenin and the blinders imposed by Marxism. What would be even worse, we may find ourselves fighting disciples of John R. Boyd.
Climate and Space
- Foreboding new studies show the climate battle is not over WaPo
Wait, hang on. Hang on a minute. Are you telling me that we haven’t ended climate change because we passed a ~$400 billion climate bill? What the fuck?!
“This summer is just a horrorscape,” Kim Cobb, the director of the environment and society institute at Brown University, recently told The Post. From global heat waves to multiple floods caused by 1-in-1,000-year levels of rainfall, extreme weather events have caused widespread disruption over the past few weeks. And new studies paint a foreboding picture of the road ahead.
In the first paper, printed in the journal Nature, scientists considered the East Antarctica Ice Sheet, a behemoth approximately the size of the United States that contains most of the world’s glacier area. It was long believed to be less susceptible to rising temperatures than the West Antarctica Ice Sheet, which is exposed to warm water from below, or the Greenland Ice Sheet, which is nearing a “tipping point” for accelerated melting. But some East Antarctica regions are already exhibiting signs of vulnerability, calling into question that assumption.
Drawing on evidence from historical periods of high temperatures, researchers projected that a global temperature increase of below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels — the top limit specified in the Paris agreement — would likely keep most of the ice sheet intact, but could result in sea level rise of 1.6 feet by the year 2500. Exceeding the Paris threshold could lead to a 16.4-foot increase in sea levels, rendering the planet virtually unrecognizable. “It’s really important that we do not awaken this sleeping giant,” the lead author of the study, Chris Stokes, said in a statement.
Another study in Nature, conducted by researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Tasmania, estimated that Antarctica’s ice shelves had lost 12 trillion tons of mass since 1997, twice the previous estimate. In particular, the team used satellite analysis to investigate the “calving” of icebergs — when they break off from glaciers — and concluded that this caused nearly as much ice loss as thinning from warming seas. This raises fresh concerns about the stability of ice shelves, which are crucial to ensuring glaciers do not collapse into the ocean.
Meanwhile, a third paper, published in Communications Earth & Environment, looked at warming in the Arctic. The authors found that, over the past four decades, the Arctic region warmed four times faster than the rest of the world, significantly higher than expected. This has dire implications for sea level rise — and that is not all. Extreme weather such as heat waves and heavy rainfall are linked to temperature differences between the poles and the equator. As the Arctic warms, these events could become more frequent and intense thousands of miles away.
After decades of “sleepwalking to climate catastrophe,” as U.N. Secretary General António Guterres described the global predicament, the United States has finally found the political will to enact climate legislation. But the window for action to meet the goals of the Paris agreement is rapidly closing. This new research offers a reminder that there is more work to be done, domestically and abroad, if we are to preserve a habitable planet for future generations.
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.
- Russian Military Will Face Challenges Securing Occupied Territory In Ukraine Forbes
This is an interesting parallel universe that this author is in.
During their initial invasion of Ukraine, the Russian offense failed to break through a staunch Ukrainian defense. Although the Russians have regrouped and have seized portions of the Donbas region in southeast Ukraine, the tide of war has not necessarily turned in the Russian favor. While they face a tough counter-offensive from the Ukrainians, the Russian military’s biggest challenge will likely be in securing the regions that they have taken, militarily referred to as stability operations.
These stability operations are already underway in Russian-occupied Ukraine. The Kremlin has indicated that they expect to hold a “referendum” in these regions to annex them into Russia on September 11. Meanwhile, Ukrainian partisans in these occupied territories are resisting the occupation, including destroying Russian political buildings in Melitopol and Mariupol. The Russian military is actively involved in stability operations to garner support for the referendum and suppress the Ukrainian partisans. Given the nature of the Russian military, they will likely fail in these operations.
Fundamentally, the Russian military is not set up to perform stability operations. The basic component of the Russian military structure is the Battalion Tactical Groups (BTGs), which consist of approximately 800 soldiers, 10 tanks, 40 infantry fighting vehicles, and a large amount of artillery. These units rely strongly on their tanks and artillery units, which can lay down heavy bombardments at fairly long ranges. The Russian military is currently piecemealing together new BTGs from volunteers, conscripts, and the remnants of old BTGs. While some of these units are intended to fight the Ukrainian Army, many are destined into occupied territory to perform stability operations.
One of the complexities of stability operations is that it involves urban combat, which typically requires infantry soldiers. Less than a quarter of the soldiers in a BTG are infantry. To overcome this issue, the Russian military is relying on proxy troops or paramilitary units to augment their infantry soldiers. However, these units are fairly disorganized and under equipped. Additionally, recent evidence shows that some of these paramilitary units may be at odds with the Kremlin.
Another issue is that the Russian military excessively uses artillery, even in stability operations. Artillery, especially the older equipment common in the piecemealed BTGs, is not necessarily accurate, and they are likely to hit civilian targets in crowded urban areas. This in turn can destroy critical infrastructure and increase the animosity of the local population, thus decreasing the security of the region.
With these limitations, the Russian military, especially in conjunction with paramilitary groups, use fear and intimidation to subjugate the local populations. In Syria, the Russian military indiscriminately fired at both civilian and military targets with the goal of intimidating anyone into not opposing them. In Georgia and Crimea, the Russian occupation forces denied essential services to people unless they renounced their original citizenship and got Russian passports. It appears the Russians are following similar trends in the portions of Ukraine that they occupy.
These techniques typically fare poorly for the Russian military. For example, during their ten year occupation of Afghanistan, the then Soviet Army lost 15,000 soldiers, as compared to 2,500 American deaths over twenty years.
What else could possibly explain the differences in casualties between a war fought in the 1980s and a war fought in the 2000s and 2010s? I’ve got nothing. The author really has a strong point here.
In their more recent activities in Syria, Chechnya, and Georgia, their stability operations have resulted in humanitarian issues, refugee crises, and international rebuke. Further, in none of the cases did the Russians achieve their desired end-state.
It would be more correct to say that in none of those cases did the Russians achieve what YOU thought their desired end-state was.
The occupied Ukrainian territories will likely be harder for the Russians to control than Syria, Chechnya, or Georgia. A survey found that 77 percent of Ukrainians living in regions controlled by the Russians do not support the occupation.
77%! Holy moly! That must explain the last 10 years of peace and tranquility inside Ukraine’s borders, and the stunning lack of any kind of internal disorder, let alone something like a civil war!
Another survey from prior to the war indicated that a large portion of Ukrainians, including those of Russian ethnicity, were willing to take up arms against Russian occupiers.
And as we all know, saying that you would do something in a high-stress, extremely high-risk situation is exactly the same as actually doing it when that situation arrives.
These Ukrainian partisans will have access to advanced weapons supplied from the Ukrainian military and from the international community. Given the geography of the region, it would be challenging for the Russians to stop this equipment flow. Furthermore, the Ukrainians have shown themselves to be technology savvy, leveraging commercial technology for military purposes.
Meanwhile, the Russians rely on smoke signals and cans on strings. Really, it’s a trivial thing for Ukrainian partisans to just snip the string or pour water on the fires.
Meanwhile, the Russian military has depleted their resources – both personnel and equipment – on the invasion of Ukraine. Recent moves to mobilize its defense industrial base and creating “volunteer” units will alleviate some of these issues. However, many of these resources will be allocated to fighting the Ukrainian counter-offensive. The personnel going performing stability operations will likely be undertrained with little to no urban or counterinsurgency training. Additionally, the Russians will lack the raw materials and resources necessary to rebuild the portions of Ukraine that they destroyed in the conquest. Without restoring key infrastructure, they will further fuel an insurgency.
None of the above is true. Completely false. No evidence for it whatsoever. The author is writing a fanfiction.
Should the Ukrainian counteroffensive fail and the Russians annex portions of southeast Ukraine, the war is far from over for the Russians. As seen from the American military activity in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Russians will likely be committing their military to being in the occupied portions of Ukraine for a substantial amount of time. Given their tactics and organizations, they will have numerous challenges in securing the region and may never gain full control of the region.
Aha! Here we go! They think that the American experience of warfare is the typical one! THAT’s why this person is so fucking moronic! God, my hatred for westoids grows stronger on every passing day.
- The Ukrainian resistance is killing pro-Moscow politicians, blowing up trains, and providing intel for devastating attacks against Russian forces Business Insider
In Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine, a resistance movement is steadily growing.
In Kherson, the first Ukrainian city occupied by Russia, guerrilla units are attacking pro-Moscow politicians, planting bombs, and working with the military to stage attacks against Russian troops.
“Our goal is to make life unbearable for the Russian occupiers and use any means to derail their plans,” Andriy, 32, a Kherson-based member of the Zhovta Strichka, or “Yellow Ribbon,” resistance movement, told the Associated Press.
“We are giving the Ukrainian military precise coordinates for various targets, and the guerrillas' assistance makes the new long-range weapons, particularly HIMARS, even more powerful,” he told the outlet. “We are invisible behind the Russian lines, and this is our strength.”
Last month, Ukrainian forces used US-supplied HIMARS to strike the strategic Antonivsky Bridge on the Dnieper River, which serves as a supply route for Russian troops in Kherson. A 40-car train carrying ammunition from supply dumps in occupied Crimea to Russian forces in Kherson Oblast was also bombarded, Forbes reported.
On Saturday, Ukraine claimed it had taken out another bridge in Nova Kakhovka, northeast of Kherson, rendering it impassable.
These attacks have hugely affected Russia’s supply chain, with Western intelligence saying it can now only resupply its forces in the region using two pontoon ferry crossings, per The Telegraph.
The Ukrainian military now appears to be gearing up for a wider counter-offensive to take back Kherson, as forces have been striking Russian command centers and ammunition depots.
Partisans destroying tracks and Russian armored trains in occupied-southern Ukraine have also been reported. In May and June, guerrillas blew up two railway bridges in Melitopol and derailed two Russian military trains, Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov, told AP.
“The resistance movement is pursuing three goals – to destroy Russian weapons and means of supplying them, discrediting and intimidating the occupiers and their collaborators, and informing Ukrainian special services about enemy positions,” he added.
Anna (her name has been changed to protect her identity) who lives in Kherson, told Insider that resistance forces were ramping up action against Russian troops in the city, attacking Russian vehicles, administrative buildings and killing pro-Moscow officials.
“It is all good because they are our enemies and are occupying us,” she said. “We should return our city to our control as soon as possible.”
It really fucking sucks to see people like this throw their lives away for an army that will never come. I would imagine a decent proportion of them are neo-Nazis, as most paramilitary and resistance groups tend to be, so they can be thrown in ditches for all I care, but I imagine the rest of them are people way over their heads as to what a resistance movement really means if you don’t have any rescuers on the way - slow, painful death - and are either stopped from eventually blowing up civilian infrastructure in stochastic or systematic terrorism, or get the hell out before the crackdowns begin.
- Putin knows he’s made a ‘grave mistake’ invading Ukraine but will never admit it, says former NATO commander Business Insider
- Demand is so high for the legendary Bayraktar drones used to defend against Russia’s Ukraine invasion that their Turkish maker has a 3-year waitlist Business Insider
Man, this sucks so fucking much.
- Ukrainian Forces Photobombed Russian Mercenaries—With Rockets Forbes]
‘Photobombing’ refers to a situation wherein a stranger interposes themselves into a photo to prank the subjects. But recently Ukrainian troops practiced a more literal kind of photobombing by interposing precision-guided munitions with the subjects of Russian propaganda imagery.
Pretty epic. 100 Wholesome, you might even say.
- Peddlers of environmental doom have shown their true totalitarian colours Telegraph
This showed up on the article list and I gave it a skim and was initially going to just skip past it, but then I saw it was written by none other than Jordan Peterson. Unfortunately, even with that entertaining fact, it’s still mostly unreadable drivel that doesn’t even warrant a rebuttal - we’ve seen a thousand of these articles in the past 20 years written by unemployable westoid conservative authors; arguments that are continually debunked and yet they keep making them as they try and fit square pegs into round holes and stick glue guns up their noses, while receiving millions of dollars from the fossil fuel industry, which de facto has majority ownership in most governments on the planet. This one is driving forward with the latest innovation by climate change deniers - the appeal that they are the true defenders of the poor and the working class, despite them generally being very concerned when asked about climate change. I highly encourage you to read the article in his voice.
I skip past the first part as it’s pretty uninteresting.
The report opens with two claims: first, that the storms, wildfires, droughts, downpours, and floods around the globe in the last 18 months are unique and unprecedented – a dubious claim – and implicitly that the “science” is now at a point where we can say without doubt that experts can and must model the entire ecology and economy of the planet (!) and that we must modify everyone’s behaviour, by hook or by crook, to avoid what would otherwise be the most expensive environmental and social catastrophe in history.
They are unprecedented. I’m not sure what the argument here is. Europe is in the worst drought in over a thousand years. If you want hotter months, you have to go waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back to the old-fashioned, horse-and-carriage year of… 2019.
The Deloitte “models” posit that “climate impacts” could affect global economic output, and say that unchecked climate change will cost us $178 trillion over the next 50 years – that’s $25,000 per person, to put it in human terms.
Who dares deny such facts, stated so mathematically? So precisely? So scientifically?
Let’s update Mark Twain’s famous dictum: there are lies, damned lies, statistics – and computer models.
“Computer model” does not mean “data” (and even “data” does not mean “fact”). “Computer model” means, at best, “hypothesis” posing as mathematical fact.
Anybody else with a degree in a scientific discipline laughing right now? I sure am.
No real scientist says “follow the science.” Yet this is exactly what bodies such as the EU consistently pronounce, pushing for collectivist solutions that do more harm than good.
Ask yourself: are these Deloitte models – which are supposed to guide all the important decisions we make about the economic security and opportunity of families and the structures of our civil societies – accurate enough even to give those who employ them any edge whatsoever, say, in predicting the performance of a stock portfolio (one based on green energy, for example) over the upcoming years?
The answer is no. How do we know? Because if such accurate models existed and were implemented by a company with Deloitte’s resources and reach, Deloitte would soon have all the money.
That is never going to happen. The global economy, let alone the environment, is simply too complex to model. It is for this reason, fundamentally, that we have and require a free-market system: the free market is the best model of the environment we can generate.
Let me repeat that, with a codicil: not only is the free market the best model of the environment we can generate, it is and will remain the best model that can, in principle, ever be generated (with its widely distributed computations, constituting the totality of the choices of 7 billion people). It simply cannot be improved upon – certainly not by presumptuous power-mad utopians, who think that hiring someone mysteriously manipulating a few carefully chosen numbers and then reading the summarised output means genuine contact with the reality of the future and the generation of knowledge unassailable on both the ethical and the practical front.
I mean, this is sort of the heart of the entire argument, isn’t it? The premise that a free market system is the best possible system that could ever be devised MUST therefore deny the fact that it is causing a mass extinction and the eventual deaths of billions. You CANNOT simultaneously believe in both the free market system and climate change without doing doublethink - which is fine if you’re just an average shmuck who went through the high school and university system questioning nothing and dutifully repeating the phrase “works on paper, not in practice” as a Pavlovian response to the word “communism” without knowing what the hell you’re even saying, but it’s less fine if you actually need to propose ideas or defend your worldview to people, like Jordan Peterson does. One principle has to go, and you can’t ditch your belief in the free market, as the further implications of that choice would be undesireable for your future prospects as an author, or whatever Jordan Peterson is at this point.
A system CANNOT be the best system if it destroys itself. Like, the most basic requirement, the very first function that it must ABSOLUTELY fulfill, is that your economic system must not destroy the human race, because that is what the system is operating on. There is no system without humans to perform it. Very basic stuff. Capitalism and the free market system will NECESSARILY do that if you follow its internal logic to the end, and no reform is possible because it’s part of its fundamental logic. Capitalist reforms, like “human-based capitalism” like Elizabeth Warren and many others have proposed, are literally impossible if your goal is to reduce the net human misery that capitalism exerts on the planet. Either you shift around some of the misery so it hits a different racial group without actually changing anything about the system at all, or you reform the fundamental infinite-growth, infinite-profit algorithm at the heart of it, which means that you would no longer have capitalism.
The omniscient planners then attempt to justify this, with the standard empty threats and promises (the suffering is certain, the benefits ethereal): “those most exposed to the economic damages of unchecked climate change would also have the most to gain from embracing a low-emissions future.” Really? Tell that to the African and Indian populations in the developing world lifted from poverty by coal and natural gas.
And think – really think – about this statement: “Existing industries would be reconstituted as a series of complex, interconnected, emissions-free energy systems: energy, mobility, industry, manufacturing, food and land use, and negative emissions.”
That sounds difficult, don’t you think? To rebuild everything at once and better? Without breaking everything? Fixing everything in a few decades in a panicked rush while demonising anyone who dares object?
And what will it take to do so? Here’s the most alarming part: nothing more than “a coordinated transition” that “will require governments, along with the financial services and technology sectors to catalyze, facilitate and accelerate progress; foster information flows across systems; and align individual incentives with collective goals.”
A clearer statement of totalitarian inclination could hardly be penned.
The one thing the Deloitte models guarantee is that if we do what they recommend we will definitely be poorer than we would have been otherwise for an indefinite but hypothetically transitory period.
Yet any reduction in economic output (however “temporary” and “necessary”) will be purchased at the cost of the lives of those who are barely making it now. Period.
Have you noticed that food has become more expensive? That housing has become more expensive? That energy is more expensive? That many consumer goods are simply unavailable? Can you not see that this is going to get worse, if the Deloitte-style moralists have their way? How much “short-term pain” are you going to be required to sustain? Decades worth? All your life, and the life of your children?
It’s very likely. For your own benefit. Remember that.
All this painful privation is not only not going to save the planet, it’s going to make it far worse.
Make the poor rich, and the planet will improve. Or at least get out of their way while they try to make themselves rich. Make the poor poorer – and this is the concrete plan, remember – and things will get worse, perhaps worse beyond imagining. Observe the chaos in Sri Lanka, if you need proof.
Why are poor people poor in the first place, Mr Peterson? It’s incredible how, in a single paragraph, people so easily basically tell you that they have never experienced poverty, nor earnestly talked and listened to anybody who has experienced it.
Money could and should be spent, for example, to ensure the current health and therefore future productivity (and environmental stewardship) of currently poor children in developing countries. How about remedying the actual world of pain and deprivation of such children rather than saving the hypothetical world, and the hypothetical world of future children, in abstraction?
Citizens are waking up to this. Dutch farmers and fishermen are rising up, Canadian truckers are pushing back. Such protests are spreading, and increasing in intensity. As they should.
Why? Because, Deloitte consultants, and like-minded centralists are pushing things too far. It will not produce the results they are hypothetically intending. This agenda, justified by emergency, will instead make everyone poorer, particularly those who are already poor. This use of emergency force will, instead, make the lives of the working men upon whom we all depend for our daily bread and shelter more difficult and less rewarding.
Finally, this use of emergency force will also make the “environment” worse, not better. Why? If you wreck your temporary economic havoc, to (eventually) remediate the world, those whom you sacrifice so casually in the attempt will descend into chaos. In that chaos, they will then, by necessity, turn their attention to matters of immediate survival – and in a manner that will stress and harm the complex ecosystems and economies that can only be maintained with the long-term view that prosperity and nothing else makes possible.
“And if there’s too much chaos, well, you get the chaos dragons. And then things are REALLY fucked up."
Critics of my view will say “we have to accept limits to growth.” Fine. Accept them. Personally. Abandon your position of planet-devouring wealthy privilege. Join an ascetic order. Graze with the cattle. Or, if that’s too much (and it probably is) then purchase an electric car, if you want one (but no diesel-powered emergency backup vehicle or electric power generator for you). Buy some stock in Tesla. That’s probably the best bet (but you don’t approve of Elon Musk, do you?). Stop flying. Stop driving, for that matter. Get on your bike, instead. In your three-piece business suit. In the winter, if you dare. I’ll splash you with icy and salty slush as I drive by, in my evil but warm Ford Bronco SUV, and help you derive the consequent delicate pleasure of your own narcissistic martyrdom.
Save the planet with your own choices. But quit demanding that the rest of us blindly follow your diktats. Quit demonising and castigating us, merely because we don’t just happily cede to you all the extant power. We’re not evil just because we don’t believe that you are omniscient. We’re not evil just because we don’t want you to assume omnipotence and omnipresence too.
There is simply no pathway forward to the green and equitable utopia that necessitates the further impoverishment of the already poor, the compulsion of the working class, or the sacrifice of economic security and opportunity on the food, energy and housing front. There is simply no pathway forward to the global utopia you hypothetically value that is dependent on force. And even if there was, what gives you the right to enforce your demands? On other sovereign citizens, equal in value to you?
Okay, I admit it, Jordan Peterson. My evil communist plans to end the exploitation of the proletariat by the bourgeoise by making everybody descend into absolute poverty and wear a barrel and suspenders as they ride 50 miles on a bike to work - I haven’t thought them through. I can’t believe that I didn’t think my ideas through! You clearly have more compassion for the REAL working class and poor people of the world, who don’t believe in the fearmongering by climate scientists that their lives will be made infinitely worse in the next century due to intensifying and ever more frequent natural disasters. We haven’t seen ANY evidence of these occurring ANYWHERE on Earth, and people around the world - from those dying in heatwaves in America and Europe and Asia, to those starving to death in famines caused by lack of water and bad harvests in Africa and South America, to those on coastlines and islands watching the water rise ever higher to their front doors - all of those people CONSISTENTLY say that there’s no reason to be concerned. You have, I regret to say, owned me. You’ve owned socialism and communism, and Marxism, and anarchists. 150 years of theory, down the drain. 50 years of knowledge about the climate crisis worsening, firmly debunked. Why did we even bother? How much time have I wasted thinking this way? How much time have I wasted on these updates, when I could have just seen the light: everything will be just fine, forever, so long as we resist the efforts of people trying to evilly change the status quo. Jordan, what is YOUR idea?
A better way forward would be to prioritise the problems that beset all of us on this still-green, functional and increasingly abundant planet with the requisite focus and attention demanded of a true political class, elected by the people, capable of and willing to look at everything, trying to fix where necessary, trying to maintain as much freedom and autonomy as possible, and stop simply capitalising narcissistically on the mere appearance of action, knowledge and virtue.
We should obtain true, cooperative consent from those affected – farmers, truckers, working-class people who have turned in irritated desperation to figures such as Donald Trump – and work with them, rather than forbidding them with your power or improving them so they will be finally worthy of your time and attention. Help replace dirty energy with clean, if you must, but do it on your own dime, and make sure that the results are cheap and plentiful, if you want to help the poor, and the planet.
The warning bells are ringing. Listen to them, before they turn into sirens.
We will not advance without resistance through the straits of your enforced privation. We will not allow you to steal and destroy the energy that makes our lives bearable (and that produces our food and shelter and housing and the sporadic delights of modern life) just to address your existential terror (particularly when it will fail to do so in any case). We will not allow our children to be criticised first for having the temerity to merely exist and then be deprived of the prosperous and opportunity-rich future we strived so hard to prepare for them. We remain unconvinced of your frightened and self-congratulatory moralising and intellectual pretension, ignorance of the limits of statistics, and misuse of arithmetic.
We do not believe, finally and most absolutely, that your declared emergency and the panic you sow because of it means that you should now be ceded all necessary authority.
So leave us alone, you centralisers; you worshippers of Gaia; you sacrificers of the wealth and property of others; you would-be planetary saviours; you Machievellian pretenders and virtue-signallers, objecting to power, all the while you gather it around you madly.
Leave us alone, to prosper or not, as a result of our own choices; as a result of our own actions; in the exercise of our own requisite and irreducible responsibility.
Leave us alone. Or reap the whirlwind. And watch the terrible destruction of what you purport to save, in consequence.
And so, we condemn billions of people to death by starvation, by thirst, by disease, by pollution, by war. Because personal choice is the truest good above all, even if you aren’t alive to exert it. Even if nobody is alive to exert it anymore. In a millenium, the Earth may be barren, and we may all be extinct, but at least nobody was forced to ride the train to work.
Bloomerism and Hope
For events that show that a better, more equitable, and happier world is possible than the neoliberal hell we inhabit.
- Intelligentsia Workers Vote To Unionize Popular Resistance
Managers at Intelligentsia Coffee closed their five Chicago stores two hours early July 5 to call its cafe workers to a mandatory meeting. A month earlier, baristas had filed for a union representation election with the National Labor Relations Board, hoping to join International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1220 (IBEW).Management sent anti-union mailers to employees in response, using the slogan, “Be Curious.”
Intelligentsia CEO James McLaughlin told workers they had no need for a union because they were treated so well already. Managers refused to answer any of the workers’ questions.
“They said they couldn’t take questions because of NLRB rules, that they had to have a script of everything they said so they could submit that to the NLRB if they needed to,” says Intelligentsia barista Jordan Parshall. “[It] sounded like a lot of legal mumbo jumbo for, ‘We’re bordering on saying something illegal and we need to make sure we don’t.’ ”
Parshall says the irony was not lost on his coworkers: “[Management’s] whole line was ‘be curious.’ And then we get to this meeting and they’re like, ‘You can’t ask questions.’ ”
About a month after the anti-union meeting and two months after the election filing, the NLRB tallied up the mail-in ballots and announced workers overwhelmingly voted in favor of a union. The workers will join the thousands of fellow baristas at Starbucks and Colectivo Coffee who have also won union elections in the past year.
“American workers want to see better working conditions and higher pay — they want dignity in the workplace — and the best way to accomplish that is through a union contract,” says Chicago’s democratic-socialist 35th Ward alderman, Carlos Ramirez-Rosa. The ward is home to one Intelligentsia cafe. “We’ve always been proud to have an Intelligentsia Coffee in Logan Square, and I think we’re even more proud now that we know the workers there are unionized.”
Roughly 27 baristas will be represented in the union bargaining unit. The final vote count was 9 – 1 in favor, with no contested ballots. Parshall notes many of the ballots were sent to outdated mailing addresses provided by Intelligentsia to the NLRB.
- Climate Activists Fill Golf Holes With Cement After Water Ban Exemption Popular Resistance
The group targeted sites near the city of Toulouse, calling golf the “leisure industry of the most privileged”.
The exemption of golf greens has sparked controversy as 100 French villages are short of drinking water.
Golf officials say greens would die in three days without water.
“A golf course without a green is like an ice-rink without ice,” Gérard Rougier of the French Golf Federation told the France Info news website. He added that 15,000 people worked in golf courses across the country.
The recent action targeted courses in the towns of Vieille-Toulouse and Blagnac. It was claimed by the local branch of the Extinction Rebellion movement.
In a petition, the activists said the exemption showed that “economic madness takes precedence over ecological reason”.
While residents cannot water their gardens or wash their cars in the worst-hit municipalities, golf courses have escaped the nationwide restrictions.
- Judge Reinstates Obama-Era Coal Leasing Moratorium On Federal Lands Popular Resistance
A federal judge in Montana District Court ruled today to reinstate a moratorium on new coal leasing on public lands, halting all coal leasing on federal lands until the Bureau of Land Management completes a more sufficient environmental analysis.
The original moratorium set by the Obama administration in 2016 was overturned by Trump Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in 2017. The Biden administration revoked the Zinke order last year, but did not reinstate the moratorium.
“The Tribe has fought and sacrificed to protect our homelands for generations, and our lands and waters mean everything to us. We are thrilled that the court is requiring what we have always asked for: serious consideration of the impacts of the federal coal leasing program on the Tribe and our way of life,” said President Serena Wetherelt of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe. “We hope that President Biden and Secretary Haaland fulfill their trust obligation to take a hard look at the overall energy program on federal lands and really consider how to make it best serve the Tribe, taxpayers, and the climate.”
“This is a significant victory for our climate and the communities across the country who are impacted by our continued reliance on this dirty and dangerous fuel, but we cannot stop here,” said Jenny Harbine, managing attorney for Earthjustice’s Northern Rockies office. “While this ruling reinstates the moratorium on new coal leasing on public lands, the Biden administration must go further by urgently phasing out the existing coal leases that are destroying our planet. There is no room to continue producing coal in a climate emergency.”
- British Postal Workers Reject Below-Inflation Contract Offer Popular Resistance
The union representing postal workers in Britain has announced four days of strikes in the coming weeks — the first such labor action since 2009.
On Tuesday, August 9, Communications Workers Union (CWU) in Britain, which represents Royal Mail postal workers, announced four days of strike action aimed at obtaining a wage increase in line with inflation. The strikes are scheduled for August 26 and 31 and September 8 and 9.
The strike authorization came when 77 percent of the union’s 115,000 members turned out to vote on July 19 — following a procedure required under British law for union’s wishing to strike — and approved the measure with a 96.7-percent “yes” vote. The upcoming action is anticipated to be the most massive strike in Britain this summer.
At the time of the vote, Royal Mail management had sought to impose a 2-percent wage increase, which the union characterized as a pay cut in real terms, that would lead to a “dramatic reduction in the standard of living for workers.
Negotiations continued after the vote, with the strike approval as a backdrop. Union general-secretary Dave Ward warned then that he would give the company another chance to return to the bargaining table, but that if an agreement could not be reached, the CWU would notify Royal Mail of strikes that would be scheduled for August.
Ricky McAulay, Royal Mail’s chief operating officer, said, “Despite nearly three months of talks, the CWU have not engaged in any meaningful discussion on the changes we need to make to adapt. … We offered a deal worth up to 5.5 percent for CWU grade colleagues, the biggest increase we have offered for many years, which the CWU rejected. We can only fund this offer by making the changes that will pay for it and ensure Royal Mail can grow and remain competitive in a fast-moving industry.”
The bosses’ proposal is well below inflation in Britain, which recent estimates put at 13 percent. Anger grew louder following the recent announcement that the privatized Royal Mail had turned a huge profit of £758 million (about $925 million) and paid £400 million (about $500 million) to its shareholders and executives.