- Think of the dissidents, says Germany’s Scholz on Russian tourist ban Inquirer
At least SOMEBODY understands why it’s not a good idea to reinforce the idea that Russians are different and hated by the West, if you have any hope of reuniting the two blocs once again - as Europe probably should hope, given their declining economic power. Putin really is running laps around these idiots. They’re doing the propaganda for him.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said while there was room for a European-level debate on banning Russian tourists, it was important not to make life harder for Kremlin opponents to flee Russia.
“What is important for us is that we understand there are a lot of people fleeing from Russia because they disagree with the Russian regime,” he said following a meeting with leaders of the Nordic countries in Oslo on Monday.
“All the decisions we take should not make it more complicated to leave the country, for getting away from the leadership and the dictatorship in Russia,” he added.
Several European countries, including Finland’s Sanna Marin who was also at the meeting, have called for Russian tourists to be banned from the EU to ensure that they too pay a penalty for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- Costly energy imports pushed euro zone into trade deficit in June Inquirer
Euro zone countries swung into a trade deficit in June from a surplus 12 months earlier because of soaring prices of imported gas and oil, Eurostat data showed on Tuesday.
Eurostat said the trade gap of the 19 countries sharing the euro with the rest of the world, unadjusted for seasonal swings, was 24.6 billion euros in June, compared to a 17.2 billion surplus in June 2021.
Seasonally adjusted, the deficit was even bigger at 30.8 billion widening from 27.2 billion in May.
Eurostat did not give a breakdown for the euro zone, but for the whole European Union the trade deficit in energy for the first six months of the year almost tripled to 290.8 billion euros from 105.6 billion in the same period of 2021.
- European power prices hit a record for a 5th day straight as a perfect storm rocks the continent’s energy system Business Insider
European power prices have surged to a record high for the fifth day running as the Russian squeeze on natural gas flows and fears about other energy supplies rock the continent.
German baseload year-ahead power, the benchmark European price, rose 5.5% to hit a record 505 euros ($512) per megawatt hour Tuesday, Bloomberg data showed.
A surge in prices for natural gas — a key input in much electricity generation — is at the root of the roughly 500% increase in power prices over the last year. French power prices are running at record highs of more than 600 euros a megawatt hour.
- Putin lashes out at US over Ukraine, Taiwan Inquirer
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday accused Washington of seeking to prolong the conflict in Ukraine and of fuelling conflicts elsewhere in the world, including with the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan.
. “The situation in Ukraine shows that the US is trying to prolong this conflict. And they act in exactly the same way, fuelling the potential for conflict in Asia, Africa and Latin America,” Putin said in televised remarks, addressing the opening ceremony of a security conference in Moscow via videolink.
“The American adventure in relation to Taiwan is not just a trip of an individual irresponsible politician, but part of a purposeful, conscious US strategy to destabilize and make chaotic the situation in the region and the world,” he added.
He said the visit was a “brazen demonstration of disrespect for the sovereignty of other countries and for its (Washington’s) international obligations”.
“We see this as a carefully planned provocation,” Putin said.
- Putin is promoting Russian arms to his foreign allies, saying that most of the weapon systems have been ‘used in real combat operations’ Business Insider
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday urged his foreign allies to buy arms from Russia, promoting them as combat-proven weapon systems even as his army continues to struggle in its invasion of Ukraine.
“We are ready to offer our allies and partners cutting-edge weapons – from small arms to armored vehicles and artillery, combat aviation and drones,” Putin said in his speech at the International Military-Technical Forum in Moscow.
“Military professionals throughout the world value these weapons for their reliability, quality, and, most importantly, their high efficiency,” he said. “Practically all of them have been used in actual combat more than once.”
The Russian leader didn’t mention any specific type of weapon or system but made reference to the war in Ukraine and spoke of how Russian “weaponry makers” were equipping Moscow’s forces “with modern weapons that are now working for our victory.”
- NATO member Poland is going to Asian powerhouse to find a replacement for its aging Soviet-era fighter jets Business Insider
On July 27, Poland signed one of its largest arms deals ever for more artillery, tanks, and aircraft to modernize its military amid heightened tensions in Europe.
Warsaw’s $14.5 billion deal with South Korea — the largest ever for South Korea’s defense industry — includes 1,000 K2 Black Panther tanks, nearly 700 K9 self-propelled howitzers, and 48 FA-50 light combat aircraft.
- Britain launches trade system for developing countries Inquirer
Britain has launched a scheme to extend tariff cuts to hundreds of products, such as clothes and food, from developing countries, part of London’s post-Brexit efforts to set up systems to replace those run by the European Union.
In June, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he wanted to start a new trade system to reduce costs and simplify rules for 65 developing countries to replace the EU’s Generalised System of Preferences, which applies import duties at reduced rates.
Trade minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the Developing Countries Trading scheme (DCTS) would extend tariff cuts to hundreds more products exported from developing countries, a system, she said, that goes further than the EU scheme.
“As an independent trading nation, we are taking back control of our trade policy and making decisions that back UK businesses, help with the cost of living, and support the economies of developing countries around the world,” Trevelyan said in a statement.
- Germany Hits 75% Gas In Storage Goal Ahead Of Schedule Oil Price
Germany reached in the middle of August its target to have its natural gas storage 75% full, two weeks ahead of plans, data from Gas Infrastructure Europe showed.
As of August 14, Germany’s gas storage sites were just over 76% full, according to the data. Storage capacity in Europe’s biggest economy is around 23.3 billion cubic meters (bcm), more than one-fifth of the German consumption of 100 bcm in 2021.
The 75% full storage target was set to be reached by September 1, but Germany is now ahead of schedule. The next targets for gas storage filling are to reach 85% by the beginning of October and 95% gas in storage by the start of November.
Despite reaching the first 75% target earlier than planned, Germany continues to be in stage two of a three-stage gas emergency alert as it looks to conserve as much gas as possible ahead of the winter to avoid rationing in the coming months. The situation could deteriorate if Russian gas flows via the Nord Stream pipeline drop further from already significantly reduced volumes.
Yet, despite the gas stock builds, industries in Germany and the rest of Europe have been warning they may have to curtail production amid the gas crisis, which could lead to a collapse of supply and production chains.
- German families face 480 euro rise in gas bills under new levy Reuters
German households will have to pay almost 500 euros ($509) more a year for gas after a levy was set to help utilities cover the cost of replacing Russian supplies, piling pressure on Berlin to come up with further relief measures for the public.
Trading Hub Europe, the German gas market operator, said on Monday it had set the charge at 2.419 euro cents per kilowatt hour (kWh).
The levy will be imposed from Oct. 1 and remain in place until April 2024 in a bid to help Uniper - the country’s largest importer of Russian gas - and other importers cope with soaring prices.
For an average family of four, the charge will amount to an additional annual cost of around 480 euros, or an increase of about 13% on the Verivox price comparison platform’s calculation of an average gas bill of 3,568 euros based on usage of 20,000 kWh/year.
“The alternative would have been the collapse of the German energy market, and with it large parts of the European energy market,” Economy Minister Robert Habeck said of the levy.
Germany’s Russia-dependent energy model had failed and would not be returning, he told reporters. “We need to change in a hurry … In doing so, we sometimes have to take bitter medicine,” Habeck said, arguing for targeted relief to help households.
- Switzerland Considers Switching To Oil For Power Plants Oil Price
Amid a looming energy crisis, Switzerland could turn to oil for electricity production in the winter in case of an emergency, Swiss Energy Minister Simonetta Sommaruga told local newspaper SonntagsZeitung this weekend.
Sommaruga, who has backed more renewable energy use in Switzerland, admitted that the country might have to resort to using oil for electricity generation this winter as Europe faces low Russian natural gas supply, which could be cut even further or cut off altogether.
Switzerland has an experimental power plant that has been used for testing new gas turbines, according to Swiss media. Italian firm Ansaldo Energia, owner of the experimental plant, wanted as early as this spring to make the facility available as an emergency reserve.
- Estonia to remove Soviet-era monuments to ‘ensure public order’ Euro News
Estonia’s government has announced that it will remove Soviet-era monuments from public spaces across the country.
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said the decision was made due to a risk of public disorder following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“As symbols of repressions and Soviet occupation, they have become a source of increasing social tensions,” Kallas wrote on Twitter.
“At these times, we must keep the risk to public order at a minimum,” she added.
- Norway exports record as natural gas prices surge EuroNews
Norway’s exports reached a record in July, driven mainly by natural gas prices that have soared since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Scandinavian country’s statistics agency announced that Norwegian exports reached 229 billion kroner (€23.2 billion) last month, 0.4% higher than the previous record set in March this year.
Norway’s trade surplus of 153.2 billion kroner (€15.5 billion) also was the highest on record.
Asia and Oceania
- East Asia faces increase in heatwaves, urgent need to adapt: Study Asia News
Heatwaves are predicted to become more frequent and intense in East Asia with climate change, increasing the risks to human health and agriculture and creating an urgent need to develop strategies to adapt, scientists said in a recent study.
- EU working to increase economic, security ties in Pacific Inquirer
The European Union is working to boost its presence in the Pacific through economic ties and new security commitments as geostrategic competition in the region intensifies, the bloc’s ambassador to Pacific Island nations said on Tuesday.
Ambassador Sujiro Seam told Reuters in an interview during a visit to New Zealand the EU had long been seen as a development partner in the Pacific and that it wanted to be perceived as an economic and strategic partner as well.
The EU’s push comes as major powers are vying for influence in the region, with the United States and Australia ramping up engagement in the Pacific after China signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands this year.
- Top US naval commander says China’s firing of missiles near Taiwan must be contested Business Insider
Seventh Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Karl Thomas said on Tuesday that China’s firing of missiles near Taiwan has to be contested to prevent the risk of such actions becoming the “next norm.”
. “It’s very important that we contest this type of thing. I know that the gorilla in the room is launching missiles over Taiwan,” Thomas said at a press roundtable in Singapore, per Agence France-Presse.
I… uhh… ignoring that “gorilla” comment for a second, what the fuck do you mean by “contest”? Like, what, you fire your own missiles over Taiwan? You fire them into China? What are you talking about?
- China goes all out to address drought Inquirer
China has sent expert teams to some parts of southern China to help address potential crop failures, as continuous heat waves sweep the country and pose challenges to the nation’s autumn grain harvest.
Heat waves have scorched most parts of southern China since last month, resulting in a lengthy drought in hills with rice paddies that are purely irrigated by rain, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.
Given the dry period forecast for the next two weeks by the China Meteorological Administration, the ministry sent 10 expert teams and 12 support groups of technicians to major grain-producing provinces. It also released an urgent circular on Saturday to guide the work of reversing drought damage and averting grain loss.
The current heading and flowering of rice in southern China is a crucial time for total production, as crops are sensitive to temperature and moisture changes. The high temperatures and drought will affect the rate at which the plants mature, so experts need to make targeted plans for different areas, according to the circular.
For rice, measures such as reducing the temperature of the ear layer by regulating water, and spraying fertilizer to increase the plant’s resistance to heat, should be implemented to prevent pollen abortion, it added.
Xia Liming, an official at the agriculture and rural affairs department in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province, has led a team to fight drought in the major rice-producing areas in the country.
Using water to regulate temperature can prevent heat damage and improve the microclimate on farmland, he said.
In areas with sufficient water resources, irrigating during the day and draining at night reduces the field temperature, Xia added. In addition, regular spraying at noon via plant protection drones can increase a field’s humidity and reduce the temperature of the rice canopy, alleviating the impacts of drought and heat waves, he said.
“Scientific fertilization will also improve rice’s resistance to drought,” Xia said.
Heat waves and drought can trigger plant diseases, so spraying pesticides with plenty of water during cooler periods is helpful for preventing and controlling pests, he added.
Local authorities are urged to strengthen monitoring and early warning of heat changes, keeping an eye on crop growth. Close monitoring of soil moisture can help experts scientifically assess the impact of heat and drought, the ministry said.
- China’s worst heatwave in 60 years is forcing factories to close CNN
China’s Sichuan province has ordered all factories to shut down for six days to ease a power shortage in the region as a scorching heat wave sweeps across the country.
Sichuan is a key manufacturing location for the semiconductor and solar panel industries and the power rationing will hit factories belonging to some of the world’s biggest electronics companies, including Apple (AAPL) supplier Foxconn and Intel (INTC).
The province is also China’s lithium mining hub — a key component of electric car batteries — and the shutdown may push up the cost of the raw material, analysts said.
China is facing its fiercest heat wave in six decades, with temperatures crossing 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in dozens of cities. The extreme heat has caused a spike in demand for air conditioning in offices and homes, putting pressure on the power grid. The drought has also depleted river water levels, reducing the amount of electricity produced at hydropower plants.
Sichuan, one of China’s largest provinces with 84 million people, told 19 out of 21 cities in the region to suspend production at all factories from Monday to Saturday, according to an “urgent notice” issued on Sunday by the provincial government and the state grid.
The decision was made to ensure that enough power is available for residential use, the notice said.
- China-born scientist targeted by US ‘discovers world’s best semiconductor’ SCMP
China-born MIT professor Gang Chen, whose name was cleared earlier this year following a high-profile investigation into his alleged China ties, has led a team to discover what they say is the best semiconductor ever found.
In a paper published in the journal Science last month, Chen and colleagues said that a material known as cubic boron arsenide could conduct heat 10 times better than silicon, the most widely used semiconductor.
The new material’s extraordinary thermal conductivity makes it a promising candidate for next-generation electronics, according to the paper by Chen and co-authors from MIT, the University of Houston and other US institutions.
- South Korea plans to provide 2.7 million new homes over 5 years Al Jazeera
South Korea’s new government has unveiled plans to supply 2.7 million new homes across the country over the next five years, including hundreds of thousands of properties in big cities where a short supply has been blamed for rapid price rises.
The government plans to supply 500,000 homes in the Seoul area over the five-year period, a more than 50 percent increase from the amount supplied in the past five years, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said in a statement on Tuesday.
- South Korea offers North deal to denuclearize RT
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has marked the anniversary of the peninsula’s liberation from Japanese occupiers in 1945 by offering a massive package of economic assistance to North Korea if the rival nation abandons its nuclear weapons program.
“The audacious initiative that I envision will significantly improve North Korea’s economy and its people’s livelihoods in stages if the North ceases the development of its nuclear program and embarks on a genuine and substantive process for denuclearization,” Yoon said on Monday in his Liberation Day speech.
The package would include “large-scale” food aid and funding to develop North Korea’s electricity generation and distribution infrastructure, as well as projects to modernize ports and airports to facilitate trade, Yoon said. “We will also help improve North Korea’s agricultural production, provide assistance to modernize its hospitals and medical infrastructure, and carry out initiatives to allow for international investment and financial support.”
Yoon emphasized that the measures would improve the lives of North Korea’s 26 million people. The economic assistance would be provided in phases as Pyongyang denuclearizes, and Seoul would advocate a gradual easing of international sanctions against North Korea.
- Chinese military survey ship docks at Sri Lanka port Reuters
The Chinese survey vessel Yuan Wang 5 docked on Tuesday at Sri Lanka’s Chinese-built port of Hambantota, a port official said, a move likely to stoke concern in neighbouring India about the growing influence of its bigger and more powerful rival.
The movements of the ship have fuelled contention between India and China, two of Sri Lanka’s biggest allies in its current economic crisis, as India fears China could use the port, near the main Asia-Europe shipping route, as a military base.
- Pandemic pushes 2.3 million Filipinos into poverty Asia News
Preliminary results of the family income and expenditure survey for 2021 released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on Monday showed that the poverty rate had worsened to 18.8 percent from 16.7 percent in 2018.
This translates to 19.99 million Filipinos who are living below the poverty line, or those making less than P12,030 a month for a family of five. In 2018, the last time the survey was made, there were 17.67 million Filipinos living below the poverty threshold of P10,481 a month. The poverty rate was worse in 2015 at 23.5 percent, or the equivalent of 23.68 million poor Filipinos.
- Iran delivers deadline response to draft nuclear deal Politico
Iran still has reservations about a draft deal to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement it struck with world powers, Iranian and Western officials said Monday. It was the latest sign that talks to restore the deal could drag well past what some had earlier described as a Monday deadline.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said his country hoped to share its ”final thoughts” with European officials by the end of the day.
According to one senior Western official, the Iranian answer was received by the EU on Monday evening Brussels time. The response is mostly focused on outstanding questions related to sanctions and guarantees around economic engagement. Over the last few months, Iran has continuously demanded assurance that it will be able to reap the economic benefits of a restored deal.
- Greece returns Iranian crude oil illegally seized by the US Popular Resistance
The Iranian embassy in Athens revealed late on 12 August that the Lana, an Iranian-flagged tanker, is retrieving a cargo of oil that the US tried to steal earlier this year.
“The transfer of stolen Iranian oil to the Lana is underway in Greek waters, and the ship will soon leave for our country with the full cargo of oil,” the Iranian embassy tweeted.
- Xi Jinping’s Saudi trip seeks to exploit Riyadh-Washington tensions Politico
Chinese President Xi Jinping will soon end more than two years of self-imposed in-person diplomatic isolation as he travels to Saudi Arabia to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — a month after President Joe Biden’s strained visit to Jeddah.
The Xi trip has not been confirmed, but an unnamed Saudi source said it may occur as early as this week.
Xi can expect a full helping of Saudi diplomatic pomp and ceremony in contrast to Biden’s low-profile visit, punctuated by an awkward fist bump with MBS, as the Crown Prince is known. Instead of pesky questions about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, Xi will get a red-carpet welcome and likely respond with a full-throated affirmation of deepening Saudi-Chinese ties.
Xi’s choice of Saudi Arabia as his first overseas destination since January 2020 gives him a dual diplomatic victory. It offers a high-profile assertion of warm relations with a key energy supplier. And it allows him to project Chinese power without any risk of embarrassing public protests about Beijing’s abuses of Xinjiang’s Muslim Uyghurs, its evisceration of rule of law in Hong Kong and increasing Chinese military intimidation of Taiwan following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to the self-governing island earlier this month.
The visit not only affirms China’s growing global influence, but it lets MBS signal to the Biden administration that the U.S. has a serious rival as Riyadh’s superpower patron of choice.
“Part of the Chinese strategy in the region is to show that it is the more reliable and better partner for Middle Eastern countries than the United States, but they try to get that message across in ways that aren’t directly confrontational with the U.S.,” said Michael Singh, former senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council and managing director at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
“We’re going to see the message not just from the Saudis, but from our other [U.S] partners in the region that they have other alternatives for things like arms purchases, or investment or for all sorts of things. Which doesn’t mean that they’re actually looking to pivot away from the United States, but they’re looking for leverage in [that] relationship,” Singh added
- Last French troops leave Mali, ending nine-year deployment Al Jazeera
France has said its final troops have left Mali, completing a withdrawal that ends a nine-year operation in the country at the centre of the Sahel region’s spiralling security crisis.
In a statement, the French army said on Monday it had met the “major military logistics challenge” of the pullout “in an orderly and safe fashion”.
The withdrawal comes amid tanking relations between Paris and Bamako, which has increasingly turned to Russia to respond to armed groups linked to ISIS (ISIL) and al-Qaeda who have expanded their reach while jockeying for control in the country’s sprawling central region.
- Malians convinced French troops' withdrawal won’t change anything Africa News
A section of Malians is not convinced enough that their country’s security element will change.
After the last French soldiers completed their withdrawal from Mali more than nine years, some Malians believe their country’s military can handle the security issues in the west African state.
France pulled out of the country in the face of deep hostility after falling out with colonels who seized power nearly two years ago.
“I, like many other Malians, have been waiting impatiently for the departure of the foreign troops, but after this departure that we are all waiting for, there are many things to do. We have to work hard to fill this void, it is up to us Malians to work hand in hand to fill this void,” said Adama Cissé, a member of the political party ADEMA.
To some, this is the time for the country to steer ahead its political ambitions while adding that French troops' withdrawal will not change any dynamic.
“People have not understood that if France leaves or stays it will not change anything, Mali must take its responsibilities in hand, whether France leaves or stays it must take its responsibility.”
- Mexican Drought Spurs a South Texas Water Crisis InsideClimateNews
Northern Mexico’s water crisis is spilling into Texas, drying out the two bi-national reservoirs of the Rio Grande, on which millions of people and $1 billion in agriculture rely.
One reservoir, Lake Falcon, is just 9 percent full. Nearby communities are scrambling to extend water intakes and install auxiliary pumps to capture its final dregs. The other reservoir, Amistad, is less than one-third full.
“It’s reached its historic low,” said Maria Elena Giner, commissioner of the International Boundary and Waters Commission, which manages the touchy business of water sharing with Mexico on the Rio Grande. “This is a historic moment in terms of what our agency is facing in challenges.”
In far South Texas, the two most populous counties issued disaster declarations last week, while others struggle to keep up with the unfolding crisis. If big rains don’t come, current supplies will run dry in March 2023 for some 3 million people who live along both sides of the river in its middle and lower reaches.
“That’s it, it’s game over at that point,” said Martin Castro, watershed science director at the Rio Grande International Study Center in Laredo. “And that’s six months away. It’s not looking good.”
- Majority of Americans say they’re worried about being able to pay for housing CNN
Nearly 60% of renters saw a rent increase during the past year, while just 38% said they saw their income increase, according to a study from Freddie Mac. And renters were less likely than all employed respondents to have gotten a raise. As a result, nearly 1 in 5 who experienced a rent increase said they are now “extremely likely” to miss a payment.
- Gasoline Prices Could Climb As Demand Destruction Fears Evaporate Oil Prices
Despite a ninth consecutive week of falling gasoline prices in the United States, the streak of declines could soon see its end as wholesale gasoline prices have rebounded in recent days, fuel-savings app GasBuddy said on Monday.
The national average gasoline price in America fell for a ninth week in a row last week, by 9.9 cents from a week ago to $3.92 per gallon as of Monday, according to GasBuddy data from gas stations nationwide.
On a national average, gasoline prices are now down by 63.7 cents compared to a month ago, but they are still 74.8 cents higher than a year ago.
- How Some Subsidies in the Climate Bill Keep Oil and Gas Alive NYT
The technology called carbon capture and storage is aptly named. It is supposed to capture carbon dioxide emissions from industrial sources and pump them deep underground. It was a big winner in the climate provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act passed by Congress last week.
What the technology, known as C.C.S., also does is allow for the continued production of oil and natural gas at a time when the world should be ending its dependence on fossil fuels.
The Inflation Reduction Act, which President Biden said he will sign this week, does more to cut fossil fuel use and fight climate change than any previous legislation by expanding renewable energy, electric cars, heat pumps and more. But the law also contains a counterproductive waste of money, backed by the fossil fuel industry, to subsidize C.C.S.
Fifteen years ago, before the cost of renewable energy plummeted, carbon capture seemed like a good idea. We should know: When we launched a start-up 14 years ago — the first privately funded company to make use of the technology in the United States — the idea was that the technology could compete as a way to produce carbon-free electricity by capturing the carbon dioxide emissions emitted by power plants and burying them. But now it’s clear that we were wrong, and that every dollar invested in renewable energy — instead of C.C.S. power — will eliminate far more carbon emissions.
Even so, this technology has broad political support, including from Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, an ally of the coal industry, because it enables the continued extraction and burning of fossil fuels while also preventing the resulting carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. Industry campaigns such as “Clean Coal” have also promoted the technology as something that could ramp up quickly to bridge the gap to the deployment of large-scale renewable energy. But by promoting C.C.S., the fossil fuel industry is slowing the transition away from fossil fuels.
Under the Inflation Reduction Act, facilities using this technology will be eligible for generous tax credits provided they break ground by the end of 2032 — an extension of the current deadline of 2025. Those benefits come on top of $12 billion in government investments in C.C.S., as well as technology that would pull carbon dioxide directly from the air, which were included in the infrastructure bill signed by President Biden last fall.
C.C.S. is seen as a solution to the emissions problem for a range of industries, from fossil-fuel-fired electricity generating plants to industrial facilities that produce cement, steel, iron, chemicals and fertilizer.
Where C.C.S. has been most widely used in the United States and elsewhere, however, is in the production of oil and natural gas. Here’s how: Natural gas processing facilities separate carbon dioxide from methane to purify the methane for sale. These facilities then sometimes pipe the “captured” carbon dioxide to what are known as enhanced oil recovery projects, where the carbon dioxide is injected into oil fields to extract additional oil that would otherwise be trapped underground.
Of the 12 commercial C.C.S. projects in operation in 2021, more than 90 percent are engaged in enhance oil recovery, using carbon dioxide emitted from natural gas processing facilities or from fertilizer, hydrogen or ethanol plants, according to an industry report. That is why we consider these ventures oil or natural gas projects, or both, masquerading as climate change solutions.
The projects are responsible for most of the carbon dioxide now being sequestered underground in the United States. Four projects that do both enhanced oil recovery and natural gas processing account for two-thirds to three-quarters of all estimated carbon sequestered in the United States, with two plants storing the most. But the net effect is hardly climate friendly. This process produces more natural gas and oil, increases carbon dioxide emissions and transfers carbon dioxide that was naturally locked away underground in one place to another one elsewhere.
In an effort to capture and store carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel-burning power plants, the Department of Energy has allocated billions for failed C.C.S. demonstration projects. The bankruptcy of many of these hugely subsidized undertakings makes plain the failure of C.C.S. to reduce emissions economically.
- An ‘extreme heat belt’ will impact over 100 million Americans in the next 30 years, study finds CNN
Worsening heat and humidity as a result of climate change will bring extremely dangerous heat indices to much of the United States in the next 30 years, increasing both the intensity and frequency of the hottest days of the year, according to a new study published Monday.
Temperatures above the threshold of the National Weather Service’s “extreme danger” category, when the heat index is more than 125 degrees Fahrenheit, is expected to affect about 8 million people in the US this year. But by 2053, 13 times that many people – 107 million – will experience that extremely dangerous heat, according to the study by the climate research group First Street Foundation.
“The results indicate that the incidence of extreme heat is growing across the country, both in absolute and relative terms,” the study states.
- The West’s historic drought is threatening hydropower at Hoover Dam CNN
Standing atop the Hoover Dam today, the millions of tourists who visit each year can get a real sense of the climate crisis in the West: In addition to extreme heat, the sight of so-called “bathtub rings” that envelop Lake Mead has become an unsettling reminder of where the water level once was before the region’s historic drought began.
The changes are “stunning to see,” Kristen Averyst, senior climate advisor for Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, told CNN. “If people don’t think that climate change is impacting them here and now, just go to Lake Mead and have a look around, because that paints a pretty clear picture of what we’re up against when it comes to climate change.”
Stretching across the Colorado river at the Nevada-Arizona border, the enormous Hoover Dam forms and holds back water from Lake Mead – the largest manmade reservoir in the country. It can produce around 2,080 megawatts of hydropower – enough electricity for roughly 1.3 million Americans each year, according to the National Park Service – for California, Arizona and Nevada as well as Native American tribes.
But the climate change-fueled drought and overuse of the Colorado River’s water is pushing Lake Mead lower and threatening the dam’s hydroelectricity production. Declining water flow has cut the dam’s power generation capacity almost in half – around 1,076 megawatts – as of June.
- Canada’s onetime ‘Green Jesus’ okays oil megaproject WaPo
In 2002, Steven Guilbeault scaled the roof of the Alberta premier’s home — uninvited — and installed two solar panels. It was part of a Greenpeace campaign to push the leader of the oil-rich province to reconsider his opposition to an international climate agreement.
Striking as that climb was, it was less dramatic than the one Guilbeault made the previous year, when he ascended more than 1,000 feet up Toronto’s CN Tower to unfurl a banner labeling Canada and then-U.S. President George W. Bush as “climate killers.”
Two decades later, the environmental activist has joined the government he once protested, as Canada’s environment minister. And Équiterre, the environmental group he co-founded, is suing the government over one of his decisions.
Hecklers, meanwhile, are using one of his best-known acts of civil disobedience against him.
“You’re a climate criminal!” a protester yelled at a Montreal event in July. “That’s how history will judge you.”
Guilbeault, now 52, is under fire for his decision in April to greenlight the Bay du Nord deep-sea oil drilling project off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, finding that it is “not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.” He says that — to his knowledge — it will be the lowest-emitting project of its kind in the world.
But activists in the environmental circles Guilbeault once frequented disagree. They say the approval ignores the warnings of scientists, and is inconsistent with the lofty rhetoric from the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the need to take more aggressive action against climate change.
It’s certainly a striking decision by a man who has never owned a car and was once dubbed “Green Jesus.”
“It was the most difficult professional decision that I’ve ever made in my life,” Guilbeault told The Washington Post. “I sincerely hope that I don’t have to make another one like that. It was heartbreaking.”
It’s the same thing every fucking time, isn’t it? These people actively destroy the planet and then turn around and are like “b-buh i’m just a p-poor little meow meow, this was such a d-difficult decision, I will never f-forgive myself” while crying behind a podium and then two years later they’ll do it again.
- Iran sends technical team to Cuba to help put out fire in oil facilities Tehran Times
Iranian Oil Ministry has dispatched a group of technical experts to Cuba in order to help put out a fire set off by a lightning strike at an oil storage facility in the Cuban city of Matanzas, Shana reported.
Following the incident, the Cuban government asked for help from international experts in “friendly countries” with experience in the oil sector.
As reported, the first goal of this group is to transfer experiences and train Cuban firefighters and experts about the ways of dealing with oil tank fires. The training will help Cubans to be prepared to deal with such incidents in the future.
- Lula wants BRICS to broker ceasefire in Ukraine Merco Press
Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who leads all polls to return to the Planalto Palace after the October elections, met with Russia’s Ambassador to Brasilia Alexei Labetski and suggested the BRICS group the two countries share with India, China and South Africa should broker a cease-fire in Ukraine.
Lula has insisted on the role of BRICS in the search for a solution to the war in Ukraine and has already met with foreign diplomats at the home of his lawyer Cristiano Zanin in São Paulo, according to Folha de São Paulo.
In late July, Lula spoke with ambassadors from Russia, India, and South Africa about Eastern Europe. He intended to meet all BRICS delegates but China’s mission in Brasilia is without an ambassador. Ambassadors Suresh Reddy of India and Vusi Mavimbela of South Africa did take part in the meeting.
Lula also discussed the issue with ambassadors from Germany, France, Switzerland, The Netherlands, and Poland.
The former head of state is conveying to key players in the international arena some of the guidelines of a possible new government. Lula insisted the incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro had isolated Brazil from the world, particularly after his meeting in Moscow with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in February, a week before the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine.
In the meeting with BRICS countries, he asked Labetski about the reasons for the war from Russia’s point of view, and which countries could influence the negotiation of a possible ceasefire. He also questioned why BRICS was not engaged in trying to mitigate the effects of the war, since Russia is part of the bloc.
- Venezuela inflation slows to 7.5% m/m in July Reuters
Venezuela’s inflation slowed to 7.5% month-over-month in July, from 11.4% recorded in June, according to data released on Monday by the country’s central bank.
Inflation in June caused worry when it topped double digits after nine months under that threshold, prompting President Nicolas Maduro’s administration to implement policies to curb rising prices.
The government’s strategy has depended on exchange rate stabilization by increasing foreign currency supply in local banks, while also limiting credit growth, cutting public spending and upping taxes, analysts say.
Annual inflation in the year through July hit 137%, according to Reuters calculations using central bank data, the highest rate in the region.
- The world food crisis is about to get worse Politico
Six months of fighting between Russia and Ukraine — two farming powerhouses — has plunged a teetering global food system into full-blown catastrophe, leaving millions of people facing starvation.
The war is exacerbating a crisis already fueled by climate change, soaring costs of living and a fertilizer price hike that is creating the most acute global food crisis in decades. A U.N.-brokered agreement to reopen the Black Sea for food ships may not be enough to bring relief to the millions of people struggling to eat across Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
“I’ve been working in this sector now for more than 15 years and this for me is the worst crisis we’ve seen," said Carin Smaller, executive director of the Shamba Centre, a think tank working to end global hunger.
Humanitarian agencies are scrambling to prepare themselves for even more critical levels of hunger, as they face a €14 billion annual gap in food security spending, according to a 2020 report by Ceres 2030, also a think tank. Moscow’s war in Europe’s breadbasket has severely rocked global food markets, forcing humanitarian agencies to slash food rations in countries like Yemen. Thirty-six countries rely on Ukraine and Russia for more than half of their wheat imports.
A special U.N. crisis task force is monitoring more than 60 countries that are struggling to pay for food imports. High energy prices and volatility in the food markets have put extra pressure on cash-strapped developing countries.
As more people grow hungry globally, the U.N. goal to end hunger by the end of the decade looks further than ever.
Drought is gripping the Horn of Africa, leaving some 26 million people facing food shortages in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia over the next six months. More than 7 million livestock animals have already been wiped out. Across East Africa as a whole, some 50 million people are facing acute food insecurity.
Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, tweeted: “An entirely preventable famine threatens the Horn of Africa region.” This is the “mega-crisis no one is talking about,” he said.
In Lebanon, also a large importer of Russian and Ukrainian wheat, real food inflation has been running at 122 percent. Domestic food price inflation is high in almost all low- and middle-income countries, according to the World Bank.
That means it’s difficult for people to afford food even in places where there isn’t a shortage. People are paying more for basic necessities everywhere from Peru to Burundi. According to the World Food Programme, a record high of 49 million people in 46 countries could fall into famine or “famine-like conditions” amid the food crisis. The worst affected countries are Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen, where there are 750,000 people facing starvation and death, of which 400,000 alone are in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, where there is an ongoing civil war.
The Ukraine War
- Multiple explosions tear through Russian military base in Crimea Euro News
Multiple explosions shook a Russian military base in Crimea on Tuesday, the latest in a spate of similar incidents on the occupied peninsula.
Russia’s defence ministry said a fire at an arms dump in the town of Mayskoye in northern Crimea triggered ammunition to denote.
It has not reported any serious casualties, but a local Russian-appointed official said two people were left injured.
The cause of the explosions is unclear, though there are unconfirmed suspicions it was an act of Ukrainian sabotage.
- Strike At Iowa Army Ammunition Plant Could Have Big Consequences For Ukrainian Army Forbes
Far from the Ukrainian front lines, labor trouble is brewing at the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant. After a set of union contracts expire Friday, up to 500 workers represented by ten unions could walk off the job. Any failure to negotiate a new contract weakens America’s munitions supply chain. An extended work stoppage may even endanger the flow of critical ammunition to the Ukraine military.
While the current production runs at the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant are not detailed publicly, the Army-owned facility, which is managed by American Ordinance LLC, produces several important types of ground warfare munitions, including 40mm grenades, components for 60mm, 81mm and 120mm mortar cartridges, 120mm tank ammunition, shells of various sorts for 155mm cannons, clearing charges, demolition blocks and a range of missile components—including FGM-148 Javelin and FIM-92 Stinger warheads. Army sources and contract award documents suggest the facility can produce M982 Excalibur warheads, mines, long-range precision artillery ammunition and other tailored explosive products.
Employees at the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant perform dangerous work where, according to Zach Peterson, a business agent for Teamsters 238, “one wrong move on their part can result in their death, and the deaths of the workers around them.” Without the union workers, the World War II-era facility will have trouble churning out the modern shells, grenades and charges America needs, likely crimping the flow of U.S. ammunition to the Ukrainian front line.
- Russia chases off UK spy plane RT
A Royal Air Force spy plane violated Russian airspace in the Barents Sea near Murmansk, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Monday. A MiG-31 interceptor was dispatched to escort the RC-135 surveillance jet from the vicinity of Cape Svyatoy Nos, near the major bases of the Russian Navy’s Northern Fleet.
The MiG-31BM interceptor on duty with the border air patrol identified the aircraft and compelled it to stop its violation of Russian airspace, the military said in a statement. Moscow identified the location of the incident as Svyatoy Nos, a cape on the Kola Peninsula, east of Murmansk in western Russia.
While the Russian Defense Ministry offered no further details about the incident as of Monday evening local time, FlightRadar showed a Royal Air Force RC-135 flying off the coast of Murmansk earlier. The RAF spy plane with the designation RRR7255 made several loops before heading for the entrance to the White Sea, violating Russian airspace in the process.
Monday’s incident was the first incursion of NATO aircraft into Russian territory since the conflict in Ukraine escalated in February. Earlier that month, Moscow said that a US submarine was spotted and chased off from Russian waters near the Kuril Islands in the northern Pacific. The Pentagon denied all allegations.
Climate and Space
- Russia, planning to go it alone, unveils model of new space station Inquirer
Russia’s space agency on Monday unveiled for the first time a physical model of what a planned new Russian-built space station will look like, suggesting Moscow is serious about abandoning the International Space Station (ISS) and going it alone.
Russia, in the throes of what some Kremlin hardliners believe is an historic rupture with the West sparked by sanctions imposed over what Moscow calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine, is rushing to reduce its dependency on Western nations and forge ahead on its own or cooperate with countries like China and Iran.
Russia’s national space agency Roskosmos presented a model of the planned space station, dubbed “ROSS” by Russian state media, on Monday at “Army-2022”, a military-industrial exhibition outside Moscow.
Yuri Borisov, whom President Vladimir Putin appointed last month to head Roskosmos, has said Russia will quit the ISS after 2024 and is working to develop its own orbital station.
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.
- The Russians Want Pisky. The Ukrainians Want Pisky. Neither Army Has Enough Troops For A Quick Victory. Forbes
A tiny ghost town just north of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine for weeks has been a meatgrinder for the Ukrainian troops defending it—as well as for the Russian troops trying to capture it.
The battle grinds on in or around Pisky. Unending artillery barrages kill and maim Russians and Ukrainians alike, smash their armored vehicles and reduce the otherwise-lifeless village and surroundings—a locus of the fighting since Russia first invaded Ukraine eight years ago—to a spreading pile of rubble.
Conflicting reports in recent days have Pisky under the control of Russian-backed separatist fighters from the Donetsk People’s Republic—or still under Ukrainian control following a spirited defense by the Ukrainian navy’s 56th Motorized Brigade.
Pisky has changed hands many times since 2014. It could continue to change hands. What’s striking is just how close Pisky is to separatist territory—mere yards—and how difficult it has been for Russian and separatist forces to advance into the settlement, which hasn’t had a significant civilian population in years.
Etc, etc the article continues. What’s more interesting here is how you can really see the narrative of the war shifting in real time if you’ve been paying attention the whole time, like we in the megathread have been. It ebbs and flows, from the absolute low points where you get a couple articles like “Oh no, oh shit, Russia will win” to the more middle-ground articles like this, where they attempt to create an image of mutual mass destruction (when in reality, Ukraine is getting soundly crushed, not even really a comparison), and then to the highest points, like when Zelensky first announced the mythical Kherson counteroffensive, where the discussion was like “Okay, are we gonna execute Putin for his crimes when Ukraine takes Moscow or should we be the more civilized countries and just imprison him for the rest of his life?"
- ‘A question of time’: Ukrainians determined to win back the south Guardian
In a wrecked office inside Mykolaiv’s administration building in southern Ukraine, Dmytro Pletenchuk showed off his collection of Russian weapons. Propped against the wall were fired Russian rockets and cluster bombs. “I’m thinking about opening a bar for veterans when the war is over,” he said. “My friend who was killed in Kharkiv used to run one. We could use them as decorations.”
Pletenchuk’s one-time government workplace was a spectacular ruin. In March, a Russian missile slammed into the regional state HQ, gouging a giant hole, killing 37 people and wounding many more. The security guards in reception miraculously survived. Colleagues having breakfast in the canteen were less fortunate. There are bloodstains on the stairs and in an upstairs corridor.
“We are fighting against fucking idiots. It’s good for us. But they have nuclear weapons,” Pletenchuk said, showing off his glass-strewn ninth-floor office, with a panoramic view over the city’s river and port. “Russia is like a monkey with a hand grenade,” he added. “It’s a problem for the whole world. We don’t know if they are going to blow everyone up.”
They really pick the stupidest people to talk to for their articles, don’t they?
Early in Vladimir Putin’s invasion, Russian troops came close to seizing Mykolaiv, known in Soviet times for its huge shipyard. They swept up from Crimea, occupying the city of Kherson, a regional capital, and much of southern Ukraine. In September, the Kremlin plans to hold “referendums” in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia provinces, which will almost certainly result in them being annexed to Russia.
Ukraine is determined to stop this happening. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has ordered a counteroffensive. The goal is to liberate Kherson and surrounding Russian-occupied settlements on the right bank of the Dnieper River, followed by further territories in the south and east, and ultimately Crimea itself, seized in 2014 by undercover Russian operatives.
Six months on, the war is entering a decisive phase. The next few weeks may determine Ukraine’s de facto borders for years to come. In the eastern Donbas, Russian troops continue to advance, pressing on the Ukrainian-controlled cities of Bakhmut and Sloviansk. In the south, by contrast, their grip appears shakier. The frontline runs between Mykolaiv and Kherson, across a steppe landscape of fields and pulverised villages.
Man, we’ve been in a lot of decisive phases and points in the war in the last six months. Makes you wonder why they even keep saying it.
Since June Ukraine has deployed US-supplied Himars multiple rocket launch systems to clinical effect. It has knocked out four crossing points over the Dnieper, including the Antonivsky Bridge connecting Kherson with the left-bank town of Oleshky. Russia’s S-300 and S-400 air defences seem powerless. Over the weekend they failed to stop the latest Himars strike. Video shows orange explosions and clouds of black smoke above the bridge.
Guided missiles also hit the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant, rendering its bridge unusable to heavy vehicles. Ammunition dumps and command posts have been blown up. Last week Kyiv wiped out Saky aerodrome on the west coast of Crimea, in a mysterious operation deep behind enemy lines. Eight war planes were destroyed. Holidaymakers fled in panic, with traffic jams on the Crimea bridge back to Russia.
“Mysterious” is a great word.
Ukrainian commanders, however, concede that a big push in Kherson is some way off. “We have more weapons. Not enough to do an offensive now and to beat the enemy. It is enough to defend our territory,” said Roman Kostenko, a pro-European deputy who heads the parliamentary defence and security committee. A special forces officer, Kostenko led the operation in March to defend Mykolaiv, where he and his military team are based.
Advanced western weapons have allowed Ukraine to erode Moscow’s military superiority, slowly but surely. “They have made a difference. Previously they fired 100 shells at us, now they fire 20. We are approaching parity,” Kostenko said. He continued: “To liberate Kherson we don’t need to attack Kherson. If we control the bridge, they have no logistics. If they make a pontoon bridge, it can easily be destroyed.”
The Russians appear to have come to the same conclusion. Some western intelligence experts believe it is a matter of time before they abandon Kherson and retreat across the river. Their military leadership reportedly fled last week to the safer left bank. Russian motorised and airborne regiments have been reinforcing defensive positions, with additional soldiers brought in, as well as equipment from Crimea.
Ukraine’s Himars rockets have a range of about 50 miles (80km). At the end of July a precision-guided missile blew up a military freight train in the Kherson region town of Brylivka. Russia has relocated some of its forward command and control centres, pulling back to the village of Myrne, Kostenko said. Troops are digging trenches and moving into civilian houses.
So far the Biden administration is refusing to supply Kyiv with Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) rockets, which can be used in Himars systems and have a 185-mile range. Its reasoning is that Ukraine could use them to strike Russia itself, an act the US fears may lead to a third world war. Zelenskiy dismisses this scenario and has pledged not to attack Russian territory. Negotiations continue, as the Pentagon reviews the situation.
Occupied Crimea, though, is not Russia. The peninsula, heavily militarised by Moscow, is a legitimate Ukrainian target, according to Washington and its allies. “If we got ATACMS, we could hit the bridge linking Crimea with the Russian mainland. It would dramatically change our position in the south,” Kostenko said. “We understand the fears of the US side. But with ATACMS we could further degrade Russia’s logistics.”
Kostenko’s Golos party colleague Roman Lozynskyi described Himars as a battlefield “game changer”. He showed the Guardian a 60-second video clip he filmed last month somewhere in the Mykolaiv region. A rocket pierces an inky black canopy, streaking above a ghostly tree line. The noise is shattering. More than a dozen guided missiles roar into the heavens, in rapid succession. There is smoke and bright white light.
“Ukrainian soldiers see Himars and feel proud of our capacity to fight,” Lozynskiy said. “It’s important for our spirits. We can use it to destroy dozens of Russian military camps.” Alongside Kostenko, Lozynskyi is one of a handful of lawmakers from the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, to have joined the army. He has been serving since February on the southern front. In the corridor of his base are next-generation light antitank weapons and Stinger missiles.
Until Ukraine strikes, Russia is able to bombard Mykolaiv every day. The city – home to 240,000 people, from a pre-invasion population of half a million – has been badly damaged. On Saturday three Uragan rockets smashed into the port. Missiles have wrecked schools, the national university, several hotels, and the Golden Pheasant restaurant. At least 121 people have been killed and 534 injured, including six children.
Shelling has wrecked the main water pipe supplying the city. The local council has installed standpipes; residents spend part of their day queueing for drinking water and can be seen on the streets lugging five-litre bottles. “I ignore the explosions. If they bomb me, they can bomb me in my bed,” 72-year-old Valentina Bevz said as she waited her turn at a communal tap. “We have a saying: ‘You can’t escape your destiny.’”
She said her sister had rung on the day of the invasion from Crimea, asking tearfully: “Will you break off contact with me?” Bevz said: “She understands what’s going on and her friends are decent people. Most Russians are zombies and chauvinists. They think Russia is always right.” Irina Moroz, 79, described Russia’s president as “Putler”. “The name is a cross between Putin and Hitler,” she said cheerfully.
Oh god… why did I click on this article? This is so fucking bad. What do I even say? The bit has already been made for me, but they’re serious.
The governor of the Mykolaiv region, Vitaliy Kim, would not be drawn on when exactly Ukraine may go on the offensive. “It’s a question of time. I hope it will happen as soon as possible. We have an order to win back our territories and our people,” he said. The west could speed up the recapture of Kherson by giving Ukraine more heavy weapons and by not succumbing to war fatigue, he added.
Kim described the Kremlin’s tactics as “terrorism”. He said Russian soldiers were regularly shelling civilians to “break our will”. “It isn’t working. They are just killing people,” he noted. Asked if the promised counterattack was a bluff, the governor pointed to the gains Ukraine’s armed forces had already made. They had pushed the Russians back, he said, and liberated a string of villages to the east of Mykolaiv, around the Inhul River.
Back at the shattered administration building, Pletenchuk – a captain in the navy and a public affairs officer – said he had no doubt Ukraine would prevail. Ukrainians had always resisted Russian imperialism, he said. They included his grandfather, whom Stalin sent to Siberia. Pletenchuk reasoned: “We have motivation. They don’t want to die in this country. We are defending our homeland. They are fighting for a washing machine.”
Never ask a woman her age, a man his salary, and what Pletenchuk’s grandfather was doing in Ukraine to be sent to Siberia by Stalin.
- Europe’s Next Ukraine Mission Is on the Home Front Bloomberg
Vladimir Putin is betting Western unity will crumble as gas and food prices surge and winter sets in. Here’s how to prove him wrong.
I saw the tagline and just knew I was in for a treat.
Six months into Russia’s invasion of its neighbor, the democratic world has come together to support Ukraine’s self-defense and impose punishments on Vladimir Putin and his enablers. Yet it hasn’t stopped the bloodshed — and Putin is betting that Western unity will crumble as winter sets in and Europeans find themselves squeezed by food and energy prices. Proving him wrong will require Europe’s leaders to prepare their publics for a protracted war and increase support to those least able to shoulder its costs.
In both the U.S. and Europe, public opinion has overwhelmingly backed efforts to help Ukraine resist Putin’s aggression, but that resolve is likely to wane as the war drags on. In a poll of 10 European countries taken in May, 42% of respondents said their governments pay too much attention to Ukraine relative to their troubles; in Romania and Poland, two frontline countries, the number is more than 50%. Europeans rank the increased cost of living and energy prices at the top of their concerns around the war, alongside nuclear weapon use. In Germany, a Forsa survey in July found support for a boycott of Russian gas, a key means of squeezing the Kremlin, had shrunk to just under one-third of respondents, down from 44% six weeks earlier.
To overcome fatigue with the war effort, Europe’s leaders need to clarify their goals in Ukraine. While the priorities of individual governments will inevitably vary, there should be broad agreement around a few core objectives: defending Ukraine’s democratically elected leadership and its self-determination; holding Russian forces accountable for war crimes; and avoiding any cease-fire that leaves Ukraine vulnerable to renewed Russian aggression. At a minimum, Europe will need to maintain current sanctions against the Kremlin and continue to provide economic assistance to Ukraine for months to come.
“Democratically elected” is a hell of a phrase for what the last couple leaders of Ukraine have been, given that we have leaked phonecalls about how the US was installing their own leaders in Ukraine. Secondly, how the fuck are you going to hold Russian forces accountable? What does that even mean? You’ve gotta capture them first. Putin sure as hell isn’t walking into the European courts anytime soon. Third: I don’t think you have a choice about the kind of ceasefire anymore. And yes, of course, we must continue the sanctions. OBVIOUSLY we must do that. Goes without saying.
To their credit, European leaders have so far ruled out any easing of sanctions on Russia, but more should be done to respond to public restiveness. Policy makers should stress that aiding Ukraine is in Europe’s self-interest, because allowing Putin to prevail will embolden not only the Kremlin, but other autocrats with revanchist ambitions. And they should counter Russian disinformation about the purported shortcomings of Western policy by doing more to highlight its successes — including weakening Russia’s economy, thwarting Putin’s effort to replace President Volodymyr Zelenskiy with a puppet leader, and increasing the size and strength of NATO.
These authors literally have not talked to somebody earning below $100,000 per year in their entire lives. My fucking god. Can you imagine going up to somebody crying at a food bank with their underweight children and saying “This is great! We’re resisting the revanchism of autocratic leaders abroad!” My hatred of journalists grows by the day.
It’s equally important that Western governments communicate honestly about the potential pain ahead. The impact on disposable incomes has been uneven, but the International Monetary Fund estimates an average cost of living increase for European households of close to 7% of consumption in 2022.
Honesty is the best policy! It’s even better than having food on the table and gas for heating!
With Russia squeezing gas supplies — and threatening to shut them off altogether — the situation is not improving, and European consumers face a grim winter. The UK is bracing for organized blackouts. While everyone will suffer, governments should focus their assistance on those at greatest risk. Targeted income support for the poor is a more cost-effective approach than tax reductions and price controls, which won’t incentivize families to reduce consumption or invest in increased efficiency.
Above all, European leaders must urge patience. The moral outrage and solidarity of Western publics has bolstered Ukraine’s morale and helped its forces withstand Russia’s onslaught. But the fight to preserve the country’s freedom won’t end soon.
These people go to the office, driving past thousands of miserable, impoverished people, park their cars, walk into the building, make small talk with the receptionist, talk with people with the exact same economic and social views as themselves for 4-8 hours, then drive home, talk to their spouses with the exact same economic and social views as themselves, try to talk to their kids who hate them, and then go to bed, thinking “Wow, I am such an important part of society. Imagine a world in which I was unable to bring such hard-hitting truths for people to read. Truly Orwellian."
- In praise of Liz Cheney. May we have more politicians like her Guardian
I’m not even gonna look at this article. That headline is enough for me.
- Why Republicans Turned Against the Environment NYT
He talks about how Republicans had a similar concern about climate change as Democrats back in the 1990s and before, then:
That was then. This is now: The Inflation Reduction Act — which, despite its name, is mainly a climate bill with a side helping of health reform — didn’t receive a single Republican vote. Now, the I.R.A. isn’t a leftist plan to insert Big Government into everyone’s lives: It doesn’t coerce Americans into going green; it relies on subsidies to promote low-emission technologies, probably creating many new jobs. So why the scorched-earth G.O.P. opposition?
The immediate answer is that the Republican Party has turned strongly anti-environmental over time. But why?
Surveys from the Pew Research Center show the widening partisan divide over environmental policy. In the 1990s self-identified Republicans and Democrats weren’t that different in their environmental views: Republicans were less likely than Democrats to say that we should do whatever it takes to protect the environment, more likely to say that environmental regulation hurts the economy, but the gaps were relatively modest.
Since then, however, these gaps have widened into chasms, and not in a symmetrical way: Democrats have become somewhat more supportive of environmental action, but Republicans have become much less supportive.
Most of the divergence is fairly recent, having taken place since around 2008. I can’t help pointing out that Republican belief that environmental protection hurts the economy soared precisely during the period when revolutionary technological progress in renewable energy was making emissions reductions cheaper than ever before.
Republican voters may be taking their cues from politicians and media figures. So why have conservative opinion leaders turned anti-environment?
Well, this one is obvious. I’m not even sure it’s worth mentioning. Surely, Krugman can hit this one out of the park?
It’s not about belief in free markets and opposition to government intervention. One of the most striking aspects of recent energy disputes is the extent to which Republicans have tried to use the power of the state to promote polluting energy sources even when the private sector prefers alternatives. The Trump administration tried, unsuccessfully, to force electric utilities to keep burning coal even when other power sources were cheaper. Currently, as The Times has reported, many Republican state treasurers are trying to punish banks and other companies seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Okay, yes, it’s not that. The idea that the Republican party is the party of good finance and balancing the budget is hilariously incorrect, as Redditors who love looking at past economic data love pointing out from time to time.
What about the cynical view that the G.O.P. is simply in the pocket of fossil fuel interests? Obviously money talks, and contributions from coal and, to a lesser extent, oil and gas do flow mainly to Republicans.
*You: “Fantastic. You got it. Let’s move on from this article and– wait, what section did SeventyTwoTrillion put this under? Oh… oh no…”
But the Inflation Reduction Act — which will open up many business opportunities — was endorsed by a number of large corporations, including energy companies like BP and Shell. Republicans were unmoved.
Oh god. Oh fucking god. It’s incredible how a 69 year old man was seemingly born yesterday.
What has happened, I’d argue, is that environmental policy has been caught up in the culture war — which is, in turn, largely driven by issues of race and ethnicity. This, I suspect, is why the partisan divide on the environment widened so much after America elected its first Black president.
One especially notable aspect of The Times’s investigative report on state treasurers’ punishing corporations seeking to limit greenhouse gas emissions is the way these officials condemn such corporations as “woke.”
Wokeness normally means talking about racial and social justice. On the right — which is increasingly defined by attempts to limit the rights of Americans who aren’t straight white Christians — it has become a term of abuse. Teaching students about the role of racism in American history is bad because it’s woke. But so, apparently, are many other things, like Cracker Barrel offering meatless sausage and being concerned about climate change.
But… but… who gives a shit? All you’re doing is reducing the analysis of an issue from a solvable one (get rid of the fossil fuel industry - which is possible and necessary, though obviously extremely difficult right now) to something unsolvable - that the Republicans are just like that now and there’s nothing to be done about it. Culture wars only matter if your model of politics is the endlessly repeated and totally dipshit “It’s just a friendly debate between two sides that both want the best for America!” that even liberals are beginning to realize is not real.
This may not make much sense intellectually, but you can see how it works emotionally. Who tends to worry about the environment? Often, people who also worry about social justice — either that, or global elites. (Climate science is very much a global enterprise.)
Even Republicans who have to know better won’t break with the party’s anti-science position. As governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney had a decent environmental record; yet he joined every other Republican member of Congress in voting against the I.R.A.
What this means is that those people hoping for bipartisan efforts on climate are probably deluding themselves. Environmental protection is now part of the culture war, and neither policy details nor rational argument matters.
Exactly! Precisely! Therefore, we need to dismantle the Republican party and also the Democratic party for us to have a livable future! The problem isn’t solved by just voting harder! I have a feeling that Krugman dislikes this suggestion though, and so will instead spend the rest of his life either wallowing in misery as nothing continues to be done, or does his civic duty by repeating the words “Everybody needs to go vote at their local boothes!” every 2 to 4 years while offering absolutely no reason for anybody to do that.
For when people accept reality, though often not fully and not for very long.
- Ukraine Chips Away at Russian-Held Region, but Task Is Daunting NYT
In their summer campaign to drive Russian troops from the southern region of Kherson, Ukraine’s forces have decimated Russian command centers and ammunition depots, severed supply lines with precision strikes on key bridges, and sown terror among collaborationist officials with a spate of car bombings, shootings and, Ukrainian officials say, at least one poisoning.
But in the sunbaked fields along the Kherson Region’s western border, the Ukrainian fighters who would be called on to deliver the knockout blow in any successful effort to retake territory remain pinned down in their trenches. The cuts to supply lines have not yet eroded Moscow’s overwhelming advantage in artillery, ammunition and heavy weaponry, making it difficult, if not impossible, for Ukrainian forces to press forward without suffering enormous casualties.
“Without question we need a counteroffensive; I sincerely believe it will come,” said a 33-year-old lieutenant with the call sign Ada, who commands an outpost of trenchworks in the Mykolaiv region, a few miles from the Russian lines in Kherson.
But he said: “We need the advantage in numbers, we need the advantage in heavy weapons. Unfortunately, this is a bit of a problem for us.”
Ukrainians have acutely felt the loss of the Kherson region, with its vast black-earth farmlands famous for producing the country’s tastiest tomatoes and watermelons. Just about the entire region was seized in the first weeks of the war after Russian troops struck from their bases in the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula. Since then, Ukraine’s leaders have plotted to take it back.
But doing so presents major challenges.
Russia maintains overwhelming superiority in troop numbers and ammunition, and in recent weeks the Kremlin has moved to reinforce its military in the region, shifting resources there from the fighting in the eastern Donbas. Even if Ukraine’s military is able to squeeze Russian forces out of the rural farmlands, they will most likely have to fight a vicious urban battle for the city of Kherson, which could lead to huge losses in lives and property.
Ukraine is also operating under a condensed timeline. The Kremlin plans to hold a referendum on Kherson’s absorption by Russia in mid-September, and disrupting it would require Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, and his generals, to take some kind of significant offensive action soon, experts said.
“The real limitations the Ukrainians face is that moving forward in the combat environment today is really difficult,” said Phillips P. O’Brien, a professor of strategic studies at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. “Unless you have total command of the skies and the ability to clear out the area in front of your troops, those moving forward are in real danger of getting eaten away.”
The article then descends into “But also Russia is being destroyed by Ukraine so things are bad for both sides”, which is mandatory to avoid accusations that they’ve been bought out by a Russian oligarch, so I’m not gonna waste our time on that section.
Good Takes that are Dope
For good, or at least decent, analysis of an event or situation - particularly one that hasn’t been covered endlessly before or has a fresh angle.
- Dick Cheney Was a Way More Effective “Threat to Our Republic” Than Donald Trump Jacobin
I’m not here for American politics, but I’m just mentioning this as a clean goal for Jacobin, in comparison to the earlier article from the Guardian.
- Britain has been avoiding its biggest problems for decades. Now we’re paying the price Guardian
It appears that the author is an electoralist but this is the best we’re gonna get out of the Guardian until… well - when something very non-electoral occurs. And it’s not a bad description of the general malaise in the UK, keeping to economic issues.
“Almost nothing seems to be working in Britain,” says the Economist. The Financial Times reckons the country is “creaking”; one Daily Telegraph columnist, with characteristic restraint, foretells “the coming collapse of basketcase Britain”.
Whatever conclusions follow, the basic observation is much the same: what with skyrocketing bills, crisis-plagued railways, a drought worsened by our decaying water infrastructure and an NHS once again on the brink of collapse, the United Kingdom is being confronted with huge problems it can no longer wish away. Up to now, it has been easy to pin the blame for our malaise on whatever crisis was then afflicting us. But there suddenly seems to be a dawning understanding that the era of Covid-19, Brexit, the war in Ukraine and the overarching climate emergency have exposed fundamental failures that have been festering for decades.
Mounting predictions of a national meltdown only highlight a story that ought to be very familiar by now: the deep and enduring problem of British underinvestment, and a national mindset innately averse to thinking about the future. From time to time, some or other grand project – London’s new Elizabeth line is a good example – suggests that the right people can just about get their act together. But for the most part, we have an economic model that excels at ephemeral stuff, but fails when it comes to the things that everyday life – let alone a healthy, future-proofed economy – actually depend on.
In that sense, the quintessential modern British experience is that of being stranded in the kind of mainline railway station where the consumerist wonderment extends into the distance – able to buy the latest in coffee, sushi and so-called Cornish pasties – but being faced with points failures, shortages of train staff, and that grimly British incantation about “any inconvenience caused”.
In 2018, a report by the TUC revealed that private and public investment as a proportion of national income put us 34th in a ranking of 36, trailed only by Portugal and Greece. In the 40 years to 2019, fixed investment in the UK averaged 19% of GDP, the lowest in the G7. Now, business investment in the UK remains more than 9% below its pre-pandemic level. Crucial parts of our national infrastructure have been failed twice over: first when they were state-owned and let down by the stinginess of the man from the ministry – and then when they became privatised victims of modern capitalism’s increasing fondness for stripping out, squeezing down, and chasing dividends.
The fate of England’s water is a particularly vivid example. Pipes, reservoirs and treatment works were once owned and run by local councils, but are now in the possession of a mind-boggling mess of interests that includes a Malaysian conglomerate called the YTL corporation, Norway’s state-owned bank and JP Morgan Asset Management. The consequences have been as mad as that suggests: between 1991 and 2019, such shareholders were paid £57bn in dividends – nearly half what the water companies spent on maintaining and improving their infrastructure.
Late last week, there were reports of ministers threatening electricity generators with an extended windfall tax, unless they used hugely increased profits to invest in green energy rather than pay shareholder dividends – a story that once again highlighted the tensions between instant payouts and longer-term considerations. Given that the average company share is now held for about six months, the former usually wins.
Executive bonuses based on annual results are part of the same problem. In the consumer economy, the results are bad enough (think of the hours most of us spend on poorly staffed customer helplines). But once that logic dictates decisions that affect our most basic infrastructure, you get a mixture of tragedy and disaster: national resilience coming a distant second to the kind of greed that finds a home in offshore tax havens.
Our systems of politics and power hardly help. With elections seemingly arriving every couple of years, and with our fourth prime minister since 2016 imminent, it is hardly surprising that planning – and spending – for the future so rarely intrude on the national conversation. The problem is made worse by the stupidities of a two-party system built on the idea that consensus is for wimps, and by post-Thatcher Conservatism – funded by bond traders and hedge fund managers, and deeply averse to any suggestion that the state should spend significant amounts of money.
Perhaps the biggest issue of all is that the British state is so centralised: overloaded Whitehall departments cannot possibly deal with demands for investment from wildly different parts of the country, and are usually beholden to the penny-pinching mindset of the Treasury.
What may or may not happen once Boris Johnson’s successor takes over is a very interesting question. Current levels of public sector investment have just about moved us away from the chronic self-harm of the austerity years, but they still fall short of the emergencies we will carry on facing – and besides, the Tories’ evident post-Johnson lurch to the right makes such small gains feel fragile. Most big investment ideas remain for the birds: all our big cities should have modern transit systems, but given that such things get nowhere without permission from the centre, most of them look set to remain stuck in the past. The climate crisis demands an energy revolution and home insulation programme that shows no convincing signs of materialising.
Meanwhile, the term Theresa May and Boris Johnson used to describe renewed investment in parts of the country that had been denied it has literally become a joke: at a recent leadership hustings in Darlington, when Rishi Sunak was asked what “levelling up” actually means, he simply laughed. As the last few weeks have proved, neither public nor private investment really capture the Tory imagination: its members – and financial backers – want the sugar-rush economics of tax cuts instead.
On the other side of the House of Commons, the opposition has better ideas – witness Labour’s £28bn-a-year climate investment pledge. But Keir Starmer’s party hardly feels like it has the confidence or ideas to push us out of our current short-termism and future-denial (when the frontbencher Steve Reed was recently asked about taking energy companies back into public ownership, he ruled it out on the basis that “nationalising companies costs an awful lot of money”).
Those of us who make the case for a progressive politics that would run well beyond Labour – and embrace coalition and consensus instead of rejecting them – don’t do so because it would be nice if everyone got along better. The case for a more pluralistic way of doing things is all about the realisation that long-term thinking and lasting change require a different political mentality. Unless it arrives, the crises over housing, water, energy and all the rest will grind on, and the kind of corporate governance that might help push us somewhere different will always be deferred until tomorrow.
Whatever the alarm about a country that no longer works, this is exactly the impasse in which we find ourselves: well aware of the danger, but as the David Bowie song put it, always crashing in the same car.
Bloomerism and Hope
For events that show that a better, more equitable, and happier world is possible than the neoliberal hell we inhabit.
- Dockworkers Set to Strike at UK Ports in Bid for Pay Bump Bloomberg
Dockworkers at the UK’s port of Liverpool have voted to strike over wages, threatening to slow trade flows and inflict more pain on a British economy already facing labor and logistics strains.
Liverpool, owned by Peel Ports, is Britain’s fourth-largest gateway for seaborne trade and a vital stop for transatlantic commerce. No timetable was specified, but any work stoppage will add to disruptions that are expected from an eight-day strike planned later this month at Felixstowe, the country’s busiest container terminal.
A shutdown of UK ports might occur during the busiest time of year for global shipping — just as retailers are trying to stock up for back-to-school shopping and year-end holidays. The timing is also bad for the broader British economy, where the cost of living is soaring and recession warnings are growing louder.
Surging inflation has prompted unions to seek better pay deals from port operators. The Unite labor union, which represents workers at both Liverpool and Felixstowe, turned down a 7% pay rise along with a £500 ($604) bonus offered by Felixstowe owners CK Hutchison, holding out for a better deal.
The Felixstowe strike alone could disrupt more than $800 million in trade, according to ALPS Marine analysis by Russell Group, a data and analytics company.
- In Panama, Workers Blocked the Roads to Force Price Cuts — and It Worked Jacobin
Panama is one of many countries where the cost of living is becoming untenable for workers. In recent weeks, trade unions have blocked major roads to demand the government impose price caps on food, gas, and medicine — and they’ve already won a 30 percent cut.
In early July, the People’s Alliance for Life, a coalition of Panamanian workers, students, and indigenous peoples, blocked the Pan-American Highway, the country’s main artery for personal and commercial transport. They demanded to negotiate with the government and find solutions to the high prices of gas, food, and medicine. Motor traffic was brought to a standstill.
Traffic jams are a regular grievance in Panama, a product of the deficient public-transport system, an overabundance of cars, and faulty infrastructure. Protests are usually framed by the media as yet another of these very Panamanian nuisances, and are quickly disbanded after government repression. But this time, drivers openly showed their support. People from the neighboring towns also joined in. In Panama City, the capital, people took to the streets and built barricades. Demonstrators danced, shared food in common kitchens, and some townspeople even slept at the barricades. For the first time since the 1989 US invasion that deposed dictator Manuel Noriega, everyday life in Panama had been brought to a halt.
The People’s Alliance for Life demanded one-on-one negotiations with the government, with workers united as one bargaining unit. Laurentino Cortizo’s government, under the nominally social democratic Partido Revolucionario Democrático (PRD), responded with strong repression, especially in the middle of the country in Veraguas province, where, on July 20, an eight-hour showdown ended with many wounded from beatings, pellet shots, and tear gas, among them pedestrians and even children. The police’s official tally speaks of twenty detainees and twelve wounded, though legal representatives from the teachers’ unions have registered twenty-two wounded by police forces. In the meantime, the government scrambled for a political response to quell popular ire: sham negotiations, freezing prices for a small amount of food products (though not enough for a healthy meal), and bribing attempts of Alliance movement leaders. After two weeks, Cortizo’s government agreed to televised negotiations.
As of the time of writing, it’s been just over two weeks since the beginning of negotiations. The blockades have been lifted and, on some of the nine points of discussion, consensus has been reached: a reduction of 30 percent to the basic food basket (from $289.92 to $207.92), with seventy-two additional caps to product prices; a reduction in gas price to $3.25 per gallon; and allotting 6 percent of the GDP for public education. Furthermore, the government has approved a temporary price reduction of 30 percent to 170 medicines. But the Alliance has denounced the government for not honoring these agreements and yielding instead to a corporate boycott. On Wednesday, workers took to the streets again in response to the continuous rise in the price of food in supermarkets.
The corporate elite, among them the powerful pharmaceutical and agricultural sectors, are working hard to blunder this process. Panama’s biggest corporate associations are making the rounds on the highly monopolized TV and print media. Their spokespeople threaten to ignore the negotiation’s agreements while warning about costs and demanding inclusion at the negotiating table. These claims go unchallenged by the media, which fails to point out the damning realities that point to their responsibility in the crisis. In 2019, for example, tax authorities reported an obscene 87.4 percent rate of tax evasion by companies.
Panama’s staggering inequality persists despite its unprecedented economic growth. While almost a quarter of the population lives with less than $400, 37.3 percent of the national income goes to the richest 10 percent. Yet the corporate media only pumps up the red scare with uninformed comparisons with Cuba and Venezuela, explaining away recent years’ civil unrest in Latin America as the ploys of the Left, and spreading conspiracy theories of foreign interventions being the protest’s driving force. All the while, the PRD government, which has been friendly with corporations since General Omar Torrijos’s day, has openly advocated for the inclusion of the business sector in the negotiations.
Also demanding a part in the negotiations are the so-called independents, who have quickly risen to fame due to their “anti-corruption” activism and connections with the media. They comprise numerous corporate-backed and US-friendly NGOs as well as congressmen. While petty corruption is an endemic problem in Panamanian politics, this establishment friendly activism leans heavily toward austerity and avoids any kind of criticism of real corruption: the one perpetrated by their backers.