- Russian state-energy giant Gazprom says European natural-gas prices could climb by another 60% this winter Business Insider
Russia’s Gazprom said European natural-gas prices could surge by 60% this winter as the state-energy giant slows exports to Europe.
“European spot gas prices have broken through $2,500 (per 1,000 cubic metres). According to conservative estimates, if this trend continues, prices will exceed $4,000 per 1,000 cubic metres this winter,” Gazprom said in a statement on Telegram on August 16.
Gazprom produced 13.2% less natural gas from January 1 to August 15 this year than in the same period in 2021, the company added. It didn’t provide reasons for the decline.
- Growth Slows in Eastern Europe as Poland’s Slump Tops Estimates Bloomberg
Poland’s economy shrank more than expected in the second quarter, even as Romania and Hungary held steady under an avalanche of economic challenges.
Polish gross domestic product dropped 2.3% in the April-to-June quarter, making a technical recession more likely according to analysts at mBank SA. And while annual growth rates slowed in all the three economies that published data on Wednesday, Romania delivered the biggest positive surprise, avoiding a predicted quarterly dip with 2.1% growth.
Still, all indications are that eastern Europe is tumbling toward a potential recession in the second half, in the face of Russia’s war and spiking prices.
Headwinds are mounting. The highest inflation in decades is forcing central banks to squeeze demand by raising borrowing costs. The energy crisis spurred by unpredictable supplies from Russia are causing a spike in utility bills. And a severe drought is expected to hit agriculture across the region.
Hungary, which was the only member state expected to avoid a quarterly dip, also performed better than expected with 1.1% growth, helped by a raft of tax breaks and a cap on fuel prices delivered by Prime Minister Viktor Orban ahead of his landslide election victory in April.
The Polish zloty and Hungarian forint extended losses against the euro, dropping 0.6% and 0.8% against the euro respectively, after the GDP data confirmed a slowdown in growth. The Romanian leu, which is managed by the central bank, weakened slightly by 0.1% to 4.887 against euro.
The Czech Republic, which reported its gross domestic product data at the end of July, also unexpectedly avoided a quarterly contraction. GDP advanced 3.6% on an annual basis and 0.2% from the previous quarter.
The mounting difficulties are already starting to show, however. European power prices jumped to a new record on Monday, while interest rates that have risen from near zero to the highest since before the global economic crisis are stifling demand for everything from houses to holidays.
“The outlook is not too rosy,” Erste analyst Katarzyna Rzentarzewska said, predicting economic contraction in the second half with consumer confidence reaching lows seen at the beginning of the pandemic. “Uncertainty in industry and foreign trade remains high, due to persisting supply-side bottlenecks, surging commodity prices and worries about energy supplies.”
- Russia ministry says economic slump less severe than feared Al Jazeera
Russia’s economy will contract less than expected and inflation will not be as high as projected three months ago, economy ministry forecasts showed, suggesting the economy is dealing with sanctions better than initially feared.
The economy is plunging into recession after Moscow sent its armed forces into Ukraine on February 24, triggering sweeping Western curbs on its energy and financial sectors, including a freeze of Russian reserves held abroad, and prompting scores of Western companies to leave.
Yet nearly six months since Russia started what it calls a “special military operation”, the downturn is proving to be less severe than the economy ministry predicted in mid-May.
The Russian gross domestic product (GDP) will shrink 4.2 percent this year, and real disposable incomes will fall 2.8 percent compared with 7.8 percent and 6.8 percent declines, respectively, seen three months ago.
At one point, the ministry warned the economy was on track to shrink by more than 12 percent, in what would be the most significant drop in economic output since the fall of the Soviet Union and a resulting crisis in the mid-1990s.
The ministry now sees 2022 year-end inflation at 13.4 percent and unemployment of 4.8 percent compared with earlier forecasts of 17.5 percent and 6.7 percent, respectively.
GDP forecasts for 2023 are more pessimistic, though, with a 2.7 percent contraction compared with the previous estimate of 0.7 percent. This is in line with the central bank’s view that the economic downturn will continue for longer than previously thought.
The economy ministry left out forecasts for prices for oil, Russia’s key export, in the August data set and offered no reasons for the revision of its forecasts.
- Russian regions report rising revenues RT
Russia’s leading regions reported sharply higher revenues in the first half of 2022, despite Western sanctions, the business daily RBK reported on Tuesday, citing data from the National Credit Ratings (NCR).
Revenue growth in the top ten divisions came in at 27% versus the first half of last year, the report stated. The total surplus of these localities reached 1.4 trillion rubles ($23 billion), with total revenues of 4.37 trillion rubles ($71 billion).
Those concerned – the cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg; Moscow Region (covering the area surrounding the capital); Sverdlovsk Region; the Republics of Tatarstan and Yakutia; Krasnoyarsk and Krasnodar Regions; and the Yamalo-Nenets and Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Regions – were the leaders in terms of the absolute level of budget revenues.
Overall, the intake to the consolidated budgets of the country’s regions in the first half of the year showed nominal growth of 24.8%. That’s largely due to the post-Covid recovery of economic activity in the period up to the end of the first quarter and high oil prices, Managing Director of the NCR Alexander Proklov explained to RBK.
- Beijing confirms joint military drill with Moscow RT
Chinese troops will be among the foreign participants at a multilateral military exercise in Russia called Vostok 2022, China’s Defense Ministry confirmed on Wednesday.
The People’s Liberation Army will send personnel to Russia, expecting the event to “deepen pragmatic and friendly cooperation with the militaries of the participating countries, enhance the level of strategic coordination among the parties, and enhance the ability to deal with various security threats,” a statement said. Beijing noted that current regional and international tensions did not affect its decision.
Vostok 2022 will take place at 13 locations in eastern Russia between August 30 and September 5, the Russian Defense Ministry announced in late July. It said foreign militaries were invited, but did not specify nationalities. The Chinese statement mentioned Belarus, India, Mongolia and Tajikistan among the guests.
- U.K. Inflation Hits 40-Year High Of 10% As It Bucks G7 Trend—And It’s Expected To Get Worse Forbes
Consumer price inflation in the U.K. soared past 10% in July—the highest it has been in 40 years—the U.K.’s statistics office reported on Wednesday, a figure the nation’s central bank expects will rise further later this year and deepen economic pain for households.
According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the U.K.’s consumer prices index (CPI) rose 10.1% in the year to July 2022, up from 9.4% in June, which is the highest it has been since the current statistical model went into effect in 1997.
Estimates by the ONS suggest the last time the country’s CPI rate was higher was back in 1982.
Rising costs of energy and fuel remain the largest contributor to the rise in the annual inflation rate according to the report as Europe continues to reel from Russia’s reduction in energy supply to the continent.
- Labor shortages hit UK harvest RT
Around £60 million ($75 million) worth of crops may have been wasted in the UK in the first half of the year as a result of labor shortages, according to a National Farmers Union (NFU) survey.
Fruit and vegetables are left rotting in fields because there are not enough people to harvest them, farming leaders told the union, urging the government to expand a seasonal workers program and support investment in the sector.
According to the report, the farm industry often finds it particularly difficult to attract workers as jobs are seasonal and can mean long hours of physical labor at relatively low pay. Brexit has also complicated recruitment from the EU.
The UK’s driest July since 1935 has further hurt production. Growers now expect production to drop another 4.4% next year. The nation’s fruit and vegetable output was valued at about £2.7 billion ($3.25 billion) in 2020.
The loss of crops raises the prospect of empty shelves in Britain at a time when the cost-of-living crisis is worsening.
“It’s nothing short of a travesty that quality, nutritious food is being wasted at a time when families across the country are already struggling to make ends meet because of soaring living costs,” NFU Deputy President Tom Bradshaw said in a statement, as quoted by Bloomberg.
- Greens offer solution to UK energy crisis RT
The UK’s Green Party has proposed permanently nationalizing the country’s five major energy companies to ease the current cost of living crisis, The Guardian reported on Wednesday, citing party leaders.
“By bringing the big five energy retail companies into public ownership, setting the price of energy at an affordable rate and absorbing the global price rises, the government could make sure everybody can afford to get through this cost of living crisis,” the party’s co-chair Carla Denyer said, as quoted by the news outlet.
According to the report, the party based its proposal on a recommendation last month by the British Trades Union Congress (TUC), which called for bringing British Gas, E.ON, EDF, Scottish Power and OVO under state control. According to the TUC, the move would cost around £2.9 billion ($3.5 billion), which is not much more than the £2.7 billion ($3.3 billion) the government spent on bailing out another energy firm, Bulb, last year.
That makes WAY too much sense. I think we should try and privatise them even harder than they already have been.
- Germany’s Uniper Suffers 12 Billion-Euro Hit in Energy Shock Bloomberg
Uniper SE reported a loss of more than 12 billion euros ($12.2 billion), ranking among the biggest in German corporate history and laying bare the unprecedented crisis engulfing Europe’s energy markets.
The size of the hit for the utility, which last month received a government bailout, shows just how severe the situation is as the European Union braces for winter.
In the same vein:
- Putin Tears a Giant Hole in a Critical German Balance Sheet Bloomberg
Compared to the heroics of Ukrainians resisting Vladimir Putin’s abhorrent war, efforts to prevent German utility Uniper SE from imploding might seem trivial.
Yet few European businesses have suffered as great a financial calamity from the conflict as this fossil-fuel company spun out from E.ON SE in 2016. Sleep must be in short supply at the Dusseldorf headquarters.
On Thursday, Uniper reported a ghastly 12.4 billion-euro ($12.6 billion) loss for the six months through June, the bulk of which relates to anticipated losses from its Russian gas activities.
As some European peers reap windfall profits from high power prices, Uniper has bled 100 millions euros a day lately because Gazprom isn’t delivering contractually agreed pipeline gas, forcing it to buy on the spot market at massively inflated prices to keep serving German customers. It’s also been forced to write off a big loan to the cancelled Nord Stream II gas pipeline and impair the value of its Russian power generation unit.
- Germany to Keep Last Three Nuclear-Power Plants Running in Policy U-Turn WSJ
THIS STORY WAS REFUTED HOURS LATER BY THE GERMAN GOVERNMENT. THIS STORY IS NOT TRUE.
Germany plans to postpone the closure of the country’s last three nuclear power plants as it braces for a possible shortage of energy this winter after Russia throttled gas supplies to the country, said German government officials.
While temporary, the move would mark the first departure from a policy initiated in the early 2000s to phase out nuclear energy in Germany and which had over time become enshrined in political consensus.
The decision has yet to be formally adopted by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s cabinet and would likely require a vote in Parliament. Some details are still under discussion, three senior government officials said. A cabinet decision would also need to wait on the outcome of an assessment of Germany’s energy needs that will be concluded in the coming weeks but which the officials said was a foregone conclusion.
Still, while a formal decision could be weeks off, the government believes two key conditions allowing a temporary extension of the life of the three remaining plants, now expected to close on Dec. 31, have been met: Germany is facing a likely shortage of gas and letting the reactors operate longer poses no safety concern, the officials said.
- Estonian visa cancellation has ordinary Russians worried Reuters
Estonia this week will close its border to more than 50,000 Russians with previously issued visas, the first country in the European Union to do so, making it harder for ordinary Russians to enter EU.
Like many of the hundreds of Russians crossing the border each day at the Estonian town Narva, Anna is worried she will not be able to keep coming to Estonia, where she visits the graves of relatives.
“We hope that countries will come up with some solution. Maybe they can agree on something. I keep myself away from politics but since my relatives are buried here I would like to keep coming,” she said.
“But what can you do. For us, regular people we can’t solve this. This has to be negotiated and I hope our countries at some point will reach agreement and find compromise”.
The ban comes just four days after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy issued a fresh call for EU states to ban visas for Russian nationals to keep the bloc from becoming a “supermarket” open to anyone with the means to enter.
- Norway’s wealth fund loses record $174 bln in first half of 2022 Reuters
Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, made a record loss of 1.68 trillion Norwegian crowns ($174 billion) in the first half of 2022 as stocks and bonds were hit by global recession fears and rampant price inflation.
The $1.3 trillion fund’s return on investment was a negative 14.4% for the January-June period, which was still 1.14 percentage points ahead of the return on its benchmark index.
The decline, led by a 28% plunge in the value of its technology stocks, was the largest of any six-month period in the fund’s 26-year history, although some losses have since been recovered as markets turned positive in July and August.
Asia and Oceania
- China takes steps to encourage more births Inquirer
Comprehensive measures to encourage more births were rolled out on Tuesday to boost China’s population growth and address the challenges posed by falling fertility rates and an increasing number of aging people.
Seventeen government departments — including the National Health Commission, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development — released a guideline on Tuesday to boost fertility across the country.
The new guideline will implement the national policy of allowing all couples to have three children, up from two, which was released in May last year.
The guideline said more supportive measures will be provided in matters such as insurance, housing, education, employment and tax deductions. The aim is to create a friendly atmosphere to raise children in order to reach balanced population development.
All counties, cities and provinces are required to set up at least one government-funded maternity and child care institution to improve the welfare of pregnant women and newborn babies.
More low-cost nursing services will also be provided. Tailored campaigns to build more cheaper nursery services, such as day care and kindergartens, are being promoted. This would include public-funded services and the private facilities that receive public funding.
Employers are encouraged to offer employees child care services as a work benefit. Kindergartens are encouraged to admit younger children who are from 2 to 3 years old. Kindergartens in China normally admit children older than age 3.
The maternity leave system is being improved across the country, helping employees balance work and family, as well as promoting fair employment and career development.
The State will draw up a maternity insurance payment policy to ensure the safety of the maternity fund. Unemployed women can enjoy maternity medical care by participating in basic medical insurance for urban and rural residents.
Beneficial housing policies are being offered to families with more children. For example, cities are encouraged to raise the amount of housing loans with lower interest rates to those families. Each region is being encouraged to explore beneficial leasing and housing policies to families with more children.
The guideline requires implementation of additional deductions for personal income tax on the cost of caring for infants and children younger than 3 years old. It also establishes an incentive mechanism for employers to protect the maternity rights and interests of employees in accordance with the law. Financial support will be increased to enterprises, including those providing maternal and child care services and related vocational training.
Imagine America trying to do this in a Yglesias-esque attempt to reach 1 billion Americans. President Rittenhouse on the Democratic ticket in 2036 will propose a $900 billion bill to do something like the above, then it’ll get whittled down to $90 billion, and then as a final compromise it’ll be $30 billion and all the funding will go to defence contractors who swear that they’ll make Americans fuck more, then we never hear about it again.
- China’s premier urges pro-growth policies as economy sputters Al Jazeera
China’s Premier Li Keqiang asked local officials from six key provinces that account for about 40% of the country’s economy to bolster pro-growth measures after data for July showed consumption and output grew slower than expectations due to Covid lockdowns and the ongoing property slump.
Li told officials at a meeting to take the lead in helping boost consumption and offer more fiscal support via government bond issuance for investments, state television CCTV reported Tuesday evening. He also vowed to “reasonably” step up policy support to stabilize employment, prices and ensure economic growth.
“Only when the main entities of the market are stable can the economy and employment be stable,” Li was cited as saying at the meeting in a front-page report carried in the People’s Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party.
The meeting came after Monday’s surprise interest-rate cut did little to allay concern over the property and Covid Zero-led slowdown. Economists have warned of even weaker growth and have called for additional stimulus, such as further cuts in policy rates and bank reserve ratios and more fiscal spending.
Li acknowledged the greater-than-expected downward pressure from Covid lockdowns in the second quarter and asked the local officials to strike a balance between Covid control measures and the need to lift the economy. “Only by development shall we solve all problems,” Li said, according to the broadcaster.
Indicating China may resort to more local debt issuance to pump-prime the economy, Li said “the balance of local special bonds has not reached the debt limit” and the country should “activate the debt limit space according to law,” according to the People’s Daily report.
Based on the government budget, local authorities may be able to issue an estimated 1.5 trillion yuan ($221 billion) of extra debt and bonds this year to support infrastructure spending, after top leaders urged better use of the existing debt ceiling limit in a key July Politburo meeting. The arrangement could be approved in August, according to some analysts.
China’s 10-year government yield rose for the first time this week, up one basis point to 2.64% from the lowest in more than two years.
- China’s imports of US oil have hit an 18-month high as it pivots away from Russian crude Business Insider
China’s imports of US oil rose to their highest level in 18 months in July as the country turned away from Russian crude, according to Vortexa.
The commodities data company said ships in the US had loaded around 330,000 barrels a day of oil bound for China in July, compared with just 60,000 barrels a day in the previous two months.
The cargoes were destined for refineries owned by state oil giant Sinopec, which is stocking up on crude oil in the expectations that demand will increase in the fall.
Yet at the same time, China cut back on imports from Russia, according to Vortexa. Sinopec took only three cargoes from the Russian far east in July, after loading up around 14 in both May and June.
The appeal of US oil looks set to continue in August, Vortexa’s analysts said in their report Monday.
“Shipping fixtures indicate that Chinese appetite for US crude has remained robust this month,” they noted.
However, they added that imports from Russia also look as if they’re picking up again this month.
WTI crude — also called US oil — has recently become more attractive to buyers, as it has become considerably cheaper than Brent crude, the international benchmark.
The discount on WTI when compared with the price of Brent is at around a three-year high, which helped drive US exports to a record high in July.
- Apple diversifying away from China RT
Apple is in talks to produce watches and MacBooks in Vietnam as it tries to diversify production away from China, Japan’s Nikkei news agency reported on Wednesday.
The company’s Chinese suppliers Luxshare Precision Industry and Taiwan-based iPhone assembler Foxconn have already started test production of the two products in Northern Vietnam, “people with direct knowledge of the matter” told the agency.
It would be the first time that Apple Watches and MacBooks have been assembled in Vietnam. It previously made less sophisticated goods for the company, including iPads and AirPod earphones.
- China is seeding clouds to replenish its shrinking Yangtze River CNN
Chinese planes are firing rods into the sky to bring more rainfall to its crucial Yangtze River, which has dried up in parts, as swaths of the nation fall into drought and grapple with the worst heat wave on record.
Several regions on the Yangtze have launched weather modification programs, but with cloud cover too thin, operations in some drought-ravaged parts of the river’s basin have remained on standby.
The Ministry of Water Resources said in a notice on Wednesday that drought throughout the Yangtze river basin was “adversely affecting drinking water security of rural people and livestock, and the growth of crops.”
. On Wednesday, central China’s Hubei province became the latest to announce it would seed clouds, using silver iodide rods to induce rainfall.
At least 4.2 million people in Hubei have been affected by a severe drought since June, Hubei’s Provincial Emergency Management Department said Tuesday. More than 150,000 people there have difficulties accessing drinking water, and nearly 400,000 hectares of crops have been damaged because of high temperatures and drought.
- North Korea fires two cruise missiles RT
North Korea fired two cruise missiles off its west coast into the Yellow Sea early on Wednesday, a South Korean military source told Yonhap news agency.
The alleged missile test coincided with a press conference by South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, marking 100 days since he took office.
It also came a day after South Korean and US troops launched preliminary drills ahead of the upcoming annual Ulchi Freedom Shield (UFS) wargames.
Pyongyang has repeatedly criticised joint military manoeuvers between Seoul and Washington, branding them provocative, and claiming they only increase tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
North Korea is banned from launching ballistic missiles under UN Security Council resolutions, but the sanctions don’t cover cruise missiles.
- Turkey, Israel to restore full diplomatic relations Al Jazeera
Turkey and Israel have agreed to restore full diplomatic relations and will return ambassadors to each other’s countries following a gradual improvement in relations, the two countries have said.
“Upgrading relations will contribute to deepening ties between the two peoples, expanding economic, trade, and cultural ties, and strengthening regional stability,” a statement from the office of the Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said on Wednesday, after a conversation between Lapid and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“[The] appointment of ambassadors was one of the steps for the normalisation of ties,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu at a news conference in Ankara. “Such a positive step came from Israel as a result of these efforts, and as Turkey, we also decided to appoint an ambassador to Israel, to Tel Aviv.”
- US shale producers could be facing over $10 billion in hedging losses even as oil prices hover around $100 a barrel, Rystad Energy says Business Insider
US shale oil producers could face more than $10 billion in hedging losses this is year even as crude prices hover around the $100 a barrel mark, according to Rystad Energy.
Hedging is a form of risk management that allows oil producers or consumers to lock in a future price to protect against unfavorable price swings.
US shale producers however, hedged a large portion of their output for this year at prices that are well below the levels seen so far in 2022, meaning they’ve been unable to capitalize on the rally in crude to multi-year highs fueled by Russia’s war with Ukraine.
According to consultant Rystad Energy, US shale oil producers currently have 46% of their expected crude oil output for the year hedged. Of that total, 42% is hedged at a West Texas Intermediate (WTI) average floor price of $55 a barrel. US crude is trading just below $90 a barrel, having hit a high this year above $130.
To that effect, shale companies reported an average loss of $21 a barrel in the second quarter from selling at their hedged prices, Rystad said.
“With huge losses on the table, operators have been frantically adapting their hedging strategies to minimize losses this year and next,” said Alisa Lukash, vice president at Rystad Energy.
Many shale operators have successfully negotiated higher ceilings for their 2023 crude oil contracts, so even if oil prices fall next year, they won’t be as exposed.
- A Third Of Republicans Support Politicians Without Government Experience, Study Finds Forbes
That’s the only reasonable position if you’re looking at the last few decades of American politicians.
Some 32% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents prefer political leaders with no previous government experience, compared to only 10% of Democrats, according to a new Pew Research Center survey, in a major shift in political leanings from before former President Donald Trump took office.
Almost half of Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents (49%) dislike politicians with no prior government experience, according to the Pew Research Center survey of 6,174 U.S. adults conducted between June 27 and July 4.
Can you imagine believing that a meritocracy exists, or that it ever has? Today, in 2022? My god.
- Families of 9/11 victims urge Biden to direct $3.5 billion worth of frozen assets to the Afghan people. ‘This is their money, not ours,’ they argue. Business Insider
Some family members of 9/11 victims are calling on President Joe Biden to return billions of dollars worth of frozen assets, held by the Afghanistan central bank, back to the Afghan people as a humanitarian crisis lingers in the country.
In a letter sent to the president on Tuesday, 77 family members signed a request to modify an executive order from February which effectively held the Afghan central bank’s $7 billion worth of assets in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The letter was first reported by Politico.
The goal was to keep the funds out of reach from the Taliban as the group embarked on a swift takeover of the country following the US military withdrawal nearly one year ago. At the same time, the Biden administration hoped to direct half of those assets towards aid for the Afghan people, while the other half could go towards relatives of 9/11 victims — who have sought compensation for years after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — pending ongoing negotiations.
But the family members who signed the letter are arguing that any use of those funds to pay relatives is “legally suspect and morally wrong,” and that they “belong to the Afghan people and the Afghan people alone.”
- State Tensions Rise As Water Cuts Deepen On The Colorado River Inside Climate News
As a 23-year-old drought intensified by climate change and overallocation continue to endanger the Colorado River water supply, Arizona, Nevada and Mexico will face more reductions in their allotments, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced Tuesday.
According to new projections by the Department of Interior, the river’s main reservoir, Lake Mead in Nevada, will reach record low levels in January, triggering a “Tier 2a” shortage that calls for a collective reduction in Colorado River use by Arizona, Nevada and Mexico. About 80 percent of the more than 720,000 acre-feet reduction will come from Arizona. California would not be impacted by the newly declared shortage because the reductions are based on previously negotiated levels.
“It is unacceptable for Arizona to continue to carry a disproportionate burden of reductions for the benefit of others who have not contributed,” Arizona officials said in a Tuesday statement after the shortage was announced.
A century after the apportionment of Colorado River water through the Colorado River Compact, its two largest reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell in Arizona, have reached their lowest levels, below 30 percent capacity. The Bureau of Reclamation, which oversees water resource management, declared Lake Mead’s first-ever water shortage last year, with Arizona farmers being hit the hardest with cuts.
Almost 93 percent of the West is experiencing drought, with more than 70 percent of the West experiencing severe or extreme drought conditions. The shrinking reservoir levels have exposed human remains, sunken boats, guns and Native American ruins.
- Cotton Prices Soar As Texas Megadrought Persists Oil Price
US cotton prices continued to surge above the boom days of 2010-11 after a massive crop estimate cut by the USDA, shocking Wall Street analysts and traders, due primarily to a megadrought scorching farmland of Texas, according to Bloomberg. Futures in New York for December delivery were up 4.5% to $1.1359 a pound and up more than 21% this month.
“I don’t think you can put a top on prices right now,” Louis Barbera, the managing partner for VLM Commodities, told Bloomberg.
“I have been going to Texas for more than ten years, and this is by far the absolute worst I have ever seen, said Barbera.
What Barbera is referring to is the drought situation in Texas. The long stretches of triple-digit temperatures and limited rainfall this summer have turned vast amounts of farmland to dust, hurting cotton farmers in the South Plains of West Texas.
- Starbucks’s Latest Union-Busting Tactic: Demand the Suspension of NLRB Elections Nationwide Jacobin
After engaging in one of the most brutal and most unlawful anti-union campaigns of recent decades, Starbucks has hit on a new tactic: it is claiming evidence of skullduggery at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in order to help pro-union workers win an election in Kansas City. As a result, the company is calling for mail-in certification elections at the company to be suspended with immediate effect.
In a letter to the NLRB, Starbucks says that Board agents in Kansas City favored pro-union workers in the election process and then colluded with the union, Workers United, to hide the evidence of malfeasance. In response, Workers United said the letter was simply Starbucks’s “latest attempt to manipulate the legal process for their own means and prevent workers from exercising their fundamental right to organize.” So far, the union has won over two hundred twenty NLRB elections in thirty-three states — many by overwhelming margins — and has lost only forty-six elections.
Starbucks is scraping the bottom of the barrel here — and forgot to mention its unlawful termination of three workers at the same location. The Board is accorded a lot of discretion to manage elections. It’s highly unlikely that the Board will find any substance in its complaint. So often with Starbucks, the complaint (or the appeal) is the point. It does not seem like a good issue for them; if there was something better they would use it, but this is the best they’ve got.
My understanding is that the Kansas City issue involves a few Starbucks workers who did not received their ballots — even after requesting them from the NLRB — and then asked if they could cast their ballots at the local NLRB office, which was a seven-minute walk from the Starbucks store, and were told that they could do so. Nothing more sinister than that.
Almost laughably, Starbucks’s letter is complaining about election conduct at a store — Overland Park, Kansas — at which the NLRB has already found merit in a complaint that Starbucks unlawfully fired three employees, out of an estimated seventy-five nationwide terminated for union activity.
- Cuba authorizes foreign investment in wholesale, retail Iraqi News
The Cuban government has announced it will allow foreign investment in domestic wholesale and retail trade for the first time in 60 years, in a move aimed at addressing critical shortages of goods.
The decision could also give a boost to local industry, all without relinquishing state control over foreign trade.
“Foreign investment in wholesale and retail trade, with state regulation, will allow the expansion and diversification of supply to the population and will contribute to the recovery of domestic industry,” Economy Minister Alejandro Gil tweeted Tuesday, expanding on an announcement made late the previous night.
Foreign investors would be allowed to fully own Cuban wholesalers for the first time since Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution, while retailers could enter into public-private ventures, according to deputy trade minister Ana Gonzalez Fraga.
Until now, foreign investment has been allowed only in the domestic production of goods and in the services sector.
The move to open up a sector hitherto controlled by the communist government is indicative of the difficulty state companies face in accessing foreign currency and raw materials.
- Latin America’s Crude Exports Drop In August Oil Price
Exports of crude oil and condensates from Latin America, excluding Venezuela, have fallen so far in August compared to high levels in July, as more crude is being used by domestic refineries, especially in Brazil, energy analytics firm Vortexa said in an analysis on Tuesday.
During the first half of August, crude and condensate exports of the Latin American oil producers fell to an average of 3.1 million barrels per day (bpd), sharply down from 3.8 million bpd seen in July, Rohit Rathod, Senior Oil Market Analyst at Vortexa, writes.
Most of the decline so far this month has been driven by lower exports from Brazil, which has been diverting more crude to its refineries amid still strong refining margins. Brazil’s crude exports so far this month have slumped to 760,000 bpd, compared to 1.2 million bpd last month, Rathod notes.
Mexico and Colombia also saw their exports fall, albeit to a smaller extent, while Guyana and Argentina were the only Latin American oil producers to raise crude and condensate exports so far this month.
- Oil slips to six-month low as recession fears weigh Reuters
Oil hit a six-month low on Wednesday after a brief rally as concerns about the prospect of a global recession that would weaken demand overshadowed a report showing lower U.S. crude and gasoline stocks.
Figures on Wednesday did little to improve the economic backdrop, showing British consumer price inflation jumped to 10.1% in July, its highest since February 1982, intensifying a squeeze on households.
Brent crude fell as low as $91.51, the lowest since February, and by 1210 GMT was down 37 cents, or 0.4%, at $91.97. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell 9 cents, or 0.1%, to $86.44.
“The oil market is struggling to shake off recession fears, and there is little to suggest that this will change any time soon,” said Stephen Brennock of oil broker PVM.
The Ukraine War
- Russians are shelling positions up to 800 times daily, Ukrainian official says CNN
Valeriy Zaluzhny, the commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, has acknowledged that Russian forces “continue to advance” in Donbas but said the “intense” situation is “fully controlled.”
Zaluzhny added that “the enemy continues to advance along the entire front line. At the same time, the enemy carries out approximately 700-800 [actions of] shelling of our positions every day, using from 40 to 60,000 pieces of ammunition.”
That estimate is in line with many made by Western analysts about the volume of ammunition being used by Russian forces, after a relative lull in early July.
“The enemy’s main efforts are concentrated on pushing our troops back from the Donetsk oblast. The most intense situation is now on the axis of Avdiivka-Pisky-Mariinka,” Zaluzhny said.
That axis is a stretch of some 25 kilometers (15 miles) west of Donetsk.
“Okay, Russia is advancing everywhere, and they’re bombing the shit out of us, but I assure you that the situation is firmly controlled.
- Transformer substation on fire after blast in Crimea EU Reporter
A transformer substation caught fire in the town Dzhankoi, Crimea. Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency reported Tuesday (16 August) that it had been set ablaze by a blast. It also cited Crimean law enforcement.
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 country needs more Liz Cheneys WaPo
Again, there’s no amount of money you could pay me to read this article. Okay, that’s a lie, I’d take $50 to read it. I’m just putting it for us all to laugh at the headline.
- Russian Emigres Should Keep Silent on Possible Visa Bans Bloomberg
There’s an issue on which Russians opposed to Vladimir Putin and his war in Ukraine have aligned passionately with the Kremlin: The proposal by some European nations to stop the issuance of tourist visas to Russians. This unfortunate alignment represents a failure of vision and leadership for the anti-Putin exile and emigre community.
Even before Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for Europe to stop letting in more Russians and to send home the ones already there — a call he has since tempered, saying Russian asylum seekers should still get visas — some of Russia’s most consistent antagonists, especially in the Baltic countries, began agitating for a visa ban. Former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves is one of the public faces of the campaign. With Estonia barring Russians with valid Estonian-issued visas for the European Union’s Schengen free travel area, the drive has picked up some momentum: Latvia, Finland and the Czech Republic — which now holds the EU’s rotating presidency — are stopping new Schengen visa issuance.
These countries, most recently joined by Poland, would like to make this the EU’s common policy, despite objections from some of the union’s bigger members: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has spoken out against the idea, saying the war was Putin’s, not the Russian people’s.
The Kremlin — no surprise — has waxed indignant over this campaign. “The only possible attitude we can have is extremely negative,” Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said last week. But Putin opponents of every flavor — even those who are hardly allies — have chimed in, too. The so-called Antiwar Committee, formed by high-profile emigres including former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, exiled tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Sciences Po provost Sergei Guriev, protested against the visa ban, saying it had “lamentable precedents in recent European history.” Entrepreneur Yevgeny Chichvarkin, one of the committee’s founders, articulated more clearly what this meant in a Twitter thread: “Send the Jews back to Nazi Germany, let them overthrow their Hitler! That’s the logic, right?”
Leonid Volkov, the right-hand man of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, also criticized the visa ban project on his Telegram channel, arguing that few Russians support “usurper” Putin and his war and that banning them from traveling to Europe will have no effect on the regime’s stability.
I’ve been watching the debate with a sinking heart. It shouldn’t even be happening: We anti-Putin Russians are missing a great chance to keep mum. Instead, the volume of media and social network commentary suggests that we are putting our concern over the possible loss of travel to Europe (with no effect on visa-free travel to dozens of other countries) at least on a par with our concern over what our birth country is perpetrating daily in Ukraine. This loss of face and show of selfishness is one the emigre community cannot afford.
The arguments for and against the visa ban are obvious: On the one hand, it’s weird to let Russians vacation blithely in countries that materially support Ukraine and accept Ukrainian refugees; on the other, “tourist” visas allow fugitives from the regime to seek asylum in Europe rather than be pushed back from the border, like, for example, many Chechen asylum seekers who have tried to enter Poland in recent years. Yet the issue has resonated so widely — and put Peskov and Russian liberals on the same side of a virtual border fence — because it transcends rational and moral arguments. The underlying truth is that Russians of any stripe, whatever they say about Putin and the war in Ukraine, are not wanted in many European countries these days. Without exception, these countries are those that were attacked, occupied or subjugated by the Soviet Union in the 20th century.
There’s a strong legal case that the concept of “enemy alien,” applied by some Western countries during the two world wars, is obsolete, and visa decisions in the modern world must only be made on an individual basis. In Canada during World War I, Ukrainians were on the receiving end of blanket restrictive policies as citizens of Austria-Hungary. On an emotional level, however, the idea that all citizens of an enemy state are, to some extent, one’s enemies is potent and natural.
As Russians, we represent Russia to some extent, no matter what we say. Each of us carries around more than a blood-red passport. It doesn’t take much introspection to discover our personal red lines. To say one is against Putin and the war, or to volunteer for Ukrainian refugees, is relatively easy. But here’s a progression of questions increasingly difficult to answer in the affirmative: Do I want Russia to suffer a decisive military defeat? Do I want this defeat to result in Russia’s disintegration? Would I send money to support the Ukrainian armed forces and buy lethal equipment for them so they can kill more Russians? Would I myself take up arms against Russia alongside Ukrainians?
To many Estonians, Latvians, Czechs and Poles, any Russian who cannot, without hesitation, answer “yes” to all these questions is a potential enemy, a threat to their security.
“Do we want to turn Russia into an inhospitable wasteland where not even the hardiest plants and animals can survive, let alone people? Do we want to commit a colossal genocide against every Russian? Yes. Of course. Because a bunch of countries governed by America-backed anti-democratic regimes with frightening amounts of Nazi movements are scared, self-important little fuzzy wuzzies despite already being protected by NATO."
True, their countries are not officially at war with Russia. But then, Russia is not officially at war with Ukraine: It’s only conducting a “special military operation,” and anyone who says it’s a war risks going to jail in Russia.
How many Russian emigres would unequivocally answer each of the successive questions in the affirmative? In all honesty, I would be unable to do so.
As a result, I accept — and others like me should also recognize — that we are not welcome in countries that feel existentially threatened by Russia’s trip back to the 20th century, despite our vehement opposition to Putin and support for Ukraine. Indeed, if this were the 20th century, we could expect far worse than a tourist visa ban: Internment for enemy aliens was the norm, and in the U.S., even American citizens of Japanese descent were sent to camps. It’s great that today’s Europe, even the countries that have experienced Russian oppression, is not so indiscriminately vicious — the post-World War II years have brought some permanent change, it seems. It is, however, easy for people to revert to the nasty old ways, and our own country presents an ugly example of how it can happen. In the worst-case scenario — Putin escalates in Ukraine, wins, attacks another country — Russians in Europe, no matter their immigration status, would almost certainly face dire consequences.
These days, not even a democratic country’s citizens can take their human rights — the freedoms of speech, movement, peaceful protest — for granted. As nationals of a hostile state, we would be especially naive to do so anywhere in Europe, and especially on its eastern fringe.
So why are we — including the leaders of the emigre community, such as they are — focusing so much on the visa ban issue? I can find no answers that would be flattering to us as a group.
After the Nazis took over Germany in 1933, its emigres included figures such as Albert Einstein, Arnold Schoenberg, George Grosz, Bertolt Brecht. These were people who represented a dramatically different Germany, people capable of advancing their new homeland in ways that would have been harder without them. As the US art historian Walter William Spencer Cook put it when so many brilliant colleagues arrived, “Hitler is my best friend. He shakes the tree and I collect the apples.” The latest wave of Russian emigration, to which I belong and which has culminated with the start of the war in Ukraine, doesn’t appear capable of creating this kind of sentiment. Many of us are competent and able to hold down decent jobs — but, as a community, what do we really offer Europe and other Western safe havens? Arguably, the best Russian creative minds left earlier, in the late 1980s and the 1990s: Nobel Prize-winners in physics Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, composer Alfred Schnittke, artists Ilya Kabakov and Erik Bulatov, poet Alexei Parshchikov.
We could at least compensate for what our emigration wave lacks in terms of sheer genius by not being so self-absorbed — and so entitled. For those of us already in Europe or other safe havens, trying humbly to understand and blend in with local society is an unheroic but acceptable way to shed the awful baggage we carry because of Putin’s dictatorship and the war. If we cannot represent a powerful, compelling vision of a different Russia — one that is morally and constitutionally incapable of anything like Putin’s version of fascism — we can at least try to be quiet Europeans.
The alternative is uniting behind a vision of our birth country that we can actually promote and fight for — and get better results than we have gotten to date. Do we have what it takes? The focus on fleeing to safety suggests otherwise.
I’m getting extraordinarily weird vibes from this article, though it’s difficult for me to articulate them. For the record, my position is - no, Europe should not ban Russians from entering, for the obvious reason of “that’s fucked up”, but also if they do, it will only hurt them and prove Putin’s view of the world correct, of a West that hates Russia, and thus there is no turning back - the pivot to the East and global south is made ever more irreversible. I do wonder what the world looks like where instead of the reaction to the Ukraine War being instant hatred for all things Russian, and a tsunami of sanctions, instead Europe treated Russians extremely well, with respect for Russian culture, and encouraged Russians to move from Russia to Europe and away from Putin. As well as extremely targetted sanctions on the oligarchs of Russia, which would therefore not be construed as wanting to hurt the Russian people. I’m not saying that a “kill them with kindness” approach would work, necessarily - but I am curious to see if it would be more effective at dismantling Putin’s attempt to decouple from the West, and stoke Russian nationalism. Present the situation as Europe and the Russian people united against the Russian government and oligarchs.
- China’s decline may be looming. Here’s how the U.S. can win, if it so chooses. WaPo
Man, these guys have circlejerked China’s slowing economy so hard that they’ve forgotten that the US economy is literally shrinking.
When in 1977 Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ended the “emergency” that had suspended India’s democratic processes since 1975, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a former U.S. ambassador to India, puckishly said: Wonderful news — the United States is no longer the world’s largest democracy. By next year, India will become the most populous nation. This, like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s splendidly insouciant visit to Taiwan, will diminish today’s fatalism about China — the fallacious assumption that its trajectory is inevitably upward, so it must be accommodated.
Ian Bremmer of the Eurasia Group said in a recent newsletter that “the world isn’t moving in China’s direction.” After 50 years during which cheap labor made China the world’s “manufacturing engine,” Chinese labor is increasingly expensive and decreasingly abundant. A United Nations model projects China’s population, 1.4 billion today, peaking in 2028, then shrinking to 700 million to 900 million by 2100. In June, Bremmer said, a Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences issued a report — immediately suppressed — that China’s population actually peaked last year, and will decline steadily to 587 million in 2100.
With sensible U.S. immigration policies, the nation’s population in 2100 might approach that.
“Okay, so if China does absolutely nothing about their shrinking population and America does a whole lot about it, despite neoliberal forces ravaging the population and preventing many from being able to afford children, let alone the effects that pollution and microplastics might have on fertility rates - if we assume all that, then maybe the US comes out on top here.
Speaking of immigration and much else in a private talk, Norman Augustine, former defense industry leader and Pentagon official, is wise.
He respects China’s achievement in moving more of its citizens “from poverty into the middle class than there are Americans to move anywhere.” And he agrees with Chinese President Xi Jinping that “technological innovation has become the main battleground of the global playing field.” Augustine notes:
“In the year 2000 the U.S. graduated 1.9 times as many scientists and engineers at the baccalaureate level as China; but, by 2020, China was graduating 2.4 times as many as the U.S. At the doctorate level, the U.S. lead was a factor of 3.3, whereas today China leads by a factor of 1.1. If one excludes Chinese nationals who graduate from U.S. universities, that factor becomes 1.3 – and is rapidly increasing.”
A Chinese high-school graduate has had nearly three more years of classroom education than an American counterpart, Augustine says, “simply due to the length of the respective school years.” The standardized U.S. test called the Nation’s Report Card rates 76 percent of 12th graders below proficient in math and 78 percent below proficient in science. Augustine notes acidly that increased spending on K-12 education has enlarged schools’ administrative staff 88 percent while student enrollment has grown just 8 percent.
In the percentage of all baccalaureate degrees granted in engineering, the United States ranks 76th globally. Twenty-three percent of U.S. PhDs are in science, technology, engineering or mathematics; in China, 79 percent. Augustine says a “substantial” reason for U.S. proficiency in STEM subjects is immigration: 28 percent of U.S. university faculty members in science and engineering were born abroad, as were 38 percent of American Nobel laureates in chemistry, physics and medicine since 2000. “And nearly half of U.S. Fortune 500 companies had a founder who was an immigrant or the child of an immigrant,” Augustine says.
America’s choices can win the competition with China. The United States can choose more-welcoming immigration policies, including retaining foreign nationals who earn about one-third of science and engineering PhDs from U.S. universities. The U.S. government can choose to spend much more than 0.2 percent of GDP on basic research. (This percentage has declined in 20 of the last 28 years, and now ranks 29th globally.) The United States has, after all, 16 of the world’s 25 best universities, according to the Times Higher Education 2022 ranking. And while China’s allies (North Korea, Iran, Russia) represent 17 percent of global GDP, the United States and its closest allies — counting just Europe and Japan — represent almost 50 percent.
Meanwhile, China is choosing to make itself stupid. The Financial Times reports that China’s youth unemployment is 18.4 percent and university graduates are struggling to find work — “unless they have degrees in Marxism.” In 2018, the education ministry ordered universities to hire at least one Marxism instructor for every 350 students. In this year’s second quarter, there was a 20 percent increase, over the same period last year, of job openings requiring a Marxism degree. Good: Marxism makes adherents stupid. All those brain cells devoted to a 19th-century prophet whose prophecies have not fared well.
Bahaha, holy shit. This is where is gets good. I’m extremely confused how this guy just wrote a bunch of pablum comparing how China’s Marxist-based system is coming out on top of the US’s system, and then goes “Oh yeah, Marxism doesn’t work, and has never worked."
A 20th-century paradox: If the 1917 revolution had not infected Russia with communism, there would have been no Cold War; but communism’s stultifying irrationalities determined the war’s fortunate outcome. A 21st-century probability: China’s Leninism — everything is subordinated to the party’s “vanguard” function, and the party is the vanguard of ignorance — will similarly determine China’s trajectory.
What the FUCK are you talking about? Are you literally just saying “Well, freedom beat gonbisum the first time so freedom must beat gobunism the second time!” What?! These are the people that the Washington Post hires to do economic analysis? Well, yeah, actually, I guess that’s not surprising.
- Ukraine Strikes Again in Crimea, Posing a New Challenge for Putin NYT
I’ll post these articles just to acknowledge that they exist, but I’m really getting tired of the same military analysis every single day from these people that always points in the same direction regardless of the situation at the front. Russia has been doing actions like this multiple times per week for months now, but Ukraine does a couple and it’s suddenly significant? It’s very tiring. For those who haven’t heard this quote, it’s one that I love: “The atomic unit of propaganda isn’t lies, it’s emphasis."
Russian warships patrol Crimea’s coasts and Russian warplanes fly from its territory, transformed by eight years of occupation into a fortress. President Vladimir V. Putin has called Crimea a “sacred place,” Russia’s “holy land,” and one of his top advisers has warned that if the peninsula were attacked, Ukraine would face “Judgment Day.”
But lately, Ukraine has been calling the Kremlin’s bluff. Huge explosions rocked a temporary Russian ammunition depot in Crimea on Tuesday, in the latest in a series of clandestine Ukrainian assaults against the Black Sea peninsula that Mr. Putin illegally annexed in 2014, and that is now being used as a vital staging ground for Russia’s invasion.
A senior Ukrainian official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the operation, said that an elite Ukrainian military unit operating behind enemy lines was responsible for the blasts. Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that the episode was an “act of sabotage,” a significant acknowledgment that the war is spreading to what the Kremlin considers Russian territory.
The attacks in Crimea underscore Ukraine’s increasingly aggressive military tactics, as the government in Kyiv leans on long-range Western weapons and special forces to strike deep behind the front, disrupt Russian supply lines and counter Russia’s advantages in matériel. They also represent a growing challenge to Mr. Putin, with Crimea’s security key to Russia’s military effort — and to Mr. Putin’s political standing at home.
No single action that Mr. Putin has taken in his 22-year rule provoked as much pro-Kremlin euphoria among Russians as his largely bloodless annexation of Crimea, an action that cemented his image as a leader resurrecting Russia as a great power.
And in the run-up to the full-scale invasion last winter, it was Crimea that Mr. Putin repeatedly cited as the locus of what he called an existential security threat posed by Ukraine, warning that a Western-backed Ukrainian effort to retake the peninsula by force could trigger a direct war between Russia and NATO.
Until this month, Crimea appeared well protected from Ukrainian attacks. Even Ukraine’s most advanced weapons systems do not have the range to hit military targets there, and its planes are incapable of penetrating Russian air defenses on the peninsula.
But in recent weeks, explosions have erupted on the peninsula repeatedly. And on July 31, Russia canceled its Navy Day celebrations in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol after an attack by a makeshift drone injured six.
For when people accept reality, though often not fully and not for very long.
- Ukraine has telegraphed its big counteroffensive for months. So where is it? Politico
Aw, jeez. You’ve been fooled. Bamboozled. Deceived. Hoodwinked, you might even say.
For two months, Ukraine has been signaling its intent to recapture the southern city of Kherson in what has been billed as a major counteroffensive and the moment that Kyiv turns the tide against Russia.
What that push will look like is still a mystery, however. Ukrainian artillery and rockets provided by the U.S. and allies have smashed bridges and Russian ammunition depots close to the city, but the larger movement of infantry has yet to happen. Meanwhile, the Russians are reinforcing and digging in.
Ukrainian officials have long said the fate of the war could be decided in the south and claimed that a series of suspicious attacks on Russian military installations far beyond the frontline — including two massive explosions at a Russian airbase in Crimea on Tuesday — indicated the counteroffensive had begun.
But even with billions of dollars worth of weapons from across Europe and North America now in Ukrainian hands, real questions remain over whether it’s enough, and what enough might look like.
Some of those weapons, such as the U.S.-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, have allowed Ukraine to batter Russian positions around the occupied city of Kherson. But the Russians are firing back in kind, leading to a brutal stalemate that continues to leave the southern region up for grabs, with infantry on both sides scrambling for their foxholes instead of pushing forward.
The city of Kherson, which sits on the northern banks of the Dnipro River, is a gateway for Russian forces to push west toward the critical port city of Odesa. It has been occupied since early in the war, but Russian forces have been unable to push west due to Ukrainian resistance.
That holding action has been key to keeping Odesa and other Black Sea ports in Ukrainian hands, a lifeline that has allowed some shipments of grain to leave port, giving Kyiv a desperately needed economic boost.
But Ukraine’s telegraphing of its much-anticipated counteroffensive, the slow pace of it, and some puzzling decisions have even the most observant Russia-Ukraine analysts wondering where the push has gone.
The Kherson counteroffensive is everywhere. It’s the breeze flowing through the leaves. It’s the water pushing through the pebbles. It’s the Sun and the Earth, endlessly tugging on eachother in an orbital dance. It’s the flow of molten rock, many miles below our feet. The Kherson counteroffensive is in the stars in the sky, and in the atoms in the ground. But, most of all - the Kherson counteroffensive is in our hearts.