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Europe

  • Europe’s Gas Price Is Now Equivalent To $410 Per Barrel Of Oil Oil Price

Heatwaves this summer and expected natural gas shortages this winter are driving gas prices higher and higher.

Europe’s benchmark gas prices surged by 14% in just three days to a fresh record-high, continuing the upward trend from recent weeks, as gas demand for power generation is high amid heatwaves and Russian pipeline supply remains at low levels, while the EU scrambles to fill gas storage ahead of the winter that would see energy and gas rationing, industries shutting down production, and households paying sky-high prices for heating and electricity.

Europe is in the most precarious position, but natural gas prices are rallying in the United States and Asia, too. Gas demand for power is high, and production is flat in America, while major Asian buyers are back on the LNG market to secure supplies for the winter.

As LNG is now a global commodity, benchmark gas and spot LNG prices are soaring all over the world. And they could jump even higher when the heating season approaches.

Europe’s benchmark gas prices at the Dutch TTF hub rallied 14% between Monday and Wednesday, jumping by 6% on Wednesday at a new record of $240 (236 euro) per megawatt-hour. Gas prices have already doubled since June, when Russia first reduced supply via Nord Stream, the key pipeline carrying gas to Europe’s biggest economy, Germany.

The European gas benchmark now trades at what would be an equivalent of $410 per barrel of crude oil, which highlights “the debilitating economic impact on the region,” Ole Hansen, Head of Commodity Strategy at Saxo Bank, said this week.

Such record gas prices are hitting industries in Germany and the rest of Europe, with companies announcing production halts or curtailments “until further notice” amid soaring energy costs. Industries have warned that reduced production and operations could lead to a collapse of supply and production chains. Governments are scrambling to secure enough gas for the winter while walking a tight rope between alleviating the cost burdens on households and avoiding an industrial collapse and a wave of bankrupt energy companies.

  • Borrell opposes full visa ban for Russians RT

Josep Borrell, the EU’s senior-most diplomat, has said he didn’t support banning all Russian citizens from visiting the bloc, an idea that some member states have supported.

Speaking during a political forum in Spain on Monday, he called the proposal “controversial” and said the EU should be more targeted in its sanctions against Russia.

“Forbidding entrance to all Russians would not be a good idea. We have to be more selective. Of course, we must not open the doors to the oligarchs,” the EU official said, pointing out that wealthy Russian individuals were free to buy real estate in the EU.

“But there are also many Russians who want to flee their country, because they don’t want to live there,” Borrell added. “Are we going to close the door to those Russians?”

Russia

  • China’s spending on Russian energy imports shoots up to $35 billion since the outbreak of the Ukraine war Business Insider

China’s spending on energy imports from Russia has hit $35 billion for the months since the Ukraine war started, as the Asian powerhouse turns to Moscow for fuel.

That outlay on Russian energy from March to July is a big jump on the $20 billion booked a year before, according to a Bloomberg report Monday.

In July alone, Chinese buyers laid out a combined $7.2 billion on imports of oil, natural gas and coal, according to customs data cited by Bloomberg. That’s a rise of 53% from the $4.7 billion booked in the same month in 2021.

Energy prices soared after Russian invaded Ukraine, and that will have inflated China’s spending figures. But the country has also imported higher volumes of Russian crude oil, natural gas, and coal since the war began, according to China’s General Administration of Customs.

  • Communists call for Russia’s ‘patriotic left’ to unite RT

Russia’s Communists are inviting all “patriotic left” factions in the country to unite under its banner, the party’s leader, Gennady Zyuganov, has proclaimed.

The teaming up of left-wing forces in the country already began ahead of the parliamentary elections last September, the long-time party boss told RIA-Novosti on Saturday.

“We all got together,” Zyuganov said, referring to 56 organizations, including some trade unions, which joined the Communist Party (CPRF) ahead of the vote.

The move helped the Communists snatch almost 19% of the ballots and finish second, behind only the ruling United Russia party (49.82%). The CPRF currently has 57 seats out of 450 in Russia’s parliament, the State Duma.

This process of unification of like-minded forces must continue, insisted Zyuganov, who had been the head of the CPRF since 1993.

“If anybody has such a desire – join up, we’ll consider all applications,” the 78-year-old promised.

Last month, Sergey Mironov, the leader of leftist group Fair Russia – For Truth, which has 28 seats in the parliament, claimed that a union between his party and the CPRF would inevitably happen in the future.

Zyuganov responded to the idea by stating that his party was ready to run in the next election together with Fair Russia if the latter was prepared to work to implement the CPRF’s program.

United Kingdom

  • UK inflation could hit 18 percent next year: Citi forecasts Al Jazeera

British consumer price inflation is set to peak at 18 percent in early 2023 – nine times the Bank of England’s target, according to an economist at US bank Citi, raising his forecast once again in the light of the latest jump in energy prices.

“The question now is what policy may do to offset the impact on both inflation and the real economy,” Benjamin Nabarro said in a note to clients on Monday.

Consumer price inflation was last above 18 percent in 1976.

In July, UK inflation jumped to 10.1 percent, its highest since February 1982, according to official figures.

  • Brits to fire up wood stoves to avoid freezing this winter RT

Suppliers of firewood in Britain project sales to soar by a fifth during the upcoming winter, as millions of households may opt to fire up wood stoves to help cope with soaring energy bills, The Daily Telegraph reported on Friday.

According to Nic Snell, managing director at Certainly Wood, the UK’s largest firewood supplier, demand has already started to grow as consumers begin preparing for the onset of colder weather.

“People are starting to stock up now, but I’d imagine we could see a 10% to 20% increase in demand this coming winter, because firewood prices have increased but nowhere near the rise seen in energy prices,” Snell said, as cited by the media.

He pointed out that the amount of firewood needed to maintain a fire on evenings and weekends throughout the winter would cost around £600 ($710), while households heating homes using gas or electricity are expected to face spiraling energy bills over the coming months.

  • Cost of living pushing UK women into prostitution – activists RT

Outreach workers warned Sky News on Saturday that the rising cost of living in the UK is forcing women into sex work, with some forced to meet clients on the streets.

The English Collective of Prostitutes, a London-based group that advises women in the sex industry how to say safe and out of trouble with the law, told Sky that it saw calls to its helpline increase by a third this summer.

Spokeswoman Niki Adams said that rising food and energy bills have driven women to prostitution.

“Across the board what we’re seeing is people coming to that work from a place of desperation,” Adams said. “That means they are much less able to protect themselves from violence and exploitation.”

One woman Adams works with found herself losing hundreds of pounds when the UK’s benefits program moved to the Universal Credit system – an ongoing process that the government admits will make 900,000 welfare recipients worse off by the time the switchover is completed.

“She started doing a couple of evenings a week on the streets – just enough to pay each bill,” Adams said, adding that with four young children at home, the woman had to work outdoors.

With inflation in the UK crossing the 10% threshold last month and millions of Britons potentially facing a winter of heat and food shortages, Beyond The Streets, a charity that helps women leave prostitution, is seeing an increase in women selling “survival sex.”

“We call it that because it’s the only choice these women can make to survive. It’s done to meet basic needs – to have enough money for food and rent,” support worker Nikki McNeill told Sky.

Germany

  • German economy minister rules out keeping nuclear plants running to save gas Reuters

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck ruled out on Sunday extending the lifespan of the country’s three remaining nuclear power plants in order to save gas, saying it would save at most 2 percent of gas use.

These savings were not sufficient to be worth reopening the debate about the exit from nuclear energy given the consensus on the topic, he said during a discussion with citizens at the government’s open-door day.

Former Chancellor Angela Merkel initiated legislation to halt the use of nuclear power by the end of this year after the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011 with a majority of voters in favour. But attitudes are shifting amid fears of an energy crisis this winter following a decline in Russian gas deliveries - with the three-way coalition itself divided on the matter.

“It is the wrong decision given the little we would save,” said Habeck, a member of the Greens party, which has it roots in the anti-nuclear movement of the 1970s and 80s.

On the other side of the debate, Finance Minister Christian Lindner of the pro-business Free Democrats reiterated his stance that it would be better to extend the lifespans of nuclear plants for a limited time than to bring coal plants back online.

  • Inflation in Germany could hit a 70-year high of 10% amid Russia’s natural-gas squeeze, German central bank chief says Business Insider

Germany’s inflation rate could surge over 10% this fall — the highest in seven decades — on the back of the country’s energy squeeze, the country’s central bank chief Joachim Nagel told the Rheinische Post last week.

Nagel’s comments, published on Saturday, came just after Russian state gas giant Gazprom on Friday announced an unscheduled three-day shutdown of the key Nord Stream 1 pipeline that sends natural gas to Europe. Gazprom said the pipeline needs maintenance and would be shut from August 31 to September 2.

The development sent natural gas prices higher, as Gazprom had already cut the pipeline’s gas flows to just 20% of its capacity, citing technical issues. Germany — which is highly dependent on Russian gas — has accused Russia of weaponizing gas to retaliate against sanctions over the Ukraine war, and is bracing itself for a severe energy crunch this winter.

  • German Supply Chains Are Hobbling Recovery of Europe’s No. 1 Economy Bloomberg

Germany’s logistics problems are worsening an economic slowdown, with shallow rivers for barge traffic exposing fragile inland supply routes, an under-invested railway system that can’t take on the extra capacity, and seaports that are still heaving with cargo.

The Rhine’s level has rebounded in recent days after low depths last week threatened the transport of fuel and other goods — a climate crisis colliding with an energy-supply crunch. Industries are worried about how, with a dilapidated railroad, they’ll transport their inputs and final products. It doesn’t bode well if Europe’s biggest economy wants to avoid a recession.

“We are in a situation where the infrastructure is extremely challenged,” German Transport Minister Volker Wissing from the business-friendly Free Democrats said last week.

Germany’s biggest oil refinery had to cut production at its Rhineland facility because of low Rhine levels, underscoring the seriousness of the logistics crunch along a key inland route for industrial materials.

While the vast majority of goods are transported by truck in Germany — where highways and bridges also show signs of yearlong underfunding — freight transport relies heavily on the linkages between the roadways, rail lines and ports.

Germany’s rail networks are in historically bad shape as staff shortages, investment shortcomings and construction sites are slowing down carriers, the German Freight Forwarders Association said.

As Germany prepares to import 35 million tons of coal this year, compared with 27 million tons for 2021, freight trains are unlikely to compensate for barges if the Rhine has to close for shipping, according to the German Coal Importers Association. Trains carry significantly less than barges, making them more expensive for buyers.

  • Record two thirds of Germans unhappy with Chancellor Scholz, survey shows EU Reporter

Around two thirds of Germans are unhappy with the work of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his fractious coalition, which has faced crisis after crisis since taking office in December, according to a survey published on Sunday (21 August).

Only 25% of Germans believe the Social Democrat is doing his job well, down from 46% in March, according to the poll by Insa for Bild am Sonntag weekly newspaper.

By contrast 62% of Germans think Scholz - who was deputy chancellor under veteran conservative leader Angela Merkel in the previous ruling coalition - is doing his job badly, a record number, compared to just 39% in March.

Support for his Social Democratic Party (SPD) stood at just 19%, the Insa survey showed, well behind the opposition conservatives and junior coalition partners the Greens, and below the 25.7% the SPD took in the federal election last year.

Around 65% of Germans are unhappy with the work of Germany’s three-way coalition government as a whole, compared with 43 % in March.

Italy

  • Italian manufacturers cut output to save energy, govt official says Inquirer

Energy-intensive industries in Italy are modifying their production to save energy as they struggle with soaring bills, a top official at the ecological transition ministry said on Sunday.

“There are entire industrial sectors, the glass and canning industry, where rationing, in the form of self-rationing, has already begun, albeit silently,” said Massimiliano Atelli, who heads the ministry’s committee that evaluates the environmental impact of new renewable energy plants.

“But this is not without costs, social costs… because the moment production slows down we should think about those who work in those industries,” he said, speaking at a conference.

Italy, which last year got nearly 40 percent of the gas it imported from Russia, has recently clinched deals with several alternative gas producing countries to reduce its dependence on Moscow. Half of the gas is burned to produce electricity.

These agreements have allowed Rome to fill its gas storage quickly, but have not been enough to protect its industries from sky-rocketing energy costs.

Switzerland

  • Swiss ski resorts face power pressures RT

The burgeoning energy crisis in Europe appears to now be reaching Swiss ski resorts, which may be ordered to cut electricity usage for ski lifts and snow-making equipment by a fifth, Radio Television Suisse reported on Thursday.

The electricity used by this vital ski equipment could power 40,000 Swiss households for a whole year, according to the report. However, the plan is opposed by industry representatives, who say that it may dramatically slash revenues, thus threatening jobs in a sector that has been struggling for the last two winters because of Covid-19.

Curtailing the use of snow-making equipment would “present a big risk for ski resorts,” according to Laurent Vaucher, head of the lift operator Televerbier in the Swiss canton of Valais, who said that every franc spent on lift passes brings six francs to the region.

Cyprus

  • Cyprus buys ‘Iron Dome’ – media RT

The Cypriot Defense Ministry has struck a deal with Israel to purchase Iron Dome air defense systems, the local edition of Kathimerini reported on Friday. According to the newspaper, the deal has been finalized, though neither Nicosia nor Tel Aviv have confirmed it publicly so far.

Cypriot National Guard commander, Lieutenant General Dimokritos Zervakis, visited Israel in March. At the time the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed that “…the general will receive a briefing at the northern border and will visit an Iron Dome air-defense system battery.”

Earlier reports in Israeli and Greek media indicated that the two nations had been holding talks about the deal since at least early 2021.

Cyprus currently possesses US-made short range air defense systems (SHORAD) produced by Northrop Grumman. According to media reports, Nicosia still considers them the “best fit” to counter what it considers the most pressing threats. Nevertheless, the Cypriot air defense forces are also increasingly concerned about Turkish-made drones, including Bayraktar UAVs.

Kathimerini reports that the Cypriot National Guard insisted on acquiring the Israeli air defense systems, citing its “operational demands.” Israeli arms manufacturer Rafael advertises the Iron Dome as a “combat-proven” system with “over 2,000 interceptions.” It is capable of countering rockets, mortar, and artillery shells, as well as “aircraft, helicopters and UAVs at very short range,” the company says.

Cyprus and Greece accused Turkey of stirring up tensions in the eastern Mediterranean in late July, as Ankara prepared to send a drillship to the area to search for natural gas. Cyprus, which is split along ethnic lines between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, is a major point of contention between Athens and Ankara.

Asia and Oceania

China

  • Pandemic Bolsters China’s Position as the World’s Manufacturer WSJ

For all the talk in Western capitals of reducing reliance on Chinese factories, China has in the past two years consolidated its position as the world’s dominant supplier of manufactured goods.

Though some of China’s gains in global markets may unwind as the effects of the pandemic fade, the trend nonetheless highlights just how hard it is to unplug from the world’s largest factory floor. Such “decoupling,” as it is known in policy circles, is especially challenging as Chinese factories extend their reach into higher-end products like chips and smartphones and new technologies such as electric cars and green energy.

The U.S. and some of its allies have grown wary of their dependence on China over concerns ranging from national security to the fragility of global supply chains. China has dismissed those concerns, but has its own reason to loosen ties to the West, namely a longstanding challenge of weaning itself off its own perceived overreliance on Western markets and leaning instead on spending at home to propel its economy to new heights.

For now, China’s export boom might provide a short-term prop for growth as its economy labors under the government’s zero-tolerance approach to Covid-19 and a deflating property bubble.

China’s share of global goods exports by value increased over the course of the pandemic, to 15% by the end of 2021 from 13% in 2019, according to data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, which tracks global trade.

Major competitors’ share of global exports shrank over the same period, suggesting China’s gains came at the expense of others. Germany’s share of global exports fell to 7.3% in 2021 from 7.8% in 2019; Japan’s share declined to 3.4% from 3.7%; and the U.S.’s share slipped to 7.9% from 8.6%.

  • China Accounts For Nearly Half Of The World’s Renewable Energy Capacity Oil Price

Despite big talk from the West, China is pumping huge amounts of funding into its renewable energy sector as it seeks to become competitive in its green energy operations. Heavy investment in research and development has helped China develop several innovative technologies to support its renewable energy rollout. In addition, government subsidies on electric vehicles (EVs) have helped to increase uptake and build a strong consumer market.

The U.S. has just passed its biggest climate change bill, with $370 billion in subsidies going toward solar and wind energy development, electric vehicles, and other clean energy projects. The U.S. introduced the bill to help it reach its ambitious emissions targets between 2030 and 2050. The other benefit of boosting its renewable energy industry is the ability to become more competitive with other major world powers, such as China.

However, China achieved $380 billion in public and private sector clean energy investments in 2021 alone. In addition, thanks to its strong manufacturing and construction industries, China can build large-scale wind and solar farms at a rapid pace. And this is just the latest in China’s green energy achievements, having been investing in clean energy for years. This is not to say that China isn’t still a massive polluter. In 2021, China’s carbon emissions exceeded those of all developed nations combined. But its contribution to the development of the global renewable energy sector is substantial.

  • China central bank cuts lending rates to boost economy Iraqi News

China’s central bank on Monday cut benchmark loan rates in an attempt to boost an economy battered by the government’s strict zero-Covid policy and a slump in the property market.

The world’s second-biggest economy saw an improvement after some coronavirus restrictions eased in June, but consumer and business sentiment remains weaker than usual.

The one-year Loan Prime Rate, which serves as a benchmark for corporate loans, was reduced from 3.7 percent to 3.65 percent, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said in a statement.

The five-year LPR, which is used to price mortgages, was cut from 4.45 percent to 4.3 percent, it added.

The PBOC slashed key interest rates last week, bringing its seven-day reverse repurchase rate — a key rate at which it provides short-term liquidity to banks — to a new low.

Analysts had expected cuts to the LPR rates, but said they may not be enough to rescue the property sector — which is estimated to account for as much as a quarter of China’s GDP.

  • China drought causes Yangtze to dry up, sparking shortage of hydropower Guardian

A record-breaking drought has caused some rivers in China – including parts of the Yangtze – to dry up, affecting hydropower, halting shipping, and forcing major companies to suspend operations.

A nationwide drought alert was issued on Friday as a long-running and severe heatwave in China’s heavily populated south-west was forecast to continue well into September.

The loss of water flow to China’s extensive hydropower system has sparked a “grave situation” in Sichuan, which gets more than 80% of its energy from hydropower.

On Sunday the provincial government declared it was at the highest warning level of “particularly severe”, with water flow to Sichuan’s hydropower reservoirs dropping by half. The demand for electricity has increased by 25% this summer, local media reported. The reduction in hydropower has also reportedly affected downstream populations, including Chongqing city and Hubei province.

  • Fires blaze in southwest China as extreme heat scorches region SCMP

Extreme heat in China’s southwestern Chongqing municipality has left the city parched and several mountains ablaze.

At least four districts have reported fires since Thursday, forcing 1,500 people from 540 households to be evacuated.

The latest blaze broke out in Banan district on Sunday, while another in Jiangjin district that had been burning since Thursday was not put out until Monday morning.

  • Chinese city shortens mall hours due to heat-induced power shortages Reuters

The Chinese city of Chongqing is shortening the opening hours of its malls from Monday due to an “urgent” power supply situation caused by a recent heatwave, the government said in a notice dated Aug. 21.

The measures mean dozens of shopping malls in districts across the southwestern city must adjust their business hours to 4-9 p.m. (0800-1300 GMT) to “ensure the safe and orderly supply of power and ensure the basic needs of the masses”, the Chongqing Economic And Information Commission said.

  • First COVID, now a heat wave: Power cuts in Sichuan are the latest threat to Tesla’s China supply chain Fortune

I guess it’s the barest of silver linings that Musk is getting fucked over by all of this.

On Sunday, the government of Sichuan—a major Chinese manufacturing hub for the electric vehicle industry and home to several of Tesla’s suppliers—told factories they’d have to go without power for several more days as the region reserved power for residents amid a record drought and heat wave. According to company announcements, officials extended until Aug. 25 the power blackout for manufacturing imposed last Monday, citing an ongoing power shortage due to high temperatures and low rainfall.

Disrupted manufacturing in Sichuan is likely to hit Tesla especially hard since the automaker is still trying to recover from supply disruptions caused by a two-month COVID lockdown in Shanghai, the home of its China factory, earlier this year.

Japan

  • Japan mulls long-range missile upgrades due to China threat Iraqi News

Japan is considering the deployment of more than 1,000 long-range cruise missiles to increase its ability to counter growing regional threats from China, local newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported on Sunday.

The country plans to upgrade its existing surface-to-ship missiles to extend their range from 100 kilometres (62 miles) to about 1,000 kilometres (620 miles), which would be enough to reach Chinese coastal areas as well as North Korea, the newspaper reported, citing unnamed sources.

Upgrades would also need to be made to allow Japan’s existing ships and aircraft to be able to fire the new missiles, which could hit land-based targets, the newspaper reported.

South Korea

  • US and South Korea launch major war games RT

Washington and Seoul opened their largest joint military exercises in years on Monday. The Ulchi Freedom Shield drills are set to continue through September 1, and will include numerous aircraft, warships and artillery, with thousands of troops in “defensive” and “counterattack” scenarios.

The first stage of the drills will be focused on repelling a hypothetical North Korean attack, as well as civil defense response to various simulated threats, such as “fire at a semiconductor factory,” “airport terrorism,” or “discovery of improvised explosive devices at nuclear power plants,” according to Yonhap.

In the second stage, the allied forces will sharpen their “counterattack” capabilities, by conducting live fire drills during more than a dozen different combined field training programs.

While Seoul and Washington insist their military cooperation is purely defensive, Pyongyang has repeatedly called them “rehearsals” for a potential invasion. In recent years, these annual exercises were scaled back, firstly due to diplomatic efforts and later because of Covid-19, before South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol took office in May and vowed to revive and “normalize” this “deterrent.”

Singapore

  • Asian nation decriminalizes gay sex RT

Singapore has repealed a controversial colonial-era law banning gay sex, but will not let go of its strong conservative values, PM Lee Hsien Loong declared on state TV on Sunday during the city-state’s National Day Rally.

“I believe this is the right thing to do and something that most Singaporeans would accept,” he said, adding that he hopes the move provides “some relief to gay Singaporeans.”

The PM also promised, however, that Singapore will “protect the definition of marriage from being challenged constitutionally in the courts.”

“We believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, that children should be raised within such families, that the traditional family should form the basic building block of society,” he said.

Middle East

Israel/Palestine

  • CIA unable to corroborate Israel’s ‘terror’ label for Palestinian rights groups Guardian

Jeez, if the fucking CIA isn’t on board with calling your opposition ‘terrorists’ for non-violent resistance to you, you KNOW you’ve fucked up.

  • Palestinians working in Israel strike over demand for bank accounts Reuters

Tens of thousands of Palestinians employed in Israel staged a one-day strike on Sunday in protest at a decision to pay their salaries into bank accounts rather than in cash.

The new payment method was agreed between Palestinian and Israeli authorities looking for a more efficient and secure way to pay salaries, but workers fear that hidden fees and new taxes will cut into their wages.

About 200,000 Palestinians cross each day into Israel or Jewish settlements for work, earning on average more than twice as much as those employed by Palestinian state bodies and businesses.

Most of the workers do not have bank accounts and putting their salaries on the books would create a new revenue source for the financially-strapped Palestinian Authority (PA), while bringing a windfall in service fees for Palestinian banks.

Under the arrangement, salaries will be paid weekly with bank fees set at $1 per transfer, according to a number of workers who spoke to Reuters.

Palestinian Labour Minister Nasri Abu Jeish said the new arrangement was meant to protect workers' rights and that there was no plan to impose new taxes.

Kuwait

  • Kuwait to lay off 750,000 Egypt workers MEMO

Kuwait has announced that it will lay off 250,000 Egyptian workers next month and suspend all contracts with non-nationals.

Some 500,000 further Egyptian workers will lose their jobs over the next year as the Gulf country seeks to remove all expatriate workers across sectors.

Egyptians make up around 24 per cent of the total workforce in Kuwait, the Kuwait Times said in February, making them the largest expatriate group in the country.

For a long time, the largest group was Indian workers, but according to the same source they now make up 23.7 per cent of Kuwait’s workforce.

The statistics report, by the State Audit Bureau, said that only 22.3 per cent of the workforce are Kuwaiti out of 77.7 per cent of non-Kuwaitis.

Iran

  • Iran blames ‘procrastinating’ US for nuclear deal delays Al Jazeera

Iran has confirmed that it has yet to receive a response from the United States on its latest proposals to restore their 2015 nuclear deal, blaming Washington for its inaction.

“What matters so far is procrastination from the American side on offering a response,” foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani told reporters on Monday.

“We acted in time and we’ve always shown that we’ve acted responsibly” in the nuclear talks, he said.

A week ago, Iran submitted its response to a “final text” circulated by the European Union after the latest round of talks with stakeholders – namely China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom – in Vienna.

The US has said it reviewing the text and is in contact with its allies.

On Monday, the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Iran’s response to the EU proposal was “reasonable”.

Turkey

  • Turkey says it will enforce anti-Russia sanctions RT

Turkish Deputy Finance Minister Yunus Elitas has told US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo that Ankara won’t allow the “breaching” of American sanctions on Moscow but that its “balanced” position on the Ukraine conflict remains unchanged.

Elitas and Adeyemo spoke by phone on Friday, several weeks after the Financial Times reported that Western officials are “increasingly alarmed” at Turkey’s growing trade ties to Russia, and are considering ways to retaliate if these ties help Russia bypass EU and US sanctions.

According to a readout of Friday’s call from the US Treasury Department, “Adeyemo raised concerns that Russian entities and individuals are attempting to use Turkey to evade sanctions put in place by the United States and 30 countries.”

Adeyemo also “reiterated the United States’ interest in the success of the Turkish economy” and “the integrity of its banking sector.” This statement could be perceived as a threat, considering that the officials quoted by the FT suggested that Western nations could potentially instruct their corporations and banks to pull out of Turkey over the supposed sanctions evasion.

North America

United States

  • Fed to slow to 50 bps hike in September– Reuters poll Inquirer

The U.S. Federal Reserve will raise rates by 50 basis points in September amid expectations inflation has peaked and growing recession worries, according to economists in a Reuters poll, who said the risks were skewed toward a higher peak.

Still around a four-decade high, inflation eased last month, driving Fed funds futures to narrowly switch their pricing to a 50 basis point hike in September after 75 basis point moves in June and July.

Most economists in an Aug. 16-19 Reuters poll predicted a half percentage point hike next month, the same as in the last poll, which would take the key interest rate to 2.75 percent-3 percent.

Eighteen of the 94 surveyed expected the Fed to go for 75 basis points.

Last month, Fed Chair Jerome Powell, due to speak at Jackson Hole next week, said “it likely will become appropriate to slow the pace of increases.”

A cumulative 225 basis points of hikes since March and with more to come have brought a recession closer and the survey showed a 45 percent median probability of one over the coming year, up from July’s 40 percent, and a 50 percent chance of one within two years.

“A recession is a necessary evil and the only way to get to where we want to be – where people don’t lose all their money to higher prices,” said Philip Marey, senior U.S. strategist at Rabobank.

“It doesn’t have to be a heavy one because usually big recessions occur in conjunction with financial crisis and at the moment household balance sheets are strong.”

Thirty-seven of 48 economists said if the U.S. enters a recession within the next two years, it would be short and shallow. Ten said it would be long and shallow and only one said long and deep.

Global

  • Emerging Markets Rush To Join BRICS Alliance As High Energy Prices Persist Oil Price

As emerging markets recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and face financial headwinds due to interest rate hikes in the US, the BRICS group – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – is looking to expand its membership to tackle shared challenges. At the 14th BRICS Summit held in July, China, Russia and India discussed the potential entry of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which are reportedly preparing applications.

This announcement came after the disclosure in June that Iran and Argentina had already applied with support from China. In addition, international media has reported that Algeria, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Sudan, Syria, Pakistan, and Venezuela have expressed interest in joining the organization.

An online meeting hosted by China in May of potential BRICS+ applicants included the foreign ministers of Argentina, Egypt, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Senegal and Thailand.

It is unclear who will join and when, as there is no formal process for welcoming new members, and any expansion would likely take place in a piecemeal fashion. However, BRICS expansion could offer emerging markets the opportunity to build new economic synergies.

  • Droughts Hurt World’s Largest Economies WSJ

Severe droughts across the Northern Hemisphere—stretching from the farms of California to waterways in Europe and China—are further snarling supply chains and driving up the prices of food and energy, adding pressure to a global trade system already under stress.

Parts of China are experiencing their longest sustained heat wave since record-keeping began in 1961, according to China’s National Climate Center, leading to manufacturing shutdowns owing to lack of hydropower. The drought affecting Spain, Portugal, France and Italy is on track to be the worst in 500 years, according to Andrea Toreti, a climate scientist at the European Commission’s Joint Research Center.

In the American West, a drought that began two decades ago now appears to be the worst in 1,200 years, according to a study led by the University of California, Los Angeles.

Researchers compare droughts by measuring the growth of annual tree rings that reflect rainfall and temperature from year to year in specific areas. Climate scientists say this year’s dry spells are partly due to La Niña, a cyclical pattern of cooler water in the eastern Pacific Ocean that pushes the atmospheric jet stream northward, leaving parts of Europe, the U.S. and Asia with less rain. The United Nations says the number of droughts worldwide has risen 29% since 2000 due to land degradation and climate change.

For some of the world’s biggest economies, this summer’s droughts are hurting industries including electricity generation, agriculture, manufacturing and tourism. That is compounding existing strains such as supply-chain disruptions stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic and pressure on energy and food prices from the war in Ukraine.

In the U.S., agricultural forecasters expect farmers to lose more than 40% of the cotton crop, while in Europe the Spanish olive-oil harvest is expected to fall by as much as a third amid hot and dry conditions.

In Europe, rivers such as the Rhine and Italy’s Po that serve as arteries for trade are running at historic lows, forcing manufacturers to cut shipments. Falling river levels also have reduced hydropower generation across the continent, affecting a key alternative source to natural gas, which is in shorter supply as Russia squeezes flows.

Heat has forced France to lower production at several nuclear reactors because the river water that cools them is too warm. And Germany, Europe’s biggest consumer of Russian gas, plans to burn more coal instead of gas to generate electricity, but low levels on the Rhine are holding back shipments.

Meager snowfall at the river’s source in the Swiss Alps and reduced rainfall downstream have lowered water flow in the Rhine Delta in the Netherlands. That has allowed seawater into the nation’s system of locks and dams, slowing river traffic and seeping into reservoirs used for drinking and agriculture. Drought is also drying out and weakening earthen dikes that protect low-lying areas of the Netherlands from the North Sea.

Eleven inches of rain had fallen in much of the country this year by early August compared with the usual 16, leaving the Rhine so low in places that it is snarling exports from German manufacturers clustered upriver.

“Everything is hurting Germany more than anywhere else, that’s a common theme,” said Andrew Kenningham, chief Europe economist at Capital Economics in London.

In the U.S., smaller snowpacks in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California have sharply reduced water supplies in the region, home to the nation’s largest agriculture industry. Officials of the Westlands Water District in the Central Valley, the state’s most important agricultural region, say roughly a third of the 600,000 farmland acres there are being left unplanted this year because of water shortages.

The Colorado River has fallen so much that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation on Aug. 16 declared a second consecutive annual shortage, triggering a second straight year of mandatory water cuts to Arizona, Nevada and Mexico.

In Yuma County, Ariz.—a major producer of lettuce, baby greens and other vegetables—farmers expect a hit of as much as 10% to their $3.4 billion-a-year industry, said Wade Noble, general counsel for four irrigation districts there.

“It’s less income into the area,” Mr. Noble said. “It’s less buying and selling.”

In central and southwestern China, authorities declared a drought in six provincial-level jurisdictions, which together accounted for a fourth of China’s grain output last year.

The southwestern province of Sichuan has been hit the hardest by lower rainfall, as it relies heavily on hydropower for electricity. Soaring temperatures have driven up demand for air conditioning, threatening to overload the power grid.

On Sunday, local authorities activated the highest emergency response amid the power-supply crunch, extending an order from last week to many factories to shut down or scale back production to “leave electricity for the residents” until Thursday, when temperatures are set to drop again.

The restrictions, while limited, have affected a number of global manufacturers such as Apple Inc. device maker Foxconn Technology Co. Ltd., Volkswagen AG and Toyota Motor Corp., as well as manufacturers of lithium salts, fertilizers and photovoltaic equipment with production sites in Sichuan. Tesla Inc. has asked Shanghai’s government to help ensure its suppliers there would have sufficient electricity supply amid a power crunch, saying 16 of them weren’t able to produce at full capacity, according to a government letter and people familiar with the matter.

Water levels along some sections of the Yangtze—China’s longest river and a crucial source of hydropower, transport and water for crops—have fallen to their lowest since record-keeping began, according to China’s Ministry of Water Resources. At Hankou, in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, water levels on Thursday stood at the equivalent of about 15.6 feet, less than half the historical average, according to the Yangtze Maritime Safety Administration.

American and European climate scientists say global warming has amplified the severity of the effect of La Niña. A warmer atmosphere sucks up more moisture from land, increasing the risk of drought, said Isla Simpson, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.

La Niña episodes typically last nine to 12 months, but this one is in its second year and is expected to last until at least February 2023, according to a recent advisory issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The impact of extended drought and heat waves on sectors such as tourism, manufacturing and agriculture could become a long-term drag on the credit ratings of governments across Southern Europe, according to Moody’s Investors Service. The latest U.N. climate-science report says global warming has raised the risk of drought across the Mediterranean region.

“If it becomes the norm that July, August are unbearable in parts of Europe, then companies and people are likely to react to that,” said Marie Diron, managing director of sovereign credit at Moody’s in London.


Military

The Ukraine War

  • Russian missiles strike Ukraine’s Odesa region Reuters

Russia said on Sunday that its Kalibr missiles had destroyed an ammunition depot containing missiles for U.S.-made HIMARS rocket in Ukraine’s southeastern Odesa region, while Kyiv said a granary had been hit.

Russia’s defence ministry said sea-based Kalibr missiles had destroyed a depot that also housed Western-made anti-aircraft systems.

A spokesman for Odesa’s regional administration said two missiles had been shot down over the sea, but that three had struck agricultural targets.

  • ‘The biggest movement in the history’ — Ukraine evacuates the front line Politico

The article describes the story of a Ukrainian couple, then:

It’s more stories like these that the Ukrainian government is trying prevent as it begins to carry out what it calls a “mandatory evacuation” of the most contested parts of the country. Under criticism from humanitarian organizations for not having done enough to protect civilians in combat zones, Kyiv is undertaking what Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has described as “the biggest movement of people in the history of the independent Ukrainian state.” Unable to provide security or essential services for nearly 750,000 people in areas where the fighting is fiercest, the government now insists they should move.

More than 12 million Ukrainians have been displaced by the war, most of them within the country. The government says it expects another 220,000 to evacuate from Donetsk region in east Ukraine before winter. Vereshchuk, who is also the minister for reintegration of temporarily occupied territories, says the evacuation order will be extended to another 500,000 people in areas occupied by Russia or at risk of being so in the regions of Kherson, Zaporizhzhia and Kharkiv.

The mandatory evacuation order marks a departure for Kyiv. Since Russia first invaded eastern Ukraine in 2014, residents of occupied or threatened regions were given little instructions or support to leave, or support for the delivery of essential services like water and transport. “People were left alone with their problems,” said Volodymyr Yavorskyy from the Centre for Civil Liberties, a human rights watchdog.

But the shift in policy is controversial, particularly in light of forced deportations of Ukrainians by Russia. Under international law, governments are obliged to do their best to provide essential services during war time; inform citizens of potential dangers; and only move populations if forced by security or military reasons.

“I don’t think [mandatory evacuation is] a very good solution,” said Yavorskyy. “But we have to be clear that actually it’s not forced — people have a choice.” Earlier this month, the international human rights watchdog Amnesty International issued a controversial report, accusing the Ukrainian government of not doing enough to move people away from urban areas and civilian buildings where the armed forces base themselves.

Vereshchuk has framed the evacuation order not as a requirement that people leave their homes, but as the right of citizens to be provided with transport out of danger, financial aid and accommodation in safer areas. Evacuees are given 2,000-3,000 Ukrainian hryvnia (about €50-€80) on arrival, and registered as internally displaced persons to be eligible for continued monthly payments. Under the new rules, those who refuse to leave will be required to sign a paper saying they understand the risks and take responsibility for themselves and their dependents.

The deputy prime minister has also called on organizations providing assistance near the front line to ask themselves if the help they’re providing encourages people to remain in danger. “I want people to leave and get help here, instead of there,” Vereshchuk told POLITICO. “If they are brought blankets and water and filters, that won’t save them in the winter. No blanket or warm pillow will help them.”

  • Zelensky says Russian plans to try Mariupol fighters would make peace talks impossible WaPo

Man, just about everything makes peace talks impossible for this guy.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has drawn another red line in potential negotiations with Moscow to end the war. Russian-backed authorities are reportedly planning to hold a trial on Aug. 24 — Ukraine’s Independence Day — for fighters captured during their final defense of the Azovstal steel plant in the battle for Mariupol.

If this “absurd show trial” goes ahead, “this will be the line beyond which any negotiations are impossible,” Zelensky said. Reports of planned show trials have circulated for weeks and intensified after Russian media outlets published images of cages under construction, said to be meant for Ukrainians captured during the weeks-long siege. Both sides have previously declared red lines in the conflict. So far, none has forced the war into a stalemate and a negotiated peace.

  • Scholz promises Kiev more weapons ‘soon’ RT

Berlin supplies “a lot of weapons” to Kiev and will continue to provide Ukraine “with what it needs for its defense,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz said, in response to criticism from a former Bundeswehr general.

Germany is currently “in the process of supplying the most modern and efficient equipment,” Scholz stressed during a traditional ‘open-doors day’ this weekend, citing recent multiple deliveries of self-propelled ‘Gepard’ anti-aircraft guns and PzH 2000 howitzers.

The German leader claimed that his main focus remains on “ensuring that there is no escalation of the war,” when a retired Bundeswehr general Klaus Wittmann accused him of a lack of “leadership” and appearing “intimidated” by Russian President Vladimir Putin, as cited by the German news outlet NTV.

Even more weapons “will be there soon,” Scholz vowed, apparently referring to the long-promised deliveries of an Iris-T SLM anti-aircraft missile system and a Cobra artillery radar, but providing no clear timeline.

  • Russia details use of hypersonic missiles in Ukraine RT

Russian forces have successfully fired three Kinzhal hypersonic missiles during the conflict in Ukraine, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has said.

The missile “has been used by us on three occasions during the special military operation [in Ukraine]. And it showed its outstanding qualities on three occasions, qualities that no other similar missile in the world possesses,” Shoigu told Russia 1 TV on Sunday.

The Kinzhal (Dagger) is a Russian hypersonic air-to-surface missile that entered service in 2017. It can travel at a speed of Mach 12 (around 14,800kph), while constantly performing evasive maneuvers, which is believed to allow it to penetrate any currently existing air defenses. The nuclear-capable munition can be launched by the country’s Tu-22M3 bombers or MiG-31 interceptor aircraft.


Climate and Space

  • A New Cold War Could Slow the Advance of Science NYT

One of the many unfortunate consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the collateral damage to international scientific cooperation. The past two decades may have represented the apex of this cooperation. Now it appears to be coming to at least a pause, if not an end.

In the years immediately after the Cold War ended in 1991, Russian scientists turned increasingly to Europe and the United States to remain involved in frontier research. Through the efforts of Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Space Station Freedom became the International Space Station, which included major contributions from Canada, Japan, European nations and Russia as partners.

Between 1993 and 1996, the Russian agency responsible for atomic energy signed agreements with the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, known as CERN, and contributed money, equipment and brainpower to the Large Hadron Collider Project. That project led to the discovery in 2012 of the Higgs boson, a heavy subatomic particle that imbues other elementary particles with mass. Its existence had been predicted a half-century earlier.

And during the 1990s, Russian scientists from Lomonosov Moscow State University joined the international LIGO Scientific Collaboration, which in 2016 announced striking evidence of mergers of ultramassive black holes. The discovery confirmed the prediction in Einstein’s general theory of relativity that cataclysmic events like the merger of two black holes — in this case, about 1.3 billion light years away — create ripples in space-time known as gravitational waves.

But Russia recently decided to terminate its participation in the space station after 2024, and CERN will no longer allow Russian institutes to participate in collider experiments after its contracts with Russia expire that year. What’s more, the European Space Agency has excluded Russia from its planned ExoMars rover project, despite the yearslong delays that will likely result. And notwithstanding Russia’s efforts in support of the X-ray laser project known as European XFEL in Germany, which has opened new opportunities for research in materials science, biology and physics, scientists and institutions based in Russia cannot (at least for now) perform new experiments at this facility.

Scientific research has advanced to such an extent since the end of the Cold War that such large, expensive international projects are the only way to push back the frontiers in many disciplines. Individual nations no longer have sufficient financial and intellectual resources to pursue the science unilaterally. The current retreat from Russian involvement in these big projects can in this way easily curtail scientific progress — as well as impair international relations more broadly.

CERN was established in a suburb of Geneva in the early 1950s to promote peaceful cooperation among European nations, which had experienced two disastrous wars during the previous 40 years. Organizers viewed nuclear and high-energy physics as promising disciplines that invited cooperation. And it succeeded. With the discovery in the early 1980s of the W and Z bosons, which together are responsible for one of the four fundamental forces that govern the behavior of matter in the universe, CERN established itself as the world’s premier laboratory for high-energy physics. To many European leaders, it had become the highest expression of continental unity — reason enough to approve its multibillion euro LHC project in the 1990s.

After the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, the funding of many of its institutes for scientific research collapsed. CERN became the principal venue where Russian high-energy physicists could continue doing cutting edge research. And CERN had begun to seek additional LHC funding from well beyond its European member nations. Physicists from Russia’s Joint Institute for Nuclear Research joined the gargantuan Compact Muon Solenoid experiment on this collider, contributing to its design and making sophisticated contributions. They could take due credit for their part in the breakthrough Higgs boson discovery — perhaps the pinnacle of international scientific achievement. Russia became an important player in a “world laboratory” knit together by the internet and Web, which now includes Canada, China, India, Japan, the United States and many other non-European nations.

Part of the rationale for establishing CERN was to promote international understanding among researchers working toward common scientific goals. It has proved a wonderful polyglot place. Although English and French dominate conversations in labs, offices and the cafeteria, national differences seem to melt away amid vigorous technical exchanges and good food.

But this scientific camaraderie begins to dissolve when one of the participant nations savagely attacks another. During the first month of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, thousands of Russian scientists signed a petition opposing the attack, taking great risks to their careers and livelihoods. In contrast, Russian scientific institutes have toed the Kremlin line — dependent as they are on its continued support.

Collaborations on the basis of individual relationships may continue with some Russian scientists. This intellectual exchange is certainly valuable. But one can easily imagine that pullbacks and withdrawals will continue on other large scientific projects, if they haven’t already, to the detriment of international relations generally. That would be an unfortunate aspect of a renewed bifurcation of the world order much like what happened during the Cold War. But I sincerely hope that the strong scientific bonds established during the last three decades will survive and help re-establish broader East-West relations.


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.

Russia/Ukraine

  • The west is trying to quietly forget the war in Ukraine. It does so at its own peril Guardian

Most people have already forgotten the war. In fact, they forgot about it 2 months after it began. I physically observed people who were deeply invested in it slowly turn to other things to focus on in that time period.

  • Ukraine warns Russia’s biggest arms buyers against buying weapons that do ‘not survive on the battlefield’ Business Insider

  • The war in Ukraine may dent the Su-35’s reputation as a top-tier Russian fighter jet Business Insider

  • Putin allies rush to blame Ukraine for the killing of top philosopher’s daughter, as former lawmaker points to underground anti-Kremlin group Business Insider

Top philosopher? Really? From what I’ve heard, this guy is closer to being the Russian Vermin Supreme than like, somebody who dines and lobbies all the politicians in Washington DC and is the head of some giant revered thinktank.

China

  • China’s Belt and Road is facing challenges. But can the US counter it? CNN

If a headline asks a question, the answer to the question is “no."


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.

  • Climate-Related Disasters Are Growing. We’re Not Ready for Them. Jacobin

It’s no secret that global warming is making natural disasters both more common and more severe. But neither the US government nor many residents seem to be taking the changing climate into account when it comes to housing.

This perception of risk is at the core of Soaking the Middle Class. In their study, sociologists Max Besbris and Anna Rhodes investigated the effects of Hurricane Harvey on the Houston suburb of Friendswood, where many people’s homes were significantly damaged. Almost nobody there thought they were at significant risk, and even after experiencing devastating flooding, most people decided to return to their homes.

But some residents had an easier time than others. Besbris and Rhodes found that many households struggled to access federal funds to rebuild their homes, and that often those who had more success in doing so were already better off to begin with. Some in this latter group were able to remodel their houses after Harvey to the degree they even came out ahead financially, while other Friendswood residents struggled to make their houses safe to inhabit. The aftermath of Harvey didn’t simply reflect pre-existing inequality, it actually drove inequality further.

Jacobin contributor Ben Beckett spoke with Soaking the Middle Class co-author Max Besbris about their study, the Friendswood community’s desire for housing stability, and why “natural disaster” is a misleading term.

  • Ben Shapiro Thinks “Marxism Can’t Work in America.” He’s Very Confused. Jacobin

In a way this is a bad take because they’ve wasted article space on responding to this unimportant, grifting little gremlin shitting in their own hand and tossing it around at weepy liberal college students, but whatever, I guess it’s a wider subject to be addressed that Ben just happened to touch on.

Conservative pundit Ben Shapiro posted a video on his YouTube channel last Sunday entitled “Marxism Can’t Work In America.” He starts with a series of historical claims about race, class, Marxism, and American history.

“When you have high levels of societal income mobility, when you can be born in America and become very, very wealthy, when you can be a middle-class person and you can get rich, it’s very difficult to make the case that the system is stacked against you — so the Left had to come up with another way to ram their cultural Marxism through, and what they came up with was race.

Because while the United States historically has not had massive class distinctions that are hard and fast, it has had race distinctions that were hard and fast for the vast majority of America’s lifetime, right, until the 1960s, so from 1776 to the 1960s you had hard and fast racial distinctions in law in many parts of the country and that was a serious problem.

So what the Marxists did is they glommed onto this, and they said, “Aha! What we need to do is make Americans understand that the systems are racist, and you need to tear down the systems so you can have, essentially, racial mobility. That is the only way to do this.”

As he continues the story, the end of de jure segregation in the mid-1960s should have removed “any remaining excuse you have for some sort of revolution based on class.” Instead of giving up, though, Marxists invented Critical Race Theory, which claims that notionally racially neutral policies and institutions can be discriminatory in their effects.

Even if Shapiro’s factual premises weren’t completely erroneous — most importantly, the US does not have high levels of class mobility relative to comparable nations — his assumption that a high rate of upward mobility would be enough to blunt the socialist critique of economic inequality shows that he has no idea of what and why that critique is.

It’s tempting to imagine Ben Shapiro being transported to West Virginia a century ago so he could explain to striking coal miners dodging bullets from Pinkertons that no white people in America at that time were impacted by “massive class distinctions” — and that any class distinctions that might exist at least weren’t “hard and fast.” (Surely if they went back to work and focused on making sure their kids did their homework, it wouldn’t take more than a generation or two for any family of coal miners to become a family of coal barons.)

Putting that aside, though, Shapiro’s grasp of the relevant history really veers off into oblivion on the questions of a) Marxism and b) race.

It’s true enough that the Socialist Party of America and the Communist Party USA were among very few predominantly white organizations in the United States that put any kind of premium on the fight for racial equality in the 1930s and 40s. But does Shapiro really think fighting racism was something they had to focus on because their message about class injustice wasn’t resonating?

The opposite would be closer to the truth. For American socialists in the heyday of socialism, talking about class was the easy part, the path of least resistance. Race and racism were the difficult subjects, the issues that posed knotty strategic problems that socialists could sometimes be tempted to try to evade. Socialists spent most of their time on the economic issues that impacted working people of all races.

And those appeals resonated with plenty of workers. This was an era when even a tiny Trotskyist party, the Socialist Workers Party, led successful general strikes in a mid-sized American city.

More importantly, the idea that Marxists who were involved in the civil rights movement understood the goal as “essentially, racial mobility” is bizarre. And this gets to Shapiro’s core area of confusion about the point of socialist objections of economic inequality.


Bloomerism and Hope

For events that show that a better, more equitable, and happier world is possible than the neoliberal hell we inhabit.

  • China forgives 23 loans for 17 African countries, expands ‘win-win’ trade and infrastructure projects Multipolarista

The Chinese government has announced that it is forgiving 23 interest-free loans for 17 African nations, while pledging to deepen its collaboration with the continent.

This is in addition to China’s cancellation of more than $3.4 billion in debt and restructuring of around $15 billion of debt in Africa between 2000 and 2019.

While Beijing has a repeated history of forgiving loans like this, Western governments have made baseless, politically motivated accusations that China uses “debt-trap diplomacy” in the Global South.

The United States has turned Africa into a battleground in its new cold war on China and Russia. And Washington has weaponized dubious claims of Chinese “debt traps” to try to demonize Beijing for its substantial infrastructure projects on the continent.

For its part, China has pushed back against the US new cold war.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a meeting with leaders from various African countries and the African Union on August 18.

In the conference, Wang condemned the West’s “zero-sum Cold War mentality.” He instead proposed a model based on “multi-party cooperation” with Africa that brings “win-win results” for all sides.

“What Africa would welcome is mutually beneficial cooperation for the greater well-being of the people, not major-country rivalry for geopolitical gains,” he said.

Wang revealed that Beijing will support the African Union in its efforts to join the G20.

The foreign minister also announced that “China will waive the 23 interest-free loans for 17 African countries that had matured by the end of 2021.”

Beijing pledged to strengthen trade with Africa, and has made agreements with 12 countries on the continent to remove tariffs for 98% of the products they export to China, increasing the competitiveness of African goods.


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