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- Record-breaking heat wave in Europe will be the norm by 2035, analysis shows CNN
The record-breaking heat wave that swept across Europe this year will become the “average” summer by 2035, even if all countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by as much as they have pledged to, according to an analysis published Thursday.
The analysis by the UK’s Met Office Hadley Centre, commissioned by the country’s Climate Crisis Advisory Group (CCAG), looked at how quickly temperatures are changing across the region using historical records of mean summer temperatures since 1850, and comparing them against model predictions.
Taking a longer-term view, the analysis found that an average summer in central Europe by 2100 would be more than 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) hotter than it was in the pre-industrial era. Scientists now say that all heat waves bear the fingerprints of human-induced climate change, caused primarily by burning fossil fuels.
- The UK has boosted natural gas production 26% as prices soar and Europe seeks relief in its energy crisis Business Insider
The UK has ramped up production of natural gas by 26% this year as Europe grapples with an energy crisis spurred by Russian cuts to gas pipeline flows.
Its energy producers bumped up supplies by 3.5 billion cubic meters in the first half of 2022 by drilling new North Sea fields and cutting back on shutdowns, industry body Offshore Energies UK said Wednesday.
- Goodbye Hot Showers and Street Lights. Here’s How Europe Is Slashing Energy Use Bloomberg
Europeans are taking colder showers, offices are turning down thermostats and stores are dimming lights to avoid blackouts and freezing homes this winter in the fallout from Russia’s war in Ukraine.
As the Kremlin slashes gas deliveries and power-plant outages intensify a supply squeeze, Europe has little alternative but to curtail demand. Measures so far have been uneven, but the urgency is growing as wholesale prices continue to surge.
- Google to ‘inoculate’ Eastern Europeans against disinformation RT
A new campaign by Google’s behavioral tech incubator Jigsaw aims to “pre-bunk” harmful claims about Ukrainian refugees, targeting audiences in Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic with video clips designed to educate them about the types of psychological manipulation the spreaders of disinformation might deploy against them.
Taking its cue from ‘inoculation theory’ and the logic behind vaccination – in which someone is exposed to a virus, or in this case exposing them to knowledge about misinformation – the goal of the campaign is apparently to boost people’s defenses against false information.
“If you tell people what’s true and false, a lot of people will dispute the claims…but what you can predict are the techniques that will be used in spreading misinformation, like with the Ukrainian crisis,” Jon Roozenbeek, the lead author on a study of the research behind Jigsaw’s campaign, told Reuters in an interview.
The end goal is making audiences “resilient” to anti-refugee narratives. Poland was chosen as ground zero for testing because of its high number of Ukrainian migrants – some 1.5 million have crossed into the country since February, and the city of Warsaw saw its population climb by 15% due to the influx of refugees – while the other two countries were selected to give a general idea of how the rest of Europe might respond, according to Jigsaw head of research Beth Goldberg.
The 90-second clips were devised with the help of psychologists from the universities of Cambridge and Bristol and run for a month in ad slots on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube. They form part of a larger campaign encompassing NGOs, fact-checkers, academics, and “disinformation experts.”
I suppose I’m kind of a disinformation expert now, aren’t I?
- Ukraine economy could grow by 15.5% in 2023 after deep fall - minister Reuters
Ukraine’s economy should stabilise over the coming year and expand by as much as 15.5% in 2023, depending on military developments in the war against Russia that began on Feb. 24, the country’s economy minister told Reuters in an interview.
Yulia Svyrydenko, who also serves as first vice prime minister, said government officials were compiling macroeconomic forecasts ahead of the start of negotiations next month with the International Monetary Fund on a fresh lending programme.
Surrounded by sandbags in the basement of the Cabinet of Ministers amid increased warnings of possible attacks on Kyiv, Svyrydenko said current forecasts for gross domestic product in 2023 ranged from a further contraction of 0.4% to an expansion of 15.5%, after a likely contraction of 30-35% this year.
“We understand that we have to keep the economy moving. It’s very hard to make new forecasts because of the uncertainty. It fully depends on the military scenario,” Svyrydenko added.
- Ukraine unplugs from Russian power grid RT
Ukraine has terminated an agreement with Moscow on the operation of the two countries’ energy systems, the government’s representative to the Rada, Taras Melnichuk, announced on Tuesday.
“The agreement between the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the Russian government on measures to ensure the parallel operation of the unified energy system of Ukraine and the unified energy system of Russia, concluded on July 12, 2012, has been terminated,” he posted on Telegram.
Ukraine was previously part of the Integrated Power System, which includes Russia and Belarus. The deal reportedly stipulated that the countries must ensure the proper technical condition of electrical networks and coordinate the planning of parallel operation of their power grids.
In late February, Ukraine did a test run by temporarily disconnecting from the Russian electrical grid and linked to an electricity grid spanning much of continental Europe. Belgium-based ENTSO-E, which represents dozens of transmission system operators in Europe, said the electricity grid of Ukraine was successfully synchronized with the Continental European Power System on a trial basis.
- Putin is paying parents in occupied Ukraine $167 to send children to school and receive a Russian education Business Insider
Parents in occupied regions of Ukraine are being offered $167 to send their children to Russian-controlled schools, in President Vladimir Putin’s latest effort to “Russianize” the curriculum.
The Kremlin announced on Wednesday the one-off payment of 10,000 rubles to parents of children in Donetsk and Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, Kharkiv and Kherson, as long as they attend by September 15.
The amount equates to roughly just less than half a month’s average salary, as of a 2021 estimate by statistics website Statista. However, the wartime economy and global inflation has caused the cost of living to soar, The New York Times reported in July.
- Russia pushing for more farm exports to China as Western sanctions bite, says diplomatic source SCMP
Russia is looking to broaden trade ties with China beyond the energy sector, with a particular focus on farm goods, a diplomatic source says, as Western nations step up enforcement of sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
But Beijing’s stringent coronavirus controls and concern over secondary sanctions remain obstacles to deepening economic bonds, the source said, although there was a growing mood of cooperation between the strategic partners.
The Chinese government strengthened its partnership with Russia to one that has “no limits” and “no forbidden areas”, three weeks before Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his country’s all-out attack on Ukraine on February 24. Beijing has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion and resisted calls to apply economic pressure on Moscow.
Since then, China has stepped up imports from Russia, especially energy products. Purchases of Russian agricultural goods like meat, seafood and soybeans expanded last month, but crude oil and natural gas still accounted for more than two-thirds of growth by value between January and July, customs released on Saturday showed.
While energy remains the backbone of trade, a Russian diplomatic source said Moscow thinks there is room for expansion.
“What China imports from Russia is still mainly concentrated on oil and gas … but Russia hopes China will buy a greater variety of Russian goods,” the source told the South China Morning Post, adding the two countries were “highly complementary” in agricultural trade like soybeans.
Shu Jueting, spokeswoman for China’s Ministry of Commerce, said on Thursday Beijing wanted to increase bilateral trade in both size and quality, and pointed to new opportunities in the digital economy, green development and biomedicine.
“The two sides are coordinating pandemic controls and the port customs clearance, and strive to ensure the normal order of goods passing through the border ports of the two countries,” she said.
- Russia Considers Deeper Oil Discounts To Counter U.S. Price Cap Push Oil Price
Russia has recently contacted several Asian buyers to discuss selling its oil at hefty discounts under long-term contracts, while the U.S. and the West are stepping up efforts to garner a broad coalition that would back a price cap on Russian oil, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, quoting a Western official. Russia has had initial talks with some Asian buyers about possible discounts of up to 30%. This signals that Moscow may want to counter the U.S-led efforts to impose a price cap on Russian oil, the official told Bloomberg.
Another reason for Russia looking to offer discounts on long-term deals could be Moscow’s attempt to secure future markets in Asia for the oil that will no longer be allowed to be imported in the EU as of the end of this year, according to Bloomberg.
The U.S. and the G7 group of the world’s most industrialized nations are leading the efforts to impose a price cap on Russian oil. They are considering waiving the ban on insurance and all services enabling transportation of Russian oil if that oil is bought at or below a certain price, which has yet to be decided.
The Biden Administration and U.S. Department of the Treasury have been pushing for weeks to have as many oil buyers as possible agree to a price cap plan.
U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo is traveling to India this week, where he will discuss a range of issues, including plans for a price cap on Russian oil.
Buyers in Asia, especially large importers China and India, would be crucial to such efforts if they agree to the price cap mechanism.
- Putin orders Russian military to boost manpower RT
The size of the Russian military is set to increase to 1.15 million troops next year, in line with a decree that President Vladimir Putin signed on Thursday.
The document, published on the government’s website, adds 137,000 to the ranks of the Armed Forces from January 1, 2023.
It also instructs the cabinet to allocate the necessary funds for the expansion.
- Russians in Latvia should be ‘isolated’ – president RT
Ethnic Russians who are not loyal to the Latvian government should be “isolated from society,” the country’s President Egils Levits argued in a radio interview on Wednesday.
Discussing the positive and negative effects for Riga of the conflict in Ukraine, Levits called the emergence of “a section of Russian society that is not loyal to the state” a matter of concern.
“Our task is to deal with that [section] and isolate it from society,” he added, as cited by the Latvian public broadcaster LSM.
The positive effects that the president mentioned included the rise of patriotism and nationalism in the country and growing awareness of the price that has to be paid for freedom.
- Russia offers visas to Latvian defenders of demolished monument RT
Russia is ready to grant asylum to Latvians who face harassment in their home country for protesting their government’s crackdown on Soviet-era symbols, Moscow’s envoy to Riga has said.
The embassy “has started issuing Russian visas to citizens who had been detained these days near the monument to the liberators of Riga,” Ambassador Mikhail Vanin told Russian television on Wednesday.
This will allow them “to flee Latvian territory and find asylum in Russia, should they need it,” he added.
- British energy price cap to rise 80% to 3,549 pounds a year Reuters
The cost of energy for British consumers will rise by 80% from October, regulator Ofgem said on Friday, taking average annual household bills to 3,549 pounds ($4,188).
Ofgem Chief Executive Jonathan Brearley said the rise would have a “massive impact” on households across Britain, and another increase was likely in January, reflecting significant pricing pressure in energy markets.
- Britons Blame Government More Than Power Firms for Energy Crisis Bloomberg
Almost half of Britons questioned on the UK’s current energy crisis blame the Government more than the energy firms, according to a new poll.
Research by Focaldata of 1,021 adults from across the UK showed that 47% of respondents blame ministers for “failing to prepare and prevent” the huge rise in energy bills.
Just under a third, 30%, condemn the energy firms.
The data comes as Ofgem, the UK energy industry regulator, is due to make its latest announcement regarding the energy price cap - with experts forecasting another significant increase.
The polling, on behalf of Cavendish Advocacy and collected on August 17-18, also shows 92% of people who took part are “concerned” about the energy crisis.
Two thirds, 66%, would go as far to say they are “very concerned” about the soaring energy bills.
- Energy Executives Warn The UK Could Face Civil Unrest As Power Bills Rise Oil Price
Energy executives in the UK have warned the government that the country faces the prospect of mass civil unrest as a result of people being unable to afford their heating and electricity bills this winter.
The government is being asked to approve “radical” COVID-style bailouts for small businesses which face total ruination as a result of soaring energy costs.
“Energy company bosses have warned ministers they fear civil unrest if nothing is done to cushion the blow of rising bills,” reports the Telegraph.
One senior industry figure said that when people “realize how bad this is going to get,” they could take their anger to the streets in the form of violent demonstrations.
The comments are similar in nature to those made by campaigner Tom Scott, who is urging people to refuse to pay their bills, and says social disorder is on the horizon.
“There was a major riot in London [in 1990],” said Scott, referring to the poll tax riots.
“That’s not something I would like to see, but I think it’s almost inevitable that unless the Government does take much more effective action to help people, there will be widespread civil unrest.”
- UK pubs face ‘extinction’ – survey RT
Nearly three in four British pubs expect to go out of business this winter, according to a survey by the Morning Advertiser published on Tuesday, which cites record-high energy prices as the main cause for concern in the industry.
As energy costs are expected to continue rising, over 70% of pubs say they will be forced to close their doors for good unless the government intervenes.
More than 65% of respondents said they have seen their utility costs rise by over 100%. Another 30% of pub owners said their bills went up 200% while 8% reported seeing an increase of a staggering 500%. Nearly 80% of owners said they had no way to keep up with the costs.
- UK Solar Panel Demand Jumps as Households Brace for Bleak Winter Bloomberg
Demand for solar panel installation is soaring as British households seek to soften the blow from higher energy bills this winter.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sent wholesale gas prices surging, worsening an energy crunch that could push millions into fuel poverty. On Friday, industry regulator Ofgem raised the cap on energy prices to a record £3,549 ($4,181) beginning Oct. 1, with further increases expected in January and April. That’s increasing demand for solar panels.
“The wait time is about two to three months; going back a few months ago, it was only a month,” said Jez Brinklow, owner of Alfreton Electrics, an electrical company based in Derbyshire, England. “It’s all about saving money.”
The deployment of new capacity is taking place at a record pace, according to Solar Energy UK, an industry association. In the second quarter of this year, 95 megawatts was fitted to residential rooftops, almost triple the year-earlier period.
- UK Records Zero Fuel Imports From Russia For First Time Ever Oil Price
The UK did not import any fuels from Russia in June, for the first time since records began, the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Wednesday, meaning that Britain managed to phase out oil and gas purchases from Russia as it had pledged in the early days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine six months ago.
Days after Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine, the UK said that it would phase out Russian oil imports by the end of this year and that Russian gas accounts for less than 4 percent of Britain’s supply. At the time of the announcement in early March, Russian imports accounted for 8 percent of total UK oil demand. But the UK is also a significant producer of both crude oil and petroleum products, in addition to imports from a diverse range of reliable suppliers beyond Russia, including the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, and the United States, the UK government said in March.
- Heavy Norwegian gas maintenance adds to energy price pressure Reuters
Norway, which has overtaken Russia as the biggest gas supplier to Europe in the wake of the war in Ukraine, will curtail its gas exports significantly next month due to heavy maintenance activity, with some work deferred from earlier this year.
Planned and unplanned maintenance will reduce capacity at 13 fields and processing plants throughout September, with lost volumes peaking at 154.68 million cubic feet (mcm) per day on Sept. 7, according to Gassco data.
At the same time, there is also maintenance at exit terminals in Europe and Britain, affecting where Norwegian gas will flow to next month.
Maintenance should curtail overall gas production, which will drop to 323.9 mcm/day, the lowest point this year, according to a forecast from the Norwegian petroleum directorate.
- Finland Braces For Rolling Blackouts This Winter Oil Price
Finland should be prepared for possible power outages this winter in case of shortfalls in electricity supply, the Finnish grid operator said on Tuesday, in yet another warning of an energy crunch in Europe after gas supply from Russia was severely reduced.
In Finland’s case, Gazprom stopped in May all gas deliveries to Russia’s neighbor to the West, making Finland the third EU member state with Russian pipeline supply cut off after Poland and Bulgaria. The halt of Russian supply to Finland took place days after Finland—together with its Scandinavian neighbor Sweden—formally applied to join NATO in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russia has warned both countries against applying to become NATO members.
Finland gets up to 70 percent of the gas it uses from Russia, but gas doesn’t have a large share in the overall energy mix and accounts for 5 percent of total energy consumption.
“The war in Europe and the exceptional situation on the energy market have increased uncertainties related to the availability of electricity. As a result of the great uncertainties, Finns should be prepared for power outages caused by possible electricity shortages this coming winter,” Finnish grid operator Fingrid said today.
- Belgium PM: “Next 5-10 Winters Will Be Difficult” As Energy Crisis Persists Oil Price
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo might have spilled the beans about the duration of Europe’s energy crisis. He told reporters Monday, “the next 5 to 10 winters will be difficult.” “The development of the situation is very difficult throughout Europe,” De Croo told Belgium broadcaster VRT.
“In a number of sectors, it is really difficult to deal with those high energy prices. We are monitoring this closely, but we must be transparent: the coming months will be difficult, the coming winters will be difficult,” he said.
The prime minister’s comments suggest replacing Russian natural gas imports could take years, exerting further economic doom on the region’s economy in the form of energy hyperinflation.
- Germany to Rethink Gas Levy After Outcry Over Energy Profits Bloomberg
Germany is looking at restricting the companies able to benefit from a new gas levy just to those that really need the assistance, with the scrutiny following an outcry over soaring profits at some energy firms.
The government is imposing the levy on consumers to help fund aid for suppliers forced to pay higher prices due to Russia squeezing gas deliveries, but Economy Minister Robert Habeck said he’ll look into ways of preventing some gas importers from receiving the aid.
Germany initiated the plan over concerns that failures of gas companies could trigger wider disruption in energy deliveries to Europe’s biggest economy. The move has prompted a political backlash, with some members of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s ruling coalition urging a rethink.
There have also been widespread calls for an additional tax on energy companies whose profits have soared due to the crisis, though Finance Minister Christian Lindner has ruled out such a move. Both issues are sure to be high on the agenda at a two-day cabinet retreat in Meseberg outside Berlin starting Tuesday.
- Germany’s industrial machine is sputtering, with electricity costs up 600% and factory inflation at a 73-year high. Here’s what’s going on in Europe’s largest economy. Business Insider
Germany, Europe’s largest economy, is struggling with its addiction to Russian energy. It’s in the midst of a crippling energy crisis that’s prompted inflation to soar and push the country towards recession.
Electricity prices in Germany skyrocketed more than 600% in the year to July on the back of soaring natural gas prices, piling the pressure on businesses and consumers alike.
Producer price inflation — a measure of the prices charged by manufacturers when goods leave their factories, and a leading indicator of consumer price inflation — surged to 37.2% in the year to July, the sharpest rise since records began in 1949, official data showed last week.
The German economy stagnated in the second quarter of 2022 and many forecasters are expecting imminent recession.
- Inflation ‘eats up’ German savings – study RT
Inflation has largely depleted the savings Germans managed to accumulate over the past two years, a report from Munich-based IFO Economic Institute published on Tuesday shows.
According to the report, German “private households put aside a lot of money during the two [Covid-19] years,” as disposable incomes were stabilized by extensive government support, while opportunities for consumption were severely restricted. Estimates show the savings rate averaged 15.5% in 2020 and 2021, significantly higher than in the previous five years (10.6%). As a result, so-called surplus savings reached just under €200 billion.
However, these savings have now disappeared.
“Inflation eats up surplus savings… The data from the balance sheet statistics of financial institutions shows that these surplus deposits had been almost completely eliminated by the end of the first quarter of 2022,” IFO says in the report. Moreover, it states that in the second quarter of the year, this ‘desaving’ continued, pushing the volume of total bank deposits below the average level for the past five years.
- Germans warned of toilet paper shortage RT
The crisis on the European gas market could lead to reduced production of toilet paper in Germany, according to Martin Krengel, chairman of the nation’s paper industry association, Die Papierindustrie.
“We are particularly dependent on gas for the production of tissue paper. Without it, we will no longer be able to provide security of supply,” Krengel said in a statement published on Thursday.
According to data provided by Die Papierindustrie, each German citizen uses an average of 134 rolls of toilet paper per year. “In the current energy crisis, our top priority is to provide people with this important commodity,” Krengel stressed.
Each German citizen uses a whole toilet roll every 3 days? A household, sure, but every single person? Are they smaller over there or something?
Last month, the Bavarian Paper Association warned that operating paper plants may become unprofitable if they are forced to work at reduced capacity due to natural gas shortages.
- Lufthansa Pilots Step Up Strike Threat as Wage Talks Hit Impasse Bloomberg
Deutsche Lufthansa AG pilots said they have begun preparations to go on strike after failing to reach a wage accord with the airline, potentially creating more chaos after recent labor action already disrupted operations at the height of the summer travel season.
“At this point we remain far apart,” Matthias Baier, the spokesman for the Vereinigung Cockpit pilot labor union, said in a statement late on Thursday.
The labor group said it’s initiated the “legal and organizational preparations for strike action,” without providing a timetable. Cockpit said that four days of deliberations to reach a wage accord ended without results last week, and the union said it sees no promising path to continuing negotiations at this point.
Asia and Oceania
- ‘This is a big headache’: Beijing’s sanctions squeeze Taiwanese farmers SCMP
Cross-strait tensions have risen to their highest level in decades as Beijing rages over a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier this month.
Beijing launched drills in response, sending missiles into waters around the island – and it torpedoed exports of certain fruit and fish products to mainland China with fresh import bans.
Taiwanese farmers and producers have increasingly had to get used to import bans from China – with mainland authorities typically citing sudden regulatory discrepancies rather than a direct link to politics.
After Pelosi’s visit, Beijing announced bans on Taiwanese citrus fruit and some mackerel, while halting its own exports to the island of natural sand used in construction.
The month before her visit, it targeted grouper fish, the vast majority of which had previously gone to mainland consumers.
Taipei said the move was politically motivated, while Beijing claimed it found some fish to be contaminated by banned chemicals.
A year earlier, pineapple imports were halted after mainland authorities claimed to have discovered pests in shipments, just as the annual harvest was under way.
At a grouper facility in Pingtung, Taiwan’s southernmost county, third-generation farmer Hans Chen of the Lijia Green Energy and Biotechnology Company said he would be “severely impacted” if the sanctions were not lifted by the end of the year.
Chen, 35, manages a farm of some 500,000 groupers, and 90 per cent of its exports go to mainland China.
He said the ban was imposed without any warning and came at the worst time for producers already bruised by the coronavirus pandemic.
The fish farmer said his business and others had relied too much on the lucrative mainland Chinese market and needed to diversify away from their aggressive neighbour after the surprise ban.
- Deng Xiaoping: gone but not forgotten as China grapples with unprecedented challenges SCMP
This week marks the 118th anniversary of the birth of Deng Xiaoping and a sense of nostalgia about the late paramount leader is tangible in China – even a quarter of a century since his death.
Deng, often called the architect of modern China, is credited with a reformist programme that transformed the country from an isolated, backward state to a potential global superpower.
While the authorities and the public have always celebrated Deng’s legacy, this year, as China faces unprecedented challenges at home and abroad, there are signs online of public desire for what many see as the golden era of China – when the country first opened its doors to the world.
Social media platforms, such as Weibo, WeChat and Toutiao, are full of praise for Deng, attributing him with freeing China from endless ideological debates and refocusing the nation on wealth creation and development.
Deng broke the shackles of a tightly controlled planned economy and created a unique hybrid market economy. He reintroduced public examinations for university entrance and government jobs, and laid down the foundations of China’s science and technology revival.
“Chinese people, especially those with a sound rationale … will fully affirm the open door and reform policy firmly introduced by comrade Deng Xiaoping,” Tsinghua University philosophy professor Huang Yusheng said in a Weibo post.
“With the passage of time, people’s respect and remembrance of Deng have become stronger.”
- These Are the Megaprojects in China’s $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan Bloomberg
China is pumping trillions of yuan into infrastructure investment, stimulus that could benefit the world’s second-largest economy well beyond this year’s gloom of Covid lockdowns and property market turmoil.
Beijing is making 6.8 trillion yuan (about $1 trillion) of government funds available for construction projects, according to Bloomberg calculations based on official announcements. Total spending could be even higher than that — three times that amount, by some estimates — once bank lending and corporate funds are added.
In the near term, infrastructure investment could give a boost to employment, providing much-needed relief to millions of jobseekers hit by the downturn. Over the longer-term, the stimulus helps China’s ambition of becoming a more urbanized, high-income economy that’s better able to compete with the US in high-tech areas like semiconductors.
Whether the projects are a success or end up as white elephants will help determine the outlook for China for years to come. Here’s a guide to where the funds are going.
Deserts in north China are set to host an unparalleled build-up of renewable energy. In recent months, construction began on wind and solar-power “bases,” which by 2030 will contain about as much renewable capacity as currently in all of Europe.
The first phase, with about 100 gigawatts of turbines and solar panels, is due to be completed by next year, with another 450 GW phase started this year.
“The wind and solar bases are the main engines of China’s renewable installation,” said Tianyi Zhao, a China solar analyst at BloombergNEF.
The second phase will cost more than 3 trillion yuan, according to state media. Ultra-high voltage transmission lines will transport the energy to the densely populated eastern seaboard. China’s state-owned grid company plans to build 13 of them this year.
Combining investment in renewable energy and power transmission, China’s total “green investment” could reach 2.6 trillion yuan this year alone, according to Australia & New Zealand Banking Group.
Construction of canals, dams and reservoirs has been stepped up, with more than 800 billion yuan set to be invested in those projects this year.
The most ambitious is a 200 kilometer-long tunnel moving water from the country’s Yangtze river to a reservoir that feeds northern China, a scheme known as the South-North Water Transfer Project. It would be the world’s longest water tunnel, beating the current record holder in Finland, and parts of it would be as deep as 1 km underground.
Projects that move water around the country account for about a third of China’s water infrastructure spending, according to estimates by Wenjing Zhang and Sarah Rogers, researchers at the University of Melbourne. Planned projects could increase the amount of water available for use in China by 122 billion cubic meters annually, they estimate – that’s about five times the amount of water Germany uses each year.
“China has been quietly moving towards a highly integrated water supply network,” the researchers wrote in a recent report. “Such a network will allow the Chinese state to move water around at an unprecedented scale.”
The government also favors the projects because they are highly labor intensive. About 30,000 ongoing water conservation projects employ about 1 million workers, the country’s water ministry has said.
Building urban infrastructure — including urban roads, gas and water pipe networks and parks — is the most popular choice for spending by local governments, which account for the bulk of China’s infrastructure spending.
The latest plan involves linking together existing cities into a single area. For example, a zone approved around the city of Xi’an in March has a current population of 18 million people.
After decades of concrete sprawl, focus is shifting toward greener cities. Central China’s “Songya Lake Ecological New City,” which began construction this year at an estimated cost of 200 billion yuan, has specified it will leave 70% of the area for green spaces and water. That’s the same ratio of buildings to natural space as in the under-construction city of Xiong’an near Beijing, which planners around the country are taking as a model after it was championed by President Xi Jinping.
The other favored investment of local governments are industrial parks providing low-cost facilities to businesses. Local governments spent about a third of funds raised from selling bonds on urban infrastructure and industrial parks in the first quarter, according to official data. At that rate, they could spend about 1.4 trillion yuan on such projects this year alone.
China already has 40,000 km of high-speed rail — more than twice as much as the rest of the planet combined — and dozens of big-ticket projects are still ongoing.
The most ambitious is a 1,629 km line from Sichuan province in the southwest to the Tibetan capital Lhasa, climbing more than 3,000 meters through earthquake-prone terrain and glaciers. It’s expected to be completed by 2030. The total cost of the entire project is about 320 billion yuan.
China said this year it plans to have 70,000 km of high-speed rail by 2035. But that actually implies about a 40% decline in the amount of track built each year compared with the pace set over the past five years. In other words, while China will continue to outspend the rest of the world on rail, its spending could gradually decline.
The same is true for highways and subways. China plans to construct or restore 58,000 km of expressways by 2035, implying a sharp slowdown in the pace of annual building compared with the past five years. One route under construction includes the 1,176 meter-long Changtai Yangtze River Bridge, the world’s longest road and rail suspension bridge.
As part of an effort to build a more digital economy, China’s “East Data West Computing” plan involves building huge data centers in poorer Western provinces to hold data generated by internet companies based in the east. Building eight data center clusters will cost about 400 billion yuan a year — most of which will come from state-owned telecoms companies.
Jeroen Groenewegen-Lau, an analyst at the Mercator Institute for China Studies, says the plan “defies market logic.” Technology firms “want to process data close to most of their customers,” he wrote in a note on the scheme, adding that for Beijing the benefits are more than can be captured financially.
“The central government sees data-center construction as a way to spread the benefits of the digital economy beyond developed coastal cities, with the added benefit of better insulating China’s domestic market from external shocks,” he said.
- Russia replacing Brazil as one of China’s main oil suppliers MercoPress
Russia has become China’s main oil supplier for the third month running during July, according to information from Hong Kong market analysts. Apparently independent refiners stepped up purchases of discounted supplies while cutting shipments from rival suppliers such as Angola and Brazil.
Imports of oil from Russia, including supplies pumped via the East Siberia Pacific Ocean pipeline and seaborne shipments from Russia’s European and Far Eastern ports, totaled 7.15 million tons, up 7.6% from a year ago, data from the Chinese General Administration of Customs showed.
Still, Russian supplies in July, equivalent to about 1.68 million barrels per day (BPD), were below May’s record of close to 2 million BPD. China is Russia’s largest oil buyer.
- Pope Francis asks North Korea to invite him to visit Inquirer
Pope Francis has asked Pyongyang to invite him to North Korea, saying in a televised interview on Friday that he would not turn down a chance to visit and work for peace.
A potential papal visit to the isolated, nuclear-armed country was previously floated in 2018 when Seoul’s former president Moon Jae-in embarked on a round of diplomacy with Pyongyang’s leader Kim Jong Un.
Moon, who is Catholic, said during a summit that Kim told him the pontiff would be “enthusiastically” welcomed.
Pope Francis replied at the time that he would be willing to go if he received an official invitation.
- South Korea records world’s lowest fertility rate – again CNN
South Korea has broken its own record for the world’s lowest fertility rate, according to official figures released Wednesday, as the country struggles to reverse its years-long trend of declining births.
The country’s fertility rate, which indicates the average number of children a woman will have in her lifetime, sunk to 0.81 in 2021 – 0.03% lower than the previous year, according to government-run Statistics Korea.
To put that into perspective, the 2021 fertility rate was 1.6 in the United States and 1.3 in Japan, which also saw its lowest rate on record last year. In some African countries, where fertility rates are the highest in the world, the figure is 5 or 6.
To maintain a stable population, countries need a fertility rate of 2.1 – anything above that indicates population growth.
In South Korea and Japan, there are similar reasons behind the decline in births – including demanding work cultures, stagnating wages, rising costs of living and skyrocketing housing prices.
Many South Korean women say they just don’t have the time, money, or emotional capacity to go on dates as they put their career first in a highly competitive job market in which they often face a patriarchal culture and gender inequality.
The South Korean government has introduced several measures in recent years to tackle the falling fertility rate, including allowing both parents to take parental leave at the same time and extending paid paternal leave.
Social campaigns have encouraged men to take on a more active role in childcare and housework, and in some parts of the country, authorities are handing out “new baby vouchers” to encourage parents to have more children.
- India bans wheat flour exports RT
India has approved a policy of restricting wheat flour exports, in a bid to bring down prices on the domestic market, the government said in a statement on Thursday.
The move comes after New Dehli banned wheat exports in mid-May to secure domestic supplies amid a heatwave, which threatened the harvest and sent prices soaring to a record high. Last month, the government extended the policy to wheat flour, but stopped short of banning its export, demanding instead that traders secure permission before shipping the product abroad.
However, the ban on wheat exports had the effect of raising demand for Indian wheat flour and accelerated flour exports, which surged 200% year-on-year between April and July 2022. As a result, prices on the domestic market also spiked, forcing the government to intervene.
- Pakistan’s Western-backed coup regime hits PM Imran Khan with ‘terrorism’ charges to silence dissent Multipolarista
This is an hour-long podcast episode with Pakistani scholar Junaid S. Ahmad, which discusses Imran Khan.
- Pakistan floods have affected more than 30 million: Minister Al Jazeera
Historic monsoon rains and flooding in Pakistan have affected more than 30 million people during the last few weeks, the country’s climate change minister said on Thursday.
Pakistan has urged the international community to help with relief efforts as it struggled to cope with the aftermath of torrential rains that have triggered massive floods since last month, killing more than 900 people.
“Thirty-three million have been affected in different ways. The final homeless figure is being assessed,” climate minister Sherry Rehman said.
In a news conference on Thursday, Rehman described the floods as a “humanitarian disaster of epic proportions” that had left thousands without food and shelter.
- Africans sue UK over colonial-era abuses RT
A group of Kenyan activists filed a case against the UK to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Tuesday. Lawyers representing peoples forced off their land in Kenya’s Rift Valley argue the UK has violated the European Convention of Human Rights, to which it is a signatory, by consistently ignoring complaints lodged by the victims of colonial rule.
“The UK government has ducked and dived, and sadly avoided every possible avenue of redress,” Joel Kimutai Bosek, representing the Kipsigis and Talai peoples, has said. “We have no choice but to proceed to court for our clients so that history can be righted.”
The British Empire ruled Kenya between the late 19th century and 1962. The peoples living in the Rift Valley were forced off their lands in the early 20th century. Today, the area around Kericho, the biggest town in the Valley, is a major tea-growing region farmed by multinational majors.
“Today, some of the world’s most prosperous tea companies, like Unilever, Williamson Tea, Finlay’s, and Lipton occupy and farm these lands and continue to use them to generate considerable profits,” the plaintiffs said in a statement.
Previously, the Kipsigis and Talai took their cause to the UN, where a special investigative panel expressed “serious concern” last year over London’s failure to acknowledge its share of responsibility or issue an apology for colonial-era abuses. The complaint to the UN was signed by more than 100,000 people who suffered from colonial rule or their descendants, demanding an apology and reparations for their land being ceded to white settlers.
Filing the case with the ECHR has been praised by the outgoing governor of Kericho County, Paul Chepkwony, who said it was “a historic day” for the whole region.
“We have taken all reasonable and dignified steps. But the UK Government has given us the cold shoulder … we hope for those who have suffered for too long that their dignity will be restored,” Chepkwony stated.
- US rents soar to another all-time high RT
Americans continue to be battered by uninterrupted increases in their cost of living, with the latest indicator showing that rates for rental housing have set new record highs for 17 straight months.
The median monthly rent in the 50 largest metropolitan areas jumped to $1,879 in July, up 12.3% from a year earlier, Realtor.com reported on Wednesday. The data is based on Realtor.com listings for studios, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom dwellings, meaning larger apartments and houses are excluded from the median.
- A ‘Tsunami of Shutoffs’: 20 Million US Homes Are Behind on Energy Bills Bloomberg
Adrienne Nice woke up early on the morning of July 25 to news she’d been dreading. The power company, Xcel Energy Inc., had shut off the electricity to the small Minneapolis apartment she shares with her teenage son, just as a heat wave was bearing down on the city.
Nice had been struggling financially ever since the pandemic hit, racking up more than $3,000 in past-due utility bills. The warnings she’d gotten on her monthly statement—“FINAL NOTICE” scrawled in big, bold letters—had prepared her to some degree, but it was still jarring to find the fridge dark and the air conditioner silent. With temperatures set to reach 95F (35C) in the coming days, she needed the power back on, and fast.
The Nice household is one of some 20 million across the country—about 1 in 6 American homes—that have fallen behind on their utility bills. It is, according to the National Energy Assistance Directors Association (Neada), the worst crisis the group has ever documented. Underpinning those numbers is a blistering surge in electricity prices, propelled by the soaring cost of natural gas.
The power bill crisis is even more acute in Europe, where the spike in natural gas prices has been far greater in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Policymakers there have sprung into action, throwing billions of euros in aid at struggling families to help them pay bills. There’s been no meaningful talk of doing anything on a similar scale in the US, where the hand-wringing has been dedicated, as always, to the gyrations of gasoline prices at the pump.
Utility shutoffs can have deadly consequences, though, a risk that’s becoming more palpable as summer heat shatters records. Already gut-punched by soaring prices for just about everything, more and more people are facing a choice among food, housing, and keeping the power on. “I expect a tsunami of shutoffs,” says Jean Su, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, which tracks utility disconnections across the US.
- Revision shows mild U.S. economic contraction in second quarter Reuters
The U.S. economy contracted at a moderate pace than initially thought in the second quarter as consumer spending blunted some of the drag from a slower pace of inventory accumulation, dispelling fears that a recession was underway.
Gross domestic product shrank at a 0.6% annualized rate last quarter, the Commerce Department said in its second estimate of GDP on Thursday. That was an upward revision from the previously estimated 0.9% pace of decline. The economy contracted at a 1.6% rate in the first quarter.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected that GDP would be revised slightly up to show output falling at a 0.8% rate.
While the two-straight quarterly decreases in GDP meet the standard definition of a technical recession, broader measures of economic activity suggest a slow pace of expansion rather than a downturn.
- Nvidia Issues Muted Outlook as Gaming Revenue Drops 33% WSJ
The gamers must fight back against oppression! Spend more money on blatantly overpriced hardware so you can run Battlefield 9 at absurdly high framerates that your brain cannot distinguish from 60 fps!
Nvidia Corp. gave a muted outlook for its current quarter, two weeks after warning investors that its videogaming business was hit by a downturn in demand.
The company Wednesday said it is expecting sales of about $5.9 billion for the current quarter, below the $6.9 billion analysts expected in a FactSet survey and well below the $8.4 billion Wall Street expected before the sales warning. The projected sales figure represents a decline of 17% compared with the same period last year.
Nvidia has been among the chip companies hardest hit by consumers curtailing spending in response to high inflation and rising interest rates. About a third of Nvidia’s sales come from videogamers who covet cutting-edge graphics performance and whose buying decisions waver with their spending power.
- American public changing mood on Ukraine - poll RT
Six months on from the start of Russia’s military offensive against Ukraine, nearly three in ten Americans are unsure about continuing to support Kiev in the conflict, a new poll has shown.
While 53% of US adults agree that Washington should continue to support Kiev “until all Russian forces are withdrawn from territory claimed by Ukraine,” 28% are undecided, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday. Doubts about continuing to pump weapons and other aid into Ukraine are especially prevalent among independents, at 37%, while 18% of Americans oppose the shipments altogether.
The survey suggests waning support for US involvement as the conflict drags on, contributing to surging inflation on the home front. In fact, 40% of Americans now agree with the statement that “the problems of Ukraine are none of our business, and we should not interfere.” That compares with 31% when the same question was asked in April.
Moreover, 59% of survey respondents, including 69% of Republicans, agree with the statement that “given the current economic crisis, the US cannot afford to lend financial support to Ukraine.” About half (51%) still support providing weapons to Ukraine, down from 73% in April. Just 26% support sending US troops to Ukraine, down from 39% in April.
- Cuba boosts fuel imports, reshuffles shipping operations after terminal fire Reuters
Cuba is using a combination of ship-to-ship transfers and floating oil storage to ease fuel scarcity and power cuts following a fire that destroyed a portion of its main oil terminal, vessel tracking data showed.
Cubans have endured daily blackouts and long waits for gasoline in the aftermath of the blaze, which hit the 2.4-million-barrel Matanzas terminal and killed 16 people this month.
Cuban President Miguel Diaz Canel’s administration has increased fuel imports from Europe and the Caribbean while Venezuela and Mexico have helped the communist-ruled island with specialized crews and equipment to extinguish the fire, triggered by lightning, and rebuild infrastructure.
More than 3 million barrels of Venezuelan crude and fuel, Russian oil, European diesel and liquefied petroleum gas from Dominican Republic and Trinidad and Tobago, representing some 230,000 barrels per day (bpd), have arrived in Cuba in the last two weeks, according to Refinitiv Eikon.
Another 200,000 barrels of Venezuelan fuel oil for power generation are due to arrive later this month on the Cuba-flagged tanker Petion, according to schedules from Venezuelan state-run company PDVSA.
- Chinese defense firm has taken over lifting Venezuelan oil for debt offset Reuters
China has entrusted a defense-focused state firm to ship millions of barrels of Venezuelan oil despite U.S. sanctions, part of a deal to offset Caracas' billions of dollars of debt to Beijing, according to three sources and tanker tracking data.
China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) stopped carrying Venezuelan oil in August 2019 after Washington tightened sanctions on the South American exporter. But it continued to find its way to China via traders who rebranded the fuel as Malaysian, Reuters has reported.
Since November 2020 China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp (CASIC) has been carrying Venezuelan crude on three tankers it acquired that year from PetroChina, CNPC’s listed vehicle, the sources said. The oil is stored on a tank farm it also took over from PetroChina, the sources said.
The three CASIC tankers load in Venezuela with their transponders active, allowing third-party tracking, Eikon data showed.
- Colombia’s leftwing government unveils tax-the-rich plan to tackle poverty Guardian
Colombia’s new leftist government has proposed an ambitious plan to tax the rich in an effort to combat poverty in one of the most unequal countries in the Americas.
If implemented, the Piketty-esque legislation proposed by President Gustavo Petro could raise more than $11.5bn annually to fund anti-poverty efforts, free public university and other social welfare programs.
If passed, the plan would raise taxes on the country’s highest earners – approximately 2% of Colombia’s population – cut tax benefits for the richest and fight tax evasion.
The tax hikes would progressively increase as income increases. It would add an annual wealth tax on savings and property above $630,000, and would add a 10% tax on some of Colombia’s biggest exports – oil, coal and gold – after prices rise above a certain threshold.
“This should not be viewed as a punishment or a sacrifice,” said Petro. “It is simply a solidarity payment that someone fortunate makes to a society that has enabled them to generate wealth.”
- Russia and India no longer need US dollar – BRICS president RT
Russia and India don’t need the US dollar in trade, having turned to national currencies to conduct mutual settlements, BRICS International Forum President Purnima Anand told reporters on Thursday.
“We have implemented the mechanism of mutual settlements in rubles and rupees, and there is no need for our countries to use the dollar in mutual settlements. And today a similar mechanism of mutual settlements in rubles and yuan is being developed by China,” she said.
“That means that the BRICS countries are opening up to Russia, offering the opportunity for the country to overcome the consequences of sanctions,” Anand added, as quoted by RIA news agency.
The BRICS president said mutual trade between India and Russia had grown fivefold over the past 40 years. Moscow supplies a rapidly growing volume of oil to India, and in return gets large quantities of agricultural products, textiles, medicines and other products.
Anand also noted that New Delhi considers itself a neutral party in the current sanctions war between the West and Russia, and despite sanctions pressure, will continue cooperation with Moscow “in any areas where necessary.”
- Covid pandemic has killed one million people worldwide since January- WHO Africa News
The Covid pandemic has killed one million people worldwide since January, the WHO said Thursday, calling on governments to speed up vaccination as one-third of the world’s population remains unvaccinated.
“We have passed the tragic milestone of one million deaths from Covid-19 since the beginning of the year,” World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference.
He called on governments in all countries to redouble their efforts to vaccinate all health workers, the elderly and others most at risk, in order to achieve 70% vaccination coverage for the entire population.
The Ukraine War
- U.S. to Send Nearly $3 Billion Security Aid Package to Ukraine WSJ
The U.S. will send nearly $3 billion more in security aid to Ukraine—the biggest weapons-assistance package from the U.S. to the country yet, the White House said Wednesday.
The package will include air-defense systems, artillery systems and munitions, counter-unmanned aerial systems and radars, the White House said.
“Today and every day, we stand with the Ukrainian people to proclaim that the darkness that drives autocracy is no match for the flame of liberty that lights the souls of free people everywhere,” President Biden said in unveiling the package and marking Ukraine’s Independence Day.
Dude, this fucking sucks. I would rather just be told “Go fuck yourself, we’re spending another shitload of money on this war that we have already lost just like we did in Afghanistan and NOT on your stupid little needs, like functioning infrastructure or medical and student debts.” Just start hunting us for sport, for fuck’s sake. We both know that you want to. Why do we have to talk about the fucking flame of liberty?
- ‘Months or years’ before US arms reach Ukraine RT
Years could pass before some of the weapons in the upcoming “largest ever” package of US military assistance to Kiev actually reach Ukraine, according to Western media reports.
On Tuesday, a number of mainstream media outlets cited anonymous US officials as describing the impending announcement of a $3 billion package of military aid to Ukraine. If confirmed, it would be the largest of its kind so far. Washington is by far the biggest supplier of military hardware to Ukraine as it fights against Russia.
However, some of the promised equipment “will not be in the hands of Ukrainian fighters for months or years,” according to NBC News, one of the outlets that reported the upcoming package. Included in the package are advanced weapons that are still in the development phase, it explained.
The same caveat was cited by the Associated Press, which said that it may take “a year or two” for the arms to reach the battlefield, according to its sources. Washington expects Ukrainian forces “to fight for years to come,” US officials told the AP.
- Pentagon issues update on supplying modern fighter jets to Ukraine RT
Washington is still considering supplying modern combat jets to Ukraine amid its ongoing conflict with Russia, US Under Secretary of Defense Colin Kahl has said. No “final decision,” however, has been made on this matter and actual delivery could take “years” to materialize – while Kiev must in turn be able to “sustain” and “afford” advanced weaponry systems, the official told a press briefing on Wednesday.
“As it relates to future aircrafts, fourth generation aircraft, for example, even if we were to provide those now, they wouldn’t arrive for years, so we’ve been focused on, as it relates to their fighter aircraft, on what they need … to support the current efforts to hold in the east and perhaps going on a counter offensive,” Kahl explained, pointing to the recently approved delivery of air-to-surface missiles that can be used by warplanes remaining in the Ukrainian inventory.
- Boris Johnson visits Kiev as UK donates more weapons RT
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrived in Kiev on Wednesday, marking Ukraine’s Independence Day with his third visit to the city since the start of Russia’s military campaign in February. Urging Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky to ignore calls for negotiations, Johnson outlined a new $63 million arms shipment for his military.
After a press tour through the streets of Kiev, Johnson appeared in a joint news conference with Zelensky, in which he urged the Ukrainian leader not to “advance some flimsy plan for negotiation” with Russia. While it is unclear which specific plan Johnson was referring to, British officials have publicly called on Kiev not to enter talks with Moscow on numerous occasions since Russia sent its troops into Ukraine in February.
“The United Kingdom is with you and will be with you for the days and months ahead, and you can and will win,” Johnson told Zelensky.
Johnson also used his appearance in Kiev to announce a new package of military aid to Ukraine worth £54 million ($63 million). According to a Downing Street press release, the package will include loitering munitions – commonly known as suicide drones – and 850 Black Hornet micro-drones – helicopters around the size of a mobile phone which feed back video and still images to their operators.
- Ukraine complains about Spanish aid RT
Ukraine is far from happy with the level of military aid being provided by Spain, Kiev’s ambassador has said, complaining that Madrid could be more generous.
In an article published by Spain’s El Mundo newspaper on Wednesday, Sergey Pogoreltsev is quoted as saying: “I cannot say that we are satisfied, nor that we are receiving everything that Spain could supply.”
The ambassador added that while Kiev is aware that the “process is difficult,” it still believes that Spain could provide more military support, and more swiftly. He lamented that despite Ukraine having shared its weapons wish list with the government in Madrid, the last time Spain sent military aid was back in May.
- ‘Absolute deficit’ in Germany’s weapons stock – foreign minister RT
With German weapons stocks running low, the country’s defense industry should produce arms specifically for Ukraine, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has said.
During an interview with ZDF broadcaster on Wednesday, the German minister was asked whether Kiev could win in the conflict with Russia.
“We don’t know that,” she replied, but promised that Berlin would “do everything possible” to help Ukraine.
However, Baerbock acknowledged that supplying Kiev with arms had become increasingly difficult for Germany as its own military was suffering from a shortage of equipment.
“Unfortunately, the situation here is such that we have an absolute deficit in our own stocks,” the Green Party politician said.
- Russians spied on Ukrainian soldiers training in Germany — report Iqnuirer
German security forces have “indications” that Russian secret services spied on Ukrainian soldiers who are in Germany to receive training on Western weapons, Spiegel magazine reported Friday.
German military forces have spotted suspicious vehicles outside two sites where Ukrainian recruits were being trained.
Small drones were also used to fly over the training sites before quickly disappearing, Spiegel said, without citing its sources.
The two affected locations are Idar-Oberstein in the western state of Rhineland Palatinate where Ukrainian soldiers are being trained to use the tank howitzer 2000 and Grafenwoehr in Bavaria where the US army is teaching Ukrainians to use Western artillery systems.
Security sources also believe that Russian services used scanners in a bid to access mobile phone data of Ukrainian soldiers, said the magazine.
- Ukraine’s largest nuclear plant is cut off energy grid WaPo
Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant was cut off from the country’s electricity grid, setting off a mass power outage in the adjacent area after fires damaged its last functioning transmission line, Ukraine’s nuclear power company said Thursday.
Emergency backup systems kicked in a and helped sustain crucial operations, but the incident heightened fears of a disaster at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP), which is also the largest atomic energy plant in Europe and is located in an area occupied by invading Russian forces.
- Russia reports destruction of eight Ukrainian warplanes RT
Two separate attacks by Russian forces have destroyed or disabled eight Ukrainian Air Force planes, the Defense Ministry in Moscow claimed on Thursday.
In one sortie, Russian warplanes launched precision munitions at a Ukrainian airfield near the city of Mirgorod in the central Poltava Region, military spokesman Lieutenant General Igor Konashenkov said during a daily briefing. Two warplanes, a Su-27 and a Su-24, were destroyed while two other Su-27s and a Su-24 were critically damaged in the raid, he said.
The Ukrainian military reported Russian strikes on “military infrastructure” in the city on Wednesday morning, but did not disclose the damage they caused. According to the Russian side, up to 30 “nationalists” were killed.
The second reported precision strike strike hit Dnepr military air base in Dnepropetrovsk Region, destroying three unspecified military aircraft, according to Konashenkov. As of Thursday, the ministry claims to have destroyed a total of 273 Ukrainian military planes since launching the operation in February.
The Russian official also confirmed a strike on a train station in the Ukrainian town of Chaplino, but disputed Kiev’s claims about the nature of the target. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky stated on Wednesday evening that the attack had killed 22 civilians, including an 11-year-old child. His office updated the death toll on Thursday to 25.
Konashenkov said that an Iskander missile hit a train carrying Ukrainian troops and weapons eastward. He claimed that the strike killed more than 200 Ukrainian soldiers and destroyed 10 military vehicles.
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.
- A Putin Critic Fell from a Building in Washington. Was It Really a Suicide? Politico
The answer to that question is the same as the answer to the question “Did Epstein kill himself?"
- The new US weapons for Ukraine move beyond the war’s immediate needs and is a big show of confidence in its ability to keep back Russia, experts say Business Insider
Experts really do keep saying shit, don’t they?
With Military Attacks and Mockery, Ukraine Pokes the Russian Bear NYT
Ukrainian MiGs Firing American Missiles Are Hunting Down Russian Air-Defenses Forbes
The only country where cluster bombs are actively being used is Ukraine, where Russian use is killing and maiming hundreds of civilians, watchdog reports Business Insider
I’m pretty confident that Ukraine is using cluster bombs and not Russia.
- Russia has lost territory ‘larger than Denmark’ in Ukraine war, says think tank Euro News
This has gotta be the funniest way of portraying the war yet. Bravo to the tightest, most precise display of mental gymnastics I have seen in the last six months. Bravo. 10/10.
Russia has lost territory “larger than Denmark” during its war with Ukraine, according to a leading think tank.
Experts say Russian forces have been pushed back across 45,000 km2 of land since 21 March, when they had made their deepest advance into Ukraine.
The report by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) claims that Russia has made “negligible gains” in its military campaign.
On Wednesday, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said its operation in Ukraine had been deliberately slowed down to avoid civilian casualties.
But researchers at the Washington-based ISW say this may be an attempt to “explain and excuse” the military’s “negligible gains”.
“Shoigu’s statement may also represent an attempt by the Russian MoD to set information conditions to explain and excuse the negligible gains Russian forces have made in Ukraine in the last six weeks,” the ISW said.
Since Russia stepped up an offensive in mid-July, it had gained just over 450 square kilometres of new territory in Ukraine, equivalent to “an area around the size of Andorra”, it said.
However, the ISW added that territorial losses since March were 100 times greater.
“Russian forces have lost roughly 45,000 km2 of territory since March 21 (the estimated date of Russian forces’ deepest advance into Ukraine), an area larger than Denmark,” it reports.
“Russian forces are unable to translate limited tactical gains into wider operational successes, and their offensive operations in eastern Ukraine are culminating. Shoigu’s statement is likely an attempt to explain away these failings.”
Like, holy shit, that’s so great. I can’t even be peeved at that. I hope they get the $300,000 per year that they’re probably being paid for this level of incredible analysis.
- China plows ahead with its harsh zero-covid policy — despite the costs WaPo
Do you reckon that journalists ever get tired of writing the exact same article over and over again? Or is it just easy money at this point, as you can just copy-paste from other people?
- Don’t Let China Change the Status Quo Over Taiwan Bloomberg
It doesn’t say anything interesting, but I did like the juxtaposition of these two paragraphs:
Establishing new guardrails will be a delicate task. On the one hand, the US shouldn’t back down. The US Navy should ignore Chinese warnings and continue to sail wherever international law allows, including through the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea. It should encourage its allies to do the same. Most of these missions need not be advertised. US President Joe Biden should warn his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping that the US may defy future attempts by China to close off waters around Taiwan for drills.
And, later on:
At the same time, the US should avoid noisy symbolic gestures that provoke China without contributing much to Taiwan’s defense. VIP visits and high-level diplomatic ties are no guarantee against invasion; just ask Ukraine. Elements of the proposed Taiwan Policy Act, which would declare Taiwan a “major non-NATO ally,” threaten to undermine fragile understandings that have maintained cross-Strait peace for decades.
Essentially, the article says that we should continue doing absolutely everything we’re currently doing that pisses off China, and in fact do even more things that would piss off China, but also China is the one who is wrong for being pissed off at those things and we should reassure them that they shouldn’t be pissed off. I think it’s the contradictory and incoherent policy of an empire that realizes that it both cannot keep doing what it’s doing, but also must keep doing it. Its destruction is inevitable in the long-term, so America and its politics-minded upper classes like the journalists who wrote this are panicking and trying to find some kind of hidden pathway out of their predicament, and sometimes fooling themselves into believing they can square the circle. It’s ironic that the solutions that they so ardently opposed (like the capitalist reform campaign that Bernie ultimately ended up embodying regardless of how many times he said the word “socialism”) was the only possible path that didn’t result in the painful disintegration of the imperial project. Even the slightest reforms were intolerable. Somebody once said something about what happens if you make peaceful change impossible.
- Pentagon announces new plan to reduce number of civilians killed in military operations CNN
Unlike those cruel Russians, amirite? I mean, look at the Ukrainian civilian casualties! Compare those to Yemen… ah… uh… okay, do NOT compare those to Yemen.
- Biden is ‘pouring gasoline on the inflationary fire’ with his $10,000 student debt cancellation, a top Obama economist warns Business Insider
In 2040: “Excuse me, do you know how much this bill to give each student a $3.50 ice cream cone with a smiley face on it will increase inflation and the national debt? How on god’s green earth could we simultaneously support that plan AND our $5 trillion military spending that is mandatory for the current state of the world?
- Can Employee Ownership Save Capitalism? Forbes
I was very confused by the headline, and to be honest, after reading this, I’m still not entirely sure if this is some kind of weird way of advocating for socialism by taking advantage of the fact that “socialism” as a concept has been so disconnected from its original definition of “the democratic ownership of the means of production” that a clever/stupid person could go “Nah, I don’t want that communist socialism Stalin stuff, with a billion deaths and gulags and mass censorship - I just want workers to own their workplaces!” It might also be somebody who genuinely believes that companies will broadly be persuaded to have increasing levels of ownership by employees and was therefore born yesterday. Either way, I don’t think it matters.
As I have researched purpose-driven businesses in recent years, I have frequently returned to one conclusion: employee ownership is one of the most important levers we have to overcome economic inequality.
So I was excited to see the new book Ownership: Reinventing Companies, Capitalism, and Who Owns What by Corey Rosen and John Case. Rosen is founder of the National Center for Employee Ownership, a nonprofit that has been supporting the employee ownership community since 1981. Case is a former NCEO board member and veteran author.
In talking to the authors, they highlighted the contrast between employee owned companies and the traditional model of economic growth. The traditional model, they point out, “has divided labor and capital. The providers of capital get well rewarded when their investments pay off, and absorb the risk if they don’t. Everyone else relies on their wages and what they can save. Inequality is built into this model—and some inequality may even be necessary, to provide incentives for risk taking.”
This is an incredibly important point. While there are many ways that businesses can be sustainable and socially responsible, companies organized with traditional ownership structures (e.g. publicly traded, VC/PE owned, family owned, LLCs) will systemically funnel a disproportionate amount of the gains to such owners and so will only increase the economic inequality that plagues our world. So, while their products may be environmentally friendly and produced in ethical ways, at the end of the day, companies with traditional ownership structureswill also be contributing to an increase in economic inequality.
But Corey and John argue that “there’s another model that eliminates that problem entirely. Once a company has been established, employee ownership enables people to become owners, not through their savings (which with wages stagnant in real dollars since the 1970s are rarely enough to accumulate substantial ownership) but through their work. Companies share ownership with employees as a benefit and employees earn it though greater commitment, and through contributing ideas to help their companies grow. In fact, the data show decisively that companies owned by employees grow faster and provide vastly more wealth to their employees and communities than those not owned by employees.”
The article then goes into an interview section with the author, and I feel like I’m being gaslit a little here. Obviously they’re talking about companies with some degree of employee ownership and not 100%, though they do mention Publix, which has 80% employee ownership. But zero mentions of “socialism”. Very bizarre.
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.
- These are energy bills many Britons simply can’t afford. Some will pay with their lives Guardian
The sixth-richest country in the world faces a winter of humanitarian crisis. Unless the government acts now, millions of Britons will be unable to keep their homes warm. Some will die while, as the NHS warns, many more will fall seriously ill. Schools, hospitals and care homes across the country must choose between busting their budgets or freezing. Countless shops and businesses will close, never to open again. More than 70% of pubs are preparing for last orders, while any restaurant, cafe, chippy or kebab shop must now face existential threat, thanks to a quadrupling of their energy bills, surging food prices and a recession that will kill discretionary spending. As economic catastrophes go, this looks far bigger than the 2008 crash. It promises to reshape our everyday lives and social fabric.
That is the meaning of today’s statement from the watchdog Ofgem. The new price cap of £3,549 it has set for household energy bills is almost triple that of last winter, and for many it is simply unaffordable. When it kicks in, at the start of October, 25% of Britons will not be able to pay their fuel bills. They just don’t have the income, according to calculations by Citizens Advice. Crucially, half those people would normally be what the charity calls “financially stable”. In their first immersion into hardship, many will struggle to navigate their entitlements or the system. Some will sink. We are weeks away from creating a new poor.
Their ranks will keep growing, because even the regulators now accept that “prices could get significantly worse through 2023”. Analysts forecast that the typical household on a dual tariff and direct debit will face annual bills of more than £5,000 come January. And millions will pay far more for their heat and light, such as those on pre-payment meters, or running nurseries or small businesses.
“Unless the government acts now,” I began, but what a joke that is. You and I both know that we have no government. No minister stirred themselves this morning to address a public facing a pivotal moment. Fratboy Boris Johnson spent his summer not tackling this emergency, but at parties and on holiday. The citizens of Slovenia and Greece saw more of our prime minister than we did. I’m unsure which of us got the short straw.
Given plenty of chances to discuss the economic disaster that will define her likely premiership, Liz Truss has offered not ideas but bluff and delusion. There will be no handouts, she has said, while promising just that, in the form of tax cuts, for rich people. Her latest wheeze is to scrap “green levies” from energy bills, a pledge worth a grand total of £11 for each household.
But of course it goes beyond two workshy blondes. In political terms, the energy shock expands and intensifies the same problem we have faced ever since the death of Lehman Brothers in 2008: our immediate crises are far more serious than the people who run the country. Whether in politics, policy or the media, those at the top, nourished on platitudes and drunk on careerism, just cannot handle what stares us in the face.
Having landed us in Brexit, David Cameron whistled his way into lobbying for Greensill Capital. George Osborne, who once urged a “march of the makers”, now troughs it up in the City. The Bank of England turns the screws even as ordinary working people are already in financial agony – and nobody points out that two members of its rate-setting committee hail from one City firm, Goldman Sachs, while none come from the entire trades union movement.
That Koh-i-Noor of Radio 4, the Today programme, has spent the past week diagnosing what ails the British economy. One morning was spent with a private equity investor, the editor of the Economist and a Lib Dem from the failed coalition government. All three bathed in happy consensus, bemoaning the lack of investment and decrying the abundance of red tape. The Today programme has never invited comparable analyses from Mick Lynch or Sharon Graham, of course; it wants only to lambast them over the inconvenience caused by workers sticking up for themselves.
This is a country ruled by groupthink, when the group in question is a bunch of well-raised and nicely suited mediocrities. Organisations mired in groupthink eventually fail, and so it is with the UK. We have a market unable to deliver an essential commodity at a price that people can afford, which is therefore broken. We have a rail network that is effectively carrion feasted on by financial vultures and foreign states. And we have a water industry that is quite literally a shitshow. All of this has been clear for years, as indeed has the cost of living crisis, steadily growing during the past decade of stagnant wages.
Yet no one in mainstream politics or policy seems capable of thinking up any ideas that are not more of the same. The public on the other hand is already doing so. In the largest survey of its kind, a poll this month by Survation shows that two-thirds of Tory voters want energy, water, rail and the postal services taken back into the public sector. Why wouldn’t they? A commuter from Guildford doesn’t cheer at price-gouging on her train. A Tory voter in Bexhill doesn’t want their beaches coated in sewage. And all fret over heating bills. Yet no major party dares mention nationalisation, least of all Keir Starmer’s Labour. Even as hardened ideology breaks against reality, the “sensibles” are playing dumb; the centrists are the ones acting extreme.
I caught a glimpse of the new public mood last week, at the launch rally for Enough is Enough. It was a couple of miles south of Westminster, at a concert hall that normally puts on comedy shows. When I turned up, an hour before kick-off, the queues already blocked the main road. Fifteen hundred people packed out the venue, hundreds more were turned away. The entire event had been pulled together within a week on a shoestring budget. The lectern for the speeches turned up in the back of a van just minutes before the start.
Although Enough is Enough was founded by two small trade unions, it was not a traditional union event. The housing activist Kwajo Tweneboa took his turn onstage, while Dave Ward of the posties’ union, the Communication Workers Union, declared this was the start of a social movement. The Labour MP Zarah Sultana declared, “British politics is a bit shit, isn’t it?” to widespread laughter. Other speakers yoked together issues of pay and working conditions with crap housing and the climate crisis in ways that I’ve never heard from Wes Streeting and his ilk.
Enough is Enough launched two weeks ago, with the goal of signing up 50,000 people; it now has 450,000 on board and plans to get to a million by the end of September. Don’t Pay, which was started by three people in their evenings, has attracted more than 100,000 people pledging to cancel their direct debits. Between them these organisations, as well as trade unions and civil society organisations, are starting to set the terms of the debate on this crisis. A moment that could have been commandeered by Nigel Farage or the extreme right has instead been framed as a class-based conflict in which poor people of all ethnicities get screwed while utility bosses and their shareholders profit.
Top of the bill was Mick Lynch. A few months ago, he was addressing tiny rooms of RMT members; now he packs out concert venues, while still dressing like a dad at a school sports day. Much of that success comes from how skilfully he can toreador dumb TV interviewers; but he is also leading a march straight into unclaimed political territory. He wound up his remarks by describing going on the BBC with a Labour frontbencher who “didn’t even know what public ownership was”. There was the sound of 1,500 people laughing. But he was in earnest. “Keir Starmer has no idea it might appeal to the working class of this country.” Now the hall was filled with applause. I looked across at the bouncer next to me. All night, his expression had been frozen in place. But now he was reared up and clapping like mad.
- The Right Fearmongers About Progressives, But the Democratic Party Remains Neoliberal Jacobin
Turn on Fox News or look to any right-wing media outlet, and you’ll be fed a constant diet of stories claiming that progressives and the Left have taken over the Democratic Party. On paper, they seem to have a point: the Democratic Party’s progressive and neoliberal wings in Congress are almost evenly balanced. The Congressional Progressive Caucus has ninety-nine voting members in the House of Representatives, and the New Democrats (the home of the party’s neoliberal hard core) claim ninety-eight as of August 2022.
But that picture is a serious distortion of the real balance of power in Congress and inside the Democratic Party. In truth, the membership numbers of official caucuses do a poor job of capturing the strengths of the Democrats’ factions. Despite efforts by progressives to tighten caucus rules, for example, the Democratic Party’s Congressional Progressive Caucus still claims as members many representatives who oppose progressive priorities like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. The party’s other two ideological caucuses — the Blue Dogs and the New Democrats (whose political differences seem fairly minor at this point) — are somewhat more ideologically consistent but do not include all members who could reasonably be classified as “neoliberal Democrats.”
In order to develop a realistic sense of the party’s factions, as well as their respective strategies and opportunities for growth, we need to ignore affiliation with ideological caucuses and go straight to the positions congressmembers have taken on key internal party debates. Doing so reveals that the party’s neoliberal wing still holds the dominant position and also exposes the unreliable nature of many in its progressive group.