Link back to the discussion thread.
- EU Calls Emergency Meeting Amid ‘Energy War’ With Russia And Soaring Gas Prices Forbes
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala announced the “expedited meeting” will convene the EU’s Council of Ministers for Energy in a tweet on Friday, expressing a goal of finding “extraordinary measures to solve the energy situation.”
The announcement comes amid warnings Germany’s biggest gas supplier, Uniper SE, could collapse if the country backs down from a levy on gas consumption aimed at providing financial assistance for suppliers.
It also comes hours after a report from the United Kingdom’s energy regulator Ofgem found energy prices in the United Kingdom are set to rise as much as 80% this fall (more than $4,000 per year) amid lingering inflation, which has already brought gas prices in Europe to record levels.
European officials are concerned Russia’s war in Ukraine could prolong high energy prices throughout Europe, as Ukrainian officials warned on Thursday the eastern European country could be in for a long war of attrition.
- Russia’s gas cuts are forcing Germany to turn to coal to generate power. Here’s why the switch won’t be so easy for other European countries. Business Insider
A European energy crisis, triggered by gas cuts from Russia, is forcing Germany to switch to coal to secure enough energy ahead of wintertime.
According to Rystad Energy, the country has increased its coal-fired power generation the most this year, by 18.2% compared to other European countries, highlighting an accelerated shift to an alternative source of fuel as energy supplies get squeezed.
Austria, the Netherlands and Italy are also eyeing the use of coal again, but the transition may not be easy for other European countries compared to Germany.
“Most countries have limited options to switch from gas to coal in generation, since large amounts of coal-fired power plants have been retired in recent years,” Rystad Energy said in a note seen by Insider.
Austria, for instance, shut down its last coal-fueled power plant in 2020 as part of a plan to slash the use of carbon-intensive fossil fuels.
- EU will lose billions without Russian tourists – official RT
The European Union will lose around €21 billion ($20.97 billion) if it bars Russian tourists from entering the bloc, State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin wrote on his official Telegram channel on Thursday, commenting on what he called “the frenzy of proposals to ban our citizens from entering the EU continues.”
“According to the most conservative estimates, Europe is going to lose €21 billion because of restrictions on the entry of our citizens. By drawing an iron curtain around their countries, they punish themselves because of their own stupidity and ignorance,” Volodin stated.
According to the official, 80% of the world’s population does not support the sanctions against Moscow, which means Russian tourists have places to visit outside the EU. Moreover, he suggests that Russia’s own tourism infrastructure should be developed to accommodate domestic travel.
“We have a huge number of beautiful places. Everything should be done to create conditions for travel and recreation in our country,” he said.
- Russia to build two nuclear reactors in Hungary BBC
Russian nuclear power giant Rosatom will begin constructing two new nuclear reactors in Hungary in the coming weeks, Hungary’s foreign minister said.
The deal, reached between Russia and the EU state in 2014, aims to expand the existing Paks nuclear plant.
Russia’s nuclear industry has not been subjected to EU sanctions over its bloody invasion of Ukraine.
Moves to isolate and sanction its oil and gas exports have not been unconditionally supported by Hungary.
The Paks site currently generates 40% of Hungary’s electricity supply. “Let the construction begin!” said Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto in a Facebook post.
With the additional two reactors, the nuclear power station - currently made up of four Soviet-built reactors - will see its capacity more than double.
- Russia’s gas storage is 90% full for the winter - while Europe is still scrambling to secure its supply before the cold weather bites Business Insider
Russia’s Gazprom said domestic gas storage is nearly full, a stark contrast to the rest of Europe as countries scramble to stock up on energy before winter hits.
Reuters reported that the state-run energy producer said that Russian storage is 91.4% full as of August 24.
Meanwhile, European Union nations are facing a crisis as energy supplies remain hampered as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
As per data from Energy Monitor, Europe’s gas storage sites are at 67% of their maximum capacity, up from last year but not on target to ensure enough supply if Russia completely shuts off energy imports.
In Germany, gas storage capacity is 67% full while in Italy and France, it is 71% and 76% full, respectively, per Energy Monitor.
Isn’t Germany claiming that they’re at like 80% full? I don’t know anymore. This article is from western media so it should be consistent with the rest of it.
- Russian central bank says finance ministry’s oil assumptions too optimistic Reuters
Russia’s central bank said on Friday that the oil prices and output levels the finance ministry had proposed as parameters in a new budget rule aimed at using energy revenues to boost state reserves were too optimistic.
Russia, which is looking to build up reserves after sweeping western sanctions limited its access to global markets, plans to reinstate a budget rule that diverts oil revenues into its National Wealth Fund (NWF) once prices rise above a certain level.
The finance ministry had proposed using a crude oil price of $60 per barrel and daily output level of 9.5 million barrels as parameters.
“The base price of oil and oil production seem to be too high to us in the new modification of the budget rules,” central bank analysts said in a note.
- Opinion: 200 years after Napoleon’s defeat, the French and British are still exchanging shots CNN
Though Napoleon Bonaparte, Horatio Nelson and the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar are long-ago history, France and the United Kingdom are apparently still doing battle. In fact, Boris Johnson’s likely successor as UK prime minister and assorted French politicos have recently been exchanging shots.
While Russia is launching accelerating salvos at neighboring Ukraine, even threatening nuclear Armageddon, it seems the UK and France – both NATO members – have somehow still not managed to patch things up.
UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who is in the middle of a bitter intra-party battle against Rishi Sunak for leadership of the ruling Conservative party, was recently asked whether French President Emmanuel Macron is “friend or foe?” Her response, offered to applause from her clearly partisan audience, was simple and direct. “The jury’s out.” Then she continued, in a hardly more conciliatory fashion, “But if I become Prime Minister, I’ll judge him on deeds not words.”
These remarks reached Macron when he was on a delicate fence-mending visit of his own to Algeria, the former French colony across the Mediterranean. The relationship between France and Algeria has been especially prickly since Macron’s comments last year accusing the Algerian government of “exploiting memory” of the colonial past and “rewriting of history” based on “hatred of France.” For his own efforts, Macron has taken along a 90-person delegation – including his ministers of finance, interior, defense and foreign affairs.
So, Macron didn’t seem to have much patience for the other swirling rhetorical storm that Truss seemed to be conjuring. If the two countries “cannot say whether they are friends or enemies – and that is not a neutral term – then we are headed for serious problems,” the French President said. “The British people, the United Kingdom, is a friendly, strong and allied nation, regardless of its leaders, and sometimes in spite of its leaders or the little mistakes they may make in grandstanding,” he told reporters.
Asia and Oceania
- US and Chinese warships are getting up close to keep an eye on each other, but US officials worry their run-ins could escalate Business Insider
US Navy ships are operating close to Chinese warships in the Western Pacific and gathering valuable information about China’s navy, but US officials worry that rising tensions could lead to riskier encounters at sea.
China’s rapid naval expansion — both in size and in activity — has alarmed rivals and been closely watched by the US military, chiefly the ships and aircraft of the US Navy’s Japan-based 7th Fleet.
I love the way this is phrased. “China is building way more ships that are patrolling its own coasts for some reason! It’s deeply concerning, says the officials in control of our hundreds of ships on the other side of the planet that are sailing around deliberately breaking their territorial claims over Taiwan to try and piss them off sufficiently so that they declare war on us!"
“We operate a lot of ships in the [Philippine] Sea, the South China Sea, and the East China Sea, as does the PRC,” Vice Adm. Karl Thomas, 7th Fleet commander, told reporters in Singapore on August 16, referring to the People’s Republic of China.
“So when we’re in the South China Sea, in the East China Sea, it’s not uncommon to have our ships in close proximity to one another. As a matter of fact, it’s more common than not,” Thomas added.
- China drought highlights risks of relying on ‘unsustainable’ hydropower SCMP
I mean, I love a good dam, but yeah… if there are droughts, if the air is too hot and still so that wind turbines don’t work, if solar panel temperatures get too high for efficient performance, well - there’s a 100% consistent source of power that we all know and love. Well, except European Green parties, I guess.
The current drought in southwest China has exposed the vulnerability of provinces such as Sichuan that rely heavily on hydropower and prompted warnings that the country needs to diversify its energy supplies to cope with future extreme weather events.
Hydropower produces about 80 per cent of Sichuan’s energy and the province is one of the areas worst affected by the current heatwave, the worst since national records began six decades ago.
The State Grid said the province’s hydropower generation capacity has been halved in the past two months because of the resulting drought, which has seen major rivers dry up along the Yangtze valley.
Residents in Dazhou city said the Xiaohezui dam – which usually produces enough power for 500 households – had not produced power for over a month because of water shortages.
The Zhou river, where the dam is built, has now run dry, exposing the rocks on the river bed.
- A ‘Sea Cow’ That Evoked Mermaids Is Extinct in Chinese Waters, Study Finds NYT
The dugong, a species of so-called sea cow that roams the ocean floor in Asia and Africa and is said to have inspired ancient legends of mermaids, has been spotted off China’s southern coast for centuries.
Not lately, though. A new study suggests that the dugong has become the first large vertebrate to go functionally extinct in China’s coastal waters, the result of a rapid population collapse there that began in the mid-1970s.
“Functional extinction” means that even if some dugongs are still alive off China’s coast, their numbers are too small to maintain a viable population. Dugongs are occasionally entangled in fishing nets, and the seagrass that they eat in the South China Sea’s northern reaches has degraded over the years.
- Japan pledges $30bn in aid for Africa at Tunisia conference Al Jazeera
Japan has pledged $30bn in aid for development in Africa, saying it wants to work more closely with the continent at a time when the rules-based international order is under threat after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The eighth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD8) – the official name – also comes as Beijing cements its influence on the continent with its “Belt and Road” infrastructure initiative.
Addressing the summit in Tunisia on Saturday, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Tokyo would work to ensure grain shipments to Africa amid a global shortage.
“If we give up on a rules-based society and permit unilateral changes of the status quo by force, the impact of that will extend not only through Africa, but all the world,” Kishida said by video link after testing positive for COVID-19.
Kishida said the $30bn in aid from Japan would be delivered over three years, promising smaller sums for food security in coordination with the African Development Bank.
$10 billion per year for three years? China is dabbing on you. You’re the third largest economy!
- South Korea is building stealth drones that could take out North Korea’s air defenses Business Insider
Yeah, no fucking shit the DPRK turned down your offer to trade their nukes for food and supplies. Absolute morons.
- US accused over huge ‘covert pro-Western’ digital campaign targeting Middle East Middle East Eye
We saw a version of this story the other day, but this article appears to expand on it a little more. There was speculation about it in the megathread - about Zuckerberg’s role in it, especially with his relations to the FBI, as well as if it was a limited hangout. It’s definitely suspicious no matter what it is.
The US government is accused of sponsoring a digital campaign on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms targeting Central Asia and the Middle East to promote pro-Western narratives, according to a study by the Stanford Internet Observatory.
In July and August of this year, Twitter and Facebook took down dozens of accounts for breaking their policies on “platform manipulation and spam” and for engaging in “coordinated inauthentic behaviour,” according to the study titled “Evaluating five years of pro-Western covert influence operations.”
The accounts, the study found, were engaged in “deceptive tactics” to promote pro-Western narratives in the Middle East and Central Asia.
These campaigns were part of a broader mission to promote not just the interests of the United States and its allies but also actively involved in opposing Russia, China, and Iran, the study, published 24 August, said.
The research paper was conducted jointly with Graphika, an intelligence company that maps the world’s online communities and conversations.
Most recently, several of the accounts focused on criticising Russia and civilian deaths caused by Moscow’s “imperial ambitions” following the Russian invasion of Ukraine this year.
While in the West, the information campaign regarding the Ukraine war has largely prevailed, in many major African and Asian countries, there has been suspicion of Western narratives.
Weighed by the legacy of western colonialism and the continuing fallout of the illegal US invasion of Iraq, many countries in the global south, while not supportive of Russia, have been less than enthusiastic in buying into Western talking points.
The main focus of these accounts was Iran, Afghanistan, and an Arabic-speaking Middle East group comprising Iraqi and Saudi subgroups. Around 45 percent of the online social media messaging was aimed at Iran, which reflects US priorities toward the country.
The latest influence campaign also shared content from US state-funded media outlets such as the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, in addition to links to websites sponsored by the US military.
While neither Twitter or Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, has attributed the information to any entity or organisation, according to the report, they would only say that the assumed countries were the US and UK.
According to the report, US attempts to use “inauthentic tactics” to build online audiences have also exposed “limitations”, with many of the accounts struggling to gain online traction.
The Stanford investigation looked at almost 300,000 tweets from 146 accounts that were running between 2012 and 2022. Part of the information was overt US propaganda campaigns, while other types of messaging were covertly run.
Pro-Western Facebook propaganda campaigns were represented by 39 Facebook profiles, 16 pages, two groups, and 26 Instagram accounts active from 2017 to July 2022.
- The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have killed at least 500,000 people, according to a report that breaks down the toll Business Insider
“At least” is a load-bearing phrase in that sentence.
- CIA Allegedly Targets Turkish Businessmen for Trade With Russia TeleSUR
Türkish newspaper Yeni Safak reported Friday that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief in Türkiye called and “openly threatened” officials of construction companies involved in trade with Russian companies and nationals.
According to the paper, the CIA interrogated the Türkish business people, asking about confidential details such as real estate contracts with Russians, the currency used in transactions, and others.
The paper reported that the U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo allegedly sent a letter on Monday intended to reach the Türkish Industry and Business Association (TUSIAD) with threats to impose sanctions against association members linked to a business with Russia.
Also, last Friday, the U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary held a phone call with the Türkish Deputy Finance Minister Yunus Elitas, commenting on his concerns about Russians trying to use Türkiye to evade sanctions imposed by the West.
- Rival militia groups clash in Libyan capital Tripoli Africa News
Clashes between rival militia groups in Libya erupted in the capital Tripoli on Saturday.
Supporters of Haitham al-Tajouri, the leader of the Tripoli Revolutionaries' Brigade, fought with armed groups linked to militia leader, Abdel-Ghani al-Kikli..
Witnesses say al-Tajouri’s TRP defeated al-Kikli’s forces to take control of the internal security headquarters, hold three people and seize several cars.
- U.S. strikes deal in bid to keep China stocks from being booted off exchanges Politico
The U.S. and China have struck a deal to allow American authorities to inspect the audits of U.S.-listed firms based in China and Hong Kong, a landmark agreement that represents a first step toward avoiding further delistings from New York exchanges.
The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board signed the agreement with the China Securities Regulatory Commission and the Ministry of Finance of the People’s Republic of China, opening the door for PCAOB inspectors to travel to Hong Kong and begin inspections on the ground by mid-September.
Now, with the arrangement in place, the PCAOB should, for the first time, have “complete access” to select what firms it inspects, view complete audit work papers and interview personnel associated with the audits under review. However, officials caution that the deal is only one piece of a move to prevent some 200 companies from being kicked off U.S. exchanges.
“The real test will be whether the words agreed to on paper translate into complete access in practice,” PCAOB Chair Erica Williams said in a statement, adding that the agreement has “no loopholes and no exceptions.”
Washington and Beijing have been at odds for years over the PCAOB’s inability to inspect the auditing of China- and Hong Kong-based companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq.
Since the early 2000s, the U.S. has required all publicly traded companies to provide the PCAOB with the ability to inspect their auditors. But China and Hong Kong have long resisted the calls, often on the grounds of national security concerns.
In 2020, U.S. lawmakers moved to force Beijing’s hand with the passage of the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act. The law, passed following a rare show of bipartisanship in Washington, effectively started the clock ticking on China and the U.S. to reach an agreement to allow for the PCAOB to inspect the audits. Under the law, companies that are found to not have allowed the PCAOB complete access for three straight years would risk being kicked off U.S. exchanges.
A deal seemed to be far from guaranteed just a month ago. In July, SEC Chair Gary Gensler said he was “not particularly confident” that one would be made. And the pressure only mounted in August, when five of China’s largest state-owned firms unveiled plans to voluntarily delist from the New York Stock Exchange. But the two sides were ultimately able to come together to reach the terms of Thursday’s agreement.
In a statement, the China Securities Regulatory Commission called the agreement “an important step forward by regulators in China and the U.S. towards resolving the audit oversight issue that concern mutual interests, and lays the foundation for proactive, professional and pragmatic cooperation of the next stage.”
- Dow plunges 1,000 points after Fed chief Powell warns of inflation ‘pain’ Guardian
US stock markets nosedived on Friday after Federal Reserve chair, Jerome Powell, warned of “pain” ahead as the central bank struggles to bring down inflation from a 40-year high.
Powell’s highly anticipated speech was more hawkish than had been expected, with the Fed chair pledging to do all he could to end rising prices. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost just over 1,000 points, 3%, the S&P fell 3.3% and the Nasdaq dropped almost 4%.
Speaking at the Kansas City Fed’s annual meeting of the world’s central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Powell said the Fed’s “overarching focus right now is to bring inflation back down”.
The Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates rapidly in an attempt to slow inflation. Powell said the Fed would continue to use its tools “forcefully” until prices were under control. “We must keep at it until the job is done,” said Powell.
- Climate change and drought look set to worsen food inflation, as Iowa corn crop is ‘underwhelming’ and ‘disappointing’ Fortune
After drought shriveled U.S. corn plants in the western crop belt, all eyes have been turning to Iowa to help save the national harvest. Instead, the fields in that state have been “underwhelming,” “disappointing,” and just “not great.”
That’s what scouts found on Thursday as they toured the heart of Iowa, the biggest national corn grower. While there were some bright spots in the northeast corner of the state, heat and dryness dragged down crops in other regions. Most of those fields were in worse shape than they were last summer, and some were even trailing historical averages.
Iowa is critical to corn output in the U.S., the world’s top producer and exporter. Without a bumper harvest in the Hawkeye State, it’s unlikely that acres from the eastern half of the crop belt will be able to make up for the losses recorded earlier this week in the west. All that adds up to the possibility of a national production deficit and more global food inflation.
The findings helped to lift crop futures Friday, with prices for both corn and soybeans climbing as much as 2.2%.
“Iowa was disappointing on my route, especially on corn,” said Mark Bernard, a crop consultant for Agro-Economics. He was a scout on the eastern leg of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour, which concluded on Thursday.
After four days of measuring the yield outlook in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota and South Dakota, the scouts are coming back with discouraging news for a world that’s dealing with high grocery bills and rising levels of hunger.
- US Navy is developing directed energy systems to counter hypersonic missile threats from China and Russia CNN
The US Navy is developing directed energy systems as a potential defense against hypersonic missiles, the Navy’s top admiral said, calling advances Russia and China have made in hypersonic weapon technology “a significant concern.”
Adm. Michael Gilday, the Chief of Naval Operations, on Thursday said developing systems which would use high energy lasers or high power microwaves to destroy a threat is a top priority for the Navy.
“From a defensive standpoint, we’re focused on the threat,” Gilday said Thursday during an event at the Heritage Foundation. “We’re not ignoring it.”
I thought that you couldn’t use energy technology to bring down hypersonic missiles because they’re travelling so quickly, the extremely hot air around them protects them?
- Assange files appeal against US extradition RT
Julian Assange’s legal team filed an appeal on Friday to stop the WikiLeaks co-founder’s extradition to the US, where he faces espionage charges that carry a prison sentence of up to 175 years.
According to WikiLeaks, Assange’s lawyers filed “perfected grounds of appeal” before the UK High Court of Justice against the US government and UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, who approved the extradition of the Australian-born editor in mid-June.
The appeal argues that “Julian Assange is being prosecuted and punished for his political opinions,” while the US government “misrepresented the core facts” of the case to the UK judiciary. It adds that the request to extradite the WikiLeaks co-founder violates the relevant treaty between the US and the UK, as well as international law.
- Mexico’s imports from Russia soar RT
Imports of Russian goods by Mexico saw a substantial annual increase of more than 20% during the first six months of the current year, according to the latest figures released by the Bank of Mexico.
In monetary terms, Mexican imports from Russia amounted to $1.193 billion. In June alone, purchases of Russian goods by the North American nation exceeded $275 million – the second-highest figure in Mexico’s history. In May 2021, the country bought Russian goods worth $283.9 million.
- Venezuelan President and Deputy Cuban PM Review Cooperation TeleSUR
“Today, August 26, I held a pleasant meeting with Alejandro Gil Fernández, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Planning of Cuba. We reviewed the broad map of cooperation that our countries carry forward in different sectors. Cuba and Venezuela, Unbreakable Brotherhood!” wrote President Maduro on Twitter.
The meeting is part of the work agenda that the deputy prime minister has been carrying out in Venezuela since August 24, according to the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry.
Gil Fernández had previously held a meeting with Vice President Delcy Rodríguez to review the progress of bilateral relations.
- President Maduro Rejects Currency Speculation in Venezuela TeleSUR
“An unscrupulous group fictitiously and falsely raised the parallel dollar’s price so that another group of unscrupulous merchants can steal from the people. Do not allow it,” he said.
On Thursday, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro asked his compatriots not to allow the operation of speculators who are playing with the price of the U.S. dollar in the informal exchange markets.
“I ask people and merchants to be fully aware… Don’t let yourself be robbed with the parallel dollar,” Maduro said during the inauguration ceremony of the “Winds Park” in Falcon state.
Over the last week, the Venezuelan currency (the “bolivar”) has devalued 20.3 percent against the U.S. dollar in the parallel markets. In that same period, however, the price set by the Central Bank (BCV) did not change.
Given that the exchange market has been operating with relative stability over the last year, Maduro attributed the ongoing exchange rate variations to actions aimed at sabotaging the Venezuelan economy.
- President Petro’s Security Delegation Was Attacked With Gunfire TeleSUR
On Wednesday afternoon, an outpost of President Gustavo Petro was attacked by unknown assailants near the Colombian-Venezuelan border in the Catatumbo region, where he plans to travel on Friday.
The attack was perpetrated against the cars of the presidential caravan that was heading towards the municipality of El Tarra, where six members of irregular armed groups had set up a roadblock. Three vehicles of the presidential advance, which did not stop at the checkpoint, were hit with firearms.
“One of the vehicles failed to pass the checkpoint and another was punctured. Two vehicles and a driver from the National Protection Unit were held there. The driver was later released. The other cars and their crew managed to pass the checkpoint,” the Presidential Office informed.
- Trafigura Sells Russian Fuel to Ecuador as EU Ban Approaches Bloomberg
Trafigura Group is helping Russian diesel make its way to Latin America as a ban to sell such barrels in Europe looms.
The commodities trader chartered the vessel Marlin Aventurine to deliver 262,000 barrels of diesel to Ecuador’s state oil company Petroecuador, according to people with knowledge of the situation.
The cargo demonstrates how Russian oil continues to circulate in global markets despite calls to boycott Vladimir Putin’s state.
In an effort to starve Putin’s government of cash, the US banned imports of Russian crude and products, while a European Union ban takes effect gradually with deadlines starting later this year. Trafigura was among the companies that said it would turn away from Russia. In April, the trader announced it would stop signing contracts for crude oil from Russian state-backed producer Rosneft PJSC before an EU deadline of May 15 to end new deals, and would significantly reduce purchases of oil products. Other commodity merchants that said they would halt new business with Russia include Gunvor Group Ltd and Glencore PLC. Fuel markets have since been thrown into disarray as countries scramble to replace Russian products ahead of the ban.
When asked about the deal, a spokesperson for Trafigura said in an email the company doesn’t comment on individual shipments and that it continues to comply in full with EU sanctions. Traders are reducing their exposure to Russia in line with sanctions rulings. The business remains highly lucrative, however, with buyers able to secure steep discounts on Russian barrels of crude, diesel and fuel oil. Other countries like India and China have already emerged as key destinations for Russian products shunned by Europe.
The Ukraine War
- Russia can’t stop war, even if Ukraine drops NATO hopes -Putin ally Reuters
A top ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that Moscow would not stop its military campaign in Ukraine even if Kyiv formally renounced its aspirations to join NATO.
Former President Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, also said in a French television interview that Russia was prepared to hold talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy subject to certain conditions.
- Russia says it destroyed howitzer used to shell Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant Reuters
Russia’s Defence Ministry said on Friday that its forces had destroyed a U.S.-made M777 howitzer which it said Ukraine had used to shell the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.
In its daily briefing, the Defence Ministry said that the howitzer had been destroyed west of the town of Marganets, in Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk region.
- Fresh shelling at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant ahead of UN inspection WaPo
I swear, if the article says something like “it’s unclear who is shelling the plant”, I’m gonna scream.
Russia and Ukraine accused each other of fresh shelling at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant,
Man, that analysis is moving real slow for some reason! We’ve had confirmation of Russian shelling or missile strikes mere minutes after they happen in previous events, like the mall strike, but now, we simply have no idea!
just two days after the plant was cut off from Ukraine’s electricity, causing a massive power outage and sparking international fears of a radiation disaster, before backup diesel generators kicked in. Inspectors from the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog are expected to visit the plant next week.
- Artillery hits Zaporozhye nuclear dump RT
Four artillery projectiles fired from Ukrainian positions struck the fuel storage site of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant on Friday, authorities in the Russian-controlled city of Energodar claimed. They added that radiation levels remain normal, suggesting that they inflicted no damage.
Climate and Space
- A decade after Fukushima disaster, foes of nuclear power reconsider WaPo
The war in Ukraine is reviving global interest in nuclear power, since gas and oil shortages have reshaped energy markets and driven up fossil fuel prices.
From Japan to Germany to Britain to the United States, leaders of countries that had stopped investing in nuclear power are now considering building new power plants or delaying the closure of existing ones. The shift is especially notable in Japan and Germany, where both turned decisively against nuclear power after the 2011 Fukushima disaster. And it comes even as fears mount about another potential nuclear disaster at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine.
Atomic regulators are warily eying Zaporizhzhia, which lies on the front lines of the war in Ukraine. Russian forces have held the power plant there since March. The situation there is increasingly dangerous, nuclear experts say. In recent days, the plant has bounced on and off the grid, and has gone into backup power for cooling its nuclear reactors.
For now, the threat of disaster in Ukraine is not playing a major role in the German or Japanese discussions, even though it has reinforced nuclear skeptics’ concerns over the technology.
The global reevaluation shows the extraordinary degree to which the war in Ukraine is reshaping long-held positions about nuclear power. Europe is bracing for a winter of energy shortages in which it may run out of natural gas supplies, potentially forcing it to shut down factories and leave citizens shivering. Worldwide, prices for fossil fuels have skyrocketed since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, with Europe, the United States and a few other countries around the world significantly scaling back their purchases of cheap Russian oil and gas.
This week, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced that his government is considering constructing next-generation nuclear power plants with the goal of making them commercially operational in the 2030s. The government may also extend the operational life of its current nuclear power plants.
German policymakers, meanwhile, are considering prolonging the life of three final nuclear power plants that had been scheduled to go offline at the end of the year. The reprieve would be temporary — just a year or two to get through the current energy crisis — but it would still mark a significant policy reversal that has been a major focus of Germany political life for the last decade.
“As much as I think it is wrong to go into nuclear power, I have to ask myself this question,” German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said this weekend at an open government day in Berlin. “It is complex.”
Any decision in Germany would have to be approved by Habeck and his Green party — which was founded decades ago to focus on abolishing nuclear power. It remains a core policy position of the party — but so is opposition to Russia’s war in Ukraine and a desire to be as strong as possible against the Kremlin.
“We are in really special times,” said Dennis Tänzler, a director of Adelphi, a Berlin-based climate think tank. “The bottom line is that German climate and energy policy has been shaped since Fukushima by a cross-party consensus that overall the technological risks, the security risks, are just too great.”
The article goes on for a while like this.
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.
- Researchers found nearly two dozen detention, interrogation, and processing centers in Russian-occupied Ukraine, as well as what look like mass graves: report Business Insider
Okay, usually I just ignore articles like, but I’m slightly curious.
A sprawling network of nearly two dozen detention, interrogation, and processing centers, as well as what appears to be mass graves, were found in Russian-occupied Ukraine, researchers said on Thursday.
Researchers from Yale University’s Humanitarian Research Lab, with the support of the State Department, published a report on Thursday documenting at least 21 facilities that appear to be part of a so-called “filtration system” in the Donetsk People’s Republic, territory in eastern Ukraine run by Kremlin-backed pro-Russian separatists.
The filtration system appears to contain a network of registration, holding, interrogation, and detention facilities that Russian forces and Russian-backed proxies operate for Ukrainian civilians and prisoners of war, the report said.
…yes. I’m confused as to why they’re trying to make this sound so disturbing. Like, yes, you do in fact need some way of filtering people coming into your country if you are at war with them and they border you. Obviously. Literally every single country on the planet would do the exact same thing.
Researchers also said they found disturbed earth that is “consistent” with mass graves at a correctional facility.
Great, we’re doing the China thing, where redditors go on google maps and find random factories in the middle of nowhere in China and are like “this is where the Ughyurs are being killed!” Awesome. And again: yes, I would imagine that there would be large numbers of graves in a fucking warzone.
- Russia is pulling all its fighter jets out of Crimea after a series of strikes on its military outposts there, secret NATO report says Business Insider
I neither know nor care if this is real. I don’t trust NATO reports, let alone secret ones.
- ‘Each passing day life is becoming unbearable’: How Putin’s war in Ukraine is wreaking economic havoc from Pakistan to Sri Lanka and destabilizing governments worldwide Fortune
It’s not the war, it’s the sanctions. Say it with me, everybody. Yes, I mean you. On the count of three. One. Two. Three. It’s not the war, it’s the sanctions.
- Ukraine Weighs a Risky Offensive to Break Out of a Stalemate NYT
Read: Ukraine is experiencing massive casualties every day, there is no offensive.
- Is Europe With the US or China? Bloomberg
Gee, I fucking wonder?
In the emerging new Cold War between the US and China, it’s easy enough to slot some key global players onto one of the two sides. Russia stands with China. Japan stands with the US.
Where Europe stands is a key question mark. Long on the sidelines — much where President Xi Jinping has wanted — there are signs emerging that Germany, Europe’s economic engine, is undergoing a rethink about its trade and investment ties with China. The process is not dissimilar from the debate in South Korea this newsletter noted earlier this month.
German industry has no illusions about the danger of any fundamental shift, given its enormous reliance on the China market. Outgoing Volkswagen AG China boss Stephan Wollenstein underscored last month that Asia’s biggest economy remains key to the fortunes of the German auto giant, which counted on China for 40% of its sales in the first quarter.
But the political tilt in Berlin is palpable. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said last month she is “very serious” about reducing the German economy’s reliance on China.
And back in April, when Chancellor Olaf Scholz made his debut trip to Asia, he decided to stop first in Japan — a contrast with predecessor Angela Merkel, who put China first. Scholz highlighted that political symbolism was a priority in setting up the trip, saying in Tokyo that it was “no coincidence” his first trip as leader led him to that city.
Meantime, German lawmakers have pressed for greater scrutiny over their nation’s business ties with China. Despite industry lobbying, in 2021 they pushed through a supply-chain law that now requires companies to do due diligence on their suppliers, ensuring they don’t use slave labor — a move clearly targeted at China, amid concerns over practices in Xinjiang.
I’m assuming these laws don’t apply to the widespread slave labour throughout the United States due to the prison system more-or-less removing your human right to a wage?
The Economy Ministry, led by Berbock’s Green Party colleague Robert Habeck, in May declined to renew investment guarantees for Volkswagen in China, over human-rights concerns, Der Spiegel and other media reported. The increasing importance of geopolitics in Germany’s economic ties with China also hit home with the diplomatic spat between China and Lithuania. German firms that sourced products from Lithuania, including Continental AG, found their items held up in Chinese customs.
If a Baltic nation allowing Taiwan set up a representative office can end up disrupting German business operations in China, then it opens up a whole set of risks previously given little thought. One solution is to “localize” operations in China — effectively cordoning them off from overseas supply chains.
I have an idea. I reckon what you could do is– and I know this sounds fucking ridiculous, but bear with me– obey the One China Principle that you agreed to, and not send delegations to Taiwan, which implies that Taiwan has sovereignty that both Taiwan and China agree that they do not. It’s not as if your politicians are getting fucking lost at sea and find themselves in Taiwan. They’re specifically landing there, and they’re doing it to piss off China. Moaning about how, well, it introduces new risks into relationships with China if you can’t do certain actions would make sense, if those actions weren’t LITERALLY just the demand that you DON’T SEND YOUR POLITICIANS TO THE ISLAND. You’re not being asked to deepthroat a Chinese official who watches over you at all times. You’re not being asked to send your finest silks and furs to Xi Jinping every year like some Mongolian warlord. You aren’t being asked to put Chinese soldiers in your country, like a certain other country does with their 700+ military bases across many countries. The only thing you have to do is not fly your politicians onto an island that comprises 0.024% of the land area of Earth. It’s really that easy, I swear.
- More than 1,000 Fort Bragg soldiers have been living in barracks with mold problems, and the Army is scrambling to get them new places to live Business Insider
- The Way to Slow Climate Change Is as Close as Your City Hall or School Board NYT
To be clear: I am not disparaging the strong effects that local politics can have over their local area. I am, however, disparaging any idea that climate change can be “solved” this way, unless your local area happens to contain several oil wells and large factories. Cleanup efforts, absolutely. Anti-pollution efforts, can work. Climate change, nope. We need a global communist revolution for that.
Three months after taking office as America’s 46th president, Joe Biden made a solemn pledge to the world: He declared that the United States, which is more responsible for the climate crisis than any other nation, would cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 from their 2005 peak.
The big climate law that Congress just enacted will go a long way toward meeting Mr. Biden’s goal. Coupled with other policies and with trends in the marketplace, it is expected to cut emissions by something like 40 percent.
But the law — even assuming it survives Republican attacks and defunding attempts over the coming years — does not fully redeem Mr. Biden’s pledge. How can America get the rest of the way toward meeting his 50 percent goal?
The answer is in all of our hands. Many of us are already trying to help as best we can, perhaps by nudging the thermostat a degree or two, by driving or flying less or by eating differently. These actions are useful, but they are not enough. The public must make the transition from green consumers to green citizens and devote greater political energy to pushing America forward in its transition to a clean economy.
How? The answers may be as close as your city hall or county commission. Your local school board — yes, the school board — has some critical decisions to make in the next few years. Opportunities to make a difference abound in your state Capitol.
The reason the public needs to speak up is simple. What Congress just did was, in a nutshell, to change the economics of clean energy and clean cars, using the tax code to make them more affordable. But it did not remove many of the other barriers to the adoption of these technologies, and a lot of those hurdles are under the control of state and local governments.
Consider this: Every school day, millions of Americans put their children on dirty diesel buses. Not only are the emissions from those buses helping to wreck the planet on which the children will have to live, but the fumes are blowing into their faces, too, contributing to America’s growing problem with childhood asthma.
I don’t think the buses are REALLY the issue here, even if you pretend that the main reason behind climate change is vehicle emissions, which it isn’t, to my knowledge. It’s all the fucking cars. But sure. Yes, we should have electric buses.
It is now possible to replace those diesel buses with clean, electric buses. Has your school board made a plan to do so? Why isn’t every parent in America marching down to school district headquarters to demand it? Electric buses are more expensive right now, but the operating costs are so much lower that the gap can be bridged with creative financing. A school board that is not thinking hard about this and making plans for the transition is simply not doing its job.
Because the emissions offset from replacing diesel buses with electric buses isn’t really that big?
Here is another example. The power grid in your state is under the control of a political body known as a public utilities commission or public service commission. It has the legal authority to tell electric companies what power plants they are allowed to build and what rates they can charge. By law, these boards are supposed to listen to citizens and make decisions in the public interest, but the public rarely weighs in.
We once needed special state laws to push utilities toward renewable energy, but Congress just changed the ground rules. With wind and solar farms becoming far more affordable, every utility in America now needs to re-examine its spreadsheet on how it will acquire power in the future. The public utility commissions supervise this process, and they are supposed to ensure that the utilities build the most affordable systems they reasonably can.
But too many utilities, heavily invested in dirty energy, still see clean energy as a threat. They are going to drag their feet, and they will ply their influence with state government to try to get away with it. Citizens need to get in the faces of these commission members with a simple demand: Do your jobs. Make the utilities study all options and go for clean power wherever possible.
I’m confused as to how the New York Times thinks this works. If we just told them to be better, loud enough, then things would change? Especially when large profits are on the line? I’m pretty sure the NYT isn’t advocating for violent protest, which would actually change things.
One more example: The conversion to electric cars has begun, but as everyone knows, we still don’t have enough places to charge them, especially for people on long trips. State governments can play a major role in alleviating this bottleneck. Under Gov. Jared Polis in Colorado, the state is investing hundreds of millions of dollars to build charging stations, with poor neighborhoods included. Other states can do the same, and citizens need to speak up to demand it.
If you live in a sizable city or county, your local government is probably slowing down the automotive transition, too. These governments buy fleets of vehicles for their workers, and this year most of them will once again order gasoline-powered cars. Why? Because that’s what they’re used to doing. Citizens need to confront the people making these decisions and jolt them from their lethargy.
The two of us have been working on the climate problem for decades. We have never been as hopeful as we are today that America will finally shake off its intransigence and seize the future. We should all be grateful to the Congress that just enacted this new law, to President Biden for leading on the issue and especially to the young people who are so urgently demanding change. They have a moral right to inherit a livable world.
But no law is self-executing. The forces resisting change are still powerful. They are at work across the nation, fomenting lies and confusion wherever clean energy is discussed. We need a citizenry so engaged on this issue that it stands up to counter the disinformation — not just in Washington, but in every city hall, every school board, every state house and every utility commission.
I don’t even really disagree with that last paragraph, I just think that it’s way too dismissive of the utter strangehold that the fossil fuel industry has over all politics, and the forces that the state will use to suppress any genuine efforts at change. It’s the same “go out and vote!” rhetoric but addressed to a more direct problem. I mean, yes, if you have a communist running for local office then you should probably go vote for them. The issue is that the vast majority of us don’t, and that’s for a reason. We cannot end climate change with the same system that generated it. There are no mentions of “capitalism” or “socialism” in this article.
Bloomerism and Hope
For events that show that a better, more equitable, and happier world is possible than the neoliberal hell we inhabit.
- British Postal Workers Are on Strike Today Jacobin
Today we are seeing a tremendous demonstration of unity as over 115,000 postal workers walk out and man picket lines in villages, towns, and cities up and down this country. They are striking because they won’t accept their living standards being absolutely hammered by greedy business leaders who I don’t believe are being honest with their workers.
Every single person in this country relied on a postal worker during the pandemic. They kept us connected to our communities, to our loved ones, and to vital goods and services. At the time, Royal Mail called them heroes. But now, when these same people are suffering from skyrocketing inflation and soaring energy bills, the company has turned their backs on them. Instead of offering a real pay raise to do right by their workers, Royal Mail Group has imposed a real-terms pay cut of 2 percent.
This is an insult, particularly when our members delivered record profits of £758 million for Royal Mail, with millions paid out to shareholders. This is not about affordability, it’s about pleading poverty when those who create all the profit are expected to see their wages collapse.
That’s what this dispute is about. But the motivation behind our members coming out is shared by tens of millions across the country. At this moment in our society, the majority of workers are expected to work harder and harder for less and less. While CEOs seem to be constantly on the take, ordinary people have had worse living standards year after year since 2008.
We can’t go on like this. We can’t keep on living in a country where bosses rake in billions while workers rely on food banks. Corporate failure gets rewarded over and over again, while the people who keep society going are punished.
In the face of the cost of living crisis, there has never been a more crucial time for workers of this country to stand up for a decent wage and a secure future. This is an opportunity to confront corporate greed, disgraceful profiteering, and the degradation of services and say: enough is enough.
- One of the Largest Nurses’ Strikes in US History is Brewing in Minnesota Jacobin
The Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) is prepared to launch what the union claims is one of the largest nurses’ strikes in US history. After a summer of stalled contract negotiations, 15,000 nurses in the Twin Cities area overwhelmingly authorized a strike, sending an ultimatum to the seven corporate health care systems that employ them. They echo the demands of nurses’ unions around the country: staff our hospitals, keep nurses safe, and put “patients before profits.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar weighed in on the nurses’ side this week, both on the picket line in Minneapolis and in Jacobin, writing, “We don’t have a shortage of nurses; we have a shortage of dignified workplaces in our health care system.”
Jacobin’s Tadhg Larabee recently spoke to Kelley Anaas, an intensive care nurse at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Since before the pandemic, she says, her hospital has deprived nurses of the resources they need to care for patients as part of its shift to a “lean production” model of work. If Anaas and her colleagues go on strike, she says, it will be on behalf of the victims of this profit-seeking model.
- South African Workers Protest Against Rising Cost of Living TeleSUR
On Wednesday, with calls from the country’s two leading union groupings, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU), workers marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, where President Cyril Ramphosa’s offices are located.
“We want the government to address corruption and neo-liberation policies. We are fighting capitalism and demand that the government changes the structure of the economy which is widening the gap between the rich and the poor. We are facing high food and oil prices,” SAFTU Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said.
While some businesses opened in Pretoria and Johannesburg, other shops owned by foreigners remained closed due to fears of looting.The taxi industry ignored the call for a national shutdown and continued ferrying passengers.
The Ramphosa administration should find the right formula urgently to stimulate the economy and address the challenges facing the South African society, Vavi said, adding that the government should address underfunded health and education, and improve service delivery and work to ensure that the police are well-equipped to combat crime.
- Bolivian Social Movements March in Support of President Arce TeleSUR
On Thursday, the Pact of Unity (PU) and the Central Obrera Boliviana (COB) called for a march to reject attempts at political destabilization and ratify their support for President Luis Arce and Vice President David Choquehuanca.
The march started from the El Alto City towards Saint Francis Square in downtown La Paz, where thousands of workers, farmers, and students gathered to affirm their will for economic, political, and social change.
“This is the unity of the Bolivian people, who today march stronger than ever to tell the right-wing coup plotters that democracy must be respected!” President Arce said from a square that has become an icon in the social struggles of this Andean country.
“All over the world, capitalism wants to destabilize progressive governments that protect the wealth of nations. Meanwhile, the oligarchies play into the Empire’s game,” COB leader Juan Carlos Huarachi said.