Link back to the discussion thread.
- European shares hit new six-week low as inflation sets another record high Inquirer
European shares slipped on Wednesday as data showed euro zone inflation in August hit another record high, while energy concerns intensified after Russia began halting gas flows to Germany via a key supply route.
Euro zone inflation rose to another record high of 9.1 percent this month from 8.9 percent a month earlier, beating expectations and staying well clear of the European Central Bank’s (ECB) 2 percent target. The euro zone stocks index fell 0.8 percent to hover near six-week lows.
- Russia Officially Halts Natural Gas Flows Via Nord Stream 1 Oil Price
Russian Gazprom has officially halted gas supplies to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, cutting off flows completely to Germany for a period of maintenance that began at 01:00 GMT Wednesday and is scheduled to end at 01:00 GMT on Saturday.
Fears are mounting across the European Union that Russia will delay flows beyond September 3rd as the Kremlin continues to use natural gas as a weapon against Western sanctions - an allegation Moscow has repeatedly denied.
Gazprom has said the cutoff would be temporary, as planned, noting that the pipeline would restart after three days “provided that no malfunctions are identified”, as reported by the New York Times.
- Gorbachev made ‘profound impact’ on world history – Putin RT
Sort of in the same way that Churchill had a profound impact on India.
- Inflation in UK Shops Climbs to Highest Rate on Record Bloomberg
Prices in British shops rose at the highest rate since at least 2005 this month as Britons battled soaring costs on everything from gasoline to crisps.
The British Retail Consortium said shop price inflation accelerated to 5.1% in August, a new record for the index which was started in 2005, and up from 4.4% in July. Food price increases hit 9.3% with milk, margarine and crisps seeing the biggest rises. This level of food inflation could continue for at least another six months, according to NielsenIQ, which produces the data for the BRC.
Shoppers are doing everything they can to save money at the checkout, including opting for discount supermarkets, choosing own-brand products and buying less food. Britons are preparing for a recession that will potentially last more than a year and for soaring energy bills, all while a leadership contest plays out to decide who’ll succeed Boris Johnson as prime minister next week.
- UK credit card borrowing soars – Guardian RT
Credit card borrowing in the UK accelerated in June at the fastest yearly rate since 2005, The Guardian reported on Tuesday, citing data from the Bank of England.
According to the report, borrowing jumped by £740 million ($836 million) month-on-month, coming in 13% higher than at the same time last year.
- Potholes are getting worse … and now you can blame Vladimir Putin Telegraph
Potholes are worsening as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to a new analysis.
The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents more than 350 councils in England and Wales, said the rising cost in materials, driven by the conflict, was further delaying long overdue repairs to road surfaces.
The organisation revealed that many of its members had been hit by a 22 per cent rise in the cost of road maintenance since the conflict escalated in February 2022.
Before the invasion, around 60 per cent of bitumen - a material used to repair roads across the UK - was sourced from Russia.
Councils now have to ration the crucial resource and purchase it from other markets, pushing up costs and delaying road repairs.
Recent estimates suggest it would take around 10 years and £12 billion to bring all the road surfaces in the UK up to scratch.
On top of the increase in price for materials, spiralling energy costs, made worse by the war in Ukraine, also mean there has been a 38 per cent increase in the bill for running and repairing street lights over the last six months.
Because of the sanctions, not the war.
- Energy Crisis Gives New Life to Polluting 50-Year-Old Swedish Oil-Fed Power Plant Bloomberg
German energy giant Uniper SE plans to increase staffing at an old oil-fired power station needed to help keep the lights on in a worsening energy crisis that’s forced companies to reverse earlier plans.
The Karlshamn plant, which was only used occasionally in the past, is now being called upon regularly to help plug a shortage in the south of Sweden after several nuclear reactors were decommissioned over the past few years. The project will become even more crucial after Vattenfall AB announced a prolonged outage of an atomic reactor on Wednesday.
The station, which burns heavy fuel oil and dates back to the early 1970s, has already been running fairly regularly in August. It is the latest evidence of how combating global warming has taken a backseat in Europe’s historic energy crisis. Burning oil is a reliable source of generating power – but among the most polluting methods – and adds to the rising use of coal needed to meet demand in the region.
- Denmark’s Economy Expands Faster Than Previously Estimated Bloomberg
Denmark’s economy grew faster than expected in the second quarter, helped by higher spending in restaurants and hotels after the end of Covid-19 restrictions.
Gross domestic product expanded 0.9% from the first three months of the year, Statistics Denmark said on Wednesday. That compares with a preliminary reading of 0.7% growth published two weeks ago.
“We’re seeing dark clouds on the horizon” but the strong second-quarter performance gives “hope for a fairly soft landing for the Danish economy,” Mathias Dollerup Sproegel, a senior economist at Sydbank, said in a note.
- Bulgaria will not hold talks with Gazprom of Russia EU Reporter
Bulgaria’s interim government will not negotiate a new contract with Gazprom supposing that this action should be taken by the permanent Cabinet of Ministers and they would undertake such an obligation, Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Policy Hristo Alexiev said a few days ago, writes Alex Ivanov, Moscow correspondent.
He said this following talks with the head of the Directorate of Energy of the European Commission, Ditte Juhl-Jorgensen, the press service of the government of Bulgaria reports.
Alexiev also stated that the Bulgarian government does not intend to negotiate a new short-term, medium-term or long-term contract with Gazprom Export.
“We believe that such an action should not be taken by the interim Government. Only a regular cabinet and parliament can make such a new, future commitment,” the deputy prime minister said.
The Bulgarian authorities plan to announce an international tender for long—term LNG supplies, the procedure should be started by the interim government, then the decision will be made by the permanent cabinet, the press service noted.
Asia and Oceania
- China Communist Party Congress From Oct. 16 Expected to Extend Xi’s Rule Bloomberg
The Chinese Communist Party’s twice-a-decade leadership conference will begin on October 15, bringing President Xi Jinping closer to an unprecedented third term.
- ‘It’s getting extremely hard’: climate crisis forces China to ration electricity Guardian
There were still some streetlights on the Bund, one of the main roads in central Shanghai. But the decorative lights which light up the city skyline – blue, pink, and red – were turned off for two days to cope with the peaking power demand.
The power restriction imposed by the city authorities, was the first in Shanghai, the financial hub of China. But across the rest of the country similar restrictions have been put in place, as cities, notably in the south-western region, grapple with ongoing power shortages caused by devastating droughts this summer.
In Sichuan, a top-level energy emergency alert was issued to address the province’s power shortages, a first in the province’s history: the alert means that residents will be given priority for power supplies. Sichaun is known for its abundant hydro energy, which provides 80% of its power, and is a vital link in China’s extensive West-to-East Electricity Transfer Project.
But the area has been hit by record-breaking high temperatures, unseen in 60 years. With water in the region’s rivers dropping to historical lows, hydropower plants are only producing half the energy they were generating this time last year.
Sichuan had already imposed rolling blackouts across factories, and international companies have had to halt production, while the coal-fired plants are all at full stretch.
But even so, cities around Sichuan are struggling to meet surging power demands from residential communities, with people’s daily lives being heavily affected. In Dazhou, residents in one community complain that power supplies have been cut for 6-7 hours each day for nearly a week, leaving many flocking to a nearby bridge in the evening to beat the sweltering summer heat, according to Jiupai News.
- China is reselling natural gas to energy-strapped Europe as its economic slowdown leaves it with a surplus, report says Business Insider
China’s economic slowdown has left it with a surplus of natural gas that it is re-selling to energy-strapped Europe, according to a report.
Boosted by cargoes from China, Europe’s imports of liquefied natural gas jumped 60% year-on-year in the first half of 2002, according to a Nikkei report citing data from research firm Kpler.
China’s economy has slowed sharply in 2022 as Beijing implemented a strict zero-COVID policy and as a crisis grips the country’s highly indebted property sector. Economists think it is likely to fall well short of the government’s aim of 5.5% growth.
The economic slowdown has left some Chinese companies with a surplus of natural gas — and they have been able to export this to Europe, where countries face a severe energy crisis.
- South Korean Chip Shipments Fall, Fueling Global Slowdown Case Bloomberg
South Korean chipmakers reported their first fall in factory shipments in almost three years in July, an early sign of weakening demand for vital components in consumer and industrial goods that serve as a barometer for the global economy.
Semiconductor shipments tumbled almost 23% from a year earlier, after a 5.1% rise in June, according to the national statistics office on Wednesday. Nationwide inventories were up 80% from a year earlier and unchanged from the month prior. (Read the full story here.)
These, combined with other economic and market disruptions, are creating new twists in nations’ trade balances: Economists forecast South Korea — traditionally an export powerhouse — to report on Thursday a record trade deficit for August.
Meanwhile, chip shortages are still holding back production in key areas of supply chains globally.
On Tuesday, the CEO of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing warned that a persistent dearth of chips costing anywhere from 50 cents to $10 still weighs on auto manufacturers, which rely on them to operate their autonomous, connected and electric cars.
- Solomon Islands bans all foreign navy ships from its ports Guardian
The Solomon Islands has issued a moratorium on all nations requesting to send in naval ships while it works on new processes for military vessels entering port.
The announcement from the prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare, comes after it was revealed the US had been issued with a notice of the moratorium.
“On August 29, the United States received formal notification from the government of Solomon Islands regarding a moratorium on all naval visits, pending updates in protocol procedures,” the US embassy in Canberra said in a statement on Tuesday.
It follows Honiara failing to respond to a request for a US Coast Guard ship to dock and refuel on Friday. The ship was diverted to Papua New Guinea.
Papua New Guinea
- Papua New Guinea hopes to have Australia security deal signed by end of year Guardian
Papua New Guinea hopes to sign a security deal with Australia, as well as possibly New Zealand and the US, by the end of the year, the country’s foreign minister Justin Tkatchenko has said.
Tkatchenko said the security treaty with Australia has been in the works since 2019, but that the recent security deal struck between China and Solomon Islands would require Australia and Papua New Guinea to strengthen the treaty.
“It’s nothing new as we have been discussing this since 2019,” Tkatchenko said. “But since we now have these issues in our region, like the Solomons-China issue and the China-Taiwan issue, we will just have to enhance, strengthen and fill in the loopholes to update the treaty arrangement and agreement due to the current situation in the region.”
- Flood-hit regions of Australia told ‘be prepared’ as months of intense rainfall predicted Guardian
Flood-devastated regions in northern New South Wales and southern Queensland have been warned to brace for even more severe storms in coming months, with bleak forecasts of damaging rain to return through summer.
Federal emergency management minister, Murray Watt, has told people to “be prepared” for further inundation, as the Albanese government investigates reforms to disaster relief payments and rushes to complete new mitigation projects by year’s end.
The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast flooding will be the major natural disaster risk over coming months, more likely than fires or heatwaves across most of the country. The eastern states, in particular, are likely to experience wetter weather, with giant hail and intense rainfall predicted.
Bureau senior climatologist, Greg Browning, told a press conference at Parliament House there was a “very high probability of above average rain” across the east coast. He warned that since many of those areas were already experiencing high amounts of moisture in the soil, further rainfall may not be absorbed and will instead move into rivers and again cause flooding.
“We’re likely to see events where there’ll be damaging hail, intense rainfall, flash flooding, but the broader picture is again for above average rainfall and riverine flooding,” Browning said.
- U.S. Stops Iran From Seizing an American Naval Drone WSJ
The U.S. Navy stopped an Iranian ship from seizing an American maritime drone in the Persian Gulf on Tuesday, in a fresh confrontation that underscored the sharp tensions between Tehran and Washington, U.S. defense officials said.
The episode began Monday night when the U.S. Navy observed an Iranian ship towing the Saildrone Explorer, an unmanned U.S. vessel equipped with camera, radars and sensors.
The USS Thunderbolt, a patrol coastal ship, and a Navy helicopter moved toward the scene. The Iranians dropped the tow line and eventually left the area, the defense officials said.
No shots were fired by either side, the defense officials added, and the Americans didn’t try to prevent the Iranian ship, which was operated by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, from leaving.
Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, the commander of the U.S. naval forces in the region, said the Iranian actions, which took place in international waters, were “flagrant, unwarranted and inconsistent with the behavior of a professional maritime force.”
Is it also flagrant, unwarranted, and inconsistent with the behavior of a professional maritime force to seize Iranian oil tankers, or sail around in the Taiwan Strait to try and provoke China?
- Iran allows crypto payments for imports RT
Tehran has officially approved the use of cryptocurrency for imports instead of the US dollar and the euro, Minister of Industry, Mines and Trade Reza Fatemi Amin said on Monday.
“All the issues related to crypto-assets, including how to provide fuel and energy, and how to assign and grant licenses were devised,” the minister announced.
Earlier this month, the Islamic Republic made its first official import order using cryptocurrency, worth $10 million. It was a test run for allowing the country to trade through digital assets that bypass the US sanctions regime. The use of crypto will also allow trade with other countries under US restrictions.
- Taliban on the cusp of securing wheat, gas, and oil deal with Russia, officials say Business Insider
Taliban officials are on the verge of signing a contract for Afghanistan to purchase gasoline and benzene from Russia, Afghan authorities told Reuters.
Per the outlet, which published its report on Monday, Afghan officials said that a Taliban delegation was in the final stages of talks in Moscow for the terms of the contract.
Reuters cited a spokesperson from Afghanistan’s ministry of economy, Habiburahman Habib, who confirmed that the officials were negotiating contracts for wheat, gas, and oil.
- First Ship Carrying Ukrainian Grain to Africa Since Beginning of Conflict Arrives in Djibouti All Africa
The first shipment of Ukrainian grain to Africa since Russia’s invasion arrived in Djibouti on Tuesday. The grain will be distributed in Ethiopia to help the drought-stricken nation cope with worsening hunger that threatens to become a famine.
Mike Dunford, East Africa regional director for the U.N.’s World Food Program (WFP), spoke to reporters at the port.
“The food on the [U.N.-chartered ship] Brave Commander will feed 1.5 million people, for one month in Ethiopia,” he said. “So, this makes a very big impact, for those people who currently have nothing and now WFP will be able to provide them with their basic needs.”
- Biden Is Unpopular, But Democrats Aren’t Bloomberg
Democrats in Congress — and the one in the White House, for that matter — would love to see President Joe Biden’s approval ratings break 50% heading into the midterm elections. Then again, it might not matter.
This year, even with the president’s approval rating in the low 40s, Democrats’ fortunes appear to be turning a corner, and that historical marker may be an obsolete predictor of how they fare in congressional elections.
Why? The country has become so polarized that low approval ratings may be the new normal. Presidential approval ratings are bounded by partisanship. Almost no Republicans today would ever say they approve of a Democratic president, and vice versa. Biden’s numbers also reflect voters who view him as insufficiently liberal but aren’t going to vote for Republicans.
I mean, yes, but that doesn’t change the fact that the economic situation that Biden is presiding over is very, very bad. I don’t disagree with the idea that even a relatively good Democratic president would receive low marks from Republicans, but we aren’t talking about that scenario here. If you’re a Democrat and you’re looking at the figures, you’re gonna say “Oh, the vast majority of Democrats think he’s doing a great job even though a tiny number of Republicans think the same; that must mean it’s just political polarisation, because all the reasonable, non-Qanon, sane people agree that he’s good.” If you’re a Republican, you’re gonna say “Well, OBVIOUSLY the Democratic base is circling the wagons around him - look at how politically polarized we are as a nation! Whereas the Republican base, the TRUE American patriots, all agree that he’s doing a terrible job, so he is!” It’s just another layer of abstraction in an already highly idealized political sphere which has been disconnected from physically able to do anything good for people for decades now, because you’ll get your head blown off by the alphabet boys if you try - Kennedy was a warning to all presidents in that regard.
The notion that the president’s approval rating is a reliable indicator of what to expect in congressional midterm elections that are months away is a “zombie idea,” says Michael Podhorzer, former political director of the AFL-CIO.
My initial reaction is that that’s cope but he’s honestly probably right. Democrats, even the vast majority of the Bernie-aligned ones, are all completely housebroken. Even if, what, 70% don’t want him to run again as president, do you think even a single person who said that will ACTUALLY not go vote for Biden in 2024, when the narrative is how we’ve gotta save the country from Trump’s fascism once again? Do you think that they’ll not vote for the Democrats in the midterms under current conditions, so long as voting isn’t made virtually impossible? Electoralism is a maze with only dead ends. Designed to keep you desperately searching and mentally occupied with it as the walls and floor get hotter and hotter and the water keeps rising inside.
Biden’s approval rating has lately ticked up to 44% from a record low in July, but not because of any change in Democratic or Republican sentiment. The increase in the Gallup poll was driven by independent voters. The 81% of Democrats and the 4% of Republicans who gave him high marks remained unchanged from earlier this summer.
- Biden’s Economy Has the Best Growth Record Since Clinton Bloomberg
We’re more than a year-and-a-half into Joe Biden’s presidency, with full second-quarter economic growth numbers from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis now in hand. Which seems like as good a time as any for another installment in my occasional series comparing growth rates under US presidents — which somewhat to my surprise shows Biden on pace to compile by far the best growth record since Bill Clinton.
Yes, this is adjusted for inflation, albeit using the gross domestic product price index, which hasn’t been rising quite as fast as the better-known consumer price index (7.6% year-over-year in the second quarter versus 8.6% for the CPI). And yes, I measure growth here using not GDP alone but the average of GDP and another metric tracked by the BEA, gross domestic income. In theory GDP and GDI should be equal, but they are estimated from different sources and so far this year are showing very different economic trajectories for the US. GDP fell at a 1.6% annualized rate in the first quarter and 0.6% in the second, according to the latest BEA estimates, while GDI rose 1.8% and 1.4%.
There have been a lot of complaints lately that the Biden administration and the media are shifting the goalposts on how recessions are defined by looking past those two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth to other indicators such as payroll employment, industrial production and real incomes that show continued growth. In reality, the National Bureau of Economic Research has been the semi-official arbiter of when US recessions start and end since well before there was such a thing as GDP, and economists there have continued to focus on data series more frequent and less susceptible to subsequent revision than the quarterly GDP numbers.
- U.S. Diesel Prices Are Back Above $5 Oil Price
The national average diesel price in the United States rose in the week to August 29 to above $5 per gallon again, the first weekly increase in more than two months, data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed.
For the week to August 29, the U.S. nationwide price of diesel jumped to $5.115 per gallon, up from $4.909/gal for the previous week.
Higher diesel prices, due to low inventories, are hurting the trucking and agricultural businesses and raising the prices of consumer goods.
- Putin’s propagandists are promoting Breitbart’s Hunter Biden film, saying they hope it helps ‘bring our beloved Trump back into power’ Business Insider
Russian state media propagandists are aggressively promoting “My Son Hunter,” a film attacking President Joe Biden and his son that will be distributed by the far-right Breitbart when it premieres on September 7.
Numerous Russian state television programs have broadcast the promotional trailer in its entirety, The Daily Beast reported. The trailer hints at drug abuse and allegations of illegal activity by Hunter Biden and attempts to draw connections to the president.
There are also references to a laptop, allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden, that became the subject of a highly controversial New York Post story with several red flags that raised questions about its authenticity.
One Russian state media show host who is also a deputy of Russia’s State Duma, Evgeny Popov, said Republicans produced the “scandalous” film because “they got tired of waiting for justice,” The Daily Beast reported. He suggested the film is intended to help them during the midterm elections, and called the laptop former President Donald Trump’s “main ‘trump card.'”
- U.S. Army Grounds Entire Fleet of Chinook Helicopters WSJ
The U.S. Army has grounded its entire fleet of CH-47 Chinook helicopters because of a risk of engine fires, U.S. officials said.
Army officials are aware of a small number of engine fires with the helicopters, and the incidents didn’t result in any injuries or deaths, the U.S. officials said. One of the officials said the fires occurred in recent days.
The U.S. Army Materiel Command grounded the fleet of hundreds of helicopters “out of an abundance of caution,” but officials were looking at more than 70 aircraft that contained a part that is suspected to be connected to the problem, officials said.
The grounding of the Chinook helicopters, a battlefield workhorse since the 1960s, could pose logistical challenges for American soldiers, depending on how long the order lasts.
The grounding was targeted at certain Boeing Co. -made models with engines manufactured by Honeywell International Inc., people familiar with the matter said. The grounding took effect within about the last 24 hours, these people said. The Army has about 400 helicopters in its fleet, one of the U.S. officials said.
- Demonstrations in Haiti Leave One Dead and 11 Injured Haiti
Over the last 24 hours, Haitians have taken to the streets in several cities across their country to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry and protest against inflation and insecurity.
On Monday, in Petit-Goave, a small coastal commune in the Ouest Department, one citizen was killed and a dozen people were injured during the demonstrations, as reported by Radio Metronome.
“The Francophone newspaper Le Nouvelliste mentioned that the victim was asthmatic and died after the explosion of tear gas canisters launched by the police to disperse the crowd,” outlet RFI said.
In Miragoane, the capital of the Nipples Department, thousands of people staged a peaceful demonstration against the high cost of living. Called a week ago by a group of young people, this demonstration was also repressed by the police.
- Paraguayan President Vetoes Bill Regulating Crypto Assets TeleSUR
On Monday, Paraguay’s President Mario Abdo objected to a bill that seeks to recognize cryptocurrency mining as an industrial activity.
This bill returns to the Senate and the Lower House, where lawmakers will have to decide between approving the original text or accepting the presidential veto. In the initial law proposal, the recognition of cryptoactive mining as an industrial activity is the first step to establish a 15 percent tax for its economic operations.
The bill also contemplates the granting of permits of up to five years in favor of cryptoactive service providers and miners, as well as the creation of an institution specialized in the matter.
According to the presidential decree vetoing the bill, however, cryptoactive mining is an activity “characterized by its high consumption of energy, with intensive use of capital, and low use of labor.”
- The Right Is Trying to Stop Chile’s New Constitution Jacobin
Over 80 percent of the Chilean electorate voted to replace the country’s dictatorship-era constitution. As Chileans head to the polls on Sunday to finally vote on the new constitution, the Right is stoking fears to prevent its passage.
“If I voted for it and now I’m no longer for it, am I inconsistent?” asks a young woman in an election commercial about the Chilean referendum scheduled for September 4. The commercial advocates for a no vote in the referendum on the new draft constitution.
The call for a new constitution was born out of the revolt in October 2019, when millions of Chileans protested against the social inequality that plagues the country. A year later, almost 80 percent of the electorate voted to replace the current constitution, which dates back to Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship, with a new one. Chileans elected a Constitutional Convention in May 2021, with left-wing parties and nonparty representatives from social movements winning the majority of seats.
Since then, the pro-constitution camp has lost a lot of support. The new constitution’s opponents have been ahead in all polls so far. As a result, the camp of the undecideds will be decisive in the vote — which is compulsory.
The opinion polling institute CADEM currently puts the number of doubters at around 16 percent, but the trend is rising. The main reason for this shift is contradictory information about the rights enshrined in the new constitution. Furthermore, a no campaign organized well in advance succeeded in exploiting the structural deficits of the Constitutional Convention itself.
In the last twelve months, a two-thirds majority in the Constitutional Convention has passed a number of articles with the potential to fundamentally change Chile. For example, the new draft characterizes Chile as a “welfare state” and strengthens its powers in the health and pension systems, education, and housing creation — all of which are areas where the current constitution primarily safeguards private-sector interests. Reproductive rights, including the right to abortion, are also enshrined.
Another significant change is that water is declared a common good that cannot be privatized. The current constitution, on the other hand, explicitly protects private ownership of water — a model that particularly favors water-intensive industries. In a country suffering from drought and water shortages, such an article marks a real milestone.
Yet much of that has been lost in the current referendum campaign. Instead, debates revolve around the articles on “plurinationality,” which are designed to strengthen spaces for indigenous self-governance and representation, but have proven to be an irritant for many Chileans in the south of the country. There the no campaign deliberately promotes the idea that the new constitution would privilege indigenous communities over the rest of the population.
The campaign also exploits the scope for interpreting norms in other areas to stoke fear. The misinformation that the constitution abolishes home ownership has been repeatedly spread by right-wing convention members, most recently through leaflets resembling official convention materials. Also much debated is the misinformation that private patients would be forced into the public health system by the new constitution. Claims that this will lengthen wait times in public hospitals is particularly alarming for older people from low-income families, who currently make up a large part of the undecideds.
he parties of the political Right are campaigning under the slogan Rechazo por una Mejor (Reject for a better one). These same parties opposed a new constitution in the first referendum, in 2020. Today they seek to demonstrate that one does not have to be right-wing to reject the project, while doing their best to hide extreme right-wing positions, such as those of the defeated presidential candidate José Antonio Kast. Even former president Sebastián Piñera has not yet commented on the new constitution.
The Ukraine War
- A summary of the Kherson counteroffensive so far, by ASB:
Moments ago, Ukrainian Armed Forces sent around 100 infantry personnel and 6 tanks on the offensive against Russian Armed Forces positions located near Kiselevka in Snigirevsky area. They have not been successful and have lost 2 tanks. Russia was able to repel this attack for the time being. Ukrainian Armed Forces continue to lose masses of men in the attempted takeover of Russian Armed Forces positions.
Russian Armed Forces forces targeted an ammunition depot of the Ukrainian Armed Forces nearby which is located off the highway of Nikolaev - Pevomaiskoe/Snigirevka, this was an important supply point for the Ukrainian offensive in that area.
Report on the situation in the area of Andreevsky settlements —
Ukrainian Armed Forces managed to occupy the villages of Kostroma, as well as the southwestern outskirts of Bruskinskoye. This allowed them to supply the Ukrainian Armed Forces group in Davydov Brod. This is still the same area which they managed to break through on the first day, being the only one point of counter offensive where they saw success, so this is not new for today, however their area of control was expanded. Ukrainians are also moving through the coastal forests in attempts to cross into Belogorka. They’re being met with heavy Russian Armed Forces artillery attacks and losing infantry as a result.
Russian Armed Forces quickly capitalized on the build up of UAF forces and targeted the Sukhoi Headquarters and Andreevka. As a result of the strikes, the Armed Forces of Ukraine lost about 25 to 30 armored vehicles and a massive amount of troops. The area is littered with corpses.
Situation in the Olginsky direction:
Developing some success in this area, the Ukrainian Armed Forces managed to push Russians backwards into reserve positions - making the area neutral. It is essentially a grey zone with both sides attempting to seize the initiative.
Mercenaries fighting on the side of Ukraine are attempting to attack Russian positions In the Dnepropetrovsk region and Krivoy Rog. They have been spotted riding on Polish BMPs.
To the Ukrainian Armed Forces disadvantage, Russia maintains superiority in Artillery and aviation. All the Ukrainian Armed Forces reinforcements being transferred immediately get hit — making it impossible for the Ukrainian Armed Forces to regain control over settlements Olgino / Vysokopolie.
Ukrainian positions continue to be obliterated by Russian thermobaric MLRS TOS-1A and Ka-52’s. The losses for the Ukrainians have likely already passed 2,000 troops in the last 72h.
- The EU is sending millions of anti-radiation tablets to Ukraine to protect people from a potential accident caused by fighting at a nuclear power plant Business Insider
The European Union is sending 5.5 million anti-radiation tablets to Ukraine so it can protect civilians in the event of a serious accident at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which has been caught in the middle of ongoing fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces.
Dipshittery and Cope
I don’t read any of these unless they’re particularly interesting. I’m happy for them tho. Or sorry that happened.
- China Is Paying a Price for Its Economic and Pandemic Policies Bloomberg
What these journalists will never say is that every country on the planet is paying a price for its pandemic policies. The west is just no longer reporting their consequences, and putting China’s in the spotlight. A cancer will continue festering if you stop the chemotherapy and stop going to the hospital because it makes you feel bad to keep seeing it on the test results.
- Chinese companies are leaving U.S. stock exchanges. Good riddance. WaPo
“I’m actually laughing. I’m not mad. You’re owned, not me."
- Pakistan Could Have Averted Its Climate Catastrophe Bloomberg
Decades of corruption and underinvestment have led to this moment. Only significant expenditure can avoid another disaster.
If you’re looking for an emblem of why Pakistan will struggle to recover from the floods that have killed more than 1,000 since June, consider its latest bailout from the International Monetary Fund agreed Monday.
The infusion of $1.16 billion might help unlock enough cash to get the country through the next couple of years — but the floods themselves have caused more than $10 billion of damage, much of which will end up boosting the country’s $255 billion in debt.
For as long as we’ve raised crops from the rich soils laid down in river valleys, floods have challenged humanity. That’s one reason that deluge myths are almost universal. The solutions haven’t changed much, either. An implausibly massive piece of capital investment saves humanity in Genesis and the Quran, in the form of Noah’s ark.
Modern governments take the same approach. The 1928 Flood Control Act, introduced to tame the Mississippi after the previous year’s devastating inundation, was at the time the largest public works project the US government had ever authorized, costing more than the Panama Canal. Flood management forms one of the biggest parts of China’s budget, with the 1 trillion yuan ($144 billion) invested in these projects in 2017 (the last time data was published), amounting to a larger sum than was spent on health care or railway construction.
As the largest irrigation system in the world, the Indus valley is another monument to massive investment whose roots date back more than 4,000 years. Like Pakistan whose backbone it forms, however, the Indus and its tributaries have been starved of the investment they need to effectively manage the risks of natural disaster.
I wonder why that could POSSIBLY be?
Some of the most important lines of defense against floods are colonial-era projects such as the vast Sukkur Barrage — a system of dams and canals that divert the waters of the Indus’s to irrigate the arid southern Sindh Province. Many are in a poor state of repair, thanks to years of underinvestment in maintenance; corruption; and disputes between Pakistan’s four provinces about the allocation of water and funds.
We have a better article on the Pakistan floods down below in Good Takes, so let’s just stop reading this one right here and read that one instead.
Back to the alternative reality where Ukraine is winning:
Ukraine is finally breaking through Russian front lines after weeks of stalemate, UK intelligence says Business Insider
Ukraine may have pierced ‘thinly held’ Russian lines in south; IAEA to Zaporizhzhia WaPo
Ukraine claims early success in counteroffensive as Zelensky vows to ‘chase’ Russians to the border CNN
Putin probably won’t be able to find enough soldiers for his ambitious plan to beef up Russia’s military as it struggles in Ukraine, US officials say Business Insider
- Mikhail Gorbachev’s Failures Did Not Go Deep Enough Bloomberg
I posted this whole article in the megathread for those interested, but it’s not very good.
- Gorbachev and Reagan: the capitalist and communist who helped end the cold war Guardian
Who the hell edited this article’s headline? Where’s the communist?
- Mikhail Gorbachev — who survived a coup attempt as leader of the USSR — questioned the ‘future fate’ of the US after the January 6 Capitol riot Business Insider
Oh my god. I’m not even gonna talk about this one, I’ll burst a blood vessel in my brain.
- Mikhail Gorbachev: tributes pour in for ‘one-of-a kind’ Soviet leader Guardian
Mikhail Gorbachev has been described as “one of the greatest figures of the 20th century” in a flood of tributes from across the world to the man universally credited with ending the cold war.
There was gushing praise for the former Soviet president from past and present western leaders, political commentators, academics, historians and celebrities after his death in Russia on Tuesday night aged 91.
President Joe Biden led the tributes from the Soviet Union’s old cold war adversary by saying he was a man of “remarkable vision”, and that he was held in high esteem for leading his country on the path to reform.
- Mikhail Gorbachev: a divisive figure loved abroad but loathed at home Guardian
Maybe those two facts have something to do with each other?
- Why Gorbachev is remembered as a giant in the West and a pariah at home CNN
Mikhail Gorbachev’s tragedy is that he outlived the thaw in the Cold War between Moscow and the US, after doing more than anyone to engineer it.
The last leader of the Soviet Union died on Tuesday at the age of 91, with Washington and the Kremlin on opposite sides of President Vladimir Putin’s hot war in Ukraine, launched in part to avenge the Soviet collapse precipitated by Gorbachev’s rule.
It is hard to encapsulate what Gorbachev meant to Western publics in the 1980s, after one of the most dangerous periods of the standoff between East and West. After generations of severe, hostile, hardline and elderly Kremlin leaders, he was young, modern, and fresh – a visionary and a reformer.
Gorbachev inspired sudden hope that the nuclear showdown that haunted the world in the second half of the 20th century would not end up destroying civilization. US President Ronald Reagan and his British soulmate, Margaret Thatcher, were the most hawkish of Cold warriors. But to their credit, they realized a moment of promise — as the British Prime Minister said of the Soviet leader: “We can do business together.”
Everybody remembers the day when Reagan went to Berlin and against the backdrop of the Brandenburg Gate – which had been defaced by the ugly and inhumane concrete barrier between East and West – said: “Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” It was one of the most iconic moments of modern US history. At the time, few people thought it was possible. In fact, some White House aides thought the comments overly provocative and tried to persuade Reagan not to say them. But in the end, in an act of great humanity, Gorbachev effectively did tear down that wall.
After a heady series of nuclear arms control reduction talks and meetings with Western leaders, Gorbachev became a hero in the West. But it was his decision not to intervene with military force when popular rebellions erupted against Communist regimes in Warsaw Pact nations in 1989 that led to the liberation of Eastern Europe, the fall of the Iron Curtain, the end of the Cold War and the reunification of Germany.
That outburst of freedom bequeathed 30 years of relative peace in Europe.
In western Europe. In eastern Europe, well… let’s just say I hope you don’t mind having your average life expectancy demolished.
- With War in Ukraine, Putin Tries to Unravel Gorbachev’s Legacy NYT
The day that Russia invaded Ukraine, Feb. 24, the legacy of Mikhail S. Gorbachev loomed over President Vladimir V. Putin’s predawn speech.
“The paralysis of power and will is the first step toward complete degradation and oblivion,” Mr. Putin intoned, referring to the Soviet Union’s collapse. “We lost confidence for only one moment, but it was enough to disrupt the balance of forces in the world.”
For Mr. Putin, the end of the Soviet Union was the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century,” a “genuine tragedy” for millions of Russians because it left them scattered across newly formed national borders. The disaster was caused, in Mr. Putin’s telling, by the weak nerves of a leader too willing to bend to the demands of a treacherous and duplicitous West — a mistake, the Kremlin’s televised propaganda now often reminds viewers, that Mr. Putin is determined not to repeat.
Wait. Do they actually not know why the fall of the USSR was a tragedy? Hang on a second. I thought they just knew about the massive amounts of absolute poverty spawned by the breakup of the country and were just like “Actually that’s good, because of… uhh.. hang on, let me generate two random economics words… MARKET… COMPETITION. Yeah. It was good because of market competition.” But this paragraph implies that they think the reason why Putin thought it was a disaster was because the empire was broken up and he wanted to rule an empire or something, without any reference to the hardship that over a hundred million people faced.
In Ukraine, Mr. Putin is fighting in the shadows of the empire whose end Mr. Gorbachev presided over, having started a war that has killed thousands in the name of restoring Moscow’s dominance over what it claims to be Russian lands. But Mr. Putin’s battle to reverse Mr. Gorbachev’s legacy extends beyond territorial control to the personal and political freedoms that the last Soviet president ushered in — and that the Kremlin is now fast unraveling.
“All of Gorbachev’s reforms are now zero, in ashes, in smoke,” a friend of Mr. Gorbachev’s, the radio journalist Aleksei A. Venediktov, said in a July interview. “This was his life’s work.”
Get fucked and suffer for all eternity. I hope that every single day in hell, you experience the pain and fear and hunger and cold of the average eastern European in the years after 1991.
Mr. Gorbachev, who has died at age 91, was still in power when Mr. Venediktov’s freewheeling liberal radio station, Echo of Moscow, first went on the air in 1990 and came to symbolize Russia’s newfound freedoms. After Mr. Putin ordered troops into Ukraine in February, the Kremlin forced the station to shut down.
And Novaya Gazeta, the independent newspaper that Mr. Gorbachev used his Nobel Peace Prize money to help found in the early 1990s, was forced to suspend publication in March, threatened by a new wartime censorship law.
Good. Fuck ‘em.
Mr. Gorbachev, in ill health, said nothing himself publicly this year about the war in Ukraine. His Gorbachev Foundation, a research institute that “seeks to promote democratic values,” issued a statement two days after the invasion calling for a “speedy cessation of hostilities” and “the immediate start of peace talks.”
But Mr. Gorbachev, the son of a Ukrainian mother and a Russian father, backed Mr. Putin’s view of Ukraine as a “brotherly nation” that should rightfully be in Russia’s orbit. He supported Mr. Putin’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014, describing the move as representing the will of a region heavily populated by people who identified as Russian. And he castigated the West for “trying to draw Ukraine into NATO,” warning that such attempts “will not bring anything but discord between Ukraine and Russia.”
But he also appeared confident that the worst could be avoided. Asked about tensions between Ukraine and Russia in 2014, he told a Siberian news outlet, “A war between Russia and Ukraine — this is absurd.”
“This was a man who was a principled opponent of violence and bloodshed,” Dmitri A. Muratov, the editor of Novaya Gazeta and a winner of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, said in a phone interview.
Okay, I’m stopping here. They’re crying crocodile tears over one the biggest villains in the last 50 years. Not as bad as Yeltsin and all those motherfuckers who are going to whatever lies below hell, but he’s up there in the top 20 worst human beings to have lived in the era after WW2 in terms of mass human suffering caused by his actions.
- Putin Will Turn Gorbachev’s Death to His Advantage Bloomberg
Mikhail Gorbachev was a man who hoped for the best, and got the worst.
The legacy of the last Soviet leader, who died yesterday aged 91, was largely undone by two decades of Vladimir Putin. Now a grinding war in Ukraine is its grim and bloody requiem.
THERE WAS NO “UNDOING”. THIS IS GORBACHEV’S LEGACY. IF HE DIDN’T WANT THERE TO BE A WAR IN UKRAINE, THEN HE SHOULDN’T HAVE DESTROYED THE SOVIET UNION. THERE IS A DIRECT LINE OF CAUSE AND EFFECT HERE. PUTIN IS THE RESULT OF YELTSIN. YELTSIN IS THE RESULT OF GORBACHEV. GORBACHEV IS THE RESULT OF TOO MANY FUCKING PIZZA HUT COMMERCIALS.
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.
- Flooding has devastated Pakistan – and Britain’s imperial legacy has made it worse Guardian
Devastating flooding in Pakistan has killed more than 1,100 people this summer, injuring and displacing thousands more. Among Pakistan’s political elite, some have claimed that the floods are simply a natural disaster, while others blame climate breakdown. But both groups have failed to address another crucial factor: empire.
Pakistan gained its independence from the British empire in 1947, yet the reverberations of imperialism have endured. As a consequence, peripheral regions such as south Punjab, Balochistan and rural Sindh are resource-starved, exploited and poverty-stricken – factors that have grossly exacerbated the flood’s disastrous effects.
Back in the 19th century, the British Raj built alliances with local elites in order to secure its rule. In Rajanpur, […] this was particularly important – many tribal chiefs, including the Legharis, were armed and hostile. So in exchange for their loyalty, the Raj turned representative chiefs into unrepresentative aristocrats, granting them magisterial powers, a paramilitary apparatus and immense landed estates (jagirs) on newly irrigated land. The relationship set off a mutually beneficial pillaging of the region, whereby the British Raj and the now-landed aristocrats siphoned off rents, land revenues, and export cash cops like indigo, opium and cotton, all at the expense of previously pastoral tribesmen now forced to settle and toil as local farmers. Combined with expanding canal irrigation, tribesmen’s coerced settlement and exploitation – the British viewed seasonally migrating tribes as a security threat – left them further exposed to floods.
Because of this imperial patronage, as well as rising rents due to growing competition for tenancies with the decline of pastoral livelihoods, inequalities between landlords and peasants rose dramatically over the 19th and 20th centuries. While peasants lived in mud houses vulnerable to flooding – archives report several “great floods” affecting the south Punjab region – their chief landlords built lavish, well-fortified housing compounds on immense estates. By the 1920s, the highest-ranking Leghari aristocrat owned about 114,000 acres of land.
Empire-led extraction and exploitation continued throughout the 20th century, albeit in different forms and despite efforts to overturn it. From the 1950s, local political elites, in collaboration with western consultancy firms, started expanding the region’s irrigation and hydropower infrastructure, especially in constructing the Taunsa Barrage, which displaced thousands (and whose faulty World Bank-led repair in the early 2000s contributed to the 2010 floods). Dispossession and exploitation also escalated further as a consequence of insurrection.
In the 1970s, south Punjab was the site of major communist-led tenant movements that aimed to redistribute land, reduce inequalities and eradicate imperialist-landlord alliances; but the aristocracy crushed these movements, mobilising allies in the Pakistan People’s Party-led government as well as the paramilitary apparatus originally handed to their ancestors by the British. Chiefs also expelled rebelling tenants and set up more mechanised, capitalist farms, continuing the trend of seeking imperialist support by turning to lavishly paid American advisers and even the US state department. In doing so, chiefs and empire continued their collective pilfering of south Punjab, displacing and impoverishing its people in ways that left them more vulnerable to flood damage.
This empire-led extractivist relation endures today. At a national level, we see this in the form, not just of IMF loan conditionalities – which demand that Pakistan gut social spending and privatise industries in exchange for loans that ultimately profit western lenders – but also with new imperialistic actors like China and its resource-extractive, people-displacing China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). While CPEC is making inroads in places like south Punjab, the plunder also continues as, in a pattern seen elsewhere in the global south, earlier capitalist farming is being replaced by contract farming, by which landlords collect fixed cash rents. Explaining the reason for this, Mohsin Leghari, a major landed aristocrat from the Leghari tribe and Punjab’s finance minister, once told me: “When we lease our lands out on contract, we don’t lose anything when these floods come.”
Unlike contract farmers, the aristocracy have invested nothing in the land, and thus have nothing to lose. They can continue to collect rents, reinvesting them not in south Punjab to protect farmers from the consequences of flooding, but, as many did, in speculative real estate in global cities such as Lahore, Dubai and Vancouver.
While landlords can escape to their properties in these cities, as several told me they did during the 2010 floods, peasants like Bashir have nowhere else to go, experiencing what one scholar describes as an “emplaced displacement”. Their tragic predicament is ultimately a consequence of empire and an accomplice elite which, together, have viewed Pakistan’s peripheral regions as sites for plunder and profit.
Calls for climate reparations for Pakistan therefore make sense, but not just because of its recent experience with a global north-induced climate crisis. They are also necessary because of this much longer history. Beyond climate reparations, what Pakistan really needs are colonial reparations.
- ‘Sweeping’ DoD plan to mitigate civilian harm merely humanizes endless war Responsible Statecraft
A few days ago, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced the completion of a “Civilian Harm Mitigation and Response Action Plan” promising institutional changes so that American warmaking kills fewer innocent people.
The plan is a clear step forward in the humanization of endless war — the ethically fraught project I attempted to spotlight in my book, “Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War,” which appeared a year ago and is out next week in a paperback edition.
The Pentagon commitment — and the dynamics that led to it — fit well with some of my arguments in the book. While making American war less brutal is an uplifting project when it works, it can also function by intentional design to create a new kind of war that results in greater legitimacy. The plan is entirely open about this. It begins: “The protection of civilians is a strategic priority as well as a moral imperative.”
Abetted by critical outsiders and sympathetic insiders who decry the brutality rather than existence of wars, humanizing war reflects ethical progress in the fighting of American war, while entrenching its permanence.
Heroically, humanitarian activists have been dramatizing civilian harm for decades, and with special intensity since the Global War on Terror began after September 11, 2001. But when the order to develop an action plan came down in January, it was clearly in response to the extraordinary Pulitzer prize-winning New York Times reporting led by Azmat Khan, which gave unprecedented visibility to the costs of American warmaking on civilians by documenting the extraordinary levels of casualties in airstrikes.
As a New York Times editor observed, “Military officials credited the work of Azmat and the other Times journalists who rigorously reported on this subject as important factors in driving change.” And it is no doubt quite an accomplishment to prompt that transformation.
As the plan explains, reforms will bring more concern for harm to military culture and organization. Read carefully, the plan amounts, for now, to a set of promises to hire more people at the Pentagon and in combatant commands to raise consciousness, in hopes of further remaking American war in the crucible of care. The plan will also provide a hub for information-gathering about far-flung operations conducted across service branches. The military, it says, should even consider acknowledging the episodes when it causes too much death and injury. The overall goal is to mainstream ethical compassion in American military operations without disturbing the eternal and necessary project of putting civilians in harm’s way. But while good might come of it, for sure, more is at stake in such mainstreaming.
The plan is being called “sweeping” by Khan and other New York Times journalists, and welcomed as a great leap forward. “The Defense Department Finally Prioritizes Civilians in Conflict,” one prominent “targeting professional” put it.
Of course, there is a lot to be desired in the plan even before attempts to implement it get underway. A triumph of bureaucratic newspeak — there will be a “Center of Excellence” for civilian casualties! — the document that announces it and spells out some of the details leaves lots of room for maneuver when it comes to follow through. And it does not seem to apply to the Central Intelligence Agency, which pioneered drone strikes and continues to conduct them, as in the recent killing of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Perhaps most glaringly on its own terms, the plan says nothing about the international law governing the conduct of hostilities, and how essential rethinking the American interpretation of it clearly is. (Indeed, the January press release announcing the reform process presents the United States as already operating in line with its legal obligations not to kill too many civilians, on “a strong foundation of compliance with the law of armed conflict.”)
But questioning whether the reforms pan out, or whether they someday come to guarantee even more humanity in warfare, misses the bigger point, which is that the humanization of war can work to legitimate war — especially when it works. When it comes from the Pentagon, indeed, that is the point.
As I narrate in “Humane,” the humanization of American war dates from the aftermath of the Vietnam war, precisely when the international law requiring humanitarian care in the conduct of hostilities took its own great leap forward.
The American story has been driven from the first, I argue, by the alliance of critical outsiders composed of activists, journalists, and lawyers with sympathetic insiders within government and military. Across a considerable divide, they bicker over how far to go in making ongoing war more humane, against the background of ongoing American militarism — even as questions about whether, where, and how long war is fought are relegated to the margins.
Outsiders focusing selectively on brutality, and especially civilian harm, join a growing constituency of insiders within the military that hope to redefine the warrior’s honor while managing public relations in the face of atrocious excesses. There could hardly be better proof of how these two forces work together in producing a relatively more humanized form of ongoing war than the new plan.
The results are a good thing if the choice is between relatively more brutal and relatively less brutal war — but, from the perspective of old and new calls for restraint in starting wars or fighting them forever, that is not always the choice. Humanitarians are characteristically silent about the justice or legality of war itself, while journalists also generally restrict themselves to factual proof of atrocity even when it takes place in the midst of aggressive war. For example, the pathbreaking New York Times series on civilian harm, which dealt substantially with the war against Islamic state in Syria, nowhere took up that that war is generally regarded as illegal as such under international law, quite apart from its civilian harm.
So there is a risk that the new reforms will abet a dynamic I described in the first 20 years of the GWOT. Questions related to the justice, propriety, and legality of America’s gargantuan military footprint were sidelined as the efforts were rendered a little less offensive in some of their human costs. The plan makes more of the same possible.
Bloomerism and Hope
For events that show that a better, more equitable, and happier world is possible than the neoliberal hell we inhabit.
- UK Train Workers to Strike During Labour Party Conference Bloomberg
Britain is set to be hit by another national train strike next month as rail workers escalate their demand for higher pay rises and call on the opposition Labour Party to support their cause.
The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association said Wednesday that workers at nine train operating companies and track group Network Rail will hold a 24-hour walkout from midday Sept. 26.
The dates coincide with Labour’s annual conference, which starts in Liverpool the previous day. The timing may be awkward for party leader Keir Starmer, who was criticized by some of his own lawmakers for sacking Shadow Transport Minister Sam Tarry after he joined a picket line in support of striking rail workers.
Labour has historically aligned itself with trade unions and socialist causes since its founding more than a century ago.
Announcing the latest walkout, TSSA union leader Manuel Cortes said he “will be standing on our picket line in Liverpool and will be encouraging fellow delegates and Labour Members of Parliament to do likewise.”
- Labor Unions See Their Highest Approval Rating In Nearly Six Decades Huffpost
Americans have taken an increasingly positive view of labor unions over the past decade, with 71% now saying they approve of them in a new Gallup poll.
That’s the highest favorability rating Gallup has seen for organized labor since 1965.
The affirmative view of unions comes amid a burst of workplace organizing at previously non-union employers, such as Amazon, Starbucks, Trader Joe’s, Apple, REI and Chipotle. An increasing number of workers are filing petitions to hold union elections, and unions are winning more elections now than they have in nearly two decades.
Approval of labor unions peaked at 75% in the 1950s, the same time union density was at its highest, according to Gallup data. At the time, around a third of all U.S. workers belonged to a union.
- Restored Venezuela-Colombia Ties a Blow to US, Says Expert TeleSUR
Venezuela and Colombia’s restoration of diplomatic ties clearly illustrates the United States’ waning influence in Latin America, an international relations analyst said.
The restoration of relations between the two countries is a “strong and convincing sign that the foreign policy of the United States has experienced an undeniable setback in Latin America and the Caribbean,” Fernando Rivero pointed out.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Monday received the credentials of Colombia’s Ambassador to Venezuela Armando Benedetti, marking the full restoration of diplomatic relations. Washington’s interests in the region have recently suffered innumerable setbacks, said Rivero, highlighting the notorious public failure of the last Summit of the Americas.
In the region, “a group of progressive governments has sprouted that are distancing themselves from the geopolitical interests of the United States, and through their actions supporting the self-determination of the people,” said Rivero.
- Climate Envoy John Kerry Seeks Restart to US Emissions Talks With China Inside Climate News
John Kerry, the Biden administration’s special presidential envoy for climate, has praised China’s efforts at tackling global warming and urged Beijing to resume suspended talks on the issue, even as tensions flare with Washington over the status of Taiwan.
China cut off climate talks with the U.S. this month in protest of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, putting negotiations between the world’s two largest carbon dioxide emitters in peril. On climate change, however, Kerry said that China had “generally speaking, outperformed its commitments.”
“They had said they will do X, Y and Z and they have done more,” Kerry told the Financial Times from Athens, where he was on an official visit.
“China is the largest producer of renewables in the world. They happen to also be the largest deployer of renewables in the world,” Kerry said, referring to renewable energy. “China has its own concerns about the climate crisis. But they obviously also have concerns about economic sustainability, economic development.”