Link back to the discussion thread.


  • Euro hits a 20-year low against the US dollar Euro News

Another week and yet more pain for the euro. The single European currency was trading below 99 US cents this morning - it’s lowest value in 20 years.

It comes after Russia announced that the Nord Stream gas pipeline, which directly supplies Germany, would be shut indefinitely. Worries surround the EU economy - as gas and electricity prices look set to remain high, putting downward pressure on the Euro.

Officially the decision was due to a pipeline leak that the Russian state-owned company Gazprom found. However, the EU has said Moscow is “weponising” energy, due to the bloc’s support for Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the US dollar is riding strong - as the American central bank, the Fed - tightens its monetary policy.

The European Central bank is now in a difficult position due to high inflation and a possible recession on the horizon. Analysts expect it to raise interest rates after a meeting on Thursday.

  • European natural gas prices surge 36% after Russia halts Nord Stream 1 flows indefinitely Business Insider

European natural gas prices surged by as much as 36% on Monday after Russia indefinitely suspended the flow of the vital fossil fuel through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline into Germany.

Dutch TTF futures, Europe’s benchmark natural gas price, were last up 28.5% to 268 euros ($266) per megawatt hour, having earlier hit 283 euros. They were on track for their biggest daily rise since May, according to Bloomberg data.

The surge in natural gas drove up electricity prices, as the two are closely linked through the European Union’s pricing mechanism.

  • Full gas storage not enough for EU to last through winter – Reuters RT

Fully-stocked gas storage facilities may not be sufficient to sustain EU countries during the upcoming heating season, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing analysts.

According to Aurora Energy Research’s calculations, the bloc’s storage can only provide enough gas for up to 90 days of average demand. Modeling by data intelligence firm ICIS also shows that the region’s reserves may run dry by March. Analysts therefore agree that gas consumption should be slashed in order to avoid shortages.

“To cope with this crisis situation, demand reduction will be even more important than storage,” Simone Tagliapietra, a senior fellow at the Bruegel think-tank, was cited as saying.

ICIS data shows that, if consumption is reduced 15% below the five-year average each month, the bloc may still have 45% of gas reserves left come spring if Russia continues supplying gas to the region at its current volumes, and 26% if Russia stops deliveries in October.

Moreover, the EU’s failure to save gas this winter would affect next year’s storage levels. According to the Oxford Institute of Energy Studies, if Russia cuts gas flows and EU depletes its storages during the upcoming heating season, next year’s storages will be emptied as early as November, before the heating season is even in full swing.


  • Ukraine’s Zelensky warns Europe to brace for winter energy crisis Inquirer

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has told Europeans to expect a difficult winter as the Russian assault on his country leads to cuts in oil and gas exports by Moscow, as the continent’s leaders worked on Sunday to ease the impact of high energy prices.

Zelensky spoke on Saturday night after Moscow shut down a main pipeline that supplies Russian gas to the continent.

“Russia is preparing a decisive energy blow on all Europeans for this winter,” he said in his daily video address.


  • Russia Signals Opposition to OPEC+ Oil-Production Cut WSJ

Russia doesn’t support an oil-production cut at this time, and it is likely OPEC+ will keep its output steady when it meets Monday, people familiar with the matter said, as Moscow maneuvers to thwart Western attempts to limit its oil revenue following its invasion of Ukraine.

Russian opposition to a production cut highlights a debate within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Moscow-led allies, collectively known as OPEC+, as oil consumers globally brace for a showdown this winter with the Kremlin over the price of its crude. Oil prices soared above $100 a barrel after Russia invaded Ukraine, hurting Western consumers and filling Moscow’s coffers.

Saudi Arabia, the group’s biggest exporter, floated the idea recently that the alliance could consider reducing output. OPEC members such as the Republic of Congo, Sudan and Equatorial Guinea have said they are open to the idea, as they are already pumping as much as they can and oil prices have fallen in recent weeks. An OPEC+ production cut often lifts prices.

But Russia is concerned that a production cut would signal to oil buyers that crude supply is outstripping global demand—a position that would reduce its leverage with oil-consuming nations that are still buying its petroleum but at big discounts, the people familiar with the matter said. Though Russia has benefited from high oil prices since the Ukraine invasion, Moscow is more concerned about maintaining influence in negotiations with Asian buyers who bought its crude after Europeans and the U.S. began shunning it this year, the people said.

  • The US and other countries that sanctioned Moscow are likely importing Russian oil via India, report says Business Insider

Russian oil is still making its way to the US and other countries that have imposed some form of sanctions on Moscow by way of India, according to a report from Petro-Logistics.

Indian imports of Russian crude skyrocketed this year as its refiners took advantage of discounted barrels that were shunned by the West after Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine.

In fact, India imported 583,000 barrels per day of Russian crude from April to June on average, compared to 36,000 bpd in 2021, Petro-Logistics said. Meanwhile, India’s exports of oil products have increased.

While it remains difficult to prove with certainty that the crude being imported by the US and others definitely contains Russian oil, the report posits that the data can give a strong picture of where it ended up.

“We have taken the ratio of Russian crude imports versus the runs of the specific refiners who imported the crude and applied those percentages to their product exports since the war. This yields an estimate of 308 kb/d of Indian product exports possibly attributable Russian crude oil inputs,” Petro-Logistics said.

Of that amount, 113,000 barrels per day, or 37%, went to countries with some form of sanctions on Russia, including those that are not related to energy, it estimated.

“It is very difficult in practical terms to identify if precise oil molecules from Russia are landing in sanctioning countries. However, because of the fungible nature of oil, the data can at least show where Indian refiners who have Russian crude in their feedstock mix are sending their products,” the report said.

  • U.S. Ambassador To Russia Retires As Tensions Rise Forbes

Sullivan will retire after a four-decade long career during which he served under five U.S. presidents, according to the embassy’s statement.

The embassy in Moscow said Deputy Chief of Mission Elizabeth Rood will take over as Charge d’Affaires until Sullivan’s replacement arrives, but didn’t specify who or when that would be. Ambassadors need to be confirmed by the Senate, where dozens of Biden-era diplomatic nominations remain backlogged.

  • Russia journalist faces 24-year prison term for ‘revealing’ $2bn Moscow-Cairo arms deal MEMO

The verdict on whether a Russian journalist will receive a 24-year prison sentence for high treason will be delivered by a court today.

Ivan Safronov was arrested in July 2020 and has been held in pretrial detention since then accused of passing on state secrets to German and Czech intelligence between 2015 and 2017.

At the end of August, a government prosecutor argued that following his release, Safronov should be sentenced to two years of restricted freedom and fined over $8,000.

A former military correspondent for Kommersant and Verdomosti, a Russian business daily, Safronov turned down an offer by a prosecutor who asked him to plead guilty in exchange for a shorter sentence of 12 years.

Analysts say there is little evidence against him, and his defence team say the accusations against him are related to his work as a reporter and that he was targeted for revealing plans for a $2 billion arms deal to Egypt.

According to the independent investigative website Proekt Media, the classified information Safronov is accused of passing on to Western intelligence is already publicly available online.

  • Ditching Russian gas no way to reach climate goals – Putin RT

Europe’s decision to slash natural gas imports while trying to reach climate goals was a mistake, President Vladimir Putin said on Monday during an environmental forum in Kamchatka in Russia’s Far East.

“First, they (EU) jumped ahead, and then, after cutting off Russian gas supplies, returned everything that was reviled,” Putin stated.

He emphasized that all nations are in favor of reducing emissions into the atmosphere, noting however that everything should be done in a timely manner. “And if you jump ahead, get cheap Russian gas, and then cut off the supply of this gas yourself and immediately switch back to everything that was previously condemned, including coal-fired generation, this, of course, is not the best option for solving global problems,” the Russian president said.

  • Russia reports 50,000 COVID-19 cases for second day running EU Reporter

  • Russia Starts Vostok 2022 Joint Military Exercises TeleSUR

Military contingents of the armed forces of 14 countries headed by the Russian Army started on Thursday the joint military exercises Vostok 2022, which will last until September 7.

The Russian Defense Ministry informed that more than 50,000 troops and 5,000 units of military equipment will take part in the current edition. They include 140 aircraft and 60 warships. Troops from Russia, China, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Algeria, Armenia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Syria and Tajikistan will take part in the Vostok 2022 exercises, which will be held in seven locations, including the coast of the Sea of Okhotsk and Japan.


  • Thousands Demand the Resignation of the Government in Prague TeleSUR

In Prague, 70,000 people took to the streets on Saturday to protest against the sharp rise in energy prices and to demand a neutral position on the war in Ukraine.

The organisers said after the end of the demonstration that if the government does not resign by 25 September, they will announce pressure actions and will plan for another protest on 28 September.

“We demand the establishment of a temporary government of experts and the calling of early elections. If the government does not resign by 25 September, we will declare the right to resistance under the Constitution of the Czech Republic at a nationwide demonstration and announce coercive actions. We are already in talks with trade unions, businessmen, farmers, mayors, transport operators and other organisations to declare a strike,” the organisers warned.


  • German soldiers arrive in Lithuania to boost NATO’s eastern flank Euro News

German soldiers have arrived in the Lithuanian seaport town of Klaipeda, as part of NATO’s plan to beef up its eastern flank.

Around 100 armoured infantry troops and up to 40 military vehicles will advance command element of the 41st tank brigade of the German First Tank Division. Germany will lead a combat brigade of 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers for Lithuania.


  • Swiss Economic Recovery Continues Despite War, Global Slowdown Bloomberg

The Swiss economy responded well to the end of Covid restrictions in March, expanding 0.3% in the second quarter.

The government’s decision to lift all remaining coronavirus curbs had a positive impact on growth in the hospitality, transport and events sectors in the period, according to government data published Monday. The increase in gross domestic product – in line with economist estimates – also benefited from a strong consumer spending.

The Swiss manufacturing sector failed to sustain its high growth rates due to persistent supply shortages and a slowing global economy, falling for the first time in seven quarters.

In June, the Swiss government projected that GDP would rise by 2.6% in 2022. But the forecast warned that the economy remains vulnerable to supply chain bottlenecks, higher prices and increased uncertainty stemming from Russia’s war with Ukraine.

Swiss inflation is far below that in the rest of Europe, reaching 3.3% in August compared with 9.1% in the surrounding euro area.


  • Scholz promises 65B euros to shield Germans through tough winter Inquirer

Germany will spend at least 65 billion euros ($64.7 billion) on shielding customers and businesses from soaring inflation, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Sunday, two days after Russia announced it was suspending some gas deliveries indefinitely.

The measures, agreed after 22 hours of talks between the three coalition parties, included benefit hikes and a public transport subsidy, to be paid for from a tax on electricity companies and by bringing forward Germany’s implementation of the planned 15 percent global minimum corporate tax.

  • Russian diaspora in Germany holds rare rally against sanctions Reuters

Some 2,000 mostly Russian-speaking protesters marched in the western city of Cologne on Sunday to demand Germany stop supporting Ukraine and drop sanctions it imposed after Moscow invaded its neighbour earlier this year.

The rally, organised by Russian-speaking diaspora groups in the city, was met by a few dozen counter-protesters who had also gathered in the shadow of Cologne’s hulking Gothic cathedral to express support for Ukraine.


  • Meloni Says She’ll Keep Italy on Draghi’s Course on Russia, Debt Bloomberg

See, look at how different the liberals and the fascists are!


  • Heating restrictions leave Spanish bar owners cold Euro News

Bars, Shops and offices will have to keep doors closed to guarantee energy efficiency. In Madrid alone, bar owners claim the new rules will cost them more than €500 million in lost business.

“We have to face the autumn and winter with a maximum indoor temperature of 19 degrees,” says Juan José Blardony, director general of Hosteleria Madrid. “This is likely to decrease business by around 3%.”

​Public buildings will have to switch off their lights and shopfronts will be dark at night. Some short and mid-distance trains have been made free to boost public transport use. With these measures, Spain is hoping to meet the EU’s target of 7% in energy savings.


  • As Russia Chokes Europe’s Gas, France Enters Era of Energy ‘Sobriety’ NYT

A factory making iconic French bistro glasses is idling its furnaces to offset soaring energy costs. Cities around France are turning off streetlamps and other outdoor lighting to curb electricity use. In Normandy, some schools will start heating classrooms by burning wood to conserve natural gas.

As Russia tightens its chokehold on Europe’s energy supplies, France is embarking on its biggest energy conservation effort since the 1970s oil crisis. President Emmanuel Macron’s government is calling on the French to prepare for a new era of energy “sobriety” to face down the threat of a hard winter, while reassuring households and businesses about the government’s ability to protect them.

“We have been confronted with a series of crises, one more grave than the other,” Mr. Macron said in a televised speech to the nation late last month. “The picture that I’m painting is one of the end of abundance,” he added. “We have reached a tipping point.”

The national effort calls for businesses and individuals to embrace energy conservation by increasing car-pooling, lowering thermostats and shutting off illuminated advertising signs at night — to name a few — or face the risk of rolling blackouts or energy rationing.

On Friday, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, the energy transition minister, sought to reassure wary citizens, saying the government would try to “avoid restrictive measures” over energy use in the peak winter cold season.

The government has been spending lavishly — over 26 billion euros ($26 billion) since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — to keep gas and electric bills affordable, and last week it announced that its cap on household energy bills would be extended until the end of the year. The moves to control energy costs, including the re-nationalization of the energy provider EDF, have helped give France one of the lowest inflation rates in Europe, at 6.5 percent. (The overall eurozone rate for August was 9.1 percent.)

But with food and fuel costs still straining French families, Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne has called on businesses to make the bulk of the nation’s energy savings — fast. Companies will be required to cut their energy use by 10 percent or face enforced rationing of electricity and gas.

Businesses will have to appoint an “ambassador of energy sobriety” this month, and present blueprints to the government for cutting their electricity consumption.

United Kingdom

Liz Truss is the new Prime Minister after a long search was held to find the worst person in the country and make them the leader.

  • UK forces crypto exchanges to report suspected sanction breaches Guardian

Crypto exchanges must report suspected sanctions breaches to UK authorities under new rules brought in amid concerns that bitcoin and other cryptoassets are being used to dodge restrictions imposed in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Official guidance was updated on 30 August to explicitly include “cryptoassets” among those that must be frozen if sanctions are imposed on a person or company. As well as digital currencies, such as bitcoin, ether and tether, cryptoassets could include other notionally valuable digital assets such as non-fungible tokens.

The rules, set by the Treasury’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation, will mean crypto exchanges are committing a criminal offence if they fail to report clients designated for sanctions. Under the rules, crypto exchanges must immediately act if they suspect that one of their customers is under sanctions, or if they suspect a breach of sanctions – giving them similar obligations to professionals such as estate agents, accountants, lawyers and jewellers.

  • Six in ten British factories at risk of closing — Bloomberg RT

Some 60% of factories in the UK are at severe risk of shutting down as energy bills across the nation continue to skyrocket, Bloomberg reported on Saturday, citing a poll conducted by MakeUK, a lobby group for British factories.

Nearly half of manufacturers have seen electricity bills surge by more than 100% over the past year, according to the lobby group.

“The current crisis is leaving businesses facing a stark choice,” MakeUK said. “Cut production or shut up shop altogether if help does not come soon.”

Asia and Oceania


  • 6.6-magnitude earthquake hits China’s southwestern Sichuan province, 7 dead CNN

At least seven people have died after an earthquake hit China’s southwestern Sichuan province on Monday, according to Chinese broadcaster CCTV citing local authorities.

A 6.6-magnitude earthquake with a depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles) was reported southwest of Sichuan’s capital Chengdu close to 1 p.m. local time on Monday, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported.

  • China approves world’s first inhalable COVID-19 vaccine Jakarta Post

Chinese drug regulators have approved the world’s first inhalable COVID-19 vaccine, made by Tianjin-based manufacturer CanSino Biologics, boosting the company’s share price by seven percent on Monday.

The National Medical Products Administration gave the go-ahead for the vaccine for emergency use as a booster, the company said in a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Sunday.

The needle-free vaccine – which can be stored and administered more easily than intramuscular jabs – will be given through a nebuliser, the company said.

“The approval will have a positive impact on the company’s performance if the vaccine is subsequently purchased and used by relevant government agencies,” the statement added.

The company did not offer details on when the adenovirus-vectored vaccine will be made available for public use.

There is no publicly available verified or peer-reviewed data on the efficacy of the new vaccine.

  • China accuses US of ‘tens of thousands’ of cyberattacks Iraqi News

Beijing on Monday accused the United States of launching “tens of thousands” of cyberattacks on China and pilfering troves of sensitive data, including from a public research university.

Washington has accused Beijing of cyberattacks against US businesses and government agencies, one of the issues over which ties between the two powers have nosedived in recent years.

China has consistently denied the claims and in turn lashed out against alleged US cyber espionage, but has rarely made public disclosures of specific attacks.

But a report released Monday by its National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center (CVERC) accused the US National Security Agency (NSA) of carrying out “tens of thousands of malicious attacks on network targets in China in recent years”.

It specifically accused the NSA’s Office of Tailored Access Operations (TAO) of infiltrating the Northwestern Polytechnical University in the city of Xi’an.


  • Tuvalu promises to ‘stand firm’ with Taiwan amid Pacific rivalry Al Jazeera

The leader of the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu has promised to “stand firm” on its ties with Taiwan, as China expands its influence in the region.

Speaking at a welcome ceremony in Taipei hosted by Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, Tuvalu Prime Minister Kausea Natano said “decent and common values” had always been an added strength to their bond. Tuvalu has maintained diplomatic relations with Taipei for more than 40 years.

With a population of about 10,000, Tuvalu is one of 14 countries to retain full diplomatic relations with Taiwan, a self-ruled democracy that Beijing claims as its own, and one of four in the Pacific where China has been stepping up efforts to win support.

Middle East


  • Russian embassy staff killed in Kabul bombing BBC

At least two people have been killed and others injured in a bombing near the entrance to Russia’s embassy in the Afghan capital Kabul, officials say.

The dead are Russian embassy staff, the foreign ministry in Moscow said, adding there were also Afghan casualties.#

Earlier, state-owned news agency RIA reported that a diplomat and an embassy security guard had been wounded in an apparent suicide bombing. No group has yet said it carried out the attack.


  • Iran considers buying Sukhoi Su-35 jets from Russia Jakarta Post

Iran is weighing plans to buy Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets from Russia, Air Force chief Hamid Vahedi was reported as saying by local media.

“The purchase of the Sukhoi 35 from Russia is being considered by the Air Force” of Iran, Vahedi told Borna news agency which affiliated to the sports ministry, on Sunday.


  • Erdogan accuses Greece of ‘occupying’ demilitarized islands EU Reporter

Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdan accused Greece of occupying Aegean Islands that are in a demilitarized status. He said Turkey was ready to do “whatever is necessary” when it comes.

While they are both NATO members, Turkey and Greece were once historical rivals. However, their differences have extended to issues such as overflights, the status of Aegean Islands, maritime borders, and hydrocarbon resources in Mediterranean.

Ankara recently accused Athens demilitarizing the Aegean islands of being armied - something Athens rejected, but Erdogan has never accused Greece of occupying them.

“Your occupation of the islands does no binding us. Erdogan spoke in northern Samsun, stating that “when the time comes, the hour is here, we will do whatever it takes.”



  • 95% Of Production At Nigeria’s Main Oil Hub Is Being Stolen Oil Price

or decades, the illicit marketplace for oil and gas has plagued the energy industry. Around the world, rising energy and oil prices have been driving a rise in fuel smuggling. Just a few years ago, fuel smuggling from Colombia to Venezuela across the porous border became rampant, reversing decades of contraband flow of cheap Venezuelan oil thanks to acute fuel shortages in Venezuela and high oil prices. On the global scene, the UN estimates oil theft at 5–7 percent of the global market for crude oil and petroleum fuels, which works out to US$133 billion per year. But oil theft in Africa’s biggest oil producer has reached such epic proportions that it has become an existential threat.

Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCGROUP) CEO Melee Kyari has revealed that Nigeria is losing nearly all the oil output at oil hub Bonny, the town after which its premium oil grade Bonny Light is named. Bonny Light is a light-sweet crude oil grade produced in Nigeria, and an important benchmark crude for all West African crude production. Bonny Light has particularly good gasoline yields, which has made it a popular crude for U.S. refiners, particularly on the U.S. East Coast.

“As you may be aware, because of the very unfortunate acts of vandals along our major pipelines from Atlas Cove all the way to Ibadan, and all others connecting all the 37 depots that we have across the country, none of them can take delivery of products today. The reason is very simple. For some of the lines, for instance, from Warri to Benin, we haven’t operated for 15 years. Every molecule of product that we put gets lost. Do you remember the sad fire incident close to Sapele that killed so many people? We had to shut it down, and as we speak, we have a high level of losses on our product pipeline,” he said.

Kyari has alleged that stolen crude oil products are now stored in places of worship such as churches and mosques.

“You remember in Lagos when a fire outbreak happened on one of our pipelines? We discovered that some of the pipelines were actually connected to individuals’ homes. And not only that, with all sensitivity to our religious beliefs, some of the pipelines and some of the products that we found are in churches and mosques,” Kyari has added.

North America

United States

  • U.S. Solar Bottlenecks Are Causing A Resurgence In Coal Oil Price

For years, academics and journalists alike have been reporting the terminal decline of coal in the United States. In 2018, Vox reported that while the sector was “flailing about desperately for subsidies, tax breaks, and regulatory loopholes — the kinds of political favors that have kept it afloat for so long — at this point it is merely delaying the inevitable.” But those reports could not have predicted the pandemic, or the Russian war in Ukraine, or the hiccups in renewable energy supply chains that have converged along with high summer temperatures to create the “perfect storm” of energy setbacks that are currently reviving the domestic coal sector.

It’s true that coal is not now, and will likely never again be anywhere close to peak production levels in the United States. In the last 15 years domestic coal production levels have fallen by half as the dirtiest fossil fuel has fallen out of favor with the general public and been economically undercut by the shale revolution. After a flood of cheap natural gas gushed out of the West Texas Permian Basin and saturated the U.S. energy market, followed by a huge decline in costs for solar and wind energy, coal plants began to shut down at a steady clip – until now.

According to a report this week from the Financial Times, a growing list of U.S. electric utilities are extending the lives of their coal-fired plants past their planned closure dates. Many of them say that delays in solar energy installation are to blame. “Many of the operators are attributing the deferral of plant closures to delays in solar or solar [and battery] storage projects,” Morris Greenberg, an analyst at S&P Global Commodity Insights, told FT.

For one thing, solar installments have slowed down severely in 2022. This seems to be due to a perfect storm of issues in the solar panel supply chain: difficulties receiving parts, legal issues concerning illegal labor and trade practices in solar manufacturing in Southeast Asia and China, and hotter and longer heat waves attributed to global warming. Meanwhile, in regions of the United States where solar is being produced in large quantities, bottlenecks in the grid aren’t allowing that energy to be transported to meet demand. Instead, it’s languishing on the grid where it was produced and pushing energy prices negative. So even if solar panels were being installed at the same rate of last year, infrastructure failures would still leave utilities between a rock and a hard place.

  • US limits chip sales to Russia and China – media RT

Washington has imposed restrictions on the sale of certain high-tech computer chips to Russia and China, a number of US media outlets reported on Thursday, citing two major US chipmakers, Nvidia and AMD.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the new limits affect graphics processing unit chips, or GPUs, originally developed for video games but quickly taken up by companies operating supercomputers, and scientists and tech firms that need them for recognizing speech and objects in photographs.

Washington says US chip producers will now require special export licenses to sell these types of chips as, due to their specifications, they can be used by Russia and China for weapons development and intelligence gathering.

Nvidia and AMD acknowledged the new restrictions in statements on Wednesday. While AMD said it’s unlikely that the ban will affect its business, Nvidia warned that it could interfere with the development of its new flagship chip. Both companies’ shares dropped following the news late Wednesday.

  • State of Emergency in Puerto Rico Due to Monkeypox Infections TeleSUR

This Friday, the governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro Pierluisi, declared a state of emergency due to the increase in confirmed cases of monkeypox in the country.

The Executive Order signed by the governor became effective immediately and will be extended for 30 days.

The measure allows the Department of Health to “implement efforts and measures necessary to safeguard public health, welfare, and safety” to prevent and control the virus’s spread.

The governor said that the emergency declaration also guarantees resources for surveillance, detection, prevention, vaccination, and specific treatments to address the spread of this disease.


  • Cuba Suffers Blackouts Due to 23.5% Service Deficit TeleSUR

The state-owned company Unión Eléctrica (UNE) of Cuba announced for this Sunday new blackouts due to a generation capacity deficit of 23.5% during peak demand hours.

The deficit will decrease again, unlike other days this week, when this indicator exceeded 50% of the generation capacity. However, power outages are expected during Sunday, September 4.

The prolonged and uncomfortable blackouts of the last few days have been affecting for months all the provinces of the island -including Havana since last August-, with some of them reaching up to 12 consecutive hours.

South America


  • ‘Gigantic missed opportunity’: Chile rejects green constitution Climate Home News

Chile rejected a new constitution on Sunday which, if accepted, would have significantly expanded environmental rights and recognised the urgency of climate action.

In a referendum, the South American nation rejected the proposed constitution by 62% to 38% in favour. Voting was mandatory.

As home to the world’s largest reserves of lithium, a key component of batteries for electric vehicles, Chile is of strategic importance in the global clean energy transition. This comes with social and environmental tradeoffs.

National analysts said the rejection was a “gigantic missed opportunity” to regulate the mining sector in a greener and fairer way. The result leaves Chile with fewer tools to face climate shocks, they said, such as an ongoing 13-year-long megadrought in the central part of the country.

“It’s a gigantic missed opportunity to advance in environmental ethics and a more ecological society,” said former senator Guido Girardi, of the center-left Party for Democracy. Girardi added that this decision must not obstruct climate action going forward.

President Gabriel Boric, who supported the new constitution, said in a statement that the result was an “overwhelming message” of dissatisfaction with the proposal. He plans to push for an improved text, he said.

More than 15 million people were registered to cast a compulsory vote, after a two-year redrafting process. The existing constitution was written in 1980 by Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship.

The proposed update significantly expanded environmental rights in the country. It placed limits on the mining industry, such as a prohibition on mining near glaciers, protected areas and drought-prone regions.

It declared Chile an “ecological” state, recognized nature as a subject of rights, ordered the state to take actions against the climate crisis and abandoned the term “natural resources” to use “natural common goods” instead.

“There is a very potent influence of the latest climate and environmental science in this text,” said Chilean lawyer, Felipe Pino, from the environmental law NGO FIMA. In contrast, the Pinochet-era text allows for extractive practices such as the privatisation of water sources and mining in sensitive areas.

After years of discontent, the country erupted in massive protests in 2019. In 2020, the nation voted to convene a constitutional convention, with unprecedented participation of indigenous people, scientists and women.

Disinformation played a major role leading up to the vote. Viral images circulated on WhatsApp falsely claiming the proposal would erase private healthcare and education and criminalise the consumption of meat. “Debate has not centered around the actual content of the document,” Pino said.

At least SOME people at the FBI and CIA are still doing their jobs. Imagine how they feel about all the Havana Syndrome crybabies?


  • Oil prices will surge to $125 a barrel next year despite the G7’s cap on Russian crude, Goldman Sachs says Business Insider

Oil prices are likely to soar to $125 a barrel in 2023, despite the G7’s latest agreement to set a price cap on Russian crude, Goldman Sachs said.

Any price cap will be “bearish in theory, bullish in practice” for oil prices, due to Moscow potentially responding by slashing exports to G7 countries, the bank warned on Friday.

“Consistent with actions taken in the natural gas market, Russia could opt to retaliate, cutting G7 buyers off and shutting in production, thereby elevating global prices and its own revenues even higher,” a team of strategists led by Goldman Sachs’s head of energy research, Damien Courvalin, said. “Today’s announcement does not change our bullish forecast for oil prices.”

  • Uranium Risks Becoming the Next Critical Minerals Crisis Bloomberg

Faced with the most serious energy crisis since the 1970s, the world is turning back to one of the biggest beneficiaries of the 1973 oil embargo: nuclear power.

That’s good news, but we should take care. This solution to 2022’s energy security problems risks creating its own energy security headache down the road.

That’s because uranium’s supply chain is as susceptible to geopolitical manipulation as those for natural gas, cobalt, and rare earths. If developed countries want to count on atomic energy as a reliable source of zero-carbon power in the 2030s and 2040s, they’re going to need to start locking down the mineral resources now.


I saw this image and was stunned for a solid 20 seconds. It just really dawned on me all at once: we’re REALLY doing this shit, aren’t we? We’re really taking this divide between two meaningless words seriously? Authoritarianism is when the majority of your people believe that you’re in a democracy (e.g. China). Democracy is when the majority of your people believe that you’re in an authoritarian state (e.g. America). Dialectics or something, idk.

The description of the image reads: “Note: “Democratic bloc” consists of Europe, North America, and developed Asia. “Authoritarian bloc” consists of China, the former Soviet Union, Iran and Pakistan."

Nearly three-quarters of nuclear generation happens in Europe, North America, and developed parts of Asia. Rich nations and their allies, however, provide just 19% of the 75,000 metric tons of uranium oxide needed to fuel those reactors each year. China, the former Soviet Union, Iran and Pakistan together accounted for 62% of mined production in 2021. India and traditionally non-aligned countries in Africa produce the remainder.

The situation results from the wrenching shifts the world’s uranium market suffered in recent decades. In the late 2000s, it was widely believed that solar and wind would remain too costly to compete with conventional generation well into the 2030s. That drove expectations of a boom in nuclear energy as the only viable large-scale source of zero-carbon power. This in turn sparked a rush of development in Kazakhstan, blessed with vast deposits of uranium close to the surface that can be cheaply extracted by pumping fluids underground in a process similar to fracking.

The 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster killed off those prospects, reducing nuclear generation by 11% over two years and bringing growth in atomic power to a halt for the first time since the 1960s. With new Kazakh supplies just coming onstream, the market entered a deep glut. Until uranium oxide prices started to creep back above $30 a pound last year, most miners outside Central Asia were operating at a loss.

Kazakhstan alone now provides more than 40% of the world’s uranium. The government in Nur-Sultan has an often testy relationship with its former colonist, especially since the invasion of Ukraine underlined Moscow’s desire to keep former Soviet states under its thumb. Still, it remains dependent on the goodwill of neighbors to export its nuclear materials, which are normally transported over land. If a Ukraine-style situation unfolded that saw developed democracies pitched against authoritarian rivals and control of energy supplies used as a weapon of war, even air freight might not be enough to keep western reactors fueled, since Kazakhstan is almost entirely surrounded by Russian, Chinese, Iranian and Pakistani airspace.

There are alternative sources out there. More than a quarter of the world’s uranium resources are in Australia, with another 9% in Canada. BHP Group’s Olympic Dam northwest of Adelaide remains one of the world’s largest deposits. Its vast uranium reserves could be produced at close to zero cost since the mine’s main products would be copper and precious metals — but for nearly two decades, executives have shied away from the immense capital spending needed to unlock this resource.

At the Nolans rare earths project near Alice Springs, a uranium resource measured at 13.3 million pounds in 2008 — enough to power a fleet of 20 reactors for 10 years — is now treated as waste material, a cost to be managed in running the mine rather than a revenue stream to be exploited.

This is a prime example of how efficient capitalism is.

“We’ve got a long way to go before uranium becomes something that people will talk about here in Australia,” said Gavin Lockyer, managing director of Arafura Resources Ltd. which is developing the site. Pre-Fukushima, flowsheets describing the processing of the Nolans ore listed uranium as a product, but it’s now so rarely thought about that he doesn’t know the price at which exploiting it would become viable. In theory, those early processing plans could be revived to tap one of the world’s larger uranium resources, he said, but “it’s not on the agenda” at the moment.


The Ukraine War

  • EU to disburse 5 bln euro in aid to Kyiv this week - Ukrainian PM Reuters

Ukraine expects to receive 5 billion euros ($4.98 billion) in macro-financial aid from the European Union this coming week to support the economy and army, and to prepare for the looming winter, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Sunday.

  • Germany pledges $199 mln in aid for displaced people in Ukraine - minister EU Reporter

Climate and Space

  • Brazilian Amazon faces worst fires in over a decade, spurred on by record-high deforestation Euro News

August has been Brazil’s worst month for fires in more than a decade. That’s according to the Brazilian Space Agency, which says its satellites recorded more than 33,000 blazes in August this year, compared to 28 thousand in the same month of 2021.

The South American rainforest is considered a key buffer against global warming.

As well as the destruction from flames, Rómulo Batista from Greenpeace Brazil says they have also detected a record amount of deforestation in the first half of this year. “It was the highest in numbers of deforestation alerts in the last 15 years. From January to August, fires increased 18 per cent compared to last year.”

  • Voyager 1 and 2, Humanity’s Interstellar Envoys, Soldier On at 45 Wired

Today is the 45th anniversary of the launch of Voyager 1, one of humanity’s iconic twin emissaries to the cosmos. (Its sibling, Voyager 2, launched a couple of weeks earlier.) Now in the dark, far reaches of interstellar space—more than 10 billion miles from home, where our sun looks like any other bright star—the pair are still doing science. They carry with them the Golden Records, bearing the sounds and symbols of Earth, should some extraterrestrial ever rendezvous with one of the spacecraft and become curious about its distant sender.

With four instruments operating on Voyager 1 and five aboard Voyager 2, they now have a new job: measuring the magnetic field strength, the density of the plasma, and the energy and direction of charged particles in the environment they’re traveling through. “The purpose of the interstellar mission is to measure the sun’s effects as we go further and further from Earth. We’re trying to find out how the sun’s heliosphere interacts with interstellar space,” says Suzanne Dodd, project manager of the Voyager interstellar mission at JPL. Voyager 1 is currently 14.6 billion miles from home, and Voyager 2 is 12.1 billion miles away, but for perspective, the nearest star is some 25 trillion miles away. (NASA maintains a tracker of their journeys.) It’s a remarkable coda for their mission, decades after the probes completed their main goals.

  • China’s Shenzhou-14 astronauts carry out spacewalk Space Daily

Two astronauts on board China’s Tiangong space station successfully completed a six-hour spacewalk Friday, the national human spaceflight agency said.

Astronauts Chen Dong and Liu Yang returned to their cabin module in the early hours of Friday, the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) said, declaring the first spacewalk of the six-month Shenzhou-14 mission a “complete success”.

China’s heavily promoted space programme has already seen the nation land a rover on Mars and send probes to the Moon.

State media images showed the pair opening the hatch of the module and using a robotic arm to manoeuvre equipment with the rotating earth in the background.

“Hello, everyone. I’m out of the module. I’m feeling good,” Chen, a former military pilot, said in a video.

The pair completed a series of tasks including installing external parts to the module and testing its functions, while the remaining astronaut Cai Xuzhe coordinated from inside the cabin, official news agency Xinhua reported.

China launched the Shenzhou-14 spacecraft on June 5, sending the three astronauts to complete the construction of Tiangong.

The space station, whose name means “heavenly palace”, is expected to become fully operational by the end of the year.

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.


  • Ukraine claims counteroffensive success to ‘starve the Russians’ Al Jazeera

  • Zelenskiy says Ukraine takes three settlements in south, east Reuters

  • Russia’s soldier shortage is so severe that it is recruiting in homeless shelters and considering pardons to criminals to fight in Ukraine, reports say Business Insider

  • ‘It took me decades to realise what Gorbachev gave me’ Al Jazeera

This is the last Gorbachev article I’m gonna post, unless a REALLY bad one has been cooking in the oven of some demented dipshit author’s brain for the last week.

Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika reforms began when I was 10, and I saw their course as part of my teenage transformations.

What made me an adult killed the USSR, the country I was born in and used to be proud of. I hated Gorbachev for that – because he destroyed my home and hopes, annulled my parents’ careers and life’s savings.

In the West, they lovingly called him “Gorby“. But most of the adults around me – who found themselves disillusioned and destitute, clinging to the smouldering ruins of the Communist dystopia – called him “Gorbach”, a humpback.

And then the liberal brain virus takes over, and the author begins climbing uphill like a fungus-ridden ant.

It took me decades to realise that Gorbachev gave me and almost 300 million Soviet citizens freedom – to say, write, watch, read and believe in what we want; to choose a career or a place to live in, to travel abroad – and not to be brainwashed by boring, mind-numbing propaganda.

As it turns out, most of us did not deserve this freedom, because it has to be fought for and won. That’s what Ukraine is doing these days, and that’s what most Russians are too scared or complacent to stand up for.

Back in 1985, when Gorby took the helm, I was a primary school kid in Soviet Uzbekistan and was in charge of Vladimir Lenin’s “corner” in my classroom.

It was a dozen booklets describing the Soviet founder’s exemplary childhood and lifelong struggle to create a Communist utopia, the most just and advanced society in human history.

I was proud of living in it, genuinely hated America and its top-hat-wearing capitalists, and was very scared of a nuclear war.

I had nightmares and calculated whether my little town outside the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, would survive the nuclear mushroom. The town hosted a nuclear research facility that was, most likely, supposed to be hit by a separate bomb.

My three dozen classmates and I were told there was no God, but we treated Lenin like one. We were also told that we lived in the era of “developed socialism”, and that getting to real Communism would only take a couple more decades.

We didn’t realise that our ethnic diversity stemmed from deportations and purges.

Next to me were Crimean Tatars and Greeks, Volga Germans and Koreans whose ethnic groups were deported to Central Asia en masse for their alleged “collaboration” with Nazi Germans or their Japanese allies.

Ethnic Uzbek, Armenian and Ukrainian children in my class studied in Russian because their parents wanted them to have a future in the Russo-centric world.

Most of the Uzbeks had Quranic names – but everything related to religion was banned.

I began my journalistic career when our primary school teacher asked me to deliver 10 minutes of weekly “political information” sessions for the class.

I started watching news shows, reading newspapers – and retelling my notes to the class.

They barely cared.

They mimicked their parents when saying they hated Gorbachev. The grown-ups did not like his rural accent, the red birthmark on his face, his rambling, stream-of-consciousness speeches and the things he said about changing our way of life.

His reforms were never meant to be radical and groundbreaking. He wanted to reshape Soviet socialism, but never doubted the “greatness” of Lenin’s legacy.

But then he simply lost control of the changes – and his own voice drowned in them. He tried to suppress inter-ethnic pogroms in the Caucasus and Central Asia, and sent tanks against the crowds of people in the Baltics demanding independence.

His attempts at violence were inconsistent and contradicted his own policies of openness and transparency. The Communist dogma gave way to the truth, and it was very far from pleasant.

The squall of news reports and publications of classified documents made us realise that the Soviet colossus and its propaganda machine stood on millions of bodies of “people’s enemies” frozen into the permafrost of Siberian gulags.

Among them were my maternal great-grandfather (a Muslim cleric in western Siberia) and paternal grandfather (a descendant of Prophet Muhammad in central Russia) who were executed in the late 1930s at the height of Josef Stalin’s purges.

It took me years to find out the dates and details of their deaths – and to understand why and how their widows and children ended up in Central Asia.

The thaw brought on by Gorbachev’s reforms didn’t end with a tropical paradise. When the ice melted, we saw the dead bodies, the dirt and the ruins of utopian buildings, and it was up to us to clean things up and build a new world.

But my classmates and I were teenagers filled with hormones and curiosity. What perestroika gave us was colours and nuances. The world was no longer black and white. It was no longer limited to land between Kamchatka and Kaliningrad, Tallinn and Tashkent. We could watch Western music videos – and listen to domestic rock musicians, whose lyrics were far more powerful than anything Gorby said.

“I admit that I saw horrors. I saw corpses in the street, dead from cold or hunger, I can’t say. I say the ruins of buildings that once held hundreds of contented, although perhaps not happy, Russians - I imagine they are now all on the streets, much less contented if still alive. Widespread poverty surrounded me. But then I heard Britney Spears' “Hit Me Baby One More Time” in 1998, and I knew that all of suffering was worth it. Can a nation even survive without the beats of the Backstreet Boys? If a man cannot hear Nirvana, let alone Spice Girls, what point is there to life? I could walk through the streets of my hometown, humming Madonna songs to the homeless all around, and tried to explain to them how great they have it now - they didn’t listen, as indoctrined to communist propaganda as there were. A shame that brainwashing lasts so long."


  • Gorbachev Did Save One Communist Party — China’s Bloomberg

Okay, I lied, this one is actually really bad and also deserves to be here.


If the Chinese regime hadn’t learned from the former Soviet leader’s example, it might not be as resilient and repressive as it is today. But it may yet share his fate.

Article begins:

The death of the last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev naturally elicited an outpouring of praise from Western leaders for his role in ending the Cold War. If Gorbachev helped bring freedom to most of the former Soviet bloc, however, the revolution he led arguably led to the opposite outcome in China. Without Gorbachev’s example, the Chinese regime might not be as resilient, repressive and resistant to political reform as it is today.

China’s official reaction to the news of Gorbachev’s passing has been muted. That’s little surprise; one wouldn’t expect the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to have anything positive to say about a leader who tried to democratize a communist regime peacefully. At the same time, Chinese leaders can hardly deny Gorbachev’s influence: Many of the strategies they’ve followed since 1991 have been consciously adopted in response to his policies.

It was in the immediate aftermath of the Soviet Union’s collapse, for instance, that China accelerated pro-market reforms and widely opened its economy to the outside world. At the time, paramount leader Deng Xiaoping delivered a stark warning to his comrades: The Soviet Union had collapsed because its communist leaders had failed miserably to deliver a better standard of living. The CCP would be doomed if it repeated the same mistake.

Over the previous decade, Deng had fought bitter battles with hardliners who objected to economic integration with the capitalist West. Such opposition melted away after 1991. Although Deng himself always had a clear understanding of the need for economic modernization, he still required a powerful shock such as the Soviet collapse to persuade others of the wisdom of his strategy.

In the early 1990s, the party at last rallied behind Deng’s mantra, “Development is the cardinal truth.” The reforms implemented then led to years of sustained double-digit growth.

Where Deng thought Gorbachev had gone wrong, of course, was in relaxing control over society through his glasnost (openness) policy. Following so soon after the Tiananmen crackdown in 1989, the fall of the Soviet Union only gave Chinese leaders an even more powerful impetus to suppress any and all potential threats.

Consequently, the party began to allocate massive resources to domestic security. Spending on law enforcement rose five-and-a-half times in real terms from 1991 to 2002. Generous investments in the coercive apparatus enabled the party to modernize the surveillance state and snuff out potential opposition forces, including political dissidents, religious groups, organized labor and cults.

Here we may find the answer to the puzzle of how rapid economic development consolidated China’s one-party state instead of destroying it, as in South Korea and Taiwan. Contrary to expectations that rising wealth would inevitably lead to democratization, the Chinese “economic miracle” has given the CCP a new lease of life by helping it gain popular support and build a more capable system of repression.

However, even the combination of strong performance legitimacy and high-tech coercion has not entirely freed the CCP from its fear of Gorbachev-style glasnost. The CCP seems especially haunted by the evaporation of the political legitimacy of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union soon after Gorbachev permitted the media and the intelligentsia to expose the party’s crimes against its own people.

So, in recent years, the CCP has launched a new campaign against “historical nihilism,” a term applied to any form of truth-telling that challenges the party’s official narrative about its past, in particular the catastrophic rule of Mao Zedong (1949-1976). To ensure that none dares to air the party’s dirty laundry or expose its falsehoods, the Chinese government has tightened censorship in the media and on college campuses, and levied severe penalties, including imprisonment, on those found guilty of “historical nihilism.”

The question now is whether China has successfully averted Gorbachev’s fate or only postponed it.

Recent developments do not augur well for the CCP. Its survival strategy inspired by the Soviet collapse has run its course. As China’s economic growth has slowed to a crawl because of deteriorating demographics and market-unfriendly policies, the central pillar of the party’s legitimacy looks increasingly shaky.

Chinese leaders also have forgotten one of the most important lessons their predecessors drew from the Soviet collapse: The Cold War bankrupted the Soviet empire and ultimately led to its breakup. Instead of maintaining a low international profile as dictated by Deng, China’s leaders have adopted an assertive foreign policy that’s contributed to a breakdown of China’s relations with the West.

If stagnant growth and escalating geopolitical tensions continue for a decade or two, the CCP may find itself in the same dire straits that greeted Gorbachev when he assumed power in 1985. The only unknown is whether future Chinese leaders can do better than Gorbachev in salvaging a crisis-ridden regime.

If anything, the CCP likely will fare worse. By precluding a peaceful transition to democracy, the party may be inadvertently creating conditions for the kind of cataclysmic upheaval Gorbachev tried so hard to avert. In struggling to avoid the Soviet leader’s mistakes, China may yet commit even worse ones.

I mean, what do you even say to that? “You’re wrong”? “What the fuck are you talking about”? “Your understanding of the last 50 years is so comically incorrect that this could easily be satire”? What’s definitely true to say is that this is what liberalism does to a mfer.

  • Just How Bad Is the Economy Getting in China? Bloomberg

Well, at least it’s not shrinking, unlike in the United States.

The West

  • A Different Take on the U.S. Economy: Maybe It Isn’t Really Shrinking WSJ

Oh. Well. Never mind, then.

  • G7 Aims to Cap Russian Oil Prices TeleSUR

Although the Group of Seven (G7) finance ministers did not specify the cap’s level on Friday, they said, “We commit to work urgently on the finalization and implementation of this measure.”

According to a joint statement from the group consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S., the price ceiling measure is intended to reduce Russia’s revenues and, at the same time prevent the closure of Russian crude oil on the international market.

For the measure to be effective, the group intends to establish a broad coalition to urge countries seeking to import Russian oil and oil products to comply with an agreed price cap.

  • US troops are still under fire in America’s ‘forgotten war’ Business Insider

Forgotten by who?

Many Americans were reminded last week that the United States remains actively engaged in military combat overseas. But this conflict is not in Afghanistan, where the US withdrew its forces last August. Nor is it in Ukraine, where President Joe Biden has gone out of his way to avoid direct military involvement. It’s in Syria.

Last week, the Biden administration authorized airstrikes against Iranian-backed militants in response to rocket attacks on bases housing US forces. While the militants' rockets resulted in only minor injuries to US troops, reports indicate that the US retaliatory strikes were quite extensive and deadly.

While the Afghanistan War seemed to last “forever” and the war in Ukraine has “fixated” the public for the past six months, the Syrian war appears to be largely “forgotten.”

To be fair, it has generated attention at certain moments, such as when then-President Barack Obama decided not to attack the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in response to the use of chemical weapons in 2013, or when his successor, President Donald Trump, chose to respond with force to a chemical weapons attack in 2017.

There was also much outrage over the brutal killings — including of Americans — by the Islamic State in 2015, as well as angst over the US decision to “abandon the Kurds” — the on-the-ground partners for the US-led coalition that went on to militarily defeated the Islamic State — back in 2019. Even the 2016 vice presidential debate featured a segment on the war.

But overall, the Syrian war has failed to hold the US public’s attention, for several reasons.

First, the Syrian war is complex. It is a civil war, with various militant and militia groups engaged in combat against the Assad regime, as well as against one another. Numerous external actors have intervened in the fighting, including the United States, which largely backs the anti-Assad rebels, and Russia, which backs the Assad regime, but also Iran, Hezbollah and Turkey.

America calls everything it wants its population to ignore “complex”. The Israel-Palestine “issue” is “complex”, but it doesn’t mean that ongoing events are actually complex.

The complexity of the conflict and the number of intervening powers makes it analogous to the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s or even the Thirty Years' War that embroiled Central Europe in the 1600s.

Yeah, those are probably the two best modern analogies.

Not only is the US just one of many actors in the war, but, unlike the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan or the 2003 invasion of Iraq, it was not an initiator or a primary participant in the conflict. Washington has played a largely supporting role as a belligerent — though, unlike in Ukraine, it is a belligerent. This means events like the one last week, where US troops came under direct attack, are few and far between. That, in turn, serves to keep the US involvement in Syria away from the public’s attention.

This does not mean the United States played no role in the conflict’s onset. When protests against the Assad regime emerged in 2011, Obama issued a statement saying, “The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way. For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.”

Perhaps fearing intervention by Washington, the Assad regime escalated its crackdown on protesters. And perhaps anticipating US support, insurgent groups started fighting back. They were subsequently armed and trained largely by Western forces, including the United States. The war was on, and Obama’s statement may have contributed to the escalation of violence.

It might have. Perhaps.

But the US was at best tangential to the main drivers of the conflict. The protests against Assad erupted in the wake of the “Arab Spring” pro-democracy movements that spread across the Middle East and North Africa. Those movements largely died out, with the autocratic status quo remaining intact. But some, as in Syria, but also Libya and Yemen, sparked civil wars.

Second, there is a perception that US interest in the conflict ended with the military defeat of the Islamic State in 2019. It was the rise of the Islamic State that initiated direct US involvement in the war.

Yeah, I guess, whatever.

Third, the war in Ukraine has become a focal point of international attention, including the attention of the American public. But consider a scenario in which Russia had not invaded Ukraine in February.

In that case, the end of US involvement in Afghanistan in August 2021 may have led to further public and congressional calls to end US involvement in other parts of the “Greater Middle East,” from Syria to Somalia — something Trump repeatedly threatened to do.

At the time of the Afghanistan withdrawal, the Biden administration argued that removing resources from Afghanistan would allow the US to focus those resources elsewhere, including continuing efforts to stamp out the last vestiges of the Islamic State in Syria. But leaving Afghanistan, especially the chaotic nature of the withdrawal, could also have fed calls for Washington to retrench its military footprint throughout the region.

Indeed, it initially seemed that the Biden administration would follow such a course. But events soon overtook any such plans. Well before any European countries, the Biden administration was aware that Putin planned to invade Ukraine and engaged in efforts to convince its European allies of the impending danger.

Russian’s continued troop presence in Syria may have contributed to Biden’s decision to keep US troops there as well, since doing so could ensure that Russia cannot fully redeploy its own forces to Ukraine.

That the war in Syria has become the “forgotten war” points to a more disturbing trend in US foreign policy: The United States is so engaged in wars and interventions around the world that a conflict involving the US military that has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians does not even register with the American public anymore.

I don’t think Business Insider is that disturbed by this trend. And you’re not gonna convince me that the two decades of occupation in Afghanistan was ended because the American people began caring about that country again. They forget about all the wars because they’re uncomfortable to think about. They even forgot about the Ukraine war a few months after it began.

Perhaps this is the price of playing such a paramount global role and of being the “indispensable nation” — that a nation is involved in so many conflicts, it can forget one of them.

“is involved in” is a strange misspelling of “started”.

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.

I feel like this article sits in a weird space between being a good take and a bad one. Read it and see if you get the same vibe. Still, I support any articles that support the US withdrawing from countries.

Hawks denounced the withdrawal from Afghanistan for many reasons, but one of their recurring complaints was that it threatened to wreck U.S. credibility in the world.

According to the standard hawkish view, withdrawing from a failed war signals weakness and a lack of resolve, which in turn causes allies to lose confidence in U.S. commitments to protect them and encourages adversaries to become aggressive on the assumption that the U.S. is unwilling or unable to oppose them. Hawks hold to a quasi-mystical view of credibility where a withdrawal anywhere invites aggression everywhere, and they then try to blame the withdrawal for causing whatever goes wrong anywhere else in the world afterwards.

In the year since the last U.S. forces departed Afghanistan, the record clearly shows that the hawks were panicking over nothing, and that the hawkish credibility argument is nothing more than an ideological fantasy. Policymakers should remember this the next time they are inclined to heed blood-curdling warnings about the need to maintain credibility by going to war or staying bogged down in one.

Leaving Afghanistan was supposed to deal a fatal blow to U.S. credibility with global consequences. But today, one looks in vain for the adverse effects that they predicted. U.S. alliances are no weaker, and allies are arguably more reliant on the U.S. and more trusting of its promises than before. Adversaries have acted much as they were acting before the withdrawal, and any changes in their activities are much more reasonably explained by factors specific to them and their regions.

Credibility hawks strain to link disparate events around the world to a single U.S. policy in a different region unrelated to any of the others, but this is irrational. Simply put, no government makes its policy decisions in its own region based on what the U.S. does or doesn’t do in a distant war in another part of the world. Hawks rely on the fallacy that everything that happens after a withdrawal has happened because of it.

Their argument requires us to assume an absurdly American-centric view of the world in which other states’ actions are governed by whether the U.S. maintains a military presence in an entirely different part of the world.

One need only consider the counterfactuals to realize how silly the argument is. Would keeping a residual U.S. force in Afghanistan have somehow prevented a Russian invasion of Ukraine? How would that possibly have worked? Maintaining a U.S. military presence isn’t a magical ward against misfortune. Withdrawing that presence doesn’t trigger global disaster. The U.S. should not fear quitting a lost war because of credibility concerns, and it should not choose to wage an unnecessary one for that reason, either.

If allied governments were unhappy about the way that the United States withdrew, this did not weaken their belief in U.S. commitments to them. Leaving a 20-year war in a country where America has no vital interests has no implications for Washington’s willingness to fight on behalf of treaty allies. Just as choosing not to bomb Syria had no discernible negative effects on U.S. alliances, the decision to pull out of a failed war after two decades did not diminish allies’ trust in U.S. security guarantees.

Hawks are compelled to exaggerate the significance of “inaction” or withdrawal because they cannot provide good arguments for their preferred policies. Their alarmist claims are a tacit admission on their part that these hawkish policies have nothing to do with making the United States more secure.

Predictions of the disasters that are supposed to follow lost credibility don’t come true. If you listened to credibility hawks during the Afghanistan withdrawal, you would have expected U.S. alliances to weaken and crumble as America’s security dependents began hedging and then abandoning the United States.

…I mean…

  • Rich countries caused Pakistan’s catastrophic flooding. Their response? Inertia and apathy Guardian

What we’ve witnessed this summer in Pakistan is nothing short of a climate catastrophe. First came the early heatwaves that brought an end to spring, reducing crop yields and increasing the rate of glacial melt. Then came the monsoon downpours that lasted for days on end and wreaked havoc across the country. One-third of Pakistan is now underwater. More than 1,200 people have been killed and more than 33 million people affected. And the monster monsoon isn’t over yet.

Experts say the heavy rainfall was caused by higher than average warming of the Arabian Sea. In Sindh province, which produces half the country’s food, 90% of crops are ruined. More than 75% of Balochistan, which covers half of Pakistan, is partially or completely damaged. People’s homes and patches of land are inundated. Of the 650,000 pregnant women who have been directly affected in flood-hit areas, 73,000 will be delivering their babies this month. The sheer scale of destruction those children will be born into is unimaginable.

The “third pole”, as it is often called, is a vast mountainous region that stretches from Myanmar to Afghanistan. This frigid wall of ice separates China and seven south Asian countries, including Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. The region is home to the world’s highest peaks and countless glaciers. The flights from Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, to the northern cities Gilgit and Skardu take barely an hour. In the good old days before Pakistan’s national carrier ran into financial difficulties, it also used to run a weekly flight called the air safari. If you were lucky enough to get a window seat, the journey was a visual feast.

The flight would give passengers a tour of the snow-capped “eight-thousanders” (mountaineers’ lingo for peaks above 8,000 metres) and glaciers from the comfort of their seats. Five of these peaks are in Pakistan; our country also has the highest number of glaciers outside the polar regions. The air safari was an impressive, comfortable alternative to months of training, weeks of trekking in treacherous terrain, and frostbite.

Little grows at such high altitude. But the third pole functions as a water reserve whose 10 major rivers flow downstream from these mountains and sustain more than 1.5 billion people. When you understand this, you start to see the mountains, valleys, and continuously flowing streams and rivers in a different light. The prediction that this magnificent, awe-inspiring landscape will in time be transformed into bare rocks is terrifying.

By 2100, a third of the ice sheets in this region will be gone, even if the world limits itself to the global warming target of 1.5C. Temperatures are rising higher than that, bringing the doomsday closer. This is a crisis hardly anyone talks about. The floods that Pakistan has experienced are one of the early signs of this crisis. Climate catastrophe is now in plain sight, for everyone to see.

Despite this, major economies have failed to reach a consensus on emission reductions. There have been countless summits and international meetings, and yet we are still not on track to reach net zero by 2050. For countries such as Pakistan, which falls into the unfortunate category of “most vulnerable to climate change”, every failed climate summit is bad news. It is frustrating for us to see rich countries haggle with each other over cutting back emissions while we continue to pay the costs in lives and livelihoods at a far greater frequency than before.

The results of western economies’ inertia and apathy are now glaringly obvious. Pakistan contributes less than 1% in global emissions and yet it is one of the countries most at risk due to climate change and global heating. We can only hope that Cop27, which will be held this year in Egypt, won’t fall short on expectations. But we’ve been here before: at Cop26, the response of major polluters failed to match the scale of the climate crisis.

If this happens again, the message for countries such as Pakistan will be clear: the biggest polluters, despite mounting evidence of deadly climate events such as heatwaves, droughts and floods, are still not willing to compromise on a trade-off between economic growth and saving the planet. If this is the case, countries such as Pakistan, with other vulnerable nations that are responsible for a fraction of greenhouse gas emissions yet are most at risk of climate change, should consider forming their own coalition within Cop to highlight their plight and put pressure on rich polluters to establish a fund that would help them cope with the aftermath of climate catastrophes.

The global north has long resisted such calls to establish a fund to help poor countries deal with the effects of the climate emergency and to pay for the damages. Perhaps this is because it would be construed as an admission of guilt. As a consequence of the recent climate catastrophe in Pakistan, millions of lives have been destroyed. The likelihood is that thousands will be pushed below the poverty line. Children will drop out of schools and many mothers will die during childbirth. The effects of the floods will be long term and catastrophic. We’re now living through a crisis that wasn’t of our making.

Bloomerism and Hope

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

  • 115,000 US Railworkers Could Strike in a Matter of Weeks Jacobin

Railroad unions continue their slow creep along the path to a settlement — or strike — in contract negotiations covering 115,000 workers. On August 16, the Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) convened by President Joe Biden issued its recommendations for a settlement. Many railworkers say they fall short and are prepared to strike to win more.

The PEB recommended 22 percent raises over the course of the five-year contract (dating back to 2020), which would be the highest wage increases rail unions have seen in decades. But they are offset by increases in health care costs — and come in the midst of high inflation.

The PEB also refused to touch almost any of the unions’ demands on work rules and conditions, either denying them outright or suggesting that the unions return to the slow negotiation and arbitration process they have already languished in since November 2019. Unions have been demanding a sick leave policy — railworkers have no sick days — and the PEB refused them. The PEB also refused to take a position on the strict attendance policies that have infuriated many railworkers.

“By not addressing these issues and this generalized discontent among the workforce, the PEB has acted irresponsibly, their recommendations doing little to nothing to stem the tide of discontent nor address the ongoing mass exodus of workers from the industry,” said Jason Doering, general secretary of the cross-union solidarity caucus Railroad Workers United.

  • In Response to Union-Busting, Workers at a Chicago Starbucks Went on Strike Jacobin

The Starbucks at the intersection of Clark and Ridge on Chicago’s far north side was one of the city’s first Starbucks shops to unionize. Since then, workers there have continued to be some of the most militant in the city.

After winning union recognition and striking over understaffing in early July, the workers have continued to organize and face pushback from management. After one of their leaders, Emily Alaimo, was given a final notice last week, the workers went out on strike again. We spoke to Alaimo about the strike, the union, and the role of performance and pleasure in union organizing.

The article contains the whole interview, but I will quote the parts near the end as I particularly like them:

Interviewer: I feel like we are all experiencing this big push by the ruling class to co-opt queerness as much as possible. When it comes to queer people organizing at Howard Brown and in Starbucks — what role do you feel like that plays in challenging that co-optation project?

Emily Alaimo: Honestly, so much. A big part of me being able to step out of what I thought being involved in politics was was accepting that I was queer as shit and never going to fit into this mold that is only made for straight people. It’s queer organizing spaces where I feel like there is real change happening, because in the queer community we’ve moved beyond needing to be accepted by heteronormative society. We don’t want to be part of that. We want to transcend all these barriers that have been put in front of us and think outside the confines of capitalism.

I: It feels like this kind of organizing is an antidote to conservative business unionism.

EA: That’s why I love seeing stuff like the Stripper Strike, because that is not how I would have, ten years ago as a teen organizer, thought that organizing could look or would ever be respected on a picket line. I’m sure for some people they still don’t think that’s organizing, but that’s not our problem. This movement that we’re in right now is the future. It’s the way that we move forward.

  • The Unionization Wave Is Now Hitting Chipotle Jacobin

Chipotle workers in Lansing, Michigan, formed the fast-food chain’s first recognized union in the United States, voting eleven-three on August 25 to join Teamsters Local 243. It’s the latest in a string of new organizing breakthroughs at prominent national brands, from Starbucks to Apple to Trader Joe’s to REI.

Of all the employers that have seen union drives over the past year, Chipotle — with 100,000 employees across three thousand stores and long-term plans to double its footprint in North America — is the most similar to Starbucks. They’re both outliers in fast food: their stores are primarily corporate-owned, rather than franchised out to smaller operators.

Though chains like Subway and McDonald’s have more total locations, Starbucks and Chipotle are two of just four fast food chains with more than one thousand company-operated locations. (The others are Panda Express and Arby’s.)

Harper McNamara has worked at Chipotle for two years; the average Chipotle worker stays about four months, he estimates. For him, the reasons to unionize were simple: “pay, scheduling, and treatment from managers.”

McNamara started at $10.15 an hour, 50 cents above Michigan’s state minimum wage. Now he’s up to $13.60, after Chipotle raised wages during the pandemic. That raise, which brought the company’s minimum pay to $11 an hour and its average to $15, was partly a response to workers organizing in New York City with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 32BJ, as Alex Press reported for Jacobin.

SEIU’s campaign emphasized scheduling too. Ultimately Chipotle agreed to a $20 million settlement for routinely breaking a 2017 New York City law that mandates regular schedules, two weeks’ notice, and premium pay for changes or “clopenings.” (That’s when a worker has a late night closing shift followed by an early morning opening shift.) It was the largest-ever settlement for “fair workweek” violations.

Link back to the discussion thread.