Link back to the discussion thread.


  • EU Energy Ministers To Discuss Natural Gas Price Cap Oil Price

The energy ministers of the European Union will discuss price caps on natural gas as one of the measures to fight excessive energy prices across the bloc, Reuters has reported.

The discussion will take place on September 9 and will involve suggestions such as a price cap on natural gas imports, caps on the gas used for electricity generation, and the temporary exclusion of gas-fired power plants from the bloc’s electricity price-setting system, the report noted.

The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen last Friday called for a price cap to be imposed on Russian gas imports to thwart, as she said, the Russian President’s attempt to manipulate the EU energy market.

Now, however, it seems a price cap for all imports of natural gas is on the table, including from long-term friends such as Norway.

  • Europe Still Guzzling Russian Oil With Ban Just Months Away Bloomberg

With just three months to go until a full European ban on seaborne imports of Russian oil enters into force, the continent remains very dependent on Moscow for supply.

Flows to European Union countries have recovered to about 1 million barrels a day since early August. That’s up from levels seen in late July, but down sharply from peaks in April and June. It represents a huge chunk of the bloc’s overall supply.

The ban enters into force on Dec. 5, exactly three months from now, but Europeans’ cargo buying will slow down at least a month before then to ensure compliance. The future of Russian oil is pivotal to the global market. If the ban prevents exports — a concern among US officials — then that would hit global supplies. If exports flow elsewhere, then the result may well be a complicated and expensive reshuffling of global cargo flows.

Russia oil exports to Europe

Shipments of all Russian crude in the week to Sept. 2 rose to a four week high, according to vessel-tracking data monitored by Bloomberg. All figures have been revised to remove cargoes identified as Kazakhstan’s KEBCO grade. These are shipments made by KazTransoil JSC that transit Russia for export through Ust-Luga and Novorossiysk.

Russian oil exports to the world


  • Ukraine offers to save EU from energy crisis RT

Ukraine is ready to provide up to 30 billion cubic meters of his country’s gas storage facilities to the EU member states, according to the country’s Prime Minister Denis Shmigal.

“We can offer our European partners to form their gas reserves in the face of unstable gas supplies from Russia,” Shmigal said at a news conference in Brussels.

Earlier, the official had said that Ukraine and the EU signed five agreements on cooperation in various fields and on financial support for Kiev. He also expressed hope for negotiations with Brussels on Ukraine becoming an EU member in late 2022 or early 2023.

  • Ukraine mulls legalizing porn RT

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has ordered a review into legalizing pornography and erotica. The move comes in response to a petition that collected the required 25,000 signatures for the issue to be considered by authorities.

Commenting on the initiative on Friday, Zelensky signaled that he had tasked Prime Minister Denis Shmygal “to process the issue raised in the electronic petition… and inform its author about the results of consideration.”

Zelensky noted that the national Constitution grants Ukrainian citizens the right to freedom of thought, speech and expression. However, this provision is limited, among other things, by a law on the Protection of Public Morality, which prohibits production and distribution of explicit materials.


  • Russia ups economic forecasts Inquirer

Russia’s economy is expected to contract by 2.9 percent this year before returning to growth in 2023-24, Russian news agencies cited Economy Minister Maxim Reshetnikov as saying on Tuesday.

In its base case scenario, Russia’s economy ministry said it now expected a 0.9 percent GDP contraction in 2023, the TASS news agency reported – up from predictions of a 2.7 percent decline made just last month.

Reshetnikov said the economy would return to periods of growth on a quarterly basis from as early as the end of this year, with the contraction for the full year of 2023 coming from a high base effect, he said.

The economy ministry also forecast 2.6 percent growth in 2024, down from the 3.7 percent it predicted in August, and Reshetnikov said the economy was on a trajectory to post GDP growth in excess of 3 percent a year after 2024.

The new forecasts mark a significant improvement from the predictions made just last month when the Economy Ministry forecast a 4.2 percent contraction for 2022 and a 2.7 percent fall in GDP in 2023.

Reshetnikov said expectations had now improved as the Russian economy continued to weather the fallout from Western sanctions imposed over its invasion of Ukraine better than expected.

  • Russia Will Send More Oil To Asia After G7 Price Cap Oil Price

Russia will increase its shipments of oil to Asia after the G7 finance ministers announced a price cap on Russian oil and fuels, to enter into effect from December 5 and February 5, 2023, respectively.

“Any actions to impose a price cap will lead to deficit on (initiating countries') own markets and will increase price volatility,” said Russia’s Energy Minister Nikolay Shulginov on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Russia’s Far East, as quoted by Reuters.

The G7 foreign ministers announced the price caps on Friday. Earlier that week, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said that the price cap was ridiculous and that in response Russia would simply stop selling oil to countries enforcing it.

A day later Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov echoed the sentiment, telling media that “We simply will not cooperate with them on non-market principles.”

  • Putin approves new foreign policy doctrine based on ‘Russian World’ Inquirer

You’ve heard of Disney World Orlando. Get ready for Russia World Moscow.

An image of Putin holding a bird

President Vladimir Putin on Monday approved a new foreign policy doctrine based around the concept of a “Russian World”, a notion that conservative ideologues have used to justify intervention abroad in support of Russian-speakers.

The 31-page “humanitarian policy”, published more than six months into the war in Ukraine, says Russia should “protect, safeguard and advance the traditions and ideals of the Russian World”.

While presented as a kind of soft power strategy, it enshrines in official policy ideas around Russian politics and religion that some hardliners have used to justify Moscow’s occupation of parts of Ukraine and support for breakaway pro-Russian entities in the east of the country.

“The Russian Federation provides support to its compatriots living abroad in the fulfilment of their rights, to ensure the protection of their interests and the preservation of their Russian cultural identity,” the policy said.

It said that Russia’s ties with its compatriots abroad allowed it to “strengthen on the international stage its image as a democratic country striving for the creating of a multi-polar world.”

Putin has for years been highlighting what he sees as the tragic fate of some 25 million ethnic Russians who found themselves living outside Russia in newly independent states when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, an event he has called a geopolitical catastrophe.

Russia has continued to regard the former Soviet space, from the Baltics to Central Asia, as its legitimate sphere of influence – a notion fiercely resisted by many of those countries as well as by the West.

The new policy says Russia should increase cooperation with Slavic nations, China, and India, and further strengthen its ties to the Middle East, Latin America and Africa.

It said Moscow should further deepen its ties with Abkhazia and Ossetia, two Georgian regions recognised as independent by Moscow after its war against Georgia in 2008, as well as the two breakaway entities in eastern Ukraine, the self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic.

  • Kremlin comments on Truss victory RT

Russia does not expect its relations with the UK to improve after Liz Truss was elected to become the new British prime minister, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.

“To be honest, judging by the statements Ms Truss made on our country when she served as foreign secretary and was [a PM] candidate, one may assume with a high degree of confidence that no changes for the better can be expected,” he told reporters.

Peskov also declined to comment on whether Vladimir Putin intends to congratulate Truss on her victory, saying that it is better to ask the Russian president himself.

  • Russia outlines its position on crypto RT

The Bank of Russia (CBR) is against the legalization of crypto-exchanges, exchangers and settlements in cryptocurrency within the country, RIA Novosti reported on Monday, citing the regulator’s press service. However, the report noted that cross-border crypto transactions may be legalized.

Earlier on Monday, Russian Deputy Finance Minister Alexey Moiseev stated that the CBR and the Ministry of Finance had come to an understanding that the country could not do without cross-border settlements in cryptocurrency in the current circumstances.


  • Macron: France, Germany to provide each other with gas, electricity, to weather crisis Reuters

France will send gas to Germany if needed while Germany stands ready to provide it with electricity, President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday, saying this showcased European solidarity in the face of the energy crisis stemming from the war in Ukraine.

My friends-to-lovers fanfic of Scholz and Macron is coming along nicely too.


  • German industrial orders fall sixth month in a row as Ukraine war bites Inquirer

German industrial orders fell for the sixth month in a row in July as the war in Ukraine continues to take its toll on Europe’s largest economy, the economy ministry said on Tuesday.

Orders for industrial goods were down 1.1 percent on the month in seasonally adjusted terms, figures from the federal statistical office showed. Compared with July 2021, orders were down 13.6 percent.

In a Reuters poll, analysts had predicted a 0.5 percent decline in July after orders fell by an upwardly revised 0.3 percent in June.

Domestic orders in particular fell 4.5 percent in July while orders from abroad grew by 1.3 percentm according to the statistics office.

  • Germany to delay phase-out of nuclear plants to shore up energy security Guardian

Germany is to temporarily halt the phasing-out of two nuclear power plants in an effort to shore up energy security after Russia cut supplies of gas to Europe’s largest economy.

The economy minister, Robert Habeck, announced on Monday that the power plants, Neckarwestheim in Baden Württemberg and Isar 2 in Bavaria, are to be kept running longer than planned in order to be used as an emergency reserve until the middle of next year.

Habeck said that after a stress test carried out with four grid operators, considered worst-case scenarios, they had come to the conclusion that “hourly crisis-like situations in the electricity supply system during winter 22/23, while very unlikely, cannot be fully ruled out”.

  • Germany can’t avoid recession – Bloomberg RT

A €65-billion financial aid package adopted by Berlin as the latest attempt to ease inflation-driven pressure from a tightening power-supply crisis won’t help the EU’s biggest economy to avoid a looming recession, Bloomberg reported Monday, citing analysts.

The measures include higher subsidies for lower-income households, payments to students and pensioners, and a cap on power prices.

“While the announced package will indeed bring some relief for the financially weaker ones, it is doubtful that the package will be enough to offset the impact from higher energy bills entirely,” ING economist Carsten Brzeski said, in a report to clients seen by the agency.

The expert also expressed doubts that the full package would become operational in 2022, saying that “the package will probably fall short in preventing the broader economy from falling into recession.”


  • Heat pumps take off in coal-loving Poland amid Ukraine war Washington Post

A few weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine, Joanna Pandera, a Polish energy expert, removed the gas stovetop from her kitchen and replaced it with an electric range. She signed a contract for an electric heat pump so that she would no longer need Russian natural gas to warm her home through Poland’s long winters.

And she threw a party, cooking borscht and pierogies with Ukrainian refugees to celebrate her home’s newfound energy independence.

“The celebration was that we removed Russian gas,” said Pandera, the director of Forum Energii, a Warsaw-based think tank that advocates for a Polish transition to renewable energy.

Is she just the lamest person in Poland or do Polish people just throw the stupidest fucking parties ever?

Pandera is working to de-Russify the energy flowing into her house, and many Poles, furious with Russia and sympathetic to Ukraine, are doing the same this year. Poland has a reputation for being the West Virginia of Europe, with its national identity tied to coal mining. But the war in Ukraine is doing what years of pushing from climate advocates could not: A growing number of Poles are embracing green measures because the shift will free them from Russian fossil fuels.

The country led Europe in installations of renewable-friendly heat pumps per capita this year, with their sales more than doubling compared to a year ago. Just last year, Polish policymakers aimed to install 10 gigawatts of solar panels by 2030 — a goal it has already surpassed.

Methinks it was a shitty goal if that’s the case.

Polish leaders have always said that coal will be domestic, cheap and reliable, Pandera said. “And now we see it’s Russian coal, it’s expensive and it might not be there,” she said.

“Everybody is waiting for winter,” Pandera said. “It will certainly be dramatic. They will not be able to heat their homes either because of the physical lack of coal or because they can’t afford it. People are going to be sitting in cold homes.”

Okay, there’s a lot of anecdotal stories here that are relatively worthless. Sticking it to Putler! Hell yeah! Let’s just go right to the national response.

The Polish government still supports fossil fuels, even as it’s started to provide modest incentives to shift to cleaner energy. Since 2018, the Polish government has offered citizens up to $6,700 to switch from coal boilers to less dirty forms of heat. In July it upped the potential assistance to about $16,500. And last month it also devoted at least $430 million toward local energy efficiency projects.

But in recent weeks it also announced one-off subsidies of up to $630 for households that haven’t made the changeover, prompting climate advocates to say that the government was rewarding the use of fossil fuels. And Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki directed state businesses to buy 4.5 million metric tons of coal to prepare for the winter.

Other policy changes that could make a difference — such as making it easier to build onshore wind power — are still mired in discussions in the Polish Parliament.

Some analysts fear that with prices so high, Poland’s climate outlook could get worse before it gets better. Not only has the government made it easier to burn dirty coal for heat this winter, some fear that Poles could turn to burning wood or trash in their heating stoves, making Poland’s air even more unbreathable. It already ranks among the dirtiest in Europe.


  • Czech PM Blames Russian Propaganda For Mass Protests In Prague Oil Price

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala is blaming pro-Russian forces for mass demonstrations this weekend that saw tens of thousands of people protest against the government, the European Union and NATO amid soaring energy prices and inflation.

The “Czechia First” demonstration saw 70,000 people gather to protest the government in a development the Czech prime minister is blaming on elements influenced by Russian propaganda.

“It is clear that Russian propaganda and disinformation campaigns repeatedly appear on our territory and that someone is simply succumbing to them,” Fiala said, as reported by Euractiv.

Protesters, brought together by the Communist Party, the Freedom party, the Direct Democratic Party, and other groups labeled as “radical”–both far-left and far-right–called on the government to address soaring energy prices and the highest cost of living since the early 1990s for everything from housing to consumer goods.


  • Slovakia’s government loses majority after junior party quits coalition Euro News

Slovakia’s government has lost its majority in parliament after a junior partner withdrew from the four-party coalition.

Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok, Justice Minister Maria Kolikova, and Education Minister Branislav Gröhling – all from the liberal Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party – submitted their resignations on Monday.

The party’s leader and former Economy Minister Richard Sulík resigned from his government post last week.

SaS had threatened to leave the coalition after disagreements with populist Finance Minister Igor Matovič.

Matovič’s Ordinary People (OĽaNO) party won the 2020 parliamentary election, but he resigned as Prime Minister after acquiring doses of the Russian-made Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine without consulting his coalition partners.

What the hell is going on in Slovakian politics?

Heger – a close ally of Matovič and the deputy head of OĽaNO – became the country’s new leader in his place.

Matovič had clashed with Sulík on a number of issues, including how to tackle soaring inflation and high energy prices amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He has pushed forward an anti-inflation economic package, that was supported by the opposition far-right Our Slovakia party.

Sulík had also disagreed with the Finance Minister over the country’s economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

After bitter personal attacks, the SaS had called on Heger to reshuffle his government and remove Matovič from office by the end of August. Heger had indicated that Matovič could resign if his proposed anti-inflation measures were first approved.

“We’re sorry to leave the government,” Sulík told reporters on Monday.

“We will be a constructive but tough opposition,” he said, adding that “Matovič is incapable of planning.”

  • Slovakia on alert after escaped tiger from Ukraine seen in park Euro News

Authorities in eastern Slovakia have urged residents to be cautious after a tiger was spotted in a border area over the weekend.

The young animal had escaped from a private breeder in the town of Strychava in neighbouring Ukraine.

On Sunday, the Poloniny national park said on Facebook that photo traps had registered the tiger’s presence near three Slovakian towns.

United Kingdom

  • The UK’s Disrupted Trade Flows Are About to Worsen Bloomberg

Britain’s supply chains are poised to see more disruption and delay after dockworkers at Liverpool’s container port said they’ll walk out for two weeks later this month over a pay dispute.

The strike set for Sept. 19 to Oct. 3 will involve more than 560 maintenance engineers and other workers, the Unite union said in a statement Friday. Peel Ports, which owns the Port of Liverpool, said its proposed pay package represented an 8.3% raise, while the union said it had rejected a 7% offer. Both are under the nation’s inflation rate.

  • Half of Brits ‘disappointed’ with Truss as PM – poll RT

Britons do not appear particularly enthusiastic about Foreign Secretary Liz Truss taking over as the new prime minister, a YouGov poll published on Monday suggests. Around half of the people in the UK say they are ‘disappointed’, with one-third ‘very disappointed’.

Only 4% of the respondents say they are ‘very pleased’ to have Truss move in to 10 Downing Street, and another 18% say they are ‘fairly pleased’.

Most people in the UK (67%) appear skeptical about Truss’ ability to tackle the rising cost of living – the top issue among Britons, according to another new YouGov poll. Almost 40% of the respondents say they have ‘no confidence’ with the incoming prime minister’s ability to deal with this key matter.

  • Incoming UK PM may be ‘disaster’ for entire country – Scottish leader RT

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has claimed that the incoming UK Prime Minister Liz Truss could turn out to be “a disaster not only for Scotland but for all of the UK.”

Her remarks came in response to a Sunday Times report suggesting that Truss’ team was considering raising the vote threshold for a potential second Scottish independence referendum.

Speaking to Sky News on Sunday, a day before the foreign secretary was revealed as the winner of the leadership contest, Sturgeon said talk about blocking a referendum or “gerrymandering the rules” was a sign of “fundamental weakness.”

According to the Sunday Times, Truss is looking into passing a new law that would ban another independence referendum until polls show that 60% of the Scottish population supports a new plebiscite for at least a year. The current level of support for the referendum is significantly lower than the potential threshold, according to a recent survey conducted by The Sunday Times.

  • Truss ‘plans £40bn aid for companies’ in energy bill support package Guardian

Bloomberg are reporting that Liz Truss is finalizing plans for a £40bn support package for businesses, to lower their energy bills.

The plan would help firms cope with the soaring energy costs, which are making it unviable for some factories, pubs and shops to keep running as prices rise and winter approaches.


Liz Truss expected to freeze household energy bills at around £2,500.

It will be the £1,971 energy price cap + the £400 universal handout, with a little on top.

Cost expected to be around £90bn - coming from general taxation, not energy bills.

  • UK In The Running For $8 Billion Battery Gigafactory Oil Price

  • British TV show offers to pay energy bills as a spin-the-wheel prize amid growing fears of Europe’s ‘dystopian’ crisis Business Insider

A “Wheel-of-Fortune”-style game on a British TV show offered to pay a caller’s energy bills as a top prize, in a startling illustration of how energy prices are hitting Europe and its neighbors.

Cheery daytime ITV programme “This Morning” offered either £3,000, £1000, and four months of “energy bills” on a spinning prize wheel on Monday.

In one clip posted to Twitter by TV critic Scott Bryan, an unidentified caller said his energy worries were “major” and his situation was “absolutely murder”, because he was using a pre-payment meter. To his relief, the contestant won the energy bill prize.

Asia and Oceania


  • China rejects West’s call for Russian oil price cap RT

Beijing opposes the decision made by the G7 nations to introduce a price cap on Russian oil, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning said on Monday.

“Oil is crucial for ensuring global energy security,” she told a briefing, adding: “we hope that the countries concerned… will make constructive efforts, and not the other way around.”

The spokesperson urged the G7 states to instead “fortify dialogue and advance negotiations.”

  • China registers hottest August since records began Al Jazeera

Authorities in China have recorded the country’s hottest August since records began, according to state media, following an unusually intense summer heatwave that parched rivers, scorched crops and triggered isolated blackouts.

Southern China last month sweltered under what experts said may have been one of the worst heatwaves in global history, with temperatures in parts of Sichuan province and the megacity of Chongqing soaring well above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) for days.

The average temperature nationwide was 22.4C in August, exceeding the norm by 1.2C, state broadcaster CCTV reported on Tuesday, citing the country’s weather service. Some 267 weather stations across the country matched or broke temperature records last month, it said.

It was also China’s third-driest August on record, with average rainfall 23.1 percent lower than average.

  • China puts 65m people into semi-lockdown ahead of party summit Guardian

China has intensified its efforts to rein in outbreaks of Covid-19 ahead of a major political meeting by placing about 65 million people under semi-lockdown, according to local media reports.

  • China’s Nuclear Industry Says It Can Accelerate Expansion Plans Bloomberg

China has the capacity to build more nuclear reactors than planned through 2025, the nation’s top industry body said in its annual report.

The national target is six to eight reactors a year, but that could be raised to 10, said the China Nuclear Energy Association. The agency is also advocating bringing more nuclear power inland, including as a backup to China’s massive buildout of wind and solar farms in the west, which can generate power only intermittently.

Like many nations, China is wrestling with how to avoid power shortages brought on by extreme weather and high prices. Nuclear approvals have accelerated this year after a surge in global energy prices, and the drought and power crunch in Sichuan province over the summer has only raised the level of concern over the nation’s energy security.

The country had 51 reactors in operation by 2021, making it the third largest operator after the U.S. and France. But the share of nuclear in its power mix is just 5% and a fraction of the amount of coal and gas-power deployed. China’s appetite for nuclear slowed considerably for much of the decade that followed the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, which chilled approvals globally.

China’s nuclear ambitions are backed by a domestic manufacturing base that can supply 90% of the components used in its newest third-generation reactors, the home-grown Hualong-One and Guohe-One designs, as well as smaller modular reactors, said the association.

It also voiced support for locating plants elsewhere in the interior, close to energy-scarce population centers and using river water for cooling needs. China’s reactors have typically been built near the sea, but the amount of coastal land available has dwindled after years of expansion.

  • China gaming crackdown: ByteDance cuts ‘hundreds of jobs’ from its video game operations in Shanghai and Hangzhou, sources say SCMP

ByteDance, TikTok’s owner, is aggressively downsizing its video gaming unit, affecting hundreds of employees, in a fresh sign that the smart money in China is continuing to exit the heavily regulated industry, according to people familiar with the situation.

The Beijing-based company, which only one year ago was pouring millions into its gaming operations, has stripped Shanghai-based Wushuang Studio of most of its staff through lay-offs and internal transfers, after the closure of 101 Studio in June, said the people familiar, who declined to be named as the information is not public yet.

ByteDance’s gaming unit, however, will maintain certain operations in Shanghai for projects that have already launched, the sources said. ByteDance is also cutting jobs at Jiangnan Studio, its game development studio in Hangzhou, one of the people familiar said.


  • Nepal looks to build cross-border railway, says envoy Inquirer

While meeting with visiting Nepali Foreign Minister Narayan Khadka last month in Qingdao, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced that China will use aid funds for Nepal to support the feasibility study of the China-Nepal cross-border railway, and will send experts to Nepal to conduct survey work within this year.

The two sides will also build a Trans-Himalayan Multi-dimensional Connectivity Network, according to a statement issued after the ministers’ meeting.

“The China-Nepal cross-border railway is designed to link Shigatse of the Tibet autonomous region and Keyrung Port of Nepal,” Shrestha said. “The railway is not only important for Nepal, but also strengthens connectivity with neighboring countries. For example, India will also have the opportunity to benefit from it.”


  • Yen falls to 24-year low, dollar bulls hold steady Reuters

The dollar took a breather on Tuesday after a sweeping rally but notched a fresh 24-year high against the rate-sensitive Japanese yen, as U.S. monetary policy tightening gathers pace and widens the gap with Japan’s stubbornly low interest rates.

The yen bottomed at 140.97, the lowest since 1998, and last traded 140.91 per dollar.

“After we saw the break of 140 … the momentum definitely was skewed for yen weakness,” said Galvin Chia, an emerging markets strategist at NatWest Markets.


  • Laos Inflation Rate Hits an All-Time High of 30 Percent Laotian Times

Year-on-year inflation in Laos increased to 30 percent in August, according to the latest numbers from the Lao Statistics Bureau.

The inflation rate for August has been reported at a whopping 30 percent with a 2.5 percent increase from July’s figure of 27.5 percent.

The price of food and non-alcoholic beverages has surged by 30.2% year on year including that of daily essentials like rice, starch, meat, fat, vegetable oil, fruit, and vegetables.

Commercial transport and delivery charges have risen by 51.7% with automobiles, and spare parts becoming even more expensive because of the low exchange rate. Fuel prices have also shot up recently adding to people’s woes.

Additionally, prices for housing, electricity, water supply and cooking oil also increased by 20.5% due to the soaring prices of steel, cement, concrete, and gas.

In response to the economic woes, the Government of Laos has reiterated its pledge to avoid default, with relevant agencies being directed to take more proactive measures to address the country’s economic problems.

New Zealand

  • New Zealand reports warmest and wettest winter on record Guardian

New Zealand has had its warmest and wettest winter on record, with one meteorologist describing it as “mother nature’s way of expressing she has a fever”.

For the three months to the end of August 2022, the average temperature was 9.8C, according to New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa).

That figure was 1.4C above the 1981-2010 average from Niwa’s seven-station temperature series, which began in 1909, surpassing last year’s winter record of 1.3C.

Middle East


  • Israel says soldier probably killed Shireen Abu Aqleh by accident Guardian

The Israeli army has said there is a “high possibility” a soldier killed an Al Jazeera journalist in May but that the shooting was accidental and no one will be punished.

Whoopsie doopsie!

Shireen Abu Aqleh was shot dead while covering Israeli military raids in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinians blamed the killing on Israel, which initially suggested she may have been killed by militant fire, but later said a soldier may have hit her by mistake during an exchange of fire.

Abu Aqleh, a Palestinian-American journalist, had covered the West Bank for the satellite channel for two decades and was known across the Arab world.


  • Iran is ready to supply oil to Europe if sanctions lifted MEMO

Iran is ready to supply oil to Europe should sanctions imposed on it over its nuclear programme be lifted, spokesman of Iran’s Foreign Ministry Nasser Kanani said yesterday.

AFP reported Kanani saying: “Given Europe’s energy supply problems triggered by the Ukraine crisis, Iran could provide Europe’s energy needs if sanctions against it are lifted.”

“We hope an agreement will be reached to let Iran play a more efficient role, with the aim of providing the energy needed for countries around the world and for European countries.”

  • Russia To Help Iran In Developing Crucial Gas Reserves Oil Price

Along with the (recently achieved) completion of the crucial Goreh-Jask pipeline oil export route, the (ongoing) ramping up of production from its hugely oil-rich West Karoun cluster of oil fields to at least 1 million barrels per day (bpd) within the next two years, and the (continuing) building out of its value-added petrochemicals production to at least 100 million metric tons per year by 2022, optimising gas production from its supergiant South Pars gas field is a top priority for Iran.

In the current global gas market, characterised by questions over future supplies, it is currently perhaps the very top priority for Iran, and the Islamic Republic has brought in Russia to help it expedite and increase gas production from the perennially controversial Phase 11 of South Pars. With an estimated 14.2 trillion cubic metres (Tcm) of gas reserves in place plus 18 billion barrels of gas condensate, South Pars already accounts for around 40 percent of Iran’s total estimated 33.8 tcm of gas reserves – mostly located in the southern Fars, Bushehr, and Hormozgan regions – and about 80 percent of its gas production.

The 3,700-square kilometre ( South Pars sector of the 9,700-square km basin shared with Qatar (in the form of the 6,000-square km North Dome) is also critical to Iran’s overall strategy to sustain natural gas production across the country of at least 1 billion cubic metres per day (Bcm/d).

  • EU’s foreign policy chief says nuclear deal ‘in danger’ MEE

The European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who is shepherding attempts to save the suspended Iran nuclear deal, said on Monday that prospects for a new pact were “in danger” as Iran and the US diverge on negotiations.

Borrell said he was “less confident” in a revival of the accord after Iran’s latest response to an EU-drafted text last week, which hardened Tehran’s demands on Washington. “If the purpose is to close the deal quickly, it is not going to help it,” he said.


  • Pakistan Forecasts Economic Growth to Halve Following Floods Bloomberg

Anybody get a funny feeling from reading that headline? A third of your entire country gets flooded, tens of millions displaced, and the government says “Ah, our economic growth will be impacted by this a little…”. It’s a bit like the classic comic, image, meme, whatever, of people living in the apocalypse and saying “At least for a while, we created value for our shareholders”. The idea that your country could even still be growing after something like that is weird to me.

Pakistan’s government slashed its economic growth projections by more than half compared to its previous estimate after flooding inundated a third of the country.

The floods have made previous projections irrelevant and economic growth is estimated at 2.3% now, according to initial calculations by the Ministry of Planning Development and Special Initiatives. The government had set a target of 5% growth in June.

Pakistan’s economy was passing through multiple economic challenges and “the devastation to the floods have further intensified the crisis,” said the note.

The South Asian nation is facing a climate crisis even as it resumed a $6.5 billion loan program with the International Monetary Fund easing fears of a default. Millions of acres of agricultural land were flooded after the highest rainfall in decades.

In Sindh province, the entire cotton crop, as well as 65% of the region’s rice output have been wiped out, according to Finance Minister Miftah Ismail. The country’s biggest producer of steel bars Amreli Steels Ltd. and largest tractor factory Millat Tractors Ltd. have suspended operations.


  • African leaders: Richer nations must pay more to prepare for climate change Reuters

African leaders called on Monday for their counterparts from richer, polluting nations to increase funding for projects to help them adapt to climate change.

Countries on the continent are seeking to raise $25 billion of investments in the next three years for adaptation projects, including improving agricultural resilience and updating infrastructure.

“If we want our continent to thrive, we have to adapt to climate change - and to achieve this, adaptation financing needs to start flowing at scale,” Ghana President Nana Afuko-Addo told the Africa Adaptation Summit in Rotterdam on Monday

Burkina Faso

  • At least 35 civilians killed in Burkina Faso IED convoy blast Al Jazeera

At least 35 civilians have been killed as a convoy of vehicles carrying supplies in Burkino Faso’s restive northern region struck an improvised explosive device (IED), according to the regional governor.

The explosion, which wounded 37 others, occurred as the military-escorted convoy travelled along the road from Bourzanga to Djibo on Monday, said Rodolphe Sorgo, the governor of the northeastern Sahel region, which borders Mali and Niger.

The tri-border area has been central to a spiralling security crisis in the wider region over the last 10 years, and has seen increasing attacks by groups linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) following military takeovers in Mali and Burkina Faso, in May 2021 and January 2022, respectively.

North America

United States

  • California governor signs fast food bill into law that could raise minimum wage for workers in the state to $22 an hour by next year Business Insider

Well, it’s a little closer to matching the productivity line I guess. I’m unfamiliar with Californian politics so I’m gonna tentatively say that this is good, but not enough.

  • The US economy looks increasingly like it can avoid recession despite the Fed’s rate hikes, Goldman Sachs says Business Insider

The US economy looks increasingly like it will avoid a recession despite the Federal Reserve’s aggressive interest-rate hikes, according to Goldman Sachs.

Goldman’s analysts, led by chief economist Jan Hatzius, said in a note Monday that there are “encouraging signs” that the Fed can engineer what has become known as a soft landing — that is, it can bring down inflation without major damage to the economy.

Are we really back to the whole “there won’t be a recession!” “there will be a recession!” media battle back in spring of this year? Goddamn it.

  • Past Pentagon leaders warn of strains on civilian-military relations WaPo

The Pentagon’s former defense secretaries and top generals warned Tuesday that political polarization and other societal strains are creating an “exceptionally challenging” environment for maintaining the traditional relationship between the military and civilian worlds.

The assessment is the basis of an extraordinary open letter signed by eight former defense secretaries and five former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Adhering to the military’s tradition of nonpartisanship, the leaders do not blame any political leader or party for the situation, but note that the last presidential election was the first in more than a century to have the peaceful transfer of power disrupted.

The former Pentagon leaders said the current environment is challenging for a variety of reasons, including deep political divisions and the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, and say they fear that the situation could worsen.

At the same time, the U.S. military has ended wars in Iraq and Afghanistan “without all the goals satisfactorily accomplished” and is preparing for “more daunting competition” with other nations, the leaders write.

“Looking ahead, all of these factors could well get worse before they get better,” the letter states. “In such an environment, it is helpful to review the core principles and best practices by which civilian and military professionals have conducted healthy American civil-military relations in the past — and can continue to do so, if vigilant and mindful.”

The signatories of the letter, published Tuesday morning by War on the Rocks, include former president Donald Trump’s two confirmed defense secretaries, Jim Mattis and Mark T. Esper, both of whom clashed with the president and were removed from their positions. Mattis, after leaving office, denounced Trump as a threat to the U.S. Constitution who tried to turn Americans against one another, while Esper resisted Trump’s desire to use active-duty troops against people protesting the police killing of George Floyd and later said Trump was unfit for office.

The signatories also include earlier defense secretaries from both Republican and Democratic administrations and each of the Pentagon’s retired top officers since October 2001: Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey and Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr.


  • Cambodia and Cuba Vow to Strengthen Bilateral Ties TeleSUR

Both parties also talked about ways to enhance cooperation between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and Cuba.

On Sunday, Cambodian Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Chum Sounry said that his country and Cuba have vowed to bolster bilateral ties and cooperation for mutual benefit.

South America

  • Lula Da Silva Supports Bolivia’s Entry Into MERCOSUR TeleSUR

Bolivia’s accession process began a decade ago. So far, however, it has not been ratified by the Brazilian Congress.

At a meeting held in Sao Paulo on Monday, Presidential candidate Lula da Silva promised Bolivian President Luis Arce to intercede before the Brazilian Congress to speed up the Andean country’s entry as a full member of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR).

If Lula is elected as president in October, “he is committed to accelerating Bolivia’s integration into MERCOSUR, which is very important for international relations,” said Celso Amorim, who was foreign affairs minister during the Lula administration (2003-2010).

The diplomat also stressed that Bolivia’s entry as a full member of MERCOSUR will facilitate contact between this trade bloc and the Andean Community of Nations (CAN).


  • The United States Only Cares About Energy: Venezuelan FM Faria TeleSUR

On Sunday, Venezuela’s Foreign Affairs Minister Carlos Faria revealed that the U.S. government seeks to establish relations with Venezuela without dismantling the sanctions regime that Washington applies to the Bolivarian revolution.

“The U.S. government took the initiative to make a rapprochement with President Nicolas Maduro to normalize relations but not diplomatic ones nor the dismantling of sanctions. It sought the reestablishment of energetic relations because that interests Washington,” he said during an interview with Culture Minister Ernesto Villegas, a renowned journalist in Venezuela

The Bolivarian diplomat believes that relations between Venezuela and the United States could be clarified after the U.S. parliamentary elections in November.

“Midterm elections are expected in the United States. It is said that President Joe Biden is waiting for that to happen, and then he is going to make his relationship with our government clearer. We are waiting for that to happen,” Faria stated.

Maybe that’s because Biden wants to undo some of the sanctions and doesn’t wanna be dunked on for doing that?


  • Nicaragua may join Russian payment system RT

Nicaragua is ready to explore the use of the Mir payment system, developed by Moscow in response to Western sanctions, and allow the use of Russian credit and debit cards in the country, its Minister of Finance and Public Credit Ivan Acosta told TASS on Monday, on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok.

“We are now considering various issues of cooperation in the field of finance. I’m still not sure how the Mir card works. We are looking into these issues. We are open to various banking and financial exchange possibilities,” he was quoted as saying by the media.

Acosta also noted that Nicaragua will continue to deepen ties with the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) nations.


  • Chile’s President Favors Continuing Constitutional Process TeleSUR

Following the victory of the rejection in Chile’s referendum on Sunday, President Gabriel Boric expressed his commitment to constructing a new text that receives the support of the majority.

“I commit myself to do everything possible to build, together with Congress and civil society, a new constituent itinerary (…) Chileans have demanded a new opportunity to meet, and we must live up to this call,” said Boric calling for the unity of the Chilean people in “building the future.”

Yesterday at the polls, with 99.99 percent of the tables counted, 61.86 percent of the votes rejected the draft of the new Constitution, while 38.14 percent voted for its approval.

According to the President, the massive participation of the population in Sunday’s vote showed that Chileans “believe in democracy” and are unsatisfied with the draft Constitution.


  • Huge global storm is starting, Moscow warns RT

The world is about to experience major turbulence as a result of illogical moves by Western nations, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said.

“Most likely, a huge global storm is starting,” Peskov warned in an interview with Tass on Monday.

“In many ways, there are objective reasons for that, but there are also subjective reasons for this beginning storm, which are linked to absolutely illogical and often absurd decisions and actions of the authorities in the US, Europe, the EU and individual European countries,” he said.

The sanctions imposed by the US, the EU and some other nations on Russia over its military operation in Ukraine have backfired causing a spike in energy prices and record inflation across the West.

In this situation, Russia “still manages to maintain macroeconomic stability. Very intense, thoughtful and consistent work is being carried out in order to achieve that,” Peskov noted.

“As restrictions are being artificially introduced in the West, [Russia’s] trade and economic relations are understandably starting to focus more on the East,” he added.

  • The price of oil is over $90 a barrel again after Russia and the oil cartel chose to cut production in October Fortune

Oil surged at the start of the week as OPEC+ unexpectedly decided to cut output in October.

West Texas Intermediate crude advanced as much as 4.1% to beyond $90 a barrel, before paring some gains. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies including Russia plan to trim production by 100,000 barrels a day next month. The move effectively reverses a symbolic output hike of the same volume in September that was made in response to lobbying from US President Joe Biden.

Saudi Arabia said after the meeting that the group will remain proactive after agreeing to the first OPEC+ supply cut in more than a year.

“Last month’s adjustment provided a nod to the demands of the consumers, this monthly adjustment is a small nod to the concerns of the producers,” said Emily Ashford an analyst at Standard Chartered. “The continuation of the monthly format is allowing OPEC+ to make small but reactive adjustments to market conditions.”


The Ukraine War

  • US becomes more ‘aggressive’ in Ukraine support – The Hill RT

US President Joe Biden’s administration is becoming less cautious about its arms supplies to Ukraine, The Hill reported over the weekend, adding that Washington now believes it could get away with sending more powerful arms to Kiev without triggering an escalation.

The US has been hesitant to meet Kiev’s demands for months since the start of the conflict, particularly when it came to heavy weapons like tanks or fighter jets, the media outlet said, adding that American officials initially did not believe Ukraine would hold out against Russia long enough to make use of such military aid. Washington also feared massive military assistance to Ukraine could trigger dangerous escalation in its relations with Moscow.

“We were a bit more careful at first … not knowing if Putin … would escalate, and also not being sure if Ukraine could use what we have [sent] them or hold out for long against Russia,” said Michael O’Hanlon, a military analyst at the Brookings Institution, a think tank based in Washington, DC.

America also postponed the tests of its Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile several times in spring to avoid stirring the tensions, The Hill reported, adding that a successful test of the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) missiles was kept secret for two weeks in March for similar reasons.

Now, this attitude is reportedly changing because the US believes that Russia supposedly failed to follow through on its threats, The Hill said, citing several former American officials. “Over time, the administration has recognized that they can provide larger, more capable, longer-distance, heavier weapons to the Ukrainians and the Russians have not reacted,” William Taylor, a former US ambassador to Kiev, told the media outlet.

According to the former diplomat, Moscow “bluffed and blustered, but they haven’t been provoked.” Earlier, the Russian officials warned they would consider Western arms convoys to be legitimate military targets – particularly when they reach Ukrainian territory. Yet, no such convoys have been hit so far, although the Russian military reported striking Ukrainian military facilities housing Western military equipment on several occasions.

Now, “the fear of provoking the Russians has gone down” within the Biden administration, Taylor believes.

  • EU arms stocks drastically depleted – Borrell RT

Stocks of weapons within the European Union are greatly depleted as member states continue to supply arms and ammunition to Ukraine for use in its conflict with Russia, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Monday.

“The military stocks of most member states have been, I wouldn’t say exhausted, but depleted in a high proportion, because we have been providing a lot of capacity to the Ukrainians,” Borrell said during a debate with lawmakers in the European Parliament, adding that the arsenal will “have to be refilled.”

The top diplomat said EU member states must start coordinating their military spending to avoid too many duplications and a waste of money.

If countries don’t coordinate properly, “the result will be a big waste of money, because this is not a way of canceling our duplications – there are a lot of them – or filling our gaps.”

  • Ukraine’s latest weapon in the war: Jokes Al Jazeera

Screw Clausewitz, and Sun Tzu is irrelevant: the real war is the meme war, pioneered by the military geniuses at 4chan.

  • IAEA Mission Fails To Stop Ukraine Shelling at Zaporozhye NPP TeleSUR

Local people’s expectations the IAEA’s visit to the Zaporozhye NPP would mean an end to Ukrainian shelling has not been fulfilled, according to the head of the regional civil-military administration, Yevgeny Balitsky.

The official said the IAEA team’s agenda did nothing to stop the bombing and avoid a possible nuclear accident Russia has been warning about lately.

Ukraine “does not care at all about European monitors,” so the presence of permanent IAEA representatives has been useless, Balitsky said.

Speaking on behalf of the region’s residents and staff working at the NPP, Balitsky said he has no hope that the truth about “who was shelling us, who is the nuclear terrorist today,” will appear at the UN Security Council meeting requested by Russia last week.

  • Moscow-held Kherson region ‘pauses’ referendum to join Russia Al Jazeera

A referendum on joining Russia has been “paused” due to the security situation, the Russia-appointed administration in Ukraine’s Kherson region said, according to the Russian state-owned news agency TASS.

A “pause has been taken” for security reasons, said a senior Russian military administration representative in Kherson, Kirill Stremousov on Monday.

You can imagine the wild tales the mainstream media are spinning about this.

Climate, Space, and Science

  • Europe’s Energy Crisis Could Force The Large Hadron Collider To Be Idled Oil Price

The energy crisis in Europe is not only disrupting businesses and household finances, but it’s also hitting at the heart of crucial scientific research and experiments.

The European Organization for Nuclear Research, CERN, the world’s largest particle physics lab and home of the Large Hadron Collider, could shut down some accelerators and could even idle the LHC to ensure grid stability in the nearby French and Swiss regions amid the severe energy crisis in Europe, Serge Claudet, chair of the CERN energy management panel, told The Wall Street Journal.

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.


  • Russia may face a domestic energy crunch as production slows following EU’s oil embargo, natural-gas cuts to Europe Business Insider

Yeah, that makes a ton of fucking sense.

  • A promising plan to stanch Russia’s gusher of oil money WaPo

Our official endorsement of the oil price cap by the WaPo editorial board. It’s very not long - just 6 paragraphs - which is a hint towards the actual substance of the plan.

  • U.S. Intelligence Reportedly Shows Russia Is Buying Weapons From North Korea Forbes

It might be true, I don’t know - honestly I hope it IS true as it’ll make their friendship with the DPRK stronger - but the content of the article is… well..

Russia is buying millions of artillery shells and rockets from North Korea to use in Ukraine, according to declassified intelligence obtained by the Times.

U.S. officials confirmed the Times’ reporting and said Moscow could be forced to buy additional weapons from Pyongyang in the future as the war continues.

The precise nature of the weapons deal, including its size, was not available from the declassified report, the Times said, and officials did not provide further details.

Government officials told the Times the purchases highlight Moscow’s desperation as international sanctions hamper its ability to wage war and sustain supply lines.

Another official, who spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity, explained that the Russian military is still suffering from severe supply shortages, which are partly due to “export controls and sanctions.”

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has isolated Russia on the international stage. While Russia still has powerful friends that are unwilling to condemn the invasion, that have opposed sanctions and continued to purchase Russian oil—notably China—few have been willing to openly help Moscow evade sanctions or procure weapons. Overtures to pariah states like North Korea and Iran—which reportedly sold Moscow drones for use in the war—highlight Russia’s ongoing supply struggles and the lengths it must go to resolve them, even as its economy largely weathers sanctions while driving up energy prices and inflation around the world.

It’s remarkable how everything is a sign of Russian incompetence, or isolation, or economic collapse. Every sign leads to it. Russia makes a trade deal? It’s a sign that they desperately need things. Russia doesn’t make a trade deal? It’s a sign that Putin is being misled about how much stuff Russia has. The equation is 0/x = y, and, wow, it looks like y is always zero!

  • Russia is buying artillery shells from North Korea, US intel says, a sign of desperation as sanctions bite Business Insider


  • An unexpected air-to-air battle is raging over Ukraine. Here’s what we know about the losses on both sides. Business Insider

If an article ever says “both sides” in relation to this conflict, I know they’re about to make some dipshit fucking statement as they can’t deny that Ukraine is facing serious losses but also need to also imply that Russia is facing similar ones because otherwise it brings into question why Ukraine is even fighting anymore. And then I don’t read the article.

  • Prepare bomb shelters in Crimea, Zelenskiy adviser tells residents Reuters

  • Ukrainian hackers created fake profiles of attractive women to trick Russian soldiers into sharing their location, report says. Days later, the base was blown up. Business Insider

Ukrainian bakers have set up a series of smoking-hot pies on the window sills of various houses in villages. The Russian soldiers smelled them, and then dreamily levitated towards them, but when they lifted them up and took a bite, it turned out that they a live grenade inside them!

  • Video shows Russian official trying to convince nuclear inspectors a rocket turned 180 degrees before landing near Ukraine’s nuclear plant Business Insider

  • The only path to peace is victory on the battlefield, says former Ukrainian PM Tymoshenko Euro News

There can be no peace in Ukraine without victory on the battlefield, former Ukrainian PM Yulia Tymoshenko has told the Estoril Conference in Portugal.

Then there will never be peace in Ukraine.

Tymoshenko said hopes for a diplomatic solution were illusory, because the conditions sought by Russia were unacceptable.

“We have to leave with them the territories they conquered and accept this fact: concede to them and thank them for taking away part of our territory,” she told a conference hosted by Euronews’s Meabh Mc Mahon, adding that other demands - that Ukraine be barred from joining NATO, reduce its own armed forces and submit to cultural Russification - would also never be accepted.

“No one in Ukraine from the president to an ordinary child would ever agree to these conditions,” she said.


  • Authoritarian regimes need a neighborly nudge toward democracy ANN

The first paragraph is the only thing I’m quoting because it’s a dogshit article but it’s also extremely funny:

Authoritarianism now runs rampant in some parts of Southeast Asia. I was a correspondent in this region from 2006 through 2010, and then returned there in 2019. Compared to my previous experience, I strongly felt the spread of authoritarianism and the suppressed social atmosphere that it caused.

I fucking love this. It’s like a psychic walking into a house and being told it’s haunted and them going “Oh, yes, I can feel the negative spiritual energies emanating from this place… I understand if you don’t get the vibe, it’s something you get from experience…” I can’t wait until we get divining rods for authoritarian energies. Anything made in China and sold to other countries has residual alignment with the totalitarianism field that permeates all of reality like the aether.

  • Six Words That Define China’s National Party Congress Forbes

Word number five will shock you! Let’s just skip past the intro and get to the meat of the article.

Success. Ignore the slowdown in economic growth, the Covid lockdowns, and housing crisis. The Communist Party does not believe in equivocation or second-guessing. There is only one acceptable message, and it must be a self-confident one: China is the most prosperous it has ever been in its history. It’s on the right track. Communist Party leadership has been good for China and good for the world. To the extent that China has international issues or friction, it is because of the success. Other powers are jealous of China’s record or cannot reconcile themselves with the possibility of being supplanted in global leadership.

This one is EXTREMELY funny given the economic downturn that the United States is currently experiencing and the subsequent party-wide attempt to try and persuade everybody that the economy is actually awesome and good and fine and we aren’t in a recession and plEASE VOTE FOR US IN THE MIDTERMS YOU LOVE ABORTION DON’T YOU WE’LL DO THAT JUST PLEASE DON’T VOTE FOR THE REPUBLICANS PLEASE.

Destiny. Triumphant nationalism is all the more necessary for a party whose ideology was imported. Core message: We in this room stand as the natural next step in the history of both China and the Communist Party. We are custodians of Chinese civilization and geopolitical destiny, and the Communist Party is the vehicle that allows us to be successful.

Whose ideology was… imported…? Like… ideas, crossing… national borders? I’m not even sure what the dunk is here. Is every country meant to generate its own, entirely unique political and economic system? And hasn’t China kinda done that, with Maoism, then Dengism, then Xi Jinping Thought?

Continuity. A vital theme when leadership is making its move for a third term. This is not a moment for reform or experiments. Gorbachev’s death reminds us what happens if you start playing with “liberalization” or accepting western values. Message: China’s leadership team is tested and sound.

…yes. Uh. Moving on, I guess?

Consolidation. It is Xi’s party now. Xi will undertake a modest re-shuffling of portfolios, the net result of which will be to strengthen his hold on the party apparatus. There is no space for factions, loyal opposition or independent personalities. In the CPC, there is only one question on the job interview: “Are you one of us?” And this job interview lasts fifty years. Internal cohesion is the supreme value.

Which is a bad thing, for some reason. As we can see the party opposition and factions in countries like the United States and the UK and Germany have led to those countries being incredibly successful as of late - just look at their… their… uhh…

Challenges. Dictatorships typically subscribe to devil theories, which have the advantages of offering exculpation without sounding weak. China is facing unprecedented times: Covid, drought, inflation—and only the CPC under Xi’s leadership can manage these threats.

I feel like this is implying that the drought and coronavirus were somehow secretly communism’s fault. We’re really returning to the time of the dynasties and emperors I guess. Man, that Sichuan earthquake is a little spooky if you reject the theory of plate tectonics.

Insularity. This is not so much a theme as a by-product. Misreading foreign behavior and intent is common in societies where there is no open discussion or debate.

As opposed to societies where there IS open discussion and debate, but it’s entirely disconnected from the political machine. Discussion and debate are, AT BEST, meaningless, and at worst, distractions for your people to use as they try and frantically press buttons on the remote controller to try and stop their government do something, rather than go out and protest, eventually in a non-peaceful way. For those two things to mean anything, you need a third d-word: democracy. Most people in China believe that they live in one, and I believe them.

And it is advantageous to portray China as a victim. Message: There are challenges within and without, such as foreign aggression, Taiwan splitists, and domestic malcontents. In the CPC world, criticism is more likely to be seen as evidence of the critic’s bad faith, not evidence of substantive problems.

Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn, anybody?

The ultimate expression of this can take the form of defiance or even churlishness, though Xi’s style is usually more sedate and pedantic than one of anger. He needs to convey forcefulness and he does use scorn against his critics, but he is unlikely to adopt a Trump-style tone of belligerence.

The bottom line: The goal of this party congress is no surprises and there is every indication that by that measurement, the CPC will achieve its goal. Only after the party congress is over and the leadership is confirmed for a new term will they be able to reevaluate domestic policies such as the Covid lockdown or the falling birth rate, and international positions such as subsidized loans. China might have to deal with some bad weather next year, but on October 16, the sun will be shining.

The West

  • Windfall Profit Taxes Are Pure Economic Populism Bloomberg

Oh god, Andreas Kluth is at it again. Am I really gonna read this?

Germany’s government just became the latest to ingratiate itself with angry voters by promising a windfall tax on energy companies. One way or another, these levies aim to seize “excess” profits and redistribute them to needy consumers aching from the soaring costs of electricity and heating.

Several countries, from the UK to Italy and Greece, have already done something similar. Others — including the European Union — are lining up their own proposals.

No matter the specific form, the sheer notion of windfall or excess-profits levies is cynical populism, and therefore bad policy. Proponents offer them as a deceptively simple solution to big but complex problems, thereby playing on the emotions rather than the intellect of voters.

You know what? No. I choose mental health.

  • Opinion: We are not OK post-Covid CNN

Well, we aren’t post-Covid, for starters.

It’s hard to believe we are nearing the end of the summer of 2022. For many, the great pandemic of 2020 is long ago in the rearview mirror of our lives, but it is not. From long Covid-19 to “quiet quitting” and now even “quiet firing,” we all feel the intensity and stress, and perhaps, even the promise of this moment we are living through.

As we return to the office and send kids back to classrooms, we need to ask ourselves two serious questions: Are any of us emotionally and mentally ready to reengage fully in life as we knew it almost three years ago? And how do we honor ourselves, our growth, our awakenings over the past two years to sustain and make use of what we’ve learned (both the positive and the negative lessons) during the pandemic?

It’s gonna be one of those articles, isn’t it? She talks about she got the virus in early 2020, then:

I get it. We all feel it. Something is clearly amiss right now, and it’s not just the trauma of the pandemic (though that has certainly made things clearer). We are all clinging to our political divisions, our tribes, our anger, our grievances. Honestly, I have never seen my fellow human beings in such obvious disarray.

Worse, there is an air of tacit acceptance among us, acceptance of the unacceptable. We are fearful. We know that at any moment, we too can become a statistic. We can lose our own lives or those we love to random acts of violence. We cannot go to the grocery store, to our houses of worship, a movie theater, to a Fourth of July parade, without a palpable fear that we or someone we love can become the targets of a gun-toting madman.

If you were to ask me what the solution is to what ails us, I would tell you that it starts with a good, hard look at ourselves. Most people simply do not like that answer. They would rather avoid, duck, deny and run from the mirror.

In our modern world, it has become much easier to point the finger of blame at our parents, our pasts, our unhealed traumas and all the things that didn’t go our way. I wonder, however, how is that working out for us as individuals and collectively as fellow travelers on this journey called life.

Here are three life lessons that helped me and that I know will help you take better care of yourself as we head into the fall of 2022:

  1. Ask yourself three core but challenging questions often: What do I want? What do I need? How am I feeling? And then answer them honestly and authentically weekly, monthly, every year that you are alive.

I want a dictatorship of the proletariat. I need a communist party organized around the principles of democratic centralism. I am feeling bad because I have neither.

  1. Take care of your emotional and mental health first: You are all you have. Just as the flight attendant instructs us to put our own oxygen mask on first, we need to do that with our emotional needs, our stress management and mental wellness care. You can’t help anyone else if your cup is over full. Take care of you first; the rest will follow.

Awesome, but like, the country I live in and several others will soon experience mass hardship and poverty and high energy prices, so like–

  1. Build a strong and wise circle: Do you have good people in your life circle? People who encourage you, inspire you and offer wise counsel? Are you with people who exude positivity, health and well-being? Or negative people, who dump their issues on you and do not engage in reciprocal relationships with you?

I guess there’s a pro-Ukraine troll that springs up every now and then that exudes negative energies but he hasn’t been around for a long while so things are looking okay I guess.

If we want to fix what is broken in our collective humanity, then we must start with what is broken within us. There is no silver bullet, no magic elixir. But if we can find the grace to ask ourselves what it is that we want and that we need, then we may find a way forward. Because it all starts with you and with me.

And how we treat other people reflects how we are feeling about ourselves. We are tired of the surface living that never dares to go deeper. We are drained from two-plus years of Covid-19, of career shifts and Zoom calls. We crave something more connected, more lasting. And we keep looking for it outside of ourselves, where we will never find it.

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.

  • Trussonomics will be a reckless exercise in slashing the state when there’s nothing left to cut Guardian

Liz Truss and her likely chancellor of the exchequer, Kwasi Kwarteng, belong to a particular generation, many of whom once asked their parents: “Can a man be prime minister?” Not even four years old when Margaret Thatcher took power, 15 when she lost it and well into adulthood before the Tories were finally defeated, their earliest political awakenings would have taken place against the long backdrop of Thatcherism.

This biographical context is acknowledged in the notorious political tract that Truss and Kwarteng co-authored with Priti Patel, Dominic Raab and Chris Skidmore, Britannia Unchained, published in 2012. “All five authors grew up in a period where Britain was improving its performance relative to the rest of the world,” it says. “The 1980s, contrary to the beliefs of many on the left, were a successful decade for Britain.” Their objective is to resurrect political dreams from their own childhood.

As anyone who has followed Truss’s expertly managed photo ops and fashion choices will know, she has never been coy about her Thatcher fandom. What is potentially more alarming is the extent to which she seems intent on reviving a set of Thatcherite policies and ideas that scarcely worked 40 years ago, and may now be considered fanatical. This includes a restoration of long-discredited economic thinkers from the early Thatcher era – Patrick Minford of Cardiff University and John Redwood – to positions of public policy influence. Since the mid-1970s, Minford has been a passionate devotee of American conservative economics. Most recently he suggested that interest rates would need to rise to 7% (from their current rate of 1.75%) to offset the inflationary effects of Truss’s proposed tax cuts.

How are we to make sense of this eerie revivalism? At the core of Thatcherite economic policy was the belief, often referred to as “supply-side economics”, that collective prosperity is only an effect of the efforts and ingenuity of businesses, investors and workers. If the economy stagnates, that must be because something is holding these institutions and individuals back – most likely government, but also trade unions and collectivist values. The job of the state, from this perspective, is to ensure that entrepreneurs, investors and employees all have clear incentives to exert themselves as much as possible.

From this, much else follows. Taxation (especially on the wealthy) comes to appear like an obstacle to innovation and productivity, seeing as it reduces the incentive of rich people and big businesses to put their money to work. The welfare state is accused of fostering “dependency”, reducing the incentive for people to go to work and take responsibility for themselves and their families. Above a certain level, income tax makes it pointless for workers to increase their hours or efforts, seeing as they won’t receive the full rewards. Regulation and “red tape” dissuade entrepreneurs from setting up businesses in the first place. By devaluing people’s savings, inflation punishes people for their success and reduces confidence in the system overall.

But the implications are moral as much as economic, and this is where supply-siders encounter a paradox. On the one hand, this ideology assumes the existence of some invisible army of entrepreneurs and grafters, bubbling with ideas and determination, who are being restrained by socialists and regulators. This accounts for the bold patriotic optimism of neo-Thatcherites such as Truss. On the other, it is scornful about the population as it actually presents itself, consisting of lazy, badly educated petty criminals, with no capacity for delayed gratification or a hard day’s work. Sometimes, it is a mixture of the two: a society of people who want all of the pleasures of capitalism, with none of the pain.

Orthodox economists have always been suspicious of the supply-side worldview, which is troublingly immune to evidence against it. Rooted in Protestant beliefs about just deserts and individual responsibility, it might better be viewed as an economic theology. George HW Bush notoriously described it as “voodoo economics”. In 1981, a famous letter to the Times signed by 364 economists urged Thatcher to change course from the inflation-busting strategy that was dragging Britain into recession. One economist who rode to Thatcher’s defence was Patrick Minford.

By the late 1990s, with New Labour steeped in the latest economic thinking and evidence, and the economy booming, Thatcher’s reactionary, anti-statist legacy seemed dead and buried. Or perhaps her fans had simply found a new “state” to blame for everything: the European Union. The burgeoning Euroscepticism, which found an intellectual home in thinktanks such as the Bruges Group and became the focus of Thatcherites such as Redwood, bubbled away in the background, until its eventual eruption in 2016, retargeting the supply-side argument against regulation originating in Brussels. Minford stood virtually alone among economists in supporting Brexit, and was once again taken apart by the rest of the economics profession.

Truss may have campaigned for remain in 2016, but Britannia Unchained owes far more to the nationalistic, anti-state philosophy of the Tory Eurosceptics than to the dour technocracy of the Cameron administration. A weird book, the research for which consists largely of anecdotes gleaned from internet sources and Daily Mail articles, it zigzags between deep cultural pessimism and delusional economic optimism. Plenty of villains are named – from Tuggy Tug, a 15-year-old Brixton drug dealer, to workshy parents who live off benefits – but the prize scalp is that of Tony Blair. The resentment and disorientation that must have brewed, as a Labour government oversaw one of the UK’s most successful economic decades since 1945, must have been profound. It is no surprise, then, that Truss, Kwarteng et al blame the 2008 financial crisis on Labour overspending, again in contradiction of economic evidence.

How will such ideas be deployed in the economic crisis that is now under way? So far, we’ve heard the standard responses from the Truss side, all focused on supply-side reforms. There will be no “hand-outs”. Unions are holding back the economy. Tax cuts will make people richer. Drilling and fracking will bring down the cost of energy. Brussels is still impeding business. And that’s before we get to the cultural attacks on universities, “wokeism” and the civil service. But this was all in the context of a leadership campaign performed for the benefit of 180,000 Tory party members.

In government, Truss may continue to preach the supply-side gospel for the ears of her backbenchers and supportive newspapers, but it is hard to imagine Minford and Redwood dictating actual policy, given the scale and nature of this crisis. The impact of Thatcherite dogma in the early 1980s was to drive unemployment up to three million, and destroy whole industrial regions. The social consequences were horrific and have shaped Britain to this day. But the consequences of such a policy programme in 2022-23 would be even worse. In all likelihood, Truss will soon turn out to be a hypocrite. The supply-side zombies will then have themselves a new scapegoat to blame for the disappointments of Britannia.

  • The first thing Prime Minister Liz Truss needs to do – U-turn on everything she believes in Guardian

  • Biden, like Trump, breaks international law, violating UN neutrality by blocking countries Multipolarista

In a blatant violation of international law and its 1947 hosting agreement, the US government has blocked numerous countries from participating in events at the UN headquarters in New York City.

The Biden administration is banning Russian diplomats, while the Trump administration illegally prohibited top officials from Venezuela and Iran.

Reuters reported on September 2 that Russia has filed a formal complaint with the United Nations, after the US government has “been constantly refusing to grant entry visas” to Russian diplomats to participate in events at the UN headquarters, Moscow’s ambassador said.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his delegation have been denied entry to the United States, barring them from the UN.

This Joe Biden administration policy, which flagrantly violates international law, was likewise implemented by the Donald Trump administration.

Foreign Policy wrote, “The Iranian government was awaiting word on the visa Monday (January 6) when a Trump administration official phoned U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres to inform him that the United States would not allow Zarif into the country.”

The outlet noted that this US policy violates “the terms of a 1947 headquarters agreement requiring Washington to permit foreign officials into the country to conduct U.N. business.”

In April 2020, the US government similarly barred Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro from speaking at the United Nations.

A Justice Department spokesperson told CNN that Maduro would be “arrested immediately” if he stepped foot on US territory.

“Nicolás Maduro will be arrested if he is in the United States,” the spokesperson said, in remarks reported in the Spanish-language press. “The government of the United States does not recognize him as head of state. Executive immunity does not apply to him.”

The Justice Department spokesperson threateningly added that “Maduro would face a mandatory minimum sentencing of 50 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison.”

This policy also blatantly violated international law. The United Nations always recognized Maduro as the one and only legitimate president of Venezuela.

Moreover, even at the peak of the US-led coup attempt against Venezuela in 2019, more than two-thirds of UN member states – the vast majority of the international community – still recognized Maduro as Venezuela’s president, not US-appointed coup leader Juan Guaidó.

Bloomerism and Hope

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

  • Minor League Baseball Players May Be the Next Group of Workers to Unionize Jacobin

The push to unionize Minor League Baseball is officially underway. Last week, the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) announced it had sent out authorization cards to minor league players.

If at least 30 percent sign the cards, a union election will be held. And if 50 percent in that vote opt for a union, five thousand minor league players will join the ranks of organized labor — a historic development in US professional sports.

The news of the union drive came just weeks after Major League Baseball (MLB) agreed to pay $185 million to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by minor leaguers in 2014. The players were seeking lost wages and overtime for the many hours they’d spent in spring training, extended spring training, and instructional league.

While the average MLB team is valued at almost $2 billion, owners pay minor leaguers an average of just $400 per week at the rookie level, $500 per week in Single-A, $600 per week in Double-A, and $700 per week in Triple-A.

Link back to the discussion thread.