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Europe

  • Euro zone to coordinate fiscal, monetary policy to fight inflation Reuters

Euro zone finance ministers agreed on Friday to act together to protect households and companies from soaring energy prices, coordinating their support policies with the European Central Bank to avoid adding to inflationary pressures.

The ministers from the 19 euro zone countries agreed support should focus on providing money to help people and industry cope but that this should be regarded as an emergency measure and be carefully targeted where possible.

Support for companies should be coordinated across borders to preserve fair competition.

“We acknowledge and we agree that we must reduce inflation,” the chairman of euro zone finance ministers Paschal Donohoe told a news conference. “The failure to do so will make our citizens, the people of Europe, poorer for longer,” he said.

  • EU Ministers Call For 10% Cut In Energy Consumption Oil Price

  • Scale of Europe’s Energy Turmoil Exposed in Frenzied Crisis Week Bloomberg

European ministers sounded defiant as they met in Brussels to deliberate plans aimed at halting the spiral in energy prices.

“We will prevail,” European Union Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson told reporters, even with “a difficult winter ahead of us.”

In reality, defiance may soon give way to desperation.

Friday’s meeting in Brussels capped a frenzied week of government activity across the 27-nation bloc in which it became clear just how complex it is to forge a common response to the energy crisis given the breadth of challenges.

The refrain was that the clock is ticking for action. That’s even more the case after Russia upped the ante just over a week ago, when Gazprom PJSC cut off gas deliveries to Europe via the Nord Stream pipeline indefinitely.

That sparked another round of budget-straining measures as governments announced additional aid to help people pay their bills. They were also forced to deal with a new financial threat from the crisis. As soaring energy prices leave some businesses struggling to find enough cash to meet margin calls, countries announced billions of euros in liquidity funding.

At the EU gathering, consensus remained elusive and solidarity in short supply as ministers sought to agree on measures to support citizens and businesses without wrecking the entire energy market.

Tensions bristled over proposed mandatory cuts in power demand and German calls for a mechanism to share any excess supply. Plans for a price cap on Russian gas were met with skepticism and a cap on all imported gas discussed instead. But it’s unclear how lower prices could be implemented.

The discord among European leaders was amplified by a growing sense of anxiety over the economic and political fallout from the crisis.

In the Czech Republic, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, the justice minister warned that the political system was under threat. In Hungary, Cabinet Minister Gergely Gulyas raised the specter of mass unemployment if key industrial companies are forced to suspend production or shutter altogether, creating a domino effect.

The biggest concern in France is of a potential new chapter similar to the Gilets Jaunes, or Yellow Vest movement, which will haunt any government for the next two decades, according to a person familiar with the thinking in President Emmanuel Macron’s administration.

Anything related to purchasing power is highly sensitive in France, and it simply can’t afford to be in a situation like the UK or Belgium, where energy bills have doubled or tripled, said the person, adding that the government will continue to do all it can to avert such a scenario.

  • Russians to face stricter and longer procedures to enter the EU Al Jazeera

Russians seeking to enter the European Union will face longer and stricter procedures starting from Monday, the EU Council has said, scrapping a 14-year-long deal between Russia and the bloc.

“Today the Council adopted a decision that fully suspends the visa facilitation agreement between the EU and Russia,” read a statement published on Friday. The agreement had been in place since 2007 with the purpose of facilitating visas for up to 90 days.

“A visa facilitation agreement allows privileged access to the EU for citizens of trusted partners with whom we share common values,” it said. “With its unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression, including its indiscriminate attacks against civilians, Russia has broken this trust and trampled on the fundamental values of our international community,” the statement added.

Suspending the deal means that visa application fees will now increase from 35 to 80 euros ($35 to $80), applicants will need to present additional documents and that the issuing process will be longer and more restrictive. The new measure will enter into force on Monday.

  • EU to propose ban on forced labour goods amid pushback over China’s alleged Xinjiang abuses SCMP

In a move that could cause new fissures in already fraught trade ties with China, the European Commission is set to propose banning products involving forced labour from being sold in the single market.

But Brussels’ pitch next week will adopt a dramatically different approach to the United States in the blocking of such goods, due to concerns about breaching World Trade Organization rules and over appearing to directly target Beijing.

The European Union ban would not be location specific, and would apply to goods made both inside and outside the bloc, according to officials involved in the planning.

Washington, by contrast, has banned all goods from the western Chinese region of Xinjiang, unless importers can prove the products did not involve forced labour. Businesses say that standard is almost impossible to meet.

Technocrats in Brussels point to forced labour within the EU – and everywhere else in the world – to emphasise that there is no single target.

Nonetheless, the EU’s measures will seek to address the issue of goods and supplies from Xinjiang, where Beijing is accused of instituting a network of coercive labour.

Ukraine

  • ‘I have no idea what to do’: war-torn towns around Kyiv fear bitter winter Guardian

If it is too cold in the garage, Vadim sleeps in his old car. He lived on the third floor of an apartment block by Borodianka’s central street but it was destroyed by Russian grad missiles in March and there is barely anything here for him now, beyond the section of basement he could call his own. Every day he spends hours inside it sifting through the rubble, picking out fragments of his family’s belongings. It keeps him busy, he says.

The walk out of town to his garage is long and dispiriting but Vadim has few options. He does not want to live in the temporary accommodation for refugees, where conditions are variable. This is his home but, like the others who have stayed, he faces a quandary that may quickly become unbearable. If the warmer months were uncomfortable but broadly tolerable, the imminent winter will bring challenges that pose another real threat to life.

“I have no idea what to do next,” says the 65-year-old, who drove ambulances to and from a military hospital in Kyiv at the start of the invasion. “I must have prayed badly to god. I have nothing left.”

There is no access to heating or running water in Vadim’s garage and compensation from the local authorities will not cover arrangements of his own. He has received two €50 (£43.41) payments but that will not see him through freezing temperatures from November onwards and there is little reassurance forthcoming. Any hope of seeing quick restoration work carried out on his burned-out building seems far fetched and the anguish is collective. On the walls of a ruined nine-storey block further along the street, a simple message is daubed in both Ukrainian and English: “We want to live here.”

It is a common refrain in the towns and villages around Kyiv, which saw many of the grimmest atrocities known to have taken place since February. While some cannot bear to leave, others simply do not have the money to live in short-term housing, for which demand outstrips supply in any case. In the absence of quick solutions the ability to source firewood is going to be critical.

For Inna, who lives eight miles away in the village of Potashnya, there is no more important issue. She lived with her disabled husband in a house that was razed to the ground while the pair were, to their fortune, visiting her mother nearby. Now they reside in the relatively intact property of a neighbouring family who left for Germany, but the draft whistling through windows covered only by cling film will become more bitter by the week.

  • Rebuilding Ukraine after Russian invasion may cost $350 billion, experts say Inquirer

Russia’s invasion caused over $97 billion in direct damages to Ukraine through June 1, but it could cost nearly $350 billion to rebuild the country, a report released Friday by the World Bank, Ukrainian government and European Commission shows.

It said Ukraine had also suffered $252 billion in losses through disruptions to its economic flows and production, as well as extra expenses linked to the war, while the displacement of one-third of all Ukrainians was expected to jack up its poverty rate to 21% from just 2% before the war.

Overall, the report estimated Ukraine’s reconstruction needs would reach $349 billion, as of June 1, or about 1.6 times the country’s $200 billion gross domestic product in 2021.

Of that amount, $105 billion was needed in the short term to address urgent priorities, such as rebuilding thousands of damaged or destroyed schools and over 500 hospitals. It was also imperative to prepare for the upcoming, likely brutal winter by repairing homes and restoring heating, and purchasing gas.

Russia

  • Russia Holds First Elections Since Ukraine Invasion, but Opposition Is Mostly Absent NYT

Russians began voting on Friday in the first nationwide elections since the invasion of Ukraine in a climate of wartime censorship and repression, with the Kremlin trying to assure the public that it was business as usual.

The vote for local and regional governments across the country includes the first municipal-level elections in the capital of Moscow since 2017, when the opposition won a sizable minority of seats despite the Kremlin’s dominance of the political system and accusations of fraud. But the ranks of the opposition have since been depleted even further. Many anti-government politicians have fled the country while others have been arrested or blocked from running by the election commissions.

“Real competition this year is at one of the lowest rates in a decade,” according to an assessment by a Russian independent elections watchdog, Golos.

Although President Vladimir V. Putin has dominated Russian politics for two decades, he has long relied on elections with a semblance of competition to try to legitimize the rule of his United Russia party. And while those elections were rife with fraud, the vote-counting process in major cities like Moscow retained a modicum of transparency, making them an opportunity for Kremlin critics to express their discontent even if a major opposition victory was virtually impossible.

After the upheaval in Russia’s economy from international sanctions over the Ukraine war and inflation, the question is whether that logic still holds. Mr. Putin has done everything in his power, critics say, to prevent his opponents from being able to repeat even their modest success of five years ago.

“Finally for the first time, elections are totally senseless,” said Andrei Kolesnikov, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace based in Moscow. Almost no one is allowed to participate, he added, referring to the opposition.

  • Russia says United States is behind Europe’s gas supply crisis Reuters

Russia’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday that the United States had fomented Europe’s gas supply crisis by pushing European leaders towards the “suicidal” step of cutting economic and energy cooperation with Moscow.

Europe is facing its worst gas supply crisis ever, with energy prices soaring and German importers even discussing possible rationing in the European Union’s biggest economy after Russia reduced gas flows westwards.

When asked what needed to happen for Nord Stream 1 to begin pumping again, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Reuters: “Listen, you are asking me questions that even children know the answer to: those who started this need to finish this.”

  • U.S. working with U.N. on Russia food, fertilizer export complaints Reuters

The United States is working with the United Nations to address Russian complaints that sanctions are hindering its food and fertilizer shipments, even though there has been no disruption to Moscow’s exports of the commodities, a senior U.S. official said on Friday.

The United Nations, Turkey, Ukraine and Russia agreed on July 22 on what was described by U.N. chief Antonio Guterres as a package deal to restart Ukraine’s Black Sea grain and fertilizer exports and facilitate Russian shipments.

“We’re seeing no disruption in Russia’s ability to send food to market,” James O’Brien, head of the State Department’s Office of Sanctions Coordination, told reporters. “The fertilizer is still reaching markets at the same rate that it always has.”

While the United States and others have stressed that Russian food and fertilizer is not subject to sanctions imposed over Moscow’s Feb. 24 invasion of its neighbor, Russia has asserted there has been a chilling effect on its exports.

“The complaints, I think, are just an example of misinformation,” said O’Brien.

Washington was “working in good faith,” O’Brien said but asserted that Russia does not need the deal because “it’s got access to the markets through other means.”

O’Brien said the United States would do “everything we can” to address specific complaints and “Russia and the U.N. are just now engaged on some specific requests that it has under the U.N. agreement and I think we’ll see progress in that over the next few weeks.”

  • Roblox Boasts of Its Popularity in Russia Even as Rivals Have Left Bloomberg

Roblox Corp.’s popularity in Russia is increasing even as almost every other publicly traded gaming company has retreated from the country after its invasion of Ukraine.

At Roblox’s developer conference on Friday, Chief Executive Officer Dave Baszucki said Russia sees more than 2 million active Roblox users a day. Russians are among Roblox’s largest consumer base after the US, Brazil and the Philippines. The US has more than 11 million daily active users.

  • Russia Commits To Increase Grain Deliveries to Poorest Nations TeleSUR

“We believe it to be right to ramp up deliveries to the poorest countries,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

The President said Russia would supply about 30 million tons this year with a view to reaching 50 million tons, prioritizing the least favored and food insecure nations.

On the occasion of a Security Council meeting, Putin referred to the Ukrainian grain deal, noting that most of the grain went to EU countries and only 3 percent reached vulnerable countries, notably Yemen and Djibouti.

Of 87 ships that left Ukrainian ports with grain following the conflict in Ukraine, only two arrived in the poorest countries for UN food programs, amounting to 60 000 tons, or 3 percent of the grain exported under the deal, according to the President.

On Russian fertilizers, Putin said, “Our producers are ready to deliver them free of charge to developing nations that urgently need them.”

Germany

  • Deutsche Bahn’s Schenker logistics business up for sale - sources Reuters

The German government has agreed in principle with Deutsche Bahn (DBN.UL) to sell the rail operator’s Schenker logistics business, government and company sources told Reuters on Thursday.

The supervisory board of state-owned Deutsche Bahn will approve the sale as soon as possible, potentially this year, the sources said.

Banking sources value Schenker between 12 and 20 billion euros ($19.97 billion), though valuation calculations will be influenced by the state of the global economy and impact from the war in Ukraine and the ongoing energy crisis.

Schenker, based in Essen, has 75,000 employees worldwide, and accounts for more than a third of Deutsche Bahn’s revenues.

  • German MP names ‘stupidest government’ in Europe RT

Germany’s government is the “stupidest” in Europe for managing to embroil itself in a full-blown “economic war” with its top energy supplier, Russia, left-wing politician Sahra Wagenknecht said on Thursday.

Speaking in the Bundestag, the former co-chair of the party Die Linke (The Left) urged an end to anti-Russian sanctions and the resignation of the country’s vice chancellor and economy minister, Robert Habeck.

While describing the ongoing conflict in Ukraine as a “crime,” Wagenknecht said the anti-Russian sanctions are “fatal” for Germany itself. With energy prices out of control, the country’s economy will soon “just be a reminder of the good old days,” the MP warned, as she urged canceling the restrictions and engaging in talks with Russia.

“We really have the stupidest government in Europe,” she told the parliament, calling for Habeck to resign.

Spain

  • Worst drought ‘in living memory’ threatens the world’s olive oil supply CNN

In July, temperatures broke records to top 40 degrees Celsius (104.5 degrees Fahrenheit) across parts of France, Spain, Italy and Portugal. By early August, sweltering heat and a lack of rainfall had pushed almost two-thirds of land in the European Union into drought conditions, according to the European Drought Observatory.

Olive oil producers have been hit hard. Kyle Holland, a pricing analyst for oilseeds and grains at Mintec, a commodities data company, expects a “dramatic reduction” of between 33% and 38% in Spain’s olive oil harvest that begins in October.

Spain is the world’s biggest producer of olive oil, accounting for more than two-fifths of global supply last year, according to the International Olive Council. Greece, Italy and Portugal are also major producers.

Consumers are already paying more for olive oil. Retail prices across the European Union shot up 14% in the year to July. But prices are set to rise further in the coming months, producers and buyers told CNN Business.

“The drought is too significant. It’s simply too dry. Some trees are producing very little fruit, some trees are producing no fruit at all. This only happens when soil moisture levels are critically low,” Holland told CNN Business.

It is a warning shot for an industry reliant on a predictable life cycle for olive trees. Growers are accustomed to large swings in the harvest over a 24-month period, but climate change is already disrupting that centuries-old rhythm.

United Kingdom

  • Queen’s death deepens UK’s downward spiral in global arena, US observers say Guardian

The prevailing view from America of post-Brexit, post-Elizabethan Britain is principally one of a country of declining influence which is in danger of sinking on the world stage as a result of mostly self-inflicted crises.

The US news coverage of the day of the Queen’s death was overwhelmingly reverent, but by Friday there was already a backlash, pointing to the inseparable bond between the royal family and the country’s imperial past.

Maya Jasanoff, a professor of history at Harvard, argued that the Queen had been the stolid and traditionalist face for a particularly bloody period at the end of the empire, as British forces were fighting independence struggles in Kenya, Malaya and Cyprus.

“These were violent and showed the British extremely unwilling to leave the colonies, which is grotesquely different from the transfer of power that’s implied,” Jasanoff said.

She sees the ghost of empire hanging over Britain’s current cluster of national crises.

“It’s a country that, with Brexit, dealt a self-inflicted blow, in part on the basis of certain ideas about what Britain represents, what Britain’s role in the world is, and those ideas of Britain’s role in the world emanate from the imperial past,” Jasanoff argued.

In the Washington Post, columnist Ishaan Tharoor also weighed Elizabeth’s culpability for the abuses across the remnants of empire after the second world war during her reign, and decided she was “perhaps not privy to all the sordid details of the operations carried out to preserve her empire”. But he argued she had cast herself as “the happy steward of the Commonwealth” of former colonies, pointing out “its history was hardly benign”.

Having lost an empire and then given up its place in the European Union, Tharoor said, the UK was facing “a moment of contraction and uncertainty with “its global status diminished” at the end of the Elizabethan era.

Pessimism about Britain’s prospects is spread across the US political spectrum. Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster who has also worked as an analyst of British politics, said: “The UK is at a truly critical juncture. Politically, economically, even ethically, the institutions and the people who lead them are losing the faith and trust of the people they lead.

“The one steady, predictable force was the Queen, but now she’s gone. Candidly, I fear for Britain’s future,” Luntz said. “I’ve watched what happens in America when there’s no one to unify the country. No one stepped forward, and we can all see the consequences. The Queen was a great unifier. Somebody desperately needs to take her place.”

Before the Queen’s death – and in some of the coverage afterwards – US media stories about Britain have focused on a succession of crises: the recurring political crises of the Boris Johnson government, the energy crisis, the cost of living crisis, and the dramatic fall in the value of the pound, which some predict is on course for parity with the dollar by next year.

“I really think that to get out of this deep downward trajectory, there has to be significant innovation,” Elizabeth Carter, assistant professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire, said, suggesting the government stabilisation of energy prices as an example.

“Continuing with the old tools and playing by the old rules of the game would lead to a long-term decline,” Carter added, suggesting “that decline could be steeper than anything the UK has experienced since world war two.”

Asia and Oceania

  • ‘Undeniable success’ of first US-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework touted, but few details given SCMP

US-led negotiations among 14 countries to kick-start the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, part of Washington’s bid to counter China’s influence in the region, wrapped up on Friday with agreed-upon parameters for closer trade and investment ties but few concrete details on how these would be delivered.

China

  • US won’t ‘contain’ China with Taiwan – top lawmaker RT

Washington will not be able to “contain” China by using tension around Taiwan as leverage over Beijing, Li Zhanshu has said. The chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China made the remarks in Moscow on Friday during a meeting with Valentina Matvienko, the chairwoman of the Russian parliament’s upper chamber, the Federation Council.

“Indeed, the Taiwan question concerns China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Now Taiwan is seeking independence with the help of the US. The US seeks to contain China through Taiwan. This won’t work,” the official stated.

Li also referenced the recent flashpoint in the US-China relationship over US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan – which is seen as an integral part of the country by Beijing – in early August. The US leadership “treacherously indulged” Pelosi with her “provocative trip,” the official added.

“This group has been meddling into China’s internal affairs and threatened our sovereignty,” Li stressed. At the same time, he extended Beijing’s gratitude to Matvienko, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and other “Russian friends” over Moscow’s strong support and its “unshakable position” on the ‘One China’ policy.

  • China says UN report on Xinjiang has ‘closed door of cooperation’ on human rights SCMP

China will not cooperate with the UN human rights office following the release of a long-awaited report on alleged human rights abuses in its far western region of Xinjiang, the Chinese ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva said on Friday.

The report, released on August 31, stipulates that “serious human rights violations have been committed” in China and said the detention of Uygurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang may constitute crimes against humanity.

“The office closed the door of cooperation by releasing the so-called assessment,” ambassador Chen Xu said, describing the report as “illegal and invalid”.

“Now the whole set of ideas is shelved because of the release of the report,” Chen told reporters. “You cannot hurt us while in the meantime enjoying cooperation with us,” he said.

  • China vows to crack down on NFT copyright infringement as regulatory scrutiny rises SCMP

China’s copyright authority said on Friday it would ramp up oversight of infringement issues involving non-fungible tokens (NFTs), as some investors in the country try to cash in on the trend despite increasing regulatory scrutiny and waning public interest.

The National Copyright Administration (NCA) would sternly crack down on offences, such as the minting of NFTs or digital collectibles based on other people’s work without authorisation, the regulator said in a statement.

Such work may involve art, cartoons, music, video games, films and television shows, the NCA said.

The move is part of a two-month campaign aimed at bringing copyright infringement under control, which was jointly launched by the NCA, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Public Security Bureau and the Cyberspace Administration of China.

Australia

  • Long Covid Costs Australia Economy $3.6 Billion a Year: Report Bloomberg

Long Covid is costing the Australian economy the equivalent of $3.6 billion a year in lost output, the Australian Financial Review reported, citing an exclusive data analysis.

Based on data from the country’s Treasury estimating some 31,000 workers called in sick because of the condition in June, the analysis by think tank Impact Economics and Policy found the economic cost came in at A$100 million ($68 million) a week, according to the AFR. That amounts to some A$5.2 billion on an annual basis.

Australia has announced a parliamentary inquiry into long Covid, with the aim of developing a clear definition of the illness and gauging the scale of its impact on the country’s 26 million people. While most of those infected with the virus fully recover, millions of others globally are seeing lasting effects, from issues with breathing to neurological problems.

Governments are grappling to come to terms with the condition, which reflects the pandemic’s ongoing impact despite most countries seeking to move on.

Middle East

Iran

  • Russian president appoints new ambassador to Iran Tehran Times

Putin appointed Alexey Dedov as the new ambassador to Iran, replacing Levan Dzhagaryan, TASS said.

The corresponding decrees were published on the official legal information website Thursday.

“Appoint Dedov Alexey Yuryevich as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Islamic Republic of Iran,” one document reads.

Another decree relieves Levan Dzhagaryan from this office. Putin appointed him as Russian Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Earlier, Iranian Ambassador to Moscow Kazem Jalali had announced that Russia has appointed a new envoy to Iran.

  • Top US diplomat rules out agreeing with Iran on deal that fails to meet basic demands MEMO

US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, said on Friday that his country would not agree with Iran on a deal that fails to meet basic demands, Anadolu News Agency reports.

Iran’s “latest response takes us backward”, Blinken told reporters at a joint news conference with NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, following their meeting.

Blinken referred to Iran’s official reply to the draft compromise, proposed by EU Foreign Policy Chief, Josep Borrell, on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

“We are not about to agree to a deal that doesn’t meet our bottom-line requirements,” he stated.

Blinken also ruled out approving the “extraneous demands that are not relevant to the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) itself”, since the US is only willing to conclude a deal that “advances national security”.

Saudi Arabia

  • US plans to open new military testing facility in Saudi Arabia: Report MEE

The US military’s Central Command is working on plans to open a new testing facility in Saudi Arabia, NBC News reported on Friday, citing three unidentified US defence officials.

The site will test new systems to counter Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), along with testing and developing integrated air and missile defence capabilities.

The report says the location has not been finalised, but US officials see Saudi Arabia as a good choice, due to its open terrain owned by the government, which would allow for the testing of electronic warfare systems away from the public.

Pakistan

  • UN chief appeals for ‘massive’ help as flood-hit Pakistan puts losses at $30bn Guardian

The UN secretary-general, António Guterres, has said the world owes impoverished Pakistan “massive” help in recovering from the summer’s devastating floods because the country bears less blame than many others for the climate crisis.

Months of heavy monsoon rains and flooding have killed 1,391 people and affected 33 million while half a million people have become homeless. Planeloads of aid from the United States, the United Arab Emirates and other countries have begun arriving, but Guterres said there is more to be done to help a country which contributes less than 1% of global emissions.

“We are heading into a disaster,” Guterres said. “We have waged war on nature and nature is tracking back and striking back in a devastating way. Today in Pakistan, tomorrow in any of your countries.”

The UN chief’s trip comes less than two weeks after he appealed for $160m in emergency funding to help those affected by the deluge.

Africa

Burundi

  • Burundi: Outgoing Prime Minister welcomes his successor Africa News

Burundi’s President Evariste Ndayishimiye replaced his prime minister and a top aide in a high-level political purge Wednesday after warning of a “coup” plot against him.

Security minister Gervais Ndirakobuca was sworn in before parliament as the new premier, capping a day of high drama in the troubled central African nation.

Mali

  • Dozens of civilians killed in eastern Mali Africa News

Local officials said dozens of civilians were killed this week in Talataye, a town located in north-eastern Mali. The locality which sits at crossroads of influence for rival terrorist groups was allegedly attacked by EIGS fighters who have ties with the Islamic State organization.

The exact death toll remains unknown. Indeed, only partial reports from different local sources shed light on the humanitarian tragedy occurring in the Sahelian town cut off from communication networks.

A local official said that 45 civilians had been killed, while an MSA fighter (standing for Tuareg-dominated Movement for the Salvation of Azawad) put the civilian death toll at 30. Both spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity and added that houses and the market had been torched. An international humanitarian worker in the region said “several dozen” civilians had been killed.

North America

United States

  • Fed races down the home stretch toward another oversized rate hike Reuters

Federal Reserve officials on Friday ended their public comment period ahead of the U.S. central bank’s Sept. 20-21 policy meeting with strong calls for another oversized interest rate increase to battle high inflation.

“Based on what I know today, I support a significant increase at our next meeting … to get the policy rate to a setting that is clearly restricting demand,” Fed Governor Christopher Waller told the Institute for Advanced Studies in Austria.

While he did not explicitly call for another three-quarters-of-a-percentage-point hike at this month’s meeting, his comments leaned in that direction. Waller noted he was not convinced that inflation was yet “moving meaningfully and persistently downward,” while fears about an economic recession were receding.

  • Anyone who thinks we’re not in a recession is ‘crazy,’ says RH CEO CNN

Gary Friedman, the CEO of luxury home goods retailer RH, is often a colorful speaker who doesn’t mince words. That was on full display during the company’s earnings call Thursday night as he bemoaned New York City breakfasts, dunked on industry rivals and declared that anyone who thinks the United States isn’t in a recession is “crazy.”

While the mood was mostly upbeat — RH earnings for the second quarter beat expectations, and Friedman seemed pumped to join the call from RH Guesthouse, the company’s brand new, ultra-luxury hotel in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District — Friedman warned that third-quarter revenue could fall as much as 18% as the Fed raises interest rates. That compares with 19% growth in the third quarter last year.

“I think the Fed finally really understands what they have to do. And it’s not going to be pretty when interest rates go up the way they are,” Friedman said.

  • Tesla looking at building lithium refinery in Texas Iraqi News

US electric car maker Tesla is studying the possibility of building a lithium refinery in Texas and is seeking tax breaks from the state to complete the project, according to documents made public Friday.

While the project is only in the feasibility stage, Tesla said the factory on the Gulf coast would be the first of its kind in North America, producing an element critical to the batteries used in the growing EV market.

In an application sent to the Texas Comptroller at the end of August and made public on Friday, Tesla said the plant “will process raw ore material into a usable state for battery production.”

The finished product, battery-grade lithium hydroxide, would be shipped by road and rail to various Tesla battery plants throughout the country.

  • US to sanction buyers of Russian oil who pay above price cap – US Treasury RT

US companies will be allowed to buy seaborne Russian oil if they adhere to the price ceiling agreed by allied countries, the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said in preliminary guidance published on Friday.

According to the document, the US will ban “services related to the maritime transportation of… seaborne Russian oil” from December 5, and services related to petroleum products from February 5, 2023.

The ban will not apply to buying Russian fuel at or below a price cap which will be established by the “coalition of countries including the G7 and the EU.” If the rule is followed, services such as insurance and refueling can be provided to ships.

Importers or refiners who wish to purchase Russian oil below the price cap will have to provide transport service providers with documents proving compliance.

Buyers who pay more than the cap or knowingly provide false information will face legal probes and potential fines.

The document gives no indication of the price ceiling level, but says additional guidance will be issued after consultations with the other countries involved.

  • The Federal Government Is Trying to Stop Railroad Workers From Striking Jacobin

For months, 140,000 union railroad workers have been stuck at an impasse with their employers, who are united under the banner of the Association of American Railroads. The terms of the dispute should be familiar to most workers: attendance policy, staffing, and wage increases. Despite record profits, rail employers have cut staffing, placing enormous burdens on workers that aren’t reflected in their pay.

By all accounts, railworkers are in a militant mood. An attendance policy prompted rail unions to attempt to strike earlier this year. In July, 99 percent of union members who cast ballots voted to authorize another strike, prompting President Joe Biden to intervene in August.

In order to avert a strike, Biden appointed a presidential emergency board (PEB) to reach a compromise and settle the dispute. The PEB put some money into wages but predictably did little on the workers’ core workplace concerns. The rail unions are unenthusiastic about the PEB ruling, and the largest groups have not been willing to put the recommendations out for membership ratification. While bargaining continues, the unions will be eligible to strike on September 16, which is thirty days following the PEB recommendation.

That eligibility requirement is a term of the Railway Labor Act (RLA), passed in 1926, which regulates bargaining in the rail and airline industries. Even though the RLA protects the right to strike in words, politicians in both parties have used the legislation to strip railroad workers of that right in practice, often ramming settlements down the throats of striking workers.

Over the years, Congress has intervened several times to delay strikes and sometimes even impose terms on railroad workers. President Harry Truman threatened to have the Army run the railroads in 1950 during the Korean War. In the 1960s, President Johnson imposed a longer no-strike period on rail workers. President Barack Obama delayed a threatened strike in 2011.

  • US Most Populous County Has Over 69,000 Homeless People TeleSUR

An estimated 69,144 people are experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles, the most populous county in the United States, according to the results of the 2022 Homeless Count released by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) on Thursday.

The number marks a 4.1 percent rise from the last count in 2020, said the authority, adding that a count was not conducted in 2021 in the county, home to around 10 million residents, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mexico

  • Mexico to hand army control of National Guard, sparking outcry Al Jazeera

Mexico’s Senate has passed legislation that would transfer control of the country’s National Guard over to the military, a contentious move that rights groups and opposition lawmakers say gives too much power to the armed forces and could lead to abuses.

The Senate’s 71-51 vote in favour of the bill on Friday comes after the lower house of Congress already approved the measure. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is expected to sign it into law.

When the National Guard was created under a constitutional reform in 2019, it was placed under civilian control – but most of its training and recruitment has been done from within the country’s military.

Lopez Obrador, commonly referred to as AMLO, has waved aside concerns over the increased militarisation of public security, saying the guard must now be under military command to prevent corruption.

But opposition parties have said they plan to file court appeals challenging the new legislation, which they argue violates the Constitutional guarantee on civilian control.

South America

Brazil

  • Lula Would Beat Bolsonaro in Runoff by 14 Points: Brazil Poll TeleSUR

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2003-2011) would beat President Jair Bolsonaro in an eventual runoff between the two by 14 points, according to a survey released Friday by the Datafolha polling institute.

Compared to last week’s poll, Lula remains stable with 53 percent of the votes, while Bolsonaro rises one point, from 38 to 39 percent.

Argentina

  • Argentina’s inflation rate expected to hit 95% this year Investing

Economists hiked their estimate for annual inflation in Argentina this year to 95%, a monthly poll published Friday by the central bank showed, as the country struggles to overcome a prolonged economic crisis marked by soaring prices.

The latest forecast for surging consumer prices is 4.8 percentage points higher than the previous month’s estimate.

Analysts estimated that Argentine inflation rose 6.5% in August.

By next year, the South American nation’s annual inflation rate is expected to reach 84%, and drop to 63% in 2024, according to the poll.

Venezuela

  • Venezuela, Colombia to reopen land borders, skies Iraqi News

Venezuela and Colombia said Friday they will reopen their shared land border later this month and resume commercial flights after renewing diplomatic ties severed in 2019.

The countries reestablished formal ties on August 29 under the leadership of Venezuela’s socialist president Nicolas Maduro and Colombia’s new leftist leader, Gustavo Petro.

Both assigned ambassadors to each other’s countries, and announced they also wanted to restore military cooperation.

Chile

  • Chile: Monkeypox Vaccination to Kick-off TeleSUR

On Friday, Chile’s Ministry of Health (Minsal) announced that the country would start the vaccination of priority groups amid limitations of monkeypox vaccines in the international context.

Through his official Twitter account, Undersecretary for Public Health Cristóbal Cuadrado said, “We expect to begin the first stage of the inoculation process during October.”

The vaccine to be used for the immunization process in the country will be the Jynneos vaccine from the Bavarian Nordic laboratory. It was obtained through the Pan American Health Organization’s Revolving Fund.


Military

The Ukraine War

Lots of articles on the Kharkov counteroffensive by western media. Call me biased but I couldn’t really be bothered to collect them all up and put them here as they have no information we don’t already know, so I’ll just say that as of today (and this will likely continue into the next week or longer, but who really knows), Ukraine appears fairly dominant on that front and is retaking large amounts of territory in Kharkov oblast, though Russian forces are largely retreating and not doing epic Thermopylae last stands, so losses are likely about as good as you could hope there for Russia - probably moderate, but not high.

  • Ukrainian counter-offensive had ‘some success’ – Pentagon RT

  • Zelenskiy to appeal directly to U.S. defense companies Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is scheduled to speak to U.S. arms makers and military leaders on Sept. 21, when he is expected to make an appeal for more weapons for his country’s defense against Russia, according to an advance notice of the speech seen by Reuters.

Zelenskiy was set to speak by video link before a conference hosted by the National Defense Industrial Association in Austin, Texas, in his first-ever speech to the U.S. defense industry.

Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine’s minister of defense, was also slated to appear at the Future Force Capabilities conference and appeal for support for the country’s fight against Russia’s invasion, now more than six months on.

The association’s members include Raytheon Technologies Corp and Lockheed Martin Corp, which jointly produce Javelin antitank weapons that have been used by Ukraine.


Climate, Space, and Science

  • The world is hurtling toward ‘dangerous’ climate tipping points much earlier than once thought, new study finds Fortune

Without serious efforts to limit further warming, humanity may be on the brink of triggering planet-altering climate “tipping points” long ahead of schedule.

The climate crisis is bringing the world closer to various critical thresholds that if passed would lead to a cascade of irreversible changes to the ecosphere and impacts on society.

The timeline of when tipping points may be triggered has been inching up for years, but new research published this week in the journal Science suggests the world may have already passed a critical juncture with the current level of warming, now thought to be around 1.2° C (2.2° F) above preindustrial levels.

“These changes may lead to abrupt, irreversible, and dangerous impacts with serious implications for humanity,” the researchers wrote. “Even global warming of 1° C, a threshold that we already have passed, puts us at risk by triggering some tipping points.”

Warming temperatures are already starting to cause the destruction of coral reefs, thawing of high-latitude permafrost, and collapse of massive ice sheets. Each of these could lead to a spiraling and self-perpetuating cycle of more carbon released into the atmosphere, temperatures rising even faster, and more widespread loss of both human and animal life.

Previous studies estimated that these tipping points likely would not be breached until global temperatures reached somewhere between 1.5° C and 2° C, but the new research appears to pour cold water on that theory.

The international researchers behind the new study, led by David Armstrong McKay of the University of Exeter in the U.K., combed through previous evidence and studies to identify 16 potential tipping points that could have either global or regional repercussions if crossed, finding that the timeline on many has moved up.

The researchers found that five tipping points once considered unlikely to be crossed before global temperatures hit 1.5° C could topple with current levels of warming.

Six will likely be passed after 1.5° C of warming, including the die-off of tropical coral reefs and the collapse of both the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets.

Crossing these tipping points would lead to severe, long-lasting effects on the Earth’s topography and societies. Collapses of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets alone could lead to sea levels rising by at least 3.5 meters, more than 11 feet.

Should temperatures break past the 2° C mark—the upper limit of warming decided upon in the 2015 Paris Agreement—even more tipping points would begin to fall, including the dieback of the Amazon rain forest and the loss of most mountain glaciers.

  • Fossil Fuel Pollution Likely Accelerates Lung Cancer In Non-Smokers, Study Finds Forbes

Air pollution from vehicle exhaust and other fossil fuel smoke may increase the risk of lung cancer in nonsmokers, according to a new study published Saturday in the European Society for Medical Oncology, adding a new layer to scientists’ understanding of the effects of climate change on human health.

Researchers at the Francis Crick Institute and University College London found an increase of 2.5 micrometers of particulate matter led to “rapid changes” in airway cells with a set of mutations called EGFR and KRAS—typically associated with lung cancer—leading them toward a “cancer stem cell like state.”

Those mutations were present in 18%-33% of normal lung tissue samples, however cancers occurred “more quickly” when those lungs were exposed to air pollution, according to the study, which analyzed data on more than 460,000 people in England, South Korea and Taiwan.

The study follows numerous reports linking the effects of fossil fuel emissions from factories, vehicles and other combustion engines to not only rising temperatures but worsened health conditions, including mortality, chronic illness, respiratory illness, as well as mental health.

  • More than 1.1m sea turtles illegally killed over past 30 years, study finds Guardian

More than 1.1 million sea turtles have been illegally killed in the past 30 years, according to new data.

Despite laws to protect them, scientists at Arizona State University estimate that about 44,000 turtles across 65 countries were illegally killed and exploited every year over the past decade.

Jesse Senko, an assistant research professor at Arizona State University and one of the lead authors of the study, said: “The numbers are really high and almost certainly underrepresented by several orders of magnitude because it’s just very hard to assess any type of illegal activity.”

Sea turtles are hunted for food, for use in traditional medicine and to be sold as artefacts, decor or jewellery. Turtle hunting and trafficking is part of a global illegal wildlife market worth as much as $23bn (£20bn) a year, according to the UN.


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.

The West

  • 21 years after 9/11, the war has not ended for anyone WaPo

Oh god, right, yeah, 9/11 is tomorrow. Somebody got in early. It’s not as bad as I thought it was gonna be, but it does get worse the longer you read.

Twenty-one years after the destruction of the World Trade Center towers in Lower Manhattan, one can ask whether the United States has yet learned the principal lesson of that shocking, savage day. It is a lesson well-known to military planners, yet hard for a nation with allies on its borders and oceans at its sides to believe bone-deep.

In the starting and ending of wars, the letting of blood and the waging of battle, the enemy has a vote. The day that has come to be known as 9/11 began a war only for us; for the enemy, the war had been raging for years. The little army of Osama bin Laden had hit American embassies in Africa, bombed a U.S. naval ship at Aden Harbor in Yemen, even signaled its intentions to destroy the twin towers by planting a truck bomb in a World Trade Center garage in 1993.

The audacity of 9/11 — using 19 al-Qaeda fighters, civilian lives and lakes of jet fuel to carry out a massively destructive attack — finally convinced Americans that we were at war. And for the next 20 years, we fought until we tired of the idea.

Every president going back to George W. Bush wanted to end the awful business. “Mission Accomplished,” one banner declared as early as 2003. Barack Obama promised to wrap things up. Donald Trump also promised to wrap things up and negotiated the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. President Biden completed the withdrawal in ugly fashion just in time for the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

But we no more control the ending of the war than we controlled the beginning.

I’m pretty sure you controlled the beginning.

With the drone-strike killing of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in July, the known enemy commanders of 9/11 are all captured or dead. Yet the enemy has morphed and migrated. The war has not ended for the Islamic State or for other violent jihadist groups around the world. It hasn’t ended for the governments offering them support and encouragement.

Therefore, the war has not ended for us.

What’s more, it is impossible to say when, or even how, it might come to an end. These 21 years since 9/11 have changed the tactics and appearance of war, and not necessarily for the better. Though the United States continues to train and equip hundreds of thousands of conventional troops, and to arm them with the latest weapons, most of our fighting against terrorists is done by small teams of highly skilled commandos — Navy SEALs, Army Rangers and so on — from the Special Operations forces (SOF).

Rarely do we see or hear of their work. They fight mostly by night, often in places where their presence is unacknowledged. They work to weaken terrorist networks and preempt attacks. Often this involves up-close combat and intimate killing in places where information can be unreliable and identities confused.

Gradually we are learning of the trauma and damage this work can cause among even the strongest, best-trained, most carefully vetted warriors. The human mind and soul are not constituted for endless years of risking and inflicting violence in nightly doses. A 2019 article in the Journal of Special Operations Medicine pointed out this wrenching juxtaposition of vulnerable souls inside hardened shells by noting:

“In 2017, one of the largest suicide studies in military history concluded that SOF had nearly zero risk of suicide, asserting SOF are highly resilient due to their ‘rigorous selection, intense training, strong unit cohesion, or psychological and biological characteristics.’ In 2018, SOF suicides tripled.”

Our war criminals are very sad about committing war crimes. Sometimes.

Because we cannot see what these warriors do on our behalf and in our name, we make cultural cartoons of them — Rambos and video game avatars. No doubt some of them come to see themselves in those same terms. But they are not cartoon supermen; they are human beings — highly skilled and disciplined, but still human. And they are bearing extraordinary weight in a war without clear boundaries: physical, temporal or moral. A war that will end only when the enemy consents to end it.

As the journalist Dan Taberski brilliantly documented in his 2021 podcast “The Line,” the fogged frontier between war and not-war, combatants and noncombatants, permissible and nonpermissible violence takes a profound toll on the people assigned to navigate the morass.

“The job that they do hurts them and hurts their families,” a former Navy psychiatrist named Bill Nash says on the podcast.

Those are the only two kinds of people that they hurt. Oh, their victims? That’s just their “job”.

Though the American public is tired of war, and the United States’ leaders prefer to act as if it is all over, American warriors must continue to fight because our enemies still have a vote. As another 9/11 anniversary comes and goes, we owe it to those warriors to remember them, to care for them, and to honor their sacrifices of body and soul.

We should, at a minimum, put them in prison for crimes against humanity.


Link back to the discussion thread.