Link back to the discussion thread.
- EU Draws Line on Orban With Bloc’s Unity at Stake Bloomberg
The EU is taking on perhaps the biggest threat to its unity — Hungary’s Viktor Orban. Drawing a line after years of democratic backsliding, the Commission proposed suspending 7.5 billion euros in funding for Hungary, using its new powers to do so for the first time. The EU’s concerns include irregularities in the government’s procurement system, conflicts of interest in public trusts and the independence of the judiciary. Orban has also undermined EU efforts to implement swift energy sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, demanding exemptions for Hungary that only serve to increase his country’s dependency on Russian gas. EU governments must decide in the next few months whether to back the funding freeze.
- This 1373km long undersea cable will bring ‘green energy’ from Egypt to Europe’s electricity grid Euro News
Greece is in embarking on one of Europe’s most ambitious energy projects by linking up its electricity grid with Egypt’s.
An underwater cable will carry 3,000 MW of electricity - enough to power up to 450,000 households - and will run from northern Egypt directly to Attica in Greece.
The ‘GREGY interconnection’ is set to cost €3.5 billion – it has been deemed a Project of Common Interest (PCI) by the European Union. This means it is identified as a key priority for interconnecting the European Union’s energy system infrastructure.
“Approximately one third will be consumed in Greece, and mainly in Greek industries, another third will be exported to neighbouring European countries and the remaining will be used for the production of green hydrogen,” says Karydas.
Haha, get fucked, Putler! How long until this cable is in place?
The project is expected to be completed in 7 to 8 years.
- U.S. Energy Producers Warn European Buyers: No Bailout Is Coming Oil Price
This article was clearly written by a moron that genuinely believes that the Democrats are at war with the fossil fuel industry and that this situation is their fault, which displays a hilarious lack of knowledge on a sector that they claim to be knowledgeable on - but the parts I’ve picked out seem essentially true.
The threat of power rationing across Europe persists even after EU officials held an emergency meeting last week to starve off the impending winter energy crisis. EU countries have increasingly relied on US energy imports, though shale bosses warned the ability to boost oil and gas supplies would be challenging.
“It’s not like the US can pump a bunch more. Our production is what it is,” Wil VanLoh, head of private equity group Quantum Energy Partners, one of the shale’s most prominent investors, told Financial Times.
“There’s no bailout coming,” VanLoh added. “Not on the oil side, not on the gas side.
Ben Dell, chief executive of private equity group Kimmeridge Energy, said the shale industry’s investors on Wall Street would not give their blessing to a big production increase, preferring a low-production, high-profit model.
Rig counts in the US have started to fall and production has flatlined well below pre-pandemic levels.
The problems don’t end there – in 80 days, or on Dec. 5, the EU will embark on another suicide mission of banning seaborne imports of Russian crude. Then on Feb. 5, 2023, a ban on Russian petroleum product imports kicks in. These sanctions were enacted over the summer. However, piped imports of Russian crude and petroleum products will be exempt in some EU member countries, like Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic.
- Ukraine receives $1.5 billion in new financial aid, prime minister says Reuters
Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal thanked the United States on Saturday for its support after Ukraine received a further $1.5 billion in international financial assistance.
“The state budget of Ukraine received a grant of $1.5 billion. This is the last tranche of $4.5 billion aid from the United States from @WorldBank Trust Fund,” Shmyhal tweeted.
He said the funds would be used to reimburse budget expenditure for pension payments and social assistance programmes.
- Putin says Russia’s not responsible for the EU’s energy crisis — it just needs to ‘push the button’ on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to get more natural gas Business Insider
Correct. I’m going to assume this article has a different viewpoint.
- Volkswagen does not see chip shortage ending in 2023 Inquirer
Volkswagen no longer sees chip shortages ending in 2023, and the German carmaker is preparing for the “new normal” of supply chain disruptions, Murat Aksel, head of procurement on the Volkswagen board, told German weekly Automobilwoche.
“Investments for new capacity are now on track, but there will probably still be a structural shortfall in semiconductors up to and including 2023,” Aksel told the weekly, adding that “it’s a structural issue that can’t be solved so quickly.”
The supply of wire harnesses on the other hand, which were in short supply after Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine, is no longer an issue, he said: “That’s running stable again.”
However, Aksel warned that “what we’ve seen in the supply chains over the past two years, this is the new normal,” adding that Volkswagen is investing heavily in early detection.
“With the new geopolitical issues, if anything, it’s going to get even more complex and challenging,” added Aksel.
- Germany Confiscates Oil Refinery Owned by Russian Rosneft TeleSUR
With around 12 percent of Germany’s oil processing capacity, Rosneft Deutschland is one of the country’s largest companies in the energy sector.
On Friday, the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) announced that its country took control of a major refinery owned by Russian oil company Rosneft.
- 33% Of All UK Exporters To EU Vanish Due To Brexit-Related Red Tape Oil Price
The number of UK businesses exporting goods to the EU fell 33 percent to 18,357 in 2021, from 27,321 in 2020, according to data from HMRC.
Discussing the figures with City A.M., Michelle Dale, a senior manager at accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young, pointed out the fall is due to the extra red tape UK businesses must now comply with when exporting to the EU.
“Businesses are not getting enough support from the Government to navigate the post-Brexit trading minefield,” she said.
“A lot of SMEs can’t afford professional advice to cope with Brexit-related red tape. Many are likely to have decided trading with the EU is not worth the cost,” Dale added.
“Fewer UK companies exporting to the EU will result in lost opportunities for growth and expansion in Europe.”
- Sweden’s mainstream parties cravenly opened the door to anti-immigrant populists Guardian
Welcome to Europe, Sweden! A sad welcome. Following last week’s election results, the Sweden Democrats, an anti-immigration, rightwing populist party, will for the first time be included in the “blue” majority coalition, which won a narrow victory over the Social Democrats and its allies in the “red” block. Magdalena Andersson, Sweden’s first female prime minister, lasted only a year in the post, even if her Social Democratic party increased its share of the vote by 2% to 30%.
Sweden has now joined the fate of many other European countries in which nationalist, anti-immigration parties have taken their seat at the formal coalition negotiation table or even in government. First out was the Freedom party in Austria. Then Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, the Danish People’s party, the Progress party in Norway, True Finns. And so it continues…
There tends to be a story in common here in which avowedly anti-immigration parties move from the outside at the invitation of mainstream conservative/Christian democratic parties. Of course, these parties represented a growing number of voices of protest in their countries but they entered the halls of power on the back of the conservative parties’ own ambitions.
The electoral success of the Sweden Democrats (20.5% of the vote) will probably not give it a seat in the new government. The fourth party in the blue block, the Liberals, explicitly refuses to sit in the same cabinet as the Sweden Democrats, who will probably take up a position as a permanent, if unpredictable, support party to the government. But, in any case, does the party need to be in government to be influential?
On its route to “acceptance”, the party has operated a policy of what it calls a “zero tolerance for racism”. Some years ago, the whole youth organisation of the party was expelled. Yet, on social media, racist and harsh anti-immigrant speech emerges frequently.
From its new position as the biggest party in the blue block and the second largest in parliament, the self-confident Sweden Democrats has already presented a list with 100 policy demands, including a halt to all immigration, a ban on begging and the immediate deportation of convicted criminals of foreign descent. Will they be able to fundamentally change Swedish politics? many ask. This is the wrong question. The Sweden Democrats have already influenced the country’s immigration policies, as well as the public conversation around immigration, and most recently provoked a transformation in the whole party structure.
First, based on the unprecedented number of refugees who came to Sweden in 2015, Sweden’s generous immigration policy has been tightened. Second, what previously marked a linguistic border between decency and populism is now common speech in wider circles: linking crime and immigrant background; asking for a ceiling on the number of immigrants; and the concept of “mass immigration”, introduced by the Sweden Democrats, has now become customary. So much so that the party has now turned to the use of “gigantic immigration”.
What’s more, the whole party structure has changed, especially since the last election. At the final TV debate in 2018, all other parties promised that they would never make themselves dependent on the Sweden Democrats. At one point, liberal parties left the blue block, doubting that the conservatives would keep this promise – fears that proved true.
In terms of issues that influenced the election result, law and order was dominant, especially on account of the many deadly shootings in the streets related to gang criminality. Since the beginning of this year, there have been 47, often executed by very young gang members.
This agenda no doubt contributed to the performance of the Sweden Democrats who, according to the surveys, were judged the most credible party on the issue. Some researchers tried to intervene in the discussion with a report showing that if one includes knife killings, the number of deadly attacks was in fact larger in the 1980s and 90s than today. Surveys of the 2022 election also reveal an increased gender gap among voters, a trend in many countries. For women, the most important political issues were welfare matters such as health policies and schools – and climate change. These issues were “owned” by the Social Democrats, the Green party and the Left party in the view of most voters. In contrast, law and order was the most important issue for men. Overall, however, voters, both male and female, moved to the right.
Yet, 79.5% of Swedes did not cast their vote for the Sweden Democrats. In a way, I would argue the Sweden Democrats have arrived too late – at least as seen from their own ideological position. Today, 25% of Swedish citizens have an immigrant background, with two parents born outside Sweden. Sweden is, and will stay, a flourishing, multicultural society.
Asia and Oceania
- Biden says US forces would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion Inquirer
U.S. President Joe Biden said U.S forces would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion, his most explicit statement so far on the issue and comments sure to anger Beijing.
Asked in a CBS 60 Minutes interview broadcast on Sunday whether U.S. forces would defend the democratically governed island claimed by China, he replied: “Yes, if in fact, there was an unprecedented attack.”
Asked to clarify if he meant that unlike in Ukraine, U.S. forces – American men and women – would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion, Biden replied: “Yes.”
The interview was just the latest time that Biden has appeared to go beyond long-standing stated U.S. policy on Taiwan, but his statement was clearer than previous ones about committing U.S. troops to the defend the island.
The United States has long stuck to a policy of “strategic ambiguity” and not making clear whether it would respond militarily to an attack on Taiwan.
Asked to comment, a White House spokesperson said U.S. policy towards Taiwan had not changed.
“The President has said this before, including in Tokyo earlier this year. He also made clear then that our Taiwan policy hasn’t changed. That remains true,” the spokesperson said.
- Taiwan Struck By 2nd Strong Earthquake in as Many Days Bloomberg
A strong earthquake shook much of Taiwan on Sunday, toppling at least one building and trapping two people inside and knocking part of a passenger train off its tracks at a station.
The magnitude 6.8 quake was the largest among dozens that have rattled the island’s southeastern coast since Saturday evening, when a 6.4 quake struck the same area. The epicenter was in the town of Chishang at the relatively shallow depth of 7 kilometers (4 miles), Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau said.
- China’s Factories Accelerate Robotics Push as Workforce Shrinks WSJ
China installed almost as many robots in its factories last year as the rest of the world, accelerating a rush to automate and consolidate its manufacturing dominance even as its working-age population shrinks.
Shipments of industrial robots to China in 2021 rose 45% compared with the previous year to more than 243,000, according to new data viewed by The Wall Street Journal from the International Federation of Robotics, a robotics industry trade group.
China accounted for just under half of all installations of heavy-duty industrial robots last year, reinforcing the nation’s status as the No. 1 market for robot manufacturers worldwide. The IFR data shows China installed nearly twice as many new robots as did factories throughout the Americas and Europe.
- China’s August gasoline exports nearly double from a year ago Investing
China’s August gasoline exports rose 97.4% from a year earlier, customs data showed on Sunday, as refiners took advantage of fresh export quotas amid faltering domestic demand.
Gasoline shipments were at 1.12 million tonnes last month, while volumes for the January to August period were 30.4% lower than the corresponding period last year, according to data from the General Administration of Customs.
Diesel exports were at 830,000 tonnes, up 51.8% from August 2021, on healthy export margins. Exports for the January to August period totaled 3.25 million tonnes, down 78.3% on the same period last year.
Exports of jet fuel in August declined 15.4% from the same period last year to 780,000 tonnes. However, year-to-date shipments were 4.4% higher than the year before at 5.54 million tonnes.
- China’s Xi urges Russia and other countries to work at preventing ‘colour revolutions’ Reuters
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday called on Russia and other members of a regional grouping to support each other in preventing foreign powers from instigating “colour revolutions” - popular uprisings that have shaken former Communist nations - in their countries.
Speaking in Uzbekistan at a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a security grouping led by China and Russia, Xi said member countries should support the efforts each other have made to safeguard their own security and development interests.
He also said that China will train 2,000 law enforcement personnel from member countries over the next five years and set up a training base focusing on anti-terrorism work.
He invited member countries to sign up to China’s Global Security Initiative, a concept he proposed in April which includes the idea that no country should strengthen its own security at the expense of others.
China will provide 1.5 billion yuan ($214 million) worth of grain and other emergency aid to developing countries, Xi said, adding that the Chinese economy is resilient and “full of potential”.
- China Signs Major Railroad Deal With Uzbekistan And Kyrgyzstan, Bypassing Russia Oil Price
China, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan have signed a long-anticipated agreement to push ahead with the construction of a railroad linking their countries that will, if completed, establish a shorter route to Europe, bypassing sanctions-hit Russia. The three governments signed the agreement on September 14 on the sidelines of a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Uzbekistan.
The document does not set out a roadmap for construction of the CKU link, which was first mooted a quarter of a century ago but had struggled to get off the ground until Russia’s invasion of Ukraine breathed new impetus into it.
But it does move the project one step closer to reality, by laying out terms for a feasibility study for the Kyrgyz leg, which is the missing link to connect existing railroads in China and Uzbekistan, to be completed by the first half of 2023.
The news was announced by the transport ministries of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, which signed the agreement with China’s National Development and Reform Commission.
- India’s central bank could unveil 0.5% hike: Morgan Stanley Al Jazeera
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) could raise interest rates by half a percentage point at its upcoming policy review, thanks to stubbornly high inflation and the pace at which leading global central banks are hiking rates, Morgan Stanley said.
Upasana Chachra, the chief India economist at Morgan Stanley, said in a note on Friday that the financial firm had earlier expected a 0.35 percentage point hike but “sticky inflation and continued hawkish stance of DM [developed market] central banks warrant continued front-loading of rate hikes in our view.”
- Indonesia Still Considering Purchases of Russian Oil, Minister Says The Diplomat
Indonesia remains open to buying cheap oil “from anywhere,” including Russia, in order to keep the domestic price of fuel under control, the country’s energy minister said on Friday.
According to a report by Reuters, Minister Arifin Tasrif told reporters that the government had not yet purchased Russian oil – he claimed it was not yet available to Indonesia – but that it was open to buying cheap oil from any country. “We have not bought it yet because the goods are not available,” he said. He added, “If there is cheap oil from anywhere, of course we will buy.”
- ‘Near persistent’ natural disasters placing intense pressure on Australian defence force Guardian
The defence department warned the incoming Labor government it was under intense pressure due to the need to respond to “near persistent” natural disasters, and noted “the impacts of climate change” when requesting more cost-effective ways to manage the continual callouts.
The incoming government brief prepared by the defence department – obtained by Guardian Australia under freedom of information laws – makes repeated references to the Australian defence force being under pressure.
Troops have been increasingly deployed to civilian roles in recent years. They were sent into aged care homes during the Covid pandemic and have responded to numerous floods and bushfire events.
Then-shadow defence minister Brendan O’Connor earlier this year floated a new civilian disaster response agency to take pressure off ADF resources while the new defence minister, Richard Marles, and the emergency management minister, Murray Watt, have acknowledged the increasing strain on staff.
- Putin calls for de-escalation as Kyrgyz-Tajik border conflict death toll nears 100 CNN
Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan said on Sunday nearly 100 people had died in their border conflict, as a fragile ceasefire between the Central Asian nations extended into a second day and their mutual ally Russia urged a de-escalation.
The former Soviet republics clashed over a border dispute from September 14 to 16, accusing each other of using tanks, mortars, rocket artillery and assault drones to attack outposts and nearby settlements.
Both countries border China, while Tajikistan also has a long frontier with Afghanistan.
Long stretches of the border separating the two ex-Soviet states are contested. Clashes in April 2021 left more than 50 dead and raised the prospect of broader conflict.
- Türkiye Seeks To Become a Full Member of the SCO TeleSUR
Türkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said after the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand that Ankara aspires to become a full member.
“Of course, we are not members of the Shanghai Five. We are here [in Samarkand] as special guests at the invitation of the host country, Uzbekistan. (…) Now the next process is a step to the most advanced stage of this work,” the president communicated.
He also noted that the issue will be on the agenda during the summit in India, which will chair the SCO in the next period, in 2023.
“With this step, our relations with these countries [SCO members] will move to a completely different level,” the Turkish leader added, noting that during the summit they held “fruitful” bilateral meetings with the presidents of Azerbaijan, China, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Russia and Iran, as well as with the prime ministers of Pakistan and India.
- Russian Gas Supply to Türkiye To Be Paid 25% In Rubles TeleSUR
At a meeting with his Türkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Putin said, “Our agreement on Russian natural gas deliveries to Türkiye should come into force in the near future, with 25 percent of the payment for these deliveries in Russian rubles.”
- Pakistan won’t default on debts despite historic floods: Minister Al Jazeera
Pakistan will “absolutely not” default on debt obligations despite catastrophic floods, the finance minister says, signalling there would be no major deviation from reforms designed to stabilise a struggling economy.
Floods have affected 33 million Pakistanis, inflicted billions of dollars in damage, and killed more than 1,500 people – creating concern that Pakistan will not meet its debts.
“The path to stability was narrow, given the challenging environment, and it has become narrower still,” finance minister Miftah Ismail told Reuters news agency on Sunday.
“But if we continue to take prudent decisions – and we will – then we’re not going to default. Absolutely not.”
Pakistan was able to bring an International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme back on track after months of delay, thanks to tough policy decisions. But the positive sentiment was short-lived before the historic floods hit.
- Iran officially joins SCO Tehran Times
Iran’s full membership in the SCO was announced by the President of Uzbekistan, which was applauded by the participants. China, Russia, India, Iran, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Mongolia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan attended the 22nd SCO summit.
Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi spoke at the second day of the summit on Friday, stressing that maximum interaction and relation with the countries of the region, including the SCO states. He also said effective presence in regional and international orders are the focus of Iran’s foreign policy.
Uzbekistan, which chaired the SCO for one year, will hand over the SCO presidency to India. India will assume the next SCO rotating presidency and hold the next meeting of the council of heads of state of the SCO in 2023.
During the summit, an agreement was reached on admitting Bahrain, the Maldives, the UAE, Kuwait and Myanmar as new dialogue partners. Relevant parties noticed that MOUs granting Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar the status of SCO dialogue partners had been signed.
- Niger: March in Niamey against presence of French army Africa News
Several hundred people demonstrated peacefully Sunday in the streets of the Nigerien capital Niamey, to protest against the French anti-jihadist force Barkhane, while praising Russia, a journalist from AFP noted.
With cries of “Barkhane out”, “Down with France”, “Long live Putin and Russia”, the demonstrators went through some streets of the capital before holding a meeting in front of the headquarters of the National Assembly.
Some demonstrators carried Russian flags and held up signs hostile to France and Barkhane.
Some of the placards read “Get out of the criminal French army” or “The colonial army Barkhane must go” in this demonstration authorized by the municipal authorities of Niamey.
Some 3,000 French troops are still deployed in the Sahel - including Niger, one of Paris' main allies - after their total withdrawal from Mali.
- Berlin Humboldt Forum to return Benin bronze sculptures to Africa Euro News
Dozens of Benin bronze sculptures are going on display for one last time in Berlin’s new Humboldt Museum before being repatriated to Nigeria.
Taken during the colonial era from the African Kingdom of Benin, the move is part of the country’s gradual reckoning with crimes committed by the former German empire including the genocide orchestrated by Germany in Namibia.
The east wing of the Humboldt Forum contains items from the city’s Ethnological Museum and the Museum for Asian Art. It will display some 20,000 objects, among them dozens of Benin Bronzes as well as an exhibit explaining to visitors how most of them are soon to return to Nigeria.
While this exhibition has been described as the country’s most important cultural project, Germany has faced criticism in recent years over the origin of many artefacts in its museums.
“These objects represented our ancestors, our fathers. So now that it is brought back to the kingdom, it is going to fill our vacuums that were left for thousand of years backwards” says Kate Aina Akhadelor from Benin’s National Museum.
- Nigeria’s Endless Lecturer Strikes - Insights From Some Essential Reads All Africa
One thing that is synonymous with public universities in Nigeria is strikes. Since 1999, the public university system has lost about 57 cumulative months to industrial action. This always comes about as a result of under-funding. Lecturers' unions have called for the revitalisation of the sector and wage increases.
The Conversation Africa has featured several analyses of the topic by academic experts.
A former vice-chancellor and professor of history, Ayo Olukoju, highlighted the winners and losers of the strikes and suggested a way forward for Nigeria’s public universities.
The latest strike by lecturers, which started on 14 February 2022, is the 17th in 23 years. The National Executive Council of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, an umbrella body of lecturers in Nigeria, declared the strike as an “indefinite action”. Council member Dele Ashiru explained what this meant and what the government would have to do for the strike to be called off.
Incredibly, amid this strike, Nigeria’s parliament is mulling the idea of creating 63 new public institutions of higher education. An education management expert and lecturer at the University of Ibadan, Eragbai Jerome Isuku, examined the proposition and the reasons it’s been put forward. He concluded that Nigeria, for now, did not need any new universities because existing ones were underfunded.
- Electric Bills Soar Across the Country as Winter Looms WSJ
U.S. utility customers, faced with some of their largest bills in years, are set to pay even more this winter as natural-gas prices continue to climb.
Natural-gas prices have more than doubled this year because of a global supply shortage made worse by the war in Ukraine, and they are expected to remain elevated for months as fuel is needed to light and heat homes during the winter. The supply crunch has made it substantially more expensive for utilities to purchase or produce power, and those costs are being passed on to customers.
From New Hampshire to Louisiana, customers’ electricity rates are increasing. The Energy Information Administration anticipates the residential price of electricity will average 14.8 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2022, up 7.5% from 2021. The agency forecasts record gas consumption this year amid surging prices, in part because power producers are limited in their ability to burn coal instead due to supply constraints and plant retirements.
Electricity prices have surged in many parts of the country alongside natural-gas prices as exporters ship record amounts of the fuel abroad because of supply shortages in Europe, which is working to slash its reliance on Russian supplies. Natural-gas producers, hamstrung by pipeline constraints and investors pushing for austerity, haven’t increased production enough to alleviate the pressure.
The U.S. consumer-price index for electricity in August climbed 15.8% over the same month a year ago, the biggest such 12-month increase since 1981, according to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The strain is particularly acute in New England. The region is investing heavily in renewable-energy sources, but many of those projects aren’t yet operational, and it still relies heavily on natural gas for electricity production. The region has limited pipeline capacity and imports large volumes of liquefied natural gas, which are in shorter supply as a result of European demand.
- Energy and Mining Are Making the Stock Market Look Too Good WSJ
Soaring profits at oil companies and miners are making earnings look better than the reality of the rest of the stock market, and distorting Wall Street’s favorite valuation tool, the ratio of price to forecast earnings.
It’s really funny that this is also the big thing hurled at Russia - that their economy has completely collapsed except for their fossil fuel industry, which is keeping the country afloat and looking like it’s still functional. It’s just projection, all the way down.
Strip out the energy sector and the expected rise in earnings for the S&P 500 this year drops from 8% to just over 1%, according to data from Refinitiv’s IBES. Strip out miners and other commodity players, too, and earnings for the rest of the market are now expected to fall this year.
The same goes for valuations: The S&P 500 is priced at 18 times this year’s expected earnings—hardly a bargain but at least cheaper than the 22 times that prevailed at the start of the year. Take out energy and commodities stocks, though, and the valuation jumps back up to 20 times this year’s EPS, according to Citigroup data—suggesting even less hope for those searching for cheap American stocks.
What’s surprising is that such a tiny sector—energy made up only 2.7% of the S&P by value at the start of the year, and other commodities stocks even less—should be having such a big effect.
There are two reasons. The first is simple: Soaring oil prices have pushed up the energy sector to be 4.8% of the S&P by value, making it matter more. The second is more intriguing, and goes to the heart of the question of how to use stock valuations: Oil stocks are by far the cheapest part of the market on price-to-earnings ratios. That means energy-sector earnings make up a far larger proportion of S&P 500 profits—more than a 10th—than their market weight suggests.
- Biden on ‘60 Minutes’: ‘The pandemic is over’ Politico
President Joe Biden said “the pandemic is over” in discussing Covid during an interview that aired on Sunday evening on CBS’ “60 Minutes.”
“The pandemic is over,” the president told Scott Pelley as they talked last week at the Detroit Auto Show. “We still have a problem with Covid. We’re still doing a lot of work on it … but the pandemic is over. if you notice, no one’s wearing masks. Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape. And so I think it’s changing.”
Despite Biden’s statement, Covid has continued to exact a toll in the United States and around the world. The John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center lists more than 2 million Covid cases in the country in the last 28 days, with hundreds dying from the disease every day.
Biden’s insistence on Sunday night that the pandemic is over caught several of his own health officials by surprise. The declaration was not part of his planned remarks ahead of the “60 Minutes” interview, two administration officials familiar with the matter told POLITICO.
Later in the interview, Biden was clear that he didn’t take the overall impact of the pandemic lightly.
“The impact on the psyche of the American people as a consequence of the pandemic is profound,” he said. “Think of how that has changed everything. You know, people’s attitudes about themselves, their families, about the state of the nation, about the state of their communities. And so there’s a lot of uncertainty out there, a great deal of uncertainty. And we lost a million people.”
Biden’s statement was the most definite one he has made about the pandemic since assuming the presidency in January 2021. He was less definitive when asked whether he planned to seek reelection.
“Is it a firm decision that I run again? That remains to be seen,” Biden said, saying he would make his decision after the November midterms.
- Cuban Legislative Referendum Begins With Vote Abroad TeleSUR
Voting for the legislative referendum that will put into effect the new Cuban Family Code began this Sunday in the venues authorized to vote abroad, confirmed the local Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
According to the figures of the National Electoral Council, there are a little more than 1,000 polling stations set up abroad so that Cubans on official missions can exercise their right to vote in 123 countries.
- Cuba Slams Israel for Destabilizing West Asian Region TeleSUR
On Sunday, through a message issued on his Twitter account, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez condemned a new attack by the Israeli regime against Damascus, the Syrian capital, which resulted in the death of five military personnel and some material damage.
“I strongly condemn Israel’s constant incursions into Syrian territory, in blatant violation of international laws and endangering stability in the Middle East region,” denounced Rodriguez.
The Cuban foreign minister also ratified his country’s support and solidarity with the Syrian government and people in the face of the new Israeli aggression.
- Venezuelan Institutions Seek Cooperation With Iran TeleSUR
Venezuelan state institutions associated with the area of health and the development of scientific research expect that the Iran-Venezuela Scientific, Technological and Industrial Fair will allow them to create strategic alliances in these areas.
“Basically, we expect to create alliances, alliances at the health level to continue helping the Venezuelan people in everything related to health,” said Quimbiotec’s head of public affairs, Giselle Longa, in an interview with Sputnik Agency.
On Wednesday, President Nicolas Maduro inaugurated the Iran-Venezuela Scientific, Technological and Industrial Expo Fair intending to strengthen the commercial, scientific, industrial and technological exchange between the two nations.
More than 300 Venezuelan businessmen have been summoned to participate in the event that welcomes 79 representatives of the Persian nation until September 19.
Longa assured that Venezuela has an important portfolio of medicines to offer to the Iranian market and products for therapeutic use contained in human plasma.
- Venezuela Rejects U.S. Report on Drug Producers TeleSUR
Venezuela rejected the U.S. government’s memorandum on drug-producing countries and condemned its interfering role.
“In this infamous publication the faithful fulfillment of the international commitments of the Bolivarian Government, whose tenor to address the ongoing fight against illicit drug trafficking has been under the foundations of the United Nations,” said the Foreign Ministry.
In a communiqué, the Venezuelan Government condemns that the U.S. intends to “persist in the imposition of extraterritorial policies”.
It is ostensible, he said, that since the expulsion of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from Venezuela, the Venezuelan government achieved “with sovereign policies, the largest seizures and confiscations in history”.
Likewise, he stated, “it has waged war without quarter” against drug traffickers and irregular groups outside the law, thus registering in 2021, the record seizure of 51 tons of drugs in more than five thousand procedures.
The White House, once again, seeks to make unfounded judgments to justify its annual expenditures to supposedly address the major public health problem of drug use in the United States.
According to the 2022 Report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the use of narcotics in that country claimed around 107 thousand lives in 2021.
The Ukraine War
- Russia’s Use of Iranian Kamikaze Drones Creates New Dangers for Ukrainian Troops WSJ
To be honest, I’m confused about exactly what the situation with Iranian drones is - because Russia’s military denies that any are being used in the war, while Russian telegram posts videos allegedly recorded from them and attacks using them. And now this article. Like, obviously Russia’s military could just be lying, but it would be weird to do so at this point if there is supposed evidence abound. It would also serve western media to be lying that Iran has good drone technology as it would encourage giving more money to the military-industrial complex to develop technology to counter them. And Russian telegram channels not knowing what the hell they’re talking about is a common sight. So I don’t know what’s going on there, nor do I have strong hunches.
- NATO’s Approach to Russia’s Borders Planned Years Ago TeleSUR
The head of NATO’s Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer, stated on Saturday that NATO began planning its expansion near Russia’s borders several years ago.
Earlier on Saturday, the NATO Military Committee met in Estonia, where Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Christopher Cavoli outlined to NATO member countries his strategic considerations for NATO’s efforts on the eastern flank, among other things.
“We’re talking about the biggest overhaul of our military structures since 1949. The planning for that started several years ago, but now we’re implementing it,” Bauer said at a press conference.
NATO leaders agreed on a plan for a significant build-up of the alliance’s forces at the end of June, on the eastern flank by 2023, amid Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.
The alliance revealed plans to increase the number of prepared forces on the eastern flank to more than 300,000 soldiers in the near future. In addition, it intends to increase the composition of combat groups to the brigade level. Moreover, NATO countries pledged to increase defense spending.
Climate, Space, and Science
- Burning world’s fossil fuel reserves could emit 3.5tn tons of greenhouse gas Guardian
Burning the world’s proven reserves of fossil fuels would emit more planet-heating emissions than have occurred since the industrial revolution, easily blowing the remaining carbon budget before societies are subjected to catastrophic global heating, a new analysis has found.
An enormous 3.5tn tons of greenhouse gas emissions will be emitted if governments allow identified reserves of coal, oil and gas to be extracted and used, according to what has been described as the first public database of fossil fuel production.
The database, which covers around three-quarters of global energy production, reveals that the US and Russia each have enough fossil fuel reserves to single-handedly eat up the world’s remaining carbon budget before the planet is tipped into 1.5C (2.7F) or more of heating compared to the pre-industrial era.
Among all countries, there is enough fossil fuel to blow this remaining budget seven times over, propelling people and ecosystems into disastrous heatwaves, floods, drought and other impacts never seen before in human history. Governments have agreed to restrain global heating to 1.5C but have largely declined to actively halt new fossil fuel leases or extraction.
“You’ve got governments issuing new licenses or permits for coal that are completely decoupled from their own climate commitments,” said Mark Campanale, founder of Carbon Tracker Initiative, which is launching the new Global Registry of Fossil Fuels with Global Energy Monitor on Monday.
“It’s like a country announcing that they’re going on a climate change diet and they’re going to eat salad for lunch and then sneaking back to their office and working their way through a box of donuts,” he said. “You’re not on a diet if you’re stuffing your face with donuts, but that’s what’s happening with countries and their developers of fossil fuels.”
- Chinese scientists develop long-distance underwater communication in South China Sea SCMP
Chinese researchers say they have developed and tested in the depths of the South China Sea underwater communication technology that would allow submarines and drones to maintain contact over more than 30,000 sq km (11,600 square miles) – about the area of Belgium.
A listening device picked up sound signals from 105km (65 miles) away at a depth of 200 metres (656 feet) during a field test in an important passageway for submarines, according to the study by the team at northwestern China.
The data transmission rate reached nearly 200 bits per second (bps), on par with the bandwidth of very low-frequency radio sent by a naval command to nuclear submarines using the world’s largest land-based antennas.
Despite heavy noises in the background, the encrypted messages contained no mistakes, the researchers said.
Using commercially available technology, acoustic communication of this speed and quality is usually restricted to a distance of less than 10km.
In an experiment conducted by South Korean researchers last year using British hydrophones, for instance, a transmission rate of 128bps was recorded over a distance of 20km.
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.
Okay, I guess this is just gonna be how it is now. Daily affirmations that Russia is definitely losing and Ukraine is definitely winning, disconnected from even the semblence of reality. I think at this point this will be the last time I include these kinds of articles. Like, I hate to create an “echo chamber” but it’s not as if any of us are reading them anyway. They’re just a meaningless, if minor, addition to the update’s word count.
Zelensky vows no let-up as Ukraine says troops cross Oskil River in northeast Inquirer
Zelenskyy promises no let up in counteroffensive against Russia Al Jazeera
Russia Expands Attacks on Civilian Targets in Ukraine After Battlefield Losses WSJ
General warns of Putin’s reaction as Ukraine war ‘not going too well,’ Russia ‘increasingly divorced’ from battlefield realities Forbes
Ukraine’s Counteroffensive Forces Face Mobilized Inmates and Drones NYT
Russia Has No Reserves Left As Ukrainian Troops Surround A Key Eastern Town Forbes
Top U.S. general urges vigilance as Russia weighs Ukraine setbacks Reuters
Russia’s isolation from global markets is withering its economy and will wreck its status as an energy superpower, experts say Business Insider
Biden urges Putin not to use tactical nuclear arms in Ukraine: CBS Reuters
Imagine what a fucking awful, loser country you’d have to be to use a nuclear missile in wartime. What a failure of a nation.
Yep, we’re doing Bucha again:
The Singular Offense of the Mass Grave NYT
Ukraine Alleges Torture At Village Near Russian Border Bloomberg
Ukraine war: Grave sites prompt calls for tribunal over Russian killings BBC
- China Is Cranking Up Its Global Propaganda Machine Bloomberg
China and Russia have global propaganda machines. America and Europe have a free press dedicated to finding the truth and reporting it accurately. That’s just how it is.
Next month Xi Jinping will receive a third term as China’s top leader and Beijing’s purveyors of propaganda are determined to shape how you think about that.
In a recent essay, Fu Hua, editor-in-chief of Xinhua, China’s largest and most influential state news agency, outlined how he and others like him can crank up the “volume of China” and dominate the global public opinion debate. Among other steps being taken, he claims, is an ongoing effort to “strengthen” Xinhua’s accounts on overseas social media services like Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok.
This isn’t idle talk. China’s overseas propaganda operations are extensive, well-funded, and accelerating. Despite their scope, they receive far less attention than the notorious Russian disinformation campaigns of recent years. That’s an oversight. Like Russia, China is determined to undermine the appeal and effectiveness of open societies. Unlike Russia, China has the means to invest in journalists, media outlets and other infrastructure that can persist and adapt. For now, these Chinese capabilities aren’t always effective. But it would be a mistake to bet against them.
For all of the effort and sophistication that goes into China’s external messaging operations, for now, they may be little more than illusions. In early 2022, Pew Research surveyed individuals in 19 countries on their opinions of China. Only 27% of respondents expressed a favorable opinion, and negative views of China are now at historic highs in most of these countries. Only Malaysia and Singapore had populations in which a majority (60% and 67% respectively) viewed China favorably.
19 countries! Come on. Really? Dude, you’re doing propaganda yourself, and it fucking sucks. I also like how these historic highs of unfavourable opinions are definitely NOT because of counter-propaganda campaigns by the West.
- 6 things to know as Xi Jinping moves to be China’s dictator for life Politico
1 to 6 are that he’s awesome and cool.
- Thank God for Elizabeth II, whose reign kept tyranny at bay Telegraph
This one’s by Jordan Peterson. I think he has a penchant for writing uniquely terrible articles. Even more so than the strange parallel universe that Max Boot inhabits, sending his articles to us via the interdimensional mail system, Peterson’s own little universe is truly a phantasmagorical nightmare realm. I’m also not reading it.
- Texas and Florida Are Going Full Belarus on Migrants Bloomberg
I’ve never heard ‘Belarus’ used as a descriptor of immigration policy. Here’s the tagline, so you know why I’m also not reading this;
Those who weaponize refugees are as unhelpful as those who naively want to let all of them in. We must talk more honestly about migration.
“Is this good viewpoint that I’ve misrepresented by oversimplification the same as this bad, fascist viewpoint? Yes, actually."
- Italy and Bulgaria: Europe’s big tests for Russian energy unity Al Jazeera
Europe faces two choices this winter. The first is to accept gas rationing, causing likely major, lasting damage to heavy industry and hundreds of billions of euros in outlays to manage spiking energy costs and accelerate the energy transition. The second option is to accept Russian President Vladimir Putin’s destruction of the Ukrainian state and his plotting of future wars of aggression.
Option two is, of course, wholly unacceptable. Yet Europe’s ability to stay united in rejecting it faces two imminent tests: elections in Italy on September 25 and then in Bulgaria a week later. In both countries, political forces that are more aligned with Putin than the rest of Europe could come to power, potentially threatening a cohesive front on the question of sanctions against Russia.
Let’s be clear. Europe’s energy pain is the result of the economic war that the Putin regime is waging in tandem with its assault on Ukraine.
Was Europe’s willingness near the start of the war to undergo a complete embargo on Russian gas rather than pay in rubles also a result of Putin’s regime? Russia’s just helping Europe do what it said it wanted to do. And none of this is really true anyway because Nord Stream 2 is still an option.
Moscow isn’t even bothering to hide the fact any more. Whereas the Kremlin has historically denied any accusations that it uses energy as a political weapon – a ridiculous claim to any neutral observer – Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on September 5 said that gas flows would not resume through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline linking Russia and Germany with sanctions in place. It’s the single biggest source of piped gas from Russia to Europe.
Never mind that Russia had originally claimed that the pipeline had gone offline at the end of August for repairs. With the pretence dropped, Putin threatened recently that Moscow would cut off energy supplies if the G7 proceeds with plans to impose price caps on Russian hydrocarbon exports.
Europe must recognise that there is a reason the Kremlin is using its gas weapon more openly than ever before: It is losing both on the sanctions front and in the war in Ukraine.
Etc etc. This was a “Russia is losing!” article in disguise! These people are using every trick in the book to try and make me read their shitty articles. Let’s just skip to the part with Italy and Bulgaria and get this over with.
The big question: Will Italy and Bulgaria buckle next? In Italy, an alliance of right-wing parties is favoured to win a majority in the coming vote. It includes ex-prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who remains a political force and was famously friendly with Putin. Though no longer in office at the time, his 2015 visit to Russian-occupied Crimea is the only time a former leader of a G7 state has visited the region since Putin annexed it.
Also a part of that coalition is Matteo Salvini, leader of the current largest party in the Italian parliament, Lega Nord. He too has previously praised Putin and in 2017 signed a cooperation agreement between the Lega and Putin’s ruling United Russia party. In 2019, a series of recordings revealed a close aide of Salvini’s discussing procuring Russian money for his party. He has openly called for “rethinking” the sanctions imposed on Russia amid the campaign.
However, Georgia Meloni, who heads the ascendant Brothers of Italy party currently leading the polls, has endorsed the sanctions regime and said that she will stick by the EU and NATO in taking on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. Recent polls all show Meloni gaining more than half of the right-wing vote, and potentially twice as many as Salvini’s Lega. A Meloni-led right-wing coalition would certainly have other disputes with Brussels, but it appears she recognises that she can use support for Ukraine and the sanctions to buy room for concessions on other issues.
What about Bulgaria? The reformist government of Prime Minister Kiril Petkov was among the earliest EU members to reject Russian gas following the invasion. Petkov’s coalition collapsed amid infighting in June.
The interim government appointed by President Rumen Radev – long an advocate of closer ties with Moscow – has been willing to hold talks with Gazprom about renewing gas supplies from Russia.
Polls have only marginally shifted since Bulgarians last voted in November 2021, the third parliamentary election that year. However, Petkov’s party has seen support decline of late, while the traditionally pro-Russian Socialists – who did cooperate with Petkov’s government -have seen a slight revival in their fortunes.
Meanwhile, Radev’s ally Stefan Yanev, who favours a softer stance on Russia, launched a new political party that might cross the parliamentary threshold.
As Europe picks its political future, maintaining a united front on Russian sanctions is essential to ensure victory in the ongoing economic war. Bulgarian and Italian voters will soon have their say – and all of Europe ought to be watching.
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.
- Degrowth is not austerity – it is actually just the opposite Al Jazeera
“We are living through the end of abundance,” French President Emmanuel Macron recently declared after a summer that saw parts of Europe ravaged by forest fires and unprecedented heat and drought. Meanwhile, officials at the European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve have warned of a larger “sacrifice” that will be needed to “tame surging inflation”.
The language political and economic leaders are using to send a message to the public that it should prepare to accept the end of the limitless availability of products and resources may sound quite familiar to some.
It was used in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, the recession of the early 1990s, and even the 1973 oil crisis, when politicians warned that the general population would need to tighten their belts and accept cutbacks on social welfare and services.
But the past does not have to repeat. In this context of accelerating ecological breakdown and economic crises, the degrowth movement has steadily been gaining ground. Based on a robust body of scientific literature, degrowth proponents suggest that capitalism’s demand for unlimited growth is destroying the planet. Only degrowth policies can repair this by rapidly scaling back our material and energy use, slowing down production and transitioning to an economy focused around needs, care and the sharing of wealth.
The term degrowth was first coined in 1972 by French political theorist André Gorz as a provocative response to the Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth report. In the 1990s, it was reintroduced as a “missile word” against the then-dominant ideology of sustainable development and green growth: an ideology that was being used by governments and international organisations to greenwash ineffective climate politics, attacks on public services and predatory lending.
Since then, degrowth’s popularity has accelerated, with regular conferences with thousands of attendees being held and dozens of books published on the subject. Most recently, the book Capitalism in the Anthropocene by Kohei Saito, a Japanese Marxist scholar, sold more than half a million copies and became a bestseller in Japan.
Unsurprisingly, degrowth has come under severe criticism from pundits, mainstream economists, and the jet-setting Davos elite. In a March 2020 column, one member of a conservative British think-tank, for example, claimed that “the coronavirus crisis reveals the misery of degrowth”, that degrowth would make the recession permanent, or that it would be a “recipe for misery and disaster”.
Indeed, this is how many people understand degrowth: as a call for austerity and a trigger of recession. In reality, degrowth is just the opposite.
To begin with, austerity is always imposed for the sake of growth. We have been convinced, for half a century now, that cutting public services is good for us because it will increase competitiveness, balance the budget, and eventually lead to growth. Degrowth, by contrast, is the argument that we can, and should, move away from an economy that exclusively depends on economic growth.
While austerity increases inequality by curbing public services and benefitting the rich through tax cuts and privatisation of government services, degrowth policies focus on democratising production, curbing the wealth and overconsumption of the rich, expanding public services, and increasing equality within and between societies.
Degrowth is also not a recession: recessions are unintentional, while degrowth is planned and intentional. Recessions make inequality worse, degrowth is about making sure everyone has their needs met. Recessions often cause bold policies for sustainability to be abandoned for the sake of restarting growth, while degrowth is explicitly for a rapid and decisive transformation.
Bloomerism and Hope
For events that show that a better, more equitable, and happier world is possible than the neoliberal hell we inhabit.
- Next up for US unions: Major contracts for 700,000 workers CNN
The 11th hour deal that prevented a crippling strike at the nation’s freight railroads is the biggest win for US unions in years.
The agreement, reached in the early hours Thursday, kept more than 50,000 engineers and conductors on the job, and won members the changes in work rules sought by their leadership. They also got an immediate 14% raise, backpay dating to 2020 and raises totaling 24% over the five-year life of the contracts.
It also showed the power that unions can still wield, especially when a strike threatens to deal a body blow to the nation’s supply chain and economy. The railroads will keep running while more than 100,000 union members vote on whether or not to ratify the tentative agreements in the coming weeks. Many of the votes, including by the engineers and conductors, are not yet scheduled.
In terms of big US labor contracts, however, this is just the opening act.
There are an additional 700,000 union members nationwide in key industries who could be getting new labor deals, perhaps after going on strike, in the next year.
Each of these unions seek not only lucrative contracts but significant changes in work rules and assurances of job security that could make it difficult to avoid work stoppages.
Here are some of the most crucial upcoming negotiations:
About 350,000 Teamsters at UPS are covered by a labor contract that expires at the end of July 2023. If the union goes on strike, it could be the largest walk out ever at a single US business.
A majority of Teamsters rejected their last UPS contract in 2018, but then-union president James Hoffa was able to agree to the offer because there wasn’t enough participation in the vote to trigger a strike.
An angry rank-and-file then elected a Hoffa critic, Sean O’Brien, as the union’s new president earlier this year. O’Brien made the UPS contract a key issue in his campaign for the job and vowed to make UPS, which just reported a record annual profit, pay more and improve work conditions for members.
Airlines are among the most heavily unionized industries in the nation, and those unions are among the most powerful. Nearly 200,000 airline union members have gone months, and in some cases years, since their last raise.
With carriers once again reporting strong revenue and profits, the unions are eager to claw back some of that revenue. The carriers have all acknowledge in comments to investors that they expect to see wages rise sharply.
And as with the rail unions, members are focused on staffing shortages and scheduling problems that they say have brought many employees to a breaking point.
Deals are set to expire next year for about 150,000 United Auto Workers at General Motors (GM), Ford (F) and Stellantis, the company formed by the merger of Fiat Chrysler and Peugot’s PSA Group.
The last round of contracts were reached after workers at GM, angered by a number of plant closings, waged a six-week strike in September and October of 2019, months ahead of the pandemic.
There have been no plant closings since then. In fact, the automakers have been investing tens of billions of dollars to build new plants or transform old ones from traditional gas powered cars to electric vehicles.
But that switch to EVs could make the upcoming talks difficult.
It takes about 30% less labor to build an EV than a traditional car or truck because so fewer parts are needed to build them.
That’s a major concern for unions whose members build engines and transmissions. Earlier this month, more than 1,000 UAW workers at a Stellantis castings plant in Kokomo, Ind., walked out during a weekend over “local issues,” which allowed them to strike without causing a company-wide shutdown. Stellantis settled quickly because the parts from those plants keep its other factories running.