Link back to the discussion thread.
- The right-wing turn against Ukraine may be around the corner WaPo
I mean, maybe. But I do find it pretty entertaining just how much this is all right-wing infighting, on a global scale. European fascists turning against Ukrainian fascists, after American fascists weakened Europe, their vassal state, to support their own interests.
- Europe Looks at Italy’s Meloni With Caution and Trepidation NYT
Italy’s likely new prime minister, the far-right, populist and Euroskeptic Giorgia Meloni, once wanted to ditch the euro currency and blasted Italy for “surrendering to the bureaucrats in Brussels” by adhering to European spending rules.
Ms. Meloni, who would be the first far-right nationalist to govern Italy since Mussolini, says that she has moderated her views. But European leaders wonder if she is dissimulating, and the European Union is watching her coalition’s comfortable victory in Italy, one of its founding members, with caution and some trepidation.
Not least, Brussels is worried that despite the bloc’s successes in recent years in coming together for a groundbreaking pandemic recovery fund and to confront Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, the appeal of nationalists and populists remains strong — and is spreading.
Ms. Meloni’s victory signals a new right-wing shift in Europe, following on the heels of the strong showing of the far-right Sweden Democrats this month, when they became the country’s second-largest party and the largest in what is expected to be a right-wing coalition.
- Hungarian Chief Diplomat: Western Sanctions “Complete Failure” TeleSUR
“This was a complete failure, as it is now clear that these sanctions have hurt Europe much more than Russia itself and are causing enormous damage to the EU’s economy,” Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto said.
- UK defence spending to double to £100bn by 2030, says minister Guardian
The UK defence secretary, Ben Wallace, has said military spending will double from its current level to hit £100bn in 2030 as a result of Liz Truss’s commitment to increase the armed forces’ budget to 3% of GDP.
The minister said in a Sunday newspaper interview that the military was “actually going to grow” for the first time since the end of the cold war – although he did not specifically commit to reversing a planned cut in the size of the army.
Truss had promised during her leadership campaign to lift defence spending from 2.1% of GDP to 3% by 2030, comfortably above a commitment made by Boris Johnson in June to increase it to 2.5% by the end of the decade.
- UK bond prices collapse after sterling hits record low Business Insider
British government bond prices collapsed on Monday, pushing yields to their highest in over a decade, amid speculation that the Bank of England might need to take emergency action after sterling hit a record low against the U.S. dollar overnight.
Two-year gilt yields rose as much as 54 basis points on the day to 4.533 percent, their highest since September 2008, and at 0754 GMT were 44 basis points up on the day at 4.43 percent.
Five-year gilt yields jumped more than 44 basis points to 4.503 percent, their highest since October 2008, while benchmark 10-year yields hit their highest since April 2010 at 4.215 percent.
British government bonds prices have been under pressure for months, hurt by higher inflation and rising U.S. and Bank of England rates, but their fall accelerated massively on Friday after new finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng promised tax cuts.
Typically gilt yields rise or fall just a few basis points on the day, but on Friday the five-year gilt yield rose more than 50 basis points, representing the biggest one-day price fall since at least 1991.
Sterling broke past a previous low against the U.S. dollar that had held since 1985 in early Asian trading on Monday.
- Swiss Referendum Rejects Ban on Intensive Livestock Farming TeleSUR
If the result of the plebiscite had been favorable, the prohibition would have forced some 3,300 farms to readapt their production processes.
On Sunday, the Swiss attended a referendum in which they were consulted on the prohibition of intensive livestock farming, which would have also vetoed the import of products from this type of unsustainable exploitation.
The ban initiative, which was raised by the Greens and part of the Swiss Socialist Party, was widely defeated today by 63 percent of the vote in 25 out of 26 cantons in the country.
The proposal asked to include in the Swiss constitution the “Right to Dignity” of farm-raised cattle and to ban intensive farming. To do this, the norm sought to establish a minimum amount of outdoor time for animals and the area “to live with dignity” on farms.
The Swiss government and parliament, which had previously rejected the ecologist proposal, asked citizens to also reject it, arguing that the country already has one of the world’s strictest animal protection laws."
The Swiss authorities also warned that the ban on intensive farming would affect consumers through the increase in prices of meat, dairy and similar products.
If the result of the plebiscite had been favorable, the prohibition of intensive livestock farming would have forced some 3,300 farms to readapt their production processes. It is estimated that this change might have cost about 1.2 billion euros per year.
Swiss environmentalists, however, proposed a period of up to 25 years to complete the productive transition towards non-intensive livestock farming.
- Italy and Intel pick Veneto as preferred region for new chip plant Reuters
Mario Draghi’s outgoing government and Intel have picked the town of Vigasio in the northeastern Veneto region as their preferred site for a new multibillion-euro chip factory in Italy, two people familiar with the matter said.
Intel’s investment in Italy is part of a wider plan announced by the U.S. chipmaker last March to invest as much as 80 billion euros ($77.5 billion) over the next decade in building capacity across Europe.
With an initial investment worth some 4.5 billion euros expected to rise over time, Intel has said the Italian plant would create 1,500 jobs plus an additional 3,500 jobs across suppliers and partners, with operations to start between 2025 and 2027.
The Italian factory would be an advanced semiconductor packaging and assembly plant, using new technologies to weave together full chips out of tiles.
Police clash with Iran protesters in London and Paris Al Jazeera
French police use tear gas to thwart Iran protest in Paris Iraqi News
French police on Sunday used tear gas and employed anti-riot tactics to prevent hundreds of people protesting in Paris from marching on Tehran’s embassy, AFP reporters and eyewitnesses said.
The protesters had gathered for the second day running to express outrage at the death of Mahsa Amini following her arrest by Iran’s morality police last week — and to show solidarity with the protests that have erupted in Iran.
The protest had began peacefully at Trocadero Square. Some demonstrators chanted “Death to the Islamic Republic” and slogans against supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
But police in full anti-riot armour, backed by a line of vans blocked the path of the protesters as they sought to approach the Iranian embassy a short distance away.
Police fired tear gas to disperse the protesters.
“I don’t feel good, it was catastrophic,” said one protester, who asked not to be named, recovering from the effects of the tear gas.
- Eyes on Belgium as some EU states push for Russian diamond ban Inquirer
The European Union must stop importing diamonds from Russia, five of the bloc’s 27 countries said in a joint proposal seen by Reuters, as the EU prepares new sanctions against Moscow for waging war against Ukraine.
The EU, which has so far implemented six rounds of sanctions since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, needs unanimity to agree any such ban that Belgium – home to the world’s biggest diamond trading hub Antwerp – has rejected in the past.
- German firewood prices skyrocket RT
Prices for firewood and wood pellets in Germany spiraled 85.7% in August compared to the same month last year, the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) reported on Thursday.
The figures show that firewood costs were growing much faster than consumer prices in general, which were up by 7.9% during the same period.
“Reasons for the above-average price rise for firewood and wood pellets are an increase in demand, as well as higher purchase prices and transport costs in the wood industry,” the statistics office explained.
It also noted that more people in Germany were turning to firewood as an alternative way to heat their homes amid surging energy prices.
- Germany Secures Just One Tanker of Gas During Scholz’s Gulf Tour Bloomberg
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz secured just one shipment of liquefied natural gas from the United Arab Emirates, with a non-binding agreement for more, as Europe’s biggest economy struggles to replace Russian supplies.
The cargo – 137,000 cubic meters – will be delivered by Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. to German utility RWE AG by early 2023. ADNOC also signed a memorandum of understanding to make more deliveries next year. An ensuing trip to Qatar didn’t immediately yield any more deals.
Securing additional supplies is crucial for Germany after the Kremlin shut down a key pipeline. Officials have grown increasingly concerned about blackouts and rationing this winter, and the economy is hurtling toward a recession. The deal announced Sunday shows how difficult it will be for the country to get more gas in the near-term.
“We must ensure that the coalition on liquefied natural gas in the world is advancing to the point where the high demand can be met,” Scholz said in Abu Dhabi.
In a similar vein:
- Germany secures natural gas deal with the UAE as Berlin rushes to replace Russian supply before winter Business Insider
- Greek PM tells Turkish people ‘we are not enemies’ EU Reporter
These two countries, both allies of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), but historical foes, have been at odds for decades over a variety of issues, including where their continental shelves begin and end, energy resources and overflights in Aegean Sea.
“Turkey’s leadership seems a strange fixation on my country. … If Turkey does not decide to act, they threaten it with a Turkish invasion. During his speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Mitsotakis stated that this is the language used by aggressors.
“From the UN, I would like to address… the Turkish people directly: Greece is not a threat to your country. He said that we were not your enemies but are our neighbors. Let’s move on.”
Recent flare-ups in tensions between the two countries stem from long-standing tensions. Greece lodged a complaint to NATO and UN over “inflammatory” statements made by Turkish President Tayyip Erdan.
Erdogan claimed that Greece was guilty of “crimes against humanity” this week. He was referring to the treatment of migrants and its earlier actions of occupying demilitarised islands in the Aegean.
Greece claims that Turkey is challenging Greek sovereignty over the islands and exploiting the migration problem.
Mitsotakis stated that Greece would not be bullied by any one. He also said that Ukraine was not the only postwar European country to have been attacked. Furthermore, he added that Cypriots had lived on a divided island since 1974 as a result of an illegal Turkish invasion.
Asia and Oceania
- Japan’s factory activity expands at slowest pace in 20 months Reuters
Japan’s factory activity growth hit a 20-month low in September, as firms struggled with a global slowdown and pressure from high energy and raw material prices that was exacerbated by a weak yen.
The au Jibun Bank Flash Japan Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) slipped to a seasonally adjusted 51.0 in September from the prior month’s final of 51.5.
The headline figure marked the slowest expansion since January 2021, although it stayed above the 50-mark that separates contraction from expansion.
- IMF says PH economy doing well, but cuts growth forecasts for 2022, 2023 Inquirer
The Philippines has done well to emerge from one of the strictest lockdowns in the pandemic; the economy remains fundamentally sound, with real gross domestic product projected to grow by 6.5 percent in 2022, according to a visiting team of the International Monetary Fund.
The latest IMF forecast on Philippine GDP growth for 2022 (6.5 percent) is lower than the 6.7 percent stated previously, taking into account the sharp slowdown in the global economy, according to IMF consultation mission chief Cheng Hoon Lim.
The IMF also cut its growth forecast on the Philippines for next year to 5 percent, from its earlier estimate of 6.3 percent.
One of the team’s recommendations is that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas should continue raising interest rates until inflation is brought under control.
- Thai economy improving but household debt a problem, says Finance chief Inquirer
Thailand’s economy is improving but the country is facing issues with people’s debt and the government will seek to ease problems in the longer term, Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said on Monday.
Support would include new funding and debt restructuring Arkom said. Household debt in Thailand was about 89 percent of gross domestic product at the end of March, one of Asia’s highest rates.
- Malaysia keen to learn flood management from Netherlands: PM Ismail Sabri ANN
Malaysia wants to tap the Netherlands’ experience in flood management to see if it can be applied to mitigate floods in Malaysia, says the Prime Minister.
Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the Dutch had long been considered experts in this field and Malaysia could learn from the former’s experience.
He said this was among the issues he discussed with his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte during their meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
“We hope to gain advice from them so that we can minimise the effects of floods,” he told the Malaysian media.
Due to its low elevation – about two thirds of its area is vulnerable to flooding – thus flood control is crucial in the Netherlands.
Ismail Sabri said Malaysia and the Netherlands had agreed to boost trade relations between both countries, pointing out the latter was the biggest palm oil importer in Europe.
- Low-carbon rice production helps Vietnam meet emission targets Asia News
Moving to low-carbon rice production offers the highest potential for Việt Nam to meet its goal of cutting methane emissions by 30 per cent by 2030 while boosting the competitiveness of a strategic export item, a new World Bank report says.
The report, titled “Spearheading Việt Nam’s Green Agricultural Transformation: Moving to Low-Carbon Rice,” suggests that Việt Nam can transform the rice sector by cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, improving resource efficiency and yields, boosting resilience, and diversifying production.
Such transformation will require significant investment and major policy reforms to align incentives and coordinate behaviours of stakeholders at all levels.
“The agricultural sector, despite all its successes, is an important contributor to GHG emissions in Việt Nam,” said Carolyn Turk, World Bank Country Director for Việt Nam, during the launch of the report in the “Integrated Climate Resilience and Sustainable Development of the Mekong Delta” workshop, co-organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the World Bank in the Mekong Delta City of Cần Thơ on Saturday.
“It has reached a point where a transition to lower-carbon modes of farming is imperative – the longer it takes to switch, the higher the costs will be. Experience suggests that government has a catalytic role to play in driving the green transition through strategic allocation of public investment and strengthening the enabling environment for private sector participation in a modern, green agriculture sector,” she noted.
- Vietnam prepares for arrival of Super Typhoon Noru Inquirer
Vietnam’s northern and central provinces have been told to prepare for super typhoon Noru, which is heading in a northwest direction with wind speeds of up to 183km per hour.
The typhoon is set to become the fourth to hit the country in 2022.
- North Korea, China resume freight train services: reports Al Jazeera
North Korea and China have resumed freight train services after a five-month suspension due to the pandemic, South Korean media has reported.
A freight train travelled from the Chinese border city of Dandong to North Korea’s Sinuiju, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported on Monday.
Trains had been suspended since April 29, after an outbreak of COVID-19 in Dandong.
- Thirty Palestinian prisoners held in Israel launch hunger strike Al Jazeera
Thirty Palestinian political prisoners being held in Israeli jails have begun an open-ended hunger strike to protest their administrative detention – a policy that means they are being held without charge or trial.
Israeli authorities have been using this obscure legal procedure for more than half a century, basing it on secret evidence, to imprison people without charge or trial for an indefinite amount of time.
Israel’s policy allows the detention of Palestinians for renewable intervals usually ranging between three and six months. Their imprisonment is based on undisclosed evidence that even a detainee’s lawyer is barred from viewing.
Israel claims the policy is necessary for security reasons and allows the government to hold “dangerous suspects” without revealing intelligence information.
Amnesty International has described Israel’s administrative detention policy as a “cruel, unjust practice which helps maintain Israel’s system of apartheid against Palestinians.”
- Cholera death toll rises to 29 in Syria as outbreak spreads Al Jazeera
At least 29 people have been killed due to a cholera outbreak in several regions of Syria, in what the United Nations has called the worst outbreak in the war-torn country for years.
Rapid assessment testing confirmed 338 cases since the outbreak was first recorded last month, with the bulk of deaths and cases in the northern Aleppo province, the Syrian health ministry said in a statement on Monday.
230 cases were reported in Aleppo province, with 25 people confirmed dead.
The UN this month said the outbreak was believed to be linked to the irrigation of crops using contaminated water and people drinking unsafe water from the Euphrates River, which bisects Syria from north to east.
- US Instigator Role in Destabilizing Actions in Iran Denounced TeleSUR
The Iranian Foreign Minister denounced the instigating stance of the U.S. in the face of recent destabilizing events in Iran.
This stance differs from “Washington’s diplomatic messages to Iran on the need for a nuclear deal and the establishment of stability in the region,” Foreign Minister Hosein Amir Abdolahian said.
The Iranian minister’s remarks came during a meeting with his Iraqi counterpart, Fuad Hussein, on the sidelines of the 77th United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York.
According to Amir Abdolahian there are interventionist comments by some U.S. officials in relation to the protests generated by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.
“The United States is abusing the pure feelings of the Iranian people to destabilize the country, [in these riots] its own mercenaries kill people,” and then try to hold the Iranian government responsible, according to the foreign minister.
“Peaceful protest is the right of every nation. However, US involvement in Iran’s affairs and support for “troublemakers” to carry out their destabilization project clearly conflicts with Washington’s diplomatic messages to Iran about the need for a nuclear deal and the establishment of stability in the region,” Amir Abdolahian said.
The street violence witnessed in Iran in recent days has been used by the Western media in their eagerness to unleash anger against the Islamic Republic of Iran’s system, blaming the police officers for Mahsa’s death.
- China’s expanding role in Afghanistan Jakarta Post
Is China going to play the role of big brother in Afghanistan? The answer to this question is partly, yes. China is certainly emerging as the most influential player in the Afghanistan imbroglio but it will never replicate the United States as the “ringmaster”.
On Aug. 15 last year, when US forces officially withdrew from Afghanistan and handed over the reins of this war-torn country to the Taliban, it appeared that the Biden administration had decided to ostensibly abandon the Central Asian region as a low strategic interest territory.
For the last few years, the Americans’ presence in this territory has been withering away; virtually non-existent in Iran or the adjoining Central Asian states that have closer ties with Moscow and an increasingly clotted relationship with Pakistan.
- Africa: Obasanjo, Okonjo-Iweala, Okadigbo Seek Increased Investment in Power Sector to Tackle Africa’s Energy Poverty All Africa
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the Board Chairman of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), Dr. Margery Okadigbo have called for joint efforts by African leaders and their allies to boost investments in the continent’s power sector.
They said such investments in the power sector were necessary to tackle energy poverty and achieve industrialisation and social, economic development in Nigeria and other African countries.
The three leaders made the call at the weekend, while speaking at the FIN International Trade and Investment Forum on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York.
Obasanjo, who was quoted to have spoken virtually, stated that without adequate electric power, all efforts to develop Africa economically and socially would not materialise.
He said it was imperative that Africans, their friends and development partners work together to raise sufficient investment to get enough power to catalyse the continent’s development, noting that he personally believed that the resources were available.
Obasanjo said there was the need for African countries to create a conducive environment for investment to come into Africa for robust power generation, distribution and transmission.
Obasanjo said, “Today, we have to think of grid system, off grid system and indeed individual domestic system to take care of what is required, particularly in the rural areas.
“I will challenge this forum to really work out what should be the factors that our leaders should consider. What should be the factors that Africans in the private sector will consider; and what will be the factors that the foreign investors will need and consider to be able to power Africa in terms of our development economically and socially.”
- Tunisians protest against high prices and food shortage MEE
Hundreds of Tunisians took to the streets of capital Tunis on Sunday night to protest against high prices, poverty and shortages of foodstuff.
Earlier this month, Tunisia’s government raised the price of cooking gas cylinders by 14 percent and fuel by 3 percent, in an attempt to reduce energy subsidies as sought by the country’s international lenders.
The cooking gas price increase was the first such hike in 12 years.
With inflation at nearly 9 percent and a shortage of several food items because the country cannot afford to pay for some imports, demonstrators rallied in the Douar Hicher district of the capital.
Protesters held loaves of bread in the air, while angry youths burned tyres.
Others chanted “Jobs, freedom and national dignity,” “Where is sugar?”, “We can’t support crazy price hikes” and “Where is Kais Saied?”
Saied, the country’s president, suspended parliament in July 2021, sacking the prime minister and ruling by decree in a seizure of extensive powers which critics branded a “constitutional coup”.
Sao Tome and Principe
- São Tomé and Príncipe go to the polls as a model of democracy in Africa Africa News
Voters in São Tomé were casting their ballots on Sunday to elect the 55 members of the National Assembly and the mayors of the country’s six municipalities.
In Príncipe, votes are also being cast for the National Assembly and for the government of the autonomous region.
- Nigeria’s fuel subsidies surpassed $1 billion in August as it supplied more petrol Reuters
The cost of Nigeria’s fuel subsidies rose to 525.714 billion naira ($1.22 billion) in August, bringing the total spent this year to 2.568 trillion naira, according to figures submitted to the government by state oil company NNPC.
The ballooning costs of keeping petrol prices low in Africa’s most populous nation are straining the budget and draining revenue from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp (NNPC).
- Tanzania: Initiative to Restore Tanzania Coastline With 1 Million Mangrove Trees Launched All Africa
A one-year-campaign geared to restore mangrove forest with one million trees along Tanzania’s coastline has been launched in Dar es Salaam as a part plan to curb effects of climate change in the country.
Speaking at the event, Aga Khan Foundation’s Head of Climate Change and Resilient Programme Robert Mganzi said mangrove trees along the coastline have been adversely affected by growing human activities including building settlement and industrialization hence the launched programme.
He added that the one-year project will cover Dar es Salaam, Coast, Lindi and Mtwara, which are bordering the Indian Ocean.
“One acre of mangrove can reduce 400 tonnes a year, and 1,500 planted trees can offset nearly 3,000 tonnes of the carbon” he said.
- South Africa: Eskom Continues to Implement Load Shedding All Africa
Eskom will continue to implement load shedding this week due to constraints from its diesel suppliers that is affecting the availability of bulk diesel to the Ankerlig and Gourikwa Open Cycle Gas Turbines, which have a combined capacity of 2 000MW.
In a statement on Sunday, Eskom said Stage 3 load shedding would continue to be implemented between 00:00 and 16:00 until Thursday, while Stage 4 load shedding will be implemented daily during the evening peaks from 16:00 until 00:00.
- Old men helped cause the Soviet Union’s collapse. Historians say it’s a warning sign for the United States. Business Insider
President Ronald Reagan once joked that Soviet leaders “kept dying” on him during his first few years in office.
Though Reagan at the time was the oldest president to ever enter the White House — he was 69 at his inauguration in 1981 — the US didn’t hold a candle to the Soviets when it came to geriatric leaders.
In 1981, the average age of the powerful 14-man Politburo that ruled over the USSR was 69 — a solid 13 years more senior than the average age of Reagan’s Cabinet that same year.
And Reagan was right: Soviet leaders had consistently died on the job. Leonid Brezhnev, who led the USSR for 18 years, died at 75 in 1982. He was followed by Yuri Andropov, who died in 1984 at 69. Andropov’s successor, Konstantin Chernenko, died in 1985 at 73.
Fast-forward to 2022.
The United States' leadership has more parallels with the latter days of the USSR than those leaders might care to admit. President Joe Biden will soon turn 80. His predecessor, Donald Trump, entered office at 70 and six years later is considered a frontrunner for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is 82. The average age in the Senate is 63, and the average age in the House is 58. Meanwhile, the median age in the US is 38. When it comes to age, Congress is not especially representative of the general population.
Yelena Biberman, a political scientist and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center, told Insider that the age of an individual politician should be inconsequential because “mental and physical acuity varies greatly between individuals at old age.” But she added that it’s “very concerning” when there’s “an entire cohort of very old politicians at the highest levels of the federal government.”
The article gets much worse from here on out, so I’m stopping quoting it here.
- Ian strengthens to hurricane as it churns toward Florida Washington Post
The National Hurricane Center upgraded Ian to a hurricane early Monday, as the storm intensifies and heads toward the coast of Florida this week, on its way to becoming the first significant hurricane to hit the state since 2018.
But first, it is expected to slam western Cuba as a “major” hurricane on Monday night — bringing with it “significant wind and storm surge impacts,” according to the agency’s latest advisory. Major hurricanes are Category 3 or above and pack sustained winds of more than 111 mph.
Florida is under a state of emergency, which Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) expanded from two dozen counties to the entire state Saturday afternoon, warning that residents could see power outages, fuel disruptions and flooding.
“It really is important to stress the degree of uncertainty that still exists,” DeSantis said at a briefing Sunday.
- Nearly Six Million Cubans Participated in Referendum TeleSUR
The president of the National Electoral Council, Alina Balseiro, told the press that up to 17:00 local time, five million 806 thousand 078 citizens had voted out of the more than eight million 400 thousand summoned in this opportunity.
- Argentine lab announces local production of Sputnik V vaccine ends Merco Press
The Argentine laboratory manufacturing Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine has announced it would halt the line to target other types of diseases, it was reported in Buenos Aires.
Richmond Laboratories CEO Marcelo Figueiras confirmed that the deal was over after over 9 million doses had been delivered and that the pharmaceutical company was “closing agreements” for the production of other vaccines both for COVID-19 and other ailments.
“We are working on the completion of the plant. The agreement with Sputnik ended, we produced everything we had to do and we have already delivered it; there were almost nine million doses which at that time was a commendable task of the whole team,” said Figueiras in a radio interview.
- COVID-19 Vaccination of Children Under 5 Begins in Peru TeleSUR
This was announced by the Minsal last Wednesday after the arrival in the country of a first batch of 1.5 million pediatric vaccines from the Moderna laboratory. A second batch of 1 499 900 doses is expected to arrive on September 28.
The plan consists of immunizing 2 404 106 children under 5 years of age. The head of the General Directorate of Strategic Public Health Interventions, Alexis Holguin, said the process will begin this Sunday in Metropolitan Lima and will be extended from next week to the different regions of the country.
The Ukraine War
- Germany’s Chancellor Has ‘a Lot’ for Ukraine. But No Battle Tanks. NYT
Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany gets right to the point when asked why his country will not send battle tanks to Ukraine: It is “a very dangerous war,” he said.
Ukraine has made gains recently against Russia, which invaded the country in February, and has been asking the West for reinforcements. But Germany has declined to lead the way in sending that aid.
“We are supporting Ukraine,” Mr. Scholz said last week in an hourlong interview with The New York Times. “We are doing it in a way that is not escalating to where it is becoming a war between Russia and NATO because this would be a catastrophe.”
Climate, Space, and Science
- How birds of prey are exposing a toxic time bomb Guardian
Rui Lourenço first started collecting feathers because they were beautiful. Below the birds’ cliff-side nests in rural Portugal, he would find their shed feathers and bring them back to his ecology lab at the University of Évora. “It was just the typical curiosity of a naturalist,” he says. “Especially the flight feathers, they’re large, they’re soft, they have really interesting patterns.”
One day, a colleague asked if she could check them for toxic chemicals. As top predators, raptors’ concentration of chemicals is particularly high due to a phenomenon called biomagnification in which concentrations increase as you go up the food chain. This means that monitoring them can help reveal what substances are polluting the natural world. Lourenço now regularly sends feathers for analysis. “They work as an alert system not only for predators, but for the environment and humans,” he says.
And we need to be alerted. This year, a team of scientists warned that we had probably breached the planetary boundary for how much chemical pollution the Earth can handle and still remain a suitable home for human beings. Since the release of new chemicals now far outstrips our ability to test and regulate them, they argue, the situation is out of control.
Then, last month a paper showed that just one class of chemicals – per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), also known as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in the environment – is now ubiquitous in Earth’s rainwater at concentrations above the safe drinking limit. “At the UN environment programme, they talk now consistently about the triple crisis: climate, biodiversity and pollution,” says Linn Persson from the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, who co-authored the planetary boundary warning.
Chemical pollution is a vast problem, the depth of which is still unclear because many chemicals are not extensively tested for their environmental impact and not routinely monitored. This means that analysing raptors and other top predators is one of the only ways to tell how bad the situation really is – and how to save it.
- Western Forests, Snowpack and Wildfires Appear Trapped in a Vicious Climate Cycle Inside Climate News
The surveys, up at about 10,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains west of Fort Collins, were part of a rapid response science assessment to measure just how much the extreme 2020 wildfire season in the West disrupted the water-snow cycle in the critical late-snowmelt zone which serves as a huge natural reservoir. The snowmelt sustains river flows that nurture ecosystems, fills irrigation ditches for crops and delivers supplies of industrial and drinking water to communities.
The findings of the study, published earlier this month in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, suggest that the relationships of snow and water in many Western mountain forests are caught in a vicious climate cycle, with more fires leading to faster snowmelt and reduced water, which, in turn, makes forests more flammable.
- Exxon’s Long-Shot Embrace of Carbon Capture in the Houston Area Just Got Massive Support from Congress Inside Climate News
Imagine a clean energy future, and you might picture giant turbines twisting in the wind, or electric vehicles zipping quietly down the highway. Fossil fuels become relics, or disappear altogether.
ExxonMobil has a different vision. In this story of the future, oil refineries continue to distill crude. Fossil fuel-burning power plants churn away, too.
Oil and gas aren’t the problem, Exxon chief executive Darren Woods has said. The problem is their carbon pollution. So last year, Exxon proposed a herculean industrial effort for the Houston area that would allow the region’s fossil fuel infrastructure to continue operating at full throttle for decades while steadily lowering its climate emissions.
Using a technology called carbon capture and storage, Exxon said it could collect 50 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually from industrial smokestacks by 2030, and double that amount by 2040. The company would then compress the gas and deliver it through hundreds of miles of new pipelines to injection wells drilled beneath the Gulf of Mexico, where the climate-warming gas would remain locked away forever in porous rock.
Exxon is proposing to create an entirely new industry, built to capture carbon and reinject it, all so that energy companies can keep on pumping and burning oil and gas. The $100 billion mega-project would tie together dozens of facilities owned by 12 of the world’s biggest corporate polluters, including oil majors like Chevron, power generators like Calpine and chemical giants like Dow. It would also require substantial government financing, Exxon said.
Exxon and others have already made strides in securing this support. Since the company released its proposal, Congress has given the Energy Department $20 billion to spend on carbon capture and clean hydrogen projects and authorized another $250 billion in loan guarantees for these and other emissions-cutting technologies. Lawmakers also increased the value of a carbon-capture tax incentive such that, if Exxon and its partners meet their 2030 goals for Houston, they would stand to reap more than $4 billion every year from taxpayers for up to 12 years. The prospect of these multibillion-dollar government handouts has riled many climate advocates.
“Paying them to do this is paying a ransom on the planet,” said Corey Williams, who until recently served as the research and policy director at Air Alliance Houston, an environmental advocacy group.
“We’re not penalizing them, we’re considering paying them,” he added. “That to me couldn’t be more backwards.”
Many analysts and environmental advocates received Exxon’s announcement with skepticism. Some critics see the company’s commitment to carbon capture as a form of greenwashing, a disingenuous gesture toward lowering emissions serving as cover for the real investments in oil and gas. Exxon’s only publicly announced investment in carbon capture this year has been a $400 million expansion of an operation in Wyoming, compared with a projected $22.5 billion in total capital expenditures. The company has also said it expects to sell even more oil and gas five years from now than it does today.
- Jupiter is about to make its closest approach to Earth in 59 years CNN
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.
- Iran and Russia protests expose their authoritarian regimes’ frailty WaPo
Oh, Rubin, you never disappoint. I assume similar logic holds for the BLM protests, or the protests against the Iraq War in 2002, which remain some of the largest protests seen in the West, ever?
- Biden’s Cautious Foreign Policy Imperils Us NYT
Cautious? CAUTIOUS? We’re the closest to global thermonuclear war than we have ever been, and reason is because Biden is pissing off two global superpowers simultaneously!
- The UK Should Be Worried About Emerging Market Comparisons Bloomberg
The pound has been hammered by Truss’s radical approach. It may be left to the central bank chief to step up and be the adult in the room.
Radical is certainly one word for it, given that this has been what conservatives have been repeatedly doing for the last 70 fucking years.
Michael Cohen is selling t-shirts depicting Trump in prison to ‘celebrate the fall of the Mango Mussolini’ Business Insider
Pollsters fear they’re blowing it again in 2022 Politico
Can’t imagine why.
- Shinzo Abe’s Funeral Furor Is Japan’s Most Unedifying Debate Bloomberg
A partisan debate over the assassinated leader’s state memorial embarrasses the nation on the world stage.
Spare a thought for Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, watching the pomp and circumstance of last week’s state funeral for Queen Elizabeth II.
Kishida’s plan to hold a ceremonial farewell for Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest-serving premier who was assassinated on the campaign trail just two days before upper house elections this July, was likely intended to be a similarly uniting moment for the country. Instead, it has deepened partisan divides, collapsed Kishida’s polling numbers, and is threatening to turn him into Japan’s latest short-term leader.
State funerals are, admittedly, an uncommon sight in Japan. Only a handful have taken place in the postwar period, and only once for a prime minister — that of Shigeru Yoshida, the man who began to rebuild Japan after World War II. Other officials, such as the great Cold War-era prime minister Yasuhiro Nakasone have been given ceremonies one level below, with costs split between the ruling party and the government.
The idea behind Tuesday’s state funeral was to give Abe a greater send-off in a mark of respect to his status as the longest-serving prime minister in history, his international renown and in recognition of the tragic circumstances of his death. Instead, it has instead stirred an unedifying debate that embarrasses Japan on the world stage.
While majorities backed the idea of the funeral in polls shortly after Abe was killed, latest surveys show around 60% now oppose it. Opponents have lodged complaints over everything from the cost to the legal basis for holding the ceremony. Emotions have run so high that one man set himself on fire in protest.
But at its simplest, opposition to the funeral is explained by partisanship — a chance for Abe’s political opponents to score points on the former prime minister in death, having failed to take him down in life.
For a man who won three straight elections and whose death inspired national days of mourning in places as far afield as India and Brazil, it seems odd that an event to mark his passing should trigger such hatred in his home country. Other nations see little issue with marking even divisive leaders; the UK taxpayer spent £3.6 million to send off Margaret Thatcher, who was so unpopular in some parts that her passing triggered street parties.
Abe had a singular ability to drive his critics around the bend. In life, he was unfairly accused of everything from attempting to remilitarize Japan to being single-handedly responsible for widening the gap between rich and poor. For all the talk of Japan’s supposedly compliant press, the latter half of his term in office was dominated by media stirrings of cronyism allegations.
Unfairly accused? Dude, Abe’s gonna rise out of his coffin and punch you in the face for saying that. He was PROUD of doing those things. It was his life’s work.
But the incumbent is nonetheless right to go ahead with this event. Japan should be proud of Abe’s achievements on the world stage — or at least recognize that he boosted the country’s standing. He is likely the only Japanese leader of the 21st century that many outside the country could name; he looms large over policies that helped lend new life to a country that teetered on the economic edge, and made Japan a key foreign policy player in Asia and beyond.
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.
- Corporate greed, not wages, is behind inflation. It’s time for price controls Guardian
On Wednesday, policymakers at the Federal Reserve – America’s central bank – continued their battle against inflation with a third straight supersize interest-rate increase. And they warned that they’re not done. They’ll continue to raise borrowing costs until inflation is tamed.
They assume that the underlying economic problem is a tight labor market, causing wages to rise – and prices to rise in response. And they believe interest rate increases are necessary to slow this wage-price inflation.
This is dead wrong.
Wage increases have not even kept up with inflation. Most workers’ paychecks are shrinking in terms of real purchasing power. Rather than causing inflation, wages are actually reducing inflationary pressures. The underlying economic problem is profit-price inflation. It’s caused by corporations raising their prices above their increasing costs.
Corporations are using those increasing costs – of materials, components and labor – as excuses to increase their prices even higher, resulting in bigger profits. This is why corporate profits are close to levels not seen in over half a century.
Corporations have the power to raise prices without losing customers because they face so little competition. Since the 1980s, two-thirds of all American industries have become more concentrated.
Why are grocery prices through the roof? Because just four companies control 85% of meat and poultry processing. Just one corporation sets the price for most of the nation’s seed corn. And two giant firms dominate consumer staples.
All are raising prices and increasing profits because they can.
Big pharma, comprising five giants, is causing drug prices to soar.
The airline industry has gone from 12 carriers in 1980 to just four today, all rapidly raising ticket prices.
Wall Street has consolidated into five giant banks, raking in record profits on the spreads between the interest they pay on deposits and what they charge on loans.
Broadband is dominated by three giant cable companies, all raising their prices.
Automobile dealers are enjoying record profits as they raise the retail prices of automobiles.
Gas prices have started to drop but big oil still has the power to raise prices at the pump far higher than the costs of crude.
And so on.
This is why Congress and the administration need to take direct action against profit-price inflation, rather than rely solely on the Fed to raise interest rates and put the burden of fighting inflation on average working people who are not responsible for it.
Bloomerism and Hope
For events that show that a better, more equitable, and happier world is possible than the neoliberal hell we inhabit.
- Trader Joe’s Staff Petition to Unionize in New York City Bloomberg
Trader Joe’s employees have petitioned to unionize a New York City supermarket, extending a recent wave of organizing at the company and within the broader US retail industry.
Employees at a Brooklyn store filed Friday for a unionization election, according to the docket of the National Labor Relations Board. Workers are seeking to join Trader Joe’s United, the same fledgling, independent group that prevailed in elections this summer in Massachusetts and Minneapolis, creating the first union foothold among the company’s over 500 stores. The Brooklyn site employs around 185 workers, according to the docket.
- Strike, strike, strike Canadian Dimension
The ruling oligarchs are terrified that, for tens of millions of people, the economic dislocation caused by inflation, stagnant wages, austerity, the pandemic and the energy crisis is becoming unendurable. They warn, as Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, have done, about the potential for social unrest, especially as we head towards winter.
Social unrest is a code word for strikes—the one weapon workers possess that can cripple and destroy the billionaire class’s economic and political power. Strikes are what the global oligarchs fear most. Through the courts and police intervention, they will seek to prevent workers from shutting down the economy. This looming battle is crucial. If we begin to chip away at corporate power through strikes, most of which will probably be wildcat strikes that defy union leadership and anti-union laws, we can begin to regain agency over our lives.
The oligarchs have spent decades abolishing or domesticating unions, turning the few unions that remain—only 10.7 percent of the workforce is unionized—into obsequious junior partners in the capitalist system. As of January 2022, private-sector unionization stood at its lowest point since the passage of the National Labor Relations Act of 1935. And yet, 48 percent of US workers say they would like to belong to a union.
As a result of crushing conditions workers have been subjected to for years, the nation is facing its first major rail strike since the 1990s. The transportation industry, of which most rail workers are a part, has a higher than average union density compared to other parts of the private sector. A rail strike could mean a loss in economic output of $2 billion a day, according to a trade group representing railroad companies.
- How Indigenous Taiwanese Are Fighting Corporate Domination Jacobin
I know essentially nothing about the indigeneous people of Taiwan, so this is a very interesting article. It’s kinda long, but I think it’s worth quoting in full:
Indigenous people in Taiwan have long been unable to define themselves. Qing Dynasty officials called them fan, barbarians outside of their civilization. When the Republic of China government decamped to Taiwan, it used the patronizing “mountain compatriots.” Only on August 1, 1994, the official designation was changed to the neutral “indigenous.”
August 1 now marks Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Taiwan, commemorating not only the new designation but also a shift in the government’s approach to indigenous people. Whereas before the goal was assimilation, it would now be cooperation.
On this year’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day, while the country’s major leaders were dining with indigenous elites in Taipei’s Grand Hotel, hundreds of community heads, youth organizers, and activists from the Paiwan indigenous people assembled on the southern edge of the island. There they announced a new effort: the Paiwan National Assembly. Not content with token representation, the group will pursue concerted political action.
Taiwan’s indigenous population numbers 600,000, representing nearly 3 percent of the country’s population. They mostly live in the mountains and eastern coast of the island, a physical isolation that mirrors their material marginalization. Indigenous people’s life expectancy is eight years lower than the national average. They are nearly five times more likely to live in poverty, earning only 75 percent of the average monthly wages of nonindigenous people in Taiwan. UNESCO has designated five of Taiwan’s sixteen indigenous languages as critically or severely endangered, with the rest deemed vulnerable.
“Over the past years, many of the problems facing Taiwan’s indigenous have begun to require representation on the national level,” said Ljegeay Rupeljengan, one of the main organizers of the Paiwan National Assembly. The Paiwan are one of Taiwan’s sixteen officially recognized indigenous groups. Though indigenous groups are traditionally politically divided into individual communities, Rupeljengan sees unity in a single national organization as key to facing the present challenges. “Creating a platform where our entire nation could have its voice heard will help advance our role as subjects of history,” he said.
The Advance of Capital
Dutch colonization of southwestern Taiwan in the early 17th century first began integrating the island into the capitalist world system. But it was during the Japanese colonial period, beginning in 1895, when the Qing Empire ceded Taiwan to Japan, that capitalism established a firm foothold in Taiwan. For indigenous groups, that meant an intensification of accumulation by dispossession, with devastating consequences.
Taiwan’s mountains were rich in lumber, camphor, and mineral resources, but indigenous groups resisted Japanese capital’s efforts to exploit them. The result was Japanese administrators waging a number of campaigns against different indigenous groups in the mountains, most famously the Truku and Seediq peoples. Indigenous groups were forced off their ancestral lands and placed in reservations mostly on the east coast of the island, where they continue to live. Taiwan and its original inhabitants were successfully integrated into the capitalist economy.
When the Republic of China government relocated to Taiwan in 1949, it mostly continued the Japanese administration’s indigenous policies. Indigenous traditional lands, which a government survey, in 2017, found constituted over half of Taiwanese territory, held the raw materials like limestone and wood needed for the island’s industrial development. Indigenous migrants were also a key source of labor, and the continual separation of the indigenous from their traditional lands and limits on their cultural practices were essential to sustaining the supply of that labor.
Martial law ended in 1987, and the subsequent years saw Taiwan undergo democratization and liberalization. For indigenous peoples, that meant the end of the ruling Kuomintang party’s assimilationist policies. The Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP) was created in 1996 as a ministerial-level body to deal with indigenous issues, incorporating the indigenous into a diverse, de-sinicizing Taiwan.
But the relationship between capital and indigenous peoples was harder to change. “Taiwan is in a postcolonial era, but the vestiges of colonialism remain, and that is because of the influence of capitalism,” says Chen Yi-fong, a professor at National Dong Hwa University. Chen says that though Taiwan did democratize, in many ways this political liberalization also fed the country’s neoliberal turn. As the state’s powers were curtailed, capital became relatively stronger, and its ability to influence society surpassed the influence it had during martial law.
Now a neoliberal consensus has settled over the Taiwanese two-party political system. “Both parties mostly consider the interests of capital when developing legislation. When it comes to questions about the relationship between industry and the state, or industry and the people, they are more or less the same. This is the result of Taiwan not having a leftist voice over the long term,” said Chen.
A Dream Deferred
Today indigenous society finds a government that is at least rhetorically interested in delivering on the central demands of the indigenous movement: cultural revitalization, autonomy, and the return of lands. On Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 2016, newly elected president Tsai Ing-wen apologized to Taiwan’s indigenous peoples and promised to advance serious material reforms to the relationship between indigenous people, the state, and capital.
Yet as the government began passing statutes to enact these reforms, it began facing serious resistance, often from industry or other actors tied to capital.
In 2016, the government enacted regulations to give indigenous communities the right to informed prior consent over all activities on their reserved lands. But a year later, the economics ministry renewed the lease of a controversial quarry in Hualien County’s Xinchengshan without informing the local Truku indigenous community. The mining rights and land were originally obtained in the 1970s due to the close relationship between the quarry’s operator, Asia Cement, and the Kuomintang-led regime.
While a legal decision in 2020 affirmed the community’s right to hold a vote, it didn’t follow that Asia Cement would allow the community to freely decide. “Large companies use a variety of methods to limit the development of indigenous communities,” said Professor Chen, the Dong Hwa University Professor.
Lobbying from the industry blocked the amendment of the Mining Act, allowing the economics ministry to extend Asia Cement’s license without consulting the community. Chen says Asia Cement also employed a variety of methods to split the community. While community leaders were trying to negotiate with the firm, the firm wanted to push through the vote, believing that the community’s reliance on the quarry for employment would engender an approval of the project. Meanwhile, the central government stood on the sidelines, leaving the community to struggle on its own. Without an alternative source of income for the community, residents voted to extend the company’s lease this year.
The Tsai administration, in 2017, also published new regulations to create a process for delineating indigenous traditional territories, a step toward realizing autonomy and specific rights for indigenous peoples on those lands. But the regulations excluded private property, preventing indigenous governance over private land and causing controversy. When the Thao people submitted an application to declare their territory, a coalition of local governments, concerned about the impact of indigenous management over business in the region, successfully sued to block the territories’ official delineation. There has yet to be a single traditional territory declared.
A New Formation
These developments influenced Rupeljengan and other Paiwan leaders to first begin planning a national assembly in 2016. The delay of legislation giving indigenous peoples substantive autonomy to secure the conditions for cultural continuance was key to their motivation.
Rupeljengan doesn’t completely discredit the many advances of the Tsai administration, notably the massive increase in funding for cultural programs. However, it had become clear that some changes could not come from within the state. “Government institutions think about how to conform to the needs of large companies or the state’s administration. That means a subordinate body [like CIP] can’t embrace policies that contradict the overall system,” he said.
The objective of the assembly is clear. According to its bylaws, the assembly is to be terminated once a Paiwan autonomous region is declared over the traditional territories.
According to Rupeljegan, the Paiwan National Assembly comes after the formation of national identity in indigenous groups, a result of colonial rule. “The concept of Paiwan peoples was first defined by the Japanese administration. But now, after decades of having to struggle within this legal framework, a Paiwan identity exists,” he said.
Forming national institutions is a way to build grassroots power to confront the state with indigenous demands. The assembly doesn’t seek to usurp the power of local Paiwan communities and their own councils. Instead, it bridges the gap between local community councils and the CIP, which manages policy for all indigenous groups. Rupeljegan hopes it can grow in that capacity into the role of representing Paiwan interests to the government, acting as a key node in the creation of indigenous policy. But more importantly, it can have the appropriate power and legitimacy to eventually negotiate a treaty with the Taiwanese state to establish an autonomous region.
There are still many doubts around the Paiwan National Assembly. Other indigenous peoples like the Atayal and Bunun have established their own similar assemblies with uncertain results, though their objectives are not as clear as the Paiwan’s. The assembly is not registered with the government and did not include any prior consultation with the state, meaning it will likely have to build legitimacy within Paiwan communities before being able to sit across from government representatives as equals.
Rupeljegan emphasizes that he and his fellow organizers have no intention of attempting to found their own independent country. But after six years of frustration during the Tsai administration, the assembly may represent a change in tactics for Taiwan’s indigenous groups in their struggle toward self-governance and dignity. “We need autonomy in order to become a part of mainstream Taiwanese society,” said Rupeljegan.