Global Events and the United Nations

Climate Home News: Gap to 1.5C yawns, as most governments miss UN deadline to improve climate plans

Almost all the world’s governments have failed to improve their climate plans this year, breaking a promise made at last year’s climate summit in Glasgow, UK.

At Cop26, all countries agreed to “revisit and strengthen” their 2030 climate plans, to close the gap between national action and the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement.

23 September was the cut-off date for inclusion in a UN Climate Change progress report and was highlighted as a deadline by Cop26 president Alok Sharma.

As that date passed, just 23 of the nearly 200 countries which signed the Glasgow agreement had submitted updated 2030 climate plans. Of these, most offered more policy detail rather than strengthening headline targets.

Top three emitters the USA, EU and China worked on implementing pledges made last year but did not increase their ambition. India formalised promises made by prime minister Narendra Modi at Cop26 into an official four-page document.

Common Dreams: Acidification of Arctic Happening Up to 4 Times Faster Than Other Oceans

Researchers in China and the U.S. said Thursday they were “shocked” to discover that the Arctic Ocean is acidifying three to four times faster than the rest of the world’s oceans.

The faster rate of change is due to the speed with which ice in the ocean is melting, according to Wei-Jun Cai of the University of Delaware and Liqi Chen of the Third Institute of Oceanography in China.

“If sea ice continues to melt at its current rate, the rapid acidification of the ocean will intensify in the next few decades until there is no sea ice left in the Arctic Ocean.”

Common Dreams: Environmental Defender Killed Every Two Days Over Last Decade, Report Finds

The advocacy group Global Witness on Thursday marked 10 years of collecting data on slain environmental defenders by publishing a new report revealing that at least 1,733 people have been killed over the past decade—a rate of one murder every two days.

“Our data on killings is likely to be an underestimate, given that many murders go unreported.”

Black Agenda Report: Biden Lies at the United Nations

U.S. presidents routinely violate international law and the United Nations Charter. Yet every year they appear before that body and proclaim American innocence.

It takes a special kind of hubris for a president of the United States to speak at the United Nations, the place where international law is supposed to be upheld and defended. Yet the representative of the worst violator of international law predictably shows up every September when the United Nations General Assembly holds its annual session. The late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez got it right when he spoke in 2006:

“Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the president of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the devil, came here, talking as if he owned the world. Truly. As the owner of the world. I think we could call a psychiatrist to analyze yesterday’s statement made by the president of the United States. As the spokesman of imperialism, he came to share his nostrums, to try to preserve the current pattern of domination, exploitation, and pillage of the peoples of the world.”

Chavez is no longer with us, and Joe Biden is the third man to serve as U.S. president since George W. Bush was compared to the devil. But the words are as true now as they were then. This year Biden’s speech was replete with the usual drivel about the United States being some sort of guarantor of peace. Among other things, he said that permanent members of the Security Council should “…refrain from the use of the veto, except in rare, extraordinary situations, to ensure that the Council remains credible and effective.”

Perhaps Biden thinks that the rest of the world has amnesia. Every time the members of UN General Assembly condemn Israeli apartheid it is the U.S. that predictably steps in with a Security Council veto to protect its ally and partner in crime. Twelve of the 14 U.S. vetoes since 2000 were made on behalf of Israel. Any U.S. proposal calling for change in the Security Council structure is intended to weaken China and Russia’s veto power and to bring in its own puppets such as Germany and Japan.

Of course, Russia bashing was the focus of Biden’s speech with false claims of a nuclear threat, unprovoked attack, and accusations of war crimes. He didn’t mention well documented Ukrainian war crimes such as the shelling of civilians in Donetsk. Worse yet, there was no acknowledgement that Ukraine and Russia were negotiating until the U.S. and the U.K. intervened and scuttled the talks. Biden’s speech was full of projection and every condemnation leveled against Russia or Iran or Venezuela was instead an indictment of U.S. behavior in the world.

The world has changed but American administrations don’t. They continue behaving as if the U.S. is still the all-powerful hegemon that will always get what it wants. It does have the world’s reserve currency and the biggest military, but it can’t control the world without doing harm to itself and its allies. The United States cynically used the United Nations to call for a “no fly zone” over Libya, which allowed it to destroy that nation. Partnerships with jihadists brought destruction to Libya and to Syria, causing a humanitarian disaster which displaced millions of people. The 2014 coup against the elected government of Ukraine has turned into all out war. The sanctions targeting Russian gas and oil have raised prices all over the world and damaged European economies more than any others. The ruble has risen in value and the euro has declined. Even hegemons don’t always get their way.

While Biden mouthed platitudes and falsehoods at the United Nations, Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov met with representatives from China, Cuba, Eritrea, Serbia, Laos, Jordan, Nicaragua, Ethiopia, Algeria, Burkina Faso, India, Mali, Sudan, South Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Mexico among others. So much for Washington’s claims that Russia is an isolated pariah.

While Washington rails against Moscow, it continues to ignore UN votes to end sanctions against Cuba. This year Cuba will again submit a resolution calling on the U.S. to end its trade embargo. During the 2021 vote only the U.S. and Israel voted no. The next vote will have the same result, and reveal Biden’s words, “The United States will always promote human rights and the values enshrined in the U.N. Charter in our own country and around the world,” as a sham.

The United Nations is in serious need of reform. It is part of the Core Group which chooses presidents for Haiti and acts against the will of its people. Biden mentioned Haiti in passing and called for an end to gang violence. But that violence is the direct result of U.S. interventions there. The 75-year history of allowing the permanent Security Council members to dictate to the rest of the world should change. But who should do the changing? Not the U.S., which always has ulterior motives and dirty hands.

Biden did make one valid statement. “Because if nations can pursue their imperial ambitions without consequences, then we put at risk everything this very institution stands for.” It is unfortunate that the U.S. ignores the consequences of its own actions.

WSWS: At UN, New Zealand PM backs war against Russia, promotes internet censorship

At the United Nations general assembly last week, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reiterated her government’s continued and deepening support for the US-NATO war against Russia over Ukraine.

In New Zealand, both the Labour Party-Greens government and the opposition parties support the war. The Ardern government has sent 230 troops to Europe and is providing military aid, intelligence support and training to Ukraine’s armed forces. As a minor imperialist power, NZ depends on the alliance with US imperialism to secure its own neo-colonial interests in the Pacific and its place in the global financial system dominated by the US.

In a profoundly hypocritical speech at the UN, Ardern repeated NATO’s propaganda that Russia bears sole responsibility for the war, which she called “illegal” and a “direct attack on the UN Charter and the international rules-based system.”


United Kingdom

WSWS: Britain on the brink of a social explosion after pound’s collapse

The unprecedented collapse in the value of the pound will accelerate the savage austerity offensive against the working class, paving the way for a massive eruption of class struggle. This poses urgently the need for workers to formulate a strategy to defeat the Truss government and its de facto Labour Party allies.

Prime Minister Liz Truss came to power after declaring her readiness to trigger “global annihilation” in a nuclear war with Russia. She has instead pressed the nuclear button on the UK economy and sent British imperialism into meltdown.

By taking on £72 billion in government debt to fund £45 billion “smash and grab” tax breaks for the corporations and the Tories’ friends in the City, Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng lost the confidence of international finance. The concern of global investors is not that Truss has carried out yet another gargantuan handout to big business, but that she has not prepared this through ever deeper attacks on social services and workers’ wages. As former Conservative government chancellor and chief architect of Britain’s post-2008 austerity agenda George Osborne explained, “You can’t have small-state taxes and big-state spending.”

As the value of sterling plummeted, the Bank of England announced that it would begin purchasing long-term UK government bonds on “whatever scale is necessary” to prevent a financial collapse. The £65 billion pledged will be added to the vast sums that must now be clawed from the backs of workers. Investors also made clear that they expect a rapid rise in interest rates to discipline the working class and combat the growing wave of strikes demanding a living wage to combat rapidly rising inflation.

WSWS: Bank of England launches emergency operation to stave off financial collapse

The Bank of England (BoE) has launched an emergency operation to prevent a collapse of the UK bond market. This threatened to make pension funds insolvent and spark a meltdown of the financial system akin to the “Lehman moment” that set off the global financial crisis of 2008.

The BoE intervention came on Wednesday morning when its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) said it was reversing its previously announced policy of selling off long-term bonds, or gilts, scheduled to begin next month, and would resume purchases.


TeleSUR: Russia’s Grain Harvest May Reach Record 150 Mln Tons This Year

Vladimir Putin warned that Western sanctions imposed on Russia’s grain and fertilizers pose a growing threat to global food security.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia could harvest a record 150 million tons of grain this year.

“To date, 138.7 million tons of grain have already been threshed. This is approximately a third more than (that) during the same period last year,” the Kremlin reported on Tuesday, citing the Russian leader at a meeting on the progress of seasonal field work.

East Asia and Oceania

Sri Lanka

WSWS: Sri Lanka: Massive fire destroys dozens of shanty homes in Kajeemawatte, Colombo

On Tuesday evening a massive fire erupted at Kajeemawatte in Colombo’s north, destroying more than 60 shanty homes and leaving hundreds of people without anywhere to live. The disaster again highlights the refusal of consecutive Sri Lankan governments to provide decent housing for the poor.

Central Asia and the Middle East


TeleSUR: Ebola Forces East Africa to Improve Emergency Preparedness

Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Uganda are fine-tuning their epidemiological responses.

On Thursday, the secretariat of the East African Community (EAC) urged its countries to enhance emergency preparedness and response activities following an outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Uganda.

North America

Climate Home News: Hurricane Ian could cost US $67bn in economic damages

Hurricane Ian has battered Cuba and Florida, killing at least 12 people, leaving millions without power, destroying homes and ravaging key regional industries, such as tobacco and citrus fruits.

Ian brought powerful winds, heavy rainfall and storm surges to Florida and Cuba, where it knocked out the electricity grid. In Cuba, at least two people died in the storm and in Florida at least ten were killed. The storm also caused in Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic.

The Category 4 hurricane, which is one of the most powerful to ever make landfall in Florida at 150mph, is also set to be one of the costliest storms in US history.

Chuck Watson, a disaster modeller at Enki Research, said the storm could cost the US up to $67 billion in economic damages. Besides damaging homes and infrastructure, the hurricane also ruined orange farms in the largest producing state, causing orange juice prices to surge.

Only around 30% of the damage is covered by commercial insurance, Watson told Climate Home News. 60% of Florida residents do not have flood insurance, according to a 2020 McKinsey report.

In a similar vein:

Common Dreams: ‘Total Devastation’ as Hurricane Ian Tears Through Florida

WSWS: Devastation from Hurricane Ian: Another disaster inflicted by American capitalism

Hurricane Ian has inflicted a catastrophe in Florida, with a large but as yet uncounted death toll, and massive destruction of homes, buildings, vehicles and infrastructure. Millions across Florida remain without power and many were left trapped in their homes due to widespread flooding. This is not simply a “natural disaster,” but was prepared by the staggering negligence of government officials at both the state and federal level.

United States

Common Dreams: US Gas Flaring Releases Five Times More Methane Than Previously Thought

Flaring, the process of burning natural gas escaping from fossil fuel wells, releases five times more methane than previously believed, according to an analysis of most U.S. operations, published Thursday in the journal Science.

The study, led by researchers at the University of Michigan, is based on data collected during 13 flights over three years at the Bakken oil and gas field in North Dakota as well as the Eagle Ford and Permian fields in Texas—which collectively have over 80% of all U.S. flaring operations.

Flaring turns methane into carbon dioxide; while both are greenhouse gases, the former is over 80 times more potent than the latter, in terms of its global heating potential, in the 20 years after it is released into the atmosphere.

“Industry and governments generally assume that flares remain lit and destroy methane, the predominant component of natural gas, with 98% efficiency,” the study states. “Neither assumption, however, is based on real-world observations.”

As co-author and professor Eric Kort summarized, the researchers discovered that “there is a lot more methane being added to the atmosphere than currently accounted for in any inventories or estimates.”

Specifically, they found that due to inefficient combustion and flares being unlit 3%-5% of the time, the average efficiency rate is just 91%, which works out to “a fivefold increase in methane emissions above present assumptions” and 4%-10% of total U.S. oil and gas methane emissions.

Common Dreams: Analysis Exposes Taxpayer Billions ‘Wasted’ on Dead-End Carbon Capture Schemes

An analysis published this week shows that past congressional efforts to bolster fossil fuel industry-backed carbon capture schemes have amounted to little more than a sinkhole of taxpayer money—a pertinent warning as Congress moves once again to pump billions of dollars into the failed technology as the climate crisis intensifies.

“What the fossil fuel industry hopes you won’t find out is carbon capture is already a failure of an experiment, funded with taxpayer money.”

Common Dreams: Controlled by Right-Wing Justices, US Supreme Court’s Approval Hits All-Time Low

More than half of adults in the United States say they lack trust in the federal government’s judicial branch and nearly three-fifths disapprove of the way the U.S. Supreme Court is doing its job, according to survey results released Thursday, as the negative ramifications of opinions issued this summer by the high court’s reactionary majority continue to reverberate.

Just 47% of U.S. adults have “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust in the federal judiciary, Gallup found. “This represents a 20-percentage-point drop from two years ago, including seven points since last year,” and is six points lower than the previous record low of 53%, the polling firm noted. “The judicial branch’s current tarnished image contrasts with trust levels exceeding two-thirds in most years in Gallup’s trend that began in 1972.”

In addition to record low trust in the federal judiciary, the new poll, which was conducted September 1-16, found that a record high percentage of U.S. adults (58%) say they disapprove of how the Supreme Court is handling its job. A record-tying low (40%) say they approve.

Common Dreams: ‘Incredible Victory’: California Gov. Newsom Signs Farmworker Unionization Bill Into Law

After vetoing similar legislation last year and threatening to do so again last month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday signed Assembly Bill 2183 into law, making it easier for farmworkers in the state to participate in union elections.

The Democratic governor’s about-face on the measure represents a major victory for labor leaders. It follows a monthslong push by United Farm Workers of America (UFW) and the California Labor Federation (CLF) and comes in the wake of pressure from President Joe Biden and two high-ranking national Democrats with California ties—Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“This is an incredible victory,” said UFW president Teresa Romero. “Starting next year, farmworkers can participate in elections free from intimidation and deportations. ¡Sí se puede!”

Responsible Statecraft: New poll shows people distrust think tanks even more than media

Think tanks are suffering from a crisis of public confidence. A 2018 poll showed that just 20 percent of Americans trust what think tanks have to say. And, according to polling just released today, the situation has only gotten worse.

Whether we call it “the death of expertise,” “truth decay,” or simply a new “post-fact” world, the American public’s confidence in all experts, not just those at think tanks, has decreased markedly in recent years. But, that trend appears to be uniquely bad for think tanks. A public opinion poll of American citizens released today by Cast From Clay, the same U.K. firm that conducted the 2018 poll, found that think tank experts are seen even less favorably than most other experts. Just 48 percent of respondents believe “think tankers and public policy experts” are “valuable” to society.

In comparison, the highest scoring experts were medical doctors (82 percent), scientists and engineers (79 percent), and historians (75 percent). While it’s perhaps unsurprising that think tank experts aren’t viewed as favorably as these top groups, think tankers are seen as even less valuable than some of the most assailed groups of experts in America. For example, news reporters and journalists, who seemingly face relentless attacks on their credibility, fared better (55 percent valuable) than think tankers. Even the perennial punching bag of experts, lawyers, were seen by more Americans (60 percent) as valuable to society than think tankers.

“Public lack of trust in policy experts is not unfounded,” Tom Hashemi, Managing Partner at Cast From Clay, explained via email. Stories abound of apparent conflicts of interest at think tanks, most notably the former president of the Brookings Institution facing allegations of working as an unregistered foreign agent. And, it’s precisely this type of situation — where an expert is seen as having ulterior motives — that most concerns the American public.

Responsible Statecraft: Poll: Americans support quick diplomatic end to war in Ukraine

Nearly 60 percent of Americans would support the United States engaging in diplomatic efforts “as soon as possible” to end the war in Ukraine, even if that means Ukraine having to make concessions to Russia, according to a new poll.

The survey, conducted by Data for Progress on behalf of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, also found that a plurality (49 percent) said the Biden administration and Congress have not done enough diplomatically to help end the war (37 percent said they had).

The poll’s release comes after Vladimir Putin doubled down on Russia’s war in Ukraine by mobilizing reserves and issuing threats to use nuclear weapons after recent gains by the Ukrainian military near the country’s eastern border with Russia.

Moscow has also recently orchestrated referendums in some Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine on whether citizens there want to secede and become part of the Russian Federation, leading experts to believe that regardless of the outcome, Putin plans to illegally annex parts of Ukraine.

The survey also found that 47 percent said they support the continuation of U.S. military aid to Ukraine only if Washington is involved in ongoing diplomacy to end the war, while 41 percent said they would support aid regardless of whether the United States is engaged in negotiations.

Just six percent said Russia’s war in Ukraine is among the top three most important issues facing the United States today, with the top three being inflation (46 percent), jobs and the economy (31 percent), and gun violence (26 percent).

WSWS: Thousands of Virginia students from almost one hundred schools walk out in protest over new proposed anti-transgender school policies

On Tuesday, thousands of Virginia students from nearly one hundred middle and high schools walked out in protest over reactionary new policies proposed by Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin which target the rights of transgender students.

On September 16, the Virginia Department of Education released new policies for the treatment of transgender students which, if approved by the Virginia Board of Education, will roll back protections for students and give parents effective veto power over their children’s ability to have their gender identification affirmed by school personnel.

In addition, Youngkin’s new guidelines require that parents “be informed and given an opportunity to object before counseling services pertaining to gender are given” to students. Further, the policies prohibit school districts from encouraging or instructing “teachers to conceal material information about a student from the student’s parent, including information related to gender.”


TeleSUR: Mexico’s Central Bank Raises Key Interest Rate for 11th Time

In a statement, the bank detailed that Banxico’s five board members unanimously agreed to increase the target for the overnight interbank interest rate by 75 basis points to 9.25 percent.

The central Bank of Mexico (Banxico) decided on Thursday to raise the key benchmark interest rate for the eleventh straight time, amid fears of further effects from increasing inflation and uncertainty about the local economy.

Caribbean and South America


TeleSUR: Family Code Goes Into Effect in Cuba

The new Family Code which was published today in the Official Gazette, came to effect after its approval by the Cuban population in last Sunday’s referendum.

The law was signed the day before by Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez and the head of the National Assembly of People’s Power, Esteban Lazo Hernández.

The Minister of Justice, Oscar Silvera Martínez, said conditions were created in notary offices, civil registries, marriage palaces and collective offices as part of the process of implementation of the legal norm.

A training process has been carried out throughout the country so that the Code’s regulations are correctly applied and complied with, according to the minister.

WSWS: Progress in Cuba on Recovery of Power After Hurricane Ian

The country’s Electric Union (UNE) reported that it is working “on changing transformers and poles to reestablish electric service to the population of Pinar del Río,” the province most affected by the hurricane.

Ian hit the Caribbean island with category 3 on the Saffir Simpson scale. In the south of the country, the special municipality of Isla de la Juventud had restored 72 percent of electricity service by Wednesday night.

According to UNE, brigades from other provinces arrived at the western end of the island to replace poles, raise downed cables and replace damaged transformers.


TeleSUR: Venezuela to Help Cuba in Managing Damage Caused by Ian

After the destruction caused by Hurricane Ian in the province of Pinar del Rio, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro expressed his solidarity with the Cuban people and announced the immediate delivery of aid to the Caribbean island.

“All the Venezuelan solidarity to immediately support the people of Pinar del Rio for the ravages that the hurricane left in its wake,” he said during an event held in La Guaira, a city located in the north of the country.

“Cuba and Venezuela are a single Homeland, a single people,” Maduro stressed, adding that his country will always be next to the Caribbean island to support its population and rulers.

TeleSUR: President Maduro Calls to Expand Venezuelan Export Capacity

“Venezuela has exports that we want to place at a good price in the South American markets”, he pointed out.

On Wednesday, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro called to strengthen the country’s export vocation towards Colombia and other Latin American nations.

“We have just opened the border with Colombia for trade… We will have good surprises in the weeks to come and the time will come when we have the border totally open,” he said at the installation of the the 2022-2023 School Fair Expo.

“We are going towards the total opening of the border step by step… that is the agreement that we have reached with Colombian President Gustavo Petro,” Maduro added.

On Monday, Venezuela and Colombia reopened their land border to strengthen their relations of brotherhood and bilateral cooperation. In the workshops with Colombian officials, the Bolivarian government has disclosed the range of products and services that its country can place in international markets.


Canadian Dimension: Gustavo Petro’s environmental protection plans face pushback from extractive companies

The progressive Colombian government of Gustavo Petro is drafting legislation that, if enacted, will require mining companies to obtain environmental licenses for mineral exploration. Currently, Colombia only requires environmental licenses for the extraction and production phases of mining.

The administration is also in the process of drafting a bill that would establish a new national mining policy different from the one described in Colombia’s current Mining Code, which was partly drafted by a Canadian aid agency working with a Calgary-based industry think tank.

Francisco Ramirez, the president of Colombia’s State Mine Workers Union who has survived several assassination attempts by right-wing paramilitaries, called the Canadian-drafted Mining Code a “Canadian manipulation to benefit foreign companies to the detriment of Colombians.”


TeleSUR: Lula Has 50% Valid Votes and Could Win in First Round: Poll

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2003-2011) would have 50 percent of the valid votes in this Sunday’s elections and would be on the verge of winning in the first round, according to the Datafolha institute poll released on Thursday.

TeleSUR: Bolsonaro Attacks Brazilian Electronic Voting System Again

On Wednesday, President Jair Bolsonaro again sowed doubts about the electronic voting system that Brazil uses since 1996 without having been the subject of proven fraud complaints. He did not present any evidence regarding his claims.

“Despite the accompaniment of the Armed Forces… we could not zero out the possibility of fraud,” Bolsonaro said four days before the presidential election.

Although the far-right President wants to be re-elected, all voting intention polls show that Bolsonaro is in second place after the Workers' Party candidate Lula Da Silva, who has an advantage of up to 18 percentage points and could win the elections in a single lap.

The Ukraine Proxy Conflict

WSWS: US announces plans to expand “industrial base” for war with Russia

The Defense Department announced Wednesday that the United States and its allies are planning to “expand their nations’ industrial base” for building bombs, rockets and artillery for the war with Russia in Ukraine.

In the name of “providing long-term support to Ukraine,” the world’s leading imperialist powers are massively escalating their wartime production of “ground-based long range fires, air defense systems, air-to-ground munitions.”

The New York Times called the announcement a “Turning Point for Allies Arming Ukraine” and a “sign that the United States and its allies believe that the fighting in Ukraine will last years.”

That same day, Washington announced plans to more than double the number of long-range HIMARS missile launchers sent to Ukraine. According to the Pentagon, the US will spend another $1.1 billion on arms shipments to the country.

Common Dreams: ‘End War in Ukraine’ Say 66 Nations at UN General Assembly

We have spent the past week reading and listening to speeches by world leaders at the UN General Assembly in New York. Most of them condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a violation of the UN Charter and a serious setback for the peaceful world order that is the UN’s founding and defining principle.

But what has not been reported in the United States is that leaders from 66 countries, mainly from the Global South, also used their General Assembly speeches to call urgently for diplomacy to end the war in Ukraine through peaceful negotiations, as the UN Charter requires. We have compiled excerpts from the speeches of all 66 countries to show the breadth and depth of their appeals, and we highlight a few of them here.

African leaders echoed one of the first speakers, Macky Sall, the president of Senegal, who also spoke in his capacity as the current chairman of the African Union when he said, “We call for de-escalation and a cessation of hostilities in Ukraine, as well as for a negotiated solution, to avoid the catastrophic risk of a potentially global conflict.”

The 66 nations that called for peace in Ukraine make up more than a third of the countries in the world, and they represent most of the Earth’s population, including India, China, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Brazil and Mexico.

Monthly Review: LPR, DPR, Kherson and Zaporozhye vote for reunification with Russia

The results of the referenda on the accession of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), as well as the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions to the country, have been released by Moscow.

The head of the regional electoral committee Galina Katyushchenko declared that 93.11% of voters supported reunification with Russia, as 100% of ballots have been counted in the Zaporozhye Region.

In the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), 98.42% of voters backed accession to Russia, as per the head of the regional electoral committee, Elena Kravchenko.

In the Kherson region, 87.05% of voters supported reunification with Russia, according to the head of the regional election commission, Marina Zakharova.

With all referenda counted, Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) reported 99.23% of voters in favor of becoming part of Russia.

Gray Zone: EU parliamentarian calls to sanction Vanessa Beeley and all observers of Donbass referendums

MEP Nathalie Loiseau of France is lobbying for individual sanctions on all observers of the Russian-organized referendums in the Donbass region. She has singled out journalist Vanessa Beeley not only for her coverage of the vote, but for her reporting on the foreign-back war against Syria’s government.

Gray Zone: US, UK sabotaged peace deal because they ‘don’t care about Ukraine’: fmr. NATO adviser


“It happened in the trade and economic zones of Denmark and Sweden,” an area under the full control of U.S. intelligence services, according to Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

Last Monday, ruptures in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines were detected for the first time; sabotage is not ruled out. Four leaks have been detected in the waters surrounding Denmark and Sweden.

This Thursday, speaking to the Soloviev Live program, the Russian diplomat said that the Nord Stream pipeline incidents occurred in “the exclusive economic zone of Denmark and Sweden,” countries “which are crammed with U.S.-made weapons.”

According to the spokeswoman, these are “very NATO-centric countries, totally controlled by U.S. intelligence agencies, which have full control of the situation there.”

Zakharova said that U.S. President Joe Biden must answer if these incidents are the materialization of threats made last February. He said he would end Nord Stream 2 if Russian troops " crossed the Ukrainian border again."

Analysis and Retrospectives

The Left, Broadly Construed

Current Affairs: Robin D.G. Kelley on the Importance of Utopian Visions for Social Movements

Robin D.G. Kelley is professor of American history at UCLA. His classic study Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination, was recently released in its 20th Anniversary Edition. Kelley shows how radicals have, in circumstances of grinding oppression, managed to expand our minds as to what is possible. The book looks at communism, surrealism, Pan-Africanism, and even funk and jazz music to show the colorful and marvelous dreams that have kept social movements alive. His book is invaluable for leftists, because it shows how, in addition to our critiques of capitalism, racism, and patriarchy, we can create inspiring and creative new cultural practices. The revolution needs poetry, dance, and fiction, and Kelley shows us that movement activists have always been dreamers as well as doers. Kelley’s other books include Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression, Race Rebels: Culture, Politics and the Black Working Class, and an acclaimed biography of Thelonious Monk, Thelonious Monk, the Life and Times of an American Original, which was highly praised by the New York Times. Kelley came on the Current Affairs podcast to talk to editor-in-chief Nathan J. Robinson about Freedom Dreams on its 20th anniversary. This interview has been edited and condensed for grammar and clarity.

It’s a fairly long interview but it looks quite interesting.

CounterPunch: Why the Swedish Left Will Continue to Lose

How did the Swedish Democrats (SD), a party with roots in the Nazi movement, become Sweden’s second largest political party? The Swedish left continues to fail in reinventing itself. The result is continuing failure. This trajectory has been apparent for at least twelve years, dating to the 2010 parliamentary election. A further reminder was provided four years later in the 2014 parliamentary election, but nothing was done then either. This essay explains how a comprehensive solution to problems of regional, uneven development could potentially help win over voters supporting extremist parties in Sweden—and potentially benefit left parties which have failed to promote comprehensive solutions to development challenges. The development challenges contribute to political extremism attached to multi-ethnic suburban communities and extra-urban regions, particularly in Southern Sweden.

In the near time, the left will continue to lose because all left parties in Sweden are stuck in fossilized social movement formations tied to national growth, globalization without sufficient attention to declining regions, identity, complaints about welfare state reductions without attention to wealth creation, and deconstructions of the negative consequences of state or corporate actions. The failure to address ongoing problems constitutes what the American sociologist William F. Ogburn termed a “cultural lag” in his essay, “Cultural Lag as Theory,” published in 1957. An alternative to this absence of accelerated learning requires a deeper understanding of how the right gains power, i.e. how uneven development triggers maladies, and how the direct social control of business, media, and the economy itself is the key to breaking the vicious cycle of extremist power. This cycle relates to how uneven development and diversion of resources into militarism triggers crime and an opportunity cost on development. These factors in turn encourage various forms of extremist politics, this politics in turn push policies that further aggravate uneven development and extends extremism. A similar pattern can be seen in the United States where neither major political party has significantly much to offer in terms of gross economic inequality, decaying urban areas, and neglect of rural communities.

In the Swedish parliamentary elections held on September 11, 2022, the final distribution of parliamentary seats was as follows: The right bloc won 176 seats with 49.6% of the vote and the left bloc won 173 seats with 48.9% of the vote. While the Social Democrats, the largest left party, gained seven parliamentary seats, the supporting parties such as the Left Party and Center Party lost a total of eleven seats (although the Green Party gained two seats). The anti-immigration and nationalist party SD gained the most seats of all, eleven seats, while the Moderate Party (which will likely head the new government) actually lost two seats.

The reasons for the continuing loss in power relative to the right bloc as a whole are complex. One problem is that the Social Democrats prioritized a military mobilization as part of a false understanding of the Ukraine conflict and in part to neutralize the right bloc by taking the question of military transfers to Ukraine, increased military budgets and joining NATO off the agenda. Very much like Joe Biden’s championing of military responses to unite a fragmented country, the Social Democrats have tried to leverage the Ukraine conflict to bolster their domestic political standing. At the same time, the Social Democratic leadership accused its opponents of trying to politicize security questions. As a result of this militarization, energy was diverted from addressing key problems were related to uneven development. These development problems create societal losers and drive or sustain crime (or a politics of crime and race/immigration) facilitating the acceleration of SD’s accumulation of power. The mobilization around the war issue was used to divert attention from the failure of the state to systematically address crime problems.

The author ain’t kidding when they say it’s an essay. That was the introduction. I’ll now post the conclusion:

The only way out of this morass is for progressive forces, members of the immigrant community and even alienated members of the working class to create three kinds of new institutions. These can emerge locally but extend themselves nationally. Economic, political and cultural power must be accumulated to build an alternative to the status quo. As Roberto Saviano explains, “The far right can succeed in Italy because the left has failed, exactly as in much of the world, to offer credible visions or strategies. The left asks people to vote against the right, but it lacks a political vision or an economic alternative.” One hopes that mainstream or left parties would learn from their mistakes and figure out why they lose votes to extremists. Knowledge will only advance with some kind of alternative power block. A part of the power that drives truth can come in three areas.

First, on the economic front these groups must organize consumption and production cooperatives involved in direct delivery of clean energy to bypass parasitic utilities driven by market prices and food cooperatives tied to farmers and socially responsible restaurants to bypass inflated food prices. Second, on the media front, a new progressive media platform should be created that shows how diverse issues are linked and expose the limitations of both the incumbent left and right. Finally, the consumption and media networks could be linked to patronage of socially responsible banks and a parallel political movement that could redirect local procurement to cooperative formation. More economic democracy and cooperatives are needed to produce and anchor jobs locally and deliver jobs in areas facing uneven development. In the U.S., one Tufts University study found that “fewer rooftop solar photovoltaics installations” existed “in African-American and Hispanic-dominant neighborhoods than in white-dominant neighborhoods, even when controlling for household income and home ownership.” Nevertheless, there has been growth of solar energy even in Taliban controlled Afghanistan. So the Swedish left could take a lesson from that.

Jacobin: Rashida Tlaib Is Absolutely Right About Progressives and Israel

Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) has been under heavy fire for the last week. During a seminar last Tuesday on online activism, she discussed the US government’s refusal to hold Israel accountable for the murder of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by Israeli soldiers. Even some self-styled progressive lawmakers have been unwilling to touch Abu Akleh’s case. But, Tlaib argued, support for the abuses of an “apartheid government” is incompatible with “progressive values.”

All the usual suspects leapt into action to condemn Tlaib. Few referenced the original issue about Abu Akleh. Instead, they focused on Tlaib’s “progressive values” comment, which they characterized as an unacceptable “anti-Israel” (or even “antisemitic”) litmus test.

Right-wing commentator Mark Levin called Tlaib a “Jew-hater.” The CEO of the Anti-Defamation League accused her of “doubling down on her #antisemitism by slandering Israel.” And the Democratic Party’s establishment has gone all in on the attack.

“Proud progressives,” Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) insisted, “do support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state.” Representative Brad Sherman (D-CA), who “noted that he’s a long-serving member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus,” said that “creating a litmus test that would exclude the Jewish community from the progressive movement” is what’s truly “incompatible with progressive values.” Representative Ritchie Torres (D-NY) said there was “nothing progressive about advocating for the end of Israel as a Jewish State.”

It’s all nonsense. Tlaib is right about Shireen Abu Akleh, and she’s right about the Israeli state.

The word “progressive” can be slippery, sometimes blurring critical distinctions. Democratic socialists, for example, are importantly different from regular pro-capitalist left-liberals. But in this case, Tlaib’s talk of “progressive values” is apt.

Israel is an ethnostate. Its immigration laws, its laws on marriage and family unification, and its laws on leasing and purchasing land all unabashedly discriminate against Palestinians with Israeli citizenship. And Palestinians born on the other side of the “Green Line” separating pre-1967 Israel from the “occupied territories” spend their entire lives as noncitizen subjects of a hostile power — a condition that generations have been born into since 1967.

Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank are for every legal purpose considered to be residents of Israel, and the territory as a whole is integrated into the rest of Israel in a thousand ways. But it hasn’t quite been legally annexed because doing so would mean granting citizenship to its Palestinian residents and thus endangering what Wasserman Schultz calls Israel’s “right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state.” The massive development of such settlements has made it geographically impossible to draw a plausible map for a future Palestinian state.

Even so, the bad joke of a “peace process,” which started with the Madrid Conference in 1991, has never been officially called off. Doing so would mean formally admitting that Israel intends to neither accept the Palestinians in the territories as Israeli citizens nor split the territory off into a state of its own — that the Palestinians there will forever remain stateless people, deprived of basic human and democratic rights, in order to secure “Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state.”

There’s nothing wrong with a country being a “Jewish state” or a “Christian state” or a “white state” in the sense that a majority of its citizens happen to be Jewish or Christian or white. But when you start talking about states having the “right” to maintain those majorities no matter what, you’ve entered conceptual territory that’s incompatible with “progressive values” even by the most basic definition of “progressive.”

It’s deeply incompatible with the sort of baseline liberal democratic values we’d all take for granted in any other context. Plenty of American conservatives, for example, want to restrict immigration from Latin America, but not even Steve Bannon would openly say that his reason for doing so was that America had a “right to exist as a white and democratic state.”

Jacobin: Cuba’s Gay Rights Vote Is a Victory for Socialist Values

Two-thirds of Cuban voters approved the country’s new Family Code on Sunday, itself a result of an extensive revisions process in which millions of Cuban citizens participated. The new code ends discrimination against gay couples in marriage and adoption. It also strengthens women’s rights by promoting “equal sharing of domestic rights and responsibilities between men and women.”

Preliminary results show that almost three-quarters of eligible voters participated in the referendum — and even bitter critics of the Cuban regime don’t seem to be suggesting that the results were falsified. The Catholic Church and evangelical churches on the island were strident in their opposition to the code, but they convinced less than a third of the Cuban public. That result is a huge victory for gay rights in a country where extreme and disturbing homophobia was official government policy just a few decades ago.

It also brings Cuban society closer to realizing the core values underlying the socialist project.

A full and fair description of the Cuban system would include plenty of elements that merit criticism from a democratic socialist perspective — from the lack of democracy in most workplaces to the lack of a free press and real multiparty elections in the national government.

Of course, it’s always advisable for American critics to take a beat to remember the role of the United States in exacerbating the authoritarian features of that system by posing a massive external threat to its existence — from attempting to invade Cuba to spending decades sponsoring terrorism on the island to imposing brutal economic sanctions.

Even so, we should be able to walk and chew bubble gum when talking about Cuba. We can acknowledge the country’s very real accomplishments in fields like health care and education, and its real contributions to the rest of the world like helping to dismantle apartheid in South Africa, without denying the many dysfunctional and undemocratic features of its system. Similarly, we don’t have to choose between portraying the island as a perfect socialist democracy with a flourishing culture of political dissent and buying into the nonsense of American commentators who portray it as a tropical North Korea.

The Right, Broadly Construed

Monthly Review: The return of fascism

Energy and food bills are soaring. Under the onslaught of inflation and prolonged wage stagnation, wages are in free fall. Billions of dollars are diverted by Western nations at a time of economic crisis and staggering income inequality to fund a proxy war in Ukraine. The liberal class, terrified by the rise of neo-fascism and demagogues such as Donald Trump, have thrown in their lot with discredited and reviled establishment politicians who slavishly do the bidding of the war industry, oligarchs and corporations.

The bankruptcy of the liberal class means that those who decry the folly of permanent war and NATO expansion, mercenary trade deals, exploitation of workers by globalization, austerity and neoliberalism come increasingly from the far-right. This right-wing rage, dressed up in the United States as Christian fascism, has already made huge gains in Hungary, Poland, Sweden, Italy, Bulgaria and France and may take power in the Czech Republic, where inflation and rising energy costs have seen the number of Czechs falling below the poverty line double.

By next spring, following a punishing winter of rolling blackouts and months when families struggle to pay for food and heat, what is left of our anemic western democracy could be largely extinguished.

Extremism is the political cost of pronounced social inequality and political stagnation. Demagogues, who promise moral and economic renewal, vengeance against phantom enemies and a return to lost glory, rise out of the morass. Hatred and violence, already at the boiling point, are legitimized. A reviled ruling class, and the supposed civility and democratic norms it espouses, are ridiculed.

It is not, as the philosopher Gabriel Rockhill points out, as if fascism ever went away. “The U.S. did not defeat fascism in WWII,” he writes, “it discretely internationalized it.” After World War II the U.S., U.K. and other Western governments collaborated with hundreds of former Nazis and Japanese war criminals, who they integrated into western intelligence services, as well as fascist regimes such as those in Spain and Portugal. They supported right-wing anti-communist forces in Greece during its civil war in 1946 to 1949, and then backed a right-wing military coup in 1967. NATO also had a secret policy of operating fascist terrorist groups. Operation Gladio, as the BBC detailed in a now-forgotten investigative series, created “secret armies,” networks of illegal stay-behind soldiers, who would remain behind enemy lines if the Soviet Union made a military move into Europe. In actuality, the “secret armies” carried-out assassinations, bombings, massacres and false flag terror attacks against leftists, trade unionists and others throughout Europe.

See my interview with Stephen Kinzer about the post-war activities of the CIA, including its recruitment of Nazi and Japanese war criminals and its creation of black sites where former Nazis were hired to interrogate, torture and murder suspected leftists, labor leaders and communists, detailed in his book Poisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control, here.

Fascism, which has always been with us, is again ascendant. The far-right politician Giorgia Meloni is expected to become Italy’s first female prime minister after elections on Sunday. In a coalition with two other far-right parties, Meloni is forecast to win more than 60 percent of the seats in Parliament, though the left-leaning 5-Star Movement may put a dent in those expectations.

Meloni got her start in politics as a 15-year-old activist for the youth wing of the Italian Social Movement, founded after the World War II by supporters of Benito Mussolini. She calls EU bureaucrats agents of “nihilistic global elites driven by international finance.” She peddles the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory that non-white immigrants are being permitted to enter Western nations as part of a plot to undermine or “replace” the political power and culture of white people. She has called on the Italian navy to turn back boats with immigrants, which the far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini did in 2018. Her Fratelli d’Italia, Brothers of Italy, party is a close ally of Hungary’s President, Viktor Orban. A European Parliament resolution recently declared that Hungary can no longer be defined as a democracy.

Meloni and Orban are not alone. Sweden Democrats, which took over 20 percent of the vote in Sweden’s general election last week to become the country’s second largest political party, was formed in 1988 from a neo-Nazi group called B.S.S., or Keep Sweden Swedish. It has deep fascist roots. Of the party’s 30 founders, 18 had Nazi affiliations, including several who served in the Waffen SS, according to Tony Gustaffson a historian and former Sweden Democrat member. France’s Marine Le Pen took over 41 percent of the vote in April against Emmanuel Macron. In Spain, the hard-right Vox party is the third largest party in Spain’s Parliament. The far-right German AfD or Alternative for Germany party took over 12 percent in federal elections in 2017, making it the third largest party, though it lost a couple percentage points in the 2021 elections. The U.S. has its own version of fascism embodied in a Republican party that coalesces in cult-like fashion around Donald Trump, embraces the magical thinking, misogyny, homophobia and white supremacy of the Christian Right and actively subverts the election process.

Economic collapse was indispensable to the Nazis’ rise to power. In the 1928 elections in Germany, the Nazi party received less than 3 percent of the vote. Then came the global financial crash of 1929. By early 1932, 40 percent of the German insured workforce, six million people, were unemployed. That same year, the Nazis became the largest political party in the German parliament. The Weimar government, tone deaf and hostage to the big industrialists, prioritized paying bank loans and austerity rather than feeding and employing a desperate population. It foolishly imposed severe restrictions on who was eligible for unemployment insurance. Millions of Germans went hungry. Desperation and rage rippled through the population. Mass rallies, led by a collection of buffoonish Nazis in brown uniforms who would have felt at home at Mar-a-Lago, denounced Jews, Communists, intellectuals, artists and the ruling class, as internal enemies. Hate was their main currency. It sold well.

The evisceration of democratic procedures and institutions, however, preceded the Nazis’ ascension to power in 1933. The Reichstag, the German Parliament, was as dysfunctional as the U.S. Congress. The Socialist leader Friedrich Ebert, president from 1919 until 1925, and later Heinrich Brüning, chancellor from 1930 to 1932, relied on Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution to largely rule by decree to bypass the fractious Parliament. Article 48, which granted the president the right in an emergency to issue decrees, was “a trapdoor through which Germany could fall into dictatorship,” historian Benjamin Carter Hett writes.

Article 48 was the Weimar equivalent of the executive orders liberally used by Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden, to bypass our own legislative impasses. As in 1930s Germany, our courts — especially the Supreme Court — have been seized by extremists. The press has bifurcated into antagonistic tribes where lies and truth are indistinguishable, and opposing sides are demonized. There is little dialogue or compromise, the twin pillars of a democratic system.

The two ruling parties slavishly serve the dictates of the war industry, global corporations and the oligarchy, to which it has given huge tax cuts. It has established the most pervasive and intrusive system of government surveillance in human history. It runs the largest prison system in the world. It has militarized the police.

Democrats are as culpable as Republicans. The Obama administration interpreted the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force as giving the executive branch the right to erase due process and act as judge, jury and executioner in assassinating U.S. citizens, starting with radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. Two weeks later, a U.S. drone strike killed Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, Anwar’s 16-year-old son, who was never linked to terrorism, along with 9 other teenagers at a cafe in Yemen. It was the Obama administration that signed into law Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act, overturning the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the use of the military as a domestic police force. It was the Obama administration that bailed out Wall Street and abandoned Wall Street’s victims. It was the Obama administration that repeatedly used the Espionage Act to criminalize those, such as Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, who exposed government lies, crimes and fraud. And it was the Obama administration that massively expanded the use of militarized drones.

The Nazis responded to the February 1933 burning of the Reichstag, which they likely staged, by employing Article 48 to push through the Decree for the Protection of the People and the State. The fascists instantly snuffed out the pretense of Weimar democracy. They legalized imprisonment without trial for anyone considered a national security threat. They abolished independent labor unions, freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of the press, along with the privacy of postal and telephone communications.

The step from dysfunctional democracy to full blown fascism was, and will again be, a small one. The hatred for the ruling class, embodied by the establishment Republican and Democratic parties, which have merged into one ruling party, is nearly universal. The public, battling inflation that is at a 40-year high and cost the average U.S. household an additional $717 a month in July alone, will increasingly see any political figure or political party willing to attack the traditional ruling elites as an ally. The more crude, irrational or vulgar the attack, the more the disenfranchised rejoice. These sentiments are true here and in Europe, where energy costs are expected to rise by as much as 80 percent this winter and an inflation rate of 10 percent is eating away at incomes.

The reconfiguration of society under neoliberalism to exclusively benefit the billionaire class, the slashing and privatization of public services, including schools, hospitals and utilities, along with deindustrialization, the profligate pouring of state funds and resources into the war industry, at the expense of the nation’s infrastructure and social services, and the building of the world’s largest prison system and militarization of police, have predictable results.

At the heart of the problem is a loss of faith in traditional forms of government and democratic solutions. Fascism in the 1930s succeeded, as Peter Drucker observed, not because people believed its conspiracy theories and lies but in spite of the fact that they saw through them. Fascism thrived in the face of “a hostile press, a hostile radio, a hostile cinema, a hostile church, and a hostile government which untiringly pointed out the Nazi lies, the Nazi inconsistency, the unattainability of their promises, and the dangers and folly of their course.” He added, “nobody would have been a Nazi if rational belief in the Nazi promises had been a prerequisite.”

As in the past, these new fascist parties cater to emotional yearnings. They give vent to feelings of abandonment, worthlessness, despair and alienation. They promise unattainable miracles. They too peddle bizarre conspiracy theories including QAnon. But most of all, they promise vengeance against a ruling class that betrayed the nation.

Hett defines the Nazis as “a nationalist protest movement against globalization.” The rise of the new fascism has its roots in a similar exploitation by global corporations and oligarchs. More than anything else, people want to regain control over their lives, if only to punish those blamed and scapegoated for their misery.

We have seen this movie before.


Gray Zone: How an obscure intelligence-linked party fixed a second Brexit referendum and torpedoed Corbyn

When Britain’s little-remembered Renew Party officially launched in the heart of Westminster in February of 2018, its founders addressed a room of mostly empty chairs. The party’s youthful and little-known co-founder, Chris Coghlan, announced a bold pro-EU agenda centered on forcing a second Brexit referendum.

Founded in the midst of a surge in popular support for the Labour Party under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, Renew arrived on the electoral scene at a time when the British establishment feared a genuine left-wing takeover of 10 Downing Street. While its launch initially attracted mockery from the press, with The Sunday Times describing it as a “damp squib,” Renew eventually played a decisive but hitherto unacknowledged role in Corbyn’s downfall.

During the 2017 General Election, Corbyn won significant support on a manifesto endorsing Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. But by 2019, a not insignificant component of the party’s platform was convening a second referendum on London’s EU membership, which set him and the party he led up for a historic defeat.

His reversal was at odds with the electorate’s majority will, and a great many of Labour’s working class supporters. As such, in December 2019, Britons elected effusively pro-Brexit former mayor of London, Boris Johnson, while Labour suffered its most crushing defeat since 1935. Corbyn resigned as party chief the very next day.

While Corbyn’s support for a Brexit do-over during the 2019 General Election is typically viewed as a well-meaning but dangerously misguided political miscalculation, a closer look at the origins of the campaign for a second referendum reveals a far more sinister plot.

Indeed, calls for a second referendum did not originate from the British grassroots, but rather from the obscure Renew. As this investigation will reveal, Renew was established by operatives with deep, cohering ties to Britain’s military and intelligence establishment, including a long-standing psychological warfare specialist.

The backgrounds of Renew’s founders and the malign activities they conducted against Corbyn appear to validate the deposed Labour leader’s insistence that the British intelligence apparatus was “deliberately undermining” his ambitions.

Multipolarista: US and UK undermining Bosnian democracy with sectarian electoral law changes

Croatian President Zoran Milanović briefly made headlines this April when he threatened to veto the NATO candidacy of Finland and Sweden.

Milanović claimed the Western military alliance would only receive Croatia’s support if neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina was forced to amend its election law according to terms deemed advantageous for Bosnian Croats.

The amendments, proposed earlier this year by a Bosnian Croat body called the Croatian National Parliament (HNS), would limit voting rights and eligibility for some elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina to citizens identified as “Croats”.

The changes would affect eligibility for positions explicitly reserved for Serbs, Croats or Muslims, which includes the tripartite presidency and some parliamentary seats.

The changes are widely believed to favour the Bosnian section of the right-wing Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), Croatia’s main post-war ruling party, of which Prime Minister Andrej Plenković is a member (but not President Milanović).

The strategy behind Milanović’s threats, leveraging a possible NATO veto for policy changes in third party states under implicit US pressure, echoes an earlier gambit by Türkiye, which suggested it would veto unless Finland and Sweden collaborated with Turkish efforts to repress Kurdish activism abroad. In a stunning humiliation for pro-NATO, pro-Kurdish liberals, concessions to Ankara were rapidly agreed by both NATO candidates.

In Croatia’s case, the threats received only brief attention in English-language news coverage. Many anti-NATO commentators outside the region, unfamiliar with Milanović’s reputation for bizarre non sequiturs and gaffes, celebrated an apparent breach in NATO unity. Others noted the limited power over foreign policy exercised by Croatia’s presidency, and suggested nothing would come of his bluster.

Croatia’s Prime Minister Plenković distanced his government from President Milanović’s remarks, and stated unambiguously that Croatia would support Sweden and Finland’s NATO applications, as Croatia did at NATO’s Madrid summit in June. However, Plenković has separately supported the amendments.

The election law – which was subject to a separate set of amendments in July, likely a compromise with public opposition – has remained a key issue in local media, but has received little or no subsequent attention in North American media.

East Asia and Oceania

CounterPunch: Fukushima: Novel Fixes Fail, Waste Dumping Threatens Pacific Ocean

During the 11-year-long, estimated $57.4 billion (partial) decontamination efforts at the destroyed Fukushima-Daiichi reactor site in Japan, almost every novel program invented to deal with the complex, unprecedented triple catastrophe has initially failed and then needed to be re-invented. Unworkable schemes instigated to repair, decontaminate, plug-up, or prevent ongoing radioactive contamination, along with cover-ups and corruption by the Tokyo Electric Power Co. which runs the operation, have left the Japanese public wary of the company’s plans and of safety assurances from the government.

Japan’s extensive bull-dozing and mass collection of contaminated topsoil and debris, poisoned by the meltdowns’ radioactive fallout, has filled approximately 20 million one-ton bags. These millions of tons of cesium-contaminated waste are standing outdoors in mountainous stacks scattered across seven states. Some of the heavy bags have been jostled and broken open by torrential rains during typhoons.

Attempts to locate and examine the total of 900 tons of melted reactor fuel (which possibly burned through the wrecked “containments” and foundations of the three units) have failed, because robotic cameras have repeatedly been destroyed by the ferociously hot and radioactive melted wastes. Eleven years after the catastrophe, the condition and location of the melted fuel masses, known as “corium,” is still uncertain because Tepco has yet to develop a robust enough camera.

The reactors’ concrete foundations were so severely broken up by the record 9.0 magnitude earthquake, that groundwater rushes through cracks and broken pipes, pours over the three huge masses of corium and becomes highly contaminated with a mix of at least 62 radioactive materials. Tepco’s installation of an expensive “ice wall” that was dug into the ground behind the wrecked reactors, was intended to divert the groundwater keeping it away from the foundations. This fix has also failed.

Tepco has slowed the direct flow of the contaminated water into the Pacific by filtering it and then collecting it in giant tanks. But the tank farm is plagued by leaks and by the discovery that the filter system has failed. In 2018, Tepco admitted that its “Advanced Liquid Processing System” or ALPS had not removed iodine-129, ruthenium-106 and technetium-99, as well as carbon-14, and 60 other long-lived poisons, putting the lie to its repeated assurances that ALPS would remove everything but tritium. The company then promised that it would re-treat the collected water, before dumping all 1.3 million tons of the waste water into the Pacific.

In July, Japan’s nuclear regulator formally approved Tepco’s plan to dump the water into the ocean beginning in spring 2023 and continuing for 30 years. The reactors produce 140 cubic meters of contaminated water every day, a combination of ground- and rainwater that seeps into the wreckage, and cooling water mechanically poured over the three corium piles. While independent scientists and environmental historians have charged that dumping would constitute the worst premeditated maritime pollution in recorded history, Tepco’s ocean pollution solution has already been okayed by the government in Tokyo and by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Central Asia and the Middle East

Responsible Statecraft: Biden’s abysmal response to the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh

On May 11, an Israeli soldier killed Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in Jenin, and months later the perpetrator of this outrageous crime is still no closer to being brought to justice.

The need to hold the shooter accountable is clear. A new investigation by the Palestinian human rights organization Al Haq confirmed the findings of multiple reports from the UN, human rights groups, and media outlets earlier in the year, and their investigation shows that Abu Akleh was targeted and killed while clearly wearing a vest identifying her as a member of the press.

The report also confirmed that no other shots were fired in the area on that morning except for the bullets coming from the position of Israeli forces, so there was no fighting in the vicinity and no possibility that the shooting occurred in a crossfire. Shireen Abu Akleh was shot at with such precision that there can be no doubt that she was deliberately targeted.

After initially denying responsibility and attempting to shift the blame to non-existent Palestinian gunmen, the Israeli government conceded that it was “highly probable” that one of their soldiers was responsible for her death, but they still claimed it was an accident and will not take any further action.

The Biden administration has gone along with this weak cover story, and it has played its part in trying to whitewash the shooting. By all accounts, the administration has made no serious effort to seek accountability for Abu Akleh’s murder, and their overall response to the Israeli government’s handling of the killing has been abysmal. Nearly five months since the shooting, there has been no U.S. investigation, and there is no evidence of any diplomatic pressure being brought to bear on the Israeli government by the administration. The State Department has paid lip service to the idea of accountability, but neither Secretary of State Antony Blinken nor President Biden has shown any interest in taking any actions that might lead to justice.

We will not know the full story without a thorough investigation by our government, but, given what we already know, it is impossible to believe that the killing was accidental. As the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem has said, the killing of Abu Akleh was not an accident, but the “predictable result” of an open-fire policy in the occupied Palestinian territories that has claimed the lives of many other innocent Palestinians.

If the Biden administration were serious about its desire to prevent anything like this from happening again, they would be taking a very different, much more combative approach to the entrenchment of the Israeli occupation that has been going on for decades with U.S. backing.


Counterpunch: The Electricity Crisis in South Africa Continues to Brew

At the end of apartheid in 1994, only 36 percent of households in South Africa were electrified, with almost all white households having electric power and most Black households having no access to electricity. Ten years later, more than 80 percent of households were electrified. This was an important achievement, albeit one that mostly left out the residents of the rapidly growing shantytowns across the country.

But this progress came to a halt in 2007 when South Africa first began to endure “load shedding,” which is the cutting of power supply to different areas on a rotational basis. Load shedding, implemented when the state-owned electricity company Eskom is unable to provide power to the whole country and the electricity grid needs to be kept stable, seems to have reached a new nadir in recent days with most areas going without power for up to 12 hours a day. There have been warnings that total blackouts may be necessary.

Eskom has been unable to provide a stable supply of electricity for 15 years due to a lack of investment in keeping infrastructure up to date and its poor maintenance, a period of plunder under the kleptocratic regime of former President Jacob Zuma, and a longstanding state austerity program that has resulted in general disinvestment from state-owned companies.

The energy crisis has been very damaging to an economy already reeling from socially devastating deindustrialization, state austerity, and the increasing hold of political mafias over economic life. It has been estimated that load shedding has led to the economy losing R500 billion (just over $28 billion) since 2018, working out to about R1 billion per stage, per day.

South Africa has much higher rates of electricity connections compared to the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, where about 90 percent of the children who are able to afford a primary school education attend schools that do not have electricity. But with load shedding causing power to be off for much of the day many people in South Africa can often face similar conditions to those living in the rest of sub-Saharan Africa. Given that South Africa is currently the most unequal country in the world, the deepening energy crisis further widens the gulf between the rich and the poor, with the latter being overwhelmingly Black and comprising a largely female population.

According to the latest reports, more than 30.4 million people in South Africa live below the poverty line, out of a current population of 60.6 million. About 50 percent of the population lives on R1,335 a month, or approximately $75 a month. The basic cost of electricity for a low-income household is approximately between R1,100 and R1,500, which is already higher than what half the population subsists on. Along with widespread food insecurity, it is likely that the same population of more than 30 million South Africans also concurrently experience “energy poverty,” a term used to describe a situation in which electricity, gas, and other sources of energy bills make up a larger percentage of the household expenditure, making it difficult for South Africans to cover other costs such as food, rent, and clothing. Also, the reduced use of energy in households and workplaces has a negative impact on their physical and mental health. In shack settlements, the lack of electricity has long meant that people cook using candles and gas to light up their homes while living in cramped conditions resulting in regular fires, which are often devastating. With frequent load shedding, fires are now likely to become more common in other types of housing also.

Moreover, South Africa had the eighth highest murder rate in the world in 2020, and the fourth highest rate of gender-based violence in the world, according to 2016 figures. The increased hours of load shedding and the radical decrease of access to electrification will make this pervasive violence worse. A 2017 study carried out in Brazil on the socioeconomic impact of electrification found that it results in a significant decrease in gender-based violence due to better lighting in public spaces.

The burden of social reproduction has always largely fallen on the shoulders of women. Access to electricity can reduce this. An important 2021 study titled “Powering Households and Empowering Women” found that by freeing up women’s time poverty is reduced by creating opportunities for women and girls to develop livelihoods, enter the labor force, or focus on school. It can also reduce exposure to harmful indoor air pollutants, improve maternal health, and reduce gender-based violence.

Demand for the resolution of the electricity crisis has been one of the few issues that have helped bring the poor, the working class, and the middle class together. But, so far, the demands for the resolution of the crisis are not well organized and have been met with little more than platitudes by the ruling elites, including South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The African National Congress’s (ANC) commitment to neoliberal austerity has meant that there is insufficient investment in the state electricity company. Their only proposal is to move from state-owned coal-fired power stations, which are highly polluting, to privately owned renewable forms of energy. Currently, one of the best-placed people to benefit from this is the president’s billionaire brother-in-law, Patrice Motsepe, given his investments in renewable energy.

Trade unions in South Africa have insisted that while a move to renewables is welcomed, undertaking it via privatization will raise the costs of electric power for the poor and the working class and result in a bias toward serving the needs of the capitalists and the rich. They have proposed that renewables should be socially owned and managed.

The proposals from the unions have been ignored, austerity continues, and there has been minimal movement toward private electricity production. The situation is one of stasis.

Experts believe that very high rates of economically and socially damaging load shedding are likely to continue for at least the next three to four years. Many analysts have argued that this is likely to hit the ruling ANC very hard in the next presidential election, scheduled for 2024. A crisis in terms of electric power could lead to a loss of political power. With right-wing and xenophobic parties rapidly advancing, this is not cause for easy optimism.

South Africa will not move into the light until the social value of access to electricity is affirmed. The proposal by the trade unions for a shift to socially owned and managed renewable energy is the best option on the table. We need a solution that is for the majority and not the few.

Responsible Statecraft: US diplomacy failing at critical moment in Ethiopia war

The war waged by the Ethiopian Federal Government and Eritrea against Tigray is set for a decision by force of arms.

Despite the media’s preoccupation with the conflict in Ukraine, it’s the bloodiest war in the world today, with thousands of soldiers and civilians dying each day in combat and from starvation and disease. How it ends will have reverberations throughout Africa and the Red Sea arena for decades. As day 700 of the war approaches — it will fall on September 29 — the current trajectory, probably unstoppable, represents a dismal failure of U.S. and multilateral diplomacy.

Reports from the battlefront are hard to verify, but it is evident that the war has not unfolded as the Ethiopian and Eritrean leaders expected. Having mobilized more than half a million troops to every Tigrayan border in August, the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) and Eritrean Defense Force (EDF) have failed to make any gains against the Tigrayan Defense Force (TDF). To the contrary, the TDF has won at least two very major victories in the last month and has held its ground against sustained attacks.

The TDF has not, however, broken the starvation siege encircling Tigray.

The failure of U.S. and multilateral diplomacy boils down to a refusal to take the Tigrayans seriously. The unspoken premise is that the federal government should be allowed to establish military dominance over Tigray so it can dictate peace terms. Failing that, diplomats whisper that Sri Lanka’s bloody defeat of the Tamil insurgency in 2009 could be a recent precedent.

Jacobin: Nigeria’s Underdevelopment Has Made It a Ripe Target for Capitalist Exploitation

In February of next year, Nigerians will go to the polls to elect a new president and a new parliament. The country’s democracy is still relatively young. Officially occupied by the British in 1851, Nigeria was under colonial rule until as late as 1960. Military generals seized power not long after the country’s independence, and in the late 1960s, this dictatorship — which, according to British journalist Frederick Forsyth, was “aided and assisted at every stage by Oxbridge-educated mandarins” — murdered and starved millions of people during a brutal civil war. The country only returned to civilian rule at the dawn of the twenty-first century.

Despite its bleak experience of oppression and violence, Nigeria also has a vibrant political scene and history that is little-known abroad. While Western news outlets mainly report its horrific outbreaks of violence, more recently, the financial press has had only glowing praise for prominent Nigerians taking up key roles in the US Treasury, the UK Department for International Trade, and the World Trade Organization. Intriguingly, there has also been echoes of social democratic, Bernie Sanders–style enthusiasm around Labour Party candidate Peter Obi. His campaign has motivated young people and raised the prospect of change in a country beset by crisis.

But other stories paint a darker picture. Promises to address police brutality in the wake of the #EndSARS protests have not been met. The country’s debt servicing is now 118 percent of its revenue, and inflation recently hit 19.6 percent. Banditry and graft are sabotaging the major industries, and a failure to pay teachers and staff has crippled the education system. Lawlessness and insurgency ravage parts of the country.

North America

United States

TeleSUR: US Debt Vultures Prey on Countries in Economic Distress

“Vulture funds” have over held developing countries such as Ecuador and Argentina hostage while nabbing astronomical amounts of money.

The Federal Reserve’s latest 75-basis-point interest rate hike has triggered high concern in the global financial markets since the effects of consecutive U.S. interest hikes may ripple through the world.

In previous Fed rate hikes, U.S. interest groups and financial institutions teamed up to create debt crises in several emerging markets so as to fill up their own money bags.

As one of the tools the United States uses for its financial hegemony, such vulture funds, have over the past decades held Ecuador, Argentina, Peru, Vietnam and many other developing countries hostage while nabbing astronomical amounts of money.

Jacobin: Puerto Rico Needs Public Power, Not More Disastrous Privatization

On September 18, Hurricane Fiona slammed into Puerto Rico, causing significant flooding and leaving hundreds of thousands of people without electricity. More than a week later, nearly half of Puerto Ricans are still in the dark, unable to preserve their food, refrigerate their insulin, or power their respirators.

LUMA Energy, the North American company that now operates major parts of Puerto Rico’s electrical grid, is at the center of this debacle. LUMA began overseeing the transmission and distribution of electricity in Puerto Rico in the summer of 2021, promising lower rates and better service than the austerity- and hurricane-plagued public system, called Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), that it replaced.

But privatization, so often the policy choice of pro-business politicians in the wake of a disaster, has yielded underwhelming results. Since the takeover, LUMA has raised electricity rates and overseen massive power outages, provoking a seemingly endless cacerolazo — a cacophony of banging pots and pans — in protest against the privatization.

At the forefront of these demonstrations have been organized workers: teachers and truck drivers but also PREPA’s own workers, the people responsible for operating and maintaining the island’s electrical grid. When LUMA supplanted the public system, some PREPA employees even refused to work for the new company. Protesters insist that the public should control the country’s energy future, instead of neoliberal politicians and technocrats. As PREPA worker Walberto Rolón wrote in reference to the LUMA takeover, “A better world is possible, but it will most definitely be decided in the streets instead of the courts.”

Caribbean and South America

CounterPunch: Four Straight Years of Nonstop Street Protest in Haiti

A cycle of protests began in Haiti in July 2018, and—despite the pandemic—has carried on since then. The core reason for the protest in 2018 was that in March of that year the government of Venezuela—due to the illegal sanctions imposed by the United States—could no longer ship discounted oil to Haiti through the PetroCaribe scheme. Fuel prices soared by up to 50 percent.

On August 14, 2018, filmmaker Gilbert Mirambeau Jr. tweeted a photograph of himself blindfolded and holding a sign that read, “Kot Kòb Petwo Karibe a???” (Where did the PetroCaribe money go?). He reflected the popular sentiment in the country that the money from the scheme had been looted by the Haitian elite, whose grip on the country had been secured by two coups d’état against the democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide (once in 1991 and again in 2004). Rising oil prices made life unlivable for the vast majority of the people, whose protests created a crisis of political legitimacy for the Haitian elite.

In recent weeks, the streets of Haiti have once again been occupied by large marches and roadblocks, with the mood on edge. Banks and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)—including Catholic charities—faced the wrath of the protesters, who painted “Down with [the] USA” on buildings that they ransacked and burned. The Creole word dechoukaj or uprooting—that was first used in the democracy movements in 1986—has come to define these protests. The government has blamed the violence on gangs such as G9 led by the former Haitian police officer Jimmy “Babekyou” (Barbecue) Chérizier. These gangs are indeed part of the protest movement, but they do not define it.

The government of Haiti—led by acting President Ariel Henry—decided to raise fuel prices during this crisis, which provoked a protest from the transport unions. Jacques Anderson Desroches, president of the Fós Sendikal pou Sove Ayiti, told the Haitian Times, “If the state does not resolve to put an end to the liberalization of the oil market in favor of the oil companies and take control of it,” nothing good will come of it. “[O]therwise,” he said, “all the measures taken by Ariel Henry will be cosmetic measures.” On September 26, trade union associations called for a strike, which paralyzed the country, including the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince.

The United Nations (UN) evacuated its nonessential staff from the country. UN Special Representative Helen La Lime told the UN Security Council that Haiti was paralyzed by “[a]n economic crisis, a gang crisis, and a political crisis” that have “converged into a humanitarian catastrophe.” Legitimacy for the United Nations in Haiti is limited, given the sexual abuse scandals that have wracked the UN peacekeeping missions in Haiti, and the political mandate of the United Nations that Haitian people see as oriented to protecting the corrupt elite that does the bidding of the West.

The current President Ariel Henry was installed to his post by the “Core Group” (made up of six countries, this group is led by the United States, the European Union, the UN, and the Organization of American States). Henry became the president after the still-unsolved murder of the unpopular President Jovenel Moïse (thus far, the only clarity is that Moïse was killed by Colombian mercenaries and Haitian Americans). The UN’s La Lime told the Security Council in February that the “national investigation into his [Moïse’s] murder has stalled, a situation that fuels rumors and exacerbates both suspicion and mistrust within the country.”

Climate Change and Efforts to Stop It

Climate Home News: Nord Stream pipeline blowouts highlight vulnerability of fossil fuels

Certainly not what my immediate reaction would be to the pipeline exploding, but it is a good point.

The suspicious ruptures of two major gas pipelines connecting Russia and Europe have highlighted the vulnerability of fossil fuel infrastructure during a conflict.

The leaks have led to a significant release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas which traps heat in the atmosphere. Climate scientist Zeke Hausfather said that while some methane could have been adsorbed by the oceans, “a substantial majority of it likely escaped” into the atmosphere.

“The events surrounding the Nord Stream 1 & 2 gas pipelines vividly show how vulnerable and threatened our critical infrastructure is,” the German armed forces tweeted.

Benjamin Pohl, head of climate diplomacy and security at the Adelphi think tank, told Climate Home News that all energy systems were vulnerable to threats like cyber attacks.

But, he said, systems that rely on fossil fuels face the “additional vulnerability related to the physical transport of large amounts of stuff”.

Climate Home News: Corporate pushback against climate action is getting desperate

But as climate action has become more widespread and more rigorous – moving from university endowments and pension funds to globally systemic financial institutions – the pushback has become more desperate.

Fossil-friendly politicians now decry sensible corporate transition planning as “woke capitalism,” as if the basic economic realities of climate risk were just a point of view, not something rooted in the global scientific consensus and hard-nosed economic analysis.

More nefariously, but perhaps predictably, given the existential threat they face, opponents of decarbonisation are seeking ways to twist the basic rules of the economy to delay climate action.

For example, stock regulators around the world are increasingly requiring companies to measure and disclose the risks they face from climate change and decarbonisation in order to protect investors. But fossil fuel interests have sought to weaken this basic transparency requirement, hurting the ability of markets to function.

Absurdly, this pushback has now reached the expert advisory group I co-chair. We received independent legal advice that some wording in a technical set of “rules of thumb” we published to make our advice more predictable and transparent could potentially be construed as violating anti-competition laws. The offence? Simply being explicit that expanding coal production is not a part of any credible scientific scenarios to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.

We took immediate action to revise the wording to ensure that there is absolutely no question that we and the Race to Zero’s members are in full compliance with the law, while continuing to underscore the science. But the fact that we had to make these changes at all shows two realities.

First, as climate politics get existential, the battle over corporate climate action is going to get more intense. Vested interests are pushing back, hard. Hiding behind flimsy legal pretext will not work. Companies with fuzzy net zero targets, trying to keep both sides happy, will be in the crosshairs. Clarity and rigour are needed.

Two, the rules governing the economy need to catch up to our climate goals. The fact that anti-competition law, created to safeguard the public interest, could be manipulated to work against it shows the need for urgent reform. Credible voluntary action builds momentum for these changes, but regulators need to step up.

Climate Home News: Scaling up renewables means big changes to electricity networks

Never noticed until things go wrong, grid operators around the world work second-by-second to balance demand for electricity with supply.

That means keeping tabs on power stations, solar farms and wind turbines. It means watching the weather forecast to predict when people will turn the heating on and the TV schedules for when sports fans will open the fridge for a half-time drink.

As our sources of electricity change from fossil fuels to renewables, grid operators are changing the way they work too. “It’s a big technical challenge,” says Montana State University electrical engineering professor Rob Maher.

Under the old model, fossil fuels are burned in power plants. These are usually built close to where that electricity is needed, in cities or industrial hubs, and ramp generation up and down to meet demand. Vast amounts of coal, oil and gas are transported from mine or well to power plant by road, rail, canal and sea.

In the new world of increasing renewable penetration, where and when electricity is generated shifts. Solar panels are distributed across rooftops, while large-scale wind and solar plants are sited in windy and sunny spots, which may not be close to urban centres. As climate delayers love to point out, the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow.

The old ways were not perfect for energy security. Supplies of fossil fuels have been disrupted by frozen pipelines, blocked canals, terminals on fire, strike action, conflict and international sanctions. A mechanical failure at a conventional power plant can take a big chunk of supply offline.

Renewables are more resilient in many ways, but raise different challenges, calling for different solutions. With the G7 countries planning to completely decarbonise their power systems by 2035, flexible storage and grid upgrades are key.

Electricity storage

Part of the answer is to store the power from when the sun is shining and wind is blowing so that it can be used when they are not. Batteries can store energy in this way. That’s how your battery-powered remote control works without relying on any power station or solar panel.

Doing this on a large enough scale is a challenge. The International Energy Agency estimates that the world needs 585 gigawatts of battery storage by 2030 to reach net zero by 2050. Currently, it has 17GW.

According to Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air analyst Xing Zhang, battery technology is currently “not mature enough to provide a base load of electricity to step up when needed”. The IEA says “a rapid scale-up is critical… to address the hour-to-hour variability of wind and solar”.

Another way of storing electricity is pumped hydro. This is where water is pumped from a lower reservoir to a higher reservoir when electricity is in abundant supply. It’s then released when electricity supply is low. It spins a turbine to generate electricity. This is how the US stores 95% of its energy and the department for energy says it’s “vital to grid reliability”.

Transmission lines

Variability can also be managed by connecting one grid to another. So, if the UK needs to buy some electricity because the wind isn’t blowing then it can buy some from France, where there may be an excess of power.

Grids are linked to each other through high-voltage cables called interconnectors. The UK’s has links to France, Belgium, Norway and the Netherlands and is building a new one to Denmark.

China has built thousands of kilometres of ultra high-voltage transmission lines to transport electricity from wind and solar farms in the west to where most people live in the east.

A recent Princeton University report found that the US needs to double the rate at which it builds transmission lines to fulfill the potential of its Inflation Reduction Act climate legislation.

Similarly, a report from the Center for Social and Economic Progress, found that India needs to build transmission lines to bring solar power from the west and wind power from the south to the rest of the country. This will be made easier, it found, by the fact that India has only one grid.

In February 2021, the US state of Texas showed what can happen when your grid is not connected. The US regulates electricity grids which are connected to other grids. To avoid regulation from Washington, Texan politicians decided not to connect their grid with others.

Then the weather turned unusually cold. Demand for power skyrocketed and energy infrastructure froze, causing power outages across the state and leaving Texans shivering in their homes. Because their grid wasn’t connected to the other states, they found it harder to buy in much-needed electric power.

While these outages were mainly caused by failures in fossil fuel infrastructure, the lesson was that an isolated grid is an insecure one.

Link back to the discussion thread.