Global Events and the United Nations

Multipolarista: At UN, Bolivia presents revolutionary 14-point socialist program to transform world


Bolivia’s President Luis Arce used his platform at the United Nations General Assembly to propose a revolutionary 14-point socialist program to transform the world.

“Today we find ourselves facing a wide-ranging, systemic capitalist crisis that increasingly endangers the life of humanity and the planet,” he warned.

Arce continued: “We should not only reflect on the economic, social, food, climate, energy, water, and trade crises, but also identify with clarity the origin, in order to change a system that reproduces domination, exploitation, and exclusion of the large majorities, that generates the concentration of wealth in a few hands, and that prioritizes the production and reproduction of capital over the production and reproduction of life.”

“Alongside the wide-ranging, systemic crisis of capitalism, we see the final gasp of the unipolar world,” the Bolivian leader added, warning of the dangers of war.

“But unfortunately we are seeing the gradual deterioration of the multilateral system, because of the whims of the capitalist powers that will not accept the existence of a multipolar world with a balance of power.”

At the UN, Arce delivered a comprehensive 4000-word speech outlining his ambitious vision for changing the global capitalist system, with 14 concrete proposals.

  1. Declare the world to be a zone of peace

  1. Substitute the manufacturing of weapons of mass destruction with just compensation for the poor people of the world

  1. Against the commercialization of health care, systems of universal health care

  1. Global program of food sovereignty, in harmony with Mother Earth

  1. Rebuild the productive and economic capacities of the country of the periphery hurt by the logic of the unrestrained concentration of capital

  1. The climate crisis requires responsibility, solidarity, and harmony between human beings and nature, not usury

  1. The industrialization of lithium, for the benefit of the peoples and a fundamental pillar for the energy transition

  1. From nationalization to regionalization of the struggle against drug trafficking

  1. Strengthen international mechanisms for preferential treatment for landlocked countries

  1. Widen our restricted vision of human rights and democracy

  1. Intergenerational solidarity

  1. Declare the decade of depatriarchalization to struggle against all forms of violence against women and girls

  1. Reject unilateral sanctions

  1. Guarantee the full validity of the UN charter and the principle of multilateralism


TeleSUR: Australian Research Reveals How COVID-19 Damages Heart

A new research led by Australia’s University of Queensland (UQ) discovered how COVID-19 damages the heart. The study found that while both COVID-19 and influenza are severe respiratory viruses, they appeared to affect cardiac tissue very differently.

The research used actual cardiac tissues collected during autopsies from seven COVID-19 patients from Brazil, two people who died from influenza, and six control patients. Initial study found that COVID-19 damaged the DNA in cardiac tissue, which wasn’t detected in influenza samples.

“When we looked at the influenza cardiac tissue samples, we identified that it caused excess inflammation,” UQ Professor John Fraser said.

“Whereas we found COVID-19 attacked the heart’s DNA, probably directly and not just as a knock-on from inflammation… the two viruses appear to affect cardiac tissue very differently, which we want to get a better understand of in larger cohort studies,” he added.

AllAfrica: Cholera Surging Globally As Climate Change Intensifies

Cholera is surging around the globe, the World Health Organization warns.

Flareups of the deadly disease have been reported in 26 countries in the first nine months of this year. In comparison, fewer than 20 countries reported cholera outbreaks per year between 2017 and 2021. In addition to greater frequency, the WHO reports the outbreaks themselves are larger and more deadly.

While poverty and conflict are major triggers of cholera, climate change is a growing threat.

Philippe Barboza, WHO team lead for Cholera and Epidemic Diarrheal Diseases, said climate change presents an additional layer of complexity and creates the conditions for cholera outbreaks to explode.

“This is what we have seen in southern Africa with the succession of cyclones that affected the eastern part of the African Coast,” Barboza said. “The drought in East Africa is driving population movements, reducing access to water, which is already needed. So, of course, it is a key factor, which is fueling the outbreak. And the same in Sahel and other places.”

Fifteen of the 26 cholera-infected countries are in Africa, according to the WHO.

Barboza said massive climate-induced floods in Southeast Asia also have resulted in large outbreaks of cholera in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Many countries that have made significant progress in controlling cholera are now back to square one, he added.


RT: World Bank makes prediction on Russian energy replacement

Despite accelerated efforts by Western states to wean their economies off Russian oil and gas, it may take years to replace them, the head of the World Bank has warned.

“Under current policies global energy production may take years to diversify away from Russia, prolonging the stagflation risk,” David Malpass said at a Stanford University conference on Thursday.

The European Union has pledged to abandon Russian natural gas and cut oil imports as part of sanctions on Moscow over the Ukraine conflict. The move, aimed at hitting Russia’s economy, has instead provoked an increase in global food and fuel prices.

The World Bank president’s remarks come amid a global energy crunch, with soaring food and fertilizer prices and rising interest rates, and at a time when emerging economies are experiencing currency depreciation and capital outflows.

Malpass noted that these shockwaves have hit development, adding to problems such as debt sustainability and limited fiscal budgets in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Combined with the impact of energy supply cuts in the EU, these overlapping crises could be “catastrophic”, Malpass fears.

RT: This winter will be hard but next one will be even worse – EU

EU energy officials are concerned about the effects the ongoing energy crisis in Europe will have on the continent once cold weather sets in, Commissioner Kadri Simson told journalists on Friday.

“Ministers were concerned, as am I, that this will not be an easy winter for us, and the next winter will be even more difficult,” said Simson during a press conference after an extraordinary meeting of EU energy ministers.

The meeting was meant to address the skyrocketing gas prices in Europe and to develop a package of emergency measures aimed at assisting European households and businesses amid the crisis.

The agreed-upon steps include placing a cap on energy company revenues and distributing excess profits back to consumers. The plan also prescribes mandatory energy savings, requiring EU members to cut energy demand during peak hours by 5% and suggesting a 10% reduction in overall electricity use.

The ministers failed, however, to agree on a price cap on wholesale natural gas, which was one of the key demands issued to the European Commission by a group of 15 EU member states ahead of the meeting. In a joint letter, the group argued that a price cap was the one measure that could help the bloc “mitigate the inflationary pressure, manage expectations and provide a framework in case of potential supply disruptions.”

While the European Commission has not completely ruled out the possibility of a price cap on natural gas, it has warned that such a move would weaken the bloc’s ability to secure gas supplies in the global market. The issue will reportedly be discussed at a later date, according to Lithuanian Energy Minister Dainius Kreivys.

RT: Europe ‘indefinitely deprived’ of key gas supply route – Gazprom

The damage to Russia’s Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines means Europe is indefinitely deprived of one of its key gas supply routes, Gazprom spokesman Sergey Kupriyanov said on Friday.

Technical data “allows [Gazprom] to say with certainty” that the sharp pressure drops were caused by physical damage, the spokesman stressed. According to him, at the time of the incident, the pipelines were not transporting gas, but both were filled with 800 million cubic meters of gas and ready for service, equivalent to Denmark’s consumption for three months.

“Essentially, Europe is indefinitely deprived of one of the key routes for obtaining a crucial energy resource. Russia and Gazprom spent a huge amount of energy and money to build and launch these pipelines because this is the shortest and safest, as we thought, way for Russian gas to reach European consumers. Now the pipelines are standing with puncture holes,” Kupriyanov said at a UN Security Council meeting.

“Gazprom has begun searching for possible solutions to get the Nord Stream system back up and running, but the timeline cannot yet be estimated… This is a very difficult technical task,” Kupriyanov said, noting that in order to assess the situation, Gazprom will have to start with a physical inspection of the damaged areas.

SCMP: China calls for inquiry into Nord Stream gas pipeline leaks

China has called for an investigation into the Nord Stream gas leaks amid suspicions of sabotage.

Geng Shuang, China’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, said on Friday that intelligence indicated the damage to the two major Russian gas pipelines to Europe was most likely deliberate.

“If true, it would constitute an attack on multinational civilian facilities and undersea pipelines in violation of international law,” Geng said in a speech to the UN Security Council.

“The leak highlights the fragility of cross-border infrastructure. We are willing to work with all parties to maintain their security.”

He said consumers around the world, including in developing countries, were likely to suffer in the resulting energy market turmoil.

Oil Price: EU Approves Another $5.2 Billion For Green Hydrogen Projects

Europe’s already highly competitive green hydrogen industry just got another boost thanks to new E.U. funding. The region has been making a name for itself by establishing several major green hydrogen plants and developing the market for the renewable energy source as other regions battle to get green hydrogen projects off the ground. Improved policies for green hydrogen production are expected to support sectoral development even further, although the International Energy Agency (IEA) remains sceptical over ambitious E.U. 2030 targets.

This month, the European Commission (EC) approved $5.2 billion in public funding for hydrogen projects across the region. This investment is expected to attract a further $6.8 billion in private funding. The organisation said that 13 member states will be providing the funds for a project entitled IPCEI Hy2Use, which will support 29 businesses across 35 projects. It will help develop “large-scale electrolysers and transport infrastructure, for the production, storage and transport of renewable and low-carbon hydrogen,” according to the EC.

While the investment includes all types of hydrogen – from grey and brown to green – it will encourage greater renewable (or green) hydrogen production across the region. One executive vice president at the EC, Margrethe Vestager, expects the funding to add 3.5 GW of electrolysis capacity. This would mean “an output of approximately 340,000 tons of renewable and low-carbon hydrogen per year,” Vestager stated.


Oil Price: Gas Stations in France Running On Empty As Strikes Enter Fourth Day

Diesel and petrol stations in France are running out of fuel, according to an industry union, as a refining strike takes its toll.

Stations around the le Havre and Lyon have been affected, according to the GCT union.

France was already battling a shortage of refined products, with Russia’s exports to Europe falling in recent months. But then French refinery strikes initially took half of the nation’s refining capacity offline, hoping to resolve a dispute over pay.

The strike, which among others, took Total’s 240,000 bpd Gonfreville refinery offline as well as a couple of Exxon’s, was expected to conclude on Thursday.

But on Friday, reports came in that strikes were disrupting Total’s oil products refining and delivery for a fourth day. The total refining sector outages in France now make up 60% of the nation’s total refining capacity, Reuters calculations show.

United Kingdom

Common Dreams: ‘Time to Take to the Streets’: Working Class Hold ‘Enough Is Enough’ Rallies Across UK

Weeks of economic justice rallies organized by the Enough Is Enough campaign across the United Kingdom over the past six weeks have been building to a National Day of Action, set to take place Saturday in more than four dozen cities and towns as hundreds of thousands of people protest the country’s cost-of-living crisis.

The campaign, whose roots lie in the trade union and tenants' rights movements, has outlined five specific demands of the U.K. government as renters have seen their average monthly housing costs skyrocket by 11% on average since last year and household energy bills approaching $4,000 (£3,582) per year.

At rallies this weekend in London, Liverpool, Glasgow, and dozens of other cities, the grassroots campaign will demand a higher minimum wage and pay that keeps up with inflation, lower energy bills, an end to food insecurity and food poverty through universal school lunches and other assistance, affordable housing for all, and new taxes for the wealthiest Britons.

“The people need to be out in the streets and demanding change from this government, and if necessary, a change of government entirely,” said Mick Lynch, general secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers (RMT), in a TV interview Friday, as he noted that top executives in the rail industry are expected to gain up to £60,000 ($67,000) from the “mini-budget” introduced by the Conservative government last week.

Financial Times: Inside the breakdown of the UK’s mortgage machine

Immediately after the UK’s new chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s “mini” Budget speech last Friday, Atom Bank chief executive Mark Mullen realised the extent of the chaos that was about to be unleashed and got on the phone to his commercial director.

“I asked to be ready to remove our mortgage range from sale because I could see there could be a rush to [lock in fixed rate] mortgages,” said Mullen, whose bank specialises in selling home loans online.

“Contagion can be quite destructive and so our risk was we’d find ourselves swamped with mortgage applications that we don’t have either the capacity or the appetite to write in such a volatile environment.”

As markets digested Kwarteng’s unfunded tax-slashing plans, Mullen’s fears were realised as sterling fell to historic lows against the dollar while gilt yields soared. Investors bet that the Bank of England could keep hiking interest rates to as high as 5.8 per cent next year.

The banks were left scrambling as the gilt yields used to price mortgages moved so quickly that new home loan deals were unprofitable just hours after their interest rates were set. Fixed-rate mortgages became instantly unaffordable for many smaller banks operating on tighter profit margins.

Across the country, providers withdrew 1,688 mortgage products, leaving would-be borrowers in limbo and raising fears of a collapse in house prices.


Common Dreams: Spain Approves ‘Solidarity’ Tax to Make Nation’s Top 0.1% Pay a Fairer Share

Spain’s leftist coalition government on Thursday announced a series of downwardly redistributive fiscal reforms—including a temporary “solidarity” tax on the nation’s 23,000 wealthiest residents—that lawmakers hope will ease the cost-of-living crisis hurting millions of working people.

In 2023 and 2024, the 0.1% of Spanish taxpayers who own more than €3 million ($2.9 million) in assets will be subject to a new wealth tax.

According to The Associated Press: “People with holdings of €3 million to €5 million ($2.9 million to $4.9 million) will be taxed 1.7% and those whose personal worth is €5 million to €10 million ($4.9 million to $9.8 million) will be taxed at 2.1%. Individuals with fortunes above €10 million will pay 3.5%.”

This levy on 1 out of every 1,000 citizens, which Finance Minister María Jesús Montero described as a “solidarity” tax, is one of many changes to Spain’s upcoming budget that are intended to mitigate economic hardship as the prices of energy, food, and other essential goods continue to soar due to corporate profiteering and the destabilizing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and the climate crisis on global supply chains.

As AP reported: “The government also plans to increase the income tax rate from 26% to 27% for people earning more than €200,000 ($196,000). The capital gains tax for incomes above €300,000 ($294,000) will go up to 28%, an increase of two percentage points.”


Reuters: Germany agrees 200 bln euro package to shield against surging energy prices

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz set out a 200 billion euro ($194 billion) “defensive shield” on Thursday to protect companies and consumers against the impact of soaring energy prices.

Europe’s biggest economy is trying to cope with surging gas and electricity costs caused largely by a collapse in Russian gas supplies to Europe, which Moscow has blamed on Western sanctions following its invasion of Ukraine in February.

“Prices have to come down, so the government will do everything it can. To this end, we are setting up a large defensive shield,” said Scholz, outlining the package.

Under the plans, which will be financed with new borrowing, the government will introduce an emergency price brake on gas and electricity and scrap a previously planned gas levy on consumers to avoid further price increases.

Nuclear plants in southern Germany, previously due to close by the end of this year, will be able to keep running until spring 2023.

WSWS: Munich Oktoberfest emerges as COVID superspreader event in Germany

While on average almost 80 people lose their lives to the pandemic every day in Germany and a new COVID wave is gathering pace, the federal and state governments are dismantling the last remaining measures and promoting a “live with the virus” strategy. The Oktoberfest—a super-spreading event par excellence—is only the most disturbing example of this policy.

Since September 17, the Oktoberfest has been taking place in Munich, where millions of people from countries around the world meet in tents without any COVID protection measures. The fact that this would lead to a mass spread of the virus was beyond question from the outset.

For example, Florian Geyer, head of the Miesbach health office in Upper Bavaria, where Munich is located, told the Münchner Merkur newspaper, “One thing is clear: a beer tent cannot be adequately ventilated. And it is an international meeting place—the best conditions for the virus to spread, mutate and change. Whether and how it will do that, we cannot predict.”

“Of course, this will lead to an increase in the number of cases,” said Johannes Bogner, senior consultant at the LMU Clinic at the University of Munich. And Munich virologist Oliver Keppler told regional public broadcaster BR, “On a scale of one to 10, the probability of SARS-CoV-2 exposure after several hours in the tent is, in my estimation, nine to 10.”

This coincides with the catastrophic consequences of similar festivals, which were celebrated in various parts of Bavaria without COVID restrictions. In Rosenheim, for example, the seven-day infection rate rose there to over 1,000 infections per 100,000 inhabitants approximately one-and-a-half weeks after the start of the Oktoberfest.

In Munich itself, the seven-day incidence has risen from 225 per 100,000 inhabitants to over 695 within 10 days. In the last week, more than 10,000 new COVID cases were reported, which is about 6,500 more than in Hamburg, where the second highest number of cases were registered in the last seven days. PCR test samples have shown that 2 percent of Oktoberfest visitors are already infected at the event.


Euronews: Latvia holds general election amid Ukraine war and record-high inflation

Latvia began voting on Saturday in a general election that has been overshadowed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and rising energy costs.

Polls indicate that Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš’ New Unity party, which heads the current four-party centre-right minority coalition, is likely to emerge as the top vote-getter.

New Unity is projected to receive between 13% and 20% of the ballots cast by 1.5 million eligible voters.

The election will likely be followed by a lengthy period of negotiation, but analysts say there is a strong chance that Karins — who steered Latvia through the COVID-19 crisis among other things — will still be prime minister at the end of it.

Kariņš, a dual Latvian-US citizen, has told media outlets that it would be easiest to continue with the same coalition combination should New Unity win.


Reuters: Moldova says Gazprom has told it Oct supplies will be cut by 30%

Russia’s Gazprom (GAZP.MM) has told Moldova that supplies of natural gas in October will be cut by 30%, the deputy prime minister of the small former Soviet nation said on Friday.

Andrei Spinu, writing on Telegram, said the situation was similar to what happened in October 2021, when Russian supplies for the month were also cut.

The difference is that state natural gas company Moldovagaz now has a binding contact with Gazprom which the Russian company must fulfil, he said.


Reuters: Norway could quickly impose ban on Russian tourists, justice minister says

Norway may impose a ban on Russian tourists similar to that introduced this week by Finland, Norwegian Justice Minister Emilie Enger Mehl said on Friday.

“We will close the border quickly if necessary, and changes can come at short notice. There have been few arrivals in Norway compared to Finland, and the situation is different here,” Mehl said in a statement.

Norway would station a helicopter with sensors as it now sees an increased risk of illegal border crossings amid Russia’s first public mobilisation since World War Two.


Euronews: Sweden lifts Turkey arms embargo as NATO membership inches closer

Sweden has lifted a ban on exporting military equipment to Turkey, following the Nordic nation’s decision to join the NATO military alliance and overcome Turkish objections.

Sweden’s NATO application “greatly strengthens the defence and security policy reasons for granting the export of military equipment to other member states, including Turkey,” the country’s Inspectorate of Strategic Products (ISP) said on Friday.


Reuters: Gas starts flowing to Poland through new Baltic Pipe pipeline

Gas started flowing to Poland through the new Baltic Pipe pipeline from Norway via Denmark and the Baltic Sea on Saturday morning, Polish gas pipeline operator Gaz-System said.

The pipeline is at the centre of Poland’s strategy to diversify its gas supplies away from Russia that began years before Moscow’s February invasion of Ukraine triggered a global energy crisis.

A Gaz-System spokeswoman told Reuters that flows started at 6.10 a.m. (0410 GMT) and nominations, or requests for sending gas through the pipeline on Oct. 1, totalled 62.4 million kilowatt-hours (kwh).

The pipeline, with an annual capacity of 10 billion cubic meters, was officially inaugurated on Tuesday, a day after leaks were detected in the subsea Nord Stream gas pipelines linking Russia to Europe.

Russia cut gas supplies to Poland in April when it refused to pay in roubles.

East Asia and Oceania

Philstar: Hawkish central banks bring down Asia stocks anew

Stocks in Asia’s emerging markets fell sharply yesterday on concerns over persistent hawkish talk from central banks and consequent worries about global recession, while most currencies sighed after the US dollar took a step back from its dominant rally.

The bellwether Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) ended at 5,741.07, losing 193.18 points or 3.26 percent. This was the main index’s lowest level in 25 months.

The broader All Shares index, meanwhile, spiraled down to 3,107.90, a drop of 82.98 points or 2.60 percent.

Total value turnover reached P6.693 billion. Market breadth, however, was positive, 154 to 51, while 37 issues were unchanged.

“US Treasury yields continue to rise with the Federal Reserve remaining hawkish. Negative cues from the performance of the US markets overnight affected the local bourse as well,” Philstocks Financial said in a note.

The selloff in stocks resumed mainly after Fed officials gave no indication that the central bank would change plans to aggressively raise interest rates to slow down inflation.

WSWS: Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and New Zealand



Tripura state police attack protesting teachers

At least 30 teachers were injured and over 300 detained while marching to the Tripura state assembly in Agartala on September 26 to demand reinstatement. Police brutally attacked the protesters using water cannon, tear gas and canes.

The Tripura High Court terminated over 10,300 teachers due to what it claimed was a faulty recruitment process in 2014. The retrenched teachers and the Left Front government had filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court challenging the order, however the court upheld the High Court’s order of 2017.

In an attempt to head off further protests, the chief minister claimed he had directed the district magistrate to give appointments to the sacked teachers.

West Bengal commuter transport workers end six-day strike

Striking contract bus drivers and their assistants from the South Bengal State Transport Corporation (SBSTC) returned to work on Wednesday after walking out on September 22. They were demanding permanent jobs and equal pay and conditions in line with permanent workers. The strike had a major effect on services in the state’s southern and western districts.

Strikers agreed to return to work after the transport minister said he had talked with SBSTC management and guaranteed that each worker would get 26 days’ work every month. Entitlements, including paid leave, are supposed to be discussed later.

Tamil Nadu district cooperative workers protest low pay

Members of the Dindigul District Cooperative Employees’ Union, affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, demonstrated outside the collector’s office in Dindigul on September 26 with a charter of 14 demands. These included a 20 percent increase in bonus, a minimum bonus of 8,400 rupees ($US102.5) across all grades, a 5 percent ex-gratia pay increase, festival advance of 20,000 rupees, provision of toilets in office buildings and a pension for all workers.

Tangedco workers protest loss of entitlements

Thousands of workers from the state-owned electricity generation and distribution company Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco) staged a sit-in protest on the premises of the Tangedco chief engineer’s office in Coimbatore on September 26. The protest was called by 18 Tangedco unions.

Workers complained that Tangedco has restricted loans and advances previously paid to other employees but now must be approved by the state government. The dearness allowance has also been cancelled.

Workers demanded that Tangedco stop filling the existing 58,000 job vacancies across the state with cheaper outsourced labour who are not entitled to the benefits of permanent employees. The unions called for a tripartite agreement with the government and Tangedco to implement the government order on pensions and settlements.

Tamil Nadu government doctors protest for promotions and pay rise

Nearly 500 government doctors from various parts of the state protested near the collectorate in Chennai on September 25 to demand promotions and higher pay in line with central government doctors.

MBBS doctors complained that they must wait 20 years before being upgraded. They called for it be reduced to 12 years. Doctors also demanded the government change its decision to increase working hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., restoring it to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Tirunelveli Municipal Corporation sanitation workers protest

Temporary sanitary workers from the Tirunelveli Municipal Corporation in Tamil Nadu demonstrated on the corporation’s premises on September 26 with several demands. Major demands were payment of wages on the first day of every month and recording attendance in a mobile app instead of signing a register kept in the corporation office.

Drivers complained that they are forced to keep the corporation’s electric vehicles at their own risk. They demanded the vehicles be kept at the corporation premises because batteries and other parts are stolen, and workers were made to pay for them out of their own pocket.

Tamil Nadu rural childcare workers demand allowance increase

Rural childcare (anganwadi) workers and helpers protested outside the collector’s office in Krishnagiri on September 26 to demand an increase in allowances. They carried gas stoves saying they are not properly compensated for cooking for children in their care.

Protesters said they are given responsibility for 15 to 20 children but were paid allowances for only four children. While the gas cylinder prices have skyrocketed to 1,100 rupees ($US13.47), the workers were paid only 400 rupees as allowances.

The anganwadi workers said potatoes, eggs, porridge and other foodstuffs were insufficiently allocated and inadequately funded. Workers also demanded upgrading the employment of anganwadi workers to public service status, new cellular phones, filling of all vacancies and unconditional promotion upon completion of 10 years’ service.

Nagaland ad-hoc teachers demand permanent jobs

Striking ad-hoc teachers in Kohima, Nagaland continued their sit-in protest for a second day on September 27 in defiance of government threats that they would be docked pay. The teachers are demanding permanent jobs.

The All Nagaland Ad-hoc Teachers Group (ANATG)-2015 Batch consists of about 1,166 teachers. While the government claims they are “illegal appointees” the teachers said they were appointed against sanctioned posts at different times from 2015.

Australia and New Zealand

Tasmanian public-school teachers strike

Thousands of teachers stopped work for two hours on Wednesday morning and rallied at 15 locations across Tasmania. Over 1,000 public school teachers and support staff rallied outside state parliament in Hobart holding placards stating, “Support new Teachers,” “More in-class support,” and “More time to teach.”

The Australian Education Union (AEU) has been in negotiations with the state Liberal government for a new enterprise agreement for over 14 months. Teachers want a pay rise that brings them into line with colleagues in other states, reduced workloads, and more resources. They are also demanding an end to the forced stand down of teacher assistants without pay for 12 weeks each year.

Teachers rejected the government’s latest state public sector workers pay cap offer of 2.75 percent over four years, plus a one-off $1,500 bonus. Teachers said the offer did not do anything to end critical staff shortages or reduce workloads. The AEU said the offered pay increase would still see Tasmanian teachers paid less than their interstate counterparts.

BHP mine workers in Queensland to vote on strike action

Three separate unions covering workers at BHP mines in central Queensland have been successful in their applications to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to conduct protested action ballots of their members. The Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU), the Electrical Trades Union and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, who cover over 2,000 workers at Saraji, Peak Downs, Goonyella Riverside and Blackwater mines, have been attempting to reach a deal with BHP for a new enterprise agreement (EA) for over 15 months. Four months of mediation in the FWC reached deadlock this month.

A CFMMEU spokesperson claimed the drawn-out negotiations had not even begun discussing wage increases because the focus was on conditions and job security.

The unions have allowed an increasing number of BHP’s workforce to be drawn from labour hire companies. BHP has its own in-house labour hire provider Operations Services. Workers are concerned about job security and want job protections built into the EA, redundancy protections and career progression.

BHP is part of the Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) with BHP holding 50 percent and Mitsubishi Development the other 50 percent. It is the largest metallurgical coal producer in Australia and operates seven mines in central Queensland’s Bowen Basin as well as the Hay Point Coal Terminal.

New Zealand university staff vote in nationwide strike ballot

New Zealand university staff have been voting in an on-line ballot this week whether to take strike action in a pay dispute. University of Auckland, AUT, University of Waikato, Massey University, Victoria University of Wellington (VUW), Canterbury University, Lincoln University and University of Otago are all involved.

Tertiary Education Union (TEU) members attended two-hour union meetings on September 21 and near unanimously approved sector-wide strike ballots for each of their collective agreements. Negotiations covering about 10,000 academics began in July.

The TEU is seeking an 8 percent pay rise, marginally above the current 7.3 percent inflation rate. It will soon be overtaken by rapidly rising costs and does nothing to replace effective wage cuts since 2008. Data published by the TEU shows real wage cuts of between 7 and 17 percent across seven universities. This has accompanied nearly 1,000 job cuts during the COVID pandemic.

The TEU took no co-ordinated strike action to oppose this assault on wages and jobs. That the union is forced to do so now is due to anger among the entire working class over plummeting living standards, overseen by the Labour government.

VUW Branch President Dougal McNeill, leader of the pseudo-left International Socialist Organisation declared: “Over the past two years we have had to deliver classes both online and in person which effectively doubled what for many were already unmanageable workloads caused by persistent cost cutting and underinvestment in staff. We are in no mood to take an effective pay cut on the back of that.” However, academics can place no confidence in the TEU, which has repeatedly proved that it will seek to impose a settlement on terms dictated by the ruling elite.

New Zealand primary health care nurses rally over pay

Primary health care nurses rallied in New Zealand centres on September 29 calling for additional funding from the Labour government. Hour-long lunchtime rallies involving hundreds of nurses were held in Auckland, Tauranga, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch. Similar rallies were held in late August.

The nurses work in private practices, primarily doctors’ surgeries and clinics. The NZ Nurses Organisation (NZNO) said a nurse at a medical centre earns between 10 and 20 percent less than their counterparts in public hospitals, while nurses working for Māori providers can earn up to 25 percent less.

Primary care nurses are joining a wave of strikes by other workers over low pay and deteriorating conditions in the health system due to COVID. In May, 10,000 health professionals, including anaesthetic technicians, audiologists, occupational therapists, dental technicians, social workers and physiotherapists, took industrial action after rejecting a below-inflation pay offer from District Health Boards.

The NZNO is restricting the nurses’ current action to occasional protests and toothless appeals inviting the public to sign postcards and post stickers asking the government to provide funding “to properly value” the nurses.


RT: Beijing orders state banks to get ready for massive dollar dump

China has told state-run financial institutions to prepare to sell off their dollar holdings while stocking up on offshore yuan, as Beijing tries to bolster the national currency, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing sources with knowledge of the matter.

The simultaneous dumping of the US dollar and purchasing of the yuan are expected to avoid further drops in the Chinese currency, which is currently on track for the biggest annual loss versus the greenback in nearly three decades. So far this year, the yuan has dropped over 11% against the dollar.

The unnamed source told the agency that the scale of this round of dollar selling to defend the weakening yuan is expected to be “rather big.”

China’s offshore yuan, which moves in lockstep with onshore yuan, saw a rebound of around 200 pips on the news. The trading volumes of offshore yuan account for about 70% of all yuan FX trades globally, dwarfing the volumes traded on the mainland.

The intervention scheme reportedly involved primarily using state lenders’ dollar reserves, while the total amount of selling is yet to be determined, since moves in the Chinese currency typically depend on dollar movements and the tightening policies pursued by the US central bank.

SCMP: Blinken urges China to resume cooperation with US on climate change, combating narcotics

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called for the resumption of Sino-US cooperation in areas where it was suspended by Beijing following senior US lawmaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to Taiwan in August.

“As the United States works with the international community to tackle the great obstacles the world faces today, we welcome the cooperation of the People’s Republic of China in addressing global challenges in health, climate change, counternarcotics, and other areas where our interests intersect,” he said in a message celebrating China’s National Day on Saturday.

“We hope for a peaceful and happy year ahead for the people of China”.

I really hope this dude falls into a really deep hole.

The message came amid rising tensions between China and the US that have seen bilateral ties plunge to the lowest point since their normalisation four decades ago. The trip to Taiwan by Pelosi, speaker of the US House of Representatives, angered Beijing and prompted it to suspend cooperation on climate change and the illegal trade in narcotics.

SCMP: China finishes latest phase of construction work on Tiangong space station

Chinese astronauts have successfully completed the latest phase of construction work on the Tiangong space station by moving one of its laboratory modules into its final position.

The Wentian lab module was first separated from the forward port of the core module Tianhe and slowly slotted into the side port using the space station’s robotic arm.

The next phase of construction will be the launch later this month of the Mengtian lab module, which will eventually be placed on the other side port to form a T-shaped space station.


People’s Daily: Chinese-invested expressway in Cambodia opens to public for one-month free trial

The Chinese-invested Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway in Cambodia was opened to the public on Saturday for a month’s trial use for free to attract motorists driving on the first-ever expressway in the Southeast Asian nation.

Invested by the China Road and Bridge Corporation, the 2-billion-U.S. dollar expressway with a total length of 187 km connects the capital Phnom Penh and the deep sea port province of Preah Sihanouk.

Cambodia’s Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MPWT) Secretary of State Yit Bunna said the expressway project had been fully completed recently after more than three years of construction and put on a trial operation for free-of-charge on Oct. 1-31.


Reuters: Modi launches India-made high speed train in modernisation drive

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday launched a third Indian-made high speed train in his home state of Gujarat, as a part of plans to modernise the country’s rail network.

New Delhi plans to launch 75 of the Vande Bharat Express trains by August 2023 to connect all major industrial and business cities. The trains have a top speed of 160 kilometres per hour (kmh) (99 miles per hour).

The average speed of Indian trains has remained around 50 kmh, and of freight trains around 25 kmh, hitting the state-owned railways' earnings, according to a national auditor’s report in April.

The 16-coach Vande Express, with a capacity of 1,128 passengers, will provide a better experience for travellers even compared to flying, Modi said after the launch.

Sri Lanka

WSWS: New UNHRC resolution aimed at pressuring Sri Lanka to end ties with China

A new resolution on Sri Lanka has been presented to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) 51st session that began in mid-September. Voting on the resolution, titled “Promoting reconciliation, accountability, and human rights in Sri Lanka,” is scheduled for October 6.

The resolution, which was sponsored by the US, UK, Canada and Germany, as well as Malawi, Montenegro and North Macedonia, is based on a UNHRC resolution passed in March 2021, with some additional points. These include an investigation into the impact of “corruption” on Sri Lanka’s economic crisis and the “repression of the protest movement.”

The resolution has nothing do with investigating war crimes or defending human rights in Sri Lanka. It cynically opposes the anti-democratic measures of Colombo governments, but only in order to increase pressure on the cash-strapped Colombo government and block its relations with Beijing. The US wants Sri Lanka to fully back its escalating geo-strategic confrontation with China.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe is a longtime stooge of US imperialism. However, Washington is concerned that he was elevated into this position by former president Gotabhaya Rajapakse and his Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna MPs who have maintained ties with China.

New Delhi, a key strategic ally of Washington, provided considerable financial assistance to Sri Lanka when the economy plunged into crisis this year in a bid to strengthen relations with Colombo and marginalise Chinese influence. Several senior Biden administration officials, including USAID chief Samantha Power, have also visited Sri Lanka, following Wickremesinghe’s appointment as president for the same reason.

Last year’s 16-point UNHRC resolution called for the devolution of power, protection of human rights and human rights defenders, a “review” of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, accountability and respect for religious freedoms. It also expressed concerns about the militarisation of the civilian administration.

US interventions at the UNHRC on Sri Lanka go back to its support for a June 2009 resolution, following Colombo’s bloody defeat of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The term “accountability” in the resolution refers to crimes committed by the Sri Lankan military during the final months of the communalist war. These included the killing of at least 40,000 Tamil civilians and the cold-blooded murder of surrendering LTTE leaders.

The US and other major powers backed Colombo’s war and are responsible for supporting these crimes. The Obama administration, however, opposed then President Mahinda Rajapakse’s turn to China, which became a major arms provider and supplier of financial assistance. Washington’s concerns were bound up with its “pivot to Asia”—the diplomatic isolation and military encirclement of China in preparation for war.

After failing to pressure Colombo to distance itself from China, Washington orchestrated a regime-change operation in 2015 to oust Mahinda Rajapakse as president, replacing him with Maithripala Sirisena. Wickremesinghe, who was later installed as his prime minister, and former president Chandrika Kumaratunga supported the back-room operation.

The incoming Sirisena and Wickremesinghe administration shifted Sri Lankan foreign policy sharply in favour of the US, which then diluted its “human rights” campaign against Colombo. Washington, however, resumed its diplomatic pressure after President Gotabhaya Rajapakse came to power in 2019 and his brother Mahinda won the general election in August 2020 to become prime minister.

In line with the latest UNHRC resolution, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Bob Menendez and Senators Dick Durbin, Patrick Leahy, and Cory Booker have moved a resolution in the Senate. It calls for a “comprehensive international approach to address Sri Lanka’s current political and economic crisis, including challenges related to poor governance and economic policy under the Rajapakse family’s rule.” The Foreign Relations Committee resolution claims that the Sri Lankan economic crisis was “exacerbated by predatory loans” from China “as part of its debt trap diplomacy.”

The latest UNHRC resolution notes that “the severe economic crisis” in Sri Lanka has aggravated food insecurity, caused severe shortages of medicines and fuel, and reduced household income. “Corruption can have a serious negative impact on the enjoyment of human rights,” it states, and calls for the investigation and prosecution of corruption by “public and former public officials.”


Inside Climate News: In Pivotal Climate Case, UN Panel Says Australia Violated Islanders’ Human Rights

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has declared that the Australian government violated the human rights of Indigenous Torres Strait Islanders by failing to adequately protect them from the severe impacts of climate change.

Lawyers have described the decision, issued last week, as “pathbreaking” and the most important climate decision issued to date by an international human rights tribunal. It is the first time that a judicial body focused on human rights has told a government to pay for harm caused by climate change, and it expands a growing body of law framing the issue as a human rights emergency.

In the decision, which was opposed by the Australian government in Canberra, the committee’s 18 human rights experts judged that Australia has violated the islanders’ rights to their family life and their culture under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, or ICCPR.

WSWS: Australia ends COVID isolation requirements: Business hails “freedom,” medical experts warn of mass deaths

In a major attack on public health, Australia’s governments yesterday ended requirements for those infected with COVID-19 to isolate themselves from the community. All federal pandemic leave payments for COVID-positive workers are also being ended.

The twin measures, which come into effect on October 14, are the final stage in a protracted onslaught on any coordinated public health response to the pandemic. They mean that COVID will be allowed to circulate everywhere, the pandemic will go on indefinitely and workers infected with a potentially deadly illness will be forced to stay on the job.

Significantly, this attack, which amounts to a declaration of war on public health and the rights of working people, has been spearheaded by the federal Labor government. Its prime minister, Anthony Albanese, is imposing profit-driven and homicidal policies that his conservative predecessor Scott Morrison could not.


Reuters: Japan spent record of nearly $20.0 bln on intervention to support the yen

Japan spent up to a record 2.8 trillion yen ($19.7 billion) intervening in the foreign exchange market last week to prop up the yen, Ministry of Finance data showed on Friday, draining nearly 15% of funds it has readily available for intervention.

The figure was less than the 3.6 trillion yen estimated by Tokyo money market brokers for Japan’s first dollar-selling, yen-buying intervention in 24 years to stem the currency’s sharp weakening.

The ministry’s figure, indicating total spending on currency intervention from Aug. 30 to Sept. 28, is widely believed to have been used entirely for the Sept. 22 intervention. It would surpass the previous record for dollar-selling, yen-buying intervention in 1998 of 2.62 trillion yen. Confirmation on the dates of the spending will be released in November.

“This was a big burst of intervention, if it had happened on a single day, underscoring Japanese authorities' determination to defend the yen,” said Daisaku Ueno, chief forex strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

“But the impact of further intervention will diminish as long as Japan continues to intervene solo,” he said.

The intervention, conducted after the yen slumped to a 24-year low of nearly 146 to the dollar, triggered a sharp bounce of more than 5 yen per dollar from that low, although the currency has since drifted down again to around 144.25.


TeleSUR: N Korea Fires Two Short-Range Ballistic Missiles From Pyongyang

North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles from Pyongyang into the East Sea (the Sea of Japan), South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported, citing South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Earlier, the media outlet reported that Pyongyang fired an unidentified ballistic missile.

“The Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected the launches made from Pyongyang’s Sunan district between 6:45 a.m. and 7:03 a.m.” local time (GMT+9), the agency said.

The South Korean military specified that they maintain full operational capability and are “in close cooperation with the United States.”

According to their estimates, the projectiles fell into the sea at about 350 kilometers after rising to 30 kilometers.

NHK television channel reported, citing Japanese government sources, that the missiles fell outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

This is the fourth launch in less than a week from North Korean territory.

Since the beginning of 2022, North Korea has conducted more than two dozen weapons tests, including the launch of the Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile, which ended the self-imposed moratorium on intercontinental ballistic and nuclear missile tests in 2017.

Central Asia and the Middle East


Oil Price: Russia Claims EU Sanctions Are Preventing TurkStream Pipeline Maintenance

The Russian operator of a pipeline that supplies Turkey and the Balkans with natural gas said it would suspend some maintenance and repair work, citing European Union sanctions, a move that threatens to deepen Europe’s energy crisis.

Oleg Aksyutin , the director of South Stream Transport B.V., sent a note earlier this month to division managers informing them that Netherland’s import and export authority would be revoking its export license as of September 17.

South Stream Transport is the Dutch-unit of the Kremlin-controlled natural gas giant, Gazprom, which manages the TurkStream pipeline running under the Black Sea from Russia to Turkey and on to the Balkans and Central Europe.


People’s Daily: At least 19 killed, 27 wounded in Kabul suicide blast

At least 19 people were killed and 27 others wounded on Friday in a suicide explosion that rocked an education center in Kabul, capital of Afghanistan.

“Students were preparing for an exam when a suicide bomber struck at this educational center. Unfortunately, 19 people have been martyred and 27 others wounded,” Kabul police spokesman Khalid Zadran said.

No group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attack in Police District 13 of Kabul.

A similar blast claimed seven lives and injured 41 others in Kabul a week ago.


RT: European citizens arrested in Iran

Iran has detained nine foreign citizens from European countries for the role they played in recent protests over the death of a young woman in police custody, the nation’s Ministry of Intelligence said on Friday.

According to the ministry, nine unnamed persons from Germany, Poland, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, and other unspecified countries were arrested “during the riots or while plotting in the background.”

In addition, Iranian authorities issued warnings to the German, French, British, and Swedish embassies for the alleged involvement of their “agents” in the protests.

Moreover, the ministry claimed that the riots were largely fueled by foreign citizens and members of the Mojahedin-e-Khalq Organization, a group of Iranian dissidents currently operating out of Albania. It also claimed to have discovered 36kg of explosives, which terrorists allegedly planned to use to target public places.

Iranian intelligence also insisted that Tehran’s security forces had to recently deal with the “direct involvement of the American and British governments and their Saudi followers” in the protests, as well as with “fooled agents of rioters.”

Iran has been mired in violent protests for almost two weeks over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in law enforcement custody. She was reportedly detained by the morality police over wearing an “improper” hijab. Amini’s family insists that she was beaten to death while the Iranian authorities claim that she died of a heart attack.

There’s video evidence that she wasn’t beaten to death and instead suddenly collapsed, to be clear.

According to Amnesty International, 52 people have died during the unrest, including five women and at least five children. Iran Human Rights, a Norway-based group, put the number even higher, at 83. Meanwhile, official figures say that 41 people, including security forces agents, have lost their lives during the protests.

The protests have gained significant traction in the West, with the US even lifting some restrictions on providing internet services to Iran to enable those outraged by Tehran’s actions to organize and share footage from the demonstrations.

MEE: Iran eyes petrochemical expansion amid Russian price war and US sanctions

A new round of US sanctions unveiled against Iran on Thursday took aim at one of Tehran’s most profitable and fastest growing industries yet one that largely flies under the radar: petrochemicals.

Refined polymers and compounds are found in everything from fertilisers and plastics to laundry detergents, paper and clothing. While many people may not be as familiar with petrochemicals as the oil and gas from which they are derived, for the Islamic Republic they are crucial.

“Petrochemicals have been a major source of revenues and non-oil exports for Iran,” Rachel Ziemba, a sanctions expert at the Center for a New American Security, told Middle East Eye.

In July, Iran said it would increase petrochemical production by 54 percent over the next four years. The industry already accounts for one-third of Iran’s non-oil exports. In 2020, Iran sold about $20bn worth of petrochemicals, twice the value of its crude exports.

“Since 2018, the [Iranian] petrochemical industry has expanded its capacities, especially with a focus on generating export revenues,” Bijan Khajepour, managing partner of the Vienna-based consulting firm, Eunepa, which advises companies on investing in Iran, told MEE.

Ziemba said petrochemical sales were buttressing Iran’s flagging economy with “a combo of sanctions evasion and sanctions resilience”, while helping it move up the manufacturing value chain.

Iran already sits atop the world’s fourth-largest oil reserves and second-largest gas reserves but has been pushing private and state-owned companies away from simply extracting raw commodities and into refining products.


AntiWar: Iraq Monthly Roundup: 179 Killed during September

During September at least 179 people were killed, and two bodies were found in an old mass grave. Another 294 people were wounded. At least 168 were killed, and 788 more were wounded across the country during August; much of that violence was due to protests.

Militant-related violence left at least 19 civilians, seven security personnel, and 62 militants dead. Another 36 civilians and 49 security personnel were wounded. Two people were found in an old mass grave.

Ongoing political protests left 10 dead and 140 wounded at the very least. Most of the wounded were reported to be security personnel, but it is likely that many civilian casualties went unrecorded.

In the conflict between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.), at least 60 guerrillas were killed. Five Turkish soldiers were killed, and 10 were wounded. Also, one civilian was accidentally wounded during a Turkish shelling. These casualties occurred in northern Iraq only. Casualties elsewhere in this conflict are not counted here.

Iran targeted Kurdish opposition groups in northern Iraq. At least 16 people were killed, including one American and a newborn. Another 58 were wounded.

At least 11 people were killed in recent violence:

Near Baghdad, a militiaman was shot dead.

Turkish operations against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.) left three guerrillas dead in northern Iraq.

Seven militants were killed during an operation near Mosul.



Africanews: World Bank approves $750 mln credit to boost Nigerian reforms

The World Bank has approved a US$750 million credit line for Nigeria to help the country push through reforms to attract investment and create jobs.

Several states in Nigeria are struggling to pay wages due to low revenues and are resorting to borrowing from the domestic bond market and banks to fund infrastructure projects.

The World Bank said Nigeria has made strides in improving business activity, but the country’s ability to attract domestic and foreign investment has remained weak compared to others.

“Private sector investment remains the primary means of creating more jobs, increasing state revenues and improving social and economic outcomes for citizens,” World Bank country director for Nigeria Shubham Chaudhuri said in a statement late Thursday.

The $750 million loan would improve land stewardship, telecommunications infrastructure, public-private partnerships, investment promotion and the regulatory environment for businesses, the World Bank said.


MEE: What’s behind the US-Russia tussle over a Red Sea naval base in Sudan?

The US has reiterated its concerns over an agreement that would allow Russia to build a naval base on Sudan’s Red Sea coast, potentially giving the Kremlin a foothold along the strategic waterway at a time of heightened tensions with the West over the war in Ukraine.

On Tuesday, John Godfrey, the US ambassador to Sudan, raised the issue in an interview with the Sudanese newspaper Al-Tayar, saying: “If the government of Sudan decides to proceed with the establishment of this facility, or to renegotiate it, it will be harmful to Sudan’s interest.”

Sudan signed the agreement allowing Moscow to build the base, capable of hosting nuclear-powered ships, during the administration of president Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who was removed from power in 2019.

Russia is set to lease the site for 25 years and could extend the deal for another 10 years, giving it access to the Red Sea’s warm waters and the international trade chokepoint of Bab el-Mandeb.

Equitorial Guinea

Reuters: International Court of Justice says Equatorial Guinea starts proceedings against France

Equatorial Guinea has started proceedings against France at the International Court of Justice, said the Dutch-based court body on Friday, adding it related to charges that France had not followed up its obligations over fighting corruption.

“Equatorial Guinea institutes proceedings against France with regard to a dispute concerning the alleged violation, by France, of its obligations under the United Nations Convention against Corruption, and asks the court to indicate provisional measures,” said the International Court of Justice.

Burkina Faso

TeleSUR: Military Occupy Strategic Areas of Burkina Faso’s Capital City

On Friday morning, soldiers occupied several strategic areas of Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, generating confusion at a time when the country is in “a transition process” after the January 24 coup.

Currently, the soldiers are stationed around the national television station, the United Nations roundabout, and on Kwame Nkrumah Avenue, where the European Union headquarters are located.

Sporadic detonations and shots were heard at the General Baba Sy military camp, where the January coup d’état began. Its leader was Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who serves as president of the country in the transition period.

Shots were also heard before dawn in the district that houses the government headquarters, RT reported, adding that the national television signal was cut until 9:15 local time.

Iraqi News: The Burkina strongman kicked out in a coup

Burkina Faso strongman Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba came to power in a military coup eight months ago.

On Friday military officials said they had removed him as head of the junta in the second coup this year.

Damiba had first-hand experience with the brutal jihadist insurgency that he cited as the pretext for seizing power in January.

But it wasn’t enough to placate the rebelling military, who tore into his record on security as they announced his dismissal in a national television address.

When Damiba’s junta overthrew the country’s elected president, Roch Marc Christian Kabore, the latter too was facing anger over his failure to stem the crisis.

Since the first jihadist attacks in 2015, thousands of people have died and about two million have been displaced by the fighting.

During his eight months at the head of the junta, Damiba tried to launch a process of dialogue with some armed groups, while intensifying the “offensive actions of the army”.

In early September, Damiba welcomed a “relative calm” in several places.

But the attacks have remained numerous, with more than 40 percent of the country outside government control.

BBC: Burkina Faso coup: African Union condemns military takeover

Burkina Faso’s neighbours have condemned Friday’s apparent coup, saying it was “inappropriate” for army rebels to seize power when the country was working towards civilian rule.

Regional group Ecowas and the African Union said ousting leader Lt Col Paul-Henri Damiba was “unconstitutional”.

This is the second time this year the country’s army has seized power.

Both times, the coups' leaders said they had to step in because national security was so dire.

Burkina Faso controls as little as 60% of its territory, experts say, and Islamist violence is worsening.


Al Jazeera: Regional court dismisses Maasai eviction case against Tanzania

The regional East African Court of Justice has ruled that Tanzania’s decision to cordon off land for wildlife protection was legal, dealing a blow to the Maasai Indigenous group who had protested against the move, accusing the government of trying to force them off their ancestral land to promote tourism.

The government claims it wants to “protect” 1,500 square kilometres (580 square miles) of the area from human activity, but rights groups said Friday’s ruling sent a dangerous message that Indigenous peoples can be evicted from their land in the name of conservation.

Tensions have soared in recent months with violent clashes breaking out in June in Loliondo in the Ngorongoro district – one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations – between police and Maasai demonstrators.

Four Maasai villages are located within the boundaries of the Serengeti National Park, according to the government. The boundaries were originally demarcated under British military rule but redrawn for conservation by subsequent administrations.

The Arusha-based East African Court of Justice ruled that the Maasai had failed to prove the eviction had taken place outside the park, and that much of the evidence of alleged violence and brutality was hearsay or inconsistent.

North America

United States

Inquirer: Wall Street posts third straight quarterly loss as inflation weighs, recession looms

The S&P 500 closed the books on its steepest September decline in two decades on Friday, skidding across the finish line of a tumultuous quarter fraught with historically hot inflation, rising interest rates and recession fears.

All three major indexes veered to a sharply lower end, having quashed a brief rally early in the session.

The S&P and the Dow notched their third consecutive weekly declines, and all three indexes posted their second straight monthly losses.

In the first nine months of 2022, Wall Street suffered three quarterly declines in a row, the longest losing streak for the S&P and the Nasdaq since 2008 and the Dow’s longest quarterly slump in seven years.

“It’s another ugly day to end an ugly quarter in what’s looking like a very ugly year,” said Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist at Carson Group in Omaha, Nebraska. “Investors will look back and realize this was the year the Fed pulled a total 180 on their views on inflation and quickly turned incredibly hawkish.”

CNN: Dow suffers worst month since March 2020

September was a horrible month for stocks. The Dow fell nearly 9%, its worst monthly drop since March 2020, when pandemic lockdowns started in the United States. The index ended Friday deeply in the red, too.

The Dow, a widely watched barometer of America’s stock market that includes corporate giants such as Apple (AAPL), Coca-Cola (KO), Disney (DIS), Microsoft (MSFT) and Walmart (WMT), was down about 500 points, or 1.7%. All 30 Dow stocks ended the day lower.

Worries about rising inventory levels at Dow component Nike (NKE) pushed the blue chips lower Friday. Shares of Nike (NKE) plunged 13% as investors worried about how it will need to heavily discount sneakers and other athletic apparel.

The Dow fell more than 5% in the third quarter and is now down about 20% this year, putting it in a bear market. The Dow is trading near its lowest levels since November 2020.

The S&P 500, which fell 1.5% Friday, is down nearly 9% in September and has fallen nearly 24% in 2022. That puts the index on track for its worst annual drop since 2008. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite also dropped 1.5% Friday and it has plunged almost 10% this month. It is down more than 30% this year.

WSWS: In cave-in to the banks, Biden changes student loan forgiveness rules to make 800,000 people ineligible

The Biden administration’s Department of Education quietly changed its criteria for federal student loan forgiveness on Thursday. Without any previous or public announcement, the department’s website posted a new guidance on whether some four million borrowers whose loans are guaranteed by the federal government but held by private lenders are eligible for the $10,000 in student loan forgiveness announced by President Biden in August.

Until Thursday, the guidance said that these borrowers, who received loans under the now defunct Perkins and Federal Family Education Loans programs, would be eligible for the debt write-off if they consolidated their loans into federal Direct Loans.

But the new guidance said the opposite. It stated that as of that day (September 29, 2022), borrowers with federal loans not held by the government “cannot obtain one-time debt relief by consolidating those loans into Direct Loans.” In other words, all those with such loans who had not already consolidated into federal Direct Loans were ineligible for the debt write-off.

The change came the same day that a lawsuit was filed in federal court by six Republican-led states (Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and South Carolina) arguing that Biden’s executive order providing limited debt relief to some of the 41 million student loan borrowers was an abuse of executive power. The suit also argued that provisions encouraging borrowers with loans held by private banks to turn them into federally owned loans, so as to receive a debt write-off, illegally deprived private lenders of income from loan payments.

Additional lawsuits against the student loan forgiveness program have been filed or are being prepared.

Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson argued: “In addition to being economically unwise and inherently unfair, the Biden administration’s Mass Debt Cancellation is another example in a long line of unlawful regulatory actions. No statute permits President Biden to unilaterally relieve millions of individuals from their obligation to pay loans they voluntarily assumed.”

Plaintiffs further argued that forgiveness would constitute “depriving them [private loan holders] of the ongoing revenue” earned from “servicing those loans.”

Has anybody thought of what the concentration camp employees will do if you get rid of the concentration camps? You’re condemning hundreds of hard-working people to poverty!

Al Jazeera: US unveils plan for long-term baby formula imports

United States regulators have unveiled a plan to allow foreign baby formula manufacturers to stay on the market long term, an effort to diversify the nation’s tightly concentrated industry and prevent future shortages.

On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration said recent entrants to the US market will have until October 2025 to make sure their formulas comply with federal standards for nutrition, labelling and manufacturing. The agency noted that some companies should be able to meet those requirements sooner.

The US has been forced to turn to foreign manufacturers to boost formula supplies since February, when FDA inspectors temporarily shuttered the nation’s largest domestic formula factory due to bacterial contamination.

In May, the FDA eased federal import regulations and President Joe Biden authorised the airlift of millions of pounds of powdered formula from overseas. Together those actions have brought the equivalent of 300 million bottles of formula into the country, according to the FDA.

People’s Daily: Experts say long COVID-19 could cost U.S. economy trillions: report

Experts predict that long COVID-19 is likely to cost the U.S. economy trillions of dollars and will almost certainly affect multiple industries, U.S. website WebMD reported this week.

“The total economic loss could be as high as 3.7 trillion dollars,” the website said, citing David Cutler, an economics professor at Harvard University.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4 million working-age Americans are too sick with long COVID-19 to perform their jobs, said Katie Bach, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution and the author of a study looking into long COVID-19’s impact on the labor market.

“That works out to as much as 230 billion dollars in lost wages, or almost 1 percent of the U.S. GDP (gross domestic product),” said the website.

WSWS: US pediatric hospitals face massive crisis due to COVID and other respiratory viruses

An emergency situation is unfolding across the United States, as pediatric hospitals throughout the country have filled to capacity over the last two months due to a surge of multiple respiratory viruses. In response, virtually no alarm has been raised by the corporate media or political establishment.

This crisis is unfolding as K-12 schools have reopened with all COVID-19 mitigation measures dropped following the latest anti-scientific guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including ending universal masking in hospitals, and as President Joe Biden declares the pandemic “over.”

Major cities including Chicago, New Orleans, Seattle, and Austin have reported bed and staff shortages, while anecdotal reports on social media from healthcare workers and patients have come from every region of the country.

Physician-in-chief of University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital, Dr. John Cunningham, told the Chicago Tribune that hospitalizations have “skyrocketed since school started. This is the most challenging period we’ve experienced since March 2020.” Earlier in September, Illinois health officials warned that “Most (pediatric intensive care units) in our state are already at, or near full capacity, making inter-facility transfers more difficult.”

Last week, local news reported that only 11 staffed pediatric ICU beds were available for the entire Austin, Texas, region, which includes 11 different counties.

Dr. Mark Kline, physician-in-chief at Children’s Hospital New Orleans, stated this week, “We’ve got a full house. We stay at capacity.” He noted that children’s hospitals across the south, including in Birmingham and Atlanta, were also full.

Circle of Blue: Powerful Industry’s Torrent of Manure Overwhelms State Regulators

This article is part of a six-part series on toxic algae blooms in the Great Lakes, for those interested.

Common Dreams: Destructive Hurricanes Fuel Calls for Biden to Declare Climate Emergency

With Puerto Rico and Florida still reeling from a pair of hurricanes—one of which made landfall again Friday as a Category 1 storm in South Carolina—activists across the United States have renewed calls for President Joe Biden to declare a climate emergency.

“Is it time to declare a climate emergency yet?” NASA climate scientist Peter Kalmus—among the outspoken experts demanding more action from the U.S. government—tweeted Thursday.

As Jean Su at the Center for Biological Diversity explained earlier this year, “Declaring a climate emergency isn’t a catchphrase, it’s a vital suite of actions to protect people and the planet from this crisis.”

Su co-authored a February report for her group detailing some of the steps Biden could take to speed up the transition away from planet-wrecking fossil fuels if he issued an emergency declaration.

Campaigners have since ramped up pressure on the president, including with an Indigenous-led blockade outside the U.S. Department of Interior as well as delivering a 16-foot inflatable globe and nearly half a million petition signatures to the White House in August.

Progressive organizer Kai Newkirk on Thursday shared photos of the damage that Hurricane Ian caused in Florida and said: “President Biden, declare a climate emergency. If not now, when?”

Common Dreams: ‘Their Price Strategies Are Bearing Fruit’: Oil and Coal Profits Surge 340%

Progressive demands for congressional action to curb corporate monopoly power were renewed Friday after federal data confirmed that certain heavily consolidated industries are continuing to rake in massive profits while working households struggle under the weight of high prices.

The latest figures from the Bureau for Economic Analysis show that the profits of the U.S. coal and oil industry increased 340% between the first and second quarters of 2022. Companies selling petroleum and coal products made an estimated $49.7 billion in profits from April to June, compared with $11.3 billion from January to March.

Meanwhile, executives in the nation’s transportation and warehousing sector enjoyed a nearly 40% increase in profits during the same time period, pocketing $124.4 billion in the second quarter after taking home $89.4 billion over the first three months of the year.

CNN: FBI warns drones pose potential risk to critical infrastructure after some spotted over Louisiana chemical facilities

Drones have been spotted flying over Louisiana chemical facilities and a pipeline over the past year and a half, prompting an FBI warning on Thursday about the potential for espionage and terrorism at critical infrastructure facilities, according to a report obtained by CNN.

“[O]verflights can be an effective means of surveilling critical infrastructure because facility security personnel and law enforcement officers have limited options to detect and respond to” this type of drone activity, the report says.

For instance, on July 29, observers saw multiple drones flying over a Louisiana chemical facility at night. The group of drones flew several feet above the facility before splitting in two directions, according to the report.

Additionally, on March 8, 2021, a drone was discovered flying near a Louisiana pipeline. A law enforcement officer located the drone operator and discovered they had taken pictures, the report says. It’s unclear what action, if any, was taken by law enforcement.

According to the report, there are no indications of nefarious activity that directly threatens these facilities. However, drones could be used for documenting patterns of activity or the physical layout of the targeted critical infrastructure facilities, the report says.

The FBI encourages facility operators to contact their local field office if industrial espionage, terrorism or other criminal activity is suspected.


TeleSUR: AMLO Acknowledges Hacking of Mexican Army’s Documents

On Friday, Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) acknowledged that hackers attacked the Secretary of National Defense (SEDENA), causing the leak of tens of thousands of documents related to drug trafficking operations and other confidential matters.

Previously, the Latinus outlet reported that the SEDENA servers and their tens of thousands of emails had been attacked. This happened while the Army was making a change in its information system, AMLO said.

According to the journalistic report, the hacked information includes data on the power of the Army within the Mexican state and disputes between the high command of SEDENA and the Secretary of the Navy (SEMAR).

There is also information on the health of the Mexican president, who had a heart attack in 2013 and a catheterization in 2021. Leaked data include reports about the “Culiacanazo”, a failed operation that tried to arrest the son of drug trafficker Chapo Guzman in 2019.

Caribbean and South America


Reuters: Cuba requests U.S. aid after Hurricane Ian knocks out power, Wall Street Journal reports

Cuba’s government has made a rare request for emergency assistance from the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden after Hurricane Ian knocked out power to the whole island of 11 million people, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

Hurricane Ian tore through the island nation on Tuesday, causing an country-wide blackouts, flattening homes and destroying agricultural fields. Cubans have staged protests against the government over the power loss, which heightened concerns over ongoing food, fuel and medicine shortages.

Washington has assessed that Cuban authorities would place priorities on hospitals, water pumping facilities, sanitation and other critical infrastructure if the Biden administration were to provide aid, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a review of email communications.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report, nor did Cuba’s embassy in Washington.


TeleSUR: Venezuela Calls on UNESCO to Protect Cultural Rights

U.S. arbitrary sanctions can “severely impact communities not only in Latin America but worldwide,” the Bolivarian Culture Minister pointed out.

On Thursday, Venezuelan Culture Minister Ernesto Villegas called on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to adopt measures to protect the cultural rights of peoples from the harmful impact of sanctions imposed by other countries.

UNESCO should offer a “mechanism to protect the cultural rights of peoples, their heritage and cultural diversity, from unilateral coercive measures,” Villegas said at the 2022 World Conference on Cultural Policies and Sustainable Development (MONDIACULT).

“Sanctions can severely impact communities, not only in Latin America but worldwide… those who have calculated the numbers say that half of humanity is being subjected to sanctions,” he added.

Venezuela supports MONDIACULT’s goal to officially recognize culture as a “global public good” in a joint declaration to be issued at the end of the conference, Villegas said.


Inquirer: Nicaragua breaks off ties with Netherlands, bars new US envoy

The government of Nicaragua broke off diplomatic relations with the Netherlands on Friday over accusations of interventionism, hours after it said it would deny entry to the new US ambassador because of his “interfering” attitude.

“Nicaragua, faced with the repeated meddling, interventionist and neocolonialist position of the Kingdom of the Netherlands that has offended… with threats and suspensions of works for the common good, communicates to the Government of that country our decision to immediately discontinue diplomatic relations,” the foreign ministry said in a statement Friday night.

Earlier in the day, Nicaraguan President and former revolutionary Daniel Ortega had lashed out at the European nation after learning it would not fund a long-promised hospital.

“Those who come to disrespect our people, our homeland, they should not appear again in Nicaragua. And we do not want relations with that interventionist government,” Ortega said in reference to the Dutch ambassador for Central America, Christine Pirenne, who is based in Costa Rica.

According to the president, during a visit to the capital Managua on Thursday, Pirenne informed Nicaragua’s Foreign Minister Denis Moncada that the Dutch would no longer be financing a hospital they promised to build years ago.

“The ambassador came to speak to Nicaraguans as if Nicaragua is a Dutch colony,” Ortega said.

The Netherlands closed its offices in Managua in 2013 and conducts all its Central American diplomatic work from Costa Rica.

Before Ortega’s remarks, his wife, Nicaraguan Vice President Rosario Murillo, said on Friday that new US envoy Hugo Rodriguez “will not under any circumstances be admitted into our Nicaragua”.

“Let that be clear to the imperialists,” she added, reading a statement from the foreign office on state media.

The Ukraine Proxy Conflict

Ukraine has poured their reserves into the area around Liman after a few weeks of unsuccessfully trying to take the town, losing mountains of people and military equipment in the process. Russian forces are now outnumbered there 10-1, and the town will either fall soon or has already fallen to Ukraine.

AntiWar: Referendums and Joining Russia

A good write-up on what the oblasts joining Russia (or Russia annexing them, depending on your point of view) means for the conflict.


On September 27, referendums on joining Russia in the Donbas republics of Donetsk and Luhansk and in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts were completed. The referendum in Donbas, which has already declared its independence, asked “Do you support the entry of the DPR into the Russian Federation as a subject of the Russian Federation?” In the oblasts, the referendum had three parts: “Are you in favor of the region leaving Ukraine, creating an independent state, and joining the Russian Federation?”

Election officials report that all four regions overwhelmingly voted to join Russia: 93% in Zaporizhzhia, 87% in Kherson, 98% in Luhansk and 99% in Donetsk.

As both sides have pointed out, holding referendums in a war zone highlights questions of legitimacy. The Associated Press reports that Russian troops went door-to-door collecting votes and that in Kherson Ukrainian resistance movements “have killed Moscow-appointed officials and threatened those who considered voting.”

The West has dismissed the referendums as a sham. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the West would “never recognize” the referendum results, and US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield immediately announced that the US will introduce a resolution condemning the resolutions and calling on member states not to recognize their results.

In his address to the UN just prior to the completion of the referendums, President Biden called the referendums a “sham” and an “an extremely significant violation of the U.N. charter.”

Whether the referendums were conducted legitimately or not, the results may not be a surprise. Ukraine has always been a nation divided: the northwest has always faced west to Europe, and the southeast has always faced east to Russia. Historically, the west has voted for presidential candidates with European oriented policies, and the east has voted for presidents with Russian oriented policies. In 2019, Zelensky was elected in large part because his platform of making peace with Russia and signing the Minsk II Agreement that would grant the Donbas autonomy, won him the Russian speaking vote in the south and east.

The 2014 Donetsk and Luhansk referendums were limited to sovereignty and not becoming part of Russia then only because of Russian pressure. When the two regions declared their independence, Moscow did not recognize it. In Frontline Ukraine, Richard Sakwa says that “Putin showed little sign of wanting a Crimea-style takeover of the region, repeatedly rejecting requests to accept the territory as part of Russia.” When Donbas did hold elections, though Putin “respected” the results, he declined to accept them or be bound by them."

When a similar referendum was held in Crimea in 2014, a similar result occurred. Similar questions about legitimacy and accuracy were asked then. But Sakwa says that “It is clear that the majority of the Crimean population favored unification with Russia.” A majority voted for unification with Russia when the question was put to the referendum. The accuracy of the exact result has been the subject of debate, but Sakwa says that “even in perfect conditions a majority in Crimea would have voted for union with Russia.”

In his address to the UN, Biden insisted that, even had the vote not been fixed and a sham, it would never be recognized because it is “an extremely significant violation of the UN charter.” The fluidity of that claim, depending on US foreign policy interests, is exposed by Biden’s near simultaneous insistence three days earlier that “Taiwan makes their own judgments about their independence. . . . that’s their decision.” It doesn’t violate the UN charter if it works against China; it violates the UN charter if it works for Russia. Furthermore, the US officially recognizes other annexations, most recently the Moroccan annexation of Western Sahara.

But the hypocrisy that most makes Russia boil is Kosovo. In 2008, when Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia without even the pretense of holding a referendum, the US recognized the declaration against repeated UN resolutions upholding the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia. Sakwa also points out that the US endorsed “the infamous advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice . . . that Kosovo’s declaration of independence ‘did not violate general international law’.”

“As a result,” Alexander Lukin, who is Head of Department of International Relations at National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow, says, “Russia sees the West’s position on Crimea . . . as nothing more than a case of extreme hypocrisy.”

And as for violating the UN charter, Kosovo again makes Russia’s blood boil. The US not only ignored the UN in recognizing Kosovo’s independence from Yugoslavia, they ignored the UN in severing Kosovo from Yugoslavia. In March 1999, the US and NATO began bombing Serbian army positions in Kosovo without Security Council approval. In Not One Inch, M.E. Sarotte quotes an August 1998 conversation in which President Clinton told German Chancellor Helmut Kohl that “we need to make it clear that NATO can and will act without a Security Council resolution.”

Under international law, Kosovo was part of Serbia. The US was taking another country’s territory by force – just as it is now accusing Russia of – and then recognizing its independence – just as it is now accusing Russia of – without even the pretense of a referendum.

This moment is a transformative and dangerous one in the war in Ukraine. Until now, Russia has claimed that its military operation in eastern Ukraine has the aim of pushing back NATO and protecting cultural Russians. That is no longer the case.

If the Russian Duma and Putin accept the verdict of the referendums, then these regions become part of Russia. Dmitry Medvedev, former president and current deputy chairman of the Security Council of Russia, has reminded, not only that after the referendum the regions become part of Russia, but that “An encroachment on the territory of Russia is a crime, the commission of which allows you to use all the forces of self-defense.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov gave a similar warning: “the situation will radically change from the legal viewpoint, from the point of view of international law, with all the corresponding consequences for protection of those areas and ensuring their security.”

That means that a Ukrainian attack on the Donbas could now be seen by Russia as an attack on Russian territory. In his recent speech, Putin said that “In the event of a threat to the territorial integrity of our country and to defend Russia and our people, we will certainly make use of all weapon systems available to us.”

On August 22, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov citing the Fundamentals of the State Policy of the Russian Federation in the field of nuclear deterrence, said that Russia “hypothetically” could allow the use of nuclear weapons if there is “aggression using conventional weapons, when the very existence of the state is threatened.” That could now include a strike on the Donbas.

Like the US, Russia maintains a nuclear capacity for emergency use in case the existence of the state is threatened. Russians consider Crimea to be Russia. So, threatening to attack or take Crimea is an existential threat to the Russian state. If Russia accepts the four referendums, then the same could be true in those four territories. Since that is where the fighting is taking place, that makes this transformative moment a very dangerous one.

Putin has warned that his promise to defend Russian territory is not a bluff. Dmitry Peskov, the presidential spokesman, announced on September 29 that “the four new territories will officially become part of Russia” and that “the official signing ceremony uniting four new territories with Russia will be held on Friday, September 30,” beginning the process. The head of the upper house of the Russian parliament says that “the chamber could consider the incorporation of the four regions on Oct. 4.” That leaves a very small window for a push for a diplomatic solution before Ukraine and the US have to decide if they want to call Putin’s bluff.

The US raised the stakes in the recent Ukrainian counteroffensive by not only providing weapons, training and targeting intelligence but by becoming directly involved. They showed their hand by advising on which areas could most successfully be struck in a counteroffensive and even war-gaming them with Ukraine. Russia then raised the stakes by holding the referendums and reminding the US that they would use all weapons systems available to them to defend Russian territory.

Now is the time to aggressively negotiate in the hope that the referendums were Putin’s way of raising the stakes and that his promise that he wasn’t bluffing was a bid to force the US to negotiate. The US can raise the stakes again, and they can call Putin’s bluff; Russia can raise the stakes again in an endless cycle of escalation and, devastatingly, be forced to show they were not bluffing. Or Ukraine, the US and Russia can finally negotiate an end to this war.

Other sites have done broadly similar writeups. Moon of Alabama has done a writeup that details the context over the last century that led to this moment.

Reuters: World Bank to give Ukraine $530 mln in additional aid

The World Bank has said it will provide an additional $530 million in support to Ukraine, bringing the total aid by the bank to $13 billion, as Russia’s invasion of the country continues.

The aid is supported by the United Kingdom ($500 million) and the Kingdom of Denmark ($30 million), the World Bank said in a statement.

Of the total aid of $13 billion to Ukraine to date, $11 billion has been fully disbursed, the bank added.

The World Bank’s most recent analysis puts the total long-term cost of reconstruction and recovery in Ukraine over the next three years at well over $100 billion, said Arup Banerji, World Bank Regional Country Director for Eastern Europe.

RT: Zelensky pledges never to talk to Putin

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky refuses to negotiate a peace settlement as long as Vladimir Putin remains president of Russia. He made this claim in a post on his official Telegram channel on Friday.

Claiming he had “always offered Russia coexistence on equal, honest, dignified and fair terms,” Zelensky blamed Russia for the failure of negotiations, insisting that it was “obvious this is impossible with this Russian president.”

“We are ready for a dialogue with Russia, but … with another president of Russia,” he wrote. Unlike the majority of his Telegram posts, this one was written only in Ukrainian, without an accompanying English translation.

RT: Washington split over Ukraine’s NATO bid – Politico

Ukraine’s bid for accelerated accession to NATO caught Washington off-guard, driving a wedge between a number of US lawmakers, Politico reported on Friday.

When the outlet asked US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi if she supports Kiev’s demand to join NATO, she stopped short of unequivocally endorsing the move, saying the US is “very committed to democracy in Ukraine.”

“Let’s win this war. But I would be for them having a security guarantee,” she told Politico.

Democratic Party colleague Representative Mike Quigley (D- Illinois) said that Washington should support Ukraine’s NATO bid. “Ukraine’s fight is the reason we formed NATO in the first place,” he told Politico, adding that since WWII, the US has recognized “that an authoritarian regime cannot be allowed to wipe out a democratic country.”

On Friday, following the start of the formal accession of four former Ukrainian regions to Russia, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky demanded that the procedure for joining NATO be fast-tracked. This apparently came as a surprise to the Biden administration, according to two US officials cited by the outlet.

Al Jazeera: Russia vetoes UN resolution on Ukraine annexation, China abstains

Russia has used its veto at the United Nations Security Council to scuttle a draft resolution that sought to condemn its annexations of Ukrainian territory.

But even Moscow’s close friends China and India chose to abstain rather than vote against the resolution that condemned the Kremlin’s latest actions in Ukraine.

Yeah, no fucking shit. I wonder why China and India aren’t chomping at the bit to recognize territory that was just annexed, both countries that famously have zero border issues between them or other countries or nations.

Analysis and Retrospectives

The West

Canadian Dimension: Lester Pearson at the World Bank


In August 1968, the World Bank assembled a team of “stature and experience” to study the impact of twenty years of international development aid, identify missteps in its allocation, and offer recommendations for the future. President of the World Bank Robert S. McNamara asked former Canadian Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Lester B. Pearson to chair the committee.

After 11 months of research, Pearson’s team presented their suggestions to the World Bank. The report was titled Partners in Development, but it is more widely known as the Pearson Report. Shortly after its publication, Pearson went to Washington and summarized his team’s arguments before the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Many of the team’s suggestions will be familiar to those who have studied the post-war history of Global North development aid, both private and public, and its insistence on resource privatization and industrial capitalist modes of production in recipient countries.

Ivan Illich, an important forerunner of the degrowth movement, directly challenged the Pearson Report’s recommendations. In 1969, he delivered a speech for the Canadian Foreign Policy Association titled “Outwitting Developed Nations” in which he argued that the authors’ notion of “development” (the expansion of the Western model of industrial capitalism into Latin America, Africa, and Asia) was in fact a model for social and economic underdevelopment.

A recent study in Global Environmental Change found that, between 1990 and 2015, the total value of resources drained from the South by Northern countries equaled $242 trillion, roughly one quarter of combined Northern GDP. The authors of this study note that such unequal exchange “is a significant driver of global inequality, uneven development, and ecological breakdown.” In this context, the Bretton Woods institutions continue to push for neoliberal austerity in the Global South, even as the United Nations warns that the number of people enduring famine conditions has increased fivefold since 2016.

Atlantic Council writer Rama Yade notes that “[t]he Bretton Woods Institutions—the IMF and the World Bank—clearly represent a world order centered on the Global North.” Through these institutions, Western governments aggressively imposed privatization packages upon Southern states during the latter half of the twentieth century, particularly following the publication of Lester B. Pearson’s recommendations in 1968.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, loans from the World Bank and IMF were conditional on the adoption of neoliberal policy packages. These reforms dramatically worsened the crisis of food production in these countries. This is because, after instituting the reforms, “indebted countries across the Global South had to convert from prioritizing indigenous crops that the local population depended on, to producing cash crops for export [which meant] local populations and farmers became more vulnerable to food scarcity—due to the negative ecological effects and decline in food accessibility.”

Structural adjustment programs and the agricultural “Green Revolution” attacked the autonomous livelihoods of small farmers in the Global South and made their food systems dependent on inputs from the North. These interventions mean that many small farmers in underdeveloped countries no longer possess the means to weather crises such as the ongoing upheavals in global food production.

As the head of the World Bank’s committee to review and criticize the development goals of the Bretton Woods institutions, Lester B. Pearson had the opportunity to foreground an alternative form of Northern engagement with the South. Instead, he reaffirmed all the most harmful aspects of these institutions and argued for their greater involvement in the lives of people in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

The article continues.

Jacobin: The Federal Reserve Is Now the Biggest Threat to the Economy

It’s more or less official: the Federal Reserve is engineering a recession.

After first telling the public he could safely bring down inflation without hurting the economy, then telling us there might be some suffering after all, but just a little bit, Fed chair Jerome Powell is now openly acknowledging an economic downturn is on the menu. After he and other Fed officials vowed they’d keep tightening monetary policy until the job was done, come what may, Powell has in two separate sets of public remarks over the past few weeks explicitly said fixing inflation will “require a sustained period of below-trend growth” and “some softening of labor market conditions,” as the Fed’s third consecutive seventy-five-point hike sent markets scrambling.

For those confused, Powell’s remarks were Fed-speak for: a bunch of Americans are going to have to lose their jobs, and a bunch more are going to have a harder time finding one. New Federal Reserve Bank of Boston president Susan Collins recently put it in slightly more comprehensible terms as she gave her sign-off to Powell’s strategy: fixing inflation will “require slower employment growth and a somewhat higher unemployment rate.”

Or as a recent CBS News headline put it: “Buckle up, America: The Fed plans to sharply boost unemployment.” The Federal Reserve itself is forecasting a 4.4 percent unemployment rate next year, meaning 1.2 million more people out of work — and that’s if the Fed’s benevolent technocrats get it right.

Trouble is they might not, something a growing number of voices are cautioning, from investment bank economists advising their clients how to minimize their coming losses to even some figures in the Federal Reserve system itself.

Outside the Imperial Core

The Cradle: Decoding the Pentagon’s online war against Iran


The civil unrest in Iran in response to the recent death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while she was waiting at a Tehran police station, although rooted in legitimate grievances, also bears the hallmark of a western-sponsored covert war, covering multiple fronts.

Mere days after the protests erupted on 16 September, the Washington Post revealed that the Pentagon had initiated a wide-ranging audit of all its online psyops efforts, after a number of bot and troll accounts operated by its Central Command (CENTCOM) division – which covers all US military actions in West Asia, North Africa and South and Central Asia – were exposed, and subsequently banned by major social networks and online spaces.

The accounts were busted in a joint investigation carried out by social media research firm Graphika, and the Stanford Internet Observatory, which evaluated “five years of pro-Western covert influence operations.”

Published in late August, it attracted minimal English-language press coverage at the time, but evidently was noticed, raising concerns at the highest levels of the US government, prompting the audit.

While the Washington Post ludicrously suggested the government’s umbrage stemmed from CENTCOM’s egregious, manipulative activities which could compromise US “values” and its “moral high ground,” it is abundantly clear that the real problem was CENTCOM being exposed.


CENTCOM’s geographical purview includes Iran, and given the Islamic Republic’s longstanding status as a key US enemy state, it’s perhaps unsurprising that a significant proportion of the unit’s online disinformation and psychological warfare efforts were directed there.

A key strategy employed by US military psyops specialists is the creation of multiple sham media outlets publishing content in Farsi. Numerous online channels were maintained for these platforms, spanning Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and even Telegram.

In some cases too, fake journalists and pundits, with numerous “followers” on those platforms emerged, along with profile photos created via artificial intelligence.

For example, Fahim News claimed to provide “accurate news and information” on events in Iran, prominently publishing posts declaring “the regime uses all of its efforts to censor and filter the internet,” and encouraging readers to stick to online sources as a result.

Meanwhile, Dariche News claimed to be an “independent website unaffiliated with any group or organization,” committed to providing “uncensored and unbiased news” to Iranians within and without the country, in particular information on “the destructive role of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in all the affairs and issues of Iran and the region.”

Their respective YouTube channels pumped out numerous short-form videos, presumably in the hope they would be mistaken for organic content, and go viral on other social networks. The researchers identified one instance in which media outlets elsewhere had embedded Dariche News content into articles.

An army of bots and trolls

Some of the fake news organizations published original material, but much of their output was recycled content from US government-funded propaganda outfits such as Radio Farda and Voice of America Farsi.

They also repurposed and shared articles from the British-based Iran International, which appears to receive arm’s length funding from Saudi Arabia, as did several fake personas attached to these outlets.

These personas frequently posted non-political content, including Iranian poetry and photos of Persian food, in order to increase their authenticity. They also engaged with real Iranians on Twitter, often joking with them about internet memes.

Pentagon bots and trolls used different narrative techniques and approaches in an attempt to influence perceptions and engender engagement. A handful promoted “hardliner” views, criticizing the Iranian government for insufficiently hawkish foreign policy while being excessively reformist and liberal domestically.

One such bogus user, a purported “political science expert,” accrued thousands of followers on Twitter and Telegram by posting content praising Shia Islam’s growing power in West Asia, while other “hardliner” accounts praised the late General Qassem Soleimani of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), slain in an illegal US drone strike in January 2020, as a martyr, and encouraged the wearing of hijabs.

The researchers state the purpose of these efforts was unclear, although an obvious explanation is the Pentagon sought to foster anti-government discontent among conservative Iranians, while creating lists of local “extremists” to monitor online.

Orchestrated opposition

Overwhelmingly though, Pentagon-linked accounts were viciously critical of the Iranian government, and the IRGC. Numerous Pentagon bots and trolls sought to blame food and medicine shortages on the latter, which was likened to ISIS, and posting videos of Iranians protesting and looting supermarkets captioned in Pashto, English, and Urdu.

More sober posts criticized Tehran for redistributing much-needed food to give to Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, while others highlighted embarrassing incidents, such as a reported power outage that caused the country’s chess team to lose an international online tournament.

Furthermore, multiple fake users claimed to seek “justice for the victims of #Flight752”, referring to the Ukraine International Airlines flight accidentally shot down by the IRGC in January 2020.

Using hashtags such as #PS752 and #PS752justice hundreds of times, they blamed Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei personally for the incident.

Following the outbreak of war in Ukraine in February, these accounts used Persian versions of widely-trending hashtags #No_To_Putin and #No_To_War – themselves overwhelmingly disseminated on Twitter by pro-Ukraine bot and troll accounts, according to separate research.

The users condemned Khamenei’s verbal support of Putin and accused Iran of supplying drones to Moscow, which it was claimed were used to kill civilians.

They also pushed the narrative that Iran’s collusion with Russia would result in adverse political and economic repercussions for Tehran, while making unflattering comparisons between Khamenei and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“One has sold Iran to Russia and ordered their peoples’ murder,” one account tweeted. “The other is wearing a combat uniform alongside his people and has stopped the colonization of Ukraine by Russia with all his might.”

Climate Change

TeleSUR: Impact of Nord Stream Leaks is on Par With Swedish Emissions

Over a 100-year span, methane causes 28 times greater warming than carbon dioxide, while over a 20-year horizon, it is 84 times more powerful, an environmental economist warned.

The climate impact of the Nord Stream gas leaks is on par with Sweden’s annual greenhouse gas emissions, Mats Bjorsell, an environmental economist at the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvardsverket), said on Thursday.

Nord Stream told the Danish Energy Agency that the pipelines contained around 778 million cubic meters of methane when mysterious blasts damaged them on Monday. Methane is a more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, but breaks down faster in the atmosphere.

Over a 100-year span, methane causes 28 times greater warming than carbon dioxide, while over a 20-year horizon, it is 84 times more powerful. The Naturvardsverket calculations are based on the leaks' climate impact over 20 years, which is more relevant in this case.

The leaks are, therefore, calculated to contribute as much to global warming as 40 million tons of carbon dioxide – and last year, Sweden’s combined emissions were 48 million tons.

Link back to the discussion thread.