Global Events, the United Nations, and Disease
Canadian Dimension: BRICS: the powerful global alliance
Professor Richard Wolff informs us of the powerful economic partnership of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) and how the West’s reaction to Russia’s invading of Ukraine is impacting their partnerships.
“They are the engine of the world economy in a way that was once said of Western Europe, North America and Japan. The engine, the powerhouse, the growth mobile, all of that. That’s moved, friends. And it’s moved in large part to the BRICS.”
A 4 minute video by Richard Wolff.
Inquirer: U.S. Treasury seeks three-phased Russian fuel price cap
New sanctions by G7 countries on Russia will target its oil and products in three phases, senior U.S. treasury official Ben Harris told the Argus European Crude Conference in Geneva on Tuesday.
Harris, the Treasury’s assistant secretary for economic policy, said G7 sanctions will target Russian crude oil, while later ones will focus on diesel and finally on lower value products such as naphtha.
Canadian Dimension: Germany and the EU have been handed over a declaration of war
This episode of ‘Hybrid Industrial-Commercial War,’ in the form of a terror attack against energy infrastructure in international waters, signals the absolute collapse of international law, drowned by an “our way or the highway,” “rules-based,” order.
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson admitted that was “a matter of sabotage.” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen admitted “it was not an accident.” Berlin agrees with the Scandinavians.
Now compare this with former Polish Defense Minister Radek Sikorski (a Russophobe who’s married to US author Anne Applebaum), who merrily tweeted “Thank you, USA.”
It gets curiouser and curiouser when we know that simultaneously to the sabotage the Baltic Pipe from Norway to Poland was partially opened, a “new gas supply corridor” servicing “the Danish and Polish markets.” This is actually a minor affair, considering months ago their sponsors were in trouble finding gas, and now it will be even harder, and with much higher costs.
Nord Stream 2 had already been attacked—in the open—all along its construction. Back in February, Polish ships actively tried to prevent the Fortuna pipe-laying vessel from finishing the pipeline. The pipes were being laid south of—you guessed it—Bornholm.
NATO, for its part, has been very active on the underwater drones department. The Americans have access to long distance Norwegian underwater drones which can be modified with other designs. Alternatively, professional navy clearance divers could have been employed in the sabotage—even as tidal currents around Bornholm are a serious matter.
The big picture reveals the collective West in absolute panic, with Atlanticist “elites” willing to resort to anything—outrageous lies, assassinations, terrorism, sabotage, all out financial war, support to neo-Nazis—to prevent their descent into a geopolitical and geoeconomic abyss.
Disabling the pipelines represents the definitive closure of any possibility of a German-Russia deal on gas supplies, with the added benefit of relegating Germany to the lowly status of absolute US vassal.
So that brings us to the key question of which Western intel apparatus designed the sabotage. Prime candidates are of course the CIA and MI6—with Poland set up as the fall guy and Denmark playing a very dodgy part: it’s impossible that Copenhagen was not at least “briefed” on the intel.
Prescient as ever, as early as in April 2021 Russians were asking questions about the military security of Nord Stream.
The crucial vector is that we may be facing the case of an EU or NATO member involved in an act of sabotage against the number one EU-NATO economy. That’s a casus belli. Outside of the appalling mediocrity and cowardice of the current administration in Berlin, it’s clear that the BND—German intel—as well as the German Navy and informed industrialists sooner or later will do the math.
This was far from an isolated attack. On September 22 there was an attempt against Turkish Stream by saboteurs. The day before, naval drones with English language IDs were found in Crimea, suspected of being part of the plot. Add to it US helicopters overflying the future sabotage nodes weeks ago; a UK “research” vessel loitering in Danish waters since mid-September; and NATO tweeting about the testing of “new unmanned systems at sea” on the same day of the sabotage.
Reuters: More U.S. LNG heads to Europe despite output constraints
U.S. producers of liquefied natural gas (LNG) boosted exports to Europe in September even as a plant outage kept overall shipments below the average for the first eight months of 2022, Refinitiv Eikon data showed on Monday.
A June fire at the United States' second-largest exporter Freeport LNG has the country’s output below its full processing capacity even as demand and prices for the superchilled gas soar on European buyers seeking alternatives to Russian gas.
A total of 87 cargoes departed from U.S. ports last month carrying 6.3 million tonnes (mt) of LNG, according to preliminary tanker tracking data. The total was slightly greater than August’s 6.25 mt, but below the more than 7 mt per month exported earlier this year.
Almost 70% of the cargoes, or 4.37 mt, headed to Europe, up from the 56% and 63%, respectively, in the previous two months. The higher shipments to Europe left fewer cargoes for Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean last month.
The Guardian: Ukraine ‘must revamp labour laws and step up privatisation to fix economy’
Ukraine needs to revamp its labour laws and redouble efforts to privatise thousands of companies to repair its economy, its president’s economic adviser has said.
Alexander Rodnyansky, an adviser to the president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said the war-torn country needed to speed up efforts to reform industries as it looked to rebuild after Russia’s invasion.
Rodnyansky told the Guardian that the Ukrainian government needed to “create the foundations for rapid economic growth” while also financing the conflict.
Ukraine faces a debt crisis as well as inflation of more than 20% as the country counts the cost of Russia’s offensive.
Reuters: IMF to consider $1.3 billion in emergency funding for Ukraine on Friday
The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) executive board will consider Ukraine’s request for $1.3 billion in additional emergency funding on Friday as Russia’s war against the country continues, two sources familiar with the matter said.
IMF staff have prepared the necessary documents and believe Ukraine has received sufficient financial assurances from its global partners to meet the IMF’s debt sustainability requirements and qualify for further emergency funds, the sources told Reuters.
Financial Times: Ukraine demands more stable financial support from EU
Ukraine has demanded the EU provide a stable and predictable flow of financial support to keep its government functioning, warning that Kyiv was being “squeezed by uncertainty” over cash flows.
The plea comes as the European Commission struggles to agree a strategy to provide more clarity over its economic assistance to Ukraine in the coming year despite urgent calls from both Kyiv and Washington to clarify its approach.
“We of course want a more structured and more predictable process [from the EU],” said Olha Stefanishyna, deputy prime minister for European integration. “We are waiting for the commission.”
“It depends on whether teachers will get their salary, whether medical or social staff and pensioners will get paid, whether we can perform our government functions,” she said between meetings in Brussels used to press EU officials on their slow pace of support. “We hope that lessons will be learned and we will not be squeezed by uncertainty.”
Kyiv is counting on $38bn in budgetary assistance from its international partners in 2023, or about $3.5bn a month.
Stefanishyna praised a decision by the US to provide monthly budget support to Kyiv, and called on the EU to take a similar step. But so far there is little clarity on how a more predictable funding plan will work, the bloc’s diplomats and officials say.
“There are a lot of questions on how the EU will handle financing for Ukraine and few of them are resolved,” said an EU diplomat. “How much is needed? Should the financing be all loans or a combination of loans and grants? Where will the money come from when national budgets are constrained? And how do we move away from the recent discussions over the MFA [macro financial assistance] and establish a more stable and predictable source of funding?”
RT: Russia faces ‘Fourth European NATO Reich’ – Communist leader
Russia is currently involved in a confrontation with the “Fourth European NATO Reich,” the Communist Party (CPRF) leader, Gennady Zyuganov, claims.
“We must be well aware that a new army has gathered against us. The Fourth European NATO Reich, where thirty countries united all their regiments and armies,” Zyuganov said while addressing the State Duma on Monday.
Reuters: Nvidia says it is ceasing all activities in Russia, relocating employees
U.S. chipmaker Nvidia Corp (NVDA.O) said on Monday it is ceasing all activities in Russia and giving employees there the option of continuing their jobs in other countries.
“After previously suspending shipments to the country, we had continued to maintain our office to support our employees and their families. With recent developments, we can no longer operate effectively there,” it said in an emailed statement.
RT: Gazprom reveals hope for Nord Stream 2
Russian gas flow to European customers may be resumed via the remaining Nord Stream 2 string after Gazprom checks that it’s working correctly, the Russian state energy major said in a statement on Monday.
The string – Line B of the pipeline – was not damaged in last week’s explosions that punctured Line A and both strings of Nord Stream 1.
“Gazprom is working to depressurize Line B of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. To do this, the company is pumping the natural gas out of the pipe. This will make it possible to safely inspect the integrity of string B and reduce potential environmental risks from possible gas leaks. If the decision to start gas deliveries via Nord Stream 2 string B is made, natural gas will be pumped into the pipeline after the system integrity is checked and confirmation by supervisory authorities is granted,” the statement says.
Financial Times: Liz Truss faces new rebellion over benefits payments
Liz Truss is braced for a fresh rebellion over her economic plans with senior Conservative MPs threatening to vote against the UK prime minister if she decides to cut benefits in real terms next spring.
Truss is looking at raising benefits in line with average earnings growth rather than inflation, a controversial move that has raised concerns over the effect on the cost of living crisis.
Average earnings growth including bonuses was 5.5 per cent between May and July, according to the most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics, while inflation is almost twice as high, at about 10 per cent.
The move is part of an attempt by the government to tighten public spending to reassure financial markets after sterling and gilt prices fell in the aftermath of its “mini” Budget last month, which featured £45bn of unfunded tax cuts.
RT: UK on brink of gas supply emergency – regulator
The UK may enter a gas supply emergency due to shortages this winter, according to energy regulator Ofgem.
Britain reportedly relies on gas-fired power plants for about 40% of its electricity supply, while roughly 8 in 10 UK households use gas to heat their homes. In case of a supply emergency, some gas-fired power plants and other big gas users might be cut off and have to halt operations. They would then face imbalance charges which could result in insolvency, both SSE and Ofgem warned. According to a recent report from The Guardian, around 30 energy suppliers have already collapsed over the past several months.
“Due to the war in Ukraine and gas shortages in Europe, there is a significant risk that gas shortages could occur during the winter 2022/23 in Great Britain. As a result, there is a possibility that GB could enter into a Gas Supply Emergency,” Ofgem said in a letter responding to a request by energy generator SSE that the regulator should address the risk of possible insolvencies. The letter was first made public by The Times.
“Even if such an emergency does not occur, the risk that it could occur is likely to force generators to reduce their forward and day ahead trading, reducing liquidity in electricity markets, and raising costs for electricity consumers,” SSE stated in its request.
Oil Price: Germany Scrambles To Improve Relations With Energy Exporters
German media reported on 29 September that Berlin has approved a number of new weapons export deals with Saudi Arabia, in defiance of a 2018 ban over Riyadh’s brutal war in Yemen. In a letter to the Bundestag, the country’s Economy Minister, Robert Habeck, said that the deals were approved by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz just before his recent visit to Saudi Arabia.
The German export licenses fall under a joint export program with Spain, Italy, and the UK, Habeck’s letter specifies, and will allow Riyadh to buy equipment and ammunition for Eurofighter and Tornado warplanes amounting to around $35 million.Germany, whose arms exports to Saudi Arabia stood at around $1.22 billion in 2012, banned exporting weapons to the kingdom in 2018 as part of a broader ban against countries involved in the war on Yemen, despite some exceptions.
However, a complete ban was enforced the following year after the murder of columnist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi embassy in Istanbul.
This ban initially fell under Germany’s policy of not exporting arms to active war zones, a policy that shifted as a result of NATO pressure on Berlin to send weapons to Ukraine.
The weapons export deals come at a time when Germany is scrambling to boost relations with energy exporting countries, as the country faces a major economic catastrophe after losing access to Russian fuel.
Scholz set off on a tour of the Gulf states last month, which began in Saudi Arabia on 24 September, in a bid to diversify Germany’s energy supply.
This mission became ever more urgent since the sabotage attack that targeted the Kremlin’s Nord Stream pipelines this week. The loss of Russian fuel has pushed several German industries to the brink of collapse, and it has also forced Berlin to nationalize one of the nation’s main energy providers to save it from bankruptcy.
RT: Switzerland resists handover of Russian assets to Ukraine
Switzerland does not support Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s request to hand over frozen Russian assets to Kiev, a spokesman for the Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research, Fabian Maienfisch, told RIA Novosti on Monday.
“For the Swiss government, the confiscation of assets only on the basis of belonging to a state or being included in the sanctions list and using them to rebuild Ukraine is currently not an option of showing support for Ukraine,” Maienfisch said.
RT: Italy ramps up surveillance of underwater cables – media
The Italian government has strengthened surveillance and controls on underwater energy and telecommunications cables off its shores, a source close to the matter told Reuters on Tuesday.
According to two senior officials, who talked to the agency, security measures were boosted at the TransMed pipeline, which connects Algeria to Sicily, the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), running from Azerbaijan to Apulia, and the GreenStream connection, between Libya and Sicily.
EuroNews: Demand for firewood soars in Austria amid gas supply fears
Demand for firewood and wood pellets is soaring in Austria, according to the country’s chamber of commerce, as Europeans look for alternative energy supplies.
Even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the number of wood-fired heating systems had increased by 38% in 2021, compared with the previous year.
East Asia and Oceania
WSWS: US holds anti-China summit with Pacific Island leaders
The two-day summit, held at the US State Department, was the first of its kind. For much of the post-World War II period the US regarded the Pacific as America’s “lake,” with colonial oversight largely outsourced to its local allies, Australia and New Zealand. As the entire Pacific emerges as a geo-strategic tinderbox that has rapidly changed.
The summit, overseen by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, involved 14 Pacific leaders with observers from Australia and New Zealand. The only absentee was Kiribati, which had previously bypassed a Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) meeting in Fiji in July.
The final document is cynically couched as a vision of the Pacific as a place of “peace, harmony, security, social inclusion, and prosperity, where individuals can reach their potential, the environment can thrive, and democracy will be able to flourish.”
In fact, the summit was designed to advance Washington’s campaign to reassert its imperialist hegemony. A tour by China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi in May saw multiple bilateral deals signed with almost a dozen Pacific nations. The Solomon Islands and China finalised a security agreement, prompting threats by Washington and Canberra of a possible “regime change” operation if a Chinese military base was established in the country.
In June, the US announced a “Partners in the Blue Pacific” project involving the US, Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Japan—all with long histories of ruthless colonisation in the region— to address “growing challenges to the regional rules-based order.” The phrase refers to the post-World War II “order” established by the US in which it sets the rules globally.
At the Washington summit the Pacific leaders unanimously endorsed an 11-point “vision” statement committing to joint endeavors on “priority areas” including security, the climate crisis, natural disasters and economic development.
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare had objected to an initial draft which specified that security arrangements with “outside powers” would require region-wide “consultation,” a key demand raised by Australia and New Zealand following the Solomons’ deal with China. After this was removed, Sogavare signed the final document.
Addressing the final day of the meeting, Biden bluntly declared: “The security of America, quite frankly, and the world depends on your security and the security of the Pacific islands.”
A paper presented by the US State Department explicitly targeted China, declaring “pressure and economic coercion by the People’s Republic of China,” risked undermining “the peace, prosperity and security of the region, and by extension, of the United States.”
The Declaration begins by proclaiming a commitment by the US to bolster “Pacific regionalism”—a term used to exclude China—and to promote “greater connectivity” between key organisations such as the PIF and “other partners who share Pacific objectives and values.”
In reality, this means aligning the PIF and island nations directly with the rapidly developing militarist “architecture” uniting the imperialist powers against China. These include the Quad, a security arrangement between the US, Australia, India and Japan, and AUKUS which includes Australia, UK and US. Plans are afoot to add other powers to some of these arrangements, including Canada and even Germany.
The declaration notably condemns “all wars of aggression, including Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine.” Since most Pacific nations do not formally recognise Taiwan, it remains unmentioned. However, the document affirms that “international law” and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea provides for “freedom of navigation and overflight,” thereby implicitly justifying US military provocations in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait.
Several initiatives will vastly expand the reach and involvement of US military and state agencies. The US Coast Guard, already present throughout the Pacific, well beyond US territorial waters, will get an extra $US3 million for “training and capacity building” in maritime security. The FBI will carry out “law enforcement training” in Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. The US, already engaged in bilateral security negotiations with Fiji and PNG, intends to pursue such “opportunities” across the board.
Underpinning its presence, the US will appoint a permanent envoy to the PIF, increase the role of the federal aid agency USAID, return the Peace Corps to the region, and finish re-negotiating compacts of “free association”—i.e. neo-colonial relationships—with the Marshall Islands, Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia. The White House had previously announced new embassies in Tonga, Kiribati and Solomon Islands.
In a surprise move, the US will recognise New Zealand’s “realm” countries of the Cook Islands and Niue as sovereign states “following appropriate consultations.” Both are self-governing but New Zealand provides ongoing colonial oversight, including over foreign affairs, defence and security policy. Both territories have independent diplomatic relations with China, and US formal recognition of their “sovereignty” portends more direct involvement.
Much has been made in the establishment media of a US promise of an $810 million aid package for a series of initiatives to meet “Pacific priorities.” While the Declaration acknowledges the climate crisis as “the highest priority of our partnership,” there is a paltry $130 million to improve climate change “resilience” along with a commitment to finding another $400 million from “private investors.” The amount is entirely inadequate to meet the urgent existential needs of Pacific islands already reeling from rising sea levels.
Acknowledgement is given that the COVID-19 pandemic has “wreaked havoc on Pacific economies.” While it is noted that economic recovery will be “a top priority requiring finance,” there is no dedicated funding and only vague, non- committal references to “strengthening” health systems which are, in fact, near collapse.” There is, however, an urgent warning about “vulnerability to debt,” a refence to repeated false charges of China’s purported “debt trap diplomacy” in the region.
There is nothing in the package that will make a material difference to the lives of impoverished Pacific Islanders, A significant $US600 million will, however, support the South Pacific Tuna Treaty over the next decade to provide ongoing access for American trawlers into the waters of Pacific nations. The Declaration promises to combat “illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing,” a veiled threat against the fishing fleets of China and other Asian nations.
The document also promises to “strengthen democratic institutions across the Pacific, including through support for accountability, transparency, anti-corruption, civil society, human rights, and an independent and free media environment.”
This is especially hypocritical. The US, Australia and New Zealand have long histories of interference in the affairs of Pacific nations, including Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Washington’s agenda of putting “boots on the ground” across the region will be used to undermine and even remove any Pacific government that falls out of line.
As for “democracy,” the most prominent Pacific figure pushing the “partnership” is Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama who seized power in a military coup in 2006 and has kept office ever since on the basis of anti-democratic elections.
Bainimarama postured as the self-appointed “leader” of the Pacific delegation. Afterwards he tweeted: “I say goodbye to President Biden and our new friends on Capitol Hill and in the US private sector. I return to Suva with a new reassurance that America’s might and resources are with our people across the Pacific in the greatest battles we face.”
Just a week prior, Fiji had hosted an unprecedented five-nation military exercise, including troops from Fiji, the US, British, Australian and New Zealand, explicitly preparing for war on Pacific soil against China.
Jakarta Post: Solomons says it will not ‘choose sides’ between US, China
Solomon Islands said Tuesday it had objected to the first draft of a US-Pacific partnership declaration because it was “not comfortable” with some indirect references to China.
The Solomons' foreign minister, Jeremiah Manele, was quizzed by reporters in New Zealand about his country’s reported qualms over the joint statement, signed in Washington last week.
“In the initial draft there were some references that we were not comfortable with,” the foreign minister said.
These “put us in a position that we have to choose sides and we don’t want to be placed in a position that we have to choose sides”, Manele said.
Asked if those references were to China, he replied: “Indirectly.”
The Guardian: Taiwan’s military recruitment pool shrinking due to low birthrate
The declining birthrate in Taiwan could cause “major challenges” to the island’s military recruitment capabilities, at a time when Taiwan is building its defences to ward off potential Chinese invasion, its government has been told.
Like much of east Asia, Taiwan is facing a demographic crisis, with fewer people having children each year as the population ages. The issue has social and economic effects on countries but in Taiwan there is also concern over its impact on military personnel levels.
In a report to Taiwan’s legislative yuan this week, the interior ministry said the number of new conscripts in 2022 would be the lowest level in a decade.
Taiwan’s military comprises a volunteer force combined with male conscripts who must serve at least four months of compulsory basic training. But in March, the number of volunteers recruited reached only 85.3% of its target.
Taiwan began phasing out its conscription model force in 2013, moving towards becoming entirely volunteer-based for its active-duty cohort in 2018.
Recruitment and retention has declined in recent years, at the same time that the military is trying to expand and modernise as it prepares for a potential Chinese invasion.
Inquirer: China likely to boost oil products exports into early 2023
Chinese refiners are likely to boost refined oil products exports in the last two months of 2022 and into early 2023 after receiving the biggest allocation from Beijing this year, trade sources and analysts said on Monday.
The increase in Chinese exports is likely to help stabilize global oil markets and partly replace supplies from Russia which will be hit by European Union embargoes in coming months.
It also allows the world’s No. 2 refiner to tap excess refining capacity and boost exports when its economy is struggling for growth after narrowly avoiding a contraction in the second quarter and the decline in the yuan to a 14-year low.
Inquirer: Early cold snap in China to bring rain, high winds
China’s national observatory issued on Sunday its first alert for a cold wave in the second half of 2022, warning that sharp temperature decreases and gales could affect vast regions of the country until Thursday.
The blue alert, which was the earliest ever to be issued before the normal annual cold period, comes at a time when central and eastern parts of the country are experiencing higher-than-normal temperatures, and southern China is in the grip of a scorching heat wave, according to a media release on Sunday from the National Meteorological Center. The decrease in temperature will be dramatic in many areas as the cold wave moves southward, the center said.
Straits Times: Xi Jinping to test ride Indonesia’s new China-made high-speed train
Chinese President Xi Jinping may be one of the first passengers to ride South-east Asia’s first high-speed rail (HSR) when the Jakarta-Bandung line begins operations in November.
President Joko Widodo will invite his Chinese counterpart to ride on the China-made bullet train that will connect the capital Jakarta to the West Java capital after the G-20 summit in Bali on Nov 15 to 16, Indonesian Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi told The Straits Times.
Reuters: Consumer prices in Japan’s capital rise at fastest pace since 2014
Core consumer prices in Japan’s capital, a leading indicator of nationwide inflation, rose 2.8% in September from a year earlier, exceeding the central bank’s 2% target for a fourth straight month and marking the biggest gain since 2014.
The data reinforced market expectations that nationwide core consumer inflation will approach 3% in coming months and may cast doubt on the Bank of Japan’s view that recent cost-push price increases will prove temporary.
The Tokyo core consumer price index (CPI), which includes oil products but excludes fresh food prices, was in line with a median market forecast and followed a 2.6% gain in August. It matched a 2.8% gain in June 2014.
Prices rose for a wide range of goods and services from electricity bills and chocolate to sushi and hotel bills, the Tuesday data showed, indicating that more firms were passing on rising raw material costs to households.
CNN: North Korea fired a missile over Japan for the first time in five years
North Korea fired a ballistic missile without warning over Japan on Tuesday for the first time in five years, a highly provocative and reckless act that marks a significant escalation in its weapons testing program.
It’s a highly provocate and reckless act to do what South Korea and the US are doing to, and nearby, the DPRK. Fuck off, CNN.
The missile traveled over northern Japan early in the morning, and is believed to have landed in the Pacific Ocean. The last time North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan was in 2017.
Reuters: N.Korea backs Russia’s proclaimed annexations, criticises U.S. ‘double standards’
North Korea supports Russia’s proclaimed annexation of parts of Ukraine, its foreign ministry said on Tuesday, accusing the United States of applying “gangster-like double standards” in interfering in other country’s affairs.
Jo Chol Su, director-general of international organisations at Pyongyang’s Foreign Ministry, said the referendums were held legitimately in line with the U.N. charter, but the United States was holding “gangster-like double standards” after having invaded other countries to maintain its own “supremacy”.
“To maintain the unchallenged ‘unipolar world’, the U.S. interferes in the internal affairs of independent countries and infringes upon their legal rights by abusing the UNSC,” Jo said in a statement carried by KCNA.
“The U.S. unleashed wars of aggression against sovereign states including former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq, but the U.S. has not been called into question by the UNSC.”
Jo said the Security Council would face consequences if it follows Washington’s “highhanded and arbitrary practices and partial and double-standards acts.”
WSWS: Sri Lankan plantation unions call protests amid rising anger among workers
On September 14, Sri Lanka’s plantation-based Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC), suddenly held a protest to block the transport of finished tea products at 14 estates owned by the Maskeliya Plantation Company in Nuwara-Eliya district. The union’s action, which continued until September 23, was for estate workers to be paid the 1,000-rupee daily wage, between two to three US dollars.
The blockade only involved local CWC leaders, the union directing workers at the estates to not to join the action. On September 23, estate management stopped assigning work to employees who were following the CWC’s directives. Union officials immediately capitulated and ended their protests that day.
On September 19, the National Union of Workers (NUW) called a separate protest at the Glentilt, Brunswick, Laxapana estates in Maskeliya over the same demand. The action was limited to an hour of picketing the tea factories on those estates. Hundreds of workers joined the protests, despite not being asked to do so by the union.
Opposed to the organisation of a genuine struggle of plantation workers for higher wages and improved working conditions, the CWC and NUW actions were designed to dissipate workers anger over escalating company attacks on wages and conditions.
Following the protests, the companies paid wage arrears, calculated according to the 1,000-rupee daily wage for August. The unions cynically hailed this as a “victory,” ignoring the fact that the companies should have paid 18 months of wage arrears, having been directed by the government in April 2021 to pay a 1,000-rupee daily wage.
WSWS: 125 people killed in stampede at Indonesian soccer stadium
A stampede at an Indonesian soccer stadium on Saturday night has left at least 125 people dead and 323 injured. The crush of thousands of spectators hurrying to escape the arena was triggered after police fired tear gas into the crowd. The horrific event is one of the world’s deadliest sports stadium disasters on record.
The Kanjuruhan Stadium, in the city of Malang, East Java, hosted a soccer match where home team Arema FC was defeated by their rivals Persebaya Surabaya. After the game, the pitch was invaded by an estimated 3,000 fans of the losing side, local reports claimed. Soldiers and police in riot gear, armed with shields and batons, stepped onto the ground before numerous tear gas cannisters were fired on the pitch and into the stands.
Footage posted on social media showed clouds of the gas engulfing the stadium and police beating spectators as they ran to escape. Some were seen carrying those injured to safety. Many were crushed, suffocated, or trampled when the crowd of 42,000 ran to the stadium’s only exit.
Malang hospitals were quickly overwhelmed by an influx of over 300 injured people rushed to emergency. Many victims died on the way to hospital or during treatment from trauma, shortness of breath and lack of oxygen. The head of nearby Kanjuruhan Hospital told Metro TV that some victims had sustained brain injuries and that the dead included a five-year-old child.
At least 32 children, aged between 3 and 17, were reported among the dead. These included two brothers, aged 14 and 15, whose family had brought them to their first soccer match. Their elder sister told Reuters: “My family and I didn’t think it would turn out like this.”
While most victims died in hospital, 34 people died inside the stadium, after being brought to the soccer team doctor for treatment. Their bodies were carried off by players of the Arema FC team. Two police officers also died, East Java police chief Nico Afinta told the press.
WSWS: Australian union chief offers greater collaboration with government, employers
Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) secretary Sally McManus gave a speech at the National Press Club on Wednesday, which amounted to an open declaration that Australia’s unions are ready to take their collaboration with big business and governments to new heights.
McManus was identified by a recent series in the Australian as one of those who “wield the most power” in Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s inner circle. She, along with other union bureaucrats, is expected to play a critical role in shutting down any opposition to the Labor government’s agenda of austerity and war.
In recent months, strike activity in Australia has reached its highest level in almost two decades, driven by rapid inflation, successive interest rate rises and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This is part of a global resurgence of the class struggle, in response to the soaring cost of living, a consequence of the US-NATO war against Russia and the homicidal “herd immunity” policies adopted by governments in every country except China.
Well aware of these mounting class tensions, McManus used the Press Club appearance to offer up the services of the trade unions to the ruling class and outline a plan to prevent an eruption of social unrest in Australia.
Iraqi News: Australia hikes rates less than forecast, boosting stocks
Australia raised interest rates less than expected Tuesday, boosting stocks and dragging the local dollar lower, as officials grow concerned about a slowing global economy sparked by rising borrowing costs and surging prices.
While the Reserve Bank of Australia’s 0.25 percentage point hike took the cash rate to a nine-year high of 2.60 percent, the increase was half what had been forecast as it joins others around the world in trying to rein in runaway inflation.
Central Asia and the Middle East
TeleSUR: Turks Brace for More Hardships as Inflation Soars
Surging inflation in Türkiye showed no signs of abating in September, as households were bracing for more hardships amid an expected fresh wave of price hikes for essential goods.
The annual inflation reached 83.45 percent in September, and consumer prices rose by 3.08 percent month-on-month, further hitting Turks who already struggle with high energy, food and housing costs, shows data released on Monday by the Turkish Statistical Institute.
In capital Ankara’s busy commercial neighborhood of Kizilay, shoppers were complaining about the unsparing increase in the cost of living.
“Never in my life I saw such high food prices in Türkiye,” said Osman Sengor, a 50-year-old construction worker and a father of four.
“It is extremely hard to make ends meet … we have stopped buying products such as meat or butter. Believe me, fruit is now off limits in most houses,” lamented Sengul Yasdag, a 58-year-old pensioner told Xinhua.
According to the retiree, after a broad 50-percent mid-year pension raise was enacted in Türkiye, living on 3,600 Turkish liras (194.40 U.S. dollars) of monthly pension was still far from being enough for her basic needs.
RT: Türkiye asks Russia for gas concession – Bloomberg
Turkish state-run gas importer Botas is considering asking Russia’s Gazprom to grant a delay on some of Ankara’s due payments for natural gas until 2024, Bloomberg reported on Monday.
According to Bloomberg, Türkiye is yet to make a formal request for a payment reprieve, but discussions were held between officials. If granted, the deal would help alleviate the pressure on the country’s economy amid a period of high global energy prices. Ankara runs a trade deficit of over $11 billion and has experienced a depreciation of its national currency, the lira, the report noted.
A Turkish source cited by Russia’s RIA Novosti on Tuesday said the discussion was about pricing rather than any proposed payment delay. The partial use of the ruble in trade changed the terms of the contracts, and the parties are discussing how it could impact the price of the product, the source explained.
The two nations previously agreed to switch 25% of their trade in natural gas to Russian rubles, shifting away from the US dollar. Moscow has branded the leading Western currency “toxic” due to the control that Washington has over it, and its willingness to use it for political leverage.
Hungary, another major buyer of Russian energy, announced on Monday that it had reached a conditional agreement on postponing its due payments for winter gas supplies.
Africa News: Libya and Turkey sign economic and maritime deals
One of Libya’s rival governments signed preliminary economic and maritime deals with Turkey on Monday.
The move has increased tensions with Libya’s other administration based in the east.
Monday’s memorandums of understanding pave the way for further bilateral cooperation in the hydrocarbon and oil sectors.
Both countries agreed to mobilise international efforts on a roadmap for Libyan elections.
“We stress the need for the international community to carry out its duties towards Libya more seriously and with more awareness, and to deal firmly (with) and firmly against the countries obstructing the peaceful and democratic process in Libya”, said Libyan Foreign Minister, Najla Mangoush.
TeleSUR: US and Israel Behind Protests in Iran -Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
“I say frankly that these events have been engineered by the U.S., the Zionist regime and its supporters,” said the leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolution.
These statements by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei came on Monday on the occasion of the graduation ceremony of the cadets of the official universities of the Armed Forces.
Referring to the recent riots and acts of vandalism following the death of young Mahsa Amini, the Iranian supreme leader said the U.S. and Israel have been inciting and promoting such events seeking to cause insecurity and instability in the country.
Khamenei also brought up “traitorous Iranians abroad” in connection with fueling unrest in the country. In this regard, he said, “Their main problem with a strong and independent Iran is the advancement of the country.”
United Arab Emirates
ANN: UAE seeks closer green partnership with China and promotes renewables
As the United Arab Emirates’ energy transition gathers pace before it hosts the United Nations climate conference next year, it is looking to climate partners such as China to help it sustain the momentum, its climate change special envoy says.
Sultan Al Jaber, the UAE special envoy for climate change and minister of industry and advanced technology, said the UAE is seeing “record growth in renewables”, representing more than 80 percent of all new power-generating capacity last year.
However, he said, a transformative and pragmatic global energy transition is needed to deliver climate action, and while wind and solar accounted for the vast majority of all new power-generating capacity last year, this still only accounts for 4 percent of today’s energy mix.
“As the world’s energy needs grow ever larger, maintaining global energy security will require oil and gas to remain a significant part of the mix for decades to come,” Al Jaber said.
A successful energy transition must make progress with economic and climate action in tandem, he said. As part of this, “we know we must do more now” to reduce the impact of oil and gas on the climate, and in the medium term the UAE plans to increase its renewables portfolio to 100 gigawatts by 2030.
“I see many more opportunities for collaboration with China as we continue to build and adapt to clean energy solutions. We are constantly looking to the future and have allocated more than $1.5 billion in grants and low-interest loans for renewable energy innovation in more than 40 countries.”
TeleSUR: Failure To Renew UN-Brokered Truce Spreads Panic Across Yemen
As a six-month humanitarian truce brokered by the United Nations expired without extension, the fear for a return of violence to Yemen is spreading among the people in the war-torn country.
Many said that their hopes and aspirations for ending their woes inflicted by the more than seven years of deadly fighting were dashed as peace efforts were hampered by Yemen’s warring factions and chaos gearing up for return.
“The Yemeni people were deeply disappointed with the decision of the Houthis who rejected the UN proposal for extending the truce which succeeded in ceasing the brutal conflict during the past period,” an official of Aden’s local authority told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
“Millions of people fear a descent into a new cycle of deadly civil war as the Houthis began with their military preparations for launching attacks in and outside the country,” said the official.
He said that the Yemeni government made concessions and informed the United Nations about its agreement to extend the truce, but the Houthi militia’s constant intransigence aborted peace efforts exerted by international and regional powers.
On Sunday, UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg announced that no agreement has been reached to renew the expired truce between the Yemeni warring parties.
MEMO: Syria war has cost $650bn, poverty rate hits 90%
The Syrian regime’s war against the revolution has changed the shape and structure of the state at all levels, and cost the country $650 billion.
According to official statistics, the gross domestic product (GDP) has declined from about $60 billion in 2011 when the war started to less than $11 billion in 2022 while the exchange rate of the Syrian currency against the dollar has dropped from 50 liras in 2011 to more than 4,500 liras in 2022.
According to Martin Griffiths, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, the poverty rate in Syria has exceeded 90 per cent and the unemployment rate has increased to 83 per cent, while about 12.4 million Syrians do not know where their next meal will come from.
Syrian researcher Samir Seifan said there are no documented official statistics on the losses caused by the Syrian war, however, the Syrian Response Coordinators team’s estimate the war losses hit about $650 billion.
MEMO: Israel rejects EU cultural programme boycotting settlements
Israel has rejected a cultural agreement with the EU that excludes artists from illegal settlements built in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
The EU provides grants worth millions of dollars through the Creative Europe programme to cultural projects and institutions.
According to Israeli media, the agreement was brought before the Israeli cabinet last week, but was rejected despite previously being approved.
MEE: Google is blurring satellite imagery of Israel
Google has started to display lower-resolution satellite imagery in some parts of Israel, removing previously shown higher-quality images without giving a reason for doing so.
US commercial imagery of Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories was restricted in 1997 after US Congress passed the Kyl-Bingaman Amendment, which barred the resolution of satellite imagery of the area to two metres per pixel under the guise of protecting Israel’s national security.
This means that buildings and streets showed up blurry and were difficult to identify.
The legislation’s ban expired two years ago and since then Google had updated its imagery of Israel with higher quality resolutions - except in Gaza and parts of the West Bank where Google continued to display low-quality imagery.
Now, for an unknown reason, Google has again begun displaying lower-quality imagery across swathes of Israel. Haaretz first reported that Google had updated its maps of Israel with pixelated images.
MEMO: Tunisia Labour Union warns of strikes as IMF talks loom
Tunisia’s powerful UGTT Labour Union has no deal with the government on reforming subsidies and publicly owned companies and will lead street protests over any “painful” changes, it said on Monday, potentially complicating foreign bailout talks, Reuters reports.
The government is in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a rescue package that could unlock further bilateral aid for Tunisia to help it avert a looming crisis in public finances.
The IMF wants the UGTT on board with economic reforms needed to secure the deal but, so far, the Union has only struck a formal agreement with the government on public sector wage increases, but not on subsidies or state companies.
“When there are painful choices, we will be with our people in the front lines of the struggle and in the streets,” UGTT leader, Noureddine Taboubi, said in a speech.
He confirmed the recent wages deal did not cover any agreement on subsidies or restructuring state companies – the two other main areas of fiscal consolidation sought by lenders.
Africa News: Kenya lifts 10-year ban on Genetically Modified Crops
In a major policy shift, newly elected Kenyan President William Ruto’s government has authorised the cultivation and importation of genetically modified crops and animal feeds, bringing an end to a 10-year ban.
The announcement came as the country experiences its worst drought in 40 years. It’s estimated that at least 4 million people are going hungry in 23 counties, forcing the government to provide them with food relief.
Al Jazeera: Lesotho to hold parliamentary vote amid political instability
Lesotho will hold a parliamentary election on Friday, amid failures by its politicians to pass constitutional reforms meant to end years of political instability in the southern African mountain kingdom.
The All Basotho Convention (ABC) has run the country since 2017, but divisions within the party have led to two prime ministers over five years. One of them, Thomas Thabane, stepped down in 2020 after being charged with the murder of his ex-wife.
He denied any wrongdoing and the charges were later dropped.
His successor, Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro, declared a state of emergency in August after legislators failed to pass two bills meant to end political volatility in parliament.
Last month, Lesotho’s highest court ruled the declaration unconstitutional.
The ABC has selected another leader, former health minister Nkaku Kabi, to contest the ticket, after he defeated Majoro in a party vote in February.
The proposed constitutional reforms would have amended everything from the role of political parties, to rules over floor-crossing in parliament, the appointment of senior officials and the role of the prime minister.
The aim was to make Lesotho less prone to political logjams when disagreements occur. But lawmakers failed to agree on them in August.
Lesotho has seen four military coups since independence from Britain in 1966.
In 2014, gunshots were heard in Maseru and then-Prime Minister Thabane temporarily fled the country, accusing the military of overthrowing him, which forced South Africa to mediate to restore order and allow his return.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
AllAfrica: DRC Refugees to Uganda Expected to Double As Conflict Rages
The government of Uganda and the U.N. Refugee Agency say a surge of refugees fleeing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo is tearing apart families and stretching aid resources.
The UNHCR says officials were prepared to help some 68,000 Congolese refugees expected in Uganda, but now 150,000 are predicted to arrive by year’s end.
Congolese refugees stream across Uganda’s western border with the DRC to escape nearly a year of fighting between M23 rebels and DRC government troops.
MEMO: Libya agreed to transport Nigeria gas to Europe
The Libyan Government of National Unity has agreed to transport Nigerian gas to Europe through its territory.
According to Libyan Oil and Gas Minister Mohammed Aoun explained that the distance between Nigeria’s gas wells and European markets is at least 1,000 kilometres shorter than the two gas pipeline projects passing through Algeria and Morocco, thus reducing the cost of transport and therefore the gas prices.
However, Libya faces many challenges to achieve this project; security, financial, technological and market aspects. It is also working against the clock as Europe aims for carbon neutrality by 2050.
The first announcement of the intention to establish a project for a pipeline to transport Nigeria’s gas through Libya was made in June. At that time, the spokesman for the Libyan Government of National Unity, Mohammed Hammouda, revealed in a press conference that the government “has permitted the Ministry of Oil and Gas, to conduct technical and economic studies for the feasibility of establishing a gas pipeline project from Nigeria passing Niger or Chad to Europe via Libya.”
CNN: CEOs are preparing for a recession, and they don’t think it will be short
Major CEOs aren’t buying the notion that the US economy could have a soft landing following a series of historically large interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve to fight inflation.
According to a survey of 400 leaders of large US companies by consulting firm KPMG, a whopping 91% are predicting a recession in the next 12 months. What’s more, the survey, released Tuesday, found that only 34% of these CEOs think the recession will be mild and short.
“There has been tremendous uncertainty over the past two and a half years,” said Paul Knopp, chairman and CEO of KPMG US, referring to the Covid-19 pandemic and worries about inflation. “Now, we have another looming recession.”
Reuters: U.S. manufacturing nearly brakes; price pressures abating
U.S. manufacturing activity grew at its slowest pace in nearly 2-1/2 years in September as new orders contracted amid aggressive interest rate increases from the Federal Reserve to cool demand and tame inflation.
The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) survey on Monday also showed a measure of manufacturing employment contracted last month for the fourth time this year. A gauge of inflation at the factory gate decelerated for a sixth straight month.
Common Dreams: To ‘Step Back From the Edge of Recession,’ UN Urges Central Banks to Stop Rate Hikes
A United Nations organization on Monday joined critics of the U.S. Federal Reserve and other central banks across the globe hiking interest rates with the goal of reining in inflation.
With the world economy “in the midst of cascading and multiplying crises,” a new U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report explains, “the attention of policymakers has become much too focused on dampening inflationary pressures through restrictive monetary policies, with the hope that central banks can pilot the economy to a soft landing, avoiding a full-blown recession.”
“Not only is there a real danger that the policy remedy could prove worse than the economic disease, in terms of declining wages, employment, and government revenues, but the road taken would reverse the pandemic pledges to build a more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive world,” the document warns.
The warning comes after the Fed late last month announced another widely anticipated 75-basis-point interest rate increase—a move that led some experts to accuse the U.S. institution of not only disregarding the negative impacts that such a policy has on the nation’s poor but also ignoring a key driver of inflation: corporate greed.
WSWS: Philadelphia Museum of Art workers strike enters second week
The strike of nearly 200 Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) workers entered its second week Monday. Curators, conservators and other workers essential to the maintenance and presentation of the vast institution’s collection of works are striking over miserably low pay and exorbitant health care costs.
According to Glassdoor.com, a “visitor services assistant” currently receives an average wage of $18 an hour. This translates into $35,000 a year in a city that is “the least affordable housing market in the region,” according to Public Broadcasting Service affiliate WHYY. The average cost of a home in the city was $279,900 in July.
AFSCME DC 47 President Catherine Scott declared that the museum would have to show “movement on five core issues” to end the strike. This includes an “across-the-board” retroactive pay raise to all staff, dated to July. This corresponds to the date that non-union museum workers were given raises by the institution.
In addition, the union says it wants $500 in “longevity” pay for every five years an employee has served the PMA. AFSCME is also asking for a “guaranteed minimum” starting wage of $16.75 for hourly staff as well as salary increases.
Finally, the museum’s current health care plans impose exorbitant costs on workers, forcing them to sign up for only the “high deductible” insurance. In some cases, workers continue paying for bills even after their deductibles have been met.
Counterpunch: Presidents Should Avoid Disaster Areas
I completely disagree. I think all US presidents should be required to go to disaster areas, without protection, while the disaster is taking place.
Caribbean and South America
TeleSUR: Cholera Reappears in Haiti Leaving 8 Dead So Far
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) warned of a possible cholera outbreak in Haiti, a country where this disease had not been reported for three years.
On Sunday, local health authorities confirmed two cases of Vibrio Cholerae O1 in a Port-au-Prince, where doctors previously detected 20 suspected cases of cholera and reported 7 deaths associated with this disease.
Merco Press: Paraguay in the process of switching Taiwan for the Chinese market?
Is Paraguay about to dump Taiwan for China? Landlocked Paraguay and a leading exporter of soybeans and beef, plus an ample surplus of hydroelectric energy, is the only country in South America, and Mercosur member, that still has full diplomatic relations with Taipei, and continues to give its back to Beijing, but this could be changing or in a transition process.
In an interview with the Financial Times when president Mario Abdo Benitez was in New York for the annual UN General Assembly, the Paraguayan president admitted he was under immense pressure from the farmers and the meat industry to divert and expand markets, particularly opening to the People’s Republic of China.
“We are working with the president of Taiwan so that the Paraguayan people feel the real benefits of the strategic alliance,” Marito as he is known in Paraguay, told the FT while in New York. “There is Taiwanese investment of more than US$ 6 billion in countries which don’t have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, we would like to see a billion of that sum invested in Paraguay”.
The Paraguayan president comments raise concerns in Taiwan about potentially losing yet another ally to China. Since 2016, four countries in Latin America have switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China, reducing the number of Taipei’s diplomatic allies to only 14 worldwide.
The Guardian: Worldwide fertiliser shortage prompts Peru to turn to bird poo
As countries around the world wrestle with shortages of imported fertiliser as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Peru has turned to a tried and tested alternative: bird poo.
In the 19th century, fortunes were made and lost on guano, the potent excrement of fish-eating seabirds which was harvested by enslaved people from Africa and indentured Indigenous and Chinese labourers.
It is a superb organic fertiliser containing an exceptionally high content of nitrogen, phosphate and potassium – all key nutrients essential for plant growth. Guano became such a valuable commodity that Chile fought a war against Peru and Bolivia over its supply in the 1880s.
Now, Peru’s government has launched the aptly named naval vessel Pelicano to transport the pungent cargo from coastal islands and peninsulas to the mainland where prices of imported fertilisers have tripled or quadrupled in price.
Sold at a subsidized price of 50 Peruvian soles (£11.6) for a 50kg sack, guano has been snapped up by farmers who cannot afford the rising prices of chemical fertilisers.
TeleSUR: Venezuelans Celebrate Return to 100% Face-to-Face Classes
The Executive Vice President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Delcy Rodríguez, stated this Monday from the facilities of the Escuela Básica Miguel Antonio Caro, located in the Sucre parish, Caracas, that children are returning this Monday to 100% face-to-face classes after the COVID-19 pandemic, under strict biosecurity measures.
“Classes are going to be face-to-face; remember, in 2020, we were in virtual classes; in 2021, we had a combined cycle of semi-presential and this year, we are going to be face-to-face at all levels to have a happy return to classes, of communication between our children, between our girls, teachers and teachers,” said Rodriguez.
He highlighted the importance of maintaining the biosecurity measures in COVID-19 prevention, the use of masks and hand hygiene, “we have vaccination centers not only against COVID-19 but for all the vaccines that our children should have, pentavalent, polio, influenza, measles, yellow fever, and booster vaccines”.
He also emphasized that it is essential to give booster shots to students, teachers and administrative personnel every four months.
In this regard, the Minister of People’s Power for Health, Magaly Gutiérrez, indicated that the Community Integral Health Areas (ASIC) are deployed in each educational center of the country to reach a 95% vaccination rate. Likewise, she said that oral health, sexual and reproductive health, nutrition and pediatrics campaigns are being carried out with the Health goes to School plan.
Meanwhile, the Minister for Education, Yelitze Santaella, reported that the start of classes had been joyful. Every child is being attended through the PAE (School Feeding Program) to impact the most vulnerable areas.
Common Dreams: Brazilians Elect Three Transgender Progressives to Congress
Brazilians made history Sunday by electing not just one but three transgender women—all progressives—to the country’s National Congress in federal elections that featured more than 300 LGBTQ+ aspirants, around 80 of them trans.
“We won the election, despite the attacks from sectors of the left, attacks from Christian fundamentalists, and death threats from the extreme right.”
While leftists expressed disappointment after Workers' Party presidential candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva fell just short of the 50%+1 threshold needed to avert an October 30 runoff against far-right incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro, human rights advocates pointed to historic victories by LGBTQ+ and Indigenous candidates as signs of social progress long overdue.
In addition to victories by Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL) candidates Sônia Guajajara and Célia Xakriabá—the first Indigenous women to represent their respective states of São Paulo and Minas Gerais in Congress—three transgender women, two of them on the PSOL ticket, declared victory.
Erika Hilton, a São Paulo city council member representing PSOL, will be the first Black trans woman to serve in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Congress, where she says she will continue fighting for the same social and healthcare reforms she’s championed at the local level.
“We are going to get off the street corners, we are going to get out of jails, we are going to get off crack corners and prostitution and start to think about public policies and legislation,” Hilton—who was a sex worker for several years after she was kicked out of her family home at age 14—told The Guardian.
TeleSUR: Colombian President Asks US to Remove Cuba From Terrorist List
During a meeting in Bogota on Monday, Colombian President Gustavo Petro asked U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken that Cuba be removed from the list of “State Sponsors of Terrorism.”
“What has happened with Cuba is an injustice,” Petro said, recalling that, at the request of President Juan Manuel Santos and during the administration of President Barack Obama, Cuba hosted peace negotiations between the Colombian state, the National Liberation Army (ELN), and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Later, however, Colombian President Ivan Duque asked President Donald Trump to declare Cuba a country that encourages terrorist activities because the FARC and ELN were in its territory.
“That is an injustice and, therefore, in my opinion, although it does not depend on us, it should be corrected,” Petro told Blinken, who ratified that President Joe Biden’s administration will keep Cuba on the “State Sponsors of Terrorism” list.
Petro and Blinken also spoke about regularization of Colombian migrants in the U.S. and cooperation in the fight against climate change, drugs, and corruption.
The Ukraine Proxy Conflict
WSWS: Despite Russian nuclear threats, Germany announces new arms deliveries to Kiev
The German government has reacted to the Russian annexation of Ukrainian territories and Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons by intensifying its own war offensive, which is ever more directly leading to a third world war. Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) travelled to Ukraine at the weekend for the first time, inspected German tanks on site and announced further massive arms deliveries for the anti-Russian war regime in Kiev.
Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov celebrated Lambrecht’s visit on Twitter, stating: “Hosted my German colleague Christine Lambrecht in the southern Ukraine. Frau Minister brought good news & more tools to strengthen the Ukrainian army. We had a discussion about current geopolitical and security situation. [Frau] Minister was glad to talk with our soldiers and see Gepard [Cheetah] system on combat duty.”
Lambrecht announced in Odessa the delivery of further Cheetah anti-aircraft guns and the accelerated delivery of the IRIS-T air defense system. The system manufactured by the German defence company Diehl Defence is one of the most modern of its kind and, according to the manufacturer, is suitable for 360-degree all-round defence against aircraft, helicopters, drones, cruise missiles and short-range ballistic missiles. Even the German army (Bundeswehr) does not yet have such a system in its arsenal.
Immediately after her return from Odessa on Sunday, Lambrecht went one step further. On public broadcaster ARD’s Bericht aus Berlin, she announced a further round of weapons deliveries. “We will continue to engage in a variety of ways, as we have done with partners so far,” she said. “That is why we will be able to deliver 16 ‘Zuzana’ self-propelled guns to Ukraine next year, financed by Germany together with Denmark and Norway and produced in Slovakia.”
According to media reports, the cost of the announced delivery amounts to €93 million. According to the Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany, the Iris T system—consisting of high-performance radar, launching device and control car as well as missiles—will cost €140 million. In other words, Lambrecht promised Ukraine military aid worth well over €200 million during a single weekend.
Overall, German military aid now amounts to several billion euros, making Germany one of Kiev’s leading supporters. “Contrary to popular perception, Germany has delivered significant amounts of arms and equipment to Ukraine to aid the country in its fight against the Russian military,” wrote the Dutch military news website Oryx in early September. “In fact, the volume of arms deliveries by Berlin exceeds that of every other country save for the United States and the United Kingdom.”
Damn, that sucks. Somebody’s gotta drag you away from that boot or you’ll rub your tongue raw.
Euro News: Zaporizhzhia power plant head released by Russian forces
The director of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, occupied by Russian troops, has been released, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Ihor Murashov was detained on Friday by a Russian patrol. The head of the IAEA, Rafael Grossi welcomed the development, saying Murashov was now with his family.
The IAEA has been warning for months of a nuclear accident at the Zaporizhzhia plant, which is the largest in Europe. Both sides have claimed that the other has launched strikes on the site.
Grossi is expected to head to both Ukraine and Russia this week, to continue consultations over the area’s safety.
Analysis and Retrospectives
The Left, Broadly Construed
Jacobin: Black and White Workers and Communists Built a “Civil Rights Unionism” Under Jim Crow
An article by Nelson Lichtenstein on tobacco workers in North Carolina in the 1940s.
The Right, Broadly Construed
WSWS: Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe’s biography of Stepan Bandera: A devastating portrait of the figurehead of Ukrainian fascism
Little known outside of Western Ukraine during his lifetime, Stepan Bandera is now a celebrated figure in modern capitalist Ukraine with streets, statues and museums all glorifying his memory. As the imperialist proxy war against Russia in Ukraine enters its eighth month, Bandera is widely promoted as a national hero and “freedom fighter” despite his sinister record as a fascist, anti-semite and Nazi collaborator.
In July, Andrei Melnyk, Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, was dismissed because his glorification of Bandera as a “freedom fighter” in an interview with a German journalist had provoked a public outcry.
In the United States, the New York Times, the mouthpiece of the Democratic Party, regularly downplays the crimes of Bandera, referring to the controversy over his legacy as simply “divergent views” and uncritically reporting on far-right elements within Ukraine such as the Azov Battalion.
The reactionary campaign to promote one of the most notorious figures in the history of European fascism is abetted by a significant lack of historical knowledge and awareness about Bandera and the genocidal history of Ukrainian fascism. This lack of knowledge is itself the product of a decades-long effort by the imperialist powers, working in cohorts with the descendants of the World War II-era Ukrainian fascists, to cover up and whitewash their crimes.
Indeed, for over sixty since his assassination in 1959, no serious, scientific biography of Bandera existed. Fortunately, this changed in 2014 when German-Polish historian Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe (Free University, Berlin) published his comprehensive work Stepan Bandera: The Life and Afterlife of a Ukrainian Nationalist: Fascism, Genocide, and Cult.
In Rossoliński-Liebe’s work we find a thoroughly researched, serious and extensive study of Bandera that obliterates both the vulgar nationalist lies and propaganda as well as the Stalinist distortions of history that effectively clouded and obfuscated the true history of Bandera and his criminal movement for decades. Whatever the weaknesses of the book and Rossoliński-Liebe’s own political conclusions, he leaves no doubt that Bandera was anything other than a contemptable anti-semitic fascist. The current reactionary climate and aggressive promotion of the Ukrainian far-right warrants a careful review of this book.
Inside the Imperial Core
Common Dreams: As Fed Pushes to ‘Get Wages Down,’ Study Shows CEO Pay Has Soared by 1,460% Since 1978
An analysis published Tuesday shows that the top executives of the largest corporations in the United States have seen their pay soar by nearly 1,500% over the past 43 years, helping to fuel a massive surge in inequality as workers' wages lag.
Between 1978 and 2021, according to new research from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), CEO compensation at the 350 largest publicly traded U.S. companies rose by an inflation-adjusted 1,460%, far outstripping the 18.1% pay increase that the nation’s typical worker saw during that period.
The trend of soaring CEO pay has continued during the coronavirus pandemic, which caused mass economic chaos and job loss among ordinary workers. EPI found that “while millions lost jobs in the first year of the pandemic and suffered real wage declines due to inflation in the second year, CEOs' realized compensation jumped 30.3% between 2019 and 2021.”
Common Dreams: ‘Their Greed Knows No Bounds’: Analysis Shows Ongoing Price Gouging by Oil Giants
A government watchdog group on Monday published a new briefing analyzing fossil fuel corporations' continued price gouging—even as crude oil prices fall to their lowest levels since January.
Accountable.US noted in its analysis that although crude oil prices have fallen below $80 per barrel, “prices for consumers are still 13% higher than they were last time oil was this cheap.”
“Why are gas prices still failing to match lower oil prices? Corporate greed,” the group asserted. “Big Oil is boasting record profits and dragging their feet to pass any lower costs onto consumers in order to keep padding investors' pockets.”
Jordan Schreiber, director of energy and environment at Accountable.US, said in a statement that “as crude oil prices plummet, Big Oil’s thinly veiled excuses for price gouging break down.”
WSWS: UK crisis fuels warnings on the stability of global financial system
There is a growing sense among media commentators and analysts that the financial crisis in the UK signifies the emergence of an inflection point in the operations of the global financial system.
That is, to use the often-employed metaphor, it is the canary in the coal mine for the eruption of a crisis, suppressed for more than a decade and a half by the provision of trillions of dollars by central banks to the financial markets.
The UK events, involving an emergency £65 billion intervention by the Bank of England last week, doled out in daily injections of £5 billion until October 14 in order to halt a collapse of the bond market, are a case in point.
The crisis centred on pension funds. In the past these funds were able to meet their liabilities by investing in long-term government bonds of 10- and 30-years duration, known as gilts, confident they were able to secure an adequate of return. But the initiation of quantitative easing after 2008, combined with central bank interest rate cuts, meant that bond yields fell to historic lows.
To meet their obligations in conditions where their traditional sources of income were drying up, pension funds had to undertake investments in riskier assets such as corporate credit, equities and property in order to meet their liabilities.
They sought to hedge their risks from such investments through financial market operations via derivatives. They borrowed funds for this purpose using their holdings of government bonds, regarded as the safest of all assets, as collateral.
However, the price of bonds plunged following the Tory government’s mini budget of September 23, which cut taxes on the corporations and the super-rich to the tune of £45 billion, financed by an increase in government debt of £72 billion. So the value of the collateral fell, and the pension funds were faced with margin calls from their lenders.
This led to a further bond selloff as the funds sought to meet these demands, exacerbating the plunge in bond prices and leading to demands for more collateral. Had this situation continued some 90 percent of pension funds, holding £1.5 trillion of assets, could have been rendered insolvent.
Like all crises, this one had its own national forms. But the concern is being voiced that in the final analysis it was the outcome of global processes.
Outside the Imperial Core
AllAfrica: Ghana’s Petroleum Sector Management Is a Mess - What’s Gone Wrong?
After three decades of prospecting Ghana discovered commercially viable quantities of petroleum in 2007. Within 3.5 years, it exported its first barrels of crude oil. The progression from discovery to extraction and export was twice as rapid as the global average of six to seven years.
The record speed is indicative of the significant political interest in the sector relative to others such as agriculture and healthcare.
In the intervening years, oil has contributed in many different ways to Ghana’s economy. Directly it has contributed over US$1bn annually to the gross domestic product of the country. This includes the royalties paid by multinational oil companies. Indirect benefits have included gas infrastructure, an expanded petrochemical industry and increased skilled employment.
The natural resource literature on resource rich developing countries equate such resources to a ‘curse’. This is because the benefits are, in most cases on the continent, not enjoyed by citizens.
Does Ghana exemplify this?
In a recent paper, I investigated the political behaviour and institutional arrangements in the petroleum sector over three decades.
My view, based on my analysis, is that two factors - political disagreements and political considerations - supersede any predictable and clearly stated objectives in petroleum governance. This is despite enhanced checks and balances that civil society introduced after the discovery of oil in 2007.
The arbitrary and uncensored decision making have consistently cost the country - and particularly ordinary Ghanaian dearly. This continues to be the case today.
I identified three phases of petroleum governance.
The first - 1983 to 2001 - was the period when personal relationships determined who had power in petroleum governance. This period predates oil discovery and production.
The second - 2001 to 2008 - saw the sector change dramatically as clientelist political manoeuvres took over to attract foreign investments.
The third phase - from 2009 to the present - was the active involvement of civil society following the discovery and production. This offered some degree of checks-and-balances.
In 1983 the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation was set up as a national oil company. It was responsible for the sector emerging as a rent-seeking venture. This was because it hedged anticipated future petroleum revenues in the form of loans receivables to meet the country’s petroleum import needs and to fund exploration activities.
This action was termed ‘booty futures' - a situation where revenues from petroleum are collected several years before discovery and production.
The corporation had the mandate for petroleum exploration as well as imports of petroleum products for domestic consumption. Fiscal space was constrained at the time. One of the corporation’s strategies was therefore to use anticipated proceeds from future oil production from some fields to hedge oil price hikes. It also used proceeds from the sale of cocoa on the world market to directly pay for imported crude oil without having to look for foreign exchange to cover the cost.
These kinds of derivative transactions cost Ghana millions of dollars due to ill-informed advice from its financial advisers.
In addition, the government demanded 65% of the profits. This was a high share for a nascent industry without certainty of discovery. This made Ghana unattractive to investors. The state continued to pump resources into exploration and incurred further financial losses.
Investors began to show interest in 2001 when a new government revised the profit-sharing terms to between 10% and 15%.
The petroleum sector continues to be manipulated by politicians. This is done through the indiscriminate removal and appointment of technocrats and executives. The Ghana National Petroleum Corporation has become notorious for being embroiled in several petroleum agreement scandals. Potentially these are costing the tax payer billions of dollars. Some misappropriation has been averted due to the vigilance of civil society groups. But there’s still a lack of transparency and inadequate political will to propose and implement laws to the letter.
The article continues.
Monthly Review: Sea level acceleration
This article addresses the most current research on sea level rise, as well as adaptation measures being taken around the world. Of special interest, brilliant adaptation measures are taking place in the face of higher seas.
“Sea level has been fairly stable for 6,000 years, which is most of human civilization… but its risen eight (8) inches or twenty (20) centimeters in the last century, and the rate is tripling right now.”1
According to knowledgeable sources, regardless of mitigation efforts, sea levels are destined to rise by approximately one foot by 2050. Thereafter, fairly high probabilities indicate up to 5 feet-to-10 feet by the end of the century, which is considerably more than “up to 3 feet in a high-GHG emissions scenario” forecast by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The oceans have absorbed 93% of the planet’s heat, and there’s no off switch to stop warming ocean waters from melting the world’s two largest ice structures Greenland and Antarctica. What if the oceans did not absorb 93% of the planet’s heat? According to scientists’ calculations in the multi-award-winning documentary Chasing Coral (2017) if oceans stopped absorbing heat, land temps would average 122°F.
During the 1990s Greenland and Antarctica combined lost 81 billion tons of ice mass per year on average. A decade later, during the decade of the 2010s, the ice mass loss increased 6-fold to 475 billion tons per year on average.
NASA’s findings, published online in the journal Nature from an international team of 89 polar scientists from 50 organizations, are the most comprehensive assessment to date of the changing ice sheets. It is startling information that seems to predestine higher sea levels. The question of the decade, therefore: How to stop the runaway-freight-train loss of ice by Greenland and Antarctica? Is it even possible to control a warming ocean as the root cause?
Common Dreams: Oxfam Warns World Bank ‘Could Be Significantly Overstating’ Climate Spending
Amid preparations for a United Nations summit in November and calls for the World Bank Group president’s ouster, Oxfam revealed Monday that the financial institution’s “reporting practices make it impossible to independently verify their climate finance claims.”
Oxfam’s new report—titled Unaccountable Accounting: The World Bank’s unreliable climate finance reporting—details the group’s attempt to audit the multilateral development bank (MDB), a difficult task due to lack of transparency around climate financing.
“This audit exposes the danger that some climate finance claims could simply be greenwashing, which would lead to a dangerous under-investment in poor countries' mitigation and adaptation efforts,” declared Oxfam’s climate change policy lead, Nafkote Dabi.
“The bank’s public disclosure of its climate finance is like a faulty thermometer that’s currently reading $17.2 billion,” she explained. “We’ve found that it could be off by 40% in either direction and as such we simply can’t be sure of the actual value.”
In other words, the World Bank’s reported climate finance for fiscal year 2020 could be off by up to $7 billion, according to Oxfam’s review. Dabi said that “our concern of course is the worst-case scenario―that the bank could be significantly overstating its contribution to the cause.”