The attack on the Crimean bridge, and today’s response by Russia to destroy much of Ukraine’s infrastructure, has kinda upended analysis of the situation once again. As these updates are technically for the day before I write them - this isn’t a live feed, I stop taking news when I go to bed the night before and write these up when I can the following day - we won’t see any reactions to it here, until I do the update tomorrow.
Global Events, the United Nations, and Disease
Reuters: Britain slaps down Russia’s push for secret U.N. vote on Ukraine
Britain on Friday rejected Russia’s call for a secret ballot in the U.N. General Assembly next week on whether to condemn Moscow’s move to annex four partially occupied regions in Ukraine and requested that the 193-member body vote publicly.
TeleSUR: 27 Countries Reported Cholera Outbreaks Throughout 2022 - WHO
“We are not only seeing more outbreaks but more deadly outbreaks,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
At a press conference in Geneva, Dr. Tedros pointed to poverty, conflict, and climate change as the factors fueling the current cholera outbreak in the world.
According to the Director General, “the average number of fatalities so far this year is almost three times that of the last five years.”
In this regard, Tedros brought up the alarming situation in Syria and Haiti. Syria has reported more than 10 000 suspected cases of cholera in the last six weeks.
Haiti, which eradicated the disease three years ago, has recorded 11 confirmed cases this week alone, 7 deaths and 111 suspected cases, according to the latest update (Oct. 5) from the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP).
TeleSUR: Global Food Prices Decline but Remain Near All-time Highs
The monthly FAO Food Price Index, averaging 136.3 points, was down 1.1 percent compared to August. This was the sixth consecutive month the index declined since it surged to its highest level in March after the conflict between Russia and Ukraine sent energy prices soaring and interrupted trade routes.
Despite the decline, the broad index – which tracks changes in global prices for common food commodities – remained higher than at the start of the year and, in real terms, higher than at any point previous to 2022 since the 1970s.
Finanacial Times: Confidence slumps around the globe as cost of living crisis bites
A mood of mounting economic pessimism is taking hold across the world’s major economies, as soaring prices and geopolitical uncertainty damage the prospects of businesses and consumers.
In the past year consumer and business confidence has fallen by the most in a decade, with the exception of the initial months of the coronavirus pandemic, according to research for the FT.
Hard economic data and leading financial indicators are also falling from strong levels after Covid-19, signalling that momentum in the world economy is stalling, the latest twice-yearly Brookings-FT tracking index showed.
The collapse in confidence comes as global financial officials gather in Washington this week for the IMF’s and the World Bank’s annual meetings. The two bodies are expected to publish forecasts warning that the world economy is on the brink of recession.
TeleSUR: Oil Prices Jump to Multi-Week Highs After OPEC+ Output Cut
The West Texas Intermediate for November delivery increased 4.19 U.S. dollars, or 4.7 percent, to settle at 92.64 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. According to Dow Jones Market Data, it marked the highest finish since Aug. 29 for the U.S. crude standard.
Oil prices rose on Friday for a fifth straight session, as market participants assessed major producers' decision to cut output.
The West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for November delivery increased by 4.19 U.S. dollars, or 4.7 percent, to settle at 92.64 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. According to Dow Jones Market Data, it marked the highest finish since Aug. 29 for the U.S. crude standard.
Finanacial Times: EU payments for Russian fuel since war reach beyond €100bn
EU countries have imported more than €100bn worth of coal, oil and gas from Russia since the invasion of Ukraine in February, as part of the bloc’s higher overall consumption of fossil fuels so far in 2022, an independent Helsinki-based research group has estimated.
While Europe continued to pay as much to Russia for gas as it did in the first half of 2021 due to skyrocketing prices, it received a fraction of the gas, said the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (Crea).
But the bloc’s estimated overall 11 per cent drop in total gas consumption in the first half of the year was counterbalanced by an increase in the use of oil products by 8 per cent, hard coal by 7 per cent, and lignite by 12 per cent, based on data from the Eurostat government agency.
As a result, EU carbon dioxide emissions were likely to have increased by about 2 per cent in the first half of the year, Crea estimated.
WSWS: Half of Ukrainian 2023 budget dedicated to NATO proxy war against Russia
Initial details on Ukraine’s 2023 draft $70 billion budget have revealed that half of the country’s spending for the upcoming year will be devoted to the NATO-backed proxy war with Russia. By contrast, social spending on medicine, housing and pensions will be cut massively as the country continues to run a monthly budget deficit of approximately $3 billion to $5 billion.
According to the popular Ukrainian news outlet Strana, the government expects GDP to grow by 4.6 percent after contracting by a third this year due to the war. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian working class will be faced with an astounding 30 percent inflation rate and 28.2 percent unemployment.
RT: Ukraine is preparing a law on full control over the media, as the last vestiges of press freedom disappear in Kiev
While fierce battles continue to rage between the Ukrainian and Russian armies in Donbass, Kherson Region, and Zaporozhye, the Kiev regime is busy eradicating the last vestiges of freedom of speech in the country.
On August 30, Ukraine’s rubber-stamp parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, passed a bill on the media at the first reading. Despite the numerous changes that the 300-page document has undergone since President Vladimir Zelensky’s team developed and submitted it a few years ago, its essence remains unchanged. If it becomes law, the authorities’ power over virtually all outlets will be essentially limitless.
The main danger this bill presents is that it grants government agencies the authority to block internet resources without any court proceedings, and revoke licenses from broadcast and print media solely on the basis of complaints. This huge power would be vested in the National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting.
Reuters: Kremlin praises OPEC+ for countering U.S. ‘mayhem’
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was very good that such “balanced, thoughtful and planned work of the countries, which take a responsible position within OPEC, is opposed to the actions of the U.S.”.
“This at least balances the mayhem that the Americans are causing,” Peskov said, according to Russian news agencies.
Euronews: Protesters block two TotalEnergies facilities in Belgium
Hundreds of climate activists blocked two TotalEnergies oil sites in Belgium on Saturday.
The demonstrations at Feluy and Liege were triggered by the soaring profits of energy companies amid a global energy crisis that is hitting people across Europe hard.
Further protests were set for Sunday by the CodeRouge organisers. Protestors on Saturday blocked railway tracks near depots, causing localised disruptions.
Iraqi News: French energy giant offers pay talks to end fuel strike
France’s TotalEnergies said on Sunday it would advance annual pay talks with unions if they dropped a blockade of fuel depots and refineries that has slashed petrol supplies across the country.
EU Reporter: NATO must do more to counter Putin’s ‘delusions of grandeur’, German minister says
I said I wouldn’t do any more Dipshittery and Cope, but I can have a little of it, as a treat.
RT: German retail sales down more than expected
German retail sales posted a month-on-month decline of 1.3% in August, official data released on Friday by the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) shows. The figure followed a downwardly revised 0.7% rise in July and came in worse than the consensus forecast of a 1.1% decline.
Retail trade recorded a 4.3% decrease in turnover in real terms compared to August 2021, according to Destatis. Meanwhile, retail food sales were down 1.7% on the month and 3.1% on the year, the lowest figure in more than five years.
Iraqi News: Germany probes rail ‘sabotage’ amid Russia tensions
German police were on Sunday probing an act of “sabotage” on the country’s rail infrastructure, with some officials pointing the finger at Russia in the wake of the Nord Stream pipeline explosions.
Important communications cables were cut at two sites on Saturday, forcing rail services in the north to be halted for three hours and causing travel chaos for thousands of passengers.
Rail operator Deutsche Bahn blamed the travel disruptions on “sabotage”, while Transport Minister Volker Wissing spoke of “a targeted and deliberate action”.
Germany’s top-selling daily Bild cited an internal document from the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) as saying, in an early analysis of the incident, that an act of “state-ordered sabotage would be conceivable”.
The document pointed to the “widely separated crime scenes” where the cables were severed, in Herne in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia and in Berlin in the east, some 540 kilometres (335 miles) away.
Al Jazeera: Austrian president secures re-election in first round of voting
Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen on Sunday secured a second six-year term in office by winning a clear majority of votes and avoiding a run-off, according to projections.
The far-right Freedom Party was the only one in parliament to field a candidate against Van der Bellen, who won a much tighter race against a Freedom Party opponent in 2016.
“A majority is easily said but an absolute majority means more votes than all others combined, and one must take that very seriously,” Van der Bellen told national broadcaster ORF. “I was not at all sure that it would happen, but it did, and I am very pleased.”
With 95 percent of votes counted, a projection by pollster SORA put Van der Bellen winning 56.1 percent with a margin of error of 1.1 percentage points. His nearest rival was the Freedom Party’s Walter Rosenkranz at 17.9 percent.
East Asia and Oceania
EU Reporter: China The Chinese economy keeps sailing steadily, despite the rough waters
“Since the beginning of 2022, the international environment has been complex and challenging. The world economy is sailing through rough waters: global growth is losing steam and the inflation increase has been unanticipated. In the first half of this year, given both domestic and external challenges, China’s economic growth slowed down, and its economic outlook has drawn extensive attention,” writes Cao Zhongming (pictured), Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Kingdom of Belgium.
“The Chinese government, with the confidence and capability to ensure stable overall economic performance, has adopted a package of 33 policy measures, covering the six areas of finance, monetary, investment and consumption, energy and food, industrial chain, and people’s livelihood. China recently released its economic indicators for the first eight months of this year, which is closely followed by the wider world.
Generally speaking, the Chinese economy has rebounded amid the challenges and shown great resilience and vitality. China remains the most vibrant major economy in the world.
Major indicators show that the Chinese economy has maintained the momentum of recovery and development and is at a crucial stage of recovery.
Financial Times: ‘North Korea has already won’: US urged to abandon denuclearisation farce
The US should admit defeat in its campaign to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons and focus on risk reduction and arms control measures instead, experts have urged.
On Tuesday, North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan for the first time since 2017, sparking renewed condemnation from Washington and its allies.
The US and South Korea responded by conducting joint military drills and firing missiles into the Sea of Japan, while the USS Ronald Reagan, an American nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, conducted a rare U-turn to return to waters east of the Korean peninsula after a recent visit.
But analysts said the military gestures and combative words emanating from Washington, Seoul and Tokyo belied the reality that they have run out of ideas and options for containing North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme.
Experts argued that the US and its allies should focus on agreeing with Pyongyang steps to reduce the risk of a conflict on the Korean peninsula, even if doing so amounted to a tacit acceptance that North Korea would continue to possess nuclear weapons.
“Insistence on denuclearisation is not just a failure, it has turned into a farce,” said Ankit Panda, a nuclear weapons expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.
“They test, we respond, we move on with our lives,” Panda added. “North Korea has already won. It’s a bitter pill, but at some point we’re going to have to swallow it.”
Central Asia and the Middle East
MEMO: Israel tests pumping gas from disputed gas field with Lebanon
Israel on Sunday started to test the pumping of gas from the disputed Karish gas field amid tension with Lebanon, according to local media, Anadolu reports.
Israeli Channel 12 reported that Israel’s security establishment has given the US gas drilling company Energean the green light to start its tests.
Public broadcaster KAN said full pumping operations from the site may be ready within weeks after the completion of the tests.
Last week, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Israel will go ahead with the gas extraction from the Karish field despite threats by Lebanese Hezbollah group, which threatened to target the site.
People’s Daily: U.S. forces steal 50 tankers of Syrian oil in Hasakah province
The U.S. forces on Friday sent 50 tankers of stolen oil from Syria’s northeastern province of Hasakah toward U.S. bases in neighboring Iraq, state news agency SANA reported.
The oil tankers were sent to Iraq in batches through the illegal al-Mahmoudiyeh crossing, said SANA.
The state news agency said the U.S. forces have intensified its theft of Syrian oil over the past few weeks with the help of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.
After entering Syria in 2014, the U.S. forces, under the pretext of fighting terrorist groups, have established military bases in oil-rich areas in northeastern and eastern Syria, and started the systematic stealing of Syrian oil.
The Syrian Oil Ministry said in August that the U.S. forces were stealing 80 percent of Syria’s oil production, and the unlawful trafficking has so far caused direct and indirect losses of about 107.1 billion U.S. dollars to Syria’s oil and gas sectors.
Iraqi News: Iraq’s political paralysis hampers economic growth
A year since Iraq’s last elections, it remains without not only a new government but a budget too, obstructing much-needed reforms and infrastructure projects in the oil-rich but war-ravaged country.
Iraq has raked in huge revenues from oil exports this year, but the profits are locked up in the central bank’s coffers, which have amassed a colossal $87 billion in foreign exchange reserves.
The government can’t invest that money without an annual state budget — which Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is not authorised to submit to parliament in his capacity as caretaker.
“Infrastructure projects require years of steady financial planning by government,” said Yesar al-Maleki, Gulf analyst at the Middle East Economic Survey (MEES).
“The political situation has caused a massive disruption that has further weakened Iraq’s poor standing with investors.”
Iraqis voted on October 10, 2021 in an early election triggered by a wave of protests that began two years earlier, condemning endemic corruption, rampant unemployment and decaying infrastructure.
The country has been mired in a seemingly impenetrable political deadlock since then, with rival Shiite factions in parliament vying for power and the right to select a new prime minister and government.
The impasse pits the powerful cleric Moqtada Sadr, who wants snap elections, against the Iran-backed Coordination Framework, which has been pushing to appoint a new head of government before any new polls are held.
Al Jazeera: Pakistan flood losses estimated at $40bn: Ex-finance minister
Pakistan estimates the total losses from its recent floods could be as high as $40bn – $10bn more than the government’s initial estimate.
The revised figure was shared for the first time in Al Jazeera’s special programme, The Great Deluge, which premieres at 16:30 GMT on Friday.
With Pakistan’s economy already in crisis, the government is appealing for debt relief from global lenders and more help from the global community in fighting the catastrophe.
“I don’t think they are going to make good $30bn or $40bn that we have lost but I think there should be some measures of help, whether it is the international agencies to get greater loans for Pakistan, whether it is other countries underwriting loans to Pakistan,” Miftah Ismail told Al Jazeera late last month when he was the finance minister.
“There is a lot of stuff the Western countries could do,” he said.
The Guardian: 10,000 litres a day for each pitch: Qatar World Cup’s huge impact on Gulf waters
As the World Cup approaches, Qatar is going to need at least 10,000 litres of water every day for each of its stadium pitches. Based in a region with virtually no access to fresh water, it is going to rely on desalination – the practice of debrining saltwater so it is drinkable.
It seems like an elegant solution – but the problem is that desalination, which is projected to boom by 37% across the Gulf region in the next five years, has huge environmental costs, in terms of the fossils fuels used to carry out the process, and the marine environment. But without it, how can the arid region possibly quench its thirst?
Forty-three per cent of the world’s desalination capacity comes from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. Despite the scarcity of water, the GCC are among the highest consumers of it in the world, and heavily dependent on desalination plants.
The United Arab Emirates has one of the highest per capita water consumption rates in the world, with people using roughly 500 litres a day – 50% above the global average.
Yet many GCC countries such as the UAE are still keen to promote water-rich lifestyles through desalination efforts. Manicured lawns and waterparks are commonplace across cities, and at the Dubai fountain show, every half hour throughout the day more than 83,000 litres of water shoot up as high as a 50-storey building.
But with populations rising, the region’s water industry is facing increasing pressure. “These plants essentially have rivers running through them. If you look at the desalination capacity across the GCC as a whole, the volume of water flowing through that is about four times the amount of water flowing down the Thames,” says Will Le Quesne, the Middle East programme director for the UK Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science.
Maryam Rashed Al Shehhi, an assistant professor of civil infrastructure and environmental engineering at Khalifa University in the UAE, says: “Desalination is our main source of fresh water. It’s a very arid region, and annual rainfall has decreased. So it’s very scary to think about any other sources of water.”
Since the 1950s the GCC have been at the vanguard of desalination. The southern coasts of the Gulf are dotted with more than 300 desalination plants – mostly in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain.
Iraqi News: Greece and Egypt call Turkish-Libyan gas deal ‘illegal’
It took me a solid thirty seconds to decide which region to put this article in.
Egypt and Greece on Sunday said a deal allowing Turkish hydrocarbon exploration in Libya’s Mediterranean waters was “illegal” as Athens said it would oppose it by all “legal means”.
On Monday, Turkey said it had signed a memorandum of understanding on exploration for hydrocarbons in Libya’s seas with the authorities in Tripoli.
“This agreement threatens stability and security in the Mediterranean,” Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said in Cairo, where he met his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry.
The deal follows an agreement Turkey signed three years ago with Tripoli that demarcated the countries’ shared maritime borders.
Greece, Egypt and Cyprus believe the 2019 agreement violates their economic rights in an area suspected to contain vast natural gas reserves.
“We will use all legal means to defend our rights,” Dendias added.
He said Tripoli “does not have the necessary sovereignty over this area”, and that the agreement is therefore “illegal and inadmissible”.
The Guardian: Former Liberian rebel charged with war crimes awaits Paris trial
A former Liberian rebel commander will go on trial in Paris on Monday charged with acts of barbarity including torture, cannibalism, forced labour and complicity in crimes against humanity during the country’s first civil war more than 25 years ago.
It is the first trial in France of a non-Rwandan suspect accused of wartime atrocities since the special crimes against humanity tribunal was set up in Paris in 2012.
Kunti Kamara, known as Kunti K, a naturalised Dutch citizen, was head of a rebel militia unit in the north of the west African country that was ravaged by two civil wars between 1989 and 2003 in which an estimated 250,000 people died.
The alleged war crimes took place during the first Liberian civil war, between 1989 and 1996, in Lofa county, a strategic region in north-western Liberia.
Kamara has been accused by witnesses of reducing the population of the village of Foya to slavery and carrying out “particularly atrocious acts of torture”. In one such act, Kamara is said to have ordered his troops to cut open the body of a victim with an axe and remove the heart, which was then eaten.
He has also been charged with being complicit in “crimes against humanity” in, according to the indictment, “a massive and systematic practice of torture or inhuman acts”.
Kamara’s lawyer, Tarek Koraitem, told the Guardian his client denied all the accusations.
“It’s a scandal. Here we have an affair in which we are judging, decades after the events, an obscure soldier of a rebel Liberian faction accused of abominable crimes on inexistent proof in a country that has no connection whatsoever with Liberia,” Koraitem said.
“It isn’t justice, it’s a theatre show. Every one [of the charges] is false. He denies everything. He had a few men under his control on the frontline during the civil war. He is responsible for nothing.”
Reuters: Bullet-proof glass, guards: U.S. election offices tighten security for Nov. 8 midterms
When voters in Jefferson County, Colorado, cast their ballots in the Nov. 8 midterm election, they will see security guards stationed outside the busiest polling centers.
At an election office in Flagstaff, Arizona, voters will encounter bulletproof glass and need to press a buzzer to enter. In Tallahassee, Florida, election workers will count ballots in a building that has been newly toughened with walls made of the super-strong fiber Kevlar.
Spurred by a deluge of threats and intimidating behavior by conspiracy theorists and others upset over former President Donald Trump’s 2020 election defeat, some election officials across the United States are fortifying their operations as they ramp up for another divisive election.
A Reuters survey of 30 election offices found that 15 have enhanced security in various ways, from installing panic buttons to hiring extra security guards to holding active-shooter and de-escalation training.
Financial Times: US opens new cobalt mine as EV battery needs grow
The first new US cobalt mine to open in decades is ramping up production in Idaho, buoyed by the carmakers’ increasing demand for battery raw materials and legislation designed to foster a battery supply chain.
The mine is located in the state’s Salmon River Mountains at 8,000ft above sea level. Owned by Australia’s Jervois Global, chief executive Bryce Crocker said it will reach full production in February, extracting 2,000 tonnes of the bluish ore a year. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was scheduled for Friday.
A critical component of the lithium-ion batteries that power electric cars and trucks, demand for cobalt from carmakers is threatening to outstrip supply as the automotive industry electrifies. The price of cobalt doubled last year to $32 a pound before falling to its current price at $27.75. The Inflation Reduction Act climate and tax law passed in August includes provisions geared toward developing a US supply chain for batteries, potentially benefiting domestic suppliers of key minerals such as cobalt.
“The United States needs to secure access to critical minerals,” Crocker said. “There’s not enough materials to go around.”
About 160,000 tonnes of cobalt were mined worldwide in 2021, with about a third going to the automotive industry, according to the Cobalt Institute, a trade association based in the UK. The US produced some cobalt, with Michigan’s Eagle Mine unearthing the mineral as a byproduct of its nickel operations.
TeleSUR: US Strategic Petroleum Reserve Low at 416.4M Bbl
Last week, U.S. emergency oil stocks held only 416.4 million barrels, according to Fox Business.
U.S. President Joe Biden has pulled the country’s oil reserve as part of efforts to control gas prices in the country.
Amid this scenario, Biden has pulled the country’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve, causing a severe depletion. As reported by Fox Business, citing U.S. Department of Energy data, U.S. emergency oil stocks are at the lowest level since 1984, with just 416.4 million barrels last week.
The Guardian: ‘The US dammed us up’: how drought is threatening Navajo ties to ancestral lands
As drought took hold in the high desert of north-eastern Arizona, natural water sources dried up, making non-irrigated farming impossible. A rain-fed lake that watered the sheep and horses disappeared. A windmill that pumped groundwater stopped working. And vast rolling grasslands that had long sustained the livestock turned into sand dunes. In the mid 1990s, the family resorted to hauling water for their animals from far-away community wells. And they have been hauling it ever since.
Over the last three decades, the Navajo Nation – the largest Indigenous nation in the US – has felt the impacts of a warming planet much earlier and more dramatically than other communities in the south-west that have well-developed municipal infrastructure and abundant financial resources. Although people living in the reservation border towns of Flagstaff or Winslow have taken steps to cope with climate crisis by converting their yard to desert landscaping and installing air conditioning, Mendez and many other Navajo families are in a full-on struggle to protect their livelihoods and traditional connections to their homeland.
During Covid, the Navajo reservation made headlines for its lack of indoor plumbing and how nonprofit organizations and government agencies were coming to the nation’s aid. But on the ground, little has changed for Mendez and the thousands of others who are left to mostly fend for themselves as impacts from drought have worsened over the last several years.
The Guardian: North American gray whale counts dwindling for the last two years
US researchers say the number of gray whales off western North America has continued to dwindle during the last two years, a decline that resembles previous population swings over the past several decades but is still generating worry.
According to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries assessment released Friday, the most recent count put the population at 16,650 whales – down 38% from its peak during the 2015-16 period. The whales also produced the fewest calves since scientists began counting the births in 1994.
Jacobin: Canadian Elites Are Engineering a Recession to Discipline Workers
In some quarters, it is accepted as an article of faith that a recession is on the way — and that such an eventuality is a necessary corrective to economic imbalance. As inflation persists and central banks jack up interest rates, orthodox logic suggests short-term pain for long-term gain is the only way forward. Naturally, the pain isn’t to be spread around equitably or equally. It never is. We aren’t all in this together. We never are.
Economists and other observers warn the recession could become a global phenomenon. The World Bank warns that recession might be accompanied by a further economic shock. Stagflation — sluggish economic growth alongside soaring inflation — could follow the downturn. Canada is not immune to such risks and people know it. One survey suggests more than 80 percent of people worry a recession is coming, and many have started to behave accordingly.
Debates about whether a recession and stagflation are imminent occupy plenty of column inches and television hours. Just as important, however, is the question of who will suffer the most should the worst come about — and whether it is preordained to happen. Let’s start with who will bear the burden of recession. As Jenna Moon reports in the Toronto Star, Canadians who are carrying hefty consumer debt will be hit hard. That’s a lot of us. As Moon notes, non-mortgage consumer debt in Canada is roughly $591 billion — $1.81 for every dollar of income — with total debt resting at over $2.3 trillion.
The economic fundaments in Canada don’t look good. Debt is rising. Interest rates are increasing. High inflation is ongoing. Purchasing power is falling. More people are carrying mortgages they can’t afford. That’s a wicked brew that few can afford swallow — which is to say, it’s a prelude to bankruptcy, foreclosures, and unemployment.
Is a recession inevitable? Is it necessary?
TeleSUR: Inflation in Mexico Has Topped Out, Says President
On Friday, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said inflation in Mexico has topped out and could begin to decline.
Earlier in the day, the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi) reported that annual inflation in September held steady at 8.7 percent, the same as the previous month.
Describing the report as “good news,” Lopez Obrador said, “it has reached its ceiling, its maximum limit, and my forecast is that it will start to go down.”
According to Inegi, the national Consumer Price Index rose 0.62 percent in September alone over the previous month.
Caribbean and South America
Reuters: U.S. reviewing Haiti’s request for international security assistance
The United States on Saturday said it was reviewing a request for international support from Haiti, which says it is seeking a “specialized armed force” to address a crisis caused by a blockade of the country’s main fuel port.
The U.S. State Department said criminal actors were undermining Haiti’s efforts to halt the spread of cholera.
“In that context, we will review the Government of Haiti’s request in coordination with international partners and determine how we can increase our support to help address Haiti’s fuel shortage and security constraints,” it said in a statement.
Common Dreams: Central American Anti-Corruption Activists Are Facing Criminal Prosecution
Three activists are facing criminal charges for allegedly painting graffiti on the walls of the Guatemalan congressional building during protests on November 21, 2020. But the case against these protesters has been marked by the manipulation of information and due process.
“This case represents revenge [from the authorities]; there is no other possible explanation,” Claudia Samayoa, a human rights defender with the Guatemalan human rights organization UDEFEGUA, tells The Progressive. “They are wanting to manipulate the case to justify [their argument] that marches, particularly of the university students and campesino organizations, are violent.”
Nanci Sinto and Dulce Archila are facing charges of “depredation of cultural property” during the November 2020 mobilization, which protested cuts to key social programs included in Guatemala’s 2022 budget bill and demanded the resignation of the country’s president and ministers. Sinto and Archila were arrested a year later in November 2021.
Finanacial Times: Chile’s leftist government surprises with spending squeeze
One of the world’s most dramatic post-Covid spending squeezes is expected to deliver a bigger-than-expected budget surplus for Chile’s leftwing government this year, pleasing investors who had worried about radical President Gabriel Boric’s expensive campaign promises.
“We are expecting a surplus of 1.6 per cent of gross domestic product this year,” said finance minister Mario Marcel. “It’s the first surplus in nine years. The current government has made an effort to be disciplined which means that our results this year will be better than expected.”
Marcel, a technocrat who gained a reputation for caution in his previous role as governor of the country’s central bank, is adamant that the Boric administration will not repeat the economic mistakes made by leftwing governments elsewhere in the region.
“Many times ambitious reforms have been put forward which aroused a great deal of hope among the population, but which later could not be continued because of weakness in the economy and a lack of state resources,” Marcel told the Financial Times. “That is not something we want to see ourselves exposed to.”
Chile’s prudence comes as officials and economists fear that a surge in interest rates will place governments under financial pressure. The volume of outstanding IMF loans is expected to hit a record high this year, while borrowing costs in several emerging markets and some advanced economies, such as the UK, have soared.
The Ukraine Proxy Conflict
RT: ‘Unthinkable’ number of mercenaries gathered in Zaporozhye – authorities
I know that there have been claims of about 5000 Polish mercenaries on that front, which by itself isn’t “unthinkable”, but extrapolate that to the hundreds or maybe thousands of troops there from other eastern European countries and it’s a very… international exercise there, I’d imagine.
Ukraine has amassed a sizeable amount of foreign fighters on the frontline in Zaporozhye Region, which recently voted to join Russia, Vladimir Rogov, a member of the local administration’s chief council, told RIA Novosti on Sunday.
“The Kiev regime has accumulated an unthinkable number of mercenaries on the line of contact. We know about representatives from more than 30 different countries,” Rogov said.
He went on to say that Ukraine has been deploying to the area both mercenaries and troops from the western part of the country in order to instill terror in local residents who voted in the recent referendums.
In late September, Zaporozhye, along with Kherson Region and the two Donbass republics, voted overwhelmingly in referendums to join Russia. On Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin signed into law unification treaties with the former Ukrainian territories, officially making them part of Russia.
RT: Germany gives update on high-tech arms for Ukraine – media
Germany has promised new arms deliveries for Kiev, CNN reported on Saturday, during Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht’s visit to Lithuania. The new batch of weapons will reportedly include around 100 Soviet battle tanks from Greece and Slovakia, the media outlet said.
The tanks are part of an exchange deal involving Berlin, Athens, and Bratislava, according to media reports. German news outlets first mentioned the potential delivery last weekend following Lambrecht’s surprise visit to the Ukrainian port city of Odessa, where she met with Defense Minister Aleksey Reznikov.
Kiev has long demanded Western battle tanks from Washington and its allies, including Germany’s Leopard 2 tanks, though Western nations have so far been reluctant to send them. Last weekend, Lambrecht defended the strategy of providing Ukraine with Soviet armored vehicles, arguing it would be better for both sides.
RT: NATO should give Ukraine ‘everything we have’ – member state
NATO countries should arm Ukraine with all available weapons, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told Ukrainian media on Saturday. However, he expects the alliance’s other members to foot the bill.
“Ukraine needs ‘everything we have,’” Landsbergis told Ukrinform, arguing that the Ukrainian military is already capable of working with the alliance’s arsenal now that its troops are receiving training in multiple European countries.
RT: German army has ammo for only two days of war – media
The German Army (Bundeswehr) has enough ammunition for only one or two days of warfare, the German edition of news website Business Insider (BI) reported on Saturday, citing defense industry and parliamentary sources.
RT: Belarus accuses Ukraine of planning attack
Belarus has accused Ukraine of “planning to conduct a strike” against the neighboring state, Kiev’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday, dismissing the claim as a ploy by Moscow to “stage a provocation.”
According to Kiev, Igor Kisim, its envoy to Minsk, was summoned on Saturday night to the Belarusian Foreign Ministry and was served with an official note saying that “Ukraine is planning to conduct a strike on the territory of Belarus.”
In response, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry stated that it “categorically rejects the latest insinuations on the part of the Belarusian regime,” adding that it could be part of a Russian plan to “stage a provocation and further accuse” Kiev.
People’s Daily: Crimean Bridge resumes road traffic following deadly blast
Traffic reopened to cars and buses with a full inspection procedure needed on the road route of the Crimean Bridge, after an explosion on the viaduct on Saturday.
Trucks are still required to cross the Kerch Strait by ferry, Crimea’s head Sergei Aksyonov said on Telegram.
Meanwhile, an initial assessment of the railway part of the Crimean Bridge has been carried out, and restoration work is underway, the Russian Ministry of Transport said.
Analysis and Retrospectives
The Right, Broadly Construed
Jacobin: Fascists Are Benefiting From World Crisis
The rise of far-right movements from the United States to Brazil and India has often prompted discussions of a “new fascism.” The September 25 Italian election victory for Giorgia Meloni, leader of a party with roots in historical fascism, has further polarized analyses between those focused on comparisons with the past and those who emphasize her conservative hues. Yet today’s crises are also producing new forms of reactionary politics that do not look like those of a hundred years ago.
Geoff Eley is Karl Pohrt Distinguished University Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He has written extensively on the history of the Left and the history of the Right. Currently he is writing a general history of Europe in the twentieth century and a new study of the German right, Genealogies of Nazism: Conservatives, Radical Nationalists, and Fascists in Germany, 1860–1945.
In this interview for Jacobin, Eley discusses how studies of fascism have changed in recent decades to address the rise of antidemocratic and authoritarian movements across the globe. Eley explains that “fascism” is a portable concept that has multiple origins and varied forms that scholars need to contextualize and interpret as part of a strategy for anti-fascism. He also discusses the future of the Left with the rise of neoliberal globalization and climate degradation in the twenty-first century.
I skimmed through it and I broadly agree with it. There’s a section on Donald Trump and why he’s not a fascist which I thought almost perfectly encapsulated my thoughts on him:
You have argued that Donald Trump may be antidemocratic and authoritarian but lacks a coherent ideology that is a crucial aspect of fascism. How should we interpret a figure such as Narendra Modi in this context, given that he adheres to the ideology of Hindutva. More generally, how can we interpret the links between religion and fascism?
First, I need to clarify how I see “ideology” per se. On the one hand, we have the common usage in ordinary language, usually referring to some familiar body of political ideas, a readily recognizable program, or a codified body of dominant values and beliefs (e.g., liberalism, conservatism, socialism, etc.). Trump shows little evidence of a coherent ideology in that more restrictive sense, except in the most debased, banalized, and undisciplined set of ways. On the other hand, he does see and read the world through a definite set of lenses, on the basis of assumptions, prejudices, bits and pieces of ideas and rhetoric, fragmentary citations, visceral impulses, and unconscious understandings, whose coherence is certainly available to be reconstructed — as an imaginary relation to his actual conditions of existence, in Louis Althusser’s famous phrase. Trump, of course, has an outlook whose coherence can be found. But this isn’t organized around, or even consciously derived from, any codified core of texts or ideas. It’s the opposite of any formal system of belief. It’s more a matrix of dispositions, a bunch of master tropes centered narcissistically around toxic masculinity, monstrously selfish desires, acquisitiveness and wealth, “America,” violence, success, dominance, loyalty, power, and so forth.
In grasping fascist specificities in any particular period or place, likewise, we need to separate what I’ve argued is the portable core — deadly political violence, heedless antidemocracy, and exclusionary nationalism, plus misogynist masculinity and a brazenly adversarial political aesthetic — from fascism’s particular discursive formations and ideological resources, such as Hindutva or white Christian nationalism. Fascists over the years have been very adept at appropriating, repurposing, and rearticulating ideas, images, and techniques from elsewhere, including from their direct opponents and bitterest enemies. The very coupling of “National” and “Socialism” occurred right at the inception, after all. Benito Mussolini learned his politics as a Socialist Party maximalist before 1914–15. During 1919–1923, the Left’s mass-based political forms proved one vital source for the fascists’ own political techniques and mass-celebrating aesthetic. So Modi is a really good example of that inventiveness and syncretism. Religion has always been a complicated but fertile field of ideas, practices, and associations for fascists, whether past or present. See, for instance, Richard Steigmann-Gall’s now classic The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945.
Inside the Imperial Core
MEMO: What is NOPEC, the US bill to pressure the OPEC+ oil group?
US legislation that could open members of oil producing group OPEC+ to antitrust lawsuits has emerged as a possible tool to tackle high fuel prices, after the body said it would slash production despite lobbying by the Biden administration.
The No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels (NOPEC) bill, which passed a Senate committee 17-4 on May 5, is intended to protect US consumers and businesses from engineered oil spikes.
But some analysts warn that implementing it could also have some dangerous unintended consequences.
Jacobin: The European Union Is Deliberately Leaving Migrants Abandoned at Sea
On a summer night in 2020, a boy of not quite eighteen slipped below the waterline in the Aegean Sea, somewhere between the western edge of Turkey and the Greek coastline.
The physical process of drowning at sea is sometimes over in under a minute, when sped up by the struggle to breathe as saltwater fills one’s lungs and cuts off the supply of oxygen. But the youth in the water did not go quietly. He had no intention of dying. He wouldn’t have come this far, across nations and continents, but for a wild hope of living. He tried to stay above water for as long as he could.
We know what happened chiefly because there was a witness. His friend Jeancy — also still a teenager at this point — was meters away, clutching the sides of a dinghy as high waves hurled it about, watching powerlessly as he went under.
The maritime environment is cruel and unforgiving. But this was no unlucky shipwreck. Jeancy says that the waves were generated deliberately, thrown up by the maneuvering wake of a Greek coast guard boat at the borders of the European Union (EU). “They intended to kill us,” says Jeancy. Even in the most generous interpretation, the coast guards were indifferent to the deadly danger their actions posed to the men, women, children, and baby on board the dinghy. Jeancy recalls the guards watching in amusement as his friends drowned. Their laughter may have been the last thing he heard. The guards made no attempt to retrieve the body.
Too late, Jeancy and the others were finally brought aboard the Greek boat. But this was no rescue. He recalls that some of them were beaten, and their personal effects were stolen. They were forced onto overcrowded rafts with no means of navigation — far more dangerous than the dinghy they had left — and marooned in open water. After drifting back toward Anatolia for hours, they were eventually rescued and detained by Turkish coast guards.
Jeancy attempted to cross the Aegean several times. The time he watched his friend’s death was the second crossing. On the first occasion he got within meters of the Greek shoreline and experienced the first incident in a soon-to-be-familiar pattern. “We were told we were safe and could turn off the engine,” he later recalled to parliamentarians. Then guards, hooded to avoid recognition, “began to search us, and took everything we had — phones, bags, the clothes that kept us warm.”
On his third crossing attempt, Jeancy reached land. He was part of a group of eighteen people, including three pregnant women and three children, who came ashore in the sandy south of Lesbos, Greece, late one evening in November. They were intercepted by police, strip-searched, beaten, held on a bus for hours without food or water, and finally once again taken to sea and put on dangerous rafts.
Jeancy was no seafarer — he had never even been taught to swim. What possesses a young man to stare death in the face and keep going back? In Jeancy’s case, it was the sense that he had no other choice. After his father died when he was fifteen, his family was persecuted and tortured. Eventually he fled his Congolese home, arriving in Turkey in the winter of 2019. In Turkey there was no safety, no chance of building a new life, and every possibility he would be forced home. In Europe, at least theoretically, he would have access to a fair asylum process and the ability to resume his study of Latin philosophy and literature that he began in Kinshasa. “I want to have a place where I am at peace, where I can sleep,” he says. In practice, of course, he was denied even the chance to apply for asylum.
Jeancy survived his ordeal — physically at least. And then he decided to seek justice. He met with front-LEX, an organization founded by concerned lawyers and activists to address the lack of legal accountability for European Union migration policy, and particularly for the EU border force Frontex, which the organization’s name is a nod to. Jeancy’s case has now launched at the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). A man left for dead by the shock troops of Europe’s border army has now come to fight that army in court.
Outside the Imperial Core
Responsible Statecraft: The myth of an emerging ‘Mideast NATO’
To contain what it perceives as an Iranian threat, Israel is seeking greater military cooperation with Gulf Arab states, even speaking of a “Mideast NATO”. But such talk appears premature at best.
There is no mistaking Israel’s eagerness. It has been developing below-the-radar bilateral security relationships with Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for some time, hoping to establish an explicitly anti-Iran defence alliance. It has repeatedly sounded the alarm about Iran’s increasing influence in the Middle East, as well as its collaboration with non-state armed actors such as Hizbollah in Lebanon, the Huthis in Yemen and the Popular Mobilisation paramilitaries in Iraq. It is even more concerned about Iran’s nuclear program, and it will remain so regardless of whether U.S. and Iranian negotiators succeed in reviving the 2015 deal constraining Iran’s nuclear activity. If the deal is restored and sanctions are lifted, Israel fears that Tehran will gain access to significant new funds to further project its power in the region. If the agreement falls apart, it will enhance the prospect of Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb, which would shake up the military balance in the region and beyond. At present, Israel’s nuclear capabilities, which it has never publicly acknowledged, make it the only nuclear weapons state in the Middle East.
Against this backdrop, Israeli officials and parts of the Israeli media presented President Biden’s visit in July as an endorsement of an Israeli-Gulf Arab military alliance, even suggesting that an agreement on a joint air defence system was imminent. But Israel’s ambition seems to go too far for the Gulf states, which declined to give a lift to Israel’s hopeful messaging.
Yes, ties between Israel and the Gulf states are growing stronger. The UAE and Bahrain have been rapidly normalising their relations with Israel since signing the Abraham Accords, which paved the way to full diplomatic ties, in 2020. Israel’s former prime minister, Naftali Bennett, visited Bahrain in February and the UAE in June; Israel concluded its first free trade agreement with an Arab country with the UAE in May (and has started free trade talks with Bahrain); and tourists have been travelling in both directions. Israel agreed to sell an air defence system to the UAE and unmanned aircraft and anti-drone systems to Bahrain. A senior official at the Bahraini foreign ministry also confirmed that Israel’s Mossad is “present” in the kingdom, engaged in intelligence cooperation.
But there are limits. Abu Dhabi and Manama share the view of other Gulf capitals that military alliance with Israel against Tehran would carry too great a risk of provoking a war with Iran, with only limited benefits. Hence, they are expressly distancing themselves from anything that would put them at loggerheads with Iran. They will likely stay this course whether the nuclear deal talks succeed or fail.