Global Events, the United Nations, and Disease
Financial Times: Global stocks fall as US export controls hit chipmakers
European and Asian shares dropped on Tuesday as investors fretted about rising interest rates and the impact of US export restrictions on the world’s biggest chipmakers.
The regional Stoxx 600 fell 0.5 per cent at the open, while Germany’s Dax index dropped 0.7 per cent.
In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 1.7 per cent to its lowest point in nearly 11 years as tougher restrictions from Washington on the export of critical technology rippled across the tech sector.
Semiconductor and related technology shares have dropped sharply since Washington launched new export controls last week to restrict Beijing’s plans for technological self-sufficiency. The restrictions limit the sales of semiconductors made with US technology, unless vendors obtain an export licence.
The Philadelphia Semiconductor index lost 3.5 per cent on Monday, after China’s biggest semiconductor groups lost a combined $8.6bn in market capitalisation earlier in the day.
On Tuesday, Japanese, South Korean and Taiwanese semiconductor groups, which had been shielded from the market fallout of the new bans by a Monday holiday, all fell. Japan’s Topix closed down 1.9 per cent.
RT: Wheat prices rise sharply on Ukraine deal fears – Bloomberg
Wheat prices jumped nearly 8% on Monday on news of explosions in the Ukrainian capital and other cities, trading data shows. According to analysts who spoke to Bloomberg, the rising prices are due to the escalation in the conflict between Moscow and Kiev, which has placed the Ukraine grain deal, due to expire in about a month, in jeopardy.
“The beginning of the week could be very nervous with the risk of increased tensions in the Black Sea basin,” Paris-based analytics firm Agritel told Bloomberg in a note.
Chicago wheat futures rose to $9.48 a bushel around 16:00 GMT, a 7.7% increase. Other grains, including corn and soybeans, also rose.
Overall, wheat prices have so far surged 19% year-on-year.
Iraqi News: G7 to hold crisis talks on Russia’s bombing blitz in Ukraine
The United States and other G7 powers will hold crisis talks Tuesday on Russia’s recent bombing blitz across Ukraine, with Britain’s Liz Truss expected to insist they “must not waver one iota” in their support for Kyiv.
WSWS: Julian Assange tests positive for COVID-19
Julian Assange has contracted COVID-19. He received the test result Saturday, on the day several thousand people formed a human chain around Parliament in London to protest his persecution.
Just months before the pandemic, over 100 doctors signed an open letter to the British government warning that Assange’s life was at risk while he was kept in HMP Belmarsh—the UK’s top-security prison. When COVID-19 began to spread rapidly throughout Britain, one of the lead signatories, Dr Stephen Frost, told the World Socialist Web Site, “Given what we know about this case, Mrs Assange is right to be concerned. Julian Assange, because he is immuno-compromised, following years of arbitrary detention first in the Ecuadorian Embassy and latterly in Belmarsh prison, is necessarily at higher risk of contracting any viral or bacterial infection, including infection by coronavirus.
RT: Ukraine halts electricity exports to EU
Damage to energy infrastructure caused by Moscow’s air strikes has forced Ukraine’s government to cut off electricity exports to the EU. The strikes removed a supply source that Kiev claims helped its partners reduce their reliance on power generated with Russian natural gas.
“Today’s missile strikes, which hit the thermal generation and electrical substations, forced Ukraine to suspend electricity exports from October 11, 2022, to stabilize its own energy system,” the Ukrainian Energy Ministry said on Monday in a statement.
RT: Russia may redirect EU coal supply
Russian coal suppliers may divert trade flows elsewhere after the EU suspended coal purchases from the country, Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Novak wrote in an article published on Monday in the magazine Energy Policy.
“The possibility of increasing deliveries to Asia-Pacific countries is being considered, part of the volumes from the European market can be sent by rail to the eastern ports and border crossings,” Novak wrote, adding: “Thus, about 25 million tons can be redirected from west to east, including through the ports of the Azov-Black Sea Basin.”
He added that the Russian government, together with the Transport Ministry, will work to increase rail capacity in the Far East and the availability of maritime transport, and will also strive to accelerate the development of coal port terminals in promising export directions. It will also seek to reduce the cost and time of transportation.
RT: Major Russian bank winds down Swiss business – top official
Gazprombank will cease operations in Switzerland after “a strategic review of various options,” Chairman of the Board of Directors, Ivan Dun, said in a statement on Monday.
“The decision is the result of an in-depth strategy analysis and is being taken in close consultation with the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority [FINMA],” he clarified.
Gazprombank (Switzerland) was one of the last remaining institutions for financing trade between Russia and Switzerland after other major Russian banks became subject to Western sanctions.
Iraqi News: BoE widens action on ‘UK financial stability’ fears
The Bank of England on Tuesday unveiled yet more measures aimed at calming markets rocked by a UK budget as it warned over risks to the nation’s financial stability.
The week had already seen action taken by the BoE and UK government aimed at bringing calm to bond markets in particular as state borrowing soars.
The moves are a response to soaring UK bond yields and after the pound tumbled to a record low against the dollar since the government of new Prime Minister Liz Truss unveiled debt-fuelled tax cuts in a budget last month.
A day after it launched a temporary facility aimed at easing liquidity pressures, the central bank Tuesday said it was widening the scope of daily purchases of UK government bonds, or gilts, until Friday.
In a statement, the BoE said the latest action would “act as a further backstop to restore orderly market conditions”.
Inquirer: Kwarteng tries to calm investors but UK bonds sell off again
British finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng, who last month sparked a bond market rout with unfunded tax cuts, sought to reassure investors on Monday by bringing forward a budget announcement and naming a Treasury insider to run the department.
But a selloff of British government debt sped up again — even after the Bank of England announced more support for the fragile market — on worries about the scale of borrowing planned by Kwarteng and Prime Minister Liz Truss.
Under pressure to rebuild investor confidence, Kwarteng said he would reveal longer-term tax and spending plans and independent economic forecasts on Oct. 31, more than three weeks earlier than previously scheduled.
Climate Home News: Turn down the heating: France unveils ‘ambitious’ energy saving plan
France unveiled its energy saving plan on Thursday which aims to reduce energy consumption by 10% by 2024.
However, the plan has no binding measures, which runs in contradiction with a new regulation adopted by EU countries a week ago.
TeleSUR: Fuel Shortage Grows in France as Strikes at Refineries Continue
According to the Ministry for Energy Transition, 29.4 percent of service stations in the country were experiencing difficulties with at least one product on Monday, compared to 19 percent on Friday.
Over the weekend, TotalEnergies and the CGT agreed to start negotiations but no agreement was concluded.
Naked Capitalism: Protests Rage Across Europe, As Sanctions-Fuelled Inflation Surges and Economic Crisis Deepens
Last Friday (October 7), the 82-year old French writer Annie Ernaux won the Nobel Prize in Literature, for what the panel described as an “uncompromising” 50-year body of work exploring “a life marked by great disparities regarding gender, language and class”. A feminist and politically committed writer, Ernaux is the first French woman to win the award.
The news of her triumph was cause for celebrations, albeit brief, at the Élysée Palace, whose current resident, President Emmanuel Macron, tweeted:
“For 50 years, Annie Ernaux has written the novel of the collective and intimate memory of our country. Her voice is the voice of the freedom of women and forgotten figures of the century”.
Ernaux herself responded to the news by describing writing as a political act, a means of opening our eyes to social inequality. To that end, she uses language like “a knife”, to tear apart the veils of imagination. The next day (October 8), she turned that knife on Macron.
Ernaux’s name headed a list of 69 signatories to an open letter in the Journal du Dimanche calling for public support of an upcoming demonstration against Macron’s government, on October 16. Organisers of the demonstration accuse Macron of failing to tackle soaring prices of energy and other essentials while exploiting the ensuing crisis to obliterate what remains of the welfare state and social rights:
For many French people, fear of the end of the month is increasing. The bills are getting heavier. Receipts are skyrocketing. But salaries, pensions and welfare benefits are not rising, while the profits of some of the largest French firms are reaching new heights
This is the shock strategy: Emmanuel Macron seizes on inflation to widen the wealth gap and boost capital income, to the detriment of the rest. To let the prices of essential products and energy soar, and with them the profits of multinationals. To prevent any additional taxation on those profits. While taking advantage of inflation so that real wages collapse. By refusing to compensate local authorities, it guarantees the inevitable demolition of the public services they provide…
Neoliberals have been banging on for 40 years that there is no alternative. Do not let the heirs of Mr. Thatcher destroy hope, and liquidate our social rights. Another world is possible. Based on the satisfaction of human needs, within the limits of ecosystems. Freezing the prices of basic products and rents, increasing wages and social benefits across the board, retirement at 60, taxing superprofits, massive investments in ecological bifurcation, transport and public services… Everything is only a matter of political will, and depends on our determination.
When it comes to mobilizing large numbers of people for political protests, the French can be pretty determined. Yet there was one word that was conspicuously missing from the open letter: sanctions. Which goes to show, once again, that well-meaning, left-leaning intellectuals are incapable or unwilling to confront the elephant in the room, Europe’s self-harming sanctions against Russia, even as they threaten to plunge the European economy into an devastating depression.
Recent weeks have seen a rise in political protests in France, though most of them have garnered little attention in France or Europe’s mainstream press. Hardly a surprise given:
The protests are still relatively small in size, particularly given the urgency of the moment.
The demands of some of the protesters have included Macron’s resignation and France’s withdrawal from both NATO and the EU, for what would be the second time since the transatlantic alliance’s creation in 1949. These are hardly the sorts of ideas the corporate media want circulating in their readers/viewers/listeners’ minds.
At the same time, fuel shortages are rapidly worsening across France as a nationwide strike by workers at TotalEnergies and Exxon refineries stretches into its third week. By Monday roughly a third of fuel stations in the countries were out of at least one fuel product, according to an Energy Ministry spokesperson. As WSWS notes, refinery workers are calling for a 10% pay raise, pointing to inflation and the tens of billions of euros in “super-profits” generated by their employers:
Total refineries at Gonfreville-l’Orcher, La Mède, Feyzin, Donges and Grandpuits are affected, as are Exxon refineries at Notre Dame-de-Gravenchon and Fos. While strike actions at Donges and Grandpuits halted this weekend, it has continued in the other refineries.
Over 70 percent of refinery workers are participating in the strike, according to trade union figures. Striking workers at the Feyzin refinery emphasized the broad impact of the strike in their comments to the press: “There is no exit or entry of products in our entire refinery. This means 200 to 250 trucks per day, without counting barges and train cars, that are no longer entering or leaving the refinery.”’
Financial Times: Poland takes steps towards unlocking EU recovery funds
Poland is on track to unblock billions of euros of EU recovery funds before the end of the year, its finance minister has said, insisting that negotiators had made significant progress in talks with Brussels in the past month.
The EU has yet to advance the first tranche of cash under Poland’s Covid-19 recovery plan, which totals €36bn in grants and loans, after approving the overall programme in June. Poland is seeking to convince Brussels that it has instituted reforms that are sufficient to guarantee the independence of judges, a key demand from the European Commission.
East Asia and Oceania
TeleSUR: Chinese Mainland Reports 427 New Local Confirmed COVID-19 Cases
The Chinese mainland on Monday reported 427 locally transmitted confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 145 in Inner Mongolia and 82 in Xinjiang, according to the National Health Commission’s report Tuesday.
A total of 273 COVID-19 patients were discharged from hospitals after recovery on the Chinese mainland on Monday, bringing the total number of COVID-19 patients discharged from hospitals after recovery to 244,736.
Monday saw no new deaths from COVID-19, with the total death toll at 5,226.
Iraqi News: Hong Kong leader says he ‘laughs off’ US sanctions
Hong Kong’s leader laughed off US sanctions against him Tuesday as he defended his government’s decision not to act against a superyacht reportedly owned by a Kremlin ally.
The Nord — a $500 million luxury vessel linked to Russian billionaire Alexei Mordashov — arrived in the Chinese territory’s waters last week.
Mordashov is among the oligarchs close to Russian President Vladimir Putin who have been targeted by Western sanctions following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
On Saturday the United States warned Hong Kong could damage its business hub reputation after the city said it would not enforce sanctions on the superyacht.
Hong Kong chief executive John Lee himself is one of multiple Chinese officials sanctioned by the United States in 2020 for their roles in cracking down on political freedoms in the city.
Inquirer: Chinese chip makers’ shares slump after U.S. publishes new export rules
Shares in Chinese semiconductor companies slumped on Monday, following the latest U.S. crackdown on China’s chipmaking industry to slow Beijing’s technological and military advances.
The Biden administration published a sweeping set of export controls on Friday, including a measure to cut China off from certain semiconductor chips made anywhere in the world with U.S. equipment.
An index measuring China’s semiconductor firms tumbled about 5 percent, and Shanghai’s tech-focused board STAR Market declined nearly 3 percent in early morning trade.
Reuters: China extends currency swaps with European Central Bank
China’s central bank extended its bilateral currency swaps with European Central Bank, worth 350 billion yuan or 45 billion euros, according to a statement published on the Chinese central bank’s website on Monday.
The swaps extension will help deepen bilateral cooperation and safeguard financial market stabilization, the Chinese central bank said.
Reuters: Indian shares decline as U.S. rate hike fears weigh
Indian shares fell on Monday, pulled down by automobile and consumer stocks, and as broader investor sentiment soured after a strong U.S. jobs report triggered fears the Federal Reserve would persist with aggressive rate hikes.
The NSE Nifty 50 index (.NSEI) fell 0.43% to 17,241 at close, and the S&P BSE Sensex (.BSESN) was down 0.34% to 57,991.11. Earlier in the day, both the indexes declined over 1.4% to register their sharpest intraday drop in two weeks.
ANN: Rising inflation poses challenge to Vietnamese businesses
Vietnamese businesses are expected to face headwinds from inflation, tightening monetary policy and a growing cost-of-living crisis in many of the country’s export markets, experts have warned.
A global slowdown seems imminent as central banks embark on the highest round of interest rate hikes in decades to tackle rising inflation, they said.
Vũ Văn Hòa, general director of Dutch Technology JSC, an animal feed producer that imports raw materials, said the rise in global commodity prices and weakening of the Vietnamese đồng (VNĐ) against the dollar have sent costs surging.
Phạm Xuân Hồng, chairman of the HCM City Textile and Garment Embroidery and Knitting Association, said Việt Nam is one of the countries that are heavily dependent on imported raw materials and fuels. The selling price of the USD at banks has increased by nearly 5 per cent against the VNĐ this year to beyond VNĐ24,000.
Manufacturing activity grew at a slower pace as rising raw material costs and the worsening global outlook weighed on corporate sentiments.
While supply disruptions may have run their course, local exporters are also suffering from a slump in global demand as consumers tighten their spending due to high inflation.
Inquirer: South Korea’s Yoon says North Korea has nothing to gain from nuclear weapons
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said Tuesday that North Korea has nothing to gain from nuclear weapons, as the isolated country threatened to beef up its capability to attack its southern neighbor.
Other than not being invaded.
Inquirer: North Korea’s Kim touts new large greenhouse farm built on ex-missile test site
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has attended the opening ceremony of a new massive greenhouse farm built on a former air base where the country had test-fired missiles until last year, state media said on Tuesday.
The launch on Monday of the Ryonpho Greenhouse Farm, located in the eastern county of Hamju, was to mark the anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers’ Party, a major holiday in North Korea.
The North’s ruling party unveiled the project to transform the Ryonpho air base into a “highly automated farm” and a model for rural civilization, calling it a “top priority task” to help achieve its goal of improving people’s lives set at its key policy meeting last December.
The farm has more than 850 blocks of modern greenhouses covering 280 hectares, to be harmonized with some 1,000 houses, schools and cultural and service facilities, the official KCNA news agency said.
Kim has spearheaded the farm initiative to boost vegetable supplies and praised soldiers and workers for completing the construction in just a few months, KCNA said.
The party plans to “more dynamically and confidently push forward the overall rural development of the country with the Ryonpho Greenhouse Farm as a model,” Kim was quoted as saying at the ceremony.
He called for building more large farms, increasing the variety of vegetables to be supplied and ensuring scientific, industrialized production and management at those farms.
WSWS: New Zealand university staff hold nationwide strike
About 7,000 lecturers, researchers, tutors and non-academic staff at New Zealand’s eight universities held a half-day strike on October 6 to demand decent pay increases that keep up with the soaring cost of living.
WSWS: Australian Labor government to cut social spending to pay for tax handouts and war plans
It is now clear that in its first budget, due on October 25, Australia’s Labor government will retain planned massive income tax cuts for the wealthy, while starting to further slash health and disability services and escalate military spending in preparation for a US-led war against China.
Yesterday, in line with a barrage of warnings and demands from corporate media headlines and editorials, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese ruled out any reversal of Labor’s pledge to implement “Stage Three” tax cuts for high-income households in 2024. This means an unprecedented bonanza for the rich, on top of two previous tax cut packages.
At the same time, Labor’s already-ditched May election slogan of “a better future” has been replaced by chilling warnings from Albanese, Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Defence Minister Richard Marles of “global economic storms” and “the most challenging circumstances” since World War II.
Central Asia and the Middle East
Reuters: Iran’s morality police sanctioned by UK for ‘repression of women’
Britain said on Monday it had sanctioned senior Iranian security officials and the country’s “so-called Morality Police”, saying the force had used threats of detention and violence to control what Iranian women wear and how they behave in public.
United Arab Emirates
Reuters: UAE president to meet Russia’s Putin to discuss Ukraine
United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan will travel to Russia on Tuesday to meet with President Vladimir Putin, UAE state news agency WAM reported on Monday.
UAE’s foreign ministry said the visit aims to help reach “effective political solutions” to the Ukrainian crisis, WAM reported.
UAE seeks to “achieve positive results for military de-escalation, reduce humanitarian repercussions, and reach a political settlement to achieve global peace and security,” the ministry added.
MEMO: Syria regime signs new agreements for wheat imports from Russia
The Syrian regime of Bashar Al-Assad has signed new agreements to purchase and import wheat from its ally, Russia, as Syria’s domestic wheat yield and supplies continue to be insufficient this year.
According to the regime-owned news outlet, Tishreen, last Thursday, Syrian Minister of Internal Trade, Amr Salem, met with Russian public sector company representatives, in which they agreed to follow up on previous contracts for Russia’s supply of wheat to Syria.
TeleSUR: Uganda Marks 60th Independence Anniversary
Africanews: Food shortages and rising food prices hit Tunisia
Tunisians have been hit with soaring food prices and shortages of basic staples in recent weeks, threatening to turn simmering discontent in the North African country - the cradle of the Arab Spring protests - into larger turmoil.
Sugar, vegetable oil, rice and even bottled water periodically disappear from supermarkets and grocery stores.
People stand in line for hours for these food essentials that have long been subsidized and are now increasingly available in rations only.
And when they appear on the shelves, many people cannot afford to pay the staggering price for them.
AllAfrica: Government Promised IMF Big Wage and Staff Cuts
The government promised the IMF big wage and staff cuts in order to gain IMF approval in May of a $456 mn Extended Credit Facility. The total civil service wage bill is to be cut by 17% by 2026, a cut of $425 mn per year from a peak in 2023. Staff cuts will be achieved “by replacing only one in three civil servants leaving the civil service, except in education, health, justice and agriculture.”
The IMF has always been obsessed with cutting the wage bill, but has never succeeded. And the new salary table will add $300 mn to the wage bill by 2023, mainly to the better paid. But large cuts must come in the three years after that.
Except for that, the IMF has largely accepted promises made before, such as a reduction in credit to state companies and more transparency.
Reuters: JPMorgan CEO Dimon warns of recession in 6 to 9 months
JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said the United States and the global economy could tip into a recession by the middle of the next year, CNBC reported on Monday.
Common Dreams: Top Fed Official Says Corporate Price Hikes Are Fueling Inflation
Progressives on Monday pointed to remarks by Federal Reserve Vice Chair Lael Brainard acknowledging the role of corporate profiteering in exacerbating inflation to underscore their opposition to interest rate hikes and other monetary tightening that favors Big Business over workers.
While attributing high inflation to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Brainard—who was addressing a meeting of the National Association for Business Economics in Chicago—asserted that “there is ample room for margin recompression to help reduce goods inflation” in the retail economy.
“Retail margins have increased 20% since the onset of the pandemic, roughly double the 9% increase in average hourly earnings by employees in that sector,” she noted. “In the auto sector, where the real inventory-to-sales ratio is 20% below its pre-pandemic level, the retail margin for motor vehicles sold at dealerships has increased by more than 180% since February 2020, 10 times the rise in average hourly earnings within that sector.”
Brainard’s nod to what one observer called “the elephant in the room” was secondary to her insistence that monetary tightening in the form of higher interest rates is the best way to tackle inflation.
Financial Times: US property sector braces for job cuts as rate rises crush home sales
Realtors, mortgage brokers, and appraisers across the US are bracing for widespread job cuts as home sales plummet amid rising interest rates.
For those who work in and around the housing market, the effect of aggressive moves by the Federal Reserve to reduce inflation has been swift and severe.
“It went from feast to famine, from everybody buying to turtle slow,” said Linda McCoy, board president of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers.
Realtors, mortgage brokers, appraisers, and construction groups say they have lost as much as 80 per cent of their revenue since the Fed started raising rates in March. Rates for a 30-year fixed mortgage — at 6.66 per cent — have nearly doubled since and are now at their highest level since 2008.
Home sales quickly plunged as higher borrowing costs and recession fears discouraged buyers. Nearly 20 per cent fewer homes were sold this August than during the same month last year, according to the National Association of Realtors. For realtors and mortgage brokers, who mostly work on commission, the changing market has decimated their livelihoods and pushed others out of the field altogether.
Jacobin: Alabama Miners are Holding Firm on the Longest Ongoing Strike in the US
Miners in Alabama went on strike in April 2021 after the company hit them with wage and benefit cuts. A year and a half later, with the company continuing to post record profits, the miners and their families are still on strike — and still refusing to back down.
Common Dreams: ‘A Huge Deal’: Major Rail Union Rejects White House-Brokered Contract Proposal
A union representing railroad maintenance and construction workers on Monday announced that its members have rejected the tentative agreement reached last month between unions and rail carriers, putting pressure on the carriers to offer a better deal to workers in order to avoid a nationwide strike in the coming weeks.
Reporting a turnout of 11,845 members, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division (BMWED) said that 6,646 people had voted against ratifying the agreement and 5,100 had supported the deal, which was brokered last month with the help of the Biden administration’s Presidential Emergency Board. Ninety-nine ballots were returned blank or were voided due to user errors.
The tentative agreement reached last month would include one additional paid day off and permit workers to take unpaid days to receive medical care without being penalized by carriers' strict attendance policies—two key concessions from the companies, as railroad workers' unions had expressed deep dissatisfaction with attendance rules and a lack of any paid sick time.
The deal also would include a 24% pay raise between 2020 and 2024 and would freeze workers' monthly contributions for their healthcare plans.
After the tentative agreement was reached on September 15, the railroad sector’s unions agreed not to strike as workers across the industry voted on the deal.
Now, said the BMWED—the nation’s third-largest rail workers' union and a division of the Teamsters—on Monday, a work stoppage could begin as early as November 19, depending on the upcoming votes by other unions.
Labor Notes journalist Jonah Furman called the BMWED vote “a huge deal,” as a strike by the union’s members “would shut down the national rail freight system” by itself.
The last nationwide railway shutdown took place in 1992, when a single union voted against a contract agreement and went on strike.
After November 19th? So long as it’s after November 8th, it’s all good for the Democrats.
Caribbean and South America
Reuters: Haiti wants U.S., Canada to lead anti-gang strike force, diplomat says
Africanews: Thousands protest government’s call for international armed force
Thousands of Haitians demonstrated Monday in Port-au-Prince to protest against the government and its call for foreign assistance to deal with endemic insecurity, a humanitarian crisis and a burgeoning cholera epidemic.
TeleSUR: Cubans Start Tree Planting Program in Havana
Over the weekend, the Cuban government and grassroots organizations undertook an initiative to “green” the city of Havana by planting trees that will replace aging trees affected by extreme weather events.
Cubans are replacing over 1,000 trees that were affected by the strong winds and rains that hit their country during the passage of Hurricane Ian. The city’s nurseries are even ready to replace some 240,000 aging trees.
Al Jazeera: EU declares Nicaraguan envoy ‘persona non grata’ as tensions rise
The European Union has said it is declaring the head of Nicaragua’s delegation to the European bloc “persona non grata”, just weeks after the Central American nation expelled the EU ambassador.
In a statement on Monday, the EU said its decision was “a reciprocal response to the decision by the Nicaraguan government on 28 September to declare the head of the EU Delegation to Nicaragua as persona non grata”.
TeleSUR: Guatemala Declares State of Calamity After Tropical Storm Julia
Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei declared a state of calamity on Monday to address the damage caused by tropical storm Julia, now downgraded to a tropical depression.
TeleSUR: Honduran Authorities Declare Maximum Alert Due to Julia Threat
The Government of Honduras decreed this Sunday the Red Alert, maximum in its risk scale, before the eventual onslaught of tropical storm Julia, whose bands of rains already caused floods in several departments of the country.
TeleSUR: ALBA-TCP Nations Show Solidarity With Venezuela After Landslide
On Saturday, intense rains recorded in the Las Tejerias area caused five streams to overflow and water and solid material to slide over residential areas.
The countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America-Peoples Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP) expressed their solidarity with the Venezuelan people, after the damage caused by the rains in Las Tejerias community, which left 22 citizens dead and 52 people disappeared.
In a letter sent to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega expressed his deep sadness at a tragedy caused by the “climate madness” that is affecting many countries in the world.
WSWS: Peru lifts safety measures against COVID
Peru’s Ministry of Health (Minsa) recently announced that the mask mandate implemented at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic is ending. This was confirmed in detail by the government on September 29 in Supreme Decree 118-2022-PCM.
The decree provides that masking will only be mandatory in health establishments, on public ground transport, in closed places without ventilation, and for individuals presenting symptoms of COVID-19 infection.
COVID-19 vaccination cards will no longer be required for entry to shopping centers, markets, supermarkets, sports associations, entertainment venues (discotheques, salsódromos, pubs and the like), concerts, theaters, cinemas, gyms, churches, restaurants and similar crowded areas.
In treating the virus as “under control,” Minsa is bowing to the dictates of Peru’s bourgeoisie and foreign investors that Peru’s working class and rural masses must learn to “live with the virus” so profits can be assured.
Minsa’s flimsy justifications for these abrupt policy reversals consisted of a slight decrease in infections and deaths in September, and an increase in COVID vaccination numbers. According to Minsa, the number of people inoculated with at least one dose has reached 29,859,497, or 89 percent of the population, and those with two doses 28,203,284, or 84 percent.
But the number of citizens with three doses is significantly lower, 20,647,039, or only 62 percent. Meanwhile, less than 15 percent of the population in Peru, under five million, have received a fourth dose, which is widely advocated by the world scientific community for vulnerable people.
The Ukraine Proxy Conflict
RT: Belarus announces troop deal with Russia
Russia and Belarus have begun forming a joint force, which will include several thousand Russian troops, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko announced on Monday during a security meeting. He said the move comes in response to increased aggression from Kiev and the West.
The Belarusian leader said that the plan was decided on when he held a face-to-face meeting with Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of an informal CIS summit in St. Petersburg last week. “In response to the aggravation on the western border of the Union State [of Russia and Belarus], we agreed to deploy a regional grouping of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus,” Lukashenko said.
He noted that since most of Russia’s troops are currently busy with the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the core of this joint force will consist of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus, but there will nevertheless be “more than one thousand Russian soldiers.” Lukashenko added that the formation of this group has been under way for the past two days.
To my knowledge, Russia has struck power plants but none of the biggest ones, leaving them intact, and so has still not fully escalated its attacks on Ukraine - perhaps wisely, depending on what the overall plan is now that Surovikin is the general in charge.
Financial Times: Russians awakening to cost of Putin’s invasion, says UK spy chief
“We know — and Russian commanders on the ground know — that their supplies and munitions are running out. Russia’s forces are exhausted. The use of prisoners to reinforce, and now the mobilisation of tens of thousands of inexperienced conscripts, speaks of a desperate situation,” Fleming said.
Common Dreams: Russia Bombs Kyiv and Other Major Cities in Massive Attack on Ukraine
Russian forces launched a wide-ranging attack on Ukraine Monday, bombarding at least 10 cities—including the nation’s capital, Kyiv—in an assault seen as retaliation for an explosion over the weekend that damaged a key bridge linking Russia with Crimea.
In a video released Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the deadly blast on the 12-mile strategic bridge “an act of terrorism aimed at destroying critically important civilian infrastructure.”
“This was devised, carried out, and ordered by the Ukrainian special services,” Putin declared.
Moon of Alabama: Ukraine - War Propaganda And News Items
Today Russia’s missile and drone onslaught on Ukrainian infrastructure continues. I yesterday posted 25 headlines which over the last 7 month predicted that Russia would soon ‘run out of missiles’.
For laughs: The ‘coping’ mechanism after yesterday’s 200+ missile and drones is the very same I had debunked:
“As horrible as today was for Ukraine today, the sliver of good news here is that Russia likely can’t sustain this rate of missile launches. It’s very telling that they have not had this rate of long range fires since the start of the war.”
The NY Times is lying: “With Civilian Attacks, Putin Gives Hard-Liners What They Wanted”
‘Civilian attacks’ when, as the NYT itself reports, only 14 persons were killed and less than 100 wounded yesterday during 200+ missile and drone strikes:
The attacks killed at least 14 and wounded scores of others, while countless more in cities across Ukraine were terrified by dozens of incoming missiles explicitly targeting civilian infrastructure.
How many of those were killed by Ukrainian air defense misses is not known. It is sad that people get killed in a war but sometimes unavoidable.
The Ukraine military has killed way more civilians by its artillery strikes on Donetsk city. In 2003 U.S. ‘shock and awe’ in Baghdad killed at least 10,000 people. Israel kills hundreds of civilians during each of its frequent onslaughts on Gaza. Russia is obviously avoiding to kill civilians but still gets accused of doing it.
Who is really killing Ukrainian civilians?
[from Max Blumenthal] “We haven’t any time to put them in jail. They disappeared… somewhere”
A local official jokes of massacring pro-Russian citizens of Ukraine in towns vacated by Russian forces
The human rights industry is basically forbidden from acknowledging this
Grayzone: EXPOSED: Before Ukraine blew up Kerch Bridge, British spies plotted it
The Grayzone has obtained an April 2022 presentation drawn up for senior British intelligence officers hashing out an elaborate scheme to blow up Crimea’s Kerch Bridge with the involvement of specially trained Ukrainian soldiers. Almost six months after the plan was circulated, Kerch Bridge was attacked in an October 8th suicide bombing apparently overseen by Ukraine’s SBU intelligence services.
Detailed proposals for providing “audacious” support to Kiev’s “maritime raiding operations” were drafted at the request of Chris Donnelly, a senior British Army intelligence operative and veteran high ranking NATO advisor. The wide-ranging plan’s core component was “destruction of the bridge over the Kerch Strait.”
Documents and correspondence plotting the operation were provided to The Grayzone by an anonymous source.
The truck bombing of the Kerch Bridge differed operationally from the plot sketched therein. Yet, Britain’s evident interest in planning such an attack underscores the deep involvement of NATO powers in the Ukraine proxy war. At almost precisely the time that London reportedly sabotaged peace talks between Kiev and Moscow in April this year, British military intelligence operatives were drawing up blueprints to destroy a major Russian bridge crossed by thousands of civilians per day.
Across three separate pages, alongside diagrams, the author spells out the terms of the “mission” – “[disabling] the Kerch Bridge in a way that is audacious, disrupts road and rail access to Crimea and maritime access to the Sea of Azov.”
Ward suggests that destroying the bridge “would require a cruise missile battery to hit the two concrete pillars either side of the central steel arch, which will cause a complete structural failure,” and “prevent any road re-supply from the Russian mainland to Crimea and temporally [sic] disrupt the shipping lane.”
An alternative “scheme” entails a “team of attack divers or UUVs [unmanned underwater vehicles] equipped with limpet mines and linear cutting charges” targeting a “key weakness” and “design flaw” in the bridge’s pillars.
This “flaw” is “several thin pylons used to support the main span,” which were intended to allow strong currents to flow underneath the Bridge with minimal friction. Ward pinpoints a particular area in which the depth of water around a set of pillars was just 10 meters, making it the “weakest part” of the structure.
In related emails obtained by The Grayzone, Chris Donnelly, the senior British army intelligence operative and former NATO advisor, declared the proposals to be “very impressive indeed.”
Responsible Statecraft: Former Joint Chiefs chair calls for talks to end Ukraine war
A former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman said on Sunday that the United States needs to work toward ending the war in Ukraine as soon as possible, amid reports of escalating violence and talk of increased threats of nuclear weapons use.
Analysis and Retrospectives
The Left, Broadly Construed
Common Dreams: Can the US Labor Movement Rise Again?
On August 4, hundreds of Amazon warehouse workers in Tilbury, Essex, England, organized their own wildcat strike. Angry at a paltry raise offer—thirty-five pence (forty-seven cents) an hour, when the U.K. inflation rate is currently more than 10 percent—the workers, most of whom are not union members, sat down in one of the canteens at the warehouse, demanding to speak to a supervisor.
“When we got there, all of our managers, area managers, HR, and loss prevention officers were looking at us all,” one of the workers wrote in Notes from Below. “None of them had a clue about what to do with a large group of angry workers.” The strike rolled over the night shift and into the next day, and spread to eleven different Amazon facilities.
While occurring at a warehouse, rather than a factory, the strike raised echoes of the famous Flint sit-down strike of 1936-1937, in Michigan, which led to a historic victory for the United Auto Workers (UAW) at General Motors. It was new tactics like the sit-down strike, tailored for the massive factories of that period, that made the new Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) and its member unions, like the UAW, successful, and contributed to the meteoric rise of union power in the 1930s.
Today, organized labor is weakened around the world, particularly in the United States, where less than 12 percent of workers have a union. Unions have struggled to keep up with the changes in production practices, fighting rearguard actions against deindustrialization, and often neglecting the service industry entirely. Public-sector unions have become the backbone of the labor movement, with teachers' unions being the brightest spot in recent years.
Like GM was, Amazon is the iconic employer of our period of capitalism, one that has been notoriously hard for unions to penetrate. But the rapid rise this year of private-sector, service, and logistics-work unions, most notably the Amazon Labor Union and the Starbucks Workers United campaign, has created a sense of momentum that has many observers looking back to the early days of the CIO for inspiration. What would it take to have a new CIO moment—a wave of organizing that brings millions of new workers into the labor movement, changing the balance of power between employers and the working class and reversing the spiraling inequality of the past few decades?
Despite the English warehouse workers' perhaps unknowing adaptation of the Flint auto workers' tactic, Marilyn Sneiderman, longtime organizer and executive director of the Center for Innovation in Worker Organization at Rutgers University, notes that the real lesson of the CIO period was that of a different type of organizing for a different type of workforce. The CIO was formed after the existing American Federation of Labor (AFL) had chosen not to organize the new mass-production industries; labor leaders who disagreed with this decision, notably John L. Lewis, president of the United Mine Workers of America, broke away to form a new federation that would focus on organizing the workers previously scorned as unorganizable.
It is often hard to explain in 2022 that coal miners and auto workers were once considered unskilled, bottom of the barrel, and not worth unions' time. They are, after all, the iconic union workers of a thousand nostalgic paeans to the midcentury golden years of the U.S. labor movement. Even as deindustrialization has winnowed their ranks, these workers are courted on the campaign trail by the right—notoriously, by Donald Trump—as well as by progressive politicians and, recently, mainstream Democrats.
Yet, today, it is the previously unorganizable workers on the march. Petitions for union elections were up 57 percent in the first half of 2022, and a big chunk of that figure has been Starbucks unions—more than 220 of which have already been certified as victories for the workers at the time of this writing, a number that will almost certainly be higher by the time you read it—but victories are also happening at Chipotle, Trader Joe’s, and other food service and retail companies.
Fast-food workers have, of course, organized before, notably in the Fight for $15 campaign backed by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), beginning in 2012. But this wave is different in two major ways: It is worker-led, and it is winning union elections.
“It feels like there are so many possibilities in the world right now,” Sneiderman says. “Workers are angry, parents are angry, students are angry, BIPOC folks are angry, women are angry. The level of anger is there. The question is, what’s the strategy to capture that and move people?”
She warns against trying to simplistically recreate the CIO, though. “The world and the economy are so different now. History doesn’t repeat itself exactly, but there are ingredients that we should pay attention to.”
The CIO, she notes, benefited from the momentum generated by overlapping protest movements: tenant, immigrant, and anti-racist organizing, all in response to the massive crisis of the Great Depression. Against this background of desperation—something that, after years of economic crisis and pandemic, today’s workers certainly feel—the organizers of the 1930s were willing to put resources behind a new path for organizing.
And that, Sneiderman says, is what unions and organizers should emulate. “This is a time for some massive experimentation, some radical risk-taking, pushing every boundary.”
This is about half the article, so click on it if you’re interested in reading further.
Jacobin: How Australian Women Won the Right to Abortion
Inside the Imperial Core
Naked Capitalism: EU Imposes Secondary Sanctions on Russian Steel in Eighth Sanctions Package. Is Türkiye the Target?
Frustrated with their inability to sink the Russian economy as sanctions blowback continues to bite the so-called collective West, the US and EU have been trying to find new ways to impose costs on Russia. The latest is in the scraping-the-bottom-of-the-barrel eight round of EU sanctions on Russia, of sanctioning a third country that tries selling a product to the EU that has Russian steel in it. Except there could be some method in this seeming madness. It may be another measure to punish Türkiye, which in the eyes of the US and the other NATO members, has gotten altogether too cozy with Russia.
As much as the US/NATO countries fulminated about how other countries should not do business with nasty Russia and have saber-rattled about imposing secondary sanctions, so far they’ve gotten a lot of mileage without trying secondary sanctions, which risk being ignored, or in the case of China, retaliation. Bank sanctions, sanctions on Russian tankers, and self sanctioning has had plenty of impact on commerce, but not in the way the West intended in terms of who is bearing the big costs. For instance, African countries have made clear that sanctions on financial institution have made it hard for them to buy fertilizer, yet the US takes the position that they haven’t sanctions Russian fertilizer, so they have nothing to do with the other impediments to buying it (much the less the resulting increase in hunger).
China, India, the Saudis, Türkiye, and the Global South have for the most part ignored US pressure to stop doing business with Russia, particularly purchases of energy. Notice on this supposedly top-priority initiative, the G-7 is not attempting to impose secondary sanctions. The US has repeatedly tried arm-twisting countries to follow the G-7 oil cap scheme, which is still scheduled to go into effect, despite the most likely result being a spike in oil prices and a fracturing of the oil market. It will soon be a misnomer to call many important Russian raw materials “commodities” if markets for them become balkanized.
So what to make of the generally-ignored steel sanctions in the eighth EU package? Two factors to keep in mind: steel has generally been in global oversupply. European steel is set to be very uncompetitive as a result of high energy costs. Thus just the way the EU cutting itself off from Russia energy will lead to de-industrialization, blocking access to Russian energy-intensive products will only make matters worse.
2020 data shows that Türkiye’s leading exports to the EU sure look like they’d have a fair bit of steel in them:
The EU’s imports from Turkey were worth €62.6 billion and were led by machinery and transport equipment (€24.1 billion, 38.5%), clothing (€8.3 billion, 13.3%), and agriculture and raw materials (€5.3 billion, 8.5%).
Recall that the US and EU are furious that NATO member Türkiye signed a big economic deal with Russia and is also agreed to buy a second batch of the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft system. The US threatened to sanction Türkiye banks and kick them off SWIFT if they adopted Russia’s Mir card and they all backed off. Nevertheless, Russia and Türkiye are looking at other arrangements, albeit likely more combersome.
Former British civil servant David thinks this scheme is fraught:
The obvious issues are how the fact that the steel is of Russian origin would be known/policed in practice (are all steel products coming into the EU going to be tested? Are they going to disassemble washing machines?) and whether they even have the right to do this under WTO rules. This effectively makes other nations into agents of the EU in enforcing sanctions. How are the Chinese going to like this?
Keep your eyes out as to if and when other shoes drop. Türkiye has never gotten much respect from Europe despite its geopolitical importance. Ironically, one big reason Türkiye might continue to accept this abuse is that it will want NATO and the EU as a counterweight to Russia if Russia takes Odessa.
Responsible Statecraft: Washington huffs and puffs — but its adversaries aren’t shaking
North Korea continues to test missiles, unsettling its neighbors and thwarting U.S. policy. In early October Pyongyang shot off two short-range missiles, triggering a United Nations Security Council debate.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s testing program appears to have taken an ominous turn. Nikkei Asia’s Junnosuke Kobara explained: “Kim Jong-un’s regime is spotlighting missiles that have reached mass production, rather than showing off its technological developments for new weapons.”
By showcasing its warfighting capabilities Pyongyang is enhancing deterrence, reinforcing the military case against Washington attempting a preventative strike against North Korea’s nuclear assets. Explained Pyongyang: “The missile test launch by the DPRK is a regular and planned self-defensive step for defending the country’s security and the regional peace from the U.S. direct military threats that have lasted for more than half a century.”
Indeed, Pyongyang is mimicking the United States. Washington recently deployed the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan to Northeast Asia. Indo-Pacific Command issued a statement on the carrier’s arrival to reassure Washington’s security dependents: “The U.S. commitments to the defense of the Republic of Korea and Japan remain ironclad.”
Reported the New York Post: “A U.S. aircraft carrier arrived in South Korea on Friday for the first time in about four years, set to join other military vessels in a show of force intended to send a message to North Korea, officials said.”
It’s a familiar U.S. tactic. Nor are aircraft carriers Washington’s only messenger. In 2017 Trump sent two B-1 bombers over South Korea, with a focus on the North.
With or without such deployments, it is likely that not a day has gone by without Kim thinking about the destructive power of the U.S. military. In fact, that is the best explanation for North Korea’s missile and nuclear developments. The North’s continuing tests remind potentially forgetful allied officials that the DPRK has scores of nukes and even more missiles, with increasing range.
North Korea is not the only target of U.S. messaging. In early September the Biden administration deployed two B-52s to the Middle East. Nuclear-capable B-52s, the military emphasized. “Threats to the U.S. and our partners will not go unanswered,” announced Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich: “Missions like this … showcase our ability to combine forces to deter and, if necessary, defeat our adversaries.”
By which he meant Iran.
Washington appears to believe that the Iranian leadership is even more forgetful than North Korea’s. The Pentagon staged a similar flyover in June. A year ago the Biden administration used a different plane as its messenger. Reported the Associated Press: “The U.S. Air Force said Sunday it flew a B-1B strategic bomber over key maritime chokepoints in the Mideast with allies including Israel amid ongoing tensions with Iran as its nuclear deal with world powers remains in tatters.”
In January 2021 Washington staged another two-B-52 fly-by. Explained CNN: “The U.S. military flew two B-52 bombers to the Middle East … from their base in the United States—the fourth such deployment and show of force by the U.S. Air Force aimed at sending a message to Iran in the past two months.”
Also well-publicized are regional visits by American aircraft carriers. The U.S.S Nimitz was deployed in April 2020, succeeding the U.S.S Abraham Lincoln, sent the previous May. In Spring 2020 the U.S. Navy had two carriers on station. Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of Central Command, said he “would caution Iran and its proxies from attempting a response that would endanger U.S. and coalition forces or our partners.”
Alas, there is no evidence that the intended targets of these military messages are intimidated by ritualistic shows of force. Even some hawkish analysts scorn this approach. Kathryn Wheelbarger and Dustin Walker, who served in the executive and legislative branches, respectively, observed: “Sending the most advanced and expensive U.S. conventional forces to the Middle East in response to every potential provocation isn’t an effective or sustainable way to deter Iran’s bad behavior. Continuing this approach wastes taxpayer dollars, drains military readiness, and deprives the U.S. of ready forces needed to compete with and deter China and Russia.”
David B. Larter of Defense News raised similar concerns: “there’s ample evidence that the deployment draws forces away from operations aimed at deterring China and Russia — something on which the U.S. is supposed to focus per its National Defense Strategy. Furthermore, [analysts] told Defense News that the payoff for maintaining two carriers in the region may not be worth the stinging toll it exacts on Navy readiness, adding that pursuing such as strategy will reverse the hard-won readiness gains of recent years.”
One sign of futility is the fact that these operations never result in military action. Of course, that could mean perfect deterrence. However, that seems unlikely. At least, if deterrence was perfect, it would not be necessary to keep sending ships and planes, again and again. More seriously, Tehran’s and Pyongyang’s activities, manifold, disruptive, and threatening from the standpoint of Washington and its allies, showed no evidence of ebbing.
Of course, it is difficult to prove a negative. However, North Korea remains a human rights horror, continues to bluster against its neighbors, and refuses to talk with Washington, all the while developing nuclear weapons and expanding its missile arsenal. Things could be worse, in theory, but Pyongyang does not appear to be much inhibited.
In bad communist country, people’s human rights are so ignored that there are areas where people literally cannot get drinkable water - wait, shit, that’s America. Okay, let me try again - in bad communist country, human rights are so ignored that military spending increases while there is little to no funding to help people withstand a pandemic that is making millions of people unable to work - shit, that’s America again!
Similarly, Iran’s demonstrated little evidence of effective deterrence. Although Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo play-acted as tough guys vis-à-vis Iran, they did little in response to increased nuclear activity and attacks on the U.S. embassy in Iraq and Saudi oil facilities, disruption of Gulf oil transit, and other provocations at the time.
There is another, perhaps even greater problem. The higher the profile of U.S. military forays into the Middle East or Asia, the more Washington appears to be taking responsibility for security in those regions. Multiple administrations have said they want allies to do more. However, why should America’s defense dependents act when the U.S. avidly carries the burden? Alas, Americans’ actions send a message to friends as well as adversaries, and not a positive one in this case.
Deploying U.S. planes and ships has become Washington’s go to policy to demonstrate resolve. In fact, these deployments are wasteful and likely to undermine American security. It is time for U.S. administrations to change course and choose substance over symbolism.
Like maybe some fucking diplomacy? I hope this isn’t just a “We should inavde, actually” article.
People’s Daily: America’s looming national debt crunch could spell disaster for world
The total public debt outstanding reached 31.1 trillion dollars on Oct. 3, including 24.3 trillion dollars in debt held by the public and 6.8 trillion in intergovernmental holdings, said the U.S. Treasury Department’s daily treasury statement released on Oct. 4.
In fact, real-time data released by the official website of the National Debt Clock showed that the debt number, having so far well surpassed 31.1 trillion, amounts to more than 93,400 dollars of debt per American citizen, and nearly 250,000 dollars of debt per taxpayer.
Given the new record, the ratio of the U.S. federal debt to the GDP has risen to roughly 126 percent, the data showed.
An estimate by British financial media outlet Finbold showed that in 2022 alone, the U.S. national debt grows by almost 6 billion dollars every day.
The number is more than the value of the economies of China, Japan, Germany and Britain combined, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation (PGPF) noted in an article published last week.
If every U.S. household paid 1,000 dollars a month, it would still take 19 years for the debt to be paid off, noted the article.
“This is a new record no one should be proud of,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of budget watch group the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
About eight months ago, the total U.S. public debt outstanding exceeded 30 trillion dollars, hitting a fiscal milestone. In an attempt to avert a looming debt default, the U.S. Congress passed legislation in December to raise the debt limit to the current 31.4 trillion dollars. The hike, however, failed to stop the U.S. national debt from reaching nosebleed levels.
“While much of that new borrowing was necessary to combat COVID, we are now past the most severe challenges of the pandemic, and it is time to budget responsibly – yet we are still borrowing,” MacGuineas said.
“If we don’t cut spending, disaster WILL come,” American TV reporter John Stossel tweeted two days after the U.S. national debt reached the new record. Just as he wrote, the galloping U.S. borrowing, if not properly managed, would be nightmares for both the United States and the larger world.
As it stands, the United States is set to breach the 50-trillion-dollar mark in debt by 2030, Forbes estimated in September 2020.
In a report released in May, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) warned that such a debt path would push up borrowing costs for the private sector, which would result in lower business investment and slow the growth of economic output over time.
To make things worse, as the Fed is determined to keep hiking interest rates to tame inflation, the U.S. government will have to pay more for its huge borrowing. The PGPF noted in an article published in September that “interest payments would total around 66 trillion dollars over the next 30 years and would take up nearly 40 percent of all federal revenues by 2052. Interest costs would also become the largest ‘program’ over the next few decades.”
“Interest on the national debt is exploding and heading toward what economists refer to as a ‘doom loop’ – the vicious circle in which the government’s borrowing to pay interests generates yet more interest and yet more borrowing,” a Wall Street Journal opinion noted in late September.
“The risk would rise of investors' losing confidence in the U.S. government’s ability to service and repay its debt, causing interest rates to increase abruptly and inflation to spiral upward, or other disruptions,” the CBO said in May, warning of the likelihood of a fiscal crisis in the United States.
Meanwhile, if the U.S. government defaults on its bills and shuts down amid bitter partisan wrangles, it would “detonate a bomb in the middle of the global financial system,” Jacob Kirkegaard, a senior fellow with the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told the Voice of America (VOA) last year.
The VOA article went on to elaborate that a U.S. debt default would echo through the global economy by reducing global trade, make dollarized economies suffer, affect business contracts, erode the dollar’s global reserve currency status, among others.
People’s Daily: Racism stain of shame on ‘world democratic paradise’
In the 51st Regular Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council from Sept 12 to Oct 7 in Geneva, the Chinese representatives, along with representatives of some other countries, expressed their deep concerns over the United States' discriminatory law enforcement against minorities, urging the US to face its own racism and racial discrimination, so as to avoid the tragedy of George Floyd from happening again.
The US administration has apparently not drawn its lessons from it, as more than 200 African Americans have been killed by police officers during law enforcement over the year following the death of Floyd. These tragedies have again and again exposed the hypocrisy of human rights in the US and made people see clearly that the US society is not the so-called “world democratic paradise” that its politicians boasted of, but instead a sick society in which even the basic rights of human survival are at stake.
In addition to African Americans, Asian Americans, Muslims and other ethnic minorities have also been marginalized due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the discriminatory policies of the US government. When US politicians failed to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, they openly scapegoated ethnic minorities and fueled racial conflicts and hatred to absolve their own responsibilities.
In the US, ethnic minorities are only given symbolic attention when election politics demand it. The politicians have no interest in improving the social soil in which racism breeds and the various institutional flaws that reinforce it.
People’s Daily: U.S. lacks data on race, ethnicity to track systemic racism: report
A dearth of data in many countries, including the United States, on the race and ethnicity of people arrested or killed by police presents a major barrier to tackling systemic racism, France’s state-owned international news television network France 24 reported.
After the May 2020 murder of George Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed black man, in Minneapolis by a white U.S. police officer, a group of UN experts said it was “vital” to make systemic racism “visible” around the world.
In the United States, there is no centralized system to collect statistics across more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies, France 24 reported, citing UN investigators.
But according to Collette Flanagan, who founded Mothers Against Police Brutality after her black son Clinton Allen was killed by police in Dallas, Texas in 2013, a black person was “2.5 times more likely to be shot” to death by police in the United States.
Her son was unarmed, yet the white officer who shot him seven times “perceived my son as a threat,” she told UN experts. And the officer escaped all criminal and civil accountability for killing her son.
It is a “crucial need to collect, analyse, use and publish data, disaggregated by race or ethnic origin,” said Yvonne Mokgoro, a former South African judge who heads the group of UN experts.
For her, racial profiling and excessive use of force during and after interactions with law enforcement officials and the criminal justice system are reported but not shown in official statistics.
It is “an essential first step to highlight the magnitude of systemic racism against Africans and people of African descent,” she said.
Outside the Imperial Core
Canadian Dimension: Canada voices approval of IMF austerity program in Zambia
On June 26, 2022, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema. According to the prime minister’s office, the two leaders discussed the “close bilateral partnership between Canada and Zambia” and “agreed to deepen economic cooperation.” Of course, the mining sector merited special mention: “[The leaders] welcomed the recent agreement with First Quantum Minerals Ltd. as an example of the strong partnership between both countries in the mining sector.”
Under its new agreement with the Zambian government, Canada’s First Quantum is putting US$1.25 billion toward expanding its Kansanshi copper mine. First Quantum, which mines around half the copper produced in Zambia, agreed to the expansion only after the Hichilema administration “committed to a more predictable investment climate.” One aspect of Zambia’s newly “predictable investment climate” is the slashing of copper mining royalties, which were already among the lowest in the world.
Canada has enormous economic interests in Zambia. Five percent of Canadian mining assets abroad are located there. The Canadian government values them at $9.4 billion, around half of Zambia’s total GDP. For its part, First Quantum’s total mining revenues from 2021 valued $9 billion.
Zambia has been embroiled in a debt restructuring crisis since it defaulted on its international debts—$17.3 billion in total—in 2020. In February 2021, the former government under Edgar Lungu requested to restructure Zambia’s debt, and on August 31 of this year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced a bailout plan.
On September 6, the IMF released its conditions for the $1.3 billion loan program. They represent the newest stage in the privatization of Zambian resources and the external imposition of harsh austerity on the African country—not surprising, but remarkably callous given that 60 percent of Zambians live in poverty, 1.35 million Zambians are experiencing severe food insecurity, and food and fuel prices are increasingly unaffordable given the global economic crisis.
The IMF’s debt restructuring program demands the abolition of fuel subsidies and a rise in electricity tariffs that will mainly impact those living in poor rural areas. Additionally, the IMF is stripping down agricultural subsidies even further, despite the fact that these subsidies support hundreds of thousands of small-scale maize farmers in the countryside. Meanwhile, Zambia has cut its health and social protection programs by 20 percent over the past two years, and further cuts are on the books for 2022-2026. The IMF refers to these domestic spending programs as “excessive and poorly managed public investment” and “regressive and wasteful subsidies.”
In his meeting with Hichilema, Trudeau voiced his approval of the IMF austerity program. The news release about the meeting stated that he gave Canada’s “ongoing support for Zambia’s efforts to secure debt treatment, recognizing the importance of financing for development and recovery from the devastating economic impacts of the pandemic.”