Global Events, the United Nations, and Disease
RT: Global economy in worst shape for decades – former US Treasury chief
The global economy is currently facing the biggest challenges it has seen in four decades, according to former US Treasury Secretary, Larry Summers.
“This is the most complex, disparate and cross cutting set of challenges that I can remember in the 40 years I’ve been paying attention to such things,” Summers said at the Institute of International Finance’s annual meeting in Washington. He criticized the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, along with central banks, for underestimating the risks posed by persistently high inflation and failing to act accordingly to battle the crisis.
“In all honesty, I think the fire department is still in the station. … I’m very disappointed in the response,” he stated.
Summers said that between rising interest rates, a stronger dollar, energy and food shortages, geopolitical tensions and climate change, “somebody should be proposing something substantial” to change the situation for the better. He did not elaborate on this further, however.
Ooo, ooo, I have an idea! See, there’s this socioeconomic theory called ‘Marxism’…
Reuters: Dozens of LNG-laden ships queue off Europe’s coasts unable to unload
Dozens of ships carrying liquefied natural gas (LNG) are circling off the coasts of Spain and other European countries unable to secure slots to unload because plants that convert the seaborne fuel back to gas are full.
There are more than 35 LNG-laden vessels drifting off Spain and around the Mediterranean, with at least eight vessels anchored off the Bay of Cadiz alone, traders, analysts and sources at LNG terminals familiar with the situation said on Monday.
The backlog of cargoes has raised concerns about Europe’s ability to process the LNG supplies needed to compensate for the lack of Russian pipeline supply.
Spain is offering just six slots at its regasification terminals for cargoes this week, an industry source said, less than a fifth of the number of vessels queuing off its coasts. The country has six terminals in total.
Oil Price: China To Stop Reselling LNG To Europe
Chinese state-owned energy giants have been recently told by authorities to stop reselling liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargoes to gas-starved Europe, in what could be a blow to the European hopes of continuous high inflows of LNG as the winter approaches.
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China’s top planning body, has told the country’s state-held LNG importers, including Sinopec, PetroChina, and CNOOC, that they should stop reselling LNG cargoes and keep them to ensure Chinese gas supply this winter, sources familiar with the development told Bloomberg on Monday.
SCMP: China competition eclipses all other EU relations with Beijing, top diplomat Josep Borrell says
As relations with Beijing continue to cool, the European Union’s top diplomat says the bloc now views economic and political competition with China as having eclipsed all other aspects of bilateral ties.
Speaking after the EU’s 27 foreign ministers met in Luxembourg on Monday to discuss China for the first time this year, its foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said that growing competition was outstripping the partnership and “systemic rivalry” elements of the relationship that Brussels policy had codified in 2019.
“The message from China is now one of competing: competing on a political level, their economic success, their desire to have influence at all sorts of levels, their presence in Africa, in Asia, in Latin America and elsewhere,” Borrell said.
Fortune: Exxon Mobil describes its exit from Russia as an ‘expropriation,’ saying the government there ‘unilaterally terminated our interests’
Exxon Mobil completed its exit from Russia, calling the departure an “expropriation” of its main Russian operation and potentially setting up a future legal challenge.
“With two decrees, the Russian government has unilaterally terminated our interests in Sakhalin-1 and the project has been transferred to a Russian operator,” an Exxon spokesperson said in a statement. “We have safely exited Russia following the expropriation.”
Exxon has been winding down production at Sakhalin-1 since May after announcing its intention to leave just weeks after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year. The operation is hugely complex and produced about 227,000 barrels a day last year. It has multiple records for the longest wells ever drilled, uses ice breakers to maintain exports when the sea freezes over in winter and was regarded as an engineering marvel when it first started pumping in 2005.
In August, Exxon sent a “notice of difference” to Russian authorities after the Kremlin blocked the Texas oil giant from exiting Sakhalin-1, which is the first step toward filing a lawsuit against the country. “We made every effort to engage with the Russian government and other stakeholders,” Exxon said. The company expects about 700 employees to transfer to Sakhalin-1’s new operator.
Reuters: Rosneft moves into tanker chartering as EU ban looms
Russia’s biggest oil exporter Rosneft has expanded its tanker chartering business to ease oil shipments for buyers amid looming Western sanctions on insurance of Russian oil shipments, three sources familiar with the matter said.
Previously, state-controlled Rosneft, which produces more than 40% of Russian oil, would sell its oil at the port of loading, meaning the buyer would have to find tankers and handle freight and insurance costs for the voyage.
But with new, tighter Western sanctions looming, Rosneft’s customers are asking the company to handle delivery to the final destination by assuming costs of insurance and freight, the three sources familiar with the matter said.
Many of Rosneft’s customers do not have trading businesses that handle operations such as shipping. Rosneft’s move to offer freight services will help customers which are not based in regions subject to sanctions to avoid delays, traders said.
Oil Price: Norway’s Equinor Considers Buying Chinese North Sea Oilfields
Reuters reported on Monday that Norway’s Equinor ASA (NYSE: EQNR) is considering buying oilfields in the British North Sea from China’s CNOOC Ltd (OTCPK: CEOHF), including a significant stake in the huge Buzzard oilfield in a deal valued at between 20 billion and 30 billion Norwegian crowns ($1.9 billion-$2.8 billion).
The deal would rank among the largest in years on the U.K. continental shelf.
According to the Norwegian newspaper DN, the deal might be finalized as early as the end of the current year.
TeleSUR: Millions of UK Households To Face Fuel Poverty-Lobby Group
A 14 billion euros emergency support package will be needed to avoid the “serious health consequences of living in cold, damp homes, which cripple the NHS (National Health Service) and lead to excess winter deaths,” Warm This Winter warned.
Measures aimed at tackling the country’s cost-of-living crisis, such as the Energy Price Guarantee (EPG) and the 400 euro fuel rebate, would not be enough, according to the lobby group.
In September, the EPG was announced, capping tariffs and guaranteeing that ordinary households will pay no more than 2,500 euros per year for gas and electricity for the next two years.
In this regard, the group has been very concerned as the new chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, said on Monday that the EPG would be reviewed and changed in April 2023.
WSWS: UK teachers vote overwhelmingly for strike in “preliminary” ballot
An unprecedented 98 percent of teachers in the National Education Union (NEU) voted yes to a fully funded, above-inflation pay rise. A huge majority (86 percent) indicated they would be prepared to strike. Teachers have been offered a pay deal of just 5 percent, which will not be funded nationally and must come from schools’ existing inadequate budgets.
261,522 members were consulted in the ballot with turnout at 62 percent.
National Education Union support staff members, who were balloted separately, rejected the offer by 92 percent. Over three quarters (78 percent) of voted in favour of strike action.
The 5 percent offer is an enormous real terms pay cut. RPI inflation is currently at 12.3 percent. Interest rates are forecast to increase in the coming months, vastly increasing mortgages and rents, putting more pressure on workers. School funding has only increased 1.4 percent this year, under conditions where schools are unable to pay energy costs without slashing jobs, increasing class sizes and removing access to a broad curriculum.
Common Dreams: Tens of Thousands March in Paris to Protest Cost-of-Living Crisis, Climate Inaction
A march including tens of thousands of people in Paris on Sunday represented a “great convergence” of crises facing the French public and President Emmanuel Macron’s government, said progressive leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the head of the left-wing party France Unbowed and an organizer of the massive protest.
“Another life is possible, free from the spoils of profit. Another world is possible, free from the frenzy of capitalist productivism.”
Demanding a greater investment in climate action, higher wages, and an emergency freeze on the prices of groceries, rent, and energy, people marched from the Place de la Nation to the Place de la Bastille in eastern Paris as the National Assembly struggles to pass a budget for next year and strikes at oil refineries are expected to spread to the transportation sector this week.
Four months after Macron lost his majority in the National Assembly and France Unbowed formed a coalition with other center-left parties, Mélenchon told the crowd that the president’s government is descending into “chaos.”
“If you are in difficulty or in misery, it is exclusively because the correlation of forces between those who have everything and those who have little, is in favor of those who have everything,” Mélenchon said, calling on protesters to “not allow themselves to be divided by their skin color, their religion, political affiliation or indifference.”
Reuters: Germany pushes to extend lifespan of three nuclear plants
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has asked the economy, environment and finance ministries to lay the legal framework to keep the country’s three nuclear power plants operational until as late as April 15, 2023, a letter seen by Reuters showed on Monday.
Germany had planned to complete a phase-out of nuclear power by the end of this year, but a collapse in energy supplies from Russia because of the war in Ukraine has prompted the government to keep two plants on standby.
RT: Italy plans response to possible loss of Russian gas
Italy may suspend industrial production for 30 days this winter as part of an emergency energy-saving plan if Russian gas supplies are cut, the newspaper Il Messagero reported on Monday.
Italian Energy Minister Roberto Cingolani proposed the measure amid an EU-wide plan to reduce gas consumption by 15% over the coming months. In July, the bloc agreed on rationing to increase its energy security as it seeks to wean itself off its dependence on Russian energy.
Naked Capitalism: EU Plays Hardball With Serbia Over Its Russia Ties
Much like Ankara, Belgrade has tried to stay above the fray in the conflict between NATO and Russia. While Serbia doesn’t share the same geographic significance and isn’t a member of NATO like Turkey, it is one of Russia’s strongest allies in Europe, and is now receiving the same pressure to choose a side.
Comments from European leaders describe how Serbia’s long-term goal of joining the EU is at risk due to its friendliness with Moscow.
In the more immediate term, Belgrade is facing an economic fallout from newly restricted energy supplies, and the move risks inflaming tensions between longtime adversaries Croatia and Serbia and within Bosnia where both countries support ethnonationalist parties.
The most recent round of EU sanctions prohibits the transport of Russian oil across Croatia to Serbia, one of the few European countries not to join the sanctions party against Moscow. From Euractiv:
Until recently, Serbia had hoped that Croatia’s pipeline operator JANAF would continue to ship Russian crude oil, brought to Croatia on oil tankers, to NIS, in line with an agreement signed in January. This came to an end with the latest sanctions agreement.
In Prague for the inaugural meeting of the European Political Community, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told reporters that Croatia had “already boasted and taken credit for the full ban on Russian oil transport.”
Serbia has no outlets to the sea and will therefore be forced to pay much higher prices to import oil than they would have with its deal with Russia.
“Croatia does not create our foreign policy,” Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said. “It is created by our citizens, through their democratically elected representatives.”
The Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, meanwhile, said “Serbia cannot sit on two stools and expect progress on its European path while disrespecting sanctions against Russia.”
Serbia is in a tough spot as the EU is its top trading partner while Russia comes in second. 63% of Serbia’s overall trade in 2019 was done with the European Union. Russia and China rank respectively on second and third places but at considerably lower trade levels – ten times lower than trade between Serbia and the EU, but Serbia has relied on Russian gas and oil imports.
But Serbia in recent years has looked increasingly eastwards for trade – even signing a trade deal with the Russian-led Eurasian Union in 2019 despite threats from Brussels. Belgrade and Moscow also have strong military cooperation, and Russia supports Serbia internationally on issues such as Kosovo.
Serbia’s sole oil company is NIS, in which Russian Gazprom Neft and Gazprom together hold a majority stake. For natural gas, Serbia relies on the Turkstream pipeline that carries supplies from Russia to Turkey and onto Serbia via Bulgaria, but Turkstream is also under threat from sanctions and other means.
In May Serbia secured a new three-year deal with Gazprom for natural gas, and Belgrade is now working on a pipeline from Hungary that will transport Russian oil. From Al Jazeera:
Hungary and Serbia have agreed to build a pipeline to supply Serbia with Russia’s crude oil as European Union sanctions limit supplies via Croatia, the Hungarian government has announced.
Hungary has been critical of EU sanctions against Russia. Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said the sanctions have “failed as governments in Europe are collapsing ‘like dominoes’”.
Inside Serbia the public is overwhelmingly opposed to adopting sanctions on Russia.
Croatia leading the charge as the EU demands Belgrade turn away from Russia is causing alarm in Serbia. The Western media often explain that Serbia and Russia have close ties due to Orthodox Crhristianity being the major religion in both countries. What they always omit though is how both countries share a common recent history of being attacked by forces from the heart of Europe. From Diana Johnstone:
During World War II, German occupation had split [Yugoslavia] apart. Serbia, allied to France and Britain in World War I, was subject to a punishing occupation. Idyllic Slovenia was absorbed into the Third Reich, while Germany supported an independent Croatia, ruled by the fascist Ustasha party, which included most of Bosnia, scene of the bloodiest internal fighting. When the war ended, many Croatian Ustasha emigrated to Germany, the United States and Canada, never giving up the hope of reviving secessionist Croatian nationalism.
In Washington in the 1990s, members of Congress got their impressions of Yugoslavia from a single expert: 35-year-old Croatian-American Mira Baratta, assistant to Sen. Bob Dole (Republican presidential candidate in 1996). Baratta’s grandfather had been an important Ustasha officer in Bosnia and her father was active in the Croatian diaspora in California. Baratta won over not only Dole but virtually the whole Congress to the Croatian version of Yugoslav conflicts blaming everything on the Serbs.
Now leaders across the EU are saying that Serbia’s reluctance to support EU sanctions against Russia could threaten the country’s ambition to join the European Union. From the Serbian Monitor:
The head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, said that Serbia’s EU accession process will be ‘slowed down’ if Belgrade does not impose sanctions on Russia.
Borrell told N1 television that “the EU accession process requires alignment with its foreign policy”. “In the European Commission report, we see that Serbia, as well as Turkey, are wavering on the issue of alignment with EU foreign policy. The decline in alignment combined with close relations with the Putin regime means that there is no choice but to signal a decline in alignment within Chapter 31,” Borrell said. He also stated that ‘there is no deadline’ by which Serbia must introduce sanctions against Russia and added that Serbia ‘must follow EU foreign policy’.
EU Vice-President Margaritis Schinas recently told Euronews that “many leaders are looking around and they expect everybody to share the communality of the project in these difficult moments, and in particular those who aspire to be with us”.
The European Union and the US are questioning Serbia’s commitment to join the EU after Belgrade signed an agreement with Moscow pledging long-term “consultations” on foreign policy matters amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.
US Ambassador to Serbia Christopher R Hill said “further alignment with Russia is a step in the wrong direction and contrary to Serbia’s stated European aspirations”.
“The United States believes that no country should be expanding cooperation with Russia while it continues its war of aggression against Ukraine,” Hill said in a statement to The Associated Press.
Additionally Brussels offered a pointed rebuke to Belgrade on October 12 when the EU Commission advised member states to grant Bosnia and Herzegovina candidate status, but criticized Serbia for not aligning with the bloc on Russia sanctions. From the EU Observer:
The commission’s report noted that “Serbia did not align with the EU restrictive measures against Russia”, and its “alignment rate” on council decisions and declarations by the EU’s foreign affairs chief dropped from 64 percent in 2020 to 45 percent in 2022.
The EU executive also said in its report that as “a matter of priority”, Serbia needs to fulfill its commitment to align with EU sanctions.
The commission also said Serbia needs to robustly tackle all forms of “disinformation.”
In other words, Brussels is demanding Serbia cut ties with Russia and join the bloc in committing economic suicide or else.
East Asia and Oceania
ANN: China corruption watchdog says crackdowns will continue to prevent decline of Communist Party
China’s top anti-corruption agency on Monday reiterated that the ongoing anti-corruption campaign, a hallmark of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s 10-year tenure, will continue in the years to come to “prevent rot” in the Communist Party.
Deputy director of the National Supervisory Commission Xiao Pei said that the body will crack down not only on party members but also their relatives and close aides, coming down additionally hard on those who commit low-level graft since that directly affects people’s lives.
He was speaking during a press briefing on the sidelines of the ongoing Communist Party of China’s (CPC) twice-in-a-decade congress, where Mr Xi is poised to seek a rare third term.
“The party has comprehensively strengthened the construction of discipline, strictly enforced political discipline and political rules, and adhered to the tone of strictness,” said Mr Xiao, who is also deputy secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), which enforces discipline within the CPC.
SCMP: Bigger-than-expected changes loom as Xi Jinping shapes China’s top leadership at 20th Communist Party congress
President Xi Jinping is firmly in control of China’s twice-a-decade leadership reshuffle, which could see bigger-than-expected changes as he builds a new supporting team for his unprecedented third term.
As many as four top positions on the Politburo Standing Committee could change hands and nearly half the Central Committee will be replaced, the South China Morning Post has learned.
The results will be made public this coming weekend at the end of the week-long 20th Communist Party congress. On October 22, the party will form a new Central Committee to head 97 million party members. The next day, the Central Committee will hold its first full session to endorse the line-up of the 25-member Politburo and the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee – the highest decision-making body.
The Guardian: UK to issue ‘threat alert’ over China’s attempts to recruit RAF pilots
British defence intelligence is to issue a rare “threat alert”, warning that China’s military is trying to recruit serving and former RAF jet pilots to help train its own air force with generous recruitment packages.
Officials expressed “concern and disapproval” of these schemes because they posed “a threat to UK and western interests”. Although they are not explicitly banning pilots from providing training, they aim to take steps to “manage the risk”.
About 30 former pilots are already believed to have taken advantage of “very generous” recruitment packages offered by China to work for the country’s air force through third parties, including, in particular, a flying academy based in South Africa.
But the warning, or threat guidance, will remind British pilots not to disclose any sensitive information to the Chinese military and ask those approached to tell the Ministry of Defence what is going on so that it can be monitored.
So far there is no evidence that any former RAF pilot has broken the Official Secrets Act in providing training to China, but western officials said they were “taking steps to mitigate this risk” by issuing the guidance.
ANN: Japan to organize Sri Lanka creditors’ meeting over debt crisis
Japan is working to organize a meeting of Sri Lanka’s creditors by the end of this year in hopes of solving that country’s debt crisis, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.
The meeting, which will discuss such issues as finding ways to reduce debt payments, aims to curb China’s influence by helping Sri Lanka cope with its so-called debt traps, which arose after China provided huge loans to the country to fund infrastructure developments and other projects.
Once again, China’s loans make up only a small percentage of loans to Sri Lanka.
TeleSUR: Australia Reverses Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital
Australia has reversed the former government’s decision of recognizing west Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
WSWS: Australia: Unions silent as court imposes fines over “illegal” strikes by teachers and nurses
Last Thursday, the New South Wales (NSW) Supreme Court fined the union covering public school teachers $60,000 over industrial action carried out earlier this year, including a 24-hour strike on May 4.
This followed a $30,000 penalty levied against the NSW Teachers Federation (NSWTF) in March for a statewide strike on December 7, 2021, the first by teachers in more than a decade. The two actions had proceeded despite orders from the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) banning the strikes.
The NSWTF and NSWNMA, along with the state’s peak union body, Unions NSW, have adopted a stony silence over the fines. This is because the unions fundamentally agree with the IRC and the draconian anti-strike laws it enforces.
Africanews: How Algeria is to turning to its mineral resources to diversify its economy
With deposits of gold, zinc, copper and phosphates, Algeria has significant mineral resources. Many of them have been left unexploited, but now the country is counting on them to diversify its economy.
To achieve its industrial ambitions, Algeria has relaunched several large mining projects. The one at Gara Djebilet in the Sahara is among the most pivotal. The desert landscape is covered by a blackish layer. It’s the surface of one of the largest iron ore deposits in the world.
Billions of tons of iron ore have been lying dormant since their discovery in 1952. Finally, after years of studies, the site was opened up this summer.
In the long term, the objective is to extract tens of millions of tonnes per year, including the 12 million tonnes needed by the Algerian steel industry.
“The only deposit in Algeria that can meet this demand is the Gara Djebilet deposit,” says Noureddine Aoussat, Technical Director at the Algerian national iron and steel company Feraal. “Exploiting it is easy, it’s in the open air. The waste rock is only 60cm thick. You remove 60 cm and you see the ore!”
WSWS: Ugandan officials impose lockdown across two districts to control the spread of Ebola outbreak
Almost one month into the Ebola outbreak in Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni on Saturday placed two districts in Central Uganda, Mubende and neighboring Kassanda, under a three-week lockdown after previously downplaying the crisis and stating that no such measures would be employed.
Responsible Statecraft: Congress bucks Biden, blocks $75 million in military aid to Egypt
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) blocked $75 million of security funding for Egypt after determining that the country’s leaders have not rolled back their attack on political dissidents, failing to meet a condition that Congress put on aid to Cairo in a law passed last year, according to Reuters.
Common Dreams: Climate Emergency Rages as More Than 600 Perish in Nigeria Floods
Nigerian emergency officials said Sunday that catastrophic flooding in the West African country has killed more than 600 people and displaced at least 1.3 million in recent weeks as a heavier-than-usual rain season—made more intense by the climate crisis—continues to pummel the impoverished nation.
Sadiya Umar Farouq, Nigeria’s minister of humanitarian affairs, disaster management, and social development, said in a statement that more than 2.5 million people in the country have been impacted by the historic flooding, which has destroyed 82,000 homes and damaged over 100,000 acres of farmland, endangering food supplies.
Counterpunch: In South Africa, Resistance Rises to the World Bank’s Climate-Killing Mega-Projects
The World Bank and International Monetary Fund Annual Meetings have witnessed protests in Washington and many other sites. Nearly 100 protesters from community, environment and youth groups joined Extinction Rebellion and the DebtForClimate.org campaign outside the World Bank’s Johannesburg office on Friday, October 14, the second such event in the last eight months. The main call was for repudiation of a massive loan – the Bank’s largest-ever project credit – made a dozen years earlier but still causing enormous financial and climate damage: the Medupi coal-fired power plant.
Throughout its 71-year history in South Africa, the World Bank financed episodes of high-carbon, anti-social mega-project maldevelopment. The financing included not only apartheid-era loans that exacerbated parastatal energy supplier Eskom’s official racist policies from 1951-67 and neoliberal policy advice during the transition from apartheid to democracy in 1994.
In addition, the Bank lent more than $3 billion in 2010 for what was the world’s largest coal-fired power plant under construction, a project rife with corruption – especially bribery of the ruling party by Tokyo-based Hitachi – already well known at the time, and successfully prosecuted under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in the United States in 2015.
Monthly Review: Statements from Alabama prisoners as strike enters third week
An estimated 80% of prisoners from Alabama’s “major male facilities” went on strike on September 26th, in response to a wide range of conditions and grievances. Inside organizer Kinetik Swift Justice stated,
Basically, the message that we are sending is, the courts have shut down on us, the parole board has shut down on us. This society has long ago shut down on us. So basically, if that’s the case, and you’re not wanting us to return back to society, you can run these facilities yourselves.
The strike has now entered its third week, and at least five facilities, each with around 7,000 prisoners, continue to participate. Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) has punished prisoners by drastically reducing their meals, essentially attempting to starve them off the strike. “They have been killed, they have been abused, they are being tortured right now as we speak,” said Eric Buchanan, a formerly incarcerated person who spoke at a rally for the strike.
Reuters: BP to buy U.S. biogas producer Archaea for $4.1 bln
BP (BP.L) will buy U.S.-based renewable natural gas (RNG) producer Archaea Energy Inc (LFG.N) for about $4.1 billion, the companies said on Monday, as the British energy major seeks to expand its alternative fuels business.
The deal will be the largest ever RNG acquisition, topping Chevron Corp’s (CVX.N) $3.15 billion buyout of biodiesel maker Renewable Energy Group Inc earlier this year.
RNG, or biogas, is gas captured from organic waste in landfills or farms.
Houston, Texas-based Archaea operates 50 RNG and landfill gas-to-energy facilities across the United States, and BP aims to grow Archea’s output five-fold by 2030 to 30,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boed), Looney told Reuters.
Inquirer: Wall Street rallies after BofA results, UK reversal
U.S. stocks kicked off the trading week on Monday with a rally after Britain reversed course on an economic plan, while Bank of America was the latest financial company to post solid quarterly results, which lifted optimism about the corporate earnings season.
Britain named Jeremy Hunt finance minister, and he immediately dispelled many of Prime Minister Liz Truss’ fiscal measures, which had unnerved markets in recent weeks.
Bank of America Corp shares surged 6.06 percent as the lender’s net interest income was buoyed by rising interest rates in the quarter, even though it added $378 million to its loan-loss reserves to buttress against a softening economy.
RT: US recession forecast hits 100% – Bloomberg
The US economy is 100% certain to enter a recession in the next 12 months, according to an economic model devised by two Bloomberg economists, and based on 13 unspecified financial indicators.
On Monday the agency reported that the apparently inevitable downturn might come even sooner than that – the model returned a 73% chance it would hit within 11 months and a 25% chance it would arrive within ten.
This is so fucking funny. Like, with the knowledge that the vast majority of non-Marxist (and non-MMT, I suppose) economics is just astrology, this really has the vibe of “We looked into the crystal ball, attuned with the energies captured during the alignment of Mars and Jupiter, and consulted the oracle just to be sure…”. The idea that it could be so precise as to predict a 100% chance by next October but only a 25% chance by August is absurd.
Reuters: Canada imposes sanctions related to dissemination of Russian propaganda
Canada is imposing sanctions on 34 individuals and one entity that it says are complicit in dissemination of Russian disinformation and propaganda, the Canadian foreign ministry said on Monday.
“As the number of Russian human rights abuses continues to increase, Canada is taking measures to counter the propaganda that attempts to excuse them,” Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said in a statement.
Reuters: Business sentiment softens in Canada as recession fears mount: BoC survey
Business sentiment has softened in Canada, with many firms expecting slower sales growth amid rising interest rates and cooling demand, and a majority now think a recession is likely in the next 12 months, a Bank of Canada survey showed on Monday.
While there are early signs that pressures on prices and wages are easing, business inflation expectations remain high, the third quarter Business Outlook Survey showed. Consumers, meanwhile, expect faster rising prices in the near term, though longer-term expectations have eased, a separate survey found.
Caribbean and South America
TeleSUR: Thousands of Haitians Hit Streets Against Troop Deployment
In this city, the demonstrators tried to reach the US embassy led by the politician and former senator Moïse Jean Charles before being stopped by the police, who used tear gas.
However, the also coordinator of the Pitit Desalin party managed to reach the diplomatic headquarters together with a group of sympathizers. From there, he demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry and the immediate revocation of the military deployment.
In other cities such as Les Cayes and Cap-Haitien, thousands of people also demonstrated and criticized the Government for resorting to an occupation, despite the results of previous interventions which did not solve the country’s problems.
In those cities, police dispersed demonstrators with tear gas and live ammunition, even though peaceful protests were reported.
TeleSUR: China Wary of International Troop Deployment in Haiti
China supports sanctions against Haitian gang members and their supporters but is wary over the deployment of an international armed force in the country, said a Chinese envoy on Monday.
“Rooting out the scourge of gang violence is both an entry point for any improvement in the current situation and a prerequisite for a solution in the country,” said Geng Shuang, China’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, noting that China will support targeted sanctions, including a travel ban, assets freezes and arms embargo on gang members and their supporters.
“We hope that these measures will be robust and effective and that they will make a true difference in deterring gang violence, cracking down on violent crimes, and cutting off the supply of funding and the weapons to criminal gangs,” he told the Security Council.
TeleSUR: Cuban Foreign Minister Calls for Equitable and Fair World Order
The foreign minister made this call on his Twitter account, in which he pointed out that 263 million additional people could be plunged into extreme poverty this year, according to estimates by the non-governmental organization Oxfam.
He added that this “would add up to 860 million worldwide, while the ten richest people own more wealth than the poorest 40 percent of the planet”.
Rodriguez made this appeal on the occasion of Monday’s commemoration of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, established by the United Nations.
TeleSUR: Honduras: Alternative Economic Model Must Ensure Food Security
“The current world order is primarily responsible for this human tragedy,” said Honduran President Xiomara Castro, referring to the issue of hunger at the United Nations World Food Forum.
On this occasion, the President advocated an alternative model to capitalism which, as she said, must guarantee food security and sovereignty and be humane and fair, anti-colonialist, anti-racist, multipolar and feminist.
Every four seconds, a person in the world is in danger of dying of hunger. Meanwhile, billions of dollars in weapons are sent to conflicts that only serve to line the pockets of warlords, said the President of Honduras.
“There is much hypocrisy in this world, when we pretend that poverty and hunger have nothing to do with the insane violence of the First World industrial-military-financial complex, which is interested in peace.”
In this sense, Castro called for a review of free trade agreements and financial speculation, “which only safeguard capital and put democracy at risk without regard for life and nature, especially in the Latin American region.”
The Ukraine Proxy Conflict
Reuters: Belarus to hold live-fire exercises with Russia
The Belarusian defence ministry said on Monday it will conduct live fire exercises and anti-aircraft guided missile launches as part of its joint grouping with Russian forces, Interfax reported.
“Military units from the formations are planned to be deployed at four training ranges of the Republic of Belarus in the eastern and central part of the country, after which they will start conducting combat training activities,” Interfax quoted a Minsk defence official as saying.
The Belarusian defence ministry said last week that Russian troops would deploy to the country to form a new “regional grouping” amid claims from Minsk that Ukraine is preparing to attack its territory. Belarus has offered no evidence of Ukraine’s aggressive intentions.
Analysis and Retrospectives
Inside the Imperial Core
Jacobin: Marxism Can Help Us Make Sense of the Medieval Crusades
Naked Capitalism: NOPEC Bill Would Mean the End Of Aramco and OPEC as We Know Them
The idea of the US trying frontally to destroy Saudi Aramco and therefore OPEC at a time of falling US strength and tightening Saudi ties to Russia and China is yet another sign of elite delusion. There’s a reason the US has never deployed this threat. As Cate Blanchette intoned in the film Elizabeth: “I do not like wars. They have uncertain outcomes.”
But the Biden Administration and its neocon allies are so unprepared to accept the losses they are taking around the world, and so punch-drunk on their media-reinforced delusions of success, that they are lashing out on many fronts. And Biden and some key figures in Congress were incandescent over the Saudis refusing to come to heel to serve US interests by not only refusing to increase production, but having the temerity to put through a production cut. The fact that oil prices have not increased in the face of that news says OPEC was not being unduly aggressive, despite US beliefs otherwise.
The US appears not to have worked out that the Saudis could inflict great pain on the US, and quickly, simply by slashing output and (as Russia has said it will do) refuse to sell to the US at all if this NOPEC bill were to look like it might pass.
The G-7 is refusing to back down on the Russian oil price cap scheme, and Russia is certain to cut output to reflect estimated delivery levels to US and EU destinations. Goldman has estimated this action could drive oil prices to $180 a barrel; some have suggested even higher. If Russia acts before NOPEC gets a head of steam, it seems likely NOPEC will be shelved.
Oddly, the Bloomberg piece by Javier Blas, Making OPEC+ Subject to US Antitrust Law Will Backfire, oddly focuses only on the prospect of the Saudis dumping dollar investments, particularly Treasuries. Admittedly, the Fed could easily wrong-foot its response to a liquidity panic just as it did in the repo panic of 2019. Then, the Fed had failed to work out that running a system it had never used before the crisis, of managing interest rates by paying interest on bank reserves, might not behave as expected when the Fed was for the first time draining reserves. But it doesn’t contemplate the fastest way for the Saudis to lash back at the US, that of dramatically cutting output. Nor does it consider that other OPEC members might unite to defend Aramco and the Saudis to prevent the destruction of OPEC.
First, key sections from the Bloomberg op-ed:
For the last 25 years, NOPEC has been a staple of Washington — always a threat but never a law. President after president, whether Republican and Democrat, have argued against passing it. But Joe Biden, who once supported a similar bill as Senator, has said he’s ready to work with Congress to curb OPEC influence.
If NOPEC was to become law — a big if — OPEC nations may retaliate by dumping some of their financial holdings in America. This means that NOPEC could come at a big price for the US.
As of the end of July, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iraq altogether held, directly, about $246 billion in US Treasuries, according to government data. The real number is likely to be higher, as Middle East nations also hold bonds via tax havens such as Luxembourg, the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Switzerland and Ireland. Although their cache is unlikely to be higher than 5%-10% of total foreign holdings of American sovereign debt — and they are likely to be significantly lower than the $970 billion held by China — dumping those assets will rock an already jittery Treasuries market….
NOPEC has long been considered the nuclear option. No one has answered what would happen next if the bill was passed. Would the US government ask for an antitrust investigation into OPEC? Would it actually go as far as suing the Saudis in federal court? And if a lawsuit is filed and the US does win, can it enforce any compensation? Would it be worth the potential retaliation?
The White House needs to think about those questions — and whether it really wants to answer them. Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, has now attached NOPEC as an amendment to the annual Pentagon spending bill, giving it a serious chance of getting a vote on the floor of the Senate next month. It’s unclear if the amendment has the votes. But the last time the bill came this close to passing was in 2007, when it got approved by the House of Representatives in a 345-72 vote and the Senate by 70-23, only to die after George W. Bush threatened a veto.
They then go on to quote this article from OilPrice.
Outside the Imperial Core
The Next Recession: China: Xi’s third term – part two: property, debt and common prosperity
Mint Press News: The Other Russia-West War: Why Some African Countries Are Abandoning Paris, Joining Moscow
The moment that Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba was ousted by his own former military colleague, Captain Ibrahim Traore, pro-coup crowds filled the streets. Some burned French flags, others carried Russian flags. This scene alone represents the current tussle underway throughout the African continent.
A few years ago, the discussion regarding the geopolitical shifts in Africa was not exactly concerned with France and Russia per se. It focused mostly on China’s growing economic role and political partnerships on the African continent. For example, Beijing’s decision to establish its first overseas military base in Djibouti in 2017 signaled China’s major geopolitical move, by translating its economic influence in the region to political influence, backed by military presence.
China remains committed to its Africa strategy. Beijing has been Africa’s largest trading partner for 12 years, consecutively, with total bilateral trade between China and Africa, in 2021, reaching $254.3 billion, according to recent data released by the General Administration of Customs of China.
The United States, along with its western allies, have been aware of, and warning against China’s growing clout in Africa. The establishment of US AFRICOM in 2007 was rightly understood to be a countering measure to China’s influence. Since then, and arguably before, talks of a new ‘Scramble for Africa’ abounded, with new players, including China, Russia, even Turkiye, entering the fray.
The Russia-Ukraine war, however, has altered geopolitical dynamics in Africa, as it highlighted the Russian-French rivalry on the continent, as opposed to the Chinese-American competition there.
Though Russia has been present in African politics for years, the war – thus the need for stable allies at the United Nations and elsewhere – accelerated Moscow’s charm offensive. In July, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda, and the Republic of Congo, fortifying Russia’s diplomatic relations with African leaders.
“We know that the African colleagues do not approve of the undisguised attempts of the US and their European satellites .. to impose a unipolar world order to the international community,” Lavrov said. His words were met with agreement.
Russian efforts have been paying dividends, as early as the first votes to condemn Moscow at the United Nations General Assembly, in March and April. Many African nations remained either neutral or voted against measures targeting Russia at the UN.
South Africa’s position, in particular, was problematic from Washington’s perspective, not only because of the size of the country’s economy, but also because of Pretoria’s political influence and moral authority throughout Africa. Moreover, South Africa is the only African member of the G20.
In his visit to the US in September, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa defended his country’s neutrality and raised objections to a draft US bill – the Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act – that is set to monitor and punish African governments who do not conform to the American line in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
The West fails to understand, however, that Africa’s slow, but determined shift toward Moscow is not haphazard or accidental.
The history of the continent’s past and current struggle against western colonialism and neocolonialism is well-known. While the West continues to define its relationship with Africa based on exploitation, Russia is constantly reminding African countries of the Soviet’s legacy on the continent. This is not only apparent in official political discourses by Russian leaders and diplomats, but also in Russian media coverage, which is prioritizing Africa and reminding African nations of their historic solidarity with Moscow.
Burning French flags and raising Russian ones, however, cannot simply be blamed on Russian supposed economic bribes, clever diplomacy or growing military influence. The readiness of African nations – Mali, Central African Republic and, now, possibly, Burkina Faso – has much more to do with mistrust and resentment of France’s self-serving legacy in Africa, West Africa in particular.
France has military bases in many parts of Africa and remains an active participant in various military conflicts, which has earned it the reputation of being the continent’s main destabilizing force. Equally important is Paris’s stronghold over the economies of 14 African countries, which are forced to use French currency, the CFA franc and, according to Frederic Ange Toure, writing in Le Journal de l’Afrique, to “centralize 50% of their reserves in the French public treasury”.
Though many African countries remain neutral in the case of the Russia-Ukraine war, a massive geopolitical shift is underway, especially in militarily fragile, impoverished and politically unstable countries that are eager to seek alternatives to French and other western powers. For a country like Mali, shifting allegiances from Paris to Moscow was not exactly a great gamble. Bamako had very little to lose, but much to gain. The same logic applies to other African countries that are fighting extreme poverty, political instability and the threat of militancy, all of which are intrinsically linked.
Though China remains a powerful newcomer to Africa – a reality that continues to frustrate US policymakers – the more urgent battle, for now, is between Russia and France – the latter experiencing a palpable retreat.
In a speech last July, French President Emmanuel Macron declared that he wanted a “rethink of all our (military) postures on the African continent.” France’s military and foreign policy shift in Africa, however, was not compelled by strategy or vision, but by changing realities over which France has little control.
TeleSUR: Ocean Warming Rates to Quadruple by 2090
A new comprehensive review of global ocean temperature data has allowed researchers to paint a clear picture of ocean warming since the 1950s, and predict future warming scenarios.
Researchers found that the rate of warming in the upper 2,000 meters of the ocean in 2010 more than doubled that of 1960, and predicted that if actions were not taken, the rate of ocean warming would be four times larger than the current level by 2090, with dire consequences for all life on Earth, according to the study published in Nature Reviews on Tuesday.
Authors from the University of Auckland, the National Center of Atmospheric Research in Boulder, and research institutes from China, France, Australia, and Britain, said that if the world succeeds in limiting surface temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, as per the Paris Agreement, the acceleration of ocean warming will stop at around 2030.
Counterpunch: Climate Change and the Precarious Future of Bees
The extreme weather that has battered much of the U.S. in 2022 doesn’t just affect humans. Heat waves, wildfires, droughts and storms also threaten many wild species – including some that already face other stresses.
I’ve been researching bee health for over 10 years, with a focus on honey bees. In 2021, I began hearing for the first time from beekeepers about how extreme drought and rainfall were affecting bee colony health.
Drought conditions in the western U.S. in 2021 dried up bee forage – the floral nectar and pollen that bees need to produce honey and stay healthy. And extreme rain in the Northeast limited the hours that bees could fly for forage.
In both cases, managed colonies – hives that humans keep for honey production or commercial pollination – were starving. Beekeepers had to feed their bees more supplements of sugar water and pollen than they usually would to keep their colonies alive. Some beekeepers who had been in business for decades shared that they lost 50% to 70% of their colonies over the winter of 2021-2022.
These weather conditions likely also affected wild and native bees. And > unlike managed colonies, these important species did not receive supplements to buffer them through harsh conditions.
Each year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency host federal pollinator experts to share the latest scientific findings on bee and pollinator health, and assess the status of these important insects, birds, bats and other species. One clear takeaway from this year’s meeting was that climate change has become a new and formidable stressor for bees, potentially amplifying previously known issues in ways that scientists can’t yet predict but need to prepare for.
Pollinators contribute an estimated US$235 billion to $577 billionyearly to global agriculture, based on the value of the crops they pollinate. Understanding and mitigating the impacts of climate change on pollinators is key for supporting healthy ecosystems and sustainable agriculture.
Climate Home News: Thanks to fossil fuel crisis, wind and solar payback time drops to one year
Capital investment in renewables worldwide is set to outstrip oil and gas spending on new projects by almost $US50 billion this year, with soaring electricity prices reducing the payback period for solar and wind installations to less than a year, new research shows.
A Report from Rystad Energy says investment in renewables is forecast to reach US$494 billion in 2022 versus $US446 billion for oil and gas – the first time investment in renewables is set to be higher than for oil and gas.
The Rystad analysts say high spot electricity prices, particularly in Europe, are rewriting the utility wind and solar investment narrative as potential investment payback periods of under a year put extra shine on renewables energy economics.
“Capital investments in renewables are set to outstrip oil and gas for the first time this year as countries scramble to source secure and affordable energy,” says Rystad’s Michael Sarich.