Global Events, the United Nations, and Disease

TeleSUR: Yuan Becomes the Fifth Most Traded Currency in the World

The Chinese currency outperformed the Australian and Canadian dollars and the Swiss franc, placing it behind the U.S. dollar, the euro, the British pound and the Japanese yen.

The Chinese yuan has overtaken the Australian and Canadian dollars, as well as the Swiss franc, to become the world’s fifth most traded currency, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) reported.

The use of the Chinese currency increased by 7% of all foreign exchange transactions in 2022, up 3% from 2019, according to the Triennial Central Bank Survey of Foreign Exchange and Non-Standardized Derivatives Markets.

Reuters: Wheat climbs 5.5% as Russia withdraws from Black Sea export agreement

Chicago wheat futures jumped more than 5% on Monday and corn rose over 2% as Russia’s withdrawal from a Black Sea export agreement raised concerns over global grain supplies.

The most-active wheat contract on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) jumped 5.5% to $8.75 a bushel as of 0102 GMT, after earlier hitting a high of $8.93 a bushel.

Corn rose 2.2% to $6.96-1/4 a bushel and soybeans added 1% to $14.13-1/2 a bushel.



Reuters: Russia’s Lavrov needles Biden over Cuban missile crisis and Ukraine

In an interview for a Russian state television documentary on the missile crisis, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said there were similarities to 1962, largely because Russia was now threatened by Western weapons in Ukraine.

“I hope that in today’s situation, President Joe Biden will have more opportunities to understand who gives orders and how,” Lavrov said. “This situation is very disturbing.”

“The difference is that in the distant 1962, Khrushchev and Kennedy found the strength to show responsibility and wisdom, and now we do not see such readiness on the part of Washington and its satellites,” Lavrov said.

A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council declined to comment on Lavrov’s statements but pointed to past comments about keeping lines of communication open with Moscow.

RT: Russia tests new nuclear submarine – Navy chief

Russia is conducting a trial run of a new strategic nuclear submarine, the Navy commander in chief announced on Sunday, at a time of heightened tensions with the West.

“The newest nuclear-powered strategic missile undersea cruiser Generalissimo Suvorov is being tested,” Admiral Nikolay Yevmenov said, speaking on the 326th anniversary of the Russian Regular Navy’s establishment.

The Navy chief said the submarine was built at the Sevmash enterprise, Russia’s largest shipbuilding facility, in the northern city of Severodvinsk.

The ‘Generalissimo Suvorov’ is the sixth vessel of Russia’s 4th generation ballistic missile submarines and the second mass-produced ship of the upgraded Borei-A class. Each Borei-A vessel can carry up to 16 Bulava-class submarine-launched ballistic missiles, which could be armed with nuclear warheads. The boat was named after the 18th century general Alexander Suvorov, who is considered one of the greatest military commanders in Russian history.


WSWS: Macron calls to impoverish French workers by keeping wage rises below inflation

In an interview Wednesday evening on France2 television, President Emmanuel Macron set the course for his second term. Citing NATO’s war with Russia in Ukraine and its expansion into Europe, he refused to index French wages to the rapid inflation that is devastating the global economy and promised to slash pensions by raising the legal retirement age to 65.

With 500 French people dying every week from COVID-19, and a new deadly wave expected this winter, Macron did not mention any measures to stop the contagion.

His interview confirms the Marxist warning that imperialist war abroad goes hand in hand with class war against the workers at home. As over 10 percent inflation staggers Europe, Macron’s refusal to raise wages and his attack on pensions are evidence of his plan, shared by all the capitalist states of Europe, to massively reduce living standards. As during the two world wars of the 20th century, the capitalist system works for the immiseration of the working class.


WSWS: Spanish trade unions work to strangle mounting strike wave

Spain’s union bureaucracies are working to shut down a wave of strikes amid mounting working class opposition to the Socialist Party (PSOE)-Podemos government and the US-NATO war on Russia in Ukraine.

Last week, the USO union called off its a baggage handlers’ strike, demanding better conditions, against low-cost air carrier Ryanair in 22 Spanish airports. The USO claimed the PSOE-Podemos’ ministry of transport’s minimum service requirements “have made it impossible for workers to carry out the strike', adding that they are ‘abusive and clearly detrimental to the exercise of the right to strike, making it absolutely unfeasible.”

Accepting the decision of Spain’s large union bureaucracies to isolate the strike and bring out other sections of workers in defence of the baggage handlers, the USO proposed only to challenge the minimum service requirements in court. The USO’s capitulation comes amid a wave of struggles that have rocked the European airline industry this year, including Ryanair, Iberia Express, EasyJet, Lufthansa, Air France and SAS. It worked also to prevent the linking of the baggage handlers struggle with a flight attendants strike called by the STAVLA union.

The UGT, CCOO and SEMAF unions have also called off a 15,000-strong railway strike on Spain’s state-operated rail network, Renfe, that was set to start on Friday. Strike action was called over the company’s 2 percent wage increase offer, lack of trains, lack of drivers, and the fear that Renfe will transfer its powers to regions across the country, opening to further deterioration of the public railway system.

The unions called off the strike after Renfe agreed to the salary increases announced in the latest PSOE-Podemos budget. The budget includes below-inflation increases for civil servants like rail workers of 3.5 percent for 2022 and 2023 and 2.5 percent in 2024. This has been cynically celebrated as a “victory” by the unions, when it really means 3.5 million civil servants will see a collapse of real wages and purchasing power.

In the Basque country, 52,000 metal workers were called on a two-day strike on Thursday and Friday, with another one-day stoppage planned this Wednesday, demanding a pay rise which meets inflation. Workers reject the metal employer’s proposal of only10 percent increase spread over the next three years. With inflation running at 10 percent per year, this would represent a massive attack on living standards.

The CCOO, UGT and the Basque separatist unions ELA and LAB are not mobilising the whole strength of the metal workers, around 1 million across Spain. On the contrary, they are intervening to prevent any unified action, calling on their members in the same sector to strike at different dates in different regions.


EU Reporter: Germany dodges recession but inflation climbs to 11.6%

Germany escaped the threat of recession in its third quarter thanks to unexpected growth, but the economy remained in trouble as high inflation fueled by a difficult energy standoff with Russia soared, data from Friday (28 October) showed.

According to the federal statistics office, October’s consumer prices were 11.6% higher than the previous year. They are harmonised with those of other European Union countries. Reuters polled analysts and forecast 10.9%. This is unchanged from the previous month.

Friday’s warning by the Ifo economic institute was made despite the fact that a survey revealed that fewer companies in Germany were planning to increase prices in October, despite the fact that inflation has not reached all consumers.

Economists predicted that inflation would remain in double-digit territory for a while. This keeps pressure on the European Central Bank to keep raising interest rates after it raised them to the highest level since 2009.

Finanacial Times: German industrial workers fire warning shot with strikes over pay

Thousands of German industrial workers walked out for several hours over the weekend in an escalating pay dispute as leaders of Germany’s powerful IG Metall union warned of more strikes to come if employers failed to improve their offer.

Europe’s largest industrial union is demanding an 8 per cent wage increase for 3.9mn employees in Germany’s automotive, metal and electrical industries to compensate for surging inflation. The pay demand is the highest since 2008.

The sector is the backbone of Germany’s wider economy and a bellwether for wage agreements in other sectors.

Employer representatives have offered a one-off payment of €3,000 spread over 30 months, arguing that companies themselves were being squeezed by surging energy costs and a potential recession.

On Saturday night, employees of more than a dozen companies across Germany, including steelmaker ThyssenKrupp and automotive suppliers Bosch and ZF, began a rolling programme of what the union called temporary warning strikes. The stoppages each lasted for several hours and are set to continue into early November at different companies across Germany.

The impact on production was limited, but the stoppages were an important symbol of workers’ determination, a union official said.

“The employers’ refusal to enter proper wage negotiations triggered this escalation,” the union said in a statement over the weekend, adding that it would step up its walkouts over the coming days.


RT: Troubled Swiss lender to axe thousands of jobs

Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse on Thursday announced plans to slash 9,000 jobs and sell off its deal-making unit. The announcement follows a series of scandals and billions in losses.

According to the bank, it is cutting 2,700 jobs in the final quarter of 2022 and will reduce employee numbers by 9,000 by the end of 2025. This is around 17% of the company’s workforce of 52,000. The bank will raise around $4 billion in fresh capital to fund the overhaul.

Credit Suisse will also revive its First Boston name — the US-based investment bank it acquired in 1990 — as it separates its deal-making unit from the rest of the investment bank.

The overhaul is an urgent attempt to restore credibility at Credit Suisse. The bank racked up billions of dollars in losses from the 2021 collapse of hedge fund Archegos and financial services firm Greensill. This, along with the bank’s management chaos, shattered its status as one of Europe’s most prestigious lenders.


RT: Criminals in Finland obtain weapons from Ukraine – police

Criminals in Finland have got hold of some of the weapons that were sent to Ukraine by its Western backers amid the conflict with Russia, the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has said.

“We’ve seen signs of these weapons already finding their way to Finland,” NBI detective superintendent Christer Ahlgren told the news outlet Yle on Sunday.

Assault rifles were among the weaponry, Ahlgren said, but declined to provide further details, as the investigation is still ongoing.

Arms trafficking routes from Ukraine to Finland have already been set up, according to the investigator.

East Asia and Oceania


Jakarta Post: US should stop trying to suppress China, says Wang Yi

The United States should stop trying to contain and suppress China and avoid creating obstacles to the relationship, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his US counterpart on Monday.

Wang also said in a Monday phone call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that export controls that Washington imposed on China severely damaged its legitimate rights and must be rectified, according to a statement from the Chinese foreign ministry.

On the call, Blinken also discussed Russia’s war against Ukraine and the threats it poses to global security and economic stability, the US Department of State said in a separate statement.

Jakarta Post: China launches third and final module for Tiangong space station

China launched the final module of its Tiangong space station on Monday, state media said, the latest step in Beijing’s ambitious space programme.

The module named Mengtian, or “dreaming of heavens,” was “launched on a Long March 5B rocket from the Wenchang launch centre” on China’s tropical island Hainan, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

Al Jazeera: China locks down millions as COVID cases rise before winter

Officials in Chinese cities and provinces across the country are pulling no punches in stamping out sporadic COVID-19 outbreaks as winter nears, quickly closing venues and enforcing longer temporary lockdowns on millions of people.

Cases in mainland China hit 2,898 on Sunday, topping 2,000 for a second straight day and pressuring the country’s controversial zero-COVID policy, which has hamstrung the economy and exasperated its citizens.

Exasperated its civilians? Well, that’s about the worst thing that can happen to them. There are over 1 million American civilians who definitely aren’t complaining right now about coronavirus.

TeleSUR: China Adopts Law on Yellow River Conservation

On Sunday, the National People’s Congress (NPC) passed a law on the conservation of the Yellow River. The new law will take effect on April 1, 2023

As China’s second piece of legislation on a specific river basin after the Yangtze River Protection Law, the new law targets key problems of the Yellow River basin, including water shortages, ecological fragility and flooding.

To bolster ecological protection, the law stipulates that China will put the restoration of nature first while combining natural restoration with artificial restoration, and will intensify the comprehensive, systemic and source management of pollution in the Yellow River basin.

The law states that the country will make economical and intensive use of water resources in the Yellow River basin, with efforts made to promote water-efficient agricultural and industrial production, as well as water-saving urban activities.


TeleSUR: Bridge Collapse Kills 60 People in India

On Sunday, Gujarat’s Housing Minister Brijesh Merja confirmed that 60 people died as a result of the collapse of a suspension bridge in Morbi that broke while hundreds of people were crossing this infrastructure.

Authorities mobilized the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) for rescue operations in the area, said Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, who announced that he would be monitoring the situation in person.

“We are receiving all kinds of help… The NDRF and other agencies have been instructed to arrive at the scene,” the Regional Interior Minister Harsh Sanghavi said.

Most of the people injured in the collapse have been admitted to hospital. So far, local authorities have managed to rescue a good part of the people who fell into the river.


Reuters: Japan’s factory output falls for first time in four months as firms battle rising costs

Japan’s factory output fell in September for the first time in four months as manufacturers grappled with rising raw materials costs and global economic slowdown, and is likely to fall again next month before picking up in November, the government said.

In a brighter sign for the world’s third-largest economy, retail sales grew for a seventh consecutive month, raising hope for a sustainable boost in consumption after the easing of COVID-19-related inbound border controls earlier in October.

Inquirer: Japan likely spent record amount in October to prop up yen

Japan will announce on Monday that it spent what was likely a record amount on currency intervention this month to prop up the yen, with market players keen for clues about how much further the authorities might step in to ease the yen’s sharp fall.

A compilation of estimates by Tokyo money market brokers indicates that Japan likely spent a record 5.4 trillion yen ($24.9 billion) over two consecutive trading days of unannounced intervention on Oct. 21 and 24, in reaction to a steep drop in the yen to a 32-year low of 151.94 to the dollar on Oct. 21.

That would be nearly double the 2.8 trillion yen Tokyo spent last month in its first yen-buying and dollar-selling intervention in more than two decades.

The latest intervention helped to trigger an immediate drop in the dollar of more than 7 yen, but the Japanese currency has since come under renewed pressure.

South Korea

WSWS: Over 150 dead in Halloween disaster in South Korea

A crowd crush of people in Seoul, South Korea has left at least 154 people dead and another 149 people injured. The tragedy took place Saturday night as people, mostly in their late teens and 20s, gathered for Halloween parties in the city’s Itaewon district, known for its nightlife. It is the single largest loss of life in the country since the Sewol Ferry sinking in 2014.

Reuters: U.S. and South Korean warplanes begin largest ever air drills

The United States and South Korea began one of their largest combined military air drills on Monday, with hundreds of warplanes from both sides staging mock attacks 24 hours a day for the better part of a week.

The operation, called Vigilant Storm, will run until Friday, and will feature about 240 warplanes conducting about 1,600 sorties, the U.S. Air Force said in a statement last week. That number of missions is the highest ever for this annual event, it added.

Pyongyang has condemned joint drills as a rehearsal for invasion and proof of hostile policies by Washington and Seoul. In protest of recent drills, North Korea has launched missiles, conducted air drills, and fired artillery into the sea.


Iraqi News: Philippines storm death toll jumps to 98

The death toll from a storm that battered the Philippines has jumped to 98, the national disaster agency said Monday, with little hope of finding survivors in the worst-hit areas.

Just over half the fatalities were from a series of flash floods and landslides unleashed by Tropical Storm Nalgae, that destroyed villages on the southern island of Mindanao on Friday.


WSWS: Australian state election campaign in Victoria—major parties conceal preparations for austerity agenda

Ahead of the November 26 state election in Victoria, the political establishment is suppressing any public discussion on the coming austerity spending cuts that will be implemented regardless of which party wins office.

The pro-business, right-wing Labor government of Premier Daniel Andrews has been in power since 2014, and presides over Australia’s worst state debt and deficit situation. Debt stands at $101 billion and is projected to increase to $259 billion in just over a decade. Victoria’s budget deficit is equivalent to 3.6 percent of gross state product, significantly higher than any other state.

Official forecasts of a return to surplus by 2026 is based on unrealistic economic growth projections of around 3 percent a year for the next four years. These forecasts were outlined in the government’s annual budget last May, and have already been exposed by the worsening global capitalist crisis, which has included supply chain breakdowns and rapidly escalating costs of living. In the May budget, Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas projected annual inflation this year of 4.75 percent—just a month later, the June consumer price index showed the real figure for the state capital of Melbourne at 6.1 percent. Actual costs of living for working-class people are rising substantially higher than the official figures.

Jakarta Post: US plans to deploy B-52s to north Australia amid China tensions

The United States is planning to deploy up to six nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to an air base in northern Australia, a source familiar with the matter said on Monday, amid heightened tensions with China.

Dedicated facilities for the bombers will be set up at the Royal Australian Air Force’s remote Tindal base, about 300 km (190 miles) south of Darwin, the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory, said the source, who declined to be identified because they are not authorised to speak publicly on the issue.

The development was first reported by the Australian Broadcasting Corp’s Four Corners programme, citing US documents.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Australia engages with the United States on defence alliances “from time to time”.

“There are visits, of course, to Australia, including in Darwin, that has US Marines, of course, on a rotating basis stationed there,” Albanese said during a media conference.

Australia’s Northern Territory is already host to frequent military collaborations with the United States. Thousands of US Marines rotate through the territory annually for training and joint exercises, started under President Barack Obama.

Central Asia and the Middle East


TeleSUR: Lebanese President Leaves Office Amid Steep Financial Crisis

On Sunday, President Michel Aoun departed the presidential palace a day before the end of his term, leaving Lebanon in a power vacuum amid a steep financial crisis.

Hundreds of supporters gathered at Baabda Palace to bid farewell to Aoun by chanting slogans and carrying portraits of Aoun, who departed the palace despite the failure of political parties to reach a consensus on the appointment of a new president.

During his farewell ceremony, Aoun confirmed that he had signed a decree approving the resignation of the cabinet of Prime Minister Najib Mikati, who had been in power since June.

“The decree… lacks any constitutional value,” said Mikati, whose government went into interim power after May’s parliamentary elections.


WSWS: Israeli crackdown to crush insurgency in the occupied West Bank

The last four weeks have seen escalating levels of violence—the worst since the Second Intifada that started in September 2000—against Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank by both Israeli security forces and far right settler groups, acting in concert.

Few days pass without reports of Israeli forces killing Palestinians, with two killed near the northern city of Nablus on Friday, and another shot in Hebron on Saturday after allegedly killing an Israeli in the southern city that has long been roiled by the provocative actions of religious zealots.

The violence follows months of almost daily wide-scale raids and arrest operations on the northern cities of Nablus and Jenin. These were placed under the security and administrative control of the Palestinian Authority (PA) by the Oslo Accords. The accompanying curfews, roadblocks and tight restrictions on movement have brought economic life to a standstill.

Operation “Break the Wave” was launched in April by the then Prime Minister Naftali Bennett after a spate of attacks by desperate Palestinians, with little known association to each other or any armed groups, killed 19 Israeli Jews. He put the military on high alert, dispatched extra troops to the West Bank and called on people to carry arms.

Bennett said, “Whoever has a gun license, this is the time to carry a gun,” giving the green light to ultra-nationalist and settler groups to set up militias and go on the rampage. It was a declaration of war on the Palestinians.

At least 175 Palestinians have been killed this year, more than 44 in the last two months, making 2022 the deadliest in the last 16 years. Hundreds more have been injured, while at least 1,500 people have been arrested, leaving detention centres full to overflowing.

Defence for Children International – Palestine reported that 29 children have been killed by Israeli soldiers, explaining, “All of the children were killed after being shot with live ammunition in their upper extremities. This is evidence of intentional killing.”


Iraqi News: Algeria hosts first Arab summit since Israel normalisation deals

Arab leaders are to meet in the Algerian capital on Tuesday for their first summit since a string of normalisation deals with Israel that have divided the region.

The 22-member Arab League held its last summit in 2019, prior to both the coronavirus pandemic and the UAE’s historic US-backed deal establishing diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.

The agreement, only Israel’s third such deal with an Arab state, was followed by similar accords with Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco, deepening the kingdom’s decades-old rivalry with its neighbour Algeria.

The host of the November 1-2 summit, a steadfast supporter of the Palestinians, mediated a reconciliation deal in October between rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas.

While few believe the deal will last, it was seen as a public relations coup for Algeria, which has been seeking an enhanced regional and international role, on the back of its growing status as a sought-after gas exporter.

But Algeria has been unnerved by Morocco’s security and defence cooperation with Israel, adding to decades of mistrust fuelled by a dispute over the Western Sahara.


Reuters: Ghana president says IMF talks will not lead to a debt haircut

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo on Sunday said talks with the International Monetary Fund were going well and sought to reassure investors that the negotiations would not lead to a reduction in the face value of government bonds.

The president’s speech to the nation sought to reassure Ghanaians and the markets that the government can curb an economic crisis that has forced it to turn to the Fund for financial support.


TeleSUR: At Least 100 Killed and 300 Wounded in Twin Blasts in Somalia

On Saturday, twin car bomb explosions targeting Somalia’s Education Ministry building killed at least 100 people and injured over 300 citizens, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said.

A vehicle packed with explosives rammed into the education ministry building located at a busy junction, followed by gunfire. Another blast later occurred in the same area. Several government offices, hotels and restaurants are situated near the bombing site.

An unspecified number of people, including journalists and police officers, were among the casualties, Police Force spokesperson Sadiq Dudishe said. The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab group, which controls large parts of the country, claimed responsibility.

President Mohamud vowed to step up the onslaught against the terrorists behind a series of attacks. Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre said such action by al-Shabab won’t stop the government’s commitment to eradicating terrorism.

North America

United States

WSWS: Pediatric health care workers plead for help as US hospitals are overwhelmed by spread of respiratory viruses

Pediatric hospitals throughout the United States are facing an unprecedented crisis as they are inundated with infants and children suffering from a number of respiratory illnesses, most predominantly respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), that are ripping through the child population. While reports show that three-quarters of all pediatric hospital beds in the US are now occupied, the number of intensive care unit (ICU) beds for the sickest children are at or near capacity as greater numbers of children are being hospitalized.

Caribbean and South America


Common Dreams: ‘A Brazil of Hope’ as Leftist Lula Defeats Far-Right Bolsonaro in Presidential Runoff

“A huge blow against fascistic politics and a huge victory for decency and sanity.”

That’s how RootsAction director Norman Solomon described Brazilian President-Elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s Sunday presidential runoff victory against far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, the culmination of a most remarkable political comeback for a man who was languishing behind bars just three years ago.

With 99% of votes counted via an electronic system that tallies final results in a matter of hours—and which was repeatedly aspersed by Bolsonaro in an effort to cast doubt on the election’s veracity—da Silva led the incumbent by more than two million ballots, or nearly two percentage points.

Common Dreams: Brazilian Left Alleges Voter Suppression as Police Highway Stops Soar 80% on Election Day

As Brazilians vote in Sunday’s presidential runoff, democracy defenders are sounding the alarm over what many observers claim is widespread voter suppression by federal police in an attempt by far-right President Jair Bolsonaro to steal the election.

The campaign of Workers’ Party (PT) challenger Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva asked Brazil’s Superior Electoral Court (TSE) to subpoena Silvinei Vasques, director-general of the Federal Highway Police (PRF), amid videos, photos, and reports—especially in the Northeast, a PT stronghold—of officers blocking highways and stopping buses transporting voters to polling places.

On Saturday, Alexandre de Moraes, who heads the TSE, banned PRF from conducting any operations relating to public transport until after Sunday’s election. However, according to PRF figures reviewed by The Brazilian Report, routine vehicle searches soared by 80% Sunday compared with October 2, the date of the first-round vote.

De Moraes said Sunday that none of the voter bus surveillance operations—which, according to PRF involved traffic code violations—prevented people from voting, although he said there were delays in getting to the polls.

However, PT politicians and supporters pointed to reporting by journalist Lauro Jardim claiming the PRF operation was planned at Bolsonaro’s residence earlier this month, and a since-deleted Instagram post in which Vasques urged his followers to vote for Bolsonaro, as evidence of something more nefarious.

“I don’t want to believe that it’s an orchestrated action for the people not to go to vote, but it’s happening at this exact moment, in the middle of Election Day, in a blitz by the Highway Patrol at the entrance to Cuité,” Charles Camaraense, mayor of Cuité, a town of 20,000 inhabitants in the interior of the northeastern state of Paraíba, said on social media.

The Ukraine Proxy Conflict

WSWS: Attack on Russian fleet threatens collapse of deal ensuring vital grain shipments

A swarm of Ukrainian air and naval drones carried out a massive attack Saturday on the Russian Black Sea Fleet docked at Sevastopol in Crimea, provoking the breakdown of a grain shipment agreement and threatening hunger for millions of people around the world.

Russia claimed that at least one of the drones was launched from the security zone guaranteed by the grain corridor.

The Russian foreign ministry said the strikes were “directed, among other things, against Russian ships that ensure the functioning of the specified humanitarian corridor.” Following the attack, the ministry claimed that “the Russian side cannot guarantee the safety of civilian dry cargo ships participating in the ‘Black Sea Initiative.’”

The Black Sea Grain Initiative was an agreement between Russia and Ukraine, brokered by Turkey in July, that allowed the transportation of 9.5 million tons of food products out of Ukraine and onto global markets, against the backdrop of an unprecedented surge in food prices.

Like the bombing of the Kerch Bridge and the assassination of Russian fascist ideologue Daria Dugina, the announcement of the Ukrainian attack followed a similar pattern. The New York Times reported that Ukrainian forces carried out the attack, confirming the assertions of Russian officials.

WSWS: Russia accuses Britain of blowing up Nord Stream pipelines

The Russian government has accused Britain of playing a major role in the September 26 blowing up of the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines.

Analysis and Retrospectives

Inside the Imperial Core

Naked Capitalism: The Ongoing Criminalization of Homelessness

As Washington shovels billions to Ukraine for war, the homeless population in the US continues to swell. In just about every way imaginable, the news is getting worse.

The number of older Americans who find themselves facing homelessness after a job loss, divorce, family death or health crisis is growing rapidly. The number of Americans dying while homeless has surged dramatically in the past five years.

Not surprisingly, the US doesn’t have a great way to collect data on the crisis, but it’s believed that upwards of 580,000 Americans are homeless, and that might be vastly undercounted.

The numbers are tallied by volunteers, and a count hasn’t been done since 2020 due to the pandemic. Regardless, the number is expected to be much higher when the 2022 report is released. From the AP:

Fueled by a long-running housing shortage, rising rent prices and the economic hangover from the pandemic, the overall number of homeless in a federal government report to be released in coming months is expected to be higher than the 580,000 unhoused before the coronavirus outbreak, the National Alliance to End Homelessness said.

If one doesn’t live in an area hosting modern-day Hoovervilles, they can peruse the news and read stories of homeless students and veterans, how up to 60 percent of the homeless are employed but are without shelter due to low wages and the high cost of living, homelessness caused by a car that broke down, domestic violence, medical bills, declines in public assistance, and on and on.

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, it would cost $20 billion to end homelessness in the US – in other words, a fraction of what the US has sent to fund its proxy war against Russia in Ukraine.

But it would be unfair to say that the US is doing nothing. States and localities across the country continue to pass laws criminalizing “public camping.” Because the problem isn’t really that millions of people are suffering and sleeping on the streets; it’s that the rest of society is forced to see them on a daily basis. From NPR:

Public pressure to do something about the increasing number of highly visible homeless encampments has pushed even many traditionally liberal cities to clear them.

To be fair, in some places the laws are rarely enforced, but in others they’re used on a near-daily basis.

Outside the Imperial Core

Canadian Dimension: Does the US chip ban on China amount to a declaration of war in the computer age?

The United States has gambled big in its latest across-the-board sanctions on Chinese companies in the semiconductor industry, believing it can kneecap China and retain its global dominance. From the slogans of globalization and “free trade” of the neoliberal 1990s, Washington has reverted to good old technology denial regimes that the US and its allies followed during the Cold War. While it might work in the short run in slowing down the Chinese advances, the cost to the US semiconductor industry of losing China—its biggest market—will have significant consequences in the long run. In the process, the semiconductor industries of Taiwan and South Korea and equipment manufacturers in Japan and the European Union are likely to become collateral damage. It reminds us again of what former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once said: “It may be dangerous to be America’s enemy, but to be America’s friend is fatal.”

The purpose of the US sanctions, the second generation of sanctions after the earlier one in August 2021, is to restrict China’s ability to import advanced computing chips, develop and maintain supercomputers, and manufacture advanced semiconductors. Though the US sanctions are cloaked in military terms—denying China access to technology and products that can help China’s military—in reality, these sanctions target almost all leading semiconductor players in China and, therefore, its civilian sector as well. The fiction of ‘barring military use’ is only to provide the fig leaf of a cover under the World Trade Organization (WTO) exceptions on having to provide market access to all WTO members. Most military applications use older-generation chips and not the latest versions.

The sanctions also encompass any company that uses US technology or products in its supply chain. This is a provision in the US laws: any company that ‘touches’ the United States while manufacturing its products is automatically brought under the US sanctions regime. It is a unilateral extension of the United States’ national legal jurisdiction and can be used to punish and crush any entity—a company or any other institution—that is directly or indirectly linked to the United States. These sanctions are designed to completely decouple the supply chain of the United States and its allies—the European Union and East Asian countries—from China.

In addition to the latest US sanctions against companies that are already on the list of sanctioned Chinese companies, a further 31 new companies have been added to an “unverified list.” These companies must provide complete information to the US authorities within two months, or else they will be barred as well. Furthermore, no US citizen or anyone domiciled in the United States can work for companies on the sanctioned or unverified lists, not even to maintain or repair equipment supplied earlier.

The global semiconductor industry’s size is currently more than $500 billion and is likely to double its size to $1 trillion by 2030. According to a Semiconductor Industry Association and Boston Consulting Group report of 2020—“Turning the Tide for Semiconductor Manufacturing in the US”—China is expected to account for approximately 40 percent of the semiconductor industry growth by 2030, displacing the United States as the global leader. This is the immediate trigger for the US sanctions and its attempt to halt China’s industry from taking over the lead from the United States and its allies.

While the above measures are intended to isolate China and limit its growth, there is a downside for the United States and its allies in sanctioning China.

The problem for the United States—more so for Taiwan and South Korea—is that China is their biggest trading partner. Imposing such sanctions on equipment and chips also means destroying a good part of their market with no prospect of an immediate replacement. This is true not only for China’s East Asian neighbours but also for equipment manufacturers like the Dutch company ASML, the world’s only supplier of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography machines that produces the latest chips. For Taiwan and South Korea, China is not only the biggest export destination for their semiconductor industry as well as other industries, but also one of their biggest suppliers for a range of products. The forcible separation of China’s supply chain in the semiconductor industry is likely to be accompanied by separation in other sectors as well.

The US companies are also likely to see a big hit to their bottom line—including equipment manufacturers such as Lam Research Corporation, Applied Materials, and KLA Corporation; the electronic design automation (EDA) tools such as Synopsys and Cadence; and advanced chip suppliers like Qualcomm, Nvidia, and AMD. China is the largest destination for all these companies. The problem for the United States is that China is not only the fastest-growing part of the world’s semiconductor industry but also the industry’s biggest market. So the latest sanctions will cripple not only the Chinese companies on the list but also the US semiconductor firms, drying up a significant part of their profits and, therefore, their future research and development (R&D) investments in technology. While some of the resources for investments will come from the US government—for example, the $52.7 billion chip manufacturing subsidy—they do not compare to the losses the US semiconductor industry will suffer as a result of the China sanctions. This is why the semiconductor industry had suggested narrowly targeted sanctions on China’s defence and security industry, not the sweeping sanctions that the United States has now introduced; the scalpel and not the hammer.

Counterpunch: Guinea’s Plight Lays Bare the Greed of Foreign Mining Companies in the Sahel

On October 20, 2022, in Guinea, a protest organized by the National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC) took place. The protesters demanded the ruling military government (the National Committee of Reconciliation and Development, or CNRD) release political detainees and sought to establish a framework for a return to civilian rule. They were met with violent security forces, and in Guinea’s capital, Conakry, at least five people were injured and three died from gunshot wounds. The main violence was in Conakry’s commune of Ratoma, one of the poorest areas in the city.

In September 2021, the CNRD, led by Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, overthrew the government of Alpha Condé, which had been in power for more than a decade and was steeped in corruption. In 2020, then-President Alpha Condé’s son—Alpha Mohamed Condé—and his minister of defense—Mohamed Diané—were accused of bribery in a complaint that the Collective for the Transition in Guinea (CTG) filed with the French National Financial Prosecutor’s Office. The complaint alleges that these men received bribes from an international consortium in exchange for bauxite mining rights near the city of Boké.

Boké, in northwestern Guinea, is the epicenter of the country’s bauxite mining. Guinea has the world’s largest reserves of bauxite (estimated to be 7.4 billion metric tons) and is the second-largest producer (after Australia) of bauxite, an essential mineral for aluminum. All the mining in Guinea is controlled by multinational firms, such as Alcoa (U.S.), China Hongqiao, and Rio Tinto Alcan (Anglo-Australian), which operate in association with Guinean state entities.

When the CNRD under Colonel Doumbouya seized power, one of the main issues at stake was control over the bauxite revenues. In April 2022, Doumbouya assembled the major mining companies and told them that by the end of May they had to provide a road map for the creation of bauxite refineries in Guinea or else exit the country. Doumbouya said, “Despite the mining boom in the bauxite sector, it is clear that the expected revenues are below expectations. We can no longer continue this fool’s game that perpetuates great inequality” between Guinea and the international companies. The deadline was extended to June, and the ultimatum’s demands to cooperate or leave are ongoing.

Doumbouya’s CNRD in Guinea, like the military governments in Burkina Faso and Mali, came to power amid popular sentiment fed up with the oligarchies in their country and with French rule. Doumbouya’s 2017 comments in Paris reflect that latter sentiment. He said that French military officers who come to Guinea “underestimate the human and intellectual capacities of Africans… They have haughty attitudes and take themselves for the colonist who knows everything, who masters everything.” This coup government—formed out of an elite force created by Alpha Condé to fight terrorism—has captured the frustrations of the population, but is unable to construct a viable agenda to exit the country’s dependence on foreign mining companies. In the meantime, the protests for a return to democracy are unlikely to be quelled.

Climate Change

Common Dreams: Humans Are Devastating Wildlife, Report Warns Ahead of UN Biodiversity Talks

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