Global Events, the United Nations, and Disease
Multipolarista: UN votes 152 to 5 telling Israel to get rid of its nuclear weapons
The vast majority of countries on Earth voted in the United Nations General Assembly to condemn the Israeli apartheid regime for having nuclear weapons, in flagrant violation of international law.
Israel is the only country in West Asia that has nukes. Tel Aviv has not officially acknowledged its possession of the planet-destroying weapons, but experts estimate it has at least 90 nuclear warheads, and perhaps hundreds.
On October 28, a staggering 152 countries (79% of all UN member states) adopted a resolution that called on Israel to give up its atomic bombs, join the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to supervise its nuclear facilities.
Just five countries voted against the measure: the United States and Canada, the small island nations of Palau and Micronesia, and apartheid Israel itself.
Another 24 countries abstained, mostly members of the European Union, NATO allies, and India.
Financial Times: Maersk warns global trade indicators at ‘dark red’ on looming recession
Global trade is likely to slow this year as western economies tip into recession, according to the chief executive of the world’s second-largest container shipping group AP Møller-Maersk.
Søren Skou, head of the Danish group, told the Financial Times that after years of bumper profits, the bellwether of global trade is expecting earnings, demand and shipping freight rates to shrink because of falls in consumer confidence and consumption.
“We see a recession looming . . . On the one hand, we have never delivered such a great result financially, but every indicator we are looking at is flashing dark red. Clearly, we expect a slowdown, we expect lower earnings going forward,” Skou said.
SCMP: Did Nasa imitate China’s Mars robot? Scientists say rovers share ‘inchworm’ design
Nasa’s latest moon rover appears to borrow from the design of a Chinese robot on Mars, according to scientists familiar with the projects – a twist in a space rivalry in which China has long been accused of being the copycat.
Zhu Rong, a robotic rover named after the Chinese god of fire, has been roaming the red planet for more than a year. It features an active suspension system that simulates the movement of an inchworm, allowing it to pull its wheels free when they become stuck in rocks or sand. The unprecedented design significantly increases the rover’s mobility and chance of survival in rough terrain.
But Zhu Rong may soon have an imitator “inching” its way over extraterrestrial surfaces. The Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER), under development at Nasa’s Ames Research Centre in California, will also “inchworm – or move its wheels in a special, caterpillar-like coordinated way that helps the rover get itself unstuck”, according to Nasa’s website.
In July, a VIPER prototype with this feature completed a ground test at Nasa’s Glenn Research Centre in Cleveland. The rover is expected to be deployed during a 2024 mission to find water at the moon’s south pole as part of the Nasa-led Artemis programme.
“This is a copy of the Chinese design,” said a Beijing-based space scientist who has been closely monitoring the projects.
Reuters: Energy crisis chips away at Europe’s industrial might
Europe needs its industrial companies to save energy amid soaring costs and shrinking supplies, and they are delivering - demand for natural gas and electricity both fell in the past quarter.
It is far too early to rejoice, though. The drop is not just because industrial companies are turning down thermostats, they are also shutting down plants that may never reopen.
And while lower energy use helps Europe weather the crisis sparked by Russia’s war in Ukraine and Moscow’s supply cuts, executives, economists and industry groups warn its industrial base may end up severely weakened if high energy costs persist.
Energy-intensive industries, such as aluminium, fertilisers, and chemicals are at risk of companies permanently shifting production to locations where cheap energy abounds, such as the United States.
Even as an unusually warm October and projections of a mild winter helped drive prices lower, natural gas in the United States still costs about a fifth what companies pay in Europe.
“A lot of companies are just quitting production,” Patrick Lammers, management board member at utility E.ON (EONGn.DE) told a conference in London last month. “They actually demand destruct.”
Euro-zone manufacturing activity this month hit its weakest level since May 2020, signaling Europe was heading for a recession.
RT: Russia demands Black Sea corridor guarantees from Ukraine
Kiev should provide “real guarantees” that it would not use the Black Sea corridor created as part of an Istanbul grain deal in its military activities, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a phone conversation on Tuesday. The two were discussing the circumstances that could convince Moscow to return to its own commitments under the agreement.
Financial Times: Russia agrees to rejoin Ukraine grain export deal
Grain shipments from Ukraine will resume on Wednesday after Russia agreed to rejoin a UN-backed initiative to allow their export, ending a stand-off that threatened to reignite a global food crisis.
Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Sergei Shoigu, the Russian defence minister, had phoned his Turkish counterpart to say Moscow was back on board.
Erdoğan, who has maintained close ties with Vladimir Putin since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine and helped broker the original grain deal in July, said Putin told him he would like to see “the poorest countries of Africa” benefit first.
The next shipments of grains will head to Somalia, Djibouti and Sudan, countries particularly vulnerable without Ukrainian agricultural imports, the Turkish president added.
RT: UK households face ‘very, very hard’ winter – National Grid
Many British households will struggle to pay energy bills this winter that could be double what they are accustomed to despite a government price cap, the National Grid’s CEO, John Pettigrew, has warned.
In an interview with the Financial Times on Tuesday, he said he was “under no illusions” and that Brits would find the upcoming winter “financially very, very hard.”
“Even with the [taxpayer-funded] price cap this is a doubling-up of what people are used to paying for their energy bills,” Pettigrew said, adding: “Therefore, inevitably there are going to be people who are going to struggle.”
Reuters: UK fresh food prices rise 13.3% in year to October - BRC
The cost of fresh food in British shops last month was 13.3% higher than a year earlier, the biggest annual increase in records going back to 2005, the British Retail Consortium said on Wednesday.
The BRC, a trade body, said its broader measure of shop price inflation picked up to 6.6% in October from 5.7%, while food prices overall rose 11.6%, as the cost of less perishable foodstuffs rose more slowly than prices for fresh items.
Monthly Review: Scotland passes emergency rent freeze and eviction ban laws
(originally published on October 28th)
Emergency legislation protecting under-pressure tenants from rent increases and evictions as four-decade high inflation continues to rise became law in Scotland today.
The Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) Act allows ministers to temporarily freeze rent increases for private and social tenants and for student accommodation.
It applies to in-tenancy rent rises, with the cap set at 0 per cent from September 6 until at least the end of March next year.
The SNP administration can extend the temporary legislation—passed by MSPs earlier this month—for a further two six-month periods if it chooses.
The Bill prevents evictions over the same period, except in some specified circumstances, and damages for unlawful eviction have also been increased to a maximum of 36 months’ worth of rent.
WSWS: UK: Hull Stagecoach bus strike enters fourth week
Stagecoach bus workers in Hull, East Yorkshire have been on strike for over four weeks, fighting for a pay rise. A demonstration and rally on Saturday of around 200 in the city centre was organised by the local trades council.
Around 250 members of the Unite union—drivers, engineers, cleaners and customer assistants—began all out action on October 7 which is scheduled to run to December 29.
RT: UK lacks pilots for F-35 jets – defense secretary
The UK military does not have enough pilots to operate its state-of-the-art F-35 fighters due to training issues, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said on Tuesday. The UK has over two dozen of the warplanes.
Speaking to the House of Lords, Wallace admitted that manning all of the F-35s presents “quite a challenge.” Explaining the reasons, he noted that flight training has been plagued by delays, with pilots waiting up to eight years before meeting the requirements to operate the sophisticated fighters instead of the target time of two to three years.
“Our pilot pipeline is not in a place I would want it to be,” he said.
According to Wallace, another factor is that the F-35s are relatively new.
In total, the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy plan to operate 138 5th-generation F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing aircraft. However, the UK has so far purchased only 27 of the aircraft in the joint US-led program.
WSWS: German government plans hospital “reforms”: A recipe for more cuts
Almost three years of the coronavirus pandemic and a current inflation rate of more than 10 percent have pushed many hospitals and health care workers to their limit. This year, hospitals can only claim price increases of about 2.3 percent, which covers about one-fifth of the actual inflation rate. It is therefore not surprising that two in five hospitals consider insolvency a possibility.
A study by management consultants Roland Berger found that almost 70 percent of hospitals expect to run a deficit this year. Among the public/state-funded hospitals, the figure is 90 percent; 96 percent expect the economic situation to worsen in the next five years.
TeleSUR: Dutch Gov’t Plans New Levy for Fossil Fuel Companies
The Dutch government said Tuesday that it plans to raise 3.2 billion euros (3.2 billion U.S. dollars) through a new levy on companies in the fossil fuel sector.
The funds will be used to ease the burden of the energy crisis on consumers.
The so-called “temporary solidarity contribution” for crude oil, natural gas, coal and petroleum refining companies will be introduced retroactively over the year 2022, according to a letter sent to the Dutch parliament by the Finance Ministry.
Al Jazeera: Denmark centre-left bloc wins narrow victory in nail-biting vote
Denmark’s centre-left bloc led by Mette Frederiksen, the Social Democratic incumbent prime minister, has won a one-seat majority in a nail-biter of a general election.
Frederiksen’s five-party “red” coalition looked set to lose its majority as vote counting wore on throughout Tuesday evening, but as the last votes were tallied, it eked out the 87 seats it needed in mainland Denmark.
Together with another three seats from the autonomous overseas territories of the Faroe Islands and Greenland, the bloc holds a total of 90 of parliament’s 179 seats.
Opinion polls had predicted a historically weak election for the Social Democrats, but they instead gained two seats compared with the last election, winning 27.5 percent of votes.
Reuters: Germany tells Serbia: you have to choose between EU and Russia
Serbia must decide whether it wants to join the European Union or enter into a partnership with Russia, Germany told Belgrade on Tuesday, two days before six Western Balkan countries are scheduled to discuss closer cooperation in Berlin.
“The need for a decision is coming to a head in view of geopolitical developments,” a German government representative said in reference to Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Serbia, which was bombed by NATO two decades ago but now seeks to join the European Union, has long struggled to balance historically close ties with Russia against aspirations for economic and political integration with the West.
An agreement between Serbia and Russia on enhanced cooperation had been met with surprise and disappointment, and was a poor fit with expectations that EU accession candidates should also adopt EU sanctions against Russia, the representative said.
East Asia and Oceania
Reuters: U.S. says China resisting nuclear talks after Xi vow to boost deterrent
Despite the lesson of the Cuban missile crisis 60 years ago, China has shown no interest in discussing steps to reduce the risk posed by nuclear weapons, senior U.S. officials said on Tuesday, after Chinese leader Xi Jinping signaled last month that Beijing would strengthen its strategic deterrent.
Despite the les- DESPITE THE LESSON OF THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS? Yeah, the lesson of that was definitely that we need to try and reduce China’s number of nuclear warheads while doing nothing about our own. You’re LITERALLY trying to put nukes in Finland and Australia. What the fuck are you talking about?
The Pentagon says China is undergoing a major expansion of its nuclear forces and is moving toward having 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2030. But Beijing has long resisted arms control talks with Washington, arguing that the United States already has a much larger arsenal.
Alexandra Bell, deputy assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification and compliance, told an Atlantic Council that despite U.S. efforts, Washington and Beijing still had not begun engagement on the issue.
Reuters: China aims to ship 25 million virtual reality devices by 2026
China released its first action plan dedicated to virtual reality on Tuesday, with an aim its industry ship more than 25 million devices with a value exceeding 350 billion yuan ($48.20 billion) by 2026.
It was published by five ministries in Beijing, led by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and categorised virtual reality as a key industry for the digital economy under the country’s 14th five-year plan.
SCMP: Coronavirus: China locks down massive area around world’s largest iPhone factory
Chinese authorities on Wednesday imposed a seven-day lockdown in an area surrounding the world’s largest iPhone factory in the central province of Henan.
The move came after workers from Foxconn Technology Group had fled the company’s main plant located in the Zhengzhou Airport Economy Zone following restrictions that were implemented due to a coronavirus outbreak.
Authorities said the district lockdown will last until noon on November 9, according to a statement posted on an official account. Extensions of such lockdowns in China are common.
“The current pandemic situation is severe and complicated,” the statement said, adding the lockdown was intended “to protect the lives and health of the people, reduce the flow of people, and quickly and effectively contain the spread of the pandemic”.
Private businesses have been closed, gatherings are suspended and only essential traffic is being allowed. Government employees were told to work from home or volunteer help for local mass testing or other community needs.
During the lockdown, authorities said mass testing would be conducted daily, and those who did not get tested would be assigned a yellow code on their health code apps.
The statement said that authorities would “resolutely crack down on all kinds of violations”, and “strictly deal with those found to be disobedient”, referring to punishment for people who did not follow orders, left an area without permission or gathered in crowds.
The news came days after many of Foxconn’s nearly 300,000 employees began leaving the industrial zone to return to their homes to avoid an outbreak.
Financial Times: Chinese stocks boosted by Covid vaccine progress and looser restrictions rumour
Chinese pharmaceutical stocks and the broader market received a boost on Wednesday after local authorities approved a new vaccine to tackle coronavirus, amid rumours that Beijing was looking at relaxing its zero-Covid policy.
Shares in CanSino Biologics rose as much as 70 per cent in Hong Kong after the Chinese pharma group said its inhaled Covid-19 vaccine had been approved for use in some cities. Its mainland China-listed shares also added as much as 20 per cent.
Financial Times: Republicans slam Pentagon plan to pull permanent F-15 force from Okinawa
Republican lawmakers have criticised a plan by the Pentagon to replace F-15 fighter jets permanently based in Okinawa with a temporary rotating force, saying it would send the wrong signal to China about US deterrence.
The criticism followed a report in the Financial Times that the US air force would withdraw two squadrons of F-15 Eagles from Kadena air force base in Okinawa, as part of a modernisation programme.
The air force will temporarily replace the 48 F-15s with more advanced F-22 stealth fighters from Alaska, but critics have raised concern that the Pentagon has not established a long-term solution to replace the jets in Japan.
In a letter to US defence secretary Lloyd Austin, Marco Rubio, the Republican vice-chair of the Senate intelligence committee, and Mike Gallagher, an influential Republican congressman, said the plan to replace the jets in the short term with rotational deployments would “lead to a tangible reduction in American forward combat power in the Indo-Pacific”.
They said it would result in “lowering the bar for aggression and demonstrating a continuing mismatch between the Biden administration’s talking points on the Indo-Pacific and America’s actual commitments in the region”.
“We are concerned that the Department of Defense’s decision sends the wrong signal, not only to the Chinese Communist party, but also to our allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific,” the lawmakers wrote to Austin.
RT: Russia is India’s top oil supplier – Economic Times
Russia overtook Saudi Arabia and Iraq to become India’s largest oil supplier in October, the Economic Times reported on Wednesday, citing energy cargo tracker Vortexa.
Russia’s overall crude exports to the South Asian country rose 8% month-on-month to 946,000 barrels per day, according to the report. The country accounted for 22% of India’s total oil imports in October, exceeding Iraq’s 20.5% and Saudi Arabia’s 16%.
It was also the first time that India imported more seaborne Russian oil than the EU. Brussels placed economic sanctions on Moscow this year, including an embargo on Russian seaborne oil set to come into force next month, and curtailed overall oil purchases from the country. Russia’s October crude deliveries to India were 34% higher than those to the EU.
China remained Russia’s largest seaborne oil buyer last month, importing around 1 million barrels per day, the report said.
Euro News: North Korea launches several missiles aimed at South in another apparent test
A North Korean ballistic missile landed less than 60 kilometres off South Korea’s coast on Wednesday in a barrage of apparent tests President Yoon Suk-yeol said was “effectively a territorial encroachment”.
The launch of at least 10 missiles from Pyongyang’s territory prompted South Korea to issue rare air raid warnings and launch missiles in protest.
The missile landed outside of South Korea’s territorial waters, but south of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), a disputed inter-Korean maritime border.
South Korean warplanes fired three air-to-ground missiles into the sea north across the NLL in response, the South’s military said.
An official said the weapons used included an AGM-84H/K SLAM-ER, a US-made “stand-off” precision attack weapon that can fly for up to 270 kilometres with a 360-kilogramme warhead.
The South’s launches came after Yoon’s office vowed a “swift and firm response” so North Korea “pays the price for provocation”.
Central Asia and the Middle East
MEMO: Putin calls on Arab League summit to help establish multipolar world order
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on the states participating in the 31st Arab League Summit, which started in Algeria on Tuesday, to consider the necessity of establishing a “multipolar” world order. In a letter published by Russia Today, Putin said that the process of forming such an order in international relations is “gaining momentum”.
The Russian leader called for it to be based on respect for the legitimate interests of all states. In this context, he praised the important role of Arab countries in international politics. With a population of nearly half a billion people, said Putin, the Arab world plays an “increasingly important role” in international politics.
Naked Capitalism: EU Threatens Secondary Sanctions Against Turkey Amid Row Over NATO Bids, Russian Ties
Türkiye continues to exasperate Washington and Brussels with its willingness to chart its own course in its relationship with Russia. While ties between Ankara and Moscow grow stronger, the Turkish relationship with NATO is on the rocks. Washington is using Greece and Cyprus to increase pressure on Türkiye in the Eastern Mediterranean, and Türkiye continues to block the NATO bids of Sweden and Finland.
Meanwhile the EU is reportedly discussing applying extraterritorial sanctions on Türkiye (pushed by members Greece and Cyprus) in what would be a major escalation. From Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty:
The EU diplomats I spoke to on the condition of anonymity indicated that the move to broaden the scope of EU sanctions should primarily be read as scare tactics to force third countries into aligning with the EU position on the issue. Some countries, notably EU candidate countries Serbia and Türkiye, have not followed Brussels’ lead on sanctions to date…
It was Cyprus and Greece who were allegedly instrumental in pushing for the bloc going toward extraterritoriality. Does that mean Türkiye might be in the crosshairs? In a leaked European Commission document assessing the impact of the EU’s Russia sanctions so far — a document seen by RFE/RL — Türkiye, alongside China, is mentioned in a subchapter on circumvention with the text stating that “the value of Türkiye’s exports to Russia nearly doubled since the second quarter [of 2022].” The document also states that “exports of some member states to Türkiye have also risen sharply over 2022.”
The threats of secondary sanctions come on the heels of the Netherlands-based operator of TurkStream, South Stream Transport, temporarily losing its export license after it was judged to be in breach of EU sanctions against Russia. Countries receiving gas via TurkStream include Türkiye, Greece, Serbia, Hungary, Romania, North Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Ankara and Moscow are also pressing ahead with plans to make Türkiye a natural gas hub for Europe – an irritating thought for Washington and many in Europe who want to completely end the relationship with Russian energy no matter the economic costs to the EU.
The piece goes on for a while longer, though is more analysis than news. But this paragraph is really ghoulish:
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is believed to be pressuring Stockholm to get moving on the extraditions. From Al-Monitor:
Sources with close knowledge of the deliberations speaking anonymously to Al-Monitor said Stoltenberg is pressuring Kristerrson’s center-right government that was formed earlier this month much in the same way he did its predecessors to make concessions to Türkiye. “He has been pressuring the Swedes like hell to turn away from their alleged ‘rigid’ approach to human rights embodied by [former Foreign Minister] Ann Linde.
TeleSUR: Türkiye to Unblock NATO Bids After Finland, Sweden Meet Deals
Türkiye demands concrete Finnish and Swedish actions to address Turkish security concerns over extraditing hostile groups members before it unblocks their accession into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Türkiye remains one of the two NATO members yet to ratify their accession since the two Nordic countries officially applied to join NATO in May against the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Their accession procedure officially started in July after 30 NATO members, including Türkiye, signed accession protocols. It then went to the parliament of each member to ratify their accession to the military alliance.
However, Ankara has been complaining that the two countries moved slowly in fulfilling their commitments over Turkish security concerns, which are the deportation and extradition of members and associates of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) and the Gulen Movement.
Delegations from Turkish and Finnish justice ministries held a technical meeting last week in Ankara on the extradition requests, a follow-up on the security pledges Finland made along with Sweden in June, when the three countries reached an agreement, with the other two promising to support Türkiye’s fight against terrorism and agreed to address its “pending deportation or extradition requests of terror suspects expeditiously and thoroughly.”
“Türkiye expects Finland and Sweden to support its efforts to combat PKK and the Gulen movement. It expects concrete measures,” said Oytun Orhan, an analyst at the Ankara-based Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies.
Jakarta Post: China will support Pakistan in stabilising its financial situation: Xi
China will continue to support Pakistan as it tries tostabilise its financial situation, state media quoted President Xi Jinping as saying on Wednesday, during a visit by Pakistan’s prime minister to Beijing.
Pakistan had been struggling with a balance of payments crisis even before devastating floods hit the country this summer, causing it an estimated $30 billion or more in losses.
Pakistan was expected to seek debt relief from China, particularly the rolling over of bilateral debt of around $23 billion.
China’s central bank and the National Bank of Pakistan have signed a memorandum of cooperation recently for the establishment of RMB clearing arrangement in Pakistan, in a bid to facilitate the use of RMB for cross-border transactions by enterprises and financial institutions in both countries, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said on Wednesday.
Climate Home News: Climate finance isn’t reaching African communities – Cop27 must fix this injustice
Cop27 gives the world a huge opportunity to address this injustice. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has already made the devastating climate impacts being experienced with just 1.1C of warming very clear. They warned how much more extreme the impacts will be as temperatures rise to 1.5C and beyond.
The most pressing financial needs of the most vulnerable countries are just as clear. But my worry is that once again, at yet another summit, global policy makers, NGOs, and business leaders will meet to talk about ways we might tackle climate change and protect nature. What’s needed is action.
We, in vulnerable countries, already see the impacts of inaction so frequently, we are not talking about how to adapt. We are already adapting.
In Namibia, there are plenty of examples. One organisation I work with and support called Integrated Rural and Development Nature Conservation (IRDNC) has helped local communities secure their legal rights to manage their own natural resources, which has helped restore huge areas of land and protect wildlife on a remarkable scale over the past three decades.
The endangered black rhino population has tripled. The area given over to conservation areas owned and managed by local people who live there alongside wildlife has increased to roughly 16 million hectares – larger than all of Greece. These conservancies are earning nearly $10 million annually, making conservation a key part of economic development.
This all makes a huge contribution to the global effort to tackle climate change. Again, the latest IPCC report identifies safeguarding biodiversity and ecosystems as “fundamental to climate resilient development.” One-third of our global carbon emission reductions targets could be met through healthy forests, wetlands, mangroves, and grasslands.
Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs) on the frontlines of climate change across Africa, and around the world, are keeping these important ecosystems intact, healthy, and thriving. They are doing so with a small fraction of the global funding that gets committed or talked about at events like Cop27.
IRDNC and other local organisations that helped achieve the remarkable successes I’ve described are ready to do even more. But there is a massive systemic flaw in the way conservation is currently financed which means accessing funding is an incredibly challenging hurdle for them to overcome.
Globally, IPLC organisations and communities receive less than 1% of all climate funding, while African organisations receive only 5% – 10% of the private philanthropic funding invested in Africa.
The system is set up to favour the biggest organisations and ignores the real needs of grassroots organisations like IRDNC. It refuses to take a little risk and support Africa’s visionary conservation groups and leaders, who want to see the people and places where they live thrive.
Africa News: Nigeria inaugurates first deep sea cargo port
The China Harbor Engineering Company Ltd (CHEC) on Monday handed over Nigeria’s first deep sea port to the government after the completion of the huge maritime project in the country’s economic hub city of Lagos.
The completion ceremony of Lekki port which took place at the Lekki Area Site in Lagos State brought together dignitaries and stakeholders from Nigeria and China as well as their international partners.
In his address, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwolu expressed his gratitude to the Chinese government for its support of Nigeria’s infrastructure, and praised Chinese enterprises for completing the project construction efficiently and on schedule.
“The benefit of this project and the benefits to our citizens can be left better imagined, providing jobs for close to 200,000 people with direct and indirect jobs in the next couple of months ahead.
In addition, we can see the figure adding tens of billions in dollar revenue to our country and to our state and to the host community in taxes and revenue,” said Babajide Sanwo-Olu, state governor of Lagos.
Constructed by the CHEC, the Lekki Deep Sea Port is the largest seaport in Nigeria, and one of the biggest in West Africa. The construction of the port commenced in June 2020, and is designed to handle 1.2 million standard containers annually.
Al Jazeera: UN troops in DRC make ‘strategic withdrawal’ from key army base
The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has withdrawn troops from the eastern military base of Rumangabo, ceding ground in the battle against the M23 rebel group.
UN troops have been supporting Congolese forces against the M23, which launched a new offensive in October and seized the town of Kiwanja on Saturday, breaking months of relative calm.
“We have made a strategic and tactical withdrawal from Rumangabo, in consultation with our partners, to better prepare the next steps together,” the UN mission, known as MONUSCO, said in a post on Twitter on Tuesday.
Iraqi News: S.Africa will need $500 bn to reach net zero: World Bank
Iraqi News: Fed poised for further US rate hike as political pressure mounts
US central bankers are expected to announce another steep interest rate hike Wednesday as they try to prevent soaring inflation from becoming ingrained, but politicians are piling on the pressure in the final days of the midterm elections.
The Federal Reserve has embarked on an aggressive campaign to cool the economy this year as inflation surged to its highest rate in decades, squeezing the budgets of American families and propelling economic issues to the top of voter priorities.
WSWS: Record numbers of Canadians used food banks this year, report shows
A record number of Canadians had to make use of food banks this year as real wages stagnate and inflation soars. In its annual report, Food Banks Canada found there were nearly 1.5 million visits to food banks in March alone, 15 percent more than the same month in 2021 and 35 percent more than in March 2019, one year prior to the initial outbreak of COVID-19 in Canada.
Caribbean and South America
AntiWar: Haitians, Peace Activists Denounce Plan for Another US-Backed Intervention
As U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met Thursday in Ottawa to discuss a possible multilateral invasion of Haiti in the name of restoring “stability,” Haitian and antiwar voices denounced the prospect of yet another U.S.-backed intervention – which they say will bring the opposite of stability to the crisis-ridden nation.
The Biden administration is seeking a nation to lead a rapid-deployment international military force, an intervention backed by the United Nations Security Council and requested by de facto Haitian prime minister Ariel Henry to quell the gang violence that has spiked since last year’s presidential assassination, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake, and a hurricane that devastated much of the deeply impoverished nation.
While some Haitians – especially elites – and the US corporate media push for armed intervention, other Haitians and peace activists have taken to the streets and to social media to condemn any new invasion.
“The US wants another country to invade Haiti on its behalf to put down protests against the U.S.-installed government. They’re also ready to make it happen with or without U.N. approval,” tweeted the women-led peace group CodePink on Thursday. “The entire world must demand #HandsOffHaiti right now.”
Counterpunch: New US Sanctions are Designed to Hit Nicaragua’s Poorest Citizens
The Biden administration has announced new sanctions which are intended to hit the poorest Nicaraguans – both in their pockets and in the public services on which they depend. This latest attack on a small Central American country is, as usual, dressed up as promoting democracy: the sanctions will “deny the Ortega-Murillo regime the resources they need to continue to undermine democratic institutions in Nicaragua.” But everyone knows the real target is ordinary Nicaraguans who voted overwhelmingly to return a Sandinista government in last year’s elections.
Anyone seeing the NPR news item on the sanctions will have read that they are aimed at “Nicaragua’s gold industry,” with an implicit message that this hits President Daniel Ortega’s personal treasure chest. The reality is very different. Gold mining in Nicaragua – generally speaking carried out in less environmentally damaging ways than in most other countries – is a big export industry, employing thousands of people in one of the country’s poorest regions. It also generates significant tax income for the government, which helps fund its enormous social programs. The sanctions affect not just the gold mining business but all the individuals involved in its management. The obvious aim is to scare away the industry’s investors, administrators and technicians – put your money in Nicaragua and lose any assets you have in US banks, is the explicit message.
Was it a coincidence that the sanctions were announced on the same day that the Sandinista government presented its annual budget for 2023? The budget is 14% higher than this year’s with more than half of the expenditures devoted to social investment. Included in this are the construction of no fewer than nine new public hospitals, adding 4,300 homes to the stock of social housing, bringing electricity to an extra 35,000 households and massive improvements in water and sanitary services. Much of the new investment is directed towards the country’s under-resourced Caribbean regions, now properly connected to the main population centers on the Pacific coast by recently completed highways and the huge new River Wawa bridge. These regions are a priority – in part – because they were heavily damaged by recent hurricanes. The government’s careful plans to protect people and rebuild affected settlements helped secure the highest levels of support for Daniel Ortega in any region during last year’s elections. Is it another coincidence that these are the areas where gold mining is a major source of employment, now to be the specific target of US sanctions?
The NPR article repeats the Trump-era argument that Nicaragua is “a threat to U.S. national security.” This ridiculous claim, rolled out again to justify Biden’s latest actions, has no basis in reality. Nicaragua is one of Latin America’s smallest and poorest countries, with a population of under seven million, one of the lowest levels of defense spending in the world and a gross national product equivalent only to that of a mid-sized US city. The idea that it threatens the security even of its neighbors is absurd, much less that of the United States.
The State Department’s press release discloses another reason for the sanctions: Nicaragua’s alliance with Russia. Behind this is Washington’s fear that Latin American countries, and not only those with left-wing governments, are building closer ties both with Moscow and with Beijing. A second message is: make alliances with our enemies and you will be punished. Within this is a third implicit message: you may think you are a sovereign state, but according to the “rules-based international order” where we decide the rules, you must do as we say.
Common Dreams: No Concession From Brazil’s Bolsonaro—But Staff Say Transition to Proceed
The chief of staff to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday said he has received authorization from the defeated far-right leader to start the transition process leading up to the January 1 inauguration of President-Elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and that the current administration would “comply with the law” and the constitution.
The Ukraine Proxy Conflict
Reuters: Kremlin: Considering ‘further steps’ over allegation Britain attacked Nord Stream
The Kremlin said on Tuesday it was considering what “further steps” to take in response to its allegation that Britain was responsible for an attack on the Nord Stream undersea gas pipelines.
Russia’s defence ministry said on Saturday that British navy personnel had blown up the Nord Stream gas pipelines in September, an assertion that London said was false and designed to distract from Russian military failures in Ukraine.
WSWS: Pentagon confirms deployment of active-duty military personnel in Ukraine
US Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder acknowledged during an official briefing yesterday that active-duty US military personnel are not only deployed inside of Ukraine, but are operating far away from the US embassy in Kiev.
The day before, an unnamed US Department of Defense official said at a background briefing that “U.S. personnel” had “resumed on-site inspections to assess weapon stocks” in Ukraine.
Reporting on this announcement, NBC News noted that “these inspectors in Ukraine appear to be some of the first members of the U.S. military to re-enter the Eastern European country since the start of the war, outside of military guards posted at the U.S. Embassy…”
During Tuesday’s on-camera briefing, Travis Tritten of military.com asked, “The military has personnel inside of Ukraine, who are doing weapons inspections now. I’m wondering what the rules of engagement for those personnel are if they are fired on by the Russians or they are targeted by the Russians.”
Ryder replied, “We do have small teams that are comprised of embassy personnel that are conducting some inspections of security assistance delivery at a variety of locations.”
“My understanding is that they would be well far away from any type of frontline actions, we are relying on the Ukrainians to do that, we are relying on other partners to do that…. They’re not going to be operating on the front lines.”
He continued, “We’ve been very clear there are no combat forces in Ukraine, no US forces conducting combat operations in Ukraine, these are personnel that are assigned to conduct security cooperation and assistance as part of the defense attaché office.”
To this, Tritten replied, “But this would be different because they would be working outside the embassy. I would just ask if people should read this as an escalation.”
Ryder claimed that the US action was not escalatory, and simply refused to answer Tritten’s question about what the US would do if any active-duty US troops were killed.
Analysis and Retrospectives
The Left, Broadly Construed
Jacobin: To Get Unstuck, the Left Should Emulate the Right’s “Swarm” Model
Over the last decade, the American right has developed a successful organizing model that combines national messaging with local mobilizations. The stalled-out left could stand to learn a thing or two.
Jacobin: Britain’s Security State’s Long History of Spying on Left-Wing Intellectuals
There has scarcely been a protest movement in modern British history in which the country’s security state has not sought to intervene. The London Corresponding Society — early advocates for universal male suffrage under the tutelage of Thomas Payne — was extensively surveilled and subsequently outlawed in the late 1700s. The Luddites were also under the expedient eye of the state throughout the early nineteenth century. It was, however, only after the 1819 Peterloo massacre, where a combination of private militias and the army killed fourteen protesters, severely damaging the reputation of the military, that Britain’s modern security state emerged.
A decade after Peterloo, the Metropolitan Police was founded, followed around half a century later by Special Branch. The branch, which sat within the Met, was initially designed to combat Irish republicanism, but would go on to become a driving force behind political policing across the UK. In response to growing demands for independence in the colonies, MI5 and MI6 were established in 1909. The two were initially grouped together under the Secret Service Bureau before splitting during the First World War.
Today, unsurprisingly, much remains unknown about the full extent of MI5’s operations, both at home and abroad. David Caute’s Red List seeks to plug this lacuna of the role that Britain’s security apparatus has played. Based on National Archive releases, Caute has pieced together an extensive history of MI5 surveillance across the twentieth century. His research shows that its operations targeted, but were not limited to, left-wing academics, journalists and lawyers, the Communist Party of Great Britain, and a number of prominent left-wing cultural figures.
Caute’s independence from the arms of the security state — he alludes to being spied on himself — makes the book superior to other comparable studies. Official histories such as Christopher Andrew’s centennial The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5 are, by definition, compromised. Caute writes that Andrew’s book accepts that MI5 “scrupulously respected a clear dividing line between ‘national security’ and ‘party politics.’” A large part of the aim of Red List, achieved through an exhaustive marshaling of evidence, is to prove this statement and others like it farcical misrepresentations.
Inside the Imperial Core
People’s Daily: U.S. democracy is the height of hypocrisy
Counterpunch: A Deficit Spending Scam Destroyed UK’s Prime Minister…Who’s Next?
With its disguises as “high finance” for the mystified and “Keynesian fiscal policy” for those “in the know,” deficit spending by the government was quite a successful scam for a long while. When the UK’s ex-prime minister opened her new government in September, Liz Truss followed tradition by trying to run the oft-used scam again. But this time it did not work. Eventually, even successful scams stop working. Its failure became hers but also her party’s, the Conservatives.’ Neither of them understood the scam’s limits. Perhaps its disguises had worked best on those who repeated them most in thought and word.
In its UK version, the deficit spending scam entailed the Conservative (but also some Labor) governments repeatedly cutting taxes on corporations and the rich. Serving their donors explains most of this. Without this scam, such behavior would have forced governments to act in traditional ways they now sought to avoid. One way would be to raise taxes on others to offset tax cuts for corporations and the rich. Governments only dared to do that partially, never enough to compensate for revenues lost from the tax cuts benefiting corporations and the rich. The other way would be to cut government spending. Governments did that also, especially when the Conservatives recast public services as unnecessary, wasteful, counterproductive, or in short, “socialistic.” But doing so angers the masses and risks losing votes for the government. Even when the masses could be distracted by campaigning against select foreigners (via Brexit against Europe and via Ukraine against Russia), public service cuts never compensated for what corporations and the rich were saving by having their taxes cut.
Enter the scam that claimed deficit spending “solved” the governments’ problems. Governments could 1) keep cutting their rich patrons’ taxes, 2) avoid offsetting tax increases on the middle and poor, and 3) avoid social service cuts. The scam was to spend without imposing taxes to raise the funds required to support spending (“deficit spending”). While deficit spending violated traditional rules for governments to balance their budgets, new and extreme economic threats (the dot-com crash, the Great Recession, the COVID-19 crash, and the sanctions war against Russia) justified trying to implement the scam. Alternatively, deficit spending could be justified as practical, a regrettable necessity of managing those recurrent business cycles.
Deficit spending came to be politicians’ magic sauce. It enabled them to boast about all they could spend on (for employers and employees) without raising taxes as if doing so flowed from the governmental efficiency of politicians. Governments could pander to corporations and the rich without it leading them to impose government austerity measures on the rest. The 1 percent gained a lot while the 99 percent gained a little.
The scam’s seamy side was massively “underreported.” It was and still is a fact that UK governments borrowed most of the money for deficit spending from the UK corporations and the rich. Once the government had cut taxes, the money saved by those corporations and the rich could be and was often lent to that government. The scam offered a certain “no-brainer” opportunity to corporations and the rich. Instead of making a one-time tax payment to the government (like other taxpayers do) corporations and the rich can instead lend that money to the government. The government security obtained in exchange provides repayment in full in the future plus annual interest payments till then.
This scam has worked for many years across global capitalism. After former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson lied his way out of office, Liz Truss presumed she could and would run the scam again, loudly and proudly, with the usual political applause. All her predecessors had. But this turned out to be the time and the place where the scam would hit its limits. Ironically, the very beneficiaries of the tax cuts Truss proposed for the corporations and the rich were the “investors” who balked. They took a good look at the UK government’s financial conditions and decided not to lend it more money without much higher interest rates (and maybe not even then). Very quickly—as these things often go—higher interest rates drove down bond prices threatening UK pension plan assets. Suddenly, the unraveling of the UK economy could be glimpsed as could be its risks for global capitalism. Leading the blind, President Joe Biden said of Liz Truss that she had “made a ‘mistake.’”
The old scam’s Achilles’ heel: at some point, corporations and the rich might see too much risk in lending the government money they saved from their cut taxes. The very repetition of the scam over decades might accumulate levels of the UK’s national debt plus conditions in global capitalism that are rendered risky. Lending the UK still more money suddenly made little sense as an investment; other options were better.
It is true that the capitalist political economy positions the government in a structurally impossible dilemma. Both employer and employee classes want government services for themselves and likewise want to pay minimal taxes. The wealth and power concentrated with the employer class make them consistently more successful in tilting public finance their way. They get the services they want and likewise, shift the tax burden onto others. When conditions change and no longer enable the employer class to prevail that way in determining what the government does, big changes happen. In the 1930s Great Depression, John Maynard Keynes showed how deficit spending could fix broken capitalism without endangering capitalism itself. In the awful depths of that crash (capitalism’s worst to date), there was no time or space to worry that deficit spending’s “fix” was only partial and temporary or about limits to its effectiveness. That would excuse Keynes, but hardly the multitude of politicians, academics, and journalists who could have and should have seen—but never saw—the scam and the injustice involved.
Will the UK working class learn that prevailing economic theories and policies have always been partisan in the class sense of serving and favoring employers over employees? Most of what passes as “the economic policy we need now” is really pleading by a self-interested employer class. Raising interest rates to fight inflation is the big example these days. Among the forms and fields of class struggle, debunking economic policies’ claims of being class neutral is an ongoing battle.
Outside the Imperial Core
Naked Capitalism: After Bolsonaro’s Failures, Why Was Brazil’s Election So Close?
(originally published at theAnalysis.news)
Counterpunch: World Nuclear Industry Status Report Delivers All the Empirical Data We Need to Know About Nuclear Power’s Decline
The annual goldmine of empirical data on nuclear power that is the World Nuclear Industry Status Report (WNISR) was duly rolled out on October 5th, this year in Berlin. The 2022 edition is available for download here and is an indispensable reference source, updated each year.
While delivering an in-depth overview, as its title suggests, of the status of nuclear power worldwide, the report also provides sections focused on particular areas of the technology or on certain countries or regions of the world.
As its principal author, Mycle Schneider, pointed out during the rollout, the report’s authors are big fans of empirical data. Indeed, many of the findings in the report are taken from the nuclear industry itself. Facts and physics are pretty much immutable when it comes to nuclear power, and neither favor the industry very well. No amount of nuclear industry aspirational rhetoric can hide the truth about a waning and outdated technology.
The over-riding finding of the 2022 edition of the report is that nuclear power’s share of global commercial gross electricity generation in 2021 dropped to below 10 percent for the first time ever, sinking to its lowest in four decades.
As in past years, if you take China out of the picture — a country with 21 new reactors under construction as of mid-2022 — the decline of nuclear power worldwide is even more dramatic.
Inside Climate News: Countries Want to Plant Trees to Offset Their Carbon Emissions, but There Isn’t Enough Land on Earth to Grow Them
Countries’ climate pledges rely on “unrealistic” and “extensive” amounts of land for carbon removal projects like tree planting schemes, a new report from the University of Melbourne said.
A landmass larger than the entire United States, about 1.2 billion hectares, would be needed for countries to deliver on those plans, which largely ignore who lives on and manages the lands at issue, including the rights of Indigenous peoples and other land-based communities living in rural areas that rely on land for survival and culture.
“Countries are loading up on land pledges to avoid the hard work of steeply reducing emissions from fossil fuels, decarbonizing food systems and stopping the destruction of forests and other ecosystems,” said Kate Dooley, the lead author of the so-called Land Gap Report and a researcher at the University of Melbourne.
Dooley and her co-authors, more than 20 researchers from around the world, reviewed governmental climate plans and other official statements from 166 countries and the European Union as well as public land use data to determine the total land area needed for planned carbon removal and ecosystem restoration projects.
About 65 percent of the 1.2 billion hectares of land identified in the report would come from land currently being used for other purposes, such as agriculture, while the remainder would consist of degraded land identified for ecosystem restoration projects, such as the African “Great Green Wall” project aimed at planting trees, grasslands and plants across the continent’s Sahel region.
Countries’ climate plans rely on a mix of emission reductions from sources like power plants and automobiles, as well as carbon-removal schemes and ecosystem restoration projects that reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere by sequestering it in biomass like trees or by using new technologies to capture carbon and inject it into geological reservoirs.
Many governmental and industry “net-zero” climate plans assume that tree planting schemes can balance out an equivalent of new emissions from fossil fuels, industrial agriculture and deforestation. But Dooley said that accounting is flawed because the amount of carbon stored in dense primary and old-growth forests is greater than the amount of carbon stored in monoculture tree plantations, and the young seedlings and saplings that are planted hold fractions of the amount of carbon in mature trees.
That difference is why one of the report’s recommendations is for governments and businesses to prioritize protecting existing primary forests, in part, by recognizing and enforcing the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities that consistently outperform governments in preserving those types of forests. Old-growth forests also far surpass monoculture tree plantations in biodiversity, which provides multiple ecosystem benefits like water filtration and cycling, improved soil nutrients and resilience to the effects of climate change.
“We argue that the most effective and just way forward for using land based carbon removal is to ensure that Indigenous peoples and local communities have legitimate and effective ownership and control of their land,” said Anne Larson, one of the report’s co-authors and a researcher at the Center for International Forestry Research in Washington, D.C.
But, the pledges analyzed in the Land Gap Report indicate that governments are on a pathway to an opposite outcome, requiring that the traditional lands of Indigenous peoples and local communities be transformed into tree plantations for carbon offset schemes.
Canadian Dimension: As Ukraine war escalates, the climate movement goes AWOL
As the Ukraine war has escalated into a potentially catastrophic conflagration for all of humanity, the climate movement has gone AWOL.
A case in point is the ongoing leadership contest of the Green Party of Canada.
The Green Party leadership contest was launched nearly two months ago. In that time, all six leadership candidates have spoken at length, as one would expect, of the urgency of the climate crisis, but not one of the candidates (Anna Keenan, Chad Walcott, Sarah Gabrielle Baron, Simon Gnocchini-Messier, Elizabeth May or Jonathan Pednault) has issued a single statement on their campaign websites, or posted even one tweet, calling for negotiations to resolve the Ukraine war.
To be fair to them, one can understand their apparent reluctance to speak out against the relentless escalation of this existentially dangerous conflict. After all, the public discourse around this war has become so suffocating and toxic that one can hardly utter the words ‘peace,’ ‘negotiation,’ or ‘de-escalation’ without being accused of appeasing an aggressor or being a Putin propagandist.
The stakes, however, are simply too high for us to remain silent.
Indeed, there are good grounds to believe that the Ukraine war is far more dangerous for humanity than even the Cuban missile crisis, and that this conflict may constitute the most dangerous moment in human history.
Why? First and foremost, because NATO is at war with Russia.
Now many of you may point out that no NATO government has formally declared war on Russia. The realities on the ground, however, tell a very different story.
Although active-duty members of NATO militaries have not been ordered (so far as we know) into direct combat with Russian troops, NATO militaries have supplied billions of dollars worth of sophisticated weaponry to Ukraine. NATO is training recently mobilized Ukrainians to kill Russians. NATO is providing battlefield intelligence to the Ukrainian military, which is being used to target Russian troops and military assets. Special operations forces of certain NATO members, including Canada, are currently in Ukraine aiding Ukrainian troops in ways that are not entirely clear. Former soldiers of NATO militaries are engaged in direct combat with Russian troops, with the tacit approval or acquiescence of NATO governments. On top of all that, NATO governments have imposed upon Russia unprecedented sanctions that were explicitly designed to destroy Russia’s economy.
Plainly, NATO is at war with Russia in all but name.
Collectively, NATO states and Russia possess enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world many times over. Even worse, both sides have expressly and repeatedly stated that they are prepared to use those weapons if they deem their use to be necessary.
There is no question that the climate crisis constitutes an existential danger to humanity, but the danger posed by large-scale nuclear war is considerably worse. The climate crisis threatens to render the planet unlivable over a period of generations. That time scale will afford to humanity at least some opportunity to adapt, mitigate and innovate. By contrast, a large-scale nuclear war leaves no opportunity for adaptation, mitigation and innovation. A disaster of such a nature would render the planet unlivable in a matter of months, weeks or even days.
No amount of human ingenuity will save human civilization from nuclear Armageddon.
For these reasons alone, it behooves all of us—whether or not we are activists for the climate—to speak out now. For the sake of our children and future generations, we must demand that our governments pursue vigorous, good faith negotiations with a view to ending this heinous conflict as rapidly as possible.
For those of us who are climate activists, there are even greater reasons to demand a swift and peaceful resolution of this war.
First, NATO states and Russia are huge contributors to global emissions. We cannot resolve the climate emergency unless these emitters work cooperatively to transition their economies away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy. Obviously, there is no realistic prospect of achieving the requisite level of cooperation and mutual trust in a state of escalating war.
Second, the Ukraine war is consuming vast (but scarce) economic resources that are desperately needed to fund the transition of our economies toward renewable energy and greater efficiency. Those resources are also required to assist poorer nations—particularly those which have contributed negligibly to the climate crisis—to protect themselves from the ravages of global heating.
Third, the war itself has become a significant, direct contributor to global emissions, precisely at the moment when the world must reduce them. The operation of large mechanized armies across a 1,000-kilometre front line requires the consumption of huge quantities of fossil fuels. The relentless bombardment of military equipment, infrastructure, weapons stores and fuel depots generates massive fires. The reconstruction of destroyed infrastructure will also generate large emissions. The sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines (which almost certainly was the handiwork of one or more NATO militaries) is believed to have been the largest single release of methane ever recorded.
From a climate and ecological perspective, the Ukraine war is an unmitigated disaster.
Moreover, given how little time remains for the world to transition to a zero emissions economy, this war could not have befallen us at a worse time.
To put it bluntly, this is no time to prioritize political expediency and serenity over the reputational perils of anti-war activism.
The world desperately needs climate activists to step up and step up now, to lead and re-invigorate the enfeebled anti-war movement.
Ultimately, if we climate activists fail to answer the call, there may soon be no planet left to save from the climate emergency.