Global Events, the United Nations, and Disease
TeleSUR: UNGA First Committee Adopts Chinese-Tabled Draft Resolution
On Thursday, the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a Chinese-tabled draft resolution on “Promoting International Cooperation on Peaceful Uses in the Context of International Security.”
The resolution reaffirms that the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, as well as their means of delivery, constitutes a threat to international peace and security, while noting with concern that undue restrictions on exports to developing countries of materials, equipment and technology for peaceful purposes persist.
It emphasizes that non-proliferation control arrangements should be transparent and open to participation by all states, and measures preventing the proliferation of the three weapons should not hamper international cooperation on meterials, equipment and technology for peaceful purposes, as well as developing countries' requirement for them for the countries' continued sustainable development.
It urges all UN member states, without prejudice to their non-proliferation obligations, to take concrete measures to promote the cooperation for peaceful purposes, in particular not to maintain any restrictions incompatible with the obligations undertaken. The draft resolution also encourages all countries to continue dialogues on promoting peaceful uses and relevant international cooperation.
WSWS: Fortress Europe policy kills hundreds more refugees in Mediterranean and Aegean Seas
The mass loss of life of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas continues. Dozens more died this week.
According to the Aegean Boat Report (ABR) group, 22 dead bodies have been recovered but at least 34 more are missing from a shipwreck near the Greek islands of Evia and Andros. Among the dead found in the Kafireas Strait are five children and six women. There were around 68 people on the boat which sank on Tuesday.
Separately, eight people are missing after an inflatable dingy overturned and sank off the eastern Aegean island of Samos on Monday.
Climate Home News: European nations delay fossil fuel finance ban, blaming energy crisis
The Netherlands is breaking a promise to end international finance for fossil fuel projects by the end of the year. It will continue to support such projects in 2023.
Italy has watered down a ministerial statement signed by 10 European nations to deliver on the pledge. Germany delayed publication of its policy to implement the commitment because of internal divisions.
All three countries signed a statement at Cop26 last year to end new direct public support “for the international unabated fossil fuel energy sector” by the end of 2022. But since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, a scramble to secure gas supplies from alternative sources has created a massive headwind.
“The war in Ukraine has made the implementation even more challenging, especially in Germany,” said Gerlind Heckmann, deputy director at the German ministry of economic affairs and climate action.
RT: Energy disaster awaits EU after this winter – oil CEOs
The EU is “in good shape” in terms of energy reserves this winter, however, a real risk of a shortfall lies ahead in 2023, major oil and gas executives have warned.
The region is facing an unprecedented energy crunch following a drop in imports from Russia. The oil and gas shortages, and record-high inflation, have resulted in an overall cost-of-living crisis across the bloc.
But while concerns are focused on the turmoil of the coming winter, it is the next cold season that they should really worry about, CEO of major oil trader Vitol, Russell Hardy, has said.
“We’ve got a difficult winter ahead, and subsequent to that we’ve got a more difficult winter in the year ahead of that because the production that is available to Europe in the first half of 2023 is considerably less than the production we had available to us in the first half of 2022,” he said at a conference in Abu Dhabi last week.
Guardian: One in four Europeans say their financial position is ‘precarious’
One in four Europeans describe their financial position as “precarious”, more than half see a serious risk it will become so over the coming months, and 80% have already been forced into hard spending choices, according to a survey.
As the cost of living crisis, driven by high energy prices, rampant inflation and Russia’s war on Ukraine, tightens its grip, the six-country survey for the French anti-poverty NGO Secours Populaire painted an alarming picture of “a continent on the brink”.
More than half (54%) of more than 6,000 people across France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland and the UK told the pollster Ipsos their purchasing power had fallen over the past three years – mostly due to higher food, fuel, heating and rent bills.
The hardest-hit country was Greece, where 68% of respondents said their spending power had fallen “a lot” or “somewhat” since 2019, followed by 63% in France, 57% in Italy, 54% in Germany, 48% in Britain and 38% in Poland.
RT: EU and UK energy bills smash record high – Bloomberg
The average retail gas price across the EU and the UK doubled in October compared to the previous month, when it amounted to €0.18 per kilowatt-hour, Bloomberg reported on Monday, citing data from energy consultancy VaasaETT.
Electricity costs for consumers have reportedly soared 67% to €0.36 per kilowatt-hour.
The surge occurred despite EU governments’ latest attempts to protect households against spiraling energy prices by providing billions in subsidies. EU leaders have pledged more than €550 billion over the past year to help businesses and households tackle the energy crisis.
TeleSUR: Free Grain Delivery to Poor Countries Agreed by Türkiye-Russia
In a speech from Istanbul on Friday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Somalia, Djibouti and Sudan would be the first to receive grain supplies.
“During our talks with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, we agreed to send grain free of charge to countries in need. We will ensure that bulk grain ships will reach the countries currently suffering from a severe food crisis and famine,” Erdogan said.
The Türkish leader has already discussed the grain supply situation with UN Secretary-General António Guterres. About the upcoming G20 summit, he said that Türkiye would raise the issue of food supply to the neediest countries.
In this regard, Erdogan criticized a Europe oblivious to the suffering of the peoples of Africa. “This distorted vision, which divides peoples based on language, color and country, led our world to disaster.”
RT: Russia sets grain deal deadline for UN
Russia considers the expiration date of the Ukraine grain deal a “natural deadline” for the UN to show progress in delivering on its commitments to Russia to unblock its agricultural exports, a senior Russian diplomat told a newspaper.
“The UN tells us that the result is imminent,” Dmitry Polyansky, Russian deputy representative to the UN, was quoted as saying on Monday by Izvestia. “Our decision [on whether to prolong the Ukraine grain scheme] will take into account the fulfilment of the Russian part of the deal.”
TeleSUR: Germany Far From Achieving Climate Targets for 2030: Report
Germany aims to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 65 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, and to be climate neutral by 2045, five years earlier than originally planned.
Europe’s largest economy is a long way from achieving its climate targets for 2030, according to a report by the German government’s expert council on climate issues published on Friday.
“The emission reduction rates achieved so far are far from sufficient to meet the 2030 climate protection targets,” council member Thomas Heimer said, stressing that the targets have been missed by individual sectors as well as the economy as a whole.
Annual emissions reductions would have to more than double to achieve these targets, Heimer stressed. Meanwhile, Germany’s transport sector would require a 14-fold increase in reductions.
The effects of emission-reducing technologies were offset by more prosperity and economic growth. “Efficiency gains have been counteracted by overall economic growth, larger living spaces, and increased transport volumes,” the council’s chairman Hans-Martin Henning said.
RT: Italian protesters demand end to arms supplies for Ukraine
Crowds of people poured onto the streets of Rome on Saturday to call for peace in Ukraine. The demonstrators also demanded that the Italian government stop providing Kiev with weapons and engage with Russia diplomatically instead.
The rally saw tens of thousands of people turn out, including members of labor unions and Catholic associations, students and a variety of other activists.
They were carrying rainbow flags bearing the words “peace” and “non-violence.” Other slogans heard and seen during the demonstration included “Weapons down, wages up,” “Enough arms to Ukraine,” and “We don’t want war. No weapons, no sanctions. Where is diplomacy?”
Former Italian prime minister and Five Star party leader Giuseppe Conte, who attended the rally, called into question the recently sworn-in government’s approach to conflict resolution in the Eastern European country.
“Ukraine is now fully armed – we need a breakthrough towards a ceasefire and peace negotiations,” he said, adding that the current “strategy is leading only to escalation.”
TeleSUR: Spain Seizes the World’s Largest Marijuana Cache To Date
Spain’s Guardia Civil confiscated the largest cache of packaged marijuana ever found globally, the police force reported.
“Operation Jardines has concluded with the seizure of 32,370.2 kilograms of marijuana buds, the largest seizure of this substance, not only in Spain, but internationally. Its equivalence in complete plants would be approximately 1,100,000 specimens,” the statement said.
The group “had more than 32 tons of buds” stored in the cities of Toledo, Ciudad Real, Valencia and Asturias, and “through a complex business network”, they sent them vacuum-packed “throughout the national territory, as well as to Switzerland, Holland, Germany and Belgium, among other European countries”.
Common Dreams: Over 100 Climate Activists Arrested for Blocking Private Jets From Taking Off in Amsterdam
More than 500 environmental and social justice campaigners on Saturday occupied the runway and blocked private jets from taking off from a major airport in the Netherlands to call attention to the highly-polluting travel practices of the uber-rich in the face of runaway climate catastrophe.
The organizers of the protest said participants—many of whom were arrested by police for their actions—said the plan was “to keep air traffic from the private jet terminal grounded for as long as possible.”
WSWS: German Chancellor Scholz visits Athens and seals tank deal with Greece
A week ago, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (Social Democrats, SPD) made his inaugural visit to Athens where he met with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of the right-wing conservative Nea Dimokratia (ND). The talks, held against the backdrop of the proxy war between NATO and Russia in Ukraine, focused on closer cooperation between the two countries in defence and energy policies. “In both areas, Greece could play a leading role in the future,” commented news broadcast Tagesschau.
The previous week, the first six of a total of 40 German Marder tanks had arrived in Greece as part of the so-called “backfill arrangements” to arm Ukraine. This involves Berlin supplying state-of-the-art armaments to European states, which in return send Soviet-style weapons to Ukraine. Athens has handed over 40 old BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles to Kiev, which came from stocks built up in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR).
East Asia and Oceania
Reuters: British minister to meet Taiwan president, drawing China’s anger
A British minister will visit Taiwan this week for trade talks and meet President Tsai Ing-wen, his office said on Monday, drawing an angry reaction from Beijing to the latest high-level engagement between a Western government and the island.
Britain’s Department for International Trade said Greg Hands, minister of state for trade and also a member of parliament, would meet Tsai and co-host the 25th annual UK-Taiwan Trade Talks during his two-day visit.
Reuters: Oil falls as China sticks to strict COVID policy
Oil prices fell more than 2% at the start of Asia trade on Monday after Chinese officials on the weekend reiterated their commitment to a strict COVID containment approach, dashing hopes of an oil demand rebound at the world’s top crude importer.
Brent crude futures dropped $1.58, or 1.6%, to $96.99 a barrel by 2336 GMT, after hitting as low as $96.50 earlier. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was at $90.84 a barrel, down $1.77, or 1.9%, dropping to a session-low of $90.40 a barrel earlier in the session.
“Oil prices dropped sharply as the Chinese officials vowed to stick to the COVID-zero policy while infected cases climbed in China, which may cause more restrictions measures, darkening the demand outlook,” CMC Markets analyst Tina Teng said.
Finanacial Times: Chinese exports fall for first time since 2020
China’s exports contracted in October for the first time since the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, a sign of mounting pressure on an economy still gripped by strict antivirus measures.
Exports in dollar terms fell 0.3 per cent year on year last month, official data showed on Monday, compared with an economists’ forecast of 4.5 per cent growth and a 5.7 per cent gain in September. The figure last fell in May 2020.
China’s trade has supported its economy throughout the pandemic. Its exports skyrocketed in 2020 and 2021 as global markets shifted to buying goods rather than services.
But the latest data highlight the country’s exposure to a global slowdown as other big economies raise interest rates to tackle higher inflation. Unlike China, most countries have largely removed Covid restrictions.
ANN: China to build more innovative, reliable supply chains: Official
China will step up and push to build more innovative, higher value-added, and reliable industrial and supply chains, as part of the nation’s broader push to help maintain the resilience and stability of global supply chains, a senior official said.
Zhang Yunming, vice-minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the nation’s top industry regulator, said industrial and supply chains, formed on the basis of international division of labor, are public goods in nature.
“They are also an important link to connect countries around the world and to promote global economic growth,” Zhang said at a sub-forum of the Fifth Hongqiao International Economic Forum, on Saturday, during the ongoing Fifth China International Import Expo, which is being held in Shanghai until Thursday.
SCMP: China’s second-largest chip maker after SMIC gets green light for US$2.5 billion Shanghai IPO
Hong Kong-listed Hua Hong Semiconductor, China’s second-largest chip maker, has received regulatory approval for a US$2.5 billion initial public offering (IPO) in Shanghai, as the company forges ahead amid Beijing’s self-sufficiency drive despite new headaches from US restrictions.
Hua Hong has received a letter of acceptance from the Shanghai Stock Exchange to issue yuan-denominated shares and list them on its Science and Technology Innovation Board (Star Market), the company revealed in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange on Friday.
The state-backed company aims to raise 18 billion yuan to fund capacity expansion in China’s semiconductor heartland of Wuxi, northwest of Shanghai, according to the company’s prospectus. The funds will also be used to upgrade its 8-inch wafer fabrication plants and innovate new technologies, Hua Hong said.
WSWS: Indian auto workers mount militant struggles against bosses’ attacks and union betrayals
Thousands of Indian auto workers have joined militant protests over the past month against job losses, relentless management attacks, and repeated union betrayals, with these actions increasingly taking the form of open fights against the pro-corporate trade unions.
This includes a rebellion on the part of a section of the thousands of workers who lost their jobs when Ford closed its assembly plant in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu with the agreement of the Chennai Ford Employees Union (CFEU).
Workers at Yamaha Motors and Renault-Nissan plants likewise located in Tamil Nadu’s Sriperambatur-Oragadam industrial belt have mounted protests in opposition to pro-company unions that have long suppressed worker opposition to low wages, speed-up, and contract-labour and other forms of multi-tier employment.
Laotian Times: Laos Inflation Rate Hits New High of 36.75 Percent in October
Laos has beaten its own record again with inflation reaching 36.75 percent in October according to the latest report from the Lao Statistics Bureau (LSB).
October set a new record marking the highest inflation rate this year, up from 34.05 percent in September, continuing an upward trend that has caused difficulties for residents amid a rising cost of living.
According to the statistics bureau, food and alcoholic beverages have increased by 38.8 percent year-on-year, with the sector affected by the price of rice and other daily food items including pork, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, vegetable oil, fruit and vegetables.
Commercial transport and deliveries shot up by 58.1 percent, driven mainly by high fuel costs in October. Clothing, footwear, household items, medical equipment, and medicines also saw increases.
The retail price of construction materials in Vientiane Capital also increased, forcing some to abandon construction projects.
WSWS: Glenugie Estate workers in Sri Lanka strike indefinitely over wages and workloads
Workers at the Glenugie Estate at Upcot, in Sri Lanka’s central plantation district, have been on indefinite strike since October 27 against speed ups and wage cuts. Around 500 workers from both the Glenugie and Deeside divisions of the estate have joined the strike.
The estate management has increased the daily quota of tea leaves plucked from 16 to 18 kilograms and doubled the area to be cleaned from 75 to 150 square metres. It is very difficult to complete the increased work targets leading to pay deductions.
The workers are demanding the targets be lowered to the previous levels, that wages not be cut when the targets cannot be met and that they be paid the 1,000-rupee daily wage. They are also protesting against the reduction of the advance paid for the Deepawali festival (a Hindu religious event) from 15,000 rupees ($US42) to 10,000 rupees.
Central Asia and the Middle East
RT: Russia and Iran set to close massive energy deal – official
Iran expects to sign a $40 billion agreement with Russian energy major Gazprom in December, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mahdi Safari said this week.
“We have closed a $6.5 billion deal with Gazprom. We hope that the remaining agreements totaling $40 billion will be signed next month,” Safari told ISNA news agency, adding that negotiations are underway.
The National Iranian Oil Company and Gazprom agreed in July to cooperate in the development of two gas deposits and six oilfields in Iran. The document also includes swaps in natural gas and oil products, the implementation of LNG projects, and the construction of gas pipelines.
Reuters: President Raisi says Iran thwarted U.S. destabilisation
President Ebrahim Raisi said Iran’s cities were “safe and sound” after what he called a failed attempt by the United States to repeat the 2011 Arab uprisings in the Islamic Republic, Iranian media reported on Saturday as protests continued for a 50th day.
TeleSUR: Climate change summit kicks off in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt
The Conference of the Parties (COP27) on climate change began this Sunday in the city of Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, with the challenge of transforming into action and concrete commitments the promises to reduce emissions and finance damages and losses to developing countries.
This massive gathering, which will be attended by 45,000 people, comes in a year in which the world has seen how the climate crisis is not only a threat to future generations, but a crisis with disastrous consequences for millions of people today.
TeleSUR: Polio Vaccination Campaign 2nd Round Begins in Uganda
In January of this year, the first round of the nationwide campaign took place in the country.
8.7 million children under five years old will be covered by the second round of the door-to-door polio vaccination campaign, running until November 10.
The new oral polio vaccine (nOPV2) will be distributed house-to-house throughout the country, except in Mubende, Kassanda, Wakiso, Mukono, and the country’s capital, Kampala, affected by the current Ebola outbreak.
Some 72 000 immunization teams consisting of health workers, village health teams (VHTs) and local council representatives (LC1s) will carry out the campaign.
Climate Home News: South Africa pitches $84bn plan to shift from coal to clean energy
South Africa has pitched the international community a 1.5 trillion rand ($84bn) plan to kick start the decarbonisation of its coal-dependent economy over the next five years.
President Cyril Ramaphosa presented the 2023-2027 investment plan to his presidential climate commission on Friday. He called the 200+ pager “a blueprint” for an economic transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, to address South Africa’s frequent blackouts, “unacceptable levels of poverty” and the climate crisis.
“In essence, this investment plan is the first of its kind in both scale and ambition. It provides a vision of a future South Africa which is a leading player in a new low carbon global economy,” Ramaphosa said.
WSWS: Fed report points to potential sources of new financial turbulence
In March 2020, at the start of the pandemic, the $24 trillion US Treasury market had a “near death” experience when for several days no buyers could be found for US government debt, supposedly the safest financial asset in the world.
The US Federal Reserve intervened with a massive $4 trillion bailout to restore stability, but two-and-a-half years on the threat of a recurrence remains ever-present as the Fed’s Financial Stability Report issued last Friday makes clear.
Summing up the report in a short statement, Fed vice-chair Lael Brainard wrote: “Today’s environment of rapid synchronous global monetary tightening, elevated inflation, and high uncertainty associated with the pandemic and the war raises the risk that a shock could lead to the amplification of vulnerabilities, for instance due to strained liquidity in core financial markets or hidden leverage.”
WSWS: “A general strike is absolutely required”: Strike by 55,000 Ontario education workers in defiance of Ford government to continue Monday
A courageous strike by 55,000 Ontario education assistants, early childhood educators, caretakers, and administrative staff against a draconian anti-strike law imposed by the province’s hard-right government enters its second day Monday. The education support workers are defying Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce’s Keeping Students in Class Act, which robs them of their right to strike and imposes by government fiat four-year contracts that will dramatically cut their real wages, slash their sick pay, and gut job protection.
Counterpunch: The Migrant Humanitarian Crisis Deepens on the Rio Grande
The long-running migrant/refugee crisis gripping the U.S.-Mexico border erupted again into violence on Halloween Day 2022. This time the incident involved mainly Venezuelan asylum seekers who’ve been camped out for weeks on the Rio Grande dividing Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, from El Paso, Texas.
An October 31 demonstration in the drying out river bed by migrants seeking entrance into the U.S. turned sour when, according to accounts published in the Ciudad Juárez and El Paso press, a Central American migrant allegedly tossed a rock at deploying U.S. Border Patrol agents who responded by attempting to arrest some protesters and firing pepper spray projectiles. At least two migrants were reportedly injured in the altercation before matters deescalated.
A visit to the encampment by this reporter about a week earlier found a tens and exhausted mood among hundreds of migrants and refugees, who include numerous children. “People are getting desperate,” summed up Venezuelan asylum seeker Albert Silva.
Caribbean and South America
TeleSUR: Ash From Ecuador’s Sangay Volcano Affected 1,824 Ha of Crops
The ash expelled by the Sangay volcano, located in the Ecuadorian province of Morona Santiago (center south), affected a total of 1,824 hectares of crops in the province of Chimborazo (center), local press reported this Sunday.
“1,824 hectares of crops were affected by the volcanic material, the figure involves 3,803 producers,” Chimborazo governor Ivan Vinueza told El Universo newspaper. The effects in Chimborazo were concentrated in the cantons (municipalities) of Chunchi, Alausí, Guamote, Colta, Riobamba, Guano and Chambo.
TeleSUR: President of Nicaragua: “Voting for Peace Is Taking Place”
The president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, went this Sunday to vote in the municipal elections held in that country and said that the vote cast by the population is for peace.
In statements to the media, together with Vice President Rosario Murillo, the President said that “Nicaraguans, Nicaraguans know that this vote is a vote for peace. Beyond the party to which they cast their vote, they are voting for Nicaragua and by voting for Nicaragua they are voting for peace”.
“On this day in which we are electing local authorities, deputy mayors, councilors, of all the municipalities of our country, both in the central zone, in the Pacific zone, in the North Caribbean zone, in the South Caribbean, in all parts of Nicaragua,” he said.
In addition, the head of state added that thanks to the new roads that have been built, reaching places previously difficult to access, “surely we will have many more Nicaraguans with the possibility, not only to face the day to day, in school, in health, at work, but also the possibility of defending peace with their vote”.
“We salute all the Nicaraguan families, all the Nicaraguan youth, youth that we are sure are turning with all their hearts to cast their vote for peace in Nicaragua”, concluded the President.
The Ukraine Proxy Conflict
Monthly Review: Massive anti-Russian ‘Bot army’ exposed by Australian researchers
A team of researchers at the University of Adelaide have found that as many as 80 percent of tweets about the 2022 Russia-Ukraine invasion in its early weeks were part of a covert propaganda campaign originating from automated fake ‘bot’ accounts.
An anti-Russia propaganda campaign originating from a ‘bot army’ of fake automated Twitter accounts flooded the internet at the start of the war. The research shows of the more than 5-million tweets studied, 90.2 percent of all tweets (both bot and non-bot) came from accounts that were pro-Ukraine, with fewer than 7 percent of the accounts being classed as pro-Russian.
The university researchers also found these automated tweets had been purposely used to drive up fear amongst people targeted by them, boosting a high level of statistically measurable ‘angst’ in the online discourse.
Euro News: Ukraine war: Kyiv mayor warns of winter without heat, water or electricity
The mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, has warned residents they must prepare for the worst this winter if Russia keeps striking the country’s energy infrastructure – and that means possibly having no electricity, water or heat in the freezing cold winter months.
“We are doing everything to avoid this. But let’s be frank, our enemies are doing everything for the city to be without heat, without electricity, without water supply, in general, so we all die. And the future of the country and the future of each of us depends on how prepared we are for different situations," Klitschko told Ukrainian state media.
Meanwhile, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said late Sunday that about 4.5 million people were without electricity. He called on Ukrainians to endure the hardships, saying “we must get through this winter and be even stronger in the spring than now.”
Reuters: U.S. privately asks Ukraine to show Russia it’s open to talks -Washington Post
The Biden administration is privately encouraging Ukraine’s leaders to signal an openness to negotiate with Russia and drop their public refusal to engage in peace talks unless President Vladimir Putin is removed from power, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.
The paper quoted unnamed people familiar with the discussions as saying that the request by American officials was not aimed at pushing Ukraine to the negotiating table, but a calculated attempt to ensure Kyiv maintains the support of other nations facing constituencies wary of fueling a war for many years to come.
RT: Ukraine conflict approaching its ‘Stalingrad’ – Serbian president
While the similarities are striking, they shouldn’t be overstated. The loss of Kherson doesn’t mean that Russia will necessarily lose, and keeping Kherson doesn’t mean that Russia will necessarily win, but it’s difficult to deny that the political ramifications of a defeat would be harsh on the Kremlin. Given that Russia still has plenty of escalatory potential that they aren’t using, I can only imagine that Russia’s military command doesn’t really regard this as a key fighting area that must be maintained at all costs. If it was, they could launch an offensive towards Kiev again in order to distract Ukraine, for example. Vucic has always made some dramatic statements in this war and this is another one of them.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has compared the anticipated battle for Kherson between Russian and Ukrainian forces to the Battle of Stalingrad during World War II, warning that aftershocks from the fighting would be felt far outside the conflict zone.
“Challenging times are ahead of us. Next winter will be even harsher than this one because we’re facing the Battle of Stalingrad, the decisive battle in the conflict in Ukraine, the battle for Kherson,” Vucic said in an interview with Pink TV on Sunday.
Both sides are likely to deploy thousands of tanks, aircraft and artillery pieces in the struggle for the key city, he predicted.
“The West [which is backing Ukraine in the conflict and supplying it with arms] thinks it’ll be able to ruin Russia that way, while Russia believes it’ll be able to defend what it obtained at the start of the war and bring it to an end,” the Serbian leader said.
The massive fighting in Kherson “is going to create additional problems everywhere,” Vucic warned.
Analysis and Retrospectives
The Left, Broadly Construed
Jacobin: Rumors of the Death of the Working Class Are Highly Exaggerated
According to the latest International Labour Organization (ILO) report on “World Employment and Social Outlook,” global unemployment is expected to remain above pre-COVID levels until at least 2023. Already a downgrade from their originally rosier 2022 forecast, the agency hastened to add in a recent “Monitor on the World of Work” that the war in Ukraine and inflation has further decreased labor’s share of income and swelled the ranks of the unemployed.
The report also confirms that recovery has invariably relied on job sectors where low productivity and poor labor standards are rampant — without taking into account that improved employment statistics in some parts of the Global North have nothing to say about unprecedented numbers of workers dropping out of the job market or being pushed into the informal sector.
Of course, the latest ILO figures confirm what we already know: there is a long-standing downward trend in global working-class power. As David Broder wrote recently in Jacobin, this decline in labor — on the shop floor through automation and precarity, and in politics through the slow demise of labor and social democratic parties — has long been the source of forecasts proclaiming the “end of the working class.”
However, as labor historian Marcel van der Linden explains it, the current decline in working-class power is neither inevitable nor irreversible. And it would be foolhardy to equate waning structural influence with the end of the working class as such.
Van der Linden has in fact been making one version of this argument for the better part of his career. By expanding the scope of labor history in all directions — in time, to encompass working populations in the sixteenth century, and in space, to the colonial plantations where forced labor predominated — van der Linden’s work argues that we need to expand the definition of the working class itself, even if it means rethinking the history of capitalism.
The political payoff of an expanded definition of the working class, which would include care work, forced labor, informal self-employment, and more, is that it shows the many “farewells to the working class” for what they really are: overly reliant on a narrow image of the working class as male, white, Fordist factory labor.
The fact is, van der Linden explains to Jacobin commissioning editor Nicolas Allen, the working class is not going anywhere. Better still, the working class is undergoing transformations that make it possible to discover new forms of structural leverage and international solidarity.
The Right, Broadly Construed
Guardian: The Tories concocted the myth of the ‘migrant crisis’. Now their survival depends on it
Britain exists in an imaginary state of crisis about immigration. Nothing soothes this anxiety – not facts, not real numbers of arrivals, not the distinction between migrants in general and asylum seekers in particular. In the past week alone, reports have emerged of illegally detained migrants at overcrowded centres falling ill, of underage sexual assault, and of others being dropped off in the middle of cities and promptly forgotten about. These appalling failures have occurred not because there are too many migrants, but because the government has broken its own asylum system.
This is a crisis by design, not of arrivals. The government is keen to stress the recent increase in Channel crossings, yet asylum applications are half what they were 20 years ago. The real and only cause of the debacle at Manston and other failing centres is this: the number of asylum applications processed within six months has fallen from almost 90% to about 4%. It’s not that more people are arriving than ever before, it’s that more of them aren’t being processed, and so are stuck in the asylum system for years. Efficiency has been dropping sharply since 2014, one year after Theresa May established the “hostile environment” and in the middle of George Osborne’s austerity programme. The intersection of those two forces created an underfunded, cruel Home Office, and with it Britain’s immigration “crisis”.
And it is a crisis that the government has every interest in maintaining, or at least no pressing interest in resolving. The Tories have finessed a narrative in which the country is under a migrant siege that the government is trying valiantly to rebuff, but is frustrated in its efforts by a string of culprits – “activist” lawyers, human rights law, tofu eaters, the Labour opposition. It is that tired fallback of failing rightwing government: plead helplessness in the face of a ubiquitous fifth column, an abstract leftwing blob that only last week the Sunday Telegraph editor, Allister Heath, promoted to the status of wielding “near total intellectual hegemony”.
This pretence is most fruitful with immigration. The government’s failure to maintain living standards and public infrastructure, from health to housing, can be disguised – with the help of the rightwing press – by presenting migrants as a constant drain on those resources. As a bonus, the fear of more of these imaginary parasites pushes voters to the only party that seems appropriately appalled by the threat. Immigrants provide such a valuable alibi for political dereliction that it makes no sense for the Conservative government to fix its broken immigration system. And so the state of emergency must be fostered and, if need be, escalated. In this country, there has never been an immigration crisis and there has always been an immigration crisis.
The illusion of deluge is more easily maintained at certain times than others, giving the false migrant crisis a rhythm that feels genuine as it ebbs and flows in and out of the political and media agenda. But that pulse hasn’t correlated with arrivals – indeed, concerns about immigration waned for a period after Brexit, even as the number of arrivals rose.
Sometimes it is a reflection of shifting patterns of migration. Covid made travel by road – in which migrants are less visible – more challenging, thereby increasing travel by sea. A landing on a shore is much more evocative of the “invasion” of a vast, impossible-to-police border than an unseen stowaway on a truck. At other times, all it takes is a particularly volatile or incompetent person at the top. The framework is so rickety that a loose cannon like Suella Braverman need make only one bad decision, such as failing to find alternative accommodation for those in overcrowded detention centres, for the entire structure to collapse.
But the other reason these landings are high on the government agenda, first under Priti Patel and now under the clumsier Braverman is, well, everything else. Brexit is spent, the economy is in shreds, the Tory party has imploded and there’s no one to blame. The government could never deliver the transformative Brexit it had promised, but what it could do was pretend it was being blocked from delivering it. With the end of EU free movement and the “taking back” of our borders, the Conservatives are exposed. They got what they wanted, and are now in the position of the dog who has caught the car. What use is all this new “control” if it means the government now has to take full responsibility for immigration? Enter Dover, a vast vulnerability.
Asylum seekers have become the government’s own refuge. In them, there is an evergreen problem for which a Tory crusade is the only solution. This is a valuable asset for a government that has run out of road, but can play on everything from fears of terrorism, sexual assault, economic drag and cultural overwhelm to extend its relevance. Like Donald Trump’s wall, or the windmill in Animal Farm, our borders will always be vulnerable and sabotaged by enemies, while our government fights like hell to build them back up.
Inside the Imperial Core
Jacobin: France’s Weapons Industry Is Growing Rich off Dictatorships
Authoritarian governments like those in Egypt and Saudi Arabia have funded a boom in France’s arms industry. Now, with war in Ukraine, it’s setting its sights on rearming Europe.
Jacobin: Denmark’s Left Has Failed to Make the Green Transition Its Trademark Issue
Denmark’s thriving green energy industry ought to provide the Left with an ideal organizing opportunity. Yet this week’s election showed that it has failed to connect the green transition with a program for jobs and investment.
Canadian Dimension: Ontario government greets education workers with an iron fist
Not content simply to suppress the wages of public workers across the province, Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government of Doug Ford has fired a fresh barrage in its ongoing war: it aims to curb the right of education workers to strike. The new front the Conservative Party has opened against Ontario workers occurs at a moment of impasse in a specific contract negotiation. But it may also be understood as an example of a wider crisis in neoliberal public labour management in Ontario.
The year-over-year inflation rate in Ontario hit 6.7 percent in September, while the provincial budget is currently in a $100 million surplus that the Financial Accountability Office expects to reach $8.5 billion by 2027-28 (despite hundreds of millions of dollars of tax cuts by the province). Despite the strong fiscal position, the province and the Ontario School Board Council of Unions—an umbrella group of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) education workers in the public, Catholic, English, and French school systems across the province—has negotiated for months over a new contract to no resolution.
The province’s offer includes an annual wage increase of 2.5 percent for education workers earning less than $25.95 per hour (and 1.5 percent for those earning more), as well as a cut to sick leave and short-term disability, insufficient job security, and no paid preparation time for workers who work directly with students, in a four-year contract, CUPE has said. At this time, CUPE is seeking annual salary increases of 11.7 percent. CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn denounced the province’s offer. “[Education Minister Stephen] Lecce calls this offer a generous one,” Hahn said. “A half percent wage increase to an already-insulting offer isn’t generous. An additional 200 bucks in the pockets of workers earning 39K isn’t generous. It wouldn’t even be generous to accept our proposal—it would be necessary, reasonable, and affordable. It’s simply what’s needed in our schools.”
For its part, the government has couched its messaging in the argument that students in Ontario missed large amounts of school during the COVID-19 pandemic. The province has claimed its offer would raise the wages of the workers in the sector, as well as make changes to benefits contributions, sick leave, training and job stability. Notably, in October, as talks dragged on and education workers voted 96.5 percent in favour of a strike, Premier Doug Ford warned workers not to “force my hand” in terms of legislative action.
Monthly Review: The triumph of the City
The triumph of the City of London, the one square kilometre next to Liverpool Street station that houses the citadel of British finance, is complete. Not only did it get rid of one British prime minister, whom it distrusted, in the space of just 44 days, but even got a new one of its choice installed forthwith. Rishi Sunak is being called many things: the first British Asian prime minister, the first Hindu prime minister, and so on. These facts about him however are inconsequential; notwithstanding the hullabaloo in India over his appointment, these facts are mere trivia. What is central is that he is the City’s choice. A former employee of Goldman Sachs, a former Hedge Fund manager, he is from the world of finance; for the City he is indubitably “one of us”.
Outside the Imperial Core
Responsible Statecraft: 14 months later: Five conclusions on Afghanistan withdrawal
To skip the preamble (which is most of the article):
— The Taliban will not respond to more sanctions and boycotts after they have, in their view, defeated the United States after more than 20 years of war.
— The Taliban are equally unlikely to respond to engagement that is unaccompanied by a credible, even if conditional, offer of recognition. They would be more likely to respond to it if the offer were made by a coalition led by the U.S., but such an offer by such a coalition is now virtually impossible.
— If the sole goal of U.S. foreign policy were to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan, the best policy would be to engage with China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, India, and the UN to seek a common platform for engagement with the Taliban on the basis of a road map for recognition. For obvious reasons, it is now completely impossible for the U.S. to engage or cooperate with Russia and Iran, and only slightly less difficult with China and Pakistan. India is already performing a delicate balancing act between the U.S. and Russia on Ukraine and is unlikely to want to complicate it further.
— In addition, even the near-term futures of Russia, Iran, and the U.S. are very uncertain. Of all the countries with influence in Afghanistan, China — despite its many challenges — is the only reasonably stable country experiencing an apparently untroubled leadership transition. China’s aversion to risk is such, however, that a reporter for Iran’s FARS news agency in Dushanbe compared it to someone who takes a bottle of water out of the refrigerator and then blows on it in case it’s still hot.
— For the first time in nearly five decades, a national, regional, and global consensus against supporting further armed struggle in Afghanistan provides an opportunity for peace. Unfortunately, neither a preoccupied and wounded U.S., neighbors undergoing their own internal crises, nor a weakened and divided United Nations is likely to exercise the leadership needed to make this opportunity a reality.
AntiWar: The West’s Ongoing Coercion Of Serbia
On Tuesday, Serbian Armed Forces used electronic jamming measures to neutralize a drone violating its airspace, near its southern border with the disputed territory of Kosovo. Only one day previous, Belgrade scrambled MiG 29 fighter jets against UAVs detected close to the border crossing and military installations at Merdare. While the UAVs swiftly withdrew, the incident resulted in Serbian President, Aleksandar Vučić, issuing a shoot-down order, which was observed in action just the following day.
As investigations into the drone’s origin continue, Vučić has stated that the downing of the drone “shows we are serious.” “We do not threaten anyone, we aren’t sabre-rattling, but we are determined to protect Serbia and its freedom and independence,” he continued.
As Serbia’s disputes with Kosovo are longstanding, such an antagonistic turn of events may to many seem unexpected. Yet, this latest wave of provocations, follow a pattern of increasing political pressure applied on Serbia by the EU over its stance on Russia, which is now seemingly taking on military dimensions via NATO and Pristina.
Serbian Defense Minister, Miloš Vučević, recently pointed out that Serbia’s military has been on high alert for some months now, following a flaring of tensions between Serbs and Kosovan authorities in July. The unrest came about after the attempted roll out of a policy that would force Serbs in Kosovo’s north to re-register their cars with number plates issued in Pristina, and not Serbia.
According to Pristina, the policy, which is now being implemented in phases from November 1st after a requested delay by the US Ambassador in Kosovo, should run across the whole region, including in Serb enclaves. In response, Vučić has accused Pristina of failing to fulfill its obligations established by previous EU-mediated agreements, such as granting autonomy to Serbs in Kosovo’s north, which would go a long way to alleviating the current standoff. He has also highlighted that whilst neglecting its commitments, Pristina cites those same agreements as justification for its continued crackdown on documentation.
By August, diplomatic solutions appeared to be progressing somewhat, with NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, meeting with Vučić to address solutions to the situation. While Stoltenberg reaffirmed that “should stability be jeopardized, KFOR stands ready to intervene”, Vučić expressed that Serbia would “continue to respect the KFOR mandate in line with international norms”. Additionally, he explained that he presented Stoltenberg with “a list of Pristina’s special units’ raids in the north,” and “a list of all incidents and attacks on the Serb population.”
The week previous, Kosovo PM, Albin Kurti, was more combative in his assertions, declaring that Kosovo is “vigilant, but not afraid” of a conflict with Serbia. “Kosovo is a state now, this is not the year 1998,” he added, “this is 2022, so we are much more prepared to defend our sovereignty, territorial integrity, to defend our democracy, rule of law, constitutionality, and to defend our progress.”
Vučić, who has been explicit in his wish for Serbia to join the EU, has also insisted that Serbia cannot recognize Kosovo’s independence. In June, Germany’s Olaf Scholz stated that Serbia’s recognition of Kosovo was imperative to its path toward membership, and would accelerate the process significantly. Unsurprisingly, this carrot has remained unattractive to Belgrade, and as the EU now opts for the stick, it also reveals its real intentions. Just last week during a visit to Belgrade, EU President, Ursula von-der-Leyen, declared that Serbia should align with EU security policy and sanctions against Russia if it is serious about future EU membership, which in essence “means sharing our values.”
Given Serbia’s troubled history with NATO, and the unfolding sanction induced energy crisis in Western Europe, Vučić will be well aware of the ambiguity of von-der-Leyens notion of ‘EU values’, and the catastrophic implications of aligning with EU Foreign policy.
Though it would seem Serbia may find itself caught between a rock and a hard place irrespective of which way it turns. On Tuesday, a Berlin official told Reuters that Serbia must decide whether it wants to join the EU, or cultivate closer relations with Moscow, and that Should he[Vučić] decide to go the other way[with Russia], this will have consequences”.
Serbia’s path to EU membership, which recent polls indicate most Serbs reject, is fraught with ultimatums and consequences that Belgrade simply cannot and will not accept. Simultaneously, it appears that refusal to accept such terms will also bear “consequences,” the nature of which many geopolitical analysts will be able to now guess at more accurately, given the latest wave of antagonisms by NATO’s allies in Pristina.
In April, Vučić and Interior Minister, Aleksandar Vulin, alleged that the UK & US had been supplying arms to the Pristina government, while Turkey had trained pilots, constituting a violation of Resolution 1244 that stipulates KFOR as the only legitimate armed force in Kosovo. While the British Embassy in Belgrade described the allegations as a mere fabrication, it should be noted that both the UK and US violated the arms embargoes in place during the Balkan wars of the 1990’s. This was done to provide arms and training to Bosniak forces and the proscribed terrorist organization the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), who became affectionately known across US newsrooms as NATO’s “boots on the ground.”
Vučić is acutely aware that if Pristina mobilizes forces in Kosovo’s north, and the rights and safety of the minority Serb population are threatened, he will be unable to idly stand by. Emboldened by its NATO military presence and support, and Belgrade’s geopolitical predicament, Pristina, working at NATO’s behest and as the EU’s point of leverage, may continue in their inflammatory directives toward escalation, and forcing Vucic’s hand. This in turn would also begin a catastrophic wave of sanctions against Serbia, which if Berlin’s threats are to be taken seriously, may be on the way regardless, but which Vučić knows Serbia could not weather as Russia has.
In Rambouillet, March 1999, during talks to negotiate an end to the Serbia-Kosovo conflict, the Milošević government was asked to sign an agreement that would allow NATO “free and unrestricted passage and unimpeded access throughout the FRY [Federal Republic of Yugoslavia] including associated airspace and territorial waters”. After Milošević’s quite natural refusal to sign, NATO increased support for KLA operations, and commenced an illegal 78-day aerial campaign against Serbia, while fraudulently touting humanitarian concerns as their rationale.
The impossible ultimatums and military provocations being employed against Serbia today, bear echoes of the same coercive tactics it was subject to over 20 years ago in Rambouillet. For all their rhetoric on respecting national sovereignty, Berlin’s threats and Pristina’s uncurbed provocations are a clear indication of the EU and NATO’s values, which care nothing of Serbia’s sovereignty, membership, and military neutrality, or the regional stability of the Balkans as a whole.
Monthly Review: What worries the U.S. most about Lula
TeleSUR: Climate Change Prompts Surge in Disease Outbreaks in Africa
On Thursday, Patrick Otim, the World Health Organization (WHO) Africa Incident Manager for the Ebola outbreak in Uganda, said Ebola and cholera are some of the diseases that can be directly linked to climate change.
“We have seen an increase in the number of Ebola outbreaks in Africa in the recent past. Since 2000, we have had 32 outbreaks, 19 of which have happened in the last decade and 13 in the preceding one,” he said during a virtual forum organized by the WHO Africa office.
Over 50 percent of the outbreaks in the last decade have occurred in the last five years as floods and droughts become common as well as temperature rise due to climate change.
Ebola, a zoonotic disease, can be linked to the increased encroaching of the human population to animal habits and vice versa due to a rise in temperatures and events like drought.
“These climatic conditions result in migration of Ebola hosts like bats from areas that are not conducive to favorable ones, raising interaction between humans and the animals leading to outbreaks,” Otim said.
Inside Climate News: Finally, a Climate Change Silver Lining: More Rainbows
By 2100, rainbows could surge by 4 to 5 percent, especially in places with more rain.