Global Events, the United Nations, and Disease
Inside Climate News: Frustration Simmers Around the Edges of COP27, and May Boil Over Far From the Summit
The failure of global climate governance is leading some scientists and activists to lose faith in the process, and could intensify a vicious cycle of confrontational climate activism and authoritarian responses.
Even at their remote resort, walled off from climate protesters by an authoritarian government, the 40,000 delegates gathered at the COP27 climate conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, can’t ignore the rising tide of criticism surrounding their annual meetings.
Annual global greenhouse gas emissions have nearly doubled, from about 20 gigatons to nearly 40 gigatons per year since global climate talks started, with half of all cumulative emissions since the start of the fossil fuel era coming in just the past 30 years. And the seven years since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015 have been Earth’s warmest on record.
This week and next, the negotiators face the grim reality that the goal of limiting the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius is further away than ever, and possibly already out of reach. Although nations at the summit are charged with increasing their climate ambitions, in a world increasingly stressed by climate extremes, armed conflicts, extreme nationalism and growing social tensions, the best-case outcome for COP27 might simply be avoiding any backsliding on all the climate promises already made.
That bar is set far too low for a growing number of scientists and climate activists, who say the United Nations global conferences and non-binding promises lack the urgency the crisis requires.
“It’s very hard to believe in this process,” said University of Maryland sociologist Dana R. Fisher, who is also a nonresident senior fellow with the governance studies program at The Brookings Institution. “I think that the activists who are paying attention are just fed up. And I think those folks who are focusing more on the domestic level are seeing all the ways that COP27 is a whole bunch of hot air.”
As the U.N. process loses credibility, Fisher sees climate activism far from the international climate summits growing more confrontational in pressuring governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as fast as possible at the national level.
“We’re not meeting the targets, we’re not meeting the timetables,” she said. “It’s big talk, greenwashing and not a lot of action. And I think that’s what’s driving a lot of the activism to potentially get much more confrontational.”
Common Dreams: Greenpeace Dismisses COP27 Deforestation Pact as ‘Carbon Trickery’
Greenpeace on Tuesday denounced the so-called Forest and Climate Leaders' Partnership launched by more than two dozen nations at the COP27 summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, arguing that the pact is unlikely to stop deforestation.
“A robust partnership could go a long way to provide the necessary resources to protect, conserve, and restore the world’s forests, but this partnership is nothing but a green light for eight more years of forest destruction, with little respect for the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities,” Victorine Che Thōner of Greenpeace International said in a statement.
According to Thōner, the alliance “gives polluters a license to do more business as usual through carbon trickery instead of advancing true climate action.”
The countries that formed the Forest and Climate Leaders' Partnership (FCLP), which is led by Ghana and the United States, argued Monday that it “would ensure they hold each other accountable for a pledge to end deforestation by 2030 and announced billions of dollars to finance their efforts,” Reuters reported.
During last year’s COP26 meeting in Scotland, 145 governments signed the Glasgow Leaders' Declaration “to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation” by the end of the decade.
However, as the annual Forest Declaration Assessment showed two weeks ago, “not a single global indicator is on track to meet these 2030 goals of stopping forest loss and degradation and restoring 350 million hectares of forest landscape.”
Jakarta Post: Putin not planning video address to G20: Kremlin
Russian President Vladimir Putin does not plan to address the Group of 20 summit via video, the Kremlin said on Friday.
Asked why Putin was not going to attend the G20 summit in Bali, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was related to Putin’s schedule and the need to stay in Russia.
“A decision has been made that Sergei Lavrov will represent Russia at the G20 summit,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
Financial Times: Brussels warns of EU recession as German output slides
A steep drop in German output will help drag the EU into recession this winter, as higher inflation and the Ukraine war take a heavy toll on the bloc’s economy, the European Commission has predicted.
Output across the union will contract in the current quarter and the first three months of 2023, with Germany suffering one of the biggest falls in activity as surging energy costs curtail household spending power and force factories to curb production.
Inflation in the EU will be higher than the commission forecast in the summer, running at 7 per cent over the course of 2023, down only modestly from this year’s expected 9.3 per cent.
The predictions add up to a grim period for the EU’s economy, which had bounced back following the worst of the pandemic before the Russian invasion of Ukraine and ensuing energy price crisis. Germany, the union’s largest economy, has been particularly hard-hit because of the importance of its energy-intensive industry.
Output growth in the 27-member EU will decelerate to just 0.3 per cent in 2023, far below a prior forecast of 1.5 per cent published this summer, the commission projections showed. Germany is on course for a 0.6 per cent full-year decline in real gross domestic product in 2023, according to the outlook, the worst performance in the euro area.
Reuters: East Europeans prepare for possible new Ukrainian refugee wave as winter nears
Eastern European countries are preparing to reopen reception centres and are restocking food supplies in anticipation of a possible fresh surge in Ukrainian refugees as winter looms and Russia targets Ukraine’s power grid and heating plants.
Some 6.9 million people are believed displaced internally within Ukraine, often living in very tough conditions, and the Slovak government’s contingency plan envisages the possible inflow of hundreds of thousands of them in coming months.
MercoPress: Ukraine grain exports down 30,7% compared to a year ago
Ukraine has exported 14.3 million tons of grain so far in the 2022/23 season, down 30.7% from the 20.6 million tons shipped overseas at the same stage of the previous season, agriculture ministry data showed on Monday.
MEMO: Russia welcomes Algeria’s desire to join BRICS
Russia has welcomed Algeria’s intention to joining the BRICS group, special envoy for the Middle East and Africa and Deputy Foreign Minister, Mikhail Bogdanov, said yesterday.
Algerian officials on Monday filed a formal application to join the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) – an association that aims to promote peace, security, development and cooperation between the countries in the alliance.
“We enjoy good relations with Algeria and maintain a trust-based dialogue,” Bogdanov told Russia Today (RT), noting that the issue wss being mulled “within the framework of the collective work in BRICS.”
Common Dreams: In ‘Huge Victory’ for Planet, Norway’s Equinor Abandons Arctic Oil Field Plans
Climate campaigners in Norway applauded Thursday as state-owned energy giant Equinor announced it would postpone plans to develop an oil field in the Arctic Ocean, as analysts suggested the proposal will likely be put aside indefinitely.
Equinor said the proposed Wisting oil field, which would have been its fourth hydrocarbon project in the Arctic, has grown too expensive due to global inflation and supply chain issues—but campaigners credited sustained pressure as a factor that pushed the company to abandon the project.
“Mobilizing works!” said Julia Levin, national climate program manager for the Canadian group Environmental Defense. “Kudos to folks campaigning against Equinor who managed to get this huge win.”
Al Jazeera: UK economy shrinks as lengthy recession looms
The United Kingdom’s economy shrank in the three months to September at the start of what is likely to be a lengthy recession, underscoring the challenge for finance minister Jeremy Hunt as he prepares to raise taxes and cut spending next week.
Economic output shrank by 0.2 percent in the third quarter, Friday’s official data showed.
But it was the first fall in the gross domestic product (GDP) since the start of 2021, when the UK was still under tight coronavirus restrictions, as households and businesses struggle with a severe cost-of-living crisis.
Reuters: British grocery inflation hit record 14.7% in October -Kantar
British grocery inflation hit 14.7% in October, another new record, and it is still too early to call the ceiling, market researcher Kantar said on Tuesday.
It said UK consumers would face a 682-pound ($785) jump in their annual grocery bill if they continued to buy the same items. Prices were rising fastest in products such as margarine, milk and dog food.
Kantar said 27% of UK households reported that they are struggling financially - double the proportion it recorded last November.
RT: UK schools face ‘perfect storm’ – union
The majority of UK schools are considering staff cuts due to rising costs and insufficient funding, the school leaders’ union NAHT said on Tuesday, citing the results of the largest survey it has ever taken.
Of more than 11,600 respondents who took part in the survey, 66% said that they will have to make teaching assistants redundant or reduce their hours. Half of the poll participants said they were considering reducing the number of teachers or teaching hours.
TeleSUR: United Kingdom Nurses Ready for Strike
On Wednesday, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) announced that nurses will go on strike before the end of this year.
The Union denounced that 25,000 nurses left the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) registry over the last year. This situation has created problems for the UK health system.
“Poor pay contributes to staff shortages across the UK, affecting patient safety. There are 47,000 unfilled registered nurse posts in England’s NHS alone,” RCN pointed out.
In England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, nurses are demanding that the UK authorities pass a budget to improve wages and make real investments in the health sector.
WSWS: Royal College of Nursing votes to strike
The vote to strike by 300,000 UK nurses is a powerful show of opposition to entrenched low pay and appalling working conditions. It gives expression to a broader determination of workers throughout the National Health Service (NHS) to fight.
Nurses delivered the largest ballot by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in the union’s 106-year history.
Despite anti-strike laws requiring a 50 percent turnout to allow strikes to proceed, nursing staff at 176 out of 311 NHS organisations voted for industrial action. Nearly half the trusts in England reached the threshold. All NHS employees in Northern Ireland and Scotland met the threshold and all except one trust in Wales.
WSWS: University and College Union names strike days but intensifies corporatist strategy
The University and College Union (UCU) has announced three days of national strikes to be held November 24, 25, and 30. The union said “university vice-chancellors have not made any improved offers” since last month’s vote by 70,000 staff at 150 universities to strike over attacks on pay, working conditions and pensions.
The higher education (HE) strike ballot, announced October 24, returned an overwhelming mandate. In the pay and working conditions ballot, 81.1 percent voted yes on a 57.8 percent turnout. In the pension ballot—a long running dispute going back five years—the yes vote was even higher at 84.9 percent, on a 60.2 percent turnout.
Al Jazeera: Cost-of-living strike hits traffic, businesses in Belgium
A nationwide strike over the cost of living increases caused by runaway inflation and enormous energy bill hikes linked to the war in Ukraine snarled traffic through much of Belgium and affected businesses on Wednesday.
The main trade unions joined forces to call for wage increases as severe transport disruptions hit the country of 11.5 million inhabitants where inflation has reached its highest level since the mid-1970s.
TeleSUR: France in Emergency Due to Children Bronchiolitis Epidemic
So far, 6,891 children under two years old have been sent to emergency care wards.
On Wednesday, French Health Minister Francois Braun activated the national emergency response plan to help hospitals cope with soaring bronchiolitis infections among children.
“I decided this morning to trigger the Emergency Plan to Handle a Sudden Increase in the Number of Hospital Patients (ORSAN) to tackle this epidemic,” he said the Senate.
Inquirer: Germany to take on 45.6B euros in new debt in 2023
Germany will comply with its constitutional debt brake next year for the first time since 2019, even as it takes on significantly more new debt than laid out in its summer draft, several Bundestag budget committee sources told Reuters on Friday.
The budget foresees 45.61 billion euros ($46.62 billion) in new debt next year, more than double the 17.2 billion euros planned in the government’s summer draft.
Total budget spending is planned at around 476.3 billion euros. The Bundestag is set to approve the budget on Nov. 25.
Al Jazeera: Nationwide strike over inflation disrupts transport across Greece
Greek workers have begun a 24-hour nationwide strike demanding higher wages to match surging inflation, disrupting ground transport, flights and ferry services.
The nationwide walkout in Greece – the second this year called by private and public sector unions representing more than 2.5 million workers – was expected to culminate in rallies outside parliament on Wednesday evening.
Ferries were docked at ports and work stoppages by bus, train and metro staff were expected to cause travel chaos in the capital.
Some flights were grounded as air traffic controllers planned to join the walkout from 08:00 to 14:00 GMT.
East Asia and Oceania
RT: Taiwan must ‘get ready’ for invasion – president
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen told The Atlantic on Monday that there “is a genuine threat” of a Chinese invasion. China has insisted that it will strive to reintegrate Taiwan by peaceful means, but should conflict break out, Tsai will be looking to the West for help.
In an article penned by Ben Rhodes, Barack Obama’s speechwriter and Deputy National Security Advisor, Tsai said that “we need to get ourselves ready” for a potential Chinese invasion. “It’s real that this thing could happen to us,” she continued, adding: “there is a genuine threat out there. It’s not hype.”
Reuters: China warns Taiwan of opposition after Lithuania chip plan
China has vowed resolute opposition to any efforts by Taiwan to collude with external forces and pursue independence, a spokesman of its foreign ministry said on Tuesday.
The remarks came in response to a query about a plan announced this week by the self-ruled island to invest more than 10 million euros ($10 million) towards chip production in Lithuania.
Reuters: Chipmaker TSMC plans Arizona factory expansion
TSMC (2330.TW), the world’s largest contract chipmaker and a major supplier to Apple Inc (AAPL.O), said on Wednesday it was constructing a building that could serve as its second chip factory in Arizona in the United States.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd said in an emailed statement to Reuters that it could use the building for future expansion but has not yet arrived on a final decision for a second chip manufacturing plant.
Financial Times: China cuts Covid quarantine rules while Guangzhou nears lockdown
China has eased coronavirus quarantine requirements for close contacts and international travellers, in the first marginal relaxation of Xi Jinping’s zero-Covid strategy since the policy was reaffirmed at the Communist party congress last month.
The State Council, China’s cabinet, pared the mandatory quarantine for close contacts of positive Covid-19 cases and overseas arrivals from seven days to five, while maintaining three further days of home isolation.
In practice, both quarantine procedures, which are carried out in centralised government facilities, have often been enforced for longer than the mandated periods. The latest changes also included ending the tracing of second-degree close contacts of confirmed positive cases.
ANN: October inflation in China unexpectedly eases
China’s inflation eased to a seven-month low in October, signaling subdued price pressure in the fourth quarter and providing room for macroeconomic policies to beef up support for domestic demand, experts said on Wednesday.
The country’s consumer price index, a main gauge of inflation, rose by 2.1 percent year-on-year in October, marking the lowest level in seven months and down 0.7 percentage point from a 29-month high in September, said the National Bureau of Statistics.
The NBS attributed the easing in inflationary pressure to a higher comparison base, rising supplies of vegetables, fruits and aquatic products, and softer consumer demand after the National Day holiday, which ended in early October.
RT: China flaunts new hypersonic missile
China has revealed its latest anti-ship hypersonic missile, a version of the YJ-21, to the public for the first time at an air show on Tuesday, the South China Morning Post reported. Amid increased tension with the US over Taiwan, the public sighting of the weapon is being seen as a message to Washington.
Two missiles bearing the designation ‘2PZD-21’ were seen under the wings of a Xian H-6K strategic bomber at the opening of Airshow China in the coastal city of Zhuhai, the Hong-Kong-based newspaper reported. The YJ-21 was previously seen on video being test-fired from a People’s Liberation Army Navy destroyer in April, as the USS Abraham Lincoln took part in joint drills with Japan near the Korean peninsula.
Reuters: India weighs steps to cool record wheat prices, government sources say
Soaring wheat prices in India could prompt price-cooling measures such as the release of state reserves into the open market while axing the 40% tax on imports, trade and government sources said on Thursday.
The government has been trying to rein in food inflation, but its efforts have been complicated by wheat prices that have climbed to record highs.
Stung by a sudden drop in crop yields, India banned exports of the grain in May.
Market arrivals from the previous harvest, meanwhile, have slowed to a trickle as farmers have run out of stocks, growers and traders said.
Local wheat prices jumped to a record 26,500 rupees ($324.18) a tonne on Thursday, up nearly 27% since the May ban on exports.
Inquirer: Japan to invest up to $500M to manufacture advanced chips
Japan said on Friday it will invest up to 70 billion yen ($500 million) in a new semiconductor company led by tech firms including Sony Group Corp and NEC Corp as it rushes to re-establish itself as a lead maker of advanced chips.
“Semiconductors are going to be a critical component for the development of new leading-edge technologies such as AI, digital industries and in healthcare,” Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yasutoshi Nishimura said at a news briefing.
The new chip company will be named Rapidus and aims to begin making chips in the second half of the decade, he added.
Inquirer: Japan’s Oct wholesale prices rise 9.1%
Japan’s wholesale prices rose 9.1 percent in October from a year earlier, slowing from a revised 10.2 percent jump in the previous month but remaining at high levels, data showed on Friday, a sign the weak yen continues to inflate the cost of raw material imports for companies.
The rise in the corporate goods price index (CGPI), which measures the price companies charge each other for their goods and services, exceeded the median market forecast for an 8.8-percent gain.
Rising fuel and raw material prices have weighed on Japan’s fragile economic recovery, as more companies pass on higher costs to households in a hit to still-weak consumption.
ANN: Wang Yi-Penny Wong talks signal positive signs in China-Australia ties
China and Australia pledged on Tuesday to properly address each other’s concerns and make steady efforts to improve their relationship, as positive signs have emerged in improving bilateral ties.
During a phone call with State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said Australia is willing to properly deal with concrete issues between the two countries in a responsible manner and make steady efforts to improve and strengthen its ties with China.
As sound Australia-China ties are not contradictory to safeguarding each other’s national interests, she said Canberra does not intend to magnify existing disputes.
Reuters: Australia launches review into former pilots training Chinese military
Australia will launch a review into the obligations former Defence Force personnel have to protect state secrets, following reports Australians were among Western military pilots who had been approached to help train the Chinese military.
Defence Minister Richard Marles said on Wednesday intelligence agencies and Australian Federal Police were “investigating a number of cases” in Australia, and announced a review into the policies and procedures governing Australian Defence Force personnel.
Al Jazeera: Why Indonesia is abandoning its capital city to save it
Jakarta is sinking.
Notorious for traffic gridlock and poor air quality, Indonesia’s sprawling capital faces such a perfect storm of climate and environmental challenges that the government has decided to move it somewhere safer.
Increasingly severe rainfall and flooding, rising sea levels, and land subsidence have conspired to make the Southeast Asian megacity a challenging place for its more than 10.5 million people to live.
A quarter of the city — located on the western tip of the densely populated island of Java — could be underwater by 2050.
So, the Indonesian government is bidding farewell to Jakarta and plans to relocate to a new capital: Nusantara — a purpose-built city more than 1,000km (620 miles) away in Borneo island’s East Kalimantan province.
As world leaders gather for the COP27 summit in Egypt and thrash out ways and timeframes to avert what UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told them was the “collective suicide” of climate change, Jakarta’s fate vividly demonstrates how people in the developing world are already suffering from, and adapting to, a climatically-changed reality.
Central Asia and the Middle East
Reuters: Turkey starts paying for some Russian gas in roubles
Turkey has started paying for some its natural gas from Russia in roubles, Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said on Tuesday.
In an interview with broadcaster TRT Haber, Donmez said that in the coming months the share of local currency payments in energy trade with Russia would increase.
TeleSUR: At Least 6 000 Palestinians Detained by Israeli Forces in 2022
During the current year, the number of detainees includes 739 minors and 141 women.
These figures were provided by the Palestinian Prisoners' Society (PPS) in a statement in which it claims that more serious abuses against prisoners and their families have been recorded in 2022 compared to previous years.
This year, a total of 1 829 “administrative detention” orders have been issued by the Israeli occupation against Palestinian citizens.
The most significant number of arrests by Israeli forces has taken place in the city of Jerusalem (2 700).
TeleSUR: Yemeni Houthis Send Warning to Foreign Oil Tanker
On Thursday, Yemen’s Houthi group warned a foreign oil tanker not to load crude oil in a government-controlled port in the province of Shabwa.
“We have sent warning messages to the ship in Qana port not to loot oil,” Houthi Military Spokesman Yehya Sarea said in a statement broadcast by the Houthi-run al-Masirah TV.
A local security source at the Qana port said that the port was attacked by Houthi drones on Wednesday, injuring at least five workers and causing partial destruction to the facility.
The ship was waiting at the port for unloading imported oil derivatives to the local markets when the drone attack occurred. It had to leave the port without being able to unload its cargo.
MEE: Iran says it has hypersonic missile that can evade ‘all air-defence systems’
Iran has produced its first hypersonic ballistic missile cable of penetrating all air-defence systems and travelling inside and outside the Earth’s atmosphere, Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force, told the semi-official Tasnim news agency on Thursday.
“This hypersonic ballistic missile was developed to counter air defence shields,” General Amirali Hajizadeh, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps aerospace unit, was quoted as saying by Fars news agency.
“It will be able to breach all the systems of anti-missile defence,” he said, adding that he believed it would take decades before a system capable of intercepting it is developed.
TeleSUR: Macron Announces End of French Military Operation in the Sahel
On Wednesday, President Emmanuel Macron announced the official end of the French military operation Barkhane in the Sahel region in Africa.
“We do not intend to engage without a time limit,” Macron said, adding that military support from France to the African states in the Sahel region will continue in another form.
Since 2014, France has deployed around 5,100 troops to the G5 Sahel countries – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger – under operation Barkhane.
Al Jazeera: Torrential floods impact food security in West and Central Africa
Floods have destroyed this season’s harvest, while nearly 1 million hectares (2.47 million acres) of farmland across the region remain under water. Soil nutrients are being washed away, setting the scene for an even worse crop next season.
Before the floods, West and Central Africa were already facing a bleak food security situation, said Sib Ollo of the World Food Programme.
Conflict in the Sahel region has displaced nearly 8 million people, most of them farmers, for whom the pandemic had disrupted farming. That, along with prolonged drought last year and fallout from the Ukraine crisis – which reduced fertiliser supplies to the region – meant crop output was going to be low.
“It is an unprecedented situation,” Ollo said. “This is a perfect storm of factors all playing and leading us towards a catastrophe, a major crisis.”
WSWS: Kenyan union calls off pilot strike after reactionary court ruling
The Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA) has called off its strike at Kenya Airways (KQ), one of Africa’s largest carriers, four days after the Employment and Labour Relations Court ordered the pilots to resume work.
The strike began last Saturday, involving 400 pilots demanding immediate payment of salary deferred due to Covid-19, the ousting of the company board and executives and an end to victimisation of KALPA members. Their main demand was the reinstatement of the pension provident fund, equivalent to 10 percent of workers’ pay. KQ unilaterally stopped both the employees’ and the employers’ contribution in March 2020 claiming financial losses and failed to resume the retirement benefits scheme.
WSWS: Modeling projections by Ugandan health officials suggest that Ebola deaths could reach 500 by April
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that as of November 9, 2022, the Ebola outbreak in Uganda with the Sudan virus is now at 156 infections (135 confirmed and 21 probable cases) with 62 patients having recovered. In all, eight districts have been affected. A total of 74 deaths have been reported (53 confirmed and 21 probable fatalities).
In an exclusive report published in the Telegraph this week, modeling projections from October 31 leaked to the press forecast that the Ebola outbreak in Uganda could reach 1,200 infections with more than 500 fatalities by April 2023 if efforts to contain the virus are not heeded.
If the projections hold their course, the current outbreak will surpass the 2000-2001 outbreak that killed 224 people. It would also be the third deadliest Ebola outbreak after the West African epidemic 2014-2016 that killed over 11,300 people and the outbreak in 2018-2022 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) that led to almost 2,300 fatalities.
TeleSUR: Rwanda Reduced 126,000 Tons of Carbon Emissions in Nine Years
Rwanda has cut 126,000 tonnes of carbon emissions over the last nine years owing to strategic climate resilience investments made across the country, official data released during Finance Day at the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP27) in Egypt showed.
WSWS: October inflation report: Prices continue to devastate living standards of US workers
Inflation rose at an unadjusted annual rate of 7.7 percent in October, according to data published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Thursday morning. The report noted that consumer prices rose by 0.4 percent over September, the same rate as the previous month.
While consumer prices are still rising at a pace not seen since the early 1980s, with devastating consequences for working class living standards, the October rate was less than the 7.9 percent that had been predicted by analysts.
The BLS Consumer Pricing Index (CPI) summary said the inflation rate for October was “the smallest 12-month increase since the period ending January 2022,” and was down from the September rate of 8.2 percent.
The statement said that the “all items less food and energy index rose 6.3 percent over the last 12 months.” But in the critical categories of energy and food, prices increased by 17.6 percent and 10.9 percent respectively.
WSWS: After the midterms, Biden sets course for bipartisan collaboration with Republicans on war and austerity
The US midterm elections have ended inconclusively, with control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate still undetermined more than 24 hours after the polls closed. Dozens of House seats remain within a few thousand votes, while one Senate seat has gone to a runoff and two more remain undecided.
Despite near-unanimous poll-driven predictions of a wave election that would deliver the Republican Party unchallenged control of the House and a narrow majority in the Senate, it appears likely that there will be only a narrow Republican edge in the House and a 50-50 tie in the Senate, giving the Democrats effective control with the vote of Vice President Kamala Harris. As of Wednesday evening, Republicans had made a net gain of 11 seats in the House, giving them a six-seat majority.
Whatever the final outcome of the tabulating, which could continue into the weekend in Arizona, Nevada and other states that count mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day, the political consequences of the election are unmistakable. The Biden administration and the Democratic Party will move even further to the right, seeking bipartisan collaboration with the Republican Party less than two years after the Republicans sought to overthrow the US government and keep Donald Trump in the White House despite his overwhelming defeat at the polls.
Biden voiced this position at a press conference Wednesday afternoon at which he described the election as a triumph of democracy—merely because Trump-backed fascists did not succeed in disrupting it. This was surely the first time an American president has breathed a sigh of relief over the mere fact that polls were open and millions of voters had been able to cast their votes without being threatened, attacked or killed.
Common Dreams: HarperCollins Employees Begin Indefinite Strike to Demand Fair Pay
Unionized employees at HarperCollins Publishers in New York began a work stoppage Thursday, walking out after seven months of working without a contract and nearly a year of negotiations for fair pay and benefits.
Workers from the prestigious publishing company’s editorial, publicity, design, legal, and other departments are represented by Local 2110 of the UAW. The strike that began Thursday is set to go on for “as long as it takes” until executives meet the employees' demands, associate editor Stephanie Guerdan told The Guardian on Thursday.
Caribbean and South America
TeleSUR: UN Human Rights Urges To Stop Forced Deportation of Haitians
Given the continued forced returns of Haitians, the official called on “all countries in the region, including the Dominican Republic, to stop the deportation of Haitians.”
According to the UN High Commissioner, “the incessant armed violence and systematic human rights violations in Haiti do not currently allow for the safe, dignified and sustainable return of Haitians to their country of origin.”
TeleSUR: 209 Venezuelans Return From Peru Using Return to Homeland Plan
On Thursday, 209 migrants returned to Venezuela from Peru thanks to the “Return to the Homeland Plan” (PVP), a program launched by President Nicolas Maduro in Sept. 2018.
TeleSUR: Venezuela To Include Climate Change Training in Schools
The President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, said this Thursday that the country would include training on climate change and environmental preservation in the initial, primary and secondary educational programs.
“In Venezuela, everything that has to do with climate change, everything that has to do with the preservation of Mother Earth, of the Pachamama, (is the) the fifth objective of the homeland,” he said in an act broadcast by the state channel VTV.
Reuters: Venezuela poverty rate falls to 50.5% in 2022 -study
Poverty in Venezuela has fallen to 50.5% amid the South American country’s economic recovery, though income inequality continued to widen, according to a study by the National Poll of Living Conditions (ENCOVI) which was published on Thursday.
Venezuela, with a population of 28 million, has for years struggled under economic collapse, leading some 7 million people to flee the country.
In 2021, 65.2% of the country’s inhabitants lived in poverty according to the study, produced by the social investigations unit of the Universidad Catolica Andres Bello (UCAB).
Inside Climate News: Lawyers Press International Court to Investigate a ‘Network’ Committing Crimes Against Humanity in Brazil’s Amazon
Even as environmentalists cheer the ouster of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro as a turning point for the Amazon rainforest, new information filed Wednesday with the International Criminal Court suggest that the battle to protect the region and its inhabitants is far from over.
In the filing, human rights and environmental lawyers acting on behalf of rural land users are requesting an investigation into a colossal “network” of politicians, business officials, industry lobbyists and criminal gangs for alleged crimes against humanity committed against Indigenous peoples and other traditional communities in Brazil’s portion of the Amazon.
The lawyers’ action cites land- and water-related conflicts that involved an alleged 400 murders, 500 attempted murders, 2,200 death threats, 2,000 assaults, 80 instances of torture and 100,000 crimes against property like the razing of homes from 2011 to 2022 in Brazil’s portion of the Amazon. Most of these alleged crimes have been carried out by members of the network as part of a campaign to clear people from the forest so that resources like timber, soy, beef and minerals can be extracted, said the 35-page request to the court, based in The Hague.
The Ukraine Proxy Conflict
Naked Capitalism: Russia Slips Out of Kherson Under Cover of Midterms
Al Jazeera: US to buy South Korea artillery shells ‘for Ukraine’
Washington plans to buy 100,000 South Korean-made artillery shells for use in the Ukraine war, a United States official has said, though South Korea has insisted its policy against providing lethal aid to Ukraine remained unchanged and it expects the end user of the ammunition to be US forces.
Citing US officials familiar with the deal, the Wall Street Journal reported that the US and South Korea were nearing an agreement to buy 100,000 rounds of 155mm artillery shells that would be delivered to Ukraine.
Analysis and Retrospectives
The Left, Broadly Construed
WSWS: Upsurge in class struggle in UK and internationally: A harbinger of decisive revolutionary conflict
Jacobin: French Workers Are Refusing to Pay for Inflation
As wages lag behind rising prices, strikes for higher pay are bubbling up across France. In the most high-profile of these struggles, workers at Total and ExxonMobil refineries have sought a 10 percent wage hike, with employer opposition ushering in a nationwide fuel shortage. But they’ve been joined in recent weeks by bus drivers, subway conductors, warehouse workers, secondary school teachers, nuclear plant operators, supermarket cashiers, and others — and the street pressure is mounting.
In October, France’s united left coalition, the Nouvelle Union Populaire Écologique et Sociale (NUPES), organized its own protest march in Paris “against the high cost of living and climate inaction.” Led by the Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT), the more militant of France’s two major labor confederations, unions have led several days of nationwide protests and strikes: September 29; October 18; October 27. They’re gearing up for another one on November 10.
The article then turns to an interview with Phillipe Martinez, the general secretary of the CGT.
Inside the Imperial Core
Naked Capitalism: Debunking the Petrodollar Myth: Pricing Oil in Dollars Is Just a Convention
Naked Capitalism: Oil Executives Warn G7 Price Cap Could Lead To Stranded Tankers
Is G7 managing to undo what little progress it had made on key details of how the “fire, aim, ready” Russian oil price cap will work when it goes live on December 5?
Get a load of this, from the Financial Times in G7 says Russian oil price cap to be ready ‘in the coming weeks’ a week ago:
The G7 decided in September that the cap will work by allowing western companies to provide insurance to seaborne Russian oil exports, so long as the crude has been sold at a price below the cap.
“We will finalise implementation of the price cap on seaborne Russian oil in the coming weeks,” the ministers said in a joint statement following two days of talks in Germany….
The pledge comes a day after the UK said it would cut off the vital Lloyd’s of London insurance market for ships carrying Russian oil, with a waiver for any countries that sign up for the price cap.
Pull out a calendar. The sanctions go live in less than four weeks. Both insurance and international trade are complex, legally and documentation-intensive businesses. Parties need time to prepare procedures and forms. But the G7 big kahunas seem to think if they can reduce a plan to PowerPoint, that’s the same as making it happen.
Note that one James O’Brien, head of sanctions co-ordination at the US state department, gave the pink paper airy assurances that the industry was providing input and everyone was a grown up, they can see what is coming. That is clearly contradicted by the OilPrice story below. The normally bland OilPrice shows annoyance at how the feckless oil price cap designers haven’t bothered sorting out key details, which are, contrary to O’Brien, causing headaches and probably problems for industry participants.
A turf war of sorts has contributed to this sorry outcome, meaning sloppy implementation on top of bad concept. The US Treasury is the lead player in the US on sanctions and anti-money laundering; my impression is they’ve also been the party in charge of international sanctions regimes like those against Iran.
We reported on September 7 that the Treasury had published guidance that took positions on issue that now seem to be open. As we’ll see below, it appears UK upset the apple cart, perhaps because it saw itself as the big fish in this process as the dominant provider of insurance for oil tankers and cargoes.
In any event, as you can see from the extract below, the procedures seem far more in flux than they looked to be two months ago:
Moreover, the G7 plans to use its bank sanctions weapon to force other countries to comply. From Maritime Executive:
Marine insurers, bankers and tanker owners may not be liable if their customers violate the new G7 price cap on Russian oil sales, according to the U.S. Treasury – so long as they rely on their customers’ word for shipment price compliance. The ruling addresses some of the shipping industry’s main concerns about the potential effects of the ban.
On Sept. 2, the G7 finance ministers proposed “a comprehensive prohibition of services which enable maritime transportation of Russian-origin crude oil and petroleum products globally” – except for oil purchased below a certain price. The idea is a form of a “buyer’s OPEC”: unless the oil is sold below an artificial price threshold, it can’t be insured or moved without risking sanctions.
The Treasury’s guidance, issued Friday, sets up three tiers of service providers for seaborne Russian oil transport: refiners and oil brokers with direct access to price data (Tier I); bankers and shipowners with occasional access to price data (Tier II); and those who have no access to price data in the normal course of business, like insurers and P&I clubs (Tier III).
All have to keep records of compliance, and all are required to do due diligence on their customers, but shipowners, bankers and insurers have an important exemption: they are allowed to rely on their customers for price data. If that data is fraudulent, they are not liable for accidentally participating in a sanctions violation.
“This recordkeeping and attestation process is designed to create a ‘safe harbor’ for service providers from liability for breach of sanctions in cases where service providers inadvertently deal in the purchase of seaborne Russian oil above the price cap due to falsified records,” advised Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Conrol.
OFAC does expect to see attempts at sanctions evasion, and it cautioned involved parties to watch for signs of deceptive practices, such as AIS manipulation or reluctance to provide pricing data.
The office said that it intends to harmonize its regulatory approach with the other members of the G7, indicating that the same guidance will be applied broadly.
So the short version of this is the G7 will require buyers to keep price records, as in price per unit volume, of oil and oil products, and presumably also indicate country of origin. The ones who are not financial institutions (as in subject to having regulators go full proctology on them and having their banking licenses revoked) would be subject to fines or even having their access to dollar payment systems suspended or revoked if they were found to be cheating. This would apply to traders in non G7 countries too.
As you can see, the Treasury version of the plan gave insurers and shipowners a green light as long as they got representations about pricing from the buyers. But consider this excerpt from a story yesterday at Reuters:
Oil-laden tankers risk being left languishing at sea if insurers do not urgently get clarity on an unfinished G7 and European Union plan to cap the price of Russian crude, two senior industry executives told Reuters….
And with just three weeks to go, time is running out to fully convince the shipping services industry it will work.
Concerns are centred around a scenario in which insurers discover that oil in transit at sea, which was believed to have been sold below the price cap, was in fact sold above it.
This would trigger the withdrawal of insurance cover as well as a refusal by buyers to accept delivery, leading to financial and logistical headaches and risking environmental dangers.
This is simply crazy. The original language provided for no liability in the event a Tier II or III party found out that they’d been lied to about the price of Russian oil they were carrying. But it appears the UK getting cute with its maritime services ban, including insurance, has gone further than the Treasury’s intent. The Bloomberg subhead from its November 3 article, UK Seeks to Cap the Price of Russian Oil With Insurance Move, incorrectly states “UK aligns its position with EU ahead of planned price cap” when the UK has superceded the Treasury plan:
The UK government is to cap the price of Russian oil for any company in the world using the country’s insurance, brokerage and shipping services.
The UK Treasury said in a statement on Thursday that the country will prohibit the provision of the services from Dec. 5, part of a broader international effort to undermine Russia’s war effort in Ukraine.
The ban won’t apply to oil purchased at or below a price cap set by a coalition of the G-7 nations and Australia, the UK Treasury said. The decision aligns the UK more closely with the European Union, which has also said it will ban insurance and services for the shipment of oil not sold below the cap.
While the Bloomberg article does not spell it out, first the UK prohibition sure sounds like it makes insurers compliance police, something the US Treasury avoided since the insures in the normal course of business don’t have access to the needed info. Second, “prohibit” sure sounds like the insurer will be punished if found to have misbehaved.
Finally, I doubt insurers are solely or even mainly worried about getting surprise news about a tanker at sea. Raising this scenario seems to be designed to force the UK to limit its prohibition to the issuance of insurance before the tankers set sail. If the insurer checked all the required due diligence boxes, it (and the tanker owner, assuming he was not misleading the insurer) should not be subject to punishment if the shipper (the buyer of the Russian oil) made misrepresentation to them when they have no or little ability to verify what they have been told.
Of course, the other remedy is not to buy insurance from UK insurers. Russia signaled it was looking into stepping into that role, and I would imagine that there are players in the Middle East who might be game too. But it does not seem as easy to get around the bans on servicing tankers….
Any shipping or oil trading knowledgeable readers are very much encouraged to pipe up.
Outside the Imperial Core
Multipolarista: Failed assassination of Imran Khan may push Pakistan’s US-backed coup regime to tipping point
Pakistanis have been out on the streets protesting in the millions over the past few months. Even though the country has been afflicted by the horrific floods, the political momentum for radical change has not abated.
An assassination attempt on former Prime Minister Imran Khan this November has brought matters to a tipping point. Today, Khan’s popularity as a political leader and public figure is at its peak – a fact even his detractors will concede.
And this is precisely what has got him into trouble.
Khan was ousted in a regime-change operation at the beginning of April. We can now conclusively say that the group responsible for the ouster included virtually the entire corrupt feudal-dynastic political class, the chief of army staff and some of his cohorts in the military high command, and of course the godfather overseeing it all: the United States.
It was a classic case of a “color revolution,” which unfolded within just a few weeks. Elite sections of civil society, including the ostensibly more “progressive” ones, as well as the entire mainstream media, set the stage for the powerful to do their dirty work through lawfare.
With political support from Washington, they organized a bogus vote of no confidence, with the help of huge sums of money coming from both inside and outside Pakistan to buy off members of Khan’s own party, the Movement for Justice (PTI).
What has followed has been nothing less than historic. Pakistan has seen many civilian politicians deposed unceremoniously, but the bulk of ordinary people have been fairly indifferent to such elite intrigues.
The curse of the country has been that sometimes the civilian politicians in power, and their blatant plundering of the country, have actually made military rule seem better – or at least no different.
The ouster of Imran Khan engendered sadness and anger among large segments of the population, who believed that the “Khan experiment” was now dead.
But the former prime minister demonstrated an indefatigable resolve to fight back, which is frankly miraculous in a country where wealth and power are so obscenely monopolized by civilian and military elites who despise Khan.
From one city to the next, all across the country, Khan has held major rallies. His speeches have aroused a population that otherwise thought they would just have to live in despair, with the ancien régime coming back to power.
Over the past few months, in the scorching heat of the summer and through the devastating floods, Khan has not budged an inch on his simple core demand: elections to determine who should be governing the country.
But what seems like a fairly banal demand is anathema to the traditional mainstream political parties, especially the two which have played musical chairs in impoverishing the country, the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
PML-N in particular, with its current unelected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, has gone into panic mode, because it has always been accustomed to dominating the most powerful and populous province of the country, Punjab.
The most fascinating and encouraging aspect of Khan’s PTI is that it is perhaps the first national political party that has constituencies and support in all of Pakistan’s provinces.
This is no small feat for a young political party that has broken the stranglehold of the two-party duopoly that has dominated Pakistani political life for the past three decades.
Surely, it seems to strongly indicate that Pakistanis desperately wanted political change – and a lot of it.
Inside Climate News: A New Study from China on Methane Leaks from the Sabotaged Nord Stream Pipelines Found that the Climate Impact Was ‘Tiny’ and Nothing ‘to Worry About’
Researchers with the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Atmospheric Physics came to a starkly different conclusion, focusing not on the actual amount of methane released from the pipelines but on how much warming that quantity would produce over a 20-year period.
Methane emissions related to the recent explosions would result in an increase in the average global surface air temperature of just 0.000018 degrees Celsius over a 20-year period, the researchers concluded in a study published Friday in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences.
“Such a tiny warming cannot be perceived in ecosystems or human society, so there is no need to worry about the climatic impact of this leaked methane,” Xiaolong Chen, the study’s lead author, said in a press release shared with journalists prior to publication.
Common Dreams: Climate Clock Erected at COP27 Says Richest Nations Owe $31.8 Trillion… and Counting
Al Jazeera: CO2 pollution from fossil fuels to hit all-time high this year
Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels, the main driver of climate change, are on track to rise one percent in 2022 to reach an all-time high, according to scientists.
The Global Carbon Budget report, released on Friday during the United Nations COP27 climate summit, laid bare the gap between the promises governments, companies and investors have made to cut planet-warming emissions in future years, and their actions.
Emissions from oil, fuelled by the rebound in aviation after the COVID-19 pandemic, will probably rise more than two percent compared with last year, while emissions from coal – thought by some to have peaked in 2014 – will hit a new record.