Events


Globally


Oil Price: The Oil Price Cap Continues To Baffle Traders

Then comes the bigger problem, and that problem is that crude oil is just not traded under fixed prices, which is already causing headaches in the sector. In fact, oil is traded in such a way that it could often be impossible to comply with the cap, even assuming Russia would sell to cap backers.

Bloomberg cited traders last week as saying that a lot of them risked getting stuck with Russian crude cargos that cost more than the $60-per-barrel cap, unable to access Western insurance and tankers because of that fact. And that, in turn, would threaten the supply side of the global oil equation.


Europe


Inquirer: Ukraine orders punitive measures on clerics with Moscow links

Ukraine’s top security officials have ordered punitive measures against seven senior clerics, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday, part of a crackdown on a branch of the Orthodox Church with longstanding ties to Moscow.

Guardian: UK ‘still facing recession’ despite economy returning to growth in October

How could the GDP Money Number lie?

WSWS: UK postal workers speak on fight against Royal Mail and wider strike movement

The WSWS spoke with postal workers attending the Communication Workers Union (CWU) rally in London’s Parliament Square on Friday, the thirteenth day of national strike action since August.

WSWS: Catastrophe in care at German children’s hospitals

Reuters: Germany’s 2022 renewable power production rises but still behind 2030 target

Renewable energy is expected to account for around 46% of German power consumption this year, up from 41% a year earlier, the agency said in its annual report.

Sure hope that isn’t offset by switching from gas to coal!

Guardian: ‘People can’t afford milk’: Moldovans weigh political future as Ukraine war hits economy

Electricity blackouts, stray missiles and 35% inflation: collateral damage from Russia’s war on Ukraine has plunged neighbouring Moldova into a crisis that goes beyond higher energy bills.

Euro News: Serbian President Vucic pledges to ensure peace amid simmering ethnic tensions in Kosovo

Following a meeting of Serbia’s National Security Council, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has vowed to maintain peace but claims his army is ready to protect minority Serbs living in neighbouring Kosovo.


East Asia and Oceania


People’s Daily: China’s biodiversity conservation goals better than average: COP15 president

As one of the richest countries in biodiversity and one of the first countries to join the convention, China has effectively protected 90 percent of terrestrial ecosystem types and 74 percent of key state-protected wildlife populations. More than 300 rare and endangered wildlife populations have been well restored, Huang, also China’s minister of ecology and environment, said in his address to a side event on youth involvement.

SCMP: China looks to hypersonic ski-jump technology for space travel

In a paper published in peer-reviewed journal Acta Aeronautica et Astronautica Sinica on December 8, the researchers said the results proved ski-jump technology – regarded as obsolete in modern aircraft carriers – could be adapted for orbital launches from near space.

Inquirer: China retires major Covid tracking app as virus rules ease

Reuters: China’s rules for “deepfakes” to take effect from Jan. 10

China’s new rules for content providers that alter facial and voice data will take effect from Jan. 10, its cyberspace regulator said, as it looks to more tightly scrutinize so-called “deepfake” technology and services.

Statesman: Russia welcomes India’s decision to not support G7’s price cap on Russian oil

Reuters: Australian PM shrugs off gas industry price cap concerns

Wholesale gas prices in Australia’s populous east coast have doubled from last year while power has quadrupled in some states, reflecting soaring global energy markets following Russia’s Ukraine invasion. Albanese wants to drive down energy bills for households and gas-dependent manufacturers.

WSWS: Australia and Japan boost military ties against China

In a meeting of foreign and defence ministers on Friday, the governments of Australia and Japan agreed to substantially increase their military cooperation in yet another aggressive move aimed at preparing for a US-led war against China.


Central Asia and the Middle East


People’s Daily: Putin, Erdogan discuss energy cooperation, grain export deal over phone

The leaders emphasized the special importance of joint energy projects, primarily in the gas industry, and the continued exchanges of views on Putin’s initiative to create a regional gas hub in Türkiye, the Kremlin said in a statement. Putin and Erdogan also discussed the deal signed in Istanbul in July on exporting Ukrainian grain from the Black Sea ports and supplying Russian agricultural products and fertilizers to global markets.

ANN: Xi: China backs reconstruction in Iraq, hails ties with Kuwait


North America


Reuters: U.S. inflation will be much lower by end of 2023, Yellen says

“I believe by the end of next year you will see much lower inflation if there’s not– an unanticipated shock,” she said.

Well, she’s had a pretty good series of predictions on America’s economy so far…

WSWS: Stellantis announces indefinite layoffs for 1,350 Belvidere Assembly Plant workers

WSWS: Democratic Socialists of America provide cover for UAW and Democrats as they move to shut down University of California strike

The United Auto Workers bureaucracy is moving rapidly to shut down the powerful strike by University of California workers after UAW Local 5810 reached a separate contract covering 12,000 postdoctoral workers and academic researchers. The union has ordered these workers to cross the picket lines of the remaining 36,000 striking graduate student teaching assistants, researchers and other workers beginning on Monday.

Naked Capitalism: US Prison Labor Boosts Hundreds of Private Companies and Helps Expand the Carceral State

Tennessee, Alabama, Oregon, and Vermont voted in the November elections to ​​prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude as punishment for crime, while Louisiana did not. The votes had to do with the hundreds of thousands of incarcerated Americans forced to work for pennies an hour – and sometimes no wage at all. The four approved initiatives won’t bring about any immediate changes in the states’ prisons, but they could remove some barriers to legal challenges over the brutal treatment of prisoners.

Jacobin: Canadian Businesses Took Pandemic Benefits to the Bank and Left Workers Holding the Bag

Employers took billions from the Canadian government in wage support funds, and many of them continued to pay CEOs millions and issue dividends. Yet the government is now looking for payback from workers, not bosses.

Common Dreams: Reports of ‘Breakthrough’ in Fusion Power Fuels Hopes of Major Clean Energy Progress

Citing unnamed sources with knowledge of the results, the Financial Times reported Sunday that scientists at a federal laboratory in California successfully produced “a net energy gain in a fusion reaction for the first time,” a milestone that the Biden administration is expected to announce publicly on Tuesday.

While welcoming the apparent scientific breakthrough in fusion energy—which does not emit planet-warming greenhouse gases—some expert observers warned that widespread and commercial use of the technology is likely still decades away, appending a cautious note to celebrations of the historic achievement at the federal lab in California.

Yeah, I only have a beginners university-level understanding of physics and when I saw this, I was initially excited, saw the actual accomplishment and was like “…oh.” Once we get a net output fusion reaction sustained for a long period, THEN we start to be on the road towards real-world energy generation. Like, that’s the really big fundamental problem behind fusion power - using it to generate more energy than you put in is a relatively straightforward problem compared to the almighty problem of sustaining it for minutes or hours on end without immense damage to the containment that would make generating fusion energy too costly.

Even then, the West is thoroughly corrupted and bought out by fossil fuel companies and will massively resist this technology ever being practically used for power generation. It seems to be 90% hype and 10% results, to me at least. But still, if real, the scientists have done some good work.


South America


Guardian: ‘No one will protect us’: how Haiti has become deadly for journalists

… Vilsaint is one of at least eight journalists who have either been killed or gone missing in 2022 while reporting on the country’s dire sociopolitical crisis, according to Godson Lubrun, president of the Haitian Online Media Association. That number is the highest in two decades.

Take the good ones out and send Max Boot and Thomas Friedman there.

RT: Peruvian president reacts to violent protests

Peru’s new president, Dina Boluarte, has proposed moving the next general election from 2026 to 2024 and declared a state of emergency in areas affected by protests and riots in support of the country’s detained former leader, Pedro Castillo.

Multipolarista: Peru rises up after coup against elected President Pedro Castillo

Peru’s elected left-wing President Pedro Castillo was overthrown in a coup by the right-wing-controlled congress. A Peruvian activist explains why the people are rising up and demanding a new constitution.


The Ukraine Proxy Conflict


ANN: Russia ramping up production of ‘most powerful’ arms: former President

EU Reporter: Scholz: Risk of Russia using nuclear weapons has diminished, for now

From 0% to 0%.

RT: Ukraine chides Germany over tank deliveries

Jacobin: Canada’s Military Trained Ukrainian Fascists. Now It’s Claiming “Russian Disinformation.”

A report from George Washington University reveals that the Canadian Armed Forces trained a far-right Ukrainian group. Despite corroboration by its own internal documents, the Canadian military is calling the report “Russian disinformation.”


Analysis

Retrospectives, History, and Theory


Monthly Review: The working class under neo-liberalism

Michael Roberts: Chips: the new arms race

Miller argues graphically that microchips are the new oil – the scarce resource on which the modern world depends. Today, military, economic, and geopolitical power are built on a foundation of computer chips. Virtually everything from missiles to microwaves, smartphones to the stock market runs on chips. Until recently, America designed and built the fastest chips and maintained its lead to maintain its lead as the superpower. But now America’s edge is slipping, undermined by competitors in Taiwan, Korea, Europe, and, above all, China. As Chip War reveals, China, which spends more money each year importing chips than it spends importing oil, is pouring billions into a chip-building initiative to catch up to the US. At stake is America’s military superiority and economic prosperity.

… China is the real target and the battle to crush China’s tech advancement is by no means won. Already, China is the world’s largest consumer of semiconductors. However, its self-sufficiency in manufacturing its own chips is extremely low. Chinese domestic firms had only a 6.6% self-sufficiency ratio in 2021, rising to 16.7% when including foreign firms located in China. Even including these multinational subsidiaries in China, the country’s chip production in 2026 is only likely to reach 6.6% of the global total. In the fabless semiconductor sector, China contributed 16% of the global market in 2020, but its share declined to only 9% in 2021 amid US-escalated export bans.

But Beijing’s policy is one a drive for self-sufficiency in chip production using all the financial and planing powers of the state. In 2014 China established a National IC Development Investment Fund. Later in 2015, the Made in China 2025 plan set an ambitious 70% self-sufficiency target by 2025, which given current progress, is not going to be met. So China’s dependence on the economies that supply it with semiconductors — Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, and Japan especially — will remain, with the risk that supplies will be totally cut off by the US plan.


The Left and the Right


Naked Capitalism: The New “Left Tide” Sweeping Latin America Just Hit a Couple of Big Rocks

Over the past couple of years, as regular readers are well aware, Latin America has seen a new wave of leftist leaders taking office. Following Brazil’s election of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, aka Lula, in November, all six of the region’s largest economies (Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Peru) have — for the first time ever — left-of-center coalitions in power. But it was not going to be all smooth sailing; a push back was inevitable. Lo behold, last week Latin America’s new “leftist tide” hit a couple of big rocks.

First, Peru’s President Pedro Castillo was toppled, imprisoned and replaced by his vice-president Dina Boluarte, all in the space of just a few hours. That was on Wednesday. The day before that, Argentina’s current Peronist Vice President and former two-term President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (aka CFK) was sentenced to six years in prison on corruption charges and barred from holding public office in the future.


Inside the Imperial Core


Canadian Dimension: Planning our way out of poverty: Racism and Toronto’s housing crisis

Naked Capitalism: Is Canada Euthanizing the Poor? 

COunterpunch: Brexit Bites Back

In recent months, British public opinion on the issue of Brexit has shifted. Many people in Britain are becoming more critical of Brexit. With the help of plenty of dark money, Murdoch’s press, and the gross misjudgement of a conservative prime minister, the UK held a referendum on Brexit (the British exit from the European Union) in 2016. 51.9% voted for Brexit. The policy of leaving the EU was confirmed in the UK’s 2019 election. And, on January 31, 2020, Britain officially left the EU.

With that, Britain was free from the illusionary shackles of the supposedly un-democratic EU. Self-determination and democracy were put back into the hands of the British people. Strangely, the UK’s current prime minister – Rishi Sunak – was not democratically elected by the British people, nor was his predecessor Liz Truss – both conservatives.

Well, at least Brexit stopped the migration of undocumented individuals by boat across the English Channel, right? Not quite. In fact, the opposite happened after Brexit. In 2022, up to November, more than 40,000 people had crossed the Channel in small boats. This was the highest number since these figures began to be collected in 2018. In 2021, the total was 28,526 people, while in 2020 it was 8,404.

Worse, the UK economy is going downhill. This, it seems, also fuels growing anti-Brexit attitudes. Recently, and this came for the first time, British media and even some conservative politicians began saying rather openly that Brexit might have been a mistake.

Dang, trading the European neoliberals for the British neoliberals didn’t work! Who could have possibly seen this coming?! If only there had been some alternative who could have made the situation work…

Responsible Statecraft: Joe Biden’s foreign policy: A year in review

Apparently Biden’s handling of the war in Ukraine has been a bright spot! That’s news to me!

There have been relatively few foreign policy successes for the United States over the last 12 months, and 2023 looks to be a year plagued by more avoidable crises.

As the Biden administration approaches the halfway mark of the president’s term, U.S. foreign policy has been marked by increasing militarization, the entrenchment of bad client state relationships, and an increase of U.S. security commitments when the United States was already overstretched.


Outside the Imperial Core


Inside Climate News: Climate Change is Driving Millions to the Precipice of a ‘Raging Food Catastrophe’

Nearly 26 million people in the Horn of Africa are facing extreme hunger, with some areas already reaching catastrophic famine levels, according to the United Nations. The situation here is unfolding as a food crisis threatens a record number of people around the world, with nearly 345 million at acute levels of hunger and nearly 50 million people on the brink of famine.