Naked Capitalism: Bloomberg Describes Europe’s Severe and Sustained Energy Crisis Due to Loss of Russian Gas

Mainstream press coverage, likely reflecting European leadership’s “kick the can” reflexes, has touted that Europe has decent odds of having its stored Russian gas (along with other sources, like wind and nuclear power) carry Europe through the winter. And in fairness, gas prices in Europe have dropped since late summer peaks.

But looking at current and near term price expectations ignores the cost at which this relief has been achieved, namely, deindustrailization. Energy-intensive businesses, from aluminum, glass, chemical, and paper makers to greenhouse operators are cutting back, suspending, or even shuttering operations. Even with energy subsidies in place, many households are cutting back because they can’t afford the higher prices. Needless to say, budget-squeezed consumers are a further drag on business activity. Germany and the UK have been particularly noisy in warning citizens about possible rolling blackouts over the winter.

TeleSUR: Massive Strikes To Hit Britain During Christmas Season

The United Kingdom (UK) faces weeks of massive strikes during the Christmas season by transport and postal workers, nurses, and border guards. A wave of industrial action began on Tuesday, with more than 40,000 members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) walking out for 48 hours. Three more weeks of disruption are set to follow.

WSWS: The UK’s Strep A child deaths and the causes of the “tripledemic”

There have been 7,750 cases of scarlet fever—caused by Strep A infection—so far this season, more than treble the number at the same point in 2017-2018, with doctors worried that numbers still have not peaked.

TeleSUR: German Bundesrat Approves Price Cap for Electricity and Gas

On Friday, the German Upper House (Bundesrat) approved the so-called “energy price brakes” that will cap electricity and gas prices in Europe’s largest economy to cushion the impact of high prices on consumers and businesses.

East Asia and Oceania

Global Times: China, Japan again sell US debt; China’s holdings hit 12-year low

China’s US Treasury holdings fell to a 12-year low in October, marking the second straight month of cuts and leaving its holdings below $1 trillion for the sixth straight month, latest data showed. Japan, the US' largest creditor, China, its second largest and the UK, the third largest, all cut US debt holdings in October. Analysts said that the sale by so many economies was a sign of their waning confidence in US debt.

TeleSUR: Putin, Modi Discuss Russia-India Cooperation Over Phone

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday discussed prospects for practical cooperation in mutual investment, energy, agriculture, transport and logistics in a phone conversation, the Kremlin said.

Putin and Modi expressed “satisfaction with the high level of bilateral cooperation that has been developing on the basis of the Russian-Indian privileged strategic partnership,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

TeleSUR: Largest Power Generation Project in Cambodia Launches Operation

The Huadian Preah Sihanouk coal-fired power plant in Cambodia on Friday passed a commissioning test successfully and was officially put into operation, becoming the largest power generation project in the country.

TeleSUR: Search for Survivors Continues Following Malaysia Landslide

The search and rescue teams are working hard in order to save more than a dozen people still trapped by a landslide in Malaysia which claimed at least 16 lives early on Friday.

WSWS: Australia’s housing crisis pushing thousands into poverty and homelessness

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) lifted interest rates by 25 basis points on December 6, the eighth consecutive monthly hike. RBA governor Philip Lowe has signalled that this program, aimed at slowing the economy and beating back a wages push by workers, will continue into the new year. 

Central Asia and the Middle East

Counterpunch: Facing a Houthi Victory in Yemen, the US Shifts Its Approach

After years of backing a disastrous, Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen, the United States is shifting its approach to the war, supporting a UN-brokered truce that has resulted in the most significant reduction of violence since the war began.

Bowing to the reality that the opposition Houthi movement now controls 80 percent of the population of Yemen and has acquired the means to launch missiles deep into Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, U.S. officials have been focusing on the truce as a means of achieving a ceasefire and ending the war.

North America

Counterpunch: The F-35: Sales to Allied Countries Don’t Mean It’s A Great Airplane

In a recent article for Forbes, pundit Loren Thompson brags of the success of the controversial F-35 and claims that the block 4 upgrades will make the troubled aircraft even better. He also points out that so far 16 countries have placed orders for the fighter, and that proves how great it is (1) , but it’s worth pointing out that is not necessarily true, as the US has sold deeply flawed aircraft to foreign counties in the past, with horrendous results.

Inside Climate News: Fracking Waste Gets a Second Look to Ease Looming West Texas Water Shortage

Aquifers beneath the Permian Basin are slowly running out. Recycling “produced water” should help to slow the decline.

TeleSUR: US Starbucks Workers Begin Three-day Walkout for Unionization

Starbucks workers from around 100 stores across the United States started a three-day strike on Friday, making it the longest nationally coordinated job action in the company’s history.

WSWS: 36,000 UC academic workers to vote on concessions contract agreed to by UAW

On December 16, bargaining teams for United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 2865 and Student Researchers United (SRU-UAW) announced they had reached tentative agreements to shut down a strike by 36,000 graduate student workers in the University of California system. A snap vote will begin this next Monday, December 19, and will last until Friday, December 23.

WSWS: Proud Boys, fascists terrorize drag shows across United States

Over the weekend, drag shows held at bars and restaurants were terrorized by Proud Boys, Christian nationalists and other neo-Nazi elements, leading to the cancellation of at least one event in Austin, Texas.

South America

Responsible Statecraft: Will the international community intervene in Haiti — again?

TeleSUR: Cuba and Venezuela Evaluate New Areas of Cooperation

“The alliance between Cuba and Venezuela is subscribed in various fields such as health, sports, education, communication, food, and sciences, among other areas. In this meeting, the search for new common interests and cooperation was sought,” detailed a message from the official account of the Venezuelan vice presidency.

TeleSUR: 25 Peruvians Murdered in a Week of Intense Repression

TeleSUR: Dengue Vaccine From Butantan Institute Shows Close 80% Efficacy

A dengue vaccine developed by Brazilian researchers at the Butantan Institute in São Paulo has shown 79.6 percent efficacy in phase three clinical trials. 

Inside Climate News: Their Lives Were Ruined by Oil Pollution, and a Court Awarded Them $9.5 Billion. But Ecuadorians Have Yet to See a Penny From Chevron

One of the victims says “nobody listens to us” while the spotlight has shifted to his American lawyer, whom the oil giant has pursued in U.S. legal proceedings.

The Ukraine Proxy Conflict

TASS: Moscow has data confirming US’, Poland’s involvement in terror attacks in Russia — agency

According to the specialists’ assessments, a number of facts “confirm the direct involvement of the US and Poland in the massive military-logistical support of the Kiev regime, in preparation and implementation of joint terror attacks on the Russian Federation territory”


Retrospectives, History, and Theory

Jacobin: In the Late 1800s, the Knights of Labor Tried to Build a Working-Class Internationalism

Too often, the US labor movement has favored narrow nationalism over cross-border solidarity. But in the late 19th century, the US-based Knights of Labor preached a working-class internationalism that sought to organize workers throughout the globe.

Jacobin: West Virginia Coal Miners Who Fought Their Bosses Are Getting the Monuments They Deserve

As statues of tyrants and reactionaries come down, organizers in West Virginia are building monuments to the coal miners whose resistance to corporate domination a century ago has largely been forgotten.

Jacobin: Fight for Your Right to Be Lazy

In the late nineteenth century, French Marxist Paul Lafargue put forward a demand that still resonates nearly a century and a half later: workers have a right to be lazy.

Monthly Review: I witnessed the truth about Nicaragua

Multipolarista: How Argentina has been trapped in neocolonial debt for 200 years: An economic history

Naked Capitalism: The Political Disruptions of Fiscal Austerity

This post provides some official confirmation for the common-sense observation, that austerity, aks squeezing the middle class and the poors, produces distrust of government and radicalization.

The Left and the Right

Multipolarista: Why Peru has had 7 presidents in 6 years: Legacy of Fujimori dictatorship’s constitution

Inside the Imperial Core

Anti War: The Troubled US-Saudi Relationship

As the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia continues to grow more strained, President Biden keeps arriving at Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s door with gifts to court the kingdom back. And the relationship continues to grow more strained.

Monthly Review: Zero COVID: Don’t be deceived by U.S. reports on the protests in China

The opportunism of the major U.S. media was on full display in late November over the protests against China’s anti-COVID lockdowns. The protests began in the Xinjiang city of Urumqi after a terrible fire took the lives of 10 people on Nov. 24. People in the district responded to the tragedy by protesting the lockdown that had gone into effect after a COVID outbreak in late summer.

The protests occurred in somewhere between 15 and 20 cities, including Beijing and Shanghai. The numbers reported by the U.S. press were purposely vague. The liberal PBS claimed thousands in a Nov. 29 headline and then “tens of thousands” in the article. Some reports indicated hundreds in Shanghai, and many pieces didn’t estimate crowd size at all.

For context, there are about 60 cities of a million people or larger in China, and about 20% of the world lives in China. So even if the claim by PBS of “tens of thousands” is true, this brief series of protests was not the mass uprising against the leadership of China that the U.S. capitalist class and their loyal media salivate over.

Hoping the protests would mark the beginning of their long-desired “color revolution” in China, the U.S. media’s elation got the best of them and led to the overblown coverage. But the hyperventilating reportage wasn’t limited to slander. There are reports of Western journalists using Telegram channels to guide “activists” from Hong Kong and Taiwan to the locations of some of the protests.

When the “color revolution” failed to materialize, their giddy predictions gave way to another distortion of the facts. They claimed the CCP is being pushed by the momentum of the protests to ease its COVID policy, which they claim is the result of Xi’s authoritarianism and his desire to always be correct regardless of consequences.

Their omission of the fact that President Xi Jinping had already signaled a relaxation of the “Zero COVID” measures a full two weeks before the protests broke out was not an error. It was imperialist media policy.

Outside the Imperial Core

Climate Change News: Migrant labourers suffer exploitation in India’s sugar fields

Climate Change News: The sweet life goes sour – Climate Weekly

Fifty million people in India rely on growing sugar for their living. That’s more people than live in Spain. Their lives rarely make global news.

Jcaobin: Repression Can’t Snuff Out West Papua’s Struggle for Freedom

Since Indonesia annexed West Papua, its people have faced brutal military repression while the US helps whitewash the occupation. But the country’s freedom movement is pressing ahead with a unique liberation project based on ecological principles.

Jacobin: As President of Brazil, Lula Could Usher in a New Global Nonalignment Movement

Brazil’s president-elect, Lula da Silva, appears eager to challenge Western dominance. But instead of siding with China against the US in a new cold war, he’s likely to pursue a sovereign third path in the vein of the 20th century’s Non-Aligned Movement.

I don’t know, he seems pretty friendly with Russia. Regardless, I do wonder about the viability of a non-aligned movement when it’s not so much two superpowers vying for dominance over who will be the global hegemon like in the first Cold War, and instead the global hegemon that won the first Cold War being challenged from without and trying and failing to maintain its superiority in the second Cold War - with incredible amounts of violence. By choosing not to align with the global hegemon, you’re necessarily in the camp that’s against them, because that global hegemon’s active desire is to subordinate you, and you’re resisting that. The only thing Lula would actually be doing if he chose to walk a completely different track from the China-led bloc is making the whole resistance less powerful.

Of course, Brazil is part of BRICS, so it’s difficult to see how he could be TOO non-aligned in the first place. Kinda like India - not friendly with China, more friendly with Russia, but you’re all stuck together anyway because the US wants to destroy you all, to lesser or greater degrees. If China does fall, India in 20 or 30 years could be in a similar position to where China currently is, and would face similar repression from the United States for it. I would be surprised if Modi hasn’t thought about this already and is acting accordingly, though he might not have the same level of commitment to the development of a multipolar world as Russia or China, and might be like “Well, I won’t personally have to deal with the consequences of India growing to the point where it could be a tangible threat to US hegemony, so…” Even so, he didn’t join in on the sanctions with Russia where others have, so he clearly can’t be TOO willing to just go with the flow of the West. Like Erdogan, he’s clearly trying to play both sides, so it’s hard to predict what he’ll do for any particular issue (but easy to predict the net result - trying to be friends with both sides).

Climate Change

Climate Change News: Cop15 global nature deal passes despite DR Congo’s objection

A United Nations summit to strike a deal to protect nature was abruptly adjourned on Monday after the Chinese presidency of the meeting appeared to overrule an objection from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Chinese minister of ecology and environment Huang Runqiu, who is leading the meeting of the UN-backed Cop15 biodiversity conference, brought down the official gavel and declared a proposed deal passed, minutes after the Congolese representative expressed their objection.