Reuters: Putin orders FSB to step up surveillance of Russians and borders

President Vladimir Putin on Monday ordered the Federal Security Services to step up surveillance of Russian society and the country’s borders to prevent risks from abroad and traitors at home.

TeleSUR: Putin and Lukashenko Meet in Minsk, Belarus

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko, met on Monday in Minsk and discussed mainly the state of relations between the two countries.

The Independence Palace hosted the official part of the meeting, during which the two leaders discussed issues of bilateral integration, foreign policy, and economy, the creation of a common defense space, and the joint fight against Western sanctions. 

TeleSUR: Significant Growth in Russian Wheat Exports Under Food Pact

Russian wheat exports rose threefold following the signing of the grain agreement last July, UN Secretary General António Guterres said.

TeleSUR: EU States Agree 180-Euro Gas Price Cap To Contain Energy Crisis

The European Union (EU) member states have agreed to cap natural gas prices in the bloc at 180 euros (191 U.S. dollars) per megawatt-hour (MWh) in an effort to ensure the security of energy supply, EU officials said here on Monday.

TeleSUR: Rwanda Asylum Plan Is Lawful, UK High Court Says

On Monday, the United Kingdom’s High Court ruled that the government’s plan to send asylum-seekers on a one-way trip to Rwanda is lawful, but they also criticized the government for failing to properly assess the circumstances of the eight individuals it tried to move under the scheme earlier this year.

I do wonder how the Tories keep their mustaches in good condition given how much they evilly twirl them.

WSWS: NHS nurse and ambulance strikes face UK government, army and sellout by union leaders

Tens of thousands of National Health Service (NHS) nurses will strike again Tuesday, after the first such action in British history was taken last Thursday. They will be followed by more than 10,000 ambulance workers Wednesday.

Al Jazeera: UK nurses stage second strike for inflation-busting pay

Up to 100,000 members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are holding the latest one-day stoppage on Tuesday after walking out last Thursday for the first time in the trade union’s 106-year history.

WSWS: Sweden to increase military budget 64 percent by 2028

Sweden plans on increasing its defense and security budget by 64 percent between 2022 and 2028. The increase, proposed in a draft budget released last month, will see the small country spend about $12 billion a year on defense by 2028.

RT: Nationalization of German gas giant approved – Reuters

Shareholders of struggling German gas importer Uniper on Monday approved the company’s state bailout, which has so far cost the government more than €50 billion ($54 billion), Reuters reports.

Oil Price: Transneft Claims Germany And Poland Have Ordered More Russian Oil

Russia’s pipeline operator Transneft has received orders for crude oil purchases from Germany and Poland, Russia’s RIA Novosti reported today, citing the chief executive of Transneft, Nikolay Tokarev.

The oil will be shipped via the Druzhba pipeline which is not covered by the European Union’s embargo on Russian crude oil imports, which only focuses on seaborne deliveries.

As we ALL know, oil shipped via pipeline is inherently less evil than shipped by, uh, ship.

RT: Germany suspends procurement of faulty armored vehicles

The German military has halted any purchase of the Puma infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), which have been plagued by numerous malfunctions, until they are fully fit for combat, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said on Monday.

East Asia and Oceania

FT: China’s media promise ‘normalcy by spring’ as Covid sweeps country

China’s state media have promised a return to “normalcy” within a few months and rejected western criticism as its censors seek to portray an “exit wave” of coronavirus cases sweeping the country as part of a pre-planned strategy.

Excuse me, how in god’s green FUCK could China have exitted from zero-covid WITHOUT a wave of cases? What the actual fuck are you TALKING about? Did they think that zero-covid was somehow disconnected from the fact that there haven’t been many cases in China over the last 3 years? “Breaking news, dam wall has broken! Well, we’ll know whether this has been a structural failure if water then proceeds to come out of the collapsed dam wall… holy moly, you’ll never guess what just happened!"

Al Jazeera: China, Russia hold joint naval exercises to ‘deepen’ partnership

The drills will be held off the coast of Zhejiang province south of Shanghai from Wednesday until next Tuesday, according to a brief notice posted on Monday by China’s Eastern Theater Command of the People’s Liberation Army.

SCMP: China blocks EU’s efforts to form WTO panels on Lithuania export freeze and hi-tech patents

Beijing said the moves were ‘puzzling and premature’ but will not be able to stop the bloc from continuing with the case next month. The two cases centre on claims that Lithuanian firms are being punished for the country’s ties with Taiwan and intellectual property protections.

RT: China becomes top global LNG importer

China’s imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) increased in November versus January, according to Chinese customs data reported on Sunday, thus propelling the country past Japan to become the globe’s leading importer of the fuel.

Iraqi News: Japan central bank tweaks monetary policy, yen strengthens

Japan’s central bank tweaked its longstanding monetary easing programme on Tuesday, in a surprise move that saw the yen strengthen quickly against the dollar while Tokyo stock markets fell.

The change marks a rare shift of gears for the dovish central bank, which has largely left its policy intact even as counterparts in other major economies hike rates to tackle inflation.

ANN: PM Hun Sen urges closer Asean ties with China at leader awards

Speaking at the award ceremony at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, Hun Sen lauded KSI for its “successful” organisation of the Global Chinese Economic and Technology Summit and touted enhanced economic ties between ASEAN and China. He praised China’s continued support for maintaining ASEAN centrality and unity in the emerging regional architecture and promoting the mutual reinforcement of ASEAN-led mechanisms.

He urged ASEAN and China to further deepen cooperation in all fields, especially in accelerating socio-economic integration, removing trade barriers and strengthening regional supply and production chain resilience.

WSWS: Australia steps up anti-China campaign in the Pacific

In the latest intervention into the Pacific since Labor took office after the May federal election, Foreign Minister Penny Wong last week led a delegation to Vanuatu, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and Palau.

As with all of Wong’s previous tours, the purpose of the trip was clear. Its aim was to advance a US-led campaign lining up Pacific Island states behind Washington’s aggressive confrontation with China, which threatens a catastrophic war.

ANN: Australia foreign minister to visit China as diplomatic ties improve


Guardian: Frank Bainimarama’s reign as leader of Fiji ends after 16 years

Frank Bainimarama’s reign as leader of Fiji has ended almost 16 years after he instigated a coup in 2006 and installed himself as prime minister the next year.

Central Asia and the Middle East

MEMO: Iran says ready to resume relations with Saudi Arabia

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Monday that his country is ready to resume relations with Saudi Arabia “when Riyadh is willing to”, reports Anadolu Agency.

It would be pretty awesome if both Iran and Saudi Arabia overcame their differences AND Turkey and Syria overcame their differences.

SCMP: China calls on US to lift Iran sanctions to revive nuclear talks

China has urged the United States to lift sanctions on Iran and stop threatening Tehran to revive stalled negotiations on the 2015 nuclear deal.

TeleSUR: Israel Deports Palestinian Rights Activist to France

On Sunday, the Palestinian Foreign Affairs Ministry condemned Israel’s forcible expelling of Salah Al-Hamouri, a French-Palestinian lawyer, resident of East Jerusalem, to France.

His deportation of Al-Hamouri “is an outrageous step committed by the illegal occupation and a war crime that is added to its long list of crimes committed against the Palestinians.”

ANN: Pakistan in dire straits

Declining exports, slowing manufacturing activity and falling remittances make for a toxic cocktail of economic challenges for the government.


TeleSUR: Ethiopia’s Education Crisis Fueled by Conflicts, Climate Change

“More than 3.6 million children across Ethiopia are out of school directly as a result of conflict and climate-induced disasters,” said Graham Lang, chief of education at Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises established at the World Humanitarian Summit.

Al Jazeera: Ethiopia’s biggest bank ‘resumes services’ in Tigray

The Commercial Bank of Ethiopia said it has resumed financial services in some towns in the war-torn region of Tigray, enabling residents to access their funds after a shutdown lasting more than a year.

TeleSUR: Namibia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Arrives in Venezuela

On Sunday, Namibia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister, Netumbo Nandi Ndaitwah, arrived in Caracas to strengthen cooperation between her country and this South American nation.

Al Jazeera: Ghana suspends payment of most external debts

Ghana has suspended payments on most of its external debt, effectively defaulting as the country struggles to plug its cavernous balance of payments deficit.

Its finance ministry said on Monday that it will not service debts including its Eurobonds, commercial loans and most bilateral loans, calling the decision an “interim emergency measure”, while some bondholders criticised a lack of clarity in the decision.

North America

Oil Price: The U.S. Could Become A Net Oil Exporter In 2023

The United States hasn’t been a net exporter of oil and oil products since World War II. Now, it is on course to become a net exporter next year, with oil and product exports already hitting record highs of 3.4 million bpd and 3 million bpd respectively.

Jacobin: Ryan Grim: “Railworkers Feel Like They Have Very Little Left to Lose at This Point”

Railworkers’ recent labor battle exposed their increasingly brutal working conditions. We spoke with journalist Ryan Grim about the rank-and-file effort to rebuild power in rail unions — so workers can fight the railroad bosses even harder next time.

AntiWar: ‘Twitter Files’ Make It Clear: We Must Abolish the FBI

Hell yeah!

WSWS: 9 million received misleading emails about their student debt forgiveness applications as Biden’s cancellation program heads to Supreme Court

Nine million student loan borrowers were sent an email from the Department of Education last week correcting a confusing mix-up of information in a previous email. The first emails, sent on November 22–23, included a confusing error in the subject line stating that the application for debt forgiveness had been approved, while the body of the email only said that the application had been received and that the department was awaiting the resolution of litigation against the program for it to be processed.

Climate Change News: Mexico’s new climate plan is worse than its old one, analysts say

South America

WSWS: Canada preparing to lead new military intervention in imperialist-ravaged Haiti

Under conditions where the country’s 11 million inhabitants face a desperate health and social crisis—including mounting deaths from cholera and famine—and where there is mass opposition towards the imperialist-installed government of President Ariel Henry, Washington and its imperialist allies are determined to stabilize capitalist rule in the island nation through military force.

TeleSUR: Brazilian Supreme Court Takes Down Bolsonaro’s Secret Budget

On Monday, the Brazilian Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the so-called ‘Secret Budget’ through which right-wing lawmakers have allocated public funds since President Jair Bolsonaro came to power in January 2019.

Multipolarista: Colombia’s President Petro denounces ‘parliamentary coup’ against Peru’s Castillo

Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro denounced the overthrow of Peru’s Pedro Castillo as a “parliamentary coup,” saying it is a warning for all democratically elected left-wing leaders in Latin America: “What they can’t win at the ballot box, they are trying to topple”

TeleSUR: ELN Guerrillas To Hold End-of-Year Ceasefire in Colombia

TeleSUR: Peruvian Social Movements Willing to Continue Regional Protests

TeleSUR: Chilean Prosecutors Go On Indefinite Strike

The National Association of Prosecutors (ANF) of Chile, began a strike in the Public Prosecutor’s Office this Monday, demanding to be included in the 12 percent readjustment for the year 2023 announced by the Chilean government.

Reuters: Biden meets Ecuador’s president as immigration crisis grows

The Ukraine Proxy Conflict

Euro News: Two dozen Iranian-made drones have been detected over Kyiv’s skyline

Of those two dozen, over 40 were shot down.


Retrospectives, History, and Theory

Jacobin: Walter Benjamin Warned Us Against the Illusions of Capitalist Progress

Walter Benjamin was one of the most influential cultural theorists of the last century. There have been many attempts to defang and deradicalize Benjamin’s work, but his Marxist commitments run right through his dazzling intellectual legacy.

Naked Capitalism: MMT Answers

Links to a piece by Richard Murphy, addressing some questions on MMT.

Michael Roberts: Can global capitalism endure?

Can global capitalism endure? William Robinson tries to answer this question in his book entitled with the same question. Robinson is professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. In a fast-moving account, Robinson covers a lot of ground in offering the reader a vision of the global capitalist crisis and the accompanying international conflagration.

Capitalism can only endure if it can find some new structural change. This Robinson sees coming possibly from “digital restructuring and through reforms that some among the global elite are advocating in the face of mass pressures from below”. That could unleash a new round of productive expansion that attenuates the crisis for a while. So capitalism could manage to “catch its breath again” through digitally-driven productive expansion that becomes strong enough to restore sustained economic growth and launch a new long boom.

However, Robinson counters, that any such expansion will run up against the problems that an increase in the organic composition of capital presents for the system, namely the tendency for the rate of profit to fall, a contraction of aggregate demand, and the amassing of profits that cannot be profitably reinvested. “But before such a time that a crisis of value would bring the system down, it is certainly possible that restructuring will unleash a new wave of expansion.” Robinson makes the pertinent point that “the breakdown of the political organization of world capitalism is not the cause but the consequence of contradictions internal to a globally integrated system of capital accumulation.”

But a new boom to happen, the state would have to intervene to build new “political structures to resolve the crisis, stabilize a new global power bloc, and reconstruct capitalist hegemony, given the disjuncture between a globalizing economy and a nation-state-based system of political authority.” And that seems unlikely, given the break-up of the US hegemony and the rise of a multi-polar world.