Events


Globally


TeleSUR: US Ban on ‘Made in Hong Kong’ Label Violates Trading Laws: WTO

On Wednesday, the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled that the United States was violating international trading laws by requiring Hong Kong products to be labeled as “Made in China.

The U.S. origin marking requirement has violated the country’s obligation under the trade body’s rules, said a WTO dispute panel, rejecting Washington’s argument that its national security interests allowed for such labeling.

Once again, the rogue regime in America violates the rules-based international order.

Multipolarista: West opposes rest of world in UN votes for fairer economic system, equality, sustainable development

The West opposed the rest of a planet in United Nations General Assembly votes that called for a new international economic order based on sovereign equality, sustainable development, and biological diversity.

You’ll never guess what the map looks like!


Europe


MEMO: Sweden’s foreign minister says NATO talks with Turkiye progressing well

Al Jazeera: Sweden still has requirements to meet to join NATO: Turkey

Stockholm is not even halfway through fulfilling the commitments it made to secure Ankara’s support, Turkey says.

I do love my immediately contradictory headlines.

Oil Price: Destroyed Ukrainian Energy Grids Impact Steel Production

WSWS: German ambulance services overwhelmed by calls, short staffing

For weeks, emergency medical services (EMS) across Germany have been on the verge of collapse. Extremely high rates of deployments and scant staffing are pushing ambulance crews to their limits daily, at mortal risk to patients.


East Asia and Oceania


Monthly Review: Taiwan local election shocks U.S. imperialism

On November 26, local elections were held throughout Taiwan, an island that has always been part of China but since 1949 has been ruled by a fascist leadership driven out of the mainland by the victorious Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Taiwan has since been “protected” by the military U.S. fleet, while Taiwan’s rulers maintained 48 years of martial law and a brutal regime of “White Terror.” In 1987, the regime allowed bourgeois elections.

The results of the election were a major defeat for the pro-independence DPP and to Washington’s plans to attack the People’s Republic of China (PRC). As a British newsletter reported:

While Tsai’s personal brand as the quiet yet determined pro-democracy politician standing up to China has been a key component in Taiwan’s strengthening relationships overseas, her latest appeals appeared to fall flat with Taiwanese voters at home. Last Friday, Tsai’s party – the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) – suffered one of its most significant electoral defeats in over thirty years. The more China-friendly rival Nationalist Party (Kuomintang or KMT) triumphed by winning 13 of 21 seats at the mayoral and magisterial levels, while the DPP only took five. The Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), a third party growing in popularity under founder and former Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je, won its first mayoral seat in the influential Hsinchu City, dealing another blow to the ruling DPP.

WSWS: Bank of Japan decision sends “shock” through global markets

The Bank of Japan (BoJ) has delivered what was almost universally described in the financial press as a “shock” to global markets with its decision on Tuesday to relax its so-called yield curve control (YCC) policy.

Under the policy, implemented almost a decade ago, the central bank has intervened in the market, buying up government bonds, to ensure that the yield or interest rate on 10-year government debt hovers around zero.

WSWS: Sri Lanka’s JVP makes bid for power to “save the country”

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP)-led National People’s Power (NPP) coalition in Sri Lanka is holding a series of meetings around the country calling for general elections and appealing to people to vote it into power.

The NPP claims it is not like the other corrupt capitalist parties that have ruled Sri Lanka since formal independence in 1948, but is a clean organisation that can “save the country from the economic, social and cultural abyss.”

RT: North Korean hackers stole over $1 billion – Seoul

North Korean hackers have stolen about 1.5 trillion won ($1.2 billion) worth of cryptocurrency and other virtual assets in recent years, shoring up Pyongyang’s stockpile of foreign currency, South Korea’s top spy agency has claimed.


Central Asia and the Middle East


TeleSUR: Netanyahu Says He Has Succeeded in Forming Coalition Gov’t

Common Dreams: Israel’s New Far-Right Government to Lift Ban on Parliamentary Candidates Inciting Racism

The agreement establishing the most right-wing government in Israel’s history contains a provision lifting a ban on parliamentary candidates who incite racism—an offense for which the incoming national security minister was once convicted, Israeli media reported Thursday.

Mint Press News: The Lions’ Den is Not a Fleeting Phenomenon: On Palestine’s Looming Armed Revolt

Just when Israel, and even some Palestinians, began talking about the Lions’ Den phenomenon in the past tense, a large number of fighters belonging to the newly-formed Palestinian group marched in the city of Nablus.

Unlike the group’s first appearance on September 2, the number of fighters who took part in the rally in the Old City of Nablus on December 9 was significantly larger, better equipped, with unified military fatigues and greater security precautions.

“The Den belongs to all of Palestine and believes in the unity of blood, struggle and rifles”, a reference to the kind of collective Resistance that surpasses factional interests.

MEE: Jordanians' trust in government significantly lower than during Arab Spring

Jordanians' trust in their government sank to historic lows this year, and is now 41 points lower than at the time of the Arab Spring uprisings, according to a 2022 report by Arab Barometer.

MEE: Drop in donations pushes Egypt’s main children’s cancer hospital to brink of closure

Administration at the Children’s Cancer Hospital estimates the facility can only survive for eight months without intervention

MEE: Saudi oil revenue falls to $25bn, lowest since February

Still, Saudi Arabia has had a record year for oil sales and is still on track to potentially match its 2012 record for oil revenue, which stands at $337bn, according to Bloomberg. In the first nine months of 2022, Saudi Arabia received $278bn in oil revenue.

Bit of a clickbait title, no?

MEE: Turkey sharply increases minimum wage as inflation bites

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday announced a big boost in the minimum wage as part of an effort to ease the impact of inflation, which is one of the highest in the world.

The 55 percent increase will be felt through a vast segment of the population. More than 40 percent of Turkey’s workforce earns the lowest income allowed by law.

RT: Iran responds to Zelensky’s accusations

Iran has not exported any military equipment for use in the conflict in Ukraine, and will not tolerate such false accusations indefinitely, the foreign ministry in Tehran stressed on Thursday, in response to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s speech to the US Congress.

Al Jazeera: US warns Taliban of ‘costs’ over university ban for Afghan women

Oh good, more sanctions! I bet THIS TIME they’ll work!

US secretary of state says Taliban is sentencing women and girls in Afghanistan to a ‘dark future without opportunity’.

Meanwhile, what America has done throughout the region in the last few decades has only helped women and girls there!


Africa


TeleSUR: Germany Hands Over 22 Artifacts Looted by Colonists to Nigeria

On Tuesday, Nigeria received 22 looted artifacts from the German government, as part of the official repatriation of 1,130 Benin bronzes taken away by European countries.

Al Jazeera: Armed groups in northern Mali pull out of Algiers peace talks

A coalition of armed groups in northern Mali has pulled out of long-running peace talks based on a 2015 Algiers accord because of what they call a lack of political will on the part of the country’s military government.

The coalition, called the Permanent Strategic Framework for Peace, Security and Development (CSP-PSD), said in a statement on Thursday that it would only come back to the table if talks were held in a neutral country under international mediation.

Iraqi News: Rwandan army conducted military ops in DR Congo: UN experts

Rwanda’s army “engaged in military operations” against DR Congo’s military in the country’s troubled east, according to a report by a group of independent United Nations experts seen by AFP on Thursday. 


North America


Oil Price: U.S. To Offer Oil Product Cargos Grace Period For Price Cap

The United States Treasury Department will grant oil product cargo from a grace period when it goes into effect next year, Reuters said on Thursday.

The price cap on Russian crude oil shipments went into effect on December 5, but the price cap on Russian petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel won’t go into effect until February 5. But now, the United States said there would be a grace period for those shipments in order to provide time for them to arrive at their destination before running afoul of sanctions.

For Russian oil product shipments, as long as they are loaded before February 5 and unloaded at its declared destination port before April 1, they will not be subject to the price cap.

Common Dreams: Record Number of US Cities, Counties, and States to Raise Minimum Wage in 2023

From New Year’s Eve to New Year’s Day, the minimum wage will increase in 23 states and 41 cities and counties, according to a report released Thursday by the National Employment Law Project (NELP). In 40 of those 64 jurisdictions, it will hit or exceed $15 an hour for at least some workers.

Jacobin: The US Labor Movement Notched Some Impressive Victories in 2022

The American labor movement remains weak. But from the sweeping Starbucks unionization drive to UAW reformers’ successful bid for union leadership, there were serious glimmers of hope in 2022 for a stronger, more assertive labor movement.

Common Dreams: ‘Huge News’: Alaska Native Group Secures Protections for Land Eyed by Pebble Mine Developers

An Alaska Native village corporation drove the effort to conserve 44,000 acres of land in the Bristol Bay region, home to the world’s largest salmon fishery.

Common Dreams: ‘Huge Win’: Court Finds EPA Approval of Bee-Killing Sulfoxaflor Unlawful

In response to a legal challenge brought by the Center for Food Safety and the Center for Biological Diversity, the court argued that the EPA’s 2019 decision authorizing the expanded use of sulfoxaflor across more than 200 million acres of pollinator-attractive crops violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The court gave the agency 180 days to collect public comment and issue a new decision on the insecticide, which is produced by Corteva, formerly Dow AgroSciences.

RT: US life expectancy tumbles to 25-year low

The US posted sharp increases in mortality rates for a second straight year in 2021, driven largely by the Covid-19 pandemic, leaving Americans with their shortest projected life spans in a generation.

The average US life expectancy plummeted to 76.4 years in 2021 from 77 years in 2020, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday. The average has dropped by 2.4 years since 2019, sliding to the lowest level since Bill Clinton was running for his second term as president, ‘Macarena’ was the top pop song, and the likes of Google, Facebook, and Twitter hadn’t even come into existence.

I can only conclude that the Macarena kills Americans.

TeleSUR: US Home Sales Decline for 10th Consecutive Month in November

On Wednesday, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released a study showing that existing-home sales declined for the tenth month in a row in November.

Canadian Dimension: Trudeau government’s purchase of F-35 warplanes may be imminent

According to a report published on December 18 by Global News, after years of delays, Canada is set to finalize a contract to replace its aging fleet of CF-18 fighter jets in the “very short term.”

WSWS: Canada passes 50,000 registered COVID-19 deaths as “tripledemic” wreaks havoc on health care systems nationwide

Fatalities from the COVID-19 pandemic passed a grim milestone in Canada over the weekend as the official death toll surpassed 50,000. According to data tracked and collected by Dr. Tara Moriarty, an associate professor at the University of Toronto Medicine, at least 50,000 Canadians had died from COVID-19 as of December 18, although she estimated the real figure to be closer to 80,000. 


South America


TeleSUR: Cuba Manages to Create 6,100 Companies Since 2021

The government hopes that these economic actors can generate 104,721 jobs in the short term.

TeleSUR: Chile to Open Embassy in Palestine

During an event at the Palestinian Club in Santiago City, Boric also ratified his solidarity with the Palestinian people, stressing that “Christmas is a time to reflect on the sufferings, to which we cannot remain oblivious.”

“We cannot forget that a community is suffering from an illegal occupation. It is resisting while its rights and dignity are violated. That is absolutely unfair.”

TeleSUR: The Peruvian Congress Approves Early Elections for April 2024

TeleSUR: Peru: Ex-President Castillo Demands a Meeting With the IACHR

On Wednesday, former President Pedro Castillo requested that the delegation of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) visit him urgently.

Castillo, who is in preventive detention for 18 months and faces charges for the crime of rebellion, denounced that he has been “arbitrarily deprived” of his rights.

TeleSUR: 399 Bolivian Truck Drivers To Leave Peru After Border Unblocked

The blockades take place in Peru as part of the protests against the government of the now Peruvian president Dina Boluarte. Since last December 7, the country has been plunged into nationwide protests over the ouster of former Peruvian President Pedro Castillo. 

The border opening is the result of coordination between the customs administrations of the two countries. Both parties agreed to allow the passage of high tonnage motor vehicles in the border zone.


The Ukraine Proxy Conflict


TeleSUR: Russia To Continue To Strengthen Armed Forces: Putin

MEMO: US accuses Russia of using weapons from North Korea, Iran in Ukraine in violation of UN resolutions

Not the rules! Anything but the rules!

Responsible Statecraft: Zelensky addresses Congress, makes push for advanced weapons

TeleSUR: Biden Approves More Military Aid as Zelensky Visits Washington

On Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden pledged visiting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to offer military aid, mentioning in particular the Patriot surface-to-air missile battery he just approved for Ukraine in a new tranche of security assistance totaling US$1.85 billion.

Al Jazeera: Russia dismisses US decision to send Patriot missiles to Ukraine

Though the Patriot air defence system is widely regarded as advanced, President Vladimir Putin dismissed it as “quite old”, telling reporters on Thursday Russia would find a way to counter it. At the same time, he said Russia wants an end to the war in Ukraine and that this would inevitably involve a diplomatic solution.

RT: US Senate authorizes confiscation of Russian assets

The US Senate has greenlit legislation authorizing the administration of President Joe Biden to seize the American assets of Russian officials, businessmen and entities and send the proceeds to Ukraine. South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said the change in the law would raise “billions of dollars” for Kiev.

The amendment changes US law to allow the Department of Justice to sell off the assets of “oligarchs…and other sanctioned entities,” Graham explained before the vote. “I expect over time billions of dollars in seized assets will be sent to help Ukraine,” the South Carolina lawmaker wrote on Twitter afterwards.

RT: US bans exports to Wagner Group

Wager has been under US sanctions since 2017, to little effect. Earlier this month, the State Department designated it an “entity of particular concern” with regard to religious freedom in Africa, putting it in the same category as Islamic State (ISIS), Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.


Analysis


Inside the Imperial Core


Responsible Statecraft: How Twitter hid US-military info ops from the public

Recent ‘files’ released by the social media giant’s new CEO Elon Musk reveal double standards on outing covert gov’t-backed programs.

Mint Press News: The Hidden Truth Behind AFRICOM – US Africa Command

The U.S. military’s incredibly secretive African Command, or AFRICOM, has been steadily growing over the past 15 years – and with almost no media coverage.

The Pentagon keeps a lot of the details about AFRICOM secret. What we do know comes from leaked documents and fragmentary evidence, like the dozens of secret killer drone bases, the many murdered civilians, or the bring-your-mistress-to-work parties the AFRICOM commanders have on Thursdays (complete with giraffe liver-pâté hors d’oeuvres).

Naked Capitalism: A Crisis Is Looming For The U.S. Energy Grid

Naked Capitalism: Big Pharma’s Obscene Profits, Not Striking Nurses, Are Killing the NHS


Outside the Imperial Core


Multipolarista: How sanctions are a weapon of imperialism, used to subordinate the Global South

The International People’s Tribunal on US Imperialism explains how US, EU, and UN sanctions are a means of controlling Global South sovereignty and blocking the emergence of a multipolar world, to maintain the neocolonial capitalist order.

Developing Economics: The pressure to provide and perform: Anti-feminism, masculinity consultants, and the threat of male expendability in contemporary Nairobi