Circle of Blue: The Stream, January 4, 2023

An end-of-year, global UN report concludes that most countries are not on track to reach WASH sanitation targets by 2030. 

“We are facing an urgent crisis: poor access to safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene claim millions of lives each year, while the increasing frequency and intensity of climate-related extreme weather events continue to hamper the delivery of safe WASH services.” — Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general.

According to a joint report from the World Health Organization and United Nations, just 25 percent of countries are on track to reach their national WASH sanitation goals by 2030. 


TeleSUR: Strikes in UK Fueled by High Inflation Take Huge Economic Toll

A winter of widespread strikes facing Britain has dealt a blow to people’s daily life as well as the country’s already struggling economy, showing no sign of stopping at the beginning of a new year as lengthy disputes over pay went unresolved.

The first week of 2023 is marked by further strikes as workers of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union began their two 48-hour strikes from Tuesday and Friday and the train employees' union Aslef has called strike for Thursday.

TeleSUR: Germany Rules Out Negotiating War Reparations With Poland

“On December 28, 2022, the German Foreign Ministry replied to the note of the Polish Chancellery dated October 3, 2022. On January 3, 2023, the note reached the Polish Foreign Ministry. According to the German Government, the issue of reparations and compensation for war losses in Poland remains closed, and the German Executive has no intention to negotiate on it,” the statement said.

The Polish diplomatic body insists that “the Government of the Republic of Poland will continue its efforts to settle the debts incurred due to German aggression and occupation between 1939 and 1945”.

East Asia and Oceania

WSWS: Australia imposes mandatory COVID tests for Chinese travelers

TeleSUR: Beijing Rejects Restrictions on Passengers From China

On Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning described as “disproportionate” and “unacceptable” the restrictions that some countries have imposed on travelers from China. Among those restrictions are requiring negative coronavirus tests.

TeleSUR: Thailand’s Tourism Gears up for Return of Chinese Tourists

A festive mood boosted by the news of Chinese tourists' return has hit the tourism-reliant country. Most of the country’s tourism spots have been equipped with Chinese signs.

WSWS: Sri Lankan president holds “national reconciliation” conference

On December 13, Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe called an all-party conference (APC) to discuss how to “resolve the national ethnic question.” It was yet another desperate manoeuvre by Wickremesinghe to enlist the support of opposition parties amid rising social anger against its International Monetary Fund (IMF)-dictated austerity measures.

Jacobin: Australia’s Rulers Know They Need American Imperialism to Dominate the Pacific

When it comes to foreign policy, Australia has long been in thrall to US interests. This isn’t because Australia is an American client state but because the Australian establishment knows that its own interests are best served by US empire.

But it’s also because Australia is an American client state.

Central Asia and the Middle East

Anti War: Israel Faces a Reckoning

Benjamin Netanyahu and his assortment of Jewish supremacists, homophobes, and far-right religious zealots were sworn in on December 29. His new government has exposed Israel for what it has always been – an undemocratic, illiberal, ethno-religious state constructed on stolen Palestinian land.

To solidify his government, Netanyahu has agreed to hand authority of the Occupied Palestinian Territories to known Arab haters and regressive right-wing religious extremists who are set on annexation.

Ben-Gvir, ultranationalist, convicted felon and disciple of terrorist group founder Rabbi Meir Kahane, will be national security minister. Interestingly, the Israeli army, with mandatory military service, refused to let him serve.

TeleSUR: Lula Ratifies Support to the Palestinian Cause

Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva ratified his support to the Palestinian cause and affirmed he will defend the creation of a state for that people, the official news agency WAFA reported today.

TeleSUR: Iranians Mark 3rd Anniversary of US Assassination of Soleimani

TeleSUR: Iran Says 94 Americans Accused of Soleimani’s Assassination

The three main accused are former U.S. President Trump, former State Secretary Pompeo, and former U.S. Central Command head McKenzie.


TeleSUR: Libyan Gov’t Ready To Hold Elections in 2023: PM

“The Government of National Unity and the National Elections Commission are fully prepared to hold the national elections in Libya,” Dbeibah said during a cabinet meeting.

“The year 2023 is the year of elections, the year of uniting civil institutions, sectors, and organizations, and supporting national figures whose demand and the goal is to hold successful elections,” Dbeibah said.

Libya failed to hold general elections in December 2021 as previously scheduled due to disagreements over election laws among the Libyan parties.

North America

WSWS: The CDC cover-up of Omicron XBB.1.5 and the growing winter COVID surge

Last week, it was revealed that over the past month the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concealed the fact that a dangerous new variant of the coronavirus, known as the Omicron XBB.1.5 subvariant, has rapidly become dominant across the United States.

On December 29, epidemiologist Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding leaked CDC data showing that XBB.1.5 was already dominant in the US. After this Twitter thread went viral, on the following day the CDC updated its COVID-19 variant dashboard with the exact data that Dr. Feigl-Ding had leaked. This same process unfolded between October 13-14, 2022, at which time Dr. Feigl-Ding leaked CDC data showing that the Omicron BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 subvariants were becoming dominant, which was then confirmed by the CDC the following day under growing public pressure.

After both leaks, the CDC has issued no public statement and the corporate media has dutifully omitted the very fact that there was a cover-up, with the World Socialist Web Site the only outlet that has made this clear.

TeleSUR: Americans Are Pessimistic About 2023, Survey Finds

According to the study, 80 percent of the sample considers that the United States will face more economic problems. 

An increase in taxes and a rise in the budget deficit stand out among the issues highlighted by those interviewed.

Common Dreams: Analysis Shows US Wind and Solar Could Outpace Coal and Nuclear Power in 2023

“As we begin 2023, it seems very likely that renewables will provide nearly a quarter—if not more—of the nation’s electricity during the coming year,” said Ken Bossong of the SUN DAY Campaign.

Common Dreams: ‘Groundbreaking’ Report Shows Promise of Greener Jobs for Former Fossil Fuel Workers

A new analysis out Tuesday shows how a just transition towards a green economy in California—one in which workers in the state’s fossil fuel industry would be able to find new employment and receive assistance if they’re displaced from their jobs—will be “both affordable and achievable,” contrary to claims from oil and gas giants and anti-climate lawmakers.

Counterpunch: Hot Water: Radioactive Contaminants are Seeping Into Drinking Water Around the US

WSWS: Quebec government makes provocative, wage-cutting offer to half-million public sector workers

The Quebec government’s contract offers to the 550,000 public and para-public sector workers whose collective agreements expire next March 31 are a veritable declaration of war.

Premier François Legault’s right-wing Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government is offering hospital workers, nurses, teachers, school support staff and other public sector employees a 9 percent salary “increase” spread over five years. This would constitute a sweeping real-terms pay cut in the face of galloping inflation, which is currently running at close to 7 percent per year.

Jacobin: AMLO’s Four Years in Power Have Been a Success

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador rose to power on the promise of massive redistribution. So far, he has nationalized lithium stores and lifted the minimum wage by 20%. But to secure these reforms he’ll need to transform the power structures of the Mexican state and media.

South America

TeleSUR: Costa Rica Records Highest Homicide Rate in 2022

The OIJ said in its final report that with a homicide rate of 12.6 per 100 000 inhabitants in the year just ended, the Central American country recorded the most insecure year in its history. 

TeleSUR: Venezuela Recovers Its Embassy in Brazil

TeleSUR: Chile and Brazil Will Work To Recover Bilateral Relations

TeleSUR: European Cruise Tourism Resumes in Venezuela After 15 Years

Climate Change News: Lula revives $1 billion Amazon Fund and environmental protections

TeleSUR: Argentine Govt. Calls for Impeachment of Supreme Court Members

On Tuesday, Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez, together with 12 provincial governors, signed a communiqué requesting Congress to impeach the four members of the Supreme Court, alleging poor performance and manifest partiality. 

TeleSUR: Social and Political Organizations Restart Protests in Peru

Starting Wednesday, Peruvian social organizations will resume massive protests to demand the resignation of President Dina Boluarte, the holding of early general elections, and the release of former President Pedro Castillo.

TeleSUR: Bolivia in 2022: COVID-19 Lethality Lowest in the Region

The Bolivian Ministry of Health and Sports reported that the country closed 2022 with the lowest COVID-19 lethality rate in the region, at 0.1 percent.

The Ukraine Proxy Conflict

Monthly Review: On the influence of neo-Nazism in Ukraine

Yet another article on fascism in Ukraine, as these apparently need to be repeatedly written because people don’t seem to ever believe it.

Gray Zone: British-run spy tech powers Ukraine proxy war, putting civilians at risk

Leaked files reveal the Anomaly 6 spy firm is providing intelligence to the British military through a cut-out involved in the Kerch Bridge bombing and other acts of dangerous sabotage in the Ukraine conflict.


Retrospectives, History, and Theory

Anti War: The First Gulf War – A Catastrophic Error

Confronted with the greatest opportunity for global peace in nearly a century, George H. W. Bush did not hesitate: Upon the advice of his retainers, he immediately elected the path of war in the Persian Gulf.

This endeavor was hatched by Henry Kissinger’s economically illiterate protégés at the National Security Council and Bush’s Texas oilman secretary of state, James Baker. They falsely claimed that the will-o’-the-wisp of “oil security” was at stake, and that 500,000 American troops needed to be planted in the sands of Arabia.

That was a catastrophic error, and not only because the presence of “crusader” boots on the purportedly sacred soil of Arabia offended the CIA-recruited and trained mujahedin of Afghanistan, who had become unemployed when the Soviet Union collapsed.