Events


Globally


Common Dreams: Billions in Global South Face Looming Wave of Austerity in 2023


Europe


RT: Key Russian ally legalizes digital piracy

Belarus has temporarily legalized the use of digital content from ‘unfriendly countries’ without the consent of copyright holders, according to a decree signed by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and published on the country’s official portal of legal information.

WSWS: UK rail workers speak from the picket lines during most sustained action since start of dispute

Rail workers completed five days of strike action this week in their continued fight against £2 billion of cuts by the Conservative government, Network Rail and the private train operators.

The strikes were the most sustained action across the network since the beginning of the national dispute last June against a pay freeze extended into its third year and the overturning of terms and conditions at the expense of safety and thousands of jobs.

Reuters: UK PM Sunak says he is open to discussing pay rises for nurses

Reuters: Macron presses ahead with pension reform as French discontent swells

AA: 1 in 2 French people want ‘social explosion,’ ‘new protest movement’: Survey

As the details of the French government’s controversial new pension reform plan become clearer, a poll found that 52% of those asked said they would like to see France experience a “social explosion” in the coming months with the rise of a “Yellow Vests-type movement.”

This is the conclusion of a survey conducted Thursday by the French polling institute Ifop, which also found that 79% of the respondents also consider the scenario of an imminent “social explosion” including a new protest movement, to be realistic.

It is the second highest figure ever recorded by the polling institute since it was founded in 1998.

Only in November 2020 was the figure higher, at 85%. At that time, it was due to the government’s strict coronavirus restrictions, including a second lockdown.

RT: Belgrade is the new Casablanca – Vucic

Serbia has seen a record influx of foreign spies, with the country’s capital city Belgrade swarming with them amid the New Year’s Eve celebrations, President Aleksandar Vucic has said, likening the city to Casablanca during World War II.

“This New Year’s Eve, Belgrade has become the new Casablanca. We regularly receive these reports, there were no spies who would not check in our hotels, there have never been so many spies,” Vucic told TV Pink on Sunday.

FT: Sweden warns it cannot meet Turkey’s demands for backing Nato bid

Sweden has said Turkey is demanding concessions that Stockholm cannot give to approve its application to join Nato as the prime minister insisted the country had done all it could to meet Ankara’s concerns.

Ulf Kristersson, the new centre-right leader, on Sunday threw down the gauntlet to Turkey in the clearest indication yet from Stockholm that it could no do no more to help persuade Turkey to drop its opposition to Sweden and neighbouring Finland joining the western military alliance.


East Asia and Oceania


AA: Chinese Weibo bans over 1,000 accounts over coronavirus policy criticism

How authoritarian. Over here, we let scientists freely criticize pandemic response policy. …and then kill millions of people instead of listening to them, but the important thing is that people are free to speak their mind, not that they’re alive.

Reuters: Financing for Chinese real estate firms jumps 33% year-on-year in December

Chinese property companies raised a total of 101.8 billion yuan ($14.9 billion) in December, up 33.4% year on year, driven by more state support for the highly indebted sector, according to market researcher CRIC.

Nikkei Asia: India tops Japan to become world’s No. 3 auto market

India’s sales of new vehicles totaled at least 4.25 million units, based on preliminary results, topping the 4.2 million sold in Japan.

In 2021, China continued to lead the global auto market, with 26.27 million vehicles sold. The U.S. remained second at 15.4 million vehicles, followed by Japan at 4.44 million units.

RT: Asian country looks to buy Israeli drone-tracking system – media

RT is usually okay as a news source on Russian and regional issues when taking bias in mind, but my god does it have some clickbait shit.

South Korea’s military, which is under pressure to shore up its air defenses after failing to intercept five North Korean drones that flew around for hours in Seoul’s airspace, is reportedly considering the purchase of an Israeli system that detects unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The South Korean defense ministry may buy an “electric eye” system, also known as Sky Spotter, on an accelerated basis, Yonhap News reported on Sunday, citing an unidentified military official. Sky Spotter is built by Israeli defense contractor Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and is designed to provide early detection of drones, balloons and other flying objects.

Reuters: Magnitude 7.2 earthquake strikes near Vanuatu - USGS


Central Asia and the Middle East


Reuters: Alibaba plans $1 billion investment in Turkey, Sabah reports

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is planning a logistics hub at Istanbul Airport and a data centre near the Turkish capital Ankara with an investment of more than $1 billion, its president, Michael Evans, was cited as saying.

The Cradle: US on alert as UAE seeks to join Turkish-Syrian reconciliation talks

The Syrian-Turkish rapprochement via declared Russian mediation was paralleled by Emirati-Syrian rapprochement – the latest of which was a “brotherly” meeting aimed at strengthening cooperation and restoring historical relations between Assad and Foreign Minister of the UAE Abdallah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, according to SANA.

Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported that the UAE seeks “to join Russia in sponsoring Syrian-Turkish relations at a high level,” noting that the Emirati foreign minister’s visit to Damascus sought to arrange Turkiye’s participation in the tripartite meeting of Syrian-Turkish-Russian foreign ministers, making it a quadripartite meeting.

Eurasianet: Azerbaijan enjoys surging hydrocarbon revenues amid Ukraine war

Azerbaijan has been enjoying a huge boost in revenues from its oil and gas exports, thanks to a deal it made with the European Union last year amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resulting sanctions.

According to the latest data from Azerbaijan’s State Customs Committee, the country earned $33.6 billion solely from oil and gas exports in the first 11 months of 2022, which is 2.2 times greater than revenues for the same period of 2021.

The same data reaffirmed the Azerbaijani economy’s overwhelming dependence on oil and gas revenues, which amounted to 92.6 percent of the country’s total revenues in that period.

Jesus christ, that’s an even higher percentage than Saudi Arabia.

Common Dreams: Thousands in Israel March Against ‘Fascism and Apartheid’ at Anti-Netanyahu Protests


Africa


AfricaNews: Inflation persists in Congo despite measures

The rise in food prices in the Republic of Congo continues despite the measures taken by the government to combat the high cost of living.

AfricaNews: Zimbabwe: new african agricultural power house

With 375 thousand tons of wheat harvest registered for 2022, Zimbabwe is set to become a self-sufficient agricultural powerhouse. A unique performance in Africa.

The harvest in 2022 was 13% higher than the previous year, breaking a half-century old record.

The area sown to wheat has increased by 10% and, above all, the state has set up a policy of distributing fertilizer and buying crops via a public body, the Grain Marketing Board, which has won over farmers.

The country no longer needs to import wheat to meet its needs, saving up 300 million dollars in import costs.

AllAfrica: Zambia: Climate Change Action Could Set Off a Copper Mining Boom - How Zambia Can Make the Most of It

At last year’s US Africa leaders summit in Washington the US signed an historic memorandum of understanding with Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo to develop an electric vehicle battery supply chain.

At the summit, Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema also announced that Kobold metals, an exploration firm backed by billionaires Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson, will invest US$150 million to develop a new mine in Zambia.

Zambia is particularly well positioned to supply what the world needs. It has substantial reserves of copper and cobalt, critical metals for the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Due to their broad uses in wind and solar powered technology and electric vehicle production, these metals will play a crucial role in a low carbon future.

Copper demand is expected to increase up to threefold by 2040 while cobalt demand is expected to rise over 20 fold.


North America


Reuters: U.S. new drug price exceeds $200,000 median in 2022

After setting record-high U.S. prices in the first half of 2022, drugmakers continued to launch medicines at high prices in the second half, a Reuters analysis has found, highlighting their power despite new legislation to lower costs for older prescription products.

CPR: Corrected ozone data estimate fracking and drilling produce more emissions than every Front Range vehicle

To explain Colorado’s consistent smog problem, regulators and scientists often point to two main sources of local air pollution: traffic and oil and gas. 

New calculations predicted nitrogen oxide emissions from drilling and hydraulic fracturing expected in 2023 were likely nearly double the state’s original estimates. As a result, those two activities alone appeared likely to account for more ozone-causing emissions than all cars and trucks along the Front Range. 

Common Dreams: Researchers Warn Great Salt Lake’s Retreat Threatens Crucial Ecosystem, Public Health

Scientists are warning Utah officials that the Great Salt Lake is shrinking far faster than experts previously believed, and calling for a major reduction in water consumption across the American West in order to prevent the lake from disappearing in the next five years.

Reuters: At least 29 killed in Mexico capture of Chapo’s son


South America


Reuters: Honduras extends, expands state of emergency meant to fight crime

The Honduran government on Saturday extended a state of emergency declaration for 45 days, expanding it to additional areas of the country in an effort to fight criminal gangs amid high levels of violence.

The state of emergency, in place since Dec. 6 in 165 areas of Honduras' largest two cities, Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, has been expanded to 235 of the country’s 298 municipalities, the national police said.

FT: Maduro strengthens his hand as Venezuela’s opposition government crumbles

“This marks the end of the US strategy of ‘maximum pressure’ on Venezuela,” said Francisco Rodríguez, professor of public affairs at the University of Denver. “The great majority of the opposition understood that it would lead nowhere. The interim government was clearly weakening, with fewer and fewer countries supporting it.”

Now approaching a decade in power with continued backing from Russia, China, Cuba and Iran, Maduro looks stronger than ever as he approaches the next presidential election, scheduled for 2024.

TeleSUR: President of Venezuela Receives Colombian Colleague in Caracas

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro received this Saturday his Colombian counterpart Gustavo Petro in Caracas, where both presidents will hold an extraordinary bilateral meeting, the second meeting held in the Caribbean country since the reestablishment of diplomatic relations last August.

TeleSUR: Protesters Maintain Roadblocks in Peru

The Ombudsman’s Office has put the number of roads blocked in the country at 62 to demand the resignation of President Boluarte, the end of the Congress and the call for a constituent assembly, among other demands.

Common Dreams: With Echoes of Jan. 6, Thousands of Bolsonaro Supporters Storm Presidential Offices


The Ukraine Proxy Conflict


Andrew Korybko: Ukraine Humiliated Western Propagandists After Its Defense Minister Admitted It’s A NATO Proxy

The US-led West’s Mainstream Media (MSM) has insisted over the past 10,5 months that President Putin is supposedly insane for considering Ukraine a NATO proxy whose close military ties with that explicitly anti-Russian bloc pose a serious threat to his country’s national security red lines. Their perception managers subsequently expanded upon their gaslighting operation to discredit Russia’s special operation on the false basis that it’s driven by so-called “imperialism” and not self-defense.

Every single one of the countless information warfare products that they’ve since created was just exposed as fraudulent by none other than Ukrainian Defense Minister Alexei Reznikov, who admitted during an appearance on national TV on Thursday that their country is indeed a NATO proxy. In his own words, “Today, Ukraine is addressing [the] threat (of Russia). We’re carrying out NATO’s mission today, without shedding their blood. We shed our blood, so we expect them to provide weapons.”

Reznikov’s description of the Ukrainian-NATO relationship perfectly aligns with Merriam-Webster’s definition of a proxy. Their official website informs readers that “A proxy may refer to a person who is authorized to act for another or it may designate the function or authority of serving in another’s stead.” The objectively existing military-strategic dynamics of the Ukrainian Conflict coupled with Reznikov’s candid admission therefore leave no doubt about the fact that Ukraine is a NATO proxy by definition.

This senior official likely didn’t intend to discredit his patrons’ “official narrative” for redistributing approximately $100 billion of their taxpayer-provided wealth to Ukraine and thus vindicate everything that President Putin said about why he commenced Russia’s special operation. What appears to have happened is that Reznikov lost his cool after becoming frustrated that NATO isn’t giving Kiev all the weapons that it demands, hence why he spilled the beans in an attempt to put pressure on them.

Indian Punchline: Biden’s existential angst in Ukraine


Analysis

Retrospectives, History, Theory, and Technology


Technology Review: What’s next for quantum computing

For years, quantum computing’s news cycle was dominated by headlines about record-setting systems. Researchers at Google and IBM have had spats over who achieved what—and whether it was worth the effort. But the time for arguing over who’s got the biggest processor seems to have passed: firms are heads-down and preparing for life in the real world. Suddenly, everyone is behaving like grown-ups.

As if to emphasize how much researchers want to get off the hype train, IBM is expected to announce a processor in 2023 that bucks the trend of putting ever more quantum bits, or “qubits,” into play. Qubits, the processing units of quantum computers, can be built from a variety of technologies, including superconducting circuitry, trapped ions, and photons, the quantum particles of light. 

IBM has long pursued superconducting qubits, and over the years the company has been making steady progress in increasing the number it can pack on a chip. In 2021, for example, IBM unveiled one with a record-breaking 127 of them. In November, it debuted its 433-qubit Osprey processor, and the company aims to release a 1,121-qubit processor called Condor in 2023. But this year IBM is also expected to debut its Heron processor, which will have just 133 qubits. It might look like a backwards step, but as the company is keen to point out, Heron’s qubits will be of the highest quality.


Inside the Imperial Core


IntelliNews: Emerging Europe backs nuclear power to solve energy needs

Nuclear power is roaring back in Central Europe, with advanced plans for new reactors in Hungary, Czechia, Poland, Slovakia and Romania, as well as tentative plans for small modular reactors (SMRs) across the region beginning in the 2030s.

Nuclear is seen by many countries as the solution to growing energy demand – due to the development of electromobility – and the need over the next few decades to replace ageing nuclear plants built with Soviet technology.

It is often the preferred solution because of the drawbacks of other forms of energy generation. Emerging Europe needs to end its heavy dependence on coal- and gas-fired power plants to meet its climate change commitments. This drive has been accelerated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has hiked gas and coal prices and pushed countries to cut their worrying reliance on imported Russian energy sources.

At the same time, renewable energy is seen as only part of the solution in many countries, because of the low potential for solar and wind power.

Nuclear power is already a big component of the energy mix in Central Europe, with Slovakia, Czechia and Hungary depending on it for more than a third of their consumption. In Southeast Europe it is less present: Romania’s Cernavoda and Bulgaria’s Kozloduy and Slovenia’s Krsko are the only nuclear power plants in the region.

Central European countries such as Czechia were therefore insistent that nuclear should be considered part of the European Union’s green taxonomy, meaning that private investors will have EU backing to invest in certain types of nuclear projects in the medium term.

The Lever: How Big Pharma Actually Spends Its Massive Profits

Between 2012 and 2021, the 14 largest publicly-traded pharmaceutical companies spent $747 billion on stock buybacks and dividends — substantially more than the $660 billion they spent on research and development, according to a new study by economists William Lazonick, professor emeritus of economics at University of Massachusetts, and Öner Tulum, a researcher at Brown University.


Outside the Imperial Core


Valdai Club: A New Era of De-Westernization Has Begun

Indian Punchline: India’s got the BRICS blues

AllAfrica: HIV Remains a Leading Killer in Africa Despite Medical Breakthroughs - How to Eliminate It

About 38 million people around the world are living with HIV. About 70% of them live in Africa. This shows that there is no solution to the AIDS pandemic without a solution in Africa. In 2021, there were 1.5 million new cases of HIV - just over 4,000 cases per day around the world. At the same time, close to 700,000 people died. The big challenge is to address the dual realities of people still dying from HIV in large numbers, and the large numbers of new infections. The upside is that there is a clear plan with clear goals on how to address this. In 2016, countries came together at the United Nations to agree on what the world’s strategy should be. The goal is to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. We spoke with leading scientist Professor Salim Abdool Karim about how to close the gaps.

Scheerpost: The Sino-Russian Summit You Didn’t Read About

I’ll be posting this one in the megathread, as it’s too long to really put here but deserves attention.