Reuters: ECB sees ‘very strong’ wage growth ahead in next few quarters

Wage growth across the euro zone is expected to be “very strong” over the next few quarters but real wages are still likely to decline given rapid inflation, a European Central Bank Economic Bulletin article argued on Monday.

TeleSUR: Italy Turns To Cuban Doctors To Avoid Hospitals Closure

TeleSUR: Sweden to Join European Sky Shield Initiative

RT: EU state to reintroduce conscription

The Swedish government plans to reintroduce civil conscription service in the country, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson announced during a press conference on Monday, adding that the Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) will be ordered to prepare the measure later this week. 

RT: Swiss central bank reports massive loss

The Swiss National Bank posted the biggest annual loss in its 116-year history as falling stock and fixed-income markets hit the value of its share and bond portfolio, the bank announced on Monday, citing preliminary estimations.

Reuters: Norway expects jump in oil output and gas near record highs

East Asia and Oceania

Geopolitical Economy: China ‘counters US dollar hegemony’ with gold reserves, Argentina yuan currency swap deal

Advancing global de-dollarization, China’s central bank is boosting its gold reserves while signing currency swap deals in yuan with countries like Argentina, encouraging the use of renminbi instead of US dollars.

RT: China takes new measure to promote de-dollarization

The Chinese authorities have extended trading hours for the onshore yuan as part of the state goal to broaden cross-border use of the national currency and boost yuan trading activity, Bloomberg reports.

Caixin Global: China Wraps Up Two-Year Tech Crackdown, Top Official Says

China’s more than two-year clampdown on its sprawling internet sector is coming to an end, according to a top central bank official.

The special campaign to rectify 14 internet platform companies’ financial businesses is basically complete with few remaining issues to resolve, said Guo Shuqing, Communist Party secretary of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC).

People’s Daily: China plays key role in global response to COVID-19, says Pakistani health scientist

“In terms of contributions to the global fight against the epidemic, China has provided significant assistance to other countries through donations of medical support, equipment and other forms of aid,” said Bilal Ahmad, a public health scientist at Pakistan’s Central Care, an international non-governmental organization working in health and education.

The health scientist noted that China’s efforts to contain the spread of the virus had been widely acknowledged by the international community.

“Widely acknowledged” is definitely one way of putting it, at least in the West. Well, let’s see where China is in a few months to see if these compliments are fully justified. They held out a lot longer than everybody else at least.

Reuters: China boosts coal output, eases Australia ban to bolster energy security

People’s Daily: Cambodia starts to upgrade national road in SE province with funds from China

WSWS: Nepali prime minister sworn in amid growing political instability

Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, known as Prachanda, was sworn in as the country’s new prime minister on December 25. Underscoring the acute political instability of bourgeois rule in this poor, landlocked country, Dahal’s party won only 32 seats in the 275-parliament in the November national elections.

WSWS: Australian life expectancy declines as a result of COVID “let it rip” policy

The Population Statement notes that: “The increase in [COVID] deaths in 2021–22 and 2022–23 has resulted in a temporary drop in life expectancy in these 2 years. Compared to 2020–21, life expectancies are projected to decrease by 0.4 years for both females and males in 2021–22 and 0.2 years for males and 0.3 years for females in 2022–23.”

Central Asia and the Middle East

Responsible Statecraft: Turns out ‘rethink’ was a threat not a promise in US-Saudi spat

Under Biden, the U.S. not only doesn’t use its leverage to pressure Saudi Arabia to change its behavior, but it also applies pressure on members of Congress to satisfy the Saudis. Far from “recalibrating” the relationship with Saudi Arabia, the U.S. reliably gives in to Saudi pressure and does nothing to respond even when their government acts directly against U.S. interests. 

MEE: UN renews Syria cross-border aid for six months

The UN Security Council voted unanimously on Monday to keep a humanitarian aid corridor into northwest Syria open for another six months, with Russia surprising by joining the rest of the UNSC members in approving the resolution. 

TeleSUR: Iran: Nuclear Negotiations Continuing Through Relevant Channels

On Monday, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said that negotiations on the revival of a 2015 nuclear deal are continuing through relevant channels at both sides' request.

Climate Change News: Donors pledge over $8bn to rebuild Pakistan after floods – official

Officials from some 40 countries as well as private donors and international financial institutions are gathering for a meeting in Geneva as Islamabad seeks help covering around half of a total recovery bill of $16.3 billion.

Starting a GoFundMe for Pakistan because none of the Western countries want to do anything about it.

RT: Poll reveals how Turks feel about Russia

Almost two-thirds of those surveyed across 24 Turkish provinces at the end of last year asserted to pollster Gezici that Russia was friendly towards Türkiye while less than a quarter (24.2%) believed Russia to be hostile. The results were reported on Saturday by the TV channel Ulusal Kanal.


AfricaNews: China’s new foreign minister heads to Africa for first trip

Qin, who until recently was ambassador to the United States, will visit Ethiopia, Gabon, Angola, Benin and Egypt from Jan. 9-16, spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a daily media briefing. In Egypt, Qin will also meet the secretary-general of the Arab League.

The new foreign minister is following in the footsteps of his predecessors, who have for more than three decades started each year with a trip to Africa.

All Africa: Malawi: Nationwide Strike Called Off As Govt, Cstu Strike Deal

All Africa: Malawi Suffers Worst Cholera Outbreak in Decades

As of January 4, 2023, up to 704 people were killed, and 21,000 cases were registered, government data shows. The case fatality rate stands at 3.4 percent, higher than the recommended rate of less than one percent.

All Africa: Rwanda: Why Agriculture Still Falls Short of Set Targets

“Because of high fertiliser increase, and low-quality seeds, there is poor yields, which limits farmers' profit on their investment,” she said, adding that drought also negatively affect farm productivity, especially on hillside farms where irrigation is too expensive.

All Africa: Zambia Halts Electricity Exports

The Zambian government on Friday announced that it has halted electricity exports to some neighboring countries due to reduced power generation capacity the southern African country was facing.

North America

TeleSUR: Biden Arrives in Mexico To Participate In Regional Summit

Biden seeks Mexican assistance to tackle the trafficking of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid mainly produced in this Latin American country described by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as the “deadliest drug threat” facing the United States.

Abolishing your own intelligence agencies would bring opioid shipments way down.

WSWS: Visiting US-Mexico border, Biden seeks bipartisan unity in attack on migrants

President Joe Biden arrived in El Paso, Texas, on Sunday afternoon and spent three hours there to demonstrate his commitment to attacking the fundamental rights of migrant workers seeking entry into the US.

Counterpunch: Unemployment Falls Back to Half-Century Low, But Wage Growth Slows

The December employment report showed a very strong labor market but much less evidence of inflationary pressures than in prior months. The unemployment rate fell back to 3.5 percent, its half-century low. The U-6 measure of labor market slack fell to 6.5 percent, its lowest level on record.

At the same time, wage growth moderated. There was a sharp downward revision to the November data. With 0.3 percent growth in the average hourly wage reported for December, the annualized rate over the last three months is just 4.1 percent, a sharp slowing from the 6 percent rate at the start of the year.

It also looks like we will see very good productivity growth in the fourth quarter of 2022. The index of aggregate hours fell 0.1 percent in December after falling 0.2 percent in November, leaving hours growing at an annual rate of 1.1 percent. GDP growth likely to be over 3 percent in the quarter suggests strong productivity growth, although a jump in reported self-employment will dampen the number.

StatNews: Moderna plans to follow in Pfizer’s footsteps, charge up to $130 for Covid-19 vaccine in U.S.

AP: Warning about aquifer’s decline sets up big fight in Kansas

The Kansas Water Authority is telling lawmakers that Kansas needs to break sharply with its decadeslong policy of slowing depletion while still allowing water levels to drop in the Ogallala Aquifer. The aquifer covers roughly 175,000 square miles (453,000 square kilometers) in the western and Great Plains states of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming and South Dakota.

Most of those states have areas where depletion is a problem, but the call in Kansas to “halt” the declines has farmers, ranchers and politically influential agriculture groups preparing to battle proposals that would give them less control over water and possibly could force them to cultivate fewer acres, buy expensive new equipment or turn on a dime to grow different crops.

WSWS: Seven thousand nurses at two New York hospitals launch open ended strike

Jacobin: Conditions Actually Look Good for Canadian Unions in 2023

A tight labor market, rising inflation, and the usual indignities of capitalist workplaces are emboldening young workers to organize. The result could be a game changer for Canada’s private sector unions.

South America

Geopolitical Economy: Nicaragua is world’s #1 country where citizens feel at peace, Gallup poll shows

A poll by mainstream firm Gallup found that Nicaragua is the No. 1 country in the world where citizens feel at peace. Nine of the top 14 countries are in Latin America. But the US constantly attacks the Sandinista government and imposes sanctions on it.

Gallup interviewed adults in 122 countries across the planet. They found that 34% of people on Earth “always” feel at peace, while 39% “often” do, 17% “rarely” do, and 5% “never” do.

Nicaragua came in first place, with 73% of its population reporting it “always” feels at peace.

Monthly Review: Maduro: Venezuela produces 94% of its own food in 2022 after importing 80% for over 100 years

Jacobin: Protesters in Peru Are Demanding Change

Peru is now in its third week of protests, triggered by the impeachment of former president Pedro Castillo. The country’s rural poor are decrying his removal and calling for new elections and a constitutional assembly.

People’s Daily: Interview: Former Bolivian foreign minister calls U.S. political model “outdated”

The U.S. democratic model is in decline now as it has not adapted to the current global reality and the changes that are taking place in the political, social, and economic spheres, said former Bolivian foreign minister Fernando Huanacuni.

The Ukraine Proxy Conflict

WSWS: NATO recklessly escalates war against Russia

In internal publications, the strategists of US imperialism admit that the Ukrainian army has been effectively hired as a mercenary force by the United States, with the aim of destroying the Russian military.

“In cold, geopolitical terms, this war provides a prime opportunity for the US to erode and degrade Russia’s conventional defense capability, with no boots on the ground and little risk to US lives,” wrote Timothy Ash of the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA).

“US spending of 5.6% of its defense budget to destroy nearly half of Russia’s conventional military capability seems like an absolutely incredible investment,” Ash added, concluding, “The US military might reasonably wish Russia to continue deploying military forces for Ukraine to destroy.”

This analysis only gets funnier by the day.

RT: Ex-Soviet state refuses to return weapons to Ukraine – Kiev

Georgia is refusing to hand back Kiev-supplied weaponry amid the conflict with Russia, the Ukrainian chargé d’affaires to the country has claimed. Andrey Kasyanov raised the issue in a piece written for the Yevropeyskaya Pravda (European Truth) newspaper, published on Monday.


The Left and the Right

Current Affairs: What Progressives Need To Learn From Republicans About Forcing Concessions From Party Leaders

By Briahna Joy Gray. I gotta say, regardless of what I thought about Force the Vote, the progressives in Congress do look more like cowardly clowns by the day. But, hey, I’m sure AOC will cry extra hard while she votes for a bill that designates Palestinians as subhumans in 2024.

Monthly Review: A Review of Derek R. Ford’s ‘Teaching the Actuality of Revolution: Aesthetics, Unlearning, and the Sensations of Struggle’

There’s no such thing as a lone mind or individual, and that’s increasingly apparent today, as literal and figural networks have made the very notion of a distinct or detached intellectual absurd. Those who want fight for our side in the battle of ideas must do so by becoming nodes in an expansive network of struggle. That’s always been my goal as a writer, and that’s why Derek R. Ford’s latest projects have compelled me to engage them in some way, because reading these pages and hearing these words not only teaches me about my own praxis but impact my—our—subjectivity. This is especially so with his latest book, Teaching the Actuality of Revolution: Aesthetics, Unlearning, and the Sensations of Struggle, in which Ford expertly and clearly explains oppression and exploitation as perceptual ecologies and carefully constructs a communist approach to unlearning capital’s sensorium by performing alternatives in our present. “Entering the class struggle aesthetically is important at this moment,” he contends, “because, despite the endless proliferation of ever-more refined critiques of it, the re­production of capital continues.” In this vein, Ford bypasses accounts of capital’s illogics and takes up my own gesture of pointing to how, as I put it a while back, “we as subjects, have been shaped within capitalist relations of production” and therefore must refashion—or disidentify—with that subjectivity.

Inside the Imperial Core

Monthly Review: The trillion dollar silencer

Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets across the U.S. in the last few years to decry police brutality, to oppose the Supreme Court’s decision to restrict abortion rights, and to contest what they believed was a rigged election (the January 2021 Capitol riots).

Only small hardy bands by comparison have taken to the streets to protest record military budgets—approaching $1 trillion under Joe Biden—or the illegal bombing of Syria, expansion of U.S. troops in Africa, provision of $20 billion in U.S. military aid to Ukraine, and military provocations directed against China.

Joan Roelofs’1 new book The Trillion Dollar Silencer: Why There Is So Little Anti-War Protest in the United States (Atlanta: Clarity Press, 2022), starts with an important question: “Why is there so much acceptance and so little protest against our government’s illegal and immoral wars and other military operations?” Her answer is simple and convincing: Money.

Naked Capitalism: Sweden Won’t Meet Türkiye Demands to Win Its Vote on NATO Membership

This is a good update post for those unfamiliar with the saga or if you haven’t kept up with it. To skip to the point, though:

This is a very long winded introduction to a key point, that Türkiye has tons of leverage and therefore has and will continue to play the Collective West off against the rest of the world. The only way that stops would be if NATO manages to do an own goal on the order of the anti-Russia economic sanctions and gets Türkiye to hike out of NATO. There’s no process for removing a NATO member2 Türkiye very very much likes the advantage it gets against Russia by being in NATO, so it is extremely unlikely that Türkiye would depart of its own accord.

Let’s return to the headline issue: will this Türkiye threat over Sweden just prove to be a show of bluster, as most of the press has been treating it (as well as NATO itself, which has been inviting Sweden and Finland to meetings and extending other privileges normally afforded only to members)? In light of all of the above, that may not be such a safe bet.

Türkiye, interestingly like India, has been trying to navigated a geopolitically independent, self-interested course. But India is not a key member of a US dominated security alliance.

It is hard to calibrate Türkiye messaging compared to its intent. If Türkiye regards the arming of Greece as a serious security threat, which seems likely, it is logical to assume that Türkiye will continue to withhold its approval of Sweden and Finland until the US winds that program back at least to a degree. It’s a clear leverage point on a matter to which the West has hopelessly committed itself.

Naked Capitalism: US Takeover of Greece Pushes Türkiye Closer to Russia and Increases Odds of Athens-Ankara Conflict

Outside the Imperial Core

Developing Economics: Layers of compounding pressure: the gendered experiences of rural migrant youth in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Climate Change

Inside Climate News: Low Salt Marsh Habitats Release More Carbon in Response to Warming, a New Study Finds

This complicates their role as carbon sinks as temperatures, and the sea level rises.