Events


Globally


Reuters: Global jobs growth will halve in challenging 2023: ILO

Global employment growth is expected to slow down sharply to 1% this year compared to 2% in 2022, hit by the economic fallout of the war in Ukraine, high inflation and tighter monetary policy, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said on Monday.

Reuters: IMF says fragmentation could cost global economy up to 7% of GDP

A severe fragmentation of the global economy after decades of increasing economic integration could reduce global economic output by up to 7%, but the losses could reach 8-12% in some countries, if technology is also decoupled, the International Monetary Fund said in a new staff report.

Reuters: Dollar finds its footing near seven-month low, all eyes on yen

The dollar started the week on the back foot, hitting a seven-month low against a basket of major peers in Asian trade before steadying, with the yen in particular focus due to traders' bets the Bank of Japan will tweak its yield control policy further.

The euro hit a fresh nine-month top of $1.0874 in early trade before retreating to last stand 0.16% lower at $1.0816, while the Australian dollar breached the key $0.7000 level for the first time since August, before dipping back to $0.6962.

RT: Global political elite skipping Davos

The annual World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos, Switzerland has kicked off on Monday with a number of top-tier leaders absent.

US President Joe Biden is skipping this year’s gathering, along with French President Emmanuel Macron, and new British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is also passing on the event, along with the entire Russian business elite, which has been forced off the guest list by Ukraine-related sanctions.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Chinese businessmen will also miss the forum following the aftershocks of a recent spike in Covid-19 cases and troubles on the domestic stock market, which saw some $224 billion erased last year from the fortunes of China’s wealthiest people. 

Of the Group of Seven (G7) leaders, only German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is set to attend Davos this year, along with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Despite the shrinking number of political leaders, this year’s attendance list is rich in top managers. Among 2,700 participants in the official WEF sessions, “we’re likely to surpass the old record from 2020 with 600 global CEOs – including 1,500 C-suite level overall,” according to WEF head of digital and marketing, George Schmitt. 


Europe


Reuters: EU’s record recovery fund at risk as countries struggle to meet deadline

The risk that European Union governments will not be able to spend the largest aid package in its history is growing as members struggle to meet deadlines imposed by the bloc, officials from four countries have told Reuters.

Difficulties in renegotiating the 724-billion-euro post-pandemic recovery plan - less than two years after it was approved - raises doubts about its ability to deliver at all, said Manuel Hidalgo, a senior fellow at the Esade Centre for Economic Policy, a Madrid-based think-tank.

RT: EU facing diesel crisis with Russian ban looming – Bloomberg

The bloc still relies on Moscow for 40% of imports, according to ship tracking data

RT: Ukraine conflict leaves scientific cooperation in disarray

The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has significantly affected international cooperation between physicists at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), with some scientists refusing to co-author papers with Russian researchers, The Guardian reported on Sunday. The issue has already led to a drastic drop in publication and is expected to yield more problems for scientists, PhD students and postdocs in the future.

RT: Russian energy revenues soaring

According to the official, Russian oil exports in 2023 were up 7%, while liquefied natural gas (LNG) sales rose 8%. Oil production grew 2% against 2021 volumes, totaling 535 million tons.

Africa News: UK plan to send migrants to Rwanda faces new court challenge

Two High Court judges ruled in December that the controversial policy is legal, rejecting a lawsuit from several asylum-seekers, aid groups and a border officials' union. The same judges said Monday that the claimants can challenge that decision on issues including whether the plan is “systemically unfair” and whether asylum-seekers would be safe in Rwanda.

No date has been set for the appeal hearing.

WSWS: The war frenzy of Germany’s Greens

The German government categorically rules out a ceasefire and diplomatic solution—at least as long as Russia has not completely withdrawn from Ukraine, including Crimea, i.e., has not capitulated unconditionally. Foreign policy experts now make no secret of the fact that NATO is waging a proxy war against Russia, with Ukraine providing the ground troops.

Within the general population of Germany, the government’s policy is not popular, despite nonstop war propaganda. In the Berlin state election, the Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei (Socialist Equality Party, SGP) is the only party that opposes the war and places its opposition at the centre of its campaign. This has found a strong response. Protests and strikes against the consequences of war—inflation, layoffs and social cuts—are increasing worldwide.

RT: German defense minister resigns

Reuters: Germany falls to bottom rung of investment ranking on energy costs, labour shortage

TeleSUR: Croatia’s Kuna Ceases Circulation as Euro Takes Over


East Asia and Oceania


People’s Daily: China actively publishing, sharing accurate COVID-related data with world

China has conducted multiple technological exchanges with the World Health Organization (WHO), and will continue to support the organization in the global effort to combat COVID-19, the head of China’s National Health Commission (NHC) told the head of the WHO over the phone on Saturday, as China on the same day published its data of in-hospital COVID-19 deaths after optimizing the country’s COVID-19 response last month.

TeleSUR: Critical COVID-19 Cases Decrease Debunks Fallacies About China

“The number of critical cases in hospitals peaked on Jan. 5, totaling at 128,000 on the day,” said Jiao Yahui, head of the Bureau of Medical Administration under the National Health Commission (NHC).

The number then began to drop with fluctuations, falling back to 105,000 on Jan. 12. At present, 75.3 percent of beds for severe cases are being used," Jiao said, adding that the total number of intensive care beds is sufficient to meet the need for treatment.

People’s Daily: Nations rolling out red carpet for Chinese tourists

WSWS: Local government elections announced in Sri Lanka amid intense political crisis

The Sri Lankan Election Commission (EC) has announced that local government elections will be held across the island in March with nominations accepted between January 18 and 21. The elections must be held before March 19 when the current term of local government bodies ends.

Reuters: Tesla nears deal to build production facilities in Indonesia


Central Asia and the Middle East


RT: Russia allows Kazakhstan to use its pipelines to transport oil to Germany

The Russian Energy Ministry has approved the delivery of Kazakh oil to Germany using the infrastructure run by Transneft, a state-owned pipeline transport company and operator of Russia’s section of the Druzhba pipeline.

Oil transportation company KazTransOil will deliver 300,000 tons of crude in the first quarter of 2023 “in the direction of the Adamova Zastava oil delivery point for further delivery to Germany,” the company’s press service said in a statement on Friday.

Berlin stopped imports of Russian oil via pipelines on January 1, despite the fact that the latest EU embargo exempts piped deliveries of crude to the bloc from the sanctions-hit nation.

Earlier, Kazakhstan’s energy minister, Bolat Akchulakov, said that in 2023, the country would supply 1.5 million tons of oil to Germany with a possible increase of future shipments to 7 million tons.

Transneft spokesman Igor Demin noted that the “volumes that used to flow from Russia to Germany cannot be replaced by Kazakhstan.” He explained that while Russia once shipped up to 20 million tons of oil a year to Germany and another 10 million tons to Poland via Druzhba, Kazakhstan is only able to pump 3-7 million tons.

Reuters: India, UAE close to deal on renewable electricity grid link, Indian minister says

MEMO: China urges Israel to stop ‘incitement’ to avoid escalation

China’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Qin Gang, urged Israel on Sunday to stop its “incitement” in order to avoid escalation with the Palestinians, news agencies have reported.

In a joint press conference with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry in Cairo, the Chinese minister called on Israel to “stop incitements and provocations, and to refrain from taking uniliteral actions that could worsen the situation.”

Referring to the recent provocative incursion at Al-Aqsa Mosque by Israel’s far-right Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, Qin Gang reiterated the importance of “maintaining the status quo” in Jerusalem.

He also reiterated China’s longstanding position on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the “the two-state-solution and the land-for-peace principle.” The international community, he added, should find a “just” solution for the Palestinian people through a return to the negotiation table and resumption of the peace process.

MEE: Half of Jewish Israelis believe they should have ‘more rights than non-Jews’

Nearly half of Jewish Israelis believe that they “should have more rights than non-Jewish citizens”, according to an annual survey published by the Israel Democracy Institute on Sunday. 

Almost half of respondents, 49 percent, agreed with the statement, an increase of 12 percent on the same poll last year. 

The survey interviewed a total of 1,311 Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel between May and June last year.  

Most Jewish Israelis (80 percent) believe that crucial decisions on peace and security should be made by a Jewish majority, while 59 percent believe the same to be true on matters of the economy and society. 

MEMO: Islamic Waqf: 292 extremist Israeli settlers raid Al Aqsa Mosque

MEMO: Occupation Forces demolish 15 businesses in Hizma

The Israeli Occupation bulldozers demolished commercial facilities and workshops on Monday, near the entrance to the town of Hizma, north-east of Jerusalem, under the pretext of not having a permit.

MEMO: Yemen: Houthi official says discussions with Oman pave way for peace

MEMO: Syria: fuel shortage and cost hits bakery production

The shortage of fuel and its unprecedented rise in price have taken a toll on bakeries operating in Syria’s regime-held areas, forcing them to make bread just two or three times a week. This has pushed the price of bread up significantly, Anadolu has reported.


Africa


Financial Times: Janet Yellen to visit African countries as US steps up overtures to continent

US Treasury secretary Janet Yellen this week begins a 10-day tour of three African democracies, as President Joe Biden’s administration steps up overtures to a continent where both China and Russia have made inroads.

MEE: Egypt sentences 22 minors and whistleblower to lengthy prison terms over 2019 protests

Africa News: Algeria: President Tebboune to visit France in May

The two presidents discussed “questions relating to bilateral relations and the state visit of the President of the Republic to France, agreeing to schedule it for next May,” the presidency said in a statement.

Africa News: I.Coast: Ramping up food safety measures to reduce diseases


North America


Indian Punchline: Two old men spill America’s secrets

Bhadrakumar is about as dismissive about all this as I am. I think the last two paragraphs sum it up:

Neither of these two old men nearing 80 — and, come to think of it, one of them may well be America’s next president — is convincing. Therefore, the issue could become a continuing political headache for both, as they launch their respective campaigns for the November 2024 election.

That is, as Larry Sabato, the best–selling author of books on American politics and one of the country’s most respected political analysts, told Guardian newspaper, “In the public mind, now they will say, ‘Well, a pox on both your houses. You’re both guilty. Shame on you both.’ It’s over.” 

Monthly Review: How the Supreme Court could severely limit workers’ right to strike

Circle of Blue: EPA Warns of Water-Treatment Chemical Shortage After Illinois Factory Fire

WSWS: California floods cause estimated $31 billion in damage, 19 dead

WSWS: New York nurses oppose sellout deal after union shuts down strike against dangerous understaffing

In the aftermath of their three-day strike, nurses at Montefiore Medical Center and Mount Sinai in New York City expressed anger and frustration about the way the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) abruptly shut down the three-day walkout by 7,000 nurses last Thursday. NYSNA officials sent nurses back to work before allowing them to see, let alone vote, on a tentative deal, which turned out not to be a full agreement.


South America


TeleSUR: US Coercion Against Latin America Is Illegal, SSLR Article Says

Last month, the Sorbonne Student Law Review (SSLR) published a 51-pages research entitled “The U.S. Unilateral Coercive Measures (UCM) Imposed in Latin America," by Geneve University Ph.D. student Andrea Dias, who condemned the consequences of the U.S. sanctions on Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.

Geopolitical Economy: End of Juan Guaidó: US-appointed Venezuelan coup leader ousted by ex allies

Oh, okay, so NOW the Left is fine with people losing their jobs?

Reuters: Argentina’s inflation rate at 95%, highest since 1991

Argentina’s annual inflation hit its highest rate in more than 30 years last month as prices almost doubled versus a year ago, official data released on Thursday showed, further eroding consumers' dwindling purchasing power.


The Ukraine Proxy Conflict


RT: Ukraine’s defeat may lead to WWIII

Ukraine’s defeat may lead to a Third World War, meaning Germany and other NATO countries must step up and send Kiev more weapons, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki claimed on Monday.

Speaking in Berlin at a celebration of German politician Wolfgang Schauble’s 50-year career, Morawiecki insisted that Germany must allow the delivery of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. Poland and Finland have promised Kiev the tanks, but need formal German permission to actually hand them over.

“Today Ukrainians are fighting not only for their freedom, but also in defense of Europe,” Morawiecki insisted. “I call on the German government to act decisively and deliver all types of weapons to Ukraine.”

“The defeat of Ukraine may become a prelude to World War III, so today there is no reason to block support for Kiev and postpone matters indefinitely,” he added.

RT: NATO waging ‘proxy war’ against Russia – Croatian president

Croatian President Zoran Milanovic has claimed NATO, a military bloc of which Zagreb is a member, is waging a “proxy war” against Moscow in Ukraine. He also dismissed sanctions against Moscow as “nonsense,” adding that he does not want to be an “American slave.”

RT: Ukraine to blame for missile hitting Dnepr residential building – Kremlin

RT: First nuclear-propelled torpedoes for Russian mega-submarine are ready


Analysis

Retrospectives, History, Theory, and Technology


Valdai Club: The Chinese View of the World: Is a Non-Zero-Sum Game Possible?

It’s like a 3-5 minute read, so not very long, but some food for thought about the coming years and decades. Here’s the really pertinent part, I feel:

If Washington is not prepared to tolerate mutual benefit with China even in its own system of international relations, then how can one imagine that it will be ready for such a scheme in the Chinese representation? The overall gain is a threat to US leadership. This means that things will shift to the “zero sum” model with all the ensuing consequences. The world is objectively moving towards what Russian foreign policy doctrine calls a multipolar world or a world without a hegemon. But given current trends, such a world will most likely remain anarchic, with political realism as the key paradigm of foreign policy thinking.

For the US, China is a problem not only because of its impressive economic and technological successes. Unlike many other countries, China has formed its own political theory - a fairly unique and systematic view of both its own development and international relations. It’s not just about a set of ideological clichés. We are talking about a developed political philosophy and a deep conceptual study of key issues of domestic and foreign policy. In the Chinese case, this is not an imitation or simulacra; not an empty set of words in a beautiful verbal package, but a system of interconnected ideas that can become globally attractive in the future. They are based on a combination of originally Western modernist ideas in their Marxist incarnation with a number of traditional Chinese values. For a long time, Chinese modernism was focused on China itself, that is, the political theory of the PRC remained and remains nationally oriented. China has avoided making strenuous efforts to globalise it. However, the success of the PRC itself gives its political theory a potentially high discursive power. The fight against world poverty, hunger, inequality, backwardness - who better than China, with its recent experience, to set an example here? If the PRC can achieve a solution to its own environmental problems, then green topics will be added. In other words, China is able to offer the world its modernist alternative and back it up with huge resources. This combination turns the PRC into a dangerous ideological enemy of the United States. The fact that China avoids confrontational rhetoric only draws more attention to its political philosophy. The potential appeal of PRC political philosophy is another reason why a mutual beneficial relationship with the US is unlikely.

At the same time, the rivalry between China and the United States may well remain within a manageable framework. In the medium term, both Beijing and Washington are interested in this. This means that expectations of a global uprising against American leadership would be naive. In key issues of world politics, the PRC will exercise caution and adopt a balanced approach. Criticism of certain aspects of US foreign policy and the existing model of globalisation should hardly be taken as a readiness to unequivocally take the side of other US rivals.

I mean, who knows what the future will bring and what pressures may be put on developing countries? Even so, I find it difficult to disagree that this transition will take decades, not months or years.

Common Dreams: New Oxfam Report on Inequality and Extreme Wealth Proves the Need to Tax the Rich

Since 2020, 63 percent of all new wealth has gone to the top 1 percent, leaving only 37 percent for the rest of the world combined.


Inside the Imperial Core


AntiWar: Imperial Dominance Disguised as Democratic Deterrence

Recently, I read the latest National Defense Strategy, or NDS, issued in October 2022 by the Pentagon, and Thucydides’s ancient message, a warning as clear as it was undeniable, came to mind again. It summarized for me the true essence of that NDS: being strong, the United States does what it wants and weaker powers, of course, suffer as they must. Such a description runs contrary to the mythology of this country in which we invariably wage war not for our own imperial ends but to defend ourselves while advancing freedom and democracy. Recall that Athens, too, thought of itself as an enlightened democracy even as it waged its imperial war of dominance on the Peloponnesus. Athens lost that war, calamitously, but at least it did produce Thucydides, a military leader who became a historian and wrote all too bluntly about his country’s hubristic, ultimately fatal pursuit of hegemony.

Financial Times: What the end of the US shale revolution would mean for the world

The golden age of shale “vaulted the United States back to the top of the table in terms of geopolitical significance”, says David Goldwyn, a former senior energy adviser to Barack Obama and head of Goldwyn Global Strategies, a Washington consultancy. “The US is no longer in a position where it has to worry about the physical supply of oil or gas . . . and that gives it a great deal more freedom of action in international affairs.”

Additionally, the cumulative abundance of shale supply delivered over the past 15 years continues to shelter Americans from the sky-high natural gas and fuel prices that have rattled other developed economies, giving its industry a competitive advantage and its households more disposable income.

But that transformative age is drawing to a close, say analysts, with unpredictable consequences. High costs and labour shortages now bedevil the shale patch. Wall Street wants profits paid back to investors, not reinvested in new rigs. Even with crude prices at $80 a barrel, a price far above the long-term average, shale producers still fear to splurge capital. To top it off, new wells are yielding less oil.

“The aggressive growth era of US shale is over,” says Scott Sheffield, chief executive of Pioneer Natural Resources, the country’s biggest shale producer. “The shale model definitely is no longer a swing producer.”

There are scenarios where this might not matter: if China’s economy keeps sputtering and Russian oil exports remain robust, despite sanctions, then oil markets should be well supplied. And if an energy transition takes off quickly, the world may cope without fast-growing American oil supply. Indeed, some environmentalists will welcome slower fossil fuel growth from a major supplier.


Climate Change


Inside Climate News: In the Amazon, Indigenous and Locally Controlled Land Stores Carbon, but the Rest of the Rainforest Emits Greenhouse Gases

Forests managed by Indigenous peoples and other local communities in the Amazon region draw vast amounts of planet-warming carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere while the rest of the rainforest has become a net source of the greenhouse gas, a new report has found. 

The discrepancy results from differences in deforestation rates between the two types of land. 

The study from the World Resources Institute, a nonprofit global research organization focused on solving environmental challenges, adds to a growing body of evidence showing that land held by Native peoples and other local communities around the world has better environmental outcomes than government and privately owned land.