Geopolitical Economy: BRICS challenges US ‘dollar dominance’, Saudi considers selling oil in other currencies: New multipolar economic order


Reuters: Yellen says setting price caps on Russian refined oil products ‘complicated’

RT: Russia to ban oil resales under Western price cap – media

Russian exporters may soon be forbidden from selling oil to buyers under the Western price cap mechanism, the Kommersant news outlet reported, citing government sources.

According to the report, the Ministry of Energy has prepared a draft decree obliging Russian legal entities and individuals to avoid Western-mandated oil price limit provisions in their contracts with foreign buyers. They will also have to ensure that these buyers, including traders and agents, comply with this requirement for the further resale of Russian oil.

The contracts will also have to pass inspection at the Federal Customs Service. If the agency finds any violations, in particular, any mention of the price cap, it may ban the export of the products specified in the contracts.

The draft document is yet to be approved by the government, sources told the news outlet. The Ministry of Energy has so far declined to comment on the report.

Open Democracy: EU is urged: No deals with UK unless right to strike is protected

RT: Netherlands to shut down EU’s largest gas field – official

The Dutch government is set to stop production at the Groningen gas field later this year, the state secretary for the extractive industries, Hans Vijlbrief, told the Financial Times. The site is already producing only a fraction of its capacity, and it is “very dangerous” to keep operating it, according to the official.

Reuters: France’s Macron proposes big hike in military spending for 2024-2030

French President Emmanuel Macron proposed on Friday boosting military spending by over a quarter in coming years, saying the hike would help ensure a transformation of the army to respond to multiple potential threats.

WSWS: Sweden and Finland negotiating bilateral military agreements with the US

MEMO: Swedish Gov’t criticises burning Quran, yet defends granting permission

MEMO: Italy PM to visit Algeria to guarantee gas, compensate France

Reuters: Poland earmarks $1 bln to help curb surge in household heating bills

Proposed measures to help Polish households cope with rising heating bills will cost 4.5 billion zlotys ($1.04 billion), according to a draft law posted on the parliament website on Friday.

WSWS: Firefighters exposed to toxins at Grenfell Tower fire diagnosed with incurable cancers

Twelve firefighters among the 1,300 who attended the June 2017 Grenfell Tower inferno in London have developed incurable cancers—possibly the result of exposure to deadly contaminants released by the blaze. Some are relatively young men in their forties.

East Asia and Oceania

RT: China stocks up on Russian gold

Last year, China bought a total of 6.6 tons of Russian gold, worth a record $386.9 million, including shipments in both unprocessed (3.7 tons) and semi-processed form (2.9 tons).

Reuters: Apple targets raising India production share to up to 25% - minister

Apple wants India to account for up to 25% of its production from about 5%-7% now, the trade minister told a conference on Monday, as the iPhone maker continues to move its manufacturing away from China.

Reuters: India’s foreign exchange reserves rise to 5-month high

India’s foreign exchange reserves rose to $572 billion in the week through Jan. 13, their highest level since early August last year, the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) statistical supplement showed on Friday.

TeleSUR: Japan Sets New Record With 8,103 COVID-19 Deaths this Year

RT: Japan’s trade deficit hits record high – data

A perfect storm created by growing commodity prices and a weakening national currency sent Japanese import costs soaring in 2022, with the trade deficit hitting a record high of 19.97 trillion yen ($155 billion), Nikkei reported, citing officials statistics.

WSWS: Sri Lankan parliament passes draconian “rehabilitation” law

On Wednesday, the Sri Lankan parliament passed the Bureau of Rehabilitation Bill, which gives the army, navy and air force authority to run so-called rehabilitation centres. The legislation will give the increasingly hated regime of President Ranil Wickremesinghe the ability to incarcerate workers, youth and other political opponents in military-operated detention camps.

Central Asia and the Middle East

Naked Capitalism: Washington Ratchets Up Maritime Disputes in the Eastern Mediterranean 

Washington is reportedly pushing a deal with Ankara that would see the US sell Türkiye F-16s (which it has been requesting the past two years), and in exchange Türkiye would forgo any military incursion into northern Syria and would agree to the admission of Finland and Sweden to NATO.

It’s unlikely this will meet Türkiye’s price as Ankara has demanded that Sweden stop supporting what Türkiye deems to be Kurdish terrorists and made specific requests, including extraditions. Sweden has said it will not meet these demands, and the Quran-burning protests against Türkiye in Stockholm on Saturday almost certainly made it politically untenable for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to agree to any deal ahead of what’s expected to be a tight election on May 14.

Additionally, any deal would likely need to include promises from Washington to scale back its military support for Greece, such as its planned F-35 sale. As the following post illustrates, Washington is also using contested waters in the eastern Mediterranean as another pressure point and is likely to escalate there if Erdogan doesn’t relent on Sweden’s NATO bid and back off in Syria.

RT: Russians leading in new foreign corporate openings in Türkiye

MEMO: Israel angered by visit of Western envoys to Al-Aqsa Mosque

MEMO: Iran vows to include European armies on terror list


People’s Daily: AU, UN agencies meet in Kenya to boost intra-Africa trade

The African Union (AU), the continent’s eight regional economic blocs, and development partners, including UN agencies, ended a three-day meeting in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi on Thursday to review ways to boost intra-Africa trade.

Africa News: Libya: Major Arab states boycott regional meet in Tripoli

Five of the 22 member states of the Arab League sent their foreign ministers to the periodic, consultative meeting. They included the chief diplomats of neighbouring Algeria and Tunisia, local media reported.

Others sent their envoys to the meeting in Tripoli. Among those boycotting the gathering was Egypt, which questioned the legitimacy of Prime Minister Abdel Hamid Dbeibah’s government after Libya’s east-based parliament appointed a rival premier last year.

Reuters: U.S. military says Somalia strike killed 30 al Shabaab fighters

MEMO: Labour union: ‘Situation in Tunisia cannot get any worse’

Africa News: Eritrean troops seen leaving Ethiopia’s Tigray - reports

Eritrean forces have been leaving towns in the war-torn region of Tigray, locals told AFP, as the United States hailed a pullout seen as key to a landmark peace deal.

TeleSUR: Hundreds of People Protest in Burkina Faso Against French Army

Africa News: Ouagadougou residents broadly welcome move to oust French military

People in Burkina Faso have broadly welcomed plans by the military government to oust French troops within a month.

Africa News: Malawi has reportedly run out of cholera vaccine amid its worst epidemic in decades

Africa News: Madagascar’s 1st tropical storm of season floods 700 houses, 1 missing - Preliminary reports

North America

Naked Capitalism: Debt Ceiling Arm Wrestling Targets Ukraine Spending

The US again is going through its debt ceiling ritual, although there are a few variants on established themes. Rest assured, there will be no voluntary default. As a currency issuer, the US can only choose to default, and the debt ceiling device would be for Congress to be the part that chose to force a default. But Congresscritters personally and via their constituent have far too much at stake to send the the financial markets into a tailspin.

However, a debt ceiling can and often has resulted in spending freezes called shutdowns, the longest of which occurred during the Trump Administration, in a staredown over his southern border wall. Trump eventually blinked and decided to declare a national emergency to bypass the need for Congressional approval.

The important lesson from the Trump and past shutdowns is that voters don’t like them and the party perceived to be responsible usually takes an approval hit. So the real threat is triggering a shutdown, and that is enough to force horsetrading and some spending concessions.

Recall that the Democrats have had opportunities to abolish the debt ceiling and haven’t. It would have gone almost unnoticed had it been included in the early Obama crisis response. Its opponents are correct when they say that the debt ceiling serves to prevent the Administration from spending money already authorized by Congress. And Twitter demonstrates how the two parties are in blame game mode.

People’s Daily: New Omicron subvariant accounts for nearly half U.S. new COVID infections

New Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 is estimated to account for 49.1 percent of the COVID-19 cases in the United States for the week ending Jan. 21, according to data released Friday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Inside Climate News: This Winter’s Rain and Snow Won’t be Enough to Pull the West Out of Drought

Although precipitation has been above average this winter, the region’s water supply is still deep in debt.

TeleSUR: Almost 80% Of Mexico’s Territory Affected by Drought

South America

Geopolitical Economy: US funds ‘independent journalists’ in Cuba to spread propaganda, ex CIA spy admits

Geopolitical Economy: Brazil and Argentina preparing new Latin American currency to ‘reduce reliance on US dollar’

Brazil and Argentina are making plans for a Latin American currency called the Sur, to “boost regional trade and reduce reliance on the US dollar”. Lula had pledged it while running for president.

TeleSUR: Organisations Demand Release of Detained Students in Lima

The Ukraine Proxy Conflict

RT: Poll indicates big change in American attitude to Ukraine aid

A third of Americans believe that the US has gone too far in its support for Ukraine in the present conflict, according to a new poll released on Wednesday. This is a sharp increase from late February, days after the conflict broke out, when just 7% said so.

According to a Quinnipiac University national survey, 33% of adult respondents think Washington is doing too much to help Kiev, while 21% say the US is doing too little. 38% believe the amount of American aid is just right.

Naked Capitalism: ‘Global Catastrophe’ Coming If West Keeps Arming Ukraine, Top Russia Official Says

Here is what State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin Volodin said on Telegram on Sunday (machine translation):

Deliveries of offensive weapons to the Kyiv regime will lead to a global catastrophe.

If Washington and NATO countries supply weapons that will be used to strike civilian cities and attempt to seize our territories, as they threaten, this will lead to retaliatory measures using more powerful weapons.

Members of the Congress, deputies of the Bundestag, the National Assembly of France and other European parliaments must realize their responsibility to humanity.

With their decisions, Washington and Brussels are leading the world to a terrible war: to a completely different military action than today, when strikes are carried out exclusively on the military and critical infrastructure used by the Kyiv regime.

Given the technological superiority of Russian weapons, foreign politicians making such decisions need to understand that this could end in a global tragedy that will destroy their countries.

Arguments that the nuclear powers have not previously used weapons of mass destruction in local conflicts are untenable. Because these states did not face a situation where there was a threat to the security of their citizens and the territorial integrity of the country.

Moon of Alabama: Ukraine - Russian Army Activates Southern Front

Anti War: Did the West Miss Its Window?

The goal of the deliberation on weapons, Blinken said, is to “put Ukraine in the strongest possible position when a negotiating table emerges.”

But has that position passed? Did the West miss its window?

In November, when Ukraine captured Kherson, western military analysts began to speak of an “inflection point,” the suggestion that Ukraine’s military gains may have reached an apex. They began to suggest that, “on the battlefield,” Ukraine was “in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table,” as the Biden administration had said the goal was. They began to suggest that the window for negotiating was now.

Some military analysts suggested that Kherson was likely the last Russian held ground that Ukraine will be able to retake in the foreseeable future. Some officials “wonder[ed] aloud how much more territory can be won by either side, and at what cost.”

There were reports that the “inflection point” view was shared by other NATO militaries. According to those reports, Germany and France believe that “parity will not last long and that now is the optimal time for Ukraine to start talking.”

RT: A top British think tank has revealed Russia’s cyberwarfare dominance over Ukraine – why has Western media ignored its report?

The UK’s Royal United Services Institute admits Kiev has been completely overwhelmed by Moscow, despite having the best NATO tech

RT: Ukraine storing weapons at nuclear plants – SVR

“There is credible information that Ukrainian troops are stockpiling the Western-supplied weapons and ammunition on the territory of nuclear power plants,” Naryshkin said, according to a statement on the intelligence service’s website. He added that the armaments include rockets for US-made HIMARS launchers and missiles used by foreign air defense systems, as well as “large-caliber artillery shells.”

Reuters: Germany would not block Poland from sending tanks to Ukraine, minister says


Retrospectives, History, Theory, and Technology

Monthly Review: The abuse of the concept of “populism”

Monthly Review: NYT worries Big Brother is not watching you

Monthly Review: The Ukrainian Solidarity Network: The highest stage of White Western social imperialism

Inside the Imperial Core

Jacobin: If the European Union Doesn’t Democratize, It Will Crumble

After a decade that produced a series of shocks, the European Union seems to have weathered its worst moment of crisis. Yet the EU still suffers a fundamental lack of democracy — and the Left should be in the forefront of demanding its reform.

Open Democracy: How American elites sleepwalked into losing the right to abortion

Jacobin: WikiLeaks Has Been Persecuted Mercilessly for Revealing the Secrets of US Empire

Since 2007, WikiLeaks has challenged entrenched power to reveal evidence of state crimes, political dirty dealings, and other secrets. Its efforts have provoked severe repression by the US government and its allies.

Climate Change

Inside Climate News: New Study Reveals Arctic Ice, Tracked Both Above and Below, Is Freezing Later

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