MEMO: OPEC+ agrees to stick to current production levels


People’s Daily: EU unveils green industry deal to compete with U.S.

The European Commission on Wednesday unveiled its plan to meet the challenges posed by the United States'(U.S.) Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and keep up with a worldwide race in subsidy schemes for green industries.

Net-zero industries are most important in the fight against climate change, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said when presenting the Green Deal Industrial Plan.

The plan is built on four pillars: a conducive regulatory environment for the net-zero industries, national and EU funding, ensuring proper skills for the green transition and an ambitious trade agenda.

It is designed to ease restrictions on state aid and unlock huge private financing for clean-tech production in the European Union (EU).

People’s Daily: Russia denounces U.S. for undermining New START treaty

RT: Russian oil-price cap countermeasure comes into force

From February 1, Russian exporters are obliged to prevent any direct or indirect mention of the price-cap mechanism in contracts with their overseas clients at all stages of fuel delivery to the end customer.

TeleSUR: Russian Population Decreases by 555,332 in 2022

More than 146.4 million people permanently resided in Russia as of Jan. 1, down 555,332 from the past year, data published by the country’s Federal Statistics Service showed on Wednesday.

I wonder if this includes the population gained from the four oblasts.

RT: Huge decline in abortions in Russia – minister

The minister explained that the reduction in numbers was driven by pre-abortion counseling services. Last year, more than 44,000 women in Russia gave up the idea of having the procedure after receiving psychological and social help, Murashko noted. According to Russia’s most recent demographic doctrine, adopted back in 2021, the authorities are aiming to provide counseling to at least 80% of women who are considering abortions.

Is this the actual reason? I’m always wary of the narratives about abortion in conservative countries.

Monthly Review: France brought to a standstill over attack on pensions

The eight main trade union centres said that more than two million people took part in 250 protests against the changes, including a massive rally of hundreds of thousands in Paris.

France’s oil industry was paralysed, with the CGT union centre saying that nearly all workers at TotalEnergies went on strike.

High school and university students also joined the protests, with a few dozen students occupying the main building at the Sciences-Po university overnight.

Common Dreams: ‘We Are Going to Win’: UK Workers Launch Largest Coordinated Strike in More Than a Decade

With organizers saying it’s entirely within the power of the United Kingdom’s Conservative government to ensure public sector employees are paid fairly, roughly half a million workers walked out on Wednesday in the country’s largest coordinated strike in more than a decade.

About 300,000 of the striking employees are educators, and they were joined by civil servants, railroad workers, university professors, London bus drivers, museum workers, and border officials, among others, with 59% of Britons telling YouGov in a recent poll that they supported the walkout.

The strong support comes even as an estimated 85% of schools across the U.K. were closed on Wednesday. Students and parents stood on picket lines alongside teachers, whose wages have not kept up with inflation and who are struggling to teach in schools where per-pupil spending for the 2024-25 school year is now expected to be 3% lower than it was in 2010.

MEMO: Spain, Morocco sign 20 agreements, ‘consolidate new era of mutual trust’

Monthly Review: Danish lecturer got sacked after not conforming on the war in Ukraine

MEMO: Norway withdraws permission for Quran burning after Turkiye’s warning

East Asia and Oceania

TeleSUR: China Adds Sites to Wetlands of International Importance List

Monthly Review: In the face of censorship, Indian students organize screenings of BBC documentary on PM Modi

Released last week, the two-part documentary traces the political trajectory of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, including his association with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a far-right Hindu nationalist organization, his rise through the now ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and, crucially, his response to the 2002 anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat as the State’s chief minister. The riots that took place in Gujarat 21 years ago saw the killing of more than 1,000 people over three days (according to official reports), an overwhelming majority of whom were Muslim. Another 2,500 people were injured.

Climate Change News: India announces $4.3 billion investment in clean energy

RT: India and Russia should build oil tankers – diplomat

People’s Daily: Bangladesh raises electricity prices to ease subsidy burden

People’s Daily: S. Korea, U.S. stage joint air drills amid DPRK warning

People’s Daily: WWII sex slavery victims in Philippines urge Japan to recognize war crimes

Central Asia and the Middle East

MEMO: Israel to discuss discrediting degrees awarded by Palestinian universities


TeleSUR: African Leaders Urge Ending AIDS in Children by 2030

Africa News: African countries lack ‘immediate access’ to cholera vaccine

Africa’s public health agency says countries with deadly cholera outbreaks on the continent have no “immediate access” to vaccines amid a global supply shortage.

Common Dreams: ‘People Are Dying’: Nearly 14,000 Nigerians Sue Shell Over Devastating Oil Spills

More than 13,650 Nigerians have filed claims against Shell for years of unremedied oil spills that are causing ecological destruction, disease, and death.

MEMO: Egypt holds talks with France about Renaissance Dam, Sahel and Sahara

People’s Daily: 3 dead, 32 wounded in Egypt’s hospital fire

MEMO: Algeria, Russia agree to enhance global energy cooperation

Africa News: Zimbabwe approves ‘draconian’ law targeting civil society

Zimbabwe’s upper house of parliament has approved legislation that critics say will gag civil society groups, placing them under the threat of harsh sanctions and strict government control.

Climate Change News: Coal communities fear South Africa’s clean energy transition

Almost 80% of the more than 80,000 residents working in Ermelo are employed by Eskom and Transnet, the state-owned energy and transport companies

North America

TeleSUR: US Fed Hikes Rates for First Time in New Year

The central bank hiked rates by a quarter percentage point, marking the eighth time the Fed has raised rates since it began tightening in March last year.

People’s Daily: U.S. consumer confidence drops in January as possible recession looms

WSWS: COVID-19 is a leading cause of death in children in the US, study finds

By analyzing death certificates of children and young people in the United States between August 1, 2021 and July 31, 2022, researchers found that COVID-19 ranked “eighth among all causes of death, fifth in disease-related causes of death (excluding unintentional injuries, suicide and assault), and first in deaths caused by infectious or respiratory disease.”

StatNews: Eye drops linked to U.S. drug-resistant bacteria outbreak

U.S. health officials are advising people to stop using over-the-counter eye drops that have been linked to an outbreak of drug-resistant infections.

StatNews: Survey: A majority of Americans support banning all tobacco products

The survey, which was published Thursday in the peer-reviewed journal Preventing Chronic Disease, asked 6,455 people nationwide: “To what extent would you support a policy to prohibit the sale of all tobacco products?” A little over 57% of respondents said they would support such a policy.

Canadian Dimension: New book shows why Indigenous leadership must be at the heart of Canada’s just transition

South America

Climate Change News: France seeks EU loophole for French Guiana to power space sector with biofuels

Local lawmakers argue the dispensation is necessary to protect French Guiana’s forestry sector and accelerate its energy transition. But campaigners have warned the exemption risks setting an incentive for increased logging in Europe’s corner of the Amazon forest.

RT: The battle for lithium: China plants its shovel in the US’ back yard

TeleSUR: Rainfall Deficit Causes Major Drop in Lake Titicaca’s Level

“Lake Titicaca is being affected in its water level by global warming and climate change due to low rainfall directly from the main tributary rivers and evaporation of its waters,” said Ana Luz Mendoza, Senamhi forecaster.

According to the official, if the lack of rainfall persists, water levels will continue to fall in the world’s highest navigable lake, at almost 4 000 meters above sea level.

TeleSUR: The Game Goes On: Peru’s President Seeks Elections in October

Common Dreams: Brazil Set to Sink ‘Toxic’ Aircraft Carrier at Sea Despite Environmental Concerns

The former flagship of Brazil’s navy—an ex-French aircraft carrier built in the late 1950s that environmentalists estimate contains hundreds of tons of highly carcinogenic chemicals—will be scuttled at sea after being denied permission to be scrapped in Turkey, Brazilian naval officials said on Wednesday.

The Ukraine Proxy Conflict

RT: Mozart Group training Ukrainian troops has ‘ended’ – founder

People’s Daily: Ukrainian defense minister meets French president on Kiev’s defense needs

RT: Putin issues warning to West at Stalingrad event

“Unbelievable, but true – we are once again threatened with German Leopard tanks, with crosses on their hull. And once again seeking to battle Russia in Ukraine with the help of Hitler’s followers, the Banderites,” Putin said.

“Those seeking to defeat Russia on the battlefield apparently do not realize that a modern war with Russia would be entirely different for them. We’re not sending our tanks to their borders. Yet we have something to respond with, and it would not be limited to armor use only, everyone must realize that,” he added.

RT: Russian foreign minister warns about ‘next Ukraine’

On Thursday, Russia’s RIA Novosti and Rossiya 24 media outlets published an interview with Lavrov. He was asked which country, in his opinion, could go down the same path as Ukraine and become an “anti-Russia.”

The foreign minister responded by claiming the West was “currently considering Moldova for this role.” He said the country had been chosen primarily because the West succeeded in installing “through some very peculiar methods, far from free and democratic [ones],” a pliant president at the helm there.


Retrospectives, History, Theory, and Technology

MEMO: TikTok: China’s modern-day application of ‘The Art of War’

I went into this article very curious about how they draw comparisons between an overcited millenia-old document and TikTok, and unfortunately and expectedly, the answer is “very badly”. The main stab of the argument is that TikTok is information warfare against the West by the Chinese government to make your kids have blue hair and do dance challenges instead of doing better things, and this is why, or at least part of the reason why global power is shifting eastwards. I, like any reasonable person, would argue that the conditions that the ruling elite imposes upon its own citizenry is much more important than what a single non-enforced app can do, and that just the myriad of problems of being the average young person living in the West, with poverty and social atomization and underfunded schools and lack of opportunities and a soul-crushing education and employment system is quite enough to “weaken” young people without China needing to brainwash them into doing dances. That being said, the fact that China itself doesn’t allow TikTok and instead has Douyin is perhaps noteworthy, but I don’t know enough about either platform to say anything with any expertise.

It is widely known that there are dual versions of the platform, TikTok for global consumption and the domestic, government-censored Chinese equivalent, Douyin. There is also a noticeable disparity in terms of algorithm-driven content on two apps. Several observations have been made how the Chinese version promotes moral, uplifting and positive content for its mostly-young users, in contrast to what the rest of the world’s children are exposed to, which includes promoting lip-synching, dancing and “challenges”, some of which have proven dangerous if not fatal. The Chinese version also has a “Youth Mode”, whereby children under the age of 14 are limited to using the app to 40 minutes a day between the hours of 6am and 10pm.

And what Joe Rogan has to say about it, who I’m sure only has the very best of intentions for the United States and the people living inside it:

US podcaster Joe Rogan for example has previously noted how Douyin was “better” than the US version: “China’s version of TikTok celebrates academic achievements and athletic achievements. It’s all science projects. All these different fascinating things.”

In contrast, he noted how in the US “Kids are f**king dancing. They’re screaming about veganism and how blue their hair is. It’s wild.”

Valdai Club: ‘He Who Controls the Discourse Organises the World.’ How China Resists the Information Hegemony of the West

It is in China that the concepts of “discourse” and “discourse system” are included in the reports of the country’s leadership — they were voiced at the recent 20th Congress of the ruling Communist Party. Perhaps nowhere else in the world do they pay such attention to these concepts, writes Valdai Club expert Ivan Zuenko.

Michael Roberts: Central banks: boom or slump?

The IMF is now predicting no slump this year and raised its growth forecasts (slightly). It now reckons global growth in 2023 will be 2.9% from a previous forecast of 2.7%, but that’s still well below the 3.4% the IMF estimated for 2022. And the new forecast for 2023 is really based on a pick-up in growth in China and India, with two countries providing more than 50% of global expansion this year. The major capitalist economies are not expected to manage more than 1% or so.

Nevertheless, the IMF chief economist pushed out the boat of optimism. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, IMF chief economist, said 2023 “could well represent a turning point”, with economic conditions improving in subsequent years. “We are well away from any [sign of] global recession,” Gourinchas said, striking a sharp contrast with remarks by managing director Kristalina Georgieva last month that recession would hit more than a third of the global economy.

The Left and the Right

Jacobin: US Voting Patterns Are Shifting. But It’s Not Simply “Class Dealignment.”

I, and many of us, tend to simply cut through this issue by saying that both parties are 95% the same; that is, entirely in support of the bourgeoisie and therefore unable to make meaningful change for the betterment of most people. But for those who wanna dig deeper into the voting patterns of Americans and how they’re changing, if only to better understand the circus while laughing at it, this is some food for thought.

It’s not that partisan voting patterns are becoming decoupled from class — it’s that a complicated new set of alignments, rooted in the social and occupational structures of a postindustrial economy, is emerging in the United States.

There’s a lot more to this article than this, but I think this is basically the core argument being made:

In a key 2019 study on realignments in white partisan support, Kitschelt and Rehm describe the US electorate in terms of income (low vs. high) and education (low vs. high) and model their interaction. The dramatic expansion of higher education, they contend, has disrupted the traditional New Deal alignment and shaped the political demands of four main groups: low-education/low-income, low-education/high-income, high-education/low-income, and high-education/high-income.

The main conclusion of the article is that the two parties’ core constituencies during the New Deal order (low-education/low-income voters for the Democrats, high-education/high-income voters for the GOP) have become swing groups, while the former swing groups (high-education/low-income for the Democrats, low-education/high-income for the GOP) have become the core.

Lower-education voters of all income levels are shifting toward the Republicans at different speeds, while lower-income voters are split. Lower-income voters with higher levels of educational attainment are strengthening their identification with the Democrats, while those with both lower income and fewer credentials — particularly but not exclusively among white voters — can be swayed to vote for the Right depending on a candidate’s electoral appeal. Trump won a significant amount of support from low-education, low-income white voters in 2016, they contend, not just because of his reactionary views on governance and citizenship, but because he was widely perceived as not a typical Republican on economic policy issues.

There is no going back to alignments that shaped the politics of industrial capitalism. Political conflict today is not organized around a relatively coherent working class on the Left against a relatively coherent bourgeois bloc on the Right. Besides, even in its halcyon days, the socialist left stood as “the champion of all the exploited and oppressed,” in the words of the old Erfurt Program — not just its industrial working class base. Noneconomic issues are simply too salient for too many people to be sidestepped or downplayed, and these are often related to questions of economic policy and redistribution in various ways.

Oesch and political scientist Line Rennwald argue in a 2018 paper that contemporary political conflict is shaped by class voting in a “tripolar” political space divided between the Left, center-right, and radical right. It continues to pit the traditional left and right against each other on economic policy, but at the same time, it pits the radical right against social democrats and conservatives on governance and citizenship questions. The radical right challenges the Left for votes from the working class, and the mainstream right for votes from small business owners and adjacent groups.

Inside the Imperial Core

People’s Daily: Chaos, distrust, frustration – Three years on, Britain still troubled by Brexit crisis

Outside the Imperial Core

Naked Capitalism: Is the Unstoppable Force of Mexico’s GMO Ban About to Meet the Unmovable Object of US Big Ag Lobbies?

Mexico’s government recently unveiled plans to impose a temporary 50% export tax on white corn, a staple food in the country, which will remain in effect until at least June 30. Mexico is fully self-sufficient in white corn but depends on the US for much of its supply of yellow corn. The government said the move was necessary to guarantee supply and price stability of the staple, but it almost certainly also forms part of the government’s broader campaign to reduce Mexico’s dependence on US imports of GMO food, in particular corn.

Needless to say, the move did not go down well with the US government, which is threatening to sue Mexico’s government over its plans to phase out all imports of GMO crops, including corn, by the end of January 2024. Those plans were first set out in a presidential decree issued by Andrés Manuel López Obrador (aka AMLO) on Dec 31, 2020. The decree also pledges to prohibit use of the “probably” carcinogenic weedkiller glyphosate — the herbicide that commonly accompanies many GMO crops. The cultivation of GMO crops is already banned in Mexico.

Open Democracy: Death and solidarity in the ‘graveyard’ at the Belarus-Poland border

Polish border guards reported that there were more than 15,000 attempted border-crossings from Belarus last year, and more than 40,000 in 2021. At least 34 deaths have been documented along the Polish-Belarusian border since August 2021, though the real death toll is likely to be much higher and may never be known, with some bodies likely scavenged by animals before being discovered.

Among those attempting to make the crossing are Yemenis, fleeing what the UN has described as “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis”.

Climate Change

Open Democracy: How climate justice and police violence are inextricably linked

Inside Climate News: What Lego—Yes, Lego—Can Teach Us About Avoiding Energy Project Boondoggles

He uses the analogy of Lego, the construction toys, to explain modularity. In short, if a big project can be broken down into modular units like Lego pieces, then a project manager has a decent chance of finishing on time and on budget. If not, then headaches are ahead.

“It turns out that humans are actually very bad at getting things right the first time. This is just not what we are made for,” Flyvbjerg said, speaking in a video call from Oxford. “Our sort of learning system is designed for trial and error.”

Flyvbjerg’s project database includes just about every kind of power plant and related infrastructure. He found that solar power projects were the leader—not just among energy projects, but all projects—in terms of avoiding cost overruns. Electricity transmission lines are second best, followed by wind power projects. Fossil fuel power plants also do well in terms of coming in close to their budgets, falling just behind wind power projects.

Meanwhile, he found that nuclear power plants and hydroelectric dams are both prone to going wildly over budget. Nuclear’s lack of modularity is one of the reasons that so many projects turn into financial disasters. Each nuclear plant is its own complicated thing, and because of safety concerns, everything needs to be close to perfect right away.

Of all the anti-nuclear arguments, “humans just aren’t good at making complex things like that work” is definitely one of the funnier ones. Somebody should let China know that; they have 53 online and over 20 being built.

Common Dreams: Bitcoin miner ‘greenwashing’: Claims that nuclear-powered crypto operation is clean energy

Oh god.