Common Dreams: Seymour Hersh Report Alleges US Was Behind Nord Stream Pipeline Sabotage

The Biden White House adamantly denied the veteran investigative journalist’s reporting, calling it “complete fiction.”

Maybe you should stop boasting about blowing up the pipeline then? Just saying. “Man, are WE glad that this pipeline that we’ve hated for years underwent spontaneous combustion. Bring out the champagne!"

Naked Capitalism: Russia’s Budget Deficit Jumps Amid Plunging Oil Revenues

Russia’s budget woes in part result from its adherence to Jean-Baptiste Colbert’s principle:

The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing.

Since the Russian economy contracted only slightly more than 2% in 2022 and even the IMF projects marginal growth for 2023, this fall in tax revenue is strictly a function of how Russia chooses to tax, since federal receipt have fallen far more than any GDP contraction.

Russia has opted to tax oil and gas companies heavily, making them the long-standing main source of federal revenues in Russia.

Russia also taxes individual incomes and businesses, but rates are low by US standards. Russia is fiscally orthodox and seeks to run a balanced budget. Note that per the Financial Times, receipts from other sources in aggregate fell too:

The drop in oil and gas revenue was accompanied by a 28 per cent fall in other revenue to Rbs931bn, the finance ministry said, ascribing this to a decline in VAT and corporate tax takings.

Russia did borrow in 2022 but the government claimed it did not have difficulty in raising funds.

It is not clear whether this January result will lead Russia to rethink its budget approach. Some of the decline is likely due to stockpiling in advance of rate caps and other restrictions being imposed (the oil price cap went into effect January 5 and the cap on petroleum products, on February 5). But the shortfall may be sustained, particularly if Chinese growth is in fits and starts.

Russia has suddenly gone from a weak currency country to a strong one. Even then, Russia is racking up current account surpluses, due both sanctions-produced restrictions on imports versus the prices of many of its exports remaining elevated. So Russia unlike many countries with large budget deficits, Russia is not constrained by a weak currency or lack of foreign exchange reserves. It has the room to net spend more than it seems inclined to (Putin seems allergic to budget deficits of more than 2% to 3%). Note additionally, despite the posture of the hard money times, government spending that increases productive capacity (such as for infrastructure) pays for itself in terms of GDP growth (ex potentially timing issues with when the spending takes place v. when the new resources come on line). None other that Larry Summers pointed out that the GDP impact could be as high as 3 times the spending. particularly since a lot of that spending is going to increase productive capacity, as in arms-making and import substitution. Putin has pointed out that the states collectively run a surplus. So we’ll see what if anything Russia does next. Patriotic savings bonds, anyone?

People’s Daily: Putin proposes revising Russia’s strategy for scientific, technological development

People’s Daily: Moscow rejects U.S. claims on Russia’s failure to comply with New START

People’s Daily: Nurses in Britain walk out over payment amid strained medical services

Jacobin: France’s Left-Wing Coalition Risks Splitting Apart

Climate Change News: Switzerland won’t follow EU out of controversial energy treaty: official

East Asia and Oceania

MEE: Philippines limits recruitment of workers to Kuwait after abuse and murder case

People’s Daily: Sri Lankan president confident about recovery from bankruptcy

MEMO: Iran to supply China with 15,000 drones, official says

TeleSUR: China’s Consumption Recovers at Accelerated Pace

China’s consumption has been recovering quickly, with some sectors almost returning to their pre-pandemic levels. The vigorous rebound has prompted central and local governments to introduce more policies, which experts believe will build on the growth momentum and unleash further consumption potential.

WSWS: Thousands displaced by New Zealand floods

The extent of the devastation caused by unprecedented flooding in Auckland is becoming clearer. New Zealand’s largest city experienced about three months’ worth of rain on January 27 and more torrential rainfall in subsequent days. Dozens of suburbs were inundated, along with parts of the surrounding regions.

Central Asia and the Middle East

MEMO: Labour MP claims Dome of the Rock is part of Israel

Climate Change News: UN budget cuts hindered response to Pakistan’s extreme floods

Geopolitical Economy: Illegal US sanctions blocking aid to Syria, after earthquake killed thousands

MEE: Turkey-Syria earthquake: Hope for survivors fades as death toll passes 20,000

MEMO: ‘Impact area of earthquakes in Turkiye is twice total area of Lebanon’: Geologist

MEMO: Turkiye quakes not just one of country’s largest but also world’s, says seismologist

Speaking to Anadolu, seismologist Harold Tobin said the two earthquakes centred in the province of Kahramanmaras were “really very large”, not only some of the largest in Turkiye, but also “on a global scale, some of the largest earthquakes in populated regions that we’ve seen, even in the past century or longer.”

Tobin underlined that earthquakes are caused by the motions of tectonic plates, with Turkiye’s landmass “squeezed” between the North Anatolian and the East Anatolian faults, or dividing fractures between plates where they are “stuck together”.

“So, what happens is the fault is stuck and held together by friction, just like when you try to push a heavy piece of furniture, you know, at first it resists, it doesn’t move. That builds up the strain in the Earth’s crust,” he said.

“And then when the earthquake happens, it releases all of that in one minute or something like that.”

Monday’s earthquakes, which were the result of accumulated strain from hundreds of years of plate tectonic motion as Africa moves northward and Arabia pushes into the east, caused the Anatolian plate to shift a total of about three meters (roughly 9.8 feet).

MEMO: Earthquake hits Palestine, with its epicentre in Nablus

The Middle East region is witnessing aftershocks, following the devastating earthquake that hit Turkiye and Syria at dawn on Monday, which has claimed the lives of more than 7,800 people so far.


Africa News: ‘Millet is the new maize’ as food insecurity piles pressure

Africa News: Burkina, Guinea, Mali: A new axis on the continent?

MEMO: Morocco mulls raising retirement age to 65

MEMO: Egypt opens 4,000-year-old tomb on Luxor West Bank, oldest open to the public

MEE: Sudan: All roads lead to Khartoum as Russia, Israel and West vie in game of thrones

MEE: Russian foreign minister blasts western powers and defends Wagner Group in Sudan

Africa News: Lack of jobs responsible more for violent extremism in sub-Saharan Africa - UNDP

Essentially a repeat of a similar article from Wednesday.

A quarter of volunteer recruits cited a lack of job opportunities as their primary reason for joining, an increase of 92% from the findings of a similar 2017 study.

“In many countries, where income and job opportunities are lacking, desperation drives people to take opportunities from anyone,” UNDP boss Achim Steiner noted at a press conference.

Just under a quarter (22%) said they wanted to join family or friends.

Religion was the third reason for joining, cited by 17% of people, down from 57% in 2017. Some 40% of those surveyed cited religion as a key factor then.

In addition, nearly half of those surveyed cited a specific triggering event pushing them to join these groups with nearly three-quarters (71%) citing human rights violations, often committed by state security forces, as their “tipping point.”

Africa News: South Africa: industrial giants threaten energy transition (NGO)

Africa News: South Africa battles with water crisis

North America

TeleSUR: US Natural Gas Production in 2023 Forecast To Hit Record High

People’s Daily: With virus threat easing, U.S. hospitals still as full as ever: media

People’s Daily: Institutional racism dampens neighborhood walkability of populations of color in U.S. – study

Circle of Blue: New U.S. Climate Law Could Make Midwest Water Contamination Worse

Common Dreams: US Lawmakers Reintroduce Bill to End Authorizations for ‘Horrific Forever Wars’

Six U.S. lawmakers introduced legislation Thursday to terminate a pair of longstanding authorizations for past wars on Iraq, reviving an ongoing effort to reaffirm Congress' role in deciding whether to approve the use of military force.

This will achieve literally nothing even if it passes.

Responsible Statecraft: Gaetz introduces ‘Ukraine Fatigue’ resolution

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) introduced the “Ukraine Fatigue” Resolution on Thursday, continuing a recent push among a subset of Republican lawmakers who want to change course in Washington’s support for Ukraine. The resolution states that “the United States must end its military and financial aid to Ukraine, and urges all combatants to reach a peace agreement.”

Common Dreams: ‘Stop Union-Busting’: After 1,000+ Days Without Contract, NBC News Workers Walk Out

After working more than 1,000 days without a contract, more than 200 unionized NBC NewsDigitalworkers on Thursday launched a 24-hour walkout to protest the media giant’s ongoing “unfair labor practices,” including the recent firing of seven union journalists.

South America

MEMO: Panama to allow Iran naval vessels to sail through Panama Canal, despite US opposition

TeleSUR: Chile Has Over 300 Active Forest Fires

TeleSUR: Peru: National Strike Becomes Stronger With Over 200 Unions

Monthly Review: Resistance is continual in Nicaragua

TeleSUR: Nicaraguan Assembly Deports 222 Traitors to the Homeland

The Ukraine Proxy Conflict

WSWS: Ukraine’s Zelensky visits London, Paris to push for NATO fighter planes

AntiWar: So Much for Sanctions on Russia

Yellen boasted that “We have isolated Russia financially. The ruble has been in a free fall. The Russian stock market is closed. Russia has been effectively shut out of the international financial system.” Not one of those boasts turned out to be true.

It should not be surprising that the sanctions on Russia failed either to force a regime change or a change in the regime’s plans. Years of US led sanctions have not brought about their desired effects in Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, Iran, Syria or Russia.

Naked Capitalism: Elite Splits Over Ukraine Shed a Tiny Bit of Light on Factions


Retrospectives, History, Theory, and Technology

Current Affairs: How The Financial Industry’s ‘White Wall’ Maintains the Racial Wealth Gap

New York Times reporter Emily Flitter explains the workings of systemic racism in finance.

Monthly Review: Facebook protects Nazis to protect Ukraine proxy war

Jacobin: Even When Times Are Tough, Keep Socialism as Your North Star

Achieving a fully socialist society is going to take a long time, and there’s no guarantee of victory. But we should never lose sight of the goal, because every step we take in that direction makes life better for working-class people and deepens democracy.

Inside the Imperial Core

Valdai Club: Turkey’s Relations with Sweden: The Puzzle of NATO’s Expansion

The process of Sweden and Finland acceding to NATO membership is not over yet. But recent developments show that a delay is inevitable due to tense relations between Turkey and Sweden, writes Hasan Selim Özertem, Ankara-based political analyst.

Outside the Imperial Core

Anti War: How the Media Ignores Yemen

Despite the severity of the war, the press has covered extraordinarily little of the war. Between 2015 and 2019, the media only covered about ninety-two minutes of the ongoing war. Based on the atrocities, this is shockingly low. It is especially low when the media chose to cover the false Russian election meddling. MSNBC even went an entire year without mentioning the conflict.

With this in hand, you might be asking yourself, why isn’t the media covering this? The reasoning for this is because the United States would be seen as bad guys.

Climate Change

Circle of Blue: The Stream, February 8, 2023: Climate Change, Neglected Infrastructure Worsen Water Insecurity in Kenya

Common Dreams: Petra Nova: Carbon Capture Failure Returns?

Bloomberg is reporting that the overhyped carbon capture project known as Petra Nova may be coming back online. The Texas facility, touted as the ‘world’s largest carbon capture’ project, closed in 2020, after repeated failures.

“Petra Nova was the perfect illustration of the problems with so-called carbon capture: It was costly, wildly overhyped, and ultimately failed to produce meaningful results. Even if it worked as designed, it removed a portion of the carbon pollution at a coal plant, and then re-purposed that carbon to extract more oil out of the ground. This is not successful climate action, it is literally a lifeline for the fossil fuel industry.

Naked Capitalism: Carbon Capture Project Is ‘Band-Aid’ to Greenwash $10 Billion LNG Plant, Locals Say

Common Dreams: ‘No Time to Waste’: Alarm as Antarctic Ice Hits Lowest January Level Ever Recorded