WSWS: Deepening debt and currency crises hit poorer countries

This is more of an overview of how shit has hit the fan, rather than drawing on some new report or something like that, but it’s still a good overview.


Al Mayadeen: Europe bank shares sink on concerns over US sector, Deutsche down 10%

Climate Change News: EU agrees diplomatic push for fossil fuel phase out ahead of Cop28

Jacobin: Greece’s Tragic Rail Accident Was Caused by Austerity and Privatization

Last week, two trains collided in central Greece, claiming 57 lives. Unions had long warned that cuts to the now-privatized rail network would cause a severe accident, but neither the government nor the country’s corporate media heeded the calls.

TeleSUR: Train Crash Protests Still Going Strong in Greece

On Wednesday, over 30,000 protesters hit the streets of Athens as unions called a 24-hour national strike to protest a tragic train accident, which took place on March 1, when college students were returning from their holidays.

MEMO: Turkiye, Greece agree to develop good neighbourly agenda

TeleSUR: The French Senate Increases the Retirement Age to 64 Years

Article 7 of the pension reform proposed by President Emmanuel Macron was approved with 201 votes in favor, 115 votes against, and 29 abstentions. This happened after a debate that lasted more than 15 hours.

During that time, leftist lawmakers filed hundreds of amendments to prevent the approval of the increase in the minimum retirement age. However, the benches of the right-wing parties resorted to an exceptional device that allowed them to bypass those amendments.

Monthly Review: Truckers slow down traffic across France ahead of Tuesday strike

East Asia and Oceania

TeleSUR: Putin Congratulates Xi on Election as Chinese President

Global Times: Kazakh president may visit China twice in 2023: ambassador

WSWS: Australian “youth barometer” survey highlights growing poverty, precariousness

Central Asia and the Middle East

The Cradle: An Egyptian plan for Syria: ‘Arab forces’ on the border and Iran out

The news is that there is now an Arab reconciliation plan on the table, based on a “truncated” initiative that Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry carried with him to Damascus. The Cradle was briefed on the outlines of this plan, which proposes restoring relations between Syria and Arab states to pre-2011 levels, returning Syria to the League of Arab States, and negotiating the deployment of joint “Arab forces” on the Syrian-Iraqi border.

In the shadows of this initiative, the UAE – West Asia’s main driver of normalization with Israel – is trying to advance its own “secret clause;” prodding Syria and Israel into peace talks for the first time since their collapse in 2010. It’s a far-fetched goal, to be sure: Israel bombs Syria weekly, for starters.

MEE: Iran and Saudi Arabia agree to restore relations

Facilitated by China, btw.

People’s Daily: Russia, Saudi Arabia agree to strengthen ties

MEE: Iranian press review: Iran and Taliban deepen alliance

Iran has opened a business centre and permanent trade fair in Afghanistan’s capital city, Kabul, in order to develop commercial ties between the two neighbouring countries, Iran’s embassy in Afghanistan said on Sunday.

People’s Daily: Feature: Severe water scarcity worries Istanbulites amid driest season in decades

“Our data show we are experiencing the driest period of the last 22 years,” Ismail Aydin, head of the Department of Water and Wastewater Technologies of ISKOM, told Xinhua in the coordination room while checking the latest data on giant digital screens.

He said the water levels in all seven dams in the city are experiencing drastic decreases, adding the water reservoirs are only at 35 percent of their capacity.

MEE: UAE security chief takes helm of Abu Dhabi’s $700bn wealth fund

MEMO: Lebanon banks to resume strikes

MEE: US Senate committee votes to repeal Iraq war authorisation

“This is about ending endless wars and reasserting Congress’ Constitutional role in matters of war, peace, and diplomacy,” Kaine said on Twitter.

“But no worries for our poor, hungry, desperate military industrial complex CEOs - we will continue to start new forever wars in entirely new regions."

In December 2021, the Biden administration announced an end to the US combat mission in Iraq, but rather than withdrawing the 2,500 American troops from the country, Washington said they would be transitioning to an “advise and assist” mission.


Africa News: Tunisian president dissolves municipal councils months before elections

MEE: Egypt: Inflation soars above 30 percent in February

MEMO: Egypt withdraws from UN grain treaty prompting sadness and concern

Africa News: Uganda: Reaction following French court ruling in favor of TotalEnergies

A French court on had dismissed a landmark case against TotalEnergies for a massive oil project in Uganda and Tanzania after several NGOs filed a suit to suspend the controversial project.

The $10-billion oilfields and pipeline project has been hailed by supporters as an economic boon for Uganda and Tanzania, where many live in poverty, but is strongly opposed by environmentalists.

Africa News: Zimbabwe’s tobacco output on the rise

Africa News: UN Security Council renews sanctions against Sudan for one year

The UN Security Council voted Wednesday to renew for a year the sanctions regime that has hit Sudan since 2005 and the Darfur conflict, but Russia and China abstained.

Al Mayadeen: Cyclone that appeared over month ago set to hit Mozambique again

Freddy is 34 days old today, which makes it the record holder for the longest-lasting tropical cyclone.

Common Dreams: South African Parliament Votes to Downgrade Embassy Over Israeli Crimes in Palestine

North America

Circle of Blue: Tax Incentives Find New Purpose for Conserving Water in American West

Inside Climate News: Landowners Fear Injection of Fracking Waste Threatens Aquifers in West Texas

People’s Daily: U.S. railroad says “deeply sorry” for impact of Ohio train derailment, as residents demand more action

“uh oh! it was a fucky wucky. a widdle fucko boingo! we’re doing basically nothing to fix this!"

Al Mayadeen: US bans Russian uranium imports, seeks energy independence

According to media reports, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan supply the United States with half of all uranium used in the country. At the same time, there is an agreement between the Kremlin and the White House, according to which 20% of exports go to Moscow.

Common Dreams: As Hunger Surges and Medicaid Cliff Looms, Biden Readies Record Pentagon Budget

As tens of millions of people across the United States face food benefit cuts and the potential loss of health insurance in the coming weeks, President Joe Biden is reportedly finalizing a fiscal year 2024 budget that would hand the Pentagon more than $835 billion—including $170 billion for weapons procurement.

Common Dreams: Norfolk Southern CEO Refuses to Commit to Giving Workers 7 Paid Sick Days, Halting Stock Buybacks

StatNews: Insulin for $20 a vial? Sanders pushes bill for price caps on the diabetes treatment

StatNews: With an $11 billion price tag, the White House pitches a plan to end hepatitis C

Inside Climate News: One State Generates Much, Much More Renewable Energy Than Any Other—and It’s Not California

Now let’s zoom out one more time to include all carbon-free electricity sources, which includes renewables and nuclear. The leader, again, is Texas, with 180,145 gigawatt-hours, followed by Illinois with 124,055 gigawatt-hours, most of it from nuclear.

The country got 39.7 percent of its electricity from carbon-free sources last year, which was the sum of 21.5 percent from renewables and 18.2 percent from nuclear..

South America

TeleSUR: Cuba To Host Third Round of Colombian Govt.-ELN Peace Talks

TeleSUR: Peru’s Council Of Ministers Suspends State of Emergency In Lima

Monthly Review: An army of women is building Venezuela’s housing revolution

Commodified housing, shantytowns, evictions and homelessness are worldwide realities and no matter how hard corporate media tries to ignore it, this is one of the most glaring horrors of capitalism.

In contrast, Venezuela’s Great Housing Mission (GMVV) has built over 4,4 million houses for working-class families since 2011, after revolutionary leader Hugo Chávez declared access to land and adequate housing to be human rights and the foundation for a dignified life.

The War Against The West

TeleSUR: Lavrov Slams West’s Reaction to Nord Stream Explosions

“Attempts to explain, with reference to some Western intelligence services, that a certain Ukrainian oligarch was behind these explosions, I think, are shameful,” Lavrov told a press conference Thursday.

TeleSUR: EUMAM To Train Over 11 000 Ukrainian Soldiers This Month

The wording suggests that this will be the grand total of all Ukrainian soldiers trained by the end of this month, not the number of soldiers trained this month necessarily. And this number will be 30,000 by the end of this year, assuming Ukraine still exists.

WSWS: Australian corporate papers call for war with China, nuclear weapons and mass conscription

Monthly Review: Australian Media are outright telling us they are feeding us war propaganda about China

Australians are uniquely susceptible to propaganda because we have the most concentrated media ownership in the western world, dominated by a powerful duopoly of Nine Entertainment and the Murdoch-owned News Corp. Both of those media megacorporations have recently put out appalling propaganda pieces about the need for Australians to rapidly prepare to go to war with China in defense of Taiwan, and in both of those instances have straightforwardly told their audiences that there’s an urgent need to effect a psychological change in the way all Australians think about this war.

Monthly Review: With us or against us’ fails in Munich and Bengaluru as U.S. tries ‘offer they can’t refuse’

“You can’t be neutral” in NATO’s proxy war with Russia, foreign ministers of the U.S., Germany and Ukraine told leaders of Global South countries at the Munich Security Conference on February 18. “Neutrality is not an option,” said Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, “because then you are standing on the side of the aggressor.” In January Baerbock told the Council of Europe,

French President Macron said at Munich “I am struck by how much we are losing the trust of the Global South.” Macron’s “we” refers to the NATO countries, especially the G7. He added that “The west has been losing the Global South and hasn’t done enough to respond to the charge of double standards, including by not helping poor countries fast enough with Covid vaccines.” U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris observed glumly that “many countries sit on the fence.”


Retrospectives, History, Theory, and Technology

Current Affairs: How Deregulation Created a Corporate Media Nightmare

In this excerpt from ‘The New Power Elite,’ sociologist Heather Gautney explains how the consolidation of media into a few powerful corporations is a key part of the neoliberal project to co-opt this pillar of social and political engagement.

Naked Capitalism: How Does JK Galbraith’s The New Industrial State Hold Up After 6 Decades?

Yves here. It is striking, as Steve Keen describes long-form below, how much the economics profession manages to unlearn, mainly for the purpose of defending capitalist interests. It’s remarkable how John Galbraith’s The New Industrial State, a widely praised best-seller in its day, is seldom mentioned today, even though, as Keen describes, many of its observations have held true. One reason is that Galbraith was an institutionalist. Institutionalist is out of fashion, because among other things, it considers power dynamics.

Inside the Imperial Core

Naked Capitalism: The Financial Times’ Martin Wolf Worries About Europe’s Future but Oddly Not the US’

Monthly Review: Why a special party conference on the peace issue should ensure a new beginning for the German Left Party

The executive committee of the Left Party is trying hard to make it clear to citizens that this party is not needed. At a moment when 575,000 people had signed a “Manifesto for Peace” and the first real large-scale demonstration against the course of supporting the war in Ukraine with ever new deliveries of weapons is being prepared, the board was incapable of clear mobilization for this demonstration. The party’s federal executive director explained the refusal to clearly support this demonstration as follows: “Specifically, we lack the clear demarcation to the right in the call, which namely currently leads to the fact that well-known Nazis and right-wing organizations support this call and massively mobilize for the demonstration on 25 February at Berlin”. Instead of contributing to the fact that the broad social and political left dominates this demonstration–with many red flags and with forces of order, which according to the guidelines of the initiators Alice Schwarzer and Sahra Wagenknecht prevent the display of right-wing extremist symbols–abstinence is proclaimed and dispersion into many small, largely ineffective actions is recommended.

While the mood in society is finally tilting, more and more people are realizing that the killing must come to an end through immediate ceasefire, negotiations, compromises based on recognition of the opposing interests that led to this terrible war in the center of Eastern Europe–exactly at this moment, the Left Executive Committee shifts the focus to a side issue: how to prevent even a single right-wing extremist from coming near the Brandenburg Gate on this day. That is simply impossible. In this way, one works into the hands of those who want to destroy the movement against the course of war and rearmament. Up to now, every voice calling for negotiations to take center stage has been branded as “Putin-understanding”; now it is being moved close to the extreme right, and the leadership of the left is going along with it.

Monthly Review: U.S. shoots itself in the foot in Africa

The U.S. can’t seem to understand that the rest of the world, including Africa, doesn’t like to be pushed around. African nations’ refusal to reinforce U.S. foreign policy in the UN General Assembly is a case in point. During the Assembly’s February 16 vote on a resolution “deploring” Russia’s action in Ukraine, nearly half the nations who abstained were African, 15 of the 32, although only 54 of the UN’s 193 member nations are African. Those abstaining were Algeria, Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

Outside the Imperial Core

Global Times: China’s focus on high quality devt offers opportunity, vitality to the world

As China embarks on a new journey of building itself into a great modern socialist country in all respects, its high-quality development including emphasis on green development and more balanced development between costal regions and hinterland, will be a boon to world economy and global companies, according to deputies and members at the two sessions.

Shang Zenghai, a deputy to the 14th National People’s Congress and chief engineer of Chinese construction equipment giant XCMG, said his company is playing its due part in promoting Chinese modernization by pushing forward the high-quality development of the manufacturing industry.

China-made construction machinery has been found in an increasing number of new global landmarks, from the largest new-energy project in Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Lusail Stadium in Qatar to the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway, Shang told the Global Times.

People’s Daily: China as the unwavering force of stability in an uncertain world

Is this Chinese communist propaganda? Yes. Is it also correct? Yes.

Valdai Club: Does China Have a Foreign Policy Ideology?

Evaluating the logic of Beijing’s actions through the prism of Western models and concepts is, at the very least, unconstructive. China quite consciously did not accept the hegemony of Western discourse in international relations and is trying to build its own discourse, which is in discord with the status quo in the West, writes Valdai Club expert Ivan Zuenko.

The Cradle: Will Pakistan defy US sanctions to complete ‘Peace Pipeline’ with Iran?

According to the terms of the IP-GSPA (Gas Sales Purchase Agreement) signed between Iran and Pakistan, each country was obligated to construct the portion of the pipeline on its own territory, and the first flow of Iranian gas to Pakistan was to start January 1, 2015. The agreement stipulated Pakistan would pay Iran $1 million per day in exchange for 750 million cubic feet of gas daily, with a contract lasting 25 years.

Iran completed its portion of the pipeline in 2011, however, Pakistan has failed to construct its portion, largely due to difficulties caused by US economic sanctions imposed on Iran for the country’s alleged nuclear weapons program. US sanctions block Pakistan from purchasing Iranian gas, and this geopolitical risk has made Pakistani banks unwilling to finance the project.

Because of US foreign policy pritiorites, therefore, Pakistan continues to rely on more expensive liquified natural gas (LNG) to meet its burgeoning energy needs, which has greatly limited Pakistani economic growth and exposed the country to crises during periods of volatile LNG price spikes.

Valdai Club: African Migration to Russia: What Changes to Prepare for?

The policy regarding the integration and adaptation of migrants in the Russian Federation lacks a comprehensive nature, which is most clearly noticeable in relation to African migrants, as they are very different from migrants from the countries of the post-Soviet space. This necessitates the modernisation of this component of Russian migration policy, writes Valdai Club expert Dmitry Poletaev.

Climate Change

Climate Change News: Vulnerable nations set up alliance to prepare loss and damage action plans

Nepal, Bangladesh, Senegal, Malawi, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Tonga and Vanuatu are exploring setting up national facilities to channel resources for climate disasters response and disburse money where it is most needed.

I Love My Trans Comrades!

Open Democracy: A pro-LGBTIQ court ruling in Kenya sparks hope despite a fierce backlash

StatNews: Study of trans men suggests that androgen hormone therapy can lower breast cancer risk

hen transgender men transition, their risk for breast cancer tends to plummet and look more like the breast cancer risk for cisgender men, excluding those with high-risk mutations like BRCA1 or BRCA2. Many researchers thought the main reason for this was probably breast removal during chest reconstruction surgery, but recent research suggests that the androgens during hormone replacement therapy may also play a crucial role in reshaping transgender men’s breast cancer risk.

That’s hinted to researchers that androgens, the male sex hormones, might offer new paths to develop powerful therapies to treat or prevent breast cancer.