CLAIRE BERLINSKI, PARIS
?❄️ Weekend reader: Welcome, Air Conditioner!
Claire—I write to you from the arctic chill of my bedroom, now graced with an unbelievably noisy air conditioner and two massive fans suitable for conversion to wind turbines. To my surprise, they work. I’m overjoyed to report that my bedroom is now chilled to the temperature of icy lemon sorbet.
I was sure at least one of these contraptions would arrive missing a critical part or with utterly inscrutable instructions that defied my ability to follow them. But no—alles in Ordnung! Though I didn’t realize the AC would sound like a 747 taking off. But that’s okay. For that price, something had to be wrong with it, and I’m just glad it wasn’t its ability to make the air colder.
Oddly, my cats insist upon remaining in the other room, the one I thought too hot for mammalian survival. They took one glance at the AC and fled, clearly persuaded the purpose of the device was to grind their bones into fine powder. Perhaps it’s because it’s a cheapo rig that sounds like their sworn enemy, the vacuum cleaner. Or perhaps it’s because the fans are powerful enough to blow them clean off their paws. Either way, I assume that if they’re not eager to be in the cool room, they’re probably in no danger of overheating.
I know it’s fashionable these days to lament the flood of cheap Chinese consumer goods that’s destroying the West’s manufacturing base and with it democracy itself, but feeling this fresh breeze on my skin, I say: worth it.
? Russia, Ukraine seal grain deal in Istanbul. Russian and Ukrainian delegations signed a landmark agreement with Turkey and the United Nations to unblock Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports:
The deal agreed through UN and Turkish mediation establishes safe corridors along which Ukrainian ships can come in and out of three designated Black Sea ports in and around Odessa. And both sides also pledged not to attack ships on the way in or out.
… news of the deal earlier drew skepticism from Ukrainian farmers under pressure in the war-battered south where storage facilities are rapidly filling and local prices for grain tanking. “It gives some hope but you can’t believe what the Russians say,” said Mykola Zaverukha, a farmer with some 13,000 tons of grain waiting for export.
Claire—Unfortunately, I’m with the Ukrainian farmer. I just don’t believe anything the Russians say. The famine weapon is too valuable for them to relinquish so readily. I expect this agreement to blow up. I’d love to be wrong.
? UPDATE: Explosions rock Odessa, raising doubts about grain deal:
A Ukrainian official said that Russian strikes had caused ten explosions in Odessa on Saturday, one day after the warring sides agreed to a deal to help transport millions of tons of grain out of that port and others on the Black Sea.
Claire—That was faster than even I thought.
- Wheat faces moment of truth as harvests arrive
- Mined ports, red tape, and Russia risk stop Ukraine grain
- Ukraine farm industry has lost US$4.3 billion from war damage
- Race against food inflation starts on rusty Soviet rail tracks
- Russia is winning from the global food crisis it helped create
What if the war in Ukraine spins out of control? How to prepare for unintended escalation:
There is no silver bullet for avoiding a wider war. Talks, negotiations, and diplomacy will not do the trick. Putin can be restrained only by the application of force, and the application of force is never without risks. The first step toward a good long-term policy is to recognize the novelty of this moment: a major war likely to last for years, festering at the heart of an international system drawing closer to anarchy. Educated to follow the rules of a liberal international order, allied policymakers and diplomats must now learn to navigate the absence of order.
“HIMARS have already made a HUUUGE difference on the battlefield,” tweeted Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov on July 9. “More of them as well as [US] ammo & equipment will increase our strength and help to demilitarize the terrorist state,” he wrote, referring to Russia.
Contrary to its propagandistic bravado, the Russian military has appeared helpless—or at least very vulnerable—to the dozen or so US-provided HIMARS striking the very essence of Russia’s military advantage over Ukraine, becoming an important factor in the war. And as the latest month of hostilities demonstrates, there’s little Russia can do about it. Its own systemic flaws, outdated tactics, lack of initiative, and previous failures in the war leave it few chances to confront the American weapons now in Ukrainian hands.
HIMARS at work:
⚰️ As Ukraine pounds Russian targets, US sends more artillery. More than 100 “high-value” military targets have been hit:
Ukraine’s strike campaign has put new strains on Russian forces that already have suffered at least 15,000 military fatalities since invading Ukraine in February, and are suffering hundreds more dead and wounded each day, according to Western estimates. Among those combat losses are thousands of lieutenants and captains, hundreds of colonels, and “many” generals. …
Ukraine already has struck more than 100 “high-value” Russian military targets, including command posts, ammunition depots, air-defense sites, radar and communication nodes, and long-range artillery positions … While Russia continues to launch thousands of artillery rounds per day, the official said, Moscow “can’t keep it up forever” and has now committed 85 percent of its army to the war in Ukraine and left other parts of Russia without military forces.
Zelensky: no ceasefire without recovering land lost to Russia. He warned that a ceasefire that allows Russia to keep Ukrainian territories seized since the invasion in February would only encourage an even wider conflict.
- Russian missiles strike military airfield in central Ukraine
- Two US citizens killed fighting for Ukraine
- “No matter what happens in politics, ties with the UK will only strengthen,” says Zelensky
- “Heavy fighting” continues in Kherson
Truce. A Novaya correspondent imbeds with the separatists, describing the artillery duel with the airport looks like and what the surviving residents of the destroyed Ilovaisk say. (In Russian.)
? Actually, the Russian economy is imploding. Nine myths about the effects of sanctions and business retreats, debunked. (May be paywalled depending how many articles you’ve read.)
Far from being ineffective or disappointing, as many have argued, international sanctions and voluntary business retreats have exerted a devastating effect over Russia’s economy. The deteriorating economy has served as a powerful if underappreciated complement to the deteriorating political landscape facing Putin.
That these misunderstandings persist is not entirely surprising given the lack of available economic data. In fact, many of the excessively sanguine Russian economic analyses, forecasts, and projections that have proliferated in recent months share a crucial methodological flaw: These analyses draw most, if not all, of their underlying evidence from periodic economic releases by the Russian government itself.
??? Russian targets NATO in new hacking campaign. The espionage campaign appears to be conducted by Moscow’s foreign intelligence service, the group responsible for the 2020 SolarWinds attack:
The hacking attempts have included phishing emails containing an agenda for an upcoming meeting with an ambassador as a lure, and were sent to several Western and NATO diplomatic missions between May and June of this year.
Russia’s entire strategy aims to give Moscow escalation dominance throughout all stages of a crisis by winning rapidly and simultaneously making nuclear threats to deter, inhibit and intimidate NATO or the US from replying. By deploying sufficient forces to theaters at risk like Poland and the Baltics, we negate Russia’s strategy and foreclose the option of a rapid conventional victory that permits Moscow to make all manner of nuclear threats. … Since we cannot presume Russian rationality as what we understand it to be, we must make our conventional and nuclear deterrence so credible that nobody, including Putin, can fail to understand that we mean business.
?? Draghi’s fall reverberates beyond Italy. The downfall of Italy’s prime minister has raised concerns across Europe about the power of populist movements and whether they will erode unity against Russian aggression:
Mr. Draghi’s downfall already amounts to the toppling of the establishment that populist forces across Europe dream of. It has now raised concerns, far transcending Italy, of just how much resilience the movements retain on the continent, and of what damage an Italian government more sympathetic to Russia and less committed to the European Union could do to the cohesion of the West as it faces perhaps its greatest combination of security and economic challenges since the Cold War.
?? Berlusconi’s big lunch: How Italy’s right ousted Mario Draghi. A marathon meeting at Silvio Berlusconi’s luxury villa set Italy on course for a snap election.
?? France’s perilous political deadlock. The center is flailing as the far-right gains strength:
… for contemporary France, the situation is exceptional and, indeed, dangerous. Volatile parliamentary regimes have paralyzed France in the past, and so over the last six-and-a-half decades, the country has worked to build political institutions in which elections yield clear winners. But after a long stretch of strong leadership, divided parliaments are back.
This comes at an inopportune moment. France faces a war in Ukraine, the threat of climate change, and rising illiberalism across Europe. It needs a government capable of steering the state through a turbulent era. Instead, it has a legislature that is united solely in its opposition to the president—and where the far right has unprecedented sway.
After ten days of waiting to see if Russia would resume gas supplies through the Nord Stream pipeline, the main route of gas transport from Russia to Germany, following scheduled maintenance and fears among European leaders that gas flows would be cut indefinitely, Russian natural gas began flowing on July 21, although at a reduced volume. The resumed gas flows are only back to the 40 percent capacity Russia cut them to in mid-June.
??? Southern rebellion threatens to sink EU gas rationing plan. Brussels doesn’t have the votes to pass sweeping emergency powers:
[M]inisters in Poland, Portugal, Spain, Cyprus and Greece have already emphatically said “no” to the proposed power grab and binding gas consumption reductions, while three EU diplomats confirmed there are currently not enough votes to pass the new rules. Approval requires a qualified majority—15 countries representing 65 percent of the bloc’s population. Individual vetoes are not allowed under the controversial emergency procedure.
Hungary has taken a step further, announcing it has no intention of letting any gas leave its borders beginning next month. Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó actually boarded a flight to Moscow on Thursday in a bid to buy more Russian supplies while it’s still possible. EU energy ministers are set to discuss the proposal and looming winter gas crisis when they meet next Tuesday, but by that point, the Commission’s proposal could already be a lost cause. For once, that means Germany may not get its way.
(I suspect the days of Germany always getting its way are now over—Claire)
Moldova on Friday denied Russian Foreign Ministry complaints that it is sabotaging the rotation of Russian troops in breakaway Transnistria and not letting Russia bring modern weaponry to its forces in the region. “Our country rejects the accusations launched [by Russia], with the explicit mention that cases of non-authorized entry of certain Russian servicemen are related to [Russian] non-compliance with the criteria established in the mechanism.”
??????✈︎ Russian and Israeli planes hit Syria in separate strikes. At least ten people were killed:
Airstrikes have become a tragic norm for Syrians living in the area: Young children who grew up in the decade-long war are able to identify planes and the level of impact their strike will have.
???? Israel assesses Nasrallah’s next move amid escalation on northern border. Jerusalem is concerned that internal pressures in Lebanon on Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah could translate into more violence against Israel:
Israel is trying to understand his real intentions. “He has been a little unclear recently,” a senior Israeli security source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “It seems that he is losing his cool and credibility. He has embarrassed himself at least twice in recent weeks. Once, when he posted a video of the Karish gas rig that was aired on Israeli TV and claimed it showed footage from his drones, and again when he boasted of having brought down an Israeli UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle], a claim vehemently denied by the IDF. This is not the Nasrallah we know.”
Prices of basic supplies including food are skyrocketing, partially as a result of the crisis in Ukraine, said UNICEF. … “Funding for humanitarian operations is fast dwindling UNICEF has received less than half of its funding requirements for this year.” UNICEF called for US$20 million to fund “cross-border operations” in northwest Syria—the country’s last major rebel enclave—to create “the only lifeline for nearly one million children.”
??? Syrians who were displaced from Hajar al-Aswad area of Damascus in the past years were shocked to see Chinese film crews standing on the rubble of their homes to shoot a new film by Jackie Chan.
???? Iraqis furious with Turks over shelling of a tourist resort in Iraqi Kurdistan’s Dahuk region:
Iraq said it would be taking its case to the UN Security Council, even as Turkey denied involvement in the artillery attack on a tourist resort in Iraqi Kurdistan’s Dahuk region and called for a joint investigation. Victims included a 1-year-old girl and a newly married man who had traveled there with his bride for their honeymoon. The Council on National Security told the Foreign Ministry to recall its chargé d’affaires in Ankara for consultations and to hold off sending a new ambassador.
Several Iraqi tourism companies said they were launching a boycott on Turkey, while the Iraqi government advised its citizens not to travel there. Protests continued outside the Turkish visa center in Baghdad today following demonstrations in the Shiite holy cities of Najaf and Karbala and in the southern city of Nasiriyah the night before.
?? The important counter-narrative on Biden’s Middle East trip. Critics are missing the significance of the Saudi reset, deterring Iran, Yemen’s ceasefire, food security, OPEC+, and Palestinian Gulf ties, and Iraqi energy security:
Much critical commentary has been focused, wrongly, on Biden returning “empty-handed” from his trip to Saudi Arabia. Worse, he was criticized for appearing to backtrack from his previous comment that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was a “pariah” because of US intelligence’s assessment of his role in the death of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in 2018. The Biden trip to Saudi Arabia was both necessary and impactful, furthering US diplomacy and deterrence in the region, for at least seven reasons, probably more.
?? A warning from the top US Air Force general in the Middle East. Iran-backed militias could resume attacks in the region against the US and its allies:
Iran tested a satellite-carrying rocket last month, prompting the White House to threaten more sanctions on Tehran to prevent it from accelerating its advanced ballistic missile program. And last week, as President Joe Biden toured the region, Iran unveiled armed drones on its warships in the Persian Gulf. Tehran has rapidly grown its stockpile of near-weapons-grade nuclear fuel in recent months, spreading fears about an escalation. It also has spun more advanced centrifuges prohibited under the landmark atomic accord, which former President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018. “Everyone in the region is very concerned,” Grynkewich said.
The attackers may not have achieved their objective, but they succeeded in demonstrating their ability to strike at the seat of Malian power. Their target was the Soundiata-Keïta base in Kati, a garrison town 15 km from Bamako that is both Mali’s main military base and the residence of its current president, Colonel Assimi Goïta, as well as its powerful defense minister, Colonel Sadio Camara. The attack was carried out by “terrorists from the Katiba Macina [Macina Liberation Front]” at dawn on Friday, July 22, “with two booby-trapped vehicles packed with explosives,” according to a statement issued in the early afternoon by the Malian Armed Forces headquarters, adding: “seven attackers [were] neutralized.” The death toll for the Malian army was later updated to one person, with at least six injured.
Northern Kenya has not seen a drop of rain in three years. In this dusty desert, there are only wild berries to eat. … The Horn of Africa is experiencing its worst drought in 40 years. At least 18 million people are facing extreme hunger. Hunger affects four million people in Kenya, which is in the midst of an election campaign before a high-stakes presidential election on August 9. In the northern desert regions, nearly 950,000 children under the age of five and 134,000 pregnant and lactating women are acutely malnourished, according to official figures from June. …
Already hit by the coronavirus pandemic, East Africa’s largest economy will see its recovery hampered by drought, compounded by the impact of the war in Ukraine, the World Bank warned last month. Yet drought is barely on the candidates’ agenda, overshadowed by the problems of living costs.
Standard theories of global progress continue to be largely limited to raw extraction. The business of producing things for others in faraway markets, in other words, has taken strong precedence over producing palpable improvements in the lives of ordinary people, and the trickle down is scant. Meanwhile, 65 years after Ghana became independent, precious little of what it produces gets transformed locally beyond its raw state, whether it is the bauxite that the country’s first leader, Kwame Nkrumah, had dreamed of processing into aluminum or the cocoa that goes into the chocolate devoured in ever-increasing quantities in the rich world.
?? US embassies in Africa are chronically short-staffed. Hollowed-out posts could leave the United States playing catch up to China and Russia:
For the State Department, the staffing shortages have stretched thin diplomats who are already overworked, reflective of a wider staffing problem as the department struggles to overcome the aftershocks of a Trump-era hiring freeze. “It’s having a significant effect,” said one exasperated senior State Department official, who was not authorized to speak on record. “We just don’t have enough people for all of the tasks we need to do and the tasks Washington needs us to.”
The fighting erupted in the Ain Zara neighborhood [of Tripoli] amid rising political tensions. The clashes involved two armed groups with major clout in the west of the country: the Al-Radaa force and the Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade. Although fighting between armed groups is frequent this is the first time in years that there are civilian victims.
??? Libya resumes crude oil exports after three-months hiatus. The resumption came after the country restarted production at oil fields following the firing of the chairman of the state-run oil corporation by one of the country’s rival governments.
?? Gunmen attack villages, kill 17 including five police officers in northwest Nigeria. Forests in the northwestern part of the country have proven hideouts for criminals locally known as bandits who attack, kill, kidnap villagers and steal livestock.
[M]ultiple officials and experts I spoke with were quick to stress something often overlooked in the West: that Russia is now pursuing a concerted strategy to build influence on the continent. Moscow, they say, is present in Africa in a much more serious and sustained fashion than is generally understood either in Europe or in the US. Recent years have seen it expand its presence throughout the continent through the establishment of new military basing arrangements, the deployment of irregular forces (most conspicuously those of the Wagner mercenary group) to regional conflicts in Mozambique, Mali, the Central African Republic, and Libya, and stepped-up arms sales to a number of the continent’s regimes.
(Readers of the Cosmopolitan Globalist will not be as surprised by this as the author seems to be.)
A group of independent UN human rights experts have condemned reports of escalating violence targeting foreign nationals in South Africa, and called for accountability against rising xenophobia, racism and hate speech aimed at migrants, refugees, asylum seekers—and even citizens perceived as outsiders—throughout the country.
It was unfamiliar terrain for the Russian leader who has developed a reputation for keeping world leaders waiting, on purpose, sometimes for hours after scheduled talks were due to begin. Some speculated it may have been payback for a 2020 meeting in Moscow that saw Erdoğan wait so long to enter the meeting room that he took a seat.
??? How China built the world’s largest surveillance network: A review of Surveillance State:
… Chin and Lin smartly give a broader context to surveillance in China immediately afterwards—firstly in current-day Xinjiang, and the astonishing degree to which the Uyghur population is monitored (and how absurd are the actions that count as infractions), and how entire cities are divided into grids for monitoring; and subsequently, a broader look at China’s history, mostly through the remarkable figure of Qián Xuésēn 钱学森.
Qian was a professor of jet propulsion who emerged as the father of China’s cybernetics industries, on which state surveillance is largely based. Qian wrote, “Sociologists, economists, political scientists, geologists, psychologists—experts in all fields—should be trained in systems science, armed with data, and enlisted in the building of models sophisticated enough to predict and optimize the complexities of societal change.” Once change could be predicted, preemptive action could be taken, and the contingent would disappear, giving the perfect harmony of communism.
?? China’s image is undermining its strategic goals. From Europe and North America to the Global South, trust in Beijing has rapidly deteriorated:
The scale of China’s negative public image today is staggering. A 2021 Pew study of public in seventeen different countries, including the United States, found that “unfavorable views of China are … at or near historic highs. Large majorities in most of the advanced economies surveyed have broadly negative views of China.” There is no one reason for China’s plummeting global image. It stems from a combination of poor diplomacy, the increasing use of economic coercion, its failing soft power efforts, and its growing ties to Russia, among other factors.
???? A discussion with the Chinese ambassador to the US, at the Aspen Security Forum, moderated by Edward Luce:
In one of the most critical recent arms deals in the Pacific, the US State Department has approved a US$235 million sale of 80 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile—Extended Range missiles to Australia. … China’s perceived rising risk to Australia’s strategic security likely figured heavily in Australia’s calculus to acquire long-range strike capabilities.
Undoubtedly, Pakistan, too, has a shambling economy, now going from bad to worse in the wake of political uncertainty. There is gross unemployment, while the inflation rate has skyrocketed. … Like Sri Lanka, Pakistan has welcomed Chinese investments to support its ailing economy. This is why some analysts argue that heavy Chinese investments in Pakistan pushed the country to the brink of economic collapse. But that narrative is an exaggeration: Most of Pakistan’s problems, especially its economic problems, are the creation of its own mismanagement, lack of planning, political uncertainty, and, above all, the deteriorating relations with neighboring countries that have had traditionally good relations with Pakistan.
In early June 2022, a team led by JP Singh, the Joint Secretary heading the Pakistan–Afghanistan–Iran desk at the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, visited Kabul and met with senior Taliban ministers. … New Delhi moved quickly to assert itself as a significant stakeholder in Afghanistan after the fall of the Ghani government. While India gives off the impression it is playing a lone hand, it is actually acting in close coordination with the United States on the basis of shared interests.
[T]o concentrate on only the past five years would be a fundamental error. The Sri Lankan economic crisis cannot be attributed to governmental undertakings and blunders across the past few years alone. It behooves us to reach for structural explanations. Macro risk factors, such as a 26-year-long civil war, the persistence of terrorism and violent incursions by fringe groups, public skepticism toward competitiveness-oriented privatization, and a cultural predisposition against FDI and raised taxes, have all engendered what we term “systemic fragilities” within Sri Lanka, awaiting triggers that would ignite the flashpoints.
?? Marcos Jr faces economic mission impossible. Philippine leader lacks a coherent plan to simultaneously spur fast growth, rein in debt and contain surging inflation:
Already reeling from Covid-caused economic dislocation, the poorer sections of Philippine society have been hit particularly hard by the uptick in prices of basic commodities. Last year, almost a quarter of the country’s population (23.7 percent) lived below the poverty line, while millions of others grapple with underemployment and malnutrition. … The Marcos Jr administration has promised to respond with expanded subsidies and tighter monetary policy but these measures could undermine the government’s goals of achieving high economic growth as well as worsen the government’s mounting budget deficit and debt levels.
South Korea’s demographic history, like its economic development, has been nothing short of extraordinary. When the nation exited the Korean War in 1953, it had a largely rural population and a TFR above 6. In the decades that followed, rapid growth and urbanization were matched by family planning policies, launched in the 1960s, but accelerating in the 70s and 80s, aimed at reducing birth rates. Fertility collapsed—leading to concerns over the potential social and economic repercussions. By the early 2000s, policymakers had dramatically reversed course, favoring a host of pro-natalist policies. But there is no evidence that these are working, and demographic trends look increasingly bleak.
???? UN court says Rohingya genocide case may proceed. It paves the way for hearings examining Myanmar’s culpability:
The case is only the third of its kind in UN history and marks the first international reckoning with Myanmar’s alleged atrocities, which include indiscriminate killings, torture and mass rape. The International Court of Justice’s decision coincides with deepening instability in Myanmar.
… If the history surveyed in this report provides an accurate guide to the future, the fate of the United States in today’s rivalries will not be determined solely, or even in significant degree, by the numbers of its weapons or amounts of defense spending or how many proxy wars it wins but by the basic characteristics of its society. The author applies the seven leading characteristics that affect national standing to the United States to create a snapshot of where the country stands. That application provides some reason for optimism. The United States continues to reflect many of these characteristics, and the overall synergistic engine, more than any other large country in the world. However, multiple trends are working to weaken traditional U.S. advantages. Several, such as the corruption of the national information space, pose acute risks to the long-term dynamism and competitiveness of the nation, raising the worrying prospect that the United States has begun to display classic patterns of a major power on the far side of its dynamic and vital curve.
Until his capture last week, the 69-year-old Caro Quintero was the Drug Enforcement Administration’s most wanted man, accused of killing DEA agent Kiki Camarena in 1985 and then resuming a drug trafficking career after a technicality got him released from a Mexican prison in 2013. Publicly, both countries have presented his apprehension as a hard-fought victory in the war against drug trafficking and impunity. But the quest to arrest Caro Quintero was in fact one of the most nettlesome US objectives in Mexico for nearly a decade, a wedge between the two nations that seemed to never go away.
Tactical teams from Rio de Janeiro’s civil and military police raided the Alemao complex to take down an alleged criminal organization accused of theft, robbery and planning incursions. One bystander died during the raid, along with one police officer and 16 alleged criminals. The state public defender’s office said there were signs of human rights violations carried out during the raid.
⛈ Battered by climate change, Latin America must brace for worse. Floods, heat waves and the longest drought in 1,000 years: Latin America is grappling with devastating climate change impacts that will only get worse, a World Meteorological Organization report warned. … “The report shows that hydrometeorological hazards, including droughts, heatwaves, cold waves, tropical cyclones and floods, have unfortunately led to the loss of hundreds of lives, severe damages to crop production and infrastructure and human displacement,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
- Mega-drought, glacier melt, and deforestation plague Latin America and the Caribbean
- State of the climate in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Ever greater numbers of vulnerable people are risking their lives on dangerous migration routes in Latin America, forced to move by the global food security crisis that’s been made worse by spiraling inflation linked to the war in Ukraine, the UN World Food Program said. …
The dramatic deterioration in people’s daily lives has given them little option but to leave their communities and head north, even if it means risking their lives, the WFP official explained. Communities of particular concern include Haitian migrants who travelled during the Covid19 pandemic in search of work and shelter in Brazil and Chile. “All of you are watching caravans, caravans of migrants moving, and before we used to talk about migration happening from the north of Central America, but now, unfortunately, we talk about migration being hemispheric. We have the whole continent on the move.”
South American countries are bracing for an autumn of discontent, as spiking global fuel prices threaten to provoke more protests in the upcoming months. Rising fuel prices have already brought about protests in Argentina, Ecuador and Panama. Their neighbors could be particularly susceptible to rising prices at the pump, because the region lacks alternative means of transportation, such as railways and waterways that are more common in Europe and North America—and guzzle less fuel.
? How to ensure food security for Latin America. This global crisis demands immediate short-and long-term responses, but governments must resist implementing trade restrictions that harm people and farmers:
When a global food price crisis like this occurs, policymakers come under pressure to limit further domestic food price rises or to increase the availability of food supplies, for example by changing agriculture trade measures on food imports or exports. These measures almost never work. They usually do more harm than good by disrupting the price signals needed to make food markets work efficiently. Policymakers must ensure that regional and international agricultural and food markets remain open, so that trade keeps flowing and farmers receive the right incentives to produce more for the next harvest.
(NB WigWag: This is what the World Bank actually recommends to farmers in developing countries. Read the whole thing. You won’t find so much as a hint of the suggestion that they do without fertilizer. Quite to the contrary.)
The 21st century marked the beginning of the rise of the Latin American left to power. The first was Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, who came to power with his Socialism of the 21st Century primer. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Brazil, with the portentous support of the working class, ordinary citizens, and the Brazilian intellectual bourgeoisie; Evo Morales in Bolivia, Rafael Correa in Ecuador, and Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández in Argentina were part of the first wave.
Now a new cycle is beginning with the rise to power of the candidate of the Historical Pact, Gustavo Petro, in Colombia, who presented a progressive program to the electorate. In 2021 Chile elected Gabriel Boric, who flies the flag of the left; in the same year, Xiomara Castro in Honduras and Peru, Pedro Castillo, and in 2018 in Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the center-left tendency was elected. Everything seems to indicate that Lula da Silva will return to the presidency in Brazil. The left will govern more than 487 million inhabitants out of approximately 640 million people.
“Of the 31 countries covered by the U.S. Southern Command, 21 have already signed the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, and this is very worrying”, said the SOUTHCOM commander … According to Gen. Richardson, China has already invested close to US$100 billion in the region between 2017 and 2021. “China is playing chess, while Russia is playing checkers. I think they’re there to undermine America, they’re there to undermine democracies,” she said. …
“We can’t just think of these threats from top to bottom [external state actors like China and Russia], but also from bottom to top [transnational crime organizations and the illicit economy]. There are not only state actors coming in, but also local realities that are coming up, and it’s putting democracy in the Western Hemisphere at risk. Criminal economies are becoming more and more powerful and are being connected to politicians, media, and even international trade,” said Juan Carlos Pinzón, Colombian ambassador to the United States and a key-speaker at the Concordia Summit. “Money laundering is going on. We’re not using enough resources and capabilities to confront this.”
An investigation by the Israeli spy agency found that Hezbollah had set up a cell to conduct the attacks and rejected suspicions that Argentines or Iranian officials in Buenos Aires had been involved.
The global economy looks increasingly likely to be heading into a serious slowdown, just as central banks aggressively reverse ultra-loose monetary policy adopted during the pandemic to support growth, data showed. In the eurozone, business activity contracted this month for the first time in well over a year while in Britain growth was at an 11-month low.
⛽️ The energy crisis is global. It’s not just Europe and the United States—eye-watering prices are wreaking havoc around the world. (May be paywalled depending how many articles you’ve read.)
From Ecuador to South Africa, fuel shortages and blackouts have plunged import-dependent countries into economic turmoil, leaving desperate governments scrambling for workaround solutions. In Sri Lanka, which was already buckling under mounting crises, acute shortages and dayslong lines have forced authorities to issue work-from-home orders. Pakistan has resorted to shortening its work week to relieve pressure from lengthy power cuts, while Panama has been rocked by demonstrations over surging prices.
◼️ Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is fueling coal’s return. As the war drags on, coal’s resurgence is putting climate goals at risk:
This month, the German government cleared plans to reactivate decommissioned coal-fired power plants. Austria is about to reopen a plant that has been shut since 2020. The government in France said it is “reserving the option” to do the same this winter, while the Netherlands has lifted a cap on the amount of energy that can be produced by coal-fired facilities. Over in Britain, the government is looking at the possibility of delaying the closure of some coal-based plants. On the other side of the world, Colombia is stepping up coal production and has resumed exports to Ireland, which had halted imports from the Andean country in 2016 because of human rights concerns. Australian and South African coal producers have seen a jump in demand from international buyers. US coal exports, meanwhile, are set to reach a three-year high this year.
✍?By the Cosmopolitan Globalists
?⛴ Vladislav Davidzon wrote about the urgent necessity of opening Ukraine’s sea routes. It will be difficult, he argues, but it must be done. Keep this in mind since the Istanbul deal is going to fail:
A new proposal made by the British Parliament’s Defence Committee chair, Tobias Ellwood, could change the calculous for the West. Ellwood, who met with the military governor of the Odesa region as well as Ukrainian Naval Commander Oleksiy Neizhpapa earlier this week, proposes the passage of a United Nations General Assembly resolution to open up the shipping of grain by essentially removing the city from military affairs. An international armada as well as support vessels to escort international cargo containers would be assembled under the auspices of the UN and would provide safe passage for international cargo shipping.
?☄️ Robert Zubrin, Steven Benner, and Jan Špaček explain how to search for life on Mars:
The search for life ought to be the great passion animating Mars exploration. But it has not been a goal for NASA. In fact, NASA’s public relations department frequently claims that the agency’s Mars exploration program is meant to “seek signs of life.” They say this because they know that it is what the public is—rightly—interested in. Unfortunately, the claim just isn’t true. NASA’s Mars robotic exploration program is actually focused on geological research, while its planned human Mars exploration program—inasmuch as it exists at all—is not being designed to properly support scientific exploration of any kind.
? From Denis MacShane, The serpent versus the opportunist: Britain’s next prime minister.
?The Daily Bat
?The CCP is simply concerned for you
The news that US President Joe Biden has tested positive for Covid19 has drawn global attention and led to a range of reactions in the US, including increasing concerns over Biden’s health, questions on whether the president can perform his duties, and criticism targeting the media’s different response to former president Donald Trump’s positive diagnosis, which analysts said showcased the US’ total failure in dealing with the pandemic and the fracturing of society, as well as the fierce battle between the two parties. …
Biden’s infection after many senior officials and politicians testing positive once again showcased the US’ total failure in dealing with the pandemic since there is no other country in the world that has seen so many infections among the people and the high-level officials, Lü Xiang, research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.
… Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday sent a message of sympathy to Biden and wished him a speedy recovery.
Today’s animal: The royal flycatcher
Claire Berlinski is the editor of the Cosmopolitan Globalist.