The Only Way to End Economic Hardship in Cuba Is to Lift the US Blockade

Francisco Dominguez

Tribune | July 17, 2021

In an evidently well-coordinated action, on 11 July 2021, groups of opponents of the government staged demonstrations in several Cuban cities, notably Havana. Within seconds of the event the world’s mainstream media, including, of course, the media in the UK, were in full swing magnifying the event.

Such social outburst is an unusual event in Cuba and even more surprising were the intensity and violence deployed by the protestors (vandalism, aggression against officials, attacks on public buildings), reminiscent of similar protests in Venezuela in 2014 and 2017 and Nicaragua in the coup attempt of July 2018.

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Many interesting developments in Russia

The Saker | July 22, 2021

The Sukhoi Su-75

The past week has been quite intense in Russia – lots of interesting developments took place, and today I will mention three:

  1. Putin wrote a very interesting essay on the history of Russia and the Ukraine, which he followed up with a very interesting interview.
  2. Russia just concluded final tests for truly formidable weapons systems like the S-500 and the Mach 8 hypersonic missile Zircon.
  3. In its yearly aviation salon MAKS, Russia has just presented a 5th generation, single engine light multi-functional fighter the Su-75 “Checkmate” (shown here)

These are all truly huge developments for Russia which we need to look into separately.

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Economic recovery in Venezuela

Pasqualina Curcio

Últimas Noticias | July 12, 2021

To forecast the economic recovery in Venezuela, or in any country in the world, it is necessary, first, to know what the causes of the fall in national production have been. Between 2013 and 2020, the gross domestic product has registered an abysmal decrease of 73%, that is, we are producing around a quarter of what was produced 7 years ago. 

Like all economic, social and political phenomena, the causes are usually multiple, however, among all of them there are always some that have more weight. In this case there are two: 1) the fall in oil exports; 2) the attack on the bolivar. Recovering national production necessarily involves reversing these two factors or, at least, their effects.  

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Greenland Goes Green: No More New Oil and Gas Exploration

A Journal of People report

Greenland will no more go for new oil and gas exploration. Greenland government puts an end to new oil and gas exploration.

A CBS News report said:

“Greenland has suspended all new oil and gas exploration, the country’s government announced Thursday. Government officials said they believe the ‘price of oil extraction is too high,’ citing both economic considerations and the fight against climate change.

“‘This step has been taken for the sake of our nature, for the sake of our fisheries, for the sake of our tourism industry, and to focus our business on sustainable potentials,’ the government, called Naalakkersuisut, said in a statement.”

A report by The Weather Network (Greenland government puts an end to new oil and gas exploration, July 22, 2021) said:

“The Greenlandic government, Naalakkersuisut, has announced that the country will no longer issue new licenses for oil and gas exploration. A draft-bill was also issued to ban the preliminary investigation, exploration, and extraction of uranium.

“A study from The Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) estimates that there are DKK 18 billion (approximately $3 million USD) de-risked barrels of oil on the west coast of Greenland as well as “large deposits” of oil underneath the ocean floor off the country’s east coast.

“However, the announcement that came on July 19 states that there are several reasons why future oil extraction will not be permitted.

“‘The Greenlandic government believes that the price of oil extraction is too high. This is based upon economic calculations, but considerations of the impact on climate and the environment also play a central role in the decision,’ the announcement states.

“‘Against this background, Naalakkersuisut has decided to cease issuing new licenses for oil and gas exploration in Greenland. This step has been taken for the sake of our nature, for the sake of our fisheries, for the sake of our tourism industry, and to focus our business on sustainable potentials.’”

The report said:

“Scientists say that Greenland and other regions in the Arctic are amongst the fastest warming places on the planet. A study (Niklas Boers and Martin Rypdal, “Critical slowing down suggests that the western Greenland Ice Sheet is close to a tipping point”) published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) states that the central-western part of the Greenland Ice Sheet could ‘undergo a critical transition relatively soon’ and that the entire island could be ice-free by the year 3000.

“In addition to the concerning rate of disappearing ice, other impacts from the thawing landscape include rising levels of mercury in meltwater and drastic changes in biodiversity.

“‘Naalakkersuisut takes climate change seriously. We can see the consequences in our country every day, and we are ready to contribute to global solutions to counter climate change. Naalakkersuisut is working to attract new investments for the large hydropower potential that we cannot exploit ourselves. The decision to stop new exploration for oil will contribute to place Greenland as the country where sustainable investments are taken seriously,’ stated Kalistat Lund, the Minister for Agriculture, Self-sufficiency, Energy and Environment.”

Greenland has four active exploration licenses, owned by two small companies, that the government will still be required to respect as long as licensees are still exploring, The Associated Press reported.

The Greenland government also announced that it has sent out a draft bill for consultation that would ban preliminary investigation, exploration and extraction of uranium.

Uranium, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is a widely-used radioactive element that is now primarily used as fuel for nuclear energy. There are several ways to extract uranium, but all of them, according to the EPA, produce radioactive waste.

“The Greenlandic population has based its livelihood on the country’s natural resources for centuries, and the ban on uranium mining is rooted in a profound belief that business activities must take nature and the environment into account,” Naalakkersuisut said in a statement.

The study report “Critical slowing down suggests that the western Greenland Ice Sheet is close to a tipping point” said:

“The Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) is a potentially unstable component of the Earth system and may exhibit a critical transition under ongoing global warming. Mass reductions of the GrIS have substantial impacts on global sea level and the speed of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, due to the additional freshwater caused by increased meltwater runoff into the northern Atlantic. The stability of the GrIS depends crucially on the positive melt-elevation feedback (MEF), by which melt rates increase as the overall ice sheet height decreases under rising temperatures. Melting rates across Greenland have accelerated nonlinearly in recent decades, and models predict a critical temperature threshold beyond which the current ice sheet state is not maintainable. We investigate long-term melt rate and ice sheet height reconstructions from the central-western GrIS in combination with model simulations to quantify the stability of this part of the GrIS. We reveal significant early-warning signals (EWS) indicating that the central-western GrIS is close to a critical transition. By relating the statistical EWS to underlying physical processes, our results suggest that the MEF plays a dominant role in the observed, ongoing destabilization of the central-western GrIS. Our results suggest substantial further GrIS mass loss in the near future and call for urgent, observation-constrained stability assessments of other parts of the GrIS.”

It said:

“During the last century, the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) has lost mass at an accelerating rate. The mass loss is caused by solid ice discharge into the North Atlantic and surface melting due to increasing temperatures. The relative contribution of the latter has increased from 42% before 2005 to 68% between 2009 and 2012, and surface runoff caused 84% of the increase in mass reduction since 2009. The complete melting of the GrIS would cause a global sea level rise of more than 7 m. Continued melting of the GrIS has been suggested to potentially lead to a collapse of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation via increased freshwater flux into the North Atlantic, which may, in turn, trigger a cascade of transitions in additional tipping elements such as the Amazon rainforest and the tropical monsoon systems.”

Russia-China advance Asian roadmap for Afghanistan

Pepe Escobar

Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Tajik Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi pose for a family photo before a meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Contact Group on Afghanistan, in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry / Sputnik via AFP

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting of Foreign Ministers on Wednesday in Dushanbe, the Tajik capital, may have been an under-the-radar affair, but it did reveal the contours of the big picture ahead when it comes to Afghanistan.

So let’s see what Russia and China – the SCO’s heavyweights – have been up to.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi laid out the basic road map to his Afghan counterpart Mohammad Haneef Atmar. While stressing the Chinese foreign policy gold standard – no interference in internal affairs of friendly nations – Wang established three priorities:

1. Real inter-Afghan negotiations towards national reconciliation and a durable political solution, thus preventing all-out civil war. Beijing is ready to “facilitate” dialogue.

2. Fighting terror – which means, in practice, al-Qaeda remnants, ISIS-Khorasan and the Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). Afghanistan should not be a haven for terrorist outfits – again.

3. The Taliban, for their part, should pledge a clean break with every terrorist outfit.

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School Children, Fracking Fumes, Immigrant Parent’s Daughter, Climate Crisis and Billions of Dollar

Countercurrents | June 21, 2021

Media reports from the U.S. tell about environmental incidents and hardship of the common people in the society.

Fracking and Children

A Fort Worth Star-Telegram report (Thousands of Arlington’s schoolchildren are exposed to fracking fumes, report warns, Thu, June 17, 2021) said:

More than half of Arlington’s public school children attend classes within half a mile of a natural gas drilling site, prompting concerns about the effects of fracking on their health, according to a new report published Tuesday.

A year-long investigation by the Center for Investigative Reporting — which produces the popular news podcast Reveal — found that more than 30,000 Arlington kids go to school near a drilling site. Up to 7,600 infants and toddlers are dropped off at private daycares within the same half-mile radius of drilling, according to the center’s analysis.

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Even The New York Times Now Admits That It’s US Sanctions, Not Socialism, That’s Destroying Venezuela

Peter Bolton

The Greanville Post | June 08, 2021

Photograph source: tomscoffin – CC BY 2.0

The truth is that what is happening in Venezuela is the usual playbook used by the US to make an economy “scream”, as it was done in Chile in 1973 and scores of other nations around the globe since. The formula is simple: The US strangles all international credit, while the local business elites practice all forms of economic sabotage, hoarding and what not to create instability. Meanwhile, the Congressional leg of the triad blocks all measures proposed by the besieged government, thereby forcing it to appear desperate, “undemocratic, and eventually “illegitimate”—the ideal conditions to justify a military coup by traitor officers. The fact a coup has not yet happened in Venezuela is simply owed to the fact Chavez and his chavistas took good care to create a more loyal army, a popular armed forces. This ensures that a military option would be a lot harder and bloodier. Venezuela also has a substantial popular militia. All of this guarantees that the imperialist war against Caracas will continue indefinitely, while Venezuela’s friends and allies—from Cuba and Iran to China and Russia—make their own contributions to stabilise the country.—The Editor

The facile right-wing talking point that the economic crisis facing Venezuela “proves” that “socialism always ends in failure” has become so hackneyed by overuse that it has attained its own tongue-in-cheek name. The ad Venezuelum, as it has come to be known, has slowly developed into such a tedious and predictable right-wing tactic that it seems to now serve as an all-purpose retort to try to discredit even the most modest of left-of-center proposals. In October 2018, for instance, then-President Trump responded to a plan by progressive Democrats in Congress to introduce a bill to establish a system of universal public healthcare – something which every industrialized country other than the US already has – by stating: “It’s going to be a disaster for our country. It will turn our country into a Venezuela.”

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USA IN DECLINE

The Disintegrated States of America

Pepe Escobar

Thankfully, considering its urgent message, Martyanov’s book is finally being widely read. It’s already an Amazon bestseller.

Andrei Martyanov is in a class by himself. A third wave baby boomer, born in the early 1960s in Baku, in the Caucasus, then part of the former USSR, he’s arguably the foremost military analyst in the Russian sphere, living and working in the US, writing in English for a global audience, and always excelling in his Reminiscence of the Future blog.

I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing Martyanov’s previous two books. In Losing Military Supremacy: The Myopia of American Strategic Planning, nearly three years ago he conclusively proved, among other things, how the missile gap between the US and Russia was a “technological abyss”, and how the Khinzal was “a complete game-changer geopolitically, strategically, operationally, tactically and psychologically”.

He extensively mapped “the final arrival of a completely new paradigm” in warfare and military technology. This review is included in my own Asia Times e-book Shadow play.

Then came The (Real) Revolution in Military Affairs, where he went one step beyond, explaining how this “revolution”, introduced at the Pentagon by the late Andrew Marshall, a.k.a. Yoda, the de facto inventor of the “pivot to Asia” concept, was in fact designed by Soviet military theoreticians way back in the 1970s, as MTR (Military-Technological Revolution).Read More »

IMPERIALISM 

$150 billion of oil money has been stolen from Iraq since the US-led invasion of 2003

| May 26, 2021

An estimated $150 billion of stolen money has been smuggled out of Iraq in corrupt deals since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iraqi President Barham Salih said Sunday.

CNN and The New Arab reports said:

“Of the close to a thousand billion dollars made from oil since 2003, an estimated $150 billion of stolen money has been smuggled out of Iraq,” Salih said in a televised speech.Read More »

FARMERS’ ONGOING MOVEMENT IN INDIA

Six Months of Farmers’ Protest At Delhi Border

Harsh Thakor

Countercurrents | May 27, 2021

There could hardly have been a better celebration of six months of the Delhi farmers protest at Tikri border in Delhi completed today, with the flag of liberation shimmering at a crescendo, on the call for a bandh of Samyukti Kisan Morcha.An impact of an inferno or intensity of coal burning in a furnace was displayed at Tikri border by the farmers in the May 26th protest by Bharatiya Kisan Union(Ugrahan).It was remarkable the manner it galvanised all the forces to crystallise such an event. The volume of revolutionary resistance was sung at it’s highest pitch, with the morale of a victorious army.Read More »