COMING UP SHORT THIS MONTH.
Thought for the day
"I just wonder what it would be like to be reincarnated in an animal whose species had been so reduced in numbers than it was in danger of extinction. What would be its feelings toward the human species whose population explosion had denied it somewhere to exist.... I must confess that I am tempted to ask for reincarnation as a particularly deadly virus." -- Prince Philip, in his Forward to "If I Were an Animal" - United Kingdom, Robin Clark Ltd., 1986.
Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana said Tuesday that Americans are wise to the deception practiced by President Joe Biden on the subject of illegal immigration at the southern border.
In May 2017, Rosneft chief executive Igor Sechin came to Berlin to outline a five-year plan to double the Russian oil company’s investments in German refining to €600mn.
Cut to 2022 and Rosneft’s assets have been taken over by the German government. Sechin’s dream of downstream expansion into Europe’s largest oil products market is in ruins, a victim of the escalating energy war between Russia and the west.
On Friday, the German government said it was seizing control of Rosneft’s stakes in three German refineries — PCK in Schwedt, north-east of Berlin, MiRo in Karlsruhe and Bayernoil in the Bavarian town of Vohburg.
The trigger for the takeover was the looming EU ban on imports of Russian oil, which comes into force on January 1 and could put massive pressure on Germany’s refining industry. Russia has already severed natural gas supplies to Germany threatening a deep recession in the country this winter.
The unilateral sanctions that Western countries unleashed on Russia have caused energy supply disruptions and energy hyperinflation across the world. Europe is rejiggering its energy supply chain away from Russia as it sources energy products elsewhere. EU countries are scrambling for tankers to import energy products from abroad, which has led to a surge in global tanker shipping rates.
Since slapping Russia with sanctions, the West has realized that global supply chains are fragile. Even before the Ukraine war, supply chains struggled due to uneven Covid economic recovery, trade war conflicts, and increasing geopolitical risks.
As such, the decision to rejigger Europe's entire energy supply chain away from Russia amid all the chaos in the world has created a shortage of vessels to carry essential fuels to energy-stricken regions this winter.
Bloomberg reported that Europe is importing liquefied natural gas, diesel, and crude from far away regions that keep tankers in transit for extended periods and delay return to service for other critical shipping lanes. Shipping experts warn this is sparking the latest surge in global tanker freight rates.
Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) introduced a bill Tuesday to prevent schools from keeping a child’s gender transition from their parents.
UK Prime Minister Liz Truss has pledged to spend at least £2.3 billion ($2.6 billion) next year on military aid to help Ukraine resist the Russian invasion.
Having committed £2.3 billion in 2022 to Ukraine’s war effort, Britain is already one of the largest military donor to Ukraine, second only to the United States.
As she prepared to fly to New York for the United Nations summit, the prime minister praised Ukrainian troops’ success in taking back around 3,000 square kilometres (1,800 square miles) from Russian hands, and pledged to at least match last year’s military aid.
She said: “Ukraine’s victories in recent weeks have been inspirational. Time and time again these brave people have defied the doubters and showed what they can do when given the military, economic, and political support they need. My message to the people of Ukraine is this: the UK will continue to be right behind you every step of the way. Your security is our security.”
The British Army’s M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) fires during Summer Shield 2022 military exercise in Adazi military base, Latvia, on May 27, 2022. (Ints Kalnins /Reuters)
Despite the historic energy crisis rippling through the world, the European Investment Bank (EIB) isn't reconsidering green lending policies, which exclude fossil-fuel funding in Africa and other emerging countries.
EIB president Werner Hoyer said the future lies with sustainable energy sources. He said the current energy crisis caused by the sudden reduction of Russian natural gas supplies "hasn't changed our view."
"We as a European public institution should not invest in assets that one day will be seen as stranded assets," Hoyer told the Financial Times.
Israeli occupation authorities on Monday extended the administrative detention of Palestinian journalist Bushra Al-Taweel for the third time in a row, for a period of three months, the Middle East Monitor reported.
Twenty-nine-year-old Al-Taweel, a resident of the city of Ramallah, was arrested on March 21 at the Zatara military checkpoint, south of Nablus, in the northern occupied West Bank.
Armed clashes broke out between Palestinian security forces and protesters in the early hours of Tuesday after the Palestinian Authority arrested a high-ranking Hamas member wanted by Israel in an ambush on the occupied West Bank city of Nablus the night before.
The confrontation persisted through the morning, leaving a 53-year-old Palestinian, Firas Yaish, killed and another critically wounded.
PA forces arrested Musab Shtayyeh, who had been the target of several assassination attempts by Israel, in an ambush on Faisal Street, east of Nablus, shortly before midnight. PA forces also arrested Ameed Tabileh, a Palestinian fighter close to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine who is also wanted by Israel, in the same raid.
The Food and Drug Administration has finally acknowledged its response to the US infant formula shortage was caused by a number of problems.
The agency said these included delays in processing a whistleblower complaint about bacterially tainted baby formula from the nation's largest formula factory.
A report found it failed to rapidly address reports of contamination at a formula facility in Sturgis, Michigan, belonging to the formula maker Abbot, because of a serious breakdown in intermediary steps in the response process.
A US destroyer and a Canadian frigate sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday in the latest joint operation aimed at reinforcing the route's status as an international waterway.
The United States has long used 'freedom of navigation' passages through the Taiwan Strait to push back against Chinese claims and Western allies have increasingly joined these operations.
The USS Higgins, along with the Royal Canadian Navy's Halifax-class frigate HMCS Vancouver 'conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit... in accordance with international law', the US Navy's Seventh Fleet said.
With the news that Democratic Governor of California Gavin Newsom might be vying to run for president in 2024 if President Joe Biden is not the candidate, some are not as thrilled about the idea as others.
Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex has reportedly requested a one-on-one meeting with King Charles III before she and Prince Harry return to the U.S. following the funeral of the late Queen Elizabeth II.
Trump’s lawyers on Tuesday responded to the Justice Department’s request to block Judge Aileen Cannon’s ruling on the seized documents.
The Israeli army’s recent incursions into the cities and refugee camps of the northern occupied-West Bank are not going as smoothly as before.
The occupation army’s incursions into the city of Jenin and Jenin refugee camp in early September required the mobilization of large forces, including special units and armored vehicles – in scale, unprecedented since 2014.
On the night of 6 September, a force of about 100 vehicles carried out a raid in Jenin, supported by air with drones, and on land, by hundreds of soldiers from Israel’s elite military units.
Their task? To demolish the house of Ra’ad Hazem, who carried out the Dizengoff attack in Tel Aviv on 7 April, 2022. More than anything, this excessive military build-up over a single home demolition illustrates that the Israeli military can no longer operate in the West Bank as they did before the May 2021 ‘Sayf Al Quds’ conflagration – and its subsequent developments.
A Palestinian man was killed overnight on Tuesday when Palestinian Authority security forces raided the occupied West Bank city of Nablus to make arrests on Israel’s behalf.
The Israeli-backed PA forces entered Nablus on Monday night and arrested two Hamas resistance fighters “at Israel’s request,” according to Tel Aviv daily Haaretz. The two men are Musab Shtayyeh and Ameed Tubeileh.
Shtayyeh is reportedly associated with Ibrahim al-Nabulsi, a Palestinian resistance fighter killed in an Israeli attack in Nablus in August.
The arrests sparked confrontations between Palestinian residents and PA forces that lasted well into Tuesday afternoon.
Firas Faris Yaish, 53, was fatally shot in the head in the crossfire between resistance fighters and PA forces. Several others were wounded, including a college student who sustained a serious injury to the abdomen.
Clash of the two systems of governance, as George Soros formulated it in his remarks to the World Economic Forum conference in May, seems to have reached a phase transition. Russian President Vladimir Putin has returned from last week’s summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization conference in Samarkand with a palpable sense of confidence and determination, and it does appear that he has obtained reassurances of support from all the key leaders during the event, including China’s Xi Jinping, India’s Narendra Modi, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Iran’s Ebrahim Raisi, and even the new PM of Pakistan, Shehbaz Sharif.
Russia is ready to shift gears
Now, the leadership of Russia is prepared to shift gears in Ukraine. While annexation of the Donbas region wasn’t part of the objectives set out at the outset of the “Special Military Operation” in February, this could be about to change. Namely, public referendums have been announced and will be held between 23 and 27 September in all the key regions controlled by Russia. The people will be voting on whether they want to become absorbed in Russian federation. This move will have a massive impact and remove any legal strictures the Russian leadership observed by waging war in foreign territory. Soon, this could become Russian territory and any attacks on Kherson, Donetsk, Lugansk or Zaporozhye will be regarded as attacks on Russia proper.
Webmaster addition: Putin has resurrected the Kennedy doctrine.
Israeli forces on Tuesday plugged with cement two underground water wells in the occupied West Bank, deeming them useless, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.
The water wells were providing drinking water for residents in the villages of al-Ras and Kafr Aboush, south of Tulkarm.
The head of Al-Ras village council, Muhammad Majdoub, told WAFA that the occupation forces plugged a well in the eastern area of the village with concrete without a prior warning.
The European Union’s Middle East peace envoy has reportedly filed a complaint with the Foreign Ministry that he is not being granted meetings with high-level Israeli officials.
Sven Koopmans brought up his grievances during a meeting with Aliza Bin Noun, the political director of the Foreign Ministry, Axios said.
The incident report cited a summary of the meeting, but did not say when it took place.
Iran is set to import Russian gas through pipelines from Azerbaijan under contracts agreed upon in a significant deal between Tehran and Moscow two months ago, according to a report published in the local media.
According to the Fars News Agency, the Iranian Oil Ministry announced on 19 September that a gas import and swap deal between Iran and Russia will soon be activated, provisioning 9 million and 600 thousand cubic meters per day of Russian gas through the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Two months ago, Iran signed a deal worth $40 billion with Russia’s Gazprom to develop seven oil and gas fields and complete other oil projects near the Persian Gulf. Iranian media revealed Tehran’s intention to import overload quantities of Russian gas.
Additionally, the deal includes establishing a pipeline to export Iranian gas to Pakistan and the Sultanate of Oman, as well as completing several liquefied natural gas production projects in the country.
Iran is ready to send ships loaded with fuel to Lebanon within one or two weeks to help run the country's power plants, the Iranian embassy in Beirut told Al-Manar TV as a Lebanese delegation was in Tehran to discuss energy cooperation.
A Lebanese energy ministry spokesperson said they were unaware whether a fuel import deal had been struck but said "any gift from anywhere is welcome".
NATO is ready to ramp up troops in Kosovo if tensions among minority Serbs flare again, the deputy commander of the alliance's peacekeeping mission (KFOR) said on Tuesday as a deadline in a spat with the government over car license plates approaches.
"We are vigilant and ready to act...if we have an increase of tensions, but we can also draw on reserve forces...that we can call in at short notice," Brigadier General Luca Piperni told reporters at KFOR headquarters in the capital Pristina.
Unrest among Kosovo Serbs over a requirement for them to use state-issued car number plates by October 31 has raised fears of conflict between Kosovo and Serbia, more than two decades after the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) bombed Serbia to end repression of Kosovo's Albanian majority. Kosovo Serbs in the north currently use old Serbian car plates that were issued before the 1999 war or later reproduced to look as the old car plates.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II warned against “undermining” the status quo in his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, ahead of a meeting with Israel’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid.
He said the future of Jerusalem was a cause for concern and that “Christianity in the holy city is under fire.”
Jordan sees itself as the custodian of Jerusalem’s Muslim and Christian holy sites, including the Temple Mount complex which houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque, a focal point of tensions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
On 20 September, the US army smuggled another batch of crude oil from Syria’s occupied regions to military bases in Iraq, according to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA).
A convoy of 60 fully-loaded oil trucks of U.S. military forces passed the eastern border from the energy-rich Jazira region in Syria’s northeastern governorate of Hasakah.
According to local sources, the looted oil was reportedly moved through the illegal al-Mahmoudiya and al-Walid border crossing into Iraq, where U.S. forces are stationed.
Units of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) escorted the convoys until they arrived at the border with Iraq.
Reports of the ongoing plundering of Syrian resources have increased in frequency. On 13 August, SANA reported that 89 tanker trucks filled with Syrian oil were smuggled out of the country via the illegal Mahmoudiya border crossing.
House Democrats are desperately trying to pass HR. 8873 before they leave office for the midterm elections.
World leaders met on Tuesday for the 77th United Nations General Assembly debate, marking the first fully in-person gathering in three years since the onset of the pandemic.
The war in Ukraine and mounting global economic headwinds took centre stage at the assembly. Middle Eastern leaders from Turkey, Jordan and Qatar took to the podium on Tuesday to address those issues, in addition to other regional developments.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sought to portray himself as a mediator in the war, and highlighted his country's role in brokering a UN agreement to unlock Black Sea grain.
Gays Against Groomers (GAG) announced on Twitter that they were permanently suspended from payment processors Paypal and Venmo.
At least 11 schoolchildren died in an air strike and firing on a Myanmar village, the UN children’s agency said, an attack the country’s junta said targeted rebels hiding in the area.
Myanmar has been in chaos since the military seized power in a coup in February last year, with nearly 2,300 civilians killed in a crackdown on dissent according to a local monitoring group.
The Sagaing region in the country’s northwest has seen some of the fiercest fighting, and amid clashes between anti-coup fighters and the military, entire villages have been burned down.
The UN children’s agency UNICEF condemned Friday’s incident in Depeyin township in Sagaing.
Congress could pass legislation as soon as this week to reauthorize a small business innovation grant program favored by the Pentagon after reforms addressing concerns over the abuse of the rewards process persuaded Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to drop his opposition to the program.
Paul told Defense News on Tuesday that he will not block a unanimous consent request for the Senate to pass the bill reauthorizing the Small Business Administration’s Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer awards for three years.
“Surgeon General” Vivek Murthy this week disputed Joe Biden’s declaration that the Covid pandemic is over.
Erdogan will meet an Israeli prime minister on Tuesday for the first time since 2008, when he met Ehud Olmert in Ankara.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s office confirmed over the weekend that he would meet Erdogan in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
Erdogan, who met Jewish representatives in the US on Monday, has increased his engagements with the Israeli leaders since the two countries decided to repair their ties last year.
The president hasn’t visited Israel since 2005, when he was prime minister.