Europe
druzbha

Transnistria blasts signal spread of Ukraine war

A series of blasts tore through the building of the de facto “Ministry of State Security” in Tiraspol, capital of Moldova’s Russian-backed separatist enclave of Transnistria. Officials said the building was fired on by unknown assailants with grenade launchers. Ominously, the attack came one day after a Russian military commander openly broached extending Moscow’s war in Ukraine to neighboring Moldova, to “give the Russian army access to Transnistria.” The blasts also came on the same day as large explosions in Bryansk, a Russian town near the Ukrainian border which is serving as a key staging area for the invasion. Bryansk is a hub on the Druzhba oil pipeline, and the flames engulfed a petroleum depot. Russian officials are speculating that Kyiv’s forces were behind the blasts, while Ukrainian officials speculate they were Russian “false flag” operations. (Photo of Druzhba blasts: Anonymous Operations)

Africa
Camp-Levieux

Protests over fuel price hikes shake Mauritius

The African island nation of Mauritius exploded into angry protests, with residents of poor Kreol communities erecting roadblocks and fighting the police. The island had seen days of peaceful demonstrations over a sudden and drastic increase of petrol and gas prices, centered on the town of Camp-Levieux. Things turned violent after the arrest of “Darren,” a young protest leader, on charges of “participation in illegal demonstrations.” The police headquarters where he was being held was besieged, and protests spread quickly to other towns across the island. Police deployed anti-riot units and armored vehicles against youth hurling stones and Molotov cocktails. Things calmed when Darren was released on bail. But it remains to be seen if the increasingly debt-burdened government can strike a deal with the newly mobilized popular movement. (Photo: Zinfos聽Moris)

Afghanistan
kunar

Pipeline plans threatened by Af-Pak border clashes

Afghanistan authorities say some 60 civilians, including five children, were killed as Pakistan launched air-strikes across the border on Khost and Kunar provinces. The strikes follow a series of attacks on security forces by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Pakistan’s borderlands. The escalation was harshly condemned both by the Taliban regime and the Afghan permanent mission in the United Nations鈥攖he loyalty of which remains unclear more than six months after the Taliban takeover. The new tensions come a week after top diplomats from China, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and other regional states met for a summit in China’s Anhui province on reviving the long-stalled Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline, which would deliver Central Asian gas to world markets through Afghan territory. (Photo via聽Khaama Press)

Planet Watch
fracking

Ukraine war windfall for US fracking industry

US President Joe Biden and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen announced a joint Task Force to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian hydrocarbons and “strengthen European energy security as President Putin wages his war of choice against Ukraine.” The press release states: “The United States will work with international partners and strive to ensure additional LNG volumes for the EU market of at least 15 bcm [billion cubic meters] in 2022, with expected increases going forward.” This means liquified natural gas from the US fracking industry.聽Environmental group聽Global Witness聽reacted with alarm to the announcement, stating: “If Europe truly wants to get off Russian gas the only real option it has is phasing out gas altogether.” (Image: FracTracker)

Planet Watch
motin

Sri Lanka to Lima: ripples from Ukraine storm

Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared a nationwide state of emergency as angry protests over fuel shortages and power cuts erupted in the capital Colombo. When police repression failed to quell the protests, Rajapaksa sought to appease demands for his resignation with a purge of his cabinet. Peru’s President Pedro Castillo meanwhile imposed a curfew in Lima and its port of Callao in response to an eruption of protests over dramatic fuel price hikes. As street clashes broke out in the cities, farmers outraged at a jump in fertilizer costs blocked highways at several points around the country鈥攊ncluding Ica, where a toll-booth was set on fire. The world has seen an oil price surge to $100 a barrel in the wake of Russia’s invasion of聽Ukraine. (Photo: Twitter via La Tercera)

Planet Watch
Tengiz

Ukraine war portends new oil shock

Long-depressed oil prices are suddenly soaring in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with impacts already being felt globally. Exports from Kazakhstan and the Caspian Basin are virtually paralyzed, as the Black Sea聽pipeline terminal delivering the crude to Western markets is incurring a prohibitive “war risk insurance premium.”聽Berlin has suspended the聽Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is to carry Russian gas under the Baltic Sea to Germany鈥攁nd聽Russia has retaliated by threatening聽to cut gas supplies to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 line.聽In his executive order barring Russian oil and gas imports to the US, President Biden issued a warning to the oil companies, urging that the war should not serve as an excuse for聽price-gouging.聽But聽it is actually the oil futures market that plays a determinant role in fixing the international price. There’s a big psychological element involved, which is why every escalation in the Middle East (without fail)聽jacks up oil prices. A war in Europe will almost certainly mean another oil shock, with grim implications for the world economy and Biden’s political chances. (Photo of Kazakh oil-field via Wikimedia Commons)

The Andes

Peru: police pop presidential palace in petro-corruption probe

Special anti-corruption prosecutors backed up by National Police troops raided 15 properties around Peru’s capital Lima鈥攊ncluding the presidential palace. The raids came as part of Megaoperation Resplandor 2022, an investigation into alleged irregularities in tenders for the purchase of biodiesel between parastatal PetroPer煤 and private firm Heaven Petroleum Operators. Also raided were the homes of PetroPer煤 director Hugo 脕ngel Ch谩ves Ar茅valo, HPO manager Samir Abudayeh, and prominent entrepreneur Karelim L贸pez.聽The administration of President Pedro Castillo, a populist political outsider, has been wracked by repeated crises and scandals since he took office last July. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Mexico
Pemex

Control of oil behind Mexico-Spain tensions

Mexico’s President Andr茅s Manuel L贸pez Obrador聽called for a “pause” in relations with Spain, in a speech that explicitly invoked the legacy of colonialism going back to the Conquest. But the speech was aimed principally at Spanish oil company Repsol, which had been favored during the presidential term of Felipe Calder贸n. Specifically, L贸pez Obrador questioned the granting of聽gas contracts in the Burgos Basin, in Mexico’s northeast. He charged that Repsol operated the fields less productively than the state company Pemex had. “In the end, less gas was extracted than Pemex extracted” before the contracts, he charged. Repsol is meanwhile under investigation by Spanish prosecutors on charges of graft related to the company’s efforts to fend聽off a take-over bid by Pemex.聽(Photo via Digital Journal)

Planet Watch
offshore

US judge invalidates massive offshore oil sale

A federal judge in Washington DC聽invalidated an oil and gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico, finding that the Biden administration failed to properly account for the auction’s environmental impact. In 2017, the Outer Continental Shelf Oil & Gas Leasing Program issued a five-year plan which proposed 10 region-wide lease sales. One of those was Lease Sale 257, for 80.8 million acres of Gulf waters, the largest offshore lease sale in United States history. President聽Biden聽had initially blocked the sale by executive order, but this was overturned by the courts in a case brought by Louisiana and other states. (Photo: Pixabay)

Planet Watch
anthropocene

Podcast: against ‘normalcy’ II

In Episode 106 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg continues his rant against the ubiquitous propaganda that normalizes the oppressive and dystopian pre-pandemic normality鈥攐r, as it is now incorrectly rendered, “normalcy” (sic). The opportunity for a crash conversion from fossil fuels that was posed by 2020’s pandemic-induced economic paralysis is now being squandered. As fossil-fuel prices soar, the Biden administration is continuing a Trump-era policy to aggressively open public lands to coal mining, refusing to return to an Obama-era moratorium on new leases. US greenhouse gas emissions dramatically bounced back in 2021鈥攐ne of the hottest years on record. The global mean sea level is rapidly rising, and will keep rising for centuries even if the Paris Agreement goals are met, as seems less likely each day. And all this as hospitals remain overwhelmed coast to coast, and the National Guard is being mobilized to keep them functioning. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: CounterVortex)

Planet Watch
freeway

Podcast: against ‘normalcy’

In Episode 105 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg rants against the ubiquitous propaganda that normalizes the oppressive and dystopian pre-pandemic normality. Amid the relentless COVID-19 denialism, even mainstream voices are calling for a return to “normalcy” (sic)鈥攚hich is not even a word. The opportunity for a crash conversion from fossil fuels that was posed by 2020’s pandemic-induced economic paralysis, when already depressed oil prices actually went negative, is now being squandered. President Biden just released oil from the Strategic Reserves to control soaring prices. Simultaneously, the administration is moving ahead with the largest offshore oil lease sale in US history. While during the 2020 lockdown. the usually smog-obscured Himalayas became visible from northern India for first time in decades, Delhi is now choked with emergency levels of toxic smog. During the 2020 lockdown, the total US death rate actually dropped because people were staying off the roads;聽US traffic deaths are now soaring. New York’s new Mayor Eric Adams wants to stake the city’s economic future to the cryptocurrency industry, even as China is cracking down on Bitcoin “mining” (sic) because of its “extremely harmful” carbon footprint. And amid all the empty hand-wringing about climate change, airlines are flying thousands of empty “ghost flights” in order to keep their slots at congested airports. The “return to normalcy” must be urgently resisted. As Bruce Cockburn observed long ago, the trouble with normal is it always gets worse. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo:聽malingering via The Source Metro)

The Andes
arauca

Anti-war protests in northeast Colombia

Rural communities in Colombia’s northeastern Arauca department held anti-war protests amid inter-factional guerilla violence that has been terrorizing the region. Demanding attention from the government and international human rights organizations, some 1,200 marched in the hamlets of聽Puerto Jordan and Botal贸n.聽Recent days had seen an outbreak of fighting in the area between the National Liberation Army (ELN) and “dissident” factions of the demobilized FARC guerillas that have refused to lay down arms, in defiance of a 2016 peace agreement. At least 23 were killed in the clashes, which were said to be over control of smuggling routes across the nearby Venezuelan border. About a dozen local families were also forced to flee their homes. (Photo:聽Arauca Online聽via聽Colombia Reports)