With Great Power Comes Rate Responsibility
May 6, 2022
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“Climate change is destroying our path to sustainability. Ours is a world of looming challenges and increasingly limited resources. Sustainable development offers the best chance to adjust our course.” – Ban Ki-moon
Weapons of Gas Destruction
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has had sweeping effects around the globe, not least of which is the disruption to the energy markets. The world gas market typically sees less price volatility than oil does in times of crisis, but Europe is struggling to navigate a rocky road as Russia leverages their control over the continent. Europe relies on Russia for 40% of its natural gas, and while they’ve tried to find other sources to supplement, they’ve hit some snags. The United States is trying to move towards cleaner energies amidst the threat of climate change, North Africa is struggling with political turmoil, and the Eastern Mediterranean is already helping Asian countries increase their natural gas supplies.
Europe is already decreasing imports of Russian coal and oil, but natural gas is harder and pricier to ship than oil. Russia is also holding their supplies hostage, having already cut off gas sales to Poland and Bulgaria when they refused demands to make payments in rubles. In a somewhat ironic twist, the very climate change that gas helps to fuel is also to blame for its increasing preciousness. Latin America is suffering from ongoing drought, slowing hydroelectric power, and Europe is less windy, preventing much renewable energy.
Germany, Russia’s biggest European gas customer, is still buying Russian gas but shelved an additional Russian gas pipeline, Nord Stream 2, after the invasion. Norwegian production and imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) have increased to help offset the blow from declining Russian imports, and Germany is quickly trying to build expensive terminals that will receive giant tankers filled with gas chilled to a liquid. European countries want to increase their LNG imports by about 50%, but the global L.N.G. market is only 523 billion cubic meters a year, and about 20% of it already goes to Europe. The U.S. and Qatar are building export terminals, but not as quickly as the demand is growing, especially as Asian countries try to decrease coal use to clear up some air pollution. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a good solution that keeps the planet safe, keeps the lights and heat on in homes and businesses, and doesn’t compromise a country’s moral compass. (NYT, $)
Better NATO Than Never
- The United States has announced that they will support Sweden during their NATO application period if they choose to try and join the alliance. Sweden and Finland stayed out of NATO during the Cold War, but following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the recent invasion of Ukraine, the two countries have begun rethinking their security policies.
- While hesitant at first due to security concerns during the application process, the United States’ support may sway their stance on joining the alliance. Sweden’s defense minister said last month that an application could trigger a number of responses from Russia, including cyber-attacks and hybrid measures – like propaganda campaigns – to undermine Sweden’s security.
- Moscow has gone as far as threatening nuclear attacks and hypersonic missile launches if Sweden and Finland were to become members of NATO as well. Both countries are expected to make a decision about whether to apply to join NATO this month. (Guardian)
Let’s Talk Turkey
- Turkey has reported an inflation rate of nearly 70 percent, driving more widespread concern regarding the economic policies of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Analysts have reported that the annual inflation rate is so high due to Erdogan’s unconventional economic thinking, which has been under scrutiny for some time.
- Erdogan continues to insist on using unorthodox methods to curb the rising economic turmoil in the country, with his supporters claiming that things are merely in flux due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Treasury and finance minister Nureddin Nebati has brushed aside concerns, saying on Monday that the current inflationary trend would “not spread over the long term and be permanent.” He added that, “we will increase the welfare and purchasing power of our citizens over the past level.” (Al Jazeera)
Additional World News
- Americans can get abortions in Canada if Roe is overturned, official says (Axios)
- The death toll has risen to 26 in a building collapse in China (NPR)
- Pope Francis uses wheelchair in public for the first time (Guardian)
- Euro zone yields extend fall after BoE flags recession risk (Reuters)
- ‘Our blood is boiling’: Victims angry as son of dictator closes in on Philippine presidency (Reuters)
- French left agrees rare coalition deal to take on Macron (Reuters)
- Australian prime minister defends his country’s ties to Solomons (NPR)
With Great Power Comes Rate Responsibility
- The Federal Reserve announced Wednesday that it is set to raise its interest rates by 0.5%, the biggest interest rate hike since May 2000. The decision came as America faces the worst inflation it’s seen in 40 years.
- After the Fed meeting, where all 12 members of the Federal Open Market Committee voted unanimously for the interest rate hike, Chairman Jerome Powell noted that “inflation is much too high, and we understand the hardship it is causing. We are moving expeditiously to bring it back down.” Some factors that economists cite as reasons for the recent spike in costs include the Russian invasion of Ukraine and COVID-19-induced lockdowns in China.
- Looking to the future, Powell stated that further 0.5% interest rate hikes are still on the table should inflation continue to rise. The Fed also plans to cut down its balance sheets, reducing its reinvestments in the market to reduce inflation. (CNN)
A Battle Of Pills
- The Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid (ARPO) Strike Force struck Wednesday, announcing charges against over a dozen defendants across eight federal districts. The defendants are allegedly involved in the illegal prescription and distribution of 5.1 million opioid pills across the Appalachian region.
- The ARPO Strike Force is a multi-agency team aimed at reducing the unlawful prescription of opioids across Appalachia. “These medical professionals…are operating no different than any drug dealer,” stated U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Kenneth L. Parker.
- According to another member of the team, over 75,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses last year alone. Some previous targets of the ARPO Strike Force have been caught dealing over 60,000 pills per doctor, and one of the current defendants allegedly sold 219,567 pills of oxycodone and 112,840 pills of hydromorphone on the black market over the course of two years. (CBS)
Additional USA News
- Democrats promise votes on abortion rights despite vanishingly small odds of success (NPR)
- Abortion Pills Stand to Become the Next Battleground in a Post-Roe America (NYT, $)
- Cisneros calls out House Democratic leadership for supporting anti-abortion Cuellar (Politico)
- US takes unprecedented steps to replenish Colorado River’s Lake Powell (NBC)
- Mayorkas pushes back on Republican concerns about DHS disinformation board (CNN)
- New Mexico Wildfire Rips Through a Hispanic Bastion (NYT, $)
- A Biden-Trump rematch is increasingly likely. But neither side wants to move first. (Politico)
A Wiley Coyote
- It turns out, you shouldn’t always rescue an animal you find on the side of the road. A family in Massachusetts saw a puppy on the side of the road, “wandering and distressed,” and decided to take him home to keep him from getting hit. After getting the puppy home, however, the family realized they had made an error.
- The puppy was actually a baby coyote –called a “pup” – who had been separated from his family. The family called The Cape Wildlife Center in Barnstable, who immediately took in the pup and will help him recover before introducing him to a fellow coyote pup from Rhode Island.
- The coyotes will not be released back into the wild, but they will “be raised together and given a chance [to] grow and learn natural behaviors,” and will get “as much of a natural upbringing as possible.” The wildlife center also said that, luckily, nobody was exposed to rabies. Once you see the picture of the pup, you might also consider going to find a coyote pup of your own, but the wildlife center would like to “encourage people to call the appropriate resources prior to intervening.” (CBS)
- Nantucket votes to allow anyone to go topless on beaches (AP)
- NY Times says Wordle drove “tens of millions” of new users, record growth (Ars Technica)
- How Cats Are Winning the Postpandemic Economy (WSJ, $)
- “Black widow” neutron star takes an hour to orbit the star it’s roasting (Ars Technica)
- Huge volume of water detected under Antarctic ice (BBC)
- ‘The ultimate status symbol’: Adams appoints nightclub owner to Metropolitan Museum board (Politico)