This dry summer coupled with Russian gas cuts has put water resources in an alarming situation across Europe.
According to the European Drought Observatory, almost half of Europe is experiencing a severe drought. France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and the UK are among the countries that have been exposed to the high levels of drought. It is predicted this critical situation may be worsening if the precipitation deficit continues until winter.
Recently, a map referring to “combined drought indicator in Europe within 3rd ten-day period of July” went viral and conveyed the message that the green continent has faced a severe climate-driven drought in the last 500 years.
The currently rainfall deficit is mostly attributed to a weakened jet stream bringing moisture from Atlantic to Europe, combined with frequent heatwaves hitting all around the planet and Europe. Findings of a study (2020), as well as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, indicate that drought in west of Europe has not shown a consistent trend regarding precipitation deficit over the years 1851-2018. In addition, the intensity of agricultural drought (soil moisture level) and the hydrological drought (runoff rate and groundwater level) have not changed. Besides, the precipitation rate has not decreased much compared to previous years. In general, countries located in eastern and central Europe have been less affected by drought; the IPCC reports even demonstrate that drought severity has been reduced in Northern and Eastern Europe. So why is the anthropogenic drought has been highlighted and received more news coverage, particularly in Germany, France, the UK, the Netherlands, and Norway? Why are major rivers from Rhine to Danube drying up, ship traffic banned along the rivers and the water level of the reservoirs fallen at lowest levels ever? Is the situation climate-driven or result of a socio-economic drought?
Most of water restrictions were generally applied in residential and not business or other economic or agricultural sectors. By looking at the bans, one can gauge the emergency of the condition. For example, in France, water consumption in residential and business sectors are being accurately monitored by authorities. In Spain, too, restrictions have been put on residential sector; and there is a possibility, tourism sector will be also affected if the drought continues. Nevertheless, people believe that almost 90 percent of water resources go to agriculture, therefore, the water resources management must have been focused on that. The UK, however, declared hosepipe ban last week although the business sector not being included. While the UK average precipitation were reported 34.7mm in June 2018- when Europe was seeing a severe drought- and 38.6mm in the 1976, it was 59.0 mm in June 2022. There are two options left to explain the situation since the green continent is naturally having high levels of water. Moreover, Europe is famous for better performance in terms of water resource management than other countries in the world. First, the occurrence of extreme events, explicitly heat waves causing the climatic change attracts more attention; and second, the water-energy-food nexus leading into a socio-economic drought due to the Russian gas cuts.
At the moment, the Europe is struggling with energy crisis, too. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the global coal demand rose to 8 billion tons in 2022, matching the 2013 all-time high. Besides, the 14 percent jump in coal consumption over the last year, the European Union demand for coal climbed another 7 percent in 2022. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) reports that “a typical coal-fired power plant employing a once-through cooling system withdraws 70?180 billion gallons of water every year and consumes 0.36-1.1 billion gallons of it”. Previously, the Guardian addressed the problem as well, identifying coal-fired power plants as one of the main causes of water loss, aside from being the main factor driving up global warming.
The economic-social drought, often interpreted as “water bankruptcy”, refers to a state in which water regime and human activities mutually affect one another. And even beyond that, climate patterns. This is why the water-energy-food nexus has been the centre of attention in policy-making debates to adopt the most suitable strategies.
From our partner Tehran Times
European Union Trucks Banned From Entering Russia
In a reciprocal step, an executive order banning European Union haulage trucks crossing borders into Russia’s territory aggravates economic situation for both Russia and the European Union. Besides the European Union, the ban also affects international cargo transport on Russian territory for transport companies from Ukraine, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Norway.
The ban applies to two way transportation, transit, and transportation from or to a third country, and valid from October 10 until December 31, 2022. On the other side, from April 8, any Russian and Belarusian automobile transport enterprise has been banned from cargo transportation, including transit carriage, in the European Union.
Under the current conditions, EU trucks facing ban from Russia loose huge revenues while essential consumers and other foreign products are obviously cut from the distribution chains, and the situation is characterized by serious price hikes.
Late September, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin signed an an Executive Order On Some Aspects of International Road Transport of Goods as a reciprocal measure to the new round of latest EU sanctions due to the Russia’s special military operations in the former Soviet republic of Ukraine.
It was signed in light of some foreign states’ unfriendly actions aimed at adopting restrictions against citizens of the Russian Federation and Russian legal entities, which contradicts international law, to protect the national interests of the Russian Federation and in accordance with Federal Law No. 127-FZ, dated June 4, 2018, On Measures (Countermeasures) in Response to Unfriendly Actions of the United States and Other Foreign States.
Under the Executive Order, the Government of the Russian Federation is authorised to adopt a ban on international road transport of goods across the territory of the Russian Federation for vehicles of international carriers registered in the states that have adopted restrictions against citizens of the Russian Federation and Russian legal entities in the area of international road transport of goods.
If the Government adopts such a ban, it should also stipulate its duration; include the list of states that have introduced restrictions against citizens of the Russian Federation and Russian legal entities in the area of international road transport of goods; the types of international road transport of goods covered by the ban; and the conditions of international road transport of goods compliance with which precludes the imposition of the ban.
The Russian permits, special permits and multilateral permits stipulated in Federal Law No. 127-FZ, dated July 24, 1998, On State Control over International Transport by Road and on Liability for Violating Procedures for Such Operations, shall be considered null and void if foreign carriers use them for international road transport of goods in violation of this ban.
Leading experts commented on the European Union trucks ban from entering Russia. “We’ve been waiting precisely for this decree for months now. We proposed not to completely ban the import of merchandise but to introduce restrictions on trucks entering Russia so that cargos are handed over at the border. European carriers will enter the border zone and hand over the cargos to our carriers,” President of the Gruzavtotrans Association Vladimir Matyagin told local Russia media Rossiyskaya Gazeta. According to him, this will help those Russian truckers who lost their jobs due to the sanctions to transport merchandise domestically.
Executive Director of BMJ Logistics Alexey Yakushev told the Kommersant newspaper that back in April when the EU banned Russian and Belarusian transport carriers from crossing their borders, European logistics operators began preparing for retaliatory measures, actively wrapping up their activity in Russia.
“So this ban will most likely affect small and medium-sized companies in the EU’s transport sector who continue to deliver cargos to Russia,” he said, noting that domestic carriers would only win while those companies involved in imports from Europe would most likely shoulder additional expenses.
Market experts acknowledge there is currently economic crisis which is aggravated by the risks of transit causing some enterprises to either scale down or shut down operations, and further say retaliatory ban on trucking in Russia from those countries, including European Union, costs of cargo transportation from Russia to Europe and back has already skyrocketed four or even fivefold. According media reports, importers and exporters have already sustained extra costs of over $1.26 billion at the current exchange rate), while the annual figure about $6.18 billion.
As a direct result of Russia’s “special military operation” aims at “demilitarization and denazification” in the former Soviet republic of Ukraine since late February, Russia has come under a raft of sanctions imposed by the United States and Canada, European Union, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and a host of other countries. President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree on legal recognition of Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions’ independence and finally joined the Russian Federation.
For A New Foreign Policy in Italy
The sad and notorious vicissitudes of the non-existence of an Italian foreign policy have hit rock bottom over the last three years, thus destroying even the minimum that we had managed to create after the disappearance of the serious and experienced political class born out of the Resistance Movement and lasting until the early 1990s.
The initial low profile of Italian foreign policy in the international scenario in the aftermath of the Second World War was certainly not due to phantom injustices of history or the inability or acumen of politicians or diplomats at home. For Italy, the reason was the necessary outcome of the Yalta alignments and the presence in our country of the strongest Communist Party in the West.
The values of patriotism, Nation and flag – where they proved to be fundamental for the political-economic reconstruction of the countries that had really fought and had been severely tried by the conflict (China, France, Germany, Japan, Great Britain, USSR, etc.) – were removed and erased in Italy by “a foreign nationalist party, inadmissible in the democracy of our countries”, as Gaetano Salvemini and Ernesto Rossi put it.
Even the liberal epic of the Risorgimento was lost: try asking the 30/40-year-old man in the street, let alone a younger one, about Cavour, Mazzini, King Victor Emmanuel II of Savoy, etc. He may know something about Garibaldi, thanks to TV programmes produced by the long wave of Bettino Craxi, a fan of the Italian general born in Nice.
The heritage of the country’s unity and Mussolini’s rhetoric reminded of the very concept of Nationhood and Fascism. It was therefore in the interest of the Kremlin and therefore of the Italian Communist Party – when the Bolshevik revolution in Italy was just a chimera to be administered to the voting masses – that its point of reference set political parameters that guaranteed the international commitments of the Sarmatian region. Over the years they came to brand words such as “Italianness”, “tricolour Italian flag”, “lost former unredeemed lands”, and the like, as right-wing synonyms for grief and tragedy.
The Soviets’ party of reference in Italy then decided that, in order to remain credible before voters and members who still wished in good faith for the mýthos of proletarian catharsis, we had to at least destroy the only non-military or economic-industrial expression of the bourgeoisie, i.e. the sense of homeland. At the same time, for the superpowers’ equilibria, the rest had to be left intact and unchanged.
From 1945 to the events of 1989-1991 – the fall of the Berlin Wall and the implosion and collapse of the other homeland, the Soviet one – Italy’s foreign policy, while praising and exalting the skilful and refined experience inherited from Lorenzo the Magnificent, from Westphalia, etc., had to move maimed and lop-sided, deprived of the national interest motivation that, on the contrary, other States placed and still place at the core of their actions.
For almost half a century, Italian politicians and diplomats were the protagonists of fundamental engagements and commitments around the world. It was not Italy – as the exclusive subject – that dictated policy lines as pars contrahendi, but there were specific schools of foreign policy, following the lines of De Gasperi, Nenni, Fanfani, Moro, Craxi, Andreotti, De Michelis, etc. The fear of arousing even the slightest top-down nationalism, albeit formal, was the blackmail to which governments were subjected on the sacrificial altar of the internal equilibria desired by the Italian Communist Party.
Over the last thirty years, the end of the bipolar system, based on weapons of mass destruction, the opening up of new international scenarios, and, in particular, the stance taken by the Italian President of the Republic, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi – with his heartfelt appeals for rediscovering Italy as a value and pride to be flaunted not only at the football stadiums when the national team was playing – have overturned the mannerist minimalism, in which – as Achille Albonetti has been arguing since April 2005 – Italy’s downgrading, which “is neither admitted nor discussed”, has been developing for some months “in the almost general indifference of institutions, politicians, journalists and experts, including historians and diplomats”.
However, just as it took almost half a century after the Resistance struggle to bury the past, we hope that it will take fewer years for Italy to resume the leading role it has uninterruptedly played since Unification until a few decades ago. Three are the most evident symptoms of Italy’s progressive downgrading.
Firstly, the three Summits between President of the Republic Jacques Chirac, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and British Prime Minister Tony Blair in June and September 2003, and later in February 2004, which led to some important agreements in the crucial defence sector.
Secondly, the negotiations with Iran, which began at the level of the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany and the United Kingdom in October 2003, on the sensitive nuclear issue.
Thirdly, Germany’s candidacy as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, supported by France and the UK.
What happened in those years between the great three European countries, which excluded Italy, was the beginning of its downgrading, which would be a severe mistake not to record.
It is worth recalling that Italy has always been present in the leading groups and among the great European powers, ever since its birth (1861). It has therefore been assured a position similar to the UK, French and German positions. Over the last 140 years, regardless of its internal regime and actual strength in relation to the others, Italy has played important and decisive roles: the Triple Alliance in 1882; the Algeciras Agreement in 1904; the Pact with the Allied Powers in 1915; the Treaty of Locarno in 1926; the Four-Power Pact in 1934; the Munich Mediation in 1938; the deployment of the Euro-Missiles in 1979-80, etc.. As seen above, as early as 1882, Italy made a pact with the Central, Austro-Hungarian and German Empires. However, it was contacted by the Triple Alliance and, from 1915, it secretly switched to supporting France, the United Kingdom and Russia.
In the Fascist period Italy had important, albeit harmful and damaging allies, i.e. the Nazi Germany and Japan. In the post-war period, it enthusiastically joined all the major European ventures: the Council of Europe and OECE in 1948; the ECSC in 1950. After the failure of the EDC and EPC in 1954, it promoted the European relaunch in Messina in 1955, which led to the signing of the Treaties of Rome in March 1957, i.e. the European Economic Community and Euratom.
Italy joined the European Monetary System in the late 1970s; the Single European Act in 1985; and the Treaties of Maastricht (1992), Amsterdam (1996) and Nice (2000). It is one of the countries that have joined the Euro. Since 1975 it has been a member of the G5, later to become G7 and G8, and G14. In the sensitive military sector, as early as 1957 Italy has been the architect – with France and Germany – of a project for a nuclear military capability. In 1969 it adhered to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, with twelve conditional clauses, including the European clause, etc..
However, when a Foreign Minister performs his assignment – not knowing, and not even understanding what we have mentioned above (acronyms included) – it is natural that the downgrading process continues. It must also be said, however, that the responsibility does not lie with the Minister, but rather with those who placed him in this role of utmost responsibility.
The opportunity to try to make up for lost time and lost face at the Foreign Ministry could be the creation of the new government that – based on the recent outcome of the polls – could even lead the country to have a woman as Prime Minister. It would be an epoch-making turning point, as well as an opportunity missed by the Left, which from the Liberation to the present day, has expressed only Nilde Iotti, Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies from 1979 to 1992, as its highest female leader.
At this juncture, as some media claim that any right-wing government would be an expression of the nostalgic Right, I wish to point out that the alleged historical references of the future government’s protagonists were erased from history by the USA and the UK, while the current leaders of the winning coalition are perfectly in line with the wishes of the White House and the liberal-capitalist West.
In the meantime, let us take a look at the Foreign Ministers of previous centre-right governments and try – based on our experience as former observers of foreign policy and international relations – to provide some advice to the future Prime Minister.
There were four Foreign Ministers in the centre-right governments: Antonio Martino (Ω 2013), Renato Ruggiero (Ω 2013), Franco Frattini and Gianfranco Fini. The latter was also Deputy Prime Minister: a double responsibility that had previously been held only by Giuseppe Pella (1957-1958) and later by Massimo D’Alema (2006-2008), thus proving the skills and experience of the three aforementioned politicians. Gianfranco Fini was also Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies from 2008 to 2013.
When I organised the face-to-face meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Italian Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini (November 24, 2003), Sharon emphasised Italy’s balanced position, praising it as an important contribution to the advancement of the peace process. Furthermore, during his stay in Israel, Fini spoke of Italy’s faults regarding the “infamous racial laws wanted by Fascism”, for the implementation of which the decisive signature was not that of Mussolini, who proposed them, but of King Victor Emmanuel III of Savoy, who approved them.
It was Maria José of Savoy who, during one of my visits to Switzerland, made me aware of King Victor Emmanuel III’lack of decisiveness, as well as his spouse’s preponderant aspect of mater familiae.
A cowardly act that disgraced that King and his coat of arms indelibly before History. On the contrary, when the idea of marking the Jews with a Star of David was floated, King Christian X of Denmark (who ruled from 1912 to 1947), declared: “If that emblem is used, then we shall all wear it”. The government of that Nazi-occupied country did not implement racial laws.
It is good to remind ourselves of History, but it is also edifying to highlight the value of some Italian politicians who have taken on their responsibilities in the right fora (although they may have made some personal mistakes which, however, were unrelated to their political actions).
At a time of political void, it would be good to pick up the broken threads of a discourse of serious continuity of Italian diplomacy, which has recently undergone considerable stages of total embarrassment.
How a U.S. Colony Works: The Case of Germany
On 15 July 2022, Britain’s Reuters news agency headlined “70% of Germans back Ukraine despite high energy prices, survey shows”, and reported that “Some 70% of those polled backed Germany’s support for Ukraine, … found the survey conducted between July 12-14 by broadcaster ZDF.” ZDF is funded by the German Government — German taxpayers.
Germany’s AfD Party is one of the two Parties in Germany that are less than enthusiastically backing Germany’s anti-Russia position, the other such Party being “Die Linke” or “The Left” Party, which is Germany’s only socialist democratic Party, despite West Germany’s “Social Democratic Party” calling itself “democratic socialist” while being neither.
The AfD Party issued a press release, on 25 August 2022, “Stephan Brandner: Skandalöse „Politische Filter“ beeinflussen NDR-Berichterstattung” or “Stephan Brandner: Scandalous ‘political filters’ influence NDR reporting.” It reported that Mr. Brandner, who is an AfD Member of the German Parliament, said that
After the self-service affair about the now hated RBB director Schlesinger, reminiscent of feudal structures, an online magazine now reports that employees on North German radio complain about ‘political filters’ from their superiors. According to the report …, public service broadcasting executives act like ‘ministerial press officers’. …
As an AfD politician I am not surprised. After all, ARD and ZDF only report on the AfD with a ‘political filter’ and, for example, no longer invite AfD politicians to talk shows. … Compulsory contributions [by taxpayers, to ‘public broadcasting’] should be abolished.
Mr. Brandner provided no evidence for any of his allegations. (That’s the way politics is in a dictatorship. How can the public vote intelligently if they are routinely accepting allegations that are being made without supplying documentation? That’s a dictatorship by lies and liars, and no democracy-capable public would accept it. In science, what is not documented to be true is assumed to be false — not assumed to be true. A democratic country operates on the basis of science, not on the basis of faith.)
However, this doesn’t mean that Mr. Brandner’s allegations there are necessarily false. One reason why they could very well be true is that there are six Parties in Germany, and the current governing coalition consists of the three that take the hardest line against Russia, and for America, and for the post-2014, U.S.–coup, anti-Russian, Ukrainian Government. The ruling coalition, those three Parties, are called the “traffic-light coalition”, and include the rabidly neoconservative (or pro-U.S.-empire) anti-Russian Green Party, plus the U.S. Democratic Party-allied so-called “Social Democratic Party,” plus the rabidly libertarian or “neoliberal” (pro-free-market, anti-regulation, and generally U.S.-Republican-Party-allied) Free Democratic Party; and they EXCLUDE (or give the red light to, and prevent from participating in the Government) the three least-anti-Russian Parties, which are The Left Party (the authentic democratic socialists, or progressives, ideologically opposed to any imperialism), the AfD Party (nationalists), and the U.S.-Republican-Party-allied CDU/CSU Christian Democratic and Christian Social Union Party.
Brandner raised an important question, without providing any evidence regarding its solution. But here are some relevant facts, regarding the extent to which Germany’s Government tolerates corruption (which includes corruptness of a Government and of its ‘news’-media):
On 14 December 2021, I did an analysis comparing the anti-corruption laws in three nations, and headlined “Political Corruption in U.S., Germany, and Russia”. I concluded that
Although this is a very incomplete indicator of a country’s corruptness, it does present the U.S. in a very favorable light, and present Germany (11 out of 12 “No”s [meaning no law against corruption]) as being rather astoundingly corrupt. Russia is midway between those two, perhaps because after Yeltsin’s abominable rule, Putin cleaned up Russia’s Government, but a lot of that job still remains undone, even after 21 years.
Germany’s Government was more shaped by Truman than perhaps any in the world except America’s own Government. But, from the present indicator, America’s vassal nations would appear to be even more corrupt than the imperial center, the U.S., itself, is — at least insofar as their political campaign-finance laws (“what’s written in black and white” in the lawbooks) are concerned.
Here was the summary, specifically regarding Germany:
Following here will be answers that are solidly grounded in the written laws of each of these three countries (though not necessarily reflecting how those laws are enforced — or not), regarding the 12 most clearly important questions that were studied. I present those dozen questions in the order that seems to me to provide the clearest sequence in order for the reader to interpret them, not in the order that was employed by the source:
“8. Is there a ban on anonymous donations to candidates?” “There are no explicit provisions regarding donations to candidates.”
“2. Is there a ban on donations from foreign interests to candidates?” “There are no explicit provisions regarding donations to candidates.”
“18. Is there a limit on the amount a donor can contribute to a candidate?” “There are no explicit provisions regarding donations to candidates.”
“10. Is there a ban on donations from corporations with government contracts to candidates?” “There are no explicit provisions regarding donations to candidates.”
“4. Is there a ban on corporate donations to candidates?” “There are no explicit provisions regarding donations to candidates.”
“6. Is there a ban on donations from Trade Unions to candidates?” “There are no explicit provisions regarding donations to candidates.”
“5. Is there a ban on donations from Trade Unions to political parties?” “There are [is] no explicit … ban on donations from Trade Unions to political parties”
“3. Is there a ban on corporate donations to political parties?” “Ban on donation from corporate bodies, but accepted if it is a business enterprise, of whose shares more than 50 per cent of shares are owned by Germans …”
“9. Is there a ban on donations from corporations with government contracts to political parties?” “No.”
“14. Is there a limit on the amount a donor can contribute to a political party during a non-election specific period?” “No.”
“16. Is there a limit on the amount a donor can contribute to a political party during an election?” “No.”
“27. Are there provisions requiring donations to go through the banking system?” “No.”
Consequently, Brandner’s allegations might be expected to be true, simply because Germany, especially after the U.S. Government blew up the Russian gas pipelines to Germany and yet Germany’s Government continues to be a U.S. vassal-nation, despite that U.S. act of war against both Germany and Russia. This indicates Germany’s Government to be extremely corrupt, willing to ditch its own population in order to please its U.S. masters.
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