The world in brief – Thursday, October 13, 2022

In Syria, military bus explosion kills 18 soldiers:

A bomb exploded on a military bus near Damascus, killing at least 18 soldiers and wounding 27 others, Syrian state media has reported. “A military bus in Damascus countryside was targeted this morning by a terrorist detonation with an explosive device that was planted in advance,” state news agency SANA cited a military source as saying. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, said the blast occurred on Thursday in the al-Saboura area in the countryside of Damascus, on a highway leading to the Lebanese capital, Beirut. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, and no comment from Syrian authorities. It was one of a series of attacks in recent months against Syrian troops not on an active front line. In June, a bus attack claimed by the ISIL (ISIS) armed group killed 13 soldiers in the northern province of Raqqa.

Internationally, NATO lays out 10-year plan to make Ukraine a “default” member:

NATO is developing a 10-year plan to rebuild Ukraine’s military and arms industry with a focus on shifting the country from using Soviet equipment to primarily using NATO weapons, Politico reported on Wednesday. “We will be looking at defense planning requirements to get Ukraine fully interoperable with NATO,” a senior NATO official told Politico on the condition of anonymity. “It’s about shifting away from Soviet equipment … to NATO-compatible Western equipment.” The first meeting between NATO and Ukraine on the plan is set to be held next week. NATO acquisition officials held a meeting this month to discuss ways to help Ukraine’s defense industry and how to ramp up their own arms production to replenish the stockpiles of weapons that have been sent to Ukraine. But the new effort will focus entirely on improving Ukraine’s defense industrial base. “We’ll be looking at ways to try and rebuild Ukraine’s defense industry,” the NATO official said. The Politico report said that the effort could turn Ukraine into a NATO country “by default,” even if it isn’t technically a member of the military alliance.

In U.S.A., millions of SS recipients to see boost in benefits and private health insurers pocket government subsidies:

Millions of Social Security recipients will get an 8.7% boost in their benefits in 2023. That’s a historic increase and welcome news for American retirees and others — but it’s tempered by the fact that it’s fueled by record high inflation that’s raised the cost of everyday living. The cost-of living adjustment means the average recipient will receive more than $140 extra a month beginning in January, according to estimates released Thursday by the Social Security Administration. The boost in benefits will be coupled with a 3% drop in Medicare Part B premiums, meaning retirees will get the full impact of the jump in Social Security benefits. The Social Security Administration’s Acting Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi said combined with Medicare premiums going down in 2023, the Social Security benefit increase, “will give seniors more peace of mind and breathing room.” “This year’s substantial Social Security cost-of-living adjustment is the first time in over a decade that Medicare premiums are not rising and shows that we can provide more support to older Americans who count on the benefits they have earned,” she said.

Back in 2010, Democrats sold the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to Americans as a way to both preserve a privately financed health insurance system and provide more affordable and expanded coverage. Twelve years later, as health insurance companies report record profits, the opposite has happened: The nation’s major health insurance companies are receiving most of their money from the government, they just jacked up prices by double digits, and nearly half of the country is now underinsured or uninsured. A new analysis from former health insurance executive Wendell Potter shows that six of the seven largest health insurers — Centene, CVS, Elevance, UnitedHealth, Humana, and Molina — now receive the majority of their health plan revenues from the federal government, while the seventh, Cigna, gets 42 percent of its revenue from the government. These revenues are fueled in large part by the growth of Medicare Advantage plans, the expensive privatized Medicare plans operated by private health insurers that often wrongfully deny care. These figures do not even include the subsidies that insurers receive to help people buy individual insurance plans offered on state exchanges under the ACA. Under President Joe Biden, Democrats have twice expanded this ACA subsidy program, now until 2025. If Democrats move to authorize these subsidies yet again, the total ACA health insurance subsidy scheme would cost the public more than $800 million over the decade. Meanwhile, these plans deny nearly 20 percent of all in-network health claims.

In India, gang of FASTag wallet defrauders arrested:

Delhi Police’s Crime branch has arrested three men who are part of a gang involved in alleged mobile frauds using FASTag wallets, officials said on Thursday. The accused would call people up on pretext of providing services like activation of 5G services, or their credit card, and would get necessary details to transfer money in their FASTag wallets, they said. The accused were identified as Mohd Zahid, Pawan Singh, and Ravi Mittal, they said. Special Commissioner of Police (Crime) Ravindra Singh Yadav said that during the investigation, it was revealed that Zahid managed the fake accounts arranged by the kingpin of the gang, Pawan Singh. The gang used FASTags wallets to receive the defrauded money. Ravi would withdraw the money from FASTag wallets at petrol and CNG pumps in Haryana and Chandigarh using card swipe machines in connivance with the pump operators.

In China, seventh plenary session of the CPC concluded:

The 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) concluded its seventh plenary session in Beijing on Wednesday with a communique issued. Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, made an important speech at the four-day session, which was presided over by the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee. It was decided at the plenary session that the 20th CPC National Congress will open on Oct. 16 in Beijing, according to the communique. Entrusted by the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, Xi delivered a work report to the plenum. The plenary session also discussed and adopted a report to be made by the 19th CPC Central Committee to the 20th CPC National Congress, a work report of the 19th CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) to the congress, and an amendment to the CPC Constitution. The three documents will be submitted to the upcoming congress for examination and deliberation, read the communique.

In Haiti, U.S. eyes military intervention:

The news story begins: “The Council of Ministers [on October 8 in Haiti] authorized the prime minister to seek the presence in the country of a specialized military force in order to end the humanitarian crisis provoked by insecurity caused by gangs and their sponsors.” The circumstances are these: Masses of Haitians have been in the streets protesting intermittently since August. Their grievances are high costs—thanks to the International Monetary Fund—and shortages of food and fuel. Banks and stores are closed. Students are demonstrating. Labor unions have been on strike. The pattern has continued intermittently for ten years. Pointing to corruption, demonstrators have called for the removal, in succession, of Presidents Michel Martelly and Jovenel Moise, and now de facto prime minister Ariel Henry. Recently, violence has aggravated the situation, and foreign powers, including the United States, have paid attention. That’s significant because U.S. military interventions and other kinds of U.S. intrusions have worked to trash Haiti’s national sovereignty, and, with an assist from Haiti’s elite, deprive ordinary people of control of their lives. Presently, 40% of Haitians are food insecure. Some 4.9 million of them (43%) need humanitarian assistance. Life expectancy at birth is 63.7 years. Haiti’s poverty rate is 58.5%, with 73.5% of adult Haitians living on less than $5.50 per day. Electoral politics is fractured. It was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who arranged for Martelly to be a presidential candidate in 2011. Moïse in 2017 was the choice of 600,000 voters—out of six million eligible citizens. He illegally extended his presidential term by a year. As of now, there have been no presidential elections for six years, no elected mayors or legislators in office for over a year, and no scheduled elections ahead.

In Russia, apartment building hit during Ukrainian shelling of city:

An apartment block has been hit and damaged during the Ukrainian shelling of the Russian city of Belgorod, Mayor Anton Ivanov has said. “Air defenses had to be activated today again. There’s damage to a building on Gubkina Street,” he wrote on Telegram on Thursday. The mayor later announced that around 12.40pm local time an unidentified object crashed into the roof of an apartment block as a result of operations involving the air defense systems. The residents of the affected building have been evacuated, he said, adding that no casualties have yet been reported following the incident. Images on social media have shown smoke coming from the roof of an apartment block and rubble scattered on the ground. Some reports have suggested that debris from an incoming projectile or drone may have fallen on the building after being struck by the air defense systems. Belgorod, which has a population of some 356,000, is the main city of Russia’s Belgorod Region.

In Venezuela, President Maduro announces that country will host “the Congress of the Indigenous Movement’s New Era”:

On Wednesday, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro announced that his country will host “the Congress of the Indigenous Movement’s New Era” in Nov. 12. During a ceremony held at the Miraflores palace, the Bolivarian leader reported that said congress will formulate a “work plan” to promote actions in favor of the indigenous peoples. “We have to hand over Indigenous lands to continue supporting food production, the dissemination of native culture, the in-depth education of our Indigenous children and youth, technological development, and ancestral knowledge,” Maduro said. Proposed by the United Indigenous Movement of Venezuela (MIUVEN), the Indigenous Congress will invite delegations from Central American countries, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Mexico, the United States, and Canada. Maduro ordered his ministerial cabinet to prepare a “government plan” that includes special actions in the areas of housing, health, food, and education for Indigenous peoples.

In Iran, oil and gas workers announce strike:

According to reports received, contract workers and temporary contract workers at the oil and gas fields projects located at South Pars (Asaluyeh, Bushehr province) and contract workers of the second phase of the Abadan oil refinery stopped working and announced a strike today (10 October 2022) alongside the nationwide protest movement. The announcement of strikes by contract workers of the oil industry in Asaluyeh, and the contract workers of the second phase of Abadan refinery, along with a recent call by the Coordinating Council of Iranian Teachers’ Trade Associations (CCITTA)‎ for a [nationwide] strike and work stoppage in the country’s schools, is anothermajor step in the organising of a string of crippling strikes aimed towards the bringing about of a general strike. The working class and other working people of the nation, with their protests and strikes in recent years, have not only repeatedly demanded their own trade-welfare interests, but have also demandedthe protecting and guaranteeing of the rights of other social strata opposed to the ruling dictatorship. The struggle of the workers and working people of Iran against privatisation, price deregulation, and anti-people economic programs – such as the targeted [elimination of] state subsidies and the so-called “economic surgery”- that are currently being implemented by the [President of the Islamic Republic] Ebrahim Raisi’s anti-national/popular government, has a definite political substance and character and has certainly posed a challenge to the ruling dictatorship and its socio-economic orientation.

In South Africa, three new measles cases are discovered:

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has sounded the alarm over a new measles outbreak in South Africa. Three new cases were found within a week of each other, in two Limpopo-based local municipalities. Two of the children affected were aged one or under. The spread of measles is incredibly rapid, and the declaration of an outbreak shows just how seriously the health authorities are taking it. In a statement issued on Thursday, the NICD confirmed a number of basic details. “Surveillance at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases detected three cases of measles from two healthcare facilities in the Greater Sekhukhune District, Limpopo Province, within 30 days. Measles is highly infectious, and spreads rapidly from person to person.” “An outbreak is classified as three laboratory-confirmed measles cases reported within 30 days in a district. The first two measles cases took place on 22 and 25 September. The third case was on 2 October. The patients were aged 11 years, one year, and 11 months respectively.”

Published by jim

Curator of things...

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