This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:
Over the past week, the six major multinational oil
giants—ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, BP, TotalEnergies and Eni—reported
combined profits of over $64 billion in the second quarter alone. The
orgy of profiteering is not limited to the six major oil companies. The
smaller US companies Valero, Phillips 66 and Hess posted a massive
combined quarterly profit of $8.62 billion.
In total, these nine companies reported over $72 billion in profits over three months. The oil companies, by and large, have refused to increase production, driving gas prices in the United States earlier this summer to an average of $5 a gallon and siphoning billions from working class families into their coffers. While the price of a gallon of gas has dipped somewhat in the last month to a nationwide average of $4.19 a gallon, this is still over a dollar more than the $3.17 recorded at this same time last year.
Every day during this period, the oil companies made $800 million in profit, or about $33.3 million an hour.
An analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental lobbying group that tracks the profits of the 15 largest oil and gas companies in the United States, found that compared to the same period in 2021, oil company profits grew “a staggering 242 percent.”
The largest private oil company in the United States, ExxonMobil, reported a second-quarter profit of nearly $17.9 billion, which represents a year-to-year increase of 226 percent, according to the NRDC. Overall, ExxonMobil has reported over $23.3 billion in profits this year alone.
Chevron reported a second-quarter profit of $11.62 billion, a 277 percent year increase from a year ago. The United Steelworkers union played a key role in the company’s massive profit increase through its isolation and betrayal of Chevron workers’ struggles for improved wages and working conditions, including its sellout in June of a strike by 500 oil workers in Richmond, California.
In normal times Iraq’s parliament can be a desolate place: many mps do not bother to show up for work. Today it is full--though far short of a quorum. On July 30th supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr, a cleric and politician, stormed parliament. They have settled in for what they promise will be an open-ended sit-in. Volunteers have been bringing meals and tea; juice vendors roam the aisles. For once, mps have a legitimate reason for staying at home.
Iraq has been without a proper government for almost ten months, the longest period of paralysis since 2005; Mustafa al-Kadhimi has been hobbling along as the caretaker prime minister. Such deadlocks are nothing new. But the events of the past week have pushed the country in an ominous direction.
“The pursuit of the sit-in is very significant because it will
solidify your demands,” al-Iraqi said in the tweet on Tuesday,
recommending that protesters take it in turns to remain at the protest
The protestors will stay inside the Green Zone, which contains Iraq’s parliament, government buildings, and foreign embassies.
He added that there would be a sizable prayer gathering on Friday in the Green Zone.
The declaration led to confusion inside the parliament building, where some authorities said demonstrators could stay in the main chamber and a conference room despite the directives to remove them.
Despite concerns over the potential for a military clash or conflict with China, the Biden administration came together with the entire US political and military establishment in backing Pelosi’s trip. As Pelosi landed in Taipei, an aircraft carrier strike group led by the USS Ronald Reagan, with its full complement of fighter aircraft, attack helicopters and other weapons systems, was positioned in waters off Taiwan’s east coast.
The USS Ronald Reagan was accompanied by a guided missile cruiser USS Antietam and a destroyer USS Higgins. The US Navy also reported that the amphibious assault ship, the USS Tripoli, was also operating in the area. Two US Air Force planes were reportedly sent to Malaysia, where Pelosi held talks yesterday as part of the military preparations for her trip to Taiwan.
US officials, the American media and Pelosi herself promoted the lie that her trip and the accompanying military operation was “routine,” and her presence in Taipei did not deviate from decades of American policy and diplomacy.
Pelosi’s trip is anything but routine. She is the highest-ranking US official to visit Taiwan in more than a quarter century. Her visit is just the latest in calculated steps taken by the Trump and Biden administrations to undermine the One China policy that has been the foundation of political relations between the US and China since formal diplomatic ties were established in 1979.
Under the One China policy, Washington de facto recognised that Beijing as the legitimate government of all China, including the island of Taiwan. It broke off diplomatic relations with the military dictatorship in Taipei and withdrew its military forces from the island. At the same time, the US Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act to allow unofficial, low-level contact with Taipei and the sale of so-called defensive weapons to Taiwan.
Over the past six years, all that has dramatically changed. Top-level talks and visits have been openly resumed; the US has for the first time publicly acknowledged the presence of American troops on the island; and arms sales, including of manifestly offensive weaponry, has escalated along with the frequency of US warships passing through the narrow Taiwan Strait.
Biden has deliberately ignored repeated Chinese warnings that US actions were jeopardising the relations between the world’s two largest economies and profoundly destabilising the Indo-Pacific region. In a phone conversation with Biden last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned that the US was “playing with fire,” if it allowed the Pelosi’s trip to take place.
On July 29, 2022, the FBI raided the Uhuru House in St. Petersburg, Florida and the Uhuru Solidarity Center in St. Louis, Missouri. The raids were connected with the indictment of a Russian national who is accused of attempting to “cause turmoil in the United States” by engaging with “Unindicted Co-Conspirators” to act as agents of the Russian Federation.
The African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) is the organization targeted by the FBI for a very simple reason. It is a Black organization which has dared to confront and oppose U.S. imperialism. The alleged connection with the Russian government kills two birds with one stone. The Russiagate hoax is continually resuscitated as it gives new life to claims of election and other interference and Black people’s organizations are as always the first to be targeted by the State.
Every individual and organization calling itself socialist, anti-imperialist, Black nationalist, or anti-war should be in support of the APSP at this moment. The APSP has done what they have every right to do, travel anywhere in the world they choose, even to countries said to be “adversaries” of the United States. They communicate with the people they want to be in contact with and they espouse their beliefs freely. As an anti-imperialist organization the APSP vehemently critiques both U.S. foreign policy and its domestic regime, particularly as it engages in continued oppression against Black people. All of these actions put it firmly in the crosshairs of law enforcement and ensure that it will be made an example of as the state cracks down on all those who oppose its actions.
These witch hunts are not new. They go back to the Palmer Raids of the Woodrow Wilson administration, and the anti-communist attacks which persecuted Paul Robeson and Claudia Jones among others. They morphed into the CounterIntelligence Program, COINTELPRO, which destroyed the liberation movement by killing and imprisoning leadership, and creating intra-group dissension.
But now the danger is somewhat different. In 1971 a group of anti-war activists broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania. Would the Washington Post, which was alone in printing the papers they had stolen, and who ended up revealing the existence of COINTELPRO, now analyze the facts in the case of APSP? Now the Washington Post is in the hands of one of the richest people in the world, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, who also has contracts with the CIA. The old media wasn't always reliably interested in journalistic investigation, but could occasionally make good on the dictum of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. Those days are no more.