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Oil rig around the US Capitol.

Jess Frampton

The greatest energy boom you’ve never heard of

“A few years ago, we were energy independent, now we’re begging countries to give us gasoline.” —Former president Donald Trump

“Joe Biden has destroyed US energy independence.” —Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)

“Since Joe Biden’s first day in office, he has waged an unprecedented war on American energy producers.” —House GOP

If we are to believe Republican politicians, President Joe Biden is waging a debilitating “war” on American energy. But is that true?

Not quite. After having to import massive amounts of foreign energy for most of its modern history, the United States became energy independent in 2019 – when Donald Trump happened to be president – thanks to the decades-long fracking and shale revolution. Domestic oil and gas production dipped briefly during the pandemic as global demand collapsed, but it quickly bounced back under President Biden.

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A police officer gets his shoes shined as he and fellow officers stand outside the prosecutor's office before the arrival of Peru's President Dina Boluarte, in Lima, Peru March 7, 2023.

REUTERS/Gerardo Marin

Hard Numbers: Peru declares crime emergency, EU cuts Somalia aid, Chinese weddings dwindle, McCarthy tests his majority, oil prices surge

160,200: Peruvian President Dina Boluarte declared a state of emergency in two districts of the capital, Lima, and one in the northern city of Talara amid a devastating wave of violent crime. Lima police collected 160,200 crime reports last year, up 33% from 2021, part of a larger spike in violence in South America.

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Trader Warren Meyers watches the Fed Rate announcement on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange


Breather for the Fed?

For background, the Fed has been bumping up rates since March 2022, when pandemic-related stimulus and supply chain kinks were driving annual price growth towards 9%, a 40-year high.

But these days things are looking rosier. The latest data show annual price growth in May was just 4%, almost a full point below April’s clip. It’s the 11th consecutive month that inflation has fallen.

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.


Is the US trying to patch things up with Saudi?

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled on Tuesday to Saudi Arabia for a three-day trip, marking the second high-level US visit to the kingdom over the past month.

While few have expectations of a large breakthrough in a relationship that's been underpinned by awkward exchanges and tense standoffs for some time, Blinken is likely hoping to bolster waning trust.

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Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro.


Maduro’s not going anywhere. What comes next for Venezuela?

Just four years ago, most observers would have bet good money that Nicolás Maduro’s days at the top were numbered.

In 2018, Venezuela’s strongman president had declared himself the winner after a reelection battle that was broadly considered to be rigged. Maduro’s subsequent crackdown on anti-government protesters made him one of the world’s most reviled and isolated leaders.

It’s now been 10 years since Maduro, the foreign minister at the time, was handed the top job, and his power is more entrenched than ever. How has the Venezuelan despot survived and what might this mean for the country's politics and its people?

Meet Maduro. A former bus driver from Caracas, Maduro got his political training as a young man in Cuba. Upon returning to Venezuela, he became a big shot in the union movement and in leftist politics as a member of the United Socialist Party.

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People in Hong Kong hold sheets of paper in protest over coronavirus disease restrictions in mainland China.


What We’re Watching: China's zero-COVID shift, Russia's fertilizer deal, Ramaphosa's corruption probe, EU's oil wrangling

China hints zero-COVID shift, censors online protesters

Chinese people who can't wait to ditch zero-COVID — basically everyone except the government — got a glimmer of hope Thursday, when the senior official overseeing the policy said that China was entering a "new stage" in taming the virus. Although what that means is unclear, his comments follow moves by several big cities to relax lockdown rules. Meanwhile, now that most COVID protesters are off the streets, Xi Jinping's censors have taken the fight to cyberspace. They'll have to get creative because Chinese netizens are now ranting about zero-COVID with the online equivalent of the now-verboten blank sheets of paper: sarcastic memes or words that sound similar to Xi or resign. Interestingly, the government outsources content moderation to social media companies that use a mix of humans and artificial intelligence. Exhaustion with zero-COVID might be the biggest test to date of a system that’s not designed to be perfect but rather effective enough at wiping out critical voices.

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Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.


Why Washington is chatting up Nicolás Maduro again

You can isolate some of the oil-rich strongmen all of the time, or all of the oil-rich strongmen some of the time, but that’s about it these days, as Joe Biden is quickly learning.

Last week, it emerged that the White House is exploring ways to relax certain sanctions against the Venezuelan regime of Nicolás Maduro. Under a proposed deal, Washington would allow US oil major Chevron to resume exporting oil from the country while Maduro, for his part, would agree to restart talks with the opposition about free and fair elections.

As a reminder, a 2018 crisis brought on by Maduro’s repression and economic mismanagement drove millions of Venezuelans abroad. It also landed the country under “maximum pressure” financial and energy sanctions from the US, which were designed to squeeze Maduro — the heir to “21st Century Socialist” Hugo Chávez — from power.

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Saudi Arabia proved it's still the key player in the Gulf
Biden's Trip to Saudi Arabia Viewed as a Win for the Saudis | GZERO World

Saudi Arabia proved it's still the key player in the Gulf

Joe Biden's pledges to prevent Iran from getting the bomb and to defend Saudi Arabia from an attack were "music to Saudi Arabia's ears," Bernard Haykel, a professor at Princeton University and confidante of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman tells Ian Bremmer on GZERO World. Biden's controversial trip was largely viewed as a big win for the Saudis, while the US didn't get much out of the discussions because Biden's team didn't do their homework, says Haykel.

The Saudis "were able to show that they have tremendous convening power" by bringing in all the Gulf leaders, thus demonstrating that Riyadh is the most important player there — and the partner you need for political and energy stability.

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