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EU strikes gas deal with the U.S. as it seeks to cut its reliance on Russia

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US President Joe Biden listens while European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen makes a statement about Russia at the US Chief of Mission residence in Brussels, on March 25, 2022.

Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

The U.S. said Friday it will work with international partners to provide at least 15 billion cubic meters more of liquified natural gas to Europe this year, seeking to end the bloc’s dependence on Russian energy exports following the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.

These additional volumes of LNG are expected to increase going forward, the White House said in a statement.

It comes amid heightened concern that energy-importing countries continue to top up President Vladimir Putin‘s war chest with oil and gas revenue on a daily basis.

U.S. President Joe Biden described the agreement as a “groundbreaking” new initiative designed to “increase energy security, economic security and national security.”

Speaking alongside European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels, Biden said: “I know that eliminating Russian gas will have costs for Europe. But it’s not only the right thing to do from a moral standpoint, it’s going to put us on a much stronger strategic footing.”

“All of this is bringing the European Union and the United States even closer together, and that’s a win for all of us,” he said.

The U.S. and EU announced the formation of a joint task force to bolster energy security for Ukraine and the EU for next winter and the following one.

The Task Force For Energy Security will be chaired by a representative from the White House and a representative of the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch.

The primary goals of the task force, the U.S. and EU said, would be to diversify LNG supplies in alignment with climate objectives and reduce demand for natural gas. The initiative will likely require new facilities in Europe for importing LNG.

Trans-Atlantic partnership ‘more united than ever’

“The trans-Atlantic partnership stands stronger and more united than ever. And we are determined to stand up against Russia’s brutal war. This war will be a strategic failure for Putin,” Von der Leyen said Friday.

“Putin is trying to turn back the clock to another era — an era of brutal use of force, of power politics, of spheres of influence and internal repression. I am confident he will fail,” she added. “We are working together to forge a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable future. And I know we will succeed.”

The White House said the EU said would work toward the goal of ensuring, until at least 2030, demand for approximately 50 billion cubic meters per year of extra U.S. LNG. This is “consistent with our shared net-zero goals,” it added.

“This also will be done on the understanding that prices should reflect long-term market fundamentals and stability of supply and demand,” the U.S. said.

Russian energy is a key source of income and political leverage for Moscow.

Indeed, the EU currently receives roughly 40% of its gas via Russian pipelines, several of which run through Ukraine.

Revenue from Russian oil and gas was seen to be responsible for roughly 43% of the Kremlin’s federal budget between 2011 and 2020, highlighting how fossil fuels play a central role for the Russian government.

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Russia’s war with Ukraine has coincided with sharp rises in the prices of coal, oil and gas as countries scramble to replace Russian energy sources.

The rush to further deepen humanity’s dependency on fossil fuels in the aftermath of the crisis in Ukraine prompted a dire warning from U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“Countries could become so consumed by the immediate fossil fuel supply gap that they neglect or knee-cap policies to cut fossil fuel use,” Guterres said earlier this week. “And this is madness: addiction to fossil fuels is mutually assured destruction.”



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3 rules to follow for a successful open relationship from therapist

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Open relationships among celebrities — Shailene Woodley, Angelina Jolie, and, perhaps most notably, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith — have been conversation fodder for years. The dynamic is often dismissed as a Hollywood arrangement that can only be maintained by iron-clad NDAs.

In recent years, though, non-monogamy has become increasingly mainstream. About one in four adults is interested in having an open relationship, according to 2021 YouGov poll of 23,000 Americans.

Opening up a relationship can actually strengthen it, says Avital Isaacs, a therapist at Manhattan Alternative Wellness Collective, a mental health practice that serves queer and trans people, non-monogamous people, and sex workers.

“In a monogamous relationship, there is a typified kind of foreclosure,” she says. “The relationship is defined by what you don’t do and it can feel like a real reduction of self. There is less that you are actively doing with your partner.”

Non-monogamy allows you to explore more experiences that you otherwise might not have in a monogamous relationship. It can also help remind someone that their partner is desirable. “Seeing them go on dates with other people may inspire a sense of wanting to earn this person’s love and care,” Isaacs says. “For some people, that’s a big motivator, instead of taking each other for granted.”

3 rules for a successful open relationship

An open relationship tends to work best if you navigate it thoughtfully, says Megan Hanafee Major, a therapist who works with couples, marriage, gender, and sexuality based in the greater Chicago area.

“Most successful open relationships follow general rules around boundaries, communication, and goals,” she says.

If you’re interested in exploring an open relationship, here are Major’s three tips to get you started.

1. Define which kinds or relationships are OK

Decide if any types of relationships or people are “off limits,” Major says. “Communicate if you or a partner has a primary relationship that will take priority, and think about what type of information you share with other partners.”

Maybe being open means physical intimacy but not emotional. Whatever it is, you need to communicate your boundaries.

“Take time to think about personal boundaries as well as relational ones,” she says. “Know that it is OK to adjust these if needed, but respecting others’ boundaries and expecting them to do the same for you is a must.”

2. More communication is always better

In any relationship, communication is paramount. In an open one where expectations are even less clear you need to be more conscious about what you’re negotiating with your partner, Isaacs says.

“When you’re in a monogamous relationship you’re doing the framework provided for you based on our society and culture,” she says. “We prioritize and understand romantic relationships to be exclusive. If you’re in an open relationship, our cultural structures and systems are not designed for you.”

That can put you in uncharted waters.

For example, she says, you get a “plus one” at a wedding or a holiday party, not a “plus whoever you’re in a relationship with.”

Major agrees that when you’re bucking societal norms and creating a more unique dynamic between you and your partner, clear communication becomes even more necessary. “Personally, I am of the mind that more communication is nearly always better than less,” she says.

Be specific when discussing the parameters of your relationships. “Communicating to partners about expectations, logistics, like time commitments, and desires, allows trust and vulnerability to build and hold over time. Not only will this help manage any misunderstandings that arise — they are inevitable — but will show your partners that you value them, their thoughts, and their time.”

3. Know what your goals are and communicate if they change

Make sure you, your primary partner and potential new partners are all on the same page.

Some questions you can ask yourself, Major says, include:

  • Do you hope to spend time doing specific activities?
  • Would you like your partners to know one another? 
  • Are there certain things that you want to explore sexually or romantically? 

“Goals may be different from relationship to relationship and are bound to change over time,” says Major. Being clear about them can alleviate hurt feelings and mixed messages down the road.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declares emergency as storm is expected to hit Florida

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis campaigns for Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance during an event run by Turning Point Action in Youngstown, Ohio, U.S., August 19, 2022. 

Gaelen Morse | Reuters

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency for 24 counties as Tropical Storm Ian gathers strength over the Caribbean and is expected to bring heavy rain and hurricane-force winds to the state next week.

DeSantis issued the order Friday encouraging residents and local governments to make preparations as the storm moves toward the state. He has also requested a federal pre-landfall emergency declaration.

“This storm has the potential to strengthen into a major hurricane and we encourage all Floridians to make their preparations,” DeSantis said in a statement. “We are coordinating with all state and local government partners to track potential impacts of this storm.”

The National Hurricane Center said Ian is forecast to rapidly strengthen in the coming days before moving over western Cuba and approach Florida next week with major hurricane force.

John Cangialosi, a senior hurricane specialist with National Hurricane Center in Miami, said it is currently unclear where Ian will hit hardest in Florida and said residents should begin preparing for the storm, including gathering supplies for potential power outages.

“Too soon to say if it’s going to be a southeast Florida problem or a central Florida problem or just the entire state,” he said. “So at this point really the right message for those living in Florida is that you have to watch forecasts and get ready and prepare yourself for potential impact from this tropical system.”

The governor’s declaration applies to Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lee, Manatee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okeechobee, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota and St. Lucie counties.

Meanwhile, strong rain and winds are lashing the Atlantic Canada region as a powerful post-tropical cyclone made landfall there, with forecasters warning it could be one of the most severe storms in the county’s history. Fiona made landfall in Nova Scotia before dawn Saturday.

More than 500,000 customers in Atlantic Canada have been affected by outages. Ocean waves pounded the town of Port Aux Basques on the southern coast of Newfoundland, where entire structures were washed into the sea.



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Britain’s lurch to Reaganomics gets thumbs down from markets

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Truss has now put the country on an economic road completely at odds with most, if not all, major global economies.

Hannah Mckay | Reuters

LONDON — New U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss may have talked big on “trickle-down economics” during her campaign trail this summer, but no-one could have predicted the swathe of tax cuts unleashed just weeks into her Downing Street tenure.

Billed as a “mini-budget” by her Finance Minister Kwasi Kwarteng, Friday’s fiscal announcement was anything but with a volume of tax cuts not seen in Britain since 1972.

Truss — whose “Trussonomics” policy stance has been likened to that of her political idols Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher — has now put the country on an economic road completely at odds with most, if not all, major global economies as inflation boils over and a cost-of-living crisis barrels into Europe.

It’s been seen, even by some of her advocates, as a political and economic gamble with Truss yet to face the wider British electorate in a nationwide vote — unlike her predecessor Boris Johnson.

Market players immediately predicted that Britain would have to scale up its bond issuance and significantly increase its debt load to pay for the cuts — not typical of the low-tax Conservative governments of the past.

Stocks slump as UK unveils debt-financed tax cut

U.K. bond markets went into a tailspin Friday as investors shunned the country’s assets. Yields (which move inversely to prices) on the 5-year gilt rose by half a percentage point — which Reuters reported was the largest one-day rise since at least 1991.

And with bonds tanking, sterling was also sent into freefall after hitting 37-year lows against the dollar in recent weeks. It ended Friday down nearly 3.6% against the greenback. On the week it lost 5% and is now down 27% since just before the 2016 Brexit vote.

Wall Street banks are now seriously considering a break lower to parity with the U.S. dollar — for the first time in history — and many commentators have likened the pound to an emergency market currency.

Left-leaning The Guardian newspaper called it “a budget for the rich” on its front page Saturday, while The Times called it a “great tax gamble.” The right-wing Daily Mail newspaper called it a “true Tory budget” while Kwarteng himself said it was a “very good day for the U.K.,” declining to comment on the currency moves.

ING analysts said in a research note that investors are worried that the U.K. Treasury has now effectively committed to open-ended borrowing for these tax cuts, and that the Bank of England will have to respond with more aggressive rate hikes.

“To us, the magnitude of the jump in gilt yields has more to do with a market that has become dysfunctional,” ING’s Senior Rates Strategist Antoine Bouvet and Global Head of Markets Chris Turner said in the note.

UK taxpayers will have to fund a new oil price cap, says Neuberger Berman's Jonathan Bailey

“A number of indicators … suggest that liquidity is drying up and market functioning is impaired. A signal from the BOE that it is willing to suspend gilt sales would go a long way to restoring market confidence, especially if it wants to maximise its chances of fighting inflation with conventional tools like interest rate hikes. The QT [quantitative tightening] battle, in short, is not one worth fighting for the BOE,” they added, referencing the Bank’s move to normalize its balance sheet after years of stimulus.

ING also noted that the U.K.’s long-term sovereign outlook is currently stable with the big three ratings agencies, but the “risk of a possible shift to a negative outlook” could come when they are reviewed (Oct. 21 and Dec. 9).

Deutsche Bank analysts said, meanwhile, that the “price of easy fiscal policy was laid bare by the market” on Friday.

“[Friday’s] market moves suggest that there may be a credibility gap,” Sanjay Raja, a senior economist at Deutsche Bank, said in a research note.

“A plan to get the public finances on a sustainable footing will be necessary but not sufficient for markets to regain confidence in an economy sporting large twin deficits [the U.K.’s fiscal and current account balances],” he added.

“Crucially, with fiscal policy shifting into easier territory, the onus may now fall on the Bank of England to stabilise the economy, with the MPC [Monetary Policy Committee] having more work to do to plug the gap between expansionary fiscal policy and tightening monetary policy.”

—CNBC’s Karen Gilchrist contributed to this article.



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