Saturday, November 27, 2021

Tweets Of The Day

Picture Of The Day

Migrants, mostly Haitians, walk as they take part in a caravan heading to the U.S. border, near Tapachula, Mexico November 26, 2021. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez  

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... Caravan of migrants making their way through Mexico (Reuters).

Friday, November 26, 2021

This Is Why The Omicron Variant Is So Dangerous

The Botswana variant has around 50 mutations and more than 30 of them are on the spike protein. The current crop of vaccines trigger the body to recognise the version of the spike protein from older versions of the virus. But the mutations may make the spike protein look so different that the body's immune system struggles to recognise it and fight it off. And three of the spike mutations (H665Y, N679K, P681H) help it enter the body's cells more easily. Meanwhile, it is missing a membrane protein (NSP6) which was seen in earlier iterations of the virus, which experts think could make it more infectious. And it has two mutations (R203K and G204R) that have been present in all variants of concern so far and have been linked with infectiousness 

 Daily Mail: Why IS the Omicron variant so scary? Super strain has evolved to have ALL of the worst mutations of Alpha, Beta and Delta combined plus new ones that could make it the most infectious and jab-resistant variant ever  

* British scientists warn new variant has twice as many mutations as Delta 

* Experts think it will slash protection from Covid vaccines by 40 per cent 

* Health Secretary Sajid Javid last night announced travel from six countries 

The Botswana Covid variant, described by experts as the worst strain ever, has all the worrying mutations from previous versions of the virus, plus many more that could make it the most infectious and vaccine-resistant one so far. 

The super strain has acquired the mutations of Delta, which made that variant so transmissible that it became world-dominant in months. 

 And the new variant also includes the vaccine-resistant alterations seen on Beta — another strain of concern that emerged in South Africa and was thought to be best at escaping the immune system until now.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: In a nutshell. This variant is dangerous because it has evolved to have all of the worst mutations of Alpha, Beta and Delta combined plus new ones that could make it the most infectious and jab-resistant variant ever. 

 So when will we know if this is a threat that we should be concerned about? 

The people that I trust who are experts in this type of analysis are telling me that we will all know within a week or two.

Tonight's Movie Is The 'The Fourth Protocol'

 

From Wikipedia: The Fourth Protocol is a 1987 British Cold War spy film starring Michael Caine and Pierce Brosnan. Directed by John Mackenzie, it is based on the 1984 novel The Fourth Protocol by Frederick Forsyth (Read more).

Did WHO Skip The Next Greek Letter (Xi) In Naming The Latest COVID-19 Variant Omicron So As To Not Embarass The Chinese Leader?

WNU Editor: Jonathan Turley is onto something.

President Biden Was Against Travel Bans Before He Was For It

WNU Editor: The internet is forever. Hat tip to SmallDeadAnimals.

It Could Take Pfizer BioNTech Upwards Of 100 Days To Develop A New Vaccine To Combat The Omicron Covid-19 Variant

Zero Hedge: Pfizer CEO Warns New Vaccine To Combat Heavily-Mutated Coronavirus Could Take 100 Days  

Update (1008ET): Reuters reports BioNTech, Pfizer is expecting laboratory results of the recently discovered Nu variant in two weeks. 

"We understand the concern of experts and have immediately initiated investigations on variant B.1.1.529," BioNTech said.  

"We expect more data from the laboratory tests in two weeks at the latest. These data will provide more information about whether B.1.1.529 could be an escape variant that may require an adjustment of our vaccine if the variant spreads globally," it added. 

Reuters notes, "escape variants are virus versions that elude the targeted immune response brought about by vaccination." 

 Citi analyst Andrew Baum was the first to note that it could take Pfizer, BioNTech upwards of 100 days to develop a new vaccine to combat Nu. 

Pfizer and BioNTech confirmed the redesigned timeline of the new vaccine.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: A hundred days is an eternity in a pandemic. Add in production time, distribution, and setting up appointments. This 100 days could easily stretch 150 more days. 

On a more depressing note. In a worse case scenario .... expect lock-downs to return.

Omicron Variant: From Discovery To Global Panic In 48 Hours

Daily Mail: From discovery to global panic in 48 hours: How South African scientists' warnings about soaring cases of Covid super-mutant variant sparked frantic cabinet meeting and worldwide travel ban 

* B.1.1.529 was first discovered in Hong Kong on Monday when a patient travelled back from South Africa 

* The variant received international attention on Wednesday but dismissed as not an 'issue' by No10 

* A surge in cases in South Africa led to ministers and experts meeting on Thursday to discuss a response 

* Britain and Europe closed off their borders to Southern Africa today and experts mooted further lockdowns 

The world shut itself off from Southern Africa today in response to a super mutant variant that was unheard of just days ago. B.1.1.529 — which has now been named Omicron— was first picked up in Hong Kong on Monday in a patient who had travelled from South Africa. 

It did not catch international attention until Wednesday after a British scientists mentioned its 32 'horrific' mutations on social media after cases were picked up in Botswana and South Africa as well.  

Read more ....  

Update: New COVID-19 variant triggers global alarm as WHO urges caution (Reuters)  

WNU Editor: More information on this variant will become known in the coming days. But in the meantime everyone is expecting the worse .... EU States Agree to Suspend Travel to Southern Africa (Reuters).

U.S. Aays 'All Options' Are On The Table As Russia-Ukraine Tensions Rise

Troops transport trucks on a pontoon bridge across a river during joint military exercises held by Russia and Belarus in September.

Reuters: U.S. says 'all options' on the table over Russian troop build-up near Ukraine 

WASHINGTON, Nov 26 (Reuters) - All options are on the table in how to respond to Russia's 'large and unusual' troop build-up near Ukraine's border, and the NATO alliance will decide what the next move will be following consultations next week, the State Department's top U.S. diplomat for European affairs said on Friday. 

"As you can appreciate, all options are on the table and there's a toolkit that includes a whole range of options," Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried told reporters in a telephone briefing.

"It's now for the alliance to decide what are the next moves that NATO wants to take," she said, speaking ahead of a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Latvia and Sweden next week to attend NATO and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) meetings, where she said Moscow's "large and unusual" troop build up would be topping the agenda. 

Read more ....  

Update #1: US Preparing for Multiple Contingencies as Russia-Ukraine Tensions Rise (VOA)  

Update #2: How Far Would Biden Go to Defend Ukraine Against Russia? (Chronicle 42 News/NYT) 

WNU Editor: Here is a good read .... What's Behind The Russia-Ukraine War Fears -- And What Might Actually Happen? (RFE).

NATO Secretary General Warns Russia Of 'Costs' If It Moves On Ukraine

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg (file photo)  

RFE: NATO, U.S. Repeat Warnings To Russia Of 'Costs' If It Escalates With Ukraine 

U.S. and NATO officials have issued fresh warnings of the possible consequences of any new Russian aggression against neighboring Ukraine, with Washington suggesting that "all options are on the table" if the alliance is forced to respond to an escalation by Moscow. 

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on November 26 that Russia had assembled combat-ready troops, tanks, and heavy military equipment near its border with Ukraine and cautioned Moscow that any force against its neighbor would incur "costs."  

Read more ....  

Update #1: NATO chief warns Russia of ‘costs’ if it moves on Ukraine (AP) 

Update #2: NATO chief warns Russia on troop build-up (Reuters)  

WNU Editor: The NATO statement is here .... NATO Secretary General and Polish President address Belarus, Russian build-up near Ukraine (NATO).

WHO Labels New Covid Strain As A 'Variant Of Concern'. Names It Omicron

 

CNBC: WHO labels new Covid strain, named Omicron, a ‘variant of concern’, citing possible increased reinfection risk 

* The U.N. health agency recognized the strain, previously referred to as lineage B.1.1.529, as a variant of concern. 

* It is feared a sharp upswing of Covid cases in South Africa’s Gauteng province — where the heavily mutated strain of the virus was first identified — could mean it has greater potential to escape prior immunity than other variants. 

* The WHO has said it will take weeks to understand how the variant may impact diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. 

The World Health Organization on Friday assigned the Greek letter Omicron to a newly identified Covid variant in South Africa. 

The U.N. health agency recognized the strain, previously referred to as lineage B.1.1.529, as a variant of concern. 

Health experts are deeply concerned about the transmissibility of the Omicron variant given that it has an unusual constellation of mutations and a profile that is different from other variants of concern. 

Read more .... 

More News On WHO Labeling The New Covid Strain As A 'Variant Of Concern'  

WHO labels new Covid strain as 'variant of concern' amid global alarm -- NBC  

Omicron: Mutations prompt new coronavirus variant concern from WHO -- BBC  

WHO identifies omicron as new highly transmissible COVID-19 'variant of concern' -- FOX News  

New 'Omicron' Variant Is Now a 'Variant of Concern': WHO -- Business Insider  

WHO names new COVID variant ‘Omicron’ -- NYPost  

WHO classifies B.1.1.529 as Omicron, a Covid variant of concern -- RT

Nearly 3/4 Of The World's Dictators Receive US Weapons & Military Assistance

Antiwar.com: Nearly 3/4 of the World’s Dictators Receive US Weapons and Military Assistance 

The US supports nearly 75% of the world’s dictators, autocracies, monarchies, military regimes, etc., with weapons, military training and money. Please remember this the next time someone tells you the US should do X or Y because such and such a nation is bad… 

Comparing Freedom House’s list of Not Free nations* to FY 2020 US overseas weapons sales, military training and financial assistance**, we find that of the 57 nations considered undemocratic, 42 receive weapons, training and/or money for their military and security services. This means 74% of the non-democratic nations of the world are supported militarily by the US. Interestingly, the remaining 15 nations are nearly all sanctioned. The world’s countries can be divided into two parts: those who buy/receive weapons from the US and those sanctioned. It seems like it’s a pretty simple arrangement.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: Welcome to the real world.

US Lawmakers Defy Warnings From China To Make A Surprise Trip To Taiwan

 

Daily Mail: China warns US 'not to play the Taiwan card' because it is a 'losing hand' after bipartisan lawmakers met island's 'kick-a**' president in surprise visit in defiance of Beijing 

* Four Democrats, one Republican landed in Taiwan Thursday in 'a show of support' after having served US troops Thanksgiving dinner in South Korea 

* Taiwan has been self-ruled since the two sides split during a civil war in 1949, but China considers the island part of its own territory and wants to reclaim it 

* They met Friday with president Tsai Ing-wen, with one calling her 'kick a**' 

* Their visit is the third by U.S. politicians this year, and has irritated China 

China has warned the US 'not to play the Taiwan card' because it is a 'losing hand' after bipartisan lawmakers visited the island and met its 'kick-a**' president.

In defiance of Beijing, the group of five U.S. lawmakers met with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday morning in a surprise one-day visit intended to reaffirm the United States' 'rock solid' support for the self-governing island.

But the Chinese foreign ministry said afterwards Beijing had lodged stern representations with the US over the visit.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: China has responded .... US lawmakers’ Taiwan visit a ‘clumsy show’ to be overwhelmed by China’s reunification process (Global Times). 

More News On US Lawmakers Defying Warnings From China To Make A Surprise Trip To Taiwan  

U.S. lawmakers meet with Taiwan's president in a surprise visit -- PR/AP  

U.S. Lawmakers Arrive in Taiwan, Second Trip in a Month -- Reuters  

US lawmakers meet with Taiwan president on visit to Taipei -- DW  

U.S. lawmakers defy China by meeting with officials in Taiwan -- NBC News  

Five US lawmakers defy China by meeting with officials in Taiwan -- CNN  

US lawmakers defy warnings from China to make surprise trip to Taiwan -- NYPost  

Taiwan is a 'force for good', senior U.S. lawmaker says on trip to Taipei -- Taiwan News

State Media Shows Ethiopia's Prime Minister Ahmed Abiy At The Frontlines

 

The National: Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed joins front line to fight rebels, state media says 

* Reports say PM is 'leading the counter-offensive' and 'has been giving leadership from the battlefield' Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has reportedly joined the front line where government forces are battling rebels from the Tigray region, prompting US-led international calls for a diplomatic solution and immediate ceasefire. 

The fighting in the north of Africa's second-most populous country has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands into famine-like conditions over the past year. Foreign governments have told their citizens to leave amid the escalating war and fears the Tigrayan rebels could march on the capital Addis Ababa.  

Read more ....

   

More News On State Media Showing Ethiopia's Prime Minister Ahmed Abiy At The Frontlines

Ethiopian PM on battlefront, says state-affiliated TV -- The Guardian/AP 

Ethiopian government says Prime Minister Abiy has gone to frontline of civil war -- France 24  

Ethiopia PM at frontline with army in Afar region - state-affiliated TV -- Reuters  

State Media: Ethiopia PM at 'Battlefield' Front to Fight Rebels -- VOA

 State media shows Ethiopia's Prime Minister Ahmed Abiy at battlefront of Tigray war vowing to 'bury the enemy' -- ABC News Australia

Unrest In The Solomon Islands -- November 26, 2021

 

CNN: Solomon Islands tells public workers to stay home as violent protests continue for third day 

Honiara, The Solomon Islands (CNN)The Solomon Islands government has declared a nightly curfew and advised all public servants to stay at home as violent protests continued for a third day on Friday, with crowds gathering at the Prime Minister's residence. 

Honiara, the Solomon Islands capital, has been hit by civil unrest since Wednesday, with protests, looting and burning of shops and businesses. 

Defying a previous 36-hour curfew, thousands of demonstrators have come out onto the streets calling for Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare's resignation.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: China is watching the unfolding anti-Chinese riots in the Solomon Islands very closely .... Beijing condemns Solomon Islands violence and attacks on Chinese businesses (SCMP). 

Unrest In The Solomon Islands -- November 26, 2021  

Riots rock Solomon Islands capital for third day despite peacekeepers -- France 24  

Solomon Islands Prime Minister blames foreign powers for civil unrest that prompted call to Australia for help -- ABC News Australia  

Unrest continues in Solomons with PM blaming foreign powers -- Al Jazeera 

Solomon Islands PM blames violent anti-government protests on foreign interference -- The Guardian  

Solomon Islands: Officials impose curfew after days of unrest -- DW 

Solomon Islands violence recedes but not underlying tension -- AP  

Solomon Islands Prime Minister's property targeted by rioters, one building damaged by fire and looters -- ABC News Australia  

Why this building was one of the few NOT attacked during anti-Chinese riots in the Solomon Islands - and the reason will infuriate China as Australian police arrive to help restore order -- Daily Mail  

Australia’s early intervention can help Solomon Islands but the roots of the conflict run deep -- Mihai Sora, The Guardian

Ukrainian President Zelensky Says Russian-Backed Coup Against His Government Was Planned For December 1

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky holds a press conference in Kiev on Friday. The president said: 'We have challenges not only from the Russian Federation and possible escalation - we have big internal challenges. I received information that a coup d'etat will take place in our country on December 1-2.'  

Daily Mail: Russia is 'plotting a coup in Ukraine on December first': Ukranian president holds dramatic news conference to accuse Putin of plan to seize country amid concern at military build-up 

* President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Friday he received intelligence of coup 

* 'A coup d'etat will take place in our country on December 1-2,' Zelenskiy said 

* He also declared that Ukraine's forces stood ready at the border for invasion 

* Comes as Russia has sent tens of thousands of troops to the Ukrainian frontier

Russia is plotting a coup in Ukraine on December 1, the Ukrainian president announced today amid soaring tensions over thousands of Russian troops stationed at the border. 

Volodymyr Zelenskiy told a news conference: 'We have challenges not only from the Russian Federation and possible escalation - we have big internal challenges. 

'I received information that a coup d'etat will take place in our country on December 1-2.'  

Read more .... 

 

 More News On Ukrainian President Zelensky Saying A Russian-Backed Coup Against His Government Was Planned For December 1

Zelenskiy says Ukraine thwarts coup plot involving Russians; Kremlin denies role -- Reuters  

Ukraine leader alleges Russia-backed coup planned next week -- AP  

Zelenskiy Says Coup Plot Uncovered, Ukraine Ready For Any Escalation With Russia -- RFE  

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said a coup was planned against him -- CNN  

Ukrainian president accuses group of planning coup for next week -- The Hill  

Kyiv has thwarted a coup plot involving Russians, claims Ukraine's president -- Euronews 

Ukraine's Zelenskyy alleges coup will be attempted against him next week; Russia denies involvement -- FOX News  

Ukrainian President warns of imminent coup attempt in Kiev -- RT  

Ukrainian President Says Imminent Russia-Backed Coup Plot Uncovered -- Zero Hedge

Global Stocks Dive Over Fears Of The New Covid-19 Variant

 

CNBC: Dow drops 900 points as new Covid variant sparks market sell-off 

U.S. stock dropped sharply on Friday as a new Covid variant found in South Africa triggered a global shift away from from risk assets. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 900 points, or 2.5%, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite slid 1.8% and 1.5%, respectively. Friday is a shortened trading day because of the Thanksgiving holiday with U.S. markets closing at 1 p.m. ET. 

The downward moves came after WHO officials on Thursday warned of a new Covid-19 variant that’s been detected in South Africa. The new variant contains more mutations to the spike protein, the component of the virus that binds to cells, than the highly contagious Delta variant. Because of these mutations, scientists fear it could have increased resistance to vaccines, though WHO said further investigation is needed.  

Read more ....  

Update #1: Stocks crater as new COVID-19 variant triggers market sell-off (FOX News)  

Update #2: Stocks sink on fears of COVID-19 variant; S&P drops 1.4% (Canadian Press)  

WNU Editor: You can watch stocks trade in real time below: 

Scientists Sound Alarm Over New 'Worst-Ever' Super-Mutant COVID Variant. First Cases Already Discovered In Europe. WHO In Emergency Meeting

 

Daily Mail: Scientists sound alarm over new 'worst-ever' super-mutant COVID variant that could make vaccines 40% less effective as the UK and Israel ban travel from South Africa and five other countries but passengers will continue to stream into US 

* The B.1.1.529 variant has a 'very unusual constellation' of mutations and may be more resistant to the vaccine 

* Likely to be officially named Nu, variant might evade the body's immune response and be more transmissible 

* There are currently 77 confirmed cases in South Africa, four in Botswana, one in Hong Kong and one in Israel 

* However, the real numbers are likely much higher as health authorities establish the full scale of the spread 

* Britain, Israel, Singapore, Germany and Ital are among increasing countries to block flights from South Africa 

* There are no direct flights to US from any of the countries except South Africa. 

Early Friday morning, the CDC still listed South Africa as 'Level 1: Low Level of COVID-19' on the country's travel advice page 

Scientists are growing increasingly alarmed at a new COVID-19 variant originating in Southern Africa, which on Thursday and Friday forced countries including the U.K., Israel, Italy and Germany to effectively stop travel from the region, but passengers are continuing to arrive in the U.S. Flight restrictions from South Africa to the US were lifted two weeks ago, along with restrictions on around 30 other countries. 

As of 5:00 a.m. on Friday, the CDC listed South Africa as 'Level 1: Low Level of COVID-19'. The variant, B.1.1.529, is believed to have emerged in Botswana - from where there are no direct flights to the U.S. - and is also being found in neighboring South Africa.  

Read more .... 

More News On The Newest Covid-19 Variant Discovered In South Africa  

New COVID variant sparks international alarm — live updates -- DW  

Live: France suspends flights from southern Africa over new Covid-19 variant -- France 24  

Covid live: first European case of B.1.1.529 variant identified in Belgium -- The Guardian  

World takes action as new variant emerges in southern Africa -- AP  

Coronavirus: Countries shut borders over new South Africa variant -- BBC  

COVID: Countries suspend travel from southern Africa over new variant -- DW  

Israel warns of ‘emergency’ after detecting new virus strain -- AP  

Belgium Confirms Case of New Virus Strain in Person From Abroad -- Bloomberg  

Sajid Javid warns 'the pandemic is far from over' amid fears of ANOTHER Christmas lockdown: No10 scientists admit super-mutant 'jab-dodging' Botswana variant 'could ALREADY be here' and Africa travel ban might be too late -- Daily Mail  

COVID-19 variant described as 'worst one yet' emerges in South Africa, prompting UK to ban travel from six countries -- ABC News Australia  

South African scientists detect new virus variant amid spike -- AP  

Scientists in South Africa detect new Covid-19 variant that poses ‘major threat’ -- France 24  

WHO meets to discuss new, ‘heavily mutated’ COVID-19 variant -- FOX News  

WHO to assess new highly mutated Covid-19 variant as countries ramp up health checks -- The Guardian  

WHO hosts special meeting on worrying new COVID-19 variant -- AP 

Is it vaccine resistant? What scientists know of new Covid variant -- The Guardian  

New Covid variant: How worried should we be? -- BBC  

EXPLAINER: What is this new COVID variant in South Africa? -- AP

Tweets Of The day

Picture Of The Day

On Nov. 19, people in some parts of the world were able to view a partial lunar eclipse -- the longest in 580 years. Crew chiefs at Yokota Air Base, Japan, had a chance to view the eclipse while maintaining C-130J Super Hercules aircraft. US Department of Defense

U.S. Sounding The Alarm On The Deteriorating Situation In Ethiopia

 

Axios: Afghanistan-scarred Biden admin taking no chances in Ethiopia 

The Biden administration is sounding the alarm over the deteriorating security situation in Ethiopia, where the government in Addis Ababa has called on civilians to arm themselves against rebels marching on the capital. 

Why it matters: The collapse of Ethiopia — a major African country with a population of 115 million — could cause a massive humanitarian crisis and destabilize the entire region. 

In the northern region of Tigray, there have been credible reports of ethnic cleansing and the government using starvation as a weapon of war. Now the Tigrayan rebels are on the offensive and reportedly within 200 miles of the capital.  

Read more ....  

Update: As Crisis in Ethiopia Unfolds, Biden Admin Prepares for a Second Afghanistan (Tennessee Star)  

WNU Editor: African civil wars have a tendency to last for years. The Ethiopian civil war has all the ingredients to be a long war.

An Inside Look At The U.S. Strategy in Guam To Counter China's Growing Threat

 

From WSJ .... The U.S. Army is testing the Iron Dome on Guam. WSJ’s Shelby Holliday got a first-hand look at the missile-defense system, which arrived months after a top military leader called the island’s defenses inadequate against threats from China. Photo: Adam Falk/The Wall Street Journal

Thursday, November 25, 2021

U.S. Sanctions More Chinese Technology Firms Over National Security Concerns

 

CNBC: U.S. blacklists dozens of Chinese tech firms citing national security concerns 

* The Biden administration added a dozen Chinese companies to its trade blacklist on Wednesday. 

* Of those blacklisted, eight Chinese technology entities were added for their alleged role in assisting the Chinese military’s quantum computing efforts. 

* U.S. officials have long complained that Chinese companies are beholden to the People’s Republic of China and collect sensitive information on behalf of the People’s Liberation Army. 

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration added a dozen Chinese companies to its trade blacklist on Wednesday, citing national security as well as foreign policy concerns. 

Eight technology entities based in China were added to the list for their alleged role in assisting the Chinese military’s quantum computing efforts and acquiring or attempting “to acquire U.S. origin-items in support of military applications.” 

U.S. officials have long complained that Chinese companies are beholden to the People’s Republic of China and collect sensitive information on behalf of the People’s Liberation Army. 

The Chinese Communist Party has previously said that it does not engage in industrial espionage.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: China responds .... China Says U.S. Tech Blacklist Moves Violate Xi-Biden Consensus (Bloomberg). More here .... China calls US 'hysterical' after new tech ban on Chinese firms (Global Times). 

 U.S. Sanctions More Chinese Technology Firms Over National Security Concerns  

US restricts trade with a dozen more Chinese technology firms -- BBC 

12 more Chinese companies are placed on US export blacklist -- SCMP  

U.S. puts Chinese firms helping military on trade blacklist -- Reuters  

US adds a dozen Chinese companies to its trade blacklist -- CNN

Will Mud Stop The Russian Army From Invading Ukraine?

Ukrainian soldiers work on their tank close to the front line with Russian-backed separatists in the Luganks region on April 7, 2021. STR/AFP  

Bloomberg: Mud Could Help Decide Timing of Any Russia Move Against Ukraine 

(Bloomberg) -- Muddy terrain and the need for more troops on the ground make any large-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine unlikely until January at the earliest, military analysts in Moscow and the West say, creating a window of diplomacy to steer President Vladimir Putin away from a war. 

Those judgments come as a combination of open source reports and images gives growing credence to U.S. intelligence assessments of a build-up of soldiers and equipment toward Ukraine’s borders. Ukrainian military maps also show the changing distribution of Russian forces.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: LOL! Mud is not going to stop/deter/impede the Russian military from launching an invasion into Ukraine. The Russian military lives and trains in these conditions. 

The only reason why an invasion is not happening right now is because the Kremlin knows the costs and military/political headaches that such an invasion will cause are simply not worth it. 

OMG! Definitely not worth it. 

And as for the mud. By next week the ground will be frozen along the borders of Russia (if not already).  

Update: Here is a good analysis on Russian military logistics, and why a Russian military incursion into Ukraine will be limited .... Feeding the Bear: A Closer Look at Russian Army Logistics and the Fait Accompli (War On The Rocks).

View From Ukraine's Front Line On The Russian Military Build-Up

 

DW: Ukraine holds military drills, warns Russia against invasion 

Ukrainian and Russian troops have each been holding exercises amid Kyiv's fears of a Russian invasion. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for further sanctions against Russia if the situation deteriorates. 

Ukraine held further military drills at its borders on Thursday as it warned of painful consequences should Russia invade. 

The Ukrainian military carried out tank drills in the eastern Donetsk region, it said Thursday, after holding a "special operation" involving 8,500 extra troops, drone exercises and anti-tank and airborne units at its border with Belarus. 

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: The Ukraine government and military are justified to be worried about war. If the Kremlin should make the decision to invade Ukraine (which I doubt), the Russian Army would pour into those parts of Ukraine with large Russian-Ukrainian populations. We are talking about half the country. 

The Ukraine military will also need to deal with fifth columns within its own ranks. A good portion of the Ukraine military is made-up of Russian-Ukrainians, and I know many will be very reluctant to fight their distant cousins.

Is Russia's Military Build-Up Near Ukraine Different This Time?

A satellite image purports to show Russian tanks and armoured personnel carriers amid the presence of a large ground forces deployment in Yelnya, Smolensk Oblast, Russia. Credit: AFP  

Euronews: Russia's military build-up near Ukraine is different this time, say experts 

Tensions have been rising again along the Russian-Ukrainian border, with Kyiv and Washington raising the alarm at what they say is an unusual build-up of Russian troops. 

Ukraine’s defence ministry claimed earlier this month that about 90,000 Russian soldiers were stationed near their border and in rebel-controlled areas in Ukraine’s east. 

Units of the Russian 41st army have remained in Yelnya, a town 260 kilometres north of the Ukrainian border, according to the ministry. 

“What we see is a significant, large Russian military build-up. We see an unusual concentration of troops. And we know that Russia has been willing to use these types of military capabilities before to conduct aggressive actions against Ukraine,” said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg last week.  

Read more .... 

WNU Editor: There are massive Russian military bases all along the Western European/Russian border. To me these Russian military movements is nothing new. 

But Washington is on edge .... Russian military buildup puts Washington on edge (The Hill). NATO is on edge .... NATO Summit to Discuss How to Deter Russia, Says Lithuanian Foreign Minister (Reuters). More here .... At NATO, Polish president calls for allied response to Russian troop build-up near Ukraine (Politico). And the Ukraine government is on edge .... Kiev Says Russia Will ‘Pay Dearly’ for Invasion (Moscow times/AFP).

Covid-19 Unrest Spreads Throughout The French Caribbean

 

France 24: Fires break out as Covid-19 unrest spreads through French Caribbean 

Protesters looted shops and set up burning barricades overnight on France's Caribbean island of Martinique, France Info reported on Thursday, as demonstrations against Covid-19 protocols intensified following similar unrest in nearby Guadeloupe. 

France Info published a video of protesters targeting a shopping centre and running away with goods, as well as videos of demonstrators setting up burning barricades on roads. 

France's Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe have been hit by unrest over the last week due to anger over Covid-19 protocol measures, such as moves to ramp up vaccinations on the islands.  

Read more .... 

Covid-19 Unrest Spreads Throughout The French Caribbean  

Unrest continues in Martinique, Guadeloupe as some talks begin -- Al Jazeera 

Looting and fires break out during COVID protests on France's Martinique -media -- Reuters  

Guadeloupe curfew extended as Covid unrest spreads to Martinique -- The Guardian  

WATCH: Riots and looting over mandatory vaccine rule -- RT

Will JPMorgan Outlast The Chinese Commuinist Party?

 

Daily Mail: Moment JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon jokes his bank will last longer than the Chinese Communist Party before issuing TWO groveling apologies 

* Dimon joked about how CCP and JPMorgan were both celebrating centenaries 

* 'I'd make a bet that we last longer,' Dimon said during speech at Boston College 

* King of Wall Street issued no less than two groveling apologies the following day 

* 'I regret and should not have made that comment,' Dimon said in a statement 

* Dimon's swift apology underscores the power China holds over finance industry

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon has issued two groveling apologies a day after saying his firm would outlast China's Communist regime. 

Speaking at Boston College on Tuesday, Dimon quipped: 'I was just in Hong Kong and I made a joke that the Communist Party is celebrating its hundredth year. So is JP Morgan. I'd make a bet we last longer.' 'I can't say that in China. They probably are listening anyway,' the 65-year-old banker added.

Read more ....  

Update #1: JP Morgan boss ‘regrets’ making joke about Chinese Communist party (The Guardian)  

Update #2: Jamie Dimon says he regrets joking about the Chinese Communist Party (CNN)  

WNU Editor: Beijing is happy with this public submission from the JPMorgan CEO .... Beijing Praises Jamie Dimon's 'Sincere' Bootlicking Reversal As "Right Attitude" (Zero Hedge).

Australia Sends Troops To Solomon Islands Amid Anti-China Riots. Parliament Burned Down

 

Daily Mail: Australia deploys troops to the Solomon Islands as disturbing scenes erupt with violent anti-China rioters BURNING DOWN a police station and threatening civil war over communist influences 

* Scott Morrison announces Australian troops to deploy to the Solomon Islands 

* Civil unrest has broken out in the capital amid a wave of anti-China protests 

* Building have been torched, shops have been looted and mobs still 'on the move' 

* Back in 2003 Australia sent 2,200 troops to the South Pacific nation after riots 

* The Regional Assistance Mission involving the AFP lasted until June 30, 2017 

* Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare formally asked Australia for assistance 

* He has long been considered a critic of Canberra and supporter of Beijing 

Australia will send troops to the Solomon Islands as the South Pacific nation descends into chaos following anti-China riots. 

 The Australian National Security Committee held crisis talks on Thursday afternoon after Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare asked the Australian Government for assistance under the 2017 bilateral security agreement. 

Scott Morrison announced 23 Australian Federal Police officers are already on their way to support 'riot control' with a further 50 to be deployed to protect 'critical infrastructure'.  

Read more .... 

WNU Editor: A curfew has been announced .... Curfew in Solomon Islands as anti-government protests flare (Al Jazeera). 

More News On Australia Sending Troops To Solomon Islands To Restore Order  

Australia sending troops to Solomon Islands as unrest grows -- AP  

Australia to deploy police, military to Solomon Islands as protests spread -- Reuters  

Solomons PM warns capital rioters 'will face consequences' -- France 24  

Australia defense personnel dispatched to Solomon Islands as violent protests continue for second day -- CNN  

Parliament building and police station burned down during protests in Solomon Islands -- The Guardian   

Australia sends police, troops to riot-torn Solomon Islands -- UPI  

Chinese nationals in the Solomon Islands suffer loss on local riots -- Global Times  

China hopes the Solomon Islands restores social order and stability soon; any attempt to disrupt bilateral relations is futile: Chinese FM -- Global Times

Germany Marks 100,000 Deaths From COVID

 

CNBC: Merkel’s push for German lockdown reportedly blocked as death toll passes 100,000 

* Germany’s death toll has now surpassed 100,000 but the country’s incoming, new coalition government is resisting a lockdown, for now. 

* Germany reported a massive number of new Covid cases on Thursday, with over 75,000 new infections. 

* The death toll has now reached 100,119 after 351 more people died from the virus in the last 24 hours. 

Germany’s Covid-19 crisis continues to rock the nation with the grim news on Thursday that the total number of deaths has now surpassed 100,000. The country’s new incoming coalition government is resisting a lockdown, for now, however. 

Germany reported a massive number of new Covid cases on Thursday, with over 75,000 new infections in the last 24 hours (and up from 66,884 on Wednesday), while the death toll has now reached 100,119 after 351 more people died from the virus during the previous day.  

Read more .... 

More News On The Covid-19 Pandemic In Germany  

Germany mourns 100,000 COVID-19 deaths -- DW  

Merkel: ‘Sad day’ as Germany marks 100,000 deaths from COVID -- AP 

Germany's death toll from Covid-19 passes 100,000 as virus surges -- France 24 

Germany's Covid death toll tops 100,000 as infections surge -- RFI  

Germany’s Scholz eyes vaccine mandate for key workers -- Politico  

Why is the COVID mortality rate spiking in Germany? -- DW

What We Know About The New COVID-19 Variant In South Africa (Video Reports)

WHO Deeply Concerned On The Spread Of A Super-Mutant 'Vaccine Resistant' Covid-19 Coronavirus Detected In South Africa

Daily Mail: Super-mutant 'vaccine resistant' Botswana Covid variant is driving South African surge and is nearing dominance just WEEKS after first being detected - sparking calls for a new travel ban on region to prevent outbreak here 

* South Africa's infection rate is growing exponentially after Botswana Covid variant was spotted in the country 

* Scientists warn it has spread to most of South Africa's provinces and is set to become dominant 'very quickly' 

* They fear the strain is highly transmissible and can infect vaccinated people more easily than the Delta variant 

A new Covid variant that has more mutations than have been seen before is becoming dominant in South Africa and is feared to be ultra infectious and vaccine resistant, scientists warned today. 

Experts said the variant is growing 'very quickly' in South Africa and is driving the country's surge in infections. 

Around 100 cases of B.1.1.529, its scientific name, have been detected so far in three countries and the World Health Organization is convening an emergency meeting tomorrow to investigate the troubling strain.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: This could be bad if not isolated quickly and this new strain is more dangerous than the Delata variant.

This chart shows the proportion of cases that were the B.1.1.529 variant (blue) and Indian 'Delta' variant (red) over time in South Africa. It suggests that the mutant strain could outcompete Delta in the province within weeks

More News On The B.1.1.529 Covid Variant Spreading In South Africa  

WHO calls special meeting to discuss new Covid variant found in South Africa with ‘a large number of mutations’ -- CNBC  

South Africa detects new Covid-19 variant: scientists -- AFP 

Scientists warn of new Covid variant with high number of mutations -- The Guardian  

South Africa: Scientists detect new COVID-19 variant -- DW  

New Coronavirus Variant a ‘Serious Concern’ in South Africa -- Bloomberg  

Scientists track coronavirus variant with 'worrying' number of mutations -- Business Insider  

What we know so far about the B.1.1.529 COVID variant causing concern in South Africa -- Euronews

New COVID variant concerns South African scientists -- Axios 

Covid strain ‘worse than Delta’ found in 3 countries -- RT  

New COVID-19 variant detected in South Africa, scientists say -- The Hill

New COVID Variant B.1.1.529, Which May Evade Immunity, Found in These Countries -- Newsweek

Philippines Rejects China's Demand To Remove Grounded Navy Ship On Atoll Claimed By Both Sides

 

Reuters: Philippines rejects China's demand to remove grounded navy ship 

MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines will not remove a dilapidated navy ship grounded on an atoll in the South China Sea, its defence chief said on Thursday, rejecting a demand by China after it blocked a mission to resupply the vessel's crew. 

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana dismissed China's assertion on Wednesday that the Philippines had committed to remove the BRP Sierra Madre, which was intentionally grounded at the Second Thomas shoal in 1999 to reinforce Manila's sovereignty claims in the Spratly archipelago. 

The 100 metre-long (330-ft) tank landing ship was built for the U.S. Navy during World War Two.  

Read more .... 

Philippines Rejects China's Demand To Remove Grounded Navy Ship On Atoll Claimed By Both Sides  

Philippines rejects China’s demand to remove ship from shoal -- AP 

PH denies 'commitment' to remove grounded ship from Ayungin Shoal as claimed by China -- CNN  

Philippines accuses China of 'harassment' in disputed sea -- AFP  

Philippines navy completes resupply mission after Chinese blockade -- CNN/Reuters  

Philippine Navy Brings Supplies to Troops in Second Thomas Shoal One Week After China Coast Guard Attack -- USNI News

Reaction From Countries Not Invited To President Biden's Virtual 'Democracy Summit'

ABC News: Who was snubbed, who snuck through: Here's the list of invitees to Biden's democracy summit  

Like any big party, the guest list is already sparking controversy. 

With democracy in recession around the world, President Joe Biden made a campaign pledge to convene a summit of democracies in his first year in office to promote human rights, counter corruption and discuss ways to strengthen democracies against authoritarian models that have gained strength in recent years. 

His first "Summit of Democracy" will convene virtually on Dec. 9-10, and now the administration is revealing who is invited -- 110 participants in total, from every corner of the globe. 

Like any big party, there are some controversial invitees and notable exclusions, and the guest list has already sparked some anger.  

Read more .... 

More News On President Biden's Virtual 'Democracy Summit"  

Joe Biden's Summit for Democracy Is Missing Some Surprising Countries -- Newsweek  

Biden invites Taiwan to its democracy summit, sparking China rebuke -- France 24  

Beijing Furious After Biden Invites Taiwan To Global Democracy Summit, While China Left Off List -- Zero Hedge  

Kremlin Blasts ‘Divisive’ U.S. Democracy Summit Snub -- Moscow Times  

Biden invites Israel to global democracy summit, snubbing Egypt, Jordan, Turkey -- Times of Israel

U.S. unveils invitation list for Biden's "Summit for Democracy" -- Axios

Is President Biden’s Oil Supply Strategy Backfiring?

 

Cyril Widdershoven, OilPrice.com: Oil Bulls Rejoice As Biden’s Supply Strategy Backfires 

* President Biden’s attempt to coordinate a crude release from major importers around the world has had a limited impact on oil prices and is likely to send prices higher in the future 

* While Biden has blamed OPEC+ for high oil and gasoline prices, the real reason is a combination of quantitative easing, underinvestment, and domestic policies 

* It remains unclear how OPEC will react to the provocation from Biden, but comments from the cartel are unlikely to be diplomatic in the upcoming meeting 

President Biden’s threat to oil producers that he would force prices down has already backfired. Oil markets were unimpressed by the U.S. administration’s plan to coordinate a strategic petroleum reserve release from major importers in an effort to increase supply. While some observers believe an SPR release could push oil prices down, most analysts have warned that it will only have a temporary effect and could eventually trigger a price spike. OPEC+ members have not even engaged with Biden’s strategy as they saw it as flawed from the start. The release of 50 million barrels of crude from the US SPR was never going to significantly impact oil prices. U.S. analysts are now worried that Biden’s actions could end up with higher oil prices.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: OPEC+ will be using this US announcement of a strategic oil reserve release of 50 million barrels as one of the reasons why they should not increase production. 

And as for other countries releasing some of their strategic stockpile. China is already backing off .... China so far non-committal to Washington's oil release, OPEC+ unmoved (Reuters).