Friday, December 31, 2021

Where I Live We Are Now Under Curfew

WNU Editor: My cell phone and all the channels on my cable TV broadcasted at the same time the above message at 18:45 EST tonight. This emergency broadcast also knocked out my internet service?!?!?

New Years Eve under curfew. I never thought something like this would happen in a place like Canada.

The 2021 News Cycle In One Chart

Google Trends for 2021 news topics 

Dec. 27, 2020, to Dec. 18, 2021, weekly 

Axios: Google Trends for 2021 news topics 

Between a siege on the Capitol building, a Texas snowstorm, Brood X cicadas, the Olympics and a stuck container ship in the Suez Canal — not to mention endless COVID variants — it's been a busy year.  

Why it matters: In the inaugural Axios-Google Trends news cycle chart, we chronicled the unprecedented first year of President Trump. Four years later, Joe Biden is president and the themes have changed, but America's short attention spans and rapid breaking news cycles continue.  

By the numbers: The single topic to receive the highest percentage of Google searches all year was the Olympics, during the week of its opening ceremonies. 

* Next came searches about stimulus checks at the very start of the year, followed by searches related to Trump during the week of Jan. 6. 

* Searches related to Biden and the COVID-19 vaccine rounded out the top five topics overall, out of more than 50 major 2021 events and topics chosen by Axios.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: Inflation, crime, and the border are some the top searched U.S. news items on Google. No wonder Americans are fearful about 2022 .... Exclusive poll: America's fears rise for 2022 (Axios).

US Shatters Its Average Daily Covid-19 Case Record Again. 647,067 New Cases In 24 Hours And 2.5 Million In A Week

The US broke a world record for average daily COVID cases for the second day in a row with 647,067 reported on Thursday, according to a analysis of John Hopkins data  

Daily Mail: US smashes global COVID infection record for a second day with 647,067 new cases in 24 hours and 2.5m in a week after experts warned 'we are at the very beginning' of a viral blizzard that will cause de facto shut-down: Deaths halve to 1,400 

* The US smashed yet another global COVID infection record on Thursday when 647,067 new cases were reported - up 26 percent from the day before, when 512,533 new cases were reported 

* In total, the United States saw 2.49 million new cases within the past week, outpacing the country's previous record of 1.7 million new cases recorded in the one-week period from January 3 through January 9 

* At the same time, though, the number of daily deaths have halved from 2,800 to 1,400 between Wednesday and Thursday, sparking hopes Omicron won't be as deadly as the Delta variant 

* Flights are still being canceled during the busy holiday season with almost every major airline facing shortages as staff test positive for COVID, with 1,198 flights axed on New Year's Eve alone 

* Americans are still waiting hours in lines to be tested for COVID-19 as the Omicron variant sweeps the nation 

The U.S. smashed another global COVID infection record on Thursday when 647,067 new cases were reported, with deaths halving to 1,400, as one expert warned of a 'virtual blizzard' of Omicron he says will lead to shutdowns nationwide. 

In total, USA Today reports, the United States recorded 2.49 million cases within the past week, outpacing the country's previous record of 1.7 million new cases recorded in the one-week period from January 3 through January 9. 

Meanwhile, on Friday morning, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced that 76,500 people had tested positive for COVID across the Empire State Thursday. 

That is a new record, up from the 67,000 case record set 24 hours earlier, with Hochul adding that 3,925 New Yorkers are in hospital, and that 80 died of the virus yesterday.  

Read more .... 

More U.S. Covid-19 News  

Omicron dashboard -- Axios

US surpasses 2M cases in one week for first time during pandemic; South Africa study finds omicron less severe: Latest COVID-19 updates -- USA Today 

Covid-19 and Omicron News on New Year's Eve: Live Updates -- New York Times  

US shatters its average daily Covid-19 case record again. Experts describe coming weeks as a 'tidal wave' and 'blizzard' -- CNN  

US surpasses 2 million COVID-19 cases in a week, breaking record -- NYPost 

Just ‘a whiff of infected breath’ is all is takes to catch Omicron, expert warns – but it’s a milder illness -- The SUN  

‘Crazy’ omicron surge could peak soon, but the virus is unpredictable as the pandemic enters its third year -- Washington Post

Tonight's Movie Is 'Away All Boats'


From Wikipieda: The story of USS Belinda (APA-22), launched late 1943 with regular-Navy Captain Jebediah S. Hawks (Jeff Chandler) and ex-merchant marine Lieutenant Dave MacDougall (George Nader) as boat commander. Despite personal friction, the two have plenty with which to deal as the only experienced officers on board during the ship's shakedown cruise. Almost laughable incompetence gradually improves, but the crew remains far from perfect when the ship sees action, landing troops on enemy beachheads. Few anticipate the challenges in store at Okinawa. (Read more).

Iran's President Says The U.S. Is Getting Weaker Day By Day

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raeisi (Photo by  

Newsweek: Iran Says U.S. 'Growing Weaker' Daily Amid Nuclear Tensions 

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has dismissed the U.S. as a power "in decline," as negotiators from both nations try to find a way to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal at talks in Vienna. 

Speaking with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega by phone on Wednesday, Raisi urged his counterpart to resist U.S. sanctions in the same way Tehran has done since May 2018, when former President Donald Trump withdrew from the JCPOA and embarked on his "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran. 

"We are certain that Nicaragua too can overcome the U.S.'s threats and sanctions since today the U.S. is in decline, and is growing weaker day by day," Raisi told Ortega, according to a readout published by Iran's state-owned PressTV.  

Read more ....  

Update: US in decline, growing weaker day by day: President Raeisi (Press TV) 

WNU Editor: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi  is only voicing what many are feeling around the world. 

As to what is my take. 

The U.S. is far from getting weaker day by day. But the U.S. defeat in Afghanistan has bolstered some of America's enemies that they now have an opportunity to exploit this perceived weakness, Iran included.

Can You Spot What's Wrong With This Picture Of President Biden?

WNU Editor: The GF spotted it before I did. And yeah .... this is a staged photo-op. 

The answer is here .... Can You Spot What's Wrong With This Picture of Joe Biden? (PJ Media).

Watch U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris Give A Bizarre Answer To The Inflation Question

Twitchy: WOOF, this was painful: Kamala Harris’s response when asked about inflation is a hot dumpster of CRINGE (watch)  

Kamala really really really REALLY needs to start doing some sort of prep for these questions. 


You would think she’d at least be ready for questions on COVID, and inflation, but nope. Not at all. 

And she knows it which makes her answer even more painful. 

She is so painfully out of her league. 

Not a great speaker, not a great thinker, not a great leader. Not a great anything, really. 

Read more ....  

Update: Watch: Kamala Harris Gives Bizarre Answer To Inflation Question (Zero Hedge)  

WNU Editor: Just think. She is a heartbeat away from being the next U.S. President. 

Update #2: This must read commentary explains it perfectly .... They Are Morons (Jeffrey Carter).

Israel Signs Deal For US Heavy Choppers And Refueling Planes

The deal is part of an upgrade of Israel's air force capabilities and includes an option to buy six additional choppers

An undated photograph of a Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion heavy transport helicopter, which Israel signed an agreement to purchase from the United States on December 30, 2021. (Lockheed Martin)  

Times of Israel: With Iran in mind, Israel signs deal with US for heavy choppers, refueling planes 

Weapons sale to cost $3.1 billion, with the funds coming from military aid Washington provides to Jerusalem Israel on Thursday signed a long-awaited agreement to purchase a dozen heavy transport helicopters and two additional refueling planes from the United States, in a weapons deal worth over $3 billion, the Defense Ministry said. 

These aircraft, along with a number of additional F-35 fighter jets that Israel plans to purchase from the US, are specifically meant to counter threats posed by Iran, including its nuclear program.  

Read more .... 

 Israel Signs Deal For US Heavy Choppers And Refueling Planes   

Israel signs deal to buy $3.1 bln in US helicopters, tankers -- FOX News/Reuters  

Israel, US sign deal for 12 helicopters and refueling aircraft -- Jerusalem Post  

Israel signs deal for helicopters, Boeing aircrafts from US -- i24 News  

US and Israel Ink Defense Agreements to Supply New Fleet of Helicopters, Refueling Aircraft -- Algemeiner News  

Israel signs $3 billion deal to buy US military aircraft -- DW 

Israel signs $3bn deal for US helicopters, refuelling planes -- Middle East Eye

Has Elon Musk Become The Dominant Military Power In Space?

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket, carrying the Arabsat 6A communications satellite, lifts off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, April 11, 2019. Thom Baur/Reuters  

Seeking Alpha: SpaceX's Starlink Satellites Are Getting On China's Nerves 


* SpaceX's Starlink promises to be the world's largest satellite internet constellation, with 12,000 satellites in low earth orbit all told. 

* Despite having less than 2,000 satellites in orbit presently, Starlink has already proven to be a nuisance for others involved in space exploration and space economy. 

* China's new space station has had two near-misses with Starlink satellites this year, leading the Chinese government to complain to the United Nations. 

* Starlink is the linchpin of SpaceX's future profitability, underpinning the private firm's $100 billion valuation. 

* In addition to the vast cost of, and questionable demand for, Starlink weighing on SpaceX's future, the company must also contend with mounting political and diplomatic risk. 

In the span of less than two decades, Space Exploration Technologies (SPACE) has grown from a niche rocket startup into a key leader of the American aerospace industry. 

In the process, SpaceX (as the company is more widely known) has solidified its status as a pioneer of 21st century spaceflight, while its founder and boss, Elon Musk, has risen to become the face of the emerging space economy.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: Glenn Reynolds is onto something .... I think China just figured out that, without even trying, Elon Musk has become the dominant military power in space, with thousands of satellites that can be steered to collide with anything else in low earth orbit (link here).

Welcome To The New Space Race

The Yutu 2 rover, as seen by the Chang'e 4 lander. (Image credit: CNSA) China has moon's south pole in its sights with 3 missions launching this decade 

Plans incorporate landers, orbiters, rovers and even hopping probes. 

China has formally approved three missions targeting the south pole of the moon, with the first to launch around 2024. 

The missions dubbed Chang'e 6, Chang'e 7 and Chang'e 8 will launch across the 2020s, each with different goals and an array of spacecraft. The trio make up the so-called fourth phase for the Chinese lunar exploration program, which most recently landed on the moon last December with a sample-return mission dubbed Chang'e 5. 

Wu Yanhua, deputy head of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), told China Central Television (CCTV) in a recent interview that the three missions had been approved.  

Read more ...  

WNU Editor: China and Russia have made their intentions very clear on what they want to do together in space .... China And Russia To Sign New 5-Year Space Cooperation Program That Includes Building An International Lunar Station By 2035 (December 29, 2021).

In the meantime America's space program is mired in red tape .... FAA delays release of SpaceX environmental review of Boca Chica site (Valley Central).

Iran State TV Announces New Space Launch During Nuclear Deal Talks


Daily Mail: Iran launches three 'research payload' rockets into space - ignoring US criticism that the tech could be used to launch nukes - as the country continues nuclear deal negotiations 

* Iran has said it fired a satellite rocket carrying three research devices into space 

* They did not say if the rocket reached orbit, or what its research objectives were 

* It comes amid fresh talks in Vienna over the revival of the Iran Nuclear Deal 

Iran has used a satellite launch rocket to send three research devices into space, a defence ministry spokesman said today, without clarifying if it reached orbit. 

Iran, which has one of the biggest missile programmes in the Middle East, has suffered several failed satellite launches in the past few years due to technical issues. 

Spokesman Ahmad Hosseini said the 'Simorgh' satellite carrier rocket had launched the three research devices at an altitude of 290 miles.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: It looks like this launch was a failure .... Iran’s Simorgh rocket falls short of orbit with three payloads aboard (NASA SpaceFlight). 

Iran State TV Announces New Space Launch During Nuclear Deal Talks 

Iran sends three research satellites into space -- Tehran Times  

Iran state TV says Tehran launches rocket into space -- CNBC/AP  

Iran announces new space launch during nuclear talks -- AFP 

Iran says rocket sends three 'research payloads' into space -- Reuters  

US 'concerned' over Iran rocket launch -- The Hill  

France says Iran's space launch "regrettable" amid nuclear deal talks -- Reuters  

U.S. Concerned Over Iran's Rocket Launch, Linking It To Ballistic-Missile Development -- RFE

U.S. State Dept. Warns Americans Traveling Abroad To 'Make Contingency Plans'

This comes as the US is witnessing a significant rise in COVID-19 cases.  

The Hill: State Dept warns Americans traveling abroad to 'make contingency plans'  

The State Department warned on Thursday that Americans who are traveling abroad “should make contingency plans” as countries around the globe grapple with rising numbers of COVID-19 cases spurred by the omicron variant. 

"U.S. citizens who do choose to travel internationally should make contingency plans, as they may have to remain in a foreign country longer than originally planned, which will be at their own expense," the department said in a media note. 

"The Department recommends international travel insurance with coverage for COVID-related trip cancellation and medical benefits," it added.  

Read more ....  

Update: US's "Make Contingency Plans" Warning For Americans Travelling Abroad (NDTV).  

WNU Editor: The US State Department is adding more countries to its highest-risk category for travel. .... CDC moves 3 more European destinations to its highest travel risk category (CNN).

Chinese President Xi Jinping Delivers His 2022 New Year Address


Reuters: Look to the future and stay focused, Xi tells China in New Year's address 

BEIJING, Dec 31 (Reuters) - Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed the importance of maintaining a "strategic focus" in his 2022 New Year address and of being mindful of "potential risks" in the Communist Party's long-term vision to turn China into a global power. 

Xi in 2021 declared that China had achieved its aim of building a so-called "moderately prosperous" society, a milestone on its road to becoming a global leader in 2049, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. 

"We must always keep a long-term perspective, remain mindful of potential risks, maintain strategic focus and determination, and 'attain the broad and great while addressing the delicate and minute'," Xi said in a televised speech.  

Read more .... 

Chinese President Xi Jinping Delivers His 2022 New Year Address 

Full text: 2022 New Year address by President Xi Jinping -- Xinhua 

Highlights: President Xi gives 2022 New Year Address -- CGTN  

Looking forward to 2022, China vows never to rest on what it has achieved, ready for a long way ahead -- CGTN  

Xi hails 2021 as 'year of exceptional significance' and a 'resillient & dynamic China' on way to great rejuvenation in his new year speech -- Global Times  

Xi Jinping New Year Message: China's Leader Vows to Tackle Risks in 2022 -- Bloomberg

Russian President Putin Delivers His New Year Message

© Mikhail Klimentyev/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS

Daily Mail: Putin says he has 'firmly defended' his nation's interests' and praises Russia's strength in new year message hours after phone call with Biden 

* Vladimir Putin said Moscow 'firmly' defended its interests during a TV address 

* Russian President also praised Russia's strength in face of 'colossal challenges' 

* The televised address was broadcast hours after Putin phone call with Joe Biden 

President Vladimir Putin has said Moscow 'firmly' defended its interests in 2021 - a year marked by an unprecedented crackdown on the opposition and increased tensions with the West - in a New Year's address. 

The broadcast aired at midnight in the Far Eastern Kamchatka peninsula and was reported by Russian agencies. 

In the speech, Putin said: 'We firmly and consistently defended our national interests, the security of the country and (of) citizens.'  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: Guess who is on Putin's "naughty or nice list" .... Who has made Putin's 2021 naughty or nice list? (RT). 

Russian President Putin Delivers His New Year Message 

 Putin calls good health a top wish for everyone for 2022 -- TASS 

Putin’s New Year Address breaks record for duration for second year in a row -- TASS  

Putin Says Russia 'Firmly' Defended Interests in 2021 -- Moscow Times/AFP  

Putin wishes Russians happier new year, hails their strength -- AP  

In New Year's Greetings, Putin Praises Russian Solidarity, As Navalny Urges Optimism -- RFE

Russia's Navy Conducts 12 New Hypersonic Missile Tests


Reuters: Russia test-fires new hypersonic Tsirkon missiles from frigate, submarine 

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia test-fired around 10 new Tsirkon (Zircon) hypersonic cruise missiles from a frigate and two more from a submarine, Interfax news agency said on Friday citing northern fleet. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has lauded the weapon as part of a new generation of unrivalled arms systems. 

Putin has called a missile test, conducted last week, "a big event in the country's life", adding that this was "a substantial step" in increasing Russia's defence capabilities. 

Some Western experts have questioned how advanced Russia's new generation of weapons is, while recognising that the combination of speed, manoeuvrability and altitude of hypersonic missiles makes them difficult to track and intercept.  

Read more ....  

Update: Russia conducts 12 new hypersonic missile tests (CGTN)  

WNU Editor: This is probably the last round of tests for this missile .... Testing of Tsirkon missile about to end, supplies to begin 2022 (TASS).

Tweets Of The Day

Pin-ups For Vets Calendar Released


FOX News: Former Black Hawk helicopter pilot Jana Tobias on posing for Pin-ups for Vets: ‘I still can't believe it's me'  

Jana Tobias is Miss June 2022 in Gina Elise's annual Pin-Up for Vets calendar 

Jana Tobias was eager to suit up in a completely different way. 

The veteran, who served in the Army as a Black Hawk pilot, is one of 12 women who swapped their uniforms and combat boots for ‘40s style dresses and high heels, for the 16th annual Pin-Ups for Vets 2022 calendar. The award-winning nonprofit, founded in 2006 by California resident Gina Elise, raises funding to support hospitalized and deployed troops. 

"I try to follow as many veteran organizations as possible," Tobias told Fox News. "I came across Pin-Ups for Vets on Facebook and I was just intrigued. I’ve always loved the 1940s, not because of the clothes, but really the nose art. I’m in aviation, so that has always fascinated me. It was also a time when our country was going through hardship and war. And yet, we as Americans did whatever was possible to motivate and uplift our troops, so they can keep going. I felt like I could contribute." 

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: Girls want to have fun. Jana Tobias' video is below. 

Picture Of The Day

Fireworks explode over Sydney Harbour during New Year's Eve celebrations in Sydney, Australia. REUTERS/Jaimi Joy  

WNU Editor: The above picture came frm this photo-gallery .... In pictures: Ringing in 2022 around the world (Reuters).

U.S. And South Korea Reach An Agreement To A Draft Agreement For An End To The Korean War


The Hill: South Korea 'effectively' reaches agreement with US to end Korean war 

The United States and South Korea have “effectively” reached an agreement on a draft declaration that would formally end the Korean War, South Korea’s top diplomat said Wednesday. 

An armistice was signed in July 1953 to end a war that began in 1950 when North Korean troops invaded South Korea. 

A formal peace treaty ending the war was never signed. North Korea has been unresponsive to talks on formally ending the war, Yonhap noted.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: North Korea has not responded. 

U.S. And South Korea Reach An Agreement To A Draft Agreement For An End To The Korean War 

Seoul, Washington agree on draft for end-of-war declaration: minister -- Korea JoongAng Daily 

South Korea 'effectively' agrees on draft with US to end Korean War -- CNN  

South Korea and US Agree on Draft End-of-War Declaration 'In Principle' -- The Diplomat  

Seoul and Washington Reconcile Draft Declaration Ending Korean War -- Sputnik

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Investing Billions Into Hypersonic Research And Development Has Become A Top Priority For Washington


CNBC: Defense spending act makes hypersonic a top priority, calling for billions in investment 

* Hypersonic air travel, for both military and commercial use, could be here within the decade. 

* China, Russia and now North Korea all claim to have developed and successfully tested hypersonic missiles. 

Hypersonic air travel, for both military and commercial use, could be here within the decade. 

The $770 billion National Defense Authorization Act signed into law Tuesday calls for investing billions into hypersonic research and development, making them a top priority for Washington. The next step is congressional approval to allocate the money for the technology to the Pentagon. 

 “If you are traveling at hypersonic speeds, you’re, you’re going more than a mile per second,” said Mark Lewis, executive director of the National Defense Industrial Association’s Emerging Technologies Institute. “That’s important for military applications. It could have commercial applications. It could also open up new, new ways of reaching space.” 

Read more .... 

WNU Editor: It looks like a new arms race is underway .... Mach 5 Missiles Spur New Arms Race as U.S. Seeks to Match China (Bloomberg).

India Fears A New COVID-19 Wave As Omicron Infections Spread


CNN: As Omicron spreads in India, mass gatherings spark fears of another wave 

New Delhi (CNN)Doctors in India are bracing for a potential third wave driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant, as cases rise and political leaders hold mass gatherings ahead of key elections. 

In the past week, India's Omicron case numbers have more than tripled, with 781 infections now recorded, compared to 236 last Tuesday. It may not seem that many in a nation of 1.3 billion people, but the variant's rapid spread in other countries -- several of which are now seeing dramatic surges -- is enough to make health experts nervous. 

And the real number of Omicron cases is likely higher than official figures due to insufficient testing.

"If India observes the same pattern as the United Kingdom, and if we compare the population of both countries, 80,000 daily cases in the UK would mean around 1.4 million daily Covid cases in India," said VK Paul, head of the country's Covid Task Force, at a news conference on December 17.  

Read more .... 

India Fears A New COVID-19 Wave As Omicron Infections Spread 

India fears new COVID wave as Omicron infections spread -- Al Jazeera  

Omicron spreading fast, Delta still dominant strain: Centre -- Times of India  

India must prepare for Omicron surge; no need to panic, says WHO's Soumya Swaminathan -- CNBCtv18   

India records first ‘Omicron death’ -- The Times of India

South Africa Says Its Omicron COVID-19 Wave Has Passed

South Africa made the changes based on the trajectory of the pandemic, levels of vaccination in the country and available capacity in the health sector [File: Sumaya Hisham/Reuters]  

CNBC/Reuters: South Africa lifts curfew as it says Covid omicron peak has passed 

* South Africa made the changes based on the trajectory of the pandemic, levels of vaccination in the country and available capacity in the health sector. 

* Besides lifting the restrictions on public movement, the government said gatherings will be restricted to no more than 1,000 people indoors, and no more than 2,000 people outdoors. 

South Africa lifted a midnight to 4 a.m. curfew on movement with immediate effect as it believes the country has passed the peak of its fourth Covid-19 wave driven by the Omicron variant, a cabinet statement said on Thursday. 

South Africa, which is currently at the lowest of its five-stage Covid-19 alert levels, made the changes based on the trajectory of the pandemic, levels of vaccination in the country and available capacity in the health sector. 

Besides lifting the restrictions on public movement, the government said gatherings will be restricted to no more than 1,000 people indoors, and no more than 2,000 people outdoors. 

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: Finally some good news. 

 South Africa Says Its Omicron COVID-19 Wave Has Passed  

Omicron-fuelled fourth Covid wave has passed, says South Africa, as it eases restrictions -- The Guardian  

South Africa lifts curfew as Omicron peak seems to pass -- NYPost  

South Africa eases COVID restrictions, says Omicron peak has passed -- Axios

 South Africa says its Omicron COVID-19 outbreak has peaked as restrictions begin to ease -- ABC News Australia  

South Africa lifts curfew as Omicron peak subsides -- Al Jazeera

13 Million Chinese Citizens In The City Of Xi'an Are Facing Hunger Due To Covid-19 Lockdowns (Updae)

Volunteers and COVID-19 prevention workers distribute daily necessities to residents in a sealed off residential compound in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province on December 30, 2021. Photo: VCG  

The Hill: Chinese officials promise groceries for residents under strict lockdown 

Chinese officials promised to deliver groceries to residents of Xi’an, which is currently under the strictest lockdown of any major Chinese city since the start of the global pandemic, The Associated Press reported. 

China’s Commerce Ministry spokesperson said Thursday that it has contacted nearby provinces to help ensure adequate supplies of everyday necessities for people under the lockdown. 

The house deliveries include a box of 15 eggs, a five-pound bag of rice and some green vegetables. 

Residents could expect either chicken or pork in their deliveries as well.  

Read more ....  

Update #1: Chinese officials promise groceries for lockdown residents (AP)  

Update #2: Xi'an Paralyzes By Panic As Millions Struggle To Buy Groceries (Zero Hedge)  

WNU Editor: Even Chinese state media is admitting that there is a problem (that they say they are solving) .... Xi'an enhances food supplies amid reports of slow delivery (Global Times).

Europe's Energy Crisis To Last Into 2023

European Gas Posts Longest Declining Streak in More Than a Year. © Reuters  

Bloomberg: Don’t Mistake the Gas Meltdown for End to Europe’s Energy Crisis 

(Bloomberg) -- Don’t let the recent meltdown in European natural gas prices fool you. 

The energy crunch of 2021 will last for years. That’s what futures traders are betting on, with spot prices dropping a lot more than forward contracts over the past week. 

The scale of the moves signal the flotilla of liquefied natural gas cargoes heading to Europe will only provide short-term relief, and prices will still be expensive all the way to March 2023. 

Europe is facing an energy crisis, with Russia curbing supplies and nuclear outages in France straining power grids in the coldest months of the year. 

While more cargoes are landing in Europe for now, the fate of the market is still hanging on the approval of the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which President Vladimir Putin says could help cool this year’s 400% rally.  

Read more ....  

Update: High Energy Prices To Persist In Europe Despite Arrival Of U.S. Gas ( Hedge)  

WNU Editor: This is not going to help alleviate Europe's energy crisis .... Germany powering down three nuclear plants in shift to renewables (The Hill).

Russia Overtakes Brazil To Have The World's Second Highest Covid-19 Death Toll At 650,000

© Sergei Savostyanov/TASS 

Reuters: Russia's COVID-19 death toll climbs to world's second highest 

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia has overtaken Brazil to have the world's second-highest death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic, behind the United States, data from Russia's state statistics service and Reuters calculations showed on Thursday. 

The statistics service, Rosstat, said 87,527 people had died from coronavirus-related causes in November, making it the deadliest month in Russia since the start of the pandemic. 

Russia's overall pandemic death toll reached 658,634, according to Reuters calculations based on Rosstat figures up to the end of November and data from the coronavirus task force for December, overtaking Brazil which has recorded 618,800 deaths. 

The death toll in the United States is higher, at 825,663 people, according to a Reuters tally, but its population is more than twice as big as Russia's. 

Read more .... 

WNU Editor: The pandemic has been very costly to Russia .... Russia’s Excess Death Toll Hits 930K (Moscow Times). 

Russia Overtakes Brazil To Have The World's Second Highest Covid-19 Death Toll At 650,000  

Coronavirus in Russia: The Latest News | Dec. 30 -- Moscow Times  

Russia Sets Another Monthly Record for Virus-Linked Death -- US News and World Report/AP  

Russia Faces Lost Decade After Its Deadliest Month of Pandemic -- Bloomberg 

17 Percent More Russians Died in 2021 Than 2020, Largely Due to COVID Surge -- Newsweek

China's Xi'an Lockdown Due To Covid Has Hit Some Of The World's Largest Chipmakers

CNN: China's Xi'an lockdown hits some of the world's largest chipmakers 

New Delhi (CNN Business)Two of the world's biggest chipmakers are warning that Covid-19 outbreaks and stringent lockdowns in a major Chinese industrial hub are hampering their operations. 

Samsung and Micron said this week that they've had to adjust operations in the northwestern city of Xi'an, which is experiencing one of China's worst community outbreaks of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Authorities have responded by enacting sweeping measures with an intensity and on a scale rarely seen since Wuhan, the pandemic's original epicenter. 

Any slowdown in output from the city risks worsening the global chip shortage, an ongoing crisis that has limited the supply of everything from iPhones to new cars.  

Read more ....  

Update #1: Samsung, Micron warn China’s Xi’an lockdown could affect memory chip manufacturing (CNBC/Reuters)  

Update #2: Samsung and Micron chip manufacturing plants impacted by lockdowns in China (Techspot)  

WNU Editor: One more reason why manufacturers should be careful when farming their manufacturing to China.

Russian President Putin Warns U.S. President Biden That Sanctions Will Result In The Breaking Of Ties


Daily Mail: Putin warns Biden sanctions will be a 'colossal mistake' and threatens to SEVER ties: US president urges Russian leader to 'de-escalate' and says West will 'respond decisively' if he 'further invades' Ukraine 

* Both sides threatened consequences if Ukraine crisis is not resolved quickly 

* Biden and Putin talked by telephone for 50 minutes on Thursday afternoon 

* The Russian president said new sanctions would lead to the complete breakdown in relations between Washington and Moscow, said the Kremlin 

* Russia has deployed almost 100,000 troops close to the border with Ukraine 

* Putin says he wants guarantees that Ukraine will not be admitted to NATO 

* Earlier it emerged that a US spy plane had been spotted over eastern Ukraine 

Kremlin officials said President Putin warned Joe Biden that new sanctions would lead to a complete breakdown in relations between the two countries, during a 50-minute phone call to discuss the crisis over Ukraine on Thursday. 

Both sides have accused the other of provocations while tens of thousands of Russian troops have been moved close to the Ukrainian border. 

And both sides used the call to warn of dire consequences if the current impasse over Ukraine is not resolved.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: There is no common ground between the two sides. And there is no movement in Ukraine itself to resolve the conflict. I see U.S. - Russian relations getting worse. And heaven help us if a "military incident" occurs between the two sides.


 Russian President Putin Warns U.S. President Biden That Sanctions Will Result In The Breaking Of Ties  

Biden, Putin talk nearly an hour as alarm rises over Ukraine -- AP  

Ukraine tensions: Putin tells Biden new sanctions could rupture ties -- BBC  

Biden and Putin exchange warnings during phone call amid rising Ukraine tensions -- The Guardian  

Biden tells Putin U.S. and allies will 'respond decisively' if Russia moves on Ukraine -- NBC  

Biden pushes Putin for Ukraine de-escalation in second call this month -- CNN  

Putin said new sanctions could cause complete severance of Russian-US ties - Kremlin aide -- TASS  

Kremlin ‘pleased’ with Biden-Putin talks, but warns against ‘colossal’ mistake -- RT 

Russia Needs Legally Binding Agreements on Security Guarantees, Kremlin Says After Putin-Biden Call -- Spuntik  

Putin, Biden warn against Ukraine escalation in call both hail as productive -- France 24  

Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin hold 'constructive' phone call -- DW 

Biden-Putin call ushers in new phase of diplomacy -- Politico  

Full diplomatic break? Decoding the latest Biden-Putin call -- Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

Is President Biden's Failure To Contain Covid Destroying Him Politically?

Zero Hedge: COVID 'Blood On His Hands': Biden 'Kills' More Americans Than Trump 

"We are in the midst of a crisis with the coronavirus. We need to lead the way with science - not Donald Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia, and fear-mongering. He is the worst possible person to lead our country through a global health emergency," Biden said in February 2020. 

President Biden may not recall what he said during a 2020 campaign debate last fall, but Americans should:  

“Anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain as President of the United States of America.” 

At the time the U.S. had recorded 220,000 Covid deaths. 

 “If the president had done his job, had done his job from the beginning, all the people would still be alive,” Mr. Biden said last fall.

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: Zero Hedge is blunt with the following comment on why President Biden's poll numbers are at levels not seen in modern US Presidential polling .... Mr. Biden used the illusion he could vanquish the virus to win election, and he is now paying a political price because he hasn’t. 

My take is different. 

President Biden and his supporters used the pandemic to sell to the American people that if elected they would do a better job in containing it. And I think in their arrogance they actually believed that they could. They certainly convinced tens of millions of Americans that they would.

But they failed, and that failure is still playing out even though the White House and their media supporters are now trying to shift the blame to the Governors.

Good luck on that.

Truth be told. Nature cannot be contained. History has shown that pandemics take time to burn themselves out, and mankind plays a minor role in stopping it. 

This is what is happening now. 

The pandemic will end this year (or next). And it will end not because of any policy or executive action that the Biden administration has implemented. Or any other government in the world for that matter.

As for the political cost to President Biden and the Democrat party. With the exception of a few die-hard Biden supporters, I have never seen this overwhelming dislike for a US President among my American friends, contacts, and readers of this blog.

US Sets A New Record For A Daily Covid-19 Cases

Daily Mail: US sets WORLD record 489,267 COVID cases in 24 hours as country risks grinding to a HALT: 'Incoming viral blizzard will make it hard to keep everyday life operating' 

* The U.S. recorded 489,267 new cases on Thursday, the most of any country in the world during the pandemic so far 

* On average, America is recording 300,000 new cases per day, a record for the pandemic as the nation suffers another winter surge 

* Dr Michael Osterholm, a former advisor to President Biden's transition team, said he expects a 'viral blizzard' to exacerbate the situation in the coming weeks 

* The Omicron COVID-19 variant is fueling the surge, and accounts for between 40% to 70% of new COVID-19 cases, according to CDC data 

* The CDC recently dropped the required quarantine time for a positive Covid case down to five days, from ten, in an effort to keep society running amid the surge 

The United States has hit a record of nearly 500,000 daily coronavirus cases - the most any country has ever reported - and risks grinding to a halt as experts say that the latest surge of infections will only get worse in the next month. 

On Wednesday, 489,267 positive Covid cases were reported. 

According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), anywhere from 40 to 70 percent of new cases in America are of the Omicron variant, which was first discovered last month by South African health officials. 

The U.S. is now averaging 300,387 new Covid cases per day, a pandemic record and the first time the 300,000 mark has been reached in America. 

Read more .... 

US Sets A New Record For A Daily Covid-19 Cases  

Omicron smashes US case records as experts are still trying to understand it -- Ars Technica  

Experts, governors warn of U.S. Omicron 'blizzard' in weeks ahead -- Reuters  

US sets new record for daily Covid cases as Omicron spreads across country -- The Guardian  

Omicron surge is 'unlike anything we've ever seen,' expert says -- CNN 

US children hospitalized with COVID in record numbers -- AP  

CDC boss says COVID-19 hospitalizations are 'comparatively low' as US records most new cases in a single day -- Business Insider

President Biden Is Being 'Slammed' As Americans Wait Hours To Be Tested For Covid-19

Americans are waiting in lines for hours in cities across the country to get their COVID test. Above is one of those lines, seen in Times Square on Wednesday  

Daily Mail: Omicron red alert: Biden is slammed as Americans wait hours to be tested while a record 301,472 new daily average cases are reported across the US: Experts warn surge will 'threaten critical infrastructure' 

* Americans are still waiting hours in lines to be tested for COVID-19 as the Omicron variant sweeps the nation 

* The US broke a world record for daily average cases with 301,472 

* Biden caught heat Wednesday after announcing that contracts won't be finished 'until next week' for the 500 million at-home tests he promised 

* There are still unanswered questions about how the at-home test distribution will work and how long it will take for the tests to arrive once ordered 

* Yesterday, the CDC made a shock revision of Omicron prevalence, cutting the number of cases involving the new strain by half 

* Omicron accounted for 23% of all cases in the week ending December 18, as opposed to 73% initially reported 

* The Omicron variant accounted for 59% of all new cases for the week ending on December 25, CDC says 

* It means that Delta has been accounting for far more infections than the agency initially thought 

The Biden administration is under pressure from Americans as many wait hours to be tested for COVID - while the US hit a new high for new daily average cases with 301,472 reported on Wednesday. 

The country smashed its previously daily average record of 264,546 cases as the highly-infectious new Omicron variant continued to sweep the nation. 

The sudden spike has prompted warnings from experts that the virus will 'threaten critical infrastructure' in the US with workers at hospitals, grocery stores and gas stations forced into isolation.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: Here is an easy prediction. There is going to be a political cost for the Biden administration and his allies .... Covid bogs down Biden in winter of discontent (RFI).

I Have (Had) Covid

WNU editor being watched by the GF's Rottie while recovering from Covid

Last Thursday I was feeling tired, headache, and running nose. My mom had a mild cough and a running nose. My girlfriend was feeling OK 

Friday the same thing. 

On Saturday the GF felt sick. My symptoms and my mother's remained the same. Did a rapid test and found out that I was positive for Covid. 

Went on Sunday for a PCR test. But I only learned yesterday (Wednesday) that it was positive. 

On Monday my mother and I were already feeling good. 

We definitely felt recovered on Tuesday. 

My GF fully recovered yesterday. I know because she has been complaining since then. 🙂 

We are all double vaccinated.

I would describe what I experienced as a case of the flu without the "bite" of the flu. 

The one who has suffered the most has been the dog. She had to endure us during this time of quarantine, and will need to do so for a few more days.

206 US Marines Kicked Out For Refusing The Covid-19 Vaccine

U.S. service members receive the COVID-19 vaccine aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar on Jan 29, 2021. (Cpl. Leilani Cervantes/Marine Corps) 

Politico: Marines kick out 206 troops for refusing Covid-19 vaccine  

Overall, 95 percent of all active-duty Marines have received at least the first dose. 

The Marine Corps announced Thursday that it has kicked out more troops for refusing the Covid-19 vaccine. 

The total number of discharges has risen to 206, up from 169 last week. 

The fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law Monday, dictates that the military services cannot dishonorably discharge members for vaccine refusal. 

The discharges must be either honorable or general under honorable conditions.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: 14% of reserve US Marines are still not vaccinated .... 14 percent of Reserve Marines unvaccinated as deadline passes (Marines Times). 

206 US Marines Kicked Out For Refusing The Covid-19 Vaccine 

Marines say they're being 'crushed' over vaccine refusal: 'A political purge' -- FOX News 

Unvaccinated Marines claim COVID mandate ‘purge’ as all religious exemption bids are denied -- NYPost  

More than 200 Marines separated for refusing COVID-19 vaccine -- The Hill  

More than 200 Marines removed for defying COVID vaccine mandate -- Axios

Ex-Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Describes The Day He Fled The Taliban


BBC: Ashraf Ghani: Ex-Afghan president describes moment he fled the Taliban 

Afghanistan's former president has defended his decision to flee the country as the Taliban closed in earlier this year, saying he did it to prevent the destruction of Kabul. 

The Taliban seized power in August after taking control of the capital. 

Ashraf Ghani revealed that when he woke up on 15 August he had "no inkling" it would be his last day in Afghanistan. 

It was only when his plane left Kabul that he realised he was going, Mr Ghani said on BBC Radio 4's Today programme. 

He was heavily criticised and accused of abandoning the country at the time. He is now in the United Arab Emirates.  

Read more .... 

 Ex-Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Describes The Day He Fled The Taliban  

Ex-Afghan President Says Had No Choice but to Flee Kabul -- AP 

Former Afghan president says he had no choice but to flee Kabul as Taliban closed in -- The Hill  

Ashraf Ghani blames international allies over Afghanistan’s fall to Taliban -- The Guardian  

Former Afghan President was given 'no more than two minutes' to get ready to flee Kabul -- CNN  

Afghan ex-President Ghani defends decision to flee the country -- Al Jazeera  

Ex Afghan leader says didn't know flight out of Kabul was to exile -- Business Insider  

Ashraf Ghani: I'm a scapegoat after fleeing Afghanistan to save Kabul -- The National 

Ghani Says He Expected to Flee to Khost, Was Told It Had Fallen -- TOLO News

Poll: Only 7 Out Of 10 In Taiwan Would Fight A Chinese Invasion

A row of American-made F-16V fighter aircraft are pictured on the tarmac at Chiayi Air Base in Taiwan during a commissioning ceremony on November 18, 2021. National polling published on December 29, 2021, found seven out of 10 Taiwanese residents were willing to take up arms to prevent forced unification with China. © Makoto Lin/Office of the President, Taiwan  

Newsweek: 7 Out of 10 in Taiwan Would Fight China To Stop Forced Unification: Poll 

Over 70 percent of respondents in a recent survey in Taiwan said they would fight China if it tried to force "unification" with the island. 

The poll, published by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD) think tank on Wednesday, found 62.7 percent of respondents also would be willing to take up arms if a war broke out because of "Taiwan's declaring formal independence." 

Just over one-quarter said they wouldn't fight under such a scenario. 

The strikingly high willingness to oppose Beijing "if China uses force against Taiwan"—72.5 versus 18.6 percent—may be a reflection of the question's framing, which usually doesn't include a specific hypothetical circumstance.  

Read more ....  

Update: Poll says 72.5% of Taiwanese willing to fight against forced unification by China (Taipei Times) 

WNU Editor: Only 72% !?!?!? IMHO this is not a very reassuring number. It should be closer to 100%.

China's Foreign Minister Says America Risks Paying 'An Unbearable Price' For Its Support Of Taiwan

State councillor and foreign minister Wang Yi (pictured) has warned the US that it risks paying an 'unbearable price' over its support of Taiwan  

Daily Mail: China warns that America risks paying 'an unbearable price' for its support of Taiwan 

* Chinese minister Wang Yi accuses US of 'encouraging Taiwan independence' 

* He said their support 'puts Taiwan in an extremely dangerous situation' 

* Another minister Ma Xiaoguang threatened 'drastic measures' against Taiwan 

China has warned the US that it risks paying an 'unbearable price' over its support of Taiwan. 

State councillor and foreign minister Wang Yi accused President Joe Biden of 'encouraging Taiwan independence forces' in the territory claimed by China as its own. 

Meanwhile another Chinese minister has threatened 'drastic measures' if Taiwan makes moves towards formal independence.  

Read more ....  

Update #1: China warns US will 'face unbearable price' on Taiwan (AFP)  

Update #2: China Warns America's Actions Regarding Taiwan Expose Washington to 'Unbearable Price' (Sputnik)

WNU Editor: The U.S. has a different view .... Top U.S. Official in Taiwan Says China Military Flights 'Not Acceptable' (Newsweek).

When Factoring In Inflation, U.S. Troops Will Be Getting A Significant Paycut!

The consumer price index hit a 39-year high of 6.8% on an annual basis in November  

Daily Mail: U.S. troops will get a pay CUT when factoring in inflation and the poorest could be forced to turn to food banks after Biden signed the National Defense Authorization Act, former Army general says 

* Service members will be in a worse financial situation despite a 2.7% pay raise 

* Former Major General John Ferrari says it won't keep pace with soaring inflation 

* The prices of consumer goods rose an average 6.8% year-over in November 

* Military wages are generally set based off the last year's Employment Cost Index 

American service members will likely be in a worse financial situation next year because of soaring inflation, despite President Joe Biden authorizing a Pentagon-wide press increase earlier this week, a former Army Major General said on Wednesday. 

John G. Ferrari, now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, told Fox that 'for Troops at the lowest part of the pay scale, the cost of gas and food may drive some deeper into debt, or they may rely more on food banks.'  

Read more ....  

Update: US troops will receive pay cut in 2022 when factoring inflation (FOX News)  

WNU Editor: A 2.7% pay raise when everyone knows that inflation is soaring over 10% (not 6.8%). It should surprise no one that this is not going down well.