Tuesday, January 18, 2022

U.S. Senators Visit Kiev To Reaffirm Bipartisan Support For Ukraine Against Russia

 

Daily Mail: Bipartisan group of Senators visit Ukraine to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky in show of support as Russia denies US allegations its preparing a pretext for invasion 

* Group of seven senators is in Ukraine to show U.S. support to country 

* Trip comes as U.S. intel agencies say they have information that Russia is preparing for an invasion of Ukraine 

* The Kremlin is denying it has any plans to invade Ukraine 

* Senators met with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky 

A bipartisan group of senators is in the Ukraine to show their support following reports that U.S. intelligence agencies have information that Russia is preparing to conduct a false-flag operation in the eastern part of the country. 

Seven senators - both Republicans and Democrats - arrived in the early hours of Monday morning Ukraine time for a briefing at the U.S. embassy and meetings with President Volodymyr Zelensky and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. 

'This timely visit strengthens the US-Ukraine strategic partnership & helps deter further Russian aggression,' Kuleba tweeted in welcoming the American delegation.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: With Congressional all but guaranteed, I expect these extra arms shipments will be approved .... US weighs more military support for Ukraine to resist Russia if it invades (CNN). 

On a side note.

No comments from these US senators on the plight of the last Ukrainian President who received the same amount of support from these same senators when he was in power .... Former Ukraine President Poroshenko To Return To Kiev To Face Treason Charges (January 16, 2022). 

U.S. Senators Visit Kiev To Reaffirm Bipartisan Support For Ukraine Against Russia  

US senators promise solidarity and weapons for Ukraine in warning to Putin -- Reuters  

Bipartisan US Senate delegation meets with Ukrainian President as Russian invasion threat looms -- CNN  

Senators meet in Ukraine to reaffirm US is united against ‘Putin’s belligerence’ -- FOX News  

Senators meet with Ukraine’s president, reaffirm US support amid Russia tensions -- NYPost  

Senators make bipartisan trip to Ukraine after divisive Russia vote -- Axios

Will The U.S. Reinstate Houthi A Terrorist Designation After U.A.E. Attack

Secretary of State Tony Blinken (left) listens to United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan during a joint news conference at the State Department iin October. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP  

Axios: UAE asks U.S. to reinstate Houthi terrorist designation after attack 

Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed asked Secretary of State Tony Blinken in a phone call Monday to re-designate the Houthi rebels in Yemen as a terrorist organization, a senior Emirati official told Axios.  

Why it matters: Less than a month after he assumed office, President Biden rolled back the Trump administration’s decision to make the designation. He said it hampered humanitarian assistance to the Yemeni people. Since then, the Houthis have escalated their attacks against Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region — including an attack Monday in Abu Dhabi.  

What they are saying: “During the call between Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed and Secretary Blinken, there was a discussion regarding the idea of re-designation of the Houthis based on their current actions," a senior Emirati official told Axios. 

* "The latest attack on civilian targets in Abu Dhabi, and the hijacking of a UAE-flagged ship, fall squarely in that category.”  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: I do not expect the White House will reverse their designation of the Houthis as a terrorist organization. I only expect rhetoric like this .... US condemns deadly Houthi drone attack on UAE oil facility near Al-Dhafra (AP).

Oil Hits Seven-Year High After Houthi Attack On UAE

 

CNBC: Oil hits seven-year high as Houthi attack on UAE rattles regional tensions 

* The United Arab Emirates has vowed to retaliate against Houthi militants for a deadly attack on its capital Abu Dhabi on Monday that killed three people. 

* International benchmark Brent crude was trading at $87.25 on Tuesday around noon on Wall Street, its highest level since 2014. 

* The UAE is the world’s seventh-biggest oil producer, pumping just over 4 million barrels per day. 

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The United Arab Emirates has vowed to retaliate against Houthi militants for a deadly attack on its capital Abu Dhabi on Monday that killed three people, as fresh tensions in the region helped push oil prices to their highest level in seven years. 

“We condemn the Houthi militia’s targeting of civilian areas and facilities on UAE soil today,” the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement following the attacks. “We reiterate that those responsible for this unlawful targeting of our country will be held accountable.” 

The ministry added that the UAE “reserves the right to respond to these terrorist attacks and criminal escalation.”  

Read more ....  

Update #1: Oil Jumps To Highest Level Since 2014 On UAE Drone Attack (OilPrice.com) 

Update #2: A drone attack in Abu Dhabi could mark a dangerous turning point for the Middle East. Here's what to know (CNN)  

WNU Editor: If trends continue the price of oil will exceed even this prediction .... Oil prices will surge to $100 this year, Goldman Sachs warns (CNN).

170 Members Of Qatar's Air Force To Come To The U.S. To Fly The Newest Model Of The F-15 Fighter

F-15E Strike Eagles from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. (John T. Winn/Air Force National Guard) 

Stars and Stripes/Idaho Statesman: $12 billion deal may bring hundreds of Qatar, US Air Force members to Idaho base 

BOISE, Idaho (Tribune News Service) — The U.S. Air Force soon may bring 170 members of Qatar's air force to live on the Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho. They would be coming to learn to fly the newest model of the F-15 fighter jet specially modified for the Persian Gulf state. 

The Qatar trainees may be in for a culture shock should they find themselves in the city of Mountain Home. More than 90% of Qataris live in the capital of Doha, which is full of skyscrapers, luxury hotels and attractions, museums and world-class food. 

The country is also incredibly flat and dry, with the majority of its land being desert. Qatar is one of just four areas in the world without a single forest. Not to mention the differing temperatures between Qatar and Idaho: Qatar averages 107 degrees in July and rarely gets below 50 degrees even in winter.  

Read more .... 

WNU Editor: Qatar received its first batch of F-15s last year .... Qatar receives first batch of US-made F-15 combat planes (Al Jazeera).

Russian Putin To Host Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi In Moscow On Wednesday

The combo image shows Iran’s President Ebrahim Raeisi (L) and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.  

RFE: Russian, Iranian Presidents To Hold Talks In Moscow 

The Kremlin says President Vladimir Putin will host his Iranian counterpart, Ebrahim Raisi, in Moscow on January 19, amid negotiations aimed at reviving a landmark nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers. 

 It will be Raisi's third visit outside Iran -- after Tajikistan and neighboring Turkmenistan -- since he took over the presidency in August, and the first trip by an Iranian president to Russia since 2017. 

Moscow and Tehran have strong political, economic, and military ties and are key allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his country's decade-long civil war.  

Read more .... 

Russian Putin To Host Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi In Moscow On Wednesday  

Putin to host Iran’s Raisi in Moscow amid nuclear talks -- Moscow Times/AFP  

Expansion of ties in focus as President Raeisi visits Moscow Wednesday -- Press TV (Iran)  

Iran’s Tilt To Moscow Casts Shadow Over Vienna Talks -- Iran International  

Iran-Russia talks: Why Raisi's meeting with Putin is crucial for Iran's future -- Fardin Eftekhari, Middle East Eye

Iran And Saudi Arabia In Talks To Reopen Their Embassies

Smoke rises from Saudi Arabia's embassy in Tehran after it was set on fire by Iranian protesters on January 2, 2016. (REUTERS file photo)  

Zero Hedge: Iran & Saudis Preparing To Reopen Embassies After Decade Of Regional Proxy War 

In a highly unexpected and unusual development, and coming off a possible diplomatic breakthrough amid recent talks aimed at opening up relations, Iranian diplomats arrived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia this weekend for the first time in a half-decade. 

The two countries haven't had diplomatic relations since 2016, when Iranian protesters attacked the Saudi Embassy in Tehran following the kingdom's execution of a popular Shia cleric. They are reportedly preparing to reopen embassies. 

The Saudis and Iranians have further been waging fierce proxy wars against the other in places like Syria and Yemen over a period of years. 

Shia Iran has long funded and sent weapons primarily to Hezbollah, as well as Yemen's Houthi rebels, while the Saudis have funded Sunni jihadists including ISIS. 

The two sides have also long vied for influence in Lebanon's politics, with Washington consistently backing the Saudis.  

Read more ....  

Update: Iran, Saudi Arabia Close To Reopening Consulates: Diplomatic Source (Iran International)  

WNU Editor: I am sure in these talks the Saudis are making it very clear that they do not want a repeat of this .... Tehran protesters torch, ransack Saudi embassy after Shia cleric's execution (CBC/AP).

China Tells Its Citizens To Avoid Mail From Abroad Due To Covid Fears

 

Insider: China tells citizens to avoid mail from abroad and open packages with gloves, claiming that Omicron is spreading through foreign post 

* China is advising people to avoid foreign mail and open packages outside, citing COVID-19 risks. 

* Beijing's disease center said an Omicron infection could have come through international mail. 

* Experts say the virus is unlikely to spread via mail, as it doesn't last long on surfaces. 

Officials in Beijing are telling people to avoid international mail and to open their packages outdoors and with gloves, saying cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant could have spread through foreign mail. 

Experts have repeatedly said that there is little risk of getting the coronavirus from mail. 

There is no indication that this has changed with the Omicron variant, though it is more infectious.  

Read more ....  

Update #1: China Halts All Foreign Mail Due To COVID Threat As Tianjin Reports 80 New Cases (Zero Hedge)  

Update #2: Omicron cases in Beijing, Shenzhen suspected of links to packages from North America (Global times)  

WNU Editor: The experts are saying that these claims are ridiculous .... China's claim that Omicron came from Canadian mail dismissed as 'ludicrous' (Canadian Press). 

As to what is my take. 

The Chinese are positioning themselves to blame foreigners/outsiders in the event that Covid infections do spread during the Olympics.

Tweets Of The Day

British C-17 Transport Aircraft Ferrying Weapons To Ukraine Are Avoiding Germany

WNU Editor: The German foreign minister is in Moscow this week. The Germans do not want anything to disrupt these talks.

Picture Of The Day

A medical worker takes a swab sample from a woman for nucleic acid testing at a testing site in Beijing, China January 17, 2022. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins  

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... COVID tests and vaccination lines continue amid Omicron spread (Reuters).

President Biden: 'Dr. King’s Assassination Did Not Have The Worldwide Impact That George Floyd’s Death Did'

WNU Editor: Wow!

Monday, January 17, 2022

Kremlin Demands Facebook "Immediately" Lift All Restrictions On A Page Linked To The Foreign Ministry

© REUTERS / Dado Ruvic  

TASS: Facebook bans account of Russian delegation to Vienna military security talks 

The delegation only reposted statements by the Russian leaders and the Russian foreign ministry 

VIENNA, January 16. /TASS/. Facebook has blocked the official account of the Russian delegation to the military security and arms control talks in Vienna, Konstantin Gavrilov, who leads the Russia delegation, told TASS on Sunday. 

"Facebook banned the delegation’s account on Friday, citing prohibited content as a reason," he said, adding that the delegation only reposted statements by the Russian leaders and the Russian foreign ministry. 

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: The page has been unblocked .... Facebook Unblocks Russian Foreign Ministry-Linked Page (Moscow Times/AFP). 

Kremlin Demands Facebook "Immediately" Lift All Restrictions On A Page Linked To The Foreign Ministry  

Facebook blocks page of Russian diplomats taking part in security talks -- RT  

Russia demands Facebook unblock page linked to foreign ministry -- ABC News Australia  

Russia’s Envoy to OSCE Slams Blocking of Delegation's Facebook Page as 'Censorship' -- Sputnik

Saudi Led-Coalition Launches Airstrikes On Houthi Rebels After Deadly Drone Strikes Against Abu Dhabi

CNN: Saudi led-coalition launches airstrikes on Yemeni capital after deadly Houthi drone strike in Abu Dhabi 

Abu Dhabi, UAE (CNN)The Saudi led-coalition fighting in Yemen launched airstrikes on the Yemeni capital on Monday, shortly after Iranian-backed Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a deadly drone attack in the United Arab Emirates. 

"In response to the threat and military necessity, airstrikes began on Sana'a," Saudi Arabia's state-run Al-Ekhbariya said on Twitter. 

"The vicious attack on the UAE is a hostile act. The Houthi targeting of civilians in the kingdom and the UAE are war crimes whose perpetrators must be held accountable," Al-Ekhbariya said in a tweet. 

The drone attack near Abu Dhabi's aiport killed at least three people and sparked multiple explosions in the UAE's capital.  

Read more ....  

Update #1: Saudi-led coalition air strikes target Yemen’s Houthi rebels after Abu Dhabi attack (France 24)  

Update #2: 6 killed in Saudi-led airstrikes on Houthis-controlled camp in Yemen's capita: media (Xinhua)  

Update #3: Saudi coalition strikes Houthis after drone attack on UAE (Jerusalem Post)  

WNU Editor: The Saudi-led coalition had to respond after today's devastating drone attack .... Houthi Rebels Claim Responsibility For Drone Attacks On Abu Dhabi.

North Korea Conducts A Fourth Missile Test In Two Weeks

 

Daily Mail: North Korea conducts FOURTH missile launch in a month - six days after previous lift-off 'prompted "full ground stop" of all operations at West Coast airports' 

* North Korea has fired at least one suspected ballistic missile into the sea in its fourth weapons launch this month, officials in South Korea and Japan said 

* South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff did not immediately say whether the projectile was ballistic or how far it flew 

* Japan's Prime Minister's Office said it detected a possible ballistic missile launch from North Korea, but did not immediately provide more details 

* Japan's Coast Guard issued a statement urging vessels traveling around the coast to watch out for falling objects but no damage was reported 

* Monday launch came after the North conducted a pair of flight tests of a purported hypersonic missile on January 5 and January 11 

* It also test-fired ballistic missiles from a train on Friday in an apparent reprisal over fresh sanctions imposed by the Biden administration last week 

* North Korea has been ramping up tests in recent months of new missiles designed to overwhelm missile defenses in the region 

* US-led diplomatic push aimed at convincing North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program collapsed in 2019 

North Korea has fired two suspected ballistic missiles into the sea in its fourth weapons launch this month, South Korea´s military said, with the apparent goal of demonstrating its military might. 

South Korea´s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the North likely fired two short-range ballistic missiles from an area in Sunan, the location of Pyongyang´s international airport, but didn´t immediately say how far they flew. 

The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said the missiles did not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory, or to its allies, but highlighted the destabilizing impact of the North´s 'illicit' weapons program.  

Read more .... 

North Korea Conducts A Fourth Missile Test In Two Weeks

Japan condemns North Korea after it conducts fourth missile test in a month -- The Guardian  

North Korea conducts a fourth presumed missile test in a month -- CNN 

N.Korea tested tactical guided missiles on Monday -KCNA -- Reuters  

North Korea launches 4th missile test in 2 weeks -- ABC News  

North Korea fires ballistic missiles from Pyongyang airport -- UPI  

North Korea confirms tactical guided missile test on Monday - media -- TASS

Kremlin Denies US Allegations That It Is Planning A False Flag To Invade Ukraine

 

The Hill: Russia dismisses US allegations of plans for false flag operation as pretext to invade Ukraine 

Russia is dismissing U.S. allegations that Moscow has plans for a false flag operation as pretext to invade Ukraine as “total disinformation.” 

The rejection from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, as reported in The Associated Press, comes after Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters on Friday that U.S. intelligence believes Russia is working to create a pretext for a potential invasion of Ukraine. 

A U.S. official also confirmed the Russian military is planning to start pretext activities “several weeks before a military invasion,” which could occur between mid-January and mid-February. 

Read more ....  

Update #1: Russia Denies Looking for Pretext to Invade Ukraine (AP)  

Update #2: Russian denies US allegation it's creating a pretext to invade Ukraine (Euronews)  

WNU Editor: The Kremlin believes this is all a Washington campaign to provoke Russia .... ‘Disinformation’: Lavrov on US claims that Russia prepares ‘provocation’ against Ukraine (TASS).

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock Says Russia Will Pay A Price If It Invades Ukraine

 

DW: Germany's Baerbock visits Ukraine amid rising tensions with Russia 

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock says she wants a "serious dialogue" on security in Europe during her visits to Ukraine and Russia. 

Her first official trips there come amid fears Russia might invade. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has said she will seek a diplomatic solution to the crisis between Ukraine and Russia during her first official trip to the two countries. 

She cautioned, however, that Moscow would face a firm response if it resorted to military escalation. 

Baerbock's two-day trip comes as a build-up of Russian troops and military equipment on the border to Ukraine, a former Soviet state, is raising fears that Moscow might be intending to invade its neighbor.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: Germany warning and threatening Russia never goes over well in Russia. Never. 

The German foreign minister will be in Moscow later this week. 

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock Says Russia Will Pay A Price If It Invades Ukraine  

Germany says Russia will pay price if it moves on Ukraine -- Reuters  

Russia would pay ‘high price’ for attack on Ukraine, says German minister -- The Guardian  

Germany Calls On Russia to Take Steps to Defuse Ukraine Conflict -- Bloomberg 

Germany wants to 'normalize' relations with Russia – Baerbock -- RT

U.S. Joint Chiefs Chairman General Milley Tests Positive For Covid Even Though He Is Double-Vaccinated And Boosted

Milley's most recent contact with President Joe Biden was on January 12 at the funeral of retired General Raymond Odierno  

Daily Mail: Joint Chiefs Chair Mark Milley tests positive for COVID-19 four days after being contact with President Biden 

* Mark Milley tested positive for COVID Sunday and is experiencing symptoms 

* Milley's most recent contact with President Joe Biden was on January 12 

* They were together at the funeral of retired General Raymond Odierno 

* U.S. defense secretary Lloyd Austin tested positive for COVID earlier this month 

U.S. Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday and is experiencing very minor symptoms while isolating and working remotely, a spokesman said on Monday. 

Milley's most recent contact with President Joe Biden was on January 12 at the funeral of retired General Raymond Odierno, the spokesman said. 

Milley had tested negative several days prior to and each day following contact with Biden, until yesterday, the spokesman added.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: The top US Marine General has also tested positive for Covid .... Marine Corps Commandant Tests Positive for Coronavirus (Breitbart). 

U.S. Joint Chiefs Chairman General Milley Tests Positive For Covid Even Though He Is Double-Vaccinated And Boosted 

Milley, Berger, test positive for COVID-19 -- Military Times  

Top U.S. general Milley tests positive for COVID-19: spokesman -- Reuters

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley tests positive for Covid-19 -- CNN 

Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley tests positive for COVID-19: 'Very minor symptoms' -- FOX News  

Joint Chiefs Chair Mark Milley tests positive for Covid -- Politico 

Gen. Mark Milley tests positive for COVID-19 with ‘very minor symptoms’ -- NYPost  

General Mark Milley: Top US military official tests positive for Covid -- The Independent 

Triple-vaxxed top US general gets Covid-19 -- RT

Top U.S. Infectious Disease Expert Warns Omicron May NOT Be The 'End' Of The Pandemic And There Is A 'High Probability' Of Another Deadly Variant Emerging

 

Daily Mail: Fauci warns that Omicron may NOT be the 'end' of the pandemic and there is a 'high probability' another variant could emerge' that would evade immunity 

* Dr Anthony Fauci warns that the Omicron variant may not be the final strain of Covid, as some believe 

* The variant has quickly infected millions of people worldwide at a pace faster than previous strains 

* With so many cases, some experts are hopeful the variant will run out of people to infect 

* Fauci warns that a new strain that is resistant to natural immunity provided by infection could emerge and keep the pandemic going 

* The U.S. is averaging 1,839 Covid deaths per day, a 36% increase over the past two weeks, though deaths still remain much lower than they were at the height of the Delta surge 

* A record 155,000 Americans are in the hospital with Covid every day, though many are people arriving for treatment for another condition and testing positive while they are there 

* New York Gov Kathy Hochul has called for hospitals in her state to properly differentiate Covid hospitalizations and hospitalizations with Covid 

* The U.S. daily Covid case average eclipsed 800,000 for the first time ever over the weekend, but experts warn daily case figures are misleading during the Omicron surge 

Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, warns that the Omicron variant may not spell the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease, told the Davos Agenda virtual event Monday that 'natural vaccination' - or immunity via previous infection - might not be as effective as some believe. 

Like the emergence of Omicron, there is potential for a new variant to emerge in the future that can bypass the natural immunity provided by infection from the new strain. 

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: Dr. Fauci is repeating the same warnings that WHO senior emergencies officer Catherine Smallwood voiced almost two weeks ago .... WHO Warns That The Further Spread Of Omicron May Lead To More Dangerous Mutations Of The Covid-19 Virus (January 6, 2022).

China's Birth Rate Falls For A Fifth Consecutive Year To Its Lowest Level In Six Decades

 

Daily Mail: China's birth rate plummets for a fifth consecutive year to its lowest level in decades with fewer born in 2021 than during Mao-era famine as country faces demographic crisis 

* Only 10.6m babies were born in 2021 in China in the population of 1.413bn 

* It is the lowest level recorded in the Communist nation since its founding in 1949 

* The population increased by 480,000, the lowest since Mao's Great Famine China's birth rate has fallen again for the fifth consecutive year with fewer babies born in 2021 than during the Great Famine under Chairman Mao. 

Only 10.6million babies were born last year in the population of more than 1.413billion, down 12 per cent on the 12million born in 2020. 

It is the lowest level recorded in the Communist nation since its founding in 1949.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: 1.4 billion people is still a lot of people. 

China's Birth Rate Falls For A Fifth Consecutive Year To Its Lowest Level In Six Decades  

China’s population to remain at 1.4b in following years despite decline in newborns: official -- Global Times  

China's birth rate drops for a fifth straight year to record low -- CNN  

China’s population grows by the slowest pace in decades -- CNBC  

China’s population growth rate falls to 61-year low -- The Guardian

A Year After Arrest, Russian Opposition Leader Navalny Says He Has No Regrets On Returning To Russia

 

RFE: A Year After Arrest, Russia's Navalny Says He Has No Regrets 

Aleksei Navalny says he has no regrets and has called on his supporters not to be "afraid," a year to the day the opposition politician was detained after returning to Russia from Germany where he was recovering from a near-fatal poisoning.

"I sided with those honest people who do not want to be, or cannot be, scared any more. I did it, I don't regret it for a second, and I will continue doing it," Navalny, who is serving time in an old embezzlement case that is widely considered as being politically motivated, said in a post on Instagram on January 17. 

"Having served my first year in prison, I want to tell everyone exactly what I shouted to those gathered outside the court when a convoy led me to a police van: Don't be afraid of anything," the vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin said. 

Read more ....  

Update #1: Alexei Navalny says he has 'no regrets' 1 year since arrest (DW)  

Update #2: EU calls on Russia to release Navalny one year after arrest (The Hill)  

WNU Editor: I said a year ago that it was a mistake for Navalny to return to Russia. It looks like his supporters are beginning to realize that also .... One Year After His Arrest, Russia's Opposition Asks: Was Navalny's Return A Mistake? (RFE).

More Signs That A Political Re-Alignment Is Happening In The U.S.

Gallop: U.S. Political Party Preferences Shifted Greatly During 2021 

* Preferences shifted from nine-point Democratic advantage to five-point GOP edge 

* Average party preferences for all of 2021 similar to past years 

* Largest percentage of U.S. adults identify as political independents 

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- On average, Americans' political party preferences in 2021 looked similar to prior years, with slightly more U.S. adults identifying as Democrats or leaning Democratic (46%) than identified as Republicans or leaned Republican (43%).

However, the general stability for the full-year average obscures a dramatic shift over the course of 2021, from a nine-percentage-point Democratic advantage in the first quarter to a rare five-point Republican edge in the fourth quarter.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: It is not what everyone expected .... The left dreamed of remaking America. Now, it stares into the abyss as Biden’s plans wither (Washington Post).  

Update: More bad poll numbers .... 64 percent of Americans think Biden's Covid-19 response is 'going badly' as his approval hits new low, latest poll reveals (Daily Mail). More here .... Poll: Half of Americans ‘Frustrated,’ ‘Disappointed’ with Biden’s Presidency (National Review).  

Update #2: The Democrat base is still there .... A Florida Republican who was defeated by 59 percentage points in a congressional special election won't concede (Insider).

China - Iran Begin Their 25 Year Srategic Agreement

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi holds talks with visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian in Wuxi, east China's Jiangsu Province, January 14, 2022. /Xinhua  

VOA: China, Iran Begin Implementation of Sweeping Strategic Agreement 

BEIJING — China said Saturday it would begin implementing a strategic agreement with Iran, strengthening economic and political cooperation between the two countries as Beijing blasted Washington's sanctions on Tehran. 

China and Iran signed the agreement last year after years of talks, with the wide-ranging partnership set to span areas including energy, security, infrastructure and communications. 

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian announced the start of the partnership's implementation at a meeting in east China's Wuxi on Friday, Beijing's foreign ministry said in a statement.  

Read more ....  

Update #1: Iran says 25-year China agreement enters implementation stage (Al Jazeera)  

Update #2: Sino-Iranian ties take center stage with comprehensive cooperation plan (CGTN)  

WNU Editor: This is a very important agreement for Iran. They need markets for their oil, international allies, and capital investments for their economy. 

Not surprising. China is condemning U.S. sanctions against Iran .... China confirms opposition to US sanctions on Iran (Middle East Monitor). More here .... China slams U.S. sanctions on Iran as cooperation agreement launched (Reuters).

China’s GDP Grows 8.1% in 2021, The Fastest In 10 Years

 

CNBC: China’s economy grew 8.1% in 2021 compared to a year ago 

* Fourth-quarter GDP rose by 4% from a year earlier, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected China to report fourth-quarter GDP growth of 3.6%. 

* However, retail sales missed expectations, growing by 1.7% in December from a year ago. Analysts polled by Reuters had predicted a 3.7% increase. 

* For the full year, China economists had expected an average of 8.4% growth in 2021, according to financial data provider Wind Information. 

BEIJING — China’s economy grew by 8.1% in 2021 as industrial production rose steadily through the end of the year and offset a drop off in retail sales, according to official data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics released Monday. 

Fourth-quarter GDP rose by 4% from a year ago, according to the statistics bureau. That’s faster than the 3.6% increase forecast by a Reuters poll. 

For the full year, China economists expected an average of 8.4% growth in 2021, according to financial data provider Wind Information. 

Industrial production rose by 4.3% in December from a year ago, the bureau said, also beating Reuters’ forecast of 3.6% growth. 

Notably, auto production grew for the first time since April, up by 3.4% year-on-year in December. 

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: China is pursuing the same policy it has in the past of cutting its interest rates to devalue its currency in order to spur an increase its exports .... China cuts rates on policy loans for first time since April 2020 (CNBC/Reuters). 

The Chinese economy is going to need this support. 

The economy is facing a credit/financial crisis with the collapse of China's major real estate development companies, and housing prices that are the back-bone of the Chinese economy are declining for the first time in years. 

 China’s GDP Grows 8.1% in 2021, The Fastest In 10 Years  

China’s GDP grows 8.1% in 2021, fastest in 10 years, spurring confidence despite challenges ahead -- Global Times  

China’s economy grows 8.1% in 2021, slows in second half -- AP  

China's economy expanded 8.1% in 2021, but growth is slowing -- CNN  

China's economy slowed at end of 2021 amid COVID outbreaks -- DW  

China posts 8.1% growth for 2021 but a property downturn and its zero-COVID policy could add pressure -- SKY News

China's President Xi Warns Against 'Cold War Mentality' And Confrontation Via Video-Conference At The Davos Agenda Virtual Event

 

NBC: China’s Xi says countries must abandon ‘Cold War mentality,’ warns against confrontation 

* Speaking via videoconference at The Davos Agenda virtual event, Xi said: “We need to discard Cold War mentality and seek peaceful co-existence and win-win outcomes.” 

* Beijing and Washington’s tense relationship over Taiwan has been identified as a top risk for Asia this year, while one of the region’s top experts has previously warned China’s “disturbing” crackdown on U.S.-listed China stocks could be interpreted as the early stages of a Cold War. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday called for countries to move away from a “Cold War mentality,” saying history has repeatedly shown that confrontation only invites disastrous repercussions. 

His comments come at a time of simmering tensions between China and the U.S. over Taiwan and as fears escalate over a possible Russian incursion into Ukraine. 

Speaking via videoconference at The Davos Agenda virtual event, Xi said: “We need to discard Cold War mentality and seek peaceful co-existence and win-win outcomes.”  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: Chinese President Xi's complete speech is below. 

 

China's President Xi Warns Against 'Cold War Mentality' And Confrontation Via Video-Conference At The Davos Agenda Virtual Event 

Xi addresses 2022 WEF virtual session -- Xinhuanet  

No ‘countercurrents’ can stop globalization trend: Xi -- Global Times  

Xi stresses safeguarding national security, social stability, peaceful lives -- Xinhua  

Xi: China stays committed to development, reform and opening-up -- CGTN 

China’s Xi rejects ‘Cold War mentality,’ pushes cooperation -- AP  

China’s Xi calls for world cooperation on COVID despite secrecy over origins -- NYPost  

China's Xi warns against 'Cold War mentality,' confrontation -- The Hill 

China warns west against rapid interest rate rise -- The Guardian

Houthi Rebels Claim Responsibility For Drone Attacks On Abu Dhabi

 

Daily Mail: Three dead and six wounded in 'drone attack' on Abu Dhabi carried out by Iran-backed Houthi rebels: Fire breaks out at international airport and oil tankers explode at petrol storage facility 

* Police said a fire broke out an extension of Abu Dhabi's main international airport 

* Three fuel tanker trucks had exploded near storage facilities of oil company 

* One Pakistani and two Indians were killed after the fuel trucks exploded 

* Police said preliminary investigations indicated the detection of small flying objects, possibly belonging to drones 

Three people have been killed and six wounded in Abu Dhabi following suspected drone attacks carried out by Iran-backed Houthi rebels. 

 A fire broke out at an extension of Abu Dhabi's main international airport and three fuel tanker trucks exploded in the Musaffah area near the storage facilities of ADNOC, Abu Dhabi's state-owned oil company, on Monday. 

One Pakistani national and two Indian nationals were killed after the fuel trucks exploded, UAE state news agency WAM reported, citing the police. 

Read more .... 

Houthi Rebels Claim Responsibility For Drone Attack On Abu Dhabi  

Suspected drone attack in Abu Dhabi kills 3, wounds 6 -- AP  

Suspected drone attack kills three in UAE after Houthis announce ‘military operation’ -- France 24 

Three killed in UAE fuel truck blast, Yemen Houthis claim attack -- Reuters  

Three dead, six injured in UAE fuel tanker explosions claimed by Yemen’s Houthis: State news agency -- CNBC 

3 killed after suspected drone attack near Abu Dhabi airport that blew up fuel trucks -- Insider  

UAE: Three killed in suspected Houthi attack on Abu Dhabi -- Middle East Eye

Tweets Of The Day

Tongo Tsunami Caught On Video

WNU Editor: The person training is wearing a life preserver jacket. It looks like this was an opportunity to take an incredible video but minimizing the risks while expecting a major wave to come in.  

Update: This is an interesting read .... How the Tonga volcano generated a shock wave around the world (Washington Post).

Is The US Government Ending Daily COVID Death Reporting?

WNU Editor: The US Health and Human Services agency will be ending its daily Covid death reporting, but other US agencies and non-government sources will continue to update Covid deaths on a daily bases .... A claim that the government is going to stop tracking COVID-19 deaths is going viral — even though it's misleading (Insider).

Picture Of The Day

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic departs the Park Hotel while under immigration detention, to convene with his legal team after his visa to play in the Australian Open was cancelled a second time, in Melbourne, Australia. REUTERS/Loren Elliott  

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... Top Photos of the Day (Reuters).

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Former Ukraine President Poroshenko To Return To Kiev To Face Treason Charges

Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (file photo)  

Radio Free Europe: Ex-President Poroshenko Defiant Ahead Of Return To Ukraine To Face Treason Charges 

Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will return to Ukraine on January 17 to fight treason charges he says are a politically motivated attack by allies of current President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Poroshenko, who has been out of the country since December, spoke on January 16 at a news conference in Warsaw, a day before he plans to fly from the Polish capital to Kyiv. 

The 56-year-old former president, who is now a lawmaker and the leader of the opposition European Solidarity party, is under investigation for alleged treason linked to the sale of coal that helped finance Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine in 2014-15 while he was in office. 

Poroshenko and his party deny the charges and accuse Zelenskiy of political persecution at a time the country needs national unity to face Russian aggression.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: He should be worried .... Former President Poroshenko Not Worried He'll Be Arrested Upon Return To Ukraine (RFE). 

 Former Ukraine President Poroshenko To Return To Kiev To Face Treason Charges  

Ex-leader Poroshenko to go to Ukraine to face charges -- ABC News/AP 

Ukraine: Ex-leader Poroshenko to return amid treason charges -- DW  

Former Ukraine president defies arrest threat in showdown with successor -- Reuters

The Reviews On President Biden's First Year Are Coming In

 

CBS: Biden at year one: Not enough focus on inflation leaves many frustrated 

On one level, the story of President Biden's first year is a simple one: Americans feel worse about the pandemic and economy than they did earlier in his term, and his ratings have suffered for it. 

On another level, it's a little more nuanced: they do not exclusively blame his policies, but they do demand more attention to inflation just the same; there are many reasons the pandemic is seen as bad, but confusing information stands out as a factor that is hurting views of his handling of it. 

The story of his first year evokes emotions too: although most like Mr. Biden personally, words like "frustrated" and "disappointed" top people's descriptions of things, along with the feeling that he's "distracted" and not focusing on what they care about.  

Read more .... 

The Reviews On President Biden's First Year Are Coming In  

After Biden’s first year, the virus and disunity rage on -- AP

Joe Biden’s first year: Covid, climate, the economy, racial justice and democracy -- The Guardian  

Most Americans say Biden not focused enough on inflation, the economy: poll -- NYPost  

By the Numbers: Stats That Tell Story of Biden's First Year -- AP  

Graphics: Biden's first year as U.S. president -- CGTN 

Joe Biden supporters ‘apoplectic’ one year into his presidency -- AP

Is The Biden Administration Losing Their Media Allies?

Zero Hedge: Et Tu? Chuck Todd Savages Biden Over Failing Presidency As Liberal Media Cuts Bait 

 As legacy media continues to distance itself from the Biden administration amid dismal approval ratings (and dismal viewership), MSNBC's Chuck Todd delivered perhaps the harshest indictment of a president his network has spent the last three years breathlessly fluffing. 

In light of the press's previously 'complicit' relationship with the Biden White House, Todd's monologue was blistering to say the least. 

"For President Biden, the plan was that Covid would be defeated, the economy would fully recover and he would be able to deliver a return to normalcy. But plans have a way of going sideways. A year into Mr. Biden's presidency, unemployment is down and wages are up, but inflation is also up to a 40-year high. Infrastructure and Covid relief bills were passed, but Build Back Better is stuck in neutral. And most important, though vaccines are available and effective, Delta and Omicron have dealt a one-two punch to the economy, the supply chain and that promised return to normalcy...  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: You know its really bad if you are in the Biden administration and you are losing your supporters at MSNBC. 

But I think this is only for the short term. As the U.S. midterms approach I expect the main stream media will return to its usual support of Democrats and their agenda.

White House National Security Adviser Warns Of "Severe Economic Consequences" If Russia Invades Ukraine

 

CBS News: Sullivan warns of "severe economic consequences" if Russia invades Ukraine 

Washington — White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan warned Sunday that Russia will face "severe economic consequences" from the United States and Western allies if it invades Ukraine. 

"In terms of sanctions, what we have laid out is a very clear message to the Russians, and we've done so in concert and in unison with our allies that if they do further invade Ukraine, there will be severe economic consequences and a price to pay," Sullivan said in an interview with "Face the Nation."

"If it turns out that Russia is pummeling Ukraine with cyberattacks, and if that continues over the period ahead, we will work with our allies on the appropriate response." The Biden administration has been pursuing a diplomatic response to the build-up of tanks and more than 100,000 Russian forces along Ukraine's eastern border, and it has been clear it prefers the diplomatic route. U.S. and Russian diplomats met in Geneva, Switzerland, last week to try to defuse the security crisis involving Ukraine.  

Read more ....  

Update: Senior U.S. Official Says Washington 'Ready Either Way' In Russia-Ukraine Crisis (RFE)  

WNU Editor: The Kremlin is expecting more diplomatic pressure from the U.S. .... US May Launch UN Showdown With Russia If 'Ukrainian Crisis Escalates' (Sputnik).

Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov Identifies ‘Red Line’ In NATO-Russia Relations

 

RT: Kremlin identifies ‘red line’ in NATO-Russia relations  

President Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson has explained how NATO created the situation which Russia ‘couldn’t tolerate any more’  

NATO’s “gradual invasion” into Ukraine has brought the US-led bloc right to Moscow’s “red line,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told CNN. 

He said the situation poses an imminent threat to the European security as a whole. Peskov on Sunday cited the documented western promises, which, he noted, have never been “fixed in a legally binding way,” guaranteeing that NATO would not expand further eastwards into the former Soviet bloc.

In contrast to these promises, over the past few years NATO’s employed its “open-door” policy to absorb several countries of the former Warsaw Pact. Moscow is drawing the line on this expansion in Russia’s next-door neighbor Ukraine, Peskov told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in an interview aired on Sunday, as he explained the Kremlin’s position in detail. 

First, there were just words but with time we have seen the gradual invasion of NATO into Ukrainian territory, with its infrastructure, with its instructors, with supplies of defensive and offensive weapons, teaching Ukrainian military and so on,” Peskov said.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: NATO is not listening. And the U.S. is issuing warnings and threats .... US official threatens Russia with ‘sharp pain’ inflicted ‘very fast’ (RT). 

Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov Identifies ‘Red Line’ In NATO-Russia Relations  

Russia and NATO ‘on different tracks’ in negotiations, Putin spokesperson says -- Politico  

NATO-Russia Relations Near Red Line Due to Alliance's Military Support of Ukraine, Peskov Tells CNN -- Sputnik  

Kremlin reveals how it will respond to NATO deployments to Ukraine -- RT  

Russia cannot 'tolerate' NATO's 'gradual invasion' of Ukraine, Putin spokesman says -- The Hill

Editor's Note

 Blogging will return this evening.

Twitter Permanently Bans An Account Linked To Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei

The account @KhameneiSite was permanently suspended on Saturday for violating Twitter's evasion policy  

Daily Mail: Twitter FINALLY bans account linked Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei after posting Trump assassination video 

* Twitter banned an account linked to Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for posting an animated video of a drone strike against Trump 

* 'The account referenced has been permanently suspended for violating our ban evasion policy,' a spokesperson for the social media platform confirmed 

* Former US President Donald Trump has been considered a target after he ordered a drone strike in Baghdad that killed General Qassem Soleimani 

* The video was featured on the account @KhameneiSite following the two-year anniversary of Soleimani's death 

Twitter permanently suspended an account linked to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday after posting a video three days before depicting an animated drone strike against Donald Trump as revenge for the assassination of a highly-regarded general. 

The account, @KhameneiSite, posted the video on Wednesday showing an unmanned aircraft targeting Trump, who ordered a drone strike in Baghdad two years ago that killed top Iranian commander General Qassem Soleimani.

 'The account referenced has been permanently suspended for violating our ban evasion policy,' a Twitter spokesperson confirmed.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenie has other accounts that have not been banned .... Twitter Bans One of Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei's Accounts Over Video Showing 'Trump's Killing' (Sputnik). 

Twitter Permanently Bans An Account Linked To Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei  

Twitter suspends account linked to Iran’s Leader over animation -- Press TV (Iran)  

Twitter bans account linked to Iran leader over video threatening Trump -- France 24  

Twitter permanently bans Khameini account that shared Trump assassination video -- FOX News  

Twitter bans account linked to Iran’s supreme leader over Trump assassination threat -- NYPost

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Do Diplomats Have A "Get Out Of Jail Free Card"?

New York Post: How diplomats commit crazy crimes living abroad — and get away with it 

You’re looking for a parking spot in Queens and notice a pedestrian guarding an available space, waiting for a car that has not yet arrived. What do you do? 

If you’re like most people, you keep driving. But, in 1987, Afghan envoy Shah Mohammad Dost pulled over and demanded the pedestrian surrender the parking spot immediately, insisting that being a diplomat gave him the right to take it. 

And when she refused, he drove into her and took the spot anyway.

Margaret Curry, 42, was sent to the hospital in Flushing, Queens, after being hit by Dost’s ’78 Lincoln. Curry later recovered from her injuries, and Dost wasn’t even questioned about the assault — thanks to his diplomatic immunity.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: When I worked for the UN at ICAO I lost count on how many times I saw diplomats abuse their position. The one that caught my eye was an African ambassador using his office as a clearing house for duty free alcohol, cigarettes, and foreign luxury cars. He was eventually expelled from Canada when he refused to pay millions in taxes.

What Is The 'True' Global Covid-19 Death Toll?

The Economist: The pandemic’s true death toll 

Our daily estimate of excess deaths around the world. 

How many people have died because of the covid-19 pandemic? The answer depends both on the data available, and on how you define “because”. Many people who die while infected with SARS-CoV-2 are never tested for it, and do not enter the official totals. Conversely, some people whose deaths have been attributed to covid-19 had other ailments that might have ended their lives on a similar timeframe anyway. And what about people who died of preventable causes during the pandemic, because hospitals full of covid-19 patients could not treat them? If such cases count, they must be offset by deaths that did not occur but would have in normal times, such as those caused by flu or air pollution.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: I know in Russia they have experienced about a 750,000 "excess deaths" since the start of the pandemic. Ditto in places like India, Pakistan, etc..