Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Jump in the Lake

"A Chicago bus driver looking for a way to relieve stress during the coronavirus pandemic jumped into Lake Michigan for a 365th straight day on Saturday. Dan O’Conor said he started jumping into the lake at Montrose Harbor on the city's North Side last year to relieve stress....."


The first one to be thrown in:

Thus the ending of the "long and divisive reign of Benjamin Netanyahu, the dominant Israeli politician of the past generation, at least for the time being, as the country’s parliament gave its vote of confidence to a precarious coalition government stitched together by widely disparate anti-Netanyahu forces."

So who is Naftali Bennett?

"He’s a 49-year-old father of four, a religious Jew who made millions in the mostly secular high-tech sector; a champion of the settlement movement who lives in a Tel Aviv suburb; a former ally of Benjamin Netanyahu who has partnered with centrist and left-wing parties to end his 12-year rule. His ultranationalist Yamina party won just seven seats in the 120-member Knesset in March elections — the fourth such vote in two years, but by refusing to commit to Netanyahu or his opponents, Bennett positioned himself as kingmaker, but he will be severely constrained by his unwieldy coalition, which has only a narrow majority in parliament and includes parties from the right, left, and center. He is opposed to Palestinian independence and strongly supports Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians and much of the international community see as a major obstacle to peace....."

It's the classic devil-you-know situation as things are about to get worse:

"As Benjamin Netanyahu ends his tenure, following the parliament’s approval Sunday of a new governing coalition that excludes him, he is not only Israel’s longest-serving leader but also one of its most influential. He reoriented the country’s decades-old approach to peace and security, reshaped its economy and place in the world, and upended longtime legal norms and notions of civil discourse. The widening schism between Israeli factions — left and right, religious and secular, Arabs and Jews — is one of the most obvious marks that Netanyahu leaves on the country. “His entire political strategy is based on keeping people’s anger alive,” said Anshel Pfeffer, a Jerusalem-based columnist. Netanyahu’s impact has been felt across various aspect of Israeli politics and society. The Palestinian conflict helped define the tenures of Israeli prime ministers over four decades until Netanyahu began his second stint in the top job in 2009. He came in determined not to resolve the dispute but to push it to the side. Netanyahu had long signaled his belief that Israel would benefit if it focused less on the conflict. He argued that the country should forgo any major concessions to the Palestinians on territory or other demands and instead shift its attention, for instance, to threats from Iran, and “the prime minister proved a lot of people wrong with the Abraham Accords,” said Dore Gold, a former Foreign Ministry official under Netanyahu. To his supporters, Netanyahu, known by all as “Bibi,” leaves behind a booming economy, newfound international respect and a decade without bus bombings by Palestinian militants. To critics, he leaves a country more divided, less equitable and largely indifferent to peace with the Palestinians. “It will take years to rebuild everything he has changed,” said Sylvia Strumpfman, a 68-year-old pensioner who has been part of the vigil near the prime minister’s house for more than a year of winter rains, instant coffee and drive-by invective, who plans to keep up the vigil until Netanyahu moves out in a few weeks....."

Throw the $elf-$erving whiners of the pre$$ in next as it looks like Netanyahu will need to find a new place to live.

It is reminiscent of the recent U.S. election, is it not?

"Israel’s new coalition takes first steps, including mending fences with US" by Patrick Kingsley and Adam Rasgon New York Times, June 14, 2021

JERUSALEM — Israel’s fragile new coalition government gave a first glimpse of its priorities Monday, as ministers announced intentions to repair Israeli ties with the US Democratic Party and the Jewish diaspora, investigate a disaster at a religious site last month that killed 45, and permit a far-right march through Jerusalem on Tuesday that some fear will lead to violence.

The raft of initiatives highlighted the complexities and contradictions of the new coalition, which replaced Benjamin Netanyahu’s government Sunday night in a confidence vote in Parliament that passed by just a single vote: 60 votes to 59, with one abstention.  The coalition’s announcements Monday also underscored how its policies diverge from Netanyahu’s on some issues but continue his approach to others.

In his first major speech in office, the new foreign minister, Yair Lapid, promised Monday to revive Israel’s relationship with American Democrats. That bond frayed under Netanyahu, who antagonized former president Barack Obama; befriended his Republican successor, Donald Trump; and then used his last speech in office Sunday to blast President Biden as being dangerous for Israel.

[Have to dump the Squad first, and an apology for the attacked the USS Liberty in which 34 American servicemen were killed in 1967 would be good start]

“The outgoing government took a terrible gamble, reckless and dangerous, to focus exclusively on the Republican Party and abandon Israel’s bipartisan standing,” Lapid said in a speech to foreign ministry officials.

Lapid added: “We find ourselves with a Democratic White House, Senate, and House, and they are angry. We need to change the way we work with them.”

He also promised to strengthen ties with Jews overseas, instead of relying primarily on the support of evangelical Christians, who formed a key focus of Netanyahu’s international outreach.

“The support of Christian evangelicals and other groups is important and heartwarmingbut the Jewish people are more than allies, they are family,” Lapid said. “Jews from all streams — Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox — are our family.”

[All others excluded. Hmmmm]

The new prime minister, Naftali Bennett, expressed opposition Sunday toward US-led efforts to restore a lapsed Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran, but he also thanked Biden for his support for Israel, and spoke with him soon after taking office.

Separately, Benny Gantz, the defense minister, issued a formal call for a commission of inquiry into a stampede at a holy Jewish site on Mt. Meron, northern Israel, in early May, which killed 45 worshippers. The move marked a clear divergence from Netanyahu, whose government depended on the support of ultra-Orthodox politicians and did not call for an investigation for fear of angering them, but the new government also seemed set to stick to a commitment made in the final days of Netanyahu’s administration: the decision to permit a far-right Jewish march through Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, which critics fear could lead to a violent escalation with Hamas.

The march is a rescheduled version of a procession originally planned for last month that was among the reasons that Hamas cited for firing rockets toward Jerusalem on May 10, setting off an 11-day air war between the group and Israel. On Monday, Hamas vowed to respond if the march was allowed to go ahead, raising the specter of either renewed rocket fire or confrontations between Palestinian residents and Jewish marchers.

Despite the warning, the new public security minister, Omer Bar-Lev, who now oversees the Israeli police, promised Monday to push ahead with the event, also known as a “flags march. At this moment, the plan is the flags march will be taking place,” Bar-Lev said. “Jerusalem is Israel’s eternal capital. In a democracy, it is permitted and it is important to hold demonstrations and marches like these, as long as they are in accordance with the law.”

[Why did 1930s Germany just come to mind?]

Oh, to march or not to march, what's a Joo to do?

"As Israelis mourned on Friday the 45 people trampled to death during a pilgrimage that drew tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews, questions were already arising about poor planning and possible negligence. For more than a decade there have been concerns and warnings that the religious site on Mount Meron in northern Israel was not equipped to handle tens of thousands of pilgrims. In 2008 and 2011, reports by the state comptroller at the time warned of the potential for calamity there. Even for a country accustomed to the trauma of wars and terrorist attacks, this counted as one of the worst disasters in Israeli history. Israel has been wracked by religious-secular tensions, particularly over the last year during the pandemic, amid widespread anger over what many here viewed as a disregard for regulations and displays of autonomy by parts of the ultra-Orthodox community. The disaster early Friday largely united the country in shock and grief, but it also underlined some of the divisions plaguing this society....."

Yeah, you best call it off!


Look who else is taking the leap:

The Harvard University professor, political philosopher, and author, joins what’s likely to be a crowded primary with a hefty academic resume but no experience holding elected office.

I know I'm forgetting something that has to do with Biogen, but it's not like we are neighbors or anything.


These guys should be catapulted into the lake:

"G-7 leaders come together on global minimum tax, Democratic ideals" by Michael D. Shear and Zolan Kanno-Youngs New York Times, June 13, 2021

As the leaders of the world’s wealthiest nations wrapped up their first in-person summit since the outbreak of the pandemic, they released a joint communiqué Sunday underscoring areas of solidarity — and the differences that remain — when it comes to tackling a host of global crises.

The group, including President Biden, did not reach agreement on a timeline to eliminate the use of coal for generating electric power, a failure that climate activists said was a deep disappointment before a global climate conference later this year.

The leaders sought to present a united front even as it remained to be seen how the plans would be executed.

The agreement represented a dramatic return of America’s postwar international diplomacy, and Biden said it was evidence of the strength of the world’s democracies in tackling hard problems.

Speaking to reporters after the summit, Biden said the leaders’ endorsement of a global minimum tax would help ensure global equity, and a proposal to finance infrastructure projects in the developing world would counter the influence of China, providing what he said was a “democratic alternative.”

Those initiatives, he said, would promote democratic values and not an “autocratic lack of values.”

“Everyone at the table understood and understands both the seriousness and the challenges that we are up against and the responsibility of our proud democracies to step up and deliver to the rest of the world,” Biden said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, who hosted the summit, said that the gathering was an opportunity to demonstrate “the benefits of democracy.”

That would start, he said, with agreements to speed up the effort to vaccinate the world, which he called “the greatest feat in medical history.”


Must be under a lot of pressure]

Asked about the failure to go further on climate policy by setting firm timelines, Johnson said that the general criticism was misplaced and failed to take into account the full scope of what was achieved during the summit.

“I think it has been a highly productive few days,” he said.

At the same time, the nations agreed to an overhaul of international tax laws, unveiling a broad agreement that aims to stop large multinational companies from seeking out tax havens.

A US administration official called it a “historic endorsement to end the race to the bottom in corporate taxation with a global minimum tax that will help fund domestic renewal and grow the middle class,” but for all the goodwill and declarations of unity, there were questions about how the proposals would be translated into real-world action.

For instance, on the tax laws, a number of hurdles have yet to be overcome.

The biggest obstacle to getting a deal finished could come from the United States. The Biden administration must win approval from a narrowly divided Congress to make changes to the tax code, and Republicans have shown resistance to Biden’s plans.

The president had also hoped to use his first trip abroad to show that democracy, as a system of government, remained capable of addressing the world’s most pressing challenges.

The communiqué issued Sunday fleshed out some of the proposals that have dominated the summit and was explicit in the need to counter the rise of China. 

’'I think we’re in a contest, not with China per se, but a contest with autocrats, autocratic governments around the world as to whether or not democracies can compete with them in a rapidly changing 21st century,’' Biden told reporters in the first news conference of his first foreign trip as president.

He singled out China and Russia for reprobation after working here to enlist allies in what he has repeatedly cast as the existential battle of the 21st century.

[Bring it on, and may God damn him for it]

The question of how to deal with China, however, is divisive, and while Biden urged the leaders to take a harsher public stance, confronting China over its use of forced labor and trying to create an alternative to the country’s massive Belt-and-Road Initiative, a trillion-dollar infrastructure program focused on the developing world, yet some G-7 leaders, including those of Germany, Italy, and Japan, have been reluctant to take on China too forcefully.

Still, Beijing has chafed at the group’s new focus on the country. ’'The days when global decisions were dictated by a small group of countries are long gone,’' a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in London said Sunday. ’'We always believe that countries, big or small, strong or weak, poor or rich, are equals, and that world affairs should be handled through consultation by all countries.’'


"As the Delta variant of the coronavirus spreads in southeastern China, doctors say they are finding that the symptoms are different and more dangerous than those they saw when the initial version of the virus started spreading in late 2019 in the central city of Wuhan. Patients are becoming sicker and their conditions are worsening much more quickly, doctors told state-run television on Thursday and Friday. Four-fifths of symptomatic cases developed fevers, they said, although it was not clear how that compared with earlier cases. The virus concentrations that are detected in their bodies climb to levels higher than previously seen, and then decline only slowly, the doctors said. Up to 12 percent of patients become severely or critically ill within three to four days of the onset of symptoms, said Guan Xiangdong, director of critical care medicine at Sun Yat-sen University in the city of Guangzhou, where the outbreak has been centered. In the past, the proportion had been 2 percent or 3 percent, although occasionally up to 10 percent, he said. Doctors in Britain and Brazil have reported similar trends with the variants that circulated in those countries, but the severity of those variants has not yet been confirmed. The testimonies from China are the latest indication of the dangers posed by Delta, which the World Health Organization last month labeled a “variant of concern.” First identified this spring in India, where it was blamed for widespread suffering and death, Delta has since become the dominant variant in Britain, where doctors suggest that it is more contagious and may infect some people who have received only one of two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. China has uniquely detailed data, however, because it has essentially universal testing in the vicinity of outbreaks, allowing officials to gather detailed information on the extent of cases. Delta’s spread in southeastern China focuses more attention on the effectiveness of China’s self-made vaccines. The Chinese authorities have not indicated how many of the new infections have occurred in people who had been vaccinated. In some other countries where Chinese-made vaccines are in wide use, including the Seychelles and Mongolia, infections among vaccinated people are rising, although few patients have reportedly developed serious illness. Nearby Shenzhen had a handful of cases last week of the Alpha variant, which first emerged in Britain. As some other parts of the world still struggle to acquire and administer large numbers of coronavirus tests, southeastern China has used its local production of scarce chemicals to conduct testing on a remarkable scale......"

Let's hope the situation doesn't turn in a Chernobyl or Fukushima, 'eh?

"With a rapid and successful vaccine campaign on track, the path seemed clear not long ago for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to scrap all of England’s coronavirus rules on June 21, ending curbs that he resisted imposing in the first place, but on Monday, Johnson postponed by four weeks the moment dubbed “freedom day” by the tabloids after a spike in cases of a highly transmissible new variant that may cause more serious disease than earlier variants. Restaurants and pubs in England, while open, will still have to observe social distancing rules indoors, limiting capacity, and nightclubs and theaters will remain firmly closed. The decision, which will be reviewed in two weeks, sent a warning to the world that even well-vaccinated nations remain at risk and angered a noisy caucus of libertarian lawmakers within Johnson’s own party. At present, overall new cases in Britain are averaging around 8,000 per day and are doubling every week in the worst affected areas. Hospital admissions have begun rising. And the impact of the Delta variant across the country has already incited alarm in other European countries. In Britain, around four-fifths of adults have received one dose and more than half have had a second shot, but people with only a single dose remain susceptible to cases of the Delta variant — more so than to earlier versions of the virus, scientists said, and an unabated surge of infections in younger, unvaccinated people could ignite a dangerous wave of hospitalizations. That has helped convince many epidemiologists that lifting restrictions now could, in a worst-case scenario, produce as many hospital cases as in the first wave of the pandemic, overwhelming the National Health Service....."

Those scenarios were overhyped from the start, and that tyrant needs the Charles the First treatment, pronto.

Yeah, two weeks to flatten the curve that never was!

How much longer are the British people going to keep a stiff upper lip?

Time for EVERYONE to DISOBEY the AUTHORITIES, or do the Irish have to be called in?

That would make for a shaky start to a tense summer

Maybe he should bring in Canadians to get the job done, and have you ever noticed that -- like Macron -- every time their turd is in trouble a terror attack occurs?

(Btw, if I want to see what is really going on in Canada I fly over it and thoughtfully check out the fiery passion of those who live there)


Speaking of alleged autocrats:

"As Biden meeting nears, Erdogan softens his stance" by Carlotta Gall New York Times, June 13, 2021

ISTANBUL — For the past four years, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has brazenly crushed his opponents at home and cozied up to Moscow while showering his allies with sweetheart government contracts and deploying troops regionally wherever he saw fit, and for the most part, then-President Trump’s administration turned a blind eye, but as Erdogan arrives in Brussels for a critical NATO meeting Monday, he is facing a decidedly more skeptical Biden administration, as are other strongmen leaders once enabled by Trump.

President Vladimir Putin of Russia, who meets with President Biden on Wednesday, has responded to the new order by growing even more belligerent, openly suppressing any signs of domestic political opposition and threatening Western security by massing troops on Ukraine’s border, but for Erdogan, considerations are not that simple. Thanks to both the coronavirus pandemic and his mismanagement of the economy, he is now facing severe domestic strains, with soaring inflation and unemployment and a dangerously weakened lira that could trigger a debt crisis, so he has dialed back his approach, already softening his positions on several issues in the hope of receiving badly needed investment from the West — something that Russia cannot provide. 

[He can give Joe a few pointers as to what is coming!]

To reassure Western leaders, he has called off gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean, an activity that had infuriated NATO allies, and annoyed Moscow by supporting Ukraine against Russia’s threats and selling Turkish-made drones to Poland, yet Erdogan does have some important cards to play.

Turkey’s presence in NATO, its role as a way station for millions of refugees, and its military presence in Afghanistan have given him real leverage with the West, so Erdogan is unlikely to reverse his drift toward authoritarianism, his deepening relationship with Putin, and his purchase of the sophisticated Russian S-400 air defense system, even if that means clashing with Biden’s vision for a strengthened alliance of democracies.

[The New York Times can go take a jump in the lake on this one, and don't think Erdogan hasn't forgotten that Biden was part of the regime that attempted a coup against him]

One question is just how far Erdogan can be pushed in Biden’s direction before he grows frustrated and casts his lot with the Kremlin or even China, although having been let down by both countries over vaccine supplies, Erdogan is clear-eyed enough to keep his options open.

“How do you not lose Turkey while you try to curb Erdogan?” said Nigar Goksel, Turkey project director for the International Crisis Group.

As with Putin, Biden’s initial approach to Erdogan had been to maintain his distance, trying to avoid disagreements and handle matters at lower diplomatic levels.

Since assuming the presidency, Biden has spoken with Erdogan only once. That was to inform him that the United States was recognizing the massacre of Armenians in the last days of the Ottoman Empire as a genocide. While that was a humiliation for Erdogan that might have evoked a tantrum in previous years, it was met with a muted reaction along with the promise of a meeting at the NATO summit.

[The reaction was muted because its irrelevant, sorry.

So when is he going to recognize Israeli slaughters as genocide, right?]

Erdogan has felt the coolness from the Biden administration, Goksel said. “Erdogan is trying to find a way forward when they are trying to make sure he does not score political points.”

Turkey badly wants to lift itself out of an economic crunch, deepened by the pandemic, which has destroyed its vital tourist industry. It is also anxious to avoid further US sanctions, imposed after Erdogan bought the missile system from Russia.

The economic troubles have taken a toll on Erdogan’s political standing. While elections are still two years away, his opponents have considerable momentum, said Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, Ankara director of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. Turks will vote according to the state of the economy, he said, and for that reason alone, he needs the meeting with Biden.

[Unlike Americans, who allegedly vote out of hate for a particular candidate]

The thorniest of a half-dozen disputes between the two countries is undoubtedly Erdogan’s refusal to walk back his purchase of the S-400s, which has made Turkey the only NATO country to be on the receiving end of US sanctions and removed from the F-35 aircraft program.

Erdogan has even negotiated to purchase a second battery from Russia, but with the threat of further sanctions, he appears ready to shelve that deal.

At the heart of Erdogan’s purchase of the S-400 is his distrust of Washington, which he thinks is intent on seeing him replaced. That belief was only reinforced when Biden said last year, during the 2020 presidential campaign, that the United States should support the opposition in Turkey, but there are worries that if pressed too hard, Erdogan, who badly needs a fifth-generation fighter plane, might even buy Russian Sukhois. There is also concern about some 50 US nuclear bombs stored at Turkey’s Incirlik air base, which is under joint Turkish-US control; Erdogan has at various times threatened to evict the Americans.

[She conveniently omitted the attempted 2016 coup by the Obama/Biden regime!]

Washington has been preparing to work around the disagreement over the S-400s, focusing instead on the strategic areas where the two countries can agree — namely, Afghanistan, where Turkey has participated in the mission since 2001, and Iraq and Libya.

Turkey for its own reasons wants to retain a presence in Afghanistan, where it has a long affiliation and a shared history and religion. That is a central reason the US special envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, asked Erdogan to consider maintaining a military presence there when Khalilzad began negotiations with the Taliban over a US withdrawal.

While in their sphere of influence:

"The prosecutor of Jordan’s state security court on Sunday filed sedition and incitement charges against two confidants of King Abdullah II’s half-brother Hamzah, marking the latest step in a rare, intrigue-filled palace drama that has rattled the Western-backed kingdom. At the time of his initial house arrest, Hamzah alleged that he was being silenced for exposing what he said was incompetence and corruption of the “ruling system.” The royal has established close ties with some of Jordan’s powerful tribes, serving as a conduit for growing anger and resentment as Jordan struggles with a widening economic crisis exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic....."

It was a Saudi Arabia-backed coup attempt.


Now the main event:

"At an arms control crossroads, Biden and Putin face choices" by Robert Burns The Associated Press, June 13, 2021

[Any relation to Nick?]

WASHINGTON — At a low point in US-Russian relations, President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin appear to agree broadly on at least one thing — their first face-to-face meeting Wednesday is a chance to set the stage for a new era in arms control.

Whether that leads to actual arms negotiations is another matter, complicated by the soured relationship and accusations by each country that the other has cheated on past arms treaties. The fabric of arms control has been fraying, notably with the abandonment in 2019 — first by Washington, then by Moscow — of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which had governed a whole class of missiles for more than three decades.

The Trump administration also pulled the United States out of the Open Skies Treaty, which had allowed surveillance flights over military facilities in both countries. Last month the Biden administration informed the Russians that it would not reenter the treaty, and last week Putin confirmed Russia's exit.

Despite its importance, the arms control issue may get overshadowed at the Biden-Putin summit, given heightened US focus on ransomware attacks, alleged Russian interference in US elections, Russia’s military buildup on Ukraine’s border, and allegations that the Kremlin was behind the SolarWinds hacking campaign.

Washington broke off strategic stability talks with Moscow in 2014 in response to Russia's annexation of Crimea and its military intervention in support of separatists in eastern Ukraine.....

[I stopped reading after they repeated lie.

Russia didn't annex Crimea. The Crimea's voted for secession after the 2014 Obama coup in Ukraine and then applied to the Russian Federation for admittance, which was accepted]

"Biden rallies NATO support ahead of confrontation with Putin" by Aamer Madhani, Jonathan Lemire and Lorne Cook The Associated Press, June 14, 2021

BRUSSELS — President Biden used his first appearance at a NATO summit since taking office to call on President Vladimir Putin of Russia to step back from provocative actions targeting the United States and its allies on Monday. NATO leaders joined the United States in formally accusing Moscow and Beijing of malign actions.

Biden’s sharp words for Russia and his friendly interactions with NATO allies marked a sharp shift in tone from the past four years and highlighted the renewed US commitment to the 30-country alliance that was frequently maligned by his predecessor Donald Trump.

Biden, wearing a NATO lapel pin, said that in his extensive talks with NATO leaders about his planned meeting with Putin on Wednesday, all were supportive of his plans to press the Russian leader to halt Russian-originated cyber attacks against the West, end the violent stifling of political dissidents, and stop interfering in elections outside its borders.

“I’m going to make clear to President Putin that there are areas where we can cooperate, if he chooses," Biden told reporters as he ended his day at NATO headquarters, “and if he chooses not to cooperate and acts in a way that he has in the past relative to cybersecurity and other activities, then we will respond, we will respond in kind."

Biden is on an eight-day visit to Europe in which he is seeking to rally allies to speak with a single voice on countering Russia and China.

[Screw the talk, do something!

Here is how you do it: you open up a 3,000-mile front from the Arctic to the Caspian and show the Big H how things are done. At the same time, thrust up through Iran, the soft underbelly of Russia. Then, to keep the Chinese occupied, land on the beaches of North Korea. After cornering them all in Siberia, nuke 'em!

I'm actually looking forward to the WWIII if it vanquishes COVID, but not really!

This is and always has been an ANTIWAR blog!

I do hope you could discern the satire and sarcasm]

To that end, NATO leaders on Monday declared China a constant security challenge and said the Chinese are working to undermine global order, a message in sync with Biden’s pleas to confront Beijing on China’s trade, military, and human rights practices.

In a summit statement, the leaders said that China’s goals and “assertive behavior present systemic challenges to the rules-based international order and to areas relevant to alliance security.”

The heads of state and government expressed concern about what they said were China's “coercive policies,” the opaque ways it is modernizing its armed forces and its use of disinformation.

The NATO leaders also took a big swipe at Russia in their communique, deploring what they consider its aggressive military activities and its war games near the borders of NATO countries as well as repeated violations of their airspace by Russian planes.

They said that Russia had ramped up “hybrid” actions against member countries by attempts to interfere in elections, by political and economic intimidation, by disinformation campaigns, and “malicious cyber activities.”

“Until Russia demonstrates compliance with international law and its international obligations and responsibilities, there can be no return to ’business as usual,’ ” they said.

[It's all bluster to frame them for the coming cyberattack by the u$ual $u$pects]

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is an alliance of European and North American countries formed after World War II as a bulwark against Russian aggression. The new Brussels communique states plainly that the NATO nations “will engage China with a view to defending the security interests of the alliance.”

[Is that why NATO keeps moving closer?]

Biden arrived at the NATO summit after three days of consulting with Group of Seven allies in England, where he successfully pushed for a G-7 communique that called out forced labor practices and other human rights violations affecting Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in China’s western Xinjiang province; however, differences remain among the allies about how forcefully to criticize Beijing.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said NATO’s decision to name China as a threat “shouldn’t be overstated” because Beijing, like Russia, is also a partner in some areas. China is Germany’s top trading partner, and she said it is important to “find the right balance.”

France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, urged the alliance not to let China distract it from what he saw as more pressing issues facing NATO, including the fight against terrorism and security issues related to Russia.

“I think it is very important not to scatter our efforts and not to have biases in our relation to China," Macron said.

[I guess CVD no longer exists in France]

The Chinese Embassy to the United Kingdom on Monday issued a statement saying the G-7 communique “deliberately slandered China and arbitrarily interfered in China’s internal affairs." There was no immediate reaction from the Chinese government to the new NATO statement.

Biden arrived at his first NATO summit as president as leading members declared it a pivotal moment for an alliance beleaguered during the presidency of Trump, who questioned the relevance of the multilateral organization. Biden sat down with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and underscored the US commitment to Article 5 of the alliance charter, which spells out that an attack on any member is an attack on all and is to be met with a collective response“Article 5 we take as a sacred obligation,” said Biden. “I want NATO to know America is there.”

[Just like the slaughter that was WWI, great]

It was a marked contrast to the days when Trump called the alliance “obsolete” and complained that it allowed for “global freeloading” countries to spend less on military defense at the expense of the United States. Biden was greeted by fellow leaders with warmth and even a bit of relief.

Prime Minister Alexander de Croo of Belgium said Biden’s presence “emphasizes the renewal of the transatlantic partnership.” De Croo said NATO allies were looking to get beyond four stormy years with Trump and infighting among member countries. “I think now we are ready to turn the page," de Croo said.

The alliance also updated Article 5 to offer greater clarity on how the alliance should react to major cyber attacks, a matter of growing concern amid hacks targeting the US government and businesses around the globe by Russia-based hackers.

[I am now running out of gas]

Beyond extending potential use of the mutual defense clause to apply to space, the leaders also broadened the definition of what might constitute such an attack in cyberspace, in a warning to any adversary that might use constant low-level attacks as a tactic.

The organization declared in 2014 that a cyber attack could be met by a collective response by all 30 member countries, and on Monday they said that “the impact of significant malicious cumulative cyber activities might, in certain circumstances, be considered as amounting to an armed attack.”

The president started his day meeting with leaders of the Baltic states on NATO's eastern flank as well as separate meetings with leaders of Poland and Romania to discuss any threat posed by Russia and the recent air piracy in Belarus.

[That's it, keep sticking it to them

Biden also met with Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on the summit sidelines.

Biden has known Erdogan for years, but their relationship has frequently been contentious. Biden, during his campaign, drew ire from Turkish officials when he described Erdogan as an “autocrat.” In April, Biden infuriated Ankara by declaring that the Ottoman-era mass killing and deportations of Armenians was “genocide,” a term that US presidents have avoided using.

Also see:

"Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is to meet President Joe Biden at a summit Wednesday, has suggested that the hundreds of people arrested for rioting at the U.S. Capitol are being subjected to “persecution for political opinions.” Putin is likely to come under strong criticism from Biden at their meeting in Geneva for moves against his political opponents in Russia, particularly the imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the detention of thousands of demonstrators protesting his arrest, and the outlawing of Navalny’s organizations as extremist. “You are presenting it as dissent and intolerance toward dissent in Russia. We view it completely differently,” he said in an interview with NBC News broadcast Monday. He then pointed to the Jan. 6 insurrection in Washington when protesters barged into the Capitol to try to halt the count of electoral votes to certify Biden’s election victory over Donald Trump. Although the protests that erupted across Russia after Navalny’s arrest in January were unsanctioned, demonstrators were largely peaceful and did not enter government buildings or cause significant property damage, unlike the Capitol riot. Putin also reiterated denials that the Kremlin was behind last year’s poisoning of Navalny with a nerve agent that nearly killed him. “We don’t have this kind of habit, of assassinating anybody,” Putin said. “Did you order the assassination of the woman who walked into the Congress and who was shot and killed by a policeman?” Putin said, referring to Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt, who was fatally shot by a Capitol Police officer....."


Time for you to take a dip in the drink:

"Young workers fear they must return to offices to save their careers" by Marc Daniel Davies Bloomberg, June 14, 2021

Managers hoping to lure employees into offices may find their youngest and newest staff are their strongest allies.

Young white-collar staff feel caught between a rock and a hard place — they value quality of life over old-fashioned 9-to-5 commuting, but are even more worried about seeing their careers stall unless they head back into an office. That’s encouraging many to be among the first to return to their desks.

While experienced employees often have established professional networks and dedicated home offices, younger staff say the pandemic has left them underinformed and cut off from their teams. There are now growing concerns that they are missing out on career opportunities older colleagues took for granted.

[WHO $tole your future?]

Despite a majority under 30 saying remote work made them more productive, over half of the survey’s respondents across Europe — ranging in age from 18 to 45 — say they feel anxious about a lack of training and career opportunities when thinking long-term about the future of work.

Still, while young workers may crave in-person connections and relief from pressures on their health and well-being, they remain skeptical of returning to the status quo before COVID-19. Instead they are looking for value and purpose in office-based activities while retaining the right to work remotely. McCully said working from home allowed her to spend time with her young child while remaining professionally productive, and wants that to remain an option.

[They are wondering about the meaning of life and how working in an office will be different]

In fact, more than 60 percent of employees aged 18-40, who have spent all their adult lives in a tech-centric environment, favor some kind of hybrid arrangement, according to a global survey of 2,000 people by workplace technology provider Citrix.....

[That's when I left the office]

This will leave you all wet as you wait for the unemployment check:

Literally throwing you to sharks:

"Senator Ron Johnson has been suspended from YouTube over comments he made supporting discredited treatments for Covid-19 that the company said violated its “medical misinformation policies.” Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, made the comments at a virtual event on June 3 hosted by the Milwaukee Press Club, clips of which were uploaded to his YouTube account. Asked about hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug promoted by former President Donald J. Trump that researchers have found to be ineffective against Covid, Johnson criticized both the Trump and Biden administrations for “completely ignoring and working against robust research exploring the use of cheap, generic drugs that can be used for the treatment of Covid,” according to a transcript published by Wisconsin Public Radio. Johnson was prohibited from uploading videos to YouTube for one week starting Friday. Video of the event has also been removed from the YouTube account of the Milwaukee Press Club. “We removed the video in accordance with our Covid-19 medical misinformation policies, which don’t allow content that encourages people to use hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin to treat or prevent the virus,” YouTube said in a statement. The company’s policy bans any content that contradicts medical information about Covid from local health authorities or the World Health Organization. It specifically forbids content that promotes hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug that has also been touted as a potential Covid-19 treatment despite a lack of supporting data. Johnson described his suspension as part of YouTube’s “ongoing Covid censorship.”

Yeah, the pre$$ isn't pitching a fit over the censorship and YouTube is now some sort of hero!

He is correct, of course, and what you don't see in the Big Pharma pre$$ is any discussion of therapeutics. It's all vaccines, vaccines, vaccines. Other treatments that work are nowhere to be found, or disparaged if they are.


"A federal judge in Texas has dismissed a lawsuit brought by employees of Houston Methodist Hospital who had challenged the hospital’s coronavirus vaccination requirement. U.S. District Judge Lynn N. Hughes, in the Southern District of Texas, issued a ruling on Saturday that upheld the hospital’s new policy, announced in April. The judge said that the hospital’s decision to mandate inoculations for its employees was consistent with public policy, and he rejected a claim by Jennifer Bridges, a nurse and the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, that the vaccines available for use in the United States were experimental and dangerous. “The hospital’s employees are not participants in a human trial,” Judge Hughes wrote. “Methodist is trying to do their business of saving lives without giving them the Covid-19 virus. It is a choice made to keep staff, patients and their families safer.” The judge’s decision appeared to be among the first to rule in favor of employer-mandated vaccinations for workers. Several major hospital systems have begun to require Covid shots, including in Washington, D.C., and Maryland, but many private employers and the federal government have not instituted mandatory immunization as they shift operations back to office settings. The judge also noted that Texas employment law only protects employees from termination for refusing to commit an act that carries criminal penalties. “Bridges can freely choose to accept or refuse a Covid-19 vaccine, however if she refuses, she will simply need to work somewhere else,” he said....."

The workers are appealing the ruling and have found themselves a new lawyer.

Time to dry off.