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Mon, 21 Jun 2021
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Puppet Masters

Snakes in Suits

G7 is desperately seeking relevancy while what happens at the G20 really matters

G7 meeting
The upcoming G7 in Cornwall at first might be seen as the quirky encounter of "America is Back" with "Global Britain".

The Big Picture though is way more sensitive. Three Summits in a Row - G7, NATO and US-EU - will be paving the way for a much expected cliffhanger: the Putin-Biden summit in Geneva - which certainly won't be a reset.

The controlling interests behind the hologram that goes by the name of "Joe Biden" have a clear overarching agenda: to regiment industrialized democracies - especially those in Europe - and keep them in lockstep to combat those "authoritarian" threats to US national security, "malignant" Russia and China.

It's like a throwback to those oh so stable 1970s Cold War days, complete with James Bond fighting foreign devils and Deep Purple subverting communism. Well, the times they are-a-changin'. China is very much aware that now the Global South "accounts for almost two-thirds of the global economy compared to one-third by the West: in the 1970s, it was exactly the opposite."

For the Global South - that is, the overwhelming majority of the planet - the G7 is largely irrelevant. What matters is the G20.

Bad Guys

Ahead of crucial Putin-Biden summit, Washington raises stakes by announcing $150 million in additional military aid for Ukraine

ukraine military soldier
© Reuters / Gleb Garanich
FILE PHOTO: A Ukrainian soldier holds a Javelin missile system during a military exercise near Rivne, Ukraine, May 26, 2021.
The Pentagon has announced a new $150 million military aid package for Ukraine, potentially raising tensions with Moscow just days before President Joe Biden's summit meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Geneva.

The latest gift from Washington aims to boost the "lethality, command and control, and situational awareness" of Kiev's forces, the Pentagon said in a statement on Friday. In practice, that translates into counter-artillery radars, counter-drone systems, secure communications technology and electronic warfare equipment.

Comment: Whatever the Pentagon has to give to Ukraine, it knows that Ukraine is no match for Russia. Moreover, Ukrainians know it; with 50% recently stating that they don't want to join NATO because, as Putin pointed out, they know they'll be serve as mere cannon fodder in the event of any troubles. That said, in the meantime, a more lethally armed Ukraine is a cause for concern.

Ukraine will also receive medical evacuation gear, as well as training and equipment to improve the safety and capacity of its air force bases. The new systems are meant to complement a $125 million aid package that was announced in March, which included counter-artillery radars and Mark VI patrol boats the US is phasing out.

Comment: Just yesterday it was reported that the US flew two nuclear bombers close to Russia's border, and, as noted in the comment, a similar provocation by the military occurred when Trump went to trade talks in China. Provocations like these are both suspicious and reckless, and, taken together, one can't help but wonder just who is ordering these kinds of directives?

Overall, it would appear that all is not well in the US, and a recent letter signed by 120 retired generals questioning Biden's mental health and warning of an encroaching 'tyrannical government' further highlights this point.


Soviet collapse taught Russians the danger of being a messianic superpower. Biden makes it clear America hasn't learned the lesson

Red Sq/Biden
© Sputnik/Reuters/Ken Cedeno
Red Square, Moscow, Russia • US President Joe Biden
Russia has none of the "messianic fervor" of Western states such as the US, its foreign minister said this week, as the nations' leaders prepare to meet. No longer the Third Rome, Moscow is seeking a more modest role in the world.

The author Fyodor Dostoevsky had a grand vision for the country. Russia, he believed, would lead the West back to Christ and bring about "universal, spiritual reconciliation." This it could do, he felt, because its people supposedly had a "capability for high synthesis, a gift for universal reconcilability."

The Russian, Dostoevsky wrote, "gets along with everyone and is accustomed to all. He sympathizes with all that is human, regardless of nationality, blood, and soil." By contrast, those on the other side of the continent, the novelist added, "find a universal human ideal in themselves and by their own power, and therefore they altogether harm themselves and their cause."

Russians, in other words, seek to reconcile all, while Westerners believe their own ideals are universal and seek to spread them everywhere.

One may justifiably doubt such sweeping generalizations. But as Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, prepares to meet the leader of the Western world, Joe Biden, next week, these different approaches to the world were on display in Russian and American public rhetoric.

Star of David

Lapid coalition finalizes deal to form new government, divide ministry posts

Israel's alliance
© Reuters/United Arab Lis
United Arab list party leader Mansour Abbas
Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett
Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid
Ramat Ban near Tel Aviv, Israel • June 2, 2021
While parties across the Israeli political spectrum have united to end Benjamin Netanyahu's 12-year reign as prime minister, many remain skeptical of how much the alliance can accomplish. Others fear that with right-wing nationalist Naftali Bennett at the helm, the moderate and left-wing groups will be unable to contain his more radical agenda.

The eight parties opposing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have finalized their alliance, penning agreements with Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid on Friday.

According to the Times of Israel, the last to sign was Yamina, headed by Naftali Bennett, who is set to be the new prime minister after the swearing-in ceremony on Sunday. Earlier in the day, Lapid signed deals with Ra'am, Yisrael Beytenu, Labor, Blue and White, and New Hope, with Meretz coming to an agreement with Lapid on Thursday.

Under the terms of the deal, Bennett will serve as prime minister until August 2023, when Lapid will take over and lead until November 2025 - assuming the government survives that long, of course. In the last three years, Israel has had four elections, and the coalition is extremely diverse, including far-right nationalists, centrists, social democrats, and for the first time in Israeli history, an Islamist Arab party: the conservative Joint Arab List, or Ra'am.

Comment: In a last ditch effort, Netanyahu makes one last offer to Gantz:
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made one final, desperate bid to stay in power: offering his defense minister, Benny Gantz, the prime minister's seat for three years.

Netnayahu is widely seen as having cancelled Likud's alliance with Blue and White late last year, in order to avoid handing his office over to Gantz, as the terms of their deal had laid out.

Instead of taking Netanyahu's offer, though, on Friday Gantz went to Lapid, head of Yesh Atid and the man tapped by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to form a new government, after Netanyahu failed to finalize the terms of their new alliance.

"Let go," Bennett told Netanyahu on Wednesday. "Let the country move forward. People are allowed to vote for a government even if you do not lead it - a government that, by the way, is 10 degrees to the right of the current one."

Arrow Down

Putin: Establishment politician Biden not as colorful and impulsive as Trump; his 'killer' comment is 'Hollywood macho'

Biden Putin
© File Photo/Reuters/Alexander Natruskin
US President Joe Biden • Russian President Vladimir Putin
In his first interview to a US corporate outlet since 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin brushed off his US counterpart Joe Biden's "killer" label and called it posturing by a career establishment politician.

Speaking with NBC News' Keir Simmons in Moscow, ahead of the June 16 summit with Biden, Putin called the "killer" comment "Hollywood macho." Putin, in a segment NBC aired on Friday evening, said:
"Over my tenure, I've gotten used to attacks from all kinds of angles and from all kinds of areas under all kinds of pretext and reasons, and of different caliber and fierceness, and none of it surprises me."
Putin said, in a segment NBC aired on Friday evening. The full interview is scheduled to air on Monday, June 14.

Arrow Up

A 'red wave' of left-wing resurgence engulfs South America which the US claimed as its 'backyard' but neglected to tend

© AFP/Gian Masko
Pedro Castillo of the Peru Libre party • Lima, Peru • June 10, 2021
The apparent narrow victory of socialist Pedro Castillo in Peru is the latest splash of a 'red wave' engulfing South America, where Washington and its 'free market fundamentalism' have been calling the shots for decades.

Over the past few days, many eyes in the Western Hemisphere have been on the hotly contested presidential election in Peru. Left-wing candidate Pedro Castillo of the anti-imperialist Free Peru party appears to have gained the upper hand against establishment figure Keiko Fujimori in an otherwise dead-heat contest, which the latter then accused him of rigging. The possible election of such a radical socialist, whose public image includes humble ponchos, sandals and straw hats, has been empowered by a generation of young people deeply disillusioned by the country's spiralling inequality, prolonged poverty and corruption scandals, as well as rural voters and indigenous communities.

Yet, this is not a political earthquake in Peru alone, but in fact one of many increasingly spanning an entire continent. Latin America is experiencing a "red wave" - a momentous blast of left-leaning energy sweeping across multiple countries and empowering a thirst for radical change. As this election heads to its finale, protests and uprisings continue to sweep Colombia, Chile has abandoned its Pinochet-era constitution, and former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is making a resurgent comeback in Brazil.


US FDA clears J&J Covid-19 vaccine doses after months-long delay

J&J and needle
© Johnson&Johnson
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released 10-million doses of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Covid-19 vaccine produced by Emergent BioSolutions.

After a thorough review of a troubled Emergent manufacturing facility, US regulators authorised two batches of the vaccine's underlying drug substance made at the site, the FDA said in a statement on Friday, without disclosing how many doses would be released.

The agency said it wasn't yet ready to provide full clearance to Emergent's Baltimore-based manufacturing facility. The contract manufacturer has said it has made more than 100-million doses worth of the vaccine's bulk drug substance. For months, that supply has been in limbo after Emergent staff accidentally contaminated millions of doses, leading to scrutiny of its manufacturing practices. A representative for J&J declined to comment.

The 10-million Emergent-made doses expected to be released have already gone through the final stages of the fill-finish process. Between five- and six-million of the doses are owned by the US government, and three- to four-million are owned by J&J, according to one of the people. But it's not clear how many of the doses will be needed domestically.

Comment: All good? Perhaps not: The EU refuses J&J Covid-19 shots due to contamination issue
Europe's drug regulator said on Friday batches of Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine made for the region around the time when contamination issues were revealed at a US manufacturing site would, as a precaution, not be used. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) did not say how many shots were affected, but Reuters has reported it involves millions of doses, making it harder for J&J to meet a target of delivering 55 million to Europe by end of June.

The EMA said that batch was not intended for the European Union and that batches of the vaccine released in the region had not been affected by the cross contamination, based on the information it has.


Pentagon to redirect $2.2B in border wall funds back to military projects

border wall
© Getty Images
US southern border wall with Mexico
The Pentagon will restore $2.2 billion to military construction projects that were stripped by the Trump administration to pay for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, the Defense Department announced Friday. The money will go to 66 projects in 16 countries, 11 U.S. states and three U.S. territories in fiscal 2021, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks wrote in a memorandum.

Among those is $79 million for an elementary school for children of military personnel in Germany, $94 million for another such school in Japan, $50 million for a Marine Corps machine gun range in Guam, $10 million for a missile field expansion at Fort Greely, Alaska, as well as numerous other schools, hangars, housing, shops and facilities.

The Biden administration in late April announced it would cancel border wall projects that had been funded through the Defense Department and return the funds to the military construction projects from which they were pulled during the Trump administration.

Former President Trump had diverted billions in Pentagon construction, weapons and counterdrug funds — including $3.6 billion in construction dollars — toward building the wall, using emergency powers after Congress refused to fully fund the project directly. But President Biden in his first day in office canceled the state of emergency Trump had declared along the southern border and paused construction on the wall in order to conduct a review.


PPC Leader Maxime Bernier arrested in Manitoba, Canada

Maxime Bernier
Former Conservative MP and founder of the People's Party of Canada Maxime Bernier was arrested on the first day of his "Mad Max Manitoba" tour.

A video posted by Bernier shows an RCMP officer telling Bernier that he is under arrest under "the provincial health orders," before putting Bernier in cuffs.

The officer asks if Bernier has a weapon on him, to which Bernier responds, "no, no weapons, only my words. Only my philosophy."

One source claims that Bernier was warned that because he had not completed Manitoba's quarantine period, he would be arrested for continuing the tour.

Comment: Totalitarianism, with a Canadian face.


YouTube suspends Ron Johnson for one week for recommending HCQ

Ron Johnson
© Greg Nash/Pool via Reuters
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) asks questions during the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs/Rules and Administration hearing to examine the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., March 3, 2021.
YouTube suspended Senator Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) from uploading videos for seven days and removed a video of a speech in which he discussed early treatments for COVID-19 on Friday.

The video that was taken down featured remarks from a hearing where Johnson discussed experimental treatments for COVID-19 such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin.

In the clip, Johnson blasted the Biden and Trump administrations for "not only ignoring but working against robust research [on] the use of cheap, generic drugs to be repurposed for early treatment of COVID" and said that he held two hearings on the matter.

"It always baffled me that there was such a concerted effort to deny the American public the type of robust exploration research into early treatment early in this pandemic," Johnson said before calling ivermectin annd hydroxychloroquine "incredibly safe."

However, both drugs are unproven as effective treatments for the virus.

The platform said it removed the video due to its policies against COVID-19 misinformation.

"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," a YouTube spokesperson told The Hill.

Comment: From June 9, three days ago: Study shows hydroxychloroquine and zinc treatments increased coronavirus survival rate by almost three times. But apparently YouTube knows The Science better than anyone else. Thank the gods we have them watching out for us, protecting us from unscientific science and dangerous people like Ron Johnson.