Israeli Health Ministry takes aim at Elon Musk’s COVID claims

Billionaire tech mogul and Twitter owner Elon Musk drew criticism from Israel’s Health Ministry Monday, after he cited a recent letter by the ministry stating that there were no known COVID-related deaths of healthy Israelis under 50.

Last week, the ministry responded to a freedom of information request from attorney Ori Shabi, who inquired, among other things, regarding the number of people under 50 without preexisting medical conditions who died with COVID.

In their response, the ministry noted that it had already responded to a similar question regarding COVID deaths among healthy children ages 0 to 17, acknowledging that there were no reported cases of healthy minors dying of COVID.

  • The ministry added that there were similarly no reported cases of healthy adults under 50 who died with COVID, adding the caveat that the ministry’s database on preexisting conditions is incomplete, and is based on information shared by patients or their families.
  • Nonetheless, the ministry confirmed in its letter that it had no knowledge of healthy people under 50 dying of COVID.

On Monday, Musk tweeted in response to an article by the libertarian “Zero Hedge” blog which cited the Ministry of Health’s letter.

In his comment, Musk simply wrote: “Zero.”

  • Shortly afterwards, however, the Israeli Health Ministry pushed back on Musk’s tweet, apparently contradicting its own letter and accusing Musk of spreading “fake news.”

Despite its own letter confirming that its data shows no cases of healthy people under 50 dying from COVID, the ministry’s Twitter account suggested it does know of such cases, citing “clinicians,” without elaborating on the nature of the evidence.

  • “Elon, unfortunately this is not what the whole data shows. fake news is dangerous. Israel Ministry of Health was asked on chronic disease data and explained that we don’t have access to clinical records.”

“We provided the limited data available if something was shared during epidemiological investigation – this data was available for only 27 people -7.5% of the 356 young people who died of COVID In Israel.”

“We know from clinicians that young healthy people did die from COVID and hopefully data on that will be available on the near future from our HMOs.”

However, critics of the ministry’s handling of the pandemic pointed to previously released documents and freedom of information requests indicating that in addition to the 27 epidemiological investigations of COVID fatalities under 50, the ministry had been receiving data on patients with COVID who died, including information regarding preexisting conditions.

The data reportedly included information from both hospitals and healthcare providers (kupot holim).

Arnon Grossman released one such document; which included instructions from the Health Ministry to hospitals to include information on preexisting conditions for any patient who is suspected of dying while infected with COVID.

  • “It is requested that in every case where a COVID patient dies…a death notification and report regarding illness/death must be sent to the Health Ministry.”

“Example 1: A fatality suspected of being infected with COVID-19 with preexisting conditions.”

Source: Arutz Sheva

Header: Health care worker takes swab samples from Israelis at a COVID-19 Clalit testing sample center, June 28, 2022. Photo by Yossi Aloni/Flash90 *** Local Caption **

Foreign Minister Cohen: Hungary to be first EU state to move embassy to Jerusalem

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen declared during a visit to Budapest on Wednesday that Hungary will announce that it will move its embassy to Jerusalem within a few weeks.

In a video released by Chabad Online, the minister, who is currently on a trip to four European Union nations, could be heard telling congregants at a local synagogue that “in a few weeks, Hungary will be the first EU state to announce the move of its embassy to Jerusalem.”

  • This is the first official mention of such a move after the Hungarians in recent months denied that such a move is a possibility.

Cohen is currently on a special tour of Europe; on Tuesday, he attended the Slavkov Summit in Bratislava, which includes Austria, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. This is the first time an Israeli foreign minister has participated in this forum, in which some of Israel’s closest allies in the European Union participate.

The ministers discussed strengthening relations with Israel and their countries as well as a joint fight against the Iranian threat.

In addition, the foreign ministers discussed the Abraham Accords and their effect on strengthening stability in the Middle East.

Cohen invited his counterparts to actively participate in the projects and forums founded as a result of the Abraham Accords.

Earlier this month, the Foreign Minister hosted ambassadors from the four countries that moved their embassies to Jerusalem in a special ceremony celebrating Jerusalem Day and 75 years of independence.

  • Representatives from the United States, Guatemala, Honduras, and Kosovo were at the event.

Speaking to i24NEWS at that event, Cohen said that he is “optimistic” that three more moves are on the way.

Source: Arutz Sheva

Britain ‘de facto’ at war with Russia – Medvedev

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has described the UK as waging an “undeclared war” against Russia.

  • The comment came after Britain’s foreign secretary condoned a large-scale drone attack on Moscow earlier this week.
  • In a Twitter post on Wednesday, Medvedev accused London of being Moscow’s “eternal enemy.” The former leader, who currently serves as deputy chair of Russia’s Security Council, claimed that based on international law, “including the Hague and Geneva Conventions with their additional protocols,” Britain “can also be qualified as being at war.”

The former president argued that by providing Ukraine with weapons and training, the UK “de facto is leading an undeclared war against Russia.”

Medvedev hinted that this could have direct ramifications for “public officials” in Britain.

  • His tweet cited remarks made on Tuesday by UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, who said Ukraine has the right to “project force beyond its borders to undermine Russia’s ability to project force into Ukraine itself.”

Cleverly further claimed that striking “legitimate military targets” in Russia is an acceptable part of Ukraine’s self-defense.

  • According to the Russian Defense Ministry, eight UAVs were detected in Moscow’s airspace on Tuesday morning, in what officials described as a “terrorist attack” by Kiev.

The ministry reported that three drones were suppressed by electronic warfare measures and deviated from their intended course before crashing, while the other five were shot down by Pantsir-S air defense systems outside the city.

  • Several residential buildings sustained superficial damage and two people suffered minor injuries as a result of the raid.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov accused Kiev of launching the attack in an attempt to avenge a recent series of Russian missile and drone strikes on Ukrainian airfields, ammunition dumps, and “decision-making centers.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed on Tuesday that the headquarters of the Ukrainian military’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) had been among the targets hit in the strikes.

Source: RT

US targeting Chinese and Mexican companies

The US has blacklisted several individuals and entities in China and Mexico accused of producing or selling equipment used to manufacture illegal drugs.

  • The move is part of President Joe Biden’s crackdown on the narcotics trade amid an overdose epidemic across the US.

The Treasury Department announced the new penalties on Tuesday, saying they would target seven companies and six people based in China, as well as one business and three individuals in Mexico.

  • All are alleged to be involved in the sale of pill presses, or machines used to produce counterfeit pharmaceuticals, such as oxycodone. The fake pills often contain fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid responsible for tens of thousands of fatal overdoses each year.

“Treasury’s sanctions target every stage of the deadly supply chain fueling the surge in fentanyl poisonings and deaths across the country,” senior Treasury official Brian Nelson said in a statement.

The sanctioned entities include Chinese companies accused of selling pill presses, and even shipping “scheduled pharmaceuticals” to the US for “counterfeit pill manufacturing.”

The Treasury targeted Mexpacking Solutions, a Mexican business it claimed is “controlled by a Sinaloa Cartel pill press supplier,” referring to the international drug syndicate. Three Mexican nationals affiliated with the company also face sanctions, and were said to have interacted with some of the Chinese firms supplying pill press machines.

The US has seen a sharp spike in opioid-related overdoses over the last ten years, with fentanyl accounting for a large proportion of fatalities. In 2022, there were nearly 110,000 drug deaths nationwide, a record number for the US, according to federal statistics.

  • study published in the Lancet medical journal last year further highlighted the crisis, predicting that the opioid epidemic would claim more than 1.2 million lives by the end of the decade.

President Joe Biden recently authorized the deployment of reserve-duty soldiers at the US-Mexico border to help combat the illicit drug trade – a move in line with Republican calls for military operations against Mexican cartels.

  • Mexico has been critical of these efforts, with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador rejecting Washington’s “abusive interference” on Mexican territory. Lopez Obrador insisted that “foreign agents” cannot enter Mexico without permission.

Source: RT


Ending Western domination is key to the emerging world order. Here’s what needs to be done to achieve it

Asynchronous multipolarity: governing parameters and directions of development

  • Since the late 1990s, multipolarity has been a key focus in Russia’s foreign policy doctrine. A more balanced world has been seen as a counterweight to the global hegemony of the US and its allies. Thus, modern international relations were considered to be effectively in transition from unipolarity, with Washington losing its grip on dominance, to a more just and pluralistic system.

This new dawn was supposed to rely, on the one hand, on the fundamental role of the UN and, on the other, on the authority and sovereignty of leading great powers, including Russia itself.

The idea of multipolarity has gained traction among many large countries, such as India and China. Even Western experts haven’t dismissed the possibility. In a way, it has been slowly morphing into an idealized picture of a future world order.

  • Meanwhile, a multipolar world is becoming a reality.

We are living in a new system, the rules of which we do not fully comprehend. If we want to make sense of this reality, we must first have a clear idea of what exactly we mean by the description.

The current state of affairs could be described as “asynchronous multipolarity.”

As a matter of fact, this transition towards a new world order is happening in different areas of international relations at different speeds. It can’t just begin on a given Monday or Thursday. Some of its elements will be in place before others.

What we are witnessing today is precisely this asynchronous progress. Differences in the pace of change occurring in various parts of the globe result in friction and resistance. To be able to comprehend the transformation, at least to a certain degree, we need to appreciate its governing parameters and dynamics.

The concept of polarity in international relations has been used in academia since the late 1970s.

It owes its popularity to the theoretical works of American political scientist Kenneth Waltz, a prominent proponent of neorealism in this sphere. This concept was also developed as a structural and systemic theory in the Soviet Union and, later, in modern Russia.

Neorealists argue that states’ actions in the global arena are defined not so much by their interests as they are by the current structure of the world order. It is this form that outlines national interests and strategies. In its turn, it’s defined by the distribution of influence between great powers. Based on this, we can come up with a classification of possible structures of the international system.

It can be unipolar (where a lot of power is concentrated in the hands of one country, with everyone else having limited scope), which happened in the 1990s with American ascendency; bipolar (where there are two powerful peer competitors, with everyone else being relatively weak and other countries grouping around these two centers of power), which we saw during the Cold War; and multipolar (where power is distributed among several major countries or alliances), which is where we are headed today. Larger, medium-sized, and smaller countries will pursue different strategies depending on the structure in place. The multipolar structure results in the greatest strategic variability.

If the world order is defined by the distribution of power, one question that needs to be answered is: what exactly is power?

Neorealists originally believed that power boiled down to military capability and a country’s ability to defend itself with military means. If a state had no such capability, an armed conflict or a crisis in its relations with other states could wipe out any other advantages it may have. Therefore, neorealists deliberately removed from the equation factors such as the economy or human capital development.

The case of the USSR later demonstrated that such a narrow understanding of the parameters governing the world order was likely a mistake. The Soviet Union built an impressive military capacity, but collapsed due to an accumulation of economic imbalances and domestic problems. While it is true that any theoretical model has only a limited set of parameters and none can account for all possible factors, the complexity of the modern world means that indicators other than military power need to be taken into account.

At the end of the day, defense capabilities depend on economic and human resources. Of course, there are cases when military capability outstrips resource capacity. In some emergencies, states must punch above their weight and expand their military prowess in spite of limited tools at their disposal. In other cases, the resource base may exceed defensive capability, which means a state has untapped potential for further military expansion. Modern multipolarity should be considered through the lens of this complexity and the asynchronous nature of power in the hands of individual states and across the international system as a whole.

In terms of the distribution of military capability, the world has been multipolar for quite a while. Critics can argue that the US is still ahead of all other states collectively in terms of its military spending, can project its power across the globe, and has the best-trained military armed with the most advanced equipment. At the same time, the US is not at liberty to start a military conflict against a number of countries without running a risk of huge and unacceptable losses. China is rapidly building its armed forces and would be difficult to defeat, even if nuclear weapons were not involved. While it is possible to imagine China suffering a local defeat, its complete destruction is unthinkable. A conflict with Russia would be no walk in the park either, even if all of NATO’s offensive capabilities are deployed. Indeed, this could actually quickly turn into a nuclear exchange.

  • If faced with NATO aggression, Moscow would no doubt resort to tactical nukes and would be prepared for further escalation towards the strategic level.

Even attacking weaker adversaries such as the North Korea or Iran would be likely to result in significant losses for the US.

  1. Pyongyang could well use its nuclear capability even if it risks being completely destroyed by a counterstrike. Iran could be bombed, but an attempt at occupying it like the US did with Iraq would claim too many lives.

This is not to say that there is no incentive for the US to maintain and beef up its war machine. There are a wide range of political objectives it can attain, from ensuring deterrence to conducting local “surgical” operations. However, the US is no longer the global hegemon in the military sense.

Other centers of power are also limited in their ability to achieve goals by military means, especially if their smaller or medium-sized opponents are backed by great powers.

  • The success of a possible military operation by China to solve the Taiwan issue is far from assured due to the balancing role of the US. Massive military and financial aid extended to Kiev by Washington and its allies has complicated Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.

Moscow in its turn, provided considerable military assistance to Damascus, in the previous decade, thus effectively blocking attempts by other external players to achieve their goals in the Syrian Civil War.

If we take into account how military power relates to a state’s resource base, the present-day multipolar world will look even more complicated. The US is using a staggering amount of resources to guarantee its defense. The country has access to virtually all key military and dual-use technologies and has a diversified economy. While the conflict in Ukraine has demonstrated industrial limitations in sustaining a large-scale military campaign in the short term, the Americans have enough resources to close this gap. On top of that, the US has considerable human potential, an army of highly skilled workers and engineers, including those “imported” from abroad.

China’s defensive capacity can also rely on a substantial resource base, which allows it to be scaled up significantly, if needed.

  • Even though Beijing lags behind the US in a number of key technology areas, it is catching up rapidly. The Asian giant can boast a developed industrial base, recent strides in engineering, and a large quantity of skilled and disciplined workers.
  • India’s capabilities are more limited in terms of technology and finances. However, the pace of industrial and technological development, demographic potential and growing human capital will make the country a crucial player in the future.

There are also some “sleeping” powers, which have taken cover under the American military umbrella, cannot exercise strategic autonomy and have little appetite for accelerated military development. Yet some of these have successfully accumulated considerable industrial, technological, financial, and human resources. Here we are talking about Germany and France, as well as Japan, which could achieve a much greater military capacity if they wanted. The Ukrainian conflict has given them an incentive to start such a buildup, which could be reinforced by industrial and technological cooperation within the EU and NATO and through bilateral alliances with the US.

The Russian case is more complicated.

The country has access to abundant natural resources, and it remains one of the world’s top ten economies despite sanctions (being as high as sixth, when measured by purchasing power parity).

While Moscow cannot boast a level of technological development on a par with the US, it still has critical military technologies at its disposal, including nuclear, missile, and space capabilities. However, one of the country’s biggest vulnerabilities is its industrial and human potential.

  • Closing the industrial gap would take time and require tremendous willpower and a concentration of resources. In spite of its leadership in natural sciences, the country has an acute shortage of engineers and skilled industrial workers, which is compounded by the brain drain of the early 1990s and the recent wave of emigration in 2022. Low management efficiency and stubbornly high corruption remain a problem.

While it is theoretically possible to “whip the country into shape” by crackdowns and repressions, a Stalin-style modernization would be difficult to imagine under the current conditions, even though some of the Soviet leader’s ideas have ceased to be taboo in recent times. The country simply lacks the necessary demographic resources, ideology, or workforce. Modernization through reckless participation in Western-centric globalization has also been exposed as a dead-end, leading to capital flight and divided loyalties among elites.

If Russia is to preserve its international standing in the long term, it needs a large-scale industrial modernization based on different principles.

  • The existing potential will allow Russia to remain a major military power for the foreseeable future, but the crisis in its relations with the West and the conflict in Ukraine will make things very difficult in the long-term sense.

If we consider the ratio between defense capability and resource base,

Poland and Ukraine are remarkable examples. Warsaw is currently conducting a rapid military buildup, clearly ahead of the other European NATO members. The question is, for how long can the country sustain this rate by relying on its own capacity?

  • Ukraine today is a military camp united by a radical nationalist mobilization and largely supported from abroad. The level of militarization in the country by far exceeds its own capacity, while its human and industrial potential is undermined by both emigration and the fighting.

What makes the current world order so complicated is the fact that military capability is not the only weapon at the disposal of nation states. This is where the asynchronous nature of the global system manifests itself with the greatest clarity. While the world has been multipolar in the military sense for quite a while, the distribution of capacities in some other areas tells a different story.

In global finance, the dominant role of American banks and the US dollar as a means of payment and a reserve currency remains strong.

Admittedly, the policy of sweeping financial and economic sanctions against Russia has triggered a push towards diversifying means of settlements, and Moscow has had no choice but to lead this effort. Decoupling from western currencies is a matter of survival for our country right now.

At present, the US and the EU have left a narrow window for transactions in dollars and euro with Russia. However, this opening – in the form of a handful of banks not yet sanctioned – may be shut at any moment.

Of course, the embargoes against Russia are making everyone else think: What if they find themselves in the same situation tomorrow?

China has long been quietly preparing its financial system for a geopolitical shock scenario.

In this area, it can learn quite a lot from Russia, where the central bank and the Ministry of Finance had done a lot of work to establish an autonomous financial system even before the military operation began.

Still, there is no revolution in global finance in sight.

  • The “global majority,” including China and India, are still relying on the dollar and time-tested methods for financial transactions. While the world has been militarily multipolar for a long time, the US still dominates global finances. The West’s global technological footprint also remains formidable. In spite of China’s major leap in this area, western licenses, knowhow, critical components, and finished products are still integral to global supply chains. Given crushing export controls, Russia is being forced to lead the effort of abandoning these as well, yet the “global majority” remains in no hurry to give up on them.

The digital space is another area of competition. Western big tech has carved out key hubs in global digital service networks.

As the conflict in Ukraine has shown, digital services can be used to achieve political aims. Russia’sfocus on using its own platforms is reasonable and inevitable.

Meanwhile, China moved away from these much earlier and developed its own digital ecosystem. Both Russia and China could become exporters of “digital sovereignty” by offering their technology to third countries that would like to diversify. Western digital titans will keep their crucial nodes, but the global digital network itself now has huge holes, in the form of these two powerful players.

Last but not least, we should consider the impact of information and “soft power.” While the western media long ago lost its monopoly in the global market, its sway remains important. It is difficult to evaluate the effect “soft power” but what is obvious is that the infrastructure for influencing people’s minds, from education systems to exchange programs, university rankings, publication databases, and so on, is still going strong. English continues to be the language of international communication, while western mass culture maintains its global reach despite some local pushback. In Russia, the conflict with the West has not resulted in the denunciation of what is essentially a “Western” lifestyle, which, incidentally, is not limited to a unified set of characteristics and, even within one country (like the US), may vary from unabashed liberalism to hardline conservatism.

To summarize, what we are seeing today is an extremely complex world.

From the military perspective, the globe has been multipolar for a long time. Key centers of power have different resource capacities for maintaining and expanding their military capabilities. Russia will need to overcome significant modernization challenges in this sphere. At the same time, multipolarity in the security sector is not always aligned with other capabilities of states. Global finance and supply chains are still largely dominated by the West. In the area of digital infrastructure, new poles are emerging, or, at least, major players such as Russia and China are decoupling from the Western-centric global digital ecosystem and may soon begin to export their “digital sovereignty” services. The West is still powerful in the information and “soft power” space, although it would hardly be possible to describe the situation here as unipolarity given the complexity of factors and their tenuous relation to real politics.

The asynchronous nature of the distribution of power factors is an important characteristic of the current world order. Any analysis of multipolarity needs to take this fact into account.

Source: Ivan Timofeev – RT

Chechen unit on the offensive in Donbass – MOD

Russian forces are conducting offensive operations against Ukrainian troops in the area outside Donetsk in Donbass, the Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.

In a statement, the ministry announced that assault detachments of the Russian 5th motorized rifle brigade and an Akhmat special forces unit are successfully attacking Ukrainian troops near the town of Maryinka, around 30km west of the capital of Russia’s Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR).

The Akhmat unit is part of Russia’s National Guard and is based in the Chechen Republic. It was named after Akhmad Kadyrov, the region’s first president and father of current leader, Ramzan Kadyrov.

The reports of successful attacks come after Kadyrov declared on Tuesday that Chechen units would face combat in the DPR, adding that troops “are getting ready for assault action.”

  • The ministry also claimed that Ukraine had lost 200 soldiers in the Donetsk area, as well as three armored and 12 transport vehicles, one artillery piece, and two multiple launch rocket systems.

Russian forces have also destroyed Ukraine’s last navy warship, the Yury Olefirenko, according to the statement. The Soviet-era landing ship was sunk by a high-precision strike in the port city of Odessa, the ministry claimed.

  • It added that in the last 24 hours, Russian air defenses had intercepted 12 missiles launched from US-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), as well as one UK-supplied long-range Storm Shadow missile.

Since the start of hostilities in Donbass in 2014, which were triggered by a Western-backed coup in Kiev, the town of Maryinka has become a frontline city hosting strong Ukrainian fortifications. The area has also been used by Kiev’s troops to repeatedly shell civilians in Donetsk.

Source: RT

US claims ‘unprofessional intercept’ by Chinese fighter jet

An American spy plane flying in international airspace above the South China Sea had a close encounter with a Chinese fighter jet last week, in what US officials claim was an “unprofessional intercept.”

A Chinese pilot carried out an “unnecessarily aggressive” maneuver, flying his J-16 fighter just in front of the nose of a US RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft, the US Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) alleged on Tuesday.

The command posted a video clip of the incident, purporting to show the J-16 passing in front of the US plane and causing the RC-135’s cockpit to shake in the turbulence of its wake.

“The RC-135 was conducting safe and routine operations over the South China Sea in international airspace, in accordance with international law,” INDOPACOM said.

“The United States will continue to fly, sale and operate – safely and responsibly – wherever international law allows.”

The statement added that US forces will continue to fly “with due regard for the safety of all vessels and aircraft under international law. We expect all countries in the Indo-Pacific region to use international airspace safely and in accordance with international law.”

Chinese officials did not immediately comment on the incident or the US statement.

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Beijing has bristled at Washington’s claims over similar incidents in the past, accusing US forces of provocations and infringing China’s sovereignty. The Chinese Defense Ministry accused American officials of “pure slander and hype” over an incident last December in which a Chinese fighter jet allegedly buzzed within six meters of a US Air Force RC-135. Both sides blamed the near collision on the other.

The latest controversy comes amid rising tensions between the US and China. Chinese officials cut off defense and climate ties with the US last August, citing provocations in the Taiwan Strait, and the shooting down of an alleged Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina in February. Just this week, China rejected a request for a meeting between the US and Chinese defense ministers when both men are scheduled to be in Singapore for a security conference in June.

Source: RT

China’s Boeing competitor faces a steep climb

Over the weekend, China’s new domestically designed and built airliner, the COMAC C919, completed its first commercial flight.

Heralded as a rival to the American Boeing 737, the new model has been in the wings for some time, having finally completed regulatory approval last autumn.

State media gave the maiden flight widespread coverage following Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines purchase of the first model,

Western critics were quick to pour cold water on the flight, pointing out that the Chinese aircraft’s supply chain relied on many foreign components, including those from Europe and the United States.

Despite this, it remains a highly significant achievement for China to have assembled its own domestic, commercially competitive aircraft, which, even with potential supply problems, poses a long-term challenge to Boeing.

However, this does not mean it is going to be an easy ride for the new contender. Even before China became an “issue”, the US has long had zero tolerance for overseas aviation competitors, since it is compromised by the influence of the military-industrial lobby, of which Boeing is a part. This has led to a protracted stealth war against its primary European rival, Airbus, which even involved alleged espionage and the US National Security Agency. Based on the current state of trade and technological tensions between the US and China, hostile actions against COMAC are inevitable.

  • It’s a miracle that COMAC has not yet been added to the US Commerce Department’s “entity list” of companies and individuals barred from US technology exports.

In early 2021, the Trump administration already added it to a blacklist which brands it as a “Chinese military linked” company, purportedly to restrict investment in it.

Despite this, the firm has not been given the Huawei treatment, which is unusual given that every Chinese company which makes strides in strategic technologies, or are capable of undermining America’s monopolies, are often targeted with such measures.

The consistency of this type of behavior indicates that a response is likely a matter of “when” and not “if”. COMAC’s reliance on certain American components leaves it vulnerable, and the product could stall. Therefore, the company is in a race against time to localize its supply chain and move away from US vendors which can be cut off at any time, especially as tensions rise. In the current environment, Chinese companies should assume that the imposition of restrictions is inevitable, as such designations are rarely made in good faith. Beijing should also assume that the US may readily force third party countries to adopt its restrictions as they have done in the past and continue to do.

Even if sanctions are not imposed, the US industrial lobby and its influence throughout the government and media are bound to generate deliberate negative publicity targeting COMAC, especially if it is successful and poses a threat to Boeing’s market share on the international stage. The use of negative media coverage to target Chinese products is an established tactic. For example, during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Western media regularly pushed negative stories seeking to undermine and question the efficacy of Chinese-manufactured vaccines in a bid to try and shore up Pfizer and Moderna’s market share.

Similar stories may be used to deliberately frame the C919 as unsafe or accident-prone in a bid to try and get airlines to avoid it, especially in Western countries where demand for Boeing is dominant. The US has continually sought to erect obstacles to Chinese technology in Western countries, with the case of Huawei’s 5G equipment being the most prominent example. A single accident involving a C919 will thus generate widespread negative publicity and focus on the “made in China” angle. In addition, also expect the US to keep complaining about unfair economic practices and state subsidies, encouraging itself and the EU to place massive tariffs on any domestic purchase of the aircraft.

China must therefore be prepared for a long-term battle if its own domestic aviation industry is to succeed. That includes, first, local self-reliance, and second, building a coalition of supporting and participating countries to secure its international standing. Worldwide, Boeing and Airbus constitute an effective monopoly, with the former having no qualms about undermining its competitors.

  • China would be best placed, after establishing the C919 in the domestic market, to pitch the plane to developing countries, which cannot afford Western-made aircraft, at subsidized prices.

Source: RT

EU issues plea to Russia after Moscow drone attack

The EU has called on Russia not to escalate its conflict with Ukraine despite Tuesday’s drone attack on Moscow. The bloc’s foreign affairs spokesman, Peter Stano, claimed he did not know all the details of the incident.

  • “We took note of the reports claiming allegedly that there were some drones flying over the region of Moscow. This is not really for us to comment on, we don’t know anything about the origins or about the details of it,” Stano said during a briefing in Brussels.

“The only thing I can recall and repeat is the strong call by the EU to Russia not to use such incidents as a pretext for further escalation of its illegal aggression against Ukraine,” the official added.

The comments came after Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin announced on Tuesday morning that the city had come under attack from multiple drones.

The incident was confirmed by the Russian Defense Ministry, which accused Kiev of conducting a terrorist attack.

  • “The Kiev regime launched a terrorist attack with unmanned aerial vehicles on targets in the city of Moscow,” a statement from the ministry said.

According to Russian officials, eight drones were involved in the raid, all of which were neutralized.

  • Three were suppressed by electronic warfare measures and deviated from their intended course, while the remaining five were shot down by air defense systems. Several residential buildings sustained slight damage and two civilians received minor injuries.

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu stated that the attack was perpetrated by Kiev and claimed it had specifically been directed at civilian targets. The Kremlin, meanwhile, claimed that the raid was a Ukrainian attempt to exact revenge for a recent Russian strike on a decision-making center in Kiev.

  • “It is clear that we are talking about the response of the Kiev regime to our very effective strikes on the center, one of the decision-making centers. This strike took place on Sunday,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

He argued that Tuesday’s attack “once again confirms” the need to continue the military operation in Ukraine until its goals are achieved.

Source: RT

North Korea’s first spy satellite crashes after launch

North Korea has said that its would-be first military spy satellite crashed into the Yellow Sea after the rocket carrying it suffered an engine failure.

  • According to Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the rocket, which was launched on Wednesday, lost thrust due to “the abnormal staring” of the engine following first-stage separation. North Korean officials were quoted as saying that engineers would study “the serious defects,” after which another launch would be attempted “as soon as possible.”

The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) confirmed that Pyongyang has fired a “space launch vehicle,” adding that the projectile fell around 200 kilometers (124 miles) west of the island of Eocheong.

Sirens were blasted across Seoul early on Wednesday, but government officials later said that the alert system was activated by mistake.

Warnings also were issued over the emergency alert system in Japan’s southern prefecture of Okinawa. However, the Japanese government later said the rocket did not fly over the country’s territory.

  • According to NHK, Pyongyang warned the Japanese Coast Guard on Monday that the satellite would be launched between Wednesday and June 11.

Senior North Korean official Ri Pyong Chol announced on Tuesday that Pyongyang planned to launch its first spy satellite, saying it would be fired sometime in June.

  • Ri said the satellite was needed to counter growing hostilities from Washington and “reckless” joint military drills by the US and South Korea.

The US has stated in the past that a satellite launch by North Korea would violate the international sanctions imposed on Pyongyang’s ballistic missile program.

Source: RT

Header: People watch a television screen showing a news broadcast with file footage of North Korea’s rocket launch, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul on May 31, 2023. © Jung Yeon-je / AFP

Wagner revealed results of military operations in Ukraine

Wagner sources reported on the results of the military operations of the PMC in Ukraine:

Destroyed the manpower of the AFU – 72 095;
Prisoners taken – 509;
Tanks destroyed – 309;
IFV – 566;
APC – 131;
Armored vehicles – 1134;
Cars – 2075;
Mortars and cannons – 3155;
ATGMs – 300;
SP gun mounts – 124 ;
MLRSs – 83;
Air defense systems – 45;
UAVs – 282;
Warplanes – 5;
Helicopters – 4;
EW/radar systems – 149.


Header: A serviceman of Russian private military company Wagner Group is seen during the execution of a combat mission in the course of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, in the Lugansk People’s Republic, Russia. © Sputnik / Viktor Antonyuk

UK mulling ways to curb food prices – CNBC

UK officials are discussing with representatives of the retail sector ways to tame spiraling grocery inflation without imposing price caps, CNBC reported on Monday.

Forcing supermarkets to cut prices is not being considered, a government spokesperson told CNBC by email, adding that any scheme to help bring down food prices for consumers would be voluntary.

  • “We know the pressure households are under with rising costs and while inflation is coming down, food prices remain stubbornly high. That’s why the prime minister and the chancellor have been meeting with the food sector to see what more can be done,” the comment read.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s administration is working out a mechanism that would entail supermarkets voluntarily maintaining low prices on basic foods, the Sunday Telegraph reported, citing sources.

  • British Health Secretary Steve Barclay ruled out price caps on food in an interview with the BBC, saying that the government was looking for “constructive discussions with supermarkets about how we work together, not about any element of compulsion.”

The UK government initiative echoes measures recently introduced in France where major supermarkets agreed to cut prices after President Emmanuel Macron asked retailers to trim their margins to fight soaring food prices.

In March, French supermarkets slashed prices on about 50 basic items comprising the so-called “anti-inflation food basket.”

Although headline inflation in the UK declined to 8.7% in April from the 10.1% reading in March amid cooling energy prices, food inflation has been stubbornly high.

Grocery price growth reached 19.1% in April, which is the highest rate in more than 45 years, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Source: RT

Bus crash in Cameroon results in multiple deaths

At least 19 people were killed in a bus crash on the Yaounde-Douala highway near the town of Edea on May 26, the government of Cameroon said.

  • A truck transporting sand reportedly collided head on with a bus, crushing the latter and killing most of the passengers. Just three people managed to survive the impact.

Cameroon’s Minister of Transport, Jean Ernest Massena Ngalle Biebehe, visited the scene of the accident.

  • According to Ngalle Biebehe, the driver lost control of the bus, leading to the collision with the heavy truck.

Source: RT

Twitter threatened with EU ban

Twitter will be banned across the EU if it fails to abide by new disinformation regulations, French Digital Transition and Telecommunications Minister Jean-Noel Barrot said on Monday.

The warning comes as the bloc’s Digital Services Act (DSA) is due to fully take effect on August 25.

“Disinformation is one of the gravest threats weighing on our democracies,” Barrot told France Info radio.

  • “I hope that Twitter complies with the European rules by August 25. Otherwise, it will no longer be welcome in Europe. Twitter, if it repeatedly doesn’t follow our rules, will be banned from the EU.”

The DSA mandates that search engines and large platforms, such as Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok, enact measures to mitigate “disinformation or election manipulation, cyber violence against women, or harms to minors online.” The European Commission can fine offenders up to 6% of annual worldwide turnover.

  • EU Internal Markets Commissioner Thierry Breton announced last week that Twitter had pulled out of the bloc’s voluntary Code of Practice on Disinformation.
  • “But obligations remain. You can run but you can’t hide,” Breton said, adding that DSA’s terms will be “ready for enforcement” when the compliance deadline expires in August.

Billionaire Elon Musk, who acquired Twitter last year, promised to rid the platform of disinformation and hateful content, but also uphold freedom of speech and offer more transparency.

  • “This platform is hell bent on being the least untrue source of information,” Musk wrote on Twitter in early May.

Earlier this month, Twitter fulfilled a Turkish government request to restrict access to some accounts in the weeks leading up to the presidential and general election in the country.

Musk defended the decision by saying he wanted to avoid having Twitter be shut down entirely in Türkiye.

  • “We can’t go beyond the laws of a country… If we have a choice of either our people [going] to prison or we comply with the laws, we will comply with the laws,” Musk told the BBC last month.

Source: RT

NO HEALTHY young adults died of COVID-19 in Israel – data

Not a single healthy person under age 50 died of COVID-19 in Israel, according to data released by the country’s ministry of health in response to a freedom of information request from lawyer Ori Xabi.

“Why were all the extreme measures of school closures, vaccination of children, and lockdowns needed?” internal medicine specialist Yoav Yehezkelli, a prominent critic of Israel’s Covid-19 policies, asked the Epoch Times.

  • In addition to requesting the number of COVID-19 deaths that had occurred in patients under 50 with no underlying health conditions, Xabi also asked the ministry to provide the average age of patients who died of the disease, segmented by vaccination status, as well as the annual number of cardiac arrest cases between 2018 and 2022.
  • The average age of fatalities among those vaccinated against COVID-19 was 80.2 years, while the average for the unvaccinated was 77.4, according to the ministry.

However, the MoH claimed to be unable to provide cardiac arrest information for the years 2021 and 2022, explaining that the information had not yet been transferred to them.

A study published last year analyzing data from the Israel National Emergency Medical Services found a shocking 25% spike in emergency services calls due to cardiac arrests for patients aged 16 to 39 taking place from January to May 2021.

Studies and other data, including a study led by Stanford epidemiologist John Ioannidis, show that COVID-19 mortality, even with the original variant, was largely age-dependent.

  • However, ShaOver the age of 60, mortality doubled every 5 years while under that age mortality was negligible, and “now we really see that it was zero under the age of 50, at least.”ron Elroy-Pries, head of Public Health Services for the Ministry of Health, condemned efforts to draw a connection to the start of the COVID-19 vaccination program in December 2020 and denied that there had been an increase in cardiac arrests during that time, or any increase in deaths of young people.
  • There may not have been many young people who got seriously ill, yet the MOH had emphasized cases of pregnant women hospitalized in critical condition and young healthy people who died because of COVID-19. It was not the true situation, he said.
  • “They created a false presentation of a very severe epidemic that affects the entire population and therefore the entire population should also be vaccinated, regardless of age”.
  • If we are talking about people under the age of 50 that means that no pregnant women actually died of COVID-19, he said.

    The justification given for vaccinating pregnant women, young people, and children was that they too are affected by COVID-19.

Cardiologist Retsef Levi, one of the authors of the study, pointed out that the ministry had claimed not to have information on cardiac arrests for 2021 and 2022, meaning one of the two claims had to be false.

While the MoH insisted the data it provided to Xabi regarding patients aged 18 to 49 was limited to cases in which an epidemiological investigation had been completed, it is known to have access to a database that includes extensive data on all patients, including underlying conditions, irrespective of whether an epidemiological investigation was performed.

Yehezkelli called the MoH’s response “a bit naive,” questioning why it had withheld the full data, but pointed out that the statistics vindicated government critics.

  • “It was definitely a disease that actually only endangered the elderly,” he said, pointing out that the MoH’s numbers showed the average age of death from COVID-19 was 80.

The MoH has promised to supply all-cause mortality data segmented by vaccination status and age by the end of the month, following more than two years of stonewalling in response to Xabi’s freedom of information requests.

Source: RT

Header: Israelis wait to recieve a COVID-19 vaccine, at a vaccination center operated by the Tel Aviv Municipality with Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov), at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, December 31, 2020. Photo by Miriam ALster/Flash90 *** Local Caption ***


Israel: Successful but scrappy: Air Force marks 75 years since its 1st-ever strike mission

The Israeli military on Monday marked 75 years since the Air Force conducted its first-ever strike mission, during the War of Independence in 1948.

A memorial plaque for the operation and for one of the pilots who was killed in the mission was also unveiled.

The daring airstrike at the Ad Halom site, close to the modern coastal city of Ashdod, is thought to have prevented the Egyptian army from marching on Tel Aviv just two weeks after Israel declared itself a state, changing the course of the war.

  • The four Avia S-199 aircraft — a bastardized Czech variant of the German Messerschmitt Bf 109G fighter — had been shipped over to Israel in dozens of parts in cargo planes owned by Al Schwimmer, a Jewish New Yorker and World War II pilot, violating a US arms embargo on the newly founded state.

While the aircraft were being secretly and hastily assembled in a hangar at what is known today as the Tel Nof base, an Egyptian division was marching up Israel’s coast, believed to have been aiming to capture Tel Aviv.

  • The four fighter planes were hand-painted with the Air Force roundel for the first time, but before they were even tested properly, Israel decided to gamble its entire air force on targeting the Egyptian convoy at the Palestinian village of Isdud, near the Ad Halom bridge, just 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of Tel Aviv.
  • While the strike did not cause significant damage to the Egyptian division, it stunned them, as they had believed Israel had no air force. The Egyptian army halted its advance, a move thought to have changed the course of the war, which ended in Israeli victory nearly a year later.

The mission was led by Lou Lenart, an American fighter pilot who helped smuggle the plane parts into Israel and later helped establish the Air Force’s 101st Squadron.

  • His number two in the mission was Ezer Weizman, who later became the chief of the Air Force, defense minister, and president.
  • The third pilot was Modi Alon, an Israeli-born pilot who had volunteered for the Royal Air Force during the British Mandate of Palestine.
  • And the fourth was Eddie Cohen, a South African fighter pilot in World War II who then moved to Israel.

Cohen’s plane was thought to have been hit by Egyptian anti-aircraft fire during the mission, causing it to crash close to the Ad Halom bridge. Cohen was killed and the Avia S-199 he was flying was destroyed.

Despite losing 25 percent of its air force and causing minimal damage, the first-ever Israeli strike was thought to have shocked the Egyptians into halting their advance on Tel Aviv.

Troops from the Givati Brigade later attempted to push forward during what is known as Operation Pleshet, though it suffered heavy losses.

During the ceremony on Monday, Air Force chief Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar noted the surprise action.

“[It is] exactly 75 years since the quartet of Messerschmitt planes of the 101st Squadron went out to attack the Egyptian armored column — an action that threw the enemy off balance, surprised them and stopped them,” said Bar, shortly after unveiling a ceramic plaque with an art piece depicting the airstrike.

“The story of the first attack quartet is significant in shaping the ethos of the Air Force that we are so proud of. We arose thanks to Jewish volunteers and lovers of Israel, volunteers from abroad,” Bar said, referring to Lenart, Cohen and the Mahal volunteer unit.

“Like them, many more took part in the establishment of the Air Force, and for that, we owe them so much. The monument established here in their memory today is a symbol and example of their heroic actions,” Bar continued.

“I vow today that we will continue to cross this path, any path, however difficult it may be. With companionship, even risking our lives, we will protect our country, because we have no other country,” he added.

  • Families of the pilots, former Air Force chiefs, and others who were involved in the Air Force’s early missions were present at the ceremony on Monday evening, at the site where the first-ever strike took place.

Four Air Force F-16C fighter jets from the modern 101st Squadron flew over the site during the event, with one separating from the other three, commemorating the death of Cohen during the mission 75 years ago.

Lenart died in 2015; Weizman died in 2005; and Alon died on October 16, 1948, while attempting to land his Avia S-199 after carrying out a fresh wave of strikes against Egyptian forces at Isdud with Weizman.

Source: TOI

Header: “Strange Encounter” Israeli Messerschmitt Me-109 (Avia S-199) fighter piloted by the American ace Rudy Augarten vs an Egyptian Spitfire, Oct 1948, painted by Roy Grinnell (1995)