yYAXssKCQaUWZcXZ79RJTBLvo-c;SfREtjZ9NYeQnnVMC-CsZ9qN6L0 Finance, Economics, Globus, Brokers, Banks, Collateral-Oriano Mattei

domenica 17 ottobre 2021

China has tested a new space capability with a hypersonic missile, according to the Financial Times (FT)............

 


The FT's sources said the hypersonic glide vehicle was carried by a Long March rocket, launches of which China usually announces, though the August test was kept under wraps [Stringer/ AFP]

China has tested a new space capability with a hypersonic missile, according to the Financial Times (FT).

The report, citing multiple sources familiar with the test, said on Saturday that Beijing launched the nuclear-capable missile in August.

The missile circled the Earth at low orbit before speeding towards its target, according to the sources, “demonstrating an advanced space capability that caught US intelligence by surprise”.

Three people briefed on the intelligence told the FT that the missile missed its target by more than 20 miles (32 kilometres).

However, two said the “test showed that China had made astounding progress on hypersonic weapons and was far more advanced than US officials realised”.

The FT’s sources said the hypersonic glide vehicle was carried by a Long March rocket, launches of which China usually announces, though the August test was kept under wraps.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said he would not comment on the specifics of the report.

But he added, “We have made clear our concerns about the military capabilities China continues to pursue, capabilities that only increase tensions in the region and beyond. That is one reason why we hold China as our number one pacing challenge.”

Along with China, the United States, Russia and at least five other countries are working on hypersonic technology.

Hypersonic missiles, like traditional ballistic missiles which can deliver nuclear weapons, can fly at more than five times the speed of sound.

But ballistic missiles fly high into space in an arc to reach their target, while a hypersonic flies on a trajectory low in the atmosphere, potentially reaching a target more quickly.

Crucially, a hypersonic missile is manoeuvrable, making it harder to track and defend against.

While countries like the US have developed systems designed to defend against cruise and ballistic missiles, the ability to track and take down a hypersonic missile remains questionable.

China has been aggressively developing the technology, seeing it as crucial to defend against US gains in hypersonic and other technologies, according to a recent report by the US Congressional Research Service (CRS).

The reported test comes as US-China tensions have mounted and Beijing has stepped up military activity near Taiwan, the self-ruled US-aligned democracy that Beijing considers a breakaway province.


da "aljazeera.com"

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the United States proposed selling F-16 fighter jets to Turkey in return for its investment in the F-35 programme, from which Ankara was removed after purchasing missile defence systems from Russia..........

 


Turkey reportedly made the request to buy dozens of new F-16 fighter jets [Islam Yakut/Anadolu]


President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the United States proposed selling F-16 fighter jets to Turkey in return for its investment in the F-35 programme, from which Ankara was removed after purchasing missile defence systems from Russia.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday before departing for a trip to Africa, Erdogan said Turkey wants a return for its investment in the F-35 programme and that talks on the issue are ongoing.

“There is the payment of $1.4bn we have made for the F-35s and the US had such a proposal in return for these payments,” Erdogan said.

“And regarding this, we said let’s take whatever steps are needed to be taken to meet the defence needs of our country,” he said.

“We are working to further develop our fleet from the modernisation of the F-16s in our possession to new additional F-16 purchases,” the Turkish leader said.

Ankara had ordered more than 100 F-35 jets, made by Lockheed Martin Corp, but the US removed Turkey from the programme in 2019 after it acquired Russian S-400 missile defence systems.

The decades-old partnership between the NATO allies has gone through unprecedented tumult in the past five years over disagreements on Syria policy, Ankara’s closer ties with Moscow, its naval ambitions in the eastern Mediterranean, US charges against a state-owned Turkish bank, and Turkey’s human rights record.

Ankara’s purchase of the S-400s has also triggered US sanctions. In December 2020, Washington blacklisted Turkey’s Defence Industry Directorate, its chief, Ismail Demir, and three other employees.

Erdogan has indicated Ankara still intends to buy a second batch of S-400s from Russia, a move that could deepen the rift with Washington.

The US has warned Turkey of further risks to bilateral ties if it bought more weapons from Russia.

Reuters news agency reported earlier this month that Turkey made a request to the United States to buy 40 Lockheed Martin-made F-16 fighter jets and nearly 80 modernisation kits for its existing warplanes.

The request for the jets could have a difficult time getting approval from the US Congress, where sentiment towards Turkey has soured deeply over recent years.

There is bipartisan support in the US Congress to push the Biden administration to put further pressure on Ankara, primarily over its purchase of Russian weapons and its human rights track record.

Ankara has said it hopes for better ties under US President Joe Biden.


da "aljazeera.com"

The United States is wasting millions of Covid-19 vaccine doses even as shortages plague many parts of the world..........

 

One study based on CDC data found 15m vaccine doses were wasted in the US between March and September.
One study based on CDC data found 15m vaccine doses were wasted in the US between March and September.Photograph: Nathan Posner/Rex/Shutterstock

The United States is wasting millions of Covid-19 vaccine doses even as shortages plague many parts of the world.

At least 15m doses were scrapped in the US between March and September, according to one analysis of CDC data. A separate investigation found 1m doses were discarded in 10 states between December and July.

States continue tossing unused shots. Louisiana has thrown out 224,000 unused doses of the Covid vaccines – a rate that has almost tripled since the end of July, even as a deadly fourth wave of the virus gripped the state. Some of the lost doses came from opening and not finishing vials, but more than 20,000 shots simply expired.

Thousands of doses are reportedly wasted each day in Wisconsin. In Alabama, more than 65,000 doses have been tossed; in Tennessee, it’s almost 200,000.

The wasted doses represent a small fraction of the number of shots administered in these states – in Louisiana, for instance, 4.4m doses have been given out successfully.

But the news comes as millions of people around the world wait for their first doses. Only 1% of the populations of low-income countries had received first shots as of July, compared with more than half of those living in a handful of high-income countries.

Many of the discarded doses came from pharmacies. In May, two pharmacy chains had wasted more doses than US states, territories and federal agencies combined, for almost three-quarters of tossed doses. Now, at least 7.6m discarded doses come from four major pharmacies: Walgreens, CVS, Walmart and Rite Aid.

There are multiple reasons why doses have been wasted: sometimes a vial is cracked or doesn’t contain as many doses as promised; sometimes needles malfunction; freezers break down or the power goes out. Frequently, people don’t show up for appointments, and the dose set aside for them in a vial isn’t used.

But as vaccinations across the country have stalled after peaking in mid-April, a growing issue is simply that the vaccines are expiring amid vaccine hesitancy in the US that is more widespread than first imagined.

Before June, a little over 2m doses had gone to waste, NBC News reported. But over the summer, those figures surged – alongside the virus itself – sixfold as doses expired and vaccinations flagged.

The Biden administration has pushed to use the US vaccine stockpile for boosters, sometimes clashing with scientific agencies on who needs the added protection of an additional shot.

Officials are also working with vaccine manufacturers to reduce the number of doses in each vial.

In the face of global inequities, it’s not as simple as states donating unused vaccines. The doses already distributed to states can’t be repurposed internationally because of bureaucratic and safety concerns around storing the vaccines correctly.

Joe Biden has vowed to vaccinate 70% of the world in the next year, and has committed to donate several million doses for use abroad. But in the meantime, many countries are struggling to provide shots to the most vulnerable and those working on the frontlines of the pandemic, while Americans refuse the immunizations.

Manufacturers should also scale up production to address global shortages, the administration has said. Moderna, for instance, needs to “step up as a company” when it comes to global production of vaccines, David Kessler, the Biden administration’s chief science officer of the Covid-19 response, said on Wednesday.


di  per "theguardian.com"

It was another starry night in Hollywood. In a white-walled room at the Milk Studios art gallery, where a lone violinist played before a projected animation, musician Moby, artist Shepard Fairey and Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti reportedly mingled with about 200 guests..........


Hunter and Joe Biden. ‘The president remains proud of his son,’ the White House said. Photograph: Kris Connor/WireImage


It was another starry night in Hollywood. In a white-walled room at the Milk Studios art gallery, where a lone violinist played before a projected animation, musician Moby, artist Shepard Fairey and Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti reportedly mingled with about 200 guests.

On display were artworks that combine canvas, yupo paper, wood and metal with oil, acrylic, ink and the written word. Organizers hope they will sell for up to half a million dollars – unusually high for an emerging artist. But then, this artist also happens to be son of the president of the United States.

Hunter Biden’s potentially lucrative new career – he is represented by the Georges Bergès Gallery in New York, which credits him with “powerful and impactful paintings ranging from photogenic to mixed media to the abstract” – is presenting ethical headaches for a White House that has promised to lead by example.

Experts have raised alarms that individuals might buy the artworks – expected to fetch between $75,000 and $500,000 – to try to curry favor and gain influence with Joe Biden. They also accuse Hunter of trading on his father’s name and position in a manner that, while not illegal, flouts ethical norms.

I find it deeply troubling,” said Walter Shaub, who was director of the Office of Government Ethics under President Barack Obama. “Merely following the incredibly weak ethics rules that we have doesn’t win you any points and the legalistic approach blinds you to obvious commonsense problems. And here we have an obvious problem.

“We’ve got a family member clearly trading on his father’s name. The man has never sold a piece of art before, has never even juried into a community centre art show, but suddenly he’s selling art at fantastical prices. There is simply no way anybody paid $75,000 for anything other than his name.”

Biden has always been a fierce defender of Hunter, 51, who has been dogged by controversies for years and whose tax affairs are currently under investigation by the justice department. Donald Trump’s attempts to weaponise Hunter’s problems for political gain in the 2020 presidential election fell flat.

The sale of Hunter Biden’s art is being handled by the George Bergès Gallery in Soho, New York. An agreement stipulates that only the gallery will know the identity of purchasers.
The sale of Hunter Biden’s art is being handled by the George Bergès Gallery in Soho, New York. An agreement stipulates that only the gallery will know the identity of purchasers. Photograph: Sipa US/Alamy

Earlier this year Hunter published a memoir in which he detailed his struggle with alcoholism and drug abuse and denied wrongdoing in joining the board of Burisma, a gas company in Ukraine, where he earned more than $50,000 a month from 2014 to 2019. Again, he did not inflict political damage on his father as some feared.

But his latest pursuit, painting, could prove more complicated. Hunter said in a New York Times interview last year that he took it up as a hobby during his recovery from addiction and found solace in art when he was at the centre of Trump’s 2019 impeachment trial.

In July he told the Nota Bene: This Week in the Art World podcast that art prices are “completely subjective”, insisting: “Look, man, I never set my prices – what my art was going to cost, what it costs or how much it would be priced at. I would be amazed, you know, if my art had sold at, um, you know, for $10.”

The sale of his work, however. appears to be cutting through as a media narrative in a way that lurid rightwing conspiracy theories never did. Just as President Jimmy Carter’s younger brother marketed and sold “Billy Beer” in 1977, Hunter faces accusations that he is cashing in.

Shaub, now a senior fellow at the Project on Government Oversight watchdog, commented: “You hear people trying to justify it by saying, ‘Well, of course, he’s famous, he’s the president’s son,’ but that’s the exact problem because he may not be in public office and there may be no laws that apply to him but he is a citizen whose father happens to be the leader of the country and so he has a patriotic duty to not run around trying to capitalise on that relationship.

“Sure, he’s not a criminal if he fails to comply with that duty, but he’s not a patriot either. He’s not a man who cares about a country that has just been through a four-year ethical nightmare. He sees an opportunity for profiteering and says, ‘Well, you know, it’s legal. I’m just going to do it. Who cares what that does to my country?’”

The conflict-of-interest concerns cast a shadow over efforts by the president – who likes to vow “my word as a Biden” – to show the world that America has turned the corner after the constant allegations that Trump’s business and family benefited from his office, including the appointment of his daughter and son-in-law to senior White House positions.

Hunter Biden embraces Jill and Joe Biden at the president’s inauguration in Washington on 20 January.
Hunter Biden embraces Jill and Joe Biden at the president’s inauguration in Washington on 20 January. Photograph: Alamy

Biden issued a memorandum establishing fighting corruption as a core national security interest. His administration responded to the Pandora Papers by promising to push for greater transparency in financial systems.

It sought to pre-empt questions over Hunter’s art by striking an agreement, first reported by the Washington Post in July, under which the gallery owner, Georges Bergès, would set the prices of the art and not reveal who bid on or bought it, as well as rejecting offers that seemed extortionate.

But there is no mechanism to monitor the agreement. Critics say Hunter’s presence at the recent gallery event in Hollywood undercut claims that neither he nor the White House would know the identity of buyers. And Garcetti, who also attended, is Biden’s nominee to be the next US ambassador to India and a former national co-chair of his 2020 presidential campaign.

The issue was given short shrift this week by Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary.

She told a reporter at the daily briefing: “It still is the purview of the gallerist. We still do not know and will not know who purchases any paintings. And the president remains proud of his son.” When the reporter tried to follow up, Psaki interjected sharply: “Did you have another question on something else?”

Shaub condemned her manner as “surly” and described the agreement to keep buyers anonymous as “an insult to our intelligence”. He explained: “Anybody who spends tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy art because it was created by the president’s son is going to be very open and vocal about the fact that they bought it. It’s going to be the showpiece at cocktail parties and so that information will eventually come out. This is a farce.”

Some commentators have argued that transparency would work better than secrecy, allowing the public to know whether a buyer such as a political lobbyist had paid a suspiciously high price. When the Guardian called the Georges Bergès Gallery, it was told to send an email and did so, but did not receive a reply. When the Guardian called the Milk Studios, which hosted Hunter’s show, a man twice answered and twice hung up.

Ethics expert Kathleen Clark, a professor at Washington University School of Law, joined criticism of the arrangement. “It’s really unfortunate that Hunter Biden has chosen to attempt to make money in a way that is vulnerable to influence peddling.

“Now, he’s an adult and the ethics standards that bind elected officials and civil servants don’t apply to him directly. On the other hand, not all forms of compensated work have this kind of vulnerability but this kind of work does because it’s so difficult to know exactly what the value of a painting is.”

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner watch as Donald Trump speaks at the Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, as he left office on 20 Januaary.
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner watch as Donald Trump speaks at the Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, as he left office on 20 Januaary. ‘“Better than Trump” should never, ever, ever become the standard in this country.’Photograph: Carlos Barría/Reuters

The previous White House set a historically low bar, Clark added. “The Trump administration gave the impression that they were attempting to be unethical, like that was the goal, like they were seeking some kind of championship bid in unethical if not criminal conduct. It’s nothing like that. But it still could be a disappointment when the Biden administration doesn’t live up to what it might do in terms of transparency, for example.”

Indeed, the sheer breadth and depth of Trump scandals that captivated the media for four years might have partially shielded Biden and Hunter from sustained scrutiny. A recent book on the Biden family by the Politico journalist Ben Schreckinger presents evidence that some emails allegedly leaked from Hunter’s laptop regarding business deals were genuine and not, as widely assumed, planted by Russian intelligence.

Shaub suggested that many people are blinded to the ethical problem of the artwork for two reasons. “One is just the hyper-partisanship that has evolved in our country and so people who voted for Biden run around saying, ‘Well, it’s not as bad as Trump.’

“Of course it’s not even close to as bad as Trump but ‘better than Trump’ should never, ever, ever become the standard in this country because that’s saying, ‘I’m better than the absolute worst that prior to 2016 you couldn’t have even conceived of.’”

He continued: “The second thing that’s blinding people is that there was a lot of unfair smearing of Hunter Biden by very well-funded political actors who were completely disingenuous in their ridiculous accusations. I guess that worked well with their base but it really clouded the issue because the truth is Hunter Biden is not the villain these political actors make him out to be.

“But he’s also not the upstanding citizen that the White House wants you to believe. This is a man whose entire life has been is based off of making money on his father’s political career and that is not something we should embrace in this country and celebrate and tolerate. So two things can be true at the same time.

US allies around the world have been looking at the US for evidence that the country has stabilized in the aftermath of Trump’s presidency, Shaub said. “Yeah, we have a new administration that isn’t rampantly thumbing its nose at the rule of law, but it is going right up to the line and saying, if it’s legal, we’re going to do it and we’re not going to focus on reforms, we’re not going to focus on setting a squeaky clean tone, we’re going to go back to the way things were before Trump.


di  per "theguardian.com"