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G7 backs Biden infrastructure plan to rival China’s belt and road initiative
Patrick Wintour, Diplomatic Editor
Sat 12 Jun 2021 10.04 EDT

The G7 group of rich nations has agreed plans to set up an alternative to China’s belt and road initiative as part of a broad push back against Beijing covering human rights, supply chains, support for Taiwan and demands to reveal more about the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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The EU is also pressing the US to back a legally binding code of conduct for the South China Sea that Beijing has been negotiating with regional powers.

Draghi, an Atlantacist, has shifted Italy away from the near pro-China policies of the previous Italian government led by the Five Star Movement, but argues that the G7 has a balancing act to pull off in challenging and cooperating with Beijing. Germany, often cautious about confronting China, has been reluctant to specify the monetary value of any infrastructure fund, and France has emphasised a reallocation of rich countries’ special drawing rights, foreign exchange reserve assets maintained by the IMF, towards poorest countries as a means of easing liquidity.

US officials said Biden was pushing the other G7 leaders for “concrete action on forced labour” in China and to include criticism of Beijing in their final communique. Japan also said it was backing a mention of Taiwan in the final statement.

The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, spoke to his Chinese opposite number, Yang Jiechi, from Cornwall on Friday to urge him to release more details about whether Covid-19 leaked from a Wuhan laboratory, a once-dismissed theory now gaining currency.

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Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson may try to beat Bezos to space: report
The billionaire space race is heating up.

Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson is reportedly weighing how he can beat Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to space next month.

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On Tuesday, a source told the blog Parabolic Arc that Virgin Galactic wants to send Branson, who has a net worth of about $6.9 billion, up on a test flight of its VSS Unity SpaceShipTwo rocket plane over the July 4 weekend

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Virgin Galactic’s purported plans come over a month after Blue Origin set July 20 as the date for its flight.

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1Sambayan names 6 nominees for president, VP in 2022
JUN 12, 2021 3:09 PM PHT


The nominees of 1Sambayan for president and vice president are:

Chel Diokno, lawyer (Liberal Party)

Grace Poe, senator (Independent)

Vilma Santos-Recto, Batangas 6th District representative and deputy speaker (Nacionalista Party)

Leni Robredo, vice president of the Philippines (LP)

Antonio Trillanes IV, former senator (Magdalo)

Eddie Villanueva, CIBAC representative and deputy speaker (Bangon Pilipinas)

Of the six, only Trillanes have so far announced his presidential bid, but he said he would give way should Robredo decide to run for the post.

The rest of the nominees are yet to officially announce their 2022 electoral bids, but have committed to be a part of 1Sambayan’s selection process to choose a single slate of national candidates who would defeat the administration bets in 2022.

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Senator Panfilo Lacson was also among the politicians 1Sambayan wanted to include in its presidential nominees, but he declined since several convenors are against the controversial anti-terror law that Lacson had co-authored in the Senate.

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Filipino Potential / Aeon Tower
« on: June 12, 2021, 12:13:33 PM »
Davao hotelier joins mega-property developers with iconic residential tower
MARCH 13, 2018

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Its Aeon Towers 1, set for completion at the end of the year, would be the tallest building complying with the city’s building height limit. The company said Aeon Towers would still be uncontested as to its earlier promise to be Mindanao’s first, and one of only a handful of the country’s fully lighted buildings.

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The foundation has been dug deep with an equivalent of four stories, with another 60 meters further down to bolster the foundation, “which caused the delay in the completion.”

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Aeon Towers has scraped the building-height limitation of the city, reaching 103.5 meters, making it the tallest in the city, and “making us prouder still to have been the benchmark of the city’s height limitation,” he added.

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2 passengers on Celebrity Millennium cruise test positive for Covid-19
Jamiel Lynch, CNN • Updated 11th June 2021

(CNN) — Two guests aboard the first major sea cruise hosting Americans since the pandemic halted the industry have tested positive for Covid-19 in required end-of-cruise testing, the cruise line said Thursday.

The two guests, who shared a stateroom on the seven-day Celebrity Millennium cruise from St. Maarten, are asymptomatic, in isolation and being monitored by a medical team, Celebrity Cruise Lines said in a news release.

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Fate of VFA hangs as Duterte awaits US explanation on Scarborough deal
By CNN Philippines Staff

Published Jun 9, 2021 11:44:49 AM

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 9) — President Rodrigo Duterte wants the United States to explain its actions on the deal it brokered between the Philippines and China before he decides on the fate of the Visiting Forces Agreement.

On Tuesday, he said the US needs to explain why it didn't pressure China into withdrawing its ships from Scarborough Shoal despite the Philippines' adherence to the 2012 agreement.

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On Feb. 11, 2020, on Duterte's order, the Department of Foreign Affairs notified the US that the Philippines would terminate the two-decade-old agreement. The termination process, however, was suspended in June last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and emerging threats in the South China Sea. The Philippine government in November 2020 extended the suspension for another six months or until August 2021.

Philippine and US officials recently concluded talks on the VFA.

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez said last week Duterte's decision "may come anytime now." He said he was optimistic the President will accept the "improved" version of the agreement, but dd not disclose details.

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Space / Starship Orbital - First Flight FCC Exhibit
« on: June 11, 2021, 05:13:33 AM »
Administrator's note: See also SpaceX Starship


Starship Orbital - First Flight FCC Exhibit

Space / Shenzhou-12
« on: June 11, 2021, 05:03:05 AM »

A Long March 2F Yao-12 rocket carrying the Shenzhou-12 crew spacecraft was moved to the launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in China on June 9, 2021. Shenzhou-12 will carry a crew of three astronauts to China's new Tiangong space station.

Davao del Sur Gov. Douglas Cagas dies of COVID-19
By ANTONIO L. COLINA IV -JUNE 10, 2021 12:10 PM

Gov. Douglas Cagas. Photo courtesy of Digos City Guide Facebook page
DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 10 June) – Davao del Sur Governor Douglas Cagas died at the Medical Center of Digos Cooperative (MCDC) in Digos City around 5 a.m. Thursday, a week after he was confined there for showing symptoms of COVID-19.

Ria Fe Cagas-Fernandez, a niece of the governor, announced on social media that the 77-year-old politician died of complications caused by the virus.

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The governor was brought to MCDC last June 3.

According to the press release posted on the provincial government’s website, Cagas received last May 16 his first dose of CoronaVac, the anti-COVID-19 vaccine developed by Chinese firm Sinovac, at his residence.

It added the governor qualified as recipient of the vaccine because he was part of the vulnerable sector, particularly A2 or senior citizens.

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With over 7,000 islands, the Philippines could demonstrate the benefits of satellite internet compared to current land-based infrastructure

Anthony Cuthbertson
Monday 22 March 2021

SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet will soon launch in the Philippines, where internet speeds are among the worst in the world.

The Southeast Asian country ranks 92nd for fixed broadband and 83rd for mobile internet speeds, according to the Speedtest Global Index, with download speeds averaging between 26 Mbps and 38Mbps.

Starlink internet speeds currently range between 50Mbps and 150Mbps but SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has promised speeds will double to 300Mbps “later this year” as the network grows.

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Senate approves bill to curtail China's economic and military ambitions
By Tony Romm

The Senate voted on Tuesday to adopt a roughly $250 billion bill to counter China’s growing economic and military prowess, hoping that major investments in science — and fresh punishments targeting Beijing — might give the United States a lasting edge.

In a chamber often racked by partisan division, Democrats and Republicans found rare accord over the sprawling measure, known as the United States Innovation and Competition Act, as lawmakers warned that Washington risked ceding the country’s technological leadership to one of its foremost geopolitical adversaries.

The proposal commits billions of dollars in federal funds across a wide array of research areas. It pours more than $50 billion in immediate funding into U.S. businesses that manufacture the sort of ultrasmall, in-demand computer chips that power consumer and military devices, which many companies currently source from China. And it paves the way for the next generation of space exploration at a time when Washington and Beijing are increasingly setting their eyes on the stars.

With it, lawmakers also approved a host of proposals that seek to limit China’s economic aspirations and curb its political influence. The bill opens the door for new sanctions targeting Beijing over its human rights practices, commissions a new study about the origin of the coronavirus and calls for a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics. It even authorizes $300 million specifically to counter the political influence of the Chinese Communist Party.

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Lawmakers adopted the bill, led by Schumer and Republican Sen. Todd C. Young (Ind.), on a bipartisan vote. The Biden administration earlier this month said it supported passage of the research-focused elements of the bill, describing them as “major investments in our long-term economic resilience and competitiveness.”

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Lawmakers authorized the lion’s share of the money under the new legislation, totaling $190 billion, for a major rethinking of federal science, technology and research spending. They created a new technology division within the National Science Foundation to focus on emerging areas including artificial intelligence. The Senate also gave a green light to $10 billion for the Commerce Department to invest in new “technology” hubs, so that other regions and cities across the country can attract the same sort of economic opportunities as Silicon Valley.

Many of the federal science investments reflect an implicit attempt to battle back China, relying on new federal spending to keep pace with a country that some analysts say is investing more than 2 percent of its gross domestic product annually in research and development. To justify the expense, lawmakers cited economic as well as national security concerns, stressing that the United States cannot afford to allow Beijing to dominate emerging fields — and serve in some cases as the foremost supplier of sensitive tech equipment.

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Lawmakers also included a host of provisions that take more explicit aim with China in a move that risks ratcheting up bilateral tensions in the years after Trump openly sparred with Beijing. The Senate bill officially designated China the “greatest geopolitical and geoeconomic challenge” to U.S. foreign policy, and it committed an additional $15 billion to countering that threat — including combating Chinese influence and disinformation online.

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Videos & Images / AW159 Wildcat @ PN service
« on: June 09, 2021, 03:50:00 AM »
Images prior to delivery

pasty_1955 Follow
ZZ549 - Wildcat Mk220 - Philippine Navy-LH
Outside the factory at Yeovil - 1st November 2018

The first AW159 Wildcat multi-mission maritime helicopter for the Philippines is now under test in the UK. The rotorcraft was sighted recently at the Leonardo Helicopters facility in Yeovil, Somerset. Photographed yesterday by contributor Kevin Wills, the first of two AW159s for the Philippine Navy wears the UK military test serial ZZ549 and a British roundel. Philippine national markings and the Philippine Naval Air Group insignia have been applied. The aircraft reportedly made its first flight on November 1.

After the Philippine Navy selected the Wildcat as its preferred option for two new anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters, on March 17, 2014 the Department of National Defence (DND) confirmed that 5.4bn pesos ($120.479m) had been approved for the acquisition. A formal contract was finally signed on March 29, 2016, and deliveries were scheduled to take place this year.

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From Scramble Magazine

Kevin Wills provided us a very fine picture of the first of two AW159 Wildcats for the Pilipinas Hukbong Himpapawid (PHH, Philippine Naval Aviation).

The Leonardo Helicopters Wildcat, with UK roundel and flight test serial ZZ549, is currently under test from its birth ground Yeovil, Somerset (UK). The helicopter is already furnished with Philippine markings on the tail section and the Hukbong Dagat ng Pilipinas (HDP, Philippine Navy) badge on the pilots door.

It expected that the anti-submarine helicopters will be delivered in March 2019, three years after the Philippine Government signed the some USD 114 million contract for the Wildcats on 29 March 2016. The two AW159s will be based at Danielo Atienza air base but are also planned to embark the two HDP frigates on order from Hyundai Heavy Industries. The PHH already operates six AgustaWestland AW109E Powers and three Bo105Cs with Naval Air Squadron MF-40. Sister Naval Air Squadron MF-30 operates the fixed wing aircraft of the PHH, five BN-2As and three TC-90s.

Photo credit: Kevin Wills

Scramble Magazine posts photos by Kevin Mills

Jeff Bezos announces he’ll be on first crewed spaceflight of Blue Origin rocket
The billionaire says he and his brother will be aboard the New Shepard when it takes flight July 20 — roughly two weeks after he steps down as CEO of Amazon

By Christian Davenport and Taylor Telford
June 7, 2021 at 9:29 a.m. PDT

A couple of weeks after Jeff Bezos officially steps down as CEO of Amazon, he’ll leap into something more mythic: riding to the edge of space aboard one of his own rockets, alongside his brother, in a flight that would fulfill a lifelong dream.

The plan is that Bezos, his brother, Mark, and the winner of an online auction for Blue Origin’s nonprofit foundation will be on the New Shepard on July 20 when it lifts off for a suborbital flight, the first time the spacecraft will carry passengers. The date is the anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969.

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General Discussion / Another batch of Blackhawks for the PAF
« on: June 08, 2021, 01:51:10 AM »

The second five of a batch of 16 brand new Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters have been delivered to the Philippines today (07 June 2021).

The helicopters were flown from Poland by an Antonov An-124 100M (UR-82027) heavy cargo/transport aircraft and unloaded at Clark Air Base in Pampanga (RPLC).

The Polish company Polskie Zaklady Lotnicze now has delivered a total of eleven (11) Sikorsky S-70i Blackhawk helicopters to the Philippines.

The PAF welcomed its first batch of brand new six Sikorsky S-70i Blackhawk helicopters at Clark Air Base, Pampanga (RPLC) on 10 December 2020.

The delivery of the remaining five (5) S70i Blackhawk medium lift helicopters to the Philippines are expected to be completed before the end of September 2021.

Photo from a former Firebird attack pilot
Posted by Pinoy Aviators


Space / Meteor crater in Arizona and the Barringer family
« on: June 06, 2021, 07:31:42 AM »
How Meteor Crater swallowed a fortune and strengthened a family
Scott Craven
The Republic |

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