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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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United States of America / U.S. Navy seeks to divest Mk VI patrol boats
« Last post by girder on June 12, 2021, 06:11:53 PM »
The Navy Wants To Get Rid Of Its Nearly Brand New Patrol Boats
By Joseph Trevithick and Tyler Rogoway February 15, 2021

The U.S. Navy is looking to divest its nearly-new Mk VI patrol boats, the oldest of which are just six years old, and has already begun laying the groundwork to do so. Barring an order to change course from President Joe Biden's administration or intervention by Congress, the service plans to remove all 12 of these boats, examples of which are based in Guam, as well as in the continental United States, and forward-deployed in the Persian Gulf, from service before the end of the year.

An unclassified General Administration (GENADMIN) message that The War Zone reviewed said that the Navy is presently looking to get rid of the Mk VIs by the end of the 2021 Fiscal Year, or September 30 of this year. The GENADMIN came from the office of Vice Admiral James Kilby, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfighting Requirements and Capabilities, also known as N9, and is dated February 5, 2021. A source familiar with the state of the program says that Naval Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC), to which all of these patrol boats are presently assigned, could begin retiring them as early as next month.

The GENADMIN says that the plans for the Mk VIs are "in accordance with approved budgetary decisions." The message also says "this plan will be adjusted if necessary based on subsequent execution year decisions made by leadership or as required by Congressional action."

When contacted, the Navy would not confirm or deny any plans to divest the Mk IVs or any timeline for doing so. The service did confirm, indirectly, that a proposed decision regarding the future of these boats was part of the upcoming President's Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2022, or PB22. A public version of the annual budget request from the Executive Branch to Congress is typically released in February.


There have already been indications that the Navy might be leaning toward getting rid of the Mk VIs. During a talk as part of the Surface Navy Association's 2021 Virtual Symposium in January, U.S. Marine Corps Major General Tracy King, the head of the Expeditionary Warfare division within the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, had said that Vice Admiral Kilby was in the process of making a new determination about what the service's actual requirements were for these patrol boats ahead of the 2022 Fiscal Year budget request.

"In wargaming scenarios against peer nations [such as Russia or China], the Mk VIs were deemed not really needed (given their small size and limited missile firepower)," King added, according to Naval News. The boats are "very expensive to maintain," the Marine Major General continued.

AFP Modernization & Defense Acquisitions / Re: Philippine Navy submarine studies
« Last post by girder on June 12, 2021, 04:04:01 PM »
Philippines reveals more details about submarine acquisition plans
11 June 2021
by Gabriel Dominguez

he Philippines has revealed more details about its plans to acquire its first-ever diesel-electric attack submarines.

Speaking to the state-owned Philippines News Agency (PNA) on 7 June, then-Philippine Navy (PN) chief Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo, who retired the following day upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56, said Manila has earmarked PHP70 billion (USD1.47 billion) for the acquisition of two submarines along with an integrated logistics support package (ILS). Also included is infrastructure work on naval facilities to accommodate the boats.
Politics and Government / 1Sambayan names 6 nominees for president, VP in 2022
« Last post by adroth on June 12, 2021, 03:46:36 PM »
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
« Last post by adroth 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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Space / Re: Voyager 2 shut off its instruments to save power, NASA says
« Last post by adroth on June 12, 2021, 04:35:14 AM »
Hello again, Voyager 2! NASA beams 1st call to probe in interstellar space since March
By Mike Wall November 04, 2020

NASA just hailed its Voyager 2 probe in interstellar space for the first time in more than seven months.

Voyager 2's handlers beamed a set of test commands to the spacecraft on Thursday (Oct. 29) using the Deep Space Station 43 (DSS43) radio antenna in Canberra, Australia. Voyager 2 confirmed that it registered the instructions and executed them without incident, NASA officials said in an update on Monday (Nov. 2).

The commands were the first NASA had relayed to Voyager 2 since mid-March, when the 230-foot-wide (70 meters) DSS43 went offline for repairs and upgrades. This ongoing maintenance work is extensive, involving, among other things, the addition of two new radio transmitters, including one that is used to communicate with Voyager 2.

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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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Space / Re: SpaceX Starship
« Last post by adroth on June 12, 2021, 01:58:51 AM »

With suborbital Starship tests seemingly complete with SN15's successful landing, all eyes are on the first orbital test flight of a full Starship-Super Heavy stack. This test, scheduled to take place only in a few month's time, will feature the world's tallest and most powerful rocket ever built taking flight for the first time. This animation shows the proposed flight plan of that first orbital test flight.

NOTE: Some aspects of this animation are inaccurate or out of date. During the production many new pieces of information were revealed that weren't known at the time certain scenes were animated.

Credits (Please go follow these people if you don't already):
Neopork (Starship and SH Models):
Alex Svan (Raptor Model):
Sam Krug (Earth Atmosphere Shader):
Spaceport3D (3D Scan of Boca Chica Launch Site):
Nick Henning (Misc. Boca Chica Buildings):


Space / Re: SpaceX Starship
« Last post by adroth on June 12, 2021, 01:57:06 AM »
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