“Dozens of people in Vladimir Putin’s entourage have tested positive for the coronavirus, the Russian leader said Thursday, as his country struggles with high infection rates and a vaccine-skeptic population,” the Moscow Times reports.
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“President Biden is set to announce Wednesday the United States will share highly sensitive nuclear submarine technology with Australia, a major departure from past policy and a direct challenge to China in its Pacific neighborhood,” the Washington Post reports.
New York Times: “If the plan, announced on Wednesday by President Biden, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain and Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia, comes to fruition, Australia may be conducting routine patrols that could sail through areas of the South China Sea that Beijing now claims as its own exclusive zone, and range as far north as Taiwan. The announcement is a major step for Australia, which until recent years has been hesitant to push back directly at core Chinese interests.”
Ben Parker: “In an important sense, Putin has and can have no successor. Like almost every Russian leader before him dating back to the Bolshevik Revolution, he has redefined the job of Russian leader according to his own personality, preferences, and situation.”
“British Prime Minister Boris Johnson demoted his top diplomat and fired his education minister in a major government shakeup Wednesday, as he tried to move on from a series of political missteps and revive his promise to ‘level up’ prosperity across the U.K.,” the AP reports.
“In the biggest move, Johnson demoted Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who has faced criticism for delaying his return from a holiday in Greece as the Taliban took over Afghanistan last month.”
“Raab was appointed justice secretary with the added title of deputy prime minister. Despite the grand title, that is a demotion — the deputy has no formal constitutional role.”
The BBC has more on the changes.
North and South Korea have tested ballistic missiles hours apart from each other, highlighting an arms race on the peninsula as nuclear talks with the North remain stalled, the BBC reports.
“It’s the news network that claims it tells viewers what the ‘woke’ mainstream media won’t. It says it fights for endangered freedom of expression, even as it has been fined by the government’s broadcast regulator for inciting racial hatred,” the New York Times reports.
“It is CNews — which in four short years became France’s No. 1 news network for the first time in May by giving a bullhorn to far-right politicians, opponents of fighting climate change and a high-profile proponent of the discredited idea of using the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a cure for Covid-19.”
“A major row broke out between leaders of the Taliban just days after they set up a new government in Afghanistan,” senior Taliban officials told the BBC.
“Supporters of two rival factions reportedly brawled at the presidential palace in the capital Kabul.”
“The argument appeared to centre on who did the most to secure victory over the US, and how power was divided up in the new cabinet.”
The Economist says the “violent disagreement” led to the disappearance of Abdul Ghani Baradar, the acting deputy prime minister.
Sen Tim Kaine (D-VA) said at a Senate hearing that the U.S. had unrealistic goals going into the Afghanistan war.
Said Kaine: “We had good intentions about what we might have wanted in Afghanistan.”
He added: “But let’s face it: we can’t get 30% of Americans to get a vaccine. We can’t get 30% of Americans to acknowledge the results of a presidential election. Do we really think that we can determine what the culture of another country should be?”
“Haiti’s chief prosecutor on Tuesday ordered the acting prime minister not to leave the country until he answers questions about the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse,” the New York Times reports.
“Al Qaeda could rebuild inside Afghanistan in one to two years, top intelligence officials said Tuesday, noting that some members of the terrorist group had already returned to the country,” the New York Times reports.
“The new timeline is not a drastic shift, but reflects the reality that the Taliban have a limited ability to control the borders of Afghanistan.”
Bloomberg: “China locked down a city of 4.5 million people in the southeastern province of Fujian after detecting a dozen coronavirus cases, an attempt to once again halt a delta outbreak and maintain its strict zero-tolerance approach to Covid-19.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin will isolate himself for an undisclosed amount of time after people in his inner circle tested positive for the coronavirus, Axios reports.
“We inherited a deadline, but not a plan.”
— Secretary of State Antony Blinken, quoted by Axios, defending the Biden administration’s Afghanistan pull out.
“The plight of the Afghan people came into stark relief on Monday when top United Nations officials warned that millions of people could run out of food before the arrival of winter and one million children could die if their immediate needs are not met,” the New York Times reports.
The final act of the U.S. war in Afghanistan was a drone strike in Kabul that killed 10 people, but the New York Times discovered that a man the military saw as an “imminent threat” and “ISIS facilitator” was actually an aid worker returning to his family.
“The Pentagon has withdrawn advanced anti-missile systems from Saudi Arabia, raising concern in the kingdom about American military commitment in the Middle East,” the Times of London reports.
“The removal coincides with a US decision to relocate weapons to Asia to counter a perceived threat from Beijing.”
“A long-suppressed FBI report on Saudi Arabia’s connections to the 9/11 plot has revealed that Saudi religious officials stationed in the United States had more significant connections to two of the hijackers than has been previously known,” ProPublica reports.
“North Korea says it successfully test fired newly developed long-range cruise missiles over the weekend, its first known testing activity in months, underscoring how it continues to expand its military capabilities amid a stalemate in nuclear negotiations with the United States,” the AP reports.