President Joe Biden on Thursday defended the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, saying it was “not inevitable” that the country would fall to the emboldened Taliban, and confirmed the US exit would be completed by August 31. But he also admitted that, nearly 20 years after American forces toppled the Taliban regime in the […]
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Australia’s capital Canberra to enter seven-day lockdown
Australia’s capital Canberra was ordered into a seven-day lockdown on Thursday (Aug 12), after a single COVID-19 case was detected in the city that has largely avoided virus restrictions.
About 400,000 people in the nation’s political hub will be under stay-at-home orders from 5pm local time, joining millions more already under lockdown in Australia’s southeast.
“This is the most serious public health risk that we are faced in the territory this year. Really, since the beginning of the pandemic,” Australian Capital Territory chief minister Andrew Barr said.
He added that the COVID-positive person had been in the community while infectious.
Canberra has not been in lockdown since a nationwide shutdown in the early stages of the pandemic in 2020.
After months of pursuing a “COVID zero” strategy, Australia is struggling to contain multiple outbreaks of the highly transmissible Delta variant.
More than 10 million people in the country’s biggest cities, Melbourne and Sydney, are currently in lockdown as authorities try to bring case numbers down.
Much of western New South Wales state was also placed under lockdown late Wednesday, amid concerns for a sizeable Indigenous population feared more vulnerable to coronavirus.
“I ask all our Aboriginal community as well to please stay at home, come forward for a test if you have symptoms and of course please get vaccinated with any available vaccine as soon as you can,” New South Wales Health’s Marianne Gale said.
In Sydney, the epicentre of the outbreak, almost 6,500 cases and 36 deaths have been recorded since a cluster emerged in mid-June.
The city is expected to spend at least nine weeks under stay-at-home orders, with several hotspot suburbs placed under harsher restrictions on Thursday.
Australia won global praise for its successful coronavirus response in the early stages of the pandemic, and most of the country was enjoying few restrictions by late 2020.
But a glacial vaccination rollout has been no match for the Delta variant, leaving cities and towns reliant on repeated lockdowns as they attempt to stamp out the coronavirus.
The nation has recorded more than 37,500 cases of COVID-19 and 946 related deaths to date in a population of 25 million. AFP
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Russia to reveal ‘mystery plane’ at MAKS 2021
After months of speculation, that something top secret and special was happening at Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation, the countdown has begun.
UAC, part of the Russian state corporation Rostec, has teased the reveal of a new fighter jet on July 20, 2021, on the first day of the MAKS 2021 International Aviation and Space Salon in Zhukovsky, Aerotime Hub reported.
The upcoming aircraft, dubbed “Checkmate,” could be a light fighter jet “with a supersonic speed capability and low radar signature,” a source told Russian news agency TASS.
And according to a newly released trailer (attached below), this aircraft could be mainly oriented towards export.
“Russia is one of the few countries in the world with full-cycle capacities for producing advanced aircraft systems, as well as a recognized trendsetter in the creation of combat aircraft,” a Rostec spokesman commented.
“The new product developed by UAC specialists should arouse genuine interest not only in our country but also in other regions of the world, including our competitors abroad.”
In teasing its release, a press statement by Rostec gave props to Russia as one of the few countries in the world which had “full-cycle technologies for the production of advanced aircraft systems.,” Newsweek reported.
It says the upcoming unveiling will be of a “fundamentally new military aircraft.”
It also praised Russia’s status as a world leader in “making combat aircraft,” suggesting that the new plane could be a fighter jet.
“We are convinced that the new product developed by UAC specialists will arouse genuine interest not only in our country but in other regions of the world, including our competitors abroad,” the statement added.
Chess is a motif of the aircraft’s promotion which is surrounded by mystery.
At midnight Monday, the UAC website launched a countdown clock next to an image of a black knight chess piece. It invited web users to “turn the chessboard” and view a 34-second trailer.
Adding to the intrigue is a tweet in Russian on the UAC Twitter account that says: “everything is easier than it seems. #checkmate. Something is planned.”
Meanwhile, Defenseworld.net noted that Rostec had previously said it was developing a single-engine fighter jet.
It reported that speculation also included other possibilities such as a down-sized Su-57, or a 4.5 generation jet to challenge the F-16 Viper and the Chinese-Pakistani JF-17 Block III.
The War Zone also reported that the shadow of an aircraft over water in Rostec’s promotional video was similar to the Mikoyan MiG-35 multirole fighter jet.
There is strong speculation that Russia intends to do a hard sell with India.
For more than a decade, Russia has been attempting to sell the MiG-35 (NATO code name Fulcrum), an upgraded version of the MiG-29 fighter, to the Indian Air Force.
The Indian Air Force was apparently not impressed with the Fulcrum, but Russia has continued to describe India as a prospective buyer.
According to The Week Magazine, in May of this year, Russian news agencies reported the Sukhoi design bureau was developing a single-engine fighter.
At the time, TASS had reported, “The Sukhoi company is developing a single-engine light tactical plane with the take-off weight of up to 18 tonnes. The plane’s maximum speed will be above 2 Mach (twice the speed of sound).
“It will also have super-manoeuvrability and improved take-off and landing performance, thanks to a thrust vector control engine …”
If confirmed as a single-engine fighter, the new fighter could be considered the Russian counter to the US F-35 project, which has been developed with industrial partnerships with multiple nations such as the UK, Australia, Italy and Israel.
That would also make the “Checkmate” name apt. Especially if the price point is much lower than the F-35 or other US and European fighter jets, currently being offered.
The 2021 edition of the MAKS International Aviation and Space Salon is to take place at Zhukovsky airport near Moscow from July 20 to 25, 2021.
Sources: Aerotime Hub, Newsweek, Defenseworld.net, The War Zone, The Week Magazine
Tech giants give vaccines to Taiwan, sidestep China
Taiwanese tech giants Foxconn and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company announced Monday they will each donate five million coronavirus vaccine doses to the government in a deal with a China-based distributor. Taipei has been struggling to secure enough vaccines for its population and its precarious political status has been a major stumbling block. As Taipei and […]
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