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With new Atlantic Charter, Biden and Johnson reset the special relationship

Eighty years after Churchill and Roosevelt established the Atlantic Charter, Biden and Johnson have pressed the ‘reset’ button.

Boris Johnson and Joe Biden signed a New Atlantic Charter, an echo of the Roosevelt-Churchill meeting 80 years earlier. Hollie Adams/EPA-EFE

Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill first met in the summer of 1941 on HMS Prince of Wales to create the Atlantic Charter, establishing the terms of their countries’ relationship in war, and, as it was to prove, in peace.

Eighty years later, Joe Biden and Boris Johnson meet in front of a new HMS Prince of Wales to renew the constitution of the “special relationship”, with the New Atlantic Charter. These are about as piquant a series of historical coincidences as an administration (or historian) could wish for.

Both charters commit the US and the UK to what they deem the pressing issues of the day. The original’s call for the lowering of trade barriers, self-determination, and economic cooperation remains not only pertinent, but crucial, both for a post-Brexit, “global” Britain, and for an America which wants once again to lead through alliances.

In an age when the world is actually becoming less democratic, the new accord makes paramount the defence of democracy, followed by strengthening international institutions, recognising sovereignty and territorial integrity, supporting collective security, and a rules-based global economy. It ends with tackling the climate crisis – a notion unknown in 1941 – and, topically, the catastrophic impact of health crises.

Where once there was war, now there is pandemic. Both Biden and Johnson have announced plans to collectively vaccinate 600 million people through another legacy of 1941, the World Health Organization. The leaders of the two countries which led the fightback in the second world war may think of themselves as leading the world again, but against a different kind of tyranny.

Historic echoes

Five months after Roosevelt and Churchill met, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour and delivered what the prime minister wanted most: America in the war. Two days later, the Japanese sank the HMS Prince of Wales and another experience was shared.

On the eve of his departure, Biden noted his intention to “affirm the special relationship between our nations”. This set up Johnson’s revelation that he didn’t like the term, saying he thought it was “needy and weak”. To freshen it up, he renamed it the “indestructable relationship”. This isn’t the first attempt to revamp it.

For example, it’s not uncommon for the US and UK to publicly mark anniversaries of the furniture of the special relationship: the NSA and GCHQ marked 75 years of their intelligence partnership while the US has celebrated how Churchill coined the term.. Churchill happens to be the Brit most revered by Americans – to the extent of having a warship named after him.

And this week, the 21st century may be seen to look back to the 20th. There’s even a biographical relationship: President Biden is as old as the Atlantic Charter. And he became a senator in 1973, the year that Britain pivoted from the new world back to the old. After the G7, Biden and Johnson will go on to NATO – yet another legacy of 1941 (as are the summits themselves).

A changing relationship

The precedents for the two men alone are auspicious. Biden-Johnson succeeds Trump-May and Trump-Johnson, respectively the worst, and the most dysfunctional presidential and prime ministerial relationships in history.

Neither having much in the way of fixed beliefs, for Trump and Johnson the personal had primacy. The preoccupation with their personalities and idiosyncrasies overwhelmed other aspects of US-UK relations.

Nevertheless, Biden – the most career of career politicians – and Johnson – whose non-conformity is central to his appeal – find their relationship more than usually freighted with baggage.

Overtly Irish-American, Biden publicly voiced his concerns about the implications of Brexit trade issues on peace in Northern Ireland.

Johnson’s reckless remark about Obama the Kenyan “has never gone away”. According to a member of Biden’s campaign team: “Biden’s got a long memory and Boris is not in his good books. Biden and Obama are like family.”

Equally unwisely, Biden described the new prime minister as a “kind of a physical and emotional clone” of Trump. Such antipathy stemmed from both the pro-Trump present and the anti-Obama past of the prime minister.

But ascending to office can do wonders to opinions. Biden appropriated Johnson’s slogan about the impending post-pandemic reconstruction: “Build Back Better”, while Johnson immediately welcomed the “incoming Biden-Harris administration” and spoke of “the previous president” without Trump’s name passing his lips.

With Biden’s election, in London and Washington the commentators’ word of choice for US-UK relations was “reset”. With Biden’s record of pragmatism and cooperation and the fortuitous coincidence of UK leadership of the UN Security Council – the core of the 1941 settlement –- as well as the G7 and COP26, an opportunity presented itself.

Scepticism will persist about the nature and extent – even the existence – of the special relationship. But the first world leader the new American president spoke to (other than those of the two countries bordering his own) was British, the first he met in person was British and the first country he visited as president was Britain.

And when they met, the president and the prime minister chose to retell the origin story of the special relationship.

Martin Farr does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Government

Pentagon Boss ‘Clarifies’ Russia & China Pose Biggest Threats After Biden Says It’s Climate Change

Pentagon Boss ‘Clarifies’ Russia & China Pose Biggest Threats After Biden Says It’s Climate Change

On Wednesday, President Biden told US troops stationed in the UK that the Joint Chiefs told him "the greatest threat facing America" is…

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Pentagon Boss 'Clarifies' Russia & China Pose Biggest Threats After Biden Says It's Climate Change

On Wednesday, President Biden told US troops stationed in the UK that the Joint Chiefs told him "the greatest threat facing America" is "global warming" - a curious pivot from "white supremacy."

On day later, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs 'corrected' Biden, asserting instead that the biggest threats facing the US are China and Russia, according to US News, (and who allegedly had a big role in scamming half of pandemic unemployment funds to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars).

"Climate change does impact, but the president is looking at a much broader angle than I am," Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a congressional panel Thursday morning in response to a question by Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) "I'm looking at it from a strictly military standpoint. And from a strictly military standpoint, I'm putting China, Russia up there."

Milley then backpedaled a bit, saying "Climate change is a threat. Climate change has a significant impact on military operations, and we have to take that into consideration."

"Climate change is going to impact natural resources, for example," he told the Senate Armed Services Committee,adding, "It's going to impact increased instability in various parts of the world, it's going to impact migrations and so on."

When asked how his assessment that Russia and China pose the biggest threats, Milley said "This is not, however, in conflict with the acknowledgement that climate change or infrastructure or education systems– national security has a broad angle to it. I'm looking at it from a strictly military standpoint."

On Wednesday, Biden spoke to US forces at Royal Air Force Base Mildenhall, where he recounted an alleged discussion which took place while he was Vice President with the Joint Chiefs in their cloistered "tank" meeting room at the Pentagon.

"This is not a joke. You know what the Joint Chiefs told us the greatest threat facing America was? Global warming," he claimed.

In response to Biden's Wednesday comments, former President Trump issued a statement.

"Biden just said that he was told by the Joint Chiefs of Staff that Climate Change is our greatest threat. If that is the case, and they actually said this, he ought to immediately fire the Joint Chiefs of Staff for being incompetent," said Trump.

Tyler Durden Fri, 06/11/2021 - 19:20

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Spread & Containment

Perfect Storm: Congestion Plagues South China And US West Coast Ports 

Perfect Storm: Congestion Plagues South China And US West Coast Ports 

Peak shipping season is ahead — and the parking lot of container ships moored off the US West Coast continues to worsen, with the epicenter of congestion based around…

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Perfect Storm: Congestion Plagues South China And US West Coast Ports 

Peak shipping season is ahead — and the parking lot of container ships moored off the US West Coast continues to worsen, with the epicenter of congestion based around Los Angeles/Long Beach ports. On the other side of the Pacific, in southern China, a surge in COVID-19 has caused some of the biggest port congestion in more than one year. 

So now port congestion is seen on both sides of the Pacific as it's hardly a secret that the recent collapse of trans-pacific supply chains will remain strained through the summer and one reason why prices for goods are soaring (as recently discussed in "It's About To Get Much Worse": Supply Chains Implode As "Price Doesn't Even Matter Anymore" and "Port Of LA Volumes Are "Off The Charts."") 

But now, focusing at South China ports, exploding cases of coronavirus infections in Guangdong province, a top manufacturing and exporting hub, recently triggered local governments to increase prevention and control efforts that "curbed port processing capacity," said Reuters

Major shipping companies have warned clients of vessel delays, changes to port call schedules, and the possibility of avoiding some ports altogether.

Ocean Network Express (ONE), a container shipping company, warned customers in an advisory Wednesday: "The container logistics situation continues to deteriorate around all the ports in the area [South China port]." 

Most of the congestion has been building at the Yantian International Container Terminal (YICT), a deepwater port in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China handing some of the largest container ships in the world, has reduced capacity at the port due to a recent outbreak of the virus, according to Seatrade Maritime News, citing ONE. 

The world's leading container line Maersk told customers to expect delays up to two weeks because of the reduced capacity of staffing at the port. 

Refinitiv data shows 50 container vessels are moored in the Outer Pearl River Delta, waiting to dock at YICT. For comparison, this compares with 20 vessels for the same time last year. 

Reuters quoted one exporter who said loading delays and slow deliveries continue to tangle global supply chains. 

"Basically we had a similar experience last year so we have experience in responding, only the increase in transport costs are getting really astonishing. The freight fees are reflected in the increase in material costs which are up by around 15%-30% already," said a sales manager at an electronics cable manufacturer in Shenzhen, a large manufacturing city in Guangdong. 

The congestion and delays in South China came when container shipping supply chains were already at full stretch due to US West Coast port congestion. As a result, container freight rates have hit a record high and are expected to continue to rise further. 

"The recent rise in Covid-19 cases in China has resulted in a shutdown that may add to the already record cost of shipping goods out of China. The delays have already resulted in pressurizing soaring shipping prices within China due to a lack of containers and increased export demand," said Josh Brazil, the Vice President of Marketing at project44. 

Port congestion on either side of the Pacific continues to deteriorate. It suggests that the normalization of trans-pacific supply chains will not happen anytime soon and will continue to add cost pressures for exporters in China and importers in the US - adding to the cost of products and ultimately pushed along to US consumers. Delays will also continue to create additional shortages...  

Tyler Durden Fri, 06/11/2021 - 21:20

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Government

How Fanatics Took Over The World

How Fanatics Took Over The World

Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via DailyReckoning.com,

Early in the pandemic, I had been furiously writing articles about lockdowns. My phone rang with a call from a man named Dr. Rajeev Venkayya. He is the head.

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How Fanatics Took Over The World

Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via DailyReckoning.com,

Early in the pandemic, I had been furiously writing articles about lockdowns. My phone rang with a call from a man named Dr. Rajeev Venkayya. He is the head of a vaccine company but introduced himself as former head of pandemic policy for the Gates Foundation.

Now I was listening.

I did not know it then, but I’ve since learned from Michael Lewis’s (mostly terrible) book The Premonition that Venkayya was, in fact, the founding father of lockdowns. While working for George W. Bush’s White House in 2005, he headed a bioterrorism study group. From his perch of influence – serving an apocalyptic president — he was the driving force for a dramatic change in U.S. policy during pandemics.

He literally unleashed hell.

That was 15 years ago. At the time, I wrote about the changes I was witnessing, worrying that new White House guidelines (never voted on by Congress) allowed the government to put Americans in quarantine while closing their schools, businesses, and churches shuttered, all in the name of disease containment.

I never believed it would happen in real life; surely there would be public revolt. Little did I know, we were in for a wild ride…

The Man Who Lit the Match

Last year, Venkayya and I had a 30-minute conversation; actually, it was mostly an argument. He was convinced that lockdown was the only way to deal with a virus. I countered that it was wrecking rights, destroying businesses, and disturbing public health. He said it was our only choice because we had to wait for a vaccine. I spoke about natural immunity, which he called brutal. So on it went.

The more interesting question I had at the time was why this certified Big Shot was wasting his time trying to convince a poor scribbler like me. What possible reason could there be?

The answer, I now realized, is that from February to April 2020, I was one of the few people (along with a team of researchers) who openly and aggressively opposed what was happening.

There was a hint of insecurity and even fear in Venkayya’s voice. He saw the awesome thing he had unleashed all over the world and was anxious to tamp down any hint of opposition. He was trying to silence me. He and others were determined to crush all dissent.

This is how it has been for the better part of the last 15 months, with social media and YouTube deleting videos that dissent from lockdowns. It’s been censorship from the beginning.

For all the problems with Lewis’s book, and there are plenty, he gets this whole backstory right. Bush came to his bioterrorism people and demanded some huge plan to deal with some imagined calamity. When Bush saw the conventional plan — make a threat assessment, distribute therapeutics, work toward a vaccine — he was furious.

“This is bulls**t,” the president yelled.

“We need a whole-of-society plan. What are you going to do about foreign borders? And travel? And commerce?”

Hey, if the president wants a plan, he’ll get a plan.

“We want to use all instruments of national power to confront this threat,” Venkayya reports having told colleagues.

“We were going to invent pandemic planning.”

This was October 2005, the birth of the lockdown idea.

Dr. Venkayya began to fish around for people who could come up with the domestic equivalent of Operation Desert Storm to deal with a new virus. He found no serious epidemiologists to help. They were too smart to buy into it. He eventually bumped into the real lockdown innovator working at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico.

Cranks, Computers, and Cooties

His name was Robert Glass, a computer scientist with no medical training, much less knowledge, about viruses. Glass, in turn, was inspired by a science fair project that his 14-year-old daughter was working on.

She theorized (like the cooties game from grade school) that if school kids could space themselves out more or even not be at school at all, they would stop making each other sick. Glass ran with the idea and banged out a model of disease control based on stay-at-home orders, travel restrictions, business closures, and forced human separation.

Crazy right? No one in public health agreed with him but like any classic crank, this convinced Glass even more. I asked myself, “Why didn’t these epidemiologists figure it out?” They didn’t figure it out because they didn’t have tools that were focused on the problem. They had tools to understand the movement of infectious diseases without the purpose of trying to stop them.

Genius, right? Glass imagined himself to be smarter than 100 years of experience in public health. One guy with a fancy computer would solve everything! Well, he managed to convince some people, including another person hanging around the White House named Carter Mecher, who became Glass’s apostle.

Please consider the following quotation from Dr. Mecher in Lewis’s book: “If you got everyone and locked each of them in their own room and didn’t let them talk to anyone, you would not have any disease.”

At last, an intellectual has a plan to abolish disease — and human life as we know it too! As preposterous and terrifying as this is — a whole society not only in jail but solitary confinement — it sums up the whole of Mecher’s view of disease. It’s also completely wrong.

Pathogens are part of our world; they are generated by human contact. We pass them onto each other as the price for civilization, but we also evolved immune systems to deal with them. That’s 9th-grade biology, but Mecher didn’t have a clue.

Fanatics Win the Day

Jump forward to March 12, 2020. Who exercised the major influence over the decision to close schools, even though it was known at that time that SARS-CoV-2 posed almost risk to people under the age of 20? There was even evidence that they did not spread COVID-19 to adults in any serious way.

Didn’t matter. Mecher’s models — developed with Glass and others — kept spitting out a conclusion that shutting down schools would drop virus transmission by 80%. I’ve read his memos from this period — some of them still not public — and what you observe is not science but ideological fanaticism in play.

Based on the timestamp and length of the emails, he was clearly not sleeping much. Essentially he was Lenin on the eve of the Bolshevik Revolution. How did he get his way?

There were three key elements: public fear, media and expert acquiescence, and the baked-in reality that school closures had been part of “pandemic planning” for the better part of 15 years. Essentially, the lockdowners, over the course of 15 years, had worn out the opposition. Lavish funding, attrition of wisdom within public health, and ideological fanaticism prevailed.

Figuring out how our expectations for normal life were so violently foiled, how our happy lives were brutally crushed, will consume serious intellectuals for many years. But at least we now have a first draft of history.

As with almost every revolution in history, a small minority of crazy people with a cause prevailed over the humane rationality of multitudes. When people catch on, the fires of vengeance will burn very hot.

The task now is to rebuild a civilized life that is no longer so fragile as to allow insane people to lay waste to all that humanity has worked so hard to build.

Tyler Durden Fri, 06/11/2021 - 21:40

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