News Zealand over the horizon

A hoon with Peter Bale about this week's news around the world, including a look at what's coming out of the G7, the latest leak of US billionaires' tax records and more on the Covid lab leak theory


TLDR and TLDL: This week Peter Bale and I go for a hoon (the podcast above) around what’s happening at the G7, talk about the latest leak of US billionaires' tax records and look at more coming out on the Covid lab leak theory.

Peter (right below) writes the Bulletin World Weekly for The Spinoff here.

Last week we talked about the lab theory on Covid and we thought it was interesting this week that an American scientist who suggested a section of the virus gene looked to him like a “smoking gun” has said he spoke too soon and too firmly about the lab theory.

As we discussed last week, Biden has asked his security services to re-investigate the Wuhan lab theory. He’s also likely to throw the idea into the G7 communique after the Cornwall summit this weekend hosted by Boris Johnson.

Biden vs Putin

Biden faces Putin next week having, rightly to my mind, called him a “killer”. Putin is a master manipulator and a former spy and, as a Russian I know describes it, “the most cynical man in the world”. The US maybe “back” as Biden puts it, but he has to show more than hot air and deal with Navalny, the Belarus situation, Russian cybercrime gangs, the war in eastern Ukraine and more.

Ahead of that I was interested to read a Washington Post story about Hillary Clinton’s approach to Putin when she was Secretary of State. It quoted her 2014 memoir as telling President Obama:

“Don’t appear too eager to work together…Don’t flatter Putin with high-level attention. Decline his invitation for a presidential summit.”

Remember she took a button she thought was marked “reset” but which Russia translated as “overcharged” in her meeting with then and now foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.

However, we may be better off than the bizarre Helsinki summit between Putin and Trump. On Thursday, Trump issued a statement we may need to read an excerpt from.

“Good luck to Biden in dealing with President Putin—don’t fall asleep during the meeting, and please give him my warmest regards!”

“[a]s President, I had a great and very productive meeting in Helsinki, Finland, with President Putin of Russia. Despite the belated Fake News portrayal of the meeting, the United States won much, including the respect of President Putin and Russia.”

“As to who do I trust, they asked, Russia or our ‘Intelligence’ from the Obama era, meaning people like Comey, McCabe, the two lovers, Brennan, Clapper, and numerous other sleezebags, or Russia, the answer, after all that has been found out and written, should be obvious. Our government has rarely had such lowlifes as these working for it.”

(NOT satire, in case that still needs clarifying)

Rupert takes on big tech

In the media world, there’s a good story out today from the US site Axios saying that Rupert Murdoch’s Fox and News Corp have invested heavily in lobbying US politicians against Google and Facebook — seeking controls on their market power.

Arguably this is classic self-serving rent-seeking behaviour by an entrenched global media competitor whose advertising has been eroded by the big platforms.