NY Times Finds Trump Administration Inserted Wuhan Cables Into The Aluminum Tubes Echo Chamber

In my last two posts, I went into detail on what is known on the scientific front about the origin of SARS CoV-2, the virus responsible for the COVID-19 outbreak and then into what evidence Shi Zhengli of the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) has offered to refute the rumors of the virus escaping from her lab. This post will set aside discussion of the science (other than to eventually provide a few quotes that have been provided by scientists addressing these issues) and will instead focus on what has been increasing evidence that there has been a concerted effort akin to an information operation to create acceptance of the idea that the virus escaped from WIV. Today, the New York Times confirmed these suspicions and indicated clearly who is behind the operation. Here’s a partial screen capture of the story by a team that includes Mark Mazzetti and Adam Goldman:

Although I was becoming convinced of an information operation, I wasn’t sure who was orchestrating it. This Times article leaves no doubts:

Senior Trump administration officials have pushed American spy agencies to hunt for evidence to support an unsubstantiated theory that a government laboratory in Wuhan, China, was the origin of the coronavirus outbreak, according to current and former American officials. The effort comes as President Trump escalates a public campaign to blame China for the pandemic.

Some intelligence analysts are concerned that the pressure from administration officials will distort assessments about the virus and that they could be used as a political weapon in an intensifying battle with China over a disease that has infected more than three million people across the globe.

Most intelligence agencies remain skeptical that conclusive evidence of a link to a lab can be found, and scientists who have studied the genetics of the coronavirus say that the overwhelming probability is that it leapt from animal to human in a nonlaboratory setting, as was the case with H.I.V., Ebola and SARS.

The article even goes on to name some of those pushing the link to an escape from the lab, including Mike Pompeo and Anthony Ruggiero. Who is Ruggiero, you might ask? Oh, that answer is full of rich irony:

And Anthony Ruggiero, the head of the National Security Council’s bureau tracking weapons of mass destruction, expressed frustration during one videoconference in January that the C.I.A. was unable to get behind any theory of the outbreak’s origin. C.I.A. analysts responded that they simply did not have the evidence to support any one theory with high confidence at the time, according to people familiar with the conversation.

Here we have officials working for Trump who are actively pushing an unsubstantiated theory that could be used to spark an international conflict. And one of those officials just happens to work on the issue of weapons of mass destruction. Gosh, it’s not like that topic has ever led to problems based on manipulating information from the intelligence community, is it? In fact, the article eventually gets there on how this is looking like a replay of Iraq:

A former intelligence official described senior aides’ repeated emphasis of the lab theory as “conclusion shopping,” a disparaging term among analysts that has echoes of the Bush administration’s 2002 push for assessments saying that Iraq had weapons of mass of destruction and links to Al Qaeda, perhaps the most notorious example of the politicization of intelligence.

The C.I.A. has yet to unearth any data beyond circumstantial evidence to bolster the lab theory, according to current and former government officials, and the agency has told policymakers it lacks enough information to either affirm or refute it. Only getting access to the lab itself and the virus samples it contains could provide definitive proof, if it exists, the officials said.

And the parallels go even deeper:

The Defense Intelligence Agency recently changed its analytic position to formally leave open the possibility of a theory of lab origin, officials said. Senior agency officials have asked analysts to take a closer look at the labs.

The reason for the change is unclear, but some officials attributed it to the intelligence analyzed in recent weeks. Others took a more jaundiced view: that the agency is trying to curry favor with White House officials. A spokesman for the agency, James M. Kudla, disputed that characterization. “It’s not D.I.A.’s role to make policy decisions or value judgments — and we do not,” he said.

So now we even have the remains of Cheney’s “Team B” within DIA, itching to make Trump happy. For those who may have forgotten, we have none other than that neocon himself, Eli Lake, talking glowingly of the Team B folks and DIA pushing back on CIA even before the invasion of Iraq:

THE CURRENT SCHISM has roots going back to the early ‘70s. In 1974 a collection of neoconservative foreign policy intellectuals on the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board began attacking the CIA-authored NIEs for the Soviet Union, accusing the Agency of cooking its books to defend Henry Kissinger’s policy of détente by underestimating Soviet military expenditures.

So the group—which included Harvard historian Richard Pipes; former arms control negotiator and ambassador-at-large under President Ronald Reagan, Paul H. Nitze; the retired director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Daniel Graham; and a then-little-known staff member of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Paul Wolfowitz—asked the CIA for access to the Agency’s files to create their own assessment of Soviet intentions and capabilities. In 1976 they received that access from then-CIA Director George H.W. Bush. That fall the group—which came to be known as Team B—produced an intelligence assessment for the president, contending that the Soviet Union’s military expenditures would not be curtailed by concerns over their potential impact on the ussr’s economic health. That conclusion became the cornerstone of Reagan’s policy for outspending the Soviet military in order to hasten the collapse of the Soviet economy.

Fast-forward to the current day. Wolfowitz, now deputy secretary of defense, still doesn’t trust the CIA—but this time the bone of contention is Iraq. As during his tenure on Team B, Wolfowitz finds himself amid a loose network of neocons inside and outside government—this time including his boss, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John R. Bolton; Chairman of the Defense Policy Board Richard Perle; and Vice President Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff and national security adviser I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby—arguing for an aggressive foreign policy posture. So, in a repetition of history, the neocons have devoted themselves to offering an alternative to what they see as the CIA’s timid and inaccurate intelligence assessments—assessments that downplayed the possibility of Al Qaeda sleeper cells in the United States prior to September 11; failed to predict India’s nuclear tests in 1998; and underestimated the speed with which the North Koreans would be able to test a multistage missile. The difference is that this time the neocons don’t have to ask the CIA’s permission to gain access to classified intelligence, because Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld already control between 85 percent and 90 percent of the U.S. intelligence budget, including the agencies responsible for signal intercepts, satellite surveillance, and the DIA. “This is a case of going in-house because [Rumsfeld] is not happy with the intelligence he’s gotten from the CIA,” says Melvin Goodman, a professor of international security at the National War College and a former CIA analyst.

Of course, as always, the neocons were dead wrong about the Iraq intelligence and were simply gaming it to get the war they longed for.

Another of the key bits of intelligence gaming came with the aluminum tubes story, “broken” by Michael Gordon and Judy Miller. In the retrospective in 2004, we find that there was in fact ample evidence showing the tubes were inadequate for uranium centrifuges and were in fact components for small artillery rockets.

Cheney and Miller have since been inextricably linked to this huge information operation, because Miller’s article was quickly followed up by multiple appearances by Cheney talking up this “intelligence” in the drumbeat for the Iraq war.  Marcy has noted how this history follows both Miller and Cheney.

If August 24 is seen as Aluminum Tube Day, then it seems likely that April 14 will become Wuhan Cable Day. And just as the aluminum tube story was catapulted nearly simultaneously by multiple people for maximum media impact, the same is true on the attacks on WIV.

The timing of April 14 is interesting, as the Times article today notes that on the 7th, a meeting of the intelligence community came to the conclusion that the origin of the outbreak is unknown:

Richard Grenell, the acting director of national intelligence, has told his agencies to make a priority of determining the virus’s origin. His office convened a review of intelligence officials on April 7 to see whether the agencies could reach a consensus. The officials determined that at least so far, they could not.

Just one week later, it looks like Team B has its ducks in a row and we suddenly have John Roberts of Fox News noting the 2018 State Department cables and asking an incredibly specific question about supposedly infected WIV personnel while pushing the lab as a source:

And the same day, we have Josh Rogin, who formerly worked with Eli Lake, putting out his column hawking the cables, claiming that they show officials being concerned that lax security at WIV at that time created a huge risk for a release of a dangerous virus. But his only actual quote from the cable he says he saw was one that just talks about a shortage of trained personnel. He then grudgingly admits the cables were sent as a plea for help in getting more training for the lab.

I had missed until yesterday this terrific takedown of Rogin and his April 14 column by Max Blumenthal. Blumenthal notes that virologist Angela Rasmussen also finds the cable excerpt not to be a smoking gun:

Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist and associate research scientist at the Center of Infection and Immunity at the Columbia University School of Public Health, pointed out that the cable “argues that it’s important to continue working on bat CoVs because of their potential as human pathogens, but doesn’t suggest that there were safety issues specifically relating to WIV’s work on bat CoVs capable of using human ACE2 as a receptor.”

Ultimately, Josh Rogin was forced to admit that there was no evidence to support his insinuations, conceding in the penultimate paragraph of the article, “We don’t know whether the novel coronavirus originated in the Wuhan lab.”

Of note also is that Blumenthal found Rasmussen calling out Rogin on Twitter. Among several exchanges between the two was Rasmussen asking for Rogin to release the entire cable and Rogin refusing.

And just because the Iraq parallels never end, Blumenthal also found the 2020 version of Curveball, a regime-change agitator posing as someone in possession of important technical information:

Instead of discussing issues surrounding WIV with scientific experts, Rogin attempted to bolster his claims by relying on the speculation of anonymous Trump administration officials and Xiao Qiang, an anti-Chinese government activist with a long history of US government funding.

Rogin referred to Xiao merely as a “research scientist,” dishonestly attempting to furnish academic credibility for the professional political dissident. In fact, Xiao has no expertise in any science and teaches classes on “digital activism,” “internet freedom,” and “blogging China.” Revealingly, Rogin completely omitted the real record of Xiao Qiang as an anti-Chinese government activist.

For over 20 years, Xiao has worked with and been funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the main arm of US government regime-change efforts in countries targeted by Washington. The NED has funded and trained right-wing opposition movements from Venezuela to Nicaragua to Hong Kong, where violent separatist elements spent much of 2019 agitating for an end to Chinese rule.

Xiao served as the executive director of the New York-based NGO Human Rights in China from 1991 to 2002. As a long-time grantee of the NED, he served as vice-chairman of the steering committee of the World Movement for Democracy, an international “network of networks” founded by the NED and “for which the NED serves as the secretariat.” Xiao is also the editor-in-chief of China Digital Times, a publication that he founded in 2003 and that is also funded by the NED.

It’s truly remarkable how these folks have been using the same playbook for nearly 50 years. But because tossing out bogus information and then firing up the echo chamber to repeat it endlessly has worked for them so many times, they’ll just keep doing it until we stop them or at least impose some real consequences once the truth comes out. I suppose we can take some solace in the fact that this time these actions are being called out in real time, but I still don’t hold out a lot of hope for Team B being prevented from inciting more violence before this is all over.

128 replies
  1. MB says:

    Not to mention the revolving door at the Acting DNI position. Acting Director Grenell could be replaced by Acting Director Ratcliffe if the Senate ever holds such hearings…Grenell is just keeping the seat warm after Director Dan Coats’ sacking and Acting Director Joseph Maguire’s “unacceptable” support for whistleblowers (and the rule of law in general). This is Steve Bannon’s “deconstruction of the administrative state” philosophy in action.

  2. Peterr says:

    Somewhere in China, there’s a US intelligence asset about to play the part of Valerie Plame, waiting to be outed by someone pissed that they can’t get the intelligence assessment they want.

    Because you KNOW that Trump would have no compunctions at all about doing that.

    Between the disemboweling of the NSC’s pandemic preparedness office and the treatment of Marie Yovanovitch et al. over Ukraine, as well as sidelining doctors who speak publicly about science, sticking it to the staff who cross him is one of Trump’s favorite things.

  3. Wm. Boyce says:

    “…that there has been a concerted effort akin to an (DIS)information operation to create acceptance of the idea that the virus escaped from WIV.”

    These people don’t deal in “information.”

    • Peterr says:

      “Deal” in information is about all they do, about as poorly as a bad used car salesman:

      “What would it take to get you to believe in this version of events? It’s a really good version of events, in which I am the hero and nobody dies. Well, nobody important dies. Yessiree, it’s a really good version of events. A perfect version, really. Some people say that it’s the greatest version of events that any president ever had. So what do you say? Wanna buy my version of events?”


  4. drouse says:

    Which leads us to ask the perennial question, is our media learning. The magic eight ball says unclear check again later.

  5. Godfree Roberts says:

    The Covid whodunnit may have been solved already by the head of the United States National Institutes of Health, of which the CDC is a part.

    Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the NIH, said the virus might have been spreading quietly in humans for years, or even decades, without causing a detectable outbreak.

    Dr. Collins is a physician-geneticist noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the international Human Genome Project, which culminated in April 2003 with the completion of a finished sequence of the human DNA instruction book. He served as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at NIH from 1993-2008. Before coming to NIH, Dr. Collins was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the University of Michigan. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November 2007, and received the National Medal of Science in 2009.


    • Phaedruses says:

      The story from the “south china morning post” is slightly deceptive;

      The story claims the earliest samples were collected February 19th?

      The earliest sample in the French clade was collected on February 19 from a patient who had no history of travel and no known contact with returned travellers.

      However the study says earlier samples were made inside France

      IE from the actual study, and not the SCMP editorializing of it;

      The first European cases sampled on January 24, 2020 (IDF0372 and IDF0373 from Île-de-France, described in (Lescure, Bouadma et al. 2020) were direct imports from Hubei, China, and the genomes fall accordingly near the base of the tree, within clade V, according to GISAID nomenclature (Figure 2, Figure 3A). These identical genomes both harbor a V367F (G22661T) mutation in the receptor binding domain of the Spike, not observed in other genomes. Similarly, IDF0515 corresponds to a traveler from Hubei, China.


      Two genome tree illustrations contain these comments;

      Figure 2. Northern France sequences from early introductions and currently circulating lineages.

      Time calibrated tree of 438 SARS-CoV-2 sequences including Northern France, Algeria and publicly available global sequences. The tree is rooted using the reference strain Wuhan/Hu-1/2019n (MN908947). The tips of the tree are shaped and colored according to sampling location. Branch lengths are proportional to the time span from the sampling date to the inferred date of the most recent common ancestor. The three major clades according to GISAID nomenclature are indicated. Strain names of the sequences discussed in this study are indicated next to the corresponding tips.



      Figure 3. Divergence of SARS-CoV-2 sequences from Northern France.

      Divergence tree of SARS-CoV-2 genomes including sequences from Northern France with the three major clades (A) or only clade G (B). The tips of the tree are shaped and colored according to sampling location. Branch lengths are proportional to the number of nucleotide substitutions from the reference and tree root Wuhan/Hu-1/2019 (MN908947). GISAID clades and putative lineages are indicated on the right of each panel. Strain names of the sequences discussed in this study are indicated next to the corresponding tips in italic. Nucleotide substitutions shared among all the sequences of each clade or lineage are indicated next to the corresponding nodes. Some monophyletic lineages are collapsed for ease of representation. A complete tree is shown in Figure S1.


      Notice both comments reference back to Wuhan/Hu-1/2019, which is inside China.

      The question is why a paper which is extremely pro-china (owned by the alibaba group BTW) might want the idea of the corona virus not originating from Wuhan to be spread?

      • Eureka says:

        The SCMP article actually _does_ mention the initial testing in France in January, with those cases linked to the Wuhan cluster:

        France detected the virus in late January, before any other country in Europe. A few patients with a travel history that included China’s Hubei province were sampled on January 24 and tested positive.

        The French government took quick and decisive measures to trace contacts of the infected people and shut down the chance of further infection.

        However, these strains were not found in patients tested after the initial imported cases, suggesting “the quarantine imposed on the initial Covid-19 cases in France appears to have prevented local transmission”, the researchers said.

        The SCMP article then goes on to discuss the later-sampled so-called French clade.

        I had commented on a separate issue with the SCMP write-up, but they should not be accused of inaccuracy (“slightly deceptive” as you described it) on this count.

    • Eureka says:

      In that case, Collins has earned the distinction of agreeing with me. Though I am flexible on the time frame (and it needn’t be that long), and on the role of another intermediate host (but people, especially subpopulations, can be reservoirs too!).

      But that SCMP article you linked merely asserts that to be Collins’ view, without link or other attribution.

      I tracked down the “source” of this statement to his director’s blog review of a Nature Medicine paper in March. Collins there has merely summarized the authors’ hypotheses: it’s not accurate to attribute that opinion to him*:

      Genomic Study Points to Natural Origin of COVID-19 – NIH Director’s Blog

      The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2 | Nature Medicine

      *And if there is such an affirmative statement out there by him, then the author should have cited (linked)/framed it — it’s a major claim, and not so-called ‘common knowledge.’

      In fact, the very author of that SCMP piece — in a prior SCMP article from late March — *correctly* attributed Collins’ words to a blog post summary of others’ hypotheses.

      Also, your comment comes across as a political argument rather than a scientific or otherwise meritorious one when one drops an unattributed statement like it’s a fact, then piles on far more info re the credentials and *authority* of the alleged speaker — via a bio scraped from some (unattributed) website.

      • Eureka says:

        *swap ‘propagandist’ for ‘political’ ; add ‘titred-up’ before ‘subpopulations’ (which could be anywhere in the world; behavior/ context dependent)

        Pivoting on the topic of propaganda to a more general note on Jim’s post: I was reminded of the whole thing with the pro- vs. anti- communist China propaganda machineries operating within the US.

        While that propaganda has its own bothsides flair to it (and a potentially exhausting one, as counter-volleys may bury valuable data points), I wondered what the *pro-Trump Epoch Times has had to say about all this — if nationalism outweighs the ride on the Trump train when push comes to shove. Turns out (shocker) they are quite happy to blame CCP and froth-up the conspiracies in publications all over the world.

        I won’t link to (and wouldn’t click) them, but was able to see a lot of what they say with iterative searches. Here are some titles one can drop into a search engine and see some far-out text:

        Editorial: Where Ties With Communist China Are Close, the Coronavirus Follows

        CCP Virus Follows Communist China Ties: Bavaria, Germany

        [this one is by NTD, owned by the same media group as ET per the ET wiki]

        Is Wuhan Coronavirus A Bioweapon? Here are what the facts say.

        *as cited/discussed here previously and so-called common knowledge at this point

        • Eureka says:

          Clarifying re:

          ‘subpopulations’ (which could be anywhere in the world; behavior/ context dependent)

          This is just part of a general statement, not meant to e.g. align with the article/paper under discussion in this thread (which may be mistakenly suggested by the context). They are separate matters.

  6. Mitch Neher says:

    As far as I can tell anymore [“?”], Trump is still only trying to get re-elected by whinging-out a false equivalency between the notion that China favors Biden over Trump in 2020, albeit in a way radically different than the one in which Putin favored Trump over Clinton in 2016.

    That doesn’t mean that a war with China would not get started in consequence of Trump biting off more disinformation than the dread deep state cares to chew.

    But who in The US IC really wants Trumps re-elected? And who in The US really wants a surface-naval war (presumably) with China in the South China Sea?

    Maybe Republicans will hold a show of hands on the question, “Who wants to lose Taiwan and Hong Kong and who knows what all else?”

    • Alan Charbonneau says:

      My biggest worry is that Trump sees before the election that he is going to lose and starts a war with Iran or China to distract and hope for a rally around the flag bump in his chances.

      The other fear is that he loses the election and starts a war before he leaves office — a literal “scorched earth policy”.

      I so hope I am wrong and I am worrying about nothing, but with this sociopath, it seems all to possible.

      • John K says:

        Considering the fact that he has been continuously campaigning even after his election, I have had that exact same set of fears.

      • e.a.f. says:

        a war with China, that ought to be fun, if not stupid. a country with a population of almost 2 billion and holder of the a lot of American debt. well he might want to have a war to avoid the debt. now China doesn’t have the nuclear arms the U.SA. does, but the U.S.A. will find itself out there on its own. Don’t expect other countries to join in the fight. Just hope China remembers where the 49 parallel is.

        Starting a war with Iran, same deal. The E.U. is going to sit this one out as will Canada, Australia, N.Z., and a whole lot of countries. Trump has insulted most world leaders and they don’t see him as reliable. he is the man who abandoned the Kurds, etc. so why get into a war siding with the U.S.A. Trump could decide to walk away and leave the other countries in the mess.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Why is it no surprise that the oily and anxious-to-please Pompeo and Ruggiero were chiefly interested in finding arguments around which Trump could wrap his fragile ego? With senior staff of their caliber – in this case, men responsible for foreign relations and the global tracking WMD (outside the US) – it seems obvious that Trump personally is only one of many dangers arising from his administration. Rarely has it been more necessary to throw the bums out before they irretrievably trash the place.

  8. Rapier says:

    The NY Times is The, capital T, essential component in this. The NY Times both sided the Nazis from 1925 to 1939 after all. It both sided McCarthy, Vietnam, Iraq. The one time it didn’t both side, sufficiently from the fascist/racist point of view, was the civil rights movement of the 60’s. A failing it has been trying to make amends for relentlessly since the rise of Reagan.

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    National Endowment for Democracy is the name given to the US institution that coordinates its global efforts at regime change? Orwell must be tired of seeing his name attached to so many mislabeled things. Regime change is how the US responds when liberation movements and nascent democracies throw off post-colonial, neofascist, and neoliberal governments, but refuse to follow the American paradigm. It has nothing to do with fostering democracy, resilience, or self-reliance.

    • John K says:

      Do you mean places like Central America? If the U.S. had allowed those countries to develop their own governments, we wouldn’t have our current problem with immigration from those places. Poverty and government by crime syndicate is worse than wealth and dysfunctional government. Those people are fleeing from the mess we made in their back yards; and now we’re putting them in jail when they get here. These really are crimes against humanity.

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    A factoid from the Blumenthal article. It was published April 20th and cited US deaths owing to Covid-19 related illnesses as “peaking above 30.000.” Less than two weeks later, the number of deaths is twice that and climbing.

    This vacant, angry, obsessive, incompetent blame-machine of an American administration is a fun house mirror that reflects Trump’s personality and little else. It has to blame somebody else for his failings: it’s the only way Trump reconciles his ego with reality. The rationale might change from issue to issue, the process remains the same.

    BTW, Happy Labor Day.

      • orionATL says:


        there is an interesting relationship that mayday and three other special dates have with our calendar.

        if you the take the calendar as a circle like the compass rose, you can conceive of its 365+ days as divided into four traditional parts – the winter solstice at due north, the spring (vernal) equinox as 90° east, the summer solstice as due south, and the fall (autumnal) equinox as 270° west.

        now consider the date equivalent on this compass circle to 45° east (clockwise) of due north. that date is the half-way mark between winter and spring – in the u.s we call it groundhog day and it is always mentioned in the press along with its fable.

        next take the date equivalent to 45° south (again, traveling clockwise) of due east. that date is halfway between spring and summer. we call it MAYDAY. it is an old custom and celebration in anglo-american culture. i’d be curious to know about other cultures.

        turning to 45° west of south, we have another date that marks a halfway point between seasons- this one between summer and fall. it is called lammas or lughnassadh, a gaelic/anglo-saxon festival of the harvest. in terms of our culture it is the least known. i don’t know if it is observed anywhere outside of Scotland wales, and Ireland.

        finally, 45° north of west we come to the most observed (if not unibersally beloved 😉) of the four halfway dates, halloween (all-hallows-eve in the hispanic cultures of the americas). it’s celebrations are engrained in american culture. it takes me from pre-holloween sales all the way ’til christmas to finish up all that leftover candy following a major principle of parenting, grandparenting, and good neighboring – never, ever be caught without plenty of halloween candy 😅.

        • harpie says:


          Beltane – The Fire Festival

          The Celtic Festival of Beltane (Beltain, Beltainne, Beltaine, Bealtaine, Beltany) which marks the beginning of summer in the ancient Celtic calendar is a Cross Quarter Day, half way between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice. While the Beltane Festival is now associated with May 1st, the actual astronomical date is a number of days later. The festival was marked with the lighting of bonfires and the movement of animals to summer pastures. […]

          • orionATL says:

            damn. everywhere. i should have guessed, as much as our ancestors watched the sun (in winter for sure 😬).

          • Rayne says:

            That’s the Christian holiday which co-opted the pagan holiday recognized in Gaelic cultures as Imbolc or the feast of the goddess Brigid/Bhríd. Even the goddess was co-opted; Christians dedicated the day to St. Brigid instead.

            Brigid is roughly equivalent to Persephone/Proserpina in Greek/Roman mythology. She was summoned on her feast day to begin the spring season and bring fertility with her.

            • P J Evans says:

              Lammas is supposed to be from “loaf-mas”, which sounds like it’s harvest-connected. I’d expect it to be about the time wheat would be ripe for cutting.

              • Rayne says:

                Any time the name of a holiday observed in former Celt/Gaelic countries end in -mas, it’s a Christian mass co-opting a pagan festival. Lammas is definitely harvest related but while it’s observed with bread baked and given to the church, it’s when spring lambs are now sheep.

                The pagan holiday was Lughnasadh — spelled/pronounced differently depending on whether locale was Celt/Gael/Welsh/Breton. It’s the god Lugh’s feast, the opposing bookend to Brigid’s. Where she was to bring fertility, he was the celebrant of its fruits.

              • orionATL says:

                it is about wheat harvest, but if aug.1 seems early for that activity, remember it is northern europe we’re talking bout. in a good bit of the u.s., wheat /grain harvest would be a september or october activity (but really year round counting the winter or spring wheat varieties.)

    • harpie says:

      GAME SHOW America, May Day, 2020:

      HOST wants US to “MAKE A DEAL” with terrorists [those “very good people”]

      8:42 AM · May 1, 2020

      The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire. These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal.

      • harpie says:

        SIRENS: THIS guy is afraid:

        10:21 AM · May 1, 2020

        I am afraid of where this goes.

        I’ve spent a lifetime not being afraid, jumping into dangerous waters literally & figuratively, helping neighbors near & far, working day after day to help sustain a resilient & fair community.

        A life of not being afraid. But now I am. For us all

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Under pressure, he always reverts to type – the faux successful deal maker. That he can fit so many unresolved contradictions in so few words is a dark marvel.

      • e.a.f. says:

        very good people>??? saw the picture of some of those neanderthals screaming at the police officers. they looked like a bunch of yahoos who didn’t make it out of grade school. they also appear to have very bad manners and social skills

  11. madwand says:

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane with its links to present events.

    From Michael Parenti, “To Kill a Nation” “Following the implosion of the Soviet Union by 1998 American elites had convinced themselves that in the absence of any substantial international opponent capable of resisting the US offers an historically unprecedented opportunity to establish, through the use of military power, an unchallengeable position of ‘global dominance” actually one of Albert Wohlstetter’s five precepts. Wolfowitz was in fact a student of Wohlstetter and author of the infamous Defense Planning Guidance of 1992 which posited preventing any new rival from arising and which certainly influenced political operatives Wolfowitz and Rumsfield in the planning and execution of the Iraq and indeed Afghanistan debacles.

    Writing in 2010 Andrew Bacevich critiques the policy of the Iraq War in an open letter to Wolfowitz in Harpers concluding that for global hegemony the US can kiss it goodbye. Here is the link.


    A short ten years after that, the US under Trump has disastrously failed to rise to the challenge of a global pandemic, it’s institutions are failing, it is politically divided and it’s economy is tanking: and the US, despite protestations, is failing to respond to existential threats such as global pandemics and climate change with US elites learning what they should have learned in 1998, that the declination of leadership is a recipe for disaster and the worldwide projection of military force to cement US dominance has failed and indeed, brought down on the US what they have so long brought down on other nations. PNAC is buried in their graves. Time for elites to reevaluate their thinking.

    • JamesJoyce says:

      They don’t reevaluate ever..

      The lust for a buck is all that
      matters.. “ID”

      Does Putin sits and smile as he sees America implode?

      The answer is yes.

      In fact we never mention what now, soon to be $30 Trillion dollars of involuntary debtor servitude leveraged against citizens while federal government is as unprepared for a pandemic as Titanic was for iceberg….

      JOURNAL OF VIROLOGY, Jan. 2007, p. 20–29
      2007, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.
      A Contemporary View of Coronavirus Transcription􏰇

      In 2006-2007 scientists where well aware of Corona’s replication characteristics and actually predicted what just happened.

      “ Biological advantages to discontinuous transcription include economies of coding and the ability to regulate individual mRNA abundance, but these do not seem to justify the extraordinary genetic investment that coronaviruses have made in replicase-transcriptase and niche- specific proteins.
      An alternative view is proposed by Gorbalenya and col- leagues (28). Basically, these authors argue that the acquisition of the coronavirus enzymatic activities may have improved the fidelity of RNA replication and transcription to allow for ge- nome expansion. This, in turn, would provide coronaviruses with the opportunity, for example, to expand their host range and adapt rapidly to changing environmental conditions while maintaining genomic stability. Specifically, it is proposed that the HEL, ExoN, NendoU, and MT functions may provide RNA specificity and that the ADRP and CPD functions (when present) modulate the pace of a reaction in a common path- way, which could be part of an oligonucleotide-directed repair mechanism (75). The existence of such a repair mechanism in coronaviruses, with similarities to the “proofreading” or repair activities associated with DNA replication, would require a paradigm shift in our view of RNA virus replication.”

      Nobody could see this coming?
      How exceptional?

      • madwand says:

        Yep and not just Putin

        From Asia Times this morning.


        Birx posted these at a presser last week with the obvious intent of saying China is lying about its numbers. Deaths per 100,000

        Belgium: 49.8
        Spain: 43.8
        Italy: 39.2
        France: 29.4
        UK: 24.2
        Netherlands: 21.4
        USA: 10.9
        Iran: 6.3
        Germany: 5.2
        China: 0.3

        Then when you line China up with their neighbors then you get this which was not in the presser.

        South Korea: 0.5
        Japan: 0.5
        Australia: 0.3
        China: 0.3
        Singapore: 0.2
        Taiwan: less than 0.1
        Hong Kong: less than 0.1

        Per the author “Either Dr Birx was aware of these data and dishonestly withheld them, or she was not aware of them and she is incompetent. Neither conclusion is very comforting.”

  12. JamesJoyce says:

    It rather unexceptional how the same play books are used and modern day fascists are permitted to get away with it?

    “It’s truly remarkable how these folks have been using the same playbook for nearly 50 years.“

    If goes back much farther than 50 years folks..

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    If schools and other public places can designate themselves as off-limits to gun totin’ members of the public, why has the MI state legislature not declared its own space gun free?

    The open display of assault weapons by paramilitary gun toters in the state capital is not an expression of Second or First Amendment rights. It is an abuse of those rights, and an attempt to intimidate others into accepting that gun toters’ rights are more important than the everyone else’s rights to safety, public assembly, and free petition. It is a threat that they will use those weapons on those they disagree with – including those who have the temerity to throw Trump out of office for being criminally incompetent.

    • Tom says:

      The size of their weapons is exceeded only by the scope of their penile insecurity. These guys have issues.

    • harpie says:

      …and TRUMP wants US to Make A Deal with the terroists! [see up-thread at MAY Day, May Day]

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Every past president has loudly proclaimed that America does not negotiate with terrorists.

        • TooLoose LeTruck says:

          Just another ‘norm’ Trump has blown up as he remakes the country in his image…

            • TooLoose LeTruck says:


              And I’m having a hard time remembering the last time any other sitting POTUS sided w/ armed gunmen against the government…

                • TooLoose LeTruck says:

                  Thank you…

                  I find this moment disturbing, to say the least…

                  It feels like we’re creeping closer and closer to our ‘crossing the Rubicon’ moment and at this point, it seems like someone’s standing on the shore, perhaps waiting to wade into the water…

              • P J Evans says:

                I can’t remember a previous president talking about overturning state-level actions that don’t suit him, either.

                • TooLoose LeTruck says:

                  Indeed… what’s even more… shocking… is that he’s talking about state-level actions that he either refused to take any part in or told the other parties involved that it’s up to them to decide for themselves…

                  I’m having hard time not believing some of this wasn’t done deliberately, just to push the country to the point it’s at, right now.

                • orionATL says:

                  it’s called seditious conspiracy and it is a federal crime, but i ain’t holding my breath for a conviction after trump’s collaboration with the russians (really, probably conspiracy after the roger stone investigation is finished, per my interpretation of emptywheel today).

                  from miss wiki

                  • orionATL says:

                    from miss wiki:

                    “…Seditious conspiracy (18 U.S.C. § 2384) is a crime under United States law. It is stated as follows:

                    If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

                    For a seditious conspiracy charge to be effected, a crime need only be planned, it need not be actually attempted. According to Andres Torres and Jose E. Velazquez, the accusation of seditious conspiracy is of political nature and was used almost exclusively against Puerto Rican independentistas in the twentieth century.[1] However, the act was also used in the twentieth century against communists and radicals (United Freedom Front,[2] the Provisional IRA in Massachusetts), neo-Nazis,[3] and Islamic terrorists including Omar Abdel-Rahman…”

                    it seems it would only be necessary to identify one or more political advisors who sat down with trump to plan political actions against strong dem governors in states trump needs to win in november. a conviction is neither likely or necessary, but a sedition charge with a strong, credible narrative would be a good talking point this fall.

                    once more, president donald trump is the most dangerous national security threat this country has faced since 1941.

                    • TooLoose LeTruck says:

                      Actually, in that regard, I’d say he’s becoming the most dangerous national security threat to the country since 1861… yes, WW II was ugly and really dangerous AND the country wasn’t in danger of splintering and going to war w/ itself… Trump gives every appearance of trying to foment just that… so many of his moves seem predicated on producing as much conflict w/in the country as possible…

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Those were furrin terrorists. Not that negotiating with anybody willing to return the compliment is a bad thing, assuming you know how to do it – a condition that excludes the Trump administration.

            But negotiation would be wrong with people whose first move is to lock and load their assault rifles and parade en masse in front of your legislative assembly, as if their first thought was to replicate the Reichstag fire in honor of Trump.

            • Rayne says:

              Let’s avoid using the word “furrin” when discussing anything related to COVID-19 — just spit it out and say “foreign.” It’s too easy for someone to misread and think you’re discussing furin which has a specific meaning in cell and virus biology.

    • harpie says:

      Via Cheryl Rofer:
      9:13 AM · May 1, 2020

      *Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer defies armed protesters and extends state of emergency until May 28.
      * Theaters, restaurants, bars, casinos, gyms and other places of accommodation will remain closed.
      *GOP lawmakers want to challenge Gov. Whitmer in court. [freep link]

      Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: “We remain in a state of emergency. For anyone to declare mission accomplished means they’re turning a blind eye to the fact that over 600 people have died in the last 72 hours.”
      [detroit news link]

      About those legal challenges:

      Trump Administration Signals Support for Allies’ Fight Against Virus Orders
      Conservative groups making a legal assault against state and local coronavirus restrictions are backed by the Justice Department’s willingness to “take action.”
      April 29, 2020, 2:17 p.m.

      A network of conservative leaders, donors and organizations has launched a legal onslaught against state and local restrictions intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus […]

      This week the Justice Department delivered the clearest show of support yet when Attorney General William P. Barr issued a memorandum directing two of his department’s top lawyers to lead an effort with other federal agencies to monitor state and local policies “and, if necessary, take action to correct” those that “could be violating the constitutional rights and civil liberties of individual citizens.” […]

      • P J Evans says:

        To buy into the maladministration’s theories, you have to ignore the 9th and 10th amendments. Governors have the power to lock down their states for things like public health – the president doesn’t have the power to reopen them.

      • Eureka says:

        More “About those legal challenges”: Alito just did them Third Circuit a solid:

        U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has ordered Gov. Tom Wolf to respond to a lawsuit by a group of Pennsylvania business people seeking to overturn the state’s coronavirus shutdown order rights, the Morning Call reports.

        The petitioners, including a Bethlehem real estate agent and a candidate for state representative from western Pennsylvania, are arguing the order violated their constitutional guarantees against having property taken without compensation, their rights to judicial review, equal protection under the law and free speech.

        The Pennsylvania Supreme Court previously denied the request April 13.

        The group filed a petition this week asking the U.S. Supreme Court to suspend enforcement of the order pending an appeal of the state high court’s decision.

        (emphasis added; internal link removed, edited to remove tracking, and placed below)


        More at:

        • P J Evans says:

          AFAICT (and IANAL), they still have their property, their guaranty of equal protection, and their rights to free speech. What they *don’t* have is the right to ignore public health rules – which are covered by the 9th and 10th amendments – and possibly kill people they don’t know by spreading a disease they may not know they even have.

          • Eureka says:

            I’d say they’re a bunch of whiny* nutters, but as they’re a coordinated part of a more dangerous network, that won’t suffice.

            *On the whiny war-weapons toting crowd, Tom Ridge [(W”s) first Homeland Security guy and former PA gov] wrote an interesting — at turns direct and careful — editorial in USA Today addressing them as the public face of these larger GOP “protests”. He opens and closes with war-and-guns (metaphors), beginning with how he and others carried “weapons of war” in actual wars, contrasting their carrying AR-15s. He appears to be trying to speak to them in their own (purported) terms of flag-wrapped patriotism. Near the end:

            The entire country is under siege, but you are not in the trenches of France, not gaining ground inch by inch in the Pacific, not slogging through the paddies and jungles in Vietnam, and not taking on global terrorists in desert warfare. And you are NOT prisoners of war. You are at home.

            We are citizens of the greatest country on planet Earth. As citizens, we are asked to wear temporarily a unique uniform of service decorated with ribbons for patience, understanding and support of the troops on the front lines. 

            Tom Ridge: Selfish protests against stay-at-home orders dishonor America’s veterans
            Apparently these protesters with their weapons and false bravado think they are smarter than the medical experts.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      LOL, sort of. Trump the fire starter tells Michigan’s governor to “give a little” in order to put out the fires Trump started. Gretchen Whitmer needs no one to tell her that that would be as effective as Neville Chamberlain’s trip to Munich.

      • Tom says:

        Is there anything stopping these armed thugs from showing up outside polling stations on election day this November? Could this be some sort of rehearsal for extreme voter suppression tactics in battleground states? It’s easy to imagine these guys gathering recruits because of the Trump seal of approval they’ve received and the media attention they’ve been granted.

    • madwand says:

      Lots of guys with guns standing on statehouse steps with no consequences means only one thing, control has been lost. It is only a matter of time before someone pops a cap and the chances of it being a one of is slim.

      • TooLoose LeTruck says:


        And what makes it even worse is the fact that the yahoo at the head of the mob is the POTUS, apparently bent on leading the charge against his own government and country…

  14. viget says:

    Yeah… still would love to know what the intermediate host is. Good to know about the backstory of those in DIA trying to push for pinning it on WIV. It could definitely be Iraq all over again, though going to war with China would be absolute suicide for the US. Hard to see who benefits in such a scenario.

    I just want to nitpick one thing with the Nature article that’s been bothering me since it came out, which is a scenario they never contemplated: An engineered virus that is a recombinant strain of the pangolin virus and the bat virus, then passaged in human cells and selected for the most virulent clone. This could all be done in a lab. I am sure that WIV had studied the pangolin virus in vitro just as it had studied the bat viruses and probably knew that the pangolin virus already bound ACE2 with high affinity. It would have been trivial to have cloned the RBD domain from a pangolin virus into the bat RaTG13 virus, and then use that virus to infect human cells in vitro.

    It might not even be done in the context of creating a bioweapon, but rather in trying to build a SARS-like model system to understand the virulence factors of sarbecoviruses in order to be ready for the next pandemic. Ferrets or mice could be infected with these viruses and vaccine candidates could be tested on them just as they do with novel influenza strains. Antivirals or other drugs could also be tried out. Necropsies could be performed to see mechanisms of cellular death.

    If passaged for enough generations, the mutations that we see between SARS-CoV-2 and Ra-TG13 could have easily occured in the petri dishes over a relatively short time span (even the 12 nt insertion that created the furin cleavage site), enough to make it look like it had been circulating in the wild for months or even years.

    I’m not saying this happened, but to totally discount this possibility is, in my opinion, somewhat misleading. It is a valid possibility, and is a way that a “artificially created” virus could be made to look like a natural one without leaving any sort of signature behind.

    Of course, the possibility of a bat virus and a pangolin virus somehow both residing in an intermediate host, then jumping to humans is also very likely too. I just don’t know what the host would be (possibly cats in the wet market that would eat both infected bat and pangolin meat?).

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      I assume that, at least for temporary political purposes, it would also be possible to reverse-engineer the ontology of a natural virus to make it seem artificially created. Perhaps in a specific lab. Perhaps by a convenient scapegoat. Or is my “jaundiced view” becoming full-on paranoia?

      • P J Evans says:

        Trying to “reverse engineer” a virus like that would be at least as hard as doing it in the first place.

      • Ken Muldrew says:

        There is a crispr PAM sequence just before the pangolin insert in S1 and another one just at the end, so there would be no need to do anything other than replace that section of RNA and then culture it for a while to get some random base substitutions. A virus made by humans in this way would be indistinguishable from a natural virus because these sorts of substitutions happen naturally.

          • Ken Muldrew says:

            The standard PAM sequence is just NGG (where N is any base); it occurs pretty frequently and is, obviously, perfectly natural.
            Just to be clear, if someone was making this in a lab, one way they could have done it would be to use CRISP to insert the binding sequence from the pangolin cov into the S1 gene of the bat cov. Once done, you have a new S1 gene that looks identical to one where the same substitution had happened by chance in an animal host. There is no evidence left behind that shows that CRISP was used, so no need for any reverse engineering to make the lab virus look like a natural virus.

            • viget says:

              Exactly what I was getting at. Probably you could have even done this with PCR and old school cloning techniques too, if you were patient enough, but CRISPR makes it effortless.

              The fact that virologists of the caliber of those in the Nature paper and in such a journal such as Nature didn’t even consider this as a possibility is beyond me. Their conclusion is fatally flawed, and in my mind just as irresponsible as conspiracy theorists concluding that the virus is definitely a bioweapon.

              The only responsible conclusion is that it is likely a recombinant virus of bat and pangolin origin and has been circulating in vivo or in vitro in an intermediate or human host for some time such that it has become adapted to infecting humans (and presumably felines).

              • P J Evans says:

                ‘didn’t even consider this as a possibility’
                – assumes facts not in evidence: you don’t know that.
                *They* should certainly have considered it, as they’re experts in the field. They can’t find evidence of “engineering”, and have said so; the lab in Wuhan that has the expertise in bat viruses *wasn’t working with this one*, and they had the COVID-19 sample sequenced by a different lab, in their investigation of the pandemic.

              • Jim White says:

                What the two of you are leaving out is that the Nature Medicine paper clearly points out that RaTG13 is far enough removed from the outbreak virus (20 years equivalent of wild evolution) that it couldn’t have been the backbone for using any genetic tools for inserting the pathogenic features. There is no previously sequenced virus that could have been used as the starting point. So you have to also assume that someone started with a wild isolate they didn’t publish a sequence for before starting work with it. Very unlikely these days.

                • orionATL says:

                  jim white –

                  “… So you have to also assume that someone started with a wild isolate they didn’t publish a sequence for before starting work with it. Very unlikely these days….”

                  why would that be ‘ very unlikely’ these days?

                  do you mean to say that it would be physically, genetically, virologically difficult or impossible?

                  or do you mean to say it would be professionally improper, a violation of accepted professional behavior?

                  • Jim White says:

                    I say that the first thing to do with a wild isolate is to get the sequence of it to see what they have and how much it differs from what they have seen before. And sequences generally get published very quickly these days.

                • Ken Muldrew says:

                  You make a good point. Just looking at the S1 sequences, I see about an 8% difference in single base substitutions, so it was clearly not a case of sticking an insert into RaTG13.

                  • Ginevra diBenci says:

                    Thanks all for the information. My point in asking the original question was not so much about the actual difficulty of making a natural virus appear lab-engineered, but rather how easily one (politically motivated government) could concoct convincing “evidence” of such a discovery. You know: smoking gun/mushroom cloud starter stuff. It wouldn’t have to stand up to much scrutiny (yours, say, Jim) to market on Twitter and Fox.

                    • Ken Muldrew says:

                      In this case, because the splice is from a corona virus and inserted into a corona virus, the sequence itself can’t tell you anything about lab vs natural origins. In order to impute a lab you would have to find samples with the hybrid sequence in the lab. If it was, say, part of a smallpox virus stuck into a corona virus, then you would have a much different situation.

                    • Jim White says:

                      How many times do we have to keep pointing out that the overall sequence of SARS CoV-2 differs from RaTG13 and all other sequenced viruses for any known virus to have served as the backbone into which to “splice” the pieces making it more pathogenic? Just stop. There is no “there” there.

                • P J Evans says:

                  I read that virus experts were surprised by the differences in the spike proteins, because it’s not how they’d have designed it – they thought of more effective ways to do it.

                    • Eureka says:

                      Evolution happens.

                      Also, we (as one example) are a pile of walking indels, so I’ve never gotten the argument — or rhetorical lean — towards some lab making an insertion (“splice”): they happen all the time.

                      Which (and given other changes) is partly why I’ve said that I think natural events are more parsimonious explanations in this case.

  15. Gary Nason says:

    It mostly goes to show what a closed mind those in this administration have. Why didn’t Pompeo force Trump to read the January intercepts. Because he’s worthless. First in his class. I thought West Point put out better soldiers than that. What politics got him to be number one?

  16. John K says:

    In regard to that extremely specific question by the Fox News reporter:
    Who leaked that information to him and will there be an investigation?

    • Jim White says:

      That’s a big mystery. I also find it very interesting that that specific accusation hasn’t resurfaced anywhere else that I’ve seen.

  17. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Kayleigh McEnany, on stage today for her first press briefing, told a lie with her opening remark: “I will never lie to you.” Her second lie followed: “You have my word on that.” If Donald Trump found his Goebbels in Stephen Miller (no small irony), will Kayleigh McEnany find that, in her search for “more than earthly meat and drink,” she has made a bargain that cannot be unmade?


  18. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Josh Rogin has one of the shorter and more obscure Wiki bio pages. No dates for his upbringing (Philly) or schooling (GWU). He claims Japan’s Sophia University as his “alma mater.” In the US, the phrase usually refers to the school from which someone graduated, but Rogin uses its less common meaning of “having studied there.” So, he’s bragging that he studied abroad during undergraduate school, common for decades, and that he speaks Japanese at a “conversational” level.

    Rogin’s entry about his “family” is at least interesting. He lists only his wife, and his father- and brother-in-law. His journalist wife’s dad was the drummer for Springsteen’s original E Street band and house bandleader for Conan O’Brien, her brother was an occasional drummer for the later E Street band.


  19. Vicks says:

    Facebook and Twitter and even those Neighbhood apps like Nextdoor best be ready to shut this shit down.
    Sprinkle a bit of handiwork from Putin’s trolls, and this is going to get ugly.
    I keep thinking that if 80% of the country is hanging in there with the stay at home orders, it means a nerve has been touched in the personal lives of many Trump supporters.
    Why does it seem Trump is deliberately baiting them?
    They don’t have to sneak looks at the “fake news media” they can watch him suggesting people ingest Lysol or claim he never said something he just said a second before on Fox “news”
    I have a postcard here that tells us to follow “President Trump’s Coronavirus Guidelines For America. Two weeks later I got second card that was the same except he took his name off of it.
    He dissed Kemp for being reckless for opening Georgia but sent out tweets about liberating others.
    One of the few scandals that got Trump in real trouble with his fans was his “good people on both sides” taunt. Even his biggest toadies felt compelled to risk their jobs, suck it up and publicly disagree with him in front of the cameras.
    Why on earth would he traumatize his base again, RIGHT NOW with another tweet about Nazi’s being “good people”
    I’m sure he’s figured out mathematically, 80% of Americans, MUST include some of his people and theses protests might be intimidating, but they are lamefully small considering the weather is beautiful, and a lot of Americans have a lot of extra time on their hands right now.
    Now this China thing?
    In this economy, in the middle of a global pandemic how many will rally around Trump’s decision to poke the bear that we depend on for medicine and what we need to keep us safe ?
    If Is he trying to divide his own base?
    If he can’t break the solidarity we are seeing on the stay at home orders what will Trump’s bruised ego do to deflect the pain of seeing his “people” holding hands with the “enemy”?
    Start a war with China?
    Start a rebound affair with the bottom feeders of the deplorables?
    On the other hand if your looking at patterns it could be cover/deflection for some “bombshell” of Trump’s misbehavior.
    The leaks about how liable Trump may be about the way the virus has been handled so far don’t seem to be slowing down…

    • P J Evans says:

      His son-in-law is likely going to be in deep legal trouble because of his handling of supplies…or mishandling. Governors shouldn’t have to sneak purchased supplies into the country and hide them under guard to keep the feds from stealing confiscating them for FEMA.

      • Vicks says:

        You mean organized crime?
        Americans voted for Trump because they wanted him to run their country the same way he runs his businesses.
        The risk of anyone (in good standing) in the Trump organization getting into “deep legal trouble” ended the day the senate approved Barr’s nomination.

      • Eureka says:

        I’m really concerned about their hoarded/diverted supplies — well, that and all of the other problems yet to be solved in the now — being amplified come regular flu season. We will be well and truly fucked. Let me count a few ways … (and insert the reminder that we have tx for flu already, and flu season already overwhelms hospitals, with inpatients lining ER hallways). So now we’ll head into it with COVID-19 and everyone having neglected routine care / ‘electives’ for (likely) the better part of a year; states, localities, facilities, people will be all the poorer … how exactly are the bidding wars with Team Jared’s sharks supposed to go then? Especially since the feds seem to have a gauge on states’ inventories (all the better with which to extort them)?

        Adding: also the potential problem of folks’ having trouble getting flu shots with distancing/closures. e.g. WHO has reported problems getting malaria and other disease prophylaxes/ vax campaigns done with COVID-19 going on.

        E.T.C. …

          • Eureka says:

            Yes, that’s one positive. ;)

            But it’ll require much more concerted efforts* to increase drive-through-type shots and public health outreach to visit (especially) seniors and others at risk where they’re at (home+), to maintain and observe others’ prudent distancing. Absent great success — and amid ongoing “effort fatigue” — I’d lay odds that the vaccination numbers this coming season might be relatively depressed for some higher-risk groups because of access x distancing issues (even if they might increase for folks who may feel freer to be mobile).

            Senior centers across the land are closed, too. While variable over time and place, I don’t see, come fall, packed places where lots of seniors congregate (and routinely receive various services). Also some of the vax burden gets picked up at routine medical appointments, which are now taking place via telemedicine (if at all).

            We’ll see, but it’s yet one more thing we need to get on in advance. Whatever efforts are deployed, they need to get pushed out earlier in the season so feedback can inform who is being missed and what to do differently/more.

            *across corporations like pharmacies and state/locality health departments, since we have no coherent federal response

            And essential employers will have to do in-workplace campaigns, too (like how flu shots are already required at most medical providers/ facilities). Grocery stores, meatpacking plants, etc. should be thinking about this for their workers (or health depts figuring how to include them in campaigns).

    • Stephen Calhoun says:

      Every day is packed with crazy. I have a feeling that the insanity is just beginning. (It is said that Trump loves chaos.) Does anybody have an idea how nuts it could get?

    • Eureka says:

      Does it sound like there will be any real consequences? It would be great if any one of these stories turned out morally right.

  20. Eureka says:

    Oh, hello newcomers to “murder hornets”: one of these mofos *was in my house* two years ago this month. A little bit of a story (as to how a stray would end up in here). And they are HUGE. Fucking HUGE. And bumbly and loud indoors, looking for (escape routes towards) things to murder.

    Reminds me that there were a couple of updates recently about the dreaded spotted lanternfly: it’s spread further inland, and this spring is a bumper crop of the crop-killers (including hops: they are coming for da beers!).

    • P J Evans says:

      I gather what makes these really bad is that they like bees. As food.
      There are some American wasps in that size range, but they prefer cicadas, and they’re solitary. (I’ve seen them: B52 wasps. You don’t *want* to get in their way.)

    • bmaz says:

      Lol, just the picture of the thing terrified the crap out of me. I very much hate regular bees, wasps and things, but that monster is completely insane.

    • Eureka says:

      I did an identification at the time best I could, and it matched this Asian giant hornet (as opposed to other large hornets: Asian hornet and European hornet <– the latter I think then the only one believed to be in the US, but this was bigger than even each of those species' queens), and things like the cicada killer wasp (we have those, am familiar — this creature was *different*).

      Holy crap you should have heard the yells done escaped me when I saw it — I had a notepad and pen in my hand and they went flying as I reflexively threw them. I eventually got the thing into a large cup (covered) and outside, where it escaped.

      A very large tree had fallen in the neighborhood, disturbing lots of life, sending dust/life/etc clouds everywhere.

      Never have seen anything like it before or since, and boy do I remember it well.

      • Eureka says:

        eh, lost track of my parens: *as opposed to* applied to both the other kinds of hornets _and_ kinds of wasps like cicada killer. i.e. this was a creature of distinction, I believe to be Asian giant hornet at the time.

        I’ll have to check my notes, think now it was a different year

  21. Mitch Neher says:

    On second thought [sarcasm alert], it’s almost as though Trump is accusing China of having double-crossed Trump on Trump’s prophesied trade deal–you know, the trade deal the making of which Trump had proclaimed himself to be The Chosen One.

    If only China had told Trump about the outbreak of the new coronavirus epidemic in Wuhan during the negotiations for Trump’s messianic trade deal–(instead of the US intelligence community having informed Trump about the Wuhan epidemic outbreak during those same messianic trade-deal negotiations)–then Trump surely would’ve believed his own intelligence community [“?”] and thereby would not have been so readily gulled by the old inscrutably-silent, Chinese trade-deal, double-cross song and dance routine [“??”].

    It may even be possible that Trump thinks that Jimmy Carter might as well have at least tried to cough-up a blame-shifting excuse of that type for the Iranian hostage crisis in the hope that the American people would see the wisdom of re-electing to a second term of office as president a man who could be, by his own admission, so easily duped into granting asylum to Shah Pahlavi for cancer treatment, no less, and to have done so at the behest of one his political opponent’s campaign advisers and eventual Secretary of State, George Schultz.

    Would any American have voted for Carter in 1980 had Carter offered us a blame-shifting hairball like the one that Trump is coughing up now?

    So who are these people who are supposedly going to vote to re-elect Trump to a second term of office as president even after Trump has public confessed to having been easily conned by those double-crossing Chinese trade negotiators who refused to say a word to Trump about the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan during the negotiations for Trump’s messianic trade deal with China??

    It’s soooo unfair! They, The Chinese, were supposed to have warned our current “war president” about “the invisible enemy” before The Chosen One, Trump, signed his vertiginous, yet indelible, sharpie scrawl on the old dotted line. It’s almost like they intentionally cheated Trump out of his best shot at re-election. Maybe there should be a do-over election. If Trump loses. If Trump wins, then no do-over election. It’s only fair [end sarcasm alert].

  22. Ken Muldrew says:

    Jim White wrote:

    How many times do we have to keep pointing out that the overall sequence of SARS CoV-2 differs from RaTG13 and all other sequenced viruses for any known virus to have served as the backbone into which to “splice” the pieces making it more pathogenic?

    Just once. I agreed with you completely. I don’t know how you read it otherwise.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        And I agree with both of you. My fear is that such genuine scientific evidence and informed reasoning will once again be drowned out by an “official consensus” driven by political exigencies. We already see Pompeo, Barr, and even Giuliani flexing their bully muscles; Trump has latched on to this new scapegoat (It was China, in that lab, with–I don’t know, a turkey baster?) with more conviction than he displayed while blaming WHO. Maybe he will figure out, or be handed, a way to let Xi personally off the hook. Trump’s base might feel understandably confused if one of the president’s “great leader” buddies gets thrown under the bus mere weeks after being thanked effusively.

        • P J Evans says:

          Much of his base changes their views to match his views. They don’t seem to notice the inconsistencies and contradictions at all.

          • Ginevra diBenci says:

            The test of genius is holding contradictory ideas at the same time. I wonder how they’ll assimilate the newest one–that the intelligence community made Trump underestimate the threat–which relies on them accepting that he listened to The Deep State. Just once, perhaps, on January 23, 2020; the specificity of that date implies the WH has something they will offer up as receipts.

  23. e.a.f. says:

    Trump is simply attempting to deflect,deflect, deflect. It doesn’t really matter where the virus came from. Its here and Trump and his administration fucked up royally in their lack of preparing for its arrival, providing adequate testing once it was here, in providing adequate social service support, income support, etc. COVID would not have gotten the hold it has in the USA if Trump wasn’t the fuck up he is. He and his might well have been trying to figure out how they could profit from it. Trump was too stupid and vain to listen to the experts or let them do their jobs.

    The virus escaping from a lab, nice try. The consenus is it came from a wet market. Makes way more sense than Trump trying to re write history. Then there is the no small matter of the lack of credibility Trump has. He can shout and try to blame China for a “bad lab”, but really who in the rest of the world is going to believe him. All the man does is lie, then denies his own lies. He fires people who tell the truth. His cabinet and senior bureaucrats are all political appointees On this matter the U.S.A. has no credibility and as time goes by the U.S.A. will have less and less credibility. he really needs to go.

  24. Eureka says:

    Jim (twitter RT: https://twitter.com/DrGolfShirt/status/1256960824549298179 ): that’s not a toddler, but a nearly 12yo+/- (molar+/arcade development) with a congenital or developmental disorder and a shit-ton of extra teeth!

    On Dr Shi’s work detailed in the Scientific American article — incl. with Peter Daszak of EcoHealth Alliance: NIH axed Daszak’s grant …Shi-by-proxy. This was in Politico last week; here’s Wadman & Cohen at Science (apologies if this was already posted and I can’t locate it, but this item belongs on this page — and lol if it’s here somewhere):

    NIH’s axing of bat coronavirus grant a ‘horrible precedent’ and might break rules, critics say
    By Meredith Wadman, Jon Cohen Apr. 30, 2020 , 7:20 PM

    The research community is reacting with alarm and anger to the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH’s) abrupt and unusual termination of a grant supporting research in China on how coronaviruses—such as the one causing the current pandemic—move from bats to humans.

    The agency axed the grant last week, after conservative U.S. politicians and media repeatedly suggested—without evidence—that the pandemic severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, that employs a Chinese virologist who had been receiving funding from the grant. The termination, which some analysts believe might violate regulations governing NIH, also came 7 days after President Donald Trump, asked about the project at a press conference, said: “We will end that grant very quickly.”

    NIH declined to comment on why it canceled the grant, which was in its sixth year. But in emails reviewed by ScienceInsider, Michael Lauer, NIH’s deputy director for extramural research, suggested the Wuhan laboratory had not “taken all appropriate precautions to prevent the release of pathogens” that were the focus of the project. NIH offered no further support for that statement, however, and Lauer referred to the notion of the pandemic virus escaping the lab simply as “allegations.”

    (emphasis added; internal links removed — including to the emails)

    • Eureka says:

      Via Politico, the — another — “helpful” question from a Trump media partner:

      Trump cuts U.S. research on bat-human virus transmission over China ties – POLITICO

      A Newsmax reporter asked President Donald Trump about the research project in an April 17 press briefing, suggesting that all $3.7 million had gone to the Wuhan lab.

      “We will end that grant very quickly,” Trump said. “It was granted quite awhile ago,” he added, referencing the Obama administration. “Who was president then, I wonder?”

      The NIH awarded the original grant for the project during the Obama administration, but renewed it in July 2019. The funding allotted this year, and cut last week, came from the Trump administration.

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