Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Milton Leitenberg SARS-CoV-2 virus Weaponized

by Oui Wed Jun 9th, 2021 at 05:44:02 PM EST

Why politicians should be wary of publicly pursuing the Wuhan lab-leak investigation | The Conversation - June 7, 2021 |

The theory that SARS-CoV-2 originally leaked out of a laboratory in Wuhan, China, is making a comeback - so much so that President Joe Biden has publicly ordered the US intelligence community to "redouble" its investigations into this hypothesis. Politicians, however, should be wary of publicly advocating the Wuhan lab-leak hypothesis. In doing so, they risk fuelling groundless and dangerous conspiracy theories.


Living and working in Maryland near the USAMRIID Bioweapons Laboratory, an excellent article by arms control expert Milton Leitenberg on the Wuhan lab escape theory caught my attention. How did the narrative of conspiracies and bioweapons gain universal attention. Part of propaganda and America's incentive to Cold War II.

Did the SARS-CoV-2 virus arise from a bat coronavirus research program in a Chinese laboratory? Very possibly.
By Milton Leitenberg | June 4, 2020

The circumstantial evidence for a lab escape. By way of introduction, there are two virology institutes in Wuhan to consider, not one: The Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention (WHCDC) and the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). Both have conducted large projects on novel bat viruses and maintained large research collections of novel bat viruses, and at least the WIV possessed the virus that is the most closely related known virus in the world to the outbreak virus, bat virus RaTG13. This virus was isolated in 2013 and had its genome published on January 23, 2020. Seven more years of bat coronavirus collection followed the 2013 RaTG13 isolation.

Milton Leitenberg expertise is arms control Soviet Union and China

In 2012, Leitenberg and Raymond A. Zilinskas co-authored The Soviet Biological Weapons Program: A History. A review in the journal Microbe described the book as "a significant source document for microbiologists, policy makers, historians, and students interested in this important subject".

Experts debunk fringe theory linking China's coronavirus to weapons research | Jan. 30, 2020 |
By Adam Taylor

Those entering the level 4 lab use airlocks and protective suits. Waste, and even air, is heavily filtered and cleaned before leaving the facility.

Milton Leitenberg, an expert on chemical weapons at the University of Maryland, said that he and other analysts around the world had discussed the possibility that weapons development at the Wuhan lab could have led to the coronavirus outbreak in a private email chain but that no one had found convincing evidence to support the theory.

"Of course, if they are doing bioweaponry, it is covert," Leitenberg said in a phone call, but added that it was unlikely the Chinese government would use such a facility for production or even research and development of bioweapons.

China's False Allegations of the Use of Biological Weapons by the United States during the Korean War
By Milton Leitenberg - 2016

A little remembered aspect of the Korean War is an issue of great importance to those concerned with arms control and allegations of the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), namely nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. During and after the war, North Korea, China, and the Soviet Union alleged that the United States used biological weapons (BW) on an enormous scale in areas of both China and North Korea. Despite the public disclosure of Soviet Central Committee documents in 1998--eighteen years ago--which revealed that the allegations were fraudulent, China and, much more noisily, North Korea still maintain the charges.[1]

The purpose of this Working Paper is to describe recent publications in Chinese journals of an unprecedented nature on the subject. A memoir by Wu Zhili, Director of the Chinese People's Volunteer Army Health Division during the Korean War, describes the allegations as a "false alarm" and reveals that there was no use of biological weapons by the Americans in the war.

In the Shadow of Biological Warfare: Conspiracy Theories on the Origins of COVID-19 and Enhancing Global Governance of Biosafety as a Matter of Urgency | NCBI-NIH - Aug. 2020 |
Jing Bao Nie

Two theories on the origins of COVID-19 have been widely circulating in China and the West respectively, one blaming the United States and the other a highest-level biocontainment laboratory in Wuhan, the initial epicentre of the pandemic. Both theories make claims of biological warfare attempts. According to the available scientific evidence, these claims are groundless.

However, like the episodes of biological warfare during the mid-twentieth century, the spread of these present-day conspiracy theories reflects a series of longstanding and damaging trends in the international scene which include deep mistrust, animosities, the power of ideologies such as nationalism, and the sacrifice of truth in propaganda campaigns.

Also, the threats associated with biological warfare, bioterrorism, and the accidental leakage of deadly viruses from labs are real and growing. Thus, developing a better global governance of biosafety and biosecurity than exists at present is an urgent imperative for the international community in the broader context of a looming Cold War II. For such a governance, an ethical framework is proposed based upon the triple ethical values of transparency, trust, and the common good of humanity.

...
However, overseas experts were raising questions about the safety and even the necessity of such labs. Their concerns included the possible leakage of pathogens as well as the potential development of biological weapons (Cyranoski 2017). In 2018, U.S. intelligence also warned about the safety risks of the lab (Rogin 2020.

A few days after the lockdown of Wuhan in late January 2020, a U.S. newspaper prone to circulating conspiracy theories linked the origins of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-Cov-2, then called 2019-nCoV) to China's covert biological weapons programme, citing an Israeli biological warfare expert (Gertz 2020).More sensationally, scientists from the Indian Institute of Technology published a preprint scientific paper where they reported their findings on four unique inserts of key structural proteins of HIV-1 in 2019-nCoV, a result which was "unlikely to be fortuitous in nature" (Pradhan et al. 2020). In other words, the novel coronavirus had been genetically engineered. Soon afterwards, the researchers withdrew their paper, citing a need for "re-analysing of the data."

Weaponized: How rumors about COVID-19's origins led to a narrative arms race | Atlantic Council - Feb. 2021 |

As part of a nine-month joint research project by the DFRLab and the Associated Press, this report examines the information environments of four countries - China, the United States, Russia, and Iran - during the first six months of the COVID-19 outbreak and the false narratives that took hold there. The report focuses on how varying, unverified, and outright false narratives that the virus was a bioweapon or the result of a lab accident spread globally on social media and beyond, and the geopolitical consequences of those narratives.

One version of this narrative, for example - that it was a biological weapon released from a lab in China - gained particular popularity in the United States. Speculation about the source of the virus moved from unverified social media accounts and conspiracy theory outlets to government officials, political influencers, and others, often leading to further rounds of speculation across the information ecosystem. Some of these narratives were outright false, while others constituted legitimate, but unverified concerns regarding the possibility of the virus being accidentally released from a Chinese lab. There was also much domestic pushback against these narratives, given the open and democratic nature of the US and its information space.

Meanwhile in America’s most infamous bioweapons lab ...

CDC Shuts Down Army Lab’s Disease Research | Aug. 6, 2019 |

Research on dangerous pathogens has been suspended at an Army lab at Fort Detrick in Maryland after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found biosafety lapses there, the Frederick News-Post reported August 2. A spokesperson for the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) tells the newspaper that no disease-causing materials have been found outside authorized areas at the site.

Army lab fights coronavirus and its own demons | Roll Call |

The Army’s Fort Detrick, home to a leading biological research facility, has gained newfound attention because the Trump administration has tapped the lab to help develop a vaccine, treatments and testing equipment for the novel coronavirus.  But the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases, or USAMRIID (pronounced you-SAM-rid), is under a cloud.

Some of its work was shut down last year over safety lapses, and those projects are only slowly restarting. Meanwhile, most of its Pentagon funding has been frozen ...

...
The problems at USAMRIID have included anthrax escaping in 2001 from secure areas.

Nonetheless, the Fort Detrick lab now has an opportunity to show that those problems are behind it as it takes on the world’s biggest crisis. 

...
Checkered history

The Army’s infectious diseases lab traces its roots back to the 1950s. Its focus has long been on finding countermeasures against biological weapons, from the Soviet Union’s to those Iraq was once feared to possess. 

Until 1969, the lab’s mission also included experimenting on offensive biological weapons. And some allege the facility was involved in CIA efforts to find mind-control drugs.

Display:
by Oui on Wed Jun 9th, 2021 at 09:25:08 PM EST
Leading biologist dampens his 'smoking gun' Covid lab leak theory

Nobel laureate David Baltimore says he overstated case, and the origins of the virus are still unknown

In the midst of the renewed controversy, one of the key scientific debates has drilled down into whether the virus's furin cleavage site is so novel that it occurred through human manipulation rather than evolving naturally.

Supporting the latter theory, some scientists point out that the same feature occurs in other common coronaviruses including ones that cause colds and that it appears intermittently in the family tree of coronaviruses.

Baltimore's clarification came as he was also challenged in Nature on another of his claims relating to Covid-19, that the coding of a segment found in the furin cleavage site was not usually found in viruses, with a fellow scientist pointing out the same coding was also a feature of the Sars virus.

Column: A Nobel laureate backs off from claiming a `smoking gun' for the COVID-19 lab-leak theory | LA Times |

h/t gk

by Oui on Wed Jun 9th, 2021 at 09:26:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not about Science.  It is about convincing a population almost completely ignorant of Biology* China is a threat to their Precious Bodily Fluids.

The fact China is rapidly over-taking the US in almost every scientific, technological, and economic category is completely beside the point.

*  Pew Research: 67% of Americans reject the Theory of Evolution

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Thu Jun 10th, 2021 at 06:28:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Oui on Thu Jun 10th, 2021 at 07:59:56 AM EST
by Oui on Thu Jun 10th, 2021 at 06:36:00 PM EST
by Oui on Thu Jun 10th, 2021 at 06:37:57 PM EST
Biden's attempt to align with other G7 countries against China an 'old tactic, won't help recover US' past glory' | Global Times - Feb. 18, 2021 |

The world is closely watching whether US President Joe Biden will successfully unite its alliances in Europe in his first event with leaders from the Group of Seven nations (G7) in a virtual meeting to deal with the "China challenge".

Chinese observers predicted that Biden's attempt to ring-fence China with alliances, different from former president Donald Trump's tactic of "fighting alone," is like "putting old wine in new bottles." It will not prevail easily as the G7's perceptions about China are divided and the US cannot fulfill what they need and want.

They noted that choosing the G7 meeting as his first debut in a multilateral occasion as a president instead of other events like Davos attended by more new economies shows the US is still relying on its small clique, which will not help the country recover its past glories.

Joe Biden urged democracies to work together to challenge abuses by autocratic states such as China and Russia | Reuters - Feb. 19, 2021 |

by Oui on Thu Jun 10th, 2021 at 06:39:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Oui on Thu Jun 10th, 2021 at 06:40:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Typical US:

"If you don't do what we want we'll hold our breath until we turn blue AND THEN YOU'LL BE SORRY!!!!

Isn't the rest of the world tired of this yet?

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Thu Jun 10th, 2021 at 07:05:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bi-partisanship ... Republicans and Democrats alike.
by Oui on Thu Jun 10th, 2021 at 07:42:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Anyone with such a twisted view of the world should join the settler community in Judea and Samaria and burn the olive groves of the Palestinian "terrorist" families. Haley is celebrated as a heroin by a vast majority of the Jewish citizens of Israel.

@NikkiHaley said that any country "that believes we need to get rid of terrorist organizations around the world" should stand up for Israel.

Haley arrived in the country on Friday, spending Shabbat in Jerusalem, including a visit to the Western Wall.

Her trip was organized as a solidarity mission in collaboration with Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the largest pro-Israel Evangelical group in the United States, under the auspices of founder and chairman Pastor John Hagee.

by Oui on Mon Jun 14th, 2021 at 04:27:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Full Boycott Pushed for Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics | Bloomberg - May 17, 2021 |

Groups alleging human-rights abuses against minorities in China are calling for a full-blown boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, a move likely to ratchet up pressure on the International Olympic Committee, athletes, sponsors and sports federations.

A coalition representing Uyghurs, Tibetans, residents of Hong Kong and others issued a statement calling for the boycott, eschewing lesser measures that had been floated like "diplomatic boycotts" and further negotiations with the IOC or China.

"The time for talking with the IOC is over," Lhadon Tethong of the Tibet Action Institute said in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press. "This cannot be games as usual or business as usual; not for the IOC and not for the international community."

The Beijing Games are set to open on Feb. 4, 2022, just six months after the postponed Summer Olympics in Tokyo are to end.

...
The push for a boycott comes a day before a joint hearing in the U.S. Congress focusing on the Beijing Olympics and China's human-rights record, and just days after the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee said boycotts are ineffective and only hurt athletes.

"People have worked to engage with the IOC in good faith to have them understand the issues directly from the mouths of those most impacted -- the Uyghurs at the top of that list and the Tibetans and others," Tethong said. "It's clear the IOC is completely uninterested in what the real impacts on the ground for people are."

The IOC has repeatedly said it must be "neutral" and stay out of politics. The Switzerland-based body is essentially a sports business, deriving about 75% of its income from selling broadcast rights, and 18% more from sponsors. It also has observer status at the United Nations.

USA in policy of harsh economic sanctions, thus a boycott involving human rights abuse will always prevail ... except in the case of our allies of course! Every Arab state in the Middle East, Iran, Syria, Lebanon. Egypt, Turkey, Azerbaijan and most former Eastern European nations including Russia abuse human rights. None are as perfects as we are. ☹ Most likely the US citizens behind the protests have no idea of global geography and where these countries are located, nor their history. Just following  frenzy on social media and media propaganda.

My recent writing ...

by Oui on Thu Jun 10th, 2021 at 06:43:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Oui on Fri Jun 11th, 2021 at 04:59:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Olympic boycott risks becoming the next big U.S.-China battle | Japan Times - Apr. 8, 2021 |

Over the past month, diplomats in Beijing have been talking more about the pros and cons of boycotting the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing -- particularly after leading global brands came under attack for statements on human rights abuses in China's far west region of Xinjiang.

While most doubted there would be an outright boycott, they noted that a lot can change before the opening ceremony 10 months from now. The diplomats, who asked not to be named, also raised the possibility that top dignitaries would stay away from Beijing even while athletes compete and sponsors take part.

Either way, the diplomats agreed on one thing: No country wants to be the first to call for a boycott.

This week the debate erupted on the global stage after U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price on Tuesday said a boycott was "on the agenda" and "something that we certainly wish to discuss" with allies. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki walked that back later, saying "we have not discussed and are not discussing any joint boycott with allies and partners."

Pelosi calls for U.S. and world leaders to boycott China's 2022 Olympics

by Oui on Thu Jun 10th, 2021 at 06:44:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Oui on Thu Jun 10th, 2021 at 06:45:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Seems like the Chinese had a pretty good idea though, right?

"Let's engineer a virus that spreads pretty freely, although not as freely as measles, and that is pretty deadly, although not as deadly as MERS or ebola. Then we'll let it loose in our own country, which will kill off a few people but whatever, we will counter it here by implementing a tight lockdown and restrictions of the type we can implement--and the soft Westerners can't. Maybe we will get around to making a vaccine some time, also, but it's not worth doing it in advance. Then we will hope that some tourists or business visitors will carry the virus to the West where it will spread like crazy. And because of their incompetence and weak political and social systems, the ensuing pandemic will shut down their economies for a year thus allowing us to take over the world. WAHAHAHAHA!"

by asdf on Fri Jun 11th, 2021 at 01:11:39 AM EST
My favorite baseless idea is that the CIA released it in China. Imagine a picture of them high-fiving to the satellite air pollution map going to zero. And then suddenly becoming very interested in lab-leaks for some reason.
by generic on Fri Jun 11th, 2021 at 06:47:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But why in China and not in the NY subway? Isn't that the standard place to release such things?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Fri Jun 11th, 2021 at 06:53:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That would raise suspicion of a Japanese design wouldn't it?
by Oui on Fri Jun 11th, 2021 at 06:55:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some substance, this is a novel idea! 🤣
by Oui on Fri Jun 11th, 2021 at 06:53:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So the UK fast tracking first jab and delaying the second vaccination will backfire due to the new Delta variant.

Delta Variant and COVID-19 Vaccines: What to Know

In Northern Ireland, the gap between the first and second doses of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines is being cut to 8 weeks from 10-12 weeks to offer more protection against the delta variant, the BBC reported.

"It seems this variant can get past our first dose of vaccine," says Queen's University Belfast virologist Connor Bamford, according to the BBC. "So, we need to make sure as many people as possible get their two doses and even think about decreasing the length between dose one and two because that's going to be critical going forward."

by Oui on Fri Jun 11th, 2021 at 10:10:40 PM EST
by Oui on Fri Jun 11th, 2021 at 10:11:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Sweden sees 'dark clouds' with outbreaks of COVID delta variant

by Oui on Fri Jun 11th, 2021 at 10:12:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
With a enduring aggressive pose of NATO vs Russia and China, Stoltenberg plays victim of asymmetric warfare initiated by the Atlantic Alliance. NATO's choice in 2008 at Summit in Bucharest.

"The West should respect the red lines of Russia." | Opinion Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, former SG NATO from 2004-2009 |

My earlier writing ...

Atlantic Council - Former US Amb to NATO Ivo Daalder: "It's our intent to make Russia a pariah state." (2013)

by Oui on Mon Jun 14th, 2021 at 06:17:45 PM EST
Two narratives that lead to different worlds
By geezer in Paris on June 1st, 2008

Transformations to which the left has yet to produce a convincing response: for the right's success is undoubtedly based on the failure of the social democratic model. "Globalization," Corinne Deloy, researcher at the Robert-Schuman Foundation, explains, "has made the social software obsolete. That's especially true now that - with the economic crisis we've entered into - there's nothing left to redistribute. Suddenly, people trust the right more to find solutions to problems that called the left's competence into question, for example, such primary themes as the demographic aging of European societies and retirement financing.

US seeks to cement military foothold in Balkans
By vladimir on May 17th, 2009

by Oui on Mon Jun 14th, 2021 at 06:20:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Working with U.S. President Joe Biden feels more natural than collaborating with his predecessor, Donald Trump, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said to reporters gathered at the NATO summit on Monday. "Of course that was a bit inconvenient at times."

Rutte said he found Trump's criticism of spending levels to be "justified" and understandable at a summit in December 2019.

"In the end, we were able to work closely together and maintain a good relationship," Rutte said about Trump. But "of course it was a bit embarrassing at times," he admitted.

Rutte once again insisted that the transatlantic alliance is also very much in the interest of the United States. "You will see that today we will reaffirm our joint commitment to NATO," he stated.

Dutch PM Rutte an Advocate of Thatcherism

by Oui on Mon Jun 14th, 2021 at 08:51:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]

As Great Britain is shutting down for the summer, the EU-27 nations are opening up.

by Oui on Wed Jun 16th, 2021 at 01:55:12 PM EST
Lowest numbers in nine months 🦁🇳🇱

Mandatory face masks may be scrapped by July 1st.

by Oui on Wed Jun 16th, 2021 at 01:56:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]

Top Diaries