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Questions That Matter
COVID-19 origin implications, and this week's news in quotes and numbers.
I thought I would do something a little different this week. In addition to briefly talking about the latest developments regarding the lab-leak theory (and boy are things starting to get interesting), I've included an extended Quotes of the Week/Numbers and Figures—with the attendant links, of course, in case you want to read up on something yourself.
Late last week, another longform story about the lab-leak theory was published by Vanity Fair. I read this one twice, and I did so for two reasons: 1) This story included a lot of the information I posited in my essay on the same subject, and so it was sort of vindicating, in a way. 2) This story dropped some big bombs—a lot of holy shit moments. Definitely worth the read. The reporter who wrote this one, Katherine Eban, was able to get access to some serious supporting information:
A months long Vanity Fair investigation, interviews with more than 40 people, and a review of hundreds of pages of U.S. government documents, including internal memos, meeting minutes, and email correspondence, found that conflicts of interest, stemming in part from large government grants supporting controversial virology research, hampered the U.S. investigation into COVID-19’s origin at every step. In one State Department meeting, officials seeking to demand transparency from the Chinese government say they were explicitly told by colleagues not to explore the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s gain-of-function research, because it would bring unwelcome attention to U.S. government funding of it.
In an internal memo obtained by Vanity Fair, Thomas DiNanno, former acting assistant secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance, wrote that staff from two bureaus, his own and the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, “warned” leaders within his bureau “not to pursue an investigation into the origin of COVID-19” because it would “‘open a can of worms’ if it continued.”
We still don’t know for sure if the COVID-19 virus escaped from the Wuhan lab, another lab, or jumped from animals to humans. And I really don’t want to come across as some kind of obsessive; in no way do I apply a conspiracy-theory zeal to this. I don’t really care what the actual origin of the virus is, or who deserves blame and why, or anything like that. I care about underlying implications that are much more serious.
I keep imagining a courtroom murder trial in which the prosecution has laid out some extremely compelling evidence, the kind of evidence that makes it difficult to see how the defendant didn’t commit the murder, and the defense is yelling about how nobody saw the shooter or the killer or whatever so they can’t know for sure. It’s the O.J. Simpson trial in ‘94 that serves as a good example…and, to be frank, we know O.J. did that shit.
Even just the surface level details suggest what likely happened. There was “gain of function” research being conducted within the Wuhan Institute of Virology—research that was “indirectly” funded by the United States but with the direct knowledge of Dr. Fauci, who exploited the loophole in the moratorium imposed by President Obama (who requested the shutdown of Fauci’s gain of function research after “biosafety incidents,” effectively ending Dr. Baric’s research at the University of North Carolina). Poor safety conditions at the Wuhan Institute of Virology resulted in the escape of a manipulated coronavirus that jumped to a human host (i.e. — the three lab researchers hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms), which was followed by the mysterious 17-day cell phone blackout, suggesting some intensive emergency clean up.
Beijing of course told no one about any of this, and then approximately two months later the pandemic began in earnest, but still unbeknownst to the rest of the world. Beijing still didn’t say anything, and this is where it gets potentially nefarious, because Chinese officials immediately understood what was going on but didn't lock down Wuhan until 5 million people had already left. There’s actually a really cool interactive graphical-type thing the New York Times did last year that shows how the virus spread.
Now, there are two serious questions that need to be asked, the answers to which could have grave implications.
To what extent were U.S. scientists and virologists, along with the National Institutes of Health, involved in this gain of function research? And as a coda to this, to what extent were Fauci and the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases complicit given that they knew of the safety issues at the WIV as well as the risky research being conducted but still chose to fund said research? And to what extent have they been trying to cover it up since early 2020?
Were the U.S. intelligence and science communities deliberately refusing to openly discuss the lab-leak theory and instead staunchly asserting the zoonotic hypothesis solely out of hatred for Donald Trump and an overwhelming desire to not do anything that might bolster Trump’s presidency or grant him any kind of support or legitimacy—in conjunction with their media handmaidens, who it must be said were absolutely spazzing out about a very possible second term for Trump and were desperate to ensure this didn’t happen? Is all this “new” information coming out because Trump is no longer in office?
It’s the second question that bothers me the most, because it is deeply, deeply problematic for a liberal democracy. And I think it must be said that people continue to have a difficult time separating their hatred for the last president from anything resembling objective thinking.
Quotes of the Week
“You’ve witnessed more spirited confrontations in line at the airport.” —Wall Street Journal reporter Jayson Gay on the highly touted exhibition fight between Floyd Mayweather and the YouTube star Logan Paul Sunday night. Many believe the fight was rigged to ensure Paul lasted all eight rounds.
“We need to do the right thing and stand up for females. People over profits. Facts over feelings.” —Beth Stelzer, president of Save Women’s Sports. The NCAA had promised to boycott states that protected girls sports or banned gender experimentation on minors, but was forced to backtrack when so many states passed conservative legislation that it was no longer practical to do so.
“Colleges have turned into giant luxury day care centers with overpaid babysitters anxious to indulge every student whim.” —Bill Maher, comedian and HBO talk show host, criticizing President Joe Biden’s $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, which intends to make community colleges tuition-free.
“I want to emphasize that the goal of our work is to help Guatemalans find hope at home. At the same time, I want to be clear to folks in this region who are thinking about making that dangerous trek to the United States-Mexico border: Do not come. Do not come.” —Vice President Kamala Harris, at an international news conference in Guatemala. Harris stated that the U.S. will enforce laws and secure the border, and that “There are legal methods by which migration can and should occur.”
“I suspect that in small cities and the countryside, 90 percent of people believe the U.S. is the origin point of the pandemic.” —An unnamed Chinese scholar quoted in the Washington Post. Because of a successful propaganda campaign, many people in China already buy into the theory that the pandemic started anywhere but their country. In a society where access to information remains limited and controlled by the government, it is easy for the state to shut out disfavored views.
“The time has come to end these political games, and to usher a new era of bipartisanship where we find common ground on the major policy debates facing our nation.” —Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, in an opinion piece written for the Washington Post explaining why he opposes eliminating the filibuster and will not vote for the “For the People Act.” Manchin has been vehemently denigrated by the Left for his decision.
“ProPublica has obtained a vast cache of IRS information showing how billionaires like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Warren Buffett pay little in income tax compared to their massive wealth — sometimes, even nothing.” —ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit newsroom, in a highly controversial investigative report based on a massive leak of private taxpayer information.
“The evidence we reviewed showed that the USPP cleared the park to allow the contractor to safely install the anti-scale fencing in response to destruction of property and injury to officers occurring on May 30 and 31.” —Inspector General Mark Greenblatt, whose extensive investigation found that the White House did not in fact violently clear Lafayette Park at Trump’s behest, a falsehood that was treated as unquestioned truth by the media.
“So is the administration’s official policy to replace the term ‘woman’ with ‘birthing people’?” —Rep. Jason Smith, in a Tuesday Senate Budget Committee hearing, in reference to language used in President Biden’s budget proposal. The question was directed toward Office of Management and Budget acting director Shalanda Young, who responded, “…we think our language needs to be more inclusive on how we deal with complex issues.”
“There are a lot of organizations fighting eloquently for racial justice and immigrant rights. But there’s only one A.C.L.U. that is a content-neutral defender of free speech. I fear we’re in danger of losing that.” —former A.C.L.U. director Ira Glasser. There is growing concern about the increasingly overt bias demonstrated by America’s high temple of free speech.
“Sad to say, obviously I wasn't thinking very well or very much.... It was deeply moronic and indefensible.” —Jeffrey Toobin, CNN’s longtime chief legal analyst, sheepishly admitting on air that he was caught masturbating on a video call with other journalists. Toobin has returned to CNN’s airwaves following an eight-month hiatus.
“Drawing false equivalencies between democracies like the U.S. and Israel and groups that engage in terrorism like Hamas and the Taliban foments prejudice and undermines progress toward a future of peace and security for all.” —A statement from senior Democratic leaders led by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi denouncing comments made by Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar when she compared U.S. and Israeli "war crimes" to actions by the Taliban and Hamas.
“I think it’s going to cause a lot of divisions. I think it’ll cause people to think of themselves more as a member of a particular race based on skin color, rather than based on the content of their character and based on their hard work and what they’re trying to accomplish in life.” —Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, regarding critical race theory. On Thursday, the Florida State Board of Education passed a rule banning critical race theory from public school classrooms, adopting new rules it said would shield schoolchildren from curricula that could distort historical events.
“Change is needed to fix the border crisis.” —Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, announcing that the state will begin building its own border wall in addition to arresting migrants who trespass on private property.
“Becaause (sic) n***a you better not be charging me Hennessy rates.” —Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, in one of many text messages obtained by DailyMail.com. The messages reveal Hunter Biden used the n-word multiple times during banter with his lawyer. The mainstream media has not given the story coverage.
Numbers and Figures
$1,000: Signing bonus that Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club in New Orleans is offering new and returning exotic dancers. Many strip clubs across the nation are desperate for dancers, leading some to turn to incentives to sweeten the deal.
$550 million: The amount of a blockbuster donation to Western Michigan University by anonymous alumni, the largest private gift ever to a public university.
1.7 miles: Length of the newly opened “Vegas Loop,” the first of Elon Musk’s Boring Company tunnels intended to address traffic congestion. The Vegas Loop consists of three passenger stations (two above ground, one below), connected by stretches of 12-foot-wide tunnels, all lit with color-changing LED lights. Inside the Loop, a fleet of 62 Teslas circles around, picking up and dropping off passengers and turning a 25-minute walk across the mammoth convention center into a two-minute ride in all-electric comfort.
13: The number of presidents to sit with the now 95 year-old Queen Elizabeth II. Biden, the 13th, will “sip tea” with the Queen on Sunday at Windsor Castle.
75%: Proportion of people who have confidence in Joe Biden to do the right thing in world affairs, according to a new Pew Research Center survey of 12 nations.
17%: Proportion of people who had confidence in Donald Trump to do the right thing in world affairs, according to the same survey of 12 nations taken last year.
$4,000: Amount of the tax credit that Jeff Bezos claimed and received for his children in 2011, a year in which his wealth held steady at $18 billion, according to a blockbuster investigative report by ProPublica.
70%: The proportion of Americans who support same-sex marriage, an all-time high for the nation since 1996 and a 10 percent increase since 2015 after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages. While Democrats have consistently been supportive, 55 percent of Republicans now approve as well.
51%: The proportion of Americans who support Facebook’s decision to extend the platform’s suspension of former President Trump for another two years. Only 15 percent of Republicans were in support of the suspension.
Reads from the Archive
Since I forgot to include a read last week, here’s two:
Mental Health Break
Kitter and doggo become best friends.
Happy big boi does a munch.