Programming note: Tomorrow, Thursday, I'll be conducting another Clubland Q&A taking questions from Mark Steyn Club members live around the planet. The fun starts at 11am North American Eastern/3pm GMT/4pm British Summer Time, but do check local listings.
~The first pieces published about ChiCom-19 at this website were on the insanity of empowering China and the lies of Beijing when it comes to the spread of infectious diseases. Nineteen months in, my main interest remains the origins of the WuFlu.
At the same time, one notices the almost total lack of interest in its origins from virtually anyone who matters, starting at the very highest levels of government. As Rumsfeld used to say, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Somewhat analogously, overwhelming lack of interest in evidence is paradoxically evidence of interest. The truth about the origins of Covid would have serious consequences for the US Government and its "public health" bureaucracies, and for the broader "science" community and its peer-reviewed journals and grant-application processes. Furthermore, the public deference to political leaders who claim to be "following the science" - already fraying badly in France and Australia - would take a huge hit once it became clear that the killer virus is itself the creation of "science" and of a Washington public-health bureaucracy that followed it all the way to an insecure lab in Wuhan.
From my old friends at the Telegraph:
New documents show that just 18 months before the first Covid cases appeared, researchers had submitted plans to release skin-penetrating nanoparticles containing "novel chimeric spike proteins" of bat coronaviruses into cave bats in Yunnan, China.
They also planned to create chimeric viruses, genetically enhanced to infect humans more easily, and requested $14 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to fund the work.
Papers, confirmed as genuine by a former member of the Trump administration, show they were hoping to introduce "human-specific cleavage sites" to bat coronaviruses which would make it easier for the virus to enter human cells.
Ah, I miss the old days when a Google search for "human-specific cleavage sites" would be strictly NSFW. Now it's links that are Not Safe For Google or Facebook or Twitter or any of the other media so censorious of anything that dissents from the official line. The Telegraph report is based on the work of DRASTIC, the ad-hoc group of international researchers who, so Wikipedia assures us, "have engaged in personal attacks against virologists" - so just hitch your mask up over your ears and don't listen to them.
As for "novel chimeric spikes", that's the last year and a half, starting with the chimera of "zero Covid". And we are in this mess because the central strategy of American foreign policy for a third of a century - that China can be economically endowed into behaving as a normal part of the global order - is the biggest chimera of all.
When Covid was first genetically sequenced, scientists were puzzled about how the virus had evolved such a human-specific adaptation at the cleavage site on the spike protein, which is the reason it is so infectious...
In a statement, Drastic said: "Given that we find in this proposal a discussion of the planned introduction of human-specific cleavage sites, a review by the wider scientific community of the plausibility of artificial insertion is warranted."
The proposal also included plans to mix high-risk natural coronavirus strains with more infectious but less dangerous varieties.
The bid was submitted by British zoologist Peter Daszak of EcoHealth Alliance, the U.S.-based organisation, which has worked closely with the WIV researching bat coronaviruses.
Team members included Dr. Shi Zhengli, the WIV researcher dubbed "bat woman", as well as U.S. researchers from the University of North Carolina and the United States Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Centre.
DARPA refused to fund the work, saying: "It is clear that the proposed project led by Peter Daszak could have put local communities at risk", and warned that the team had not properly considered the dangers of enhancing the virus (gain of function research) or releasing a vaccine by air.
Heigh-ho, it could have been worse:
A Covid-19 researcher from the World Health Organisation (WHO), who wished to remain anonymous, said it was alarming that the grant proposal included plans to enhance the more deadly disease of Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers).
"The scary part is they were making infectious chimeric Mers viruses," the source said.
"These viruses have a fatality rate over 30 per cent, which is at least an order of magnitude more deadly than Sars-CoV-2.
"If one of their receptor replacements made Mers spread similarly, while maintaining its lethality, this pandemic would be nearly apocalyptic."
This is where blind veneration of "science" gets you: gain-of-function research offshored to the virological equivalent of CIA "black sites", and with a body count pushing five million.
~The Lancet was for two centuries one of the most respected medical journals on the planet. Then it became corrupted and worthless. A year and a half ago, it allowed itself to be used to discredit the lab-leak thesis by publishing a round-robin of respected scientists rustled up by Peter Daszak. Daszak had an obvious interest in quashing any "conspiracy theory" that the WuFlu escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology because he was the lead western "scientist" doing the gain-of-function mambo with Batgirl, while assuring us (until DRASTIC's photographic evidence proved otherwise) that there weren't even any bats in the Wuhan lab.
Instead of being furious at being used by Daszak, Richard Horton and his colleagues doubled down. Only now, getting on for two years into this thing, has The Lancet finally permitted a dissenting view to be published in its pages. As the authors write of the original Daszak letter:
The statement has imparted a silencing effect on the wider scientific debate, including among science journalists.
Of course. That was the point. The "natural origin" theory was critical not only to protecting China but to legitimizing the whole shelter-in-place a-tsnunami-that-lasts-a-lifetime approach of "public health". In response to "the call from the Director-General of WHO to promote scientific evidence and unity over misinformation", the authors note primly:
We do not think that scientists should promote 'unity'.
No. But totalitarian governments promote "unity", and scientists in their service are happy to go along.
~The Lancet is owned by Elsevier, one of the world's largest publishers of peer-reviewed journals. But oddly enough the rigors of "peer review" crumble to dust before Chairman Xi - so that all these impeccably respectable champions of science and its rigors publish hundreds of fake papers every year:
Nature has tallied 370 articles retracted since January 2020, all from authors at Chinese hospitals, that either publishers or independent sleuths have alleged to come from paper mills (see 'Fraud allegations'). Most were published in the past three years (see 'Chinese hospital papers on the rise'). Publishers have added expressions of concern to another 45 such articles.
Nature has identified a further 197 retractions of papers from authors at Chinese hospitals since the start of last year.
It's evidently worth it for the ChiComs to fake up a "peer-reviewed study" on even relatively footling matters. Indeed, one of the reasons for American global impotence and Chinese dominance of everything that matters is Beijing's attention to detail:
In 2018, Zdeněk Hřib won the race to become mayor of Prague...
His predecessor had signed a 'sister-city' partnership with Beijing.
For the benefit of readers in the US, where "twinning" is less familiar: As you drive into almost any town in Continental Europe, you'll see a sign announcing that it's twinned with Alma Ata or Jalalabad or Moose Jaw. I think it started after the Second World War with Coventry and Stalingrad, who discovered that thanks to the Krauts they had more in common than they might have expected. But the concept spread to the point where most citizens of twinned towns assume it means little more than a chance to hang a few exotic banners outside City Hall.
To the Chinese, however, even the more inconsequential things offer opportunity, even a sister-city partnership:
Included in its terms were not only the normal exhortations for peace, cultural exchange and mutually beneficial trade. Prague had committed itself to upholding a 'one-China policy' that endorsed the Chinese Communist Party's sovereignty over Tibet and Taiwan.
China insisted that even organisations that have no international power, such as a municipal council, must endorse its foreign policy aims, Hřib explained. The logic behind the pressure on the Prague authorities is not as crazy as it seems. If China, or any other power, can get every conceivable body it deals with to conform to its wishes, regardless of whether they have a voice in international affairs, it can make its aggression appear uncontroversial.
I see Oakville, Ontario is twinned with Huai'an. What's Oakville's position on Taiwan?
In Prague, Mayor Hřib refused to play along - and Beijing immediately tore up the agreement and banned the Prague Philharmonic, the Prague String Quartet and anything else with "Prague" in the name from appearing in China.
America builds expensive weaponry to give to the Taliban; China takes over the world one piffling inconsequential "agreement" at a time.
~See you Thursday for our Clubland Q&A: Anyone anywhere around the planet can listen; membership is required only to ask a question. We opened The Mark Steyn Club well over four years ago, and I'm thrilled by all those SteynOnline aficionados across the globe - from Fargo to Fiji, Vancouver to Vanuatu, Surrey to the Solomon Islands - who've signed up to be a part of it. With exterior pleasures still canceled across much of the map (shows, pubs, sports, movies, restaurants) those in search of strictly in-home diversions can find more information about our Club here - and, if you've a pal who might be partial to this sort of thing, don't forget our special Gift Membership.