September 2021 Archives


This is extremely disturbing. Two days ago Bob Woodward claimed in his new book that General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pledged to warn China in advance if then-President Trump ordered any attacks on Chinese interests. Many people found this claim difficult to believe, including myself.

This report claims Milley pledged to alert his CCP counterpart in the event of a U.S. attack, quoting Milley as saying: "General Li, you & I have known each other for now five years. If we're going to attack, I'm going to call you ahead of time. It's not going to be a surprise."

"In a pair of secret phone calls, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, assured his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng of the PLA, that the U.S. would not strike, according to a new book by Bob Woodward & Robert Costa."

Yesterday Milley issued a statement that doesn't deny the substance of the allegation.

NEW statement from Milley spokesman Col. Dave Butler:

"The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs regularly communicates with Chiefs of Defense across the world, including with China and Russia..."

"...These conversations remain vital to improving mutual understanding of U.S. national security interests, reducing tensions, providing clarity and avoiding unintended consequences or conflict..."

"...His calls with the Chinese and others in October and January were in keeping with these duties and responsibilities conveying reassurance in order to maintain strategic stability..."

"...All calls from the Chairman to his counterparts, including those reported, are staffed, coordinated and communicated with the Department of Defense and the interagency..."

"...Also in keeping with his responsibilities as senior military advisor to the President and Secretary of Defense, General Milley frequently conducts meetings with uniformed leaders across the Services to ensure all leaders are aware of current issues..."

"...The meeting regarding nuclear weapons protocols was to remind uniformed leaders in the Pentagon of the long-established and robust procedures in light of media reporting on the subject..."

"...General Milley continues to act and advise within his authority in the lawful tradition of civilian control of the military and his oath to the Constitution."

Nowhere in his statement does Milley deny bypassing the elected civilian leadership of the country to offer assurances to China.


It's hard to know where to start with this. Internal Facebook documents confirm that the company "whitelists" powerful establishment people and permits them to post anything on the platform without censorship, while "normal" users are monitored, censored, and punished for "unacceptable" speech. This is possibly the most unAmerican business practice I can think of. Special speech rights for powerful, famous, rich people, and limited speech rights for everyone else. Disgusting and shameful.

The program, known as "cross check" or "XCheck," was initially intended as a quality-control measure for actions taken against high-profile accounts, including celebrities, politicians and journalists. Today, it shields millions of VIP users from the company's normal enforcement process, the documents show. Some users are "whitelisted"--rendered immune from enforcement actions--while others are allowed to post rule-violating material pending Facebook employee reviews that often never come. [...]

For ordinary users, Facebook dispenses a kind of rough justice in assessing whether posts meet the company's rules against bullying, sexual content, hate speech and incitement to violence. Sometimes the company's automated systems summarily delete or bury content suspected of rule violations without a human review. At other times, material flagged by those systems or by users is assessed by content moderators employed by outside companies.

Regardless of its profitability, Facebook is a national disgrace.

The company agonizes to an absurd degree over how its services are used and by whom -- an agony that telephone, electric, water, and trash-collection companies seem to manage just fine without.

Facebook's stated ambition has long been to connect people. As it expanded over the past 17 years, from Harvard undergraduates to billions of global users, it struggled with the messy reality of bringing together disparate voices with different motivations--from people wishing each other happy birthday to Mexican drug cartels conducting business on the platform. Those problems increasingly consume the company.

Time and again, the documents show, in the U.S. and overseas, Facebook's own researchers have identified the platform's ill effects, in areas including teen mental health, political discourse and human trafficking. Time and again, despite congressional hearings, its own pledges and numerous media exposés, the company didn't fix them.

Obviously all good people are united against drug cartels, teen depression and anxiety, and human trafficking -- but Facebook is no more an enabler of these ills than are the electric or telephone companies. In their absurd compulsion to lock out bad users, Facebook is shamefully restricting the free speech rights of all people everywhere in the world.

Human civilization needs to change how we see social media and internet communication more broadly -- it's a utility that should be required to serve all comers. We shouldn't burden these services with the moral responsibility to discriminate between good and evil, and the services shouldn't take that responsibility on themselves. Leave that burden to the People and their elected representatives, as protected by the Constitution and our God-given rights and dignity.


The Intercept reports that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, led by Anthony Fauci, funded gain-of-function research carried out at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China, the likely source of COVID-19.

The bat coronavirus grant provided EcoHealth Alliance with a total of $3.1 million, including $599,000 that the Wuhan Institute of Virology used in part to identify and alter bat coronaviruses likely to infect humans. Even before the pandemic, many scientists were concerned about the potential dangers associated with such experiments. The grant proposal acknowledges some of those dangers: "Fieldwork involves the highest risk of exposure to SARS or other CoVs, while working in caves with high bat density overhead and the potential for fecal dust to be inhaled."

Alina Chan, a molecular biologist at the Broad Institute, said the documents show that EcoHealth Alliance has reason to take the lab-leak theory seriously. "In this proposal, they actually point out that they know how risky this work is. They keep talking about people potentially getting bitten -- and they kept records of everyone who got bitten," Chan said. "Does EcoHealth have those records? And if not, how can they possibly rule out a research-related accident?"

In July Senator Rand Paul asked Fauci about US-funded gain-of-function research and Fauci denied that the research in question qualifies as "gain-of-function".

FAUCI: "Senator Paul, I have never lied before the Congress and I do not retract that statement. This paper that you're referring to was judged by qualified staff up and down the chain as not being gain of function. What was -- "

PAUL: "So you -- "

FAUCI: "Let me finish!"

PAUL: "So you take an animal virus and you increase the transmissibility to humans, you're saying that's not gain of function?"

FAUCI: "Yeah, that is correct. And Senator Paul, you do not know what you're talking about, quite frankly. And I want to say that officially. You do not know what you are talking about. Okay, you get one person -- "

PAUL: "The NIH -- "

FAUCI: "Can I answer?"

PAUL: "This is your definition that you guys wrote. It says that scientific research that increases the transmissibility among mammals is gain of function. They took animal viruses that only occur in animals and they increase their transmissibility to humans. How you can say that is not gain of function -- "

FAUCI: "It is not."

PAUL: "It's a dance and you're dancing around this, because you're trying to obscure responsibility for 4 million people dying around the world from a pandemic."

So Fauci thinks he can parse the terminology in a way that excludes the work he funded from being "gain-of-function", regardless of the plainest, most obvious reading of the definition. Fauci says that Paul isn't qualified to interpret what he has read and heard.

But experienced researchers say that the work described in these newly released grant applications is definitely "gain-of-function", even by the most hair-splitting definition. Rutgers University molecular biologist Richard Ebright writes:

The materials show that the 2014 and 2019 NIH grants to EcoHealth with subcontracts to WIV funded gain-of-function research as defined in federal policies in effect in 2014-2017 and potential pandemic pathogen enhancement as defined in federal policies in effect in 2017-present.

(This had been evident previously from published research papers that credited the 2014 grant and from the publicly available summary of the 2019 grant. But this now can be stated definitively from progress reports of the 2014 grant and the full proposal of the 2017 grant.)

The materials confirm the grants supported the construction--in Wuhan--of novel chimeric SARS-related coronaviruses that combined a spike gene from one coronavirus with genetic information from another coronavirus, and confirmed the resulting viruses could infect human cells.

It's not surprising that few people seem very interested in positively identifying the source of COVID-19. Our experts seem to have a conflict-of-interest.

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This page is an archive of entries from September 2021 listed from newest to oldest.

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