When is a foreign agent not a foreign agent?

The liberal media is reporting in pained tones today that Russia has designated an “independent” media publication VTimes as a ‘foreign agent’. Under this law the publication is allowed to continue operating but must display a message informing readers that it is a foreign agent. It must also submit its accounts for special scrutiny. The publication has decided to close. This is AFP in the Guardian. And this is the Independent. The AFP/Guardian story is especially agonised: “The editors’ [VTimes] statement comes at a difficult time for Russian journalists who do not work for state-run media, with space for independent journalism and dissenting voices shrinking dramatically.” – the “dissenting voices shrinking rapidly” is a little bit melodramatic. Another publication – based abroad – Medusa has also been told it must carry this label. But there remain many independent media (not mass broadcast admittedly) outlets such as Kommersant or Internet TV Station Dozhd in Russia. (Rain). In addition almost all of the Western liberal media (including the Guardian and Independent and BBC Russian service is accessible in Russia) as well as pure propaganda outlets such as US funded Radio Free Europe (which has been designated a foreign agent but which refuses to comply with Russian law) are accessible within Russia. So “dissenting voices shrinking dramatically” is not really accurate.

(In passing we can note that AFP is part-owned by the French government – does it see itself as “independent” whereas Russian state owned media is not?).

But what struck me about the stories in the Guardian and Independent about VTimes being designated a “foreign agent” is that neither of them felt it necessary to inform their readers that VTimes is… in fact, a foreign agent. It is supported by a Dutch organisation “Stichting 2 Oktober” [1] As is readily visible on its website Stichting 2 Oktober is supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Notes

  1. themoscowtimes.com/2021/06/03/independent-russian-news-site-vtimes-shuts-down-following-foreign-agent-labeling-a74084

Lab leak theory is being suppressed for a solid reason

This is probably the reason why the (highly likely) scenario that Sars-Cov-2 was the result of a gain-of-function experiment which leaked from the lab in Wuhan is being suppressed by a concentred effort of the Western media and political classes. If established as true there will be difficult to manage public demand for sanctions and reparations which could lead to a collapse of the global economy.

At the same time – there is enough of a tendency left in the West (in the US) to base policy on something resembling the truth and it may yet be that the US administration is willing to face the (highly likely) reality that Sars-Cov-2 leaked from the lab and China has been engaged in a monstrous cover-up.

Of course the last year has seen massive control of populations by the State in the ‘free’ West – people have been deliberately frightened into ‘giving up their freedoms’ and then accepting that freedom is a gift of the state; rather than the idea that the function of the State is to guarantee freedom, which resides in free relations between people. People in this cowed stated may be willing not to demand reparations and may well be willing to accept a very muted response. It is not inconceivable that this is a planned strategy. At any rate having a submissive and cowed population is the dream of any state apparatus which works for a small private interest group but which requires mass acquiescence in its plans – as is the case with the states of the West. Once they have such submissive acquiescence they can do whatever they want. E.g. tell the people that the lab leak theory is a crazy conspiracy theory or tell them it is true but for various reasons we should not be too hard on China.

I think that the lab leak theory is highly likely – it looks to me about 95% for the lab leak theory and 5% for the evolved naturally via an intermediary animal theory at the moment. On the question of how likely – the more evidence emerges of concerted efforts by China not only to block and impede an investigation but also to spread ‘fake news’ in relation to the matter the more the likelihood of the lab leak gains ground: they stymied the WHO investigation [1], blocked journalistic investigations [2], released an obviously hoax theory about cold-food as a transmission vector [3], faked science about Pangolins as the source [4], and apparently prevented scientists speaking out [5]. All of which is difficult to connect with the idea that the virus emerged naturally.

Update

This seems to be a very serious piece discussing the two competing theories. The author is a respected Science Writer. Particularly interesting is the section exposing as bad science the view that the genetic evidence is that Sars-Cov-2 cannot have been produced artificially. This view which has been much parroted by the media appears to simply not take account of the full range of techniques available to produce artificial viruses. Note that this specific point has been made previously by virologists (and reported on this website) – however it has been reported as an outlying view. It seems it is in fact mainstream. The article also points out that British scientist Peter Daszak who is linked to the Wuhan lab though a funding body has been a key player in spreading the notion that the pandemic cannot be traced to the lab.

The whole of the above linked article by science writer Nicholas Wade makes compelling reading. There are multiple threads in it each one of which alone would point more towards the lab leak theory than the natural evolution in the wild theory. Just as a highlight I rather like this:

“Steven Quay, a physician-researcher, has applied statistical and bioinformatic tools to ingenious explorations of the virus’s origin, showing for instance how the hospitals receiving the early patients are clustered along the Wuhan №2 subway line which connects the Institute of Virology at one end with the international airport at the other, the perfect conveyor belt for distributing the virus from lab to globe.”

He also points out that the Coronavirus research at the Wuhan lab was being funded by the US NIH. (It doesn’t seem to be clear if they knowingly funded gain-of-function experiments). This is also quite fun:

One can imagine the behind-the-scenes conversation in which the Chinese government says, “If this research was so dangerous, why did you fund it, and on our territory too?” To which the US side might reply, “Looks like it was you who let it escape. But do we really need to have this discussion in public?”

In short; if the US was funding work which led to the pandemic (and they were certainly funding research into Coronaviruses and how they could infect humans) this would appear to be a very solid reason as to why they might be keeping quiet.

I’m also relinking to this: https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/03/18/1021030/coronavirus-leak-wuhan-lab-scientists-conspiracy/ which is another more balanced piece (from March 21).

See also: https://thenewobserver.co.uk/tag/lab-leak/

Notes

  1. https://www.dw.com/en/coronavirus-digest-who-rebukes-china-for-blocking-investigator-entry/a-56131087 https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-56054468
  2. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-asia-55404485
  3. https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-pushes-alternative-theories-about-origin-of-covid-19-11607445463
  4. https://www.cnet.com/features/the-complex-messy-hunt-for-covid-19s-origin-and-the-lab-leak-theory/
  5. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/covid-19-coronavirus-wuhan-virus-lab-scientist-thought-to-be-patient-zero-still-missing/VA4TIO726U7P36ZQG2WLHDDTNA/

How does the government get away with it on Covid?

This is a rather good article in the Guardian. The question the author asks is how – given how obviously terrible the government’s handling of the Sars-Cov-2 pandemic has been – can they get away with it. Despite being a government “in which narcissistic dilettantes wield great power in a catastrophic government of egotists and charlatans” no criticism ‘sticks’. They continue to ride high in the polls and no one – government Minister or senior official – many of whom are in fact responsible for what looks very much like manslaughter by negligence – has any need to worry at all; not even about their job (let alone charges). How can this be?

Continue reading “How does the government get away with it on Covid?”

Media suppression of resistance to the new normal

A demonstration took place in London today against lockdown, vaccination of schoolchildren and against potential ‘vaccine passports’. Judging by the images on RT and the DM several thousand people at least took part. Probably in the tens of thousands.

The Guardian, Independent and BBC have all ignored it. The BBC main news page leads with a story about a celebrity and historical allegations of sexual assault. On the BBC Covid section the news is about the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine and about two ‘heroes’ who have survived having Covid. i.e. government sponsored content.

The DM at least covers it, though with heavy editing. The march is described as being by people claiming that Covid is a “hoax”. (Interestingly the lead comment on the article is by someone who presents themselves as a marcher explaining that this is not the case – that most marchers are against restrictions; they understand that the virus really exists). The thousands of people are completely falsely described as “hundreds”. But at least they covered it.

This is a major march in Central London on the most burning topic of the day. And the BBC and the main liberal newspapers simply blank it. The DM misrepresents it – portraying rational concerns and arguments as weird and ‘out there’ kind of opinions. (The whole tone of the DM article is about these ‘others’ – not us).

This is indeed worthy of North Korea.

Why can they not have a debate with these people? What are they afraid of? Where is democracy? Where is reason? Where are Enlightenment values?

It is very strange indeed; because it is quite easy to make a rational case for all these things; vaccine passports, lockdowns, even vaccination of school-children. Why won’t they make it? Why instead do they suppress critics?