How US Media Misrepresent the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s Laboratories and Safety Protocols

Joshua Cho

MintPress News | September 15, 2021

Lab Leak Media Feature photo

Editor’s Note | We recognize that COVID-19 coverage can inflame passions and is prone to controversy. In the past, MintPress News has published varying viewpoints on the topic (including ones that stand in contrast to those represented in the following article). We strive to provide well-researched articles representing a diversity of views to our readers in the interest of fostering healthy discussion in the public interest.

WUHAN, CHINA — While many people have already criticized the lack of evidence and scientific basis for the hypothesis that the Covid-19 pandemic originated from a laboratory, both critics and proponents of the lab-leak theory appear to have uncritically accepted false or unproven premises regarding work done at the laboratory most often implicated in these speculations, the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).

Some of the most prominent accusations pointed at the WIV are that it was conducting research as part of China’s alleged biowarfare program, and was conducting its experiments in substandard biosafety conditions. The implication is that if the WIV lied about not having SARS-CoV-2 before the outbreak, the virus would also be more likely to have originated from there owing to their inadequate biosafety standards. However, after investigating these widely circulated claims and contacting several scientists, it turns out there is actually little evidence for any of these allegations.

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Hush, Hush (Venezuela is Winning!)

Maria Paez Victor

COUNTERPUNCH | September 17, 2021

By now it is obvious that the mainstream media does not cover any good news whatsoever about Venezuela.  Even non-political issues are always accompanied by a poisoned cliché sentence or two about “dictator”, “authoritarian regime”, “collapsed economy” “humanitarian crisis”, etc. etc.

So, the game-changing news that there are peace talks being held in México City between the Venezuelan government and opposition parties is ignored.  México is acting as host and facilitator with the kingdoms of Norway and Netherlands, and the Russian Federation as mediators. This seminal event has been scarcely reported by the North American media or commented on by politicians. Not a peep. Perhaps it is because neither the USA nor Canada have been permitted to be part of these negotiations, although certainly the USA has tried, and failed, to worm itself in.

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Venezuela Proposes a General Secretariat for Celac

teleSUR | September 18, 2021

President Nicolas Maduro, Mexico, Sep. 18, 2021.
President Nicolas Maduro, Mexico, Sep. 18, 2021. | Photo: Twitter/ @NicolasMaduro

President Nicolas Maduro called for the reactivation of mechanisms for analyzing economic, social, political, and trade integration proposals. 

Addressing the VI Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro reiterated the need to set up a “powerful” bloc’s General Secretariat to promote the region’s multilateralism, integration, and cooperation.

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China Firmly Rejects Illegal Detention of Venezuelan Diplomat Alex Saab

Orinoco Tribune | September 19, 2021

On Friday, September 17, the People’s Republic of China firmly rejected the illegal detention of Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab and urged the United States to respect the norms that govern international law.

Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry, stated at a press conference that the US “has been playing a shameful role in regard to Venezuela. The US has constantly abused political and judicial maneuvers, including sanctions and extraditions; with the purpose of meddling in the internal affairs of Venezuela.”

Lijian went on to point out that the US harassment policy “affects the regular international personnel exchange and endangers mutual trust and cooperation between countries,” and due to this reason “China firmly rejects this.”

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Reflections on Events in Afghanistan

M. K. Bhadrakumar

Indian Punchline

15. Enter regional states 

The Taliban hoisted their black and white flag on the presidential palace in Kabul on September 11, which happens to be the twentieth anniversary of the Al-Qaeda’s attack on New York and Washington, DC. The symbolism is too obvious to be missed. Although the Taliban had no hand in the 9/11 attacks, it took the brunt of the US’ revenge act to invade Afghanistan. 

No doubt, the flag hoisting is an assertion by the Taliban that they have returned as the ruling elite 20 years after their government was overthrown, and that is a reality the US cannot ignore. 

Read Full Article: https://www.indianpunchline.com/reflections-on-events-in-afghanistan-15/

16. Biden’s Taliban blues 

The best part of the visit by the Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, Nikolay Patrushev to New Delhi (September 7-8) was that the two countries may embark upon a voyage of discovery of each other at a phase in their relationship when the US-led Quad irrevocably sets them apart and as Delhi climbs on board the US’ Indo-Pacific Strategy to fight the Chinese on the beaches, in the hills and in the air. 

The Americans are of course back on the cold war era track obsessed with weakening and possibly dismembering Russia, if they can, to realise their elusive dream of ‘nuclear superiority’. 

Read Full Article: https://www.indianpunchline.com/reflections-on-events-in-afghanistan-16/

17. Foreign Devils on the Silk Road  

The title of an unputdownable 1980 classic by Peter Hopkirk comes to mind even as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation are preparing to hold back-to-back summit meetings at Dushanbe, Tajikistan, on September 17. 

Foreign Devils on the Silk Road: The Search for the Lost Treasures of Central Asia tells the breathtaking story of the intrepid men who made long-range archaeological raids in far west China looking for the lost cities of the Taklamakan Desert before they were gradually swallowed by the shifting waves of sand (and weren’t rediscovered until the early 19th century.) 

Read Full Article: https://www.indianpunchline.com/reflections-on-events-in-afghanistan-17/

18. India’s ‘over-the-horizon’ dilemma 

In England, they’d plan a park, build it but wouldn’t complete it until they could observe  for a while the foot tracks of walkers, before deciding where to lay the pathways for optimal utility. 

The Blinken Administration and Modi Govt apparently think they don’t have that luxury when it comes to Afghanistan. That is the troubling signal out of the Congressional hearing on Monday in Washington with Secretary of State Antony Blinken. 

But, for a start, Blinken was rather muted in his reaction on Pakistan’s perceived duplicity in taking advantage of the US. Certainly, he would know three things. 

Read Full Article: https://www.indianpunchline.com/reflections-on-events-in-afghanistan-18/

[THIS IS POSTED HERE FOR NON-PROFIT, NON-COMMERCIAL, EDUCATIONAL PURPOSE.]

US Chamber of Commerce Asks Biden to Modify Illegal Sanctions Policy Towards Venezuela

orinocotribune | September 13, 2021

US Chamber of Commerce headquarters in Washington D.C.. Photo by Greg Nash.

On Thursday, September 9, the US Chamber of Commerce released a statement asking the US government to modify the illegal sanctions policy against Venezuela. The statement called the implementation of coercive measures a “failure” that has deeply affected Venezuela’s energy sector.

However, the statement still relies on the same anti-Chavista US narrative that led to the application of these measures in the first place. “While well-intentioned in their aim to rid the longsuffering Venezuelan people of Maduro, the ultimate failure of sweeping cross-sectoral sanctions to spur quick democratic transition unleashed a cascade of negative unintended consequences,” reads the statement.

These illegal sanctions came after the end of US and European companies’ participation in the oil and gas market of Venezuela. Clearly, these coercive measures apply penalties as an obstacle to Venezuelan business both in the United States and in other parts of the world.

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Dispatches from a world aflame

From California’s deadliest blaze to a new planetary fire regime, how wildfires are reshaping our climate-changed planet.

Alexandra Witze

Nature | September 07, 2021

A firefighter looks on as flames devour a tree in Paradise, California
The Camp Fire devastated the town of Paradise, California, in November 2018.Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty

Paradise: One Town’s Struggle to Survive an American Wildfire Lizzie Johnson Crown (2021)

The Pyrocene: How We Created an Age of Fire, and What Happens Next Stephen J. Pyne Univ. California Press (2021

On the morning of 8 November 2018, an electrical-transmission tower in the foothills of northern California sent sparks raining into the bone-dry vegetation below. Strong winds fanned the flames and flung showers of embers ahead of the fire’s ferocious advance. Within hours it had obliterated several mountain communities, including the town of Paradise. Eighty-five people died; it was the deadliest California wildfire so far.

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US ECONOMIC WAR ON CUBA CONTINUES, EVEN AFTER WAR IN AFGHANISTAN ENDS

President Joe Biden justified military withdrawal from Afghanistan by arguing that the US must stop “military operations to remake other countries,” but its efforts to “remake other countries” like Cuba through economic warfare continue unabated.

Radhika Desai and Arnold August

The Real News Network | September 01, 2021

As the 20-year war in Afghanistan officially came to an end, President Joe Biden justified US military withdrawal in an address to the nation on Aug. 31: “This decision about Afghanistan is not just about Afghanistan. It’s about ending an era of major military operations to remake other countries.” While these remarks suggest a potential reckoning with the longstanding US policy of imperialist intervention around the world, increased US sanctions on Cuba demonstrate that such intervention persists in the form of economic warfare. From the dire strain US sanctions have put on the Cuban economy to the corporate media frenzy that exploited protests in Cuba this summer as a justification for interventionist “regime change,” it is clear that efforts by the US to “remake other countries” are not ending any time soon.

TRNN contributor Radhika Desai is joined by Arnold August to discuss the protests in Cuba, the media narratives about the protests, and the prospect that the Biden administration will succeed in exploiting Cuba’s current troubles to achieve its interventionist ends. August is a Montreal-based author, journalist, lecturer, and the author of multiple books on Cuba, including Democracy in Cuba and the 1997–98 ElectionsCuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion, and Cuba–U.S. Relations: Obama and Beyond.

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Reflections on Events in Afghanistan

M. K. Bhadrakumar

Indian Punchline

11. US slips out of Kabul but is vengeful

The back-to-back press briefings on August 30 by General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr, commander, US Central Command and Antony Blinken, Secretary of State, on Afghanistan conveys the picture of a superpower badly bruised and embittered but remaining vengeful. This is bad news. 

Gen. McKenzie said, “Taliban had been very — very pragmatic and very business-like… they were actually very helpful and useful to us as we closed down operations”. But then, Americans wouldn’t even share with the Taliban the exact time of their “tactical exfiltration”. Nor was there any “discussion of turning anything over.” 

Read Full Article: https://www.indianpunchline.com/reflections-on-events-in-afghanistan-11/

12. To recognise, or not to recognise, that’s the question

At the weekly briefing in Moscow on Thursday by the Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova stated that Russia will consider recognising Afghanistan’s new authorities once an inclusive government is formed in the country. 

To quote Zakharova, “We call for the establishment of an inclusive coalition government in Afghanistan that would involve all of the country’s ethnic and political forces, including ethnic minorities, so the question of recognising the country’s authorities will rise after the process is over.” (TASS

Read Full Article: https://www.indianpunchline.com/reflections-on-events-in-afghanistan-12/

13. Panjshir revolt becomes footnote

At the daily foreign ministry briefing in Beijing on Friday, Russian correspondent of Sputnik asked spokesperson Ambassador Wang Wenbin how China viewed the Taliban decision to attack Panjshir and how this will affect the Afghan situation. 

Ambassador Wang replied that “it is China’s sincere hope that all parties in Afghanistan will go with the Afghan people’s eager aspiration and the international community’s expectation to resolve differences through consultation and ensure a steady transition so that the people of this war-torn country can live free from war and conflict and build lasting peace at an early date.” 

Read Full Article: https://www.indianpunchline.com/reflections-on-events-in-afghanistan-13/

14. The fall of Panjshir

Panjshir has fallen to the Taliban with a bang — and a whimper. The bang is because a 40-year old legend lies shattered, the legend of the invincibility of Panjshir Valley. And the whimper is because the short-lived ‘resistance’ had a tame ending. 

A BBC report said the revolt’s two top leaders Ahmad Massoud and Amrullah Saleh were not even in Panjshir during the past 4 days at least but had left for Tajikistan and were apparently leading the so-called ‘resistance’ via Twitter. It may seem farcical and will have deleterious consequences. 

Read Full Article: https://www.indianpunchline.com/reflections-on-events-in-afghanistan-14/

[THIS IS POSTED HERE FOR NON-PROFIT, NON-COMMERCIAL, EDUCATIONAL PURPOSE.]

Afghanistan Crisis: Statements by Communist Parties

idcommunism.com | August 27, 2021

Since the beginning of the rapid developments in Afghanistan and the comeback of Taliban in the power, Communist and Workers’ Parties from all over the world have issued statements concerning the situation in the country.  The vast majority of statements refer to the disastrous role of US-EU imperialism, the military intervention in 2001, as well as the immense responsibilities of the U.S. and European governments for supporting the rise of Taliban in the 1980s, primary in the war against the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. 

Read here the statement of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE)

Read here the joint statement by the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India (Marxist). 

Other Statements:

Party of Labour, Austria (PdA)

On the developments in Afghanistan

The developments in Afghanistan confirm the reactionary and for the peoples devastating character of imperialist wars and interventions. The fall of the Afghan puppet government and the return of the Islamist Taliban movement to power after the withdrawal of the US and NATO occupation forces of course mean a continuation of the sufferings of the Afghan people caused by the uninterrupted interference of imperialist forces in the country for decades.

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