When elephants fight …

Our policy on fights between the US and China, until now, has been to avoid them, regardless of the merits. On the coronavirus, both are badly at fault, arguably the US more so. And there’s no obvious reason why Australia has any special interest in working out who is to blame.

21 thoughts on “When elephants fight …

  1. Mere blame is indeed pointless. Examining causes and remedies is another matter. The rise of zoonotic diseases indicates that we need to make changes to land use, food production methods and even foods used. The ideal for suppressing zoonotic disease rise would be a switch to vegetarianism, as some on this blog have mentioned, but getting enough protein and essential nutrients would become a problem for the developing world and maybe even for some children in the first world.

    We should not doubt that zoonoses are on the rise and our high populations and connectedness plus our systems of land use and food production are the causes. See articles like “Emerging zoonoses on the rise ” – American Veterinary Medial Association.

    “”This new era of emerging diseases will continue and maybe even accelerate,” said Dr. Lonnie King, the dean of the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, who attended the meeting as a representative of the OIE ( Office International des Epizooties) and works as a consultant for the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The WHO identified the ecologic impact of human activities as the most important risk factor in the rise of emerging diseases. Specifically discussed were the roles of international travel, global warming, trade in exotic and wild animals, population growth of humans and domestic animals, encroachment of humans and domesticated animals into wildlife habitat, and concentrated agriculture operations in close proximity to human populations.”

    Also see. “The rise and rise of “zoonotic” diseases: why are animals more likely than ever to make us ill?” – New Statesman.

    The clear solutions in no particular order are ;

    (1) Increase funding for scientific research into zoonotic and epidemic disease;
    (2) Increase all medical funding across the board. Take it out of military budgets.
    (3) Cease encroaching on wilderness. Declare all remaining wilderness protected in perpetuity.
    (4) Seek to re-expand wilderness areas where possible.
    (5) Implement buffer zones between wilderness and human populations.
    (6) Place limits on tourism and incursion into wilderness. Some areas should permit research only.
    (7) Control and reduce human population (by liberating women and providing free birth control).
    (8) Make changes to food production and species utilized.

    Factory farming should be phased out and eventually abolished. A world protocol is required to ban the eating of species which pose a high risk to human health. This would certainly include banning the eating of bats, rats, simians, snakes, carnivore mammal and all protected wildlife species (except for genuine indigenous cultural practices in declared areas).

    The raising of chickens and pigs in proximity needs to be examined. Serious thought needs to be given to banning pigs as a food animal if this feasible. It may not be for livelihood and nutrition reasons.

    There is a reason that India is the site of far less zoonotic outbreaks than East Asia. 31% of Indians are vegetarian compared to 5% of Chinese, for example. In addition, in the Indian sub-continent, Hindus do not eat meat, Moslems do not eat pork and in areas with significant Hindu and Moslem populations, the bulk of the combined population tends to not eat beef or pork out of mutual respect (though as we know religious respect and tolerance can break down anywhere. Indians who eat meat tend to eat chicken, sheep and goat meat for the most part, plus fish. Often the meat is in small proportions to vegetables, pulses etc. and acts almost as a condiment rather than key part of the dish in bulk or calorie terms.

    People around the world need to stop taking a unilateral “non-negotiable” attitude about their particular cultural eating practices if this means they stay fixated on their “rights” to eat certain foods and raise animals in certain ways which scientifically and provably involve serious risks to global human health and to the survival of endangered wildlife. This would apply except where malnutrition would otherwise result. Given that such malnutrition results from mal-distribution and not from real food shortages, these procedures and protocosl should be able to be implemented.

    Nature is telling us we have no rights so far as “she” is concerned. There are too many “entitled” humans all over this planet and in every country. Nature it telling us in no uncertain terms “Tone down your demands on me or I will deal with you”. “Deal with you” means human deaths in droves. Are we intelligent, disciplined and cooperative enough to heed this message? If not, then hello human extinction and it may well be a fully deserved and merited extinction.

  2. The virus originated in China. It’s in everybody’s interests, except possibly the Chinese Government’s, to find our how it happened, to stop it happening the same way again.

  3. Oops, my mistake. Post 1 by anonymous was me. My style and idees fixe are well known so it would be obvious anyway. A comma instead of a full stop in the email address caused the anonymous post.

  4. Erratum: “Hindus do not eat meat” should read “Hindus do not eat beef”.

  5. Couching the issue in terms of ‘who is to blame’ is a mistake. The Wuhan lab was doing research into these viruses partly in accordance with grants from an American institute. The research couldn’t be done in the US because of the country’s appalling record of breaches of biosecurity protocols in its own labs https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/06/02/newly-disclosed-cdc-lab-incidents-fuel-concerns-safety-transparency/84978860/ https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2016/07/federal-report-discloses-incidents-high-containment-labs. Nor is America the only country with a flawed record https://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/dec/04/-sp-100-safety-breaches-uk-labs-potentially-deadly-diseases

    It’s long been recognized that it was not a matter of if, but when, a virus escaped from one of these level 4 labs. The reasoning is similar to that which predicts any online database will eventually be hacked no matter how much effort is put into security. Ultimately, a human being will screw up.

    Therefore if SARS-CoV-2 escaped from the Wuhan lab, it should be regarded as a ‘there but for the grace of God’ accident. Ditto if it was transmitted by eating a wild animal, unless such transmission is magically prevented by labelling wild animals hunted for food as ‘game’. There may be plenty of criticism to be levelled at the way China handled the beginnings of the outbreak, but trying to sheet home blame for the virus itself is a fool’s errand that will only cause pointless deterioration in relationships.

  6. The elephant in the room is the why not exactly who. They why is US aggression in general and a blatant assassination of two foriegn leaders accompanied by a completely inplausible justification for that assassination in particular.
    The evidence for this is the way in which the virus quickly spread to a US aircraft carrier, the way it quickly spread to US “commercial interests” in the Wiesbaden area of Germany. The way in which ground zero for Germany was a community that the hub of a major NATO HQ and AWACS air force base. The way in which in virus has caused a major disruption in the US meat supply chain casusing disruptions to that industry that have not been up until know seen else where including italy or Spain, let alone China.
    Further evidence for this outlook is in the incredibly DISCRIMINATE charachteristics of the virus.

    The question of who has become much more interesting in the past weeks as the consequences caused by this virus echos across the planet. It now appears more likely that this virus was not released upon the orders of any government at all but on the orders of an international rogue organization, and in some cases carried by fanatically devoted patriots of the cause directly to premeditated targets.

    The really vital qestion at this point is after firing off the first round of thier arsenal does the rouge organization that fired it have a second available to fire.

  7. A global health approach towards emerging infectious diseases based on “who is to blame” will be a disaster. Countries – not just China, but all countries – are under a lot of pressure to hide outbreaks when they emerge, not just for human diseases but also animal diseases (foot and mouth, etc). If we introduce a system of blame and compensation it will just increase the pressure to hide, obfuscate and confuse. It will of course be worst for the low-income countries, who aren’t in a position to easily control emerging infectious diseases but will be on the hook for the consequences, with further pressure to hide the outbreaks. It’s the absolute antithesis of good public health.

    Also, trying to attribute blame means identifying where a virus originated and why and this is not easy. It took 30 years to identify the source of HIV, which was narrowed down to probably somewhere in Belgian Congo in the 1920s. But it was identified in the USA. Should African countries have sued the USA for this virus that originated in gay men and San Francisco and infected them later? Imagine the nasty confluence of political issues there, with a bunch of countries with colonial-era anti-gay laws suing the USA for billions of dollars of compensation for a virus that originated in the gay community, and imagine that happening when Reagan and his homophobic mates were in power. Think about what the consequences of that would be for sexual minorities (and sex workers and injecting drug users) around the world. It’s a disaster, which is why the WHO is pushing back against this entire debate.

    Ikonoclast is right that the proper approach is a planetary health approach that prevents these viruses starting, not some stupid blame game that encourages poor countries to hide the outbreaks even as the risk grows. Furthermore we as leftists shouldn’t engage with this stupid American blame game, but should dismiss it as the ludicrous distraction that it is. The USA has monumentally messed up its response to this virus and is desperate to cast the blame elsewhere. They had three full months to get ready and they didn’t, and now they want to pretend that it’s all China’s fault. What happens if an inquiry finds out the virus originated in an ally, like South Korea or Japan? It’s a stupid and disastrous idea.

    Also John, again, there are already comments on this thread spreading the ridiculous conspiracy theory that this is a bio-weapon.

  8. It may be ridiculous, but, I think that it is highly appropriate, that I place my comments on this thread as well.

    Curt Kastens says:
    MAY 3, 2020 AT 8:17 PM
    It should be obvious why China has every right to be completely oppossed to any investigation in to how the Covid-19 desease spread through out the world. Because this investigation will be completely lacking in the broader historical context.
    It is a rerun of the historical analysis of world war two. The official narrative of World War 2 completely ignores how in the prelude to that war in Europe the western countries placed an arms embargo on “both” sides of the Spanish Civil War, ostensibly to promote peace, while Germany and Italy gave direct support to Franco’s forces.
    This official narrative also completely ignores the failure of the western powers to protect Norway and Sweden which they could have done with the ease of an Owl catching a rabbit. FUCKING PATHETIC!
    The world largest Navy with the support of the huge French Navy could not prevent a Navy with fewer major ships than I play with in the bath tub from mounting an ambipious assault on an overseas country.
    Then seeeing what a huge blunder the Germans had made failed to take advantage of that blunder by placing allied forces in Sweden with or WITHOUT the support of the Swedish government. Even if the Swedish government had refused permission to allow allied forces to come ashore to help protect them from the Germans the occupation of Sweden would have been easier than the occupation of Ireland in 1920!!
    Furthermore an investigation that focuses on Chinese mistakes will unfairly make, collectively speaking, the Chinese look bad in the eyes of the world when the actions that were taken on their terriotory were really done by highly intellegent heroic rogue freedom fighters that the world is by and large to stupid to understand are fighting on their behalf, without the knowledge of the Chinese leadership, who are tied at the hip to the one world leadership.
    The readers of this site should not forget a basic principle of psycology. I forget at the moment what the name of this principle is but here is an example. I love it when Catholics or ex Catholics write a critical diatribe of the Catholic Church. But if a Baptist, or even a Latter Day Saint, were to say the same thing it would annoy the hell out of me.
    The implication of that is that the proposed investigations of what happened in China will do nothing to promote world peace. More importantly they will not provide any information on how to aviod such mistakes in the future BECUASE THE TRUE STORY OF WHAT HAPPENED AT THAT TIME CAN NOT AND WILL NOT EVER BE TOLD.

    Leave a Reply

  9. Any reasonable person who has grown up in a “western” country should learn at some point that the press of the country that they grew up in, in fact in any western country, is just as unreliable as the press in Russia, or China. If you really think that the press of Austalia, Austria, the United Kingdom, Canada, or the USA is less biased or more reliable than the government press of Russia, China, Venezuela, or Cuba, then you are still believing in the tooth ferry.
    The press is not designed in any country to inform or educate the population.

  10. +1 kenalovell AT 5:18 PM “Ultimately, a human being will screw up. “Therefore if SARS-CoV-2 escaped from the Wuhan lab, it should be regarded as a ‘there but for the grace of God’ accident.”

    * “A new look at an old virus: patterns of mutation accumulation in the human H1N1 influenza virus since 1918

    “This discontinuity reflects the extinction of the human H1N1 strain in the mid 1950s, followed by the re-introduction of the strain in 1976, presumably from a researcher’s freezer. ”

  11. We know in general terms where the virus came from. It jumped from animals to humans, as these things occasionally do, and then mutated to a human to human transmissible form, which was bad luck when it happened in this particular case, but pretty much inevitable if you roll the dice enough, so we knew it was coming. It occurred in China, as expected, due to its being the nation with the highest population in the world and a combination of low tech animal husbandry, distribution, and slaughter and modern openness to the world economy.

    What is obvious is things will change massively in China and have changed massively. The main focus of preventing new zoonoses is now Africa. But improving pre-industrial levels of hygiene present in many regions there would take more effort than focusing on a country that is definitely bringing it’s hygiene practices into the late 20th century.

  12. The blame game is a political ploy aimed at pleasing the redneck base.
    We can expect Smoko and the Orange Hooligan and their associated gangsters, to play that game as long as it rewards them.
    It would be nice if the media stopped reporting on their trolling, so that they don’t get rewarded, but I don’t expect that to happen.

    Otherwise, things are (surprisingly to me) going better than I expected, but then I started with very low expectations. Among other things, I was sure that I would have had the virus by now and could well be dead and gone and it seems I have not and am not. The quality of the satire out there is excellent, and enjoyable.

    I am working harder than I have done for a long time, looking after my locked-down grandson, playing endless fantasy games with Duplo blocks.

    What we should be considering is to whom we should open our gates first, in terms of allowing travel without quarantine. New Zealand, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Vietnam (in no special order) seem to be obvious candidates since they appear to have the Corona under control. Iceland, Greenland and Slovenia would be candidates too but they are too small to consider and there are no direct flights. Russia, Brazil, USA should come last along with all the other countries with inadequate testing and inadequate lockdowns.

  13. Hum S&P500 -2,27%. Did Trump walk something back already? Either way, one would think since he loves rising stocks so much he would avoid such pointless trade disputes.

  14. The elephants are still fighting, or at least not cooperating properly.

    “World leaders pledge €7.4bn to research Covid-19 vaccine” – Guardian.

    But as I understand it Russia, USA and India did not address this EU instigated conference even though invited, and China only did so after a week of persuasion via its (EU?) ambassador.

    As I also understand it at this stage, USA, China and Russia have pledged NO FUNDS to this project even though for example, Australia has done so to the tune of A$325 million, if I recall correctly.

    I hereby dub the USA, China and Russia the Three non-amigos or more properly in Spanish “Los tres no amigos”: incapable of being proper friends with each other and with the rest of the globe. The superpower dynamic, like the super rich dynamic, seems to mandate that you have to be an asshole to everybody.

    Perhaps the true divide in this world is not the superpowers, allies and proxies versus each other but the superpowers deafult-combined in arrogant disregard against the interests of everybody else.

    Los tres no amigos! May all three collapse and/or disintegrate back to smaller polities without too much individual pain within their former borders! The way forward may be many relatively small, diverse polities in loose federations. Nations bigger than about a 100 million (in a world nearing 8 billion) usually become a serious pain in the ass to smaller nations. Yes, I am national-demographic-size-ist! Unpologetically. I like real big elephants, from a great distance, as I a not a real ant. I dislike big nation-state elephants. They all seem highly dangerous and inimical to me and to all the “little people” of the world.

  15. Ikonoclast,
    the thing is that you can not put a genie back in to the bottle once it escapes. Ok yes someone tricked it in to the bottle at one point. But know the genie is wiser and will not fall for that trick a second time.
    Anyways China, India, the USA, Indonesia, and Russia are not going to fall apart until biosphere collapse occurs.
    There is a soulution to these elephants making a mess of tihngs. That is to divide the world in to nation states/federations that are to big to mess with.
    As the world’s formost juror due to my personal relationship with so many countries which are antagonistic towards each other I am the most qualified of all of the world’s 8 billion or so people to decide where the borders should be drawn.
    This is how the world should be divided. (if humanity should survive)
    1. North America* From the Artic circle down to Nicarugua. Minus Greenland and Alaska, except for the panhandle. With the addition of Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Guam and American Samoa. and Wake Island, and England and Wales.
    2.) South America up to Panama and including the Carribean Islands, minus Puerto Rico and the Falklands.
    3.)Sub Saharan Africa.
    4.) Arabic speaking North Africa along with the Arabian Peninsula.
    5.) The EU with the addition of Greenland, (Iceland?), Norway, Ulster, Scotland, Serbia, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Albania if Albania is not already in, I forget.
    6.) The Holy Land, that would include, Turkey, Kurdistan, Iran, Arabistan, Azerbijan, Afghanistan, Tadjikistan, Uzbekistan, and eventually Pakistan. Palestinians can vote to be either part of this group of naitons, or part of Arabic speaking North Africa and Saudi Peninsula.
    7.) China with the addition of Alaska. But if the Chinese accept Alaska they have to give an Alaskan size share of Tibet to India. Also the Chinese can not put any military forces in to Alaska.
    8.) India plus Nepal and Sri Lanka
    9.) The countries of South East Asia plus Bangladesh, Australia and New Zealand and the area known as Oceana,
    10.) And now, last but not least, the crown jewel of this necklace of jewels, Sparklingstan. The set of nations belonging to this federation would be Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, the Ukraine, Russia, the remaining central Asian stans, Mongolia, Japan, and Korea.*
    * Taiwan would belong to the one of the 3 (of 4) legitimate bidders that I mentioned a few days ago. The nation that paid Mozambique or the Sub Saharan Federation the most money would be the one that Taiwan would be a part of. Or if Tiawan, the 4th legitimate bidder could manage to be the highest bidder then a referendum could be held on the Island to determine which of the 3 federations that it would belong to.

    Reasonable people have to get over their obsolete ideas about national self determination. National Self determination leads inevitably to libertarianism, the most pure form of neo liberalism, and that leads to death and extinction, most of the time. Perhaps with proper leadership extinction by libertarianism might on occasion be avoided but I want to avoid finding out.

    Real and true socialists have always called for a one world government. I consider that demand to be overreach though. More importantly a one world government would put all of humanities eggs in one basket. A system of proper checks and balances requires more than one planetary governmental system.
    But there should be a system for these ten federations to make decisions that require global cooperation. This system should give China and India and Africa 2 votes each and one vote for the other 7 federations. (No veto power). But for a vote to be binding on all nations it would have to pass by a margin of 11 to 2 or 12 to 1. Ok I might be open to the idea of a 10 to 3 vote of being binding on all nations.

  16. I forgot to mention one of the smaller points about dividing up the world. Haitians get a special status.
    Although Haiti will be part of the South American Federation all of its residents will be granted American citizenship if they want it. No need for them to actually take up residence in the USA.
    Oh and this one too. If the Subsaharan Federation requests it, the USA has to accept 40 million African refugees between the ages of 16 to 18 years old over a period of no more than 10 years.

    ps. Some people currently living in Austraiia and New Zealand may say that I have no right to make their nations to become provences of a larger regional federation. They are wrong. I have every right to make those two nations do that. Why? Because the USA owns Australia and New Zealand lock stock and barrel. Therefore the USA has every right to gift Australia and New Zealand to Indonesia and Vietnam and Laos and Cambodia as repatriation payments. Understanding that should prove beyond any reasonable doubt that I am not delusional.

  17. Curt Kastens says:
    MAY 3, 2020 AT 7:34 PM. Curt Kastens’ post contains statements regarding Germany’ coronavirus experience that is at best muddled and at worst totally misleading.[1] Since Curt Kastens does not provide any references to support his narrative, I supply a link below which records in great detail the first coronavirus case in a company in a small town in Bavaria, Germany, close to Munich and how the spreading was traced.

    The link is from a respected website and it contains statements that can be checked against, for example, Prof Droston’s own podcast. The content is also found in UK publications and elsewhere.


    [1] To the best of my knowledge, the AfD is the only political organisation that asserts ‘fake news’. It is also the only political party in Germany, which is partially observed by the local equivalent of ASIO, and according to a Court judgement, the leader of a faction, Björn Höcke, may be called a fascist.

    I believe it is reasonable to point Curt K. to the above web-site to assist in not accidentally being on a false information track.

  18. It is safe to assume Curt K. beats even the vast majority of the AFD on the corona crazy o meter.
    The official mainstream line there still seems to be that Corona is real and even accepts that it is worse than the flu, but that of course the countermeasures are fare too drastic anyway.
    Somewhat lower on the craz-o-meter, the FDP also made an entry into conspiracy mongering territory with Kubiki suggesting the Robert Koch Insitut had doctored the R0 estimate upwards to justify more severe measures.

  19. Maybe Curt is best described with a fancy latin word: Sui generis. The upside is, that kind of crazy is often just a phase lasting some weaks or month.

  20. Coronavirus Research: Scientists Find 14 COVID-19 Mutations, One Especially Virulent


    “Scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory have identified a strain of the coronavirus that is more virulent than the one that touched off the pandemic and has become the dominant strain infecting Americans. The scientists said in a paper that has yet to be peer reviewed they identified 14 strains of the virus and cited one as particularly contagious.

    The discovery could make development of an effective vaccine more difficult. The paper was posted late last week on BioRxiv to serve as an early warning for researchers working on drugs and vaccines.

    The more virulent strain, identified through gene sequencing, first surfaced in Europe in February and migrated to the East Coast of the United States, quickly becoming dominant. It is unclear, however, whether the mutation accounts for differences in severity in outbreaks in different parts of the world or whether it is more lethal.

    “Three related factors combine to make this disease so dangerous: Human beings have no direct immunological experience with this virus, leaving us vulnerable to infection and disease; it is highly transmissible; and it has a high mortality rate,” the authors said.

    The report was based on an analysis of 6,000 coronavirus sequences from around the world collected by the Global Initiative for Sharing All Influenza Data. Italy saw one of the first countries to see the new mutation. That was at the end of February. By March 15, the strain was in New York.

    Like influenza, the coronavirus appears to accumulate changes as it spreads. If it fails to wane as the weather gets warmer, the changes will accumulate more quickly, making development of an effective vaccine more difficult. Vaccine developers had been hoping the virus would remain stable.

    The mutation appears in the virus’ spikes, which allow it to infect respiratory cells.”


    There are more and more disturbing stings in the tail of COVID-19 as scientists and virus-watchers have predicted would occur. We can now say repressive China was responsible for the initial zoonotic emergence of the virus or at least its escape to the world (in some qualified ways). Europe and the USA are responsible for their laxness leading (in some qualified ways) to generating this new more virulent strain mutation. The responsibility / reparations debate is now entirely moot. I always thought the reparations debate was pointless. The responsibility debate is now pointless too. When facts change or new facts emerge I change my mind. What do you do ladies and gents? 😉

  21. I detect disguised anger over my proposal that Australia and New Zealand have to surrender their soveriegnty to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and the Phillipines. Of course anger over that proposal could not be directly expressed without appearing politically incorrect.

    I guess that what I had written was a little harsh. If I had to do it all over again I would have written that Bangledesh has to surrender its soveriegnty to Australia, and Cambodia has to surrender its sovereignty to Bangledesh, and Indonesia has to surrender its soverignty to Cambodia, and Laos has to surreneder its soveriegnty to Indonesia, and Indonesia has to surrender its soverignty to Malaysia, and Malaysia has to surrender its soveriegnty to New Zealand, and New Zealand has to surrender its soveriegnty to the Phillipines, and the Phillipines has to surrender its soverignty to Singapore, and Singapore has to surrender its soveriegnty to Thailand, and Thailand has to surrender its soveriengty to Vietnam, and Vietname has to surrender its soveriegnty to Bangledesh, and Australia has to surrender its soveriegnty to Cambodia.

    I observe a clear geo-politcal pattern with my soulution. I am not sure if I actually created what I observe or if such a pattern was mearly created in my mind by an alien advocate playing tricks with the nureons of my mind just as was done with Van Gough.

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