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WHO’s COVID ‘investigation’ was dishonest Chinese propaganda: Devine

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WHO's COVID 'investigation' was dishonest Chinese propaganda: Devine

Surprise, surprise! The crack team of investigators the World Health Organization sent to China to investigate the origins of the pandemic has ruled out a leak from a Wuhan lab. Phew. That’s China off the hook, then. Carry on.

It’s all such a tragic farce. The WHO team spent almost four weeks in Wuhan, half in quarantine, but they spent just three hours at the Wuhan Institute that credible virologists across the world say is the most likely source of the outbreak.

They were convinced during their visit that it was impossible for any lab accidents to have occurred there, because standards are so high. No needle pricks, animal bites or any other human error that occurs regularly in every other biosecurity lab in the world.

Case closed.

Strange, then, that accidents seemed to be enough of a concern on Nov. 15, 2019, for two of the institute lab’s staff to file their only lab-accident-related patent. It is for a tourniquet to treat fingers wounded when working with pathogenic viruses, and it was uncovered by a group of scientists and open-source intelligence researchers who call themselves “Drastic.”

Maybe it’s not such a great idea to be doing that research in a city of 11 million people.

While dismissing the lab-leak theory, WHO investigators also echoed China’s most farcical propaganda point, musing that the virus might have been imported into China via frozen food such as Australian beef and sold at the Wuhan market.

Speaking alongside Chinese apparatchiks in Wuhan at a three-hour event Tuesday billed the “WHO-CHINA Joint Study Press Conference,” Peter Embarek, spokesman for the investigators, said the frozen-food theory merited further study but the possibility of a lab leak was “extremely unlikely” and should not be further investigated.

Who knows? Anything is possible. Maybe a spaceship from Mars dropped off the coronavirus in Wuhan, which just happens to be the only place in China with the highest-level biosecurity lab that was experimenting on bat coronaviruses that are the closest relative to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. In fact, the institute is one of three Wuhan labs studying bat coronaviruses, and the WHO team never bothered visit­ing the others.

Team members spent more time dining with their hosts and visiting a propaganda museum celebrating Wuhan’s fight against COVID, replete with giant portraits of President Xi Jinping.

Among the patents uncovered by the Drastic online sleuths is one that describes in detail how researchers at one of the other Wuhan labs capture wild bats known to carry the SARS coronavirus in mountain caves and transport them thousands of miles, to breed them in the lab and feed their young daily by hand.

This lab has a lower biosecurity level, BSL2, about what you’d find in dental surgery, than the Wuhan Institute’s top level, BSL4. But no possibility of lab accidents, of course.

WHO conducted a fake investigation from the start, with a team of experts vetted by Beijing and a pre-planned conclusion designed to take the heat off China.

Any report produced by them is a waste of time. It is Chinese Communist Party propaganda that only exposes how fatally compromised by China WHO has become.

No one demonstrates the problem more obviously than America’s only representative on the WHO team in Wuhan, British-born Dr. Peter Daszak, who runs the New York-based nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance and has a whopping conflict of interest.

He helped fund the risky “gain of function” research on bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute, and co-authored scientific papers with the scientist who conducted the lab’s research, China’s so-called bat woman Shi Zhengli.

He has long been one of the most vocal opponents of the “lab leak” theory, dismissing it as asserting that the virus is more likely to have spontaneously emerged from the wild.

Of course he would.

After Tuesday’s press conference, he tweeted at President Biden, saying he “has to look tough on China. [But] please don’t rely too much on US intel: increasingly disengaged under Trump & frankly wrong on many aspects.”

The tweet was linked to an article in which State Department spokesman Ned Price expressed skepticism about the inquiry and the level of China’s cooperation: “I think the jury’s still out.”

That’s an understatement.

Now WHO has provided the Biden administration with a perfect out. Team Biden can say let China off the hook, repudiate the dreaded Trump and continue ­cozying up to Beijing.

If it does accept the WHO whitewash as holy writ, then the labs in Wuhan will continue catching wild bats in remote caves and meddling with their corona­viruses to make them more dangerous to humans. There will be no pressure to change their ways, to at least move their research out of a megatropolis of 11 million people.

Three weeks ago the Wuhan Institute published a patent for a new bat breeding program so it can continue its risky research. It’s business as usual.

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Opinion

Letters to the Editor — Feb. 26, 2021

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Letters to the Editor — Feb. 26, 2021

The Issue: The accusation by a former aide of Gov. Cuomo that he sexually harassed her on the job.

When it rains it pours, especially for Gov. Cuomo. Already on the hot seat for hiding the true number of CO­VID-related deaths in nursing homes, now he is accused by a former aide of sexual harassment (“Cuomo’s a pig,” Feb. 25).

The details already released are pretty bad. This could be the beginning of the end for him. He has, in essence, abused the power of his position to a great extent.

It’s about time he meets his fate in a courtroom. It seems like every day a new, ugly truth is revealed about him, so let justice be handed down against him to the fullest extent of the law.

Joseph V. Comperchio, Brooklyn

Obviously, Cuomo did not heed the adage that you shouldn’t throw stones if you live in a glass house.

He conducted a virulent campaign against former President Donald Trump, accusing him of being egotistical, autocratic, a sexual predator, a vindictive bully and, of course, a liar.

Now it seems the chickens are coming home to roost for Cuomo, and not a moment too soon.

Frank Brady, Yonkers

Cuomo is in deep doo-doo now. His directive caused the deaths of thousands of people in nursing homes. He’s been dancing around it, pointing fingers at others, and he may never answer for it.

But now a former aide has accused him of giving her an unwanted kiss on the lips — without warning. And that may be the end of him. It could be the first snowflake in an avalanche of accusations.

One scandal should have caused handcuffs to be slapped on him, and the other should have caused a solid slap in the face from an aide.

James Grant

Massapequa

Score one for Mayor de Blasio, a fellow Democrat in the moral minority, who is calling for an independent probe of the sexual-misconduct allegations against Cuomo.

Although I find it discouraging that the left-wing media is turning a blind eye to Cuomo’s harassment charges and liberal women leaders are not demanding that aide Lindsey Boylan has a right to be listened to.

It was a different story when allegations were made against now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Trump.

The American people have a right to know the full story — not the cherry-picked version that the media chooses to report.

JoAnn Lee Frank

Clearwater, Fla.

The most revealing part of this “Cuomo is a pig” story is the hypocritical silence from the former loudmouths of the now-forgotten “Me, Too” movement.

Wasn’t it just yesterday that Harvey Weinstein was the most evil person on the planet? And Hollywood turned into judge and jury for the despicable Kevin Spacey?

Impeach this creep, now.

Joe Nugent

Staten Island

After causing the deaths of thousands of the elderly and trying to blackmail people into silence, we now find out Cuomo is also an accused sexual predator.

Using his power to allegedly maul a woman shows what a low-life he really is. Why isn’t his brother reporting on this?

Too bad New Yorkers don’t have the guts or brains to remove him from office. Maybe then they could save their state.

Storm Destro

Bayonne, NJ

Lord Cuomo has been exposed for the corrupt bully that he is. It’s time to stop talking and start taking action.

We need to start the impeachment process immediately to have him removed from office so he cannot do any more damage to the great state of New York.

Gene O’Brien

Whitestone

Now that Cuomo has allegedly done some very bad things that brought dishonor to his last name, it might be time to remove the Cuomo name from the Tappan Zee Bridge, which spans the Hudson River.

The “Mario Cuomo Bridge” never sounded right anyway.

John Kirkwood

Westwood, NJ

Want to weigh in on today’s stories? Send your thoughts (along with your full name and city of residence) to [email protected]. Letters are subject to editing for clarity, length, accuracy and style.

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De Blasio’s lame recovery plan won’t end NYC’s Ghost Town

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De Blasio's lame recovery plan won't end NYC's Ghost Town

Almost a year into Gotham’s devastating lockdown, Mayor de Blasio has announced the appointment of former school-construction chief Lorraine Grillo as “recovery czar” to, in his words, “super-charge” an economic recovery. 

But a close look at the mayor’s sad, thin recovery plan belies his commitment to the future of New York City as a locus of growth and opportunity — which it must once more be if the desolate ghost-town effect is to disappear.

In his news conference announcing Grillo’s new role, Hizzoner proclaimed the “incredible” news that the city would extend its contract with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to manage Kennedy airport. The contract, set to expire in 2050, will now run through 2060. This “great plan,” says de Blasio, means that “a lot of the money from JFK will go to minority and women-owned businesses. A lot of the hiring will be from the surrounding neighborhoods in Southeast Queens.” 

Indeed, people in Jamaica will continue to work at the airport, as they always have, and the renovation of terminals, runways and parking lots will surely involve the hiring of local labor, too. But so what? It’s not like de Blasio was going to take over the largest airport in the Northeast when he can’t even able to figure out a way to assume management of two Central Park ice rinks from Donald Trump. The mayor’s role in determining what happens on Port Authority property is miniscule. 

It’s a sign of how unserious de Blasio is about economic recovery that he celebrates the planned return of the city’s 330,000 municipal employees to their offices. City workers have been held “harmless” throughout the pandemic, even while many of them have had little, if anything, to do. Been to a library lately? It’s fine that they will finally be getting back to work, but only in de Blasio’s fantasies do government employees represent economic vitality. 

The key to de Blasio’s economic-development strategy is to leverage Gotham’s newfound expertise with contagious disease to make it the “public-health capital of the world.” Central to this vision is a plan to rename First Avenue, with its many hospitals and labs, “LifeSci Avenue.” This moniker may not have the romance or elan of “Museum Mile” or even “Avenue of the Americas” — but you have to give the mayor credit for trying. 

The problem is that the United States already has two cities that are “public-health capitals,” namely Atlanta and Bethesda, the homes of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, respectively. Public health — as in, tracking seasonal influenza outbreaks—is important but not very profitable, which is why the federal government manages it.

Assuming that because the Big Apple was slammed by COVID we should now go into the pandemic business is a bad joke. It’s like telling Flint, Mich., to start a new company to compete with Pür water filters. 

De Blasio also wants to hire 10,000 temporary workers for a “City Cleanup Corps” to beautify the city by removing the graffiti that has steadily taken over New York’s streets and even subway cars. Of course, it was just last July when de Blasio suspended the popular and successful Graffiti-Free NYC program, after which the scourge of graffiti really exploded. The NYPD has substantially cut back vandalism-related arrests, too. So there’s another formula for economic rebirth: encourage filth and then hire the unemployed to clean it up. 

The mayor also plans to make the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity, a city-funded boondoggle his wife nominally runs, a permanent office of city government. The taskforce will help “identify areas of structural racism in New York City” and “root out this systemic rot.”  

None of that will revivify a dead Midtown. Instead, de Blasio, as usual, wants to “tax the wealthy and redistribute wealth.”

Taxing billionaires to plump up social services has been an enduring strategy for the city’s political class for a long time, but it only works as long as the goose doesn’t mind waiting around to be plucked. But raising taxes isn’t a plan for growth and will only hasten the accelerating departure of rich New Yorkers for sunnier climes. 

Memo to the mayor: Reviving New York City’s stalled economy will take more than slowly bringing municipal clerks back to their desks. 

Seth Barron is managing editor of The American Mind and ­author of the forthcoming book “The Last Days of New York.”

Twitter: @SethBarronNYC

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Lockdowns don’t work and other commentary

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Lockdowns don't work and other commentary

Libertarian: Lockdowns Don’t Work

“Despite the stark difference in policy,” America and Britain “saw remarkably similar COVID-19 trends this winter,” Reason’s Jacob Sullum points out. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s lockdown “closed most businesses” and required everyone without a “reasonable excuse” to stay home. Britain’s “seven-day average of new cases peaked” Jan. 9, while America’s peaked Jan. 11; cases then “fell sharply in both countries.” The same story of “starkly different policies and similar outcomes” appears in California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed a lockdown, and Texas, which “remained largely open.” The two states have had “almost the same drop” in cases: 85 percent and 81 percent. And California’s infection rate tripled in December and January while Texas’ doubled. Lockdowns, with their “economic and social costs,” simply weren’t “necessary to bring case numbers back down.”

Ex-hostage: What I Learned in an Iranian Prison

At The Wall Street Journal, Wang Xiyue recalls his shock at being ­arrested in Iran in 2016 “on false espionage charges,” even though the ­nuclear deal had been implemented and it seemed to be “a period of rapprochement between the US and Iran.” He had thought doing research there would be safe, since his professors stressed that Tehran’s hostility was exaggerated, stemming largely from the bad behavior toward it by the West, “particularly” America. Yet his 40-month captivity gave him an “intense re-education”: The regime’s hostility “isn’t reactive, but proactive”; the “menace of Iran can’t be appeased” but “must be countered and restrained.” And “only by showing strength of will can President Biden hope for genuine progress in containing the Iranian threat to peace.”

Iconoclast: America’s Real Divide

America is supposedly divided along race and gender lines — yet, ­observes Joel Kotkin at The American Mind, the conflict might really be between those who primarily make a living manipulating “incorporeal” information and those who toil in the “tangible world of making, growing and using real things.” President Biden’s campaign was propelled by the incorporeal class — and so far, he has mainly delivered for its members, with anti-industrial climate plans and sops to the woke. Yet “it’s unlikely” that the heartland’s oil riggers, welders, haulers and machine-tool operators will be “too thrilled” by Team Biden’s promise of “green jobs.” Worse, Biden’s folks “must address the fact that the key Democratic base — the big coastal core urban areas — has been fundamentally undermined by the pandemic, last summer’s disorders and a steady rise in crime.”

Conservative: Fauci’s No Shaman

President Biden’s chief pandemic adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, “is a bureaucrat,” National Review’s David Harsanyi ­declares, “not our parent, or our personal physician, or a shaman, or our life coach.” Yet Democrats and media elites treat him as all that and more — including by unquestioningly accepting his calls for harsh lockdowns and a “unified approach” to the pandemic. Yet “the Fauci approach” is basically “an Andrew Cuomo approach”: “centralized,” devastating to the economy and to individual rights — and far from effective. And don’t forget Fauci’s early ­anti-mask guidance and “praise for the Chicoms’ lackeys at the World Health Organization.” Bottom line: “The press should never have canonized Fauci.”

Defense beat: China’s Hidden Weakness

At The Hill, Susan Yoshihara flags an overlooked but huge problem for Beijing’s ambitions: Thanks to decades of state-ordered population control under the harsh one-child mandate, “China’s downward human spiral is ­accelerating.” That’s “on top of nearly a decade of contraction in working-age Chinese citizens.” As a result, “China’s main state pension fund and ­urban-worker pension fund are projected to run out of money by 2035.” In the short term, the population drop helps explain Beijing’s aggression from Tibet to Taiwan and the South China Sea, as well as its genocide of the ­Uighur minority: It sees “closing windows of opportunity to resolve manpower-intensive security disputes before losing its robust working-age population.” Longer term, America “should be thinking about exploiting China’s strategic weaknesses.”

— Compiled by The Post Editorial Board

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