May 14, 2023

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


How Trump's anti-science meddling erased 3 years of crucial COVID research (Michael Hiltzik, May 12, 2023, LA Times)

The grant to New York-based EcoHealth Alliance has largely ended a political attack on research into COVID-19 that began in 2020 under the Trump administration.

It is undisputable that the Trump White House ordered the National Institutes of Health to terminate a $3.4-million grant to EcoHealth in April 2020, based on entirely unfounded right-wingers' claims that EcoHealth was funding so-called gain-of-function virus research in China, something they say could have allowed SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, to escape from a Chinese laboratory and infect the world.

The consequences for the independence of scientific research generally and for research into COVID's origins have been incalculable.

While it is "impossible to say what would have been accomplished if the hiatus in funding did not occur," former NIH director Harold Varmus told me by email, restoring the grant "cannot restore the three years in which [EcoHealth] was deprived of support for such critical work at a critical time."

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


About Those 'Biden Family' Allegations (DAVID THORNTON, MAY 13, 2023, Ordinary Times)

I am not saying that President Biden is incapable of being corrupt, but at this point, his accusers have not presented evidence of wrongdoing by either the president or his family. What they have presented is their interpretation of bank records that they say they have.

At this point, I think the American people deserve better. Republican investigations into Joe and Hunter Biden started well back into the Trump Administration as a strategy for 2020. If, several years later, they have evidence of wrongdoing by the president, the voters deserve to see it and judge for themselves rather than being subjected to more innuendo. The fact that a centerpiece of the press conference was Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) rehashing tired old claims about Hunter's laptop does not instill me with confidence.

At one point, I might have taken Republicans at their word, but after hearing the same song and dance for so long, they should have something more substantial to bring before the country.

One of the first things that I noticed about all the coverage of the event and the allegations was that Joe Biden was not named. that the House Republicans did an exemplary job and uncovered everything there is.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


The dissent among Putin's fighting forces (STEPHEN BRYEN, MAY 14, 2023, Asia Times)

Prigozhin's forces are leading the fight inside Bakhmut and continue to make slow but steady progress. But the Ukrainians have managed to rotate troops fighting in the city and feed in supplies. 

Russian forces, not so much PMC Wagner, have been trying to choke off Ukraine's supply lines to the city, mainly by sealing primary and secondary roadways and by bombing Ukrainian supply resources, particularly in Chasiv Yar, which is the primary feeder point for Ukraine's Bakhmut forces.

Yet the Russian army, which should have positioned strong forces on the flanks protecting the city and the roadways, chose to put largely untrained and poorly equipped regular army forces (and some "volunteers") on the flanks. These were overrun by the Ukrainians in a very strong reconnaissance in force. 

The Ukrainians used crack troops including elements of the Azov brigade, and armor, including tanks. According to what is being reported, the Russian troops were only equipped with small arms, had no armor, and had no anti-tank weapons.  The result was predictable.

This huge blunder sent Prigozhin off into a series of tirades, going so far as to accuse the "grandfather" - namely Putin - of being an a**hole, a statement he tried to walk back after he sent his blast to Russian social media outlets.

The important point is that PMC Wagner and the Russian army are estranged, and it is not so far afoot to suggest that the Russians put the poorest brigade they could find to handle the Bakhmut flanks.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Trust linked to porn-friendly bank could gain a stake in Trump's Truth Social (Drew Harwell, Matt Bernardini and Matei Rosca, May 13, 2023, Washington Post)

An obscure financial entity with connections to a Caribbean-island bank that bills itself as a top payment service for adult entertainment sites would gain a sizable stake in former president Donald Trump's media company if its merger deal proceeds, according to internal documents a company whistleblower has shared with federal investigators and The Washington Post.

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Yet the role ES Family Trust would assume in Trump Media and Technology Group has never been officially disclosed to the Securities and Exchange Commission or to shareholders in Digital World Acquisition, the special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, that has proposed merging with Trump's company.