China is helping countries throughout the world upgrade their infrastructures with China equipment that those countries will become dependent on for decades. The US can't get its act together to upgrade its own infrastructure. Is it so hard to see who will be the only superpower of the 21st century?

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Have to determine the origin of the virus. Have to. Full stop. If China wants to participate in the world economy, then cooperate with the WHO and CDC. Otherwise we only have an illusion of public health and an illusion of National & Economic Security.

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Wouldn't it be grand if we could compete with China for the best ways to halt (or at least slow) global warming?

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The handwriting is on the wall and has been for a long time. When I talked with an American construction worker for the big dam Zaire (now Congo) was building, he said the 20th century was the USA’ the 21st he predicted belonged to the Chinese. It was 1975. The empire that is the USA with its bullying proclivities around the world and its 800 military installations and its defense budget higher than that of 10 the next wealthy industrialized nations combined is pumping its testerone to “compete” with China. And the citizens here are paying the bill to preserve the status quo while the Chinese tsunami gradually unfolds. The so called foreign policy leadership has learned zero about the military debacles of the last 50 years. Who has voted for the Afghan War? The Iraq invasion? Now that the draft is supplanted by mercenaries (private contractors),the people in the USA have been safely stashed far away from and freed of responsibility and any say. Were the draft operational the people would have plenty to say as their dead sons and daughters return in body bags. The war machine is at the service of the oligarchics, the sociopathic ravenous corporate mind set intent on its own wealth and power - none of which (they’ve amply demonstrated) they are willing for the people’s voice to take a determining part in. We’ve been gently and calculatedly pushed into spectator position. Free tickets to watch the supereglobal ball game but that’s it. Isn’t it dehumanizing to hear the pontificating against the pitiful $15 minimal wage per hour while those very mouths vote yes for the biggest pentagon budget yet? So my fellow citizens, we get to subsidize the oligarchs’ global competition to further despoil earth and fracture nation states in their now aggressive drive for rare earth minerals, besides holy oil. While our very own people get to be hungrier, jobless, without healthcare, be strapped to the debtors wheel and politically stifled by working two jobs if they can get them to pay off their education while raising their family. Feudalism returns.

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How much US gov’t. debt did China buy today? How much US debt is China holding? What is the annual interest payment? The last I heard, which was a while ago, (Why is NOBODY reporting on this?) the numbers are significant, and likely to continue to be.

How do you compete with your biggest, by far, creditor?

From where, exactly, did the Covid 19 virus originate? In a laboratory? In an open-air market?That seems of small consequence to me. Much better to study how we were so unprepared for it and what are we doing to prepare for the next one, because there will be a next one.

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My earlier comment was somewhat dismissive of today's LFAA, and I offer an informative piece from the New York Times' newsletter called: 'Morning' for further explanation of 'the lab-leak theory' of Covid. There was good reason for Heather to mention Tom Cotton in her letter, and explanation for his contribution to the debate concerning the source of Covid-19, follows here:

'By David Leonhardt'

'Good morning. The lab-leak theory is everywhere. We have an explainer.'

'Groupthink + polarization'

'Suddenly, talk of the Wuhan lab-leak theory seems to be everywhere.'

'President Biden yesterday called on U.S. intelligence officials to “redouble their efforts” to determine the origin of Covid-19 and figure out whether the virus that causes it accidentally leaked from a Chinese laboratory. Major publications and social media have recently been filled with discussion of the subject.'

'Today, we offer an explainer.'

'What are the basics?

The origin of the virus remains unclear. Many scientists have long believed that the most likely explanation is that it jumped from an animal to a person, possibly at a food market in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. Animal-to human transmission — known as zoonotic spillover — is a common origin story for viruses, including Ebola and some bird flus.'

'But some scientists have pointed to another possibility: that it escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. As in other laboratories, researchers there sometimes modify viruses, to understand and treat them'.

“It is most likely that this is a virus that arose naturally, but we cannot exclude the possibility of some kind of a lab accident,” Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, told senators yesterday.'

'Why now?

The subject is getting more attention because some scientists who were once skeptical of the laboratory theory have expressed new openness to it.'

'Two weeks ago, 18 scientists wrote a letter to the journal Science calling for a new investigation and describing both the animal-to-human theory and the lab-leak theory as “viable.” And three scientists who last year dismissed the lab-leak explanation as a conspiracy theory have told The Wall Street Journal that they now consider it plausible.'

'Among the reasons: Chinese officials have refused to allow an independent investigation into the lab and have failed to explain some inconsistencies in the animal-to-human hypothesis. Most of the first confirmed cases had no evident link to the food market.'

'What changed?'

'In some ways, not much has not changed. From the beginning, the virus’s origin has been unclear. All along, some scientists, politicians and journalists have argued that the lab-leak theory deserves consideration.]

'Almost 15 months ago, two Chinese researchers wrote a paper concluding that the virus “probably originated from a laboratory in Wuhan.” Alina Chan, a molecular biologist affiliated with Harvard and M.I.T., made similar arguments. David Ignatius and Josh Rogin, both Washington Post columnists, wrote about the possibility more than a year ago. Joe Biden, then a presidential candidate, didn’t mention the lab-leak theory in early 2020 but he did argue that the U.S. should “not be taking China’s word” for how the outbreak started.'

'But these voices were in the minority. The World Health Organization initially dismissed the lab-leak theory as implausible.'

'Why all the dismissals?'

'It appears to be a classic example of groupthink, exacerbated by partisan polarization.'

'Global health officials seemed unwilling to confront Chinese officials, who insist the virus jumped from an animal to a person.'

'In the U.S., one of the theory’s earliest advocates was Tom Cotton, the Republican senator from Arkansas who often criticizes China — and who has a history of promoting falsehoods (like election fraud that didn’t happen). In this case, though, Cotton was making an argument with plausible supporting evidence.'

'The media’s coverage of his argument was flawed, Substack’s Matthew Yglesias has written. Some coverage exaggerated Cotton’s comments to suggest he was claiming that China had deliberately released the virus as a biological weapon. (Cotton called that “very unlikely.”) And some scientists and others also seem to have decided that if Cotton believed something — and Fox News and Donald Trump echoed it — the idea had to be wrong.'

'The result, as Yglesias called it, was a bubble of fake consensus. Scientists who thought a lab leak was plausible, like Chan, received little attention. Scientists who thought the theory was wacky received widespread attention. It’s a good reminder: The world is a complicated place, where almost nobody is always right or always wrong.'

'Why does it matter?'

'The virus’s origin does not affect many parts of the fight against Covid. The best mitigation strategies — travel restrictions, testing, contact tracing, social distancing, ventilation and masking — are still the best mitigation strategies.''

But there are at least three concrete ways, in addition to the inherent value of truth, in which the origin matters.'

'First, if the virus really did come from a lab, an immediate airing of the details might have led to even faster vaccine development and more effective treatments. Second, a leak that caused millions of deaths could lead to widespread change in laboratories’ safety precautions. Third, confirmation of a leak would affect the world’s view of China — and would put pressure on China to bear the burden of vaccinating the world as quickly as possible.'

'So what’s the truth?'

'We don’t know. Both animal-to-human transmission and the lab leak appear plausible. And the obfuscation by Chinese officials means we may never know the truth.''

For more: The Washington Post has published a helpful timeline. On Medium last week, the science writer Donald G. McNeil Jr. explained why he now finds the lab-leak theory plausible. And the sociologist Zeynep Tufekci has argued that the issue highlights some of the problem with the media’s approach to fact-checking.'

Group think can be a problem in any setting, including the fine one we have here at the forum.

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My stepdaughter is Korean American. She lives a block and a half from where George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis. In 2019, she and her partner Andrew opened a restaurant, also in Minneapolis. After Trump started smack talking about the”China” virus, Mary Kay was the target of terrifying racial epithets both at work and in her neighborhood. And to top it off, her father, my wonderful husband Glen died of ALS in 2020. Hellish doesn’t begin to describe it for this beautiful young woman.

When Biden and Harris were elected, MK came over to the house to share her joy. A woman with part Asian ancestry? Works for us! Then watching Biden get grip on the pandemic, seeing people start to return to eating in the restaurant and not just doing takeout, and listening to a President working to rebuild the economy have helped start the healing process. Add to that seeing Floyd’s family being welcomed in the White House has given MK and her neighbors hope. Only a little hope but its a start.

How a disease like the corona virus jumps from animal to human is pretty well understood. Multiple factors can affect it but the process has been studied for many years (See Laurie Garret’s book The Coming Plague). Knowing how the novel corona virus exited Wuhan and killed nearly 600,000 Americans and 3.4 million people worldwide total is important. If it was an accident, international protocols have to be tightened- considerably. If it was being weaponized and escaped, time for some serious diplomacy with the Chinese. But when I think about the many complicated layers of vaccination, rebuilding the economy, shutting down the racist BS inflamed by the previous president and finding ways to help individuals like my stepdaughter, I’m aware of how precious is democracy and how much work there is to do. I’ve already started sending money to local candidates. I’ve signed up to write postcards to help get out the vote. I will write a letter to the editor this weekend slamming the Minnesota State Senate’s passage of several voter suppression bills. And We will gather as a family to remember a wonderful husband, father, stepfather and veteran who left us much too soon. Time to again wrap my arms around my daughters and grieve for a short while. That’s as important as anything else I can do because grieving in isolation while the corona virus raged was over-the-top difficult. Still is.

As Trump and Cotton try to take credit (without evidence) for being right all along, Biden and Harris focus on rebuilding the American middle class, the economy and our position as an international player. So much to do! What are all of you doing to move us forward? I need some more good news.

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Fact based investigations and realistic assessment of global economic competition ..... what a relief there are intelligent and rational people at the helm. Meanwhile, at our house, “guess who is coming to dinner”?! ..... an elderly (albeit looking 20 years younger than her advanced age) relative of my husband who, for decades, has been head of the RNC in an upscale California enclave and remains active in GOP politics today. Conceding trump wasn’t the best, she believes Biden is a disaster; the worst. My only comment .... “I think Biden/Harris are off to a great start”. Have never engaged in political discussion with this person - no point and we see her very infrequently. But, it still amazes and dismays me that well traveled, so-called intelligent people can be so ignorant.

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It has amazed me that we feel a need to call a virus by a name other than what it represents in terms of what it is: covid-19 is a coronavirus. To call it the China virus or kung-fu flu is just as misleading as it was to call the flu epidemic of 1917-18 the Spanish Flu. That didn't start in Spain, it started in the US, but because our newspapers were censored the first paper that reported on it was in Spain. While it may help to pinpoint the epicenter of an infection to help impede the spread, it does not help to call it names. Can you imagine the additional death toll from the Black Death if it had been called by a particular country's name?

That we may never understand the Asian cultural mindset in terms of diplomacy and worldview is very apparent but the attempt to understand is essential in forming not only healthcare concerns but market concerns.

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I so love having grownups at the table 😎. I have not been this relaxed about the state of the country and world in years.

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It was pretty measured and kind of Professor HCR not to mention Ivanka’s tacky shoes and handbags that were made in China before she abandoned her “business” into which she put zero of her own design talent and zero artisanal skill. Without the wage slaves there, her joke of a company would not have made one thin dime. The Grifterette’s companies dissolving was of course another reason the former president felt more emboldened to bray out “Choi-eyee-nah Virus” and do everything his cowardly portly ass could to inspire attacks on my ESL students as well as meddling with F1 visas for Fall 2021, causing immeasurable misery. I’m enjoying talk of a grand jury, but it’s impossible to hold the buffoon accountable for all the true hard me spent every day of his miserable presidency creating.

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“… what we've seen over the last 15 years is unfortunately something of a democratic recession around the world: countries falling back on the basic metrics of democracy. The United States has had its own challenges visible for the world to see when it comes to democracy.”

Yup and yup.

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I am woefully ignorant about US-China relations (and foreign relations in general). I did see a couple things on the news yesterday that did pique my interest. The first was yet another mass shooting, this one with 8 victims of workplace violence and the suicide of the perpetrator (I believe this is the 5th mass shooting since Biden/Harris took office.) The other one was that three US oil companies (Exxon, Shell, and Chevron) got hammered with climate issues (from a change in executives who will focus on climate issues, a court order to restrict emissions, and investors demanding emissions cuts, respectively). Rachel Maddow discussed the latter at length (if you haven't read her book, "Blowout", it is both worth the read and demonstrates her acumen in this area of global interest).


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This morning as I read comments on todays letter, along with "dissenting," troll like, back and forths, I keep coming back to the news yesterday that 9 people including the shooter, were killed yesterday in yet another mass shooting. Listening to Gavin Newsom speak to the press, he used the term, "rinse and repeat" to talk about the ongoing gun violence in this country. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/26/us/gavin-newsom-san-jose-shooting.html. I have mixed feelings about Newsom, but he is right on target on this one. WTF is going on and why can't we get some decent gun controls? While we have to depend on intelligence to ferret out the origins of Covid-19, we need to begin to use our own "intelligence" i.e. our voices, to demand better controls on our guns!

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Whether or not the virus escaped from a lab, please note that no one is saying that it couldn't happen. In fact, accidental pathogen escapes from research labs are fairly common. Wouldn't you think that labs working on the deadliest diseases would be located out of the path of annual hurricanes (Galveston Island https://www.utmb.edu/gnl) and far from downtown (Boston South End http://www.bu.edu/articles/2017/neidl-bsl-4-lab-approved/)

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Your piece today was just a whitewash of Biden’s policy vis a vis Trumps. I enjoy your writing and your historical insight, but sometimes your work sounds like it’s scripted by the DNC. Please, give us more thoughtful analysis and criticism and less cheerleading.

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