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Tue, 25 Feb 2020
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Don't buy China's story: Clues that coronavirus may have leaked from a lab

© AFP via Getty Images
Members of a police sanitation team spray disinfectant as a preventive measure against the spread of the coronavirus.
At an emergency meeting in Beijing held last Friday, Chinese leader Xi Jinping spoke about the need to contain the coronavirus and set up a system to prevent similar epidemics in the future.

A national system to control biosecurity risks must be put in place "to protect the people's health," Xi said, because lab safety is a "national security" issue.

Xi didn't actually admit that the coronavirus now devastating large swaths of China had escaped from one of the country's bioresearch labs. But the very next day, evidence emerged suggesting that this is exactly what happened, as the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology released a new directive titled: "Instructions on strengthening biosecurity management in microbiology labs that handle advanced viruses like the novel coronavirus."

Comment: The media, it seems, is finally cottoning on to China's mistake. As we published last month: Did Coronavirus outbreak originate in a lab? Novel sequence in 2019-nCoV Virus genome suggests man-made cause

'The markets' are freaking out about the Coronavirus outbreak, but this is largely due to the manner in which it has been handled by the Chinese government, the WHO and other governments following their lead. At this point it seems pretty clear to us that the Coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, central China - location of that country's ONLY Level 4 biolab - because of an accidental release during vaccine trials, at which point it may have mutated further, leaving the Chinese authorities worried that it's only another mutation or two away from becoming truly pandemic.

As things stand, this outbreak is NOT pandemic, and the chances of it doing so are low. A death toll of 2,600 globally after 2 months is NOT a 'return of the Black Death'. This doesn't mean such is not in the cards in the not-too-distant future, but CoVid-19 is probably not it. The Chinese authorities, by their actions, gave away their culpability in causing this, and have likely given us a glimpse into how authorities the world over will attempt to contain future outbreaks.

Oil Well

UAE makes massive new natural gas discovery: Gamechanger for both current regional relations and market futures

Jebel Alibig gas find UAE

The Jebel Ali area will host the gas reservoir project being developed by Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The venture brings together Adnoc and Dusup.
The Persian Gulf is, without doubt, the most prominent oil and gas production area in the world. After decades of intensive exploration and production, the region still amaze persistent explorers. Even well-explored countries such as the UAE still hold surprises. The Emirates are already one of the world's largest producer and exporter of oil. In 2019 on average 2.9 million barrels per day were extracted, which generates approximately 30 percent of the country's GDP.

Despite its impressive production capacity, the UAE remains strongly dependent on imported natural gas to meet domestic demand. A third of the country's gas is provided by neighboring Qatar. The majority is exported through the Dolphin pipeline. The fraught political relations between Qatar and the UAE due the latter's support of the Saudi-led blockade create an awkward commercial relationship.

Therefore, the discovery of a massive gas field on the border of Dubai and Abu Dhabi could become a significant game-changer. Becoming self-sufficient improves the country's energy security and potentially transforms the regional geopolitical environment.

Chart Bar

US beats China to become India's top trading partner

india usa flags puzzle
The US has surpassed China to become India's top trading partner, showing greater economic ties between the two countries. According to the data of the commerce ministry, in 2018-19, the bilateral trade between the US and India stood at USD 87.95 billion.

During the period, India's two-way commerce with China aggregated at USD 87.07 billion.

Similarly, during April-December 2019-20, the bilateral trade between the US and India stood at USD 68 billion. It stood at USD 64.96 billion with China in the same period.

Trade experts believe that the trend will continue in the coming years also as New Delhi and Washington are engaged in further deepening the economic ties.

An expert said that if the countries will finalise a free trade agreement (FTA), then the bilateral trade would reach at different levels.

"FTA with US will be very beneficial for India as the US is the biggest market for domestic goods and services," Federation of Indian Export organisations Director General Ajay Sahai said.

Comment: Also in the news today:


'Every journalist should feel a cold, icy hand running down their spine': Assange's extradition case examined in new RT doc

© Global Look Press / ZUMAPRESS.com/Martyn Wheatley
With Julian Assange's US extradition hearing getting under way in London, RTD's new film sheds light on why the WikiLeaks founder's landmark case may lay the path for future prosecution of journalists.

"Every journalist in the United States should feel a cold, icy hand running down their spine at the charges that had been leveled against this publisher. Because they could be next," writer Suelette Dreyfus says about Assange whose project published leaked documents exposing possible US War crimes in Iraq and letters exposing shenanigans against Bernie Sanders in 2016 by bosses within the Democratic Party.

"If Julian Assange being a publisher is put in prison for being a publisher, for no other reason than being a publisher, then we have no rules," says a Swedish journalist Johannes Wahlstrom, who worked with WikiLeaks on the documentary 'Mediastan'.

Heart - Black

'It was just a game': Estonian mother flees to Russia with 2 girls after court clears Norwegian ex-husband of pedophilia charges

Anna Finseraasen
© RT
Anna Finseraasen and her daughters
He bathed with his own daughters naked and made them kiss his crotch, an Estonian mom told RT of her ex-husband after escaping to Russia. But the Norwegian man's lawyers claim she's using pedophilia allegations to keep the kids.

It all started like a happy love story in 2009, but eventually turned into a nightmare.

Anna from the Estonian capital, Tallinn, arrived in Norway to work as a nurse at a senior home. It was there that she met Jostein Finseraasen, a male nurse whom the wards simply adored and courted her like a true gentleman. The couple got married three month later, with Anna already being pregnant.

But the domestic bliss turned out to be short-lived. "When we began living together I started noticing aggressive outbursts from him toward animals at the farm," the woman recalled.

Yellow Vest

Palestinian flag, Yellow Vests, Anonymous masks: Wide range of protester groups join demonstration in support of Assange

assange extradition protest
Supporters of Julian Assange have staged quite a show outside Woolwich Court in London, throwing their artistic weight behind the embattled WikiLeaks co-founder.

Overlooked by a few policemen, dozens of protesters began amassing near the courthouse earlier on Monday, just as the judges began the closely-watched extradition hearing for Assange.

There was no shortage of conventional placards calling for Assange's release, but some activists showed unorthodox creativity. One protester, dressed as a biblical character, stole the show by carrying a yellowish cross, with the words "The truth will win" imprinted on it.


Car plows into crowd at Carnival parade in Volkmarsen, Germany - at least 30 people injured

car crash crowd germany
© Reuters/E. Schulten
First responders fan out into the crash scene in Volkesmarsen
People have suffered life-threatening injuries after a vehicle drove into a parade in a town in central Germany. Children were also among those injured.

More than 30 people were injured on Monday after a man drove into a crowd at a Carnival parade in the German town of Volkmarsen, police said.

Police spokesman Henning Hinn said "there were several dozen injured, among them some seriously, and sadly also children." Some of the injuries were life-threatening, he added. The number of those seriously injured was put at seven by Frankfurt police.

Hinn continued: "We are working on the assumption that it was a deliberate act."


Here's what the lead Roger Stone juror wrote in her jury questionnaire

The lead juror at Roger Stone's trial said in a written questionnaire for prospective jurors that she was "not sure" whether she posted online about the Russia investigation or Stone, and that she "may have shared an article" on social media on the topics, according to a portion of the document reviewed by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

But Tomeka Hart's Twitter feed shows that she indeed posted multiple times about the Russia probe and at least once about Stone, who was sentenced on Thursday to 40 months in prison in a case that stemmed from the special counsel's investigation.

Stone's lawyers filed a motion on Feb. 14 alleging that Hart's social media activity shows that she was biased against President Donald Trump and Stone. Trump also criticized Hart during a press conference after Stone was sentenced.

Trump called Hart an "anti-Trump activist," and suggested that she "tainted" Stone's jury.

Hart, who ran for Congress as a Democrat in 2012, commented negatively about Trump on Twitter and circulated news stories about the Russia probe. In one Aug. 2, 2019 post, she called all of Trump's supporters racist.

Stone, 67, has been one of Trump's most longstanding supporters, and is sometimes credited with convincing the real estate mogul to run for president.

Comment: See also: Stone sentencing ends Russia collusion, part I

Chart Bar

Namaste Trump! US president receives spectacular welcome in India

President Trump on Monday was offered a warm welcome during his first trip to India and announced that the U.S. and India would sign a defense deal for New Delhi to purchase more than $3 billion in American helicopters and other military equipment.

Addressing a large crowd at a cricket stadium in Ahmedabad, Trump called Prime Minister Narendra Modi a "true friend," touted the bond between the United States and India and expressed a desire to strengthen that bond further.

Comment: The stadium was filled with 110,000 people!

Later at the president of India's official residence:

"Namaste, and hello to India. This is such a great honor," Trump said at the outset of his remarks. "The first lady and I have just traveled 8,000 miles around the world to deliver a message to every citizen across this nation: America loves India, America respects India, and America will always be faithful and loyal friends to the Indian people."

The event was fitting for the American president, who relishes the large crowds that frequent his domestic campaign rallies.

Comment: Ok, but he's also a man who ATTRACTS them. He got a similar reception in China two years ago, another world-first for an American president.

Thousands of people gathered on the streets to watch Trump's motorcade transit to the cricket stadium for the "Namaste Trump" event on Monday. Many billboards with photos of Trump and Modi lined the route to the stadium.

Comment: Here's how the US media, briefly, reported Trump's unprecedented visit:

Eye 1

Police clash with violent pro- and anti-CAA protesters in Delhi hours before Trump set to visit Indian capital

Policemen clash with protesters
© AFP / Sajjad Hussain
Policemen clash with protesters in Delhi, February 24, 2020.
Delhi police have used tear gas to disperse hundreds of demonstrators for and against a new citizenship law. Protesters threw stones and set fires, hours before Donald Trump is scheduled to arrive in the capital.

Monday's violence marks the latest unrest over India's new ratified Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Supporters and opponents of the legislation were seen pelting each other with stones in the Maujpur area in the northeastern part of the capital. Another clip shows an impromptu barricade, engulfed in flames, blocking a roadway, as demonstrators hurl projectiles at each other.

The Delhi police head constable is reported to have been killed in the violence, with several others injured. The clashes come just hours before US President Donald Trump is set to arrive in the Indian capital. He is scheduled to hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the city tomorrow.