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rotting sea cow

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  1. The labs are real but apparently not that many as the Russian claims. They have received funding from the US DoD (instead from the NIH as usual in scientific collaboration, think on the Wuhan collaboration) but it appears to be insufficient for high tech facilities. Victorian Nuland has gone on record to assure Congress they are working with the Ukrainians to safeguard whatever materials are in there. Little else is known that it's not muddled with propaganda. Whether those labs are important in the great scheme of things is a different question.
  2. As you may know, Russia has accused the US of setting up biolabs in Ukraine. I dismissed these reports at first as the usual "fog of war". Now China has stepped in. The thread contains some useful information if you can scroll down. From what I gather these were only 11 labs funded by the US DoD . The money amount to a couple of millions each, which is probably a good quantity in Ukraine but plainly insufficient to mount high tech facilities (unless additional funding came from elsewhere). Nuland has said they are working with Ukrainian scientists to prevent Russia of getting their hands on whatever materials are there. Now, they claim these labs exist for anti-chemical and anti-biological research, which is probably true (at least to a certain extend).
  3. I think @Lord Varys is mostly right regarding the assessment of his namesake behavior and motives. Most of it can be deduced from any careful reading of the books. I think he's taking too much to the letter what the captains of the GC say regarding Varys and Illyrio's plans. They know more than most of people in the books but not enough to understand they are pushing for a particular narrative. I don't think the plan intended that Viserys and the GC should work together, rather the opposite. The idea was to create chaos in Westeros by for example revealing the twincest, once Robert go to war against the Westerlands, Viserys should invade with the Dothraki and eventually take the throne, making a very bad king, Mad King Aerys comes again. Under these circumstances you can make Aegon son-of-beloved-Rhaegar appear without raising too many questions. Certainly the dead of Viserys left them without a clear plan, although the Lannisters and the Wo5K also can provide some motive. The born of the dragons certainly are good news if they are able to get a hold on Dany. Now, Westeros is in chaos and Varys will work to make sure there are no too many question regarding Aegon's parentage. Regarding the motives. Well, certainly there is ample evidence about elements of the Blackfyre conspiracy in Illyrios/Varys plans. It might have been the initial motive. In some ways, I also think that Varys feels guilty about what fate fell over Rhaegar and his children and he's trying to remake the history and refight the old battles, which is btw also a running theme of the books (Doran & Tywin are also motivated by that). The exact placement of these elements are at the moment only known to the author of the books.
  4. A long grinding war would have devastating global effects. The importance of both Ukraine and Russia in the food and fertilizer markets is enormous. If no solution is found soon-ish we are up to an explosion of discontent, unrest, protests and conflicts around the world, particularly in the Middle East, but higher food prices are not going to gain anybody's support even in Europe or US, which are in better position to weather the storm. So, either Putin is deposed in a internal and (hopefully) bloodless coup and negotiations can take place. Or the West need to back down and accept the division of Ukraine.
  5. I don't think we want to find out. Anyway, that tweet is probably inaccurate. Yuzhmash made some of the silo-based ICBMs that Russia still utilizes as well as space rockets. But many others aren't made there, in particular none of the submarine based ones or the mobile launched. They launch systems have been continuously tested, some just weeks ago. The health of the warheads is a valid concern and that is true also for US. No warhead has been tested in decades and thus you don't know if they are working (of course there are quality controls regularly but the point still stands). IIRC US tested a dud (without the nuclear fuel) some time in the 90s drawing outrage from Russia. In the 80s some people in the US wanted to fully test the Trident system, that is with a live warhead, something not done since (maybe) early 50s. The rationale is that you don't fully know if the whole system will work together. Notice that of the 4000 or so warheads attributed to Russia only 1500 are strategic ones, mounted on ICBMs. The rest are tactical ones on short range missiles or gravity bombs.
  6. Being an atheist myself I find that many fellow atheists are as dogmatic and intolerant as conservative Christians, hiding themselves behind the veil of rationality to justify their zeal.
  7. I saw a discussion elsewhere: All the weirdness people have been pointing out regarding this invasion is a deliberate message. For better or worse, Russia chose to fight with the right hand tied to back, meaning they are reserving it for a bigger fight, if it's comes to it. For example, during the Iraq war in 2003, it was reported that US was running out of cruise missiles and other supplies. If another war would have broken out at the same time, they would have had a hard time to properly react. This was because the wanted to minimize their casualties fighting the main objective. This might not be the case here. Guys, I think it's past time I buy my ticket back to S. America.
  8. This part is interesting From what I read long time ago, even the Russian AF was never quite happy with the Mig-29s with them being quite maintenance intensive and generally inferior to the Flankers. They were never able to replace the large number of Mig-21s with sufficient number of Fulcrums.
  9. India was never truly aligned, at least not from their perspective. Actually they headed the non-aligned faction. From the US perspective this was as bad as being aligned with the USSR. Same is happening here and I don't think that threatening India would do anything good to the US position. Probably the opposite.
  10. It's a bit of a late answer and I haven't gone through the whole thread. While it's true that humans have been horrific through all their history and across practically all cultures, there have been horrors brought through the world that can be directly traced to colonialism. In fact, current geopolitics have been shaped by that and the competitions between different powers. Russia/West issues are just recaps of the "Great Game" under the guise of different arguments or ideologies. The unsolved problems from the colonial period have brought us two World Wars, the Cold War, the Middle East clusterfuck and now whatever comes in the near future. What could have been done differently? No idea. What can be done now? No idea either.
  11. There is unfortunately some corporate reaction from virologists and other scientists to be more keen to support one theory over another. The reason is obvious, if a lab leak is proven, stronger regulations will inevitably come as well as investigations of past activities, which might doom the field. Which is not the same to say they are wrong. Similarly is happening with the discussion whether Omicron comes from an animal or from a chronic infected individual. Despite that we don't have clear evidence of the later, scientists prefer that theory because it would help the "greater good" in the sense of vaccine distribution and public health measures. On the other hand, evidence is emerging that highly evolved SARS-CoV-2 strains are coming from animals, like those deer in Canada or those wastewater samples in New York, which might be associated with rats.
  12. People are suggesting hunters slaughtering the carcasses of infected deer as a possible route.
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