Missouri trying to sue China over Covid-19

The US is ramping up attempts to sue China over the over the Covid-19 coronavirus, with Missouri the firsy state to file a suit.

Fox News: Missouri files suit against China for ‘enormous’ consequences of coronavirus ‘deceit’

Missouri became the first state to file a lawsuit against China on Tuesday, accusing the country of being responsible for the severity of the coronavirus pandemic and seeking damages to make up for “the enormous loss of life, human suffering, and economic turmoil” resulting from the disease.

The suit in the Eastern District of Missouri follows at least seven federal class-action suits that have been filed by private groups, with one filed in Florida saying that China knew “COVID-19 was dangerous and capable of causing a pandemic, yet slowly acted, proverbially put their head in the sand, and/or covered it up in their own economic self-interest.”

It also comes on the heels of 22 Republican lawmakers on Monday requesting that the Trump administration bring a case against China to the International Court of Justice (ICIJ) for the country’s actions during the pandemic.

The text of the lawsuit lays the blame for the pandemic’s consequences squarely at China’s feet.

The suit makes numerous claims of wrongdoing by China and the other defendants related to the Chinese government it seeks to hold responsible, including an “emerging theory on the origin of the virus … that it was released from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which was studying the virus.”

The suit is based on ‘an emerging theory? That sounds bizarre, particularly as that ‘theory’ is far from proven.

But U.S. officials and the intelligence community have confirmed to Fox News that they have taken the possibility of the coronavirus being man-made or engineered inside China as some sort of bioweapon off the table and have ruled it out at this point.

Officials say the Missouri suit seeks to present good-faith claims about actions China likely took that led to the pandemic. They also emphasize the Chinese government took other actions to worsen the spread of the coronavirus that have been proven with near certainty.

Because Donald Trump said? Even if they can be proven, responsibilities could be complex. Maybe it would be easier to just sue someone in the US.

Why Trump Deserves More Blame for the U.S. Coronavirus Crisis Than the WHO or China

The United States now claims nearly one-third of the world’s COVID-19 cases, making it the center of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of leaning on the World Health Organization for support, last week President Trump announced that he would be halting the U.N. agency’s funding, accusing it of bungling its early response to the coronavirus.

“This is lunacy. Truly,” responded Jeremy Konyndyk, a policy fellow at the Center for Global Development who previously served as the director of USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, where he coordinated the country’s humanitarian responses to the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, and the war in Syria.

Fundamentally, this is not about what WHO did or did not do. It’s not about what WHO did or did not say. What it’s about is turning WHO into a political scapegoat to distract from this administration’s failures to prepare.

WHO’s own information, WHO’s level of alarm, WHO’s characterization of the risk, were always well out ahead of the Trump administration. At a time when the U.S. government was still saying the risk to the American public was low, WHO was saying that this absolutely had pandemic potential.

The administration is clearly grasping for anything it can to distract from its own poor performance. If they can blame this on WHO, or if they can blame this on a lab accident in China, that somehow alleviates them of their responsibility. That is very clearly the play.

The lab thing is a useful target for them because it can’t be disproven.

But at the same time, the U.S. government is obviously doing everything it can to spin this up as a story. The National Security Council is reportedly pushing the intelligence community very hard to try and find anything that would suggest that the lab was the origin.

We have the administration trying to put the story out into the ecosystem, pushing it through favorable media outlets and personalities on the basis of very little. If they had something stronger, we would see it. They wouldn’t be sitting on it.

And now Missouri has taken this and is using it in a lawsuit.

I don’t know how a US state can sue China. If they can this could open a big can of worms. Many Covid cases on New Zealand came from the US. Italy was another source.  But proving where actual damages were caused could be difficult.

There’s a lot still being discovered about the spread of Covid in the US.

Autopsies find first U.S. coronavirus death occurred in early February, weeks earlier than previously thought

Tissue samples taken during autopsies of two people who died at home in Santa Clara County, Calif., tested positive for the virus, local health officials said in a statement. The victims died on Feb. 6 and Feb. 17, respectively.

Initially, the nation’s earliest coronavirus fatality was thought to have occurred on Feb. 29, in Kirkland, Wash., a suburb of Seattle that rapidly became a hot spot. In March, health officials there linked two Feb. 26 deaths to covid-19, the disease caused by the new virus.

The Santa Clara County fatalities push back the earliest coronavirus-related fatality by weeks, with the new findings potentially altering the timeline of the U.S. outbreak.

Even if China can be sued over Covid there’s a lot yet to be discovered or proven.

If somehow China could be found liable, this would set a bad precedent for any future viruses that could emerge from anywhere in the world – and finding where they originate could be impossible to prove. But if there was a risk of huge damages for a country that first discovered a virus, it could deter it from revealing it, or at least cover up evidence.

Missouri and the US would be better concentrating on minimising the effects of Covid. Maybe they are concerned about lawsuits being filed against states or against the federal government for not doing enough soon enough. But going to court won’t do anything to deal with the virus.

And if Trump pushes states to reopen for business too soon will he be liable for legal action?

Murphy on ‘Winston goes fishing’

Journalist Tim Murphy, now at Newsroom,  is one of those who was served with legal papers today trying to discover who leaked information about the Winston Peters superannuation overpayment. He has written about it in Winston goes fishing.

He says that he has been included due to a single tweet, and for being ‘a long time media detractor’ of Peters.

It says Peters became aware of a tweet by me supposedly boasting that Newsroom was about to publish a story. No such claim was made on Twitter or elsewhere. It claims ‘innuendo” that the “story would destroy Peters’ political career”.

For that Murphy has been named as first defendant.

 No such indication could possibly have been taken from the tweet. In any case, the tweet was deliberate parody of news media promotion of their upcoming stories.

The actual documents are an application “for discovery before proceeding commenced under High Court rule 8.20” and an affidavit from a Remuera lawyer Clifton Killip Lyon.

For each defendant there is an attached schedule listing what it is that Peters’ lawyers want under this fishing – sorry, discovery – expedition. It ranges from journalists’ notes, phone records, emails and other communications to ministers’ documents and phone and meeting records.

“To issue proceedings,” the application says, “he [Peters] requires access to the document trail developed by the conduct of the intended defendant’s aforesaid conduct”.

It appears that Peters is trying to find evidence – if so that appears he may have made serious accusations without having much in the way solid evidence – and possibly no evidence apart from a bit of banter in social media.

Lyon and Henry have been instructed by Peters “to identify and sue” those responsible, once they have any information that can help them finalise their “pleadings”.

If Peters knew who leaked he would surely have just targeted them.

 

Peters admits he wouldn’t protect his source

In a bizarre series of interviews today Winston Peters has morphed from an absolute protector of his supposed source to saying he would produce them as witnesses if his challenge to Judith Collins to sue him was taken up.

On Radio NZ:

I’m trying to find out exactly what what happened, so what day did it happen on and what time of day?

Winston Peters: Oh look, I’m not going to answer a silly question like that, it did happen I can assure you of that, but I’m not going to finger people who thought they were having a confidential conversation. It’s that simple.

Did you agree to keep it confidential?

Winston Peters: I always keep confidential conversations confidential. I have never ever given a source away to anyone.

But did they ask you to keep it confidential?

Winston Peters: No it was clear as daylight that they wanted it to be confidential.

With Sean Plunket on RadioLive:

Was it Simon Lusk that approached you?

Winston Peters: I can tell you that I do not intend to break any confidence on these matters.

I’m going to ask you direct, was it Simon Lusk?

Winston Peters: I’ll say it again, I’ll answer you direct, I do not intend to break confidence on these matters.

I’m going to put myself out on a limb here Mr Peters. Would you be prepared to privately give me that name on the grounds that I would not disclose it?

Winston Peters: Um well I’ve done that once before with you and you’ve kept your word, but the answer’s no because I’d be breaching confidentiality with someone else and I’m not going to do that and I’ve never done that in a long career.

So he would absolutely honourably not breach confidence.

Ok you do understand that in the absence of further information you know and I’m not saying I don’t believe you, but you know if I was Woodward and Bernstein for example I probably wouldn’t run this.

Winston Peters:Oh no no if I was Woodward and Bernstein I would take that information and work on it and sooner or later you’re going to strike pay dirt with others knowing about it, that’s what Woodward and Bernstein did in their case, they just followed the money as they were told by Deep Throat to do. In this case you follow the power.

But he’s happy encourage journalists to find out who his source is based on what he’s fed them, and that they previously knew nothing about.

On that basis I wouldn’t trust Peters to keep something confidential.  He would do enough to see that confidentiality was breached but try to avoid responsibility for discovery even though that was his intent in going public.

Later on 3 News:

Winston Peters is challenging Judith Collins to sue him for defamation over his claims she plotted against the Prime Minister.

Winston Peters: I bet she won’t, because then I will produce the witnesses.

So these sources that “I always keep confidential conversations confidential. I have never ever given a source away to anyone” would be produced and revealed after he promoted investigation of the story and if Collins sued him after he pushed her into doing so.

Trust Winston Peters?

Ambrose suing Key for $1.25 million

Bradley Ambrose is suing John Key for defamation:

Mr Key’s lawyer Peter Kiely confirmed to NZ Newswire that he has received defamation proceedings filed by Bradley Ambrose.

“Mr Key is and will be defending the alleged defamation,” Mr Kiely said.

Mr Key is being sued for $1.25 million, Mr Kiely said.

http://www.3news.co.nz/Key-being-sued-for-defamation/tabid/423/articleID/324185/Default.aspx

That would be an expensive cup of tea. It almost cost Key the election. It could cost him considerable inconvenience and dollars, even if nothing is awarded against him.

A comment at Kiwiblog:

So Ambrose waits 2 years then starts to make noise a year out from an election….

Exactly what I thought – a long time for him to decide if his feelings where hurt or not. Looks very political. I wonder if Ambrose is funding this himself.