As the investigation into the
tragic death of John Wheeler continues, most "normal" news outlets have offered increasing numbers of videos and accounts from people who saw Wheeler walking around, apparently disoriented, in the last two days of his life. How he ended up in that condition, and what happened in the few hours between his last sighting and the time his his body was found in a landfill outside Newark, Delaware, no one has yet explained.

Anyone following this story is aware that there has been a parallel discussion, at sites I'm deliberately not linking to, that has resolved all mysteries with one sweeping conspiratorial explanation. To sum up this (far-fetched) view: it is "no accident" that Wheeler died around the time of the also-mysterious mass death of birds in the Midwest. The birds were the victim of a military poison-gas test (or leak, or whatever); Wheeler, a one-time Pentagon staffer and a recent Mitre corporation employee, obviously "knew too much" about the evil plans; and so he was eliminated near the headquarters of (naturally) the DuPont corporation, which manufactures exotic chemicals.

I shouldn't have to say this, but I will: such reasoning is nuts. And so far it has not crossed the barrier from fringe websites to "real" media in the United States. But in China, it is quoted today in the very popular and proudly nationalist Global Times - Huanqiu Shibao 环球时报.

The story linked here is in Chinese, and others will understand its nuances a lot better than I do. But I'm sure enough about the headline and the crucial passages about Wheeler (introduced as "美国前国防部官员惠勒," "former Pentagon official Wheeler," with 惠勒, huilei, as his name) to know that it is quoting, at detailed length, Russian "reports" about Wheeler being killed to shut him up about the Pentagon's ongoing reckless experimentation with poisonous phosgene gas -- and about the leak of the gas, leading to the bird kill, as it was being prepared for shipment to Afghanistan. The comments from Chinese netizens, which start here, appear to pour on the "Is there no end to the villainy of the United States??" theme.

Global Times, a kind of state-sanctioned Limbaugh/Beck counterpart in China, is the sort of place where you would expect this.  And, again, lots of English-language fringe websites are astew with these theories. But it's worth noting the way these theories have gone straight into the mainstream (state-controlled) media in China. We have our "truthiness" problems; they have something more. Here's how the start of the story looks on their site (and thanks to reader JF for the lead):  [UPDATE: Interestingly, the story does not appear to be in the English-language version of Global Times online.]