"I love your "Malaysian Accent", can you say it again?"
"几够力一下有没有"

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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Links - 29th September 2021 (1)

59% of the 'Tuna' Americans Eat Is Not Tuna - The Atlantic - "Sushi restaurants were far more likely to mislabel their fish than grocery stores or other restaurants.
In Chicago, Austin, New York, and Washington DC, every single sushi restaurant sampled sold mislabeled tuna.
84% of fish samples labeled "white tuna" were actually escolar, a fish that can cause prolonged, uncontrollable, oily anal leakage...
"If you've ever wondered why the sushi in the display case is so affordable, given the dire state of the world's tuna supply, well, now you know."

Gordon Ramsay's daughter Tilly prefers her mom's cooking

Number 1 in 2018: Who Cheats More? The Demographics of Infidelity in America= - "cheating is somewhat more common among black adults... A person’s political identity, family background, and religious activity are also related to whether or not they cheat. Overall, Democrats, adults who didn’t grow up in intact families, and those who rarely or never attend religious services are more likely than others to have cheated on their spouse... when it comes to who is more likely to cheat, men and women share very few traits. Separate regression models by gender suggest that for men, being Republican and growing up in an intact family are not linked to a lower chance of cheating, after controlling for other factors. But race, age, and religious service attendance are still significant factors. Likewise, men’s education level is also positively linked to their odds of cheating. By comparison, party ID, family background, and religious service attendance are still significant factors for cheating among women, while race, age, and educational attainment are not relevant factors. In fact, religious service attendance is the only factor that shows consistent significance in predicting both men and women’s odds of infidelity."

Please Get Your Noise Out of My Ears (Ep. 439) - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "When a coral reef is healthy, it’s quite noisy with the sound of marine activity, and that noise attracts more activity. But a patch of coral reef that’s dead or dying is quiet. So, the scientists went to these quiet patches and placed speakers underwater to play the sounds of a noisy reef.It seems to have worked, attracting lots of fish, who stayed on. Here’s how the researchers put it: “Acoustic enrichment shows promise as a novel tool for the active management of degraded coral reefs.” So, there are beneficial ocean sounds and the opposite...
HAGOOD: Sound has always been a challenge to our sense of autonomy.
Emphasis on the “always.”
HAGOOD: We can look back at the famous stoic Seneca, back in ancient Rome, who wrote that if you were truly in control of your own consciousness and emotions, then you should be able to withstand any sort of sound. And yet eventually Seneca moved out of Rome to the Roman suburbs because he couldn’t stand the noise anymore...
DEAN: If we double how loud the room feels, the workers are about 5 percent less productive on this task. And just to put that number in perspective, we also randomly assigned how much we were paying participants based on their production. And there, if we double their payment from five shillings per pocket to 10 shillings per pocket, that only increases productivity by around 3 percent."

Many Businesses Thought They Were Insured for a Pandemic. They Weren’t. (Ep. 437) - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "Bruce Carnegie-Brown, not surprisingly, has a different view of the industry. A more appreciative view of insurance.
   CARNEGIE-BROWN: If you sit looking at it from my perspective, it’s actually a great enabler.
An enabler how? Consider the act of driving your car.
   CARNEGIE-BROWN: When you look at the most frequently bought form of insurance, it’s motor-car insurance, and you have to have it in order to drive a car.
Auto insurance is one of the few forms of insurance that is mandatory in most places. What would it look like to drive a car without insurance?
   CARNEGIE-BROWN: If you looked at driving a car through a different lens, you’d say that you couldn’t afford to get into your motor car, because if you happened to knock somebody over or have an accident that created a disability in a third party, the cost to you in economic terms — let alone all of the emotional issues — would be beyond your net worth. And so, actually, it enables things to happen... we like to think of it, therefore, as enabling people to take more risks than they would otherwise be able to take...
KUNREUTHER: What you have to tell people — and it’s very hard to do this — the best return on an insurance policy is no return at all. Celebrate you have not had a loss...
CARNEGIE-BROWN: Every time a hurricane comes onshore in the United States, fewer than 25 percent of the people affected by the hurricane have insurance.
At the same time, we do tend to buy other, less essential forms of insurance.
CARNEGIE-BROWN: People insure their mobile phones, for instance. And that’s worth $500 or $600. But what they don’t do is buy enough health care if they get cancer or enough insurance for their families in the event that they die...
JUCKER: One thing about disasters, I tell everyone, you get one pity party and no more, because you’ve got to get to work."
Meanwhlle, some people are having pity parties after more than a century

Forget Everything You Know About Your Dog (Ep. 436) - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "So, you want to make a dog? There are just a few ingredients. You’ll need wolves, humans, a little interaction, mutual tolerance. Mix thoroughly and wait, oh, a few thousand years.Or, if you’re the Russian geneticist Dmitry Belyaev, you simply find a group of captive foxes and start selectively breeding them. In 1959, Belyaev began a project that has greatly informed our best guesses as to what we believe the earliest steps of domestication were. Instead of observing dogs and extrapolating backward, he examined another social canid species and propagated them forward... After forty years, three-quarters of the population of foxes were of a class the researchers called “domesticated elite”: not just accepting contact with people, but drawn to it. He had created a domesticated fox. Incredibly, by selecting for one behavioral trait, the genome of the animal was changed in a half century. And with that genetic change came a number of surprisingly familiar physical changes. They have floppy ears and tails that curl up and over their backs. Their heads are wider, and their snouts are shorter. They are improbably cute...
Why, for instance, dogs urinate where they do. Here’s one response we got:
DOG MAN: They’re marking their territory, that’s like their whole — they’re kind of like putting little flags around the neighborhood to let people know it’s theirs.
What’s Alexandra Horowitz think of that explanation?
HOROWITZ: It’s totally right to think of the marking behavior, just peeing a little bit on lots of different things, as leaving little flags, it’s sort of like little calling cards that say, “Me, me, me!” But it’s not territory, right? I mean, if dogs were really marking their territory, we’d expect that they’d go around the perimeter of your apartment or house and are marking every spot along the wall, because that’s their territory. You know, instead, it’s just leaving information about themselves in places that other dogs can sniff it."

Pettiness: Conceptualization, measurement and cross-cultural differences - "Although pettiness, defined as the tendency to get agitated over trivial matters, is a facet of neuroticism which has negative health implications, no measure exists. The goal of the current study was to develop, and validate a short pettiness scale. In Study 1 (N = 2136), Exploratory Factor Analysis distilled a one-factor model with five items. Convergent validity was established using the Big Five Inventory, DASS, Satisfaction with Life Scale, and Conner-Davidson Resilience Scale. As predicted, pettiness was positively associated with neuroticism, depression, anxiety and stress but negatively related to extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness, life satisfaction and resilience. Also, as predicted, pettiness was not significantly related to physical functioning, or blind and constructive patriotism, indicating discriminant validity. Confirmatory Factor Analysis in Study 2 (N = 734) revealed a stable one-factor model of pettiness. In Study 3 (N = 532), the scale, which showed a similar factor structure in the USA and Singapore, also reflected predicted cross-cultural patterns: Pettiness was found to be significantly lower in the United States, a culture categorized as “looser” than in Singapore, a culture classified as “tighter” in terms of Gelfand and colleagues’ framework of national tendencies to oppose social deviance. Results suggest that this brief 5-item tool is a reliable and valid measure of pettiness, and its use in health research is encouraged."

Tee Soon Kay v Attorney-General[2006] SGHC 151 - "This is an appeal by Mr Tee Soon Kay, together with and on behalf of 99 public officers (collectively, “the appellants”), against the trial judge’s decision in Originating Summons No 618 of 2006 (“the OS”) holding, inter alia, that the appellants were not entitled to revert to the pension scheme as they had opted to convert from the pension scheme to the Central Provident Fund (“CPF”) scheme in 1973... The claimants were appointed to the public service before 1  December 1972.  When firstemployed, they were on the pension scheme
The case where ex-civil servants sued the government to try to get their pension back. This doesn't mention the exemption given to those who were under a certain age when they made the decision though (either 18 or 21)

Chinese noodles not the inspiration for pasta, historians say, its roots are in ancient Greece – and they have the texts to prove it | South China Morning Post - ""pasta culture was already flourishing in the Mediterranean region centuries before he travelled east, among the ancient Greeks and later among the Romans.  “Noodles are one thing, pasta another food altogether,” says Ms Anna Maria Pellegrino, a food historian and a member of the Italian Academy of Cuisine. “They reflect two separate culinary cultures and identities that have developed in parallel"...  “The way they are cooked, the pots, the types of cereals used, the preparation, ingredients and toppings are completely different and specific to each civilisation. There’s no direct link between the Asian and the Italian or Mediterranean ways of mixing cereals with water to create noodles or pasta,” she says...  Historical texts and works by classical poets help to date the first type of primeval pasta to the time of the ancient Greeks.  Mr Giorgio Franchetti, a food historian and scholar of ancient Roman history, is the author of a book, Dining With the Ancient Romans, which was recently translated into English. He roundly dismisses the Marco Polo theory about the origins of pasta.  “It’s pure nonsense,” he says. “The noodles that Marco Polo maybe brought back with him at the end of the 1200s from China were essentially made with rice and based on a different, oriental culinary tradition that has nothing to do with ours.”...  “Between 1000BC and 800BC, the Greeks first mentioned the existence of laganon, a flat pasta sheet sliced into irregular strips that was later adopted by the ancient Romans with the plural name of laganae. It was used in soups of leek and chickpeas, a very popular Roman dish,” he says...  The birth of dry pasta has been linked to the culture and lifestyle of nomadic Arabian tribes. To cope with long journeys across the desert where water was scarce, Arabs dried their pasta in hollow cylindrical shapes, similar to macaroni.  Ninth-century Arab food scholar Ibn-al-Mibrad wrote in a cookbook that the dry pasta could then be mixed with legumes, especially lentils. Called rishta, the dish was popular with the Berber and Bedouin desert tribes of northern Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and the Levant, and is still eaten today across the Middle East.  Spaghetti, in particular, appears to have had Arabic influence. Mr Franchetti has found a book dating to 1154, more than 100 years before Marco Polo’s journeys, written by an Arab geographer called Al-Idrin. It mentions long strands of dough called triya, curled up like balls of wool and exported in wooden barrels along Mediterranean merchant routes from the city of Palermo in Sicily, then under the Arab rule.""

Boobeman - "Under communism I'd be starving too much to have tits this big"
"Buy this shirt for all your large breasted acquaintances at shirt dot sexy Thank you Tara for your breasts @tetraniii on twitter"

Sue Bird: “You Have to Pay the Superstars.” (People I (Mostly) Admire, Ep. 12) - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "I was actually pretty good... By my senior year, I was the starting point guard on my high school team. But there was only one problem. I hated everything about basketball. I hated practice, I hated games. But I stuck with it and I thought: you'll look back when you're older and you'll have such fond memories of playing basketball. Well, the fact is that I don't have any good memories of playing basketball: only trauma and agony. So here's my advice to anybody engaged in any activity, whatever the age, no matter how good you are, if you hate something, you should quit"

Episode 155: Historic Hospitals with Isabelle Kent, part 1 — The Art History Babes - "Valdés Leal and Murillo, who did a lot of the paintings in the chapel both became members of the Hospital de la Caridad [sic; in Seville]. They probably actually did the paintings kind of on the cheap as a way of getting into the town [sp?] membership. So, so yeah, Mañara. Mañara was a savvy businessman. He knew he could ask the best artists to do it, and then just, you know, help them get the membership."

Episode 156: Historic Hospitals with Isabelle Kent, part 2 — The Art History Babes - "There's a lot of confusion about St. Anthony because there are two St Anthonys. And so a lot of people think that St Anthony's fire is named after St Anthony of Padua. He’s the saint who is a follower of St. Francis. He is a very beloved saint. His relics are in Santo in Padua and they're one of the major pilgrimage sites still to this day because he is the sort of Saint of lost things and if you've lost someone, or you've lost something or a loved one or something like that, you'll go visit St Anthony and one of the reasons everyone thinks that St Anthony's fire is connected to him is because he died of ergotism. He died of St. Anthony's fire, but actually, it's not. St Anthony's fire is named after St Anthony the Great who was an early Christian saint. He was born in Egypt in 251. So 251 AD, and he apparently lived for 105 years. So unlike all the other saints from this period, he wasn't a martyr. He died of old age... 'This altarpiece being made for this chapel that would have treated the sick and you'd think, okay, what the sick need if they're in a huge amount of pain and trying to heal is a nice reassuring image. And that is not what they got. What they got is the most grisly painting. We've already done a little bit of describing of those first scenes, the scenes that you see on the outer layer of the altar piece, but I think now would be a good time to really zoom in and to talk about some of the details, what they mean, how they connect to the religious order, and to the treating of the sick, but I think really to emphasize that these are very strong, intense images to be seeing when you're already feeling ill. And especially if you're at a stage where ergotism is causing you to have some form of madness. That's, that's maybe not the kind of images you want to be seeing.’...
‘The twisting of Christ’s body and limbs, and it's one of those things where you could crop out just a single hand or potentially a finger from this Christ and still get-’
‘The pain that he's feeling.’
‘Yeah, Yeah, it's that visceral’
‘Yeah, well it’s fascinating because the story of the passion is that is so full of pain and, and it describes very vividly, you know, he's got, he's got nails through his hands, I mean, how incredibly painful must that have been to then be hanging by nails that are driven through your hands. And yet a lot of the crucifixions that, you know, many of us are used to seeing are quite peaceful. You know, Christ looks, you know, peaceful and radiant even. And it's not this violence that's being seen in this image. Yeah, those contorted hands in particular, they look almost as though they're sort of spiders that have been, you know, pierced in the center and they're just rigid with this pain, but they are. Yeah, it's incredibly rough. And then the feet as well... it looks like skin from a corpse that has been dead for several days and it's kind of hanging off and they're green and the flashes, it was really lifeless, and there's blood dripping down from them. This is all very strong and intense imagery... The feet, they look gangrenous. You know, they look like the feet of people who would have been suffering the late stages of ergotism… he's covered in these kind of pockmarks, which is similar to what you would get when you had the disease. And so, you know, it's taking that idea of having empathy with Christ to the next level, because Christ is literally feeling the way that you are feeling... I think it would have brought comfort, certainly this quite intense, possibly grotesque comfort, but it shows that you know, you too, can pass through this'"

Episode 157: Decolonize the Art World with Yaa Addae — The Art History Babes - "[On George Floyd] ‘I was particularly angered with how galleries and museums who make profit or even if that is a sort of cultural capital of exhibiting black artists’ works but in time like this were completely silent. And so I had made the account initially to call out specific galleries...
At the same time there are these very real power dynamics that make me study African history in an institution in the United States, giving me more capital and access and resource that if I was studying it, let's say in Accra were like, you know, in the context of it. So going back to what kind of knowledge is validated what is even understood as knowledge.’...
‘As someone who has spent a lot of my life in academia, like I've just been thinking about, a lot of the ways in which academia is, is a really hierarchical system. It's very much you know, steeped in white supremacy.’"
This is amazing. Activists intimidate galleries and museums into featuring black artists (regardless of market demand) and then turn around and accuse galleries and museums of profiting off black artists (even if they lose money - presumably if a ticket worth $1 is sold they're profiting even if they lose $1 million on staging an exhibition no one wants to see Apparently it's more important to study Africa in Africa than to study at a place from experts and which is rigourous
Academia indulges grievance studies, and in return grievance studies savages it. Hoist by their own petard!

Episode 159: Yellow: the Grooviest Color — The Art History Babes - "‘We should just talk about what's going on, do our usual banter thing, as we do. I feel like we've been doing that for the last hour.’
‘I know. I feel that it's like a, maybe not a trade secret. But I feel that all podcasts do that where there's a conversational element to it. Or like they start and I'm like you guys, I can tell you are shooting the shit for like, 30 mins before’
‘There was a conversation before the conversation. It's like a pre party’
‘You got to warm up.’...
‘Imagine if we all like met at parties in grad school. Like we didn't go to someone's house and drink together first. We just all met at the door sober.’...
‘Y’all know that I'm a bird lady. And part of being a bird mom is that your bird babies sometimes get sick. And so I took lemon man to the vet. And the vet was just really really scoffing at me and was like, well, I just want to let you know that lemon “man” is actually a girl and I just thought, you know, first of all don't gender my bird because… it got me thinking about imposing gender norms onto my pets because I always refer to my animals as little men or my little, you know my little boys or or I am very into a, I’m very into a good boy for like a pet’...
‘There is this consistent use of yellow as the default skin tone. That's, I think the intention is it's supposed to be a catch all. Where that gets really problematic, though, is that yes, it is. That's might be the intention. But ultimately, the way it actually reads in our subconscious and reads in our mind is a lot of times yellow represents white people. You know, Simpsons is a perfect example.’...
‘It is important to talk about the Simpsons in that way, like, I mean, I don't want to get like dramatic but like, that's kind of a form of white supremacy that the Simpsons is building into its entire show.’
‘Yeah, no, it's 100% a form of White supremacy and that's the issue because there are people of color in the Simpsons. There are people with brown skin tones, like there are’
‘There are some pretty racist characters in the show’
‘Totally’
‘100%, but the default is yellow. And ultimately, we read consciously or subconsciously, we read those yellow characters as white people’
Gender madness spreads to animals
When you look for racism, you'll find it

Episode 165: Art History BB: Malagan Masks — The Art History Babes - "'The Malagan Masks can be classified as what we call ephemeral art... Ephemerality, with a spiritual or ritualistic purpose... the artist sort of gives the rights of the design to the family of the deceased. Additionally, Malagans are given power and authority from their creator and are used for a very specific ritualised purpose and for the honouring of a specific person or family and for this reason they are often destroyed after the ceremony'...
'The ways in which they destroy them... sometimes they'll leave them on the actual burial site. Sometimes they'll just straightup destroy them, like fire...sometimes they'll go put them up in a remote part of the forest and let it like decay and get like consumed by the forest... another thing that they do that they still consider destroying it is sell it to Western museums... that is the best, they're just like let's make some money off of it, it'll be out there in, you know Germany, getting seen by all these tourists... I will sell you my garbage'"

Why Are We So Attracted to Fame? (NSQ Ep. 41) - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "Celebrity worship has been an intrinsic part of human history for ages. Stephen and Angela discuss the hysteria around people like Audrey Hepburn and Britney Spears. But this sort of frenzy is nothing new. Victorian novelist Charles Dickens was greeted like a rock star when he toured the United States in 1867. His hotel in Boston had to place armed guards outside to stop fans from trying to reach him. He was even stalked by Jane Bigelow, a socialite from Baltimore who threatened and attacked women who expressed interest in him"

Yes, Flat-Earthers Really Do Exist - Scientific American Blog Network - "a YouGov poll conducted in February 2018. According to YouGov’s report, when asked, “Do you believe that the world is round or flat,” 2 percent of the 8,215 respondents chose “I have always believed the world is flat.” When we asked YouGov for the data, however, we received a spreadsheet reflecting data for 10,374 respondents, of whom only 1.28 percent preferred the always-a-flat-earther response. Unfortunately, YouGov was unable or unwilling to resolve the discrepancy, making it impossible for us to reach a firm conclusion about the actual size of the flat-Earth movement on the basis of the poll... Perhaps it’s easier to admit the existence of flat-Earthers in light of a 2016 survey finding that 27 percent of Americans don’t accept heliocentrism, 48 percent don’t accept common ancestry of humans and non-human animals, and 61 percent don’t accept the big bang"

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Links - 28th September 2021 (2) (Covid-19: Lab Leak)

Wuhan scientists sought to infect bats with coronavirus 18 months before first case, documents show - "Scientists in Wuhan were planning to release enhanced airborne coronaviruses into Chinese bat populations to inoculate them against diseases that could jump to humans, reveal leaked grant proposals dating from 2018. Documents show that just 18 months before the first COVID-19 cases appeared, researchers submitted plans to release skin-penetrating nanoparticles containing “novel chimeric spike proteins” of bat coronaviruses into cave bats in Yunnan, located about 2,000 km southwest of Wuhan. They also planned to create chimeric viruses genetically enhanced to infect humans more easily and requested US$14 million from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. They hoped to introduce “human-specific cleavage sites” to bat coronaviruses which would make it easier for the virus to enter humans. When COVID-19 was genetically sequenced, scientists were puzzled about how the virus had evolved such a human-specific adaptation at the cleavage site on the spike protein, which is why it is so infectious. The documents were released by an investigations team called Drastic, set up by scientists to look into the origins of COVID-19...   It included plans to mix high risk natural coronaviruses with more infectious but less dangerous varieties.   The bid was submitted by British zoologist Peter Daszak of EcoHealth Alliance, the U.S. organization that has worked closely with the Wuhan Institute of Virology on bat viruses.  Team members included Dr Shi Zheng Li, dubbed “bat woman” as well as researchers from the University of North Carolina and the U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Centre.The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency refused to fund the proposal, saying: “The project could have put local communities at risk,” and warned that the team had not considered the dangers of enhancing the virus (gain of function research) or releasing a vaccine by air...   Prof Angus Dalgleish, at St George’s, University of London, who struggled to get work published showing that the Wuhan institute  had been doing “gain of function” work before the pandemic, said the research may have gone ahead without the funding... The papers have been confirmed as genuine by a former member of the Trump administration."
The CIA strikes again!

How Wuhan Covid 'lab leak' scientists were 'BITTEN by bats & sprayed with blood before 'patient zero' infected world' - "SCIENTISTS at a Chinese lab linked to the outbreak of Covid revealed how they were bitten by bats and spattered with blood before "patient zero" infected the world.  A researcher from the Wuhan Institute of Virology claimed fangs went through his rubber gloves "like a needle" while collecting samples in a cave packed with infected bats. A video - which first emerged two years ago - appears to show scientists working on "live viruses" without gloves and masks in an apparent breach of World Health Organisation safety rules...   The scientist dubbed "patient zero", who vanished from the Wuhan lab at the start of the Covid outbreak, is still missing despite a year-long search.  Virus expert Huang Yanling was named online in China during the very first worrying reports of the deadly pandemic back in February last year. The US State Department believes she was the first of several working at the controversial institute who fell ill in the autumn of 2019 - months before the virus was officially acknowledged...   Adding weight to calls for another probe, a bombshell spy report revealed this week how three Wuhan lab staff became sick and needed hospital care weeks before China disclosed the virus outbreak to the world...   It shows the timing of their illnesses and their hospital visits in November 2019 - when China officially detected the outbreak.  And documents also revealed how Chinese scientists probed weaponising coronaviruses five years before the pandemic.   Documents obtained by the US State Department reportedly show People's Liberation Army commanders predicted World War 3 would be fought with biological weapons.  Chinese scientists described SARS coronaviruses - of which Covid is an example - as heralding a “new era of genetic weapons”. They boasted the viruses could be "artificially manipulated into an emerging human disease virus, then weaponised and unleashed in a way never seen before"... the Wuhan lab lied about taking safety precautions when collecting bat samples. Shocking leaked photos - which revealed a scandalous lack of safety - were deleted from the website of under-fire China science hub."

Covid Patient Zero may have been a Wuhan lab worker, WHO chief says

WHO chief says COVID report too quick to dismiss theory virus leaked from Wuhan lab

Peter Ben Embarek, Danish researcher on WHO-led probe into covid origins, says Chinese colleagues blocked lab-leak theory - The Washington Post - "Peter Ben Embarek said Chinese researchers on the team had pushed back against linking the origins of the pandemic to a research laboratory in Wuhan in a report about the investigation."

Did the Covid-19 virus really escape from a Wuhan lab? - "The source of the virus therefore seemed clear: pangolins, trafficked into Wuhan, were the culprits that had conveyed the newly named SARS-CoV-2 from bats into humans. By all accounts, this was a rerun of the SARS epidemic, whose origins were traced back to animals called palm civets in markets, and ultimately to horseshoe bats. This was the story told to the world, and one that was, initially, almost universally accepted.  In February, however, a short article was released by two Wuhan scientists, Botao Xiao and Lei Xiao, pointing out that Wuhan laboratories had mounted expeditions across China to collect and study bat viruses. It made the bold statement that ‘in addition to origins of natural recombination and intermediate host, the killer coronavirus probably originated from a laboratory in Wuhan’. The paper was later withdrawn and some concluded it was an empty guess. Nevertheless, when sequencing Wuhan’s novel coronavirus – determining the order of the genetic letters that make up its genome – Dr Shi found that it closely resembled a short sequence from a bat virus her lab had collected in the Mojiang mine back in 2013. In publishing this finding in Nature magazine in February 2020, however, Dr Shi made no reference to Mojiang or the miners, and gave the bat virus a different name – RaTG13 – from the one used previously. Nor did she mention that her laboratory had sequenced and studied RaTG13 as early as 2017.  This lack of transparency meant that it was left to a group of diligent online sleuths, including scientists in Innsbruck in Austria and Pune in India, a Russian-Canadian biotech entrepreneur, an anonymous Twitter user known as ‘The Seeker’ and a group going by the name of DRASTIC, to fill the gaps. They found the original identity of RaTG13, connected it to the Mojiang mine, located the site of the mine and unearthed a thesis from Kunming Medical University that revealed what had happened to the Mojiang miners... As more tantalising details emerged, journalists from the BBC and Associated Press attempted to visit the Mojiang mine, but were tailed by police and stopped by impromptu roadblocks... In May last year, the director of the Chinese CDC announced that none of the animal samples collected from the Wuhan wet market had tested positive for Covid-19. It was, he declared, ‘more like a victim. The novel coronavirus had existed long before.’... the pangolin evidence now looks weak as well. As one of us (Chan) discovered, all four studies of the pangolin virus most like SARS-CoV-2 relied on the same data set from a single batch of pangolins intercepted in Guangdong in March 2019. There is no evidence of widespread infection among pangolins, let alone in Wuhan. As Dr Angela Rasmussen, of the Georgetown Center for Global Health Science and Security, put it, ‘The pangolin samples are a mess, and likely not relevant.’ A further surprise was in store. Chan and her colleague Dr Shing Hei Zhan scrutinised the evolutions of SARS-CoV-1 (the cause of the 2003 SARS epidemic) and SARS-CoV-2 (the cause of the current pandemic) in the early months of their respective outbreaks and found that while the former mutated rapidly in early human cases, as the virus adapted to its new host, the latter did not. This implies that the virus causing Covid-19 was already well adapted to infecting human beings, a point that was also suggested by the World Health Organization in its global study on the origins of Covid-19, published in November.  There are three possible explanations for this. The first is that the virus had circulated, undetected, in people for months. The second is that the virus was already highly adept at human-to-human transmission, even while it was still in bats or other animals. The third is that it had become adapted in human cells, or humanised animals, in a laboratory. That such viruses circulated in humans in Wuhan seems unlikely. Dr Shi and her colleagues at the WIV have been sampling people, as well as bats, in rural Yunnan in the areas where SARS-like viruses are found in bats. By a stroke of good luck they used the population of their home city, Wuhan, as a comparison in one 2015 study: of hundreds of people tested in Wuhan, none had antibodies against SARS-like viruses.   Yet there is little doubt that the pandemic began in Wuhan. All the early cases were in the city and the majority of the first recorded cases in other countries were among people who had travelled from Wuhan. Persistent attempts by the Chinese government and scientists to play up possible origins in frozen-food imports and pre-Wuhan cases in Europe have been unpersuasive so far.   There is still no sign of an original animal source of SARS-CoV-2 in Wuhan, or the rest of Hubei province. Horseshoe bats that live in the area have been extensively sampled for viruses for years without SARS-CoV-2-like viruses showing up. Therefore, the strongest connection between such viruses in Yunnan and the human outbreak in Wuhan is the WIV, and the fact that it had collected SARSlike viruses from the Mojiang mine...   The practice of building chimera coronaviruses, sometimes leaving no trace of manipulation, is not new. Such experiments have been conducted in select laboratories such as the WIV for years, for the purpose of understanding how novel viruses could spill over into humans. The ultimate goal is to create a universal vaccine for all SARS-like viruses.  The scientists might find it unbearable if they instead caused a pandemic. But they did not find it unthinkable. In a 2015 article co-authored by Dr Shi these words appear: ‘Scientific review panels may deem similar studies building chimeric viruses based on circulating strains too risky to pursue… The potential to prepare for and mitigate future outbreaks must be weighed against the risk of creating more dangerous pathogens.’...   In a significant change from a year ago, a growing number of top experts – including (ordered alphabetically by last name) Drs Francois Balloux, Ralph S Baric, Trevor Bedford, Jesse Bloom, Bruno Canard, Etienne Decroly, Richard H Ebright, Michael B Eisen, Gareth Jones, Filippa Lentzos, Michael Z Lin, Marc Lipsitch, Stuart A Newman, Rasmus Nielsen, Megan J Palmer, Nikolai Petrovsky, Angela Rasmussen and David A Relman – have stated publicly (several in early 2020) that a lab leak remains a plausible scientific hypothesis to be investigated"

Wuhan Lab Video Appearing to Show Bats in Cages Fuels Speculation About Pandemic Origins - "A video purportedly taken inside a Wuhan lab and appearing to show bats in cages has fuelled speculation about the origins of the coronavirus pandemic after garnering more than 1 million views since it emerged earlier this week... The group, who call themselves DRASTIC, which stands for Decentralized Radical Autonomous Search Team Investigating COVID-19, compiled a detailed collection of documents, images, and laboratory data allegedly taken from the Wuhan facility. The 144-page report, titled "Wuhan laboratories, bat research and biosafety," was published to Research Gate in April...  "It shows that much of what we've been told about the origin of the pandemic from the very beginning was Chinese disinformation which was then propagated by many people who had been working in conjunction with the Wuhan Institute of Virology who are compromised, who had extreme conflicts of interest"... "The Wuhan Institute of Virology kept live bats in cages .... disproving denials from World Health Organization investigators who claimed the suggestion was a 'conspiracy'." Markson pointed towards one member of the World Health Organization team investigating the origin of the pandemic in Wuhan, Peter Daszak, and noted the zoologist said it was a conspiracy to suggest bats were held at the Wuhan Institute of Virology."

Ex-Chinese Communist Party insider Wei Jingsheng speaks out on Wuhan theory relating to Covid-19 - "A whistleblower has sensationally claimed China deliberately spread Covid at a military tournament two months before the rest of the world knew about the deadly virus.  Ex-Chinese Communist Party insider Wei Jingsheng said The World Military Games in October 2019 could have acted as the virus' first superspreader event... Mr Jingsheng claimed it was no coincidence some of the 9,000 international athletes who gathered for the event reportedly became sick with a mystery illness. 'I thought the Chinese government would take this opportunity to spread the virus during the Military Games, as many foreigners would show up there,' he told the new Sky News documentary What Really Happened in Wuhan.  The whistleblower claimed he had heard of the Chinese government carrying out an 'unusual exercise' during the games.  '[I knew] of the possibility of the Chinese government using some strange weapons, including biological weapons, because I knew they were doing experiments of that sort,' he said.   His claims were supported by the former Principal China Adviser to the US State Department Miles Yu... A separate WHO-backed report said it was 'clear' that 'public health measures could have been applied more forcefully by local and national health authorities in China' last January.   It said there was 'potential for early signs to have been acted on more rapidly' by both China and the WHO.   The criticism was at odds with the WHO's public statements at the time, when it praised China for the 'remarkable speed' with which it responded to the outbreak... Chinese authorities initially reported that the virus could not spread person-to-person, despite evidence that it was spreading rapidly through the city of Wuhan including doctors being infected by patients.  This was used as justification for keeping the city of Wuhan operating as normal through a major CCP conference that was held between January 11 and 17, with authorities claiming zero new cases in this period... Despite reporting the existence of a 'novel type of pneumonia' to the World Health Organisation on December 31, Wuhan's largest newspaper also made no mention of the virus until the week of January 20.  That meant people in the city were not taking precautions such as social distancing to stop it spreading... Beijing-based outlet Caixin reported that 'a couple to over 10 cases of covert infections of the virus are being detected' in China every day, despite not showing up in official data."

Anthony Fauci just crushed Donald Trump's theory on the origins of the coronavirus - May 2020
White Coat Waste Project🥼🗑️ on Twitter - "🚨 🚨 🚨 “‘Are you still confident that it developed naturally,’ Sanders questioned the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director. ‘No, actually,’ Fauci responded.” #LabLeak #WuhanLab" - May 2021
The same people who use "science" as a cudgel to bully everyone else into shutting up apparently don't understand that science changes, and that silencing dissent harms science

Singapore foreign minister says finding Covid origins requires transparency

Wuhan medics say they were told to cover up COVID-19 transmission and death at the start of the outbreak | The Post Millennial - "Medical workers from Wuhan said they were told by the Communist government of China to cover up evidence of death and human-human transmission of the coronavirus, a new ITV documentary called "Outbreak: The Virus That Shook The World" revealed... The workers also claimed that some Wuhan locals wanted to cancel the Lunar New Year festival out of fear of the spread, but the festivities were held regardless to "present a harmonious and prosperous society." "

The West’s Wuhan cover-up will not be forgotten easily - "The tech overlords love to flex their muscles on such occasions. Just as they decided before the last election that America’s oldest newspaper – The New York Post – should not be allowed to run a major story about Joe Biden’s family, so the kidults in Silicon Valley decided that they knew best about Wuhan wet markets and virus origins.  The same thing happened with views that were anti-lockdown. As the Telegraph reported last year, interviews with major scientists such as the former WHO adviser Professor Karol Sikora were taken down by YouTube as soon as they were posted online. Anyone who questioned the received narrative was virtually disappeared. The public were only allowed to be told one version of one story. And that whole narrative began with the assertion that the virus was the result of an accident in a Wuhan wet market."
One guy told me (in all apparent seriousness) that it was justified to mock "conspiracy theories" and everything was a conspiracy theory till proven to be a fact. It must be very comforting to have such a simplistic, binary epistemological framework

Exclusive: How Amateur Sleuths Broke the Wuhan Lab Story and Embarrassed the Media - "We now know, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request, that Daszak orchestrated the letter to squelch talk of a lab leak. He drafted it, reached out to fellow scientists to sign it, and worked behind the scenes to make it seem that the letter represented the views of a broad range of scientists. "This statement will not have the EcoHealth Alliance logo on it and will not be identifiable as coming from any one organization or person," he wrote in his pitch to the co-signatories. Scientists whose work had overlapped with the WIV agreed not to sign it so they could "put it out in a way that doesn't link it back to our collaboration."  At the time, however, there was no hint of Daszak's organizing role. The letter helped make Daszak a ubiquitous presence in the media, where he called a lab-leak "preposterous," "baseless," and "pure baloney." He also attacked scientists who published evidence pointing to the lab... When the Trump administration canceled EcoHealth Alliance contracts that would have spent millions on new virus research, 60 Minutes ran a segment that painted Daszak as a martyr to the right-wing conspiracy machine. For right-thinking people everywhere, it seemed like an easy call: The enemy of my enemy is my friend: thus, the lab-leak theory is bunk... One important piece was an extensive Medium post by the Canadian longevity entrepreneur Yuri Deigin that discussed RaTG13, a virus Shi Zhengli had revealed to the world in a February 3 paper in the journal Nature. In that paper, Shi presented the first extensive analysis of SARS-CoV-2, which had seemed to come from nowhere—the virus was unlike any that had been seen before, including the first SARS, which had killed 774 people from 2002 to 2004. In her paper, however, Shi also introduced RaTG13, a virus that is similar in genetic makeup to SARS-CoV-2, making it the only known close relative at the time.  The paper was vague about where RaTG13 had come from. It didn't say exactly where or when RaTG13 had been found, just that it had previously been detected in a bat in Yunnan Province, in southern China.  The paper aroused Deigin's suspicions. He wondered if SARS-CoV-2 might have emerged through some genetic mixing and matching from a lab working with RaTG13 or related viruses. His post was cogent and comprehensive. The Seeker posted Deigin's theory on Reddit, which promptly suspended his account permanently. That early whiff of censorship piqued Seeker's curiosity, so he read more of the Twitter group's ideas. "I found a lively group of people eager to debate and explore the topic"... Cross-referencing snippets of information from multiple sources, Ribera guessed, in a Twitter thread dated August 1, 2020, that a cluster of eight SARS-related viruses mentioned briefly in an obscure section of one WIV paper had actually also come from the Mojiang mine. In other words, they hadn't found one relative of SARS-CoV-2 in that mineshaft; they'd found nine. In November 2020, Shi Zhengli confirmed many of DRASTIC's suspicions about the Mojiang cave in an addendum to her original paper on RaTG13 and in a talk in February 2021... all the evidence DRASTIC has produced points in the same direction: The Wuhan Institute of Virology had spent years collecting dangerous coronaviruses, some of which it has never revealed to the world. It was actively testing these viruses to determine their ability to infect people, as well as what mutations might be necessary to enhance that ability—likely with the ultimate goal of producing a vaccine that would protect against all of them. And the ongoing effort to cover this up implies that something may have gone wrong... "Rossana Segreto and Yuri Deigin are my heroes," says the writer Nicholson Baker, who published an influential feature on the lab-leak theory in New York magazine. "They combed through the research and made inspired connections and uncovered crucial pieces of the story that needed to be told. Same goes for Mona Rahalkar and Billy Bostickson. Crowd-sourced scientific muckraking."... That scientific discourse jumped tracks on January 6, 2021, when the University of Washington virologist Jesse Bloom, one of the country's most respected COVID-19 researchers, became the first major scientific figure to publicly legitimize DRASTIC's contributions... Other scientists pressured Bloom to reconsider, but he held his ground, and the wall of silence began to crumble. In May, 17 scientists from Harvard, Yale, MIT, Stanford, and other leading institutions, including Chan, joined Bloom in a letter in Science calling for a thorough investigation of the Wuhan lab... the WIV researchers had never believed a fungus had killed the Mojiang miners, contradicting Shi's remarks in Scientific American and elsewhere... it's now clear that the question of whether a biolab could have caused this pandemic—and could cause the next—is going to be explored in a way that might never have happened if a radical and decentralized group of outsiders hadn't challenged the status quo.  That's a lesson The Seeker won't soon forget. "I no longer see science as an exclusive domain," he wrote to Newsweek. "Everyone can make a difference.""
Weird. How come they don't know that if you disagree with a scientist about science, it means you are wrong?

Facebook, YouTube Erred in Censoring Covid-19 "Misinformation" - Bloomberg - "Labelling misinformation online is doing more harm than good. The possibility that Covid-19 came from a lab accident is just the latest example. Social media companies tried to suppress any discussion of it for months. But why? There’s no strong evidence against it, and evidence for other theories is still inconclusive. Pathogens have escaped from labs many times, and people have died as a result.   Social media fact-checkers don’t have any special knowledge or ability to sort fact from misinformation. What they have is extraordinary power to shape what people believe. And stifling ideas can backfire if it leads people to believe there’s a “real story” that is being suppressed... I interviewed physician and medical podcaster Roger Seheult who said that he was censored by YouTube for discussing the clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin as potential Covid-19 treatments. No wonder so many people still believe these are the cures “they” don’t want you to know about. Much better would be an open discussion of the clinical trial process, which could help people understand why scientists think those drugs are unlikely to help"

Facebook - "If you haven't noticed by now, more and more media pundits, politicians and scientists have been speaking out about the plausibility of the so-called "lab leak hypothesis" with regard to the origins of the covid19 virus, SARS-Cov2.  Donald McNeil, the science journalist who was recently unceremoniously canceled from the NYT, had spent 25 years writing and researching pandemics.  Now that he's been untethered from the Times, he's published a piece that provides a glimpse into how the Gated Institutional Narrative kicked into gear.  The reason for reflexive dismissal of the lab leak hypothesis mostly comes down to, surprise surprise, politics. Folks like me who actively discussed it more than a year ago were branded as heretics for peddling a "debunked conspiracy theory.” In truth, Occam's Razor dictates that the lab leak hypothesis be taken seriously, a fact that many scientists ignored due to ideological blinders and obvious conflicts of interest. When research safety protocols in your field of virology might be implicated, it's better to protect your source of funding, after all.  McNeil explains the internal divide at the Times, and admitted that the hypothesis wasn't entertained because of who it might help - the Trump admin and other "odious factions" of society, who were hawking it. This is what happens when we dispense with objectivity, when the very people tasked to hold those in power accountable, abandon their commitment to truth-seeking in favor of partisan politics. The consequences of this phenomenon cannot be more overstated. We have squandered the opportunity to know, and at this point, we might never know. It's not just the Chinese government and institutions that need to be transparent - it's OURS as well.  Why do we fund gain-of-function research? Why did we outsource dangerous work to China? Why do our experts take what China says at face value? Why does our media suppress opinions that don't fit the narrative? Why was China allowed to scrub the alleged crime scene (Seafood market)? Why was the Wuhan Institute of Virology not pressured/forced to disclose its communications and logs? It’s very easy for the CCP to put the lab leak hypothesis to rest once and for all by doing so, so why hasn’t it? Why is Dr. Daszek, the person who has the BIGGEST CONFLICT OF INTEREST ON EARTH, head of the covid19 origins investigation team that was finally allowed into China, more than a YEAR after the pandemic broke out? Why did our social media platforms ban accounts that remotely discussed the lab leak? I myself endured vitriol for speaking about this publicly, here and on Twitter. Luckily, I am a disagreeable asshole. Disagreeable assholes are annoying, but clearly we have a function in a dysfunctional society."

Washington Post Flips on Coronavirus Origin Story - "Almost exactly one year ago, The Washington Post loudly ridiculed U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) in a news story — not an opinion piece — about the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. The Post‘s headline: “Tom Cotton keeps repeating a coronavirus conspiracy theory that was already debunked.”...   The Post wasn’t the only news outlet that slammed Cotton for questioning the official Chinese Communist Party’s COVID-19 explanation that the virus originated in a wet market. Throughout much of 2020, Cotton and the possibility of the Wuhan lab as the source were roundly derided by numerous media outlets... But now, over a year after the coronavirus first emerged from Wuhan, China, The Washington Post seems to be backtracking on its year-long anti-Cotton campaign calling him a conspiracy theorist. In its February 5, 2021, opinion piece, the Post‘s Editorial Board now agrees with nearly all of Sen. Cotton’s statements from last winter."

American Journalists Shielded China and Erased the Wuhan Lab Leak Theory - "how could the theory possibly have been debunked? There is no official consensus on where COVID-19 first emerged, and as Cotton pointed out, China's government made it basically impossible for outside observers to investigate the origins of the virus.  Yet for most of the past year, the mainstream media's consensus was that the lab leak hypothesis was just a fringe theory promoted by hawkish parts of the right. Facebook, which has increasingly appointed itself the arbiter of global speech, had a policy of taking down posts claiming that Covid-19 was man-made or manufactured... It appears that for the past year, our media seemed to lock arms in shielding the Chinese government from the scrutiny it deserved for failing to control COVID-19. Whether or not the lab leak hypothesis bears out, it is clear that our nation's journalists did not approach this question with an open mind.  In a Tweet that she later deleted, Apoorva Mandavilli, a New York Times science reporter who has been on the coronavirus beat, offered a window into the mindset of much of the media: "Someday we will stop talking about the lab leak theory and maybe even admit its racist roots. But alas, that day is not yet here," she said. 'Can someone explain to me why it's racist to wonder if a virus escaped from a Chinese lab, but it's not racist to insist that it infected humans because of Chinese wet markets? If anything, isn't the latter more racist?  Also, isn't the relevant question: *what happened*?'... Is it really supposed to be "racist" to consider the possibility that the Chinese government failed to prevent COVID-19 from escaping from a government lab? The other leading origin theory, that the virus emerged from China's lightly regulated wet markets, would place more of blame on local culture than the lab leak hypothesis, which only directly implicates the government. Perhaps Mandavilli's revealing Tweet is emblematic of a wider mindset among American journalists, many of whom saw their mission as simply opposing any stance taken by the Trump administration—former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has long suspected that COVID-19 leaked from the lab in Wuhan—while also burnishing their anti-racist and anti-imperialist credentials by refusing to blame a foreign government for the pandemic.   But the goal of journalism shouldn't be to craft the most culturally sensitive or partisan narrative. The goal of journalism is to seek the truth. The consequences of telling the truth should be secondary to getting the truth out there in the first place, even if it makes the Trump administration or Republican Senators look good or the Chinese government look bad.  To be clear, there have always been partisan or ideological journalists who openly take sides in social or political disputes. But until very recently, we could at least expect that the mainstream media would make a legitimate effort to seek the facts and report fairly, rather than dismissing stories that could make their favored political faction look unfavorable or boost the prospects of their political opponents. Increasingly, the space for nonpartisan journalism that aggressively seeks the truth is shrinking.  It should hardly be a surprise that Americans are rapidly losing faith in the media. As the story of the lab leak hypothesis shows, too many in our current news media environment are quick to politicize their coverage and seek the truth only when it's convenient for their faction. Ultimately, this will only continue to degrade the credibility of the American press, which may benefit forces like the Chinese Communist Party in more ways than one."

Coronavirus: All evidence point to Wuhan labs as source of infection - "Beijing has claimed that the virus originated in a Wuhan “wet market,” where wild animals were sold. But evidence to counter this theory emerged in January. Chinese researchers reported in the Lancet January 24 that the first known cases had no contact with the market, and Chinese state media acknowledged the finding. There’s no evidence the market sold bats or pangolins, the animals from which the virus is thought to have jumped to humans. And the bat species that carries it isn’t found within 160km of Wuhan. Wuhan has two labs where we know bats and humans interacted. One is the Institute of Virology, eight miles from the wet market; the other is the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention, barely 300 yards from the market... While the Chinese government denies the possibility of a lab leak, its actions tell a different story. The Chinese military posted its top epidemiologist to the Institute of Virology in January. In February Chairman Xi Jinping urged swift implementation of new biosafety rules to govern pathogens in laboratory settings. Academic papers about the virus’s origins are now subject to prior restraint by the government."

World Health team in thrall to China - Wuhan lab will NOT be investigated

EU says China behind 'huge wave' of Covid-19 disinformation - "The European commission said Russia and China were running “targeted influence operations and disinformation campaigns in the EU, its neighbourhood, and globally”. While the charge against Russia has been levelled on many occasions, this is the first time the EU executive has publicly named China as a source of disinformation. French politicians were furious when a Chinese embassy website claimed in mid-April, at the height of Europe’s pandemic, that care workers had abandoned their jobs leaving residents to die. The unnamed Chinese diplomat also claimed falsely that 80 French lawmakers had used a racist slur against the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus."

I,Hypocrite - Posts - "China may have prevented 95% of virus cases if it acted on silenced whitleblower's warning"
"Removed by Reddit Admins... this pot was removed by Reddit's Anti-Evil Operations team"

Citizen journalist jailed for 4 years over Wuhan virus reporting - "  Zhang Zhan, a former lawyer, was accused of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” for her reporting in the chaotic initial stages of the outbreak."

The WHO changed its coronavirus timeline to say it got its first report about the virus on the internet, not from Chinese authorities - "The spokeperson did not explain why the WHO took months to clarify how it found out about the outbreak.China has been accused of covering up the coronavirus in its early days, suppressing key information to its citizens and the WHO."

Facebook - "A year ago when people were speculating whether or not the virus came from a lab, others called them "anti-science" or "fake news" and accused people of "spreading misinformation". I even did a video on my show about these claims that was REMOVED by YouTube and Facebook for being "misinformation", even though all I was doing was reporting on what others were claiming. Now here we are, the Biden Admin is looking deeper into the origins of the virus with increasing thoughts that maybe it did in fact, come from a lab. SMDH There are NUMEROUS examples of things people continue to label as "misinformation" or "anti-science" that in due time, will come out as being correct. We live in an era where morality and virtue signaling rule the day. People have stopped thinking for themselves and now just echo the narrative of "their team". Unfortunately, I think many of the things people are blindly doing to fit in with their team could be potentially dangerous in the long term."

The media's lab leak fiasco - "this kind of pachinkoed down into being a politics story where writers and fact-checkers who didn’t cover science at all “knew” that this was a debunked story that right-wingers were pushing for their nefarious ends. I think it’s increasingly clear that this was a huge fiasco for the mainstream press that got way over their skis in terms of discourse-policing, and there is in fact a serious scientific question as to where the virus came from — a question that we will probably never be able to answer because the Chinese government has clearly committed to one viewpoint on this and isn’t going to allow a thorough investigation... Cotton’s statements did not get any immediate coverage, but several days later David Choi at Business Insider wrote them up with the headline “Republican senator suggests ‘worse than Chernobyl’ coronavirus could've come from Chinese ‘superlaboratory.’”  Choi’s piece is one of those things that happens on the internet when the story is totally accurate but also doing a lot of sensationalization for clicks... the “fact check” complex started taking an increasingly hard line against laboratory origin theories that it claimed had been debunked by scientists.  Among actual scientists, it is much less clear to me what the conventional wisdom ever actually ways... When New York Magazine ran its lab leak theory story in January 2021, I tweeted disparaging things about it only to be told quietly by a number of research scientists that I was wrong and plenty of people in the science community thought this was plausible.  By March, Biden was in office and his team was arguing that China was not being sufficiently forthcoming about the origin of the virus. In May, a distinguished group of scientists called for a more rigorous inquiry... My best assessment is to agree with Josh Rogin that this is a case of a smallish group of reporters and fact-checkers proclaiming a scientific consensus where none ever really existed. There’s a question as to why that fake consensus emerged. But I think the more troubling question is: How did people let the original story of what Tom Cotton even said go so badly awry? Essentially Cotton said something that was then transformed into a fake claim of a Chinese bio-attack, then the fake claim was debunked, and then the debunking was applied to the real claim with little attention paid to ongoing disagreement among researchers... If someone tweets something you agree with, it is easy to bless it with an RT or a little heart. To take issue with it is to start a fight. And conversely, it’s much more pleasant to do a tweet that is greeted with lots of RTs and little hearts rather than one that starts fights. So I know from talking to econ PhD-havers that almost everyone is disproportionately avoiding statements they believe to be locally unpopular in their community. There is just more disagreement and dissension than you would know unless you took the time to reach out to people and speak to them in a more relaxed way.  My strong suspicion is that this is true across domains of expertise, and is creating a lot of bubbles of fake consensus that can become very misleading. And I don’t have a solution."
The Ministry of Truth will just toss their lies into the memory hole

PolitiFact retracts Wuhan lab theory ‘fact-check’ - "PolitiFact especially looks foolish this week following the retraction of a “fact-check” that originally awarded a “pants on fire” rating to a doctor who claimed last year COVID-19 is a “man-made virus created in the lab.”  That the media's reckless rush to denounce the theory ultimately suited China, which maintains it definitely isn't responsible for the pandemic that originated within its borders, is a detail that should not go ignored...   “The possibility of a laboratory accident or inadvertent leak having caused the coronavirus outbreak must not be ignored,” the Washington Post’s editorial board said in January. “The genetic makeup of the coronavirus is similar to a variant found in bats. Research into bat coronaviruses was being conducted by the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which collected samples from a mine in Yunnan province in 2012 and 2013.”  It adds, “A credible investigation of how the pandemic began will require China to be completely open and transparent, including about the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”  This is exactly what Cotton had said in the first place. That the Washington Post’s first impulse was to argue the same position staked out by Chinese authorities, a position that was already weak to begin with, and now appears totally indefensible, suggests all is not well with our vaunted Fourth Estate."

"Fact-Checking" Takes Another Beating - "Despite what you might have been led to believe, fact-checkers don’t exist to get things right 100% of the time. They’re there as a threadbare, last-ditch safety mechanism, which news organizations employ as a means of preventing public face-plants.  In any case, by May 17, just days after its “Festival of Fact-Checking,” Poynter/PolitiFact had to issue a correction to its September, 2020 “Pants on Fire” ruling on the “lab origin” story... the public is regularly misinformed about what fact-checkers do. In most settings — especially at daily newspapers — fact-checking, if used at all, is the equivalent of the bare-minimum collision insurance your average penny-pinching car renter buys. There’s usually just enough time to flag a few potential dangers for litigation and/or major, obvious mistakes about things like dates, spellings of names, wording of quotes, whether a certain event a reporter describes even happened, etc.  For anything more involved than that, which is most things, fact-checkers have to scramble to make tough judgment calls. The best ones tend to vote for killing anything that might blow up in the face of the organization later on. Good checkers are there to help perpetuate the illusion of competence. They’re professional ass-coverers, whose job is to keep it from being obvious that Wolf Blitzer or Matt Taibbi or whoever else you’re following on the critical story of the day only just learned the term hanging chad or spike protein or herd immunity. In my experience they’re usually pretty great at it, but their jobs are less about determining fact than about preventing the vast seas of ignorance underlying most professional news operations from seeping into public view.  Unfortunately, over the course of the last five years in particular, as the commercial media has experienced a precipitous drop in the public trust levels, many organizations have chosen to trumpet fact-checking programs as a way of advertising a dedication to “truth.” Fact-checking has furthermore become part of the “moral clarity” argument, which claims a phony objectivity standard once forced news companies to always include gestures to a perpetually wrong other side, making “truth” a casualty to false “fairness.”... But objectivity was never about giving equal time and weight to “both sides.” It’s just an admission that the news business is a high-speed operation whose top decision-makers are working from a knowledge level of near-zero about most things, at best just making an honest effort at hitting the moving target of truth.  Like fact-checking itself, the “on the one hand and on the other hand” format is just a defense mechanism. These people say X, these people say Y, and because the jabbering mannequins we have reading off our teleprompters actually know jack, we’ll let the passage of time sort out the difficult bits.  The public used to appreciate the humility of that approach, but what they get from us more often now are sanctimonious speeches about how reporters are intrepid seekers of truth who sit next to God and gobble amphetamines so they can stay awake all night defending democracy from “misinformation.” But once you get past names, dates, and whether the sky that day was blue or cloudy, the worst kind of misinformation in journalism is to be too sure about anything. That’s especially when dealing with complex technical issues, and even more especially when official sources seem invested in eliminating discussion of alternative scenarios of those issues.  From the start, the press mostly mishandled Covid-19 reporting. Part of this was because nearly all of the critical issues — mask use, lockdowns, viability of vaccine programs, and so on — were marketed by news companies as culture-war narratives. A related problem had to do with news companies using the misguided notion that the news is an exact science to promote the worse misconception that science is an exact science. This led to absurd spectacles like news agencies trying to cover up or denounce as falsehood the natural reality that officials had evolving views on things like the efficacy of ventilators or mask use. When CNN did a fact-check on the question, “Did Fauci change his mind on the effectiveness of masks?” they seemed worried about the glee Trump followers would feel if they simply wrote yes, so the answer instead became, “Yes, but Trump is also an asshole” (because he implied the need to wear masks is still up for debate). By labeling whatever the current scientific consensus happened to be an immutable “fact,” media outlets made the normal evolution of scientific debates look dishonest, and pointlessly heightened mistrust of both scientists and media. Fact-checking was a huge boon when it was an out-of-sight process quietly polishing the turd of industrial reportage. When companies dragged it out in public and made it a beast of burden for use in impressing audiences, they defamed the tradition.  We know only a few things absolutely for sure, like the spelling of “femur” or Blaine Gabbert’s career interception total. The public knows pretty much everything else is up for argument, so we only look like jerks pretending we can fact-check the universe. We’d do better admitting what we don’t know. "

PJ Media Demands Apology for Facebook's Fact Checks - "The SARS-CoV-2 virus came from bats and definitely not from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Thus saith the fact-checkers, who are never wrong about anything and who have the final say about which information you’re allowed to see on social media! Defy them at your own peril!...   “These rumors and conspiracy theories have real consequences, including threats of violence that have occurred to our colleagues in China,” declared Science Feedback’s source, Peter Daszak, an epidemiologist and president of the EcoHealth Alliance.  Did we mention that Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance partners with the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV)?...   If we click over to that article in Nature we learn that “It is improbable that SARS-CoV-2 emerged through laboratory manipulation of a related SARS-CoV-like coronavirus.” [Emphasis added]. Again, we see a focus on deliberate manipulation of the virus rather than an accidental leak.  There’s a lot of distance between improbable and impossible, but Science Feedback used the analysis to further its narrative that the virus did not originate in a lab...   The question must be asked: Who is fact-checking the fact-checkers?  For the last two years, we’ve tried to work behind the scenes with Facebook and Science Feedback to resolve scurrilous fact checks on everything from COVID-19 to climate change. Facebook and Science Feedback have not been honest brokers in our discussions. It’s bad enough that they’ve throttled our Facebook traffic and reduced our revenue, but they’ve also harmed our reputation and credibility by repeatedly calling us liars when we report something they don’t agree with, often on topics where the scientific community is deeply divided...   Has Facebook learned anything from the lab-leak fact-check debacle? Nah. The social media giant just tripled down. Now, instead of only punishing publishers who run afoul of the partisan fact-checkers, they’re coming for you, too, dear reader"

The covid-19 lab leak hypothesis: did the media fall victim to a misinformation campaign? | The BMJ - "“Science journalists differ a lot from other journalists in that they are far less sceptical of their sources and they see their main role as simply to explain science to the public.” This, he says, is why they began marching in unison behind Daszak... Some media outlets have attempted to justify their past reporting about the lab leak hypothesis as simply a matter of tracking a “scientific consensus” which, they say, has now changed. Vox posted an erratum noting, “Since this piece was originally published in March 2020, scientific consensus has shifted.”  The “scientific consensus” argument does not sit well with David Relman, a microbiologist at Stanford University, California. “We can’t even begin to talk about a consensus other than a consensus that we don’t know [the origins of SARS-CoV-2]”... While the narrative took months to change in the media, several high profile intelligence sources had treated the lab leak theory seriously from early on. In April 2020, Avril Haines joined two other former deputy directors of the Central Intelligence Agency to write an essay in Foreign Policy asking, “To what extent did the Chinese government misrepresent the scope and scale of the epidemic?” A week later, one of the former intelligence officials who wrote that essay gave similar quotes to Politico.  Ignoring these early warnings led to a year of biased, failed reporting, says Wade. “They didn’t question what their sources were saying,” he says of the reporters who helped to sell the conspiracy theory narrative to the public. “That is the simple explanation for this phenomenon.” As the news media scramble to correct and reflect on what went wrong with nearly a year of reporting, the episode has also highlighted quality control issues at the ubiquitous “fact checking” services."

Trump administration cuts funding for coronavirus researcher Peter Daszak, jeopardizing possible COVID-19 cure - "Peter Daszak is a scientist whose work is helping in the search for a COVID-19 cure. So why did the president just cancel Daszak's funding?"
Oops

More Scientists Urge Broad Inquiry Into Coronavirus Origins - The New York Times

NIH's Francis Collins Calls for Lab-Leak Investigation - The Atlantic

Doctor says Jon Stewart promoting Wuhan lab leak theory 'hurts' scientists - "Dr. Hotez of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children's Hospital responded to Stewart's Late Show segment."
Free enquiry hurts Science

The Lab-Leak Theory: Inside the Fight to Uncover COVID-19’s Origins - "On February 19, 2020, The Lancet, among the most respected and influential medical journals in the world, published a statement that roundly rejected the lab-leak hypothesis, effectively casting it as a xenophobic cousin to climate change denialism and anti-vaxxism. Signed by 27 scientists, the statement expressed “solidarity with all scientists and health professionals in China” and asserted: “We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin.” The Lancet statement effectively ended the debate over COVID-19’s origins before it began. To Gilles Demaneuf, following along from the sidelines, it was as if it had been “nailed to the church doors,” establishing the natural origin theory as orthodoxy. “Everyone had to follow it. Everyone was intimidated. That set the tone.”  The statement struck Demaneuf as “totally nonscientific.” To him, it seemed to contain no evidence or information. And so he decided to begin his own inquiry in a “proper” way, with no idea of what he would find. Demaneuf began searching for patterns in the available data, and it wasn’t long before he spotted one. China’s laboratories were said to be airtight, with safety practices equivalent to those in the U.S. and other developed countries. But Demaneuf soon discovered that there had been four incidents of SARS-related lab breaches since 2004, two occuring at a top laboratory in Beijing... investigators inside the U.S. government asking similar questions were operating in an environment that was as politicized and hostile to open inquiry as any Twitter echo chamber... “The DRASTIC people are doing better research than the U.S. government,” says David Asher, a former senior investigator under contract to the State Department.  The question is: Why?... Behind closed doors, however, national security and public health experts and officials across a range of departments in the executive branch were locked in high-stakes battles over what could and couldn’t be investigated and made public.  A months long Vanity Fair investigation, interviews with more than 40 people, and a review of hundreds of pages of U.S. government documents, including internal memos, meeting minutes, and email correspondence, found that conflicts of interest, stemming in part from large government grants supporting controversial virology research, hampered the U.S. investigation into COVID-19’s origin at every step. In one State Department meeting, officials seeking to demand transparency from the Chinese government say they were explicitly told by colleagues not to explore the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s gain-of-function research, because it would bring unwelcome attention to U.S. government funding of it... [He] “warned” leaders within his bureau “not to pursue an investigation into the origin of COVID-19” because it would “‘open a can of worms’ if it continued.”... former Centers for Disease Control director Robert Redfield received death threats from fellow scientists after telling CNN that he believed COVID-19 had originated in a lab. “I was threatened and ostracized because I proposed another hypothesis,” Redfield told Vanity Fair. “I expected it from politicians. I didn’t expect it from science.” With President Trump out of office, it should be possible to reject his xenophobic agenda and still ask why, in all places in the world, did the outbreak begin in the city with a laboratory housing one of the world’s most extensive collection of bat viruses, doing some of the most aggressive research?... Then came the revelation that the Lancet statement was not only signed but organized by a zoologist named Peter Daszak, who has repackaged U.S. government grants and allocated them to facilities conducting gain-of-function research—among them the WIV itself. David Asher, now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, ran the State Department’s day-to-day COVID-19 origins inquiry. He said it soon became clear that “there is a huge gain-of-function bureaucracy” inside the federal government. As months go by without a host animal that proves the natural theory, the questions from credible doubters have gained in urgency. To one former federal health official, the situation boiled down to this: An institute “funded by American dollars is trying to teach a bat virus to infect human cells, then there is a virus” in the same city as that lab. It is “not being intellectually honest not to consider the hypothesis” of a lab escape... In the words of David Feith, former deputy assistant secretary of state in the East Asia bureau, “The story of why parts of the U.S. government were not as curious as many of us think they should have been is a hugely important one.”... A small group within the State Department’s Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance bureau had been studying the Institute for months. The group had recently acquired classified intelligence suggesting that three WIV researchers conducting gain-of-function experiments on coronavirus samples had fallen ill in the autumn of 2019, before the COVID-19 outbreak was known to have started... As the group probed the lab-leak scenario, among other possibilities, its members were repeatedly advised not to open a “Pandora’s box”... Trump’s premature statement poisoned the waters for anyone seeking an honest answer to the question of where COVID-19 came from. According to Pottinger, there was an “antibody response” within the government, in which any discussion of a possible lab origin was linked to destructive nativist posturing. The revulsion extended to the international science community, whose “maddening silence” frustrated Miles Yu. He recalled, “Anyone who dares speak out would be ostracized.” The idea of a lab leak first came to NSC officials not from hawkish Trumpists but from Chinese social media users, who began sharing their suspicions as early as January 2020. Then, in February, a research paper coauthored by two Chinese scientists, based at separate Wuhan universities, appeared online as a preprint. It tackled a fundamental question: How did a novel bat coronavirus get to a major metropolis of 11 million people in central China, in the dead of winter when most bats were hibernating, and turn a market where bats weren’t sold into the epicenter of an outbreak? The paper offered an answer: “We screened the area around the seafood market and identified two laboratories conducting research on bat coronavirus.” The first was the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which sat just 280 meters from the Huanan market and had been known to collect hundreds of bat samples. The second, the researchers wrote, was the Wuhan Institute of Virology.  The paper came to a staggeringly blunt conclusion about COVID-19: “the killer coronavirus probably originated from a laboratory in Wuhan.... Regulations may be taken to relocate these laboratories far away from city center and other densely populated places.” Almost as soon as the paper appeared on the internet, it disappeared, but not before U.S. government officials took note... there were so many people within the government “wholly discounting the possibility of a lab leak, who were predisposed that it was impossible,” said Pottinger. In addition, many leading experts had either received or approved funding for gain-of-function research. Their “conflicted” status, said Pottinger, “played a profound role in muddying the waters and contaminating the shot at having an impartial inquiry.” As they combed open sources as well as classified information, the team’s members soon stumbled on a 2015 research paper by Shi Zhengli and the University of North Carolina epidemiologist Ralph Baric proving that the spike protein of a novel coronavirus could infect human cells. Using mice as subjects, they inserted the protein from a Chinese rufous horseshoe bat into the molecular structure of the SARS virus from 2002, creating a new, infectious pathogen... That a genetically engineered virus might have escaped from the WIV was one alarming scenario. But it was also possible that a research trip to collect bat samples could have led to infection in the field, or back at the lab... On February 14, 2020, to the surprise of NSC officials, President Xi Jinping of China announced a plan to fast-track a new biosecurity law to tighten safety procedures throughout the country’s laboratories. Was this a response to confidential information?... By the summer of 2020, Gilles Demaneuf was spending up to four hours a day researching the origins of COVID-19, joining Zoom meetings before dawn with European collaborators and not sleeping much. He began to receive anonymous calls and notice strange activity on his computer, which he attributed to Chinese government surveillance. “We are being monitored for sure,” he says. He moved his work to the encrypted platforms Signal and ProtonMail... she published a careful assessment in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists describing just how a pathogen could have escaped the Wuhan Institute of Virology. She noted that a September 2019 paper in an academic journal by the director of the WIV’s BSL-4 laboratory, Yuan Zhiming, had outlined safety deficiencies in China’s labs. “Maintenance cost is generally neglected,” he had written. “Some BSL-3 laboratories run on extremely minimal operational costs or in some cases none at all.”  Alina Chan, a young molecular biologist and postdoctoral fellow at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University, found that early sequences of the virus showed very little evidence of mutation. Had the virus jumped from animals to humans, one would expect to see numerous adaptations, as was true in the 2002 SARS outbreak. To Chan, it appeared that SARS-CoV-2 was already “pre-adapted to human transmission,” she wrote in a preprint paper in May 2020... he fished up a thesis from 2013 written by a master’s student in Kunming, China. The thesis opened an extraordinary window into a bat-filled mine shaft in Yunnan province and raised sharp questions about what Shi Zhengli had failed to mention in the course of making her denials... as researchers around the world hunted for any known bat virus that might be a progenitor of SARS-CoV-2, Shi Zhengli offered shifting and sometimes contradictory accounts of where RaTG13 had come from and when it was fully sequenced. Searching a publicly available library of genetic sequences, several teams, including a group of DRASTIC researchers, soon realized that RaTG13 appeared identical to RaBtCoV/4991—the virus from the shaft where the miners fell ill in 2012 with what looked like COVID-19... In October 2020, as questions about the Mojiang mine shaft intensified, a team of journalists from the BBC tried to access the mine itself. They were tailed by plainclothes police officers and found the road conveniently blocked by a broken-down truck... On January 3, 2020, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, got a phone call from his counterpart Dr. George Fu Gao, head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Gao described the appearance of a mysterious new pneumonia, apparently limited to people exposed at a market in Wuhan. Redfield immediately offered to send a team of specialists to help investigate.  But when Redfield saw the breakdown of early cases, some of which were family clusters, the market explanation made less sense. Had multiple family members gotten sick via contact with the same animal? Gao assured him there was no human-to-human transmission, says Redfield, who nevertheless urged him to test more widely in the community. That effort prompted a tearful return call. Many cases had nothing to do with the market, Gao admitted. The virus appeared to be jumping from person to person, a far scarier scenario. Redfield immediately thought of the Wuhan Institute of Virology. A team could rule it out as a source of the outbreak in just a few weeks, by testing researchers there for antibodies. Redfield formally reiterated his offer to send specialists, but Chinese officials didn’t respond to his overture.  Redfield, a virologist by training, was suspicious of the WIV in part because he’d been steeped in the yearslong battle over gain-of-function research... Under the subject line, “No need for you to sign the “Statement” Ralph!!,” he wrote to two scientists, including UNC’s Dr. Ralph Baric, who had collaborated with Shi Zhengli on the gain-of-function study that created a coronavirus capable of infecting human cells: “you, me and him should not sign this statement, so it has some distance from us and therefore doesn’t work in a counterproductive way.” Daszak added, “We’ll then put it out in a way that doesn’t link it back to our collaboration so we maximize an independent voice.”  Baric agreed, writing back, “Otherwise it looks self-serving and we lose impact.”  Baric did not sign the statement. In the end, Daszak did. At least six other signers had either worked at, or had been funded by, EcoHealth Alliance. The statement ended with a declaration of objectivity: “We declare no competing interests.”... In early July, the World Health Organization invited the U.S. government to recommend experts for a fact-finding mission to Wuhan, a sign of progress in the long-delayed probe of COVID-19’s origins. Questions about the WHO’s independence from China, the country’s secrecy, and the raging pandemic had turned the anticipated mission into a minefield of international grudges and suspicion.  Within weeks, the U.S. government submitted three names to the WHO: an FDA veterinarian, a CDC epidemiologist, and an NIAID virologist. None were chosen. Instead, only one representative from the U.S. made the cut: Peter Daszak.  It had been evident from the start that China would control who could come and what they could see. In July, when the WHO sent member countries a draft of the terms governing the mission, the PDF document was titled, “CHN and WHO agreed final version,” suggesting that China had preapproved its contents... [The WHO's] two-week inquiry was more propaganda than probe, complete with a visit to an exhibit extolling President Xi’s leadership. The team saw almost no raw data, only the Chinese government analysis of it. They paid one visit to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where they met with Shi Zhengli, as recounted in an annex to the mission report. One obvious demand would have been access to the WIV’s database of some 22,000 virus samples and sequences, which had been taken offline. At an event convened by a London organization on March 10, Daszak was asked whether the group had made such a request. He said there was no need: Shi Zhengli had stated that the WIV took down the database due to hacking attempts during the pandemic... In fact, the database had been taken offline on September 12, 2019, three months before the official start of the pandemic... Calling the report “fatally flawed,” Jamie Metzl tweeted: “They set out to prove one hypothesis, not fairly examine all of them.”  The report also recounted how Shi rebutted conspiracy theories and told the visiting team of experts that “there had been no reports of unusual diseases, none diagnosed, and all staff tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies.” Her statement directly contradicted the findings summarized in the January 15 State Department fact sheet. “That was a willful lie by people who know it’s not true”... An internal U.S. government analysis of the mission’s report, obtained by Vanity Fair, found it to be inaccurate and even contradictory... The report’s most surprising critic was the WHO’s director himself, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia. With the credibility of the World Health Organization on the line, he appeared to acknowledge the report’s shortcomings at a press event the day of its release... Though Shi has portrayed the WIV as a transparent hub of international research beset by false allegations, the State Department’s January fact sheet painted a different picture: of a facility conducting classified military research, and hiding it, which Shi adamantly denies. But a former national security official who reviewed U.S. classified materials told Vanity Fair that inside the WIV, military and civilian researchers are “doing animal research in the same fricking space.”  While that, in and of itself, does not prove a lab leak, Shi’s alleged lies about it are “absolutely material,” said a former State Department official. “It speaks to the honesty and credibility of the WIV that they kept this secret…. You have a web of lies, coercion, and disinformation that is killing people.”... On May 14, in a statement published in Science Magazine, 18 prominent scientists called for a “transparent, objective” investigation into COVID-19’s origins, noting, “We must take hypotheses about both natural and laboratory spillovers seriously until we have sufficient data.”  Among the signers was Ralph Baric. Fifteen months earlier, he had worked behind the scenes to help Peter Daszak stage-manage the Lancet statement. The scientific consensus had been smashed to smithereens. By spring of 2021, the debate over COVID-19’s origins had become so noxious that death threats were flying in both directions.  In a CNN interview on March 26, Dr. Redfield, the former CDC director under Trump, made a candid admission: “I am of the point of view that I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory, you know, escaped.” Redfield added that he believed the release was an accident, not an intentional act. In his view, nothing that happened since his first calls with Dr. Gao changed a simple fact: The WIV needed to be ruled out as a source, and it hadn’t been.  After the interview aired, death threats flooded his inbox. The vitriol came not just from strangers who thought he was being racially insensitive but also from prominent scientists, some of whom used to be his friends. One said he should just “wither and die.”... The ground began to shift on May 2, when Nicholas Wade, a former New York Times science writer known in part for writing a controversial book about how genes shape the social behavior of different races, published a lengthy essay on Medium. In it, he analyzed the scientific clues both for and against a lab leak, and excoriated the media for its failure to report on the dueling hypotheses. Wade devoted a full section to the “furin cleavage site,” a distinctive segment of SARS-CoV-2’s genetic code that makes the virus more infectious by allowing it to efficiently enter human cells.  Within the scientific community, one thing leapt off the page. Wade quoted one of the world’s most famous microbiologists, Dr. David Baltimore, saying that he believed the furin cleavage site “was the smoking gun for the origin of the virus.” Baltimore, a Nobel Laureate and pioneer in molecular biology, was about as far from Steve Bannon and the conspiracy theorists as it was possible to get. His judgment, that the furin cleavage site raised the prospect of gene manipulation, had to be taken seriously."
Liberals tell us that science is racist, after all
"Follow the science"

Three Wuhan lab workers were hospitalized in November 2019: report - "workers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill with symptoms “consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illness” in fall 2019... China has contributed to the suspicion, with the lab not releasing records related to its work on coronaviruses in bats. Meanwhile, Beijing has pushed a series of wild theories, including that the coronavirus spread through imported frozen food packaging and originated at a biomedical research facility at Fort Detrick in Maryland.  Earlier this month, a group of top scientists from around the globe pushed back on the WHO’s conclusion that a lab leak is “extremely unlikely” — arguing in the journal Science that theory is “viable” and deserves “a proper investigation.”"

COVID-19 lab leak investigation: Deleted data adds to origin mystery - "A respected U.S. scientist researching the evolution of the COVID-19 virus has uncovered an intriguing mystery with potentially troubling implications: Some of the virus’ earliest genetic fingerprints were quietly deleted last year from an important international database at the request of Chinese scientists.  The deleted data raises questions about whether efforts have been made to “obscure” information in scientific databases that hold clues to knowing where the SARS-CoV-2 virus originated – and whether the pandemic started with a chance human encounter with an infected animal, or through a laboratory accident in Wuhan. Amid the slow acceptance that the “lab leak” theory is worthy of legitimate investigation, this finding shows that it may still be possible to unearth new evidence about how the pandemic began even if the Chinese government and the Wuhan Institute of Virology won’t open their records to independent investigators... “There is no plausible scientific reason for the deletion,” said Jesse Bloom, a leading evolutionary biologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle"... By digging into archives on a Google Cloud server, Bloom was able to track down 13 deleted sequences that he said provide a little more evidence the virus was circulating in Wuhan before an early epidemic at the Huanan Seafood Market that has been the focus of a recent joint WHO-China report on the pandemic’s origin.  The bigger finding, he said, was that they had been deleted. “There are also broader implications,” Bloom said on Twitter. That the data was deleted “should make us skeptical that all other relevant early Wuhan sequences have been shared.”... The researcher indicated that the virus sequences had been updated and were being submitted to another database, and that they wanted the data removed from the NIH database to avoid confusion between the versions.  Shortly after the data was removed from the NIH database, Bloom discovered that the sequences were also removed from the China National GeneBank DataBase, another online repository.  NIH said the researcher didn’t specify what database would be receiving the updated sequences. Because it’s a voluntary and collaborative system, researchers are free to remove their sequences... I emailed the corresponding authors of both articles Tuesday night to ask why the sequences were deleted. But I have not received a reply. Bloom noted in his paper that he didn’t receive a reply, either... OPINION Deleted COVID-19 genetic fingerprints show it's still possible to dig for lab leak evidence By 'deeply probing' coronavirus data digitally archived outside China – from grant reports to reviews of scientific papers – more clues may be found. Alison Young Opinion contributor  A respected U.S. scientist researching the evolution of the COVID-19 virus has uncovered an intriguing mystery with potentially troubling implications: Some of the virus’ earliest genetic fingerprints were quietly deleted last year from an important international database at the request of Chinese scientists.  The deleted data raises questions about whether efforts have been made to “obscure” information in scientific databases that hold clues to knowing where the SARS-CoV-2 virus originated – and whether the pandemic started with a chance human encounter with an infected animal, or through a laboratory accident in Wuhan.  Amid the slow acceptance that the “lab leak” theory is worthy of legitimate investigation, this finding shows that it may still be possible to unearth new evidence about how the pandemic began even if the Chinese government and the Wuhan Institute of Virology won’t open their records to independent investigators.  Now that people are finally looking, what else might be found in forgotten troves of archived emails, obscure databases, funding application materials and other records that have zipped back and forth over the internet between scientists in China and individuals and organizations in the United States and other countries?  Could an accident have caused COVID-19?:Why the Wuhan lab-leak theory shouldn't be dismissed Aerial view of the P4 laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on April 17, 2020.  The discovery of the deleted virus gene sequences is a start.  “There is no plausible scientific reason for the deletion,” said Jesse Bloom, a leading evolutionary biologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, in a scientific paper posted late Tuesday on the pre-publication website bioRxiv, where scientists make findings immediately available before peer review.  “It therefore seems likely the sequences were deleted to obscure their existence,” wrote Bloom, who last month helped organize an influential letter from a group of scientists calling for both natural and laboratory theories of the pandemic’s origin to be taken seriously and investigated.    It’s a serious charge that has already drawn attention from the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health. 'There are also broader implications'  It all started with Bloom reading a journal article about SARS-CoV-2 sequences that had been deposited in the NIH database by the end of March 2020. But when he went looking for them in the NIH database, he couldn’t find them.  By digging into archives on a Google Cloud server, Bloom was able to track down 13 deleted sequences that he said provide a little more evidence the virus was circulating in Wuhan before an early epidemic at the Huanan Seafood Market that has been the focus of a recent joint WHO-China report on the pandemic’s origin.  The bigger finding, he said, was that they had been deleted.  “There are also broader implications,” Bloom said on Twitter. That the data was deleted “should make us skeptical that all other relevant early Wuhan sequences have been shared.” Bloom was not available for an interview. SARS-CoV-2 virus under attack by antibodies.  In an email to me, WHO spokesperson Tarik Jašarević said, “We are aware of this report and, as we repeatedly asked, we hope that all data on early cases will be made available.”  The data was deleted from a massive, international public database maintained by the National Institutes of Health that archives millions of records on gene sequences collaboratively shared by scientists worldwide so they can be used for further research on a wide range of viruses, including SARS-CoV-2.  After initially sharing the sequences on the database in March 2020, the researcher from a team largely based in Wuhan submitted a request to the NIH in June 2020 asking that they be removed, the NIH told me in a statement.  “NIH can’t speculate on motive beyond the investigator’s stated intentions,” the agency said.  'I remember it very well':Dr. Fauci describes a secret 2020 meeting to talk about COVID origins  The researcher indicated that the virus sequences had been updated and were being submitted to another database, and that they wanted the data removed from the NIH database to avoid confusion between the versions.  Shortly after the data was removed from the NIH database, Bloom discovered that the sequences were also removed from the China National GeneBank DataBase, another online repository.  NIH said the researcher didn’t specify what database would be receiving the updated sequences. Because it’s a voluntary and collaborative system, researchers are free to remove their sequences.  The deleted data was uploaded in association with two scientific papers, a preprint version posted online in March 2020 and a final article in a nanotechnology journal that was published in June 2020. Even though the sequences were deleted from the centralized database – called the Sequence Read Archive – that other scientists use to do their analyses, the papers that discuss the data remain online. But you would need to know to go looking for them.  “The practical consequence of removing the sequences from the Sequence Read Archive is that no one knew they existed prior to now, and they were not in the databases used to collect Dec-Jan sequences for the joint WHO-China report,” Bloom said in an email to me. More clues could be found  I emailed the corresponding authors of both articles Tuesday night to ask why the sequences were deleted. But I have not received a reply. Bloom noted in his paper that he didn’t receive a reply, either.  The Chinese Embassy in Washington, while not addressing the deleted sequences, contends China has been transparent since the outbreak of COVID-19 began. “To politicize origin tracing, a matter of science, will not only make it hard to find the origin of the virus, but give free rein to the ‘political virus’ and seriously hamper international cooperation on the pandemic,” an embassy spokesperson said in an email.  WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, along with some international members of a joint WHO-China team of experts examining the origin of the pandemic, have expressed frustration that Chinese government officials have refused to share raw data on early COVID-19 patients that might help determine where the virus came from.  Confusion and falsehoods:How we can fix the COVID trust gap and get people vaccinated Preparing a COVID-19 vaccine in Muscat, Oman, on June 23, 2021.  In recent weeks, there has been growing international support for investigating whether a laboratory accident in the fall of 2019 caused the pandemic – a line of inquiry long ignored because high-profile scientists branded it as a crackpot conspiracy theory.  President Joe Biden has asked U.S. intelligence agencies to increase their efforts to find the origin of the pandemic, whether it came from human contact with an infected animal – which is the common way viruses emerge in nature –  or whether a lab accident was involved.    Bloom’s forensic work illustrates that there may be important evidence about the virus’ origin that can be discovered without on-the-ground cooperation of the Chinese government. By “deeply probing” data that is digitally archived outside China’s borders – everything from archived genomic data to grant reports to reviews of scientific papers – Bloom thinks more clues may be found.  He said the international scientific community also needs to determine whether collaborative databases that researchers rely on have been manipulated.  "It is important to examine if other trust-based systems in science conceivably may have also been used to hide data relevant to origins / early spread of #SARSCoV2," Bloom wrote on Twitter.  When I asked NIH about this, the agency said it has been analyzing the database and “found that eight SARS-COV-2 submission packages were withdrawn upon request of the submitter since the beginning of the pandemic. This included one requested by a submitter from China and the rest from submitters predominantly in the U.S.” Additional details weren’t provided about what those deletions involved.  It’s difficult to know what to make of all of this. No signs of 'a malicious reason'  Steven Salzberg, who has served as an adviser to an international group that oversees these collaborative databases, said he can’t speculate why the sequences were deleted, “although it does seem a bit unusual.”  “Because the (NIH databases) are so enormous, the process for managing them has to be automated,” said Salzberg, a professor of biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University. “It's entirely legitimate for a scientist to delete or replace data in one of those databases if he/she discovers that the data is erroneous or has other technical problems.”  Demand accountability:Trump and raging pandemic helped China dodge COVID accountability.  But no corrections have been noted on the journal articles published with the deleted data, Bloom noted.  Bloom’s discovery of the deleted virus sequences was dismissed and even derided by some scientists who have been outspoken in their belief that investigating the so-called lab leak theory of the pandemic is a waste of time that runs the risk further antagonizing Chinese authorities and ruining any hope of collaborative investigations into a natural origin of the virus. The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China, was closed in January 2020.  In an example of how ugly some of the scientific debate has become on the topic, virologist Angela Rasmussen on Tuesday accused Bloom, without directly naming him, of making a weak case and essentially “asking systemic racism to do the heavy lifting for you to make your point.” That tweet has since been deleted... Bloom noted in his paper and on Twitter that the data deletions occurred in the context of orders by the Chinese government that unauthorized labs in the country destroy their virus samples early in the outbreak and other directives that required scientists receive central approvals before publishing articles about COVID-19. The bottom line: Individual scientists may have had no choice in the matter."
Criticising the CCP is racist!

People Bring the Receipts After Fauci Attempts to Dodge Connections to Wuhan Lab - "Fauci denied the NIH has funded the research, but a long paper trail of grant money tells a different story... Fauci is known as the "godfather" of gain-of-function research and has allegedly cultivated an environment in which scientists are afraid to speak out"

Wuhan Lab DELETED Fauci's NIH and Gain of Function Mentions From Old Web Pages in Early 2021. - "The Wuhan Institute of Virology scrubbed the U.S. National Institutes of Health as one of its research partners from its website in early 2021. The revelation comes despite Dr. Anthony Fauci insisting no relationship existed between the institutions."

BOMBSHELL: Fauci Pushed for 'Gain-of-Function' Research in 2012, Said It Was Worth the Risk of Pandemic - "“In an unlikely but conceivable turn of events, what if that scientist becomes infected with the virus, which leads to an outbreak and ultimately triggers a pandemic?” Fauci wrote in an article in  the American Society for Microbiology in October 2012—which was first reported by The Australian. “Scientists working in this field might say — as indeed I have said — that the benefits of such experiments and the resulting knowledge outweigh the risks.”... This stunning revelation comes on the heels of researchers raising new questions about the origins of the COVID-19 virus. It also comes after Dr. Fauci’s recent admission that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) sent $600,000 to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for research into the transmissibility of bat coronaviruses to humans, and his concession that COVID-19 may not have been naturally occurring after insisting for over a year that it was... Gain-of-function research is not only controversial, but two years after Fauci defended it, the U.S. government banned the practice on account of it being too dangerous. But it seems Fauci found a loophole and used NIH grant money to fund gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology."

Fact check: False Fauci email 'leak' claims misrepresent FOIA release
It's telling that the "fact checkers" go after barely relevant aspects to give the impression that the genuine revelations are fake news

Bombshell Emails Reveal That Fauci Wasn't Being Straight With the American People - "An email Fauci received in Feb. 2020, obtained by BuzzFeed, says that the COVID-19 virus showed signs of “potentially” being engineered. Kristian Anderson, professor of immunology and microbiology at Scripps Research, emailed Fauci saying, “The unusual features of the virus make up a really small part of the genome (<0.1%) so one has to look really closely at all the sequences to see that some of the features (potentially) look engineered.”"

Dr. Fauci's leaked 2020 emails reveal knowledge of lab-leak theory - "The email sent on February 1, 2020, had Andersen remarking that the viral genome was "inconsistent with expectations from evolutionary theory." However, despite these admissions through private emails to Fauci, Andersen later went on to deny that "any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible" in a scientific paper he had authored on the subject in the prestigious journal Nature. Such disingenuous denial is consistent with universities that receive funding from the Confucius Institute outreach program bankrolled by the Chinese Communist Party. Andersen's email seemed to have prompted Fauci to send another email to his subordinate Dr. Hugh Auchincloss at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) on the very same day. The content of Fauci's email comes across as damage control in response to Andersen's revelations. Fauci shared a 2015 paper on "gain-of-function research on coronaviruses" with his deputy in that email. Fauci instructed Auchincloss to read the paper dealing with bioengineering viruses to infect humans more effectively and perform unspecified tasks associated with the development. Thereafter, Fauci's deputy reassured him that the gain-of-function research was done prior to the "pause" on the dangerous procedure. However, Andersen also informed him that he was checking for evidence linking the Fauci-headed NIAID with "ties to this work abroad." While Andersen was smart to refrain from specifying what "abroad" entails, it would be remiss to ignore the heated exchange between Fauci and Republican Senator Rand Paul at a recent congressional hearing on COVID-19. Senator Paul grilled Fauci on the lab-leak theory while also presenting clear evidence showing how the NIAID chief had funded gain of function research at the same Wuhan virology lab. The leaked emails paint a damning picture of Fauci's credibility because he had been categorically dismissing theories about the virus being man-made, until Senator Paul shifted the Overton window by presenting compelling evidence. Meanwhile, a few Indian scientists were the first ones to postulate that the SARS-CoV-2 virus could be lab-synthesized through their path-breaking research paper published at the beginning of 2020."

WHO Covid report leaves many stones unturned - "The joint WHO-China report on the origins of Covid-19 comes to four conclusions, and none are definitive... The WHO team says its inability to examine blood samples from people who gave blood in Wuhan in the weeks, months, and years before the outbreak denied the team evidence of "great added value". Officials from Wuhan Blood Centre gave a presentation but no samples were made available... Some in China have claimed the World Military Games in Wuhan, in the weeks before the outbreak, was when foreigners taking part could've imported the virus. The WHO team asked for information on "mass gatherings in Wuhan in late 2019". Chinese authorities provided information on "international gatherings" held in Wuhan in that time."

Opinion | Where Did the Coronavirus Come From? What We Already Know Is Troubling. - The New York Times - "There were curious characteristics about the H1N1 influenza pandemic of 1977-78, which emerged from northeastern Asia and killed an estimated 700,000 people around the world. For one, it almost exclusively affected people in their mid-20s or younger. Scientists discovered another oddity that could explain the first: It was virtually identical to a strain that circulated in the 1950s. People born before that had immunity that protected them, and younger people didn’t.  But how on earth had it remained so steady genetically, since viruses continually mutate? Scientists guessed that it had been frozen in a lab. It was often found to be sensitive to temperature, something expected for viruses used in vaccine research.  It was only in 2004 that a prominent virologist, Peter Palese, wrote that Chi-Ming Chu, a respected virologist and a former member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told him that “the introduction of this 1977 H1N1 virus” was indeed thought to be due to vaccine trials involving “the challenge of several thousand military recruits with live H1N1 virus.”  For the first time, science itself seemed to have caused a pandemic while trying to prepare for it... Even five months after SARS emerged in southern China in November 2002, the Chinese government was covering up details about its threat, while the disease was spreading to other countries... Nearly every SARS case since the original epidemic has been due to lab leaks — six incidents in three countries, including twice in a single month from a lab in Beijing. In one instance, the mother of a lab worker died... Even if RaTG13 had no role in the Covid-19 outbreak, questions were raised about why Dr. Shi and others seemed so unforthcoming about it. Then more questions were raised.  For example, the same group of internet sleuths that linked RaTG13 to the mine also uncovered that a genomic database maintained by the Wuhan Institute of Virology, with information about thousands of bat samples and at least 500 recently discovered bat coronaviruses, went offline in September 2019. The official explanation — that it was taken offline because it had been subjected to hacking — doesn’t explain why it was never securely shared some other way with responsible independent researchers... The Wuhan C.D.C. also reportedly conducts research on bat-borne viruses.  One of its staff members, Tian Junhua, has developed a reputation for adventurous scientific discovery. A 2013 paper notes his team caught 155 bats in Hubei Province. The Washington Post reported that in a video released on Dec. 10, 2019, he boasted about “having visited dozens of bat caves and studied 300 types of virus vectors.” Previously, he also talked about having made mistakes in the field, like forgetting personal protective equipment and being splashed with bat urine or accidentally getting bat blood on his skin, according to The Post. And yet the World Health Organization reported that the agency denied ever storing or working with bat viruses in the lab before the pandemic... Peter Daszak, who organized The Lancet letter denouncing the questioning of Covid-19’s natural origins and was announced as a member of the W.H.O. origins investigation committee last fall, insisted it was a conspiracy theory to suggest that there were live bats in labs he had collaborated with for 15 years. “That’s not how this science works,” he wrote in a tweet he later deleted. “We collect bat samples, send them to the lab. We RELEASE bats where we catch them!”  But evidence to the contrary has accumulated. An assistant researcher told a reporter that Dr. Shi took on the role of feeding the bats when students were away. Another news report in 2018 said a team led by one of her doctoral trainees “collected a full rack of swabs and bagged a dozen live bats for further testing back at the lab.” The Chinese Academy of Sciences website has listed the Wuhan institute as having at least a dozen cages for bats, and in 2018 the institute applied for a patent for a bat cage. Dr. Shi has talked about monitoring antibodies in bats over time — which would not be done in a cave. Recently, another video surfaced that reportedly showed live bats in the institute. Just a few weeks ago, Dr. Daszak changed his claims... Meanwhile, no intermediary animal has yet been found, despite testing thousands of animals around Wuhan... There has been a lot of speculation that SARS-CoV-2 was the result of genetic engineering. This hypothesis cannot be ruled out based on genomic analysis alone, and suspicion has grown because of the opaque response by Chinese authorities. They have refused to share direct records from the lab. Dr. Shi echoed this stance... Several scientists who signed The Lancet letter denouncing the consideration of anything but natural origins have since said they are more open to lab involvement. One, Bernard Roizman, an emeritus virologist at the University of Chicago with four honorary professorships from Chinese universities, said he was leaning toward believing there was a lab accident... Dr. Shi said “a possibility did not exist” that anyone associated with the institute may have gotten infected “while collecting, sampling or handling bats.” She added that it had recently tested all institute staff members and students for antibodies showing past infection by SARS-CoV-2 or SARS-related viruses and had found “zero infection” and insisted that she could rule out this possibility for all labs in Wuhan.  It’s hard to see how a careful scientist could dismiss even the slightest possibility for all labs, including those not her own... the W.H.O. team asked for more information about the earliest Covid-19 cases in Wuhan, including anonymized but detailed patient data — something that should be standard in any outbreak origin investigation — and were denied access."

In 2018, Diplomats Warned of Risky Coronavirus Experiments in a Wuhan Lab. No One Listened. - "A key argument of those Chinese and American scientists disputing the lab accident theory is that Chinese researchers had performed their work out in the open and had disclosed the coronavirus research they were performing. This argument was used to attack anyone who didn’t believe the Chinese scientists’ firm denials their labs could possibly have been responsible for the outbreak.  But one senior administration official told me that many officials in various parts of the U.S. government, especially the NSC and the State Department, came to believe that these researchers had not been as forthcoming as had been claimed... A little-noticed study was released in early July 2020 by a group of Chinese researchers in Beijing, including several affiliated with the Academy of Military Medical Science. These scientists said they had created a new model for studying SARS-CoV-2 by creating mice with human-like lung characteristics by using the CRISPR gene-editing technology to give the mice lung cells with the human ACE2 receptor — the cell receptor that allowed coronaviruses to so easily infect human lungs.  After consultations with experts, some U.S. officials came to believe this Beijing lab was likely conducting coronavirus experiments on mice fitted with ACE2 receptors well before the coronavirus outbreak—research they hadn’t disclosed and continued not to admit to."

Biological weapons lab leaked virus, claims US - "Mr Pottinger, a former US Marines officer, said: “Even establishment figures in Beijing have openly dismissed the wet market story.”"

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