2021-07-30

Federal Government Gives Millions To ‘Justice Reform Change Agent’ That Supports Defunding The Police | The Daily Caller

Gain of Function

"You take an animal virus and you increase its transmissibility to humans, you're saying that's not gain-of-function?" he asked.

But George Mason University's Gregory Koblentz, an expert in biodefense and dual use research, pointed out that WIV1 wasn't an animal virus enhanced to infect humans through gain-of-function research, because it was already shown to pose a danger to humans.  

"Sen. Paul is wrong when he says that the coronaviruses that were the subject of this research only infect animals and not humans and that this research was 'gain-of-function' because it enabled an animal virus to infect humans," Koblentz said. "The WIV1 strain was already known to be able to infect humans."

Even before the virus was edited in the lab, researchers found WIV1 was "poised for human emergence," writing it could infect human airway cells "with no significant adaptation required."

Fauci said the grant proposal "was judged by qualified people up and down the chain" in the federal government not to comprise gain-of-function research.

Experiments in synthetic biology that create engineered, or "chimeric," viruses that are "reasonably anticipated" to gain properties that make them more dangerous are supposed to get extra scrutiny by the government. At the time of the 2017 study, the government had implemented a pause on these experiments altogether.  

Changing the virus

The researchers in Wuhan spliced the WIV1 virus with other novel coronaviruses expressing spike proteins and grew them in the lab. The scientists tested whether the new engineered viruses could infect human-like cells with the ACE2 receptors that spike proteins bind to. They could.

Among the coauthors credited are Shi Zhengli, a Wuhan Institute virologist, and Peter Daszak, the president of EcoHealth, a nonprofit that served as a private intermediary between Wuhan and the NIH. The research received funding from NIH and USAID.

A key question is whether adding different spike proteins to a virus already known to infect human cells made that virus even more infectious or virulent.

Richard Ebright, a Rutgers microbiologist and biosecurity expert whom Paul cited at the hearing, says yes.

"The research was, unequivocally, gain-of-function research," he said. "There can be no serious doubt that Fauci knows this."

Others dispute whether it was, or say it's hard to know, but that the experiment was potentially dangerous. Not a lot is known about the novel coronaviruses that the Wuhan researchers edited into WIV1.

"A certain set of experiments that have been published by the Wuhan Institute … I view as particularly risky," said Relman of Stanford, calling attention to the WIV1 research.

"I'm not saying they led to this outbreak or pandemic by any means," he said, referring to COVID-19.

University of North Carolina researcher and Wuhan Institute of Virology collaborator Ralph Baric had already studied the WIV1 bat coronavirus and found it "to be a virus 'poised for human emergence,'" Relman said.

Relman described the experiment: The spike proteins of other novel coronaviruses found in samples taken from bats, whose virulence and transmissibility were unknown, were added to the WIV1 virus. Then those new viruses were grown in the lab.

Virologists argue this sort of research is important to learn about how viruses evolve in nature and where new outbreaks could emerge, while critics like Relman are not convinced.

"Their approach for studying novel sequences that they found in other samples was to take a piece of the genome, a piece of that sequence, and swap it into this WIV1 virus. They then resurrected this virus and grew them in the laboratory," Relman continued. "Now we're talking about a chimeric virus with properties we don't know and can't predict well."

Defense of the research

Virologists are less concerned about the WIV1 study.

Stephen Goldstein, a researcher of dangerous pathogens at a high-security lab in Utah and skeptic of the so-called "lab leak" theory, noted the paper showed some of the edited viruses were less infectious than the original WIV1.  

Georgetown University virologist Angela Rasmussen, another critic of the lab leak theory, acknowledged that the viruses were infectious to human-like cells, but said studying a cell line in a lab, as the Wuhan researchers did, isn't a good predictor of the virus' ability to infect real people.

"The definition [of gain-of-function research] refers to increased transmissibility and pathogenicity in humans, and you can't determine either of those things in a cell line," she said in an email. "That can test infectivity in an artificial system but is not remotely analogous to showing the virus is 'transmissible,' because there's a lot more to transmission in the real world than just receptor binding and entry."

Rasmussen said attempts by Paul to link WIV1 to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 are a "politically motivated smear," echoing Fauci's argument that it's "molecularly impossible" they are related. Fauci was "right to call Sen. Paul a liar," she said.

The assurances of virologists have not alleviated the concerns of other researchers.

"What I would apply here is a little common sense. And if what you are doing is creating recombinants of a dangerous human virus that you know to have potential to be more infectious or more lethal, then I think that by any reasonable understanding of the term, you are engaged in gain-of-function," said Edward Hammond, a biosafety researcher and activist.

The rationale behind the NIH's approval of the grant is mysterious, because its reviews of gain-of-function research are confidential and there is relatively little public information about NIH's process.

Rasmussen acknowledged more discussion is needed about how the government reviews this sort of work.

Koblentz said the disagreement between Fauci and Paul shows how little is known about what the government views as gain-of-function research and what it doesn't.

"How 'enhanced' would a virus have to be to count as an enhanced potential pandemic pathogen?" said Koblentz. "It would be really useful for NIH to document these reviews and explain their reasoning and assessment."



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Best wishes,

John Coffey

http://www.entertainmentjourney.com

2021-07-28

Who Gets To Decide the Truth? – Reason.com

But an objective observer would probably not have said that the Europe of the late medieval period was better organized or more advanced than the Europe of the Roman Empire at its height. In the year 1500, alien visitors might reasonably have pegged Homo sapiens as a stuck species. "Come back in another 100,000 years," they might have concluded, "and maybe these goofballs will be interesting."


People, Smith argued, come into the world equipped with what he called sympathy, or fellow-feeling; empathy is the word we might use today. We have a natural inclination to imagine how others see and feel, and to align our own perspectives and dispositions with theirs. Also, people come equipped with a desire to be trusted and respected by others. Through our desire for mutual esteem based on our empathetic intuitions, we can align our interests and form social bonds on a basis other than force or domination. True, human beings are also greedy and ambitious. Yet—here is Smith's most famous insight—a well-structured social order can harness those very traits to promote activity which benefits ourselves by benefiting others. If we get the rules right, millions of people of every imaginable skill and temperament and nationality can cooperate to build a fantastically complex device like a Prius or iPhone, all without the oversight or instruction of any central planner. If we get the rules right.

Smith's proposition seemed ridiculous, given that human history through his time was soaked in blood and oppression. His claim was redeemed only by the fact that it proved to be true. Although Smith did not invent markets, he notated the code which enabled a tribal primate, wired for personal relationships in small, usually related groups, to cooperate impersonally across unbounded networks of strangers, and to do so without any central authority organizing markets and issuing commands. Economic liberalism—market cooperation—is a species-transforming piece of social software, one which enables us to function far above our designed capacity.




The first is the idea of natural rights: fundamental rules that apply to all persons from birth to death—rules that all other persons and also sovereigns and governments are bound to respect, and which are to be respected impersonally and reciprocally. Because they are natural, these rights inhere in human nature and are present in the state of nature. They provide a built-in limiting principle to the war of all against all. For Locke, the fundamental rights are life, liberty, and property (meaning not just material property but authority over one's own body and conscience). Because rights are inborn rather than earned by merit or conferred by social position, they inhere equally. Individuals are always equal in their fundamental rights, even as they differ in countless other ways.

A second foundational principle is rule by consent. Governments are not instituted by divine authority to rule the people; they are instituted by the people to enforce natural rights. If governments exceed their authority or use it to violate the people's rights, Locke argued, they lose their claim to govern and may rightly be replaced. Government is sovereign within its grant of power, but the ultimate sovereignty belongs to the governed.

Third, toleration. Religious differences had torn Europe apart, in good measure because the combatants assumed that if one religion is true, then others must be false. 

https://reason.com/2021/07/24/who-gets-to-decide-the-truth/?itm_source=parsely-api

2021-07-24

Is Anthony Fauci Lying About NIH Funding of Wuhan Lab Research? Or Is Rand Paul? – Reason.com

Those Chinese researchers took the known WIV1 coronavirus, the spike proteins of which already give it the ability to infect human cells using the ACE2 receptor, and then replaced it with spike proteins from newly discovered bat coronaviruses. The goal was to see if the spike proteins from the novel coronaviruses would be sufficient to replace the function of the WIV1 spike protein. The researchers found that two versions of the WIV1 virus modified with the novel spike proteins could still use the ACE2 receptor to infect and replicate in human cells in culture.

In May, the NIH, in response to a query from the Washington Post's Fact Checker, issued a statement declaring that the agency "has never approved any grant to support 'gain-of-function' research on coronaviruses that would have increased their transmissibility or lethality for humans. The research proposed in the EcoHealth Alliance, Inc., grant
application sought to understand how bat coronaviruses evolve naturally in the environment to become transmissible to the human population."

Robert Garry, a Tulane University virologist pointed out to Newsweek that the Wuhan experiments were done to study whether the bat coronaviruses could infect humans. What they didn't do, he argued, was make the viruses "any better" at infecting people, which would be necessary for gain-of-function research. In other words, Garry does not think that the WIV research increased the virulence or transmissibility of the modified viruses.

On Twitter, King's College London virologist Stuart Neil observed that "the EcoHealth grant [from the NIH] was judged by the vetting committee to not involve GoF [gain of function] because the investigators were REPLACING a function in a virus that ALREADY HAD human tropism rather than giving a function to one that could not infect humans." Neil does acknowledge that "understandably this is a grey area." He goes on to argue, "But whether I or anyone thinks in retrospect that this is or is not GoF, the NIH did not, so in that respect, Fauci is NOT lying."

2021-07-13

CRT illegal

According to critical race theorists, virtually all of society's problems should be viewed within the context of alleged systemic racism, which all people have a solemn duty to root out at any cost — including by promoting other forms of racism.

Ibram X. Kendi, a leading advocate of critical race theory, summarized this troubling idea in his popular book How to Be an Antiracist.

"The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination," Kendi wrote. "The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination."

...

Although there are many reasons schools should avoid critical race theory, as well as various other "critical" theories that promote similar ideas, perhaps the most important is that many forms of critical race theory teaching are likely in violation of federal or state law.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964, a national law, mandates, "No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

Because public schools receive federal financial assistance, they are banned from subjecting students to "discrimination under any program or activity," including in the classroom.

Although not all forms of critical race theory can properly be understood as "discrimination," many can. Requiring white students to complete assignments in a manner that differs from black students, for example, is a kind of discrimination that is commonly associated with critical race theory curricula.

Teaching students that they are guilty of implicit racism because of the color of their skin is another form of discrimination often included in critical race theory teaching materials.

The argument that critical race theory is often linked to illegal, racist actions was bolstered in a recent ruling by Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen.

Teaching critical race theory isn't just wrong. It might be illegal | Washington Examiner