We can rightly ask: whither the West?
As is so often remarked, civilisations can die from at least two things: external attack or internal decay. The West has experienced its fair share of both, and one can rightly ask how much longer it can survive. Indeed, we see both things combining today to undermine the West.
Hostile ideologies like militant Islam have today replaced godless Communism as the main external threat to the West, with things like unchecked immigration and failed multiculturalism policies meaning that Islam can soon enough take over the West with no shots needing to be fired.
Couple that with the increased de-Christianisation of the West, and all that this entails – an explosion of immorality, the collapse of marriage and family, the decline of community, the rise of identity politics, the war against the free market, the rise of unchecked Statism, and the loss of hope in the future – and we see a perfect storm developing.
In the past at least when war was declared on the West – usually from hostile outside powers – people were willing to rally to the cause and defend what needed to be defended. But today most Westerns are so demoralised and indifferent to their own culture – if not now downright hostile to it – that the will to fight and stand up against the enemies of the West is quickly disappearing.
All in all things are looking rather grim in deed. Many have commented on this over recent years. Think of just a few important titles (of many) that have addressed these matters:
–Suicide of the West by James Burnham (1964)
–Warning to the West by Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1975)
–The End of History and the Last Man by Francis Fukuyama (1992)
–The Clash of Civilizations by Samuel Huntington (1996)
–The Death of the West by Patrick Buchanan (2002)
–The West Versus the Rest by Roger Scruton (2002)
–The West’s Last Chance: Will We Win the Clash of Civilizations? by Tony Blankley (2005)
–How Civilizations Die by David Goldman (2011)
–The Strange Death of Europe by Douglas Murray (2017)
You get the drift, simply by the titles. Many are rightly concerned about whether things will continue – whether the West has a future. They wonder, following Yeats, whether the centre will hold. See more on this here: billmuehlenberg.com/2021/05/03/things-fall-apart-but-work-remains/
Let me remind the reader of just two examples of external threats to the Christian West, and then close with yet another example of internal decay. As to forces from without seeking to overrun the West, there have been various close calls that come to mind. Let me mention two of them that both involve Islam.
Both involve decisive battles that took place in Europe. Had the outcome of either one gone the other way, history would be radically different, and there would likely not be such a thing as the ‘Christian West’. Both were crucial contests to keep Islam from overrunning Europe. Both were fought to keep the West Christian and civilised
The first of these was the Battle of Tours (732) which halted the Islamic advance into France and beyond. Very briefly, Islam had been on the move – big time. Plenty of territory was being taken by Muslim armies in the first hundred years after Muhammad, and by 714 Spain had been occupied.
Muslim forces began moving north to take the rest of Europe. Militant Islam seemed to be unstoppable. The Battle of Tours (also known as the Battle of Poitiers since it was actually fought between these two cities in north-western France) was an utterly crucial and decisive turning point in all this.
Charles Martel (Charles the Hammer), the Frankish military leader, was the hero of the day, defeating the invading Muslim forces of the Umayyad Caliphate which was twice the size of his own forces. The result was to stop Islamic expansion into the rest of Europe. See more on this here: billmuehlenberg.com/2016/07/17/islam-versus-western-civilisation-lessons-history/
The second key battle occurred a millennium later: the Battle of Vienna. It took place on September 11-12, 1683. This also was a key battle which would have changed the course of history had it gone the other way. Again, only a brief outline can be offered here:
Islam was again on the march – this time in the form of the Ottoman Turks. A 1529 siege of Vienna had failed, but this siege looked to succeed. The Turks came with an army of around 150,000. As they approached the city, King Leopold and most of the residents fled the city, leaving only around 15,000 men to defend it.
The Ottomans decided to simply starve the city into submission, and they nearly succeeded. Thankfully at the last moment deliverance came from a few other Christian armies, primarily the Poles. Jan III Sobieski, the King of Poland, arrived with 40,000 troops, along with German and Austrian allies, and within a matter of hours the siege was ended and the Turks were routed.
Around 4000 of the defenders died, while perhaps as many as 20,000 Turks lost their lives. This stopped the Islamic incursion into Europe and was the beginning of the end of the Ottoman Empire in terms of its expansionist goals in Europe. More details on this are found here: billmuehlenberg.com/2016/07/18/islams-long-history-targeting-europe/
Phew, those were two close calls indeed. But as mentioned, the internal white anting of the West continues apace. This site features hundreds of examples of this. I offer here just one recent case in point which I just read about today. I have long been discussing how Islam is on the rise in Europe (via immigration and the like) while Christianity is taking a nosedive.
A new report about the situation in France makes this quite clear. It begins:
One religious building is disappearing in France every two weeks. That is the conclusion of Edouard de Lamaze, president of the Observatoire du patrimoine religieux (Observatory of Religious Heritage) in Paris. He is raising the alarm in the French media about the gradual disappearance of religious edifices in a country known as the “eldest daughter of the Church” because the Frankish King Clovis I embraced Catholicism in 496.
Lamaze told CNA in an interview that in addition to one religious building disappearing every two weeks — by demolition, transformation, destruction by fire, or collapse — two-thirds of fires in religious buildings are due to arson. While these statistics include buildings belonging to all religious groups, most of them concern Catholic monuments, which still represent a large majority in France, where there are roughly 45,000 Catholic places of worship.
“Although Catholic monuments are still ahead, one mosque is erected every 15 days in France, while one Christian building is destroyed at the same pace,” Lamaze said. “It creates a tipping point on the territory that should be taken into account.” http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/247514/why-france-is-losing-one-religious-building-every-two-weeks
You can do the math. One new mosque versus one lost church structure every two weeks in France. Things are likely similar in other parts of Europe. Christianity is on the decline while Islam is on the rise. Sure, church buildings alone of course do not make Christianity, and there are other ways one can measure these things.
But plenty of surveys and national censuses tell the same story: there are fewer and fewer Christians in Europe, but more and more Muslims. That just will not end well. Again, for the committee Christian, even numbers like these do not tell the whole story.
We know that Christ WILL build his church. But in some places things really are looking quite bleak. While the church is growing in places like Africa and Asia and Latin America, it is in steady and serious decline in the West. God’s church on earth will not disappear, but it may well come close to vanishing in the West if current trends continue.
So from a purely non-religious point of view, things are not looking very good at all for the West. And we all should be concerned about this, and do what we can to tun things around. Sites like this one have been sounding the alarm for decades. Whether others will take heed is another matter.
But for those who are biblical Christians, we do know who wins in the end, and we do know that these sorts of battles will certainly continue. We take heart of course by recalling the reassuring words of Jesus when he told us that the gates of hell would not prevail against his church (Matthew 16:18).
And we can also take heart at the famous words of Chesterton who once put it this way: “At least five times the Faith has to all appearances gone to the dogs. In each of these five cases, it was the dog that died.”
Quite so. Let us soldier on, while we still have the chance to do so.
HAMPTON FALLS, IA—White liberals gathered in the town of Hampton Falls were shocked and astonished as local black man, accountant, and father of three Michael Sparkton walked right into a DOT office and acquired an ID without any assitance from liberals whatsoever.
“It was amazing — he was smart, clean, and articulate enough to walk right in and acquire the ID without consulting us white people at all,” said anti-racist activist Chloe Ryder to reporters. “He walked right in and got the ID, no questions asked. We thought it would be way above his intelligence level because, well. You know what I’m saying, right? Yeah. You know.”
Reporters said they did not know, and Ryder was forced to whisper, “because he’s black and I don’t think he’s capable of doing it!”
At publishing time, the liberals were amazed to see he had walked up to a vending machine and purchased a bottle of water all by himself.
Why You Can Trust the Resurrection | Wretched TV Episode 2871
Easter bunnies? Chocolate eggs? All can be very, very nice accoutrements, but the central message of Easter isn’t just a springtime celebration with bunnies and eggs. Because this celebration is about the day we know that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.
Enjoy this easter special from Road Trip To Truth to discuss the air-tight proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Here’s a selection of “Round-Up” news stories Jim featured on this National Day of Prayer:
–North Korea responded to remarks made by President Biden last week when he indicated that the nuclear programs of North Korea and Iran present serious threats to the security of America and the world.
–U.S. military forces in Iraq were recently targeted for the first time by Iranian drones.
–China is ramping up efforts to arrange trade deals with Middle East nations in order to peacefully collapse Western-American dominance in the region.
–China’s social credit system has invaded North America, specifically in Vancouver, British Columbia.
–China’s leader, Xi Jinping, personally directed the communist regime to focus its efforts to control the global internet, displacing the influential role of the U.S.
–China wants a polar “silk road” that would create a new shipping route linking Asia and Europe via the Arctic as part of their “Belt and Road Initiative”.
–The Chinese government is taking further steps to remove religious material from the hands of Christians.
–President Joe Biden is cultivating leadership that bears a stark resemblance to FDR, especially as it pertains to changing the structure of the U.S. Supreme Court.
–President Biden has been accused of manipulating the results of the 2020 census for political gain.
–House Republicans could vote to remove Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney as soon as next week.
–The Biden Administration’s Department of Defense has denied a parking permit to AmVets to stage a rallying point at the Pentagon.
–A juror in the Derek Chauvin trial has not only misled the court about his knowledge of the death of George Floyd, but also lied on the questionnaire that jurors must answer before the trial.
–Former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates said in a tweet that after 27 years, he and his wife are getting a divorce.
–The Department of Homeland Security is considering working with outside firms to surveil “extremist” language by Americans online.
–Senator Chuck Schumer is quietly considering trying to use a fast-track budget maneuver to legalize millions of undocumented immigrants should bipartisan talk on providing a pathway to citizenship fall apart.
Crosstalk listeners joined in with their comments to wrap up the broadcast.
PORTLAND, OR—According to sources close to the Larson household, Steve, the family’s non-menstruating partner, wished Carrie, the family’s menstruating partner, an early happy birthing person’s day this evening.
“Greetings, menstruating partner, and may you have a satisfactory birthing person’s day this year!” Larson said as he gave her a gift of roses and chocolate, traditional presents for the ovary-possessing partner in a relationship. “May you bear many more offspring of indeterminate gender, as is your primary function in this relationship between two or more homo sapiens!”
“Also, I am feeling emotions of fondness, but they are simply random chemical reactions in my brain approximating the abstract and imaginary concept of ‘love,’ honey!” he added romantically. He then rubbed her shoulders for several moments before his hands got tired.
The non-menstruator was puzzled, however, when his technically accurate and non-offensive terminology failed to woo his menstruating partner and she went to bed without returning his affections in a romantic manner.
Larson also said he is hoping to receive a new set of golf clubs for non-birthing person’s day coming up in June.
Only God Knows Who Is Godly
1 Samuel 16:7; Psalm 139:1–4; Proverbs 15:11; 1 Corinthians 8:3; 2 Timothy 2:19
The true saints have not such a spirit of discerning that they can certainly determine who are godly and who are not. For though they know experimentally what true religion is, in the internal exercises of it; yet these are what they can neither feel nor see in the heart of another.
Ritzema, E., & Vince, E. (Eds.). (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Puritans. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Using and Misusing Material Blessings
Isaiah 5:8; Amos 6:1–7; Luke 6:24–25
Ivory and gold and riches of all kinds are certainly blessings of divine providence, not only permitted, but expressly designed for the use of men; nor are we anywhere prohibited to laugh, or to be satiated with food, or to annex new possessions to those already enjoyed by ourselves or by our ancestors, or to be delighted with musical harmony, or to drink wine. This indeed is true; but amidst an abundance of all things, to be immersed in sensual delights, to inebriate the heart and mind with present pleasures, and perpetually to grasp at new ones, these things are very remote from a legitimate use of the divine blessings.
Ritzema, E. (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Reformation. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. – Daniel 1:20
The whole reason that the people of Judah were in Babylon is that they had forsaken the way of God in exchange for the ways of the surrounding nations. Their lives were now a tragic example of what the judgment of God looks like. What should they do when their exile was a consequence of their unfaithfulness to God?
The answer is simple. Be faithful to the Lord. Trust in Him. Believe that He can intercede and aid you in your distress. As the wise Teacher in Proverbs 3:5-6 taught Daniel and his friends, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.”
The outcome of such belief in the LORD will look different for you than it did for Daniel and his friends. You probably won’t rise as high as Daniel did or become as strong a student as they managed to. Nonetheless, the simple commitment to live with integrity and the fear of God is the answer to the question, “What should I do in the midst of these hardships?” The Lord dramatically displayed His will to set apart His servants for His purposes in the life of Daniel and He continues to display His will in your life, as you serve Him with thanksgiving for the life you have gained in Christ Jesus.
Suggestions for prayer:
Ask the LORD to help you to find joy and strength in the midst of the trials you are going through. Ask the LORD to help you to remember that your faith is grounded in the finished work of Jesus Christ who has forgiven your sins and given you new life in Him!
Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT)
Do you rest on the fact that you are generally a good person who tries to do good things? Or do you rest in Christ Jesus, knowing that He alone is where your hope is found? King David penned the words in Psalm 139 knowing that the God of the universe could be trusted with his most personal thoughts, his most shameful sins, and the worries that kept him up at night. David’s hope was securely anchored in God, trusting that God would lead him along the path of everlasting life as He convicted him of his sins.
Asking God to reveal can be painful. Do I really want God to search my heart — a heart that struggles with bitterness, jealousy, and anger? Do I actually want God to hear those insecure, worried thoughts I think? Do I truly want God to point out everything in me that offends Him?
The reason I pray this prayer isn’t so that I can be reminded of my struggles and sins, but because my hope is rooted in God, who is gracious and merciful. These lines to the hymn “Solid Rock” are a perfect picture of the grace and mercy we receive when we put our hope in Christ Jesus.
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.
I take great comfort in these truths; I know that it is not the state of my heart, but because of Christ’s perfect sacrifice, that I can stand before God, worthy of everlasting life.
Jesus, thank You that I have the hope of everlasting life because of Your sacrifice on the cross. Thank You for pointing out the sin in my heart, my thoughts, and my actions so that I may grow to become more like You. Lead me along the path of righteousness and truth today. Amen.
By Caran Jantzen
Used by Permission
Learn more about knowing Jesus at: https://thoughts-about-god.com/four-laws/
“And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.” Luke 11:46
One Saturday morning, I got up early while everyone else slept in. Since I had extra time before my dentist appointment, I went grocery shopping. After loading up my shopping cart, I went to check out. The lines were long. I worried about missing my dentist appointment.
As I waited, someone jumped in front of the line. I could not help myself and gave it to the person hard. “You need to wait in the line just like the rest of us!”, I shouted.
In Luke 11, we see Jesus letting the Pharisees have it again. As I continued to read, I found myself cheering the Lord on, shaking my head in disapproval, and confirming to myself that the hypocritical Pharisees deserved it.
He used harsh words toward the Pharisees, no doubt, but Jesus was never short on love and compassion. He was always ready to forgive and forget. He wanted them to open their hardened hearts to hear the good news of salvation and to see the encounter as an opportunity to re-examine their views and receive him as their Lord one day.
Bumpy encounters with our brothers and sisters should not become a reason for bitterness and payback.
They should be opportunities to put on display our Christian charity and kindness instead. When tempted to lash out, let’s remember to pause and ask the Holy Spirit to watch over the words we say and to keep us from doing what does not glorify him.
We glorify God when we treat others kindly.
Lord, help me to see the bitterness in my heart, a heart ready to condemn. Replace these hurtful feelings with thoughts of love and kindness, which you have shown to me and even the scribes and Pharisees who often condemned you. Amen.
When tempted to react angrily to someone else, ask the Holy Spirit to help you exercise self-control and look at that person with compassion.
By Doug Lim
Used by Permission
Learn more about knowing Jesus at: https://thoughts-about-god.com/four-laws/
Neglecting Your Soul to Study the Stars
1 Corinthians 8:1; James 4:6
Every man naturally desires knowledge; but what good is knowledge without fear of God? Indeed a humble rustic who serves God is better than a proud intellectual who neglects his soul to study the course of the stars. He who knows himself well becomes mean in his own eyes and is not happy when praised by men.
THOMAS À KEMPIS
Ritzema, E. (Ed.). (2012). 300 Quotations for Preachers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Refusing Vengeance, Suffering Willingly
Deuteronomy 32:35; Romans 12:19
Wretched are they, indeed, who cannot obtain that vengeance which, in their impatience, they desire! On the contrary, blessed was Christ, who willingly endured His Passion, and would not take that vengeance on His persecutors which He might have taken!
HILDEBERT OF LAVARDIN
Ritzema, E., & Brant, R. (Eds.). (2013). 300 quotations for preachers from the Medieval church. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
‘Marine fossils’ discovered on top of Mount Everest ‘could be proof of Great Flood’
They stated: “If you were to entirely smooth everything on Earth, leveling mountains and filling in valleys and sea trenches, the sea would not only cover everything but the dry land would be submerged some 1.5 miles deep. “So yes, there is enough water on Earth to cover the existing landmass – let alone by the seven meters the Bible says that Noah’s Flood prevailed above the highest peak. “
House Committed Six Violations of the Constitution During Impeachment: Alan Dershowitz
Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz said that the house violated six independent points of the Constitution when impeaching President Donald Trump. In an interview with Newsmax, Dershowitz said: “They violated the free speech provision. They violated the impeachment criteria. They violated the bill of attainder. They violated due process, on and on and on.” “How can you impeach a president for a speech that is constitutionally protected?” he said.
California professor who berated pro-police student placed on leave
A California college professor who berated a student for expressing support for the police has been placed on leave, according to reports. In a clip that’s gone viral, Faryha Salim, an adjunct professor at Cypress College, is seen repeatedly interrupting the student, Braden Ellis, and shouting over him.
BREAKING: State Dept. Releases Phone Transcript Of Hillary Admitting She Knew Benghazi Was Planned Attack
Judicial Watch announced it has obtained new documents from the Department of State containing the telephone transcripts from the evening of September 12, 2012, in which then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton informs then-Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil that the deadly terrorist attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi “had nothing to do with the film.” The documents include previously unreleased telephone transcripts with world leaders about the Benghazi attack.
US-Russia relations now worse than Cold War era, Russia’s top diplomat says
Head of the Russian state news agency Rossiya Segodnya, Dmitry Kiselyov said during an April 28 interview with Lavrov, “Our relations with the United States are really ‘hell.’ Personally, I don’t recall them being at such a low ebb ever before. This is even worse than the Cold War times, in my opinion. Ambassadors have returned back to their home countries. What’s going to happen next? What is the possible scenario?”
Biden hires anti-Israel ‘Soros agent’ to key position
Another name has been added to the long list of anti-Israel Biden appointees: Sarah Margon. And like so many Biden appointees, her career is full of hatred for Israel. Sarah Margon: Boycotting Israel…and worse Margon was recently nominated by Biden to serve as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.
French Generals Warn Creeping Islamism Will Bring About Civil War
A group of retired generals has warned in an open letter that France is sliding toward a civil war due to the government’s failure to control mass migration and creeping Islamism in the country. The letter, which has broad public support, according to polls, also warns against cultural Marxism, runaway multiculturalism and the expansion of no-go zones in France. The warning comes amid a wave of jihadist attacks — including the beheading of a schoolteacher — committed by young men, none of whom were previously known to French intelligence services.
NASA Impact Simulation Shows Dangers Of Bible’s Wormwood Prophecy
The hypothetical impact scenario, which took place during a planetary defense conference hosted by the United Nations, confirmed that there is no current technology on earth that could stop an Asteroid if we knew in advance it was projected to hit the earth. “If confronted with the scenario in real life, we would not be able to launch any spacecraft on such short notice with current capabilities,” the participants said.
Last-resort antibiotic found to pop superbugs like balloons
The drug at the center of this study is called colistin, which was first described in 1947 and has since become a last-resort treatment for bacterial infections that have grown resistant to other medications. As one of only a handful of drugs capable of taking the fight to the deadliest of superbugs, such as E. Coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter baumannii, colistin works by puncturing the two membranes encasing the bacteria. Though how it does this has been unclear.
Iran IRGC head: Israel can be destroyed in one operation
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Maj.-Gen. Hossein Salami said that Israel “security” has been eroded, and its safety “bubble” burst in the last few months in a wide-ranging television interview. He bragged at length about how the “Zionist regime” is supposedly in the midst of security, political and social disintegration.
IDF carries out attacks on Hezbollah outposts – Syrian reports
The IDF carried out attacks against Hezbollah outposts near Quneitra on the Syrian border Wednesday night, according to Syrian reports cited by Israeli media. This is the second consecutive night that Syrian media reported an attack by the IDF in Syria. On Tuesday, an alleged Israeli airstrike targeted a site near Latakia and Tartus along Syria’s Mediterranean coast, according to the Syrian state news agency SANA.
China ‘indefinitely’ suspends key economic dialogue with Australia
China has “indefinitely” suspended key economic dialogue with Australia, the latest in a growing diplomatic rift between both countries. Relations have been on the decline since Australia called for a probe into the origins of the virus and banned Huawei from building its 5G network. Last year, China imposed sanctions on Australian goods like wine and beef.
Israel: Netanyahu rival Lapid asked to form new government
Israel’s president has asked the leader of the centrist Yesh Atid party, Yair Lapid, to try to form a government. Reuven Rivlin announced that he had given Mr Lapid the mandate after long-time Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to meet an overnight deadline. Yesh Atid came second to Mr Netanyahu’s right-ring Likud party in March’s inconclusive general election.
Locust swarms from Middle East may reach Turkey, expert warns
Swarms of locusts that invaded the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, and Syria, may reach Turkey next if the country does not take action, an expert warned on April 30, 2021. As of May 3, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said unusually strong southerly winds carried mature adult swarms to the Middle East countries and nearly reached Turkey.
Massive California wildfires last year were caused by arson, not climate change
One of the largest wildfires in California state history was caused not by “climate change” like the mainstream media claims, but rather by an arsonist who was trying to cover up a murder.
Young man suffers HEART ATTACK after getting injected with Pfizer vaccine
America is in the throes of a pandemic, but not from some Chinese virus. The real threat is Wuhan coronavirus (Covid-19) injections, which are causing young men to suffer heart attacks.
Deep state FBI staffer arrested for running pedophile ring
An FBI staffer in Tennessee was arrested this week and charged with sexual exploitation of children and receiving child pornography.
Get ready for the most painful inflation since the Jimmy Carter years of the 1970s
If you are too young to have been alive during the 1970s, you might want to read up on that decade, because current economic conditions are starting to become eerily similar to what we experienced back then. In the 1970s, an energy crisis caused tremendously long lines at gas stations all over the country. In 2021, we don’t have a shortage of gasoline, but shortages of other key products are starting to cause very serious problems.
Biden regime said to be “actively considering” legislation to go after Trump-supporting conservatives suddenly designated “domestic terrorists”
If you had any doubt that Joe Biden’s handlers were going to use the full force of the federal government to punish as many of President Donald Trump’s supporters as possible after taking office, put those doubts to rest.
Ophthalmologists now ethically obligated to denounce covid-19 vaccines, as 20,000 new eye disorders are reported
In just a few months, the World Health Organization received approximately 20,000 reports of new eye disorders that occurred post covid-19 vaccination. These reports include 303 cases of blindness and 1,625 cases of visual impairment! The European drug monitoring agency had never recorded such a severe spike in eye injuries until after the experimental vaccines were launched. These reports were collected by VigiBase and analyzed by the Uppsala Monitoring Centre in Uppsalla, Sweden.
Is the genetic COVID vaccine creating a hurricane inside cells of the body?
Picture this: Contrary to medical claims, the genetic injection called “COVID vaccination” forces cells of the body to produce not one, but hundreds of DIFFERENT proteins. Some of these proteins launch severe and fatal allergic reactions.
Yes, Liberals are Crazy
It’s true. Your crazy liberal friends are actually crazy. Here’s why: Most people would agree that if you’re psychotic, you’re crazy. According to the medical literature’s definition of psychosis Liberals are psychotic. Because being psychotic requires that you experience either hallucinations or delusions.
World’s Top ‘Abnormals’ To Usher In ‘New Norm’ At Vatican ‘Health’ Conference
Some of the world’s top ‘abnormals’ will try to dump ‘The New Norm’ on society at tomorrow’s 3-day Vatican Health Conference—their sacrilegious live-streamed version of The Last Supper.
Not fooling around: Fla. Gov. Ron DeSantis signs nation’s toughest anti-riot law as left-wing cities, states continue to burn
Blue states and cities have been largely putting up with thugs and losers associated with Antifa and Black Lives Matter for the past couple of years destroying buildings and looting and burning businesses, all under the guise of ‘social justice.’
BOMBSHELL: Gates Foundation, DARPA funding self-replicating, weaponized vaccine technology that began under Apartheid, to exterminate Blacks… and now it’s powering the covid vax
Bombshell story synopsis: Research on race-specific, self-replicating (self-spreading), weaponized vaccines was being conducted by doctors and scientists under the Apartheid regime in the 1990s, with the goal of causing self-spreading infertility and deaths among Blacks.
Biden CIA Releases New Logo And ‘Woke’ Video Branding Themselves As An ‘Intersectional Agency’ Promoting The Agenda Of The Radical Left
When you watch the video, it comes off exactly like one of those parody commercials you see on places like ‘Saturday Night Live’, and in articles on the Babylon Bee satire site, but as funny as it is, this is no joke. What you are about to watch is an actual recruitment video from the world’s most-feared intelligence agency, the CIA.
BRILLIANT: Florida will fine any business or school $5,000 each time it requires a “vaccine passport” or proof of COVID-19 vaccination
Awesome governor. Imagine what America would be like if every state were governed like Florida.
Iran Releases Horrifying Propaganda Video Displaying The United States Capitol Blown Up By Missile Strike Showing Contempt For Biden Rule
The entire 4 years that Donald Trump was president, the rogue terror state of Iran was kept under fairly tight control, at the very least the Iranians knew that Trump would act decisively when pushed. Evidentially there is no such respect for the pretend presidency of the Joe Biden administration as evidenced is a video Iran released showing an Iranian missile destroying the United States Capitol building.
The genocide continues through the vaccines, as the CDC scrambles to deceive the public
In just a few months, the CDC has disclosed 118,902 adverse reactions and 3,848 deaths following covid-19 vaccination. Since its inception, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) has never seen such an enormous spike in vaccine injury reports. Since December 2020, the total deaths recorded following experimental COVID injections is more than the recorded deaths for all vaccines observed in the past 15 and a half years!
Source: 6 May 2021 – Rapture Ready
Apostasy Watch Thursday 5-6-21
|NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER: ‘If Ever There was a Time that America Needed Prayer, It Is Now’Posted: 06 May 2021 07:08 AM PDT(ETH) – On Thursday, Christians across the U.S. will join together to call upon God for the sake of our country during the 70th annual National Day of Prayer. The theme of this year’s event is “Love, Life and Liberty,” drawing from the New King James Version of 2 Corinthians 3:17, which declares, “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”Dr. James Dobson, founder, and president of the Dr.Continue reading NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER: ‘If Ever There was a Time that America Needed Prayer, It Is Now’ at End Time Headlines.|
|Inflation has arrived! Grocery prices soaring, Poultry shortage, supplies running low, Can’t find anyone to workPosted: 06 May 2021 07:01 AM PDT(OPINION) ETH – Signs of inflation are picking up speed with a mounting number of consumer-facing companies warning in recent days that supply shortages and logistical logjams may force them to raise prices.Yahoo News stated: “The Bloomberg Commodity Spot Index, which tracks 23 raw materials, has risen to its highest level in almost a decade. That has pushed a gauge of global manufacturing output prices to its highest point since 2009, and U.S.Continue reading Inflation has arrived! Grocery prices soaring, Poultry shortage, supplies running low, Can’t find anyone to work at End Time Headlines.|
|Catholic priests defy Pope Francis, Begin public blessings of gay couplesPosted: 06 May 2021 06:43 AM PDT(ETH) – Catholic clergy are preparing to bless gay couples across Germany in defiance of a recent Vatican ban on the practice, in the latest sign of how far liberal German Catholics are pushing the boundaries of the Vatican’s authority and teachings to forge a more progressive version of their church.Priests and some lay ministers are planning coordinated ceremonies blessing gay relationships in about 100 Catholic churches and other venues in Germany, including Essen Cathedral, over the next few days, most of them on Monday.Continue reading Catholic priests defy Pope Francis, Begin public blessings of gay couples at End Time Headlines.|
|White House stands behind Facebook keeping Trump banned, Says social media needs to do more to prevent “disinformation” and “misinformation,”Posted: 05 May 2021 08:51 PM PDT(Fox News) – The White House on Wednesday said social media companies need to do more to protect the public from “disinformation” and “misinformation,” after Facebook’s Oversight Board upheld the company’s ban against former President Trump from using the platform.The board on Wednesday upheld Trump’s ban from Facebook and Instagram, but said it was “not appropriate” for Facebook to impose the “indeterminate and standardless penalty of indefinite suspension.” The board gave Facebook six months to review the “arbitrary” indefinite ban, saying in a tweet that the company “violated its own rules.”White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the board’s decision on Wednesday and said the White House was “not going to have any comment on the future of the former president’s social media platform,” but said that social media companies have a “responsibility” to protect the public from misinformation.Continue reading White House stands behind Facebook keeping Trump banned, Says social media needs to do more to prevent “disinformation” and “misinformation,” at End Time Headlines.|
|What Will You Do When Inflation Forces U.S. Households To Spend 40 Percent Of Their Incomes On Food?Posted: 05 May 2021 08:43 PM PDT(OPINION) Michael Snyder – – Did you know that the price of corn has risen 142 percent in the last 12 months? Of course, corn is used in hundreds of different products we buy at the grocery store, and so everyone is going to feel the pain of this price increase. But it isn’t just the price of corn that is going crazy.We are seeing food prices shoot up dramatically all across the industry, and experts are warning that this is just the very beginning. Continue reading What Will You Do When Inflation Forces U.S. Households To Spend 40 Percent Of Their Incomes On Food? at End Time Headlines.|
|Viral video reveals mother of 6-year-old daughter pressing her to confess “gender identity”Posted: 05 May 2021 06:36 PM PDT(ETH) – A TikTok video featuring a 6-year-old daughter and her mother has gone viral on TikTok after the mother is seen and heard on the video clip pressing her daughter on what gender she wants to be.According to the report from TheBlaze, the mother in the video— who, on TikTok, goes by “Smooches24” — can be heard asking her unnamed child questions about whether she is a boy or a girl.Continue reading Viral video reveals mother of 6-year-old daughter pressing her to confess “gender identity” at End Time Headlines.|
|‘Marine fossils’ discovered on top of Mount Everest ‘could be proof of Great Flood’Posted: 05 May 2021 06:22 PM PDT(OPINION) Express – The Bible’s Great Flood is one of the most famous narratives of the religious text, and “marine fossils” found at the top of Mount Everest “may be” proof that it happened, according to a sensational claim.The flood narrative is found in chapters 6–9 of the Book of Genesis and the story tells of God’s decision to return Earth to its pre-creation state of watery chaos. Noah and his family are said to have been spared – along with two of every kind of animal – by floating a great ark.Continue reading ‘Marine fossils’ discovered on top of Mount Everest ‘could be proof of Great Flood’ at End Time Headlines.|
|Disney reveals LGBT rainbow-colored toys and clothes for upcoming “Pride Month”Posted: 05 May 2021 06:14 PM PDT(ETH) – The Walt Disney Company, which is widely known for its family-friendly programming and theme parks, is reportedly promoting a series of toys and clothes for children decorated with the LGBT rainbow flag ahead of Pride Month in June.The company which has great influence over children around the World has unveiled its Rainbow Disney Collection. According to the report, The catalog shows apparel and toys featuring rainbow-colored merchandise designed to honor the upcoming annual Pride Month in June that celebrates the LGBT community and movement.Continue reading Disney reveals LGBT rainbow-colored toys and clothes for upcoming “Pride Month” at End Time Headlines.|
|Father removes daughter from ‘woke’ NYC school, demands schools stop teaching kids to ‘feel bad about color of their skin’Posted: 05 May 2021 02:50 PM PDT(OPINION) TheBlaze – A father pulled his daughter from her posh, $43,000-per-year New York City school and moved her to Florida after the curriculum reportedly taught “kids to feel bad about the color of their skin,” according to the Daily Mail.Harvey Goldman told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that he believes most parents aren’t even aware of what the Heschel School is teaching its students and that he is speaking out on his decision in order to educate and encourage other parents to follow suit.Continue reading Father removes daughter from ‘woke’ NYC school, demands schools stop teaching kids to ‘feel bad about color of their skin’ at End Time Headlines.|
|Within days or weeks, Trillions of cicadas will emerge after 17 years undergroundPosted: 05 May 2021 02:41 PM PDT(ETH) – Within days, a couple of weeks at most, literally trillions of cicadas of Brood X will emerge after 17 years of being hidden underground and is being deemed one of the largest and most noticeable cycle in some time according to NBCDFW.These insects will emerge across 15 states from Indiana to Georgia to New York and will be coming out in mass numbers in Tennessee and North Carolina.Continue reading Within days or weeks, Trillions of cicadas will emerge after 17 years underground at End Time Headlines.|
|Meghan McCain goes on full rant on ‘The View,’ calling Trump ‘Cheeto Jesus’Posted: 05 May 2021 02:31 PM PDT(OPINION) ETH – “The View” host Meghan McCain just went on a full-blown rant on a recent program going after Trump supporters of the Republican Party. McCain called it “asinine” politics to go after Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY). On the program she slammed former President Trump, labeling him “Cheeto Jesus” and claimed House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy “intentionally” trashed Cheney on a hot mic.”Let’s cut the crap.” Meghan McCain accused House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of “intentionally” trashing Rep.Continue reading Meghan McCain goes on full rant on ‘The View,’ calling Trump ‘Cheeto Jesus’ at End Time Headlines.|
|Treasury to employ measures to avoid unprecedented default on national debt…Posted: 05 May 2021 11:28 AM PDT(AP) — The Treasury Department says it will employ measures to avoid an unprecedented default on the national debt this summer, but officials say those measures could be exhausted “much more quickly” than normal given the unusual circumstances of the global pandemic.Treasury officials on Wednesday urged Congress to pass either a new borrowing limit or another suspension of the debt before a July 31 deadline. The Treasury will continue to initiate the types of bookkeeping maneuvers it has used in the past to keep the government from breaching a level that would trigger a default on the massive national debt.Continue reading Treasury to employ measures to avoid unprecedented default on national debt… at End Time Headlines.|
|Doctors trying to figure out source of mystery brain disease in CanadaPosted: 05 May 2021 11:09 AM PDT(BBC) – Doctors in Canada have been coming across patients showing symptoms similar to that of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a rare fatal condition that attacks the brain. But when they took a closer look, what they found left them stumped. Almost two years ago, Roger Ellis collapsed at home with a seizure on his 40th wedding anniversary.In his early 60s, Mr. Ellis, who was born and raised around New Brunswick’s bucolic Acadian peninsula, had been healthy until that June and was enjoying his retirement after decades working as an industrial mechanic.Continue reading Doctors trying to figure out source of mystery brain disease in Canada at End Time Headlines.|
“Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.” —Patrick Henry (1788)
IN TODAY’S DIGEST
- Facebook Predictably Continues to Censor Trump
- Is Ousting Cheney for Stefanik Good for Conservatives?
- The CDC’s Corrupt Political Agenda
- Biden’s Masking Message — The Vaccine Doesn’t Work
- Racist Vaccine Mandates?
- Illegals Change House Apportionment
- Daily Features: Executive News Summary, Reader Comments, Videos, Best of Right Opinion, Short Cuts, Memes, and Cartoons.
The extension was likely an easy call for the social media behemoth’s hard-left oversight board.
Still suspended. That’s the word from Facebook’s Oversight Board to former President Donald Trump.
As the Wall Street Journal editorial board writes, “Facebook reneged on its commitment to free expression when it banned Donald Trump ‘indefinitely’ from the platform in the panic surrounding the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The company’s oversight board rendered its mixed judgment on the ban Wednesday, and the ruling is a win for Facebook’s censors. But the board has also given CEO Mark Zuckerberg an opening to rediscover his free-speech principles, if he has the nerve.”
That opening? The board ordered Facebook’s executives to come back within six months with a “defined penalty” for it to review. So, in the meantime, a former U.S. president continues to be censored by a selective suppressor of speech — a Big Tech behemoth that continues to enjoy (and profit from) outdated Section 230 protections that shield it against lawsuits from its users.
Republican Senator Josh Hawley saw through it: “This is a fake court set up by Facebook to allow Facebook to do whatever Facebook wants to do. This is what you can do with your monopoly because there is no accountability. … They don’t have any real competition, so they can go out there and suspend [or] deplatform a sitting U.S. president.”
“It is a sad day for America,” said Donald Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows. “It’s a sad day for Facebook because I can tell you, a number of members of Congress are now looking at: Do they break up Facebook, do they make sure that they don’t have a monopoly? And I can tell you that it is two different standards, one for Donald Trump and one for a number of other people that are on their sites.”
As Ben Shapiro put it, “Facebook’s Oversight Board says they were right to suspend Trump because he violated their rule ‘prohibiting praise or support of people engaged in violence.’ Last year, nearly the entire media and Democratic Party praised people engaged in the most costly riots in US history.”
House Republicans seemed genuinely upset by the board’s ruling, so we should expect a sternly worded memo shortly. “Facebook is more interested in acting like a Democrat Super PAC than a platform for free speech and open debate,” tweeted Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. “If they can ban President Trump, all conservative voices could be next. A House Republican majority will rein in big tech power over our speech.”
The WSJ editors are unquestionably proponents of free speech, but perhaps they have an added interest here in that their own ox was recently gored by Facebook. As they wrote on March 5, “China last winter censored doctors who shared ‘dangerous’ misinformation about the novel coronavirus on social media. Now America’s self-anointed virus experts and social-media giants are also silencing doctors with contrarian views in an apparent effort to shut down scientific debate. We’re seeing this up close and personal. Facebook this week appended a Wall Street Journal op-ed … by Johns Hopkins surgeon Marty Makary with the label ‘Missing Context. Independent fact-checkers say this information could mislead people.’ According to Facebook, ‘Once we have a rating from a fact-checking partner, we take action by ensuring that fewer people see that misinformation.’”
Yes, and everyone trusts The Fact-Checkers™.
The decision to continue banning Trump isn’t surprising given the hard-left makeup of Facebook’s multicultural board. As the Journal notes, it comprises “only two who clearly lean to the right: former federal judge Michael McConnell and anti-Trump libertarian John Samples. The others are varying degrees of center-left to further left.”
You’re telling us. As the Washington Examiner reports, “Fifteen of the 20 members have either worked for or are in jobs funded by [George] Soros’s foundations.” Said one board member, “God forbid if Trump becomes the president, this will be my last visit to US.” Said another, “Unfortunately I don’t trust Trump because I generally don’t trust racist people.”
Talk about a tainted jury pool.
Perhaps having sensed the direction of the board’s Wednesday announcement, Trump preempted them. As Fox News’s Brooke Singman reports, “Trump launched a communications platform on Tuesday, which will serve as ‘a place to speak freely and safely,’ and will eventually give him the ability to communicate directly with his followers, after months of being banned from sites like Twitter and Facebook,” as well as Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube.
The platform, “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump,” is essentially a blog from which he can post comments, pictures, and videos. Furthermore, as Singman writes, “[It] allows followers to share the former president’s posts to Twitter and Facebook, however, the new platform does not have a feature to allow users to ‘reply’ or engage with Trump’s posts.”
As the Journal rightly concludes, “The oversight board advises that ‘Facebook must resist pressure from governments to silence their political opposition.’ But this is already happening in the U.S., as Democrats in Congress use their legal leverage over social-media platforms to press for censorship. This is a graver threat to democracy than Mr. Trump’s rhetoric. Mr. Zuckerberg needs the courage of his professed convictions.”
We won’t be holding our breath.
Based on voting record, Cheney was far more in line with Trump’s agenda than was Stefanik.
Conservative Republicans might want to be careful what they wish for. Following Liz Cheney’s recent dustup with Donald Trump, where she publicly excoriated his views on the 2020 election results, Republican leaders appear poised to push her out of her position as House Republican Conference Chair and hand that post to Elise Stefanik.
Combine House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s “accidental” hot mic comments with House Minority Whip Steve Scalise’s endorsement of New York’s Stefanik for conference chair and it looks like the writing is on the wall for Cheney, the lone representative from Wyoming. A spokesman for Scalise said, “House Republicans need to be solely focused on taking back the House in 2022 and fighting against Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi and President [Joe] Biden’s radial socialist agenda, and Elise Stefanik is strongly committed to doing that, which is why Whip Scalise has pledged to support her for conference chair.”
For what it’s worth, Trump also threw his support behind Stefanik. “Liz Cheney is a warmongering fool who has no business in Republican Party Leadership,” he said. “We want leaders who believe in the Make America Great Again movement, and prioritize the values of America First. Elise Stefanik is a far superior choice, and she has my COMPLETE and TOTAL Endorsement for GOP Conference Chair. Elise is a tough and smart communicator!”
The primary reason Cheney may lose her leadership spot, likely to Stefanik, is Trump. That’s too bad if one is concerned with which of the two representatives has a greater commitment to conservative values. Or, to put a finer point on it, which one “believes in the Make America Great Again movement, and prioritizes the values of America First.”
Ironically, Cheney voted far more consistently for Trump’s agenda than did Stefanik. According to her House voting record, Cheney was 92.9% in line with Trump’s policy positions to Stefanik’s 77.7%. And yet, the narrative being presented by Trump is that Cheney is a roadblock to America First. With all due respect, that’s nonsense.
So, who is Stefanik? She’s a young rising star in GOP ranks who showed great acumen during Trump’s first impeachment trial as a member of his defense team. This along with her support of an objection to accepting the Electoral College votes from Pennsylvania likely won her Trump’s support.
In 2018, Stefanik created a political action committee whose goal was to support more Republican women running for Congress. It seems to have paid dividends, as a record number of Republican women were elected in 2020. This result may also be a significant factor explaining GOP leaders’ support for Stefanik.
Regarding her voting record, the Washington Examiner reports, “The American Conservative Union gives Stefanik a lifetime rating of 44%, compared to 78% for Cheney, while Heritage Action gives Stefanik a 48% lifetime score compared to 80% for Cheney.”
It’s clear that for Trump, loyalty to him personally supersedes even support for his policy positions. That’s something Cheney, in voting for his impeachment following the January 6 Capitol riot, refused to concede.
Cheney’s biggest mistake was her decision to respond to Trump rather than ignore him. Attempting to relitigate, one way or the other, the outcome of the 2020 election doesn’t move the party or the country forward. Learn from the past in order to avoid making similar mistakes in the future, but the past cannot be undone. Trump himself would do well to end his over-the-top criticism of Republicans and aim his ire at Biden and the Democrats’ extreme leftist agenda.
Under the leadership of Rochelle Walensky, politics takes precedence over medicine and science.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky earned her MD from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, was the chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, and she’s served as a professor at Harvard Medical School. Yet now that she’s leading the Centers for Disease Control, which is really putting the emphasis on control over much of American life during the ChiCom Virus pandemic, what seems to matter most is Walensky’s union connections.
Our Louis DeBroux related just yesterday the scandalous reality that the CDC issued edited school guidelines that, in some cases, are nearly verbatim wording from communications with representatives of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). This collusion isn’t about public health or science; it’s about union demands. And Walensky was directly involved, even reversing herself on previous statements in order to accommodate.
“There is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen and that safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated in order to reopen safely,” Walensky said in February. “Vaccination of teachers is not a prerequisite for the safe reopening of schools.” It is, however, a prerequisite if unions are going to cooperate, so now Walensky is pushing states to prioritize teachers for vaccination.
Some Republicans are demanding answers, but North Carolina Republican Congressman Greg Murphy has seen enough. “As a practicing physician,” he said, “I believe that any physician who puts the influence of political organizations before the well-being of our children has violated the Hippocratic Oath and does not belong in public service. These actions are unconscionable, and so I am calling on Dr. Walensky to resign immediately.”
Of course, Walensky won’t resign, and she won’t be fired either. She’s a minority woman toeing the company line while pleasing Biden-Harris donors in the unions. (Remember, Jill Biden is a member of the National Education Association.) In fact, Walensky was reveling in her own profound wisdom in a friendly appearance this week on CNN, where John Berman didn’t even bring up the hot-off-the-press story of union collusion.
“Until everyone is safe, no one is safe,” Walensky did say during the interview while explaining why kids still must wear masks even when playing sports outdoors. This is the same woman who said at the end of March that she suffers a “recurring feeling” of “impending doom” about the pandemic. At a time when over 55 million Americans had been vaccinated with millions more each week, she moaned, “Right now I’m scared.”
Sowing fear is indeed the Biden administration’s number one goal. For a president who wants to imitate FDR in terms of unconstitutional government expansion, Joe Biden wants nothing to do with FDR’s famous maxim, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Unfortunately, under this administration, rank politicization is the best we can expect from the federal government. The CDC has been discredited by its own actions and leadership. Meanwhile, more than 107 million Americans are now fully vaccinated, and 250 million doses have been distributed. Another 32 million are largely safe because they’ve already had COVID (there’s certainly overlap in that number with the vaccinated).
It’s not time for more pronouncements of doom or for collusion between political interest groups to keep the fear going. Instead, you could be forgiven for asking if it isn’t time for state and local governments, as well as churches, businesses, and everyone else, to start ignoring Walensky, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and the CDC and get on with living.
Biden’s obsession with masking contradicts his promotion of the COVID vaccine.
This week there was fanfare over a truly bizarre photo of Joe Biden and “Doctor” Jill alongside two frail Georgia folks in their 90s, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter. For the record, I have been in security details for Mr. and Mrs. Carter and can assure you they are people of normal stature — not “little people” as the Carter Center image portrayed. At 5’10”, Mr. Carter is five inches shorter than I am, but in the photo next to the Bidens, the Carters look like a couple of Jeff Dunham’s retired ventriloquist dummies.
But there was something else curious about the photo. Neither the Bidens nor the Carters were wearing masks, despite their advanced age, vulnerability, and being inside and in close quarters. There were many other people in the room behind the photographer. The Carter Center was quick to note that the Carters and Bidens had been vaccinated so there was no need for masks. And they are absolutely correct.
The lack of masks is curious only because of Biden’s obsession with masking, a projection to perpetuate his statist ChiCom Virus power play to keep a fear-induced chokehold on his gullible constituent lemmings. This is the guy who wears a mask in Zoom calls and every time he steps outside. In fact, when leaving the Carters’ residence, as soon as they stepped out the door Joe and Jill masked up.
So, as Biden is pushing incentives for people to get vaccinated with things like retailer discounts and sporting event promotions and employer incentives in order to reach his 70% vaccination goal in order to “return to normal,” his masking and other government-control agenda mandates imply the vaccine does not work.
In an interview days before his unmasked visit with the Carters, Biden insisted, “But if we were, in fact, sitting there talking to one another close, I’d have my mask on and I’d like you to have a mask even though we’ve both been vaccinated. And so, it’s a small precaution to take that has a profound impact.”
He added, “It’s a patriotic responsibility, for God’s sake.” This from a career swamp dweller who is assaulting the foundation of American Liberty and the rights of genuine American Patriots on more fronts than any president in history.
Biden can’t have it both ways. He is directly contradicting the CDC’s recommendations for vaccinated people, not that the CDC political agenda or that career bureaucratic clown Tony Fauci are worthy of anyone’s trust. By continuing to wear a mask inside and outside, Biden is projecting that the vaccine does not work.
Finally, almost as humorous as the distorted Carter photo, when Biden was promoting his national vaccination goal a day later, he repeatedly instructed Americans to register for their inoculations at “Vaccines.gum” instead of Vaccines.gov. Apparently, it’s Bubblicious!
Blacks are just as “vaccine hesitant” as their white peers, and Hispanics even more so. What next?
As per their inclination, progressives and their media lapdogs have created a new term to paper over a genuine problem, one that may prove to be quite deleterious for a Biden administration dedicated to the idea that America is a systemically racist nation requiring a wholesale overhaul — by any means necessary.
The term is “vaccine hesitation,” and it’s being used to play down the reality that “communities of color” are hesitant to get vaccinated.
Wait, what? The media have been quick to point out that Trump supporters, Republican men, white Americans with or without college degrees, evangelicals, rural Americans, and younger Americans are hesitant to get vaccinated, according to an NPR/PBS/Marist poll of 1,227 adults taken in March. Unfortunately for the narrative shapers, that same poll revealed that 25% of black Americans said they were not planning to be vaccinated, compared to 28% of white Americans. Even more inimical to that narrative, 37% of Latinos said they would not get vaccinated. Forbes Magazine columnist Nicholas Reimann laments the obvious: That number is “much higher than most other demographic groups included in the poll.”
Nonetheless, in another opportunity to single out those who don’t align themselves with progressive, bicoastal sensibilities, CNN’s Brianna Keilar insisted that while many Americans “have turned to family and to friends and to faith for comfort and answer” during the pandemic, “many evangelicals are getting the wrong message and, in some cases, lies from pastors they have entrusted with their faith and with their lives.”
In short, Keilar believes evangelicals are preacher-led automatons incapable of making up their own minds. What about the one-in-four black Americans and more than one-in-three Latinos who feel exactly the same way?
Perhaps all of them should listen to the “experts” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) instead. Or perhaps not. On Monday, Americans found out that the American Federation of Teachers lobbied the CDC and apparently succeeded in getting the agency to change its guidance on in-person school reopenings. Emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the conservative watchdog group Americans for Public Trust revealed that AFT “suggestions” were used nearly word-for-word within the CDC’s guidelines.
Thus, Americans might be forgiven for being skeptical about an agency that claims to “follow the science” even as it appears just as willing to “follow the union.”
Yet the bigger picture is far more complicated. Vaccine hesitancy, regardless of demographic, is likely a series of snapshots in time. A person hesitant today may ultimately become convinced that vaccination is the way to go tomorrow, based on further information regarding vaccine effectiveness and safety. Most likely that’s because the vaccines have been distributed and delivered into the arms of the public under the auspices of an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the CDC.
That reality is not lost on the public. Thus, as health services professor Stefanie Friedhoff points out, being more informed “is the single most important concern expressed by those unsure about the Covid-19 vaccine, according to almost every poll that asks this question. This is true across the political spectrum.”
More to the point, what motivates many vaccine-hesitant minority Americans is history. “There’s a terrible history in this country, most notably the Tuskegee Study,” Pennsylvania Democrat Senator Bob Casey stated in April.
Casey is right. The Tuskegee Study was conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service and the CDC between 1932 and 1972. It focused on 600 black sharecroppers, 399 of whom had syphilis, and 201 who did not. The study was conducted without the benefit of patients’ informed consent, and though the federal government promised the participants healthcare, they never received it, even when penicillin became the drug of choice for syphilis in 1947. Nearly 130 participants died.
At the very best, skepticism among reasonable people of every color and ethnicity might be elicited by that history. At worst — and searingly ironic — an administration and its media cheerleaders, wholly dedicated to convincing Americans that they live in a systemically racist nation, could be exponentially exacerbating that skepticism.
Regardless, systemic racism remains the progressive mantra, and Ezemenari Obasi, director of the University of Houston’s HEALTH (Helping Everyone Achieve a Lifetime of Health) Research Institute (HRI), keeps the fire burning. He insists, “Systemic racism is real, medical mistrust by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) communities is earned, and the best way to accelerate scientific breakthroughs regarding SARS-CoV-2 vaccine uptake in BIPOC communities is to include them in the research process.”
Yet he cites the Tuskegee Study in reference to historic “oversimplification” of vaccine resistance.“We want to uncover whether it’s more nuanced than that,” Obasi adds, “and understand the role that recent mixed messaging from politicians has contributed to hesitancy.”
Mixed messaging? The Biden administration owns mixed messaging, and no one makes it clearer than a vaccinated president who not only continues to wear a mask even in totally unnecessary circumstances but declares it one’s patriotic duty to do so, despite CDC guidelines to the contrary.
Again, logical Americans of every color and ethnicity might be inclined to ask themselves why a host of restrictions still apply whether one is vaccinated or not, and if so, why one should get vaccinated. Even more important, if they have already had the coronavirus, they might be asking themselves why they need a vaccine at all. They might also wonder if pregnant women, or those who wish to get pregnant, should get the vaccine.
Thus, these are not unreasonable questions. Yet it won’t be long before those same Americans and many others begin asking why the Biden administration is attempting to make vaccinations effectively mandatory. According to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, the Biden administration “is not now nor will we be supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential.” She added, “There will be no federal vaccinations database, and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential.”
Of course not. Instead they will outsource their coercion to woke corporations and colleges, which will require those working at or attending their institutions to be vaccinated. And because these requirements are occurring in piecemeal fashion, what will effectively become a national mandate is being obscured.
Yet what will the Biden administration and its corporate collaborators do if minority Americans who don’t want to get vaccinated start accusing them of racism for forcing them to do so? For an administration dedicated to stoking the fires of racial division — from Jim Crow to Jim Eagle, as it were — such accusations may prove to be the ultimate irony, especially for an administration whose standard-bearer once asserted that if you didn’t know whether to vote for him or Donald Trump, “You ain’t black.”
And if one’s racial “legitimacy” now requires one to also be vaccinated? Perhaps we are nearing a moment when millions of black Americans will discover that the same Democrat Party that made them second-class citizens during the Jim Crow era is willing to do so again if they fail to get vaccinated.
In short, they may discover that “social justice” — delivered at rhetorical gunpoint — is no justice at all.
Counting illegal aliens dilutes the representation of American citizens in Congress.
The upcoming congressional reapportionment is doing a major disservice to American citizens. This has been true in the past, but in 2020 the lopsided population gains in our quadrennial counting are vividly evident.
We reported last week how the 2020 census count illustrated a population shift in the country that negates the Democrats’ vision of a lasting majority in the House of Representatives. Six states gained seats, seven lost, and the rest of the nation experienced a noticeable shift of people from Democrat strongholds.
The census numbers, however, are not an accurate count or an accurate representation of American citizens. Consequently, congressional reapportionment looks a lot different than it should, and tens of millions of American citizens are getting shortchanged in their congressional representation.
In Joe Biden’s first day in office, he signed an executive order reversing Donald Trump’s executive order of July 2020 banning the inclusion of illegal aliens in the 2020 census for the purposes of apportionment. Trump said at the time, “My administration will not support giving congressional representation to aliens who enter or remain in the country unlawfully because doing so would create perverse incentives and undermine our system of government. … This is all part of a broader left-wing effort to erode the rights of American citizens, and I will not stand for it.”
Trump’s order was the right thing to do. So, predictably, it was taken to court.
A panel of federal judges in New York blocked the order in September, ruling that illegal immigrants are persons who can be legitimately counted in the census. Any hope for a reprieve melted away in December when the Supreme Court issued an unsigned opinion refusing to hear the case. By this point, Trump’s presidency was coming to a very rough conclusion, and the justices most likely wanted to steer wide of the wreckage. Of course, they stated a more indirect reason, admitting only that it was “premature” to rule on the case because it was “riddled with contingencies and speculation.”
Ultimately, at least some portion of illegal aliens were counted in the 2020 census, and they are being factored into the reapportionment of congressional seats. Never mind that they have no right to representation in Congress, or that they are barred by law from voting. And never mind that their presence in the apportionment dilutes the votes of actual citizens.
The congressional reapportionment would look a lot different if illegal aliens had not been counted in 2020. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, California would have lost three seats, not just one, while Texas would have lost two instead of gaining one. Florida, New Jersey, and New York would have lost one each. Alabama, Idaho, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, Ohio, Rhode Island, and West Virginia would each gain a seat.
This lopsided congressional apportionment does not represent the citizenry of the republic. Keep in mind, had Trump remained in office, this may not have happened. It’s more likely the Supreme Court would have heard the case and ruled appropriately. But that’s not what happened. Now we have to deal with the consequences.
On the Web
- Democrats Are Gunning for Ron DeSantis — The popular Florida governor has been running circles around leftists, which is why they’re so desperate to defeat him.
- Biden to Be Denied Communion for Pro-Abortion Advocacy — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops plans to formally issue a warning to pro-abortion Catholic politicians.
- Catherine Mortensen: Biden Has Declared War on Trump Supporters — Every American should tell their representatives in Congress to stand up to DOJ abuses of power.
- In Brief: A Model for Fighting CRT in America’s Schools — Parents in Southlake, Texas, did something from which Dana Loesch derives a five-step plan.
- National Day of Prayer — Please join us, and millions of our countrymen, in prayer for our nation today.
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Top of the Fold
- Joe “Most Catholic President Ever” Biden issues National Day of Prayer Proclamation that does not include the word “God” (Just the News)
- Alleged second Steele dossier on Trump emerges in British media (Washington Examiner)
Government & Politics
- Hypocritical Nancy Pelosi refuses to denounce her pro-Confederate dad (Washington Times)
- Federal judge tosses national eviction moratorium (National Review)
- We’re shocked — shocked! Facebook’s “independent” board stocked with Trump haters (NY Post)
- Biden administration holding nearly 25,000 migrant children without parents (Washington Examiner)
- ICE deportations in April fell to under 3,000 for first time (Fox News)
- U.S. backs waiver on vaccine patents to boost supply (BBC) | GOP senators warn the waiver will benefit Russia and China (CNSNews.com)
Around the Nation
- City of Atlanta reinstates police officer Garrett Rolfe, who was wrongly fired last summer after justifiably shooting Rayshard Brooks (Daily Wire)
- Investigation finds massive wrongdoing by St. Louis prosecutor Kimberly Gardner (Just the News)
- Changes to Kansas election rules become law despite Governor Laura Kelly’s veto (Kansas City Star)
- Oklahoma and Texas make childhood legal again: Parents no longer subject to being arrested for letting their kids play by themselves on their own street (Not the Bee)
- Teaching Critical Race Theory to end in Arkansas agencies (Daily Caller)
- Policy: How admissions officers could be setting up minority students for failure (City Journal)
- Policy: Inflation stalks the U.S. economy (The Hill)
- Humor: CIA replaces waterboarding with 12-hour lectures on intersectional feminism (Babylon Bee)
- Related humor: CIA breaks up ISIS plot to use incorrect pronouns (Babylon Bee)
For more of today’s editors’ choice headlines, visit Headline Report.
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Editor’s Note: Each week we receive hundreds of comments and correspondences — and we read every one of them. Click here for a few thought-provoking comments about specific articles. The views expressed therein don’t necessarily reflect those of The Patriot Post.
- Officer Hit With Racial Insults — An unidentified but extremely professional officer in Los Angeles was hit with a barrage of racial insults during a traffic stop.
- Alyssa Milano Gets Shredded by Black Woman — The actress presented a woke view of black men, and a black woman gave her the response of a lifetime.
- Biden Repeatedly Confuses Vaccine Website — Ol’ Joe repeatedly confused his own vaccine website, calling it “Vaccine.gum.”
- Satire: Gavin Newsom’s Job Placement Specialist — As the California governor is now officially being recalled, he’ll be needing a new job very soon. Find out what jobs he is fully qualified for.
- VICTOR DAVIS HANSONAre Americans Becoming Sovietized?
- TONY PERKINSVoters Have a Vax to Grind With Dems
- CAL THOMASCentral Insanity Agency
- KAY C. JAMESBiden’s Non-Infrastructure Infrastructure Bill
- ARMSTRONG WILLIAMSWhat Truly Matters Is Each Other
For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.
Insight: “The policy of seeking values from human beings by means of force, when practiced by an individual, is called crime. When practiced by a government, it is called statism.” —Nathaniel Branden (1930-2014)
For the record: “To unionize America, Biden stretches the meaning of ‘infrastructure’ to include anything he can pay for with your tax dollars. The biggest item is a whopping $400 billion to pay home health workers who will be given ‘an opportunity to organize or join a union and collectively bargain.’ In 2020, Service Employees International Union, which represents these aides, supported Biden, and candidate Biden pledged $450 billion for more health aide jobs. On your tab, of course. Biden’s plan fleeces taxpayers and sabotages the rights of nonunion workers. All under the guise of ‘infrastructure.’” —Betsy McCaughey
Observations: “[Democrats] are in fact defunding the police by demoralizing the police. As we have previously reported, cities across the country are reporting massive police resignations and retirements. Meanwhile, recruitment of new officers is nearly impossible. Why? Because many of our elites, including the president, constantly claim that American law enforcement is racist. Hollywood celebrities compare our police to Nazis. Millionaire athletes call our police pigs. Now the Biden Justice Department is launching investigations of entire police departments. Would you stay in a job where you risked your life every day only to be called a racist, a Nazi and a pig? Make no mistake about it: There is a war against cops in America. Some on the left are open about it. They demand we get rid of the police. Others claim they disagree. But they use rhetoric and push policies that will result in only one logical outcome — more crime and fewer police to protect you.” —Gary Bauer
Political futures: “Joe Biden raised eyebrows recently for suggesting that his administration has ‘gotten control’ of the border crisis. … Here’s what many still don’t understand: Joe Biden’s idea of ‘control’ isn’t your idea of control. He’s not talking about border security or controlling illegal immigration, which is expected to hit a record two million crossings this year. He’s talking about faster processing of children and illegal migrants at the border. The ‘crisis’ Biden is concerned about is that there’s a record number of illegal aliens in border detention facilities. The ‘control’ he’s talking about means getting them out of the detention facilities as quickly as possible, giving them access to medical care and teachers, getting them into hotels or your community even faster. Joe Biden and the Democrats have no intention of ‘controlling’ who crosses the border and enters our country. Their goal is to make it easier for them.” —Gary Bauer
Re: The Left: “Today’s Democrats want to blame racism for the persistence of problems in low-income communities. In some respect, they are right. It is their own racism that refused and refuses to accept that low-income Americans can and must be free. … Instead of wanting to bring the capitalism of the healthy parts of America to the broken parts of the country, they want to bring the failed welfare-state socialism of the broken parts of the country to the rest of the country.” —Star Parker
And last… “Facebook’s Oversight Board says they were right to suspend Trump because he violated their rule ‘prohibiting praise or support of people engaged in violence.’ Last year, nearly the entire media and Democratic Party praised people engaged in the most costly riots in US history.” —Ben Shapiro
For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.
For more of today’s cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.
“The Patriot Post” (https://patriotpost.us)
Authored by Nicholas Wade via the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (emphasis ours),
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted lives the world over for more than a year. Its death toll will soon reach three million people. Yet the origin of pandemic remains uncertain: The political agendas of governments and scientists have generated thick clouds of obfuscation, which the mainstream press seems helpless to dispel.
In what follows I will sort through the available scientific facts, which hold many clues as to what happened, and provide readers with the evidence to make their own judgments. I will then try to assess the complex issue of blame, which starts with, but extends far beyond, the government of China.
By the end of this article, you may have learned a lot about the molecular biology of viruses. I will try to keep this process as painless as possible. But the science cannot be avoided because for now, and probably for a long time hence, it offers the only sure thread through the maze.
The virus that caused the pandemic is known officially as SARS-CoV-2, but can be called SARS2 for short. As many people know, there are two main theories about its origin. One is that it jumped naturally from wildlife to people. The other is that the virus was under study in a lab, from which it escaped. It matters a great deal which is the case if we hope to prevent a second such occurrence.
I’ll describe the two theories, explain why each is plausible, and then ask which provides the better explanation of the available facts. It’s important to note that so far there is no direct evidence for either theory. Each depends on a set of reasonable conjectures but so far lacks proof. So I have only clues, not conclusions, to offer. But those clues point in a specific direction. And having inferred that direction, I’m going to delineate some of the strands in this tangled skein of disaster.
A tale of two theories. After the pandemic first broke out in December 2019, Chinese authorities reported that many cases had occurred in the wet market — a place selling wild animals for meat — in Wuhan. This reminded experts of the SARS1 epidemic of 2002, in which a bat virus had spread first to civets, an animal sold in wet markets, and from civets to people. A similar bat virus caused a second epidemic, known as MERS, in 2012. This time the intermediary host animal was camels.
The decoding of the virus’s genome showed it belonged a viral family known as beta-coronaviruses, to which the SARS1 and MERS viruses also belong. The relationship supported the idea that, like them, it was a natural virus that had managed to jump from bats, via another animal host, to people. The wet market connection, the major point of similarity with the SARS1 and MERS epidemics, was soon broken: Chinese researchers found earlier cases in Wuhan with no link to the wet market. But that seemed not to matter when so much further evidence in support of natural emergence was expected shortly.
Wuhan, however, is home of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a leading world center for research on coronaviruses. So the possibility that the SARS2 virus had escaped from the lab could not be ruled out. Two reasonable scenarios of origin were on the table.
From early on, public and media perceptions were shaped in favor of the natural emergence scenario by strong statements from two scientific groups. These statements were not at first examined as critically as they should have been.
“We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin,” a group of virologists and others wrote in the Lancet on February 19, 2020, when it was really far too soon for anyone to be sure what had happened. Scientists “overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife,” they said, with a stirring rallying call for readers to stand with Chinese colleagues on the frontline of fighting the disease.
Contrary to the letter writers’ assertion, the idea that the virus might have escaped from a lab invoked accident, not conspiracy. It surely needed to be explored, not rejected out of hand. A defining mark of good scientists is that they go to great pains to distinguish between what they know and what they don’t know. By this criterion, the signatories of the Lancet letter were behaving as poor scientists: They were assuring the public of facts they could not know for sure were true.
It later turned out that the Lancet letter had been organized and drafted by Peter Daszak, president of the EcoHealth Alliance of New York. Daszak’s organization funded coronavirus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. If the SARS2 virus had indeed escaped from research he funded, Daszak would be potentially culpable. This acute conflict of interest was not declared to the Lancet’s readers. To the contrary, the letter concluded, “We declare no competing interests.”
Virologists like Daszak had much at stake in the assigning of blame for the pandemic. For 20 years, mostly beneath the public’s attention, they had been playing a dangerous game. In their laboratories they routinely created viruses more dangerous than those that exist in nature. They argued that they could do so safely, and that by getting ahead of nature they could predict and prevent natural “spillovers,” the cross-over of viruses from an animal host to people. If SARS2 had indeed escaped from such a laboratory experiment, a savage blowback could be expected, and the storm of public indignation would affect virologists everywhere, not just in China. “It would shatter the scientific edifice top to bottom,” an MIT Technology Review editor, Antonio Regalado, said in March 2020.
A second statement that had enormous influence in shaping public attitudes was a letter (in other words an opinion piece, not a scientific article) published on 17 March 2020 in the journal Nature Medicine. Its authors were a group of virologists led by Kristian G. Andersen of the Scripps Research Institute. “Our analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus,” the five virologists declared in the second paragraph of their letter.
Unfortunately, this was another case of poor science, in the sense defined above. True, some older methods of cutting and pasting viral genomes retain tell-tale signs of manipulation. But newer methods, called “no-see-um” or “seamless” approaches, leave no defining marks. Nor do other methods for manipulating viruses such as serial passage, the repeated transfer of viruses from one culture of cells to another. If a virus has been manipulated, whether with a seamless method or by serial passage, there is no way of knowing that this is the case. Andersen and his colleagues were assuring their readers of something they could not know.
The discussion part of their letter begins, “It is improbable that SARS-CoV-2 emerged through laboratory manipulation of a related SARS-CoV-like coronavirus.” But wait, didn’t the lead say the virus had clearly not been manipulated? The authors’ degree of certainty seemed to slip several notches when it came to laying out their reasoning.
The reason for the slippage is clear once the technical language has been penetrated. The two reasons the authors give for supposing manipulation to be improbable are decidedly inconclusive.
First, they say that the spike protein of SARS2 binds very well to its target, the human ACE2 receptor, but does so in a different way from that which physical calculations suggest would be the best fit. Therefore the virus must have arisen by natural selection, not manipulation.
If this argument seems hard to grasp, it’s because it’s so strained. The authors’ basic assumption, not spelt out, is that anyone trying to make a bat virus bind to human cells could do so in only one way. First they would calculate the strongest possible fit between the human ACE2 receptor and the spike protein with which the virus latches onto it. They would then design the spike protein accordingly (by selecting the right string of amino acid units that compose it). Since the SARS2 spike protein is not of this calculated best design, the Andersen paper says, therefore it can’t have been manipulated.
But this ignores the way that virologists do in fact get spike proteins to bind to chosen targets, which is not by calculation but by splicing in spike protein genes from other viruses or by serial passage. With serial passage, each time the virus’s progeny are transferred to new cell cultures or animals, the more successful are selected until one emerges that makes a really tight bind to human cells. Natural selection has done all the heavy lifting. The Andersen paper’s speculation about designing a viral spike protein through calculation has no bearing on whether or not the virus was manipulated by one of the other two methods.
The authors’ second argument against manipulation is even more contrived. Although most living things use DNA as their hereditary material, a number of viruses use RNA, DNA’s close chemical cousin. But RNA is difficult to manipulate, so researchers working on coronaviruses, which are RNA-based, will first convert the RNA genome to DNA. They manipulate the DNA version, whether by adding or altering genes, and then arrange for the manipulated DNA genome to be converted back into infectious RNA.
Only a certain number of these DNA backbones have been described in the scientific literature. Anyone manipulating the SARS2 virus “would probably” have used one of these known backbones, the Andersen group writes, and since SARS2 is not derived from any of them, therefore it was not manipulated. But the argument is conspicuously inconclusive. DNA backbones are quite easy to make, so it’s obviously possible that SARS2 was manipulated using an unpublished DNA backbone.
And that’s it. These are the two arguments made by the Andersen group in support of their declaration that the SARS2 virus was clearly not manipulated. And this conclusion, grounded in nothing but two inconclusive speculations, convinced the world’s press that SARS2 could not have escaped from a lab. A technical critique of the Andersen letter takes it down in harsher words.
Science is supposedly a self-correcting community of experts who constantly check each other’s work. So why didn’t other virologists point out that the Andersen group’s argument was full of absurdly large holes? Perhaps because in today’s universities speech can be very costly. Careers can be destroyed for stepping out of line. Any virologist who challenges the community’s declared view risks having his next grant application turned down by the panel of fellow virologists that advises the government grant distribution agency.
The Daszak and Andersen letters were really political, not scientific, statements, yet were amazingly effective. Articles in the mainstream press repeatedly stated that a consensus of experts had ruled lab escape out of the question or extremely unlikely. Their authors relied for the most part on the Daszak and Andersen letters, failing to understand the yawning gaps in their arguments. Mainstream newspapers all have science journalists on their staff, as do the major networks, and these specialist reporters are supposed to be able to question scientists and check their assertions. But the Daszak and Andersen assertions went largely unchallenged.
Doubts about natural emergence. Natural emergence was the media’s preferred theory until around February 2021 and the visit by a World Health Organization (WHO) commission to China. The commission’s composition and access were heavily controlled by the Chinese authorities. Its members, who included the ubiquitous Daszak, kept asserting before, during, and after their visit that lab escape was extremely unlikely. But this was not quite the propaganda victory the Chinese authorities may have been hoping for. What became clear was that the Chinese had no evidence to offer the commission in support of the natural emergence theory.
This was surprising because both the SARS1 and MERS viruses had left copious traces in the environment. The intermediary host species of SARS1 was identified within four months of the epidemic’s outbreak, and the host of MERS within nine months. Yet some 15 months after the SARS2 pandemic began, and after a presumably intensive search, Chinese researchers had failed to find either the original bat population, or the intermediate species to which SARS2 might have jumped, or any serological evidence that any Chinese population, including that of Wuhan, had ever been exposed to the virus prior to December 2019. Natural emergence remained a conjecture which, however plausible to begin with, had gained not a shred of supporting evidence in over a year.
And as long as that remains the case, it’s logical to pay serious attention to the alternative conjecture, that SARS2 escaped from a lab.
Why would anyone want to create a novel virus capable of causing a pandemic? Ever since virologists gained the tools for manipulating a virus’s genes, they have argued they could get ahead of a potential pandemic by exploring how close a given animal virus might be to making the jump to humans. And that justified lab experiments in enhancing the ability of dangerous animal viruses to infect people, virologists asserted.
With this rationale, they have recreated the 1918 flu virus, shown how the almost extinct polio virus can be synthesized from its published DNA sequence, and introduced a smallpox gene into a related virus.
These enhancements of viral capabilities are known blandly as gain-of-function experiments. With coronaviruses, there was particular interest in the spike proteins, which jut out all around the spherical surface of the virus and pretty much determine which species of animal it will target. In 2000 Dutch researchers, for instance, earned the gratitude of rodents everywhere by genetically engineering the spike protein of a mouse coronavirus so that it would attack only cats.
Virologists started studying bat coronaviruses in earnest after these turned out to be the source of both the SARS1 and MERS epidemics. In particular, researchers wanted to understand what changes needed to occur in a bat virus’s spike proteins before it could infect people.
Researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, led by China’s leading expert on bat viruses, Shi Zheng-li or “Bat Lady,” mounted frequent expeditions to the bat-infested caves of Yunnan in southern China and collected around a hundred different bat coronaviruses.
Shi then teamed up with Ralph S. Baric, an eminent coronavirus researcher at the University of North Carolina. Their work focused on enhancing the ability of bat viruses to attack humans so as to “examine the emergence potential (that is, the potential to infect humans) of circulating bat CoVs [coronaviruses].” In pursuit of this aim, in November 2015 they created a novel virus by taking the backbone of the SARS1 virus and replacing its spike protein with one from a bat virus (known as SHC014-CoV). This manufactured virus was able to infect the cells of the human airway, at least when tested against a lab culture of such cells.
The SHC014-CoV/SARS1 virus is known as a chimera because its genome contains genetic material from two strains of virus. If the SARS2 virus were to have been cooked up in Shi’s lab, then its direct prototype would have been the SHC014-CoV/SARS1 chimera, the potential danger of which concerned many observers and prompted intense discussion.
“If the virus escaped, nobody could predict the trajectory,” said Simon Wain-Hobson, a virologist at the Pasteur Institute in Paris.
Baric and Shi referred to the obvious risks in their paper but argued they should be weighed against the benefit of foreshadowing future spillovers. Scientific review panels, they wrote, “may deem similar studies building chimeric viruses based on circulating strains too risky to pursue.” Given various restrictions being placed on gain-of function (GOF) research, matters had arrived in their view at “a crossroads of GOF research concerns; the potential to prepare for and mitigate future outbreaks must be weighed against the risk of creating more dangerous pathogens. In developing policies moving forward, it is important to consider the value of the data generated by these studies and whether these types of chimeric virus studies warrant further investigation versus the inherent risks involved.”
That statement was made in 2015. From the hindsight of 2021, one can say that the value of gain-of-function studies in preventing the SARS2 epidemic was zero. The risk was catastrophic, if indeed the SARS2 virus was generated in a gain-of-function experiment.
Inside the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Baric had developed, and taught Shi, a general method for engineering bat coronaviruses to attack other species. The specific targets were human cells grown in cultures and humanized mice. These laboratory mice, a cheap and ethical stand-in for human subjects, are genetically engineered to carry the human version of a protein called ACE2 that studs the surface of cells that line the airways.
Shi returned to her lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and resumed the work she had started on genetically engineering coronaviruses to attack human cells. How can we be so sure?
Because, by a strange twist in the story, her work was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a part of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). And grant proposals that funded her work, which are a matter of public record, specify exactly what she planned to do with the money.
The grants were assigned to the prime contractor, Daszak of the EcoHealth Alliance, who subcontracted them to Shi. Here are extracts from the grants for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. (“CoV” stands for coronavirus and “S protein” refers to the virus’s spike protein.)
“Test predictions of CoV inter-species transmission. Predictive models of host range (i.e. emergence potential) will be tested experimentally using reverse genetics, pseudovirus and receptor binding assays, and virus infection experiments across a range of cell cultures from different species and humanized mice.”
“We will use S protein sequence data, infectious clone technology, in vitro and in vivo infection experiments and analysis of receptor binding to test the hypothesis that % divergence thresholds in S protein sequences predict spillover potential.”
What this means, in non-technical language, is that Shi set out to create novel coronaviruses with the highest possible infectivity for human cells. Her plan was to take genes that coded for spike proteins possessing a variety of measured affinities for human cells, ranging from high to low. She would insert these spike genes one by one into the backbone of a number of viral genomes (“reverse genetics” and “infectious clone technology”), creating a series of chimeric viruses. These chimeric viruses would then be tested for their ability to attack human cell cultures (“in vitro”) and humanized mice (“in vivo”). And this information would help predict the likelihood of “spillover,” the jump of a coronavirus from bats to people.
The methodical approach was designed to find the best combination of coronavirus backbone and spike protein for infecting human cells. The approach could have generated SARS2-like viruses, and indeed may have created the SARS2 virus itself with the right combination of virus backbone and spike protein.
It cannot yet be stated that Shi did or did not generate SARS2 in her lab because her records have been sealed, but it seems she was certainly on the right track to have done so. “It is clear that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was systematically constructing novel chimeric coronaviruses and was assessing their ability to infect human cells and human-ACE2-expressing mice,” says Richard H. Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University and leading expert on biosafety.
“It is also clear,” Ebright said, “that, depending on the constant genomic contexts chosen for analysis, this work could have produced SARS-CoV-2 or a proximal progenitor of SARS-CoV-2.” “Genomic context” refers to the particular viral backbone used as the testbed for the spike protein.
The lab escape scenario for the origin of the SARS2 virus, as should by now be evident, is not mere hand-waving in the direction of the Wuhan Institute of Virology. It is a detailed proposal, based on the specific project being funded there by the NIAID.
Even if the grant required the work plan described above, how can we be sure that the plan was in fact carried out? For that we can rely on the word of Daszak, who has been much protesting for the last 15 months that lab escape was a ludicrous conspiracy theory invented by China-bashers.
On December 9, 2019, before the outbreak of the pandemic became generally known, Daszak gave an interview in which he talked in glowing terms of how researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology had been reprogramming the spike protein and generating chimeric coronaviruses capable of infecting humanized mice.
“And we have now found, you know, after 6 or 7 years of doing this, over 100 new SARS-related coronaviruses, very close to SARS,” Daszak says around minute 28 of the interview. “Some of them get into human cells in the lab, some of them can cause SARS disease in humanized mice models and are untreatable with therapeutic monoclonals and you can’t vaccinate against them with a vaccine. So, these are a clear and present danger….
“Interviewer: You say these are diverse coronaviruses and you can’t vaccinate against them, and no anti-virals — so what do we do?
“Daszak: Well I think…coronaviruses — you can manipulate them in the lab pretty easily. Spike protein drives a lot of what happen with coronavirus, in zoonotic risk. So you can get the sequence, you can build the protein, and we work a lot with Ralph Baric at UNC to do this. Insert into the backbone of another virus and do some work in the lab. So you can get more predictive when you find a sequence. You’ve got this diversity. Now the logical progression for vaccines is, if you are going to develop a vaccine for SARS, people are going to use pandemic SARS, but let’s insert some of these other things and get a better vaccine.” The insertions he referred to perhaps included an element called the furin cleavage site, discussed below, which greatly increases viral infectivity for human cells.
In disjointed style, Daszak is referring to the fact that once you have generated a novel coronavirus that can attack human cells, you can take the spike protein and make it the basis for a vaccine.
One can only imagine Daszak’s reaction when he heard of the outbreak of the epidemic in Wuhan a few days later. He would have known better than anyone the Wuhan Institute’s goal of making bat coronaviruses infectious to humans, as well as the weaknesses in the institute’s defense against their own researchers becoming infected.
But instead of providing public health authorities with the plentiful information at his disposal, he immediately launched a public relations campaign to persuade the world that the epidemic couldn’t possibly have been caused by one of the institute’s souped-up viruses. “The idea that this virus escaped from a lab is just pure baloney. It’s simply not true,” he declared in an April 2020 interview.
The safety arrangements at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Daszak was possibly unaware of, or perhaps he knew all too well, the long history of viruses escaping from even the best run laboratories. The smallpox virus escaped three times from labs in England in the 1960’s and 1970’s, causing 80 cases and 3 deaths. Dangerous viruses have leaked out of labs almost every year since. Coming to more recent times, the SARS1 virus has proved a true escape artist, leaking from laboratories in Singapore, Taiwan, and no less than four times from the Chinese National Institute of Virology in Beijing.
One reason for SARS1 being so hard to handle is that there were no vaccines available to protect laboratory workers. As Daszak mentioned in the December 19 interview quoted above, the Wuhan researchers too had been unable to develop vaccines against the coronaviruses they had designed to infect human cells. They would have been as defenseless against the SARS2 virus, if it were generated in their lab, as their Beijing colleagues were against SARS1.
A second reason for the severe danger of novel coronaviruses has to do with the required levels of lab safety. There are four degrees of safety, designated BSL1 to BSL4, with BSL4 being the most restrictive and designed for deadly pathogens like the Ebola virus.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology had a new BSL4 lab, but its state of readiness considerably alarmed the State Department inspectors who visited it from the Beijing embassy in 2018. “The new lab has a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory,” the inspectors wrote in a cable of January 19, 2018.
The real problem, however, was not the unsafe state of the Wuhan BSL4 lab but the fact that virologists worldwide don’t like working in BSL4 conditions. You have to wear a space suit, do operations in closed cabinets, and accept that everything will take twice as long. So the rules assigning each kind of virus to a given safety level were laxer than some might think was prudent.
Before 2020, the rules followed by virologists in China and elsewhere required that experiments with the SARS1 and MERS viruses be conducted in BSL3 conditions. But all other bat coronaviruses could be studied in BSL2, the next level down. BSL2 requires taking fairly minimal safety precautions, such as wearing lab coats and gloves, not sucking up liquids in a pipette, and putting up biohazard warning signs. Yet a gain-of-function experiment conducted in BSL2 might produce an agent more infectious than either SARS1 or MERS. And if it did, then lab workers would stand a high chance of infection, especially if unvaccinated.
Much of Shi’s work on gain-of-function in coronaviruses was performed at the BSL2 safety level, as is stated in her publications and other documents. She has said in an interview with Science magazine that “[t]he coronavirus research in our laboratory is conducted in BSL-2 or BSL-3 laboratories.”
“It is clear that some or all of this work was being performed using a biosafety standard — biosafety level 2, the biosafety level of a standard US dentist’s office — that would pose an unacceptably high risk of infection of laboratory staff upon contact with a virus having the transmission properties of SARS-CoV-2,” Ebright says.
“It also is clear,” he adds, “that this work never should have been funded and never should have been performed.”
This is a view he holds regardless of whether or not the SARS2 virus ever saw the inside of a lab.
Concern about safety conditions at the Wuhan lab was not, it seems, misplaced. According to a fact sheet issued by the State Department on January 21, 2021, “The U.S. government has reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses.”
David Asher, a fellow of the Hudson Institute and former consultant to the State Department, provided more detail about the incident at a seminar. Knowledge of the incident came from a mix of public information and “some high end information collected by our intelligence community,” he said. Three people working at a BSL3 lab at the institute fell sick within a week of each other with severe symptoms that required hospitalization. This was “the first known cluster that we’re aware of, of victims of what we believe to be COVID-19.” Influenza could not completely be ruled out but seemed unlikely in the circumstances, he said.
Comparing the rival scenarios of SARS2 origin. The evidence above adds up to a serious case that the SARS2 virus could have been created in a lab, from which it then escaped. But the case, however substantial, falls short of proof. Proof would consist of evidence from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, or related labs in Wuhan, that SARS2 or a predecessor virus was under development there. For lack of access to such records, another approach is to take certain salient facts about the SARS2 virus and ask how well each is explained by the two rival scenarios of origin, those of natural emergence and lab escape. Here are four tests of the two hypotheses. A couple have some technical detail, but these are among the most persuasive for those who may care to follow the argument.
1) The place of origin. Start with geography. The two closest known relatives of the SARS2 virus were collected from bats living in caves in Yunnan, a province of southern China. If the SARS2 virus had first infected people living around the Yunnan caves, that would strongly support the idea that the virus had spilled over to people naturally. But this isn’t what happened. The pandemic broke out 1,500 kilometers away, in Wuhan.
Beta-coronaviruses, the family of bat viruses to which SARS2 belongs, infect the horseshoe bat Rhinolophus affinis, which ranges across southern China. The bats’ range is 50 kilometers, so it’s unlikely that any made it to Wuhan. In any case, the first cases of the COVID-19 pandemic probably occurred in September, when temperatures in Hubei province are already cold enough to send bats into hibernation.
What if the bat viruses infected some intermediate host first? You would need a longstanding population of bats in frequent proximity with an intermediate host, which in turn must often cross paths with people. All these exchanges of virus must take place somewhere outside Wuhan, a busy metropolis which so far as is known is not a natural habitat of Rhinolophus bat colonies. The infected person (or animal) carrying this highly transmissible virus must have traveled to Wuhan without infecting anyone else. No one in his or her family got sick. If the person jumped on a train to Wuhan, no fellow passengers fell ill.
It’s a stretch, in other words, to get the pandemic to break out naturally outside Wuhan and then, without leaving any trace, to make its first appearance there.
For the lab escape scenario, a Wuhan origin for the virus is a no-brainer. Wuhan is home to China’s leading center of coronavirus research where, as noted above, researchers were genetically engineering bat coronaviruses to attack human cells. They were doing so under the minimal safety conditions of a BSL2 lab. If a virus with the unexpected infectiousness of SARS2 had been generated there, its escape would be no surprise.
2) Natural history and evolution. The initial location of the pandemic is a small part of a larger problem, that of its natural history. Viruses don’t just make one time jumps from one species to another. The coronavirus spike protein, adapted to attack bat cells, needs repeated jumps to another species, most of which fail, before it gains a lucky mutation. Mutation — a change in one of its RNA units — causes a different amino acid unit to be incorporated into its spike protein and makes the spike protein better able to attack the cells of some other species.
Through several more such mutation-driven adjustments, the virus adapts to its new host, say some animal with which bats are in frequent contact. The whole process then resumes as the virus moves from this intermediate host to people.
In the case of SARS1, researchers have documented the successive changes in its spike protein as the virus evolved step by step into a dangerous pathogen. After it had gotten from bats into civets, there were six further changes in its spike protein before it became a mild pathogen in people. After a further 14 changes, the virus was much better adapted to humans, and with a further four, the epidemic took off.
But when you look for the fingerprints of a similar transition in SARS2, a strange surprise awaits. The virus has changed hardly at all, at least until recently. From its very first appearance, it was well adapted to human cells. Researchers led by Alina Chan of the Broad Institute compared SARS2 with late stage SARS1, which by then was well adapted to human cells, and found that the two viruses were similarly well adapted. “By the time SARS-CoV-2 was first detected in late 2019, it was already pre-adapted to human transmission to an extent similar to late epidemic SARS-CoV,” they wrote.
Even those who think lab origin unlikely agree that SARS2 genomes are remarkably uniform. Baric writes that “early strains identified in Wuhan, China, showed limited genetic diversity, which suggests that the virus may have been introduced from a single source.”
A single source would of course be compatible with lab escape, less so with the massive variation and selection which is evolution’s hallmark way of doing business.
The uniform structure of SARS2 genomes gives no hint of any passage through an intermediate animal host, and no such host has been identified in nature.
Proponents of natural emergence suggest that SARS2 incubated in a yet-to-be found human population before gaining its special properties. Or that it jumped to a host animal outside China.
All these conjectures are possible, but strained. Proponents of a lab leak have a simpler explanation. SARS2 was adapted to human cells from the start because it was grown in humanized mice or in lab cultures of human cells, just as described in Daszak’s grant proposal. Its genome shows little diversity because the hallmark of lab cultures is uniformity.
Proponents of laboratory escape joke that of course the SARS2 virus infected an intermediary host species before spreading to people, and that they have identified it — a humanized mouse from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
3) The furin cleavage site. The furin cleavage site is a minute part of the virus’s anatomy but one that exerts great influence on its infectivity. It sits in the middle of the SARS2 spike protein. It also lies at the heart of the puzzle of where the virus came from.
The spike protein has two sub-units with different roles. The first, called S1, recognizes the virus’s target, a protein called angiotensin converting enzyme-2 (or ACE2) which studs the surface of cells lining the human airways. The second, S2, helps the virus, once anchored to the cell, to fuse with the cell’s membrane. After the virus’s outer membrane has coalesced with that of the stricken cell, the viral genome is injected into the cell, hijacks its protein-making machinery and forces it to generate new viruses.
But this invasion cannot begin until the S1 and S2 subunits have been cut apart. And there, right at the S1/S2 junction, is the furin cleavage site that ensures the spike protein will be cleaved in exactly the right place.
The virus, a model of economic design, does not carry its own cleaver. It relies on the cell to do the cleaving for it. Human cells have a protein cutting tool on their surface known as furin. Furin will cut any protein chain that carries its signature target cutting site. This is the sequence of amino acid units proline-arginine-arginine-alanine, or PRRA in the code that refers to each amino acid by a letter of the alphabet. PRRA is the amino acid sequence at the core of SARS2’s furin cleavage site.
Viruses have all kinds of clever tricks, so why does the furin cleavage site stand out? Because of all known SARS-related beta-coronaviruses, only SARS2 possesses a furin cleavage site. All the other viruses have their S2 unit cleaved at a different site and by a different mechanism.
How then did SARS2 acquire its furin cleavage site? Either the site evolved naturally, or it was inserted by researchers at the S1/S2 junction in a gain-of-function experiment.
Consider natural origin first. Two ways viruses evolve are by mutation and by recombination. Mutation is the process of random change in DNA (or RNA for coronaviruses) that usually results in one amino acid in a protein chain being switched for another. Many of these changes harm the virus but natural selection retains the few that do something useful. Mutation is the process by which the SARS1 spike protein gradually switched its preferred target cells from those of bats to civets, and then to humans.
Mutation seems a less likely way for SARS2’s furin cleavage site to be generated, even though it can’t completely be ruled out. The site’s four amino acid units are all together, and all at just the right place in the S1/S2 junction. Mutation is a random process triggered by copying errors (when new viral genomes are being generated) or by chemical decay of genomic units. So it typically affects single amino acids at different spots in a protein chain. A string of amino acids like that of the furin cleavage site is much more likely to be acquired all together through a quite different process known as recombination.
Recombination is an inadvertent swapping of genomic material that occurs when two viruses happen to invade the same cell, and their progeny are assembled with bits and pieces of RNA belonging to the other. Beta-coronaviruses will only combine with other beta-coronaviruses but can acquire, by recombination, almost any genetic element present in the collective genomic pool. What they cannot acquire is an element the pool does not possess. And no known SARS-related beta-coronavirus, the class to which SARS2 belongs, possesses a furin cleavage site.
Proponents of natural emergence say SARS2 could have picked up the site from some as yet unknown beta-coronavirus. But bat SARS-related beta-coronaviruses evidently don’t need a furin cleavage site to infect bat cells, so there’s no great likelihood that any in fact possesses one, and indeed none has been found so far.
The proponents’ next argument is that SARS2 acquired its furin cleavage site from people. A predecessor of SARS2 could have been circulating in the human population for months or years until at some point it acquired a furin cleavage site from human cells. It would then have been ready to break out as a pandemic.
If this is what happened, there should be traces in hospital surveillance records of the people infected by the slowly evolving virus. But none has so far come to light. According to the WHO report on the origins of the virus, the sentinel hospitals in Hubei province, home of Wuhan, routinely monitor influenza-like illnesses and “no evidence to suggest substantial SARSCoV-2 transmission in the months preceding the outbreak in December was observed.”
So it’s hard to explain how the SARS2 virus picked up its furin cleavage site naturally, whether by mutation or recombination.
That leaves a gain-of-function experiment. For those who think SARS2 may have escaped from a lab, explaining the furin cleavage site is no problem at all. “Since 1992 the virology community has known that the one sure way to make a virus deadlier is to give it a furin cleavage site at the S1/S2 junction in the laboratory,” writes Steven Quay, a biotech entrepreneur interested in the origins of SARS2. “At least 11 gain-of-function experiments, adding a furin site to make a virus more infective, are published in the open literature, including [by] Dr. Zhengli Shi, head of coronavirus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
4) A question of codons. There’s another aspect of the furin cleavage site that narrows the path for a natural emergence origin even further.
As everyone knows (or may at least recall from high school), the genetic code uses three units of DNA to specify each amino acid unit of a protein chain. When read in groups of 3, the 4 different kinds of DNA can specify 4 x 4 x 4 or 64 different triplets, or codons as they are called. Since there are only 20 kinds of amino acid, there are more than enough codons to go around, allowing some amino acids to be specified by more than one codon. The amino acid arginine, for instance, can be designated by any of the six codons CGU, CGC, CGA, CGG, AGA or AGG, where A, U, G and C stand for the four different kinds of unit in RNA.
Here’s where it gets interesting. Different organisms have different codon preferences. Human cells like to designate arginine with the codons CGT, CGC or CGG. But CGG is coronavirus’s least popular codon for arginine. Keep that in mind when looking at how the amino acids in the furin cleavage site are encoded in the SARS2 genome.
Now the functional reason why SARS2 has a furin cleavage site, and its cousin viruses don’t, can be seen by lining up (in a computer) the string of nearly 30,000 nucleotides in its genome with those of its cousin coronaviruses, of which the closest so far known is one called RaTG13. Compared with RaTG13, SARS2 has a 12-nucleotide insert right at the S1/S2 junction. The insert is the sequence T-CCT-CGG-CGG-GC. The CCT codes for proline, the two CGG’s for two arginines, and the GC is the beginning of a GCA codon that codes for alanine.
There are several curious features about this insert but the oddest is that of the two side-by-side CGG codons. Only 5 percent of SARS2’s arginine codons are CGG, and the double codon CGG-CGG has not been found in any other beta-coronavirus. So how did SARS2 acquire a pair of arginine codons that are favored by human cells but not by coronaviruses?
Proponents of natural emergence have an up-hill task to explain all the features of SARS2’s furin cleavage site. They have to postulate a recombination event at a site on the virus’s genome where recombinations are rare, and the insertion of a 12-nucleotide sequence with a double arginine codon unknown in the beta-coronavirus repertoire, at the only site in the genome that would significantly expand the virus’s infectivity.
“Yes, but your wording makes this sound unlikely — viruses are specialists at unusual events,” is the riposte of David L. Robertson, a virologist at the University of Glasgow who regards lab escape as a conspiracy theory. “Recombination is naturally very, very frequent in these viruses, there are recombination breakpoints in the spike protein and these codons appear unusual exactly because we’ve not sampled enough.”
Robertson is correct that evolution is always producing results that may seem unlikely but in fact are not. Viruses can generate untold numbers of variants but we see only the one-in-a-billion that natural selection picks for survival. But this argument could be pushed too far. For instance, any result of a gain-of-function experiment could be explained as one that evolution would have arrived at in time. And the numbers game can be played the other way. For the furin cleavage site to arise naturally in SARS2, a chain of events has to happen, each of which is quite unlikely for the reasons given above. A long chain with several improbable steps is unlikely to ever be completed.
For the lab escape scenario, the double CGG codon is no surprise. The human-preferred codon is routinely used in labs. So anyone who wanted to insert a furin cleavage site into the virus’s genome would synthesize the PRRA-making sequence in the lab and would be likely to use CGG codons to do so.
A third scenario of origin. There’s a variation on the natural emergence scenario that’s worth considering. This is the idea that SARS2 jumped directly from bats to humans, without going through an intermediate host as SARS1 and MERS did. A leading advocate is the virologist David Robertson who notes that SARS2 can attack several other species besides humans. He believes the virus evolved a generalist capability while still in bats. Because the bats it infects are widely distributed in southern and central China, the virus had ample opportunity to jump to people, even though it seems to have done so on only one known occasion. Robertson’s thesis explains why no one has so far found a trace of SARS2 in any intermediate host or in human populations surveilled before December 2019. It would also explain the puzzling fact that SARS2 has not changed since it first appeared in humans — it didn’t need to because it could already attack human cells efficiently.
One problem with this idea, though, is that if SARS2 jumped from bats to people in a single leap and hasn’t changed much since, it should still be good at infecting bats. And it seems it isn’t.
“Tested bat species are poorly infected by SARS-CoV-2 and they are therefore unlikely to be the direct source for human infection,” write a scientific group skeptical of natural emergence.
Still, Robertson may be onto something. The bat coronaviruses of the Yunnan caves can infect people directly. In April 2012 six miners clearing bat guano from the Mojiang mine contracted severe pneumonia with COVID-19-like symptoms and three eventually died. A virus isolated from the Mojiang mine, called RaTG13, is still the closest known relative of SARS2. Much mystery surrounds the origin, reporting and strangely low affinity of RaTG13 for bat cells, as well as the nature of 8 similar viruses that Shi reports she collected at the same time but has not yet published despite their great relevance to the ancestry of SARS2. But all that is a story for another time. The point here is that bat viruses can infect people directly, though only in special conditions.
So who else, besides miners excavating bat guano, comes into particularly close contact with bat coronaviruses? Well, coronavirus researchers do. Shi says she and her group collected more than 1,300 bat samples during some eight visits to the Mojiang cave between 2012 and 2015, and there were doubtless many expeditions to other Yunnan caves.
Imagine the researchers making frequent trips from Wuhan to Yunnan and back, stirring up bat guano in dark caves and mines, and now you begin to see a possible missing link between the two places. Researchers could have gotten infected during their collecting trips, or while working with the new viruses at the Wuhan Institute of Technology. The virus that escaped from the lab would have been a natural virus, not one cooked up by gain of function.
The direct-from-bats thesis is a chimera between the natural emergence and lab escape scenarios. It’s a possibility that can’t be dismissed. But against it are the facts that 1) both SARS2 and RaTG13 seem to have only feeble affinity for bat cells, so one can’t be fully confident that either ever saw the inside of a bat; and 2) the theory is no better than the natural emergence scenario at explaining how SARS2 gained its furin cleavage site, or why the furin cleavage site is determined by human-preferred arginine codons instead of by the bat-preferred codons.
Where we are so far. Neither the natural emergence nor the lab escape hypothesis can yet be ruled out. There is still no direct evidence for either. So no definitive conclusion can be reached.
That said, the available evidence leans more strongly in one direction than the other. Readers will form their own opinion. But it seems to me that proponents of lab escape can explain all the available facts about SARS2 considerably more easily than can those who favor natural emergence.
It’s documented that researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology were doing gain-of-function experiments designed to make coronaviruses infect human cells and humanized mice. This is exactly the kind of experiment from which a SARS2-like virus could have emerged. The researchers were not vaccinated against the viruses under study, and they were working in the minimal safety conditions of a BSL2 laboratory. So escape of a virus would not be at all surprising. In all of China, the pandemic broke out on the doorstep of the Wuhan institute. The virus was already well adapted to humans, as expected for a virus grown in humanized mice. It possessed an unusual enhancement, a furin cleavage site, which is not possessed by any other known SARS-related beta-coronavirus, and this site included a double arginine codon also unknown among beta-coronaviruses. What more evidence could you want, aside from the presently unobtainable lab records documenting SARS2’s creation?
Proponents of natural emergence have a rather harder story to tell. The plausibility of their case rests on a single surmise, the expected parallel between the emergence of SARS2 and that of SARS1 and MERS. But none of the evidence expected in support of such a parallel history has yet emerged. No one has found the bat population that was the source of SARS2, if indeed it ever infected bats. No intermediate host has presented itself, despite an intensive search by Chinese authorities that included the testing of 80,000 animals. There is no evidence of the virus making multiple independent jumps from its intermediate host to people, as both the SARS1 and MERS viruses did. There is no evidence from hospital surveillance records of the epidemic gathering strength in the population as the virus evolved. There is no explanation of why a natural epidemic should break out in Wuhan and nowhere else. There is no good explanation of how the virus acquired its furin cleavage site, which no other SARS-related beta-coronavirus possesses, nor why the site is composed of human-preferred codons. The natural emergence theory battles a bristling array of implausibilities.
The records of the Wuhan Institute of Virology certainly hold much relevant information. But Chinese authorities seem unlikely to release them given the substantial chance that they incriminate the regime in the creation of the pandemic. Absent the efforts of some courageous Chinese whistle-blower, we may already have at hand just about all of the relevant information we are likely to get for a while.
So it’s worth trying to assess responsibility for the pandemic, at least in a provisional way, because the paramount goal remains to prevent another one. Even those who aren’t persuaded that lab escape is the more likely origin of the SARS2 virus may see reason for concern about the present state of regulation governing gain-of-function research. There are two obvious levels of responsibility: the first, for allowing virologists to perform gain-of-function experiments, offering minimal gain and vast risk; the second, if indeed SARS2 was generated in a lab, for allowing the virus to escape and unleash a world-wide pandemic. Here are the players who seem most likely to deserve blame.
- Chinese virologists. First and foremost, Chinese virologists are to blame for performing gain-of-function experiments in mostly BSL2-level safety conditions which were far too lax to contain a virus of unexpected infectiousness like SARS2. If the virus did indeed escape from their lab, they deserve the world’s censure for a foreseeable accident that has already caused the deaths of three million people. True, Shi was trained by French virologists, worked closely with American virologists and was following international rules for the containment of coronaviruses. But she could and should have made her own assessment of the risks she was running. She and her colleagues bear the responsibility for their actions.
I have been using the Wuhan Institute of Virology as a shorthand for all virological activities in Wuhan. It’s possible that SARS2 was generated in some other Wuhan lab, perhaps in an attempt to make a vaccine that worked against all coronaviruses. But until the role of other Chinese virologists is clarified, Shi is the public face of Chinese work on coronaviruses, and provisionally she and her colleagues will stand first in line for opprobrium.
2. Chinese authorities. China’s central authorities did not generate SARS2, but they sure did their utmost to conceal the nature of the tragedy and China’s responsibility for it. They suppressed all records at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and closed down its virus databases. They released a trickle of information, much of which may have been outright false or designed to misdirect and mislead. They did their best to manipulate the WHO’s inquiry into the virus’s origins, and led the commission’s members on a fruitless run-around. So far they have proved far more interested in deflecting blame than in taking the steps necessary to prevent a second pandemic.
3. The worldwide community of virologists. Virologists around the world are a loose-knit professional community. They write articles in the same journals. They attend the same conferences. They have common interests in seeking funds from governments and in not being overburdened with safety regulations.
Virologists knew better than anyone the dangers of gain-of-function research. But the power to create new viruses, and the research funding obtainable by doing so, was too tempting. They pushed ahead with gain-of-function experiments. They lobbied against the moratorium imposed on Federal funding for gain-of-function research in 2014, and it was raised in 2017.
The benefits of the research in preventing future epidemics have so far been nil, the risks vast. If research on the SARS1 and MERS viruses could only be done at the BSL3 safety level, it was surely illogical to allow any work with novel coronaviruses at the lesser level of BSL2. Whether or not SARS2 escaped from a lab, virologists around the world have been playing with fire.
Their behavior has long alarmed other biologists. In 2014 scientists calling themselves the Cambridge Working Group urged caution on creating new viruses. In prescient words, they specified the risk of creating a SARS2-like virus. “Accident risks with newly created ‘potential pandemic pathogens’ raise grave new concerns,” they wrote. “Laboratory creation of highly transmissible, novel strains of dangerous viruses, especially but not limited to influenza, poses substantially increased risks. An accidental infection in such a setting could trigger outbreaks that would be difficult or impossible to control.”
When molecular biologists discovered a technique for moving genes from one organism to another, they held a public conference at Asilomar in 1975 to discuss the possible risks. Despite much internal opposition, they drew up a list of stringent safety measures that could be relaxed in future — and duly were — when the possible hazards had been better assessed.
When the CRISPR technique for editing genes was invented, biologists convened a joint report by the US, UK and Chinese national academies of science to urge restraint on making heritable changes to the human genome. Biologists who invented gene drives have also been open about the dangers of their work and have sought to involve the public.
You might think the SARS2 pandemic would spur virologists to re-evaluate the benefits of gain-of-function research, even to engage the public in their deliberations. But no. Many virologists deride lab escape as a conspiracy theory, and others say nothing. They have barricaded themselves behind a Chinese wall of silence which so far is working well to allay, or at least postpone, journalists’ curiosity and the public’s wrath. Professions that cannot regulate themselves deserve to get regulated by others, and this would seem to be the future that virologists are choosing for themselves.
4. The US role in funding the Wuhan Institute of Virology. From June 2014 to May 2019, Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance had a grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, to do gain-of-function research with coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Whether or not SARS2 is the product of that research, it seems a questionable policy to farm out high-risk research to unsafe foreign labs using minimal safety precautions. And if the SARS2 virus did indeed escape from the Wuhan institute, then the NIH will find itself in the terrible position of having funded a disastrous experiment that led to death of more than 3 million worldwide, including more than half a million of its own citizens.
The responsibility of the NIAID and NIH is even more acute because for the first three years of the grant to EcoHealth Alliance, there was a moratorium on funding gain-of-function research. Why didn’t the two agencies therefore halt the federal funding, as apparently required to do so by law? Because someone wrote a loophole into the moratorium.
The moratorium specifically barred funding any gain-of-function research that increased the pathogenicity of the flu, MERS, or SARS viruses. But then a footnote on page 2 of the moratorium document states that “[a]n exception from the research pause may be obtained if the head of the USG funding agency determines that the research is urgently necessary to protect the public health or national security.”
This seems to mean that either the director of the NIAID, Anthony Fauci, or the director of the NIH, Francis Collins, or maybe both, would have invoked the footnote in order to keep the money flowing to Shi’s gain-of-function research.
“Unfortunately, the NIAID director and the NIH director exploited this loophole to issue exemptions to projects subject to the Pause—preposterously asserting the exempted research was ‘urgently necessary to protect public health or national security’ — thereby nullifying the Pause,” Ebright said in an interview with Independent Science News.
When the moratorium was ended in 2017, it didn’t just vanish but was replaced by a reporting system, the Potential Pandemic Pathogens Control and Oversight (P3CO) Framework, which required agencies to report for review any dangerous gain-of-function work they wished to fund.
According to Ebright, both Collins and Fauci “have declined to flag and forward proposals for risk-benefit review, thereby nullifying the P3CO Framework.”
In his view, the two officials, in dealing with the moratorium and the ensuing reporting system, “have systematically thwarted efforts by the White House, the Congress, scientists, and science policy specialists to regulate GoF [gain-of-function] research of concern.”
Possibly the two officials had to take into account matters not evident in the public record, such as issues of national security. Perhaps funding the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is believed to have ties with Chinese military virologists, provided a window into Chinese biowarfare research. But whatever other considerations may have been involved, the bottom line is that the National Institutes of Health was supporting gain-of-function research, of a kind that could have generated the SARS2 virus, in an unsupervised foreign lab that was doing work in BSL2 biosafety conditions. The prudence of this decision can be questioned, whether or not SARS2 and the death of 3 million people were the result of it, which emphasizes the need for some better system of control.
In conclusion. If the case that SARS2 originated in a lab is so substantial, why isn’t this more widely known? As may now be obvious, there are many people who have reason not to talk about it. The list is led, of course, by the Chinese authorities. But virologists in the United States and Europe have no great interest in igniting a public debate about the gain-of-function experiments that their community has been pursuing for years.
Nor have other scientists stepped forward to raise the issue. Government research funds are distributed on the advice of committees of scientific experts drawn from universities. Anyone who rocks the boat by raising awkward political issues runs the risk that their grant will not be renewed and their research career will be ended. Maybe good behavior is rewarded with the many perks that slosh around the distribution system. And if you thought that Andersen and Daszak might have blotted their reputation for scientific objectivity after their partisan attacks on the lab escape scenario, look at the second and third names on this list of recipients of an $82 million grant announced by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in August 2020.
The US government shares a strange common interest with the Chinese authorities: Neither is keen on drawing attention to the fact that Shi’s coronavirus work was funded by the US National Institutes of Health. One can imagine the behind-the-scenes conversation in which the Chinese government says, “If this research was so dangerous, why did you fund it, and on our territory too?” To which the US side might reply, “Looks like it was you who let it escape. But do we really need to have this discussion in public?”
Fauci is a longtime public servant who served with integrity under President Trump and has resumed leadership in the Biden Administration in handling the COVID-19 epidemic. Congress, no doubt understandably, may have little appetite for hauling him over the coals for the apparent lapse of judgment in funding gain-of-function research in Wuhan.
To these serried walls of silence must be added that of the mainstream media. To my knowledge, no major newspaper or television network has yet provided readers with an in-depth news story of the lab escape scenario, such as the one you have just read, although some have run brief editorials or opinion pieces. One might think that any plausible origin of a virus that has killed three million people would merit a serious investigation. Or that the wisdom of continuing gain-of-function research, regardless of the virus’s origin, would be worth some probing. Or that the funding of gain-of-function research by the NIH and NIAID during a moratorium on such research would bear investigation. What accounts for the media’s apparent lack of curiosity?
The virologists’ omertà is one reason. Science reporters, unlike political reporters, have little innate skepticism of their sources’ motives; most see their role largely as purveying the wisdom of scientists to the unwashed masses. So when their sources won’t help, these journalists are at a loss.
Another reason, perhaps, is the migration of much of the media toward the left of the political spectrum. Because President Trump said the virus had escaped from a Wuhan lab, editors gave the idea little credence. They joined the virologists in regarding lab escape as a dismissible conspiracy theory. During the Trump administration, they had no trouble in rejecting the position of the intelligence services that lab escape could not be ruled out. But when Avril Haines, President Biden’s director of national intelligence, said the same thing, she too was largely ignored. This is not to argue that editors should have endorsed the lab escape scenario, merely that they should have explored the possibility fully and fairly.
People round the world who have been pretty much confined to their homes for the last year might like a better answer than their media are giving them. Perhaps one will emerge in time. After all, the more months pass without the natural emergence theory gaining a shred of supporting evidence, the less plausible it may seem. Perhaps the international community of virologists will come to be seen as a false and self-interested guide. The common sense perception that a pandemic breaking out in Wuhan might have something to do with a Wuhan lab cooking up novel viruses of maximal danger in unsafe conditions could eventually displace the ideological insistence that whatever Trump said can’t be true.
And then let the reckoning begin.
The first person to take a serious look at the origins of the SARS2 virus was Yuri Deigin, a biotech entrepreneur in Russia and Canada. In a long and brilliant essay, he dissected the molecular biology of the SARS2 virus and raised, without endorsing, the possibility that it had been manipulated. The essay, published on April 22, 2020, provided a roadmap for anyone seeking to understand the virus’s origins. Deigin packed so much information and analysis into his essay that some have doubted it could be the work of a single individual and suggested some intelligence agency must have authored it. But the essay is written with greater lightness and humor than I suspect are ever found in CIA or KGB reports, and I see no reason to doubt that Deigin is its very capable sole author.
In Deigin’s wake have followed several other skeptics of the virologists’ orthodoxy. Nikolai Petrovsky calculated how tightly the SARS2 virus binds to the ACE2 receptors of various species and found to his surprise that it seemed optimized for the human receptor, leading him to infer the virus might have been generated in a laboratory. Alina Chan published a paper showing that SARS2 from its first appearance was very well adapted to human cells.
One of the very few establishment scientists to have questioned the virologists’ absolute rejection of lab escape is Richard Ebright, who has long warned against the dangers of gain-of-function research. Another is David A. Relman of Stanford University. “Even though strong opinions abound, none of these scenarios can be confidently ruled in or ruled out with currently available facts,” he wrote. Kudos too to Robert Redfield, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who told CNN on March 26, 2021 that the “most likely” cause of the epidemic was “from a laboratory,” because he doubted that a bat virus could become an extreme human pathogen overnight, without taking time to evolve, as seemed to be the case with SARS2.
Steven Quay, a physician-researcher, has applied statistical and bioinformatic tools to ingenious explorations of the virus’s origin, showing for instance how the hospitals receiving the early patients are clustered along the Wuhan №2 subway line which connects the Institute of Virology at one end with the international airport at the other, the perfect conveyor belt for distributing the virus from lab to globe.
In June 2020 Milton Leitenberg published an early survey of the evidence favoring lab escape from gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Many others have contributed significant pieces of the puzzle. “Truth is the daughter,” said Francis Bacon, “not of authority but time.” The efforts of people such as those named above are what makes it so.
Nicholas Wade is a science writer, editor, and author who has worked on the staff of Nature, Science, and, for many years, the New York Times
The CDC has issued new guidelines for measuring “breakthrough” Covid cases (a vaccinated person contracting the virus), recommending that the PCR test cycles be dialed down to below 28 to avoid false positives. False positives could undermine support for the vaccine. This move makes sense…but what about an entire year of testing the general population with a cycle of 40 or above? Are some false positives more equal than others?
The University of Pittsbrgh is growing scalps from aborted babies on lab rodents.
This is straight from a horror movie.
Photo via Life News
The scientists are using human baby fetal skin processed via removal of excess fat.
And Dr. Tony Fauci is funding this gruesome study.
A new video from the Center for Medical Progress exposes a gristly experiment at the University of Pittsburgh that involved scalping five-month aborted babies and implanting their scalps onto rodents.
Now, Pennsylvania leaders are demanding an investigation and urging the university to stop its experiments using aborted baby body parts.
“Publicly available information demonstrates that Pitt hosts some of the most barbaric experiments carried out on aborted human infants, including scalping 5-month-old aborted fetuses to stitch onto lab rats,” the Center for Medical Progress said in a statement.
The information comes from a study that University of Pittsburgh researchers published in September 2020 in the journal “Scientific Reports.” It describes how scientists used scalps from aborted babies to create “humanized” mice and rats to study the human immune system…
… a number of the experiments using aborted baby body parts at the university are funded by U.S. taxpayers through the National Institutes of Health and, in particular, Dr. Anthony Fauci’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases office, CMP found in its investigation.
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