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Exclusive: COVID-19 'Lab Leak' Origin Theory Merits Further Investigation, Says New WHO Report



COVID-19 'Lab Leak' Origin Theory Merits Further Investigation, Says New WHO Report

#COVID19 #039Lab #Leak039 #Origin #Theory #Merits #Investigation #Report

Thus far, researchers have not identified ancestral viruses that could have plausibly given rise to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19—so says a new report from the Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins (SAGO) of Novel Pathogens set up by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The report, however, notes that “the current available data on the closest related SARS-like viruses and susceptibility of many animal species to SARS-CoV-2 suggest a zoonotic source.” Assuming a natural outbreak, horseshoe bats are a likely reservoir of the virus in the wild, although it could also have passed through an unknown intermediate species before infecting humans.

An alternative hypothesis is that the COVID-19 virus somehow escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, whose researchers were known to be experimenting with coronaviruses. Although three of the 27 members of the SAGO objected to consideration of the “lab leak” theory for the possible origin of the COVID-19 virus, the report states that “it remains important to consider all reasonable scientific data that is available either through published or other official sources to evaluate the possibility of the introduction of SARS-CoV-2 into the human population through a laboratory incident.”

Interestingly, a Chinese team reported the results of testing 1380 samples taken from the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, where the outbreak was first identified. None of the samples from 188 live animals sold as meat detected the presence of the COVID-19 virus, but the researchers did find it in 73 samples from the ground, sewer wells, and various containers. “Skeptics of the natural origin theory maintain the market cluster could merely be a superspreader event touched off when a person infected with a lab-escaped coronavirus visited it,” noted Science back in February.

Further investigation into the lab leak hypothesis would require that the Chinese government provide “access to and review the evidence of all laboratory (both in vitro and in vivo studies) with coronaviruses including SARS-CoV-2-related viruses or close ancestors.” Going forward, the SAGO would like to obtain more information about “the nature of the studies performed before the first reported COVID-19 cases in Wuhan and whether they involved reverse engineering or gain-of-function, genetic manipulation or animal studies with strains of SARS-like CoV.”

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus sent two letters in February to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and National Health Commission head Ma Xiaowei asking for any updates with respect to ongoing studies focused on the origins of the COVID-19 virus. However, the SAGO report notes that the Chinese government and researchers have “not provided any information related to studies conducted evaluating the laboratory hypotheses as a possible introduction into the human population.”

The SAGO reports that it will remain open to “any and all scientific evidence that becomes available in the future to allow for comprehensive testing of all reasonable hypotheses,” including the lab leak hypothesis.

The Chinese government’s continued stonewalling of independent investigations of the origin of the COVID-19 virus strongly suggests that it has something to hide.



Exclusive: The Supreme Court hands Biden the smallest possible victory in its “Remain in Mexico” case –




The Supreme Court hands Biden the smallest possible victory in its “Remain in Mexico” case

#Supreme #Court #hands #Biden #smallest #victory #Remain #Mexico #case

Everything about the Supreme Court’s handling of Biden v. Texas, an important immigration decision it handed down on Thursday, emphasizes how easily the Court can sabotage President Joe Biden’s policies — even as it rules narrowly in Biden’s favor.

The case involves the so-called “Remain in Mexico” program, also known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, a policy implemented by President Donald Trump that required tens of thousands of immigrants seeking asylum in the United States to, well, remain in Mexico while their cases were being processed. The Biden administration announced in a June 1, 2021 memo from Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas that it would end this program — noting, among other things, that it forced many migrants to live in squalid conditions without “stable access to housing, income, and safety.”

But then Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump judge known for his extreme ideology — Kacsmaryk has labeled being transgender a “mental disorder,” claimed that gay people are “disordered,” and denounced what he called a “sexual revolution” — ordered the Biden administration to reinstate the program last August.

In the Biden decision handed down on Thursday, six justices — the three liberal justices plus Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — all agree that Kacsmaryk misread federal immigration law when he held that the federal government is required to maintain the Trump-era program. (Technically, Barrett dissented from the Court’s holding, stating in her opinion that she agrees “with the Court’s analysis of the merits,” but she would have sent the case back to lower courts to consider a jurisdictional issue.)

Indeed, as Roberts indicates in his opinion for the Court, Kacsmaryk misread a key provision of federal law so egregiously that, if the Trump judge’s reasoning is taken seriously, no president has ever complied with this law since it was enacted 26 years ago.

The Court’s decision in Biden goes a long way toward reaffirming that Joe Biden is the president, Alejandro Mayorkas is secretary of Homeland Security, and Matthew Kacsmaryk is neither of these things.

But, while the Court’s rejection of Kacsmaryk’s misreading of federal law is a victory for Biden, it is likely to be a hollow one. Although the Court decides the important issue of whether federal immigration law requires a Remain-in-Mexico-style policy (it doesn’t), the justices send the case back down to Kacsmaryk to resolve a few other lingering questions, including whether Mayorkas adequately explained the administration’s decision to end the program in an October memorandum.

Given Kacsmaryk’s past behavior, and his commitment to an extraordinarily conservative ideology, it is very likely that he will find a new excuse to order the Biden administration to reinstate the Remain in Mexico program once the case is back in his hands. And Kacsmaryk’s new decisions will be reviewed by the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, an extremely conservative court that has thus far been complicit in Kacsmaryk’s efforts to seize control of much of US border policy.

Indeed, the Supreme Court has also been complicit in these efforts. Last August, not long after Kacsmaryk handed down his initial decision appointing himself border czar, the Supreme Court rejected the Biden administration’s request to block that decision — claiming that Mayorkas made a paperwork error in his initial June memo suspending Remain in Mexico.


Kacsmaryk’s decision, in other words, has now been in effect for nearly a year. While the Biden administration most likely will take steps quickly to end Remain in Mexico, Kacsmaryk could once again put a stop to that. And it could be a year or more before the Supreme Court gets around to reversing whatever order Kacsmaryk hands down after the case is sent back to him.

By slow-walking this case, in other words, the Court has ensured that Judge Kacsmaryk, and not Secretary Mayorkas, will exercise many of the secretary of Homeland Security’s most important policymaking powers. And, at this rate, President Biden could be near the end of his term by the time this case is fully resolved and he finally regains the power to end Remain in Mexico for good.

Kacsmaryk’s reading of federal immigration law is embarrassingly wrong

The crux of Kacsmaryk’s decision is that federal immigration law only gives “the government two options vis-à-vis aliens seeking asylum: 1) mandatory detention; or 2) return to a contiguous territory.” That is, when a person arrives at the Mexican border seeking asylum, the government must either lock that person up, or require them to stay in Mexico until their asylum case is resolved.

Under this incorrect reading of immigration law, even the Trump administration was insufficiently cruel to asylum seekers. Trump’s version of the Remain in Mexico policy exempted non-Spanish speakers. But Kacsmaryk’s reading of federal law would not permit such exceptions.

Kacsmaryk arrived at his wrongful conclusion by looking at just two provisions of federal law. One provides that the government “may” return an immigrant who arrives on land at the Mexican or Canadian border to Mexico or Canada while that person’s immigration case remains pending in the United States. The other provision states that most such immigrants “shall be detained.”

Thus, Kacsmaryk concluded that the government has only two options, detention or return to Mexico.

But, as Roberts explains in his opinion, there are many problems with this interpretation of federal law. For starters, the law explicitly gives the government several options — not just two — when confronted with an asylum seeker at the Mexican border. Among other things, the government may “parole into the United States” an immigrant seeking admission to this country “for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.” Kacsmaryk’s framework ignores this option.

The United States, moreover, has only a tiny fraction of the detention capacity it would need to detain every asylum seeker who arrives at the Mexican border. And the US cannot unilaterally decide to send tens of thousands of asylum seekers to Mexico — the Mexican government has to agree to such an arrangement.

That means that, under Kacsmaryk’s reading of federal immigration law, it may be impossible for the federal government to follow the law, because the Mexican government may refuse to take in immigrants that the United States lacks the capacity to detain.

As Roberts explains in his opinion, courts are supposed to “avoid ‘the danger of unwarranted judicial interference in the conduct of foreign policy.’” Kacsmaryk, by contrast, effectively forced the United States to enter into a diplomatic negotiation with Mexico — in order to reinstate a program that neither government supports.

Kacsmaryk is likely to sabotage Biden again

Even though the Supreme Court rejects Kacsmaryk’s egregious misreading of federal law, it leaves him with significant power to sabotage Biden — and to order Remain in Mexico reinstated one more time.


First of all, the Supreme Court concluded last August that Mayorkas’s original June memo ending the Remain in Mexico program did not adequately explain why he did so. (It’s well established that the federal agencies must explain themselves when they change existing policies, although it’s more debatable whether the June memo failed to do so.) This is why Mayorkas issued a longer memo in October providing a more full-throated explanation for the Biden administration’s policy.

Rather than determining whether this new memo is sufficient, however, the Supreme Court sends the case back down to Kacsmaryk to consider this question. So Kacsmaryk can easily seize control of border policy again by finding some fault with this new memo.

The Supreme Court’s decision also allows Kacsmaryk to determine whether the Biden administration is properly exercising its authority to grant parole to some immigrants “for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.” That gives Kacsmaryk another possible rationale to sabotage Biden’s policies.

Perhaps Kacsmaryk will get his hands on this case again, and suddenly decide to act like a fair and impartial judge who is loyal only to the law. Given his past behavior, however, this outcome seems unlikely.

All of which is a long way of saying that this case is likely to go on for a very long time. And for as long as it does, thousands of immigrants are at the mercy of one of the most ideological judges in the country.

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Exclusive: January 6th Documentary Film Producer Under Armed Protection Due To Trump Supporter Threats –




Alex Holder under armed protection

#January #6th #Documentary #Film #Producer #Armed #Protection #Due #Trump #Supporter #Threats

Alex Holder, the director of the documentary film “Unprecedented,” now needs armed guards to protect him.

As the stakes continue to rise with each Select Committee hearing and more and more jaw-dropping evidence of criminality hones in closer to Trump and his family, the danger to all involved increases. There are unhinged people in all segments of society. But the people threatened by these hearings are the same people who gathered up weapons to follow a man who assaulted his own Secret Service agents precisely because he demanded that he lead that armed insurgency. It feels as though violence has been authorized from the top and from the beginning.

We know that the film contains evidence the Committee deems critical. Now, that filmmaker, a man who make a film Trump authorized and then participated in, is in need of protection. According to The Daily Beast:

The documentary filmmaker who filmed with Donald Trump and his family in the months before and after the attack on the Capitol says he now needs armed protection.

Alex Holder, who testified to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection last week, spoke candidly about the risks his disclosures have put him in during a BBC TV interview Wednesday.

When asked if he felt threatened because of the evidence he’s given to the panel, Holder said: “Well, my life changed about a week ago and I now literally have two armed guards outside this studio right now that follow me around everywhere.”

It is only going to get worse until the evidence is out. Many people believe that Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony was moved up specifically to lessen the threat to her. Now that her testimony is public record, threats won’t stop anything. They could be used as a warning to future witnesses.

The film provides direct evidence of Trump’s activities in the days leading up to January 6th but the fact that Holder needs protection now is also evidence that the Committee is getting very close to the truth and the truth is likely much worse than we guessed.



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Exclusive: Republicans Might Want to Run on the Truth –




Compelling Television

#Republicans #Run #Truth

Karl Rove: “The baseless claim that the 2020 election was stolen doesn’t appeal to independents, whose votes in key states are often decisive…”

“A big enough red tide could sweep some of these nominees into office. But if Republicans who don’t rail about election fraud consistently run better than those who do, it would suggest that emphasizing the ‘big steal’ may not be such a great argument for 2024.”

“For any GOP candidate, there’s no easy way to escape weighing in on whether 2020 was stolen. Democrats will force Republicans running for other offices to declare their position on these outlandish and corrosive claims. GOP hopefuls better begin preparing responses now. They should consider starting with the truth.”

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