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caratacus - Death of George Floyd and Subsequent Riots.
Post 1
Those demanding respect shouldn't begin by burning down buildings, looting stores and attacking police and fire crews. They aren't angry victimised citizens, they are bums, period. It would certainly be a reason for revoking any tax payers payments made to those caught acting in this way.

The way that a suspected criminal like Floyd was treated was disgusting, whether or not his death was directly due to asphyxiation by force. But systematic theft and destruction of both private and public property should not be tolerated because of political sensitivities, and those doing so punished severely. But given American prison system is already full and failing, a custodial sentence alone, is neither a deterrence nor a way of reform.

There is a large underclass in American society that will always be divided from the rest, the largest, but not exclusively being African Americans. Without significant intervention and social reform by government, this situation will only continue. This isn't just about police brutality, as the recent events demonstrate, its a social and cultural problem that runs right through American society.

Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

Cyclops - Death of George Floyd and Subsequent Riots.
Post 2
I was hoping our friends in the US would get through the lockdown without rioting and I am really sad to see this happening. We've had it easy and I wanted that for the rest of the world as well.

Quote Originally Posted by Cope View Post
It is bizarre that we've seen such disunity despite the bipartisan consensus that George Floyd was a victim of police brutality/malpractice. ...
At least there's some move to charge the officer/s seriously. Thats a step forward from the 1990's at least when the Rodney King beating incident had an air of inevitability about the officers' acquittal, and the (probable) payback acquittal of OJ Simpson.

Quote Originally Posted by Cope View Post
1. The attempts to shoehorn Floyd's death into liberal/leftist social narratives about race rather than treating it as a instance of state tyranny which threatens all Americans.
To be fair the racist shoe fits the boot of state in aspects of the case and IIRC the stats back that up with black people over-represented as offenders and among groups more likely to offend (less education, more poverty etc) but also have a greater likelyhood to be arrested and prosecuted for the same acts as others.

Quote Originally Posted by Cope View Post
2. The acts of violence, looting and destruction of property which are being encouraged and perpetrated by marauders and political radicals.
If thats true anyone encouraging brigandage as a political act amounts to a traitor or an enemy agent. Trump was right to encourage governors to dominate the looters at least, thats got to be stopped dead.

Any agitators in play have a large body of disgruntled citizens they can incite, and I suspect the majority of looters are self-motivated. They are poor usually black people left behind by capitalism and the liberal republic. That's a massive race problem.

On top of that you've had the state/s shutting down the economy for the current plague, and its obviously borne fruit of civil unrest.

On reflection maybe this was certain to happen: if it wasn't yet another cop executing a black guy on the street it'd be the ATF or FBI attacking a religious minority, there are plenty of people with sincerely held grievances against the US system as applied to them and many groups have been asked to sacrifice even more.

Quote Originally Posted by Cope View Post
3. The vulturous attempts by the mainstream press and large corporations to hijack Floyd's death to serve their political and/or financial interests.
..and politicians. I mean they hijacked 9/11 all the way to Baghdad. Kennedy lied his way from a fake missile gap into Vietnam by way of Cuba and nearly kicked off WWII between starlets. This isn't anything new.

Quote Originally Posted by Cope View Post
4. The protesters' lack of direction or objectives.
There's been clarity from the dead guy's family about peaceful protest. As reported in my country there are heaps of talking heads bemoaning the looting and some making small acts of reparation. The political response from the top down has been nuanced too, with Trump and the rest acknowledging the legitimate grievances and castigating the wrongdoing as well. I think there is some attempt on the part of the leaders in the community to talk the talk at least.

Quote Originally Posted by Cope View Post
5. The preference for emotional arguments rather than proposals based on statistical analyses.
Well that's politicians for you. It is a real blight and I'm very proud the way my country has put aside some bad blood (there was a deal of corruption in the recent national elections) to work together "for the duration".

The US system is pretty robust (I mean we have to stick together, our country isn't big enough or tough enough to give ourselves uppercuts for fun), and can withstand some selfishness from citizens and leaders, so some (too many) indulge themselves.

However its a bad time with the economy in a shambles and a very real health threat. First step is to smash the looting, then take an honest look at race.

sumskilz- The Potential Lab Origin of COVID-19
Post 3
In the main Mudpit coronavirus thread, I started a conversation about the possibility that SARS-CoV-2 escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, beginning with this post. The scientific aspects are complex, as is the circumstantial evidence, therefore I figured it needed a proper thread with a proper OP that can easily be referenced without having to wade though an 87 page thread. Looking into the issue further, I came across this recently published article: The Case Is Building That COVID-19 Had a Lab Origin. One of authors has a PhD in Virology and the other has a PhD in Molecular Biology and Genetics and the article is well-referenced. They're writing about a lot of the same issue I have been, and have also brought up some that I was unaware of. For that reason, I'll be using titles and excerpts from their article to lay out the facts.

Historical lab releases

In the past, there have been several cases in which pathogens have escaped from labs, including several cases in China, at least one is responsible for a global pandemic. The reason you probably don't already know about this, is because people whose entire careers are based around working with dangerous pathogens in labs, don't really want the general public worrying about dangerous pathogens escaping from labs.

An accidental lab release is not merely a theoretical possibility. In 1977 a laboratory in Russia (or possibly China), most likely while developing a flu vaccine, accidentally released the extinct H1N1 influenza virus (Nakajima et al., 1978). H1N1 went on to become a global pandemic virus. A large proportion of the global population became infected. In this case, deaths were few because the population aged over 20 yrs old had historic immunity to the virus. This episode is not widely known because only recently has this conclusion been formally acknowledged in the scientific literature and the virology community has been reluctant to discuss such incidents (Zimmer and Burke, 2009; Wertheim, 2010). Still, laboratory pathogen escapes leading to human and animal deaths (e.g. smallpox in Britain; equine encephalitis in South America) are common enough that they ought to be much better known (summarised in Furmanski, 2014). Only rarely have these broken out into actual pandemics on the scale of H1N1, which, incidentally, broke out again in 2009/2010 as “Swine flu” causing deaths estimated variously at 3,000 to 200,000 on that occasion (Duggal et al., 2016; Simonsen et al. 2013).

Many scientists have warned that experiments with PPPs, like the smallpox and Ebola and influenza viruses, are inherently dangerous and should be subject to strict limits and oversight (Lipsitch and Galvani, 2014; Klotz and Sylvester, 2014). Even in the limited case of SARS-like coronaviruses, since the quelling of the original SARS outbreak in 2003, there have been six documented SARS disease outbreaks originating from research laboratories, including four in China. These outbreaks caused 13 individual infections and one death (Furmanski, 2014). In response to such concerns the US banned certain classes of experiments, called gain of function (GOF) experiments, with PPPs in 2014, but the ban (actually a funding moratorium) was lifted in 2017.
I note here that it was Fauci who lifted the funding moratorium. Maybe it's already obvious based on context, but if you're wondering, PPPs means potential pandemic pathogens.

The COVID-19 Wuhan lab escape thesis

The essence of the lab escape theory is that Wuhan is the site of the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), China’s first and only Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4) facility. (BSL-4 is the highest pathogen security level). The WIV, which added a BSL-4 lab only in 2018, has been collecting large numbers of coronaviruses from bat samples ever since the original SARS outbreak of 2002-2003; including collecting more in 2016 (Hu, et al., 2017; Zhou et al., 2018).

Led by researcher Zheng-Li Shi, WIV scientists have also published experiments in which live bat coronaviruses were introduced into human cells (Hu et al., 2017). Moreover, according to an April 14 article in the Washington Post, US Embassy staff visited the WIV in 2018 and “had grave safety concerns” about biosecurity there. The WIV is just eight miles from the Huanan live animal market that was initially thought to be the site of origin of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wuhan is also home to a lab called the Wuhan Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (WCDPC). It is a BSL-2 lab that is just 250 metres away from the Huanan market. Bat coronaviruses have in the past been kept at the Wuhan WCDPC lab.

Thus the lab escape theory is that researchers from one or both of these labs may have picked up a Sars-CoV-2-like bat coronavirus on one of their many collecting (aka ‘”virus surveillance”) trips. Or, alternatively, a virus they were studying, passaging, engineering, or otherwise manipulating, escaped.
Scientific assessments of the lab escape theory

You're all aware of the criticism, I contrast that against the fact that there seems to be little criticism of the animal intermediary hypothesis, for which there is zero evidence.

On April 17 the Australian Science Media Centre asked four Australian virologists: “Did COVID-19 come from a lab in Wuhan?“

Three (Edward Holmes, Nigel McMillan and Hassan Vally) dismissed the lab escape suggestion and Vally simply labeled it, without elaboration, a “conspiracy”.

The fourth virologist interviewed was Nikolai Petrovsky of Flinders University. Petrovsky first addressed the question of whether the natural zoonosis pathway was viable. He told the Media Centre:

“no natural virus matching to COVID-19 has been found in nature despite an intensive search to find its origins.”

That is to say, the idea of an animal intermediate is speculation. Indeed, no credible viral or animal host intermediaries, either in the form of a confirmed animal host or a plausible virus intermediate, has to-date emerged to explain the natural zoonotic transfer of Sars-CoV-2 to humans (e.g. Zhan et al., 2020).

In addition to Petrovsky’s point, there are two further difficulties with the natural zoonotic transfer thesis (apart from the weak epidemiological association between early cases and the Huanan “wet” market).

The first is that researchers from the Wuhan lab travelled to caves in Yunnan (1,500 Km away) to find horseshoe bats containing SARS-like coronaviruses. To-date, the closest living relative of Sars-CoV-2 yet found comes from Yunnan (Ge et al., 2016). Why would an outbreak of a bat virus therefore occur in Wuhan?

Moreover, China has a population of 1.3 billion. If spillover from the wildlife trade was the explanation, then, other things being equal, the probability of a pandemic starting in Wuhan (pop. 11 million) is less than 1%.

Zheng-Li Shi, the head of bat coronavirus research at WIV, told Scientific American as much:

“I had never expected this kind of thing to happen in Wuhan, in central China.” Her studies had shown that the southern, subtropical provinces of Guangdong, Guangxi and Yunnan have the greatest risk of coronaviruses jumping to humans from animals—particularly bats, a known reservoir. If coronaviruses were the culprit, she remembers thinking, “Could they have come from our lab?”

Wuhan, in short, is a rather unlikely epicentre for a natural zoonotic transfer. In contrast, to suspect that Sars-CoV-2 might have come from the WIV is both reasonable and obvious.
Most of the harshest naysayers have obvious conflicts of interest that go beyond the usual, see this article on Edward Holmes for example.

Was Sars-CoV-2 created in a lab?

In his statement, Petrovsky goes on to describe the kind of experiment that, in principle, if done in a lab, would obtain the same result as the hypothesised natural zoonotic transfer–rapid adaptation of a bat coronavirus to a human host.

“Take a bat coronavirus that is not infectious to humans, and force its selection by culturing it with cells that express human ACE2 receptor, such cells having been created many years ago to culture SARS coronaviruses and you can force the bat virus to adapt to infect human cells via mutations in its spike protein, which would have the effect of increasing the strength of its binding to human ACE2, and inevitably reducing the strength of its binding to bat ACE2.

Viruses in prolonged culture will also develop other random mutations that do not affect its function. The result of these experiments is a virus that is highly virulent in humans but is sufficiently different that it no longer resembles the original bat virus. Because the mutations are acquired randomly by selection there is no signature of a human gene jockey, but this is clearly a virus still created by human intervention.”

In other words, Petrovsky believes that current experimental methods could have led to an altered virus that escaped.
Some additional expert opinions already posted in the other thread:

Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
Leading immunologists and geneticists have told The Daily Telegraph there are two unusual aspects of COVID-19 that raise the possibility it was man-made rather than a naturally-occurring virus.

The first is that the virus binds to human ACE2 receptor cells more strongly than it does to any other animal, including bats.

The second is that it has a “furin cleavage site” that its closest genetic bat-coronavirus relative, RaTG-13, does not have.

This site makes it significantly more infectious.

Israeli geneticist, Dr Ronen Shemesh, who is working on treatment for COVID-19, said in his opinion the virus was more likely created in a laboratory than evolved naturally in nature.

“There are many reasons to believe that the COVID-19 generating SARS-CoV-2 was generated in a lab. Most probably by methods of genetic engineering,” he said.

“I believe that this is the only way an insertion like the FURIN protease cleavage site could have been introduced directly at the right place and become effective.”

Dr Shemesh points to the insertion of a Furin site as the most unusual aspect of COVID-19.

“I believe that the most important issue about the differences between ALL coronavirus types is the insertion of a Fufin protease cleavage site at the Spike protein of SARS-CoV-2,” he said.

“Such an insertion is very rare in evolution, the addition of such 4 Amino acids alone in the course of only 20 years is very unlikely.”

Dr Shemesh, who has a PhD in Genetics and Molecular Biology from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and over 21 years of experience in the field of drug discovery and development, said it is even “more unlikely” that this insertion happened in exactly the right place of the cleavage site of the spike protein - which is where it would need to occur to make the virus more infectious.

“What makes it even more suspicious is that fact that this insertion not only occurred on the right place and in the right time, but also turned the cleavage site from an Serine protease cleavage site to a FURIN cleavage site,” he said.

“This protein cleaving protein is highly promiscuous, it’s found in many human tissues and cell types and is involved in many OTHER virus types activation and infection mechanisms (it is involved in HIV, Herpes, Ebola and Dengue virus mechanisms).

“If I was trying to engineer a virus strain with a higher affinity and infective potential to humans, I would do exactly that: I would add a Furin Cleavage site directly at the original less effective and more cell specific cleavage site.”

La Trobe University Chemistry and Physics Professor David Winkler says there are several possibilities for the source of COVID-19 and you cannot rule out the laboratory as one option.

“On the basis of the calculations we’ve done, you can’t exclude that it’s been processed through human cells in a biosecurity lab - but it’s certainly not the only explanation,” he said.

Flinders University Professor Nikolai Petrovsky says COVID-19 is “exquisitely adapted to infect humans”.

“I’m certainly very much in favour of a scientific investigation. Its only objective should be to get to the bottom of how did this pandemic happen and how do we prevent a future pandemic.”

Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and University of British Columbia biologist, Alina Chan, said there was little evidence to definitively say where COVID-19 originated.

Dr Chan said there is no current evidence to show that the coronavirus originated in the Wuhan wet market.

“If intermediate animal hosts were present at the market, no evidence remains in the genetic samples available,” she said.

Leading immunologists and geneticists have told The Daily Telegraph there are two unusual aspects of COVID-19 that raise the possibility it was man-made rather than a naturally-occurring virus.

“There is no publicly available genetic evidence of cross-species transmission at the Huanan seafood market. But at the same time we cannot rule out the Huanan seafood market because we have not been able to analyse other data, eg, animal samples, from the market.”

She said human adaptation in nature and in a laboratory is possible.

“Did SARS-CoV-2 transmit across species into humans and circulate undetected for months prior to late 2019 while accumulating adaptive mutations?” she said.

“Or was SARS-CoV-2 already well adapted for humans while in bats or an intermediate species?

“More importantly, does this pool of human-adapted progenitor viruses still exist in animal populations? Even the possibility that a non-genetically-engineered precursor could have adapted to humans while being studied in a laboratory should be considered, regardless of how likely or unlikely.”
Scientists say COVID-19 may have been cooked up in lab
Passaging, GOF research, and lab escapes

GOF is gain of function research (explained in the quote). Terminology varies, passaging can also be considered a subset of GOF.

The experiment mentioned by Petrovsky represents a class of experiments called passaging. Passaging is the placing of a live virus into an animal or cell culture to which it is not adapted and then, before the virus dies out, transferring it to another animal or cell of the same type. Passaging is often done iteratively. The theory is that the virus will rapidly evolve (since viruses have high mutation rates) and become adapted to the new animal or cell type. Passaging a virus, by allowing it to become adapted to its new situation, creates a new pathogen.

The most famous such experiment was conducted in the lab of Dutch researcher Ron Fouchier. Fouchier took an avian influenza virus (H5N1) that did not infect ferrets (or other mammals) and serially passaged it in ferrets. The intention of the experiment was specifically to evolve a PPP. After ten passages the researchers found that the virus had indeed evolved, to not only infect ferrets but to transmit to others in neighbouring cages (Herfst et al., 2012). They had created an airborne ferret virus, a Potential Pandemic Pathogen, and a storm in the international scientific community.

The second class of experiments that have frequently been the recipients of criticism are GOF experiments. In GOF research, a novel virus is deliberately created, either by in vitro mutation or by cutting and pasting together two (or more) viruses. The intention of such reconfigurations is to make viruses more infectious by adding new functions such as increased infectivity or pathogenicity. These novel viruses are then experimented on, either in cell cultures or in whole animals. These are the class of experiments banned in the US from 2014 to 2017.

Some researchers have even combined GOF and passaging experiments by using recombinant viruses in passaging experiments (e.g. Sheahan et al., 2008).

Such experiments all require recombinant DNA techniques and animal or cell culture experiments. But the very simplest hypothesis of how Sars-CoV-2 might have been caused by research is simply to suppose that a researcher from the WIV or the WCDCP became infected during a collecting expedition and passed their bat virus on to their colleagues or family. The natural virus then evolved, in these early cases, into Sars-CoV-2. For this reason, even collecting trips have their critics. Epidemiologist Richard Ebright called them “the definition of insanity“. Handling animals and samples exposes collectors to multiple pathogens and returning to their labs then brings those pathogens back to densely crowded locations.
SARS-CoV-2 looks like a recombinant virus that has been passaged. The trouble is there is no way to prove it was done in a lab just looking at the RNA. However, I find this a more parsimonious explanation than the far-fetched natural explanations for how this could have happened which involve species that would never meet in the wild trading viruses, being infected by two at the same time, and then travelling vast distances from their natural habitat in order to infect people coincidentally next the only lab in the world that contains those viruses' closest relatives. The wet market hypothesis was an attempt to account for these absurdities, but that's not actually where the earliest cases were from.

Was the WIV doing experiments that might release PPPs?

The short answer is yes, rather a lot really.

Since 2004, shortly after the original SARS outbreak, researchers from the WIV have been collecting bat coronaviruses in an intensive search for SARS-like pathogens (Li et al., 2005). Since the original collecting trip, many more have been conducted (Ge et al., 2013; Ge et al., 2016; Hu et al., 2017; Zhou et al., 2018).

Petrovsky does not mention it but Zheng-Li Shi’s group at the WIV has already performed experiments very similar to those he describes, using those collected viruses. In 2013 the Shi lab reported isolating an infectious clone of a bat coronavirus that they called WIV-1 (Ge et al., 2013). WIV-1 was obtained by introducing a bat coronavirus into monkey cells, passaging it, and then testing its infectivity in human (HeLa) cell lines engineered to express the human ACE2 receptor (Ge et al., 2013).

In 2014, just before the US GOF research ban went into effect, Zheng-Li Shi of WIV co-authored a paper with the lab of Ralph Baric in North Carolina that performed GOF research on bat coronaviruses (Menachery et al., 2015).

In this particular set of experiments the researchers combined “the spike of bat coronavirus SHC014 in a mouse-adapted SARS-CoV backbone” into a single engineered live virus. The spike was supplied by the Shi lab. They put this bat/human/mouse virus into cultured human airway cells and also into live mice. The researchers observed “notable pathogenesis” in the infected mice (Menachery et al. 2015). The mouse-adapted part of this virus comes from a 2007 experiment in which the Baric lab created a virus called rMA15 through passaging (Roberts et al., 2007). This rMA15 was “highly virulent and lethal” to the mice. According to this paper, mice succumbed to “overwhelming viral infection”.

In 2017, again with the intent of identifying bat viruses with ACE2 binding capabilities, the Shi lab at WIV reported successfully infecting human (HeLa) cell lines engineered to express the human ACE2 receptor with four different bat coronaviruses. Two of these were lab-made recombinant (chimaeric) bat viruses. Both the wild and the recombinant viruses were briefly passaged in monkey cells (Hu et al., 2017).

Together, what these papers show is that: 1) The Shi lab collected numerous bat samples with an emphasis on collecting SARS-like coronavirus strains, 2) they cultured live viruses and conducted passaging experiments on them, 3) members of Zheng-Li Shi’s laboratory participated in GOF experiments carried out in North Carolina on bat coronaviruses, 4) the Shi laboratory produced recombinant bat coronaviruses and placed these in human cells and monkey cells. All these experiments were conducted in cells containing human or monkey ACE2 receptors.

The overarching purpose of such work was to see whether an enhanced pathogen could emerge from the wild by creating one in the lab. (For a very informative technical summary of WIV research into bat coronaviruses and that of their collaborators we recommend this post, written by biotech entrepreneur Yuri Deigin).

It also seems that the Shi lab at WIV intended to do more of such research. In 2013 and again in 2017 Zheng-Li Shi (with the assistance of a non-profit called the EcoHealth Alliance) obtained a grant from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). The most recent such grant proposed that:

“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” (NIH project #5R01Al110964-04).

It is hard to overemphasize that the central logic of this grant was to test the pandemic potential of SARS-related bat coronaviruses by making ones with pandemic potential, either through genetic engineering or passaging, or both.

Apart from descriptions in their publications we do not yet know exactly which viruses the WIV was experimenting with but it is certainly intriguing that numerous publications since Sars-CoV-2 first appeared have puzzled over the fact that the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein binds with exceptionally high affinity to the human ACE2 receptor “at least ten times more tightly” than the original SARS (Zhou et al., 2020; Wrapp et al., 2020; Wan et al., 2020; Walls et al., 2020; Letko et al., 2020).

This affinity is all the more remarkable because of the relative lack of fit in modelling studies of the SARS-CoV-2 spike to other species, including the postulated intermediates like snakes, civets and pangolins (Piplani et al., 2020). In this preprint these modellers concluded “This indicates that SARS-CoV-2 is a highly adapted human pathogen”.

Given the research and collection history of the Shi lab at WIV it is therefore entirely plausible that a bat SARS-like cornavirus ancestor of Sars-CoV-2 was trained up on the human ACE2 receptor by passaging it in cells expressing that receptor.

[On June 4 an excellent article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists went further. Pointing out what we had overlooked, that the Shi lab also amplified spike proteins of collected coronaviruses, which would make them available for GOF experimentation (Ge et al., 2016).]
The safety record of the WIV

The short answer again, not very good.

The final important data point is the biosafety history of the WIV. The WIV was built in 2015 and became a commissioned BSL-4 lab in 2018. According to Josh Rogin of the Washington Post, US embassy officials visited the WIV in 2018. They subsequently warned their superiors in Washington of a “serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory”.

And according to VOA News, a year before the outbreak, “a security review conducted by a Chinese national team found the lab did not meet national standards in five categories.”

Credible reports from within China also question lab biosafety and its management. In 2019, Yuan Zhiming, biosecurity specialist at the WIV, cited the “challenges” of biosafety in China. According to Yuan: “several high-level BSLs have insufficient operational funds for routine yet vital processes” and “Currently, most laboratories lack specialized biosafety managers and engineers.” He recommends that “We should promptly revise the existing regulations, guidelines, norms, and standards of biosafety and biosecurity”. Nevertheless, he also notes that China intends to build “5-7” more BSL-4 laboratories (Yuan, 2019).

And in February 2020, Scientific American interviewed Zheng-Li Shi. Accompanying the interview was a photograph of her releasing a captured bat. In the photo she is wearing a casual pink unzipped top layer, thin gloves, and no face mask or other protection. Yet this is the same researcher whose talks give “chilling” warnings about the dire risks of human contact with bats.

All of which tends to confirm the original State Department assessment. As one anonymous “senior administration official” told Rogin:

“The idea that it was just a totally natural occurrence is circumstantial. The evidence it leaked from a lab is circumstantial. Right now, the ledger on the side of it leaking from the lab is packed with bullet points and there’s almost nothing on the other side.”
The leading hypothesis is a lab outbreak

This also addresses why you've been hearing something different in the media, a major conflict of interest for the media's star expert witness.

For all these reasons, a lab escape is by far the leading hypothesis to explain the origins of Sars-CoV-2 and the COVID-19 pandemic. The sheer proximity of the WIV and WCDCP labs to the outbreak and the nature of their work represents evidence that can hardly be ignored. The long international history of lab escapes and the biosafety concerns from all directions about the labs in Wuhan greatly strengthen the case. Especially since evidence for the alternative hypothesis, in the form of a link to wild animal exposure or the wildlife trade, remains extremely weak, being based primarily on analogy with SARS one (Bell et al,. 2004; Andersen et al., 2020).

Nevertheless, on April 16th Peter Daszak, who is the President of the EcoHealth Alliance, told Democracy Now! in a lengthy interview that the lab escape thesis was “Pure baloney”. He told listeners:

“There was no viral isolate in the lab. There was no cultured virus that’s anything related to SARS coronavirus 2. So it’s just not possible.”

Daszak made very similar claims on CNN’s Sixty Minutes: “There is zero evidence that this virus came out of a lab in China.” Instead, Daszak encouraged viewers to blame “hunting and eating wildlife”.

Daszak’s certainty is highly problematic on several counts. The closest related known coronaviruses to Sars-CoV-2 are to be found at the WIV so a lot depends on what he means by “related to”. But it is also dishonest in the sense that Daszak must know that culturing in the lab is not the only way that WIV researchers could have caused an outbreak. Third, and this is not Daszak’s fault, the media are asking the right question to the wrong person.

As alluded to above, Daszak is the named principal investigator on multiple US grants that went to the Shi lab at WIV. He is also a co-author on numerous papers with Zheng-Li Shi, including the 2013 Nature paper announcing the isolation of coronavirus WIV-1 through passaging (Ge et al., 2013). One of his co-authorships is on the collecting paper in which his WIV colleagues placed the four fully functional bat coronaviruses into human cells containing the ACE2 receptor (Hu et al. 2017). That is, Daszak and Shi together are collaborators and co-responsible for most of the published high-risk collecting and experimentation at the WIV.
I wrote about the same issue in the other thread:

Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
There is a conflict of interest here. Experts on gain of function research are inevitably involved in gain of function research, therefore if the public becomes aware that such research may have inadvertently led to a global pandemic, these experts' careers are in jeopardy.

Another example, here is a Vox article entitled "Why these scientists still doubt the coronavirus leaked from a Chinese lab". The expert witness being interviewed is "Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance and a disease ecologist who has studied emerging infectious diseases with colleagues in China". The following is from a transcript of an email written by the National Institutes of Health to Daszak:

EcoHealth Alliance, Inc. is the recipient, as grantee, of an NIH grant entitled “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence.” It is our understanding that one of the sub-recipients on this grant is the Wuhan Institute of Virology (“WIV”). It is our understanding that Wuhan Institute of Virology studies the interaction between corona viruses and bats. The scientific community believes that the coronavirus causing COVID-19 jumped from bats to humans likely in Wuhan where the COVID-19 pandemic began. There are now allegations that the current crisis was precipitated by the release from Wuhan Institute of Virology of the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19. Given these concerns, we are pursuing suspension of Wuhan Institute of Virology from participation in federal programs.

While we review these allegations during the period of suspension, you are instructed to cease providing any funds to Wuhan Institute of Virology. This temporary action is authorized by 45 C.F.R. §75.371(d) (“Initiate suspension or debarment proceedings as authorized under 2 C.F.R. part 180”). The incorporated OMB provision provides that the funding agency may, through suspension, immediately and temporarily exclude from Federal programs persons who are not presently responsible where “immediate action is necessary to protect the public interest.” 2 C.F.R. § 180.700(c). It is in the public interest that NIH ensure that a sub-recipient has taken all appropriate precautions to prevent the release of pathogens that it is studying. This suspension of the sub-recipient does not affect the remainder of your grant assuming that no grant funds are provided to WIV following receipt of this email during the period of suspension.
Daszak was involved in gain of function research in collaboration with WIV. The Vox article goes on:

Some have speculated that perhaps the new coronavirus is derived from RaTG13. Yet virologists say it’s very unlikely: A 4 percent difference in genome is actually huge in evolutionary terms.

“The level of genome sequence divergence between SARS-CoV-2 and RaTG13 is equivalent to an average of 50 years (and at least 20 years) of evolutionary change,” said Edward Holmes, a professor at the University of Sydney who has published six academic papers this year on the genome and origin of SARS-CoV-2, in a statement. “Hence, SARS-CoV-2 was not derived from RaTG13.”

Another questionable assumption is that the mere existence of a related virus in the lab signals the possibility that SARS-CoV-2 was also there.

Daszak, who collaborates with the Wuhan bat coronavirus researchers and has co-authored papers with them, says this is false.
Except speeding up evolution is exactly what gain of function researchers are doing, so that argument doesn't really make any sense. Edward Holmes was also one of the coauthors of the correspondence I addressed in my last post. You can read about his research in this article about how China’s People’s Liberation Army have been kindly providing him data.

You will see the same handful of of expert witnesses in every article supposedly debunking the "conspiracy theory", but you can see in the article I posted that expert witnesses with nothing to lose are remarkably more open minded, some are suspicious, and for good reason.
And Fauci's conflict of interest as well:

Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
Quote Originally Posted by Coughdrop addict View Post
One place it probably didn't originate from is a lab in China. As Dr. Fauci and others have pointed out the idea falls apart on any reasonable examination.
Fauci has reasons to downplay the likelihood of this possibility. The lab in Wuhan was involved in gain of function research on bat coronaviruses. That is they were deliberately manipulating bat coronavirues in order to make them more transmissible, for the purpose of predicting what might occur naturally in order to prepare for it. This is controversial because of the potential of actually causing a pandemic if the pathogen accidentally gets out.

This is from an article Fauci wrote on the topic in 2012:

Scientists working in this field might say—as indeed I have said—that the benefits of such experiments and the resulting knowledge outweigh the risks. It is more likely that a pandemic would occur in nature, and the need to stay ahead of such a threat is a primary reason for performing an experiment that might appear to be risky. However, we must respect that there are genuine and legitimate concerns about this type of research, both domestically and globally. We cannot expect those who have these concerns to simply take us, the scientific community, at our word that the benefits of this work outweigh the risks, nor can we ignore their calls for greater transparency, their concerns about conflicts of interest, and their efforts to engage in a dialog about whether these experiments should have been performed in the first place. Those of us in the scientific community who believe in the merits of this work have the responsibility to address these concerns thoughtfully and respectfully.
Nevertheless, the organization Fauci heads happened to fund this project which just so happened to involve gain of function research on bat coronaviruses in collaboration with a certain Chinese lab in Wuhan.
To be clear, I'm open to natural origin explanations as well. I just haven't seen any particularly plausible hypothesis that fits with all the circumstantial evidence. Certainly there is no clear evidence of natural origin. You see, that runs both ways, once you realize just how plausible lab origin is.

Abdülmecid I - Friday/Saturday/Sunday morning preaching.
Post 4
Not sure about the value of Holland's Dominion book, but the cited examples are very unfortunate. Polygamy was not at all widespread in the Antiquity and, in the rare cases it was reported, it was limited to the ruling dynasties (not the Roman ones, though). It was a purely political measure, adopted by monarchs, whose throne relied on foreign alliances and the approval of the local aristocracy, so moral views about marriage, women and sex were largely irrelevant. The argument about infanticide is even more bogus, while the reference to Sparta is rather absurd, since that practice had already stopped being enforced (if it ever was, at least on a widespread scale) for several centuries. Fun fact: Sparta's most celebrated king, Agesilaus II, was lame from birth, but fortunately for Xenophon, nobody thought of disposing of the royal baby. Indirect infanticide was and still is, despite our impeccable Christian principles, the result of poverty and inability to feed our offspring in a satisfying manner. Polybius, in fact, quite a few decades before Joseph was conceived, presents the abandonment of newborns, in a very critical manner, as the tragic consequence of the impoverishment of mainland Greece.

The final paragraph about charity is also very misleading, as the author analyses the ''pagan'' and ''Christian'' motivation, based on double standards. On the one hand, he claims that pagans contributed to the society for selfish reasons, a very reasonable hypothesis, not however explicitly mentioned by the epigraphical testimony, and on the other hand, he takes the ''official'' interpretation as a Gospel. The irony is that the inscriptions confirm (based on a careful study of onomastics) that wealthy Christians copied the behaviour of their pagan colleagues, although, in the end, the rise of Christianity coincides with a decline of public infrastructure, because the urban elites were more reluctant to spend their money for the public good (to clarify, I doubt that the two trends are related to each other).

Don't get me wrong, I also dislike the way some hard-line atheists condemn Christianity as the root of all evils, but the aforementioned revisionism commits the same sin, only with paganism as its victim. Tom Holland would have probably been less disgusted at the cruelty of the ancients, if he recognized dramatic hyperbole and the fact that these egregious affairs are mentioned, precisely because the goal of the author is to derogate someone (usually, filthy barbarians), whom he views as the complete opposite to his personal values. Generally speaking, the notion that Stoicism, Christianity or Aristotelian philosophy are the most determining factor of human behaviour is rather naive. It's always interesting to read how the Three Holy Hierarchs are desperately trying to convince their otherwise very pious flock not to visit the bloody amphitheaters, but to no avail. Gladiators eventually lost the war, but due to causes irrelevant to Christian bishops, who after all didn't greatly appreciate their successors, miming and Chariot racing.
Quote Originally Posted by Akar View Post
Cool video.
He grossly overestimates the importance of religion in modern conflicts, as he fails to recognize that religious principles are usually used as convenient pretexts, in order to solidify the public approval of your otherwise controversial overseas endeavours. Bush Jr. may have boasted about his direct contact with the Almighty, but I doubt he invaded Iraq, because he tried to imitate the Crusades.

Prodromos - USA elections 2020
Post 5
Quote Originally Posted by Cope View Post
Trump is popular with a small minority of Americans (15-20%) precisely because he is not a Washington insider, dynastic candidate and/or career politician. That congressional Republicans jumped on his electoral bandwagon when it suited them* is evidence only that they see the presidency as a means to an end. The unprecedented attacks against his administration from the press, academia, the intelligence community, the civil service, the Democratic Party and sour GOP grandees should make it clear that Trump is a threat to, not an agent of, the liberal/neocon consensus that has existed since the end of the Cold War.

*The claim that Trump has the "unquestioning" support of congressional Republicans is a liberal myth. It is plainly disproved by their response to his Syria withdrawal which included voting for a bill to censure the president.

I was talking about the Republican Party. In June 2020, Trump and his supporters are indisputably the Republican establishment, not underdog outsiders. In no sense does Jeb Bush have more influence over the party, or even over the country, than President Trump or Senate Majority Leader McConnell. We know most major party figures don't like Trump, but that doesn't make him an outsider. Stalin wasn't that well-liked either.

Three years into his presidency and with his party firmly behind him and in control of the Senate and increasingly the judiciary, it's beyond silly to portray Trump as a helpless outsider. It's really just a way of shifting responsibility for his failings on to some kind of scapegoat (I see you helpfully provided a list of the usual suspects), which is ironic given that Trump's whole persona revolves around 'toughness' and endless 'winning'.

Two quotes, a month apart, neatly capture the essence of Donald Trump's presidency:

"No, I don't take responsibility at all." — March 13

"When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total. And that's the way it's got to be. It's total." — April 13

There is something quintessentially Trumpian about the claim of total authority and zero responsibility. He alone can save us, he insists, but don't blame him if he doesn't.

Kritias - Death of George Floyd and Subsequent Riots.
Post 6
A few observations:

1. About store lootings. Y'all seem to forget that this is happening amidst the coronavirus crisis, where 40+ million people have lost their jobs already. Now, I don't know how the system works in the US when you file for unemployment, but in the UK the process can get as long as six months for the first installment to be cleared. If similar, 40+ million people are staring at very grim survival prospects right about now. And then you see these people looting Target and other stores, carrying off what they can. And we have this knee-jerk reaction to it, so we don't think what it means. They didn't loot Target to get them some free AirPods, they looted Target in order to pawn it off and EAT. Don't forget that a good chunk of the population was already living paycheck to paycheck, not to mention those trapped in payday loan situations - and they just lost their lifeline. If anything, you should all be condemning the incompetence of the government for letting the economy fail so massively during a pandemic. Don't look at the symptom, look at the cause.

2. I am bewildered by the protests and the riots, to be honest. One hundred thousand people have died already from the pandemic, in a country with such vast production capabilities and so advanced medicine that should have made corona-virus an entirely preventable situation for everybody but the most susceptible (pre-existing conditions etc). In fact, thousands die every year from preventable diseases and conditions easily treatable in most advanced countries. Hell, even bankrupt Greece, dealing with a refugee crisis on the side, managed to keep the toll to less than two hundred people. So, it's confusing to me that police brutality is where people decided to draw the line, instead - I don't know - where they are supposed to be left to die because they are poor and can't afford the basic right to life?! It's one of those oxymoron where you guys go, "It's okay to let me die, but DON'T TREAD ON ME." The only people protesting against the handling of the virus were, funnily, the AstroTurf(google it) movement of quarantine=communism lot.

3. There seems to be confusion about what systemic racism is, and I think this term is tossed around very casually and to little effect. Systemic racism is the collection of beliefs, actions, and prejudices that disproportionately target minorities. When Amy Cooper threatened the man videotaping her to call the cops on him and lie that she was being 'assaulted by a black person', she knew exactly what Systemic Racism was and how to weaponize it. When Ahmed Arbery was gunned down, the perpetrators placed a call with the local PD to inform them that "a black man was running down the street". In their minds, running while black = criminal. The Mapping Police Violence site shows that in 2019 there were just 27 days the police didn't kill someone in the US. From those, about a quarter were black people, and another quarter were other minorities. By itself, this data says nothing - you could argue that black crime is the reason for these deaths. But the report continues. It's six times more likely to be shot while black in Oklahoma than in Georgia. In fact crime seems to have nothing to do with it. In Buffalo, NY with a population of 260K, 50% percentage of people of color and a violent crime rate of 12 to 1000, there were no police shootings. In Orlando, FL with a population of 260K, 42% percentage of people of color and a violent crime rate of 9 to 1000, 13 people were killed in three years (span of data in both cases, 2013-2016). That's Systemic Racism. So now you know.

4. Police brutality is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to police misdemeanors. Unfortunately, the news don't pick up on the vast array of transgressions done by police because it's not "edgy" enough to keep you watching the news. The ProPublica published the "Walking while Black" which was televised, so go watch that. They give the example of Jacksonville where 55% of the walking tickets go to the 29% of the black population of the city. According to them, "Tickets for some of the less familiar statutes were issued even more disproportionately to blacks. Seventy-eight percent of all tickets written for “walking in the roadway where sidewalks are provided” were issued to blacks. As well, blacks accounted for 68 percent of all recipients of tickets issued for “failing to cross the road at a right angle or shortest route.” Seton Hall Law School Center for Policy & Research has found that in the majority-white municipality of Bloomfield, New Jersey, nearly 80 percent of traffic tickets are issued to African American and Latino drivers. These two cases are indicative of a permeating problem policing minorities in the US. So, either minorities in America do not know how to walk in a city and drive a car, or these situations show SYSTEMIC RACISM.

5. I don't see any mention of what happened in Lafayette Square. Peaceful protesters assembled there were beaten by police before the curfew had started, because the president wanted... to walk across the street and hold a bible in front of St. John's church? So, in effect, police brutality was used for no better reason than Trump wanting to take photos in front of a building. It's a very disturbing silence, I think, considering what happened. So, instead of talking how long it takes for a person to suffocate, maybe you should focus on your rights infringed during the crisis.

Quote Originally Posted by Aexodus View Post
Why are the blacks mobilizing as a group? Why not have a more inclusive mass movement?
They are making fun of you, but you have a point. Maybe instead of a more inclusive mass movement, you should have said "working class movement". In fact, even though being white while poor still provides you some slight advantage in the US, having no money basically renders you a second-class citizen. Yes, there's differences and stages within second class citizens, but their lot in life even for the best equipped of them isn't admirable. The coronavirus must have proved to everyone how the poor were simply left to their fate. I'll leave you with a meme to lighten the conversation:

Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

B. W. - Death of George Floyd and Subsequent Riots.
Post 7
As I alluded to in a previous post, this type of policing started with the MADD movement. Sure there have always been instances of bad police behavior, but the impetus for this type of aggressive policing was MADD. Up until that time the police were generally reluctant to arrest someone who wasn't causing any harm to anyone.

In other words, in the old days the police would have just checked on Brooks to see if he was OK and then let him sleep it off as he was already doing. That makes sense and would be the sensible thing to do.

However when cities, lawyers, and courts found out how much revenue could be generated by aggressively policing DWIs and DUIs the police were ordered to be aggressive about arrests. I remember reading complaints made by police that it would cause friction between the police and the public, most especially in the minority and lower income communities because they were the largest offenders.

This was the original SJW cause and it started in the big cities and eventually made to all jurisdictions. When local governments found out they had a cash cow they were all in. There are the same people blaming the police who are obeying orders.

This type of harassment by police can be found across all jurisdictions and there are literally countless instances of police stopping and arresting people who were not causing harm to anyone, such as this horrific incident where a man was puller over on a empty dirt road in the countryside while riding his mower:


Pontifex Maximus - Microsoft to replace industry standard terms like whitelist, blacklist and master on GitHub with politically correct "race neutral" words.
Post 8
This whitewashing of the language is no doubt a black mark in this post-modernist society. I think the people at Microsoft have gone yellow-bellied. There's no need to get red in the face about a few terms that might be construed as racist by some bored people in the peanut gallery. The rule of thumb should be whether or not a statement is facially racist, not some sort of eenie meenie miney moe choice vector by which the liberals attempt to just control what is alright to say one day and not alright to say the next. We're being sold down the river by people who pretend to have good intentions. Who in the US is actually shouting "hip hip hooray" about racism? Such hooligans wouldn't be tolerated by polite society, no more than an eskimo would tolerate a Brazilian summer. Such offenders in some Canadian provinces are actually carted off in the paddy wagon for such uppity behavior. I've had my fill of such political correctness, I'm in a veritable food coma I'm so fed up with it. I have postprandial somnolence.

When bored race baiters try to export their standards on regular people, it comes across as tone deaf and cringey. They're not engaging in an intellectual exercise, they're finding new ways to whine about something. When it's done for profit or virtue points, well, the mask slips.

Quote Originally Posted by PointOfViewGun View Post
What was the reason for picking the black color? Is modern usage of the term traced back to that instance or its just that that's the earliest recorded use of the term?
This desperate attempt to re-read some modicum of logic into a decision that was taken with no discernible amount of consideration other than choosing to view the world only through a racial lens is hilarious.