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FTR #1155 Bio-Psy-Op Apocalypse, Now Part 15: Covid-19 Updates, Part 4

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FTR #1155 This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.

Intro­duc­tion: Con­tin­u­ing cov­er­age of the Covid-19 pandemic–almost cer­tain­ly a bio­log­i­cal war­fare project craft­ed by the U.S. nation­al secu­ri­ty establishment–the broad­cast cen­ters on the dual func­tion of “epi­dem­ic pre­ven­tion” and “epi­dem­ic cau­sa­tion” and sup­ple­ment­ing a Charles Blow op-ed piece in The New York Times.

Build­ing on the con­cept (dis­cussed many times in the past) that the dif­fer­ence between “offen­sive” and “defen­sive” bio­log­i­cal war­fare research is aca­d­e­m­ic, we note that cre­den­tialed observers have cit­ed Pen­ta­gon “vac­cine” research as a cov­er for offen­sive BW research. In addi­tion, we observe that numer­ous, over­lap­ping pro­grams osten­si­bly aimed at “pre­vent­ing” epi­demics may well mask efforts at gen­er­at­ing them.

One of the most noto­ri­ous and advanced bio­log­i­cal war­fare pro­grams in his­to­ry was Japan’s Unit 731, meld­ed into the U.S. bio­log­i­cal war­fare pro­gram at the end of World War II. The pro­gram was offi­cial­ly labeled: “the Epi­dem­ic Pre­ven­tion and Water Purifi­ca­tion Depart­ment of the Kwan­tung Army.”

Revis­it­ing the con­sum­mate­ly impor­tant Whit­ney Webb arti­cle about Pen­ta­gon research into bat-borne coro­n­avirus­es, we note:

  1. The DARPA research is osten­si­bly aimed at pre­vent­ing pan­demics but–very possibly–masking prepa­ra­tions for offen­sive bio­log­i­cal war­fare projects.
  2. The Pen­ta­gon is research­ing  “gene-driving”–a biotech­no­log­i­cal devel­op­ment that can per­ma­nent­ly alter the genet­ic make­up of entire pop­u­la­tion groups and lead to the extinc­tion of oth­er groups.
  3. The Pen­ta­gon research is heav­i­ly net­worked with com­pa­nies using DNA and mRNA vac­cines for Covid-19.

Genet­ic Engi­neer­ing

The fun­da­men­tal point of analy­sis and dis­cus­sion in this pro­gram, and the next, con­cerns the use of “Epi­dem­ic Pre­ven­tion” to mask exter­mi­na­tion­ist offen­sive bio­log­i­cal war­fare pro­grams to entrench, expand or intro­duce a white-suprema­cist/­First World Dom­i­na­tion dynam­ic in the U.S. and abroad.

Is this the lega­cy of Unit 731, nom­i­nal­ly an “Epi­dem­ic Pre­ven­tion” pro­gram?!

A col­umn by Charles Blow cor­rect­ly notes that the right-wing is work­ing to “lock-in” pow­er. Blow’s obser­va­tion is far more impor­tant when the con­text is expand­ed to include the full-court press against Chi­na and the effects of Covid-19 in the U.S.

Not a super­pow­er at this point in time, Chi­na has made rapid, remark­able progress:

  1. In 1981, 88% of the Chi­nese pop­u­la­tion lived in pover­ty. That was down to 0.7% in 2015.
  2. The Chi­nese mid­dle class was 4% of their pop­u­la­tion in 2002. By 2018, that was up to 31% of their pop­u­la­tion.
  3. In 2000, just 2% of the Chi­nese pop­u­la­tion had access to the inter­net. That was up to 29% by 2009.

With the stun­ning progress made by Chi­na, in com­bi­na­tion with their enor­mous pop­u­la­tion, the nation will be a major pow­er in the future.

Because they are not white and because their sys­tem of state cap­i­tal­ism is at log­ger­heads with the neo-lib­er­al dog­ma to which the West is enthrall, that coun­try will be brought to heel. The anti-Chi­na push by the West is fun­da­men­tal­ly white suprema­cist in nature.

Pur­suant to dis­cus­sion of the Charles Blow col­umn, Mr. Emory reads the head­lines and bylines from a num­ber of New York Times arti­cles under­scor­ing how the pan­dem­ic is work­ing against two trends that Blow cites as inim­i­cal to con­tin­ued GOP con­trol.

The pan­dem­ic is bad­ly dam­ag­ing the for­tunes of urban cen­ters and edu­ca­tion, both at the pub­lic school and uni­ver­si­ty lev­els. In that regard, the pan­dem­ic is accom­plish­ing what the Charles Blow col­umn enun­ci­ates.

Some inter­est­ing points raised by Dr. Daniel R. Lucey are par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant in light of the infor­ma­tion we have devel­oped in the past about gain of func­tion exper­i­ments.

Lucey’s points of inquiry–although not dis­cussed in this article–are par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant when con­sid­ered in con­junc­tion with the joint U.S./Chinese pro­gram to inves­ti­gate bat-borne coro­n­avirus­es, a pro­gram whose Amer­i­can fund­ing appa­ra­tus involved USAID, a fre­quent front for CIA oper­a­tions.

The gain of func­tion exper­i­ments we dis­cussed in FTR #‘s 1116, 1117 and 1121 involv­ing adapt­ing the H5N1 avian flu virus to fer­rets is worth con­tem­plat­ing in the con­text of infor­ma­tion indi­cat­ing that the SARS Cov‑2 virus is par­tic­u­lar­ly infec­tive for fer­rets.

Was part of the mod­i­fied H5N1 flu virus adapt­ed to SARS Cov‑2?

Anoth­er sub­ject worth con­tem­plat­ing con­cerns Gilead Sci­ences, Tam­i­flu and the prog­nos­ti­ca­tions con­cern­ing a “twindem­ic” this fall, with influen­za and Covid-19 com­bin­ing to over­whelm the health sys­tem.

Might we see an enhanced H5N1 avian influen­za this fall, pro­vid­ing enor­mous prof­its to Gilead Sci­ences, which, as we saw in FTR #1138, made an enor­mous amount of mon­ey (for itself and for­mer Chair­man of the Board Don­ald Rums­feld) devel­op­ing Tam­i­flu to negate the pos­si­bil­i­ty of an H5N1 pan­dem­ic?

Josef Men­gele

A key fac­tor spurring our sus­pi­cion con­cern­ing genet­ic-engi­neer­ing of one or more vari­ant of the Covid-19 virus con­cerns a 2015 Gain-of-Func­tion exper­i­ment per­formed by Ralph Bar­ic, employed in a joint U.S./Chinese exper­i­ment part­ly financed by USAID (a front for CIA activ­i­ty in the past) and NIH (used by both CIA and the Pen­ta­gon in the past). In that project, Bar­ic: ” . . . . pub­lished a study on his team’s efforts to engi­neer a virus with the sur­face pro­tein of the SHC014 coro­n­avirus, found in horse­shoe bats in Chi­na, and the back­bone of one that caus­es human-like severe acute res­pi­ra­to­ry syn­drome (SARS) in mice. The hybrid virus could infect human air­way cells and caused dis­ease in mice. . . . The results demon­strate the abil­i­ty of the SHC014 sur­face pro­tein to bind and infect human cells, val­i­dat­ing con­cerns that this virus—or oth­er coro­n­avirus­es found in bat species—may be capa­ble of mak­ing the leap to peo­ple with­out first evolv­ing in an inter­me­di­ate host . . .” 

Of more than pass­ing inter­est is the dis­clo­sure that the project on bat-borne coro­n­avirus­es con­duct­ed in the Wuhan lab­o­ra­to­ry was a joint U.S./Chinese project, and that Ralph Bar­ic was a key Amer­i­can part­ner in the project.

This is the under­tak­ing about which we have report­ed and dis­cussed exten­sive­ly in the past! . . . . One of Dr Shi’s co-authors on that paper, Pro­fes­sor Ralph Bar­ic from North Car­oli­na Uni­ver­si­ty, said in an inter­view with ‘Sci­ence Dai­ly’ at the time: ‘This virus is high­ly path­o­gen­ic and treat­ments devel­oped against the orig­i­nal SARS virus in 2002 and the ZMapp drugs used to fight ebo­la fail to neu­tralise and con­trol this par­tic­u­lar virus.’ . . . .”

1a. Note­wor­thy in that gen­er­al con­text is the obser­va­tion by Jonathan King (pro­fes­sor of mol­e­c­u­lar biol­o­gy at MIT), that Pen­ta­gon research into the appli­ca­tion of genet­ic engi­neer­ing to bio­log­i­cal war­fare could be masked as vac­cine research, which sounds “defen­sive.”

In FTR #1130, we not­ed the role of four-star gen­er­al Gus­tave Per­na in Trump’s “Oper­a­tion Warp Speed,” insti­tut­ed by Gen­er­al Mark Mil­ley, Chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Whether the pro­gram serves as cov­er for mil­i­tary research seems a rea­son­able ques­tion to ask, under the cir­cum­stances.

Gene Wars: Mil­i­tary Con­trol Over the New Tech­nolo­gies by Charles Piller and Kei­th R. Yamamo­to; Beech Tree Books/William Mor­row [HC]; Copy­right 1988 by Charles Piller and Kei­th Yamamo­to; ISBN 0–688-07050–7; p. 217

. . . . King, who has chaired the micro­bial phys­i­ol­o­gy study sec­tion for the NIH, believes that with­out inten­sive inde­pen­dent scruti­ny, the Pen­ta­gon is free to obscure its true goals.

“The Defense Depart­ment appears to be pur­su­ing many nar­row, applied goals that are by nature offen­sive, such as the genet­ic ‘improve­ment’ of BW agents,” King says. “But to achieve polit­i­cal accept­abil­i­ty, they mask these inten­tions under forms of research, such as vac­cine devel­op­ment, which sound defen­sive. . . .

1b.  In past pro­grams, we have briefly not­ed that mil­i­tary and [osten­si­bly] civil­ian pro­grams offi­cial­ly involved with “epi­dem­ic pre­ven­tion” might con­ceal clan­des­tine bio­log­i­cal war­fare appli­ca­tions designed to cre­ate epi­demics.

The offi­cial dis­tinc­tion between “offen­sive” and “defen­sive” bio­log­i­cal war­fare research is aca­d­e­m­ic.

In that con­text, one should note that the offi­cial title of Unit 731, the noto­ri­ous Japan­ese bio­log­i­cal war­fare unit was “the Epi­dem­ic Pre­ven­tion and Water Purifi­ca­tion Depart­ment of the Kwan­tung Army.”

“Unit 731”; Wikipedia.com.

Unit 731 (Japan­ese: 731部隊, Hep­burnNana-san-ichi Butai), also referred to as Detach­ment 731, the 731 Reg­i­mentMan­shu Detach­ment 731The Kamo Detach­ment,[3]:198 Ishii Unit,[5] Ishii Detach­ment[5] or the Ishii Com­pa­ny, was a covert bio­log­i­cal and chem­i­cal war­fare research and devel­op­ment unit of the Impe­r­i­al Japan­ese Army that under­took lethal human exper­i­men­ta­tion dur­ing the Sec­ond Sino-Japan­ese War (1937–1945) of World War II. It was respon­si­ble for some of the most noto­ri­ous war crimes car­ried out by Impe­r­i­al Japan. Unit 731 was based at the Ping­fang dis­trict of Harbin, the largest gas cham­ber in the Japan­ese pup­pet state of Manchukuo (now North­east Chi­na), and had active branch offices through­out Chi­na and South­east Asia.

It was offi­cial­ly known as the Epi­dem­ic Pre­ven­tion and Water Purifi­ca­tion Depart­ment of the Kwan­tung Army (関東軍防疫給水部本部, Kan­tō­gun Bōe­ki Kyū­suibu Hon­bu). . . .

3. Select­ed excerpts of a Whit­ney Webb arti­cle pro­vide insight into the pos­si­ble offen­sive nature of pro­grams osten­si­bly aimed at pre­vent­ing epi­demics. Like Unit 731 (see above), “Epi­dem­ic Pre­ven­tion” may well be mask­ing “epi­dem­ic cre­ation.”

In con­nec­tion with that pos­si­bil­i­ty, the DARPA focus on gene-dri­ving tech­nol­o­gy is fright­en­ing and fraught with dev­as­tat­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties.

Whether or not gene-dri­ving impacts DARPA assist­ed Covid-19 vac­cine devel­op­ment by Mod­er­na and Inovio, the Pen­ta­gon under­writ­ing of these firms is of con­cern.

“Bats, Gene Edit­ing and Bioweapons: Rec­cent DARPA Exper­i­ments Raise Con­cerns Amid Coro­n­avirus Out­break” by Whit­ney Webb; The Last Amer­i­can Vagabond; 1/30/2020.

  • ” . . . . the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), began spend­ing mil­lions on such research in 2018 and some of those Pen­ta­gon-fund­ed stud­ies were con­duct­ed at known U.S. mil­i­tary bioweapons labs bor­der­ing Chi­na and result­ed in the dis­cov­ery of dozens of new coro­n­avirus strains as recent­ly as last April. Fur­ther­more, the ties of the Pentagon’s main biode­fense lab to a virol­o­gy insti­tute in Wuhan, Chi­na — where the cur­rent out­break is believed to have begun — have been unre­port­ed in Eng­lish lan­guage media thus far. . . . For instance, DARPA spent $10 mil­lion on one project in 2018 ‘to unrav­el the com­plex caus­es of bat-borne virus­es that have recent­ly made the jump to humans, caus­ing con­cern among glob­al health offi­cials.” Anoth­er research project backed by both DARPA and NIH saw researchers at Col­orado State Uni­ver­si­ty exam­ine the coro­n­avirus that caus­es Mid­dle East Res­pi­ra­to­ry Syn­drome (MERS) in bats and camels ‘to under­stand the role of these hosts in trans­mit­ting dis­ease to humans.’  . . . For instance, one study con­duct­ed in South­ern Chi­na in 2018 result­ed in the dis­cov­ery of 89 new ‘nov­el bat coro­n­avirus’ strains that use the same recep­tor as the coro­n­avirus known as Mid­dle East Res­pi­ra­to­ry Syn­drome (MERS). That study was joint­ly fund­ed by the Chi­nese government’s Min­istry of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy, USAID — an orga­ni­za­tion long alleged to be a front for U.S. intel­li­gence, and the U.S. Nation­al Insti­tute of Health — which has col­lab­o­rat­ed with both the CIA and the Pen­ta­gon on infec­tious dis­ease and bioweapons research.. . . .”
  • The DARPA research is osten­si­bly aimed at pre­vent­ing pan­demics but–very possibly–masking prepa­ra­tions for offen­sive bio­log­i­cal war­fare projects. ” . . . . Many of these recent research projects are relat­ed to DARPA’s Pre­vent­ing Emerg­ing Path­o­gen­ic Threats, or PREEMPT pro­gram, which was offi­cial­ly announced in April 2018. PREEMPT focus­es specif­i­cal­ly on ani­mal reser­voirs of dis­ease, specif­i­cal­ly bats, and DARPA even not­ed in its press release in the pro­gram that it ‘is aware of biosafe­ty and biose­cu­ri­ty sen­si­tiv­i­ties that could arise’ due to the nature of the research. . . . In addi­tion, while both DARPA’s PREEMPT pro­gram and the Pentagon’s open inter­est in bats as bioweapons were announced in 2018, the U.S. mil­i­tary — specif­i­cal­ly the Depart­ment of Defense’s Coop­er­a­tive Threat Reduc­tion Pro­gram — began fund­ing research involv­ing bats and dead­ly pathogens, includ­ing the coro­n­avirus­es MERS and SARS, a year pri­or in 2017. . . .”
  • The Pen­ta­gon is research­ing  “gene-driving”–a biotech­no­log­i­cal devel­op­ment that can per­ma­nent­ly alter the genet­ic make­up of entire pop­u­la­tion groups and lead to the extinc­tion of oth­er groups. ” . . . . Con­cerns about Pen­ta­gon exper­i­ments with bio­log­i­cal weapons have gar­nered renewed media atten­tion, par­tic­u­lar­ly after it was revealed in 2017 that DARPA was the top fun­der of the con­tro­ver­sial ‘gene dri­ve’ tech­nol­o­gy, which has the pow­er to per­ma­nent­ly alter the genet­ics of entire pop­u­la­tions while tar­get­ing oth­ers for extinc­tion. At least two of DARPA’s stud­ies using this con­tro­ver­sial tech­nol­o­gy were clas­si­fied and ‘focused on the poten­tial mil­i­tary appli­ca­tion of gene dri­ve tech­nol­o­gy and use of gene dri­ves in agri­cul­ture,’ accord­ing to media reports. The rev­e­la­tion came after an orga­ni­za­tion called the ETC Group obtained over 1,000 emails on the military’s inter­est in the tech­nol­o­gy as part of a Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act (FOIA) request. Co-direc­tor of the ETC Group Jim Thomas said that this tech­nol­o­gy may be used as a bio­log­i­cal weapon: ‘Gene dri­ves are a pow­er­ful and dan­ger­ous new tech­nol­o­gy and poten­tial bio­log­i­cal weapons could have dis­as­trous impacts on peace, food secu­ri­ty and the envi­ron­ment, espe­cial­ly if mis­used, The fact that gene dri­ve devel­op­ment is now being pri­mar­i­ly fund­ed and struc­tured by the US mil­i­tary rais­es alarm­ing ques­tions about this entire field.’ . . . .”
  • That is heav­i­ly net­worked with the U.S. health and med­ical infra­struc­tures. ” . . . . The sec­ond phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­ny that was select­ed by CEPI to devel­op a vac­cine for the new coro­n­avirus is Mod­er­na Inc., which will devel­op a vac­cine for the nov­el coro­n­avirus of con­cern in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the U.S. NIH and which will be fund­ed entire­ly by CEPI. The vac­cine in ques­tion, as opposed to Inovio’s DNA vac­cine, will be a mes­sen­ger RNA (mRNA) vac­cine. Though dif­fer­ent than a DNA vac­cine, mRNA vac­cines still use genet­ic mate­r­i­al ‘to direct the body’s cells to pro­duce intra­cel­lu­lar, mem­brane or secret­ed pro­teins.’ Moderna’s mRNA treat­ments, includ­ing its mRNA vac­cines, were large­ly devel­oped using a $25 mil­lion grant from DARPA and it often touts is strate­gic alliance with DARPA in press releas­es. . . .”
  • That is heav­i­ly net­worked with firms cho­sen to devel­op vac­cines for the Covid-19. ” . . . . the very com­pa­nies recent­ly cho­sen to devel­op a vac­cine to com­bat the coro­n­avirus out­break are them­selves strate­gic allies of DARPA. . . . For instance, the top fun­ders of Inovio Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals include both DARPA and the Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduc­tion Agency (DTRA) and the com­pa­ny has received mil­lions in dol­lars in grants from DARPA, includ­ing a $45 mil­lion grant to devel­op a vac­cine for Ebo­la. Inovio spe­cial­izes in the cre­ation of DNA immunother­a­pies and DNA vac­cines, which con­tain genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered DNA that caus­es the cells of the recip­i­ent to pro­duce an anti­gen and can per­ma­nent­ly alter a person’s DNA. Inovio pre­vi­ous­ly devel­oped a DNA vac­cine for the Zika virus, but — to date — no DNA vac­cine has been approved for use in humans in the Unit­ed States. Inovio was also recent­ly award­ed over $8 mil­lion from the U.S. mil­i­tary to devel­op a small, portable intra­der­mal device for deliv­er­ing DNA vac­cines joint­ly devel­oped by Inovio and USAMRIID.

4a. For­mer­ly in charge of prod­uct devel­op­ment for Mod­er­na, “Oper­a­tion Warp Speed” chief Mon­cef Slaoui has kept shares in a firm that will be man­u­fac­tur­ing Mod­er­na’s vac­cine.

“Trump’s Vac­cine Czar Refus­es to Give Up Stock in Com­pa­ny Involved In His Gov­ern­ment Role” by Isaac Arns­dorf; ProP­ub­li­ca; 9/23/2020.

. . . . HHS pre­vi­ous­ly said Slaoui “does not have any addi­tion­al stock hold­ings in any oth­er com­pa­nies involved in vac­cines, ther­a­peu­tics and diag­nos­tic prod­ucts devel­oped to com­bat COVID-19.” But in addi­tion to Slaoui’s retained Glax­o­SmithK­line shares, the records obtained by the House Democ­rats revealed he has a hold­ing in anoth­er biotech­nol­o­gy com­pa­ny, Lon­za Group, that wasn’t pre­vi­ous­ly dis­closed. The com­pa­ny has a con­tract with Mod­er­na to man­u­fac­ture its coro­n­avirus vac­cine. Slaoui resigned from Lonza’s board before join­ing Oper­a­tion Warp Speed but kept his shares. The records released by the House com­mit­tee do not show how much the stake was worth. . . .

4b. Inovio’s vac­cine has been delayed due to side effects expe­ri­enced by some of the tri­al sub­jects.

“Vac­cine on ‘Par­tial Clin­i­cal Hold’ ” by James Bar­ron; The New York Times; 09/29/2020; p. A4 [West­ern Edi­tion].

Anoth­er vac­cine tri­al was delayed. Inovio Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal said on Mon­day that the Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion had put the mid-to-late-stage tri­als of its acci­neon a “par­tial clin­i­cal hold.”

Inovio, a Penn­syl­va­nia biotech­nol­o­gy com­pa­ny whose chief exec­u­tive boast­ed to Pres­i­dent Trump in March that it was the world’s leader in coro­n­avirus vac­cines, said the pause was relat­ed to side effects detect­ed in the first phase of test­ing of its vac­cine, devel­oped from a com­put­er algo­rithm that iden­ti­fies the DNA sequence of the anti­gen. . . .

5a. A col­umn by Charles Blow cor­rect­ly notes that the right-wing is work­ing to “lock-in” pow­er. Blow’s obser­va­tion is far more impor­tant when the con­text is expand­ed to include the full-court press against Chi­na and the effects of Covid-19 in the U.S.

Not a super­pow­er at this point in time, Chi­na has made rapid, remark­able progress:

  1. In 1981, 88% of the Chi­nese pop­u­la­tion lived in pover­ty. That was down to 0.7% in 2015.
  2. The Chi­nese mid­dle class was 4% of their pop­u­la­tion in 2002. By 2018, that was up to 31% of their pop­u­la­tion.
  3. In 2000, just 2% of the Chi­nese pop­u­la­tion had access to the inter­net. That was up to 29% by 2009.

With the stun­ning progress made by Chi­na, in com­bi­na­tion with their enor­mous pop­u­la­tion, the nation will be a major pow­er in the future.

Because they are not white and because their sys­tem of state cap­i­tal­ism is at log­ger­heads with the neo-lib­er­al dog­ma to which the West is enthrall, that coun­try will be brought to heel. The anti-Chi­na push by the West is fun­da­men­tal­ly white suprema­cist in nature.

“Con­ser­v­a­tives Try to Lock In Pow­er” by Charles Blow; The New York Times; 9/21/2020.

. . . . This is all about pow­er for a group of peo­ple who feel their grip on pow­er slip­ping away.

They are try­ing to reshape the courts for a gen­er­a­tion, if not longer, so that as their numer­i­cal advan­tage slips away, their pow­er imbal­ance will have already been enshrined. As Amer­i­ca becomes less reli­gious and less white, more gal­va­nized to fight cli­mate change . . . . and more aware of sys­temic racism, the reli­gious con­ser­v­a­tive spine of the Repub­li­can Par­ty is des­per­ate for a way to save a way of life that may soon be ren­dered a rel­ic.

Accord­ing to the Pew Research Cen­ter, 78 per­cent of white evan­gel­i­cal vot­ers are Repub­li­cans or lean Repub­li­can. So are 62 per­cent of white men with­out a col­lege degree, 60 per­cent of rur­al south­ern­ers and 57 per­cent of peo­ple who attend reli­gious ser­vices week­ly.

Many of those demo­graph­ics are under threat. The Unit­ed States will be major­i­ty-minor­i­ty by 2045 and by 2060 there will be near­ly as many His­pan­ic chil­dren in the coun­try as white ones. . . .

. . . This is why they hap­pi­ly cheer Trump’s attack on immigrants—both legal and undoc­u­ment­ed. It is why they encour­age efforts to dis­en­fran­chise vot­ers. It is why Trump’s attacks on cities res­onate, as does his MAGA mantra. . . .

Urban­iza­tion means that many of those rur­al south­ern areas are los­ing pop­u­la­tion. For instance, an Atlanta Jour­nal Con­sti­tu­tion analy­sis last year, report­ed by The Asso­ci­at­ed Press, found that:

“More than half of the small towns in Geor­gia — those with pop­u­la­tions under 10,000 — have lost pop­u­la­tion since 2010. Mean­while, only 1 in 6 towns with pop­u­la­tions of 10,000 or above have lost res­i­dents.” . . . .

. . . . Last­ly, the per­cent­age of Amer­i­cans with col­lege degrees keeps ris­ing, mov­ing from 4.6% in 1940 to 36% in 2019.

5b. Pur­suant to dis­cus­sion of the Charles Blow col­umn, Mr. Emory reads the head­lines and bylines from a num­ber of New York Times arti­cles under­scor­ing how the pan­dem­ic is work­ing against two trends that Blow cites as inim­i­cal to con­tin­ued GOP con­trol.

The pan­dem­ic is bad­ly dam­ag­ing the for­tunes of urban cen­ters and edu­ca­tion, both at the pub­lic school and uni­ver­si­ty lev­els.

  • “Eco­nom­ic Pain Looms in Cities And in States” by Jean­na Smi­alek, Alan Rappe­port and Cmi­ly Cochrane; The New York Times; 8/15/2020; pp. A1-A6 [West­ern Edi­tion].
  • “The Reces­sion Will Slam Cities. And Not Just Blue-State Ones” by Emi­ly Bad­ger and Quoc­trung Bui; The New York Times; 8/19/2020; pp. B1-B5 [West­ern Edi­tion].
  • “Tran­sit Fore­cast: Dras­tic Cuts With­out Aid” by Christi­na Gold­baum; The New York Times; 8/27/2020; p. A‑4 [West­ern Edi­tion].
  • “If Work­ers Opt Out, Star Cities May Dim” by Eduar­do Porter; The New York Times; 7/21/2020; pp. B1-B5 [West­ern Edi­tion]. ” . . . . The pan­dem­ic threat­ens the assets that make Amer­i­ca’s most suc­cess­ful cities so dynamic–not only their bars, muse­ums and the­aters, but also their dense net­works of inno­v­a­tive busi­ness­es and high­ly skilled work­ers . . . . Com­pelled by the imper­a­tive of social dis­tanc­ing, the cut­ting-edge busi­ness­es that flocked to cities to exploit their bun­dles of tal­ent have been exper­i­ment­ing with tech­nolo­gies to repli­cate their social inter­ac­tions even if every­body is work­ing from home . . . .”
  • “Nation­al Chains Aban­don Man­hat­tan: ‘It’s Unsus­tain­able’ ” by Matthew Haag and Patrick McGee­han; The New York Times; 8/12/2020; p. A8 [West­ern Edi­tion].
  • “Virus Push­ing New York Into a Finan­cial Abyss” by Dana Rubin­stein; The New York Times; 9/29/2020; pp. A1-A9 [West­ern Edi­tion].
  • “Ghost­ly Offices Haunt New York As Rebound Lags” by Julie Creswell and Peter Eav­is; The New York Times; 9/09/2020; pp. A1-A6 [West­ern Edi­tion].
  • “Some Schools (Pri­vate) Are Open­ing While Oth­ers (Pub­lic) Are Not” by Claire Cain Miller; The New York Times; 07/17/2020; p. A5 [West­ern Edi­tion].
  • “Virus Clo­sures Leave Stu­dents Falling Behind Gaps of Race and Class Are Like­ly to Widen” by Dana Gold­stein; The New York Times; 06/06/2020; pp. A1- A7 [West­ern Edi­tion].
  • “ ‘End of the Line’: Pan­dem­ic Leaves the Pri­vate School Bus Indus­try in Cri­sis” by Pran­shu Ver­ma; The New York Times; 08/29/2020; p. A9 [West­ern Edi­tion].
  • “Is This the End of Col­lege as We Knew It?” by Frank Bruni; The New York Times; 06/07/2020; p. 6 (Sun­day Review) [West­ern Edi­tion].
  • “The Only Way to Save High­er Edu­ca­tion Is to Make It Free” by Claire Bond Pot­ter; The New York Times; 06/07/2020; p. 6 (Sun­day Review) [West­ern Edi­tion].
  • “Rich Col­leges Can Spend More” by Paul Cam­pos; The New York Times; 06/07/2020; p. 7 (Sun­day Review) [West­ern Edi­tion].
  • “Will Gifts to Col­leges Keep on Giv­ing? An annu­ity ensures income and leaves a dona­tion. But the pan­dem­ic imper­ils some schools’ finances” by Paul Sul­li­van; The New York Times; 9/05/2020; p. B6 [West­ern Edi­tion].
  • “As States’ Rev­enue Dis­ap­pears, So Might the ‘Pub­lic’ in Pub­lic Col­leges” by Kevin Carey; The New York Times; 05/07/2020; p. A11 [West­ern Edi­tion].
  • “Scat­tered to the Winds, Col­lege Stu­dents Strug­gle” by Anemona Har­to­col­lis; The New York Times; 05/28/2020; p. A11 [West­ern Edi­tion].
  • “Plan­ning for Fall, C0lleges Face A Revolt Among Pro­fes­sors;” The New York Times; 07/03/2020; p. A10 [West­ern Edi­tion].
  • “How to Reopen Amer­i­ca’s Schools” [edi­to­r­i­al] ” . . . . Parental anx­i­ety is strik­ing­ly evi­dent in recent polls, includ­ing one released last month by USA Today/Ipsos. Elect­ed offi­cials should find it sober­ing that six in 10 par­ents say they are like­ly to con­tin­ue home learn­ing instead of send­ing their kids back to school this fall. One in five teach­ers say they are unlike­ly to return to their class­rooms. And when par­ents and teach­ers are con­sid­ered togeth­er, about four in 10 oppose return­ing to school at all until a coro­n­avirus vac­cine is available–in oth­er words, pos­si­bly years from now. . . .”; The New York Times; 06/07/2020; p. 10 (Sun­day Review) [West­ern Edi­tion].

6. Some inter­est­ing points raised by Dr. Daniel R. Lucey are par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant in light of the infor­ma­tion we have devel­oped in the past about gain of func­tion exper­i­ments.

Lucey’s points of inquiry–although not dis­cussed in this article–are par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant when con­sid­ered in con­junc­tion with the joint U.S./Chinese pro­gram to inves­ti­gate bat-borne coro­n­avirus­es, a pro­gram whose Amer­i­can fund­ing appa­ra­tus involved USAID, a fre­quent front for CIA oper­a­tions.

The gain of func­tion exper­i­ments we dis­cussed in FTR #‘s 1116, 1117 and 1121 involv­ing adapt­ing the H5N1 avian flu virus to fer­rets is worth con­tem­plat­ing in the con­text of infor­ma­tion indi­cat­ing that the SARS Cov‑2 virus is par­tic­u­lar­ly infec­tive for fer­rets.

Was part of the mod­i­fied H5N1 flu virus adapt­ed to SARS Cov‑2?

Anoth­er sub­ject worth con­tem­plat­ing con­cerns Gilead Sci­ences, Tam­i­flu and the prog­nos­ti­ca­tions con­cern­ing a “twindem­ic” this fall, with influen­za and Covid-19 com­bin­ing to over­whelm the health sys­tem.

Might we see an enhanced H5N1 avian influen­za this fall, pro­vid­ing enor­mous prof­its to Gilead Sci­ences, which, as we saw in FTR #1138, made an enor­mous amount of mon­ey (for itself and for­mer Chair­man of the Board Don­ald Rums­feld) devel­op­ing Tam­i­flu to negate the pos­si­bil­i­ty of an H5N1 pan­dem­ic?

“Dis­ease Detec­tive Put Forth Point­ed Ques­tions” by William J. Broad; The New York Times; 7/14/2020; p. D7 [West­ern Edi­tion].

. . . . The sixth and sev­enth ques­tions go to whether the dead­ly pathogen leapt to humans from a lab­o­ra­to­ry. Although some intel­li­gence ana­lysts and sci­en­tists have enter­tained that sce­nario, no direct evi­dence has come to light sug­gest­ing that the coro­n­avirus escaped from one of Wuhan’s labs.

Even so, giv­en the wet market’s down­grad­ing in the inves­ti­ga­tion, “It is impor­tant to address ques­tions about any poten­tial lab­o­ra­to­ry source of the virus, whether in Wuhan or else­where,” Dr. [Daniel R.] Lucey wrote in his blog post.

To that end, he urges the W.H.O. inves­ti­ga­tors to look for any signs of “gain of func­tion” research — the delib­er­ate enhance­ment of pathogens to make them more dan­ger­ous. The tech­nique is high­ly con­tentious. Crit­ics ques­tion its mer­its and warn that it could lead to cat­a­stroph­ic lab leaks. Pro­po­nents see it as a legit­i­mate way to learn how virus­es and oth­er infec­tious organ­isms might evolve to infect and kill peo­ple, and thus help in devis­ing new pro­tec­tions and pre­cau­tions.

Debate over its wis­dom erupt­ed in 2011 after researchers announced suc­cess in mak­ing the high­ly lethal H5N1 strain of avian flu eas­i­ly trans­mis­si­ble through the air between fer­rets, at least in the lab­o­ra­to­ry.

In his blog, Dr. Lucey asks “what, if any,” gain-of-func­tion stud­ies were done on coro­n­avirus­es in Wuhan, else­where in Chi­na, or in col­lab­o­ra­tion with for­eign lab­o­ra­to­ries.

“If done well sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly, then this inves­ti­ga­tion should allay per­sis­tent con­cerns about the ori­gin of this virus,” he wrote. “It could also help set an improved stan­dard for inves­ti­gat­ing and stop­ping the awful virus­es, and oth­er pathogens, in the decades ahead.”

Final­ly, Dr. Lucey asks the W.H.O. team to learn more about China’s main influen­za research lab, a high-secu­ri­ty facil­i­ty in Harbin, the cap­i­tal of China’s north­ern­most province. In May, he notes, a Chi­nese paper in the jour­nal Sci­ence report­ed that two virus sam­ples from Wuhan were stud­ied there in great detail ear­ly this year, includ­ing in a vari­ety of ani­mals. It report­ed that cats and fer­rets were high­ly sus­cep­ti­ble to the pathogen; dogs were only mild­ly sus­cep­ti­ble; and pigs, chick­ens and ducks were not sus­cep­ti­ble at all. . . .

7a. A key fac­tor spurring our sus­pi­cion con­cern­ing genet­ic-engi­neer­ing of one or more vari­ant of the Covid-19 virus con­cerns a 2015 Gain-of-Func­tion exper­i­ment:

“Lab-Made Coro­n­avirus Trig­gers Debate” by Jef Akst; The Sci­en­tist; 11/16/2015

. . . . Ralph Bar­ic, an infec­tious-dis­ease researcher at the Uni­ver­si­ty of North Car­oli­na at Chapel Hill, last week (Novem­ber 9) pub­lished a study on his team’s efforts to engi­neer a virus with the sur­face pro­tein of the SHC014 coro­n­avirus, found in horse­shoe bats in Chi­na, and the back­bone of one that caus­es human-like severe acute res­pi­ra­to­ry syn­drome (SARS) in mice. The hybrid virus could infect human air­way cells and caused dis­ease in mice. . . . The results demon­strate the abil­i­ty of the SHC014 sur­face pro­tein to bind and infect human cells, val­i­dat­ing con­cerns that this virus—or oth­er coro­n­avirus­es found in bat species—may be capa­ble of mak­ing the leap to peo­ple with­out first evolv­ing in an inter­me­di­ate host, Nature report­ed. They also reignite a debate about whether that infor­ma­tion jus­ti­fies the risk of such work, known as gain-of-func­tion research. ‘If the [new] virus escaped, nobody could pre­dict the tra­jec­to­ry,’ Simon Wain-Hob­son, a virol­o­gist at the Pas­teur Insti­tute in Paris, told Nature. . . .

. . . . But Bar­ic and oth­ers argued the study’s impor­tance. “[The results] move this virus from a can­di­date emerg­ing pathogen to a clear and present dan­ger,” Peter Daszak, pres­i­dent of the Eco­Health Alliance, which sam­ples virus­es from ani­mals and peo­ple in emerg­ing-dis­eases hotspots across the globe, told Nature. . . .

7b. Of more than pass­ing inter­est is the dis­clo­sure that the project on bat-borne coro­n­avirus­es con­duct­ed in the Wuhan lab­o­ra­to­ry was a joint U.S./Chinese project, and that Ralph Bar­ic was a key Amer­i­can part­ner in the project.

This is the under­tak­ing about which we have report­ed and dis­cussed exten­sive­ly in the past! . . . . One of Dr Shi’s co-authors on that paper, Pro­fes­sor Ralph Bar­ic from North Car­oli­na Uni­ver­si­ty, said in an inter­view with ‘Sci­ence Dai­ly’ at the time: ‘This virus is high­ly path­o­gen­ic and treat­ments devel­oped against the orig­i­nal SARS virus in 2002 and the ZMapp drugs used to fight ebo­la fail to neu­tralise and con­trol this par­tic­u­lar virus.’ . . . .”

In FTR #1121, we not­ed that Bar­ic was the selectee to recon­struct the SARS Cov2 virus from scratch. We also not­ed that: ” . . . . The tech­nol­o­gy imme­di­ate­ly cre­at­ed bio-weapon wor­ries. . . . Researchers at the US Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC) drove that point home in 2005 when they res­ur­rect­ed the influen­za virus that killed tens of mil­lions in 1918–1919. . . .

“Coro­n­avirus NSW: Dossier lays out case against Chi­na bat virus pro­gram” by Shar­ri Mark­son; The Dai­ly Tele­graph; 05/04/2020

. . . . Their Novem­ber 2015 study, done in con­junc­tion with the Uni­ver­si­ty of North Car­oli­na, con­clud­ed that the SARS-like virus could jump direct­ly from bats to humans and there was no treat­ment that could help.

The study acknowl­edges the incred­i­ble dan­ger of the work they were con­duct­ing.

“The poten­tial to pre­pare for and mit­i­gate future out­breaks must be weighed against the risk of cre­at­ing more dan­ger­ous pathogens,” they wrote. . . .

. . . . One of Dr Shi’s co-authors on that paper, Pro­fes­sor Ralph Bar­ic from North Car­oli­na Uni­ver­si­ty, said in an inter­view with Sci­ence Dai­ly at the time: “This virus is high­ly path­o­gen­ic and treat­ments devel­oped against the orig­i­nal SARS virus in 2002 and the ZMapp drugs used to fight ebo­la fail to neu­tralise and con­trol this par­tic­u­lar virus.” . . . .

 

Discussion

3 comments for “FTR #1155 Bio-Psy-Op Apocalypse, Now Part 15: Covid-19 Updates, Part 4”

  1. Here’s an inter­est­ing update on the glob­al inves­ti­ga­tion into the ori­gins of the SARS-CoV­‑2 coro­n­avirus: the Lancet COVID-19 Com­mis­sion, which was estab­lished in July to “offer prac­ti­cal solu­tions” to the pan­dem­ic and make rec­om­men­da­tions on how the next one can be avoid­ed or bet­ter defend­ed against, set up a new sci­en­tif­ic team to inves­ti­gate the ori­gins of the virus. The team is tasked with exam­in­ing all pos­si­bil­i­ties, includ­ing a lab-based ori­gin. The broad­er Lancet COVID-19 Com­mis­sion is head­ed by US econ­o­mist Jef­frey Sachs and is going to be look­ing into the glob­al response to the pan­dem­ic.

    Guess who is lead­ing the sci­en­tif­ic team tasked with ques­tions about the virus’s ori­gin: Dr. Peter Daszak, pres­i­dent of the US-based Eco­Health Alliance. Daszak is an obvi­ous choice to lead such a com­mis­sion in the sense that he’s a glob­al expert in zoonot­ic ‘spillover’ events where virus­es jump species. But there’s one rather sig­nif­i­cant com­pli­cat­ing fac­tor in select­ing him to lead this inquiry: Recall how the Eco­Health Alliance is an inte­gral orga­ni­za­tion in estab­lish­ing the inter­na­tion­al col­lab­o­ra­tions of virol­o­gy stud­ies that have involved all sorts of con­tro­ver­sial stud­ies like the 2015 ‘gain-of-func­tion’ study where US and Chi­nese researchers — includ­ing Chi­na’s top coro­n­avirus research Shi Zhengli — joint­ly cre­at­ed chimeric coro­n­avirus­es using the back­bone of a coro­n­avirus found in horse­shoe bats in Chi­na spliced with the SARS virus. Daszak was a defend­er of the study at the time and has long been a cham­pi­on of these kinds of stud­ies. So the guy who is going to be lead­ing the sci­en­tif­ic inquiry into the ques­tion of whether or not the virus could have had a man-made ori­gin is one of the lead­ing advo­cates of the safe­ty and neces­si­ty of pre­cise­ly the kinds of exper­i­ments that are the top can­di­dates for a man-made ori­gin of this virus:

    The Tele­graph

    Sci­en­tists to exam­ine pos­si­bil­i­ty Covid leaked from lab as part of inves­ti­ga­tion into virus ori­gins

    Lead inves­ti­ga­tor says no stone will be left unturned, although exist­ing evi­dence points to a nat­ur­al zoonot­ic spillover event

    By Paul Nuki, Glob­al Health Secu­ri­ty Edi­tor, Lon­don and Sarah Newey
    15 Sep­tem­ber 2020 • 9:59pm

    An inter­na­tion­al team of sci­en­tists will exam­ine the pos­si­bil­i­ty Sars-Cov­‑2 leaked from a lab­o­ra­to­ry as part of a com­pre­hen­sive inves­ti­ga­tion into the ori­gins of the virus.

    The team is being set up as part of the Lancet COVID-19 Com­mis­sion, a body estab­lished in July to “offer prac­ti­cal solu­tions” to the pan­dem­ic and make rec­om­men­da­tions on how the next one can be avoid­ed or bet­ter defend­ed against.

    The team look­ing at the ori­gins of the virus will be led by Dr Peter Daszak, a British zool­o­gist and lead­ing author­i­ty on zoonot­ic spillover events.

    Dr Daszak said yes­ter­day he and his team would “sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly exam­ine every the­o­ry” about the ori­gin of the virus, care­ful­ly mar­shalling the sci­en­tif­ic evi­dence for each.

    He accept­ed con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists would not wel­come his appoint­ment but said, as a sci­en­tist, he would “not be bound by pre­con­ceived ideas” and would inves­ti­gate all avenues foren­si­cal­ly and “with an open mind”.

    He warned, how­ev­er, it was not pos­si­ble to “prove a neg­a­tive” and said it was unlike­ly it would ever be pos­si­ble to say with “absolute cer­tain­ty” how the virus emerged.

    “But what we can do is look at every pos­si­ble the­o­ry on the ori­gins of COVID-19 and say, ‘what is the evi­dence for that?’ And then we put all of those the­o­ries togeth­er and say, ‘where is the pre­pon­der­ance of evi­dence?’

    “Is it for the virus com­ing from nature and spilling over into peo­ple and emerg­ing that way? Or is it for some form of human involve­ment that involves a lab or biotech­nol­o­gy? Let’s see where the evi­dence lies”.

    ...

    The Lancet Com­mis­sion notes in its mis­sion state­ment that “the evi­dence to date sup­ports the view that Sars-Cov­‑2 is a nat­u­ral­ly occur­ring virus rather than the result of lab­o­ra­to­ry cre­ation and release”.

    But it adds that inves­ti­ga­tors should exam­ine the ‘pos­si­bil­i­ty of lab­o­ra­to­ry involve­ment” in “a sci­en­tif­ic and objec­tive way that is unhin­dered by geopo­lit­i­cal agen­das and mis­in­for­ma­tion”.

    It is hoped a full inves­ti­ga­tion will, if noth­ing else, will rule out “base­less and unin­formed alle­ga­tions and con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries that are unbacked by evi­dence”.

    The wider Lancet Covid-19 Com­mis­sion is being chaired by Pro­fes­sor Jef­frey Sachs, an emi­nent Amer­i­can econ­o­mist and advis­er to the UN.

    He will over­see the inves­ti­ga­tion, not just into the ori­gins of virus, but the world’s reac­tion to it in order to make rec­om­men­da­tions for strength­en­ing pan­dem­ic pre­pared­ness glob­al­ly.

    “What we have learned, I think, about the pub­lic health response [to date] is that even though this is a dev­il­ish virus it is con­trol­lable”, he told the Tele­graph.

    “Around two bil­lion peo­ple live in coun­tries that have sub­stan­tial­ly sup­pressed the virus. They’ve been able to do that, pri­mar­i­ly because of pub­lic health means, and espe­cial­ly these non-phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal inter­ven­tions [social dis­tanc­ing]”.

    “But if we look at the UK, the US, and west­ern Europe, we failed to put such poli­cies in place basi­cal­ly until now. In the US we still don’t have an effec­tive con­trol sys­tem.

    “We have a lot of empha­sis on hos­pi­tals, but far far less on pub­lic health”.

    Prof Sachs said he hoped and expect­ed the Lancet Com­mis­sion would be con­duct­ed on an objec­tive basis and would be free of polit­i­cal bias.

    “There has been a lot of rumour-mon­ger­ing and state­ments that are way out of line, that are part of a polit­i­cal agen­da by some peo­ple, sen­a­tors in the US and oth­ers that have real­ly gone far beyond what we know,” he said.

    “The ori­gins of the virus must be under­stood, both to help end the cur­rent pan­dem­ic and to pre­vent the next one.”

    Dr Daszak, like most zool­o­gists, virol­o­gists and geneti­cists, says the strongest evi­dence avail­able to date points to Sars-Cov­‑2 emerg­ing nat­u­ral­ly.

    It is like­ly the virus has a nat­ur­al reser­voir in bats in which close­ly relat­ed coro­n­avirus­es virus­es have been found.

    From there it may have jumped direct­ly to humans via a so-called spillover event, or per­haps indi­rect­ly via farmed mustelids such as fer­rets, mink, martens, civets and weasels.

    A recent study of mink farms in Hol­land demon­strat­ed that close­ly packed mustelids catch and spread the Sars-Cov­‑2 effi­cient­ly. The researchers were also able to track the virus jump­ing back and forth between farmer work­ers and their ani­mals, mutat­ing as it moved.

    The inten­sive farm­ing of mustelids and oth­er small ani­mals is com­mon in Chi­na where the ani­mals are used for their fur and meat, and in tra­di­tion­al med­i­cine.

    Dr Daszak says the key to under­stand­ing zoonot­ic spillover is to think of it, not as a rare occur­rence but as some­thing hap­pen­ing all the time — a num­bers game.

    Most ani­mal virus­es quick­ly die out if they pass from human to human at all, but giv­en the right virus and the right set of envi­ron­men­tal cir­cum­stances, they can explode.

    “It is not that every 10 years or so a per­son gets infect­ed by a bat virus and it sparks a pan­dem­ic. What’s real­ly hap­pen­ing is, every day peo­ple are get­ting infect­ed,” he said.

    “The chances of it spread­ing depends on things like is the virus repli­cat­ing quick­ly? Does it cause ill­ness? Does the infect­ed per­son have a high lev­el of con­tact with oth­er peo­ple? Do they trav­el to busy cities or mar­kets?”

    As the world has become more devel­oped, mobile and con­nect­ed the risk of spillover events esca­lat­ing has risen, caus­ing sci­en­tists to spec­u­late that we may be fac­ing a “pan­dem­ic cen­tu­ry” in which major out­breaks become much more com­mon. “We may be much more vul­ner­a­ble to these pan­demics than we think,” said Dr Daszak. “We may be cre­at­ing a per­fect storm. And if that’s true, we need to know it. We need to get some data around it.

    “It isn’t a blame game or about pol­i­tics. It’s much more impor­tant. This is about how do we as a species deal with what is poten­tial­ly an exis­ten­tial threat to our exis­tence”.

    ———-

    “Sci­en­tists to exam­ine pos­si­bil­i­ty Covid leaked from lab as part of inves­ti­ga­tion into virus ori­gins” by Paul Nuki and Sarah Newey; The Tele­graph; 09/15/2020

    “He accept­ed con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists would not wel­come his appoint­ment but said, as a sci­en­tist, he would “not be bound by pre­con­ceived ideas” and would inves­ti­gate all avenues foren­si­cal­ly and “with an open mind”.”

    Yes, con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists prob­a­bly haven’t wel­comed Dr. Dasza­k’s appoint­ment to the Lancet Com­mis­sion. Nei­ther have peo­ple who can iden­ti­fy bla­tant con­flicts of inter­est. And note that when Daszak warns that “We may be much more vul­ner­a­ble to these pan­demics than we think...We may be cre­at­ing a per­fect storm. And if that’s true, we need to know it. We need to get some data around it,” that warn­ing is the exact same jus­ti­fi­ca­tion that’s been used to jus­ti­fy the ‘gain-of-func­tion’ exper­i­ments that are the top can­di­dates for a lab-based ori­gin of this virus. Dasza­k’s vision for avoid future pan­demics is for vig­or­ous ‘gain-of-func­tion’ exper­i­men­ta­tion on virus­es found in nature in order to assess how close those nat­u­ral­ly occur­ing virus­es are to acquir­ing the prop­er­ties they need for a human pan­dem­ic. That’s the whole pur­pose of the Eco­Health Alliance inter­na­tion­al col­lab­o­ra­tion. Get­ting the world work­ing togeth­er on iden­ti­fy­ing nov­el virus­es in the wild and then tak­ing those nov­el virus­es and run­ning them through ‘gain-of-func­tion’ exper­i­men­tal pipelines designed to assess their pan­dem­ic poten­tial. Which, again, is why there are some bla­tant con­flicts of inter­est here:

    ...
    Dr Daszak says the key to under­stand­ing zoonot­ic spillover is to think of it, not as a rare occur­rence but as some­thing hap­pen­ing all the time — a num­bers game.

    ...

    As the world has become more devel­oped, mobile and con­nect­ed the risk of spillover events esca­lat­ing has risen, caus­ing sci­en­tists to spec­u­late that we may be fac­ing a “pan­dem­ic cen­tu­ry” in which major out­breaks become much more com­mon. “We may be much more vul­ner­a­ble to these pan­demics than we think,” said Dr Daszak. “We may be cre­at­ing a per­fect storm. And if that’s true, we need to know it. We need to get some data around it.

    “It isn’t a blame game or about pol­i­tics. It’s much more impor­tant. This is about how do we as a species deal with what is poten­tial­ly an exis­ten­tial threat to our exis­tence”.
    ...

    And note the news about the study in the Nether­lands that found the SARS-CoV­‑2 virus jump­ing back and forth between farm­ers and ani­mals at mustelids where fer­rets, mink, martens, civets and weasels are housed that raised the pos­si­bil­i­ty that fer­rets could have been the miss­ing link ani­mal that allowed the virus to jump from bats to humans. Recall that these are favored ani­mals in “gain-of-func­tion” exper­i­ments because of their sim­i­lar­i­ty to human res­pi­ra­to­ry sys­tems. So if fer­rets farm­ing ends up being top ‘zoonot­ic spillover’ sus­pect it’s going to be impor­tant to keep in mind that ‘gain-of-func­tion’ exper­i­ments on fer­rets also hap­pen to be the top sus­pects for a lab-based ori­gin of the virus:

    ...
    Dr Daszak, like most zool­o­gists, virol­o­gists and geneti­cists, says the strongest evi­dence avail­able to date points to Sars-Cov­‑2 emerg­ing nat­u­ral­ly.

    It is like­ly the virus has a nat­ur­al reser­voir in bats in which close­ly relat­ed coro­n­avirus­es virus­es have been found.

    From there it may have jumped direct­ly to humans via a so-called spillover event, or per­haps indi­rect­ly via farmed mustelids such as fer­rets, mink, martens, civets and weasels.

    A recent study of mink farms in Hol­land demon­strat­ed that close­ly packed mustelids catch and spread the Sars-Cov­‑2 effi­cient­ly. The researchers were also able to track the virus jump­ing back and forth between farmer work­ers and their ani­mals, mutat­ing as it moved.

    The inten­sive farm­ing of mustelids and oth­er small ani­mals is com­mon in Chi­na where the ani­mals are used for their fur and meat, and in tra­di­tion­al med­i­cine.
    ...

    It’s also impor­tant to keep in mind that the nov­el virus­es cre­at­ed by many of these tech­niques don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly leave traces of a lab-based ori­gin. It’s one of the fun facts about this type of inquiry that will pose an imme­di­ate test of the hon­esty of the com­mis­sion: will the com­mis­sion acknowl­edge that a lab-based virus won’t nec­es­sar­i­ly show any signs of being cre­at­ed in a lab? If not, it’s going to be hard to take it seri­ous­ly. As Daszak warned, it’s unlike­ly we’ll ever be able to say with “absolute cer­tain­ty” how the virus emerged and we just have to look at where the pre­pon­der­ance of evi­dence points towards:

    ...
    He warned, how­ev­er, it was not pos­si­ble to “prove a neg­a­tive” and said it was unlike­ly it would ever be pos­si­ble to say with “absolute cer­tain­ty” how the virus emerged.

    “But what we can do is look at every pos­si­ble the­o­ry on the ori­gins of COVID-19 and say, ‘what is the evi­dence for that?’ And then we put all of those the­o­ries togeth­er and say, ‘where is the pre­pon­der­ance of evi­dence?’

    “Is it for the virus com­ing from nature and spilling over into peo­ple and emerg­ing that way? Or is it for some form of human involve­ment that involves a lab or biotech­nol­o­gy? Let’s see where the evi­dence lies”.
    ...

    And that’s why it’s going to be cru­cial for the com­mis­sion to be hon­est about the inher­ent lim­i­ta­tions of the avail­able evi­dence too. Lim­i­ta­tions like the inabil­i­ty to dis­tin­guish whether or not a nov­el virus emerged in a lab or not just by look­ing at the viral sequence. We’ll see if these acknowl­edg­ments are part of the com­mis­sions even­tu­al find­ings. But it’s a reminder that any mean­ing­ful inquiry into the ori­gins of the virus is going to have to rely on ALL of the avail­able evi­dence. Avail­able tech­ni­cal evi­dence like viral sequences. But also the avail­able con­tex­tu­al evi­dence like the cre­ation of a glob­al con­sor­tium ded­i­cat­ed to iden­ti­fy nov­el virus­es and then cre­at­ing new forms of the virus­es using tech­niques that would­n’t leave traces of a lab-made ori­gin.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 13, 2020, 3:20 pm
  2. @Pterrafractyl–

    Inter­est­ing­ly, the Eco­Health Alliance of Daszak & Com­pa­ny was one of the out­fits get­ting fund­ed by USAID, which has fre­quent­ly front­ed for CIA in the past.

    Inter­est­ing, as well, is Jef­frey Sach­s’s pres­ence on the board.

    What expe­ri­ence does he have with ANY of the rel­e­vant dis­ci­plines?

    Of inter­est, as well, is the fact that he over­saw the eco­nom­ic dev­as­ta­tion of Rus­sia under Yeltsin.

    The Rus­sians say he was “an emis­sary either of Satan or the CIA.”

    I have nev­er seen any­thing con­crete doc­u­ment­ing any work for CIA, although, IF he is, that is not nec­es­sar­i­ly sur­pris­ing.

    He is also one of the top eco­nom­ic advi­sors to Bernie Sanders and AOC.

    https://spitfirelist.com/news/sachsenhausen-bernie-sanders-neo-liberal-buddy-jeffrey-sachs/

    Just what ARE his cre­den­tials for an exer­cise like this?!!

    Be sure to lis­ten to FTR #1156 when it is pub­lished. I talk about Daszak and Com­pa­ny at length.

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | October 13, 2020, 7:38 pm
  3. Welp, Amy Coney Bar­rett is on the Supreme Court, ush­er­ing in an era of com­plete far right judi­cial dom­i­na­tion. An era that would at least appear to include the over­turn­ing of all sorts of rights and rul­ings that many has long assumed were safe and estab­lished law, and since Jus­tice Bar­rett hap­pens to hail from an author­i­tar­i­an misog­y­nis­tic cult that effec­tive­ly inspire The Hand­maid­’s Tale — the Peo­ple of Praise — and has made her oppo­si­tion to abor­tion rights abun­dant­ly clear, it’s very pos­si­ble the right to an abor­tion in the US will be among the first of those rights to be stripped away.

    And while the over­turn­ing of Roe v Wade rais­es all sorts of ques­tions about how such a move could change a num­ber of long-stand­ing dynam­ics in US pol­i­tics — young peo­ple would like­ly become much more inter­est­ed in state pol­i­tics once abor­tion rights are deter­mined by states instead of the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment — there’s anoth­er very omi­nous set of ques­tions we should start ask­ing our­selves in rela­tion to the impact over­turn­ing Roe v Wade might have on the US polit­i­cal zeit­geist. Because as the fol­low­ing arti­cle describes, much of the con­tem­po­rary right-wing fix­a­tion on ban­ning abor­tion rights has lit­tle to do with any oppo­si­tion to abor­tion itself and instead has been dri­ven by deep anx­i­eties in con­ser­v­a­tive white Amer­i­ca over the demo­graph­ic changes in con­tem­po­rary Amer­i­ca. Catholic immi­gra­tion in the mid-1800s through 1900s and fears of demo­graph­ic replace­ment was the impe­tus for white Anglo-Sax­on Protes­tant Amer­i­ca’s ear­ly oppo­si­tion to abor­tion.

    And yet, until non-white immi­grants start­ed arriv­ing in the US in large num­bers, many white Protes­tant large­ly did­n’t care about abor­tion rights at all and, if any­thing, was inclined to sup­port abor­tion rights sim­ply in reac­tionary oppo­si­tion to the Catholic Church’s long-stand­ing abor­tion oppo­si­tion. As late as 1976, the con­ser­v­a­tive evan­gel­i­cal South­ern Bap­tist Con­ven­tion (SBC) passed res­o­lu­tions affirm­ing abor­tion rights. It was the increased non-white immi­gra­tion that effec­tive­ly bridged the divide between white Catholics and white Protes­tants and helped cre­ate the more uni­fied ‘pro-Life’ move­ment. In oth­er words, while plen­ty of peo­ple opposed to abor­tion rights no doubt have tak­en that stand because they gen­uine­ly oppose ALL abor­tions, there’s not deny­ing that the con­tem­po­rary anti-abor­tion move­ment has a deep white nation­al­ist psy­cho­log­i­cal under­cur­rent. A white nation­al­ist under­cur­rent that is pri­mar­i­ly inter­est­ed in stop­ping abor­tions for white women but would actu­al­ly be very sup­port­ive of abor­tions on demands for non-whites. Because they are play­ing a sick num­bers games.

    And if that’s the under­ly­ing moti­va­tion for much of this decades-long push to over­turn Roe v Wade and out­law abor­tion wher­ev­er pos­si­ble, it rais­es the an obvi­ous and grim ques­tion: so what hap­pens if abor­tion is banned and the result is an even great num­ber of non-white babies that accel­er­ate the demo­graph­ic changes in Amer­i­ca that the white nation­al­ists so deeply dread?

    Beyond that, what hap­pens if we have a far right Supreme Court that becomes deeply unpop­u­lar due to the many unpop­u­lar rul­ings its poised to make, and the Repub­li­can Par­ty itself final­ly that long-wait­ed era where demo­graph­ic changes reduce the abil­i­ty of the par­ty to obtain polit­i­cal pow­er at the nation­al lev­el. What hap­pens when extrem­ists suc­ceed and the vast major­i­ty don’t like it and reject the extrem­ist even more? What hap­pens? Do the extrem­ists become less extreme or more extreme? Hmm­mm...

    It’s in this hor­ri­ble con­text that gene-dri­ve tech­nol­o­gy has to be con­sid­ered. Because while the cur­rent focus of that tech­nol­o­gy is agri­cul­ture and pest con­trol, it’s impor­tant to keep in mind that under­ly­ing idea behind the tech­nol­o­gy is like some sort of white suprema­cist dream tech­nol­o­gy. A tech­nol­o­gy that, cru­cial­ly, could inflict its dam­age on a pop­u­lace with­out that pop­u­la­tion real­iz­ing it until it’s too late to do any­thing about it.

    Think about it: if the under­ly­ing idea behind erad­i­cat­ing, say, mos­qui­toes using gene-dri­ve tech­nol­o­gy is to release a bunch of mos­qui­toes that cre­ate ster­ile off­spring, what hap­pens if that same basic idea is secret­ly applied to a tar­get human pop­u­la­tion? How about a virus designed to tar­get just the eggs in a wom­an’s ovaries that mod­i­fies a gene that does­n’t impact their off­spring in any overt­ly and obvi­ous­ly neg­a­tive way until they try to have their own kids decades lat­er. There would be no sign of this attack on the pop­u­la­tion until the next gen­er­a­tion at which point it’s too late to do any­thing about it. Again, that’s a white suprema­cist exter­mi­na­tion­ist dream sce­nario.

    Yes, these are hor­rif­ic sce­nar­ios to imag­ine. But imag­in­ing hor­rif­ic sce­nar­ios and try­ing to make them real­i­ty is what the far right does. Over and over. Like the hor­rif­ic sce­nario of enshrin­ing far right judi­cial rule with the nom­i­na­tion of an author­i­tar­i­an cult mem­ber on the Supreme Court. That hor­rif­ic sce­nario has already come about. What’s next? We have to ask.

    Ok, first, here’s an excerpt from an impor­tant piece in The Nation that makes clear, while some mem­bers of the ardent ‘pro-Life’ move­ment joined the move­ment out of a gen­uine oppo­si­tion to any abor­tions, regard­less of race, there’s a whole oth­er swathe of the move­ment that real­ly just cares about white abor­tions and would rather pre­fer every oth­er race gets as many abor­tions as pos­si­ble:

    The Nation

    The Long His­to­ry of the Anti-Abor­tion Movement’s Links to White Suprema­cists
    Racism and xeno­pho­bia have been woven into the anti-abor­tion move­ment for decades, despite the care­ful cura­tion of its pub­lic image.

    By Alex DiBran­co
    Feb­ru­ary 3, 2020

    The anti-abor­tion move­ment in the Unit­ed States has long been com­plic­it with white suprema­cy. In recent decades, the move­ment main­stream has been care­ful to pro­tect its pub­lic image by dis­tanc­ing itself from overt white nation­al­ists in its ranks. Last year, anti-abor­tion leader Kris­ten Hat­ten was oust­ed from her posi­tion as vice pres­i­dent of the anti-choice group New Wave Fem­i­nists after iden­ti­fy­ing as an “eth­nona­tion­al­ist” and shar­ing white suprema­cist alt-right con­tent. In 2018, when neo-Nazis from the Tra­di­tion­al­ist Work­er Par­ty (TWP) sought to join the local March for Life ral­ly orga­nized by Ten­nessee Right to Life, the anti-abor­tion orga­ni­za­tion reject­ed TWP’s involve­ment. (The organization’s state­ment, how­ev­er, engaged in the same false equiv­a­len­cy between left and right that Trump used in the wake of fatal white suprema­cist vio­lence at Char­lottesville. “Our organization’s march has a sin­gle agen­da to sup­port the rights of moth­ers and the unborn, and we don’t agree with the vio­lent agen­da of white suprema­cists or Antifa,” the group wrote on its Face­book page.)

    But despite the movement’s care­ful cura­tion of its pub­lic image, racism and xeno­pho­bia have been woven into it through­out its his­to­ry. With large fam­i­lies, due to Roman Catholic Church pro­hi­bi­tions on con­tra­cep­tion and abor­tion, Catholic immi­gra­tion in the mid-1800s through 1900s sparked white Anglo-Sax­on Protes­tant fears of being over­tak­en demo­graph­i­cal­ly that fueled oppo­si­tion to abor­tion as a means of increas­ing birthrates among white Protes­tant women. At the time, Roman Catholic immi­grants from coun­tries like Ire­land and Italy who would be con­sid­ered white today were among the tar­gets of white suprema­cist groups like the Ku Klux Klan. As soci­ol­o­gists Nico­la Beisel and Tama­ra Kay wrote with regards to the crim­i­nal­iza­tion of abor­tion in the late 19th cen­tu­ry, “While laws reg­u­lat­ing abor­tion would ulti­mate­ly affect all women, physi­cians argued that mid­dle-class, Anglo-Sax­on mar­ried women were those obtain­ing abor­tions, and that their use of abor­tion to cur­tail child­bear­ing threat­ened the Anglo-Sax­on race.”

    Hos­tile anti-Catholic sen­ti­ment cut both ways when it came to abor­tion, how­ev­er. Until the 1970s, “pro-life” activism was firm­ly asso­ci­at­ed with Catholics and the pope in the minds of Amer­i­can Protes­tants. This deterred many Protes­tants from oppos­ing abor­tion as a Chris­t­ian moral issue—not only in the polit­i­cal sphere, but even as a mat­ter of denom­i­na­tion­al teaching—because of its asso­ci­a­tion with “papists” (a deroga­to­ry term for Catholics). Even the Roe v. Wade deci­sion in 1973 decrim­i­nal­iz­ing abor­tion did not imme­di­ate­ly bring con­ser­v­a­tive Protes­tants around. As late as 1976, the con­ser­v­a­tive evan­gel­i­cal South­ern Bap­tist Con­ven­tion (SBC) passed res­o­lu­tions affirm­ing abor­tion rights. “The assump­tion was that it must not be right if Catholics backed it, so we haven’t,” com­ment­ed John Wilder, who found­ed Chris­tians for Life as a South­ern Bap­tist min­istry in 1977 as the resis­tance to the pro-life move­ment began to dis­si­pate.

    ...

    The cul­tur­al posi­tion of Catholics had shift­ed dra­mat­i­cal­ly by the 1970s. As sub­stan­tial immi­gra­tion from Latin Amer­i­ca and Asia posed a new threat to white numer­i­cal supe­ri­or­i­ty, Catholics from Euro­pean coun­tries became cul­tur­al­ly accept­ed as part of the white race, a read­just­ing of bound­aries that main­tains demo­graph­ic con­trol. The elec­tion of Roman Catholic John F. Kennedy as pres­i­dent in 1960 demon­strat­ed how far Catholic accep­tance had come—at least among lib­er­als. Although con­ser­v­a­tive evan­gel­i­cal oppo­si­tion to his can­di­da­cy remained rife with anti-Catholic fears, the rhetoric was less racial­ized and more focused on con­cerns about influ­ence from the Vat­i­can.

    To counter this lin­ger­ing prej­u­dice, con­ser­v­a­tive Catholic lead­ers seized on the oppor­tu­ni­ty offered by the specter of athe­ist Com­mu­nism in the mid-20th cen­tu­ry to estab­lish them­selves as part of a Chris­t­ian coali­tion with Protes­tants, uni­fied against a com­mon god­less ene­my. As Ran­dall Balmer has writ­ten, evan­gel­i­cal con­cerns about being forced to deseg­re­gate Chris­t­ian schools spurred polit­i­cal invest­ment that Catholic New Right lead­ers cap­i­tal­ized on and chan­neled into anti-abor­tion and anti-LGBT oppo­si­tion.

    For white nation­al­ists, mean­while, as Car­ol Mason wrote in Killing for Life, Jew­ish peo­ple replaced Catholics as tar­gets for groups like the KKK. “Now that abor­tion is tan­ta­mount to race suicide…naming Catholics—whose oppo­si­tion to abor­tion has been so keen—as ene­mies would be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive,” Mason wrote. Mil­i­tant anti-abor­tion and explic­it white nation­al­ist groups came togeth­er promi­nent­ly in the 1990s when a wing of the anti-abor­tion move­ment, frus­trat­ed with a lack of leg­isla­tive progress, took on a more vio­lent char­ac­ter fed by rela­tion­ships with white suprema­cists and neo-Nazis.

    White suprema­cists were already par­tic­i­pants in the anti-abor­tion cause, as Loret­ta Ross wrote in the 1990s. In 1985, the KKK began cre­at­ing want­ed posters list­ing per­son­al infor­ma­tion for abor­tion providers (dox­ing before the Inter­net age). Ran­dall Ter­ry, founder of the anti-choice group Oper­a­tion Res­cue, and John Burt, region­al direc­tor of the anti-abor­tion group Res­cue Amer­i­ca in the 1990s, adopt­ed this tac­tic in the 1990s. Terry’s first want­ed poster tar­get­ed Dr. David Gunn, who was mur­dered in 1993 in Pen­saco­la, Flori­da. Gunn’s suc­ces­sor, Dr. John Brit­ton, tar­get­ed by a Res­cue Amer­i­ca want­ed pos­er, was killed in 1994.

    The Flori­da-based KKK orga­nized a ral­ly in sup­port of Dr. Britton’s killer, Paul Hill, and Tom Met­zger, founder of the racist group White Aryan Resis­tance (WAR), con­doned the killing if it “pro­tect­ed Aryan women and chil­dren.” Burt him­self was a Flori­da Klans­man pri­or to becom­ing Chris­t­ian and an asso­ciate of both killers. “Fun­da­men­tal­ist Chris­tians and those peo­ple [the Klan] are pret­ty close, scary close, fight­ing for God and coun­try,” Burt told The New York Times in 1994. “Some day we may all be in the trench­es togeth­er in the fight against the slaugh­ter of unborn chil­dren.” Mem­bers of the Port­land-based skin­head group Amer­i­can Front reg­u­lar­ly joined Oper­a­tion Res­cue to protest abor­tion clin­ics. Tim Bish­op, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the white nation­al­ist Aryan Nations, said, “Lots of our peo­ple join [the anti-abor­tion move­ment]…. It’s part of our Holy War for the pure Aryan race.”

    ...

    While in recent years, the main­stream anti-choice move­ment has been care­ful to dis­tance itself from overt­ly racist and white nation­al­ist groups and fig­ures, embed­ded anti-Semi­tism appears in the triv­i­al­iza­tion of the Holo­caust and in cod­ed appeals to neo-Nazis. Abol­ish Human Abor­tion (AHA), a more recent­ly found­ed group led by young white men (in a move­ment that typ­i­cal­ly likes to put female lead­ers at the fore­front for bet­ter main­stream appeal) that views that pro-life move­ment as too mod­er­ate, cre­at­ed an icon link­ing the acronym AHA in such a way as to resem­ble “new­er incar­na­tions of swastikas that are pro­lif­er­at­ing among white suprema­cist groups,” accord­ing to Mason.

    AHA claims that “the abor­tion holo­caust exceeds all pre­vi­ous atroc­i­ties prac­ticed by the West­ern World,” a state­ment that sig­nals to anti-Semi­tes an implic­it dis­be­lief in the Nazi Holo­caust and a triv­i­al­iz­ing of real his­tor­i­cal per­se­cu­tions. The anti-abor­tion move­ment has long framed abor­tion as a holocaust—a holo­caust that it depicts as numer­i­cal­ly more sig­nif­i­cant than the killing of 6 mil­lion Jew­ish peo­ple. His­to­ri­an Jen­nifer Hol­land told Jew­ish Cur­rents that because Jew­ish peo­ple in the Unit­ed States are more pro-choice than oth­er reli­gious groups, anti-abor­tion activists “often imply and even out­ward­ly state that Jews are par­tic­i­pat­ing in a cur­rent geno­cide and were thus ide­o­log­i­cal­ly com­plic­it in the Jew­ish Holo­caust.” This frame some­times goes hand in hand with out­right anti-Semit­ic denial that the Nazi Holo­caust even hap­pened.

    ...

    Flori­da State Sen­a­tor Den­nis Bax­ley, dis­cussing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of imple­ment­ing sim­i­lar leg­is­la­tion in his state, revealed that nativist fears of replace­ment went into sup­port for the idea. “When you get a birth rate less than 2 per­cent, that soci­ety is dis­ap­pear­ing,” Bax­ley said of West­ern Europe. “And it’s being replaced by folks that come behind them and immi­grate, don’t wish to assim­i­late into that soci­ety and they do believe in hav­ing chil­dren.”

    Anti-choice fig­ures con­tin­ue to tout demo­graph­ic concerns—which at their core are a form of white nationalism—in order to oppose abor­tion. In the polit­i­cal sphere, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Steve King is the most promi­nent polit­i­cal fig­ure to emerge as a sym­bol of both white suprema­cism and abor­tion oppo­si­tion. “If we con­tin­ue to abort our babies and import a replace­ment for them in the form of young vio­lent men, we are sup­plant­i­ng our cul­ture, our civ­i­liza­tion,” King stat­ed. King has tak­en far-right posi­tions on both immi­gra­tion and abor­tion, includ­ing defend­ing rape and incest as nec­es­sary for his­tor­i­cal pop­u­la­tion growth.

    These overt expres­sions of demo­graph­ic nativism by politi­cians mak­ing deci­sions about repro­duc­tive rights on the state and nation­al lev­el is cause for alarm. With the elec­tion of Don­ald Trump and the rise of the alt-right—an umbrel­la for white suprema­cist, male suprema­cist, and anti-Semit­ic mobilizations—the “kinder, gen­tler” image the Chris­t­ian right and the “pro-life” move­ment have strate­gi­cal­ly invest­ed in may be slip­ping, but also may be less nec­es­sary.

    Coex­ist­ing in abor­tion oppo­si­tion is an ide­ol­o­gy that hon­est­ly seeks to end abor­tion for peo­ple of all races and eth­nic­i­ties, along­side a white suprema­cist ide­ol­o­gy that only desires to pre­vent white women from obtain­ing abor­tions, but uses uni­ver­sal oppo­si­tion to abor­tion as a prag­mat­ic screen for its goals. As Kath­leen Belew, author of Bring the War Home: The White Pow­er Move­ment in Para­mil­i­tary Amer­i­ca, told The Nation in an inter­view in Sep­tem­ber, for white suprema­cists, “oppos­ing abor­tion, oppos­ing gay rights, oppos­ing fem­i­nism, in white pow­er dis­course, all of this is tied to repro­duc­tion and the birth of white chil­dren.”

    Com­ment­ing on the strate­gic prag­ma­tism of white suprema­cist move­ments, Jean Hardis­ty and Pam Cham­ber­lain wrote in 2000 that “pub­lic advo­ca­cy of abor­tion for women of col­or might alien­ate poten­tial far right sup­port­ers who oppose all abor­tion.” White suprema­cist lead­ers, like David Duke, have instead focused on oth­er ways to deter birthrates among peo­ple of col­or, such as encour­ag­ing long-term con­tra­cep­tion or con­demn­ing social wel­fare pro­grams.

    The rela­tion­ship between Chris­t­ian right anti-abor­tion, white suprema­cist, and sec­u­lar male suprema­cist ide­ol­o­gy is com­plex. While they often put aside their dif­fer­ences in order to col­lab­o­rate on shared goals, the agen­das are dif­fer­ent and inclu­sive of con­flict.

    White suprema­cist respons­es demon­strat­ed “com­pli­cat­ed feel­ings” fol­low­ing the pas­sage of the Alaba­ma law, as the Anti-Defama­tion League (ADL), which tracks hate and big­otry, report­ed. Some, like the founder of Gab, a pop­u­lar alter­na­tive social media forum fre­quent­ed by white suprema­cists and neo-Nazis, her­ald­ed the Alaba­ma law. Oth­er white suprema­cists were unsat­is­fied that the ban would apply to white women and women of col­or alike. Long­time white nation­al­ist Tom Met­zger eschewed the prag­mat­ic approach in post­ing on Gab that he had instruct­ed “com­rades in the Alaba­ma state leg­is­la­ture to intro­duce a bill that releas­es all non­white women with­in the bor­ders of Alaba­ma to have free abor­tions on demand.” (It’s not clear whether this claim is true or which rep­re­sen­ta­tives he meant.)

    ...

    The anony­mous nature of many online forums, like The Red Pill, pos­es a chal­lenge for deter­min­ing how much influ­ence mem­bers of these com­mu­ni­ties have. We might be inclined to dis­miss Metzger’s claim to have “com­rades in the Alaba­ma state leg­is­la­ture” as mere blus­ter. But before Bon­nie Bacarisse’s inves­tiga­tive report­ing in The Dai­ly Beast in 2017 uncov­ered New Hamp­shire Repub­li­can state Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Robert Fish­er as the founder of The Red Pill, which pro­motes con­spir­acist the­o­ries about fem­i­nist con­trol of soci­ety and advo­cates manip­u­lat­ing women into sex­u­al inter­course, these online misog­y­nist forums were often assumed to be divorced from real-world pol­i­tics. An online pseu­do­nym that The Dai­ly Beast has linked to Fisher’s per­son­al e‑mail address advo­cat­ed vot­ing for Trump in 2016 because he’d been accused of sex­u­al vio­lence. A spokesper­son for a state anti-vio­lence group said that Fish­er was part of a “very vocal minor­i­ty in the NH House right now that is very anti­woman and antivic­tim,” and that there had been sur­pris­es in recent leg­isla­tive votes.

    These sec­u­lar misog­y­nist mobi­liza­tions address abor­tion in a vari­ety of ways, though always through the lens of estab­lish­ing male pow­er and rights, even when endors­ing legal abor­tion. Male suprema­cist com­mu­ni­ties seek con­trol over women’s bod­ies, whether it is through deny­ing abor­tion care or coerc­ing it, or through defend­ing or even per­pe­trat­ing sex­u­al assault.

    ...

    On Return of Kings (ROK), a web­site list­ed by the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter as a hate group for pick­up artists (PUAs) and found­ed by Daryush Val­izadeh, who goes by “Roosh V.,” the cov­er­age of abor­tion has shift­ed from a posi­tion accept­ing of abortion—though not out of sup­port for women’s human rights—to an increas­ing­ly anti-choice posi­tion. In 2013, abor­tion was dis­cussed as ben­e­fi­cial because it reduces the minor­i­ty pop­u­la­tion, demon­strat­ing the racism already inher­ent in this ide­ol­o­gy, and “sav[es] a lot of alpha play­ers from hav­ing to write a check to a sin­gle mom.” Oth­er posts pro­mot­ed access to con­tra­cep­tion as a means to pre­vent abor­tion, crit­i­ciz­ing Chris­t­ian right oppo­si­tion to birth con­trol as inef­fec­tive to stop­ping abor­tion.

    Two years lat­er, Val­izadeh him­self wrote a post on ROK titled “Women Must Have Their Behav­ior and Deci­sions Con­trolled by Men,” rec­om­mend­ing that women receive per­mis­sion from a guardian to access abor­tion or birth con­trol. He con­tin­ues, “While my pro­pos­als are undoubt­ed­ly extreme on the sur­face and hard to imag­ine imple­ment­ing, the alter­na­tive of a rapid­ly pro­gress­ing cul­tur­al decline that we are cur­rent­ly expe­ri­enc­ing will end up entail­ing an even more extreme out­come.” (In case you’re won­der­ing, Val­izadeh has iden­ti­fied oth­er offen­sive posts as satire, but made no such excuse for this one.) In anoth­er 2015 arti­cle, “The End Goal of West­ern Pro­gres­sivism Is Depop­u­la­tion,” he con­demns abor­tion rights, birth con­trol, and female empow­er­ment as caus­es of declin­ing pop­u­la­tion that risk West­ern cul­ture. Val­izadeh has admit­ted to per­pe­trat­ing acts that meet the legal def­i­n­i­tion of sex­u­al assault and has endorsed the decrim­i­nal­iza­tion of rape. Though he lat­er claimed that endorse­ment was a “thought exper­i­ment,” sim­i­lar excus­es have been used by oth­er misog­y­nist lead­ers such as Paul Elam to pro­vide cov­er for their most egre­gious state­ments.

    ...

    In 2019, Val­izadeh announced that he had found God and would no longer pro­mote casu­al sex. His pri­or argu­ments about male con­trol of women and his oppo­si­tion to abor­tion and con­tra­cep­tion on the basis of con­cern about pop­u­la­tion decline, how­ev­er, fit seam­less­ly into his new per­spec­tive, demon­strat­ing how easy it can be to shift from sec­u­lar to reli­gious misog­y­ny.

    As ele­ments of the male suprema­cist sphere take on more anti-abor­tion and white suprema­cist posi­tions, the con­flu­ence of this overt misog­y­ny and racism with the anti-abor­tion move­ment may strength­en the sup­port for harsh­er anti-abor­tion leg­is­la­tion that eschews the anti-abor­tion prag­ma­tism of the past and becomes more overt about its crim­i­nal­iza­tion of preg­nant peo­ple. In 2019, Geor­gia passed a six-week abor­tion ban, cur­rent­ly blocked in court, that applies crim­i­nal penal­ties for mur­der (which includes life impris­on­ment or the death penal­ty) for ter­mi­nat­ing a preg­nan­cy, with no excep­tion for preg­nant peo­ple self-ter­mi­nat­ing. Bills like this ful­fill Trump’s and Abol­ish Human Abortion’s claims that the crim­i­nal­iza­tion of abor­tion should include pun­ish­ments for women; even though Trump backpedaled because of con­cerns from main­stream anti-choice groups, his sup­port for this posi­tion is already out there, along with his dog whis­tles to white and male suprema­cists.

    Anti-abor­tion vio­lence has also been climb­ing in recent years, as has white suprema­cist and misog­y­nist vio­lence. Giv­en the his­to­ry of fatal anti-abor­tion vio­lence in the 1990s per­pe­trat­ed by indi­vid­u­als with the con­nec­tions with white suprema­cist and anti-Semit­ic groups, the con­flu­ence of these ide­olo­gies must be cause for con­cern beyond the polit­i­cal realm as well.

    ————-

    “The Long His­to­ry of the Anti-Abor­tion Movement’s Links to White Suprema­cists” by Alex DiBran­co; The Nation; 02/02/2020

    But despite the movement’s care­ful cura­tion of its pub­lic image, racism and xeno­pho­bia have been woven into it through­out its his­to­ry. With large fam­i­lies, due to Roman Catholic Church pro­hi­bi­tions on con­tra­cep­tion and abor­tion, Catholic immi­gra­tion in the mid-1800s through 1900s sparked white Anglo-Sax­on Protes­tant fears of being over­tak­en demo­graph­i­cal­ly that fueled oppo­si­tion to abor­tion as a means of increas­ing birthrates among white Protes­tant women. At the time, Roman Catholic immi­grants from coun­tries like Ire­land and Italy who would be con­sid­ered white today were among the tar­gets of white suprema­cist groups like the Ku Klux Klan. As soci­ol­o­gists Nico­la Beisel and Tama­ra Kay wrote with regards to the crim­i­nal­iza­tion of abor­tion in the late 19th cen­tu­ry, “While laws reg­u­lat­ing abor­tion would ulti­mate­ly affect all women, physi­cians argued that mid­dle-class, Anglo-Sax­on mar­ried women were those obtain­ing abor­tions, and that their use of abor­tion to cur­tail child­bear­ing threat­ened the Anglo-Sax­on race.””

    Yep, oppo­si­tion to abor­tion in Amer­i­can has always been about demo­graph­ic anx­i­ety. That obvi­ous­ly was­n’t the exclu­sive moti­va­tion for the move­ment but it was a big one. First it was anx­i­ety over Catholics. And oppo­si­tion to the Catholics was so intense that white Protes­tants often sup­port­ed abor­tion because of Catholic oppo­si­tion to abor­tion. But as more non-whites were allowed to immi­grate into the coun­try start­ing in the 1960s that demo­graph­ic anx­i­ety shift­ed from an anti-Catholic anx­i­ety to an anti-white anx­i­ety and the mod­ern day ‘pro-Life’ move­ment of uni­fied Catholic and Protes­tant oppo­si­tion was start­ing to form by the late 1970s. The foun­da­tions of the mod­ern ‘pro-Life’ move­ment was white anx­i­ety:

    ...
    Hos­tile anti-Catholic sen­ti­ment cut both ways when it came to abor­tion, how­ev­er. Until the 1970s, “pro-life” activism was firm­ly asso­ci­at­ed with Catholics and the pope in the minds of Amer­i­can Protes­tants. This deterred many Protes­tants from oppos­ing abor­tion as a Chris­t­ian moral issue—not only in the polit­i­cal sphere, but even as a mat­ter of denom­i­na­tion­al teaching—because of its asso­ci­a­tion with “papists” (a deroga­to­ry term for Catholics). Even the Roe v. Wade deci­sion in 1973 decrim­i­nal­iz­ing abor­tion did not imme­di­ate­ly bring con­ser­v­a­tive Protes­tants around. As late as 1976, the con­ser­v­a­tive evan­gel­i­cal South­ern Bap­tist Con­ven­tion (SBC) passed res­o­lu­tions affirm­ing abor­tion rights. “The assump­tion was that it must not be right if Catholics backed it, so we haven’t,” com­ment­ed John Wilder, who found­ed Chris­tians for Life as a South­ern Bap­tist min­istry in 1977 as the resis­tance to the pro-life move­ment began to dis­si­pate.

    This shift occurred in light of the less­en­ing of anti-Catholic prej­u­dice, strate­gic recruit­ment of evan­gel­i­cals by New Right Catholic lead­ers, and evan­gel­i­cal dis­com­fort with how many abor­tions took place as women accessed their new repro­duc­tive rights.

    The cul­tur­al posi­tion of Catholics had shift­ed dra­mat­i­cal­ly by the 1970s. As sub­stan­tial immi­gra­tion from Latin Amer­i­ca and Asia posed a new threat to white numer­i­cal supe­ri­or­i­ty, Catholics from Euro­pean coun­tries became cul­tur­al­ly accept­ed as part of the white race, a read­just­ing of bound­aries that main­tains demo­graph­ic con­trol. The elec­tion of Roman Catholic John F. Kennedy as pres­i­dent in 1960 demon­strat­ed how far Catholic accep­tance had come—at least among lib­er­als. Although con­ser­v­a­tive evan­gel­i­cal oppo­si­tion to his can­di­da­cy remained rife with anti-Catholic fears, the rhetoric was less racial­ized and more focused on con­cerns about influ­ence from the Vat­i­can.
    ...

    And a move­ment dri­ven by white demo­graph­ic anx­i­ety is obvi­ous­ly a move­ment that’s going to have a deep white nation­al­ist under­cur­rent, whether its acknowl­edged or not. And while the main­stream ‘pro-Life’ move­ment is care­ful to nev­er make those acknowl­edge­ments, the open white nation­al­ist them­selves are move than hap­py to pro­claim their oppo­si­tion to abor­tions. Specif­i­cal­ly white abor­tions:

    ...
    White suprema­cists were already par­tic­i­pants in the anti-abor­tion cause, as Loret­ta Ross wrote in the 1990s. In 1985, the KKK began cre­at­ing want­ed posters list­ing per­son­al infor­ma­tion for abor­tion providers (dox­ing before the Inter­net age). Ran­dall Ter­ry, founder of the anti-choice group Oper­a­tion Res­cue, and John Burt, region­al direc­tor of the anti-abor­tion group Res­cue Amer­i­ca in the 1990s, adopt­ed this tac­tic in the 1990s. Terry’s first want­ed poster tar­get­ed Dr. David Gunn, who was mur­dered in 1993 in Pen­saco­la, Flori­da. Gunn’s suc­ces­sor, Dr. John Brit­ton, tar­get­ed by a Res­cue Amer­i­ca want­ed pos­er, was killed in 1994.

    ...

    Anti-choice fig­ures con­tin­ue to tout demo­graph­ic concerns—which at their core are a form of white nationalism—in order to oppose abor­tion. In the polit­i­cal sphere, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Steve King is the most promi­nent polit­i­cal fig­ure to emerge as a sym­bol of both white suprema­cism and abor­tion oppo­si­tion. “If we con­tin­ue to abort our babies and import a replace­ment for them in the form of young vio­lent men, we are sup­plant­i­ng our cul­ture, our civ­i­liza­tion,” King stat­ed. King has tak­en far-right posi­tions on both immi­gra­tion and abor­tion, includ­ing defend­ing rape and incest as nec­es­sary for his­tor­i­cal pop­u­la­tion growth.

    ...

    As ele­ments of the male suprema­cist sphere take on more anti-abor­tion and white suprema­cist posi­tions, the con­flu­ence of this overt misog­y­ny and racism with the anti-abor­tion move­ment may strength­en the sup­port for harsh­er anti-abor­tion leg­is­la­tion that eschews the anti-abor­tion prag­ma­tism of the past and becomes more overt about its crim­i­nal­iza­tion of preg­nant peo­ple. In 2019, Geor­gia passed a six-week abor­tion ban, cur­rent­ly blocked in court, that applies crim­i­nal penal­ties for mur­der (which includes life impris­on­ment or the death penal­ty) for ter­mi­nat­ing a preg­nan­cy, with no excep­tion for preg­nant peo­ple self-ter­mi­nat­ing. Bills like this ful­fill Trump’s and Abol­ish Human Abortion’s claims that the crim­i­nal­iza­tion of abor­tion should include pun­ish­ments for women; even though Trump backpedaled because of con­cerns from main­stream anti-choice groups, his sup­port for this posi­tion is already out there, along with his dog whis­tles to white and male suprema­cists.
    ...

    That’s all part of the hor­ri­ble con­text of the this new post-Roe v Wade era Amer­i­ca is poised to enter. What hap­pens if over­turn­ing Roe v Wade not only fails to quell those white demo­graph­ic anx­i­eties but actu­al­ly ends up exac­er­bat­ing them? What will the white nation­al­ists turn to at that point? Espe­cial­ly if they end up los­ing polit­i­cal pow­er in part as a con­se­quence of the deep unpop­u­lar­i­ty of elim­i­nat­ing abor­tion rights? What then?

    Don’t for­get that, for all of the very real prob­lems with the ‘pro-Life’ move­ment in the US, at least it’s a move­ment that was try­ing to address these demo­graph­ic anx­i­eties through polit­i­cal means. What hap­pens if Amer­i­ca’s white nation­al­ist begin to con­clude that polit­i­cal solu­tions are long avail­able to them? What sorts of alter­na­tive ‘solu­tions’ will they come up with? That’s why we have to grim­ly keep in mind that the idea behind emerg­ing gene-dri­ve tech­nol­o­gy — tar­get­ing indi­vid­u­als so they give birth ster­ile off­spring — is exact­ly the kind of ‘non-polit­i­cal solu­tion’ the most extreme wings of these extrem­ist move­ments are going to be sali­vat­ing over in com­ing years when this tech­nol­o­gy is avail­able. Secret­ly ster­il­ize a pop­u­la­tion in a man­ner that does­n’t become appar­ent until that ster­ile gen­er­a­tion is ready to have kids. It’s poten­tial­ly so dia­bol­i­cal­ly effec­tive it’s hard to imag­ine there aren’t already such plans in mind. All that’s required is the biotech­nol­o­gy capa­ble of exe­cut­ing this sort of attack.

    And that’s what the recent report by the ETC Group that revealed the exten­sive mon­ey and aggres­sive efforts by the Bill and Melin­da Gates Foun­da­tion (BMGF) to devel­op gene-dri­ve tech­nol­o­gy and get reg­u­la­to­ry approval for these tech­nolo­gies is unfor­tu­nate­ly the kind of sto­ry that is part of this larg­er ques­tion of how white nation­al­ist (or oth­er racial­ist move­ments) might seek non-polit­i­cal means of achiev­ing their exter­mi­na­tion­ist ends. Because as the ETC Group report describes, A LOT of mon­ey is going into this area of research. Yes, right now it’s research focused on insect and agri­cul­ture. But that’s just the start­ing point. As this kind of tech­nol­o­gy is devel­oped and refined in insects and agri­cul­ture it’s inevitably going to start being applied in oth­er forms of life, includ­ing mam­mals. Espe­cial­ly as cli­mate change and the cor­re­spond­ing eco-col­lapse cre­ate greater and greater demand for biotech­nol­o­gy that can deal with grow­ing lev­els of dis­ease and pests. Imag­ine gene-dri­ve tech­nol­o­gy for the rats. How many cities would be inter­est­ed in that? And when that anti-rat tech­nol­o­gy is devel­oped, what are the odds that white nation­al­ist won’t imme­di­ate­ly start think­ing about how to use this tech­nol­o­gy to exter­mi­nate the groups of peo­ple they view as a human pesti­lence:

    ETC Group

    Dri­ven to Extinc­tion
    Bill Gates and Gene Dri­ve Extinc­tion Tech­nol­o­gy

    Octo­ber 14, 2020

    As part of our con­tri­bu­tion to a new Glob­al Citizen’s Report ‘Gates to a Glob­al Empire’, we explore the way in which the Bill and Melin­da Gates Foun­da­tion (BMGF) is forc­ing dan­ger­ous gene dri­ve tech­nolo­gies onto the world. BMGF is either the first or sec­ond largest fun­der of gene dri­ve research (along­side the shad­owy U.S. mil­i­tary organ­i­sa­tion Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) whose exact lev­el of invest­ment is dis­put­ed). BMGF have also fund­ed and influ­enced lob­by­ists, reg­u­la­tors, and pub­lic nar­ra­tives around gene dri­ves, in an attempt to push this dan­ger­ous sci-fi sound­ing tech­nol­o­gy into real world use, shift­ing research pri­or­i­ties on indus­tri­al agri­cul­ture, con­ser­va­tion and health strate­gies along the way, and attract­ing the inter­est of the mil­i­tary and agribusi­ness sec­tors alike.

    Full report: Glob­al Cit­i­zens’ Report “Gates to a Glob­al Empire”, pub­lished by Nav­danya Inter­na­tion­al

    Full arti­cle:

    Dri­ven to Exter­mi­nate

    How Bill Gates brought gene dri­ve extinc­tion tech­nol­o­gy into the world

    By Zahra Moloo and Jim Thomas, ETC Group.

    In 2016, at the Forbes 400 Sum­mit on Phil­an­thropy in New York, Bill Gates was asked to give his opin­ion on gene dri­ves, a risky and con­tro­ver­sial new tech­nol­o­gy that could—by design—lead to the com­plete exter­mi­na­tion of the malar­ia-car­ry­ing mos­qui­to species, Anophe­les gam­bi­ae. If it were his deci­sion to wipe out this mos­qui­to once and for all, giv­en the risks and ben­e­fits being con­sid­ered, would he be ready to do it? “I would deploy it two years from now,” he replied con­fi­dent­ly. How­ev­er, he added, “How we get approval is pret­ty open end­ed.”

    Gates’s ‘let’s deploy it’ response may not seem out of char­ac­ter, but it was an unusu­al­ly gung ho response giv­en how risky the tech­nol­o­gy is wide­ly acknowl­edged to be. Gene dri­ves have been dubbed an “extinc­tion tech­nol­o­gy” and with good rea­son: gene dri­ve organ­isms are cre­at­ed by genet­i­cal­ly engi­neer­ing a liv­ing organ­ism with a par­tic­u­lar trait, and then mod­i­fy­ing the organism’s repro­duc­tive sys­tem in order to always force the mod­i­fied gene onto future gen­er­a­tions, spread­ing the trait through­out the entire pop­u­la­tion.

    In the case of the Anophe­les gam­bi­ae project (that Gates bankrolls), a gene dri­ve is designed to inter­fere with the fer­til­i­ty of the mos­qui­to: essen­tial genes for fer­til­i­ty would be removed, pre­vent­ing the mos­qui­toes from hav­ing female off­spring or from hav­ing off­spring alto­geth­er. These mod­i­fied mos­qui­toes would then pass on their genes to a high per­cent­age of their off­spring, spread­ing auto-extinc­tion genes through­out the pop­u­la­tion. In time, the entire species would in effect be com­plete­ly elim­i­nat­ed.

    Although still new and unproven, gene dri­ves have pro­voked sig­nif­i­cant alarm among ecol­o­gists, biosafe­ty experts and civ­il soci­ety, many of whom have backed a call for a com­plete mora­to­ri­um on the tech­nol­o­gy. By delib­er­ate­ly har­ness­ing the spread of engi­neered genes to alter entire pop­u­la­tions, gene dri­ves turn on its head the usu­al imper­a­tive to try to con­tain and pre­vent engi­neered genes from con­t­a­m­i­nat­ing and dis­rupt­ing ecosys­tems. The under­ly­ing genet­ic engi­neer­ing tech­nol­o­gy is unpre­dictable and may pro­voke spread of intend­ed traits. The notion that a species can be removed from an ecosys­tem with­out pro­vok­ing a set of neg­a­tive impacts on food webs and ecosys­tem func­tions is wish­ful think­ing and even tak­ing out a car­ri­er of an unpleas­ant par­a­site does not mean the par­a­site won’t just jump to a dif­fer­ent host. More­over, the implic­it pow­er in being able to re-mod­el or delete entire species and ecosys­tems from the genet­ic lev­el up is attract­ing the inter­est of mil­i­tar­i­ties and agribusi­ness alike and runs counter to the idea of work­ing with nature to man­age con­ser­va­tion and agri­cul­ture.

    That Gates is so enthu­si­as­tic about releas­ing this pow­er­ful genet­ic tech­nol­o­gy is not so sur­pris­ing when one scratch­es the sur­face of the myr­i­ad insti­tu­tions that have been research­ing and pro­mot­ing gene dri­ves for years. To date, the Bill and Melin­da Gates Foun­da­tion (BMGF) is either the first or sec­ond largest fun­der of gene dri­ve research (along­side the shad­owy U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) whose exact lev­el of invest­ment is dis­put­ed). Gates is not just anoth­er tech opti­mist stand­ing on a busi­ness stage call­ing for gene dri­ve release to be allowed—his foun­da­tion has poured mil­lions of dol­lars into gene dri­ve research for over a decade. Yet direct research fund­ing is not the only way in which the BMGF has accel­er­at­ed the devel­op­ment of this tech­nol­o­gy. They have also fund­ed and influ­enced lob­by­ists, reg­u­la­tors, and pub­lic nar­ra­tives around gene dri­ves, in an attempt to push this dan­ger­ous sci-fi sound­ing tech­nol­o­gy into real world use, shift­ing research pri­or­i­ties on indus­tri­al agri­cul­ture, con­ser­va­tion and health strate­gies along the way.

    Fund­ing the Research

    While the con­tro­ver­sy around gene dri­ves is recent, pro­mot­ers like to empha­size that research towards cre­at­ing gene dri­ve tech­nol­o­gy has been in the works for many years. From its incep­tion, much of this research has received direct fund­ing from the BMGF, fun­neled through dif­fer­ent aca­d­e­m­ic insti­tu­tions. The begin­ning of cur­rent research into genet­i­cal­ly mod­i­fied extinc­tion tech­nol­o­gy can be traced back to 2003 when Austin Burt, a pro­fes­sor of Evo­lu­tion­ary Genet­ics at Impe­r­i­al Col­lege in Lon­don, was work­ing with yeast enzymes, not­ing how ‘self­ish genes’ were able to repro­duce with a greater prob­a­bil­i­ty than the usu­al 50–50 ratio that occurs in nor­mal sex­u­al repro­duc­tion. In a paper, he explained how these genes could be adapt­ed for oth­er uses, such as in mos­qui­toes, where the destruc­tion of the insects could be embed­ded direct­ly into their genes. Burt, along with Andrea Chrisan­ti, anoth­er biol­o­gist at Impe­r­i­al Col­lege, applied for a US$8.5 mil­lion grant from the Bill and Melin­da Gates Foun­da­tion (which they received in 2005) to take for­ward their the­o­ries and apply them in a lab, even­tu­al­ly cre­at­ing an inter­na­tion­al project called ‘Tar­get Malar­ia’. In an inter­view with Wired mag­a­zine, Chrisan­ti explained how this fund­ing and the rela­tion­ship with the BMGF was instru­men­tal in the fur­ther devel­op­ment of gene dri­ves tech­nol­o­gy. “If you need a resource, you get it, if you need a tech­nol­o­gy, you get it, if you need equip­ment, you get it. We were left with the notion that suc­cess is only up to us,” he said.

    At the same time, in 2005, the BMGF was also chan­nel­ing mon­ey into the Foun­da­tion for the Nation­al Insti­tutes of Health (FNIH), as part of a larg­er US$436 mil­lion grant for a project called the Grand Chal­lenges in Glob­al Health Ini­tia­tive. Through the FNIH, a biol­o­gist at UC Irvine, Antho­ny James, was inject­ing DNA into mos­qui­to embryos to cre­ate trans­genic mos­qui­toes resis­tant to dengue fever. These mos­qui­toes were able to repro­duce which meant that nor­mal mos­qui­to pop­u­la­tions could pos­si­bly be replaced by GM mos­qui­toes if only a way could be found to dri­ve the engi­neered genes into pop­u­la­tions. In 2011, James’ lab genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered the mos­qui­to species Anophe­les stephen­si with genes that made it resis­tant to malar­ia.

    All these devel­op­ments were sig­nif­i­cant, but they had not yet led to the cre­ation of gene dri­ves. That moment came in 2015, when two sci­en­tists at UC San Diego, Cal­i­for­nia, Ethan Bier and Valenti­no Gantz, cre­at­ed a gene-con­struct that could spread a trait through fruit flies, turn­ing the entire pop­u­la­tion yel­low. The tech­nol­o­gy they had devel­oped used a new genet­ic engi­neer­ing tool called CRISPR-Cas9 which could cut DNA and enable genes to be insert­ed, replaced or delet­ed from DNA sequences. In effect Gantz and bier built the genet­ic engi­neer­ing tool direct­ly into the flies genome so each gen­er­a­tion genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered its off­spring. CRISPR-Cas9 tech­nol­o­gy was instru­men­tal in the cre­ation of the gene dri­ve and in late 2015, func­tion­al gene dri­ve mod­i­fied mos­qui­toes were cre­at­ed. This is what the Gates Foun­da­tion was wait­ing for. In 2016, an offi­cial with the Gates Foun­da­tion said in an inter­view that malar­ia could not be wiped out with­out a gene dri­ve; all of a sud­den this ‘extinc­tion tech­nol­o­gy’ was con­sid­ered not just desir­able, but “nec­es­sary” in the fight to end malar­ia.

    Since then, the push for fur­ther research and deploy­ment of gene dri­ves has gained con­sid­er­able momentum—mostly pro­pelled by Gates dol­lars. The BMGF has fun­neled even more fund­ing into tak­ing gene dri­ve research for­ward. In 2017, UC Irvine received anoth­er US$2 mil­lion direct­ly from the BMGF for Antho­ny James to genet­i­cal­ly engi­neer the malar­ia-car­ry­ing mos­qui­to species Anophe­les gam­bi­ae, with a view to even­tu­al­ly releas­ing them in a tri­al. Mean­while, Tar­get Malar­ia, the flag­ship research con­sor­tium that came from Burt and Chrisanti’s work, has received US$75 mil­lion from the foun­da­tion. This has been used to cre­ate labs in Burk­i­na Faso, Mali and Ugan­da in order to begin exper­i­ment­ing with gene dri­ves in Africa, and in 2019 Tar­get Malar­ia released 4,000 genet­i­cal­ly mod­i­fied (not gene dri­ve) mos­qui­toes in Burk­i­na Faso as a first step in their exper­i­ment. Their goal is to release the gene dri­ve mos­qui­toes in Burk­i­na Faso in 2024. BMGF has also bankrolled fur­ther gene dri­ve research in Siena Italy, Jerusalem, Israel and Boston, USA.

    Syn­thet­ic Biol­o­gy and Agri­cul­tur­al Inter­ests

    Although main­stream media cov­er­age of gene dri­ve devel­op­ments empha­sizes Gates’s grandiose phil­an­thropic inten­tions in elim­i­nat­ing malar­ia and sav­ing lives in Africa, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to Gates’s direct fund­ing of gene dri­ve research.

    Gene dri­ves are clas­si­fied as part of a con­tro­ver­sial field of extreme genet­ic engi­neer­ing known as syn­thet­ic biol­o­gy (syn­bio) or ‘GMO 2.0’ in which liv­ing organ­isms can be redesigned in the lab to have new abil­i­ties. Syn­thet­ic Biol­o­gy aims to redesign and fab­ri­cate bio­log­i­cal com­po­nents and sys­tems that do not exist in the nat­ur­al world. Today it is a mul­ti-bil­lion-dol­lar indus­try which cre­ates com­pounds like syn­thet­ic ingre­di­ents (syn­thet­ic ver­sions of saf­fron, vanil­la etc), med­i­cines and lab-grown food prod­ucts. Gates’s ambi­tions for this rad­i­cal biotech field extend beyond gene dri­ves and malar­ia research and into the field of syn­bio. In an inter­view, he said that if he were a teenag­er today, he would be hack­ing biol­o­gy: “If you want to change the world in some big way, that’s where you should start—biological mol­e­cules.”

    The Gates Foun­da­tion has had a sub­stan­tial influ­ence on the syn­thet­ic biol­o­gy indus­try since its incep­tion. In 2005, when the field was still rel­a­tive­ly new, the BMGF gave a grant of US$42.5 mil­lion (and lat­er more) to the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia Berke­ley and Amyris, a start­up syn­bio com­pa­ny, in order to pro­duce the anti­malar­i­al drug artemisinin in a lab­o­ra­to­ry with genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered microbes. The aim of this grant was not only to cre­ate the anti­malar­i­al drug, but also to cre­ate new bio­fu­els, med­i­cines and high val­ue chem­i­cals. The founder of Amyris, Jay Keasling, has told ETC Group that the Gates funds were con­tin­gent on find­ing oth­er more prof­itable lines of busi­ness in addi­tion to artemisinin and so ini­tial­ly the tech­nol­o­gy was simul­ta­ne­ous­ly applied to bio­fu­el pro­duc­tion. Jack New­man, a sci­en­tist at Amyris explained that “the very same path­ways” used in artemisinin “can be used for anti­cancer (drugs), antivi­rals, antiox­i­dants.”

    While using phil­an­thropic funds to bankroll a pri­vate bio­fu­el busi­ness might seem eth­i­cal­ly ques­tion­able, the sup­pos­ed­ly ben­e­fi­cial tar­get of mak­ing an anti­malar­i­al mol­e­cule may not have been so pos­i­tive either. In 2013, after many years of research by the UC Berke­ley Lab­o­ra­to­ry and Amyris, it was announced that the French phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­ny, Sanofi, would launch the pro­duc­tion of syn­thet­ic artemisinin. Com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion of the com­pound was hailed as more afford­able than nat­u­ral­ly grown artemisinin, which is farmed in coun­tries like Kenya, Tan­za­nia, Mada­gas­car, Mozam­bique, India, Viet­nam and Chi­na. How­ev­er, what was not men­tioned dur­ing all the hype around the syn­thet­ic pro­duc­tion of the com­pound was that artemisinin farm­ers in these coun­tries would lose their liveli­hoods as a result of the sale of the syn­bio ver­sion. In the hype and sup­port­ed by phil­an­thropic mon­ey, prices for artemisinin crashed and some nat­ur­al artemisinin extrac­tors were shut­tered. Even­tu­al­ly, even the syn­thet­ic prod­uct proved too expen­sive to sell.

    The BMGF invest­ments’ in syn bio go fur­ther still. The Foun­da­tion invest­ed in a num­ber of oth­er syn­bio com­pa­nies includ­ing Edi­tas Med­i­cine, a genome edit­ing com­pa­ny that con­trols the CRISPR-Cas9 tech­nol­o­gy behind gene dri­ves, and Gink­go Bioworks, which cre­ates microbes for appli­ca­tion in fash­ion, med­i­cine and indus­try. Gates is also keen on the so-called “cel­lu­lar food rev­o­lu­tion” which grows food from cells in a lab. His invest­ments in the sec­tor include Mem­phis Meat, a com­pa­ny that cre­ates cell-based meat with­out ani­mals, Piv­ot Bio, which cre­ates engi­neered microbes for use in agri­cul­ture, and Impos­si­ble Foods, which makes processed meat-like burg­ers from a syn­thet­ic biol­o­gy-derived blood sub­sti­tute.

    That Gates is pour­ing so much mon­ey into an indus­try that is ori­ent­ed toward shift­ing agri­cul­ture and the food sys­tems toward hi-tech approach­es is no acci­dent, giv­en how influ­en­tial the Foun­da­tion is in glob­al health and agri­cul­ture pol­i­cy gen­er­al­ly, and in pro­mot­ing indus­tri­al agri­cul­ture in the glob­al South and espe­cial­ly Africa. In the case of gene dri­ves, while most inter­na­tion­al debate has focused on their appli­ca­tion in malar­ia and con­ser­va­tion, the indus­tri­al farm is where gene dri­ves may first make their impact; the very foun­da­tion­al patents for gene dri­ves have been writ­ten with agri­cul­tur­al appli­ca­tions in mind. In 2017, a secre­tive group of mil­i­tary advi­sors known as the JASON Group pro­duced a clas­si­fied study on gene dri­ves com­mis­sioned by the US gov­ern­ment which was tasked to address “what might be real­iz­able in the next 3–10 years, espe­cial­ly with regard to agri­cul­tur­al appli­ca­tions.” The JASON Group was also informed by gene dri­ve researchers who were present dur­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion on crop sci­ence and gene dri­ves deliv­ered by some­one from Bay­er-Mon­san­to. Oth­er groups involved in gene dri­ve dis­cus­sions behind the scene include Cibus, an agri­cul­tur­al biotech firm, as well as agribusi­ness majors includ­ing Syn­gen­ta and Corte­va Agri­science. The start­up Agra­gene, whose co-founders are none oth­er than the gene dri­ve researchers Ethan Bier and Valenti­no Gantz of Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia at San Diego, “intends to alter plants and insects” using gene dri­ves. The JASON Group and oth­ers have also raised the flag that gene dri­ves have biowar­fare potential—in part explain­ing the strong inter­est of US and oth­er mil­i­taries in the tech­nol­o­gy.

    Shap­ing the Nar­ra­tive Around Gene Dri­ves

    Not only has the Gates Foun­da­tion fund­ed the under­ly­ing tools of the syn bio indus­try and mould­ed gene dri­ve research for years, it has also been qui­et­ly work­ing behind the scenes to influ­ence the adop­tion of these risky tech­nolo­gies. The way in which pol­i­cy and pub­lic rela­tions about gene dri­ves research has been shaped by the Foun­da­tion becomes clear when one exam­ines what hap­pened imme­di­ate­ly after the cre­ation of the first func­tion­al gene dri­ves with CRISPR Cas9 tech­nol­o­gy in late 2014.

    In ear­ly 2015, the US Nation­al Acad­e­mies of Sci­ence, Engi­neer­ing and Med­i­cine announced that they would have a major inquiry into gene drives—an unprece­dent­ed move for such a brand new (only months old) tech­nol­o­gy. The study did not explore just the sci­ence of gene dri­ves, but also aimed to frame issues around pol­i­cy, ethics, risk assess­ment, gov­er­nance and pub­lic engage­ment around gene dri­ves. It was spon­sored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and The Bill & Melin­da Gates Foun­da­tion, through the Nation­al Insti­tutes of Health (NIH) and the Foun­da­tion for the Nation­al Insti­tutes of Health (FNIH). Sev­er­al pan­el mem­bers were recip­i­ents of Gates funds.

    The Foun­da­tion has also chan­neled mon­ey into the MIT media lab, home to Kevin Esvelt, who directs a group called Sculpt­ing Evo­lu­tion and was among the first peo­ple to iden­ti­fy the poten­tial of CRISPR-based gene dri­ve to alter wild pop­u­la­tions. Last year the MIT Media Lab was embroiled in a con­tro­ver­sy when it was revealed that it had received dona­tions from the con­vict­ed sex offend­er Jef­frey Epstein. Through Epstein, the media lab secured US$2 mil­lion from Gates although it is not clear for which project.

    One of the most con­tro­ver­sial find­ings which illus­trate the extent to which the Gates Foun­da­tion is invest­ed in influ­enc­ing the uptake of gene dri­ve tech­nol­o­gy was made in 2017 by civ­il soci­ety orga­ni­za­tions fol­low­ing a Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion request. That process led to the release of a trove of emails reveal­ing that a pri­vate PR firm called Emerg­ing Ag, was paid US$1.6 mil­lion by the BMGF. Part of their work involved coor­di­nat­ing the “fight back against gene dri­ve mora­to­ri­um pro­po­nents,” as well as run­ning a covert advo­ca­cy coali­tion to exert influ­ence on the Unit­ed Nations Con­ven­tion on Bio­log­i­cal Diver­si­ty (CBD), the key body for gene dri­ve gov­er­nance. After calls in 2016 for a glob­al mora­to­ri­um on the use of gene dri­ve tech­nol­o­gy, the CBD sought input from sci­en­tists and experts in an online forum. Emerg­ing Ag recruit­ed and coor­di­nat­ed over 65 experts, includ­ing a Gates Foun­da­tion senior offi­cial, a DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Project Agency) offi­cial, and gov­ern­ment and uni­ver­si­ty sci­en­tists, in an attempt to flood the offi­cial UN process with their coor­di­nat­ed inputs.

    Emerg­ing Ag now man­ages an overt advo­ca­cy net­work also fund­ed by the BMGF called the Out­reach Net­work for Gene Dri­ve Research whose stat­ed inten­tion is to “raise aware­ness of the val­ue of gene dri­ve research for the pub­lic good.” Its mem­bers include researchers and orga­ni­za­tions that work on gene dri­ve research, stake­hold­er engage­ment, out­reach and even fun­ders. Almost all of its mem­bers are sep­a­rate­ly fund­ed by the Gates Foun­da­tion. In 2020, Emerg­ing Ag received anoth­er grant from the Foun­da­tion for $2,509,762.

    ...

    ————

    “Dri­ven to Extinc­tion”; ETC Group; 10/14/2020

    “In the case of the Anophe­les gam­bi­ae project (that Gates bankrolls), a gene dri­ve is designed to inter­fere with the fer­til­i­ty of the mos­qui­to: essen­tial genes for fer­til­i­ty would be removed, pre­vent­ing the mos­qui­toes from hav­ing female off­spring or from hav­ing off­spring alto­geth­er. These mod­i­fied mos­qui­toes would then pass on their genes to a high per­cent­age of their off­spring, spread­ing auto-extinc­tion genes through­out the pop­u­la­tion. In time, the entire species would in effect be com­plete­ly elim­i­nat­ed.

    It’s a sim­ple idea: flood a pop­u­la­tion with indi­vid­u­als who can breed, but can only breed ster­ile off­spring. A sim­ple idea that is now tech­no­log­i­cal­ly fea­si­ble thanks to years of intense research into this area not just by the BMGF but DARPA too. It’s the kind of tech­nol­o­gy with obvi­ous mil­i­tary appli­ca­tions, as the JASON Group point­ed out in its 2017 study that found gene-dri­ve tech­nol­o­gy had biowar­fare poten­tial. And that means this is the kind of tech­nol­o­gy that’s going to have A LOT more resources invest­ed in it in com­ing decades:

    ...
    That Gates is so enthu­si­as­tic about releas­ing this pow­er­ful genet­ic tech­nol­o­gy is not so sur­pris­ing when one scratch­es the sur­face of the myr­i­ad insti­tu­tions that have been research­ing and pro­mot­ing gene dri­ves for years. To date, the Bill and Melin­da Gates Foun­da­tion (BMGF) is either the first or sec­ond largest fun­der of gene dri­ve research (along­side the shad­owy U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) whose exact lev­el of invest­ment is dis­put­ed). Gates is not just anoth­er tech opti­mist stand­ing on a busi­ness stage call­ing for gene dri­ve release to be allowed—his foun­da­tion has poured mil­lions of dol­lars into gene dri­ve research for over a decade. Yet direct research fund­ing is not the only way in which the BMGF has accel­er­at­ed the devel­op­ment of this tech­nol­o­gy. They have also fund­ed and influ­enced lob­by­ists, reg­u­la­tors, and pub­lic nar­ra­tives around gene dri­ves, in an attempt to push this dan­ger­ous sci-fi sound­ing tech­nol­o­gy into real world use, shift­ing research pri­or­i­ties on indus­tri­al agri­cul­ture, con­ser­va­tion and health strate­gies along the way.

    ...

    That Gates is pour­ing so much mon­ey into an indus­try that is ori­ent­ed toward shift­ing agri­cul­ture and the food sys­tems toward hi-tech approach­es is no acci­dent, giv­en how influ­en­tial the Foun­da­tion is in glob­al health and agri­cul­ture pol­i­cy gen­er­al­ly, and in pro­mot­ing indus­tri­al agri­cul­ture in the glob­al South and espe­cial­ly Africa. In the case of gene dri­ves, while most inter­na­tion­al debate has focused on their appli­ca­tion in malar­ia and con­ser­va­tion, the indus­tri­al farm is where gene dri­ves may first make their impact; the very foun­da­tion­al patents for gene dri­ves have been writ­ten with agri­cul­tur­al appli­ca­tions in mind. In 2017, a secre­tive group of mil­i­tary advi­sors known as the JASON Group pro­duced a clas­si­fied study on gene dri­ves com­mis­sioned by the US gov­ern­ment which was tasked to address “what might be real­iz­able in the next 3–10 years, espe­cial­ly with regard to agri­cul­tur­al appli­ca­tions.” The JASON Group was also informed by gene dri­ve researchers who were present dur­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion on crop sci­ence and gene dri­ves deliv­ered by some­one from Bay­er-Mon­san­to. Oth­er groups involved in gene dri­ve dis­cus­sions behind the scene include Cibus, an agri­cul­tur­al biotech firm, as well as agribusi­ness majors includ­ing Syn­gen­ta and Corte­va Agri­science. The start­up Agra­gene, whose co-founders are none oth­er than the gene dri­ve researchers Ethan Bier and Valenti­no Gantz of Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia at San Diego, “intends to alter plants and insects” using gene dri­ves. The JASON Group and oth­ers have also raised the flag that gene dri­ves have biowar­fare potential—in part explain­ing the strong inter­est of US and oth­er mil­i­taries in the tech­nol­o­gy.
    ...

    So what hap­pens when this still-new tech­nol­o­gy becomes a mature, read­i­ly-avail­able tech­nol­o­gy? What hap­pens when we under­stand which genes to knock out or insert for the desired effects in mam­mals and also have the tech­nol­o­gy to deliv­er those genet­ic changes in repro­duc­tive tis­sues (e.g. tar­get­ing testis or ovaries via virus­es, etc) to human pop­u­la­tions? Isn’t this basi­cal­ly a biowar­fare time­bomb wait­ing to go off? A biowar­fare time­bomb man­i­fest­ing as a series of secret tar­get­ed anti-demo­graph­ic time­bombs.

    It’s all part of the very grim set of ques­tions we now have to ask with Amy Coney Bar­ret­t’s ascen­sion to the Supreme Court. Because when the extrem­ist move­ment with extreme demo­graph­ic anx­i­eties she rep­re­sents learns that out­law­ing abor­tion does­n’t get them the white future they desire it’s only rea­son­able to ask what this move­ment is going to do next. And only rea­son­able to assume it’s going to be even more extreme. As dia­bol­i­cal­ly extreme as avail­able tech­nol­o­gy will allow it to be.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 28, 2020, 4:52 pm

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