Fort Detrick, where the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease (USAMRIID) is located, is the center of U.S. bio-military activities and notorious for its illegal, non-transparent and unsafe practices.
worker | August 31, 2021 | 8:41 pm | COVID-19 | Comments closed

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Full text: Doubtful Points about Fort Detrick (USAMRIID)
CGTN

The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Maryland, U.S., April 4, 2006. /CFP

A senior Chinese diplomat said on Tuesday that the labs of Fort Detrick and University of North Carolina in the United States should be subject to “transparent investigation with full access” for the origins tracing of COVID-19.

Ambassador Chen Xu, permanent representative of China to the United Nations (UN) Office at Geneva, said in his letter to World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus that the hypothesis of introduction of SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – into human population was caused by lab leak in the Wuhan Institute of Virology is “extremely unlikely.”

The following is the full text of the non-paper attached to the letter by the diplomat titled “Doubtful Points about Fort Detrick (U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease).”

Fort Detrick, where the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease (USAMRIID) is located, is the center of U.S. bio-military activities and notorious for its illegal, non-transparent and unsafe practices. Serious concerns have long been raised by the international community over U.S. activities at Fort Detrick, in particular about USAMRIID, and there are many doubtful points about its connections with COVID-19.

1. Fort Detrick was the center of the U.S. biological weapons program in history and USAMRIID was the main research entity there.

Fort Detrick was known as the center of the U.S. government’s darkest experiments. It remains the development center for U.S. germ warfare research, even after U.S. renouncement of all offensive biological weapons programs in 1969 and ratification to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) in 1975.

2. The BSL-4 lab in USAMRIID is the only BSL-4 lab of the U.S. military.

USAMRIID stores almost all known deadly pathogens, such as Ebola, anthrax, smallpox, plague, and coronaviruses including SARS. Several staff in USAMRIID have conducted researches related to SARS, MERS and other coronaviruses. Back in 2003, after the SARS outbreak, USAMRIID worked with Ralph Baric’s team from the University of North Carolina (UNC) and developed a novel reverse genetic system for manipulation of a full-length cDNA of the SARS-CoV, and relevant outcomes were published in a paper in 2003.

According to the paper, within two months after obtaining the RNA of the SARS virus, the full-length cDNA of the virus was successfully synthesized. This shows that as early as 2003, these institutes already had the advanced capabilities to synthesize and modify SARS-related coronaviruses.

In 2007, USAMRIID published a paper in the Journal of Virology about using the Ebola virus to conduct animal testing on rhesus monkeys. The virus strains used in the experiments were obtained through reverse genetics techniques, to specifically remove the furin cleavage site, in order to compare the changes in virulence of the viruses. It is worth noting that the furin cleavage site is believed to be one of the reasons that make SARS-CoV-2 highly virulent.

In 2018, USAMRIID carried out experiments on African green monkeys. The monkeys were experimentally infected with MERS-CoV to help study viral pathogenesis and develop vaccines. After COVID-19 broke out, USAMRIID and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR), a research institute affiliated to the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command, co-developed the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

A staff works in the USAMRIID’s BSL-4 lab, November 15, 2002. /CFP

3. Multiple bio-safety incidents have occurred in USAMRIID.

In 2001, five people were killed in an anthrax attack in the United States, and the suspect was a former employee of USAMRIID. In 2009, U.S. officials found during inspections that multiple pathogens studied in the institute were not listed in the lab database, and suspended some of the lab’s research.

In May 2014, Waverley View Investors LLC sued the U.S. Army for loopholes in Fort Detrick’s disposal of toxic waste, which caused the levels of trichloroethylene in the area to be 42 times as high as the federal standard. In February 2015, 106 families and individuals from Frederic County of Maryland filed a class action lawsuit against Fort Detrick for harm and death caused by exposure to hazardous materials from Fort Detrick and asked for $750 million in compensation. However, the U.S. government and army have consistently denied wrongdoing.

During U.S. CDC inspections to the USAMRIID lab in June 2019, serious violations were found. The CDC then shut down the lab and halted all researches in July 2019. The CDC reports laid out seven violations:

a. The USAMRIID systematically failed to ensure implementation of biosafety and containment procedures. Specifically, lab personnel were found to leave a door open while removing large amounts of biohazardous waste, greatly increasing the risk of pathogens escape and environment contamination.

b. An individual partially entered a room multiple times without the required respiratory protection while other people in that room were performing procedures with a non-human primate on a necropsy table, resulting in a respiratory occupational exposure to select agent aerosols.

c. The lab did not ensure that employee training was properly verified when it came to toxins and select agents, making it unable to assess whether lab personnel understood and commanded necessary skills.

d. Lab personnel did not wear gloves when disposing of biohazardous waste.

e. The lab failed to safeguard against unauthorized access to lab waste. Contaminated personal protective equipment was stored in specific area, but such area did not limit access to those with access approval.

f. Lab personnel did not maintain an accurate or current inventory for a toxin.

g. A lab building and its interior facilities did not have a sealed surface to facilitate cleaning and decontamination. Cracks were found around a conduit box, in the ceiling, and in the seam above a biological safety cabinet.

The lab restarted operation in November 2019, but it is not made public what has been done to redress these violations.

4. After the lab was shut down, outbreaks of respiratory diseases occurred in nearby communities.

In July 2019, 54 people in Greenspring, Virginia displayed respiratory symptoms including cough and pneumonia. The community is only one hour’s drive from Fort Detrick. According to a health official from the State of Virginia, the number of reported respiratory cases in the area went up nearly 50 percent in the summer of 2019.

In July 2019, a mysterious pneumonia outbreak associated with e-cigarette use was reported in Wisconsin. Symptoms included shortness of breath, fever, cough, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, dizziness and chest pain. Starting from then, an unprecedented outbreak of lung disease spread across the nation. As of December 17, 2019, more than 2,500 hospitalized cases were reported across 50 states. Experts believe this type of disease might represent one or more new clinical syndromes, and more researches are needed to determine the cause.

The 2019 influenza in the United States might have overlapped with COVID-19.

According to U.S. CDC statistics, there were about 39 to 56 million influenza cases between October 2019 and April 2020, resulting in 24,000 to 62,000 deaths. Given the similar symptoms, COVID-19 patients could have been misdiagnosed as influenza patients. To determine whether such cases exist, in particular in and prior to October 2019, a nationwide retrospective investigation and research should be done in the United States.

5. In March 2020, a petition was filed on the White House petition website, asking the U.S. government to disclose information related to Fort Detrick, especially the reason why the USAMRIID lab was shut down in 2019 and whether it had anything to do with COVID-19. The U.S. government has made no response, and the petition website has been taken offline altogether.

Source(s): Xinhua News Agency
The Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee on Thursday released a key publication on the Party’s mission and contributions.
worker | August 31, 2021 | 8:38 pm | Communist Party of China | Comments closed

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CPC releases key publication on its mission, contributions
Updated 13:46, 26-Aug-2021
CGTN

The document, titled “The CPC: Its Mission and Contributions,” stressed that over the past hundred years, all the struggles, sacrifices and efforts made by the CPC and the Chinese people under its leadership have targeted on one goal – the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

It also pointed out that the CPC is dedicated to the people and always puts their interests first. It said the CPC follows the underlying trends of social development and respects the people’s principal role in making history.

The CPC pursues the lofty goal of working for the well-being of the Chinese people, and it does everything in the interests of the people, the document said.

Serving the people wholeheartedly

Regarding serving the people as its abiding mission, the Party serves as the vanguard of China’s working class, the Chinese people and the Chinese nation, the publication highlighted. It noted that “of the people, by the people, for the people” is what has guided the CPC from victory to victory over the past century.

It said that over the past century, through all the changes in the domestic and international environments, both in good times and bad, the CPC put people first. It has never wavered in fulfilling this commitment.

After China was struck by COVID-19 epidemic, the CPC and the Chinese government responded swiftly, putting people’s lives before all else, organizing massive nucleic acid testing and inoculation, making every effort to identify every case of infection, and doing everything possible to save patients and protect people’s health, the document said.

“The Party and the people work together and share weal and woe, and there is an inseparable bond between them. No attempt to sever that bond will ever succeed, and any attempt to shake the people’s faith in the Party’s leadership is doomed to fail,” said the document.

Striving for realization of ideals

According to the publication, the CPC has been working tirelessly to realize its ideals and never gave up on the struggle despite hardships, existential trials and bitter sacrifices since its establishment in 1921.

The last 100 years saw the CPC fight on, guided by Marxism and buttressed by firm convictions, an enterprising spirit and unyielding determination, it noted.

The CPC upheld Marxism, stayed committed to its ideals and convictions, and kept breaking new ground, according to the document.

On its centennial journey, the CPC tempered its character with the courage to vanquish formidable enemies, defuse risks and overcome challenges, the document said, adding this has become the Party’s defining quality.

All of its achievements are the results of the hard work of generations of Party members, and the base on which the cause will continue to prosper, the document said.

The success of the Party in the past equips it to face the future with full confidence, according to the document.

Always maintains vigor and vitality

The document also hailed the vigor and vitality of the CPC. It noted that the CPC has been respecting the principal position of Party members and protecting their democratic rights, besides applying intra-Party democracy in elections, decision-making, management and oversight.

The CPC faced its problems and mistakes and corrected them by upholding the truth, the publication said, noting that through trial and error, the CPC has grown stronger and better, and continues to lead the people forward.

The Party takes resolute measures against anything that may undermine its integrity and progressive nature, it added.

The Party is committed to studying and reviewing as well as to drawing on good experience from other countries to strengthen its own capability for revolution, reconstruction and reform, said the publication.

After 100 years of struggle, the CPC has the courage and ability to carry out self-reform and is able to meet any challenge and withstand any test, the publication said.

The CPC will never change or betray its nature and will always remain dynamic and grow stronger, it noted.

Firm leadership and strong governance

According to the document, the CPC has firm leadership and strong governance capability.

Upholding the CPC Central Committee’s authority and centralized leadership has led to smooth and steady progress in revolution, reconstruction and reform, ensuring the CPC’s position as the governing party and the country’s long-term stability, according to the publication.

Over the past hundred years, at every historic juncture, the CPC has been able to analyze the situation from an overall, objective and forward-looking perspective, and set forth practical goals, tasks, policies and road maps. It is the Party’s sound guidelines that have enabled it to carry out its work in a well-organized and systematic manner, the publication said.

In addition, the Party has been consistent in building its organization, tightening its discipline and strengthening the rule of law. It has united tens of millions of Party members and organized hundreds of millions of Chinese people, thereby ensuring that its decisions and plans are implemented in a timely, resolute and forceful manner, it said.

The CPC is strong because it has always placed the united front in an important position, combining all the forces that can be united, mobilizing all positive factors, and pooling as much strength as possible for collective endeavors, the publication said.

The CPC can realize its overall leadership over state affairs and in all sectors of society because a large number of high-caliber officials play their role to the best of their ability, stated the publication.

Contributions to world peace and development

The CPC has also been contributing to world peace and development, said the document, adding the CPC is committed to pursuing development for both China and the world, and bringing benefits to all.

“Peaceful development is an everlasting aspiration of the CPC and the salient feature of China’s progress,” the document said.

Over the past 100 years, pursuing and safeguarding peace, the CPC has led the Chinese people on a new path of national rejuvenation that leads to prosperity rather than hegemony, it said, adding that this path enables China to accelerate its own development and contribute to world peace and development.

The CPC has proposed building a global community of shared future, with the goal of creating an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity, the document said.

By addressing practical problems faced by the world today, human society will achieve peace and sustainable development through win-win cooperation, joint efforts and shared benefits, it said.

(With input from Xinhua)

(Cover: CPC members help farmers harvest sorghum, Chongqing Municipality, China, August 18, 2021. /CFP)

The CPC Way: The Original Aspiration
worker | August 31, 2021 | 8:35 pm | Communist Party of China | Comments closed

https://news.cgtn.com/news/2021-08-26/-The-CPC-Way-The-Original-Aspiration-1328hQd4ltS/index.html

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The CPC Way: The Original Aspiration
45:06

“The CPC Way” is a six-part documentary about the keys to the success of the Communist Party of China (CPC). The first part, titled “The Original Aspiration,” explains the core missions aimed at rejuvenating the country. It all started in Shanghai a hundred years ago.

Texas Supreme Court on Thursday temporarily gave green light to Governor Greg Abbott’s ban on school mask mandates in the south central U.S. state, blocking Bexar County from continuing to defy the governor’s executive order.
worker | August 31, 2021 | 8:33 pm | Local/State | Comments closed

https://news.cgtn.com/news/2021-08-27/U-S-Texas-Supreme-Court-temporarily-blocks-school-mask-mandates-133N5NQdVvy/index.html

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U.S. Texas Supreme Court temporarily allows governor’s ban on school mask mandates
CGTN

People wear masks at a market in Houston City, Texas, U.S., April 24, 2021. /CFP

The Texas Supreme Court on Thursday temporarily gave the green light to Governor Greg Abbott’s ban on school mask mandates in the south central U.S. state, blocking Bexar County from continuing to defy the governor’s executive order.

“The status quo, for many months, has been gubernatorial oversight of such decisions at both the state and local levels,” the court said in its ruling, granting Abbott emergency relief to enforce his ban during the coronavirus pandemic.

“That status quo should remain in place while the court of appeals, and potentially this Court, examine the parties’ merits arguments to determine whether plaintiffs have demonstrated a probable right to the relief sought,” the court said.

The decision overrules an earlier district court’s ruling, forcing Bexar County to reconsider how to move forward with its health and safety requirements amid new surges of coronavirus infections driven by the highly contagious Delta variant, The Hill reported.

Abbott on Wednesday announced an executive order banning COVID-19 vaccine mandates, two days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to the Pfizer vaccine.

An Emergency Room nurse tends to a patient at the Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital in Houston, Texas, U.S., August 18, 2021. /CFP

“No governmental entity can compel any individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccine,” read the order, which excludes places like nursing homes and state-supported living centers.

As a result, public institutions in Texas including state agencies, local governments, universities, public schools and any other entities that receive public funding are banned from compelling employees to get the shots or asking people who use their services for proof of vaccination.

Meanwhile, Abbott asked state lawmakers to consider legislation addressing whether state or local governments could issue vaccine mandates, and if so, which exemptions should apply.

Key pandemic metrics in Texas continued to reach levels not seen since the last spike in the winter. According to the state and local health agencies, 23,412 new cases were registered in Texas on Wednesday.

The state is in the back of the pack nationally, with 46.2 percent of Texans fully vaccinated as of Monday, according to local media reports.

Source(s): Xinhua News Agency
Terror Warning in Kabul to Avoid US, UK Shame?
worker | August 31, 2021 | 8:30 pm | Afghanistan | Comments closed

https://sputniknews.com/columnists/202108261083718929-terror-warning-in-kabul-to-avoid-us-uk-shame/

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Just when the eyes of the world are watching a shambolic and shameful scramble out of Afghanistan by the United States and its British ally then we get this dramatic terror warning.

Media reports say the US, Britain, Australia and New Zealand issued “very specific” and “near-identically” worded warnings for throngs of people to disperse from the airport in Kabul, the Afghan capital.

The four allies are members of the so-called Five Eyes intelligence grouping which also includes Canada. That indicates a coordinated messaging by those governments.

The warning claims that a little-known Islamist terror group, Isis-K, is planning to “imminently” hit the airport entrances with suicide bombs. The group is distinct from the dominant Taliban* militants.

Consequently, the US and its allies are urging people to immediately vacate the area around the airport. Curiously, all entrance gates to the airport are mentioned as high-risk areas.

© AP PHOTO / SHEKIB RAHMANI
Самолет C-17 в аэропорту Кабула

Further to the grim warning, Britain’s military minister Ben Wallace advises people milling around Kabul airport: “Head for the border,” according to a front-page report in the Guardian. “If they think they can make it to a third country, that may be a better option,” said Wallace. Meaning, a better option than being airlifted out of Kabul by Britain’s Royal Air Force.

The suspicion is that the alleged terror threat is all too convenient. The American and British governments are looking like callous fools from the debacle of their military retreat from Afghanistan. After 20 years of waging a criminal, futile war in the country, Washington and London are scurrying like rats off a sinking ship. The regime they propped in Kabul with billions of dollars and weaponry has fallen like a house of cards to the Taliban insurgents who swept into the capital on August 15, taking control of the country.

What’s making the retreat look even more shameful is the chaotic scenes at Kabul airport where the US and Britain are struggling to get their remaining citizens and Afghan aides out of the country ahead of the August 31 deadline next week when the last of American and British troops have been ordered out by the Taliban victors.

© REUTERS / US MARINES
Evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport

It is estimated that there are as many as 1,500 US citizens still trapped in Afghanistan. Britain is saying there are as many Afghan interpreters and others who assisted the British military occupation and who are eligible for evacuation.

That means come next week there are going to be even more ignominious scenes of thousands of American and British collaborators left stranded in Kabul as the last of the military cargo planes take off. It will be potentially an epic PR disaster for Washington and London.

Hence the suspicious terror warning put out by the Americans and British and amplified by their Five Eyes partners, Australia and New Zealand. The purpose seems to be: disperse the abandoned and desperate throngs whose image would otherwise create a searing global image of betrayal.

Things do not add up in the official warning. For a start, the Isis-K group is not known as a credible terror outfit. Secondly, in another context, US President Joe Biden recently said that Isis-K was the “sworn enemy” of the Taliban. Thirdly, we are told that the Taliban have “ring-fenced” the perimeter around Kabul airport with checkpoints to stop Afghans from reaching the area. So, if the area is so tightly controlled by the Taliban, how is their “sworn enemy” Isis-K supposed to mount a suicide bomb attack?

Having said that, a horrific bombing could be carried out by some unknown agency (the CIA, MI6?) in order to “substantiate” the terror warning.

Another dubious point is this: the Western intelligence agencies are supposed to now have “very specific” information on an imminent terror attack. But these same agencies did not have information warning of the Fall of Kabul when the Taliban ousted the Western-backed regime on August 15.

British minister Ben Wallace’s advice to Afghans to leave Kabul and “head to the border” to escape through neighboring countries is another telling part of the cynical calculation. In other words, he’s saying, get lost in the deserts and mountains far away from the world’s eyes… and, do us a final favor chaps, just go away and die somewhere remote and anonymous.

*The Taliban is a terrorist group banned in Russia and many other countries

 

The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

 

The U.S. intelligence community remains divided in its report on the origins of COVID-19 because their work was “intelligence-based instead of science-based,” Chinese virologists said after the report was released on Friday.
worker | August 31, 2021 | 8:27 pm | COVID-19 | Comments closed

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Scientists: U.S. report on COVID-19 divided because it’s intelligence-based, not science-based
By Wu Guoxiu

Uncle Sam’s selective vision on COVID-19 origins tracing. /CGTN

The U.S. intelligence community remains divided in its report on the origins of COVID-19 because their work was “intelligence-based instead of science-based,” Chinese virologists said after the report was released on Friday.

A Chinese virologist told CGTN on condition of anonymity that the report shows the U.S. intelligence community generally tends to believe the novel coronavirus came from nature, but they lack evidence and confidence in the conclusion. A small number of people still think it might have something to do with a “lab leak.”

The divided opinions inside the U.S. intelligence community rooted in their intelligence-based research method, the expert said.

“But the report ruled out the possibility that the virus was man-made or genetically engineered. It also acknowledged that the Chinese government did not have foreknowledge of the virus before the initial outbreak of COVID-19,” the expert said.

Another Chinese virologist close to the World Health Organization (WHO) – China joint study on origins tracing wrote in a statement to CGTN that the U.S. intelligence community continues to include the extremely unlikely laboratory incident as the potential origin for SARS-CoV-2.

The report “unfairly criticized China’s cooperation with the WHO, even though no other countries have invited the WHO to conduct origins tracing research twice since the pandemic began,” the expert added.

“Politicizing the issue is the most negative factor in delaying global efforts to trace the origins of the virus,” the expert stressed.

When asked whether the intelligence community should be involved in COVID-19 origins tracing, Marion Koopmans, a Dutch virologist and member of the WHO-China joint team who came to Wuhan in March, said in a written interview with CGTN that “I do not think that is up to me. The intelligence community defines its own agenda.”

“However, I do think that the discussion about origins has a political angle that makes it more difficult to work together as scientists,” she wrote.

“It is part of the reality, and understandable given the impact of this pandemic and the global interest in finding the origins. But mixing political and scientific discussions is not a good combination,” she added.

Koopmans and 10 other international scientists on the WHO’s SARS-CoV-2 origins tracing team to China published an article in Nature on Wednesday. They warned that “the window of opportunity for conducting the inquiry is closing fast.”

Koopmans further elaborated on that in the interview with CGTN.

“We recommended specific studies, some of which are time sensitive. For instance, going back to test blood donations collected in the second half of 2019. We discussed this in Wuhan and were told donations would be kept, although normally they will be destroyed after two years. So in Wuhan this will still be possible. But we recommend studies in all places where there was evidence for early circulation, inside and outside China,” she said.

In the Nature article, the international scientists listed six priorities for follow-up origins-tracing studies, highlighting critical trace-back of people and animals in regions inside and outside China that have the earliest evidence for circulation of the virus, and targeted surveys of possible reservoir or intermediate animal hosts of the virus.

But it did not include the “lab leak” theory as a priority. They said in the article that no new evidence supporting the “lab leak” hypothesis has been reported to the WHO so far.

Koopmans told CGTN that they still stand by their conclusions in the WHO-China joint report, that a zoonotic spillover is the most likely origin of the virus.

“We feel that all cards are still on the table as long as we really do not know what happened. SARS-CoV-2 is a close relative of bat viruses, but what the steps in between have been we do not know. For instance, if the serological study would find evidence for pockets of cases earlier, that is where we would recommend detailed epidemiological investigation, including asking about lab work. We still stand by our conclusions in the report that we consider a zoonotic spillover the most likely pathway,” she said.

In a response to the U.S. intelligence community’s report, Zeng Yixin, deputy minister of the National Health Commission, said on Sunday that China supports the expansion of coronavirus origins tracing to comprise probes into multiple countries, including the U.S. He also said that COVID-19 origins tracing is a “scientific job.”

“Therefore, the Chinese government has always stated that the job should be conducted in a scientific way, and China opposes politicizing it,” he stressed.

That’s been echoed in the Nature article that “understanding the origins of a devastating pandemic is a global priority, grounded in science.”

(CGTN’s Cao Qingqing contributed to the report.)

Cuba receives medical supply donation from China as pandemic worsens
worker | August 31, 2021 | 8:23 pm | China, COVID-19, Cuba | Comments closed

https://news.cgtn.com/news/2021-08-29/Cuba-receives-medical-supply-donation-from-China-as-pandemic-worsens-137Su4Auhmo/index.html

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Cuba receives medical supply donation from China as pandemic worsens
00:42

Cuba on August 28 received medical supplies donated by the Chinese government to help it combat the spread of COVID-19, as the island endures a sharp rise in cases, deaths and hospitalizations.

The medical supplies include rapid COVID-19 antigen testing kits, surgical gloves and protective suits, adding to the ventilators and oxygen concentrators donated by China recently.