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Twitter bans Chinese virologist claiming that coronavirus was made in a lab, Digest from Peter Myers

(1) Twitter bans Chinese virologist claiming that coronavirus was made in a lab(2) US virologists dispute Yan’s claim that COVID-19 is man made, but Nikolai Petrovsky backs her up(3) Yan's scientific paper - pdf(4) Dr. Yan escaped danger and censorship in China, only to end up censored on Twitter when she arrived in USA(5) Melinda Gates warns social media platforms are due a "reckoning" for not censoring enough(6) Lecturer wants conspiracy theories to be stopped "before they have a chance of spreading"(7) In China, smart locks are being used to track citizens and enforce lockdowns(1) Twitter bans Chinese virologist claiming that coronavirus was made in a lab Theresa BraineNew York Daily NewsSEP 16, 2020 AT 4:14 PMTwitter has suspended the account of a Chinese virologist who has been posting unsubstantiated claims that the coronavirus originated in a Wuhan lab.The account of Dr. Li-Meng Yan went dark amid her claims, published online in a preprint report written with three colleagues, that the virus shows telltale signs of not having evolved naturally.Yan and the authors of the conspiratorially overtoned paper, published on the preprint site Zenodo, are affiliated with the Rule of Law Society, founded by former adviser to President Trump Steve Bannon, who is under indictment for alleged wire fraud and money laundering.Twitter has been labeling and slapping warning labels to tag troublesome posts that appear to spread misinformation about coronavirus or incite violence, the company announced in May.Several prominent virologists in the U.S. and U.K. have taken to Twitter to dissect and debunk Yan’s claims.The notion that SARS-CoV-2 originated in a lab and was either accidentally or deliberately unleashed upon the world has been raised several times, and discarded.At the end of April, as those rumors swirled, the vice director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology broke a weeks-long silence to deny that the virus had started in such a facility.The World Health Organization reiterated that a few days later."All available evidence suggests the virus has an animal origin and is not manipulated or constructed in a lab or somewhere else," a WHO spokeswoman said.In early May Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed there was "enormous evidence" that the novel coronavirus originated in a Wuhan lab.Three days later Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the U.S.'s major source of solid coronavirus pandemic information, said that the claim itself defied logic, given the virus’ very obvious evolution in bats."A number of very qualified evolutionary biologists have said that everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that it evolved in nature and then jumped species," Fauci said. "But that means it was in the wild to begin with. That’s why I don’t get what they’re talking about (and) why I don’t spend a lot of time going in on this circular argument."(2) US virologists dispute Yan’s claim that COVID-19 is man made, but Nikolai Petrovsky backs her up virologists dispute Chinese whistleblower’s claim that COVID-19 is man madeBy Gabrielle FonrougeSeptember 16, 2020 | 4:46pmWestern experts are weighing in on Chinese whistle-blower Dr. Li-Meng Yan’s report claiming to show COVID-19 was man-made in a lab — with several dismissing it as more of a theoretical think piece that offers no new evidence and includes flawed research."One of the major arguments [in the paper] is that [the virus] is so unique, it can’t have been generated naturally, the only explanation is that it’s man-made," Dr. Gary Whittaker, a professor of virology at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, told The Post. "I would push back on that."Yan’s report, published late Monday on the website Zenote, says Sars-Cov-2’s unique genome shows it was created in a lab because the specific sequences of the mystery bug aren’t found in nature.Jason Kaelber, a Rutgers University virologist and an assistant research professor at the Institute for Quantitative Biomedicine, said that’s simply not the case."All the weird things about Sars-Cov-2 are completely consistent with the sort of weirdness that happens in wild viruses all the time," Kaelber told The Post."One reason why I haven’t gone looking for explanations of artificial origins is because we knew something like this was going to happen sooner or later," he continued, citing the recent Zika virus outbreak and MERS in 2012, among others."This one is the worst since AIDS but it’s not the first and it won’t be the last. So if all the labs in the world shut down, these things would keep coming."Kaelber said Yan writes significantly about an apparent "restriction site" on the virus’s genome — a place where a scientist could cut out a piece from a naturally occurring bug and insert something man made — and dismissed it as just "seeing patterns where no patterns exist.""It’s like seeing the blessed virgin in a piece of toast, the restriction sites that she finds are commonly occurring elsewhere in Sars-Cov-2 and in other related viruses and if you were to engineer in restriction sites to manipulate the spike gene, I certainly wouldn’t do it like that, there’s much better ways to do that," Kaelber said.Whittaker, who works extensively with coronaviruses that occur in animals, said that the havoc that Sars-Cov-2 causes in the body could raise questions about its origins — but a similar coronavirus found in cats does the same sort of damage."It has this wide spectrum of disease outcomes and it’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before but if you look at the disease outcomes in humans and in cats there’s actually a lot of similarities," Whittaker said."[The cat coronavirus] was absolutely naturally acquired. We don’t know how or why but it was absolutely natural… why would anyone design a virus to kill a bunch of cats?" he said. "If it can happen in cats in alphacoronavirus it can also happen with humans in betacoronavirus."Other critics noted that the paper was put out by the Rule of Law Society & Rule of Law Foundation — a New York-based group run by accused fraudster Steve Bannon and Chinese dissident and fugitive billionaire Guo Wengui. They said the partnership raises questions about political motivations driving the paper’s release and how the research was funded."It does not advance the inquiry. If anything, through its unsound reasoning, its oversold conclusions, and, most important, its sponsorship by Chinese fugitive billionaire [Guo] Wengui, it decreases — not increases — the likelihood the Chinese government will agree to an open and credible forensic investigation of the origins of the virus," said Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist from Rutgers.But Whittaker said Yan’s report does offer a detailed explanation on how to grow the virus in a lab, which is sound. While he does lean towards the theory that Sars-Cov-2 occurred naturally, he said it’s too early to completely rule out the potential of it being man made.He and Dr. Nikolai Petrovsky, an endocrinologist from Australia’s Flinders University, also said Yan’s report provides a solid counterpoint to a March Nature article titled "The Proximal Origin of Sars-Cov-2" that argues there is no way the virus could have been grown in a lab."All the tools were there, all the information was there to create the virus, she’s not proving it was created, she’s proving it was possible based on what was available at that time," said Petrovsky, calling the Nature piece "horribly flawed commentary" that was "political.""It’d be even stronger if someone followed the paper" and recreated the virus in a lab based on Yan’s report, he said.But one of the authors on the Nature article, virologist Dr. Ian Lipkin from Columbia University, told The Post in response that "we’ve explored" the possibility of Sars-Cov-2 being man made and "there’s really nothing else to it.""The evidence is not persuasive," said Lipkin, who worked as an advisor on the feature film "Contagion," which depicts a pandemic-ravaged world that’s eerily similar to today’s outbreak."This is really just shifting focus away from where it needs to be, which is trying to identify how this emerged in nature and what we can do to ensure it never happens again."Additional reporting by Isabel Vincent(3) Yan's scientific paper - pdfDownload the pdf at 14, 2020Journal article Open AccessUnusual Features of the SARS-CoV-2 Genome Suggesting Sophisticated Laboratory Modification Rather Than Natural Evolution and Delineation of Its Probable Synthetic RouteYan, Li-Meng; Kang, Shu; Guan, Jie; Hu, ShanchangThe COVID-19 pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has led to over 910,000 deaths worldwide and unprecedented decimation of the global economy. Despite its tremendous impact, the origin of SARS-CoV-2 has remained mysterious and controversial.The natural origin theory, although widely accepted, lacks substantial support. The alternative theory that the virus may have come from a research laboratory is, however, strictly censored on peer-reviewed scientific journals.Nonetheless, SARS-CoV-2 shows biological characteristics that are inconsistent with a naturally occurring, zoonotic virus. In this report, we describe the genomic, structural, medical, and literature evidence, which, when considered together, strongly contradicts the natural origin theory.The evidence shows that SARS-CoV-2 should be a laboratory product created by using bat coronaviruses ZC45 and/or ZXC21 as a template and/or backbone. Building upon the evidence, we further postulate a synthetic route for SARS-CoV-2, demonstrating that the laboratory-creation of this coronavirus is convenient and can be accomplished in approximately six months.Our work emphasizes the need for an independent investigation into the relevant research laboratories. It also argues for a critical look into certain recently published data, which, albeit problematic, was used to support and claim a natural origin of SARS-CoV-2. From a public health perspective, these actions are necessary as knowledge of the origin of SARS-CoV-2 and of how the virus entered the human population are of pivotal importance in the fundamental control of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as in preventing similar, future pandemics.(4) Dr. Yan escaped danger and censorship in China, only to end up censored on Twitter when she arrived in USA 15, 2020Dr. Li-Meng Yan: Twitter suspends virologist after paper alleging that COVID-19 was created in Wuhan labBy Tom ParkerPosted 6:51 pmDr. Yan escaped danger and censorship in China, only to end up censored on Twitter when she arrived in America.If you're tired of cancel culture and censorship subscribe to Reclaim The Net. Twitter has suspended the account of the Chinese virologist and whistleblower Dr. Li-Meng Yan after she published a paper claiming that COVID-19 was created in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.The paper, which she co-authored with three other Chinese scientists, claims that the COVID-19 was created in a laboratory by using bat coronaviruses as a template.Before the paper was published, Dr. Yan had fled for the US in April. She was based at a prestigious Hong Kong university and claims to have discovered evidence of human transmission of the coronavirus during the early stages of the outbreak and before Chinese authorities admitted human transmission."I could not stay silent. I could see China was covering up the truth and I had to do something since I was a professional who could explain it," Dr. Yan said.On January 19, her claims were shared by Lu De, an anti-communist party YouTuber and one day later, Chinese authorities admitted to human transmission. Dr. Yan said that she anonymously published information online that claimed the coronavirus was created in a laboratory a few days later.But in April, Lu De warned Dr. Yan that she was in danger and she fled the country on April 28.After taking part in many interviews and media appearances, on Sunday, Dr. Yan joined Twitter and she started tweeting on Monday. But, these days, Western social media platforms aren’t too dissimilar to CCP-controlled China and, in total, she appears to have sent four tweets before her account was suspended.One tweet linked to her research credentials (which show her affiliation with the University of Hong Kong and 13 of her publications that have been cited over 500 times), one tweet linked to the paper, and one tweet stated that the Zenodo repository, which is hosting the paper, had been hacked shortly after the paper was published.The fourth tweet was a retweet from Peter Navarro, the assistant to the President for Trade and Manufacturing Policy, stating that Dr. Yan’s claims that the coronavirus was created in a lab would be "unbelievable if it weren’t so believable."During her short time on the site, Dr. Yan had gained more than 60,000 followers and each of her tweets had garnered thousands of likes and retweets.But less than two days after joining and less than a day after sending her first tweet, Twitter dropped the ban hammer.It’s unclear why Twitter suspended Dr. Yan but presumably, the company deemed one of her tweets, most likely the link to the research paper, to be in violation of its strict coronavirus misinformation rules that prohibit denial of "expert guidance" about the coronavirus and unverified coronavirus claims that "could" lead to social unrest.The suspension of Dr. Yan is one of many examples of Twitter and other social media platform’s mass censorship of coronavirus content with some of this censorship being focused on claims similar to those made in the paper.For example, in April, the New York Post had an article that suggested the coronavirus may have originated in the Wuhan lab fact-checked and suppressed on Facebook with the supposedly independent fact-checker being a former employee of the lab that was criticized.Facebook and Twitter have both revealed the significant scale of their coronavirus censorship with Facebook censoring over 100 million posts per quarter for coronavirus misinformation and Twitter challenging more than four million accounts for violating its coronavirus rules.Big Tech’s mass censorship of coronavirus content has been slammed by numerous doctors and politicians, many of whom have been impacted directly by the censorship, who argue that the coronavirus should be debated, not censored.(5) Melinda Gates warns social media platforms are due a "reckoning" for not censoring enough 15, 2020By Didi RankovicPosted 8:19 pmGates wants "misinformation" to be curbed.If you're tired of cancel culture and censorship subscribe to Reclaim The Net. If one Gates wasn’t enough, proselytizing his ideas on anything from technology to education to viruses – there’s another.The wife of Bill Gates, Melinda, revealed for Axios on HBO that she is extremely unhappy with the state of social media today, which she accuses of spreading disinformation, and warns they might be in for "a reckoning."Her dissatisfaction with what’s allowed on the internet these days in terms of speech is driven by personal reasons, as Bill Gates, although a darling of corporate media, often comes under fire on social media for his policies and ideas around the coronavirus pandemic.Melinda Gates suggests that this criticism qualifies for disinformation and conspiracy theories, while those platforms who are not agile enough in censoring such unwanted content should be held accountable "by society."But Gates, who also brings up the talking point of allowing political ads on social networks, doesn’t think the job of making these companies undergo "some reckoning" should "get done" now, amid the epidemic.It is not clear why Gates thinks the timing is not right – but it does sound like she’s cautioning tech companies behind the offending (in her view) platforms to behave – i.e., introduce even more censorship around the topic – or face consequences later.This is in keeping with her habit of assuming the role of a teacher and dishing out "grades" to US administrations. She revealed that the "D-" grade she gave the Trump administration in May for its handling of coronavirus remains the same, but also said that she and Bill would not endorse any candidate in the November election, preferring to appear nonpartisan.Gates is the co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that focuses on things like healthcare, education, and agricultural research and is the largest private entity of its kind in the world.The foundation in the past came under plenty of criticism for the way it operates, and for what an AP report in 2018 described as an "often invisible (…) carefully curated web of influence."These days, however, anyone daring to formulate their criticism of Bill Gates’ "vision" regarding the current pandemic in similar terms would quickly get dismissed as ill-intentioned at best, and a conspiracy theorist at worst.(6) Lecturer wants conspiracy theories to be stopped "before they have a chance of spreading" 15, 2020Global health group says online vaccine skeptics "promote violence"By Didi RankovicPosted 8:46 pmThe Global Health Security Network has taken the narrative about the danger of any type of objection to coronavirus inoculation up a couple of notches, as it links it to the threat of violence and terrorism.This Australia-based group has published a new report warning that opposition to a future vaccine might result in radicalization of the population.Judging by an article published by media and recruitment platform Devex, the report, "The COVID-19 pandemic vs Post-Truth," deals with what it calls conspiracy theorists, or those receptive to conspiracy theories.At present, more than one third of US citizens are currently saying they would refuse to get vaccinated, while the alarmist tone of the report is clearly aimed at swaying their opinion – who wants to be branded a conspiracy theorist, let alone a terrorist?In addition, Global Health Security Network report’s lead author, Jennifer Hunt, says that fact-checking of content and (re) directing of social media users to "authoritative" sources is no longer enough.Hunt, who lectures at the Australian National University’s Security College, instead wants conspiracy theories to be stopped "before they have a chance of spreading."A key recommendation on how to achieve this is to pressure tech companies to monitor and censor content even more stringently, and involve governments in this process.The report is worded aggressively, mentioning terrorism and extremism, and asking governments to treat vaccine skeptics the same way they do child abuse content.Another recommendation is to change professional codes of conduct that would allow for doctors, among others, to face disciplinary action if they are found not toeing the line on coronavirus and a future vaccine.And while the Australian group’s report paints those who might resist coronavirus inoculation as basically conspiracy-advancing fear mongers, who might easily incite violence – thus in effect attempting to criminalize any opposition – the report itself could be seen as fear mongering in its own right.After all, Hunt shares that the goal of the report is "like an inoculation, to get there before the disease" – where "the disease" is everything that’s considered to be coronavirus disinformation.(7) In China, smart locks are being used to track citizens and enforce lockdowns 15, 2020By Cindy HarperPosted 4:08 pmThe Chinese Communist Party has found a new way of controlling the population with smart locks. These locks are becoming a mandatory requirement for residential properties under the pretext of increasing safety and preventing the spread of the coronavirus.However, in reality, smart locks are being used by the government to increase surveillance. With preventing the spread of coronavirus being the main promoted narrative, smart locks are giving the government more data they can use to control residents. These locks, which require an ID, facial recognition, or a smartphone app, are linked to the various big data platforms run by the government.The high-tech locks are slowly being introduced in residential properties in various parts of China.In April, the Public Security Bureau of Zhuji (a county-level city under the administration of the prefecture-level city of Shaoxing in Zhejiang province) ordered that all residential communities should have installed smart locks by the end of September.The purpose, according to the authorities, is to collect information to be analyzed and used for advanced "massive investigation and transformation" to control the migrant population.The smart lock technology helped the police and medical staff in apprehending a woman who was coming to her house in Zhuji after visiting her folks in Shaanxi province.To unlock her door, she had to use a smart lock, which is connected to the city’s database on the migrant population. The database uses an individual’s personal information, health history, and travel history to determine if they are a risk of spreading the coronavirus.Her recent travel outside Zhejiang province was flagged, and the police and medical staff came immediately to ascertain that she self-isolates.Speaking to Bitter Winter, a police officer overseeing the installation of smart locks confirmed that the public security bureaus have access to all the information the devices collect. They know who enters a specific residential community and when."The government is tightening control over citizens, and that is why they want to install these smart locks," the officer said.The officer also said that after the technology is successfully implemented in Zhuji, it will go to other areas of Zhejiang and, eventually, the whole of China.The public is not too thrilled about smart locks. In Diankou, a town in Zhuji, residents told Bitter Winter that they were unhappy that they were being forced to install the 400 Yuan ($58) smart locks on rental properties else they are forbidden from renting. One resident was particularly annoyed for getting locked out of his rental apartment because he forgot his smartphone.A police officer claimed that most people are "irritated" by the smart locks and that he finds supervising their installation as a duty that is "very difficult to perform."The Zhuji Public Security Bureau uses propaganda to put an end to such dissatisfaction. The propaganda sells the smart locks as a benevolent technology meant to increase community safety by limiting the spread of the coronavirus.