NIH Contradicts Fauci, Admits Funding Gain-of-Function Research at Wuhan Lab

Molecular biologist Richard H. Ebright on Wednesday posted a letter from the National Institute of Health (NIH) showing that an NIH grant did fund gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, contrary to what Dr. Anthony Fauci had testified to the Senate.
Fauci testified to Senators at a hearing in May that the NIH “has not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”

However, the NIH’s October 20 letter to House Oversight Committee Ranking Member James Comer (R-KY) showed that the NIH grant, which was awarded to EcoHealth Alliance and then sub-awarded to the Wuhan lab, funded a research project during 2018 and 2019 that tested “if spike proteins from naturally occurring bat coronaviruses circulating in China were capable of binding to the human ACE2 receptor in a mouse model.”
The letter added: “In this limited experiment, laboratory mice infected with the SHC014 WIV1 bat coronavirus became sicker than those infected with the WIV1 bat coronavirus.”
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, “gain-of-function” research is research that improves the ability of a pathogen to cause disease.

Ebright tweeted that in the letter, the NIH “corrects untruthful assertions by NIH Director Collins and NIAID Director Fauci that NIH had not funded gain-of-function research in Wuhan.”

The NIH received the relevant documents in 2018 and reviewed the documents in 2020 and again in 2021.
The NIH–specifically, Collins, Fauci, and Tabak–lied to Congress, lied to the press, and lied to the public. Knowingly. Willfully. Brazenly.
— Richard H. Ebright (@R_H_Ebright) October 20, 2021
Furthermore, Ebright noted that the NIH’s letter appeared to show that EcoHealth Alliance violated the Terms and Conditions of the NIH grant.
The NIH said “out of an abundance of caution and as an additional layer of oversight, language was included in the terms and conditions of the grant award to EcoHealth that outlined criteria for a secondary review, such as a requirement that the grantee report immediately a one log increase in growth.”
It continued:

These measures would prompt a secondary review to determine whether the research aims should be re-evaluated or new biosafety measures should be enacted.
EcoHealth failed to report this finding right away, as was required by the terms of the grant.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), whose questioning had led to Fauci’s denial that NIH was funding gain-of-function research at the Wuhan lab in May, tweeted: “‘I told you so’ doesn’t even begin to cover it here.”
The letter pointed out that the coronaviruses studied under the grant were unlikely to have become SARS-CoV-2, now commonly referred to as the “coronavirus” or “COVID-19.”

“I told you so” doesn’t even begin to cover it here:
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) October 21, 2021
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), who was mocked for suggesting the coronavirus might have escaped from the Wuhan lab, also weighed in on NIH’s letter, tweeting, “Fauci knew. He should be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Fauci knew.
He should be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) October 21, 2021

Rep. Mark Meadows, former North Carolina congressman and former President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, tweeted: “To call this a bombshell is an understatement. Dr. Fauci and others claimed under oath the NIH didn’t fund gain of research function in the Wuhan Lab. Now the obvious is confirmed: they did.”

To call this a bombshell is an understatement.
Dr. Fauci and others claimed under oath the NIH didn’t fund gain of function research in the Wuhan Lab. Now the obvious is confirmed: they did.
— Mark Meadows (@MarkMeadows) October 21, 2021
Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC) tweeted: “Evergreen tweet: Fauci lied again.”

Evergreen tweet: Fauci lied again.
— Rep. Dan Bishop (@RepDanBishop) October 21, 2021
Dr. Fauci has yet to respond as of this writing.

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Mayor Eric Garcetti to Unvaccinated L.A. City Workers: Get Vaccinated or 'Lose Your Job'

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Wednesday threatened to fire any city employee who refuses to take the coronavirus vaccine by December 18, saying they “should be prepared to lose their job.”
“The city’s employee vaccine mandate is critical to protecting the health and safety of our workforce and the Angelenos we serve,” Garcetti said on Wednesday.

“Employees must be vaccinated by December 18, and we are putting a rigorous testing program into place in the meantime. Let me be clear: Any employee who refuses to be vaccinated by this date should be prepared to lose their job.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, center left, speaks at a joint press conference with California Governor Gavin Newsom, right, for an update on the Getty Fire, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Christian Monterrosa)
Los Angeles’ initial vaccination deadline for city employees was Wednesday. However, under a pending city council proposal, workers will have until December 18 to show proof of vaccination. Under the new proposal, unvaccinated workers will have to submit to coronavirus tests twice a week, and $65 will be deducted from each paycheck to cover the testing costs until the deadline. In addition, employees would have to get tested by the city or a vendor selected by the city during their free time. Third-party tests would not be allowed under the proposal. The plan will go before the L.A. City Council next week.

Data from Garcetti’s office reports 72.8 percent of city employees are at least partially vaccinated. In addition, 17.9 percent declined to state or did not report their status, and 9.2 percent are not vaccinated.
The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), L.A.’s largest city department, reports 3,700 unvaccinated employees.
People wearing face masks outdoors are seen at a Covid-19 vaccine site in Los Angeles, California, on July 6, 2021. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
Garcetti has seen major pushback from residents and even city officials after announcing in July that city employees would be forced to get vaccinated. Six LAPD employees filed a federal lawsuit against Garcetti’s mandate, alleging it violates their constitutional protections against illegal search and seizures without due process.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva took a public stance against the mandate. “This is so politicized, I cannot in good conscience impose a mandate like that,” he told Fox News earlier this month, adding that he’s “not going to be part of that.”

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FDA Approves Moderna, Johnson & Johnson Booster Shots for Elderly, High-Risk Americans

Weeks after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus booster shots for elderly and vulnerable Americans, the agency has now approved the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster shots for those same demographics.
In an announcement on Wednesday, the FDA said that a single dose of the Moderna booster shots will be authorized for the following demographics:

65 years of age and older
18 through 64 years of age at high risk of severe COVID-19
18 through 64 years of age with frequent institutional or occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2.

Likewise, a single booster dose of the J&J booster shot may now “be administered at least 2 months after completion of the single-dose primary regimen to individuals 18 years of age and older.”
Going a step further, the FDA approved a “mix & match” strategy by allowing people to receive a booster shot of their choosing, meaning people who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can now receive a Moderna or J&J booster shot.
Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said that approval of the booster shots demonstrates the agency’s resolve when combatting the coronavirus pandemic, touting vaccination as “the safest and most effective way” to curb the disease.

“As the pandemic continues to impact the country, science has shown that vaccination continues to be the safest and most effective way to prevent COVID-19, including the most serious consequences of the disease, such as hospitalization and death,” said Woodcock.
“The available data suggest waning immunity in some populations who are fully vaccinated. The availability of these authorized boosters is important for continued protection against COVID-19 disease,” Woodcock added.
According to the New York Times, the FDA will make a decision in the coming weeks on whether or not the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine “Should be authorized for children ages 5 to 11.”
This past September, the FDA authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots for elderly Americans after it rejected the Biden administration’s plan to have sweeping booster shots for all Americans. Originally, the Biden administration had proposed booster shots for all American adults eight months after the first two doses, but back in August, sources in the FDA expressed frustration behind the scenes over the administration’s rushed plan to distribute boosters before the agency’s top scientists could approve.
“It wasn’t the FDA’s booster plan,” Paul Offit, a University of Pennsylvania infectious disease expert, told Politico. “The administration has kind of backed themselves up against the wall a little bit here.”

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Colorado Teachers Allegedly Tape Masks to Children's Faces

School teachers in a Colorado Springs school district are reportedly forcing middle school students to tape masks to their faces to stop them from wearing masks below the nose.
Academy School District 20 will interview over 100 students and staff members to investigate the credibility of these allegations after a picture of a sixth-grader from Chinook Trail Middle School with a mask taped to her face went viral on social media over the weekend.

The young student’s mother, Stephanie Butler, told Fox21 she posted the photo online to determine if other parents heard of the taped mask policy and if other students were impacted. According to Butler, her daughter sent a picture of herself wearing a mask with tape on it, which is when Butler began her inquiry.
Butler explained that her daughter received only one warning to keep her mask above her nose before she had the mask taped to her face. Additionally, according to the sixth-grader, her teachers have been enforcing the new policy for weeks.
“It’s a type of a restraint to me,” Butler added. “With the mask mandates and everything … she likes them because they hide her face cause of acne or whatnot. What really made me sad was that she didn’t see what was wrong.”

Investigation underway after alleged claims teachers were taping masks to students’ faces at a Colorado Springs school
— WBRC FOX6 News (@WBRCnews) October 19, 2021
“Your face is you, you know — that’s how people know you. They are just doubling down on hiding you and not letting you breathe. It’s conformity to the extreme,” said Butler.
Other parents have reported stories similar to Stephanie Butler’s. Tori Skeldum, a parent of an 11-year-old at the middle school, told Fox21, “[my daughter] said the teachers were wearing the masking tape around their wrists like bracelets, and whenever someone’s mask would fall down, they would tape them.”
The school district addressed the situation in a statement, saying, “currently, we do not have concrete findings. As we know more, we will keep our community apprised. We thank our community for their patience and support as we take the appropriate steps to address these serious allegations.”
The district also emailed parents about the situation on Monday.
District 20’s Chief Communications Officer, Allison Cortez, responded to the allegations saying, “We’ve heard rumors that students did it on their own. We’ve heard rumors that teachers handed out the tape. We’ve heard rumors that teachers joked about it, but the students got the tape.” She also added, “There are so many versions of this story. That is why we need to actually talk with every single student and find out what really happened.”
Chinook Trail Middle School Principal Tom Andrew reportedly asked to meet with Stephanie Butler and her daughter to discuss the incident. However, she declined the request, opting instead to seek advice from legal counsel.

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'TRUTH Social': Donald Trump Launching New Social Media App

In response to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube deplatforming him, former President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that he will be launching a new social media app.
The announcement of the app comes after Trump Media and Technology Group and Digital World Acquisition Group entered into a merger “to form a new company, chaired by the former president,” reported ABC News, which noted:

The company was formed using a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, which the Securities and Exchange Commission’s website says is a ‘popular vehicle for various transactions, including transitioning a company from a private company to a publicly traded company’.
The newly formed company will soon be launching the social media platform TRUTH Social, which was billed in a press release as “a rival to the liberal media consortium.”
“Trump Media & Technology Group’s mission is to create a rival to the liberal media consortium and fight back against the ‘Big Tech’ companies of Silicon Valley, which have used their unilateral power to silence opposing voices in America,” the release said.
A beta version of the platform will be available to invited guests come November.

“We live in a world where the Taliban has a huge presence on Twitter, yet your favorite American President has been silenced,” Trump said in a statement.
Earlier this year, the president disappointed fans and followers when he teased about launching a new media platform that turned out to be little more than a blog once unveiled. Less than one month after it launched, “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump” went offline.
“It was just auxiliary to the broader efforts we have and are working on,” Trump senior aide Jason Miller said at the time.
Jason Miller also hinted at the time that the move was a precursor for Trump launching a social media platform of his own:

Yes, actually, it is. Stay tuned!
— Jason Miller (@JasonMillerinDC) June 2, 2021
According to the Palm Beach Post, the company also “intends to launch a subscription video on-demand service” that will “feature ‘non-woke’ entertainment programming, news, podcasts, and more.”
Shortly after the Capitol Hill riot on January 6, social media giants Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube removed Trump from their platforms, giving no indication that he would ever return.

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Biden’s State Department Tweet on ‘International Pronouns Day’ Ridiculed by GOP: ‘An Embarrassment to America’

After a State Department tweet marked “International Pronouns Day” on Wednesday, Republicans blasted the move, calling out the department for misguided priorities and hypocrisy.
The tweet included a link to a page explaining why many Americans list pronouns on social media profiles, noting that “sharing pronouns [is] a way of getting to know someone” and can help avoid “accidentally assuming an incorrect gender.”

Today on International Pronouns Day, we share why many people list pronouns on their email and social media profiles. Read more here on @ShareAmerica:
— Department of State (@StateDept) October 20, 2021
In response, Republicans had harsh words.
“This tweet is a perfect representation of the state department’s careerist cadre. All woke theatrics & zero delivery for the American people,” wrote congressional candidate Joe Kent.

“While we spend money on this globalist nonsense China signs port & mineral access deals,” he added.

This tweet is a perfect representation of the state department’s careerist cadre.
All woke theatrics & zero delivery for the American people.
While we spend money on this globalist nonsense China signs port & mineral access deals.
— Joe Kent for WA-3 (@joekent16jan19) October 20, 2021
“Dear God. The politicization of my beloved State Department is a crisis,” wrote former U.S. Intelligence chief Richard Grenell.
“Anthony Blinken and Wendy Sherman are neutering our diplomats,” he added. “This isn’t diplomacy.”

Dear God. The politicization of my beloved State Department is a crisis.
Anthony Blinken and Wendy Sherman are neutering our diplomats. This isn’t diplomacy.
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) October 20, 2021

“This is what the people in charge of our nations foreign policy are working on today,” wrote Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

This is what the people in charge of our nations foreign policy are working on today
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) October 20, 2021

“And some people wonder how the Embassy in Afghanistan fell so quickly,” the GOP tweeted.

And some people wonder how the Embassy in Afghanistan fell so quickly.
— House Judiciary GOP (@JudiciaryGOP) October 20, 2021
“China successfully tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile, Afghanistan is now a terror super-state, Central American countries are sending a FLOOD of migrants to our border, and THIS is what the State Department prioritizes!?” asked Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX).

“What is WRONG with these people???” he added.

China successfully tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile, Afghanistan is now a terror super-state, Central American countries are sending a FLOOD of migrants to our border, and THIS is what the State Department prioritizes!? What is WRONG with these people???
— Ronny Jackson (@RonnyJacksonTX) October 20, 2021
“Could we just get the American Christian missionaries being held hostage in Haiti back home?” asked former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Could we just get the American Christian missionaries being held hostage in Haiti back home?
— Mike Pompeo (@mikepompeo) October 20, 2021
“China is testing hypersonic missiles. We’re celebrating International Pronouns Day,” wrote Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY). 

China is testing hypersonic missiles. We’re celebrating International Pronouns Day.
— Congresswoman Tenney (@RepTenney) October 20, 2021
“The State Department still hasn’t helped extract our remaining allies in Afghanistan who could not escape,” wrote Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO).
“…But they have time to tweet about gender pronouns,” he added.

The State Department still hasn’t helped extract our remaining allies in Afghanistan who could not escape.
…But they have time to tweet about gender pronouns.
— Rep. Ken Buck (@RepKenBuck) October 20, 2021
“There are still many American citizens, legal permanent resides, and at-risk Afghan allies that remain stranded in Afghanistan!” wrote Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN).

There are still many American citizens, legal permanent resides, and at-risk Afghan allies that remain stranded in Afghanistan!
— Senator Bill Hagerty (@SenatorHagerty) October 20, 2021
“Today, we share why Congressman Roy votes no most of the time,” wrote Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX).

Today, we share why Congressman Roy votes no most of the time.
— Chip Roy (@chiproytx) October 20, 2021
“This is a joke,” wrote Dr. Kelli Ward, chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party.

This is a joke. 🙄
— Dr. Kelli Ward 🇺🇸 (@kelliwardaz) October 20, 2021
“They left Americans stranded in Afghanistan because they are focused on this,” wrote Congresswoman Mary Miller (R-IL).

They left Americans stranded in Afghanistan because they are focused on this.
— Congresswoman Mary Miller (@RepMaryMiller) October 20, 2021
“You’re an embarrassment to America,” wrote congressional candidate Robby Starbuck.

You’re an embarrassment to America.
— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) October 20, 2021
“Today’s @StateDept tweet is proudly sponsored by the CCP!” mocked former Congresswoman Nan Hayworth.

Today’s @StateDept tweet is proudly sponsored by the CCP!
— Nan Hayworth, M.D. (@NanHayworth) October 20, 2021
“Defund the @StateDept,” wrote Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN).

Defund the @StateDept
— Tim Burchett (@timburchett) October 20, 2021
“China tested out a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile and Americans are still stranded in Afghanistan, but this is what Biden’s State Department is prioritizing,” wrote PA senatorial candidate Jeff Bartos.

China tested out a nuclear-capable hypersonic missle and Americans are still stranded in Afghanistan, but this is what Biden’s State Department is prioritizing.
— Jeff Bartos (@jeff_bartos) October 20, 2021
“What are you doing about China’s expanded nuclear capabilities?” asked Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).

What are you doing about China’s expanded nuclear capabilities?
— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) October 20, 2021
“This is why China is launching hypersonic missiles and we find out about it from press releases,” wrote congressional candidate Desi Cuellar.

This is why China is launching hypersonic missiles and we find out about if from press releases.
— Desi Cuellar for Congress (NY-14) (@DesiJCuellar) October 20, 2021

“If I’m Xi Jinping, I take one look at that tweet and then invade Taiwan…” wrote Donald Trump Jr. “At this rate we should probably just go ahead and learn how to write our pronouns in Mandarin,” he quipped.

If I’m Xi Jinping, I take one look at that tweet and then invade Taiwan… At this rate we should probably just go ahead and learn how to write our pronouns in Mandarin.
Oh yea, btw, what were the pronouns of all the Americans you abandoned to the Taliban?
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) October 20, 2021
“The Biden Administration has completed the descent into self-parody,” wrote former senior adviser to President Trump, Stephen Miller.

The Biden Administration has completed the descent into self-parody.
— Stephen Miller (@StephenM) October 20, 2021
The State Department’s tweet in support of the made-up day, which began in 2018, coincides with the Biden administration’s moves to prioritize gender identity over the fundamental reality of biological sex. 
In May, the Kellogg Company teamed up with advocacy group GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) to push a limited edition, LGBTQ-themed cereal, called “Together With Pride,” which hit shelves across the country ahead of Pride Month.
The side of the cereal box lists the pronouns, “he/him, she/her,” and “they/them,” as well as a blank section that encourages customers to “add your own.”
In January, Vice President Kamala Harris welcomed gay and transgender activists into her ceremonial office, expressing her preferred pronouns during her remarks.
“My pronouns are she and her,” she said.
Since Joe Biden was sworn in as president a new line has been added to the White House contact form asking for pronoun preferences — “she/her, he/him, they/them, other, or prefer not to share.”
Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.

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Condoleezza Rice: January 6 Capitol Riot 'Was Wrong' — But 'It’s Time to Move On'

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday on ABC’s “The View” that the January 6 Capitol riot was “wrong,” but now the country needs to move on.
Discussing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), co-host Joy Behar said, “He wants to move past that, but according to what I’m reading, he seems to be out of step with his own voters. Seventy-eight percent of Republicans think that Trump should run in 2024 for president. I don’t think Mitch McConnell wants that. I don’t think so. And that’s part of what he’s saying, you know, let that ship go. And also, probably he’d like to get past the insurrection.”

Rice said, “I said at the time January 6 was wrong. I called it an assault on law and order and an assault on our democratic processes. So full stop, it was wrong. Law enforcement will determine what happened there, and those who violated the law ought to be punished. I also, on January 6 for the first time since I was the national security adviser on September 11, I cried that day because I thought, I study countries that do this. I didn’t think it would happen in my own country. It was a terrible moment.”

She continued, “Now, I think what Senator McConnell may be referencing, yes, it’s time to move on in a lot of ways. I’m one who believes that the American people are now concerned about what we call their kitchen table issues: the price of gasoline, inflation, what’s happening to their kids in school.”
She added, “So we do have a lot of issues, and I hope what we’ll do is move on to the next generation of leadership.”
Rice concluded, “The Americans people do have other concerns that we ought to be thinking about and talking about.”
Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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WATCH: Charles Barkley Sounds Off on Kyrie Irving Vax Refusal: 'You Don’t Get the Vaccine for Yourself'

The usually nuanced Charles Barkley joined in the pile-on against Brooklyn Nets player Kyrie Irving over his refusal to get the coronavirus vaccine.
On Tuesday night, after the Brooklyn Nets suffered a 127-104 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, the former Phoenix Suns star blamed the loss on Irving’s absence, whose unvaccinated status bars him from entering a “covered premises” in New York City, per Mayor Bill De Blasio’s vaccine mandate.

“First of all, you don’t get the vaccine for yourself. You get it for other people,” Barkley said on Tuesday night. “I got vaccinated, and I can’t wait to get the booster. You don’t get vaccinated just for yourself … You get vaccinated for your family first, you get vaccinated for your teammates second.

“That’s what bothers me about this whole thing. I think everybody should get vaccinated,” Barkley continued. “I really am proud of the Nets for putting their foot down and saying we’re not going to deal with this half-on, half-off. The only thing that bugs me is he’s still going to make $17 million sitting at home.”

“First of all, you don’t get the vaccine for yourself. You get it for other people.”
Chuck weighs in on Kyrie Irving’s situation with the Brooklyn Nets. #NBAonTNT
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) October 20, 2021
Due to Irving’s refusal to get vaccinated, having already recovered from the coronavirus (natural immunity), the New York Nets announced earlier this month that the star player would no longer play or practice with his team until he gets vaccinated.

“Given the evolving nature of the situation and after thorough deliberation, we have decided Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the team until he is eligible to be a full participant,” Nets General Manager Sean Marks said in a statement.

“Kyrie has made a personal choice, and we respect his individual right to choose,” Marks continued. “Currently the choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team, and we will not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability.”
Charles Barkley is not alone in his condemnation of Irving. On Tuesday, radio shock jock Howard Stern – the man who always complained ad nauseam about censorship – called Irving “the biggest idiot in the country right now.”
“In terms of idiots, he’s got to be the top idiot in the country right now,” Stern said. “Guy’s got a chance as a young man to make millions of dollars, all he’s got to do is get vaccinated, but he doesn’t want to get vaccinated.”
The NBA has also shown no signs of budging on Kyrie Irving, with Commissioner Adam Silver repeating his order for Irving to get vaccinated.

“I’d tell him to get vaccinated, first and foremost for himself and his family. Next, for his teammates and his community and also for the league that I know he cares so much about.”
Adam Silver on what he would say to convince Kyrie Irving to get vaccinated
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 19, 2021

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Report: Coronavirus ‘Contributed to a Significant Spike in Child Sexual Exploitation’

WeProtect Global Alliance, an international coalition of private entities and government agencies dedicated to protecting children from online sexual exploitation, released a report on Tuesday that found child sexual abuse increased significantly during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Alliance’s Global Threat Assessment 2021, pandemic lockdowns and social distancing produced a dramatic increase in Internet use by children, which in turn led to a surge of online exploitation.

“The scale of child sexual exploitation and abuse online is increasing. This sustained growth is outstripping our global capacity to respond,” the report warned.
To depict the scale of the problem, the report noted that the ten most harmful child sexual abuse sites on the “dark web” have over three million users between them. One site taken down by Europol in May 2021 had over 400,000 registered users.
The number of reports pouring into cyber abuse hotlines doubled last year, an increase WeProtect Global Alliance called “unprecedented.”

There was also a disturbing 77-percent surge in what the report described as “child self-generated sexual material,” meaning children posting nude and partially nude images of themselves — possibly with coaching or coercion from predatory adults.

A teacher collects supplies needed to continue remote teaching through the end of the school year on May 14, 2020, in New York City. In April, it was announced that NYC public schools would be closed at least through the end of the school year amid the spread of coronavirus. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
The report considered the possibility that the massive surge in online child sexual exploitation during the pandemic could have been partially a result of more aggressive reporting, and more “false positives” detected by investigators — in other words, the gigantic increase in the number of people working online from home made family members more likely to detect and report the suspected abuse of children and also produced a blizzard of Internet activity that might have been incorrectly interpreted as abusive.
However, the authors also worried about potential negative “longer-term impacts” from the pandemic and its lockdowns, such as a lasting increase in the amount of potentially dangerous online communication between children and unknown adults.
School closings were clearly a factor in the coronavirus-related surge of online child exploitation, the report noted, giving established offenders “more opportunities to contact children,” increasing the risk of in-person abuse by family members, and making children more prone to engaging in risky behavior online.

The report warned the pandemic might have reinforced “commercial drivers of abuse” over the long term, pointing to evidence that “children are reacting to weakened economic prospects by ‘self-producing’ sexual material in exchange for payment.”
Lockdowns and school closings also “created or exacerbated vulnerabilities” that can lead children to victimization, such as feelings of intense loneliness and separation from trusted adults that “might normally afford protection.”

The authors observed that the pandemic overwhelmed counselors and law enforcement, leaving them with less manpower to handle complaints of online child abuse, and noted that abusers are growing increasingly adept at using encryption services to conceal their identities.
This photo taken on May 10, 2020, shows nine-year-old Filipina student Yohan Jacalan, who has stayed home with her four-year-old sister Alyson for three months due to fears about the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, using a tablet for studying at her family’s apartment in Bangkok. (Photo by ROMEO GACAD/AFP via Getty Images)
International security analysts noted that a great deal of the chatter on dark web child abuse websites concerns “tradecraft” technical advice on how to remain undetected while purchasing and storing child pornography. A popular new bit of tradecraft is “masking,” or deliberately misspelling words to evade content filters that were designed to spot predators in online games.

The pandemic year saw an increase of over 97 percent in activities classified as “online enticement,” or more commonly referred to as “grooming” pp predatory adults befriending children online and luring or coercing them into abusive situations. 
The immense surge of young children opening social media accounts and the normalization of online communication with strangers were cited as factors in the grooming crisis. A European survey in 2020 found 37 percent of children reported being in contact with unknown individuals online.
“Children report having been approached by groomers on social media networks, instant messaging apps, live streaming platforms, and voice or text chat services built into online multiplayer games,” the authors noted.
WeProtect Global Alliance noted that even as predators have grown more adept at hiding from law enforcement, they have grown more skilled at tracking the electronic “footprints” of children with social media accounts. At-risk children simply have no idea how much information abusers can collect about them, from personal information that helps predators manipulate them, to their real-world physical locations.
A signs hangs outside a closed playground in Washington, DC, April 29, 2020. Washington will uphold coronavirus restrictions through May 15, 2020. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
Abusers also appear to have honed their networking skills during the pandemic, working together on grooming projects and bombarding targeted children with huge volumes of unhealthy material. One case study cited in the report described a ten-year-old girl who was contacted by a predator while she was playing a children’s game online, and wound up receiving “hundreds of emails from different men” before she revealed the abusive contacts to her father.
The report was not entirely pessimistic, as the authors saw glimmers of hope in advanced policing techniques, increasingly sophisticated online security services, and greater parental awareness of the dangers lurking in online games and social media.
“Countries, companies and charities are all involved in tackling this crime. The pace of change is not yet fast enough, but it is happening,” the alliance said.
Other analysts have noted the same surge in online child exploitation described by WeProtect Global Alliance. The spike was immediate and highly noticeable. In October 2020, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported calls to its tipline had nearly doubled by June of that year.
The center cited many of the same factors that would later be explored in depth by WeProtect’s 2021 threat report, including children being confined at home during lockdowns, the growing trend of child self-generated sexual material, and the popularity of several games and social media platforms with children, including Fortnite and TikTok. Predators quickly figured out where children trapped at home would congregate online.
Children play games on their mobile phones at a street corner in Mumbai on September 6, 2021. (Photo by INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP via Getty Images)
Similar surges in online exploitation have been documented in Australia and the United Kingdom. The British Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) said in July 2020 that the fastest-growing category of pornographic imagery was images generated by children after they were coached or coerced by online predators.
The U.K. National Crime Agency (NCA), the British equivalent of the FBI, warned about the rising tide of online grooming and exploitation in May 2021, describing chilling cases of individual predators with thousands of victims.
Australian researchers coined the term “capping” for children groomed or blackmailed into live-streaming sexual acts, often by offenders who pretended to be children of the same age. The researchers warned that once a “capper” obtains a recording of a child streaming sex acts, that recording is often used to blackmail the child into creating more explicit videos of themselves.
INTERPOL noted a surge of online child exploitation in September 2020. The international law enforcement agency attributed this to school closings, the transition to virtual learning environments, children spending more time with online games and social media, and lockdowns separating children from community support services. INTERPOL also detected the alarming rise in child self-generated explicit material.
INTERPOL’s warning added another wrinkle: “In areas severely affected by Covid-19, situations where parents are hospitalized and children are placed under others’ care, or are uncared for, are also likely to increase the risk of abuse.”

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Public Interest Legal Foundation Files Lawsuit Over Illegal Absentee Ballots in Fairfax County in Advance of VA Gubernatorial Election

The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Virginia Public Policy Institute on Wednesday alleging illegal absentee ballot procedures in Fairfax County, Virginia in the 2020 general election.
The move comes less than two weeks before Election Day in the highly contentious gubernatorial race between former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) and Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin.

PILF’s aggressive action to address issues of election integrity in advance of the 2021 Virginia gubernatorial election in a pre-emptive legal strike represents a marked contrast to the after-the-fact election integrity challenges made to the November 2020 general election across the country by Republican organizations and conservative nonprofits.
“Fairfax County is not following the rules for absentee ballots,” PILF President J. Christian Adams said in a statement released on Wednesday.
“These rules exist to protect the right to vote and must always be followed to ensure free and fair elections. Virginians deserve a gubernatorial election that follows the rule of law,” Adams added.

PILF “filed a complaint and motion for an injunction against the Fairfax County General Registrar and three members of the Fairfax County Election Board for violating Virginia election law, the statement noted:
The case is brought on behalf of the Virginia Institute for Public Policy, a local organization that promotes election integrity. The lawsuit explains that Fairfax County is violating Virginia law by accepting and approving applications for absentee and mail-in ballots that do not include the last four digits of the applicant’s Social Security number, as required under Virginia statues.
The requirement to provide the last four digits protects the right to vote. It ensures that nobody loses their right to vote because a ballot has been sent to someone else.
Fairfax County is not only violating Virginia law, but also the Virginia Constitution. The Constitution’s Anti-Suspension Clause requires that laws passed by the Virginia’s legislature are supreme to any act by a local government employee or even the Governor himself. This is important because it restrains election officials in Virginia from disregarding and replacing election administration laws.
PILF asked the Fairfax County Court to “preliminarily and permananently enjoin the Defendants from:”

continuing to violate the Constitution of Virginia, Virginia Statutes, and any other relevant authorities with respect to absentee and mail-in applicants and ballots.
sending absentee and mail-in ballots to any applicant who did not follow Virginia law and include the last four digits of his or her Social Security number on the application
approving additional absentee and mail-in ballot applications that do not comply with Virginia law and include the last four digits of the applicant’s Social Security number and from enrolling applicants who submit such applications

Recent polls indicate the race is too close to call, as McAuliffe’s campaign is struggling with a series of missteps and Youngkin’s campaign is surging, powered in part by parental anger over public education issues.
Given Virginia’s recent electoral history, and the increasing political dominance of the state by Democrat-friendly Northern Virginia, where a high percentage of residents are employed directly or indirectly by the federal government, McAuliffe was considered to be a favorite to win a second non-consecutive term as governor, having defeated Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli in November 2013 for his first four year term.
Under Virginia law, governors may not serve consecutive terms, but they may serve nonconsecutive terms.
Issues of election integrity–which played so heavily in the contested battleground states of Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania in the 2020 presidential election–have heretofore been less publicly visible in Virginia.
However, with the narrowing race between McAuliffe and Youngkin, the final victor may be determined by which candidate is supported by the best election law attorneys.
The case is Virginia Institute for Public Policy, Inc. v. Konopasek, No. 2021-14420 in the Circuit Court of Fairfax County, Virginia.

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Never Trump Lincoln Project Triggered by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Interview with Breitbart News

The disgraced Never Trump Lincoln Project is triggered by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) exclusive interview with Breitbart News, which took place last week at the DKR Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas.
The left-wing Super PAC complained after the Republican governor shared a clip from Breitbart News’s extensive interview last week:
Last month, @UTAustin pulled our ad, critical of Gov Abbott, from their network because it was political in nature. Yet, they allowed @BreitbartNews to host an exclusive interview with Abbott in their stadium? Hypocrisy or political influence? Either way, we won’t stand for it.

Last month, @UTAustin pulled our ad, critical of Gov Abbott, from their network because it was political in nature.
Yet, they allowed @BreitbartNews to host an exclusive interview with Abbott in their stadium?
Hypocrisy or political influence? Either way, we won’t stand for it.
— The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) October 20, 2021
Rick Wilson, a Lincoln Project cofounder, also complained about the interview separately.
“Totally non political, right, Longhorn Network?” he asked. “Give me all the effing breaks”:

Totally non political, right, Longhorn Network?
Give me all the effing breaks.
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) October 20, 2021

The complaints from the disgraced group of Never Trumpers follows Breitbart News publishing two installments of a wide-ranging interview with the Lone Star State governor, which took place last week.
During the interview, Abbott weighed in on the “Fuck Joe Biden,” “Let’s Go, Brandon,” movement sweeping the country, explaining it is happening “because of the disastrous policies that are implemented by Joe Biden.”
Matthew Perdie, Jack Knudsen
In another clip, the Republican governor discussed the battle over the Biden administration’s expected vaccine mandate, making it clear that “neither the President of the United States, nor the federal government have any legal authority — any constitutional authority — to issue their vaccine mandate.”

He added:
[T]hroughout the history of the United States of America, it has been governors in states that have been in charge of health and safety of the people who are residents of those states, not the federal government. So, from the legal side, I feel like we’re on solid ground. Also, from the constitutional side in this regard, and that is part of the governor’s job is to ensure that the freedoms that are guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of our positions are going to be protected.”
Watch:Matthew Perdie, Jack Knudsen
The complaints come months after the embattled group faced a wave of criticism and subsequent departures over cofounder John Weaver’s harassment — particularly accusations of preying upon young men.

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