Totalitarian Censorship

This is getting ludicrous.

First, I was busted by Facebook for posting a National Geographic picture of some Papua New Guinea guys wearing penis gourds, as they do there. Nothing obscene, just guys in their native dress. NatGeo. Off limits. No jail time, just a warning.

Then I got 24 hours in Facebook Jail for posting a picture of Kathy Griffith holding Biden’s severed head. It was, of course, a take on the famous picture of Kathy Griffith holding President Trump’s severed head, which has appeared on Facebook countless times.

Kathy holding President Trump’s bloody head, OK.

Kathy holding 10% Joe’s bloody head, jail time.

You reckon these cowardly Facebook censors might be Democrats?

And this time, I’ve gotten a three-day sentence for posting an article from Newsweek Magazine about Dr. Fauci … I mean, seriously? Newsweek Magazine is now off limits? No warning, no “You can’t post this, you bad boy”, none of that. Just three days in Facebook jail.

The Newsweek article in question, published on the 28th of April 2020, is here. It says in full;

Dr. Anthony Fauci is an adviser to President Donald Trump and something of an American folk hero for his steady, calm leadership during the pandemic crisis. At least one poll shows that Americans trust Fauci more than Trump on the coronavirus pandemic—and few scientists are portrayed on TV by Brad Pitt.

But just last year, the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the organization led by Dr. Fauci, funded scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and other institutions for work on gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses.

In 2019, with the backing of NIAID, the National Institutes of Health committed $3.7 million over six years for research that included some gain-of-function work. The program followed another $3.7 million, 5-year project for collecting and studying bat coronaviruses, which ended in 2019, bringing the total to $7.4 million.

Many scientists have criticized gain of function research, which involves manipulating viruses in the lab to explore their potential for infecting humans, because it creates a risk of starting a pandemic from accidental release.

SARS-CoV-2 , the virus now causing a global pandemic, is believed to have originated in bats. U.S. intelligence, after originally asserting that the coronavirus had occurred naturally, conceded last month that the pandemic may have originated in a leak from the Wuhan lab. (At this point most scientists say it’s possible—but not likely—that the pandemic virus was engineered or manipulated.)

Dr. Fauci did not respond to Newsweek’s requests for comment. NIH responded with a statement that said in part: “Most emerging human viruses come from wildlife, and these represent a significant threat to public health and biosecurity in the US and globally, as demonstrated by the SARS epidemic of 2002-03, and the current COVID-19 pandemic…. scientific research indicates that there is no evidence that suggests the virus was created in a laboratory.”

The NIH research consisted of two parts. The first part began in 2014 and involved surveillance of bat coronaviruses, and had a budget of $3.7 million. The program funded Shi Zheng-Li, a virologist at the Wuhan lab, and other researchers to investigate and catalogue bat coronaviruses in the wild. This part of the project was completed in 2019.

A second phase of the project, beginning that year, included additional surveillance work but also gain-of-function research for the purpose of understanding how bat coronaviruses could mutate to attack humans. The project was run by EcoHealth Alliance, a non-profit research group, under the direction of President Peter Daszak, an expert on disease ecology. NIH canceled the project just this past Friday, April 24th, Politico reported. Daszak did not immediately respond to Newsweek requests for comment.

The project proposal states: “We will use S protein sequence data, infectious clone technology, in vitro and in vivo infection experiments and analysis of receptor binding to test the hypothesis that % divergence thresholds in S protein sequences predict spillover potential.”

In layman’s terms, “spillover potential” refers to the ability of a virus to jump from animals to humans, which requires that the virus be able to attach to receptors in the cells of humans. SARS-CoV-2, for instance, is adept at binding to the ACE2 receptor in human lungs and other organs.

According to Richard Ebright, an infectious disease expert at Rutgers University, the project description refers to experiments that would enhance the ability of bat coronavirus to infect human cells and laboratory animals using techniques of genetic engineering. In the wake of the pandemic, that is a noteworthy detail.

Ebright, along with many other scientists, has been a vocal opponent of gain-of-function research because of the risk it presents of creating a pandemic through accidental release from a lab.

Dr. Fauci is renowned for his work on the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1990s. Born in Brooklyn, he graduated first in his class from Cornell University Medical College in 1966. As head of NIAID since 1984, he has served as an adviser to every U.S. president since Ronald Reagan.

A decade ago, during a controversy over gain-of-function research on bird-flu viruses, Dr. Fauci played an important role in promoting the work. He argued that the research was worth the risk it entailed because it enables scientists to make preparations, such as investigating possible anti-viral medications, that could be useful if and when a pandemic occurred.

The work in question was a type of gain-of-function research that involved taking wild viruses and passing them through live animals until they mutate into a form that could pose a pandemic threat. Scientists used it to take a virus that was poorly transmitted among humans and make it into one that was highly transmissible—a hallmark of a pandemic virus. This work was done by infecting a series of ferrets, allowing the virus to mutate until a ferret that hadn’t been deliberately infected contracted the disease.

The work entailed risks that worried even seasoned researchers. More than 200 scientists called for the work to be halted. The problem, they said, is that it increased the likelihood that a pandemic would occur through a laboratory accident.

Dr. Fauci defended the work. “[D]etermining the molecular Achilles’ heel of these viruses can allow scientists to identify novel antiviral drug targets that could be used to prevent infection in those at risk or to better treat those who become infected,” wrote Fauci and two co-authors in the Washington Post on December 30, 2011. “Decades of experience tells us that disseminating information gained through biomedical research to legitimate scientists and health officials provides a critical foundation for generating appropriate countermeasures and, ultimately, protecting the public health.”

Nevertheless, in 2014, under pressure from the Obama administration, the National of Institutes of Health instituted a moratorium on the work, suspending 21 studies.

Three years later, though—in December 2017—the NIH ended the moratorium and the second phase of the NIAID project, which included the gain-of-function research, began. The NIH established a framework for determining how the research would go forward: scientists have to get approval from a panel of experts, who would decide whether the risks were justified.

The reviews were indeed conducted—but in secret, for which the NIH has drawn criticism. In early 2019, after a reporter for Science magazine discovered that the NIH had approved two influenza research projects that used gain of function methods, scientists who oppose this kind of research excoriated the NIH in an editorial in the Washington Post.

“We have serious doubts about whether these experiments should be conducted at all,” wrote Tom Inglesby of Johns Hopkins University and Marc Lipsitch of Harvard. “[W]ith deliberations kept behind closed doors, none of us will have the opportunity to understand how the government arrived at these decisions or to judge the rigor and integrity of that process.”

Correction 5/5, 6:20 p.m.: The headline of this story has been corrected to reflect that the Wuhan lab received only a part of the millions of U.S. dollars allocated for virus research.

Now I ask you … what is wrong with that? It’s pretty typical Newsweek fare, well researched, presents opposing opinions, just journalism. If the facts are incorrect, fine … but what is so seditious about that piece that it merits time in Facebook Jail?

I’ve written to Newsweek to ask them if they know why linking to one of their articles is now a punishable offense … we’ll see what they reply.

Grrr … gotta say, folks, we’re in for some hard times. The Democrats have the reins of power, and it appears that they are going to shut down every opinion that doesn’t toe the party line.

I’m staying on Facebook, and I plan to continue posting the truth as I see it … but if after I’m allowed to post again you suddenly don’t hear from me, well, I’m likely in the slammer again. The only good news is my rule of thumb that says “If you’re taking flak … it’s because you’re over the target”

My best to you all, and keep fighting the good fight. This dangerous censorship will continue until enough people get mad enough to convince them to give it up.

w.

PS—For anyone willing to take a chance, I invite you to post a link to this web page of mine on Facebook and a note saying I’m in FB Jail, so folks there will know why I’ve gone off the air …

19 thoughts on “Totalitarian Censorship

  1. Very scary, Willis, because when mainstream society starts shutting down speech, it enables and emboldens government to do the same in a more draconian way.

    I wish I could say all of this moralistic woke “we have the right values and you MUST exhibit them or else” attitude of so many in our society is a passing phase, like the communist outbursts of the 1930’s or the McCarthy witch hunts of the 1950’s. Sadly, that does not feel to be the case. This feels like a fundamental, multi-generational change in how our society will function.

    Many will (do) applaud this change, but many will keenly feel the restrictions it imposes. Worse, it’s anti-truth because only through rigorous, open, unfettered debate in the public square can truth be found and societies progress. So, what our society is buying into, ultimately, is dissolution because only truth in all matters factual and ethical allows humanity and a society to progress.

    Very sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t been on Facebook since the election (not even to delete my account), but I wonder if you have a stalker turning you in whenever he thinks he has a gotcha.

    I say “he” because a certain hockey stick came to mind, but of course there are many worse out there.

    Like

    • We are witnessing a birth of a police state. Whenever the police need to show that they are reliable and alert, they round up the usual suspects. Watch the last couple of minutes of the movie Casablanca.

      Like

  3. Chris Martenson, PhD (Pathology) was talking about this 9 months ago. He was doing daily updates on Covid-19 for a long time but has now moved on to other things (like taking care of his business). I thought his were some of the best videos on the pandemic. Here are links to some relevant videos.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJzGqVyAtlg (particularly starting at 23:13)

    More on the liklihood that SARS-CoV-2 is the result of gain-of-function research at the Wuhan lab:

    Like

  4. “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore”.

    Quoted from the character “Howard Beale” in story line in the movie “Network”. Seems a bit parallel to what’s happening today.

    Anyways …. about all I can say is “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore”!

    Like

  5. “ PS—For anyone willing to take a chance, I invite you to post a link to this web page of mine on Facebook and a note saying I’m in FB Jail, so folks there will know why I’ve gone off the air …” Done!

    Like

  6. Willis, I just posted a link to your page on my Facebook page. Hope I didn’t mis-describe you…”I follow a quirky guy on Facebook, his name is Willis Eschenbach. He is a free spirit, posting on subjects common and obscure, and occasionally posts his analyses of things meteorological. He is currently in Facebook jail for this post:”

    Like

  7. for those who say that this is no worse than the McCarthy era:

    which is worse

    someone who did something wrong, learned that it was wrong and stopped doing it (and is opposed to others doing it)

    or

    someone who was opposed to the first person when they were doing the wrong thing, but started doing it as soon as they gained the power to do so.

    In my mind the first is mistaken, the second is evil

    Like

      • I’ve seen a lot of people justify what the left is doing based on pointing at McCarthyism from the 50’s (not for this post), usually claiming that the right has no right to complain because of past behavior (of people long dead)

        I’m saying that someone (or some group) that abuses power and then reforms was mistaken and has learned better.

        But someone who opposed the abuse of power, but then turns around and starts abusing power as soon as they get it isn’t merely wrong/mistaken, they are far worse than that.

        The Left argued for Free Speech, up until they got the power to shut down speech, that is FAR worse than any censorship attempts from the Right in the past.

        (and yes, I am glossing over the fact that McCarthy was right in that there were a bunch of communists acting as soviet agents, he went too far in his hunt for them)

        Like

        • G’Day David,

          (A)nd yes, I am glossing over the fact that McCarthy was right in that there were a bunch of communists acting as soviet agents, he went too far in his hunt for them.

          From “Treason”, Ann Coulter, 2003.

          Senator McCarthy “… conducted his investigations from the Senate Permanent Sub-committee on Investigations, the express mandate of which was … to investigate the federal government.”

          The House Un-American Activities Committee … “He (McCarthy) hadn’t the slightest connection with any of HUAC investigations, which included probes of American Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, Alger Hiss, and Hollywood.”

          The author devotes several chapters to Senator McCarthy, it’s a sad story. If you find a copy of the book, it’s well worth reading. It’s an eye-opener.

          (Alger Hiss? The Verona Papers – released in 1994 – proved that he was a soviet spy. To set up the initial meeting of the organization that would become known as the “United Nations” who did Truman send to San Francisco? Hiss. Interesting – JFK was sending reports on that meeting to the Hurst Newspapers. The UN web site has a history going back to that first meeting.) History is fun.

          Like

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