REJECTION OF DEFUSE PROJECT PROPOSAL
Proposal Title: DEFUSE – Defusing the Threat of Bat-borne Coronaviruses (2018)
Proposal Identifier: HR001118S0017-PREEMPT-FP-019
Amounts Requested by EcoHealth Alliance:
Phase I $8,411,546
Phase II $5,797,699
The DEFUSE proposed project by EHA was rejected by DARPA, although “if funding became available”, certain components of particular interest could have gone ahead, subject to a clear contractual Dual Use Research of Concern (DURC) risk mitigation plan that ‘includes a responsible communications plan’.
REASONS FOR REJECTION
The Biological Technologies Office of DARPA reviewed the EcoHealth Alliance DEFUSE proposal and the Evaluation Reports and decided it was “selectable”. In doing so, two out of three reviewers considered the aim of preempting “zoonotic spillover through reduction of viral shedding in the bat caves” as of interest to DARPA. These reviewers assessed the EHA and Collaborators team and concluded that:
-They have plenty of prior experience.
-They have access to Yunnan caves where bats are infected with SARSr viruses.
-They have carried out past surveillance work
-They have developed geo-based risk maps of zoonotic hotspots
-Their proposed experimental work is logical and can validate molecular and evolutionary
-Their proposed preemption approaches can rapidly be validated using bat and “batenized” mouse models. However, the Biological Technologies Office did not recommend it be funded at that time because significant weaknesses were identified.
Rejection Letter – Findings p. 2/2
- The proposal is considered to potentially involve GoF/DURC research because they propose to synthesize spike glycoproteins which bind to human cell receptors and insert them into SARSr-CoV backbones to assess whether they can cause SARS-like disease.
- However the proposal does not mention or assess potential risks of Gain of Function (GoF) research.
- Nor does the proposal mention or assess Dual Use Research of Concern (DURC) issues, and thus fails to present a DURC risk mitigation plan.
- The proposal hardly addresses or discusses ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI).
- The proposal fails to discuss problems with the proposed vaccine delivery systems caused by the known issues of variability in vaccine dosage.
- The proposal did not provide sufficient information about how EHA would use any data obtained and how they would model development or perform any necessary statistical analysis.
- The proposal did not explain clearly how EHA will take advantage of their previous work, nor how that previous work could be extended.
- The proposal failed to clearly assess how it would deploy and validate the “TA2 preemption methods” in the wild. This refers to carrying out experiments with effective immune boosting molecules and delivery techniques via FEA aerosolization mechanism at one test and. two control bat cave sites in Yunnan, China (PARC, EHA, WIV).
- The proposal does not address concerns about these vaccines not being able to protect against the wide variety of coronaviruses in bat caves which are constantly evolving due to insufficient epitope coverage.
- DRASTIC independently assesses that the tone of the proposal (see for instance the ‘our cave complex’) and the deep suggested involvement of some of the WIV parties (Shi Zheng Li employed half-time for 3 years – paid via the grant – and invited to DARPA headquarters at Arlington), may not have helped either – especially in the absence of any DURC risk mitigation program.
It is clear that the proposed DEFUSE project led by Peter Daszak could have put local communities at risk by failing to consider the following issues:
- Gain of Function
- Dual Use Research of Concern
- Vaccine epitope coverage
- Regulatory requirements
- ELSI (ethical, legal, and social issues)
- Data Usage
WASHINGTON (The Hill) — Joe Biden on Monday signed into law a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill at a boisterous ceremony at the White House, sealing a major accomplishment of his first term after weeks of negotiations in the House culminated in a bipartisan vote.
Biden welcomed lawmakers from both parties, from Congress and from state and local governments, to celebrate the passage of the bill and tout what he insisted would be the transformational ways it would improve day-to-day life for many Americans.
Biden used the bill signing to highlight a rare instance of bipartisanship at a polarized time in U.S. politics, even as former President Trump and other conservatives were suggesting House Republicans who voted for the bill should be challenged in primaries or stripped of committee assignments.
After weeks of talks and two trips to the Capitol from Biden, the House voted on the infrastructure bill earlier this month, passing it with a final tally of 228-206, with 13 Republicans crossing the aisle to support the measure, and six progressive Democrats bucking Biden and party leaders to oppose it.
The Senate passed the bill three months earlier in August, with 19 Republicans joining Democrats to move it to the House. The legislation languished there for weeks as progressives sought assurances on the other key piece of Biden’s economic agenda — a social spending bill focused on climate, child care and health care programs that Democrats intend to pass without GOP support through budget reconciliation.
The $1.2 trillion bill, which contains roughly $550 billion in new funding, will provide for new investments in roads, bridges and railways around the country. White House officials have also said it will allow for the replacement of lead pipes to provide clean drinking water to communities, establish a network of electric vehicle charging stations and help expand internet access for swaths of the country that do not have it.
Biden has tapped former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D) as a senior White House adviser to coordinate the implementation of the bill, which cuts across several government agencies.
Democrats are hoping that officials will be able to get some projects up and running quickly so the public feels the impact of the legislation, which could help Biden and his party politically ahead of the midterms.
Biden’s approval ratings have been sinking for several weeks and it’s unclear thus far whether the president will see a bump from the infrastructure bill becoming law.
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted after the infrastructure bill passed the House found that 41 percent approve of Biden’s handling of the presidency, while 53 percent disapprove, a new low for Biden in the survey.
Attention will now shift to the fate of a $1.75 trillion proposal that is contains many of the priorities of Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, including funding to combat climate change, efforts to expand health care access and child care assistance, as well as money toward education and housing programs.
If the House passes the reconciliation bill, it will likely be tweaked in the Senate, where Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has expressed reservations about moving too quickly with such a major piece of legislation.
The office announced the audit last week but declined to provide more details until Sept. 28.
Phase one of the review is underway, the office says. This phase involves verifying the accuracy of voting machines, assessing cybersecurity, and pinpointing and removing any people who cast votes illegally in 2020 from voter rolls.
State officials have received reports from the Electronic Registration Information Center regarding voters who may have voted twice or who illegally voted in Texas, despite living in another state. In addition, officials have identified votes they say were potentially cast by non-U.S. citizens and alerted counties to review each case. Once that’s done, any instances of possible illegal voting will be referred to the state Attorney General’s Office for investigation.
Phase two of the audit, estimated to take place in the spring of next year, is centered on examining election records from the counties, which also include Tarrant and Collins counties.
The Secretary of State’s office plans to examine include all chain-of-custody forms concerning equipment and all logic and accuracy testing records for voting machines.
Depending on the results of the examination, there could be a full manual recount in the affected precincts or polling locations.
“The purpose of this audit is to ensure all Texas voters can have confidence in the elections systems in our state, and to address any outstanding issues county election officials may face that undermines the integrity of our elections,” the office said in a statement.
A spokesman said in an email that the office won’t be hiring or contracting with any outside firms to conduct the audits. The position of Texas secretary of state is currently vacant.
Election offices in the four counties didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, a Democrat, told reporters last week that “the sensational announcement of an audit by the state is nothing more than a political ploy by a former president and someone who’s trying to curry favor.”
“I’m working to do everything in my power to stop this not only because complying with a sham audit will take us away from serious work we have to do but also, and most importantly, because it will take trust away from our election systems here in Harris County and here in Texas,” she added.
The review was announced shortly after former President Donald Trump called on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, to carry out a forensic audit of the 2020 election, and shortly before an audit in Arizona was announced to have uncovered multiple inconsistencies.
Trump won Texas in the 2020 election by about 630,000 votes but said in a letter to Abbott that he heard Texans want an audit.
“Your citizens don’t trust the election system,” he wrote, adding that “Texans know voting fraud occurred in some of their counties.”
Abbott defended the audit over the weekend.
“There are audits of every aspect of government. We have a state auditor. There’s a federal auditor for the way that government operations work. Businesses that are public companies are subject to an annual audit,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Why do we audit everything in this world, but people raised their hands in concern when we audit elections, which is fundamental to our democracy?”
He also said the audit was underway months ago, although that hadn’t been previously disclosed.
The Epoch Times’ Zachary Stieber contributed to the contents of this report.
PHOENIX — The forensic audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County, Arizona, initiated by the Republican-controlled Arizona state Senate, has ruled in favor of Joe Biden despite Republican claims of mass voter fraud.
A draft report that leaked ahead of the release of the official audit report reaffirmed Biden as the winner of the presidential election in Maricopa County where President Donald Trump claimed a majority of the fraud in Arizona occured.
The report, which is already being challenged by Republicans, claims Joe Biden won 99 more votes than he did in the certified ballot count last year while Trump came up 261 votes short of last year’s official results.
Trump was quick to criticize the report’s findings, slamming the media for what he called a “rush to judgment” on the report which he said “has uncovered significant and undeniable evidence of fraud.”
“Huge findings in Arizona! However, the Fake News Media is already trying to ‘call it’ again for Biden before actually looking at the facts—just like they did in November!” Trump said in a statement released through his leadership PAC, “Save America.”
“This is a major criminal event and should be investigated by the Attorney General immediately,” he added. “The Senate’s final report will be released today at 4:00PM ET. I have heard it is far different than that being reported by the Fake News Media.”
“This is not even the whole state of Arizona, but only Maricopa County. It would only get worse!” Trump said in a subsequent statement. “There is fraud and cheating in Arizona and it must be criminally investigated! More is coming out in the hearing today.”
Randy Pullen, a spokesman for the election review, confirmed the validity of the leaked draft.
“It’s not the final report, but it’s close,” he told Phoenix’s KJZZ.
A formal presentation is scheduled before the Arizona Senate, where President Karen Fann and Sen. Warren Petersen, the Republicans who issued subpoenas that obtained the ballots and voting materials needed for the investigation, will present contractors they hired to conduct the review an opportunity to state their findings.
Many of Trump’s statements after his January social media ban have received as many, if not more, likes or shares online as they did before, according to an analysis published Monday by the New York Times.
Before his ban, due to his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, Trump’s social media engagement generated a median of 272,000 likes and shares, primarily on Facebook and Twitter. After the ban, his median engagement dropped to 36,000 likes and shares, but 11 of his 89 statements in the past few months have been either just as popular or more popular than before the ban.
The top sharers of some of Trump’s statements after his social media ban include Breitbart News, a Facebook page called “President Donald Trump Fan Club,” Fox News, and Jenna Ellis, a member of Trump’s legal team who was roundly defeated in court in 2020 election fraud lawsuits.
Sometimes, when Trump criticized conservatives, his statements would get shared widely by those on both ends of the political spectrum and mainstream publications. Top sharers of his statements on the Left include popular Facebook page “Stand With Mueller” and CNN journalist Jim Acosta.
However, Trump’s claims of widespread election fraud were 17 times less popular after his social media ban because of efforts by Facebook and Twitter to curb political misinformation.
“As the Trump case shows, deplatforming doesn’t ‘solve’ disinformation, but it does disrupt harmful networks and blunt the influence of harmful individuals,” Emerson Brooking, a fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, told theTimes.
Trump’s statements that got the most traction on social media in the past few monthswere his posts on culture, like his boycott of baseball; his praise for certain conservatives, such as radio host Rush Limbaugh; and his criticism of President Joe Biden on political issues related to the border crisis and taxes.
The Washington Times’ Nihal Krisham contributed to the contents of this report.
WEST PALM BEACH- President Trump on Thursday released a statement on the “deleted database” and voting inconsistencies uncovered in the Maricopa election audit after it was discovered Wednesday that the “results tally and reporting,” had been unlawfully deleted.
“A devastating letter written by Arizona Senate President Karen Fann on voting irregularities, and probably fraud, in Maricopa County during the 2020 Presidential Election,” Trump said in the statement. “Even the database was illegally deleted after the subpoena to produce the information. Senate President Fann has invited Maricopa County officials to a public hearing on May 18 to allow them the opportunity to try to explain what happened to the missing databases, ballots, and other significant issues. “
“The Fake News and Lamestream Media is doing everything they can not to cover this major story,” the statement continued. “They just refuse to talk or report about it. They don’t want the United States or World to see what is going on with our corrupt, third world election.”
Maricopa County Supervisor Chairman Jack Sellers has confirmed receipt of a letter from Arizona Senate President Karen Fann demanding answers for the serious discrepancy.
“We have recently discovered that the entire “Database” directory from the D drive of the machine “EMSPrimary” has been deleted. This removes election related details that appear to have been covered by the subpoena,” the letter read. “In addition, the main database for the Election Management System (EMS) Software, “Results Tally and Reporting,” is not located anywhere on the EMSPrimary machine, even though all of the EMS Clients reference that machine as the location of the database. This suggests that the main database for all election-related data for the November 2020 General Election has been removed. Can you please advise as to why these folders were deleted, and whether there are any backups that may contain the deleted folders?”
WASHINGTON (The Hill) — President Biden said Wednesday it appears the GOP is going through a “mini-revolution” amid a public rift among House members loyal to former President Trump and those such as Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney (Wyo.) who have been sharply critical of him.
“It seems as though the Republican Party is trying to identify what it stands for. And they’re in the midst of significant sort of mini-revolution going on in the Republican Party,” Biden told reporters after giving remarks on aid for restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’ve been a Democrat for a long time. We’ve gone through periods where we’ve had internal fights, disagreements. I don’t remember any like this,” he added. “We badly need a Republican Party. We need a two-party system. It’s not healthy to have a one-party system. And I think the Republicans are further away from trying to figure out who they are and what they stand for than I thought they would be at this point.”
Biden’s comments come as House Republicans have turned on Cheney for her repeated denunciations of Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election.
Trump on Wednesday endorsed Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) to replace Cheney in House GOP leadership. Stefanik, a vocal Trump ally, is viewed as the likely pick should the caucus vote to remove Cheney or should she step down.
Biden earlier Wednesday was asked during a visit to a local restaurant about the drama surrounding Cheney and responded: “I don’t understand the Republicans.”
He and other administration officials have been adamant that they will try to work with Republicans on policy where there is mutual agreement.
The president is expected to meet next week with McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) alongside Democratic leaders, and he will separately host Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and other lawmakers for talks on his infrastructure proposal.