Covid 19: “Lab Leak” theory, the only valid explanation

From the beginning of the p@ndemic, Fauci was adamant that the new C0VlD virus was a “natural evolution” that jumped from an animal to humans.

Initially, the blame was placed on Chinese “Wet Markets,” open-air marketplaces where meat is sold, and often butchered onsite. 

 In fact, in April of 2020 Fauci called for China to shut down its wet markets.

 

 Later that month, he scoffed at then-president Trump’s concern that the virus could have come from the Wuhan lab, saying that C0VlD’s mutations were “totally consistent with a jump of a species from an animal to a human.” 

Shortly after that, Fauci doubled down on his stance, saying he was “very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated” 

For over a year, the press was eerily silent about the origin of C0VlD-19… 

And then, in May of 2021, 18 scientists published a paper that said a lab leak was a “viable explanation.” 

The Wall Street Journal published a report about Wuhan Lab workers being hospitalized as early as Nov. 2020 with “C0VlD-like” symptoms. 

Instead of admitting he could have been wrong, Fauci called the lab-leak theory “nonsense.”

This month, after no 2 years of searching and finding absolutely no sign of an animal-to-human crossover, Harvard scientist Dr. Alina Chan stated that it is “reasonable” to believe that COVID was genetically engineered in China.”  

Coverups from the Wuhan Institute of Virology and those with financial interests in the institute were also exposed, further demonstrating that there was more going on than meets the eye.

 In June of this year, in an effort to whitewash his previous stance, Fauci said of the possibility of a lab leak, “We’ve always said ‘keep an open mind and continue to look.’”

 In the meantime, after a year of social media censorship and derisive comments about the lab-leak “conspiracy theory,” evidence is finally forcing the powers that be to admit that they may well be wrong… 

 And Fauchi’s backtracking is raising eyebrows on both sides of the fence.

Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence: 12 Leadership Competency Primers

The complete collection of 12 Emotional and Social Intelligence Leadership Competency primers, written by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and fellow thought leaders.

Source: Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence: 12 Leadership Competency Primers – Complete Perfect Bound Bundle

Emotional Intelligence: A Key To High Performance

Daniel Goleman

Daniel Goleman

Host of First Person Plural: Emotional Intelligence and Beyond

I’m delighted to share with you matters close to my heart, ideas that I find stimulating, and some practical tips and leads that you might find useful. At the heart, of course, you’ll find emotional intelligence. But my interests also go far beyond; you’ll get a taste of that range here. PLUS news you can put to use in your life or work – or in both. Please join me each month.

Let’s dive in…

First, an announcement…

What does emotional intelligence look like in the post-pandemic era? I recently partnered with WOBI to offer a digital masterclass on #emotionalintelligence. The session will run in April but you can register now 👉 https://bit.ly/3pdRzCM

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Onward…

What “behavioral muscles” would strengthen your performance?

  • Controlling emotions better under stress
  • Resisting distractions
  • Being a better listener
  • Not micromanaging

If you agree with any of these – or all of them – you’re not alone.

In survey after survey done over the last ten years, these problems are at top of the list.

So says Lee Newman, Dean of the IE Business School in Spain, a highly respected training ground for entrepreneurs.

Recently I did a Q&A session with Lee for a Spanish-speaking audience and he asked them about what they felt needed to be strengthened in their performance. These problems were the most frequent complaints out of about 40 common problems.

When I saw Lee’s list it was clear to me that the solutions to these common troubles all could be found in boosting one or another aspect of emotional intelligence.

Take managing your emotions under stress and resisting distractions. It turns out that pretty much the same brain circuitry handles both these jobs – and the EI competence of emotional balance tells you how.

Being a better listener, of course, is the basis of empathy, another EI competence.  And resisting the urge to micromanage counts as one step to helping those you manage do their very best.

The three steps:

  1. Give a clear goal
  2. Don’t micromanage: leave the person free to accomplish that goal in their own way
  3. Give immediate feedback on how they are doing toward that goal, so they can make any needed midcourse corrections.

The Epiphany of the Lord: Look to the Magi as models

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The Adoration of the Magi is depicted in a stained-glass window at St. Mary of the Isle Church in Long Beach, New York. (CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)

The Adoration of the Magi is depicted in a stained-glass window at St. Mary of the Isle Church in Long Beach, New York. (CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Who were those wanderers who, unimpressed by King Herod, did homage to a newborn babe and allowed an angel to change their travel plans? Our creche sets, carols and myths tell us they numbered three — an idea deduced from the gifts Matthew mentions — but there’s no reason to think that there were not more of them: more people and more gifts. By tradition, they are called kings. If so, probably no more than ourselves who are baptized as priests, prophets and kings. (Not many areas of the world had three monarchs anxious to travel together to discover and revere yet another king.) Better we call them the Magi, a title that hints at mystery, magic and miracles.

Historians say it’s unlikely that their story reflects any verifiable event. For us, more important than historical fact is the reason Matthew made this part of his Gospel. In that realm, he left us lots of hints. First of all, Matthew borrowed key details for his story from Isaiah’s prophecies. Isaiah assures the people who have been in darkness that the light of God’s glory will shine on them and that their faith will attract people from afar who will come bearing gifts. With that, we have the background for the star, the travelers, the camels and the gifts: all signs of the advent of God’s salvation.

January 2, 2022

Isaiah 60:1-6
Psalm 72
Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6
Matthew 2:1-12

Matthew is commenting on Isaiah and portraying Jesus as the fulfillment of ancient hopes. Continuing his commentary, Matthew describes how the Magi questioned King Herod about prophecies that referred to a king to come. Herod called in theologians who, foreshadowing future officials’ attitudes about Jesus, quoted prophecies but exhibited no curiosity to see how they might be fulfilled in their own lifetimes. Matthew thus begins his Gospel with Jesus, Emmanuel, endangered among his own people and revered by representatives of the Gentile world. Matthew’s Gospel ends with Christ’s command to make disciples of all the nations and the promise that as our Emmanuel, he will remain with us until the end.

What does this narrative mean for us today as we begin the year 2022? Perhaps in these uncertain times (will COVID-19 ever end?), the Magi, those people willing to walk together like participants in a synod, can be our guides. More than the time and money required for their journey, they possessed a key combination of self-confidence and desire for more meaning in life. These attitudes urged them to read the signs of the times and to venture into the unknown. They humbly believed there was more wisdom in the world than they had yet discovered. These travelers, unafraid to seek knowledge from afar, were moved — literally — by a holy disquiet, the restlessness St. Augustine says niggles at us until we rest in God. Thus, they set off in a caravan that became the first Christian pilgrimage.

Today, we see signs of a similar holy disquiet. As a result of COVID-19, people are reevaluating their lives. Researchers have reported that between January and October 2021, one in four people in the U.S. quit their jobs. Additionally, COVID-19 has made it impossible to ignore both the continuing political divisions among us and the wealth and wellness gaps that isolate us from one another, leaving multitudes of our brothers and sisters unconscionably vulnerable. At the same time, while some of our sick and their families suffered an isolation that magnified and even overshadowed the physical effects of illness, others discovered Zoom and other ways to be in direct, visual contact with their loved ones hundreds or even thousands of miles away.

In his book, Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future, Pope Francis shares ideas highly applicable to today’s feast. He describes our time as a change of epoch, not simply a time of change. He says that this change, “accelerated by the coronavirus, is a propitious moment for reading the signs of the times.” Avoiding the trap of easy answers, Francis says, “A gap has opened up between the realities and challenges we face and the recipes and solutions available to us. That gap becomes a space in which to reflect, question, and dialogue.”

Let us look to the Magi as models. Inspired by the gap between their knowledge and their hopes, they set out to seek meaning that their lives had not yet given them. They reflected together on the signs of their times and sought wisdom from foreigners, confident that truth from another quarter would only add to the truth they already understood.

As a synodal people, let us be on the move, discerning the signs of our times while refusing to be awestruck by self-important leaders. Let us share the Magi’s humble curiosity. Let us appropriate a share of their courage and confidence to that we too can seek, find and follow Christ in our world.

Dramatic Testimony from the Maxwell Case Will Shock You!

You will be surprised to learn that the woman who was paid to find, bring and ‘groom’ Carolyn was not Ghislaine Maxwell, although the above testimony was given at Maxwell’s trial. The older woman – who was well over the age of consent when she brought

Source: Dramatic Testimony from the Maxwell Case Will Shock You!

Maryland’s Gerrymandered Congressional Districts – Voters Challenge Unconstitutional Plan

Although everything seems to slow down during the holidays, we have been busy on your behalf.

We just filed a lawsuit for 12 Maryland voters who object to a 2021 congressional redistricting plan because it diminishes their rights to participate in elections equally with other voters in violation of the state’s Constitution. (We are assisted by William J. Holtzinger, Esq., of Frederick, Maryland.)

Our new lawsuit (Parrott et al. v Lamone et al. (No. 8683397)) details:

Maryland’s recent history of partisan gerrymandering is no secret. [Its 2011] congressional district map … remains one of the most notorious partisan gerrymanders in U.S. history. A federal district judge openly doubted that it could provide “fair and effective representation for all citizens.” Another called it “absurd” to suggest ‘that there is a community of interest” in a district described as a “Rorschach-like eyesore.” [A federal appeals court] famously described the same district as “a broken-winged pterodactyl, lying prostrate across the center of the state.”

The lawsuit relates that a bipartisan commission recommended a map to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan on November 5 that he approved, but the legislature passed a different proposal in a straight party-line vote. On December 9, 2021, Hogan vetoed this proposal, and, the same day, the state legislature overrode his veto on another party-line vote.

Our suit points out that the new map “is similar to the gerrymandered map that was the subject of universal abuse ten years ago as the worst gerrymander in the country.” The lawsuit details how the map distorts district lines, deviates from and crosses existing political boundaries, and fractures and divides communities of interest:

Maryland’s Plan splits Anne Arundel County into three congressional districts. The middle of Anne Arundel County is … connected to the Eastern Shore’s First Congressional District. The two areas are held together solely via the Chesapeake Bay Bridge…. Baltimore is divided among three congressional districts…. Montgomery County is divided among four congressional districts…. A roughly 20-mile trip north on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway from Cheverly, Maryland, a DC suburb, to Jessup, Maryland, an area outside [BWI] Airport, would cross congressional boundaries six times and lead a traveler through five different congressional districts.

The lawsuit highlights how Maryland’s Fifth District features an “umbilical cord” designed to include Democratic voters in College Park to “counterbalance” the more Republican voters in the southern part of the state. And the Sixth Congressional District connects Garrett County, “the westernmost rural county which borders Pennsylvania and West Virginia,” with Potomac, Maryland, a wealthy DC suburb:

As a federal court commented about the Sixth District in 2011, which made a similar linkage between these populations, it brings together voters “who have an interest in farming, mining, tourism, paper production, and the hunting of bears … with voters who abhor the hunting of bears and do not know what a coal mine or paper mill even looks like.” These two groups have “different climate[s], root for different sports teams, and read different newspapers.”

Outside experts agree that the plan is flawed, with the nonpartisan Princeton Gerrymandering Project giving it a grade of “F” for fairness and geographic compactness. In 2020, Republicans accounted for approximately 35% of Maryland’s Congressional votes, but they’re unlikely to win even a single seat under this plan. This outcome wouldn’t be possible without political gerrymandering.

We argue that the plan violates Article 7 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights, which guarantees voters the right to “free and frequent” elections and the “right of suffrage.” Article 7 has been held to be “even more protective of rights of political participation than the provisions of the federal Constitution.”

Additionally, the plan violates Article III, Section 4 of the Maryland Constitution, which provides that, “Each legislative district shall consist of adjoining territory, be compact in form, and of substantially equal population. Due regard shall be given to natural boundaries and the boundaries of political subdivisions.”

Unfortunately, Democrats in the legislature went beyond politics to abuse of power in setting up Maryland’s gerrymandered congressional maps. This lawsuit seeks to protect the rights of all voters and citizens. Simply put: politicians shouldn’t get to pick their voters.

Judicial Watch Wins Appeal on Release of Sally Yates’ Records on Refusal to Enforce President Trump’s Travel Ban

The corrupt acts of Obama holdovers against President Trump were some of the worst corruption cases in American history.

So it was nice to see U.S. Court of Appeals for District of Columbia Circuit order a lower court to directly review records withheld by the Justice Department about former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates related to her outrageous 2017 refusal to enforce President Donald Trump’s travel ban executive order (Judicial Watch vs. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 20-5304)).

The appellate court reversed a lower court ruling that the Justice Department could withhold certain records under the Freedom of Information Act’s Exemption 5 “deliberative process privilege,” which can be used to keep secret “pre-decisional” agency records. The appeals court ordered the lower court to directly review the records at issue in camera to determine if they qualify for withholding as “deliberative.”

We appealed the district court’s ruling on February 11, 2021. At issue are four records described as “working drafts” of a January 30, 2017, statement by Yates instructing DOJ officials not to defend the executive order issued by then-President Trump. Trump fired Yates for insubordination after she issued the one-page statement. The “working drafts” were sent as attachments in a chain of emails sent without messages between Yates and her deputy Matthew Axelrod.

We filed a May 2017 FOIA lawsuit after the DOJ failed to respond to a February 2017 FOIA request seeking Yates’ emails from her government account (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:17-cv-00832)) for the time period she served as Acting Attorney General for President Trump.

In our appeal, we highlighted how the Justice Department was undermining the FOIA reforms passed into law Congress under the FOIA Improvements Act in 2016 that “established a new, heightened standard of proof that agencies must meet when making discretionary withholdings of records requested under FOIA. Congress intended the FIA to shore up FOIA, not preserve a years-long, unsatisfactory status quo of ‘withhold-it-because-you-want-to’ exemptions and ‘knee-jerk secrecy.’”

The appeals court ruled the Justice Department “failed to satisfy its burden” to demonstrate that the Yates attachments “are deliberative” and reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment:

Because the district court chose to rely on the government’s declarations, and because we expect the attachments are relatively brief, we remand with instructions to review the attachments in camera and determine, consistent with the principles set forth herein, whether they qualify as deliberative. Should the district court conclude that the attachments are deliberative, it must then determine, consistent with the principles set forth in Reporters Committee, whether DOJ also satisfied its burden under the FOIA Improvement Act. 3 F.4th at 369-72.

This appeals court decision is a victory for transparency in the face of the Justice Department’s casual contempt for transparency. In an act of seditious and unethical conduct, Obama holdover Sally Yates sought to subvert then-President Trump by interfering with his lawful travel ban. That the Justice Department would try to cover up the details of this lawlessness is yet another scandal.

Church in Africa: Demography reigns

An adoration chapel in Nairobi, Kenya. Credit: JD Flynn/The Pillar.

For the first time in a generation, the Roman Curia is without any African cardinals in top leadership positions, after Pope Francis accepted this month the resignation of Cardinal Peter Turkson from the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

But Africa is growing in importance within the Catholic Church, and is poised to become an even more important global center of Catholicism in the decades to come.

The growing prominence of Africa in the global Church is driven by two different stories: the conversion of sub-Saharan Africa in the first half of the 20th century, and the growth of Africa’s population — unique among all regions of the world — in the 21st.

Conversion of a continent

The globe’s second-largest continent by land mass, Africa was in 2020 home to a population of 1.3 billion people.

Fifty percent of that population is Christian; 17% are Catholic. Africa’s 236 million Catholics already make up 19% of the global Catholic population, but they are also the fastest-growing Catholic region in the world.

By 2050, the World Christian Database estimates that African Catholics will make up 32% of the Catholic Church.

Africa is not new territory for Christianity. Egypt and the rest of North Africa were integral parts of the Roman world and were early centers for Christianity. Saint Augustine served as bishop of Hippo, which is on the coast of modern day Algeria. And the Ethiopian Orthodox Church traces its history as the state religion of the Kingdom of Ethiopia to the fourth century. Indeed, Ethiopia became a Catholic state before Rome did.

But after the Roman Empire’s wane and the conquest of North Africa by Muslims in the seventh century, Christian expansion in Africa was limited until the colonial era. According to data collected by the World Christian Database, as of 1900 the continent was 9% Christian (including 2% Catholic, 2% Protestant, and 4% Orthodox) and 33% Muslim, while 58% followed traditional ethnic religions.

The period from 1900 to 1970 brought rapid religious change to Africa, as well as population growth and economic development.

The total percentage of Christians in Africa increased four-fold between 1900 and 1970: from 9% of the population to 38%.

The percentage of Catholics increased even more rapidly, from 2% in 1900 to six times that number in 1970.

Islam, which is primarily concentrated in the northern regions of the continent, grew from 33% of the population to 41%. Meanwhile, the share of Africa’s population adhering to indigenous religions decreased from 58% to 21%.

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A Catholic parish in Nairobi, Kenya. Credit: JD Flynn/The Pillar.

Steady numbers

Since 1970, the trends have changed. Since that time, the Catholic share of several sub-Saharan national populations has remained relatively stable. But the Catholic population has continued to grow because sub-Saharan Africa’s population has continued to grow — and it’s growing the fastest in the countries with most Catholics.

In 1970, there were seven African countries with populations of more than one million people which were at least 30% Catholic.

Each of those nations grew an average of 300% in total population between 1970 and 2020.

For similar-sized African countries with lower Catholic populations, population growth over that same period was 275%.

Because populations are growing more quickly in counties with a greater share of Catholics, demographers predict that Africa will continue to become gradually more Catholic over the coming decades.  The World Christian Database estimates that the population will increase from 18% Catholic in 2020 to 19% in 2050.

A unique demographic trajectory

The conversion of Africa during the 20th century has made Christianity the single largest religious affiliation on the continent.

But with less than 20% of its population being Catholic, Africa is not the most Catholic continent on a percentage basis.

Instead, the growing prominence of Africa within the global Catholic Church can be attributed to Africa’s unique demographic trends — while most of the world slows down on reproduction, Africans, including Catholic Africans, continue having babies.

While Asia is by far the most populous continent, with 4.6 billion people, the birth rate in Asia has decreased significantly in recent years. The number of annual births in Asia has fallen from a high of 87 million in 1988 to 73 million in 2020. Meanwhile, the number of births in Africa has increased from 25 million in 1988 to 44 million in 2020.

Until relatively recently, consensus among demographers was that there was a direct relationship between economic development and fertility, with more affluent countries seeing lowering birth rates. But in recent decades Africa has diverged from other regions in this respect – as Africa gets wealthier, fertility rates have not dropped as quickly as in other developing regions.

Sub-Saharan Africa has a similar per capita GDP to South Asia. Looking at major countries in those regions: Nigeria is more affluent than India, while Pakistan is similar to Kenya.

But South Asia’s fertility rate – the total number of births per woman –  has dropped much faster than Africa’s. South Asia’s fertility rate is 2.4, just above the replacement rate, while Sub-Saharan Africa’s rate is nearly double that, at 4.6.

Other regions of the world have even lower fertility rates. Latin America has a fertility rate of 2.0, below the replacement level. Fertility rates in East Asia, North America, and Europe are even lower.

Demographer Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute told The Pillar that because of global fertility trends, major growth in the global labor force and population over the next five decades will come from the Sub-Saharan region.

And just as Africa will play an increasingly important role in the global economy, its increasing population seems set to play an ever-larger role in the life of the Church.

Pope gives homily but does not preside at Te Deum for year’s end

Catholic World News December 31, 2021
    

Pope Francis, who was scheduled to preside at the singing of the Te Deum in St. Peter’s basilica on December 31, bowed out of that role, but delivered a homily at the annual service.

The Pontiff traditionally leads the Te Deum on the last day of the year, with leaders of the Roman Curia joining him in the prayer of thanksgiving for the blessings of the year. The program for the event had indicated that Pope Francis would preside. But instead Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the dean of the College of Cardinals, led the service.

The last-minute change was likely to intensify speculation about the Pope’s health—particularly because he had also cancelled plans to visit the Nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square the same day.

However the Pope did attend, and delivered a prepared homily, in which his focus was on the Virgin Mary. (The Te Deum was sung in the evening, along with evening prayers for the vigil of the feast of Mary, Mother of God.) He remarked that Mary is the greatest possible witness to the Nativity, because while she was “filled with amazement,” she was at the same time “without the shadow of romanticism, of sweeteners, of spiritualization.”

The Pontiff went on to say that in the past year, the Covid epidemic had given many people “a sense of being lost,” and even worse, in many people a belief that it was “everyone out for themselves.” He expressed his gratitude that “we reacted again with a sense of responsibility.”