Covid con

  • Alt media-The COVID shot is the most dangerous drug in the history of modern medicine, and these dangers were foreseen and predicted by many respected and well-educated doctors and scientists, whose voices were censored
  • All-cause mortality by time is the most reliable measure from which we can detect true catastrophic events, and all-cause mortality started spiking AFTER the COVID jabs were rolled out. These increases also correlate to a nation’s COVID jab rate

Iran on touchlines in Ukraine war

o

Russian forces have likely decided to attack Avdiivka frontally from occupied Donetsk Oblast territory rather than waiting for Ukrainian forces to withdraw from their prepared defensive positions as a result of Russian envelopment operations northeast of the settlement. The Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) and Kremlin-sponsored sources have published videos suggesting that Russian forces pushed Ukrainian forces out of their positions around the Butivka Coal Mine ventilation shaft southwest of Avdiivka.[1] Ukrainian forces have held positions around the Butivka Coal Mine ventilation shaft since 2015 and have described the location as the closest Ukrainian position to Donetsk City and a key defensive outpost for Avdiivka.[2] Russian forces have likely captured the Ukrainian position, given the Ukrainian General Staff‘s vague reports of ”partially” successful Russian advances in the area.[3] Russian forces are also continuing assaults on Pisky, west of Avdiivka, and will likely attempt to seize the E50 highway connecting the two settlements. Russian forces had previously attempted to break through Avdiivka’s northeastern outskirts but have not made significant progress in months.

The Russian Defense Ministry is likely trying to assuage distress that Ukraine’s effective use of the US HIMARS is causing Russian military personnel and milbloggers with inaccurate claims of destroying HIMARS launchers. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu claimed that Russian forces have destroyed six US-provided HIMARS and other Western-supplied military equipment in Ukraine in a conference call with the Russian Armed Forces leadership on August 2.[4] The Russian Defense Ministry also released a video claiming to have destroyed a building that housed two HIMARS launchers in Kharkiv Oblast on August 1.[5] Ukrainian Southern Command Chief Andriy Kovalchuk said that Russian forces did not destroy any HIMARS, and an unnamed Finnish official called Russian claims ”wishful thinking.”[6] The Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) also reported that Russian defense authorities are covering up Russian servicemember casualties by transporting wounded Russians in civilian cars and misreporting the number of casualties caused by Ukrainian HIMARS strikes in the media.[7] Ukrainian HIMARS strikes have prompted many milbloggers and military correspondents to express concern over the effectiveness of air defense systems and the threats to Russian logistics, and these strikes are likely demoralizing Russian servicemen on the ground.[8]

A representative of the Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported on August 2 that Russia has refused to provide detailed information on which Ukrainian POWs were killed or injured in the July 28 Olenivka prison attack. GUR Representative Andriy Yusov said that Russia has not responded to requests by Ukraine’s Coordinating Headquarters for the Treatment of POWs for information about casualties from the likely Russian-perpetrated attack on the Russian-controlled prison that killed at least 53 Ukrainian POWs.[9] Yusov said that of casualties that Russia has posted online some were supposed to be in hospitals or being readied for prisoner exchanges and were not supposed to be at the Olenivka prison. Yusov noted that Ukraine cannot confirm the veracity of online casualty lists at this time, however. Ukraine’s Coordinating Headquarters for the Treatment of POWs urged families of POWs to avoid sharing personal details about themselves or their captured loved ones with individuals or unofficial organizations soliciting those details, warning that sharing information could pose a risk to surviving POWs.[10] Deputy Ukrainian Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk said that Russia has not responded to requests to return the bodies of killed POWs to Ukraine as of August 2.[11]

Initial and unconfirmed reports from August 2 suggest that Iran may have sent the first batch of UAVs to Russia for field testing. A US-based open-source intelligence (OSINT) Twitter account citing unofficial Iranian sources claimed that Iran sent a batch of UAVs to Russia, along with Iranian pilots and technicians who will train for the use and repair of Russian Su-35 aircraft.[12] While ISW cannot independently confirm this claim, it is consistent with recent reports that Tehran and Moscow are pursuing greater aviation cooperation in order to circumvent international sanctions on Russia and Iran and support Russian operations in Ukraine.[13] If true, this claim suggests that Iran may be receiving Russian Su-35 aircraft in return for the drones, which could have been part of an agreement signed by Moscow and Tehran on July 26.[14] The agreement stipulated that Iran would increase the volume of passenger flights to Russia and additionally repair Russian aircraft.[15] Tehran may seek to use this agreement to facilitate the acquisition of Russian combat aircraft.

 A Russian missile strike reportedly damaged a Ukrainian air defense system in Lviv Oblast on August 2.[16] The Ukrainian Air Force Command reported that Russian forces launched eight Kh-101 (Kh-555) missiles in the direction of central, southern, and western Ukrainian Oblasts from their positions in the Caspian Sea.[17] The Ukrainian Air Force Command reported that Ukrainian air defense forces intercepted seven of the eight missiles.[18]

Key Takeaways

  • Unconfirmed social media reports suggest that Iran may have sent the first batch of drones to Russia and sent pilots and maintenance personnel to train on the Russian Su-35, potentially suggesting that Iran may seek to use recent aviation agreements to facilitate the acquisition of Russian combat aircraft.
  • Russian forces conducted unsuccesful offensive operations northeast and northwest of Kharkiv City.
  • Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks northwest of Slovyansk and east of Siversk.
  • Russian forces made marginal gains southeast of Bakhmut and continued offensive operations to the northeast and southeast of Bakhmut.
  • Russian forces made incremental advances around Avdiivka and are continuing attempts to push southwest of Avdiivka.
  • Russian forces launched two assaults in northern Kherson Oblast and are continuing to redeploy troops to the Southern Axis.
  • Russian federal subjects are forming new volunteer battalions in Novosibirsk, Saratov, Ulyanovsk, and Kurgan Oblasts, and are changing time periods for enlistment compensations.
  • Ukrainian civilians are continuing to resist the Russian occupation with acts of civil disobedience and partisan sabotage as the Kremlin considers longer-term methods of population control in occupied Ukraine.

Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks northwest of Slovyansk along the Kharkiv-Donetsk Oblast border on August 2. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian troops attempted reconnaissance-in-force near Dovhenke and Dolyna, 25 and 20km northwest of Slovyansk, respectively.[19] Russian forces continued to shell settlements near the oblast border and struck Kurulka, Dolyna, Barvinkove, Adamivka, Krasnopillya, and Mazanivka.[20]

Russian forces conducted a ground assault east of Siversk on August 2. The Ukrainian General Staff stated that Russian forces conducted a limited and unsuccessful attack in Ivano-Darivka, about 5km southeast of Siversk.[21] The Ukrainian General Staff also reported that Russian troops failed to advance from Novoluhanske (southeast of Bakhmut) in the direction of Ivano-Darivka, which likely suggests that Russian forces attempted to advance on Ivano-Darivka from a southwestward direction.[22] Russian troops continued to conduct air and artillery strikes in the vicinity of Siversk.[23]

Russian forces made incremental advances southeast of Bakhmut and continued ground attacks to the northeast and southeast of Bakhmut on August 2. The Ukrainian General Staff stated that Russian forces had “partial success” along the Vidrozhennya-Kodema line, about 20km southeast of Bakhmut.[24] Russian forces conducted a series of unsuccessful offensive operations southeast of Bakhmut, namely around Roty, Vershyna, Klynove, and Travneve, and northeast of Bakhmut around Volodymyrivka and  Yakovlivka.[25] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian aviation reportedly increased the intensity of air strikes in the general area of Bakhmut.[26] Russian forces continued to shell Bakhmut City and surrounding settlements.[27]

Russian forces made advances around Avdiivka and will likely continue to prioritize assaults southwest of the settlement. The Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) Militia claimed that Russian forces have pushed Ukrainian forces out of their defensive positions around the Butivka Coal Mine ventilation shaft, southwest of Avdiivka, on August 2.[28] Ukrainian forces have held defensive positions near Butivka Coal Mine ventilation shaft since 2015, and the area has been subjected to continuous shelling throughout the years.[29] Ukrainian forces have also previously defined Butivka as a strategic defensive location and the closest Ukrainian position to Donetsk City.[30] Kremlin-sponsored outlet Izvestia published footage reportedly from the Butivka mine ventilation area, which indicates that Ukrainian forces likely withdrew from the area.[31] Russian Telegram channel Svarschiki previously claimed that Russian forces have been pushing Ukrainian forces from their positions in the area on July 31, and the Ukrainian General Staff noted that Russian forces had partial success when advancing in the Avdiivka area on the same day.[32] The Ukrainian General Staff also reported on August 2 that Russian forces had partially advanced in the direction of Donetsk City-Pisky and continued launching unsucessful frontal assaults on Avdiivka.[33]

Russian forces conducted an unsuccessful reconnaissance-in-force operation on the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border in Novopil.

Russian forces launched unsuccessful assaults in northern Kherson Oblast on August 1 and August 2, likely in an effort to prevent Ukrainian forces from advancing into Russian occupied positions. Ukrainian military officials reported that Russian forces launched an unsuccessful attack on Trydolyubivka (just south of the Kherson-Dnipropetrovsk Oblast border) and conducted a failed reconnaissance-in-force operation in Bilohirka, situated on the western bank of the Inhulets River.[37] Russian forces continued to launch airstrikes and shell Ukrainian positions near the Ukrainian bridgehead over the Inhulets River and on the Kherson-Dnipropetrovsk Oblast border.[38] Kherson Oblast Administration Head Dmytro Burtiy reported that Ukrainian forces liberated seven more unnamed settlements in Kherson Oblast on August 2.[39] 

Russian forces continued to accumulate and transfer forces to southern Ukraine from other axes. The Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Representative Vadym Skibitsky reported that a battalion tactical group (BTG) of Russian airborne troops arrived in Crimea and will deploy to the frontlines in the near future.[40] Skibitsky had previously reported that Russian forces started redeploying airborne troops from Donetsk Oblast to occupied Kherson Oblast territories, and the BTG will likely support Russian efforts to suppress Ukrainian counteroffensives in the region.[41] Skibitsky added that Russian forces are expanding air defense systems in Crimea and are regrouping forces in the Zaporizhia and Kherson Oblast directions, which likely indicates that Russian forces are intending to defend their positions from Ukrainian counteroffensives throughout the Southern Axis. The Ukrainian Southern Operational Command noted that there have not been any changes to the Russian force composition in Kherson Oblast as of August 2, however.[42] Ukrainian Advisor to the Mayor of Mariupol  Petro Andryushenko also published footage of a convoy of Russian engineering equipment and personnel carriers moving through Mariupol in the Zaporizhia Oblast direction.[43]

Russian forces continued to fire at Mykolaiv and Dnipropetrovsk Oblasts with MLRS and air defense systems. Ukrainian officials reported that Russian forces fired S-300 air defense missiles and Uragan MLRS systems at Mykolaiv City and launched 16 rockets from Smerch MLRS at the Kryvorizka Power Station.[44] Russian forces also shelled other settlements in Mykolaiv and Dnipropetrovsk Oblasts with MLRS and tube artillery.[45] Russian forces did not fire on Nikopol on August 2, however they are likely to resume attacks on the settlement. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken also noted that Russian forces are continuing to use the occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) just south of Nikopol, as a “human shield” for their military base, as Ukrainian forces will not fire at the NPP in self-defense.[46]

Ukrainian forces continued to target Russian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) and positions in Kherson Oblast, setting conditions for a counteroffensive in the region. Geolocated footage showed that Ukrainian forces struck Russian ammunition depots in Arkhanhel’s’ke and Starosillya, both situated on the T2207 GLOC in northwestern Kherson Oblast and the eastern Inhulets River bank.[47] Geolocated footage showed Ukrainian forces hitting Russian mortar positions in Soldatske (approximately 30km northwest of Kherson City) with a likely US-provided Phoenix Ghost loitering munition.[48] The Ukrainian Southern Operational Command reported that Ukrainian aviation also hit three Russian strongholds in Oleksandrivka and Maksymivka, indicating that Ukrainian aviation continues to operate northwest and north of Kherson City.[49] Social media footage also showed a series of explosions in Chornobaivka, a settlement just northwest of Kherson City that Ukrainian forces have struck on numerous previous occasions.[50]

Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)

Russian federal subjects (regions) are likely changing conditions for volunteer battalion recruits to receive one-time enlistment payments. The Republic of Bashkortostan specified that recruits will receive their one-time enlistment payment of 200,000 rubles (approximately $3,300) but the funds will be frozen until 90 days after their enlistment.[51] The Republic of Bashkortostan also noted that recruits will receive their daily payments of 2,000 rubles (approximately $32) for service after their training at the end of each month. ISW has previously reported that 40 servicemen from the Chuvash ”Atal” volunteer battalion complained that they have not received their promised enlistment bonuses and post-training period payments. Federal subjects are likely beginning to adjust their payment schedules.[52] New battalions such as Saratov Oblast’s two unnamed units advertised that the recruits will receive enlistment bonuses of 150,000 rubles (approximately $2,400) after three months of service.[53] The federal subjects are likely trying to prevent Russian recruits from obtaining the enlistment payments and deserting prior to deploying to Ukraine. The federal subjects may also be unable to generate funds to immediately pay recruits, however. 

Novosibirsk, Kurgan, Saratov, and Ulyanovsk Oblasts are forming new volunteer battalions. Novosibirsk Oblast is recruiting men between 18 and 50 years of age for an unnamed volunteer battalion and is offering 300,000 rubles (about $4,900) for enlisting.[54] Kurgan Oblast Youth Cossack Organization Head Vladimir Yarushnikov reported that local officials are discussing the formation and recruitment process for an unnamed battalion.[55] The Ulyanovsk City Administration also announced the formation of two reserve-volunteer battalions ”Sviyaga” and ”Simbirsk” that would have 200 recruits each.[56] Saratov local outlet Versiya Saratov reported that Saratov City Administration announced recruitment for two unnamed volunteer battalions based on the ”order from Russian Defense Ministry.”[57] 

Activity in Russian-occupied Areas (Russian objective: consolidate administrative control of occupied areas; set conditions for potential annexation into the Russian Federation or some other future political arrangement of Moscow’s choosing)

Ukrainian civilians are continuing to resist the Russian occupation with acts of civil disobedience and partisan sabotage. The Ukrainian Resistance Center reported on August 2 that Ukrainian civilians chased 40 Russian doctors out of abandoned homes in which they tried to settle in Berislav, Kherson Oblast.[58] Russian occupation authorities have been forced to import Russian civilian doctors on temporary military tours to treat injured Russian servicemembers because many Ukrainian medical staff members either evacuated occupied areas or refuse to collaborate with Russian occupation forces. Russian officials have offered doctors increased salaries and veteran status to move to occupied Ukrainian territories. The Ukrainian Resistance Center also reported on August 2 that many schools in occupied areas will be unable to open by September 1, the ordinary start of the school year, because Ukrainian children and their families have either evacuated or are unwilling to attend Russian-run schools.[59] The Center reported that many Ukrainian teachers are also refusing to participate in the Russian curriculum, forcing Russian occupation authorities to import teachers from Russia and occupied Crimea.

The fire set by Ukrainian partisans on July 30 in a field near Russian-occupied Bezimenne, about 20km east of Mariupol, successfully damaged Russian military equipment at a nearby military base, according to an August 1 update by exiled Mariupol mayoral advisor Petro Andryushenko.[60] Ukrainian sources had reported the effort to damage Russian equipment and fortifications and to prevent Russian occupation authorities from looting Ukrainian grain on July 30.[61]

The Kremlin is likely considering longer-term methods to subdue the occupied Ukrainian population beyond the increased securitization on which ISW has previously reported. State Duma Defense Committee Head Andrey Kartapolov said on Russian state-controlled television on August 1 that “the biggest problem [Russia faces in Ukraine] today is people … If we want these territories to be with us, to have a future as part of the Russian Federation … we need to deal with the children.”[62] Kartapolov advocated for taking Ukrainian children from their homes to Russian military boardings schools and universities. He argued that the Kremlin ”has to do this because then people will believe we are serious and that Russia is here for a long time—forever.”

Russian officials like Kartapolov are increasingly blatant in demonstrating their intention to annex occupied Ukrainian territories. Russian Kherson Occupation Administration Deputy Head Kirill Stremousov said on August 2 that authorities will continue to allow Kherson residents to use the Ukrainian language, but that “Kherson Oblast will become a worthy part of Russia by forming a people’s government.”

Covid menefreghismo

Sometimes persistence with a just cause pays off, as was seen by the more than 500 current and former health care workers who just won a lawsuit – the first of its kind! – against NorthShore University HealthSystem, which reportedly fired or threatened to fire them over their “unvaccinated” status.

According to Liberty Counsel, the “historic” settlement included a $10.3 million payout to the affected workers, who were deemed by the courts to have been unlawfully discriminated against when they were denied religious exemptions from “mandatory” Wuhan coronavirus (Covid-19) “vaccination.”

The federal Northern District Court of Illinois filed the settlement on Friday, and it must now be approved by the court. (Related: Covid injections can trigger prion illnesses like Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease that are incurable.)

“We are very pleased with the historic, $10 million settlement achieved in our class action lawsuit against NorthShore University HealthSystem,” announced Liberty Counsel Vice President of Legal Affairs and Chief Litigation Counsel Horatio G. Mihet.

“The drastic policy change and substantial monetary relief required by the settlement will bring a strong measure of justice to NorthShore’s employees who were callously forced to choose between their conscience and their jobs.”

Fired for refusing covid injections? SUE!

Mihet went on to note that the settlement “should also serve as a strong warning to employers across the nation that they cannot refuse to accommodate those with sincere religious objections to forced vaccination mandates.”

Brighteon.TV

We know, however, that many of them already did just that, which means the lawsuits have only just begun against the medical fascists who inflicted these horrors on hard-working Americans.

In addition to paying out $10,337,500 to the affected employees, NorthShore will also have to change its unlawful “no religious accommodations” policy across its entire system.

“No position in any NorthShore facility will be considered off limits to unvaccinated employees with approved religious exemptions,” CBN reports.

If they apply within 90 days of the final settlement approved by the court, employees who were terminated following their religious refusal of the shots will also be eligible for rehire at NorthShore, retaining their previous seniority level if successful.

Western Experts Urge US to Start Talks with Russia Before “It’s Too Late”

[New post] Western Experts Urge US to Start Talks with Russia Before “It’s Too Late”

Site logo imagehttp://counterinformation.wordpress.comWestern Experts Urge US to Start Talks with Russia Before “It’s Too Late”Jaime C.Aug 2By Ahmed AdelGlobal Research, August 02, 2022InfoBricsFollow us on Instagram and Twitter and subscribe to our Telegram Channel. Feel free to repost and share widely Global Research articles.***With the war in Ukraine waging since February 24 and no immediate end in sight, Western commentators and experts have begun urging the US and its allies to start talks with Russia over the situation in Ukraine before its “too late.”Samuel Charap, senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation, and Jeremy Shapiro, research director at the European Council on Foreign Relations, urged in an opinion piece published in the New York Times for the West to continue providing material support for the Ukrainian military, but in close consultation with Kiev to “begin opening channels of communication with Russia” as “an eventual cease-fire should be the goal, even as the path to it remains uncertain.”With the US having pledged about $24 billion in military aid to Ukraine, more than four times Ukraine’s 2021 defence budget, in addition to other countries pledging another $12 billion, the authors claim that although the West are committed to helping Ukraine, they do not want to escalate the conflict into a major power war.“For as long as both Russia and the West are determined to prevail over the other in Ukraine and prepared to devote their deep reserves of weapons to achieve that goal, further escalation seems almost preordained,” the experts wrote.They stress that discussions are absolutely necessary, despite being politically risky, as the war in Ukraine has the potential to bring Russia and NATO into direct conflict. An argument can be made that Russia and NATO are already in direct conflict as the Atlantic bloc already provides weapons and training to the Ukrainian military and encourages former soldiers and volunteers to fight against Russian forces. This is in addition to espionage and surveillance assistance, diplomatic and political support, and medical aid.According to the authors, Russia has red lines, which although are not exactly known in their entirety, they can be assumed. The experts give the example that if the Ukrainians are given particular systems or capabilities that could directly target Russian territory, it is likely that Moscow will consider that as a red line being crossed. It is for this reason that when US President Joe Biden recently announced that Ukraine would be supplied with multiple-launch rocket systems, the longest-range munitions that could strike Russia were withheld.“The premise of the decision was that Moscow will escalate — i.e. launch an attack against NATO — only if certain types of weapons are provided or if they are used to target Russian territory,” they claimed. “The goal is to be careful to stop short of that line while giving the Ukrainians what they need to ‘defend their territory from Russian advances,’ as Mr. Biden said in a statement in June.”

Now 6 vaxxed doctors drop dead

The Epoch Times report below specifies that five of the doctors (shown in the featured image) worked in the Ontario region and one in Saskatchewan, Dr. Shahriar Jalali Mazlouman. Four of the Ontario doctors died within the same week. Check out these other links: Deaths of 3 Toronto Docs Confirmed, 4 in 1 week […]

Read more of this post

Bioweapons and the History of Laboratory Leaks

Southern Medical Journal

Wolters Kluwer Health

COVID-19 Pandemic Origins: Bioweapons and the History of Laboratory Leaks

Dacre Knight, MD

Additional article information

To date, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has taken more than 3.5 million lives. Many of these deaths have been attributed to misleading information that fragmented a coordinated effort to mitigate loss of life. Future pandemics will continue to be a threat, so it is important to lay bare the true cause of this devastation. From the beginning, the origins of the pandemic have been debated, even though a natural zoonotic transfer to humans has been determined as the likely cause; however, speculation around a viral bioweapon and laboratory leaks remains. The evidence for the origins of this current pandemic can be found in the science and history behind biological outbreaks and the signs of bioweapon use. This knowledge will help minimize the harm of future pandemics.

One microbe has just devastated our world. Severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), the cause of COVID-19, has shattered economies, upended patterns of life globally, and already killed >3.5 million people. More than 85 million cases were documented worldwide in <1 year,1 and many people want to know how this happened and where the virus originated. The first reports in late 2019 indicated that an epidemic caused by a zoonotic virus was spreading from Wuhan, China, believed to have been transmitted from an animal reservoir at a live-animal market. Speculation remains that the blame lies elsewhere, however, which seems surprising to scientists. For the public, the truth is easy to question because of the vast amounts of circulating misinformation.

From the early stages, wild speculation existed regarding the origins of the virus. In March 2020, the US Department of State summoned the Chinese ambassador to protest statements of a Chinese spokesperson, who suggested that the virus was brought to Wuhan by the US military, allegedly as a bioweapon.2 Then, a US senator suggested that the virus resulted from a botched Chinese bioweapons program.3 Palestinian media argued that SARS-CoV-2 was a biological weapon being used by the US and Israel against China and Iran.4 Other US officials suspected that the virus came from a Wuhan laboratory that was performing legitimate viral research because safety concerns had been previously identified at this laboratory.5 As time went on, concern grew because China was found to be censoring the results of research into the origins of the pandemic.6 It would not be the first time that modern research in China drew attack. In late 2018, the announcement of gene editing of babies resulted in criminal charges against a Chinese biophysicist and his two colleagues.7 These issues have served to maintain alternative possibilities for the origin of COVID-19, based mostly on conspiracy theories and rumors that spread quickly through social media and remain difficult to stop. The virus as a bioweapon and the possible laboratory leak from legitimate research are the two most common remaining theories about the origins of SARS-CoV-2. The aim of this perspective is to show that the current pandemic is unlikely to have resulted from either bioweapons or a laboratory leak.

Bioweapons and Natural Disease Outbreaks

On the surface, similarities exist between bioweapons and viral pandemics that may have allowed this conspiracy theory to seem plausible. As nonconventional, nonkinetic weapons of mass destruction, bioweapons can create the same havoc as pandemics. As with a pandemic, if a bioweapon attack spreads widely, healthcare systems could be overwhelmed, perpetuating societal panic as well as frustration, despair, and psychological casualties among healthcare workers, adding to the panic. This cycle would only change when a pathogen weakens or natural immunity is strengthened.

Natural outbreaks and bioweapons can affect animal populations in ways similar to that for humans. Rabinowitz et al showed that for certain bioweapons, animals stricken with disease could help identify exposure risks to humans—so much so that the authors implored public health officials to transition from passive to active surveillance of animal populations for biosecurity.7,8 Worldwide during this pandemic, animals of various species have been infected with SARS-CoV-2, including animals at the Bronx Zoo in New York City.811

Throughout history, viral agents have been studied for use as weapons of disease. Dr Ken Alibek, former director of the bioweapons program of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, provides insight in his memoir10 regarding the most highly developed bioweapons program in history. He described the production of a Marburg viral weapon that was ready to be manufactured in large amounts and placed into missile payloads with several warheads. Fortunately, Marburg missiles were never used, but other bioweapons have been used, such as ceramic bombs filled with plague-infested fleas that were used by Japan against a Chinese city during World War II and Salmonella used in the Rajneeshee bioterror attack in 1984 that contaminated Oregon salad bars.12 The effects of such attacks are fatal at worst and drive panic at best.

Despite similarities between bioweapons and natural outbreaks of viral diseases, the bioweapon conspiracy theories are easily invalidated. Biowarfare as imagined by the public is different from biowarfare that has been deployed in real life. Casualty from a successfully deployed bioweapon has never been remotely close to the devastation caused by this pandemic, and most likely, never will. International laws have limited all known bioweapons production, and developing a weaponized form of a virus would require months of complete secrecy using gene-editing technology. With advanced CRISPR-Cas systems, weapons development could be shortened to weeks, but this is virtually impossible with the current controls in place. The Biological Weapons Convention of 1972 declared the development, production, and stockpiling of bioweapons a war crime. As of August 2019, 183 countries ratified or acceded to the treaty, including China, Russia, Iran, and the United States. Some countries have expressed reservations because the Biological Weapons Convention allows for stockpiling of biological agents and toxins for “prophylactic, protective, or other peaceful purposes.”13,14 For example, smallpox virus is still stored for these reasons at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, and the Vector Institute in Russia.

Although the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, Syria, Japan, and Iraq have had bioweapon programs in the past, China and Iran have never admitted to a developed program,12,13,15 although small-scale production is certainly possible. The US Department of State’s 2020 Compliance Report notes, “The United States does not have sufficient information to determine whether China eliminated its assessed biological warfare program, as required under Article II of the Convention.”14 Still, the historical effect of bioweapons pales in comparison to the devastation of COVID-19.

Epidemiologic indicators can be used to differentiate between bioweapon attacks and natural outbreaks of disease. The clues include exceptions to geographic or seasonal distribution and unusual presentation of illness for certain populations or age groups. Influenza outbreaks during winter months in northern latitudes are not unusual, but pulmonary anthrax in populated areas of the US East Coast is alarming. COVID-19 does not fit any unnatural indicators. Coronaviruses (and all respiratory viruses) are most common in winter months, as was the case in China in late 2019. Mostly, this results from large numbers of people gathering in enclosed spaces, breathing the same air. In addition, coronaviruses are common in China and derive from animal reservoirs. For SARS-CoV-2, the virus most likely evolved from bats, a finding reported in Nature Medicine.16 In western China, horseshoe bats are abundant, and consumption of wild animals—part of the region’s culture—is a $76 billion industry;17 therefore, finding zoonotic diseases is not unusual, as the population interacts regularly with wildlife.

Laboratory Leaks

The second major theory on the origin of the pandemic is that it resulted from a leak at a laboratory performing legitimate research. Considering China’s lack of transparency, concerns about an accidental release of a deadly microbe are understandable, and it has happened before. In 1977, the H1N1 virus was thought to have leaked from a Chinese laboratory.18 During the first outbreak of SARS in 2004, two accidental releases from a Beijing laboratory were reported to have occurred.19 In 1979, anthrax spores were released accidentally from a Soviet research facility near Sverdlovsk, Russia.20 These events provide some background for accidental-release theories for SARS-CoV-2. As reported in Nature Medicine, had there been genetic manipulation, it would have been done with a reverse-genetic system used for betacoronaviruses.16 The study conclusively showed from genetic data, however, that SARS-CoV-2 did not derive from any previously used viral framework. The authors proposed two explanations for the origin of SARS-CoV-2: “natural selection occurred in an animal host before zoonotic transfer; and natural selection in humans occurred after zoonotic transfer.” Either way, the results effectively eliminated the possibility of a laboratory leak with a genetically manipulated or “enhanced” virus. With an evidence-based approach, the authors described that if this virus came from a laboratory, then it would have signs of human manipulation; however, this virus does not.

Conclusions

From the beginning, the COVID-19 epidemic quickly became a pandemic. The damage still has no end in sight, but there is hope from the early successes of vaccination programs. Ironically, vaccine development received a head start from the same laboratory studying coronaviruses in Wuhan that was suspected of leaking the virus. This laboratory had already sequenced the viral genome and shared its code, thus eliminating months of standard vaccine research.21 Ultimately, the country where the pandemic started could help to end it.22 More than ever, experts—physicians, healthcare workers, and community leaders—must continue to acknowledge the threat and encourage calm until the vaccine is available to everyone. Science must guide in a manner that maintains hope and attains the shortest path to normalcy. This will permit coordinated efforts to minimize the current devastation and, in establishing where this pandemic came from, allow for the first step toward preventing such a pandemic from occurring again.

Acknowledgment

The author expresses his sincere gratitude to Marianne Mallia, ELS, MWC, of Scientific Publications at Mayo Clinic for editing support.

Footnotes

Opinions expressed by the author are his own and not necessarily those of the Mayo Clinic, the Southern Medical Association, the Publisher, the Editor, or the editorial staff. These entities are not responsible for the authenticity of the opinions or statements made by the author; only the author is entirely responsible. These entities do not guarantee, warrant, or endorse any product, service, or claim made or advertised in this publication.

The author did not report any financial relationships or conflicts of interest.

Article information

South Med J. 2021 Aug; 114(8): 465–467.

Published online 2021 Aug 3. doi: 10.14423/SMJ.0000000000001283

PMCID: PMC8300139

PMID: 34345925

Dacre Knight, MD

From the Division of General Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Florida.

Correspondence to Dr Dacre Knight, Division of General Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic, 4500 San Pablo Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32224. E-mail: ude.oyam@ercad.thgink. To purchase a single copy of this article, visit sma.org/smj. To purchase larger reprint quantities, please contact moc.rewulksretlow@snoitulostnirpeR.

Accepted 2021 Feb 24.

Copyright © 2021 by The Southern Medical Association

This article is made available via the PMC Open Access Subset for unrestricted re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic or until permissions are revoked in writing. Upon expiration of these permissions, PMC is granted a perpetual license to make this article available via PMC and Europe PMC, consistent with existing copyright protections.

This article has been cited by other articles in PMC.

References

1. Johns Hopkins University Medicine . Coronavirus resource center. https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html. Accessed December 3, 2020.

2. Pamuk H, Brunnstrom D. U.S. summons Chinese envoy over Beijing’s coronavirus comments. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-china-diplomacy-idUSKBN2102XW. Updated March 13, 2020. Accessed December 1, 2020.

3. Stevenson A. Senator Tom Cotton repeats fringe theory of coronavirus origins. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/17/business/media/coronavirus-tom-cotton-china.html Updated February 18, 2020. Accessed December 1, 2020.

4. Palestinian writers: the coronavirus is a biological weapon employed by U.S., Israel against their enemies. https://www.memri.org/reports/palestinian-writers-coronavirus-biological-weapon-employed-us-israel-against-their-enemies. Updated March 24, 2020. Accessed December 1, 2020.

5. Rogin J. State Department cables warned of safety issues at Wuhan lab studying bat coronaviruses. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/04/14/state-department-cables-warned-safety-issues-wuhan-lab-studying-bat-coronaviruses. Updated April 14, 2020. Accessed December 1, 2020.

6. Barnes JE. C.I.A. hunts for authentic virus totals in China, dismissing government Tallies. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/02/us/politics/cia-coronavirus-china.html. Updated April 16, 2020. Accessed Dec 1, 2020.

7. Cohen J, Normille D. China delivers verdict on gene editing of babies. Science 2020;367:130. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

8. Rabinowitz P Gordon Z Chudnov D, et al.. Animals as sentinels of bioterrorism agents. Emerg Infect Dis 2006;12:647–652. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

9. Bartlett SL Diel DG Wang L, et al.. SARS-COV-2 infection and longitudinal fecal dcreening in Malayan tigers (Panthera tigris jacksoni), Amur tigers (Panthera tigris altaica), and African lions (Panthera leo krugeri) at the Bronx Zoo, New York, USA. J Zoo Wildl Med 2021;51:733–744. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

10. Alibek K, Handelman S. Biohazard: The Chilling True Story of the Largest Covert Biological Weapons Program in the World—Told from the Inside by the Man Who Ran It. New York: Random House; 1999. [Google Scholar]

11. Koopmans M. SARS-CoV-2 and the human-animal interface: outbreaks on mink farms. Lancet Infect Dis 2021;21:18–19. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

12. Riedel S. Biological warfare and bioterrorism: a historical review. Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent) 2004;17:400–406. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

13. United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs. Biological weapons convention. https://www.un.org/disarmament/biological-weapons/#:~:text=The%20Biological%20Weapons%20Convention%20(BWC,of%20mass%20destruction%20(WMD). Accessed June 1, 2021.

14. US Department of State. Executive Summary of the 2020 Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments (Compliance Report). https://2017-2021.state.gov/2020-adherence-to-and-compliance-with-arms-control-nonproliferation-and-disarmament-agreements-and-commitments-compliance-report/index.html. Accessed June 1, 2021.

15. Arms Control Association . Chemical and biological weapons status at a glance. https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/cbwprolif. Accessed December 7, 2020.

16. Andersen KG Rambaut A Lipkin WI, et al.. The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2. Nat Med 2020;26:450–452. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

17. Zhang L, Yin F. Wildlife consumption and conservation awareness in China: a long way to go. Biodivers Conserv 2014;23:2371–2381. [Google Scholar]

18. Nakajima K, Desselberger U, Palese P. Recent human influenza A (H1N1) viruses are closely related genetically to strains isolated in 1950. Nature 1978;274:334–339. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

19. Walgate R. SARS escaped Beijing lab twice. Genome Biol 2004;4:spotlight-20040427–03. [Google Scholar]

20. Meselson M Guillemin J Hugh-Jones M, et al.. The Sverdlovsk anthrax outbreak of 1979. Science 1994;266:1202–1208. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

21. Thanh Le T Andreadakis Z Kumar A, et al.. The COVID-19 vaccine development landscape. Nat Rev Drug Discov 2020;19:305–306. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

22. Lu R Zhao X Li J, et al.. Genomic characterisation and epidemiology of 2019 novel coronavirus: implications for virus origins and receptor binding. Lancet 2020;395:565–574. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

Tensions Rise Again Along Serbia-Kosovo Border

Tensions Rise Again Along Serbia-Kosovo Border As Protesters Block Crossings

July 31, 2022 18:40 GMT

Ethnic Serbs block roads a road in northern Kosovo on July 31.

Ethnic Serbs block roads a road in northern Kosovo on July 31.

Ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo blocked roads near two key border crossings with Serbia as tensions rose in the region a day before two Kosovar government regulations involving Serbian-issued license plates and ID documents come into force.

The Kosovar government has said that on August 1 travelers arriving from Serbia will have their Serbian-issued documents exchanged for new entry-exit identification documents issued by Pristina, valid for three months.

The policy matches a long-standing practice that Belgrade employs for Kosovo citizens visiting Serbia.

In addition, a new regulation regarding license plates will also come into effect on August 1.

Ethnic Serbs in the north of Kosovo have been using car plates issued by Serbian institutions since the war in 1999 with acronyms of Kosovo cities, such as KM (Kosovska Mitrovica), PR (Prishtina), or UR (Urosevac).

The government in Kosovo regards the plates as illegal but has tolerated them in four northern municipalities with Serb majorities.

Kosovo will now require those plates to be replaced by Kosovar-issued plates with the “RKS” acronym for Republic of Kosovo. Car owners will have until the end of September to make the changes.

Late on July 31, Kosovo police announced that they had closed border crossings in Jarinje and Brnjak for travel and vehicle circulation because of the blockades set up by protesters.

“All citizens are notified to use other border points for circulation,” Kosovar police said.

The dispute over vehicles erupted in September 2021 after Kosovar authorities ordered all drivers entering Kosovo from Serbia to use temporary, 60-day, printed license plates in response to measures in Serbia against drivers from Kosovo that have been in place since 2008, when the country declared independence from Belgrade.

At that time, Serbs from northern Kosovo blocked the Jarinje and Brnjak crossings with vehicles and makeshift barricades, while Kosovo’s government sent in police units and Serbian military jets and helicopters buzzed the border in a show of force.

Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence or its right to impose rules and regulations such as registering cars and trucks. Most EU countries recognize Kosovo, though Russia and China, allies of Serbia, do not.

The EU has tried to broker a dialogue between the two Balkan neighbors for over a decade, but so far the efforts have failed to achieve a normalization of ties.

Prime Minister Albin Kurti has said Kosovo will formally apply to become a member of the European Union by the end of 2022 despite concerns over tensions with Serbia, also an EU aspirant.

Serbian army on alert

Kosovo Plans To Attack Serbia,

Serbian Army Put On Full Alert

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, July 31, 2022 ©  Serbian Presidency/Dimitrije Goll

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic accused on Sunday the ethnic Albanian government in Kosovo of planning to crack down on the local Serb population. He issued a plea for peace in the breakaway province, but added that Belgrade won’t stand idly by if ethnic Serbs are targeted for another pogrom.

The “regime” in Pristina wants to “impose on the people in northern Kosovo-Metohija things they have no right to impose,” Vucic said, using the Serb name for the province. He added that Kosovo police have been deployed to the administrative line with Serbia in order to confiscate Serb documents and license plates, starting at midnight.

“The atmosphere has been heated up, and the Serbs will not suffer any more atrocities,” Vucic said in Belgrade on Sunday. “My plea to everyone is to try to keep the peace at almost any cost.

%d bloggers like this: