Australian police stormed into a Catholic mass Friday evening searching for mask less individuals. Sky News Australia reported that St. Bernadette’s Catholic Church in Mount Hawthorn, Perth had to pause its service while a police officer walked through the church to “ensure every parishioner was masked.”
One worshipper in attendance told Australia radio’s 6PR that the experience was disturbing. They said the police officer stormed into the mass and demanded the attention of the pews. Allegedly the officer stormed in because the police station received ‘tips” that some members of the church had not been wearing masks, despite the mandate put into place on January 16 in the Perth and Peel regions of Australia.
“It’s just pretty confronting seeing police vests and stuff in church,” he said. “He didn’t remove his hat, which is pretty disrespectful in that environment…It’s pretty troubling really to see the liturgy that you love being stopped by police,” the man added. “I mean I’ve never seen anything like this and I don’t think many people have, certainly not in this country.”
The church’s priest wrote a social media post following the incident. He pleaded with the congregation to comply with the Covid-19 order so that the church doesn’t get penalized. “Heavy fines on the parish priest, our parish and individuals will be incurred if you are caught without wearing your mask. Please co-operate with this request so as to avoid any complications,” he said.
The parishioner, in his interview, added that the police “proceeded to check three or four parishioners’ exemptions and then left, everything was in order,” he said, referring to an exemption which is required from a doctor for somebody to skip the mask requirement.
Australia ‘s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been amongst the most stringent of the western, first world countries. “Since the pandemic erupted, Australia has been notorious for a strict Covid-19 mitigation regime, including prolonged lockdowns, closely monitored quarantine and isolation, state surveillance of citizens, testing checkpoints, and barring unvaccinated residents from certain activities” reports National Review.
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Fauci’s NIH gives another $3.5 million to EcoHealth despite dangerous past of coronavirus research
Just before he retires, Dr. Anthony Fauci has pushed through a new five-year grant for EcoHealth. EcoHealth Alliance, is the U.S. nonprofit that Fauci and the National Institute of Health’s funds, “to conduct dangerous coronavirus research in partnership with China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology prior to the global Covid-19 pandemic” reports National Review.
Over the next five years, the troublesome EcoHealth will receive over $3.25 million; their first check comes this year for $653,392. The grant is one of four concurrent NIH grants that EcoHealth has; three of the grants were awarded after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The description of the grant on the NIH RePORTER website is to analyze “the potential for future bat coronavirus emergence in Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam.”
“This is high-risk research that involves going into remote, often inaccessible areas, and sampling bats and bat excreta, and then returning those samples to laboratories in population centers where they attempt to isolate the virus … and then seek to characterize the threat level posed by the virus,” said Richard Ebright, a biosafety expert and professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Rutgers University. “This is one of the kinds of research that may have been directly responsible for the current pandemic.”
The term gain-of-function research has become very controversial since the global Covid-19 pandemic, and National Review reports on the subject:
This newest EcoHealth project wouldn’t qualify as gain-of-function research, Ebright said. Gain-of-function research involves extracting viruses from animals and engineering them in a lab to make them more transmissible or dangerous to humans. But Ebright said two of EcoHealth’s grants do involve gain-of-function research and enhanced potential pandemic research on coronaviruses. And even if the current description of the new project doesn’t involve gain-of-function research, that doesn’t mean it couldn’t later.
From securing funding to completing the research, it is a six-year process, Ebright said, and the project is bound to change over those six years. “If researchers robotically followed what they proposed six years ago, they would not be taking into account developments in their own labs and in the field at any point along the way,” he said. “You have to have this flexibility. That also means you need oversight to make sure the flexibility isn’t going into forbidden areas.”
Going into forbidden areas is exactly how EcoHealth and its president, Peter Daszak, previously got into trouble. Starting in 2014, the U.S. government temporarily paused funding for gain-of-function research due to concerns over biosafety and biosecurity. When some of EcoHealth’s research – involving infecting genetically-engineered mice with hybrid viruses – seemed to cross that line, NIAID staff and EcoHealth leaders crafted work-around guidelines to allow the nonprofit to continue its work.
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