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WATCH: Sen. Paul and Dr. Fauci clash over COVID-19 origins

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The latest of clashes between Sen. Rand Paul (I-KY) and National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci came Tuesday during a Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee hearing. During the hearing, Paul pressed Fauci on the origins of the coronavirus.

Paul brought up the controversial “gain of function” branch of research, which studies how to improve virus pathogens in animals in order to cause disease in humans. The Kentucky senator referred to it as “juicing them up.”

“Government scientists like yourself who favor gain of function research,” Paul began his questioning.

“I don’t favor gain of function research in China,” Fauci interrupted “You are saying things that are not correct.”

Paul went on as if he hadn’t been interrupted: “[Those who favor gain of function] say that COVID-19 mutations were random and not designed by man.”

But, Paul mentioned that even the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology scoured her own lab for evidence that the virus was created there. “The director of the gain of function research in Wuhan couldn’t sleep because she was terrified that it might be in her lab!” Paul said. The director was reportedly relieved when she found no evidence.

RELATED: GOP Senators push to declassify information on COVID-19 origins

“I do not have any accounting of what the Chinese may have done,” Fauci responded. He agreed with Paul and said he is in favor of further investigation. But he wanted to make it clear that his organization was not involved in its origins. “We have not funded gain of function research on this virus in the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” he said. “No matter how many times you say it, it didn’t happen.”

RELATED: U.S., other countries express ‘concerns’ about WHO report on COVID origins

You can follow Jenny Goldsberry on Twitter @jennyjournalism

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American and Southwest stand by vaccine mandate, despite Abbott’s ban

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American Airlines and Southwest Airlines are still planning to comply with President Biden’s executive order regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. The order requires all their employees to be vaccinated by Dec. 8t. As a result, they will be ignoring Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s ban on vaccine mandates.

Abbott announced his own executive order, effectively banning mandates even from private employers, on Tuesday. “In another instance of federal overreach, the Biden Administration is now bullying many private entities into imposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates, causing workforce disruptions that threaten Texas’ continued recovery from the COVID-19 disaster,” Abbott said. “The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and our best defense against the virus, but should remain voluntary and never forced.”

Yet both airlines are requiring their employees to be vaccinated by Nov. 24. This comes despite Southwest’s impromptu cancellation of over 2,000 flights over the weekend. At the time, the airline blamed the cancellations on air traffic control and weather conditions. However, SaraACarter.com was unable to verify that any other airline had to cancel near as many flights for the same reasons. This has left many to speculate that Southwest actually cancelled flights due to their employees walking out as a direct result of the mandate.

Reporter Jack Posobiec tweeted out a flyer circulating among the anti-vaxx Southwest employees. Currently, they are planning a protest outside of Southwest headquarters next Monday. The protest will be called “Freedom Not Force.”

Southwest told Reuters it “would be expected to comply with the President’s Order to remain compliant as a federal contractor.” In addition, American similarly said Abbott’s order does not change anything.

You can follow Jenny Goldsberry on Twitter @jennyjournalism.

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