China reverses course again on whether it will cooperate with WHO coronavirus origins probe


China on Friday reversed course again over whether it would support a second probe into the origins of COVID-19 by the World Health Organization.

The WHO in February said its initial joint report with China into the origins of the pandemic found it “extremely unlikely” the virus came from a lab advised “future studies.” The organization said later in July that it would correct multiple “unintended errors” discovered in its report, according to The Washington Post.

Vice foreign minister Ma Zhaoxu told reporters on Friday that China opposes “political tracing” would be abandoning the joint report” that the WHO began in January. “We support scientific tracing,” he said, Agence France-Press (AFP) reported.

Members of the World Health Organization (WHO) team investigating the origins of the COVID-19 coronavirus, arrive at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, in China’s central Hubei province on February 3, 2021. (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)

“The conclusions recommendations of WHO China joint report were recognized by the international community the scientific community,” he said, according to AFP. “Future global traceability work should can only be further carried out on the basis of this report, rather than starting a new one.”

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China reversed course later on Friday pledged to participate in COVID-19 origin tracing when Ma said “China’s stance on global origin tracing has been consistent clear,” according to Chinese state media outlet Xinhua. Ma, however, continued the narrative that dismissing the conclusions of the first report would be disrespectful to global scientists.

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“Any attempt to overturn or distort the conclusions of the joint study report is political manipulation disrespect for global scientists science,” he said. “The label of ‘refusing origin tracing’ can never be pinned on China. Instead, it is very appropriate for the United States itself.”

He also accused the U.S. of using coercion to pressure the WHO.

A joint WHO-China study on the origins of COVID-19 says that transmission of the virus from bats to humans through another animal is the most likely scenario that a lab leak is "extremely unlikely," according to a draft copy obtained by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

A joint WHO-China study on the origins of COVID-19 says that transmission of the virus from bats to humans through another animal is the most likely scenario that a lab leak is “extremely unlikely,” according to a draft copy obtained by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

Zeng Yixin, the vice minister of the National Health Commission, said in July he was “rather taken aback” that the plan includes further investigation of the theory that the virus might have leaked from a Chinese lab.

The WHO China have faced strong criticism from around the world over their pandemic response, as China blocked WHO investigators from entering Wuhan for months in 2020. They finally arrived in mid-January of this year released initial findings a month later.

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The first cases of coronavirus were discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December of 2019.

A May Wall Street Journal report citing previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence documents found some of the Wuhan Institute of Virology workers who fell ill in 2019 required hospital care, lending weight to what some have dubbed the “lab-leak theory.” 

On Thursday, the WHO in a new statement admitted that the lab-leak was not “extremely unlikely” after all.

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“On review of the phase one study report, WHO determined that there was insufficient scientific evidence to rule any of the hypotheses out,” the statement continued. “Specifically, in order to address the ‘lab hypothesis,’ it is important to have access to all data consider scientific best practice look at the mechanisms WHO already has in place.”

Fox News’ Evie Fordham The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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Pentagon pressed on whether Taliban has advantage in Afghanistan


The Afghan military needs to step up its efforts if it hopes to counter the Taliban’s rapid expansion of territorial control in Afghanistan, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said during a news briefing Friday afternoon.

Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson grilled Kirby on his claims earlier this week that Afghan government forces have an “advantage” over the Taliban, which has swept across the country, sometimes with little resistance.

“That the Taliban have moved with the speed with which they have, that the resistance that they have faced has been insufficient to stop those, to check those advances, does not mean is that the advantages aren’t still there,” Kirby said. “[They] have to use it.”

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“Since you’re saying that they have all the advantages as they’re getting crushed on the battlefield, it makes no sense to say they have the advantage,” Tomlinson followed up. “The Taliban appear to have all the advantages right now.”

Kirby said the Afghan forces have larger numbers, modern equipment an air force 20 years of American-led training.

“They have the material, the physical, the tangible advantages,” he said. “It’s time now to use those advantages.”

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby speaks during a briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021. With security rapidly deteriorating in Afghanistan, the United States is evacuating some personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, U.S. troops with be assisting at the Kabul airport. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby speaks during a briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021. With security rapidly deteriorating in Afghanistan, the United States is evacuating some personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, U.S. troops with be assisting at the Kabul airport. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The discussion also turned to the evacuation of U.S. personnel in Kabul – the 3,000 soldiers Marines sent in to secure the city’s international airport.

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Kirby said the Pentagon expected the situation to be dangerous for the troops as Taliban forces work to “isolate” the city the U.S. prepares to evacuate Americans in the city.

“They’re certainly going into harm’s way, they will…have a right to self-defense,” Kirby said. 

When asked about support from some Americans, veterans in particular, for a full withdrawal from Kabul of all U.S. military forces a leveling of the embassy there, Kirby declined to weigh in.

“I think that one of the great things about this country is that people are free to express their opinions about anything that they want,” he said. “My job is to articulate the policies that we’re executing in the way in which we’re executing them. And that’s what my focus is today, to tell you what we’ve been ordered to do how we’re going to execute those orders.”

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Those orders are to help the State Department draw down its presence in Kabul, he said.

Earlier in the briefing, Kirby had been asked about comparisons between the current situation in Kabul the fall of Saigon in Vietnam in 1975.

“We’re not focused on the history of the Vietnam War,” he said, adding that he had no “crystal ball” to foresee what would happen in Afghanistan in the coming months.

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However, he vowed that the U.S. would ensure that a terrorist threat would not reemerge in the region, where the Taliban once sheltered Al Qaeda before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.



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US officials in Afghanistan are destroying sensitive docs at embassy in Kabul


As the Taliban closes in on the Afghan capital city of Kabul, sources have told Fox News that officials are destroying sensitive documents equipment at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

Fox News confirmed that officials are destroying sensitive documents equipment at the U.S. embassy in Kabul. NPR noted that such documents equipment included computers phones.

As the Taliban advanced, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby pushed back against comparisons between the current situation in Afghanistan the fall of Saigon in 1975.

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“We’re not focused on the history of the Vietnam War,” he said in a news conference on Friday. He also said he had no “crystal ball” to predict whether or not the Afghan government would succumb to the Taliban forces. However, he vowed that the U.S. would ensure that a terrorist threat would not reemerge in the region.

This is a developing story; check back for updates.



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Bacterial probiotics could help protect corals from ocean warming


It may be possible to help coral survive in a warmer world

KAUST/Morgan Bennett Smith

Coral reefs around the world are threatened by warming temperatures which cause them to bleach – but they might get some relief through probiotics.

In healthy reefs, corals get up to 80 per cent of their energy from the photosynthetic algae that live within their tissue alongside other microorganisms like bacteria. Heat stress disturbs these relationships can ultimately lead to coral death.

Erika Santoro at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil Raquel Peixoto at …



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Bacterial probiotics could help protect corals from ocean warming


It may be possible to help coral survive in a warmer world

KAUST/Morgan Bennett Smith

Coral reefs around the world are threatened by warming temperatures which cause them to bleach – but they might get some relief through probiotics.

In healthy reefs, corals get up to 80 per cent of their energy from the photosynthetic algae that live within their tissue alongside other microorganisms like bacteria. Heat stress disturbs these relationships can ultimately lead to coral death.

Erika Santoro at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil Raquel Peixoto at …



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