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Retracted Papers Written by Journal VIP

By Donna Laframboise | Big Picture News | June 17, 2020

The lead author of two retracted COVID-19 papers is editor-in-chief of an Elsevier medical journal.

Earlier this month, two high-profile research papers were retracted on the same day. One, published in The Lancet, had concluded that coronavirus patients treated with malaria drugs were more likely to die. Published on May 22, it was officially withdrawn 13 days later.

Another, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found no evidence that widely prescribed medications increase the death rate of hospitalized COVID-19 patients with pre-existing heart problems.

The lead author in both instances was Mandeep Mehra, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and the person in charge of the Heart and Vascular Center at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

The second listed author was Sapan Desai. An online bio describes him as an “internationally-recognized double board certified vascular surgeon.” Desai is the founder of Surgisphere Corporation, a data analytics firm which claimed to have acquired 96,000 highly-detailed electronic medical records of COVID-19 patients from 671 hospitals on six continents.

The Lancet paper’s dramatic findings interrupted drug trials and changed government policy in multiple countries. It also increased the anxiety of coronavirus patients who’d been participating in those trials.

But six days after the paper appeared, more than 100 “clinicians, medical researchers, statisticians, and ethicists” addressed an open letter to the authors, and to Lancet editor-in-chief Richard Horton, questioning the integrity of the cited data.

Why were the hospitals which supplied this data not identified? Why weren’t standard statistical practices employed? Why no ethics review? Why didn’t the paper invite other researchers to examine for themselves the underlying data and computer code?

According to these experts, the medication dose sizes discussed were odd, drug ratios sounded “implausible,” the Australian data was obviously erroneous, and the African data seemed “unlikely.”

Yet none of The Lancet‘s peer-reviewers apparently noticed. “In the interests of transparency,” said the signatories of the open letter, “we also ask The Lancet to make openly available the peer review comments that led to this manuscript to be accepted for publication [sic].”

An article in the New York Times says these events “have alarmed scientists worldwide who fear that the rush for research on the coronavirus has overwhelmed the peer review process.” Lancet editor Horton, it reports, now describes the retracted paper as a “fabrication” and “a monumental fraud.”

A headline in the UK Guardian says The Lancet has made one of the biggest retractions in modern history. How, asks the article that follows,

did a paper of such consequence get discarded like a used tissue by some of its authors only days after publication? If the authors don’t trust it now, how did it get published in the first place?…the sad truth is peer review in its entirety is struggling…

Neither of those articles mentioned an astonishing fact. Lead author Mehra is himself the editor-in-chief of The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation. Part of Elsevier’s scholarly publishing empire, this monthly journal hires editors for five-year terms. Mehra’s second term is coming to end, and last year the search for a replacement began.

As the posted job description explains, the editor-in-chief is responsible for overseeing the peer review of papers submitted to that journal. He or she is constantly evaluating research, sorting solid science from weak science. The new editor-in-chief, we’re told, must have “a demonstrated understanding of statistics and statistical methods.”

So how could a man who has spent the past 10 years in such a role have authored this pair of retracted papers? How could anyone with any statistical sophistication have taken such dodgy data at face value?

“No matter which way you examine the data, use of these [malaria] drug regimens did not help,” Mehra declared in a press release when The Lancet paper was published. But it now appears he didn’t directly examine the data at all. On the day the paper was retracted, he explained in a subsequent statement:

Dr. Desai, who served as a co-author and whose team maintained this observational database, conducted various analyses. As first author, these were provided to me, and on the basis of these analyses, we published two peer-reviewed papers…

In other words, this longtime editor-in-chief took someone else’s word for it. He failed to ask elementary questions. He took it on faith that the analyses had been properly conducted. Mehra continued:

It is now clear to me that in my hope to contribute this research during a time of great need, I did not do enough to ensure that the data source was appropriate for this use. For that, and for all the disruptions – both directly and indirectly – I am truly sorry.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the vaunted peer review system in action. Naive trust. Blind faith. By Mehra. By The Lancet. By the New England Journal of Medicine. Even when real lives, right now, hang in the balance.

Four years ago, I authored a report demonstrating that peer review is merely a sniff test. Typically performed by unpaid volunteers, it’s based on wholly subjective criteria, and is highly influenced by the pre-existing beliefs of those doing the reviewing. My report contains this paragraph:

In 2014, Science announced measures to provide deeper scrutiny of statistical claims in the research it publishes. John Ioannidis, the author of a seminal 2005 paper asserting that most published research findings are false, called this announcement “long overdue”. In his opinion, statistical review has become more important than traditional peer review for a “majority of scientific papers”.

In many places, statistical review still doesn’t occur. Even in our current situation, when COVID-19 research has the power to halt drug trials and change history, the vetting process at medical journals is a joke.

June 21, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | Leave a comment

Despite court ban, UK continues arms sales to Saudi Arabia: Report

Smoke billows following an airstrike by Saudi-led coalition in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, June 16, 2020. (Photo by AFP)
Press TV – June 21, 2020

The British government has apparently turned a blind eye to a landmark court ruling that restricts the sales of arms to Saudi Arabia for use against Yemen.

According to a report published by the British daily Guardian on Sunday, the court of appeals declared last year that British arms sales to the kingdom were “unlawful,” and accused ministers of ignoring whether airstrikes that killed civilians in Yemen broke humanitarian law.

At the time, the court barred the UK government from approving any new license to Saudi Arabia and ordered then Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox to hold an immediate review of at least 4.7 billion pounds’ worth of arms deals with Saudi Arabia.

British international trade authorities said at the time that the process would take “up to several months.”

Nevertheless, arms exports continue without properly assessing the risk to civilians, a year after the verdict, and fighter jet components as well as aircraft maintenance services are being offered to the Riyadh regime.

British multinational defense, security, and aerospace company BAE Systems, which is recognized as the UK’s largest arms exporter to Saudi Arabia, confirmed in its 2019 report that it continues to provide the kingdom with support services for twin-engine and multirole Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes under a contract struck in 2018.

Lately, Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade Emily Anne Thornberry, together with members of other opposition parties, wrote a letter to Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss in protest at the arms licenses that continue to operate.

“We are left to assume that – despite being ordered to review these licenses by the courts, and having 12 months to do so – your department has simply chosen not to comply,” they argued.

They warn that the British government’s expected failure to comply “creates the illogical situation where a UK company that applies for a license today will have that application rejected, but another company that was granted its license prior to 20 June last year may export exactly the same arms without restriction.”

Andrew Smith, of the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, said, “The UK government has consistently put arms company interests ahead of the rights and lives of people in Yemen. The government has proven that it cannot be trusted to implement its own rules.”

The United Kingdom has reportedly licensed the sale of arms worth over 5.3 billion pounds to Saudi Arabia ever since Riyadh and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 in order to bring former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crush the Houthi Ansarullah movement.

The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 100,000 lives over the past five years.

June 21, 2020 Posted by | War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Were COVID-19 and COVID-20 Created in a US Lab?

By Larry Romanoff | Moon of Shanghai | June 21, 2020

It was amusing to watch the emergence of this debate on the US-China stage. The Chinese were understandably unwilling to be blamed for the emergence of a virus in which they had no part, and thus reacted strongly to accusations the virus originated in a Wuhan lab. The Americans proved to be even more terrified at the possibility of scientific proof that the virus escaped from one of their bio-labs, and resorted to the only weapon they had which was to turn up the volume on blaming China. There were two main reasons for this state of affairs: (1) The US was the only country known to contain all the varieties that were being spread worldwide. (2) The US is the only nation in the world known to have repeatedly used biological weapons on other countries, beginning with North Korea and never ceasing. Of even more damning consequence is the known locations of about 400 American bio-weapons labs spread throughout the world, to say nothing of the pathetically-lax institution at Fort Detrick. (1) (2) (3)

Moreover, Trump recently claimed he could kill the entire population of Afghanistan within days. “Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the Earth. It would be gone and this is not using nuclear. It would be over in – literally, in 10 days.” Biological weapons would seem the only alternative. Hemorrhagic Fever and Hantavirus worked for the US in North Korea; perhaps also Afghanistan. (4) (5) (6) Mr. Trump later denied intention to carry out his threat, but let’s dispense with the fiction of the US having no biological weapons and that Fort Detrick and the 400 foreign labs  are performing only benevolent “peace medicine” functions. If it were China with the above history and SARS, MERS, AIDS, EBOLA, bird flu, swine flu, and COVID-19 first erupted in the US, the Americans would claim this as 100% proof that China was responsible. It cannot be a surprise that much of the world today is naturally tending to lay these outbreaks at America’s doorstep.

But returning to our topic of man-made COVID-19 or COVID-20, it seems everyone has been a little too eager to dismiss the possibility (or probability) of these viruses having a (human) helping hand.

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho of the Institute for Science in Society cites a Journal of Virology report (Feb 2000) (7) that described a method for inducing desired mutations into coronavirus to create new viruses. “Manipulating viral genomes is now routine, and it is easy to create new viruses that jump host species in the laboratory in the course of apparently legitimate experiments in genetic engineering. It is not even necessary to intentionally create lethal viruses, if one so wishes. It is actually much faster and much more effective to let random recombination and mutation take place in the test tube. Using a technique called ‘molecular breeding’, millions of recombinants can be generated in a matter of minutes. These can be screened for improved function in the case of enzymes, or increased virulence, in the case of viruses and bacteria. In other words, geneticists can now greatly speed up evolution in the laboratory to create viruses and bacteria that never existed in all the billions of years of evolution on earth.” (8) It wasn’t widely publicised, but Dr. Ho called for a full investigation into the possible genetic engineering and dissemination of the SARS virus. (9)

Then another article in which the author explained that scientists eager to dispel the notion of an artificial origin, do so by pointing out that these new coronaviruses didn’t reflect their computer simulations, the author stating, “To put it simply, the authors are saying that SARS-CoV-2 was not deliberately engineered because if it were, it would have been designed differently.” However, the London-based molecular geneticist Dr Michael Antoniou commented that this line of reasoning fails to take into account that there are a number of laboratory-based systems that can select for high affinity RBD variants that are able to take into account the complex environment of a living organism. “So the fact that COVID-19 didn’t have the same RBD amino acid sequence as the one that the computer program predicted in no way rules out the possibility that it was genetically engineered.” (10)

The article further states that “[The] authors of the Nature Medicine article seem to assume that the only way to genetically engineer a virus is to take an already known virus and then engineer it to have the new properties you want. On this premise, they looked for evidence of an already known virus that could have been used in the engineering of SARS-CoV-2. Since they failed to find that evidence, they stated, “Genetic data irrefutably show that SARS-CoV-2 is not derived from any previously used virus backbone.” But Dr Antoniou told us that while the authors did indeed show that SARS-CoV-2 was unlikely to have been built by deliberate genetic engineering from a previously used virus backbone, that’s not the only way of constructing a virus. A well-known alternative process that could have been used has the cumbersome name of “directed iterative evolutionary selection process”. In this case, it would involve using genetic engineering to generate a large number of randomly mutated versions of the SARS-CoV spike protein receptor binding domain (RBD), which would then be selected for strong binding to the ACE2 receptor and consequently high infectivity of human cells.

“This selection can be done either with purified proteins or, better still, with a mixture of whole coronavirus (CoV) preparations and human cells in tissue culture. This preparation of phage, displaying on its surface a “library” of CoV spike protein variants, is then added to human cells under laboratory culture conditions in order to select for those that bind to the ACE2 receptor. This process is repeated under more and more stringent binding conditions until CoV spike protein variants with a high binding affinity are isolated. Once any of the above selection procedures for high affinity interaction of SARS-CoV spike protein with ACE2 has been completed, then whole infectious CoV with these properties can be manufactured. Such a directed iterative evolutionary selection process is a frequently used method in laboratory research.”

There is, incidentally, another possible way that COVID-19 could have been developed in a laboratory, but in this case without using genetic engineering. This was pointed out by Nikolai Petrovsky, a researcher at the College of Medicine and Public Health at Flinders University in South Australia. Petrovsky says that coronaviruses can be cultured in lab dishes with cells that have the human ACE2 receptor. Over time, the virus will gain adaptations that let it efficiently bind to those receptors. Along the way, that virus would pick up random genetic mutations that pop up but don’t do anything noticeable. “The result of these experiments is a virus that is highly virulent in humans but is sufficiently different that it no longer resembles the original bat virus. Because the mutations are acquired randomly by selection, there is no signature of a human gene jockey, but this is clearly a virus still created by human intervention.”



Larry Romanoff is a retired management consultant and businessman. He has held senior executive positions in international consulting firms, and owned an international import-export business. He has been a visiting professor at Shanghai’s Fudan University, presenting case studies in international affairs to senior EMBA classes. Mr. Romanoff lives in Shanghai and is currently writing a series of ten books generally related to China and the West. He can be contacted at:

June 21, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, War Crimes | , | 5 Comments

‘Destructive course’: US seeks space superiority by making up threats – Russian Foreign Ministry

RT | June 19, 2020

Washington’s Defense Space Strategy is provoking an arms race in outer space and threatening international security while trying to blame a nonexistent Moscow threat, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has said.

“To justify the implementation of this destructive course, which provokes an arms race in outer space and destabilizes the international security situation, Washington has resorted to the usual tactics of blaming others,” the MFA said in a statement on Friday.

In the US Defense Space Strategy, the declassified summary of which was published on Wednesday, the Pentagon simply asserts that “China and Russia have weaponized space and turned it into a warfighting domain.” Without offering any evidence or specifics, the Pentagon references the 2014 Russian military doctrine as envisioning the possibility of challenging the US operations in orbit.

“Of course, there is nothing of the kind in the Military Doctrine of Russia,” the MFA says, adding that the document is freely available to anyone who wishes to check that. The doctrine focuses on countering the attempts of other states to achieve military superiority by placing weapons in outer space, which would be in violation of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.

While the US says it wants to “promote standards and norms of behavior in space” favorable to its interests, Washington has refused to discuss Russian and Chinese proposals for a legally binding international instrument to prevent a space arms race, the MFA added.

According to the Defense Space Strategy, the US “relies on space-based capabilities to project and employ power on a global scale” more than any other country, to the point where “space capabilities not only enhance, but enable our way of life and way of war.”

“US national security and prosperity require unfettered access to and freedom to operate in the space domain.”

President Donald Trump established the Space Force as the sixth service branch of the US military in December 2019. The fledgling operation is currently a subset of the US Air Force.

June 21, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , | 2 Comments

Iran parliament: IAEA resolution proof of structural discrimination within UN nuclear watchdog

Press TV – June 21, 2020

The majority of lawmakers at the Iranian parliament have denounced an anti-Iran resolution recently passed by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors, saying the document is another indication of “structural discrimination” within the UN atomic watchdog.

In a statement read out on Sunday by Ali Karimi Firouzjaee, a member of the parliament’s presiding board, 240 MPs argued that the IAEA resolution — introduced by the three European signatories to a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, namely France, Germany, and Britain — explicitly demonstrated the trio’s “excessive demands.”

The Islamic Republic has voluntarily implemented the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and allowed the IAEA to conduct the most rigorous inspections of its nuclear sites in the history of the Vienna-based agency, read the statement.

The lawmakers further complained about the hypocrisy of the European trio, saying they devised “the illegal anti-Iran resolution” contrary to their claims to remain committed to the Iran deal and to make efforts to salvage the deal.

The IAEA resolution clearly indicates, the MPs warned, that the three European states “have once again fallen into the trap of the United States and the Zionist regime, and joined forces with them in the failed US project of exerting maximum pressure against Iran, hence dealing another blow to international multilateralism.”

Passed by a 25-2 margin with seven abstentions, the IAEA resolution called on Iran to “fully cooperate” with the IAEA and “satisfy the Agency’s requests without any further delay,” including by providing “prompt” access to two nuclear sites.

Tehran has rejected allegations of non-cooperation with the IAEA, arguing that the mentioned sites are totally irrelevant to its current nuclear program, and that the agency’s insistence on inspecting the two locations comes on the basis of fabricated information provided by Israel.

“Iran’s parliament strongly condemns the IAEA Board of Governors’ resolution, which was adopted against Iran’s national interests based on a proposal by three European countries, Britain, France and Germany, under pressure from the US regime and the fake Zionist regime on June 19, 2020,” the statement read, adding that the resolution was “another sign of structural discrimination within the IAEA.”

The Iranian lawmakers also expressed their gratitude to China and Russia for voicing their opposition to the biased resolution, which they called “an obvious attempt at political extortion.”

“In addition to expressing gratitude to the states that did not support the move, the parliament considers the non-binding resolution another sign of the culture dominating the IAEA, which allows nuclear-armed member states not honoring their own NPT commitments to block other states’ access to peaceful nuclear technology.”

June 21, 2020 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Bank of England Set to Decide Who Venezuela’s President is. How Did It Come to This?

Sputnik – 21.06.2020

What was a typical withdrawal request from a customer to a depository bank has turned into a political controversy, given that the government that owns the bank does not recognise the customer.

London’s High Court is scheduled to hear an unprecedented case on Monday regarding Venezuela’s attempts to extract its gold bullion from the Bank of England.

Venezuela’s central bank (BCV), controlled by the government of Nicolas Maduro, has around $1.8 billion worth of gold at the Bank of England. BCV has recently demanded that €930 million ($1.04bn) in gold be released to help Caracas fight the coronavirus outbreak.

The heavily-sanctioned Latin American country is among the 135 nations with beleaguered public health systems which are attempting to secure vital medical supplies under a major initiative led by the United Nations Development Programme.

BCV had wanted to transfer the proceeds from selling the gold directly to the UNDP to acquire medical equipment, medicines and foodstuffs, but the Bank of England “refused to confirm” that it would hand over the bullion, according to court documents filed last month. BCV in response launched legal action.

The UK government, which wholly controls the bank, does not recognise President Nicolas Maduro and backs the self-declared interim president, Juan Guaido. The UK-held assets of two dozen Venezuelan officials linked with Maduro, but not those of BCV, have been frozen.

The Bank of England denied a similar request for the withdrawal of gold in November 2018; at the time, a cabinet minister said that dealing with a customer’s request is up to the bank and not to the government.

Guaido, who appointed a parallel board of BCV directors, last month warned that the bank would effectively be “financing torture” in Venezuela if it honoured its obligations. His lawyers argue that a decision to release gold should be taken by Venezuela’s legislature rather than by the central bank. They also question whether the BCV board has a buyer lined up for the gold.

Lawyers representing BCV maintain that the request in question is meant to deal with a public health emergency and that the Bank of England’s lack of action is “putting lives at risk”.

“Venezuela has been denied access to its resources during an international crisis,” said London-based lawyer Sarosh Zaiwalla. “In effect, the nation’s gold reserves in the BoE are being held hostage to political factors dictated by the foreign policy of the United States and certain of its allies.” The high court ruling is expected before the end of July.

June 21, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment