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UNC Free Tuition, Gain of Function Research | Election Officials Concerned with Proposed Laws
No. 28 — Jul. 9-15, 2023
UNC-CH Chancellor did not discuss free tuition with boards before announcement
“As UNC-Chapel Hill announces free tuition, political appointees raise questions, push back“ - NC Newsline
Last week, in response to the recent SCOTUS decision ruling against the racially discriminative affirmative action practices at UNC-Chapel Hill, the university’s chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz announced “free tuition” for undergraduates from families with an income under $80,000.
However, reporting this week revealed that the UNC-CH Board of Trustees and the UNC System Board of Governors found out about the “free tuition” the same time as the public. Earlier this year, the shoe was on the other foot, as the university’s faculty complained of being “surprised” and “flabbergasted” when the Board of Trustees announced a new “School of Civil Life and Leadership” at the university.
TIME article on UNC’s Ralph Baric and the lab leak theory of COVID-19 origins
“The U.S. Scientist At the Heart of COVID-19 Lab Leak Conspiracies Is Still Trying to Save the World From the Next Pandemic” - TIME
Interestingly enough, this in-depth article goes a little beyond what most mainstream media acknowledges in terms of the gain-of-function which was conducted by Ralph Baric at UNC and his work with the Wuhan Institute of Virology. It also includes this interesting perspective from Baric:
The public debate around gain-of-function research has become polarized into two opposing camps, with scientists cast in leading roles as either pandemic-averting heroes or lab-leaking villains. Baric rejects that easy binary. Instead, he points out that gain-of-function experiments, even the most controversial ones, such as the experiment done in 2011 that transformed an avian flu strain into a deadly airborne pathogen (which precipitated a broad shutdown of gain-of-function research by the NIH) are funded by governments. That, Baric says, makes governments, rather than scientists, primarily responsible for choosing which experiments to run and how closely to monitor them. A draft report from January 2023 by the U.S. National Scientific Advisory Board for Biosecurity, a federally-appointed committee advising the U.S. government on gain-of-function research, backs up that view: among their recommendations are that government be more open about why certain gain-of-function experiments that might be risky to humans are funded.
Although the article does mention the revelation of emails which had been sent between Baric and the Wuhan Institute of Virology and other virologist, it fails to mention the ongoing litigation against UNC over unfulfilled public records requests related to Baric and his research:
U.S. Right to Know (USRK) is a "nonprofit investigative public health research and journalism group," which is currently investigating the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic: filing public records requests for nearly three years to collect information from public institutions relating to the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. USRK is currently suing the UNC-Chapel Hill in Orange Co. Superior Court for allegedly withholding records in violation of NC's Public Records Act, with a trial date set for November.
Bipartisan group of local election officials raise concerns with proposed election law changes
The Election Boards Association of North Carolina sent a letter signed by 32 out of the state’s 500 county election board members to legislators this week encouraging them to contact their local county election officials and staff about how a few provisions in election laws being put forward by the Republicans this year would “affect the voting process in our state”. The letter specifically expressed concerns with provisions in three of the bills:
HB-772: The provisions which would allow a limited number of partisan election observers would be “would be disruptive, impossible to supervise, and increase rather than reduce voters’ concerns about secure and secret balloting.” In addition, the letter suggests that making it a misdemeanor to restrict or deny observer access may have “consequences” for “recruiting poll workers”.
SB-747: Among the variety of election law related changes contained in this bill, the letter warns that the bill “will significantly increase the number of provisional ballots and require substantial new funding to implement”.
SB-749: The letter expresses no opinion on the major provisions of this bill, which would restructure the state and local election boards to remove the Governor’s influence: instead suggesting that the power to appoint the county elections director should remain with the county boards of elections, instead of being moved to the county boards of commissioners.
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