The Big Story Sen. Rand Paul says he will request a criminal referral from the Justice Department against Dr. Anthony Fauci after the two got into a bitter exchange during a Senate hearing Monday over gain-of-function research. The purpose of Paul’s request would be to determine whether the National Institutes of Health (NIH), under Fauci’s direction, funded gain-of-function research in China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology, in the very city where the novel coronavirus was first reported. Gain-of-function is a lab technique used for increasing the infectiousness and lethality of pathogens to develop treatments for them in the event that such strains ever occur in human populations—it is opposed by many scientists who say its risks outweigh its benefits. “We have scientists that will line up by the dozens to say that the research he was funding was gain-of-function. He’s doing this because he has a self-interest to cover his tracks and to cover his connection to Wuhan lab,” Paul said in a Fox News appearance Tuesday night after the Senate hearing. Fauci vehemently denied the charge and rejected the accusation that he was lying when he made a similar denial during testimony in May. Paul pointed to a 2015 research paper co-authored by a scientist at the Wuhan lab, Dr. Shi Zhengli, as proof that the NIH provided funding for research on increasing the transmissibility of animal viruses to humans, which would fit the standard definition for gain-of-function. The Washington Post reporter Josh Rogin, who has followed the story closely, commented on Twitter: Hey guys, @RandPaul was right and Fauci was wrong. The NIH was funding gain of function research in Wuhan but NIH pretended it didn't meet their "gain of function" definition to avoid their own oversight mechanism. SorryNotSorry if that doesn't fit your favorite narrative.\n\n— Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) July 20, 2021\nRead it here: https://thehill.com/changing-america/well-being/564112-sen-rand-paul-says-hes-asking-doj-for-a-criminal-referral-into\n\nToday’s Back Pages: The Misinformation Industry\nThe RestU.S. and German officials announced Tuesday night that they had reached an agreement allowing Russia to complete its $11 billion 760-mile natural gas pipeline Nord Stream 2—reversing long-standing U.S. opposition to the pipeline deal on the grounds that it would grant Russia too much power. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) responded to the report by saying that, if confirmed, it would show “President Biden is defying U.S. law and has utterly surrendered to Putin.” Cruz said a pipeline deal would be “a generational geopolitical win for [President Vladimir] Putin and a catastrophe for the United States and our allies.”\n\nIn a history-making performance Tuesday night, Giannis Antetokounmpo, the “Greek Freak,” clinched a championship for the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA finals. Becoming only the seventh player ever to hit the 50-point mark in the finals, the 6-foot-11 player led his team to a 105-98 victory over the Phoenix Suns and brought the Bucks their first championship in 50 years. On top of that, Antetokounmpo had 14 rebounds and five blocks and, in rare form, shot 17-for-19 from the foul line.\n\nAfter 430 migrants illegally crossed the English Channel Monday, a one-day record, the British government has reached a deal to pay France roughly $75 million to fund additional security patrols to prevent boats from launching from its beaches. But the extra money and efforts are likely to be in vain, according to Pierre-Henri Dumont, a French member of parliament from the northern port city of Calais who said that France’s coastline is too big to be effectively patrolled, and blamed British laws for the illegal migration. \n\nNew evidence supports earlier reports that the novel coronavirus might have been circulating in Italy as early as October 19, 2020. Two Italian laboratories retested 29 blood samples out of 959 that were taken from individuals before the pandemic to screen for lung cancer, and found indications of “the presence of antibodies normally observed after coronavirus infections.” That doesn’t prove that the individuals from whom the blood was drawn in 2019 had COVID-19 at the time, but it would be consistent with early reporting of symptomatic cases in Italy.Out of the 25 major U.S. cities that have cut or proposed cutting police budgets, a number of them have increased budgets for city officials’ security details, according to a report in Forbes. In Chicago, funding for security details hit $2.7 million in 2020, up $700,000 from over five years ago, and the city also cut 400 police officer positions from the budget in 2020. In San Francisco, where police officers are called “peace officers” and officials have vowed to shift $120 million out of the police budget over the next two years, Forbes found that the city spent $2.6 million in 2020 on security for Mayor London Breed, up from $1.7 million in 2015.\n\nThank you for your service, Shant!Very excited to start my new job today analyzing and dismantling systems of power that oppress people like me, a highly educated professional who is being showered with money to enflame sectarian tensions on behalf of a woke oligarchy.\n\n— Shant Mesrobian (@ShantMM) July 20, 2021\nA Coptic Orthodox church in Canada was burned to the ground Monday in Surrey, British Columbia, days after a suspect was captured on surveillance video last Wednesday trying to burn down the same church. This is the latest in a string of vandalism and arson targeting churches in Canada that began after a number of unmarked graves were discovered at church-run schools for indigenous children in Canada. The first church fire was on June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada. More than a dozen Candian churches have been damaged in fires or burned down since then.\nRead it here: https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2021/07/20/church-arson-attacks-across-western-canada-241082\nThe Back PagesThe Misinformation Industry\n\nThe Biden administration claims that its extraordinary move to “coordinate” with Facebook by flagging content it wants the company to take down is based on the exceptional threat posed by COVID-19. Misinformation, as the powers that be keep reminding us, is a public health threat! In fact, it’s clear that it’s a cynical power grab intended to intimidate the social media platform and bring it under the control of White House political operatives. How do we know that? For one, the supposedly expert organization that the president and his staff have cited to justify their influence over Facebook is a political cutout associated with the British Labour Party and funded by dark money.\n\nThe Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), founded in December 2017, is the organization providing the script for the U.S. government’s misinformation policy. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki acknowledged this when she cited the group as the source of the claim—repeatedly asserted but never proved—that “about 12 people … are producing 65 percent of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms.” That’s the same figure that President Biden used on Monday when, in the course of hedging his claim from last week that Facebook has killed people, he said that it wasn’t the social media company itself but “these 12 people are out there giving misinformation. Anyone listening to it is getting hurt by it. It’s killing people.” So Facebook isn’t killing people—it’s just letting people be killed. \n\nBut the CCDH isn’t a fair-minded research institution working in the public interest. Nor does it have any genuine expertise in COVID-19 or misinformation. Like the majority of the misinformation industry, it’s a front group pushing partisan operations behind a facade of objectivity so shoddy it could only fool a professional journalist. Prior to providing the Biden administration with talking points to justify its strong-arm tactics with Facebook, CCDH was busy trying to get conservative news sites deplatformed for reasons totally unrelated to COVID-19 misinformation.\n\nSome nonprofit organizations do honest and noble work—this is true—but the percentage has been drastically reduced as the nonprofit sector has exploded in size and become a go-to destination for the wealthy and powerful to shield assets and buy political influence. Many nonprofits these days operate like CCDH, as part of a closed ideological ecosystem in which they furnish reports that dress political propaganda up in the language of scientific expertise and objectivity. The purpose of these studies is two-fold: They provide the media with content to reinforce the biases of their audiences, and they provide politicians with the appearance of empirical evidence to legitimize their preferred policies. That, in turn, ensures that the funding will keep flowing to these nonprofits, buttressing their influence and greasing the system.