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10 Biggest Lies and Distortions From the GOP Debate
Another GOP debate, another steaming pile of half-truths, lies and pseudo-facts. The Republican party seems to be almost entirely post-truth at this point and if you call them out, you're the liberal media! It's a brilliant racket and one that led us to the current state of affairs where facts aren't just dispensable, but a political liability. Without further ado, here are the top lies and distortions from last night's debate.
A popular refrain in the wake of the Paris and San Bernadino attacks is that the U.S. government (or more specifically President Obama) cannot properly vet Syrian refugees. This has been repeatedly debunked as hysterical posturing, yet remains a popular trope among the far right. In addition to a rather thorough takedown by John Oliver two weeks ago, PoliticoFact rated this claim, "mostly false" in its detailed analysis this evening.
2. Marco Rubio claims Assad created ISIS.
This is an old canard and one that even nominally lefty outlets like Vox like to push, but it has little to do with reality. In an effort to shore up his neocon credentials, Rubio has doubled down on regime change in Syria while other GOP candidates like Paul and Cruz—as well as Bernie Sanders—have run away from this position. To do this Rubio has pushed the conspiracy theory that the reason ISIS grew in Syria is because the U.S. didn't back the rebels opposed to Assad when in fact the CIA, according to documents revealed by Edward Snowden, spent $1 billion a year arming, funding and assisting the opposition.
3. Donald Trump cites bogus poll that 25 percent of Muslims condone acts of violence.
A popular trope among the nativist wing of the Republican Party (aka the Republican Party), the bogus stat that 25 percent of Muslins support violence is thrown around quite often. But it originates from noted Islamophobic "think tank" Center for Security Policy. As the New York Times notes:
"Mr. Trump vouched for the group at a rally on Monday night. But the poll—conducted by the Polling Company, a Republican firm—is in no way truly representative of all Muslim Americans because of its methodology. The poll was not based on a random sample, but included only people who chose to participate and therefore is not representative of the population being studied. In addition, some of the questions were leading and biased."
4. Chris Christie insists he was appointed U.S. Attorney on Sept. 10, 2001.
Why does Christie keep repeating this lie? It's been debunked several times and it's a matter of public record. It's a great soundbite to be sure and if true, would put Christie in the heart of the most significant foreign policy crisis of the past 20 years. But the reality is that George W. Bush nominated Christie on Dec. 7, 2001, as one can clearly see from a White House press release.
5. Ted Cruz claims George W. Bush deported 10 million people.
Geroge W. Bush deported 1.8 million people. Obama deported 2 million. It's unclear where Cruz is getting this number from.
6. Donald Trump keeps saying he self-funds, but we know that's demonstrably false.
This is another assertion that's completely disproven and easily searchable online (which raises the question of why CNN hasn't bothered doing this). Trump has received, according to the last available FEC filings, upward of $3.9 million from individual donors compared to using only $101,000 of his own money. How does this fit with his "self-funded" narrative? It's unclear, but perhaps a more urgent question is why would any sane person donate money to someone who claims to have more than $10 billion?
7. Moderator lie: CNN's Wolf Blitzer claimed terrorism fears are higher than they've been since 9/11.
That's not true. A recent Gallup poll shows terrorism fears have spiked recently, but are the same as in 2005 and nowhere near as high as after 9/11.
8. Lie by omission: Why was the attack on Planned Parenthood not mentioned in a debate about terrorism?
As Sean McElwee of Demos noted, in a debate that was nominally about "terrorism," non-Muslim terrorism was completely absent. The recent Planned Parenthood terrorist attack carried out by a man who claims to be a "warrior for babies" wasn't discussed in the broader context of terrorism. Why this is so remains unclear.
9. Lie by cliche: What the hell is Fiorina talking about?
Fiorina keeps referencing "building up the sixth fleet" because presumably it sounds like some important walk-and-talk dialogue in the West Wing, but it actually makes no sense. Several experts have chimed in on this strange refrain and pointed out that it's basically nonsense. As military magazine Stars and Stripes noted:
"Her meaning wasn’t immediately clear—the U.S. 6th Fleet is less a collection of ships than a command structure for operating American warships in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. Moreover, the fleet is one of the few growing military commands in Europe. It is building land-based missile interceptor sites in Romania and Poland and in the coming days it will welcome the last of four guided-missile destroyers to arrive for permanent stationing in Rota, Spain."
10. Several candidates keep claiming the Iran deal "gives $150 billion to Iran."
As the LA Times notes, it's not "giving" $150 billion to Iran, it's relieving sanctions that will ultimately unfreeze more than $150 billion in assets to Iran, but the funds were already Iran's to begin with. No one is "giving" Iran anything.
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A central player in the fight against the novel coronavirus is our immune system. It protects us against the invader and can even be helpful for its therapy. But sometimes it can turn against us.
How does our immune system react to the coronavirus?<p>The coronavirus is — like any other virus — not much more than a shell around genetic material and a few proteins. To replicate, it needs a host in the form of a living cell. Once infected, this cell does what the virus commands it to do: copy information, assemble it, release it.</p><p>But this does not go unnoticed. Within a few minutes, the body's immune defense system intervenes with its innate response: Granulocytes, scavenger cells and killer cells from the blood and lymphatic system stream in to fight the virus. They are supported by numerous plasma proteins that either act as messengers or help to destroy the virus.</p><p>For many viruses and bacteria, this initial activity of the immune system is already sufficient to fight an intruder. It often happens very quickly and efficiently. We often notice only small signs that the system is working: We have a cold, a fever. </p>
Is there an immunity? How long does it last?<p>The good news is that it is very likely there is an immunity. This is suggested by the proximity to other viruses, epidemiological data and animal experiments. Researchers <a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.13.990226v1" target="_blank">infected four rhesus monkeys,</a> a species close to humans, with SARS-CoV-2. The monkeys showed symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, developed neutralizing antibodies and recovered after a few days. When the recovered animals were reinfected with the virus, they no longer developed any symptoms: They were immune. </p><p>The bad news: It is not (yet) known how long the immunity will last. It depends on whether a patient has successfully developed neutralizing antibodies. Achim Hörauf estimates that the immunity should last at least one year. Within this year, every new contact with the virus acts as a kind of booster vaccination, which in turn might prolong the immunity.</p><p>"The virus is so new that nobody has a reasonable immune response," says the immunologist. He believes that lifelong immunity is unlikely. This "privilege" is reserved for viruses that remain in the body for a long time and give our immune system a virtually permanent opportunity to get to know it. Since the coronavirus is an RNA (and not a DNA) virus, it cannot permanently settle in the body, says Hörauf.</p><p>The Heidelberg immunologist <a href="https://www.klinikum.uni-heidelberg.de/immunologie/immunologie" target="_blank">Stefan Meuer</a> predicts that the novel coronavirus will also mutate like all viruses. He assumes that this could be the case in 10 to 15 years: "At some point, the acquired immunity will no longer be of any use to us because then another coronavirus will return, against which the protection that has now been formed will not help us because the virus has changed in such a way that the antibodies are no longer responsible. And then no vaccination will help either."</p>
How can we take advantage of the antibody response of the immune system?<p>Researchers are already collecting plasma from people who have successfully survived an infection with SARS-CoV-2 and are using it to treat a limited number of patients suffering from COVID-19. The underlying principle: <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/coronavirus-drugs-can-antibodies-from-survivors-help/a-52806428" target="_blank">passive immunization.</a> The studies carried out to date have shown positive results, but they have usually been carried out on only a few people.</p><p>At best, passive immunization is used only when the patient's own immune system has already started to work against the virus, says Achim Hörauf: "The longer you can leave the patients alone with the infection before you protect them with passive immunization, the better." Only through active immunization can one be protected in the long term. At the same time, it is difficult to recognize the right point in time.</p><p>PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests are currently used to find out whether a person is infected with the coronavirus. With the help of PCR, it is not possible to tell whether or not there is reproducible viral RNA; it is just a proof of whether the virus is still present, dead or alive. A PCR test cannot tell us whether our immune system has already intervened, i.e. whether we have had contact with the virus in the past, have formed antibodies and are now protected. Researchers are therefore working on tests that check our blood for the presence of antibodies. They are already in use in Singapore, for example, and are nearing completion in the USA. With the help of these tests, it would finally be possible to gain an overview <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/corona-confusion-how-to-make-sense-of-the-numbers-and-terminology/a-52825433" target="_blank">of the unclear case numbers.</a> In addition, people who have developed antibodies against the virus could be used at the forefront of health care, for example. An "immunity passport" is even under discussion.</p>
Is it possible to become infected and/or ill several times with the coronavirus?<p>"According to all we know, it is not possible with the same pathogen," says Achim Hörauf. It is possible to become infected with other coronaviruses or viruses from the SARS or MERS group if their spike proteins look different. "As far as the current epidemic is concerned, it can be assumed that people who have been through COVID-19 will not become ill from it for the time being and will not transmit the virus any further," he says.</p>
How long before you're no longer contagious?<p>A study <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2196-x" target="_blank">carried out on the first coronavirus patients in Germany</a> showed that no viruses that are capable of replication can be found from day eight after the onset of symptoms, even though PCR can still detect up to 100,000 gene copies per sample. This could change the current quarantine recommendations in the future.</p><p>According to the Robert Koch Institute, patients can currently be discharged from hospital if they show two negative PCR samples from the throat within 24 hours. If they have had a severe case of the disease, they should remain in domestic isolation for another two weeks. For each discharge, whether from hospital or home isolation, they should have been symptom-free for at least 48 hours.</p>
Why do people react differently to the virus?<p>While some people get off with a mild cold, others are put on ventilators or even die of SARS-Cov-2. Especially people with <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/coronavirus-who-is-particularly-at-risk-and-why/a-52710881" target="_blank">pre-existing conditions</a> and older people seem to be worst-affected by the virus. Why? This is the hottest question at the moment.</p><p>It will still take a very, very long time to understand the mechanistic, biological basis for why some people are so much more severely affected than others, virologist Angela Rasmussen told <em>The Scientist</em>. "The virus is important, but the host response is at least as important, if not more important," her colleague Stanley Perlman told the magazine.</p><p>Stefan Meuer sees a fundamental survival principle of nature in the different equipment and activity of our immune systems: "If we were all the same, one and the same virus could wipe out the entire human species at once. Due to the genetic range, it is quite normal that some people die from a viral disease while others do not even notice it. "</p><p>Achim Hörauf also suspects immunological variants that could be genetically determined. Since interstitial pneumonia is observed with the coronavirus, the focus is probably on an overreaction of the immune system. However, it is also possible that each person affected may have been loaded with a different dose of the virus, which in turn leads to different outcomes. And finally, it makes a difference how robust the body and lungs are: Competitive athletes simply have more lung volume than long-time smokers. </p>
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