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Secret US report from May 2020 said COVID-19 lab leak was plausible

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Secret US report from May 2020 said COVID-19 lab leak was plausible

A classified report from a top US government laboratory on the origins of the coronavirus concluded in May 2020 that the theory stating the virus leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China should be investigated further, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

The study from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a biodefense research facility primarily funded by the Department of Energy, was one of the first and most authoritative works to cut against the initial scientific consensus that the virus naturally jumped from animals to humans.

The study’s existence was first reported last month by Sinclair Broadcast Group. It was also referenced last week in a bombshell report by Vanity Fair. The latter publication reported that the analysis was uncovered in the fall of 2020 by an intelligence analyst working for the State Department and galvanized a dormant investigation into the origins of the virus by the Department’s Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance.

Vanity Fair also reported that officials at the Department of Energy attempted to block State Department investigators from talking to the report’s authors. The State Department probe itself was shut down by the Biden administration earlier this year.

The Journal reported Monday that the Livermore lab’s assessment, which was prepared by the lab’s “Z Division,” or intelligence arm, drew on genomic analysis of the virus.

On Sunday, the Journal published an op-ed by two experts, Dr. Steven Quay and Richard Muller, who claimed that a genomic analysis of the virus suggests that it is the result of so-called “gain-of-function” research, in which viruses are made more contagious and transmissible in an effort to prevent pandemics.

Last month, President Biden ordered the intelligence community to review all evidence related to the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and report back within 90 days.

Meanwhile, three top Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee wrote last month to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Director Kimberly Budil requesting a classified briefing about the May 2020 study. It was not immediately clear if they received a response.

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Bartender’s fake receipt saves women from being hit on by ‘creep’

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Bartender's fake receipt saves women from being hit on by 'creep'

A Florida bartender saved two women from being hit by a creepy customer by passing them a note disguised as a receipt — and went viral online for the quick-thinking move.

The St. Petersburg drink-slinger, Max Gutierrez, shot to internet fame last week, when a woman named Trinity Allie shared on Twitter how he helped her and a friend fend off an unwanted pick-up artist in St. Petersburg.

When another customer repeatedly hit on the women, the Hawaiian shirt-wearing barkeep handed Allie a note that looked like a receipt, but read: “If this guy is bothering you, put your ponytail on your other shoulder, and I will have him removed. He’s giving me the creeps.”

“This man was harrassssing me and my friend and the bartender passed this note to me acting like it was my receipt ! Legit the type of bartender everyone needs,” Allie’s caption read.

In a follow-up tweet the woman explained that Gutierrez yelled “you need to get the f—k away from these girls who clearly are not interested,” before kicking him out.

Allie also clarified that she had Gutierrez pose for the picture after the incident, not while she was being harassed.

More than 200,000 people liked the viral tweet, many of them leaving comments praising the smooth mixologist.

“Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear Hawaiian shirts,” one appreciative woman wrote.

Four days after the tweet went viral, Gutierrez tweeted that the sleazy patron came back to the bar for a beer — but the hero barman refused to serve him.

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Alabama car crash during tropical storm kills 10, 9 kids

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Alabama car crash during tropical storm kills 10, 9 kids

Ten people, including nine children, died Saturday in a fiery two-vehicle crash in storm-drenched Butler County, Alabama, according to local authorities.

Cops said the two vehicles — an SUV carrying a father and daughter and a small bus hauling girls from Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch — likely hydroplaned on I-65’s wet roads just before 2:30 p.m. as Tropical Storm Claudette plowed through the region, AL.com reported.

The father and daughter, identified by the county coroner as Cody Fox, 29, and 9-month-old Ariana, were killed, as were eight girls who were traveling in the bus.

Garlock said a bystander successfully pulled the bus driver from the vehicle, but that, “It was too late to get back to [the girls] because the bus was engulfed in fire.”

Authorities have not released the names of the girls, who ranged in age from 4 to 17, according to AL.com.

Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch is a long-term residential facility for “school-age girls from troubled backgrounds,” according to its website. Many of the bus passengers were in the care of the state.

Fox worked in emergency management in his home county of Marion County, Tennessee, authorities said.

Multiple people were also injured, according to Butler County Sheriff Danny Bond.

The Girls Ranch asked for “prayers” in a Facebook post at 10 p.m. on Saturday.

“Our hearts are heavy today. Our ranch has suffered great loss. As some of you may have hear, one of our ranch vehicles was involved in a multiple car accident this afternoon,” the statement said.

“Please send prayers our way as we navigate this difficult time.”

The girls attended Reeltown High School in Tallapoosa County, WBRC said.

Claudette dumped as much as 12 inches of rain along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, causing dangerous flash flooding in northern Georgia, most of South Carolina, the North Carolina coast, parts of southeast Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.

With Post wires

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VA plans to cover gender surgery for trans vets, in policy reversal

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VA plans to cover gender surgery for trans vets, in policy reversal

The Department of Veterans Affairs is taking the first steps toward offering gender-reassignment surgery to transgender vets, VA Secretary Denis McDonough announced Saturday at a Florida celebration of Pride Month.

“Transgender vets [will] go through the full gender confirmation process with VA at their side,” McDonough promised a cheering crowd in Orlando, CNN reported.

The VA has been paying for prescription hormone therapy and mental health treatment for transgender veterans since 2013. But the directive that authorized those benefits, issued by the Obama administration, specifically excluded surgical procedures.

The policy change comes at the behest of President Biden, McDonough said. Biden rescinded President Trump’s ban on transgender service members in January, and in May the US Air Force and Space Force issued new guidelines on the equitable treatment of members undergoing gender transition.

“At the end of the day this is in the President’s authority to do,” McDonough said. “He’s made clear it’s time to do it and that’s precisely what we’ll do.”

A VA spokesman estimated that fewer than 4,000 vets would likely be interested in the surgery, the Orlando Sentinel reported — and said that the agency had not calculated its potential costs.

McDonough’s announcement signals the start of a lengthy rulemaking process of up to two years that will include a period of public comment.

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