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Why we need to know COVID's origins

Geopolitical tensions are foiling efforts to get to the bottom of how COVID-19 originated.

Why it matters: Insights into how COVID-19 began can help us prevent future pandemics — especially if it involved any kind of leak or accident at a virology lab.


Driving the news: The findings of a WHO-led mission to Wuhan, China, earlier this year to investigate the origins of COVID-19 are expected by mid-March, officials from the health agency said in a press conference Friday, after plans for an interim report were apparently scrapped.

Context: The WHO team received international criticism when its members concluded in a press conference at the end of its trip that a lab accident was "extremely unlikely" while remaining open to the possibility — promoted by Beijing — that the virus originated elsewhere and had been introduced to China via contaminated frozen food.

Be smart: The most likely explanation still remains the simplest: The coronavirus jumped from an animal host in China to humans, the kind of zoonotic spillover seen in countless other emerging outbreaks.

  • But a pandemic threat from lab leaks is real, and as our ability to manipulate viruses grows, so will that danger.
  • While we're limited in our ability to prevent zoonotic spillovers, we can and should be able to do much more to monitor and regulate the kind of research that could lead to the accidental introduction of a new virus.

The bottom line: Without much better transparency, we're unlikely to ever know for sure how COVID-19 began — and what steps we need to take to prevent it from happening again.

Super League faces collapse after all 6 English soccer teams quit elite contest

The European Super League announced in a statement Tuesday night it's considering its future and "proposing a new competition" after all six English clubs pulled out of the breakaway tournament.

Why it matters: The announcement that12 of soccer's richest clubs' from England, Spain and Italy would start a new league was met with backlash from fans, soccer stars and politicians. The British government had threatened to pass legislation to stop it from going ahead.

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Corporate America begins to see fallout after wading into politics

Corporate America is finding it can get messy when it steps into politics.

Why it matters: Urged on by shareholders, employees and its own company creeds, Big Business is taking increasing stands on controversial political issues during recent months — and now it's beginning to see the fallout.

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Church shelters call out U.S. for expelling migrants when they have capacity

Despite the separation between church and state, the federal government depends upon religious shelters to help it cope with migration at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Why it matters: The network supports the U.S. in times of crisis, but now some shelter leaders are complaining about expelling families to Mexico when they have capacity — and feel a higher calling — to accommodate them.

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Derek Chauvin's guilty verdict in the murder of George Floyd is the rare officer conviction

Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who was shown kneeling on George Floyd's neck last year in a video that shook the nation, was found guilty of murder and manslaughter on Tuesday.

Yes, but: Eight years after the launch of the Black Lives Matter movement, it's still rare for police officersto face legal consequences or jail time over the deaths of Black people.

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Senate confirms Lisa Monaco as Justice Department's deputy attorney general

The Senate voted 98-2 on Tuesday to confirm Lisa Monaco as deputy attorney general for the Justice Department, making her the agency's second highest-ranking official.

Why it matters: Monaco is expected to play a key role in Attorney General Merrick Garland's pledge to crack down on violence from domestic extremist groups, including the department's sweeping investigation of the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

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Minneapolis reflects on Chauvin verdict as a step toward healing and calm

A growing crowd outside the Hennepin County Government Center broke out into cheers, hugs and tears of relief as word of the Derek Chauvin verdict spread just after 4pm CST.

Catch up quick: Eleven months after George Floyd died under the former Minneapolis police officer's knee, a jury of 12 neighbors returned a guilty verdict on all three counts.

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"Painfully earned justice has finally arrived for George Floyd’s family": Nation reacts to Chauvin verdict

America is speaking out after the jury in Derek Chauvin's trial announced its guiltyverdict after about 10 hours of deliberation.

What they're saying...

Ben Crump, Floyd family lawyer: "GUILTY! Painfully earned justice has finally arrived for George Floyd’s family ... Justice for Black America is justice for all of America!"

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Derek Chauvin found guilty of all 3 charges in George Floyd's death

A jury on Tuesday found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in George Floyd's death.

Why it matters: This rare conviction of a police officer may come to be seen as a defining moment in America's collective reckoning with issues of race and justice.

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