Grind for February 20th
“Love is blind. Friendship closes its eyes.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Harvard, Yale failed to report millions in foreign funding
A new investigation underway at the Department of Education seeks to determine how much money Ivy League schools are receiving from foreign sources such as China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia.
By law, universities are required to report any gifts or contracts with foreign sources worth $250,000 or more.
In 2019, a Senate investigation found that up to 70% of universities failed to report foreign contracts to the tune of $6.5 billion. Yale alone failed to report $375 million in foreign funding between 2014 and 2017.
Last month, a Harvard chemistry professor was arrested after he lied about receiving millions of dollars in funding from China. The US had already given him $15 million for his research.
Trump Administration officials worry that China and other governments are using money and collaborative research projects to infiltrate American academia, with the objective of spreading propaganda and obtaining knowledge that could give them a scientific or military advantage over the US.
As officials have pointed out, the large amounts of foreign money flowing into Harvard and Yale have had no effect on tuition costs.
“This is about transparency. If colleges and universities are accepting foreign money and gifts, their students, donors, and taxpayers deserve to know how much and from whom,” argues Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
“Unfortunately, the more we dig, the more we find that too many are underreporting or not reporting at all…We will continue to hold colleges and universities accountable and work with them to ensure their reporting is full, accurate, and transparent as required by the law.”
Since July, the Department’s efforts have prompted the reporting of more than $6 billion in previously undisclosed foreign funds from Qatar, China, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and others.
China improves coronavirus diagnosis
The novel coronavirus – now called COVID-19 – has infected more than 66,900 people worldwide and caused at least 1,523 deaths.
On Thursday, Chinese authorities reported 15,152 new cases of the disease overnight. A majority of those cases were identified in Hubei province, the epicenter of the disease, after health officials changed the way the virus was diagnosed.
Cases of the virus are now being confirmed based on symptoms and CT scans rather than time-consuming nucleic acid tests, creating a more accurate number but confirming that previous totals were wrong.
The change was “extremely necessary,” says Wang Chen, president of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences. “Many patients who appeared to be [infected] based on their epidemiological history, contact history, and clinical symptoms were not able to test positive on the nucleic acid test and were listed as ‘suspected cases.'”
The initial requirements for confirming COVID-19 cases were hidden from the public.
“The diagnostic criteria were too harsh – with that criteria, it would be very difficult to diagnose anyone,” says Peng Zhiyong, an intensive care unit doctor in Wuhan. “This makes it very easy to miss real patients…This is an infectious disease. If the diagnostic criteria are too tight, the sick people we let go will be a great risk to society.”
To make matters worse, Chinese officials have been accused of underreporting the true nature of the disease and the number of cases.
Numerous patients say they were turned away from hospitals without a diagnosis. Experts believe a large number of mild infections were never counted.
“The picture is evolving day by day…it is a constantly moving target,” says pathologist John Nicholls. “We really have got no idea about the true number of cases.
In addition to sickness, death, and quarantine, COVID-19 has caused a noticeable slump in Chinese auto and smartphone sales as well as a decline in travel to the Asia-Pacific region. Global oil demand is projected to see its first quarterly decrease in more than 10 years.
On Thursday, Beijing abruptly fired several political leaders in Hubei and replaced them with individuals known for “stability maintenance.” Unsurprisingly, the new hires are allies of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
In the meantime, the CDC is preparing for the spread of COVID-19 in the United States. “At some point, we are likely to see community spread in the US or in the countries,” say CDC Doctor Nancy Messonnier. “This will trigger a change in our response strategy.”
GOOD TO THE LAST DROP:
Did you know… The Chief Translator for the European Parliament can speak 32 different languages fluently.