Tag: Quits

Whistle-Blowing Scientist Quits Government With Final Broadside

WASHINGTON — Rick Bright, a senior vaccine scientist who said he was demoted this spring for complaining about “cronyism” and political interference in science, resigned his final government post on Tuesday, saying he had been sidelined and left with nothing to do.

In a new addendum to the whistle-blower complaint he filed in May, Dr. Bright’s lawyers say officials at the National Institutes of Health, where he worked after his demotion, rejected his idea for a national coronavirus testing strategy “because of political considerations.” He also accused them of ignoring his request to join the $10 billion effort to fast-track a coronavirus vaccine, known as Operation Warp Speed.

“I long to serve the American people by using my skills to fight this pandemic,” Dr. Bright wrote on Sept. 25 to Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the institutes, noting that he had 25 years of experience in vaccine development. “The taxpayers who pay my salary deserve no less.”

Dr. Bright’s resignation from the Department of Health and Human Services comes six months after he was ousted as the chief of the department’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and reassigned to a narrower job at the health institutes, which also fall under the health department. At the N.I.H, he was supposed to take the lead on developing novel point-of-care coronavirus tests. His lawyers said he did that, creating a team that awarded eight contracts to build up coronavirus testing and exhausted its budget.

But, one of his lawyers said on Tuesday, Dr. Bright “remains very concerned” about the politicization of science from the White House, especially with the arrival from Stanford’s Hoover Institution of Dr. Scott W. Atlas, a neuroradiologist without training in epidemiology or infectious diseases. Dr. Atlas’s aversion to mask wearing and his belief that “herd immunity” could stop Covid-19 have made him a favorite of President Trump’s.

During his weekly meetings with Adm. Brett P. Giroir, the assistant secretary for health, it has become clear that President Trump’s new science adviser, Dr. Scott Atlas, “who lacks a background in infectious disease, is ‘calling the shots’ at the White House,” Dr. Bright’s lawyers wrote.

Dr. Collins did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But officials at the Department of Health and Human Services have previously said that they strongly disagree with Dr. Bright’s characterizations, and Mr. Trump has called Dr. Bright a “disgruntled employee” on Twitter. An N.I.H. official said on Tuesday that the agency could “confirm that Dr. Bright has resigned, effective today,” adding that it “does not discuss personnel issues beyond confirming employment.”

Dr. Bright has been given “no meaningful work” since Sept. 4, the lawyers wrote.

“Dr. Bright was forced to leave his position at N.I.H. because he can no longer sit idly by and work for an administration that ignores scientific expertise, overrules public health guidance and disrespects career scientists, resulting in the sickness and death of hundreds of thousands of Americans,” the lawyers, Debra Katz and Lisa Banks, said in a

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Israeli minister quits government over COVID-19 curbs on protests

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel’s tourism minister resigned on Friday in protest at a new law that curbed demonstrations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying the measure left him without a “shred of trust” in the veteran leader.

Asaf Zamir will be replaced by Orit Farkash Hacohen, a fellow member of the Blue and White party, a party spokeswoman said.

“My conscience does not allow me to stay in a government that prevents de facto protests,” Zamir said on Facebook. “Even at its most difficult time, Netanyahu runs the country according to his own political interest.”

Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud, which forged a coalition government with Blue and White in May after a close election, called Zamir’s resignation an attempt to shore up support from liberal Israelis angry with the premier. Blue and White is led by Defence Minister Benny Gantz, a Netanyahu rival.

“Blue and White are sitting in a government while working against the government. It is time for them to decide whether to fight the disease, or fight the government,” Likud said on Twitter.

Netanyahu has been facing protests over his handling of the coronavirus crisis and allegations of corruption, which he denies.

Parliament on Wednesday approved a government-backed edict banning Israelis from holding demonstrations more than 1 km (0.6 miles) from their homes, tightening a second-wave coronavirus lockdown.

The government said it was aimed at curbing COVID-19 infections, but critics said its intention was to block protests near Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem.

Dozens protested in Tel Aviv on Thursday. Police said 12 were arrested over “public disturbances”.

Opinion polls show only about a quarter of the public has confidence in Netanyahu’s handling of the pandemic, which had largely subsided during a March-May lockdown.

New COVID-19 cases in Israel have risen above 7,000 a day among its 9 million population, overtaxing some hospitals.

(This story corrects spelling of tourism minister’s first name)

(Reporting by Rami Ayyub and Stephen Farrell, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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Minister Quits Israeli Government Over COVID-19 Curbs on Protests | World News

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – An Israeli minister resigned on Friday in protest against a new law that curbed demonstrations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying the measure left him without a “shred of trust” in the veteran leader.

In a Facebook post, Tourism Minister Asaf Zamir said: “My conscience does not allow me to stay in a government that prevents de facto protests.”

“Even at its most difficult time, Netanyahu runs the country according to his own political interest,” said Zamir, a member of the Blue and White party led by defence minister and prominent Netanyahu rival Benny Gantz.

For months, Netanyahu has faced domestic protests against his handling of the coronavirus crisis and over allegations of corruption, which he denies.

Parliament on Wednesday approved a government-backed edict banning Israelis from holding demonstrations more than 1 km (0.6 miles) from their homes, tightening a second-wave coronavirus lockdown that went into effect on Sept. 18.

The government said it was aimed at curbing COVID-19 infections, but critics said its intention was to block protests near Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem.

Israelis have continued their protests, though in smaller numbers. Dozens protested in Tel Aviv on Thursday. Police said they had arrested 12 demonstrators who they said had caused “public disturbances”.

Opinion polls show only about a quarter of the public has confidence in the way Netanyahu has dealt with the pandemic, which had largely subsided during a March-May lockdown.

New COVID-19 cases in Israel have climbed to over 7,000 a day among its 9 million population, overtaxing some hospitals.

(Reporting by Rami Ayyub and Stephen Farrell, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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