Thursday, July 14, 2022

Thursday Night Links

  • Genomic analyses pointed out that SARS-CoV-2 exhibits multiple peculiar characteristics not found in other Sarbecoviruses. A novel multibasic furin cleavage site (FCS) confers numerous pathogenetically advantageous capabilities, the existence of which is difficult to explain though natural evolution; SARS-CoV-2 to human ACE2 binding is far stronger than SARS-CoV, yet there is no indication of amount of evolutionary adaptation that SARS-CoV or MERS-CoV underwent. The flat topography of the ganglioside-binding domain (GBD) in the N-terminal domain (NTD) of SARS-CoV-2 does not conform with typical host evasion evolutionary measures exhibited by other human coronaviruses. The combination of binding strength, human and mouse peptide mimicry, as well as high adaptation for human infection and transmission from the earliest strains might suggest the use of humanized mice for the development of SARS-CoV-2 in a laboratory environment. [Environmental Chemistry Letters]
  • The binding epitope on S harbors a sequence motif unique to SARS-CoV-2 (not present in other SARS-related coronaviruses), which is highly similar in both sequence and structure to the bacterial superantigen staphylococcal enterotoxin B. [Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences]
  • Superantigens (SAgs) are a class of antigens that result in excessive activation of the immune system. Specifically it causes non-specific activation of T-cells resulting in polyclonal T cell activation and massive cytokine release. SAgs are produced by some pathogenic viruses and bacteria most likely as a defense mechanism against the immune system. Compared to a normal antigen-induced T-cell response where 0.0001-0.001% of the body's T-cells are activated, these SAgs are capable of activating up to 20% of the body's T-cells. [Superantigen]
  • Although the discovery of the SEB-like functional superantigen motif in the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 was published as an open-access report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Sept 28, 2020,7 the clinical significance of the SAg-like motif in the spike protein of the virus is only now receiving attention and debate. Yet millions of Americans and Europeans have already been injected with this mRNA sequence as part of the global mRNA vaccination program. The mRNA produced by these injections can remain in the body for months. When published in 2020, the in-silico computational modeling report should have triggered an immediate vaccine review by Dr. Anthony Fauci and the COVID-19 Task Force, Dr.
    Francis Collins at the National Institutes of Health, Professor Arnold Monto at the University of Michigan (chairman of the outside panelists at the FDA Center for Biologics Evaluation),
    FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, Dr. Janet Woodcock, and Dr. Peter Marks. It also should have included Moncef Slaoui, Ph.D., who was tasked to manage the Operation Warp Speed project, as well as representatives from the vaccine manufacturers. As far as I can determine, no such meeting concerning the COVID-19 superantigen motif ever occurred, yet questions over mRNA vaccine safety had appeared as early as February 2021. [Journal of American Physicians & Surgeons]
  • At Sichuan University, a half-dozen political courses were mandatory for all undergrads. My Fuling students had had similar requirements, but since then another two decades of Communist history had piled up, and now the course names seemed to be getting longer: Introduction to Mao Zedong Thought and Theoretical System of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, Research on Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. If these titles were ungainly, things got worse when you opened the texts. [Peter Hessler]
  • The Berkshire buys have spurred speculation that Buffett may have finally found his long-sought “elephant” and buy the remaining 81% of Occidental. At a possible price of $75 to $80 a share, that would cost about $60 billion. At $75, Occidental would be valued at just 7.5 times projected 2022 earnings. Berkshire, which didn’t respond for a request for comment, is sitting on more than $100 billion in cash. Buffett knows Occidental well, having purchased $10 billion of attractively priced 8% preferred stock in 2019 when the company needed money quickly to outbid Chevron for Anadarko Petroleum. He loves American companies, and Oxy gets about 80% of its energy production of over one million barrels a day from the U.S. [Barron's]
  • In a low-grade epiphany while going through this ordeal last week, I realized that back in 2013, instead of getting the solar electric system, I could have bought the Rolls Royce of home generators and buried a 500-gallon fuel tank outside the garage, and had a manual water pump piggy-backed onto the well, and maybe even purchased a fine, wood-fired cookstove — and had enough money left over for a two-week vacation in the South-of-France. [Kunstler]
  • Defendants protest that “Funding secured” is too ambiguous in meaning and therefore the matter should not be decided at summary judgment but rather should be left for the jury to resolve. As indicated above, the Court acknowledges that there is some softness to the term “secured.” But even accepting that there is some room for disagreement as to precisely how secure something must be before the term may be appropriately used, the term is not so elastic as to escape any real meaning. [Re: In re Tesla, Inc. Sec. Litig.]
  • Having materially breached the merger agreement, defendants are contractually barred from terminating. The merger agreement provides that if defendants are in material breach of their own obligations under the merger agreement, they cannot exercise any termination right they might otherwise have. As set forth above, defendants materially breached their obligation to use their reasonable best efforts to complete the merger, id. § 6.3(a), materially breached the hell-or-high-water covenant requiring them to do all things necessary to consummate and finalize financing, id. § 6.10(a), materially breached their obligation to provide Twitter with information regarding the status of debt financing, id. § 6.10(d), materially breached their obligation to refrain from unreasonably withholding consent to operational decisions, id. § 6.1, materially breached their obligations to seek Twitter consent to public comments about the deal and refrain from disparaging the company or its representatives in Tweets about the merger, id. § 6.8, and materially breached their obligation not to misuse confidential information, id. § 6.4. They therefore cannot terminate the agreement even assuming they otherwise had such a right. [Twitter, Inc., v. Elon R. Musk]
  • “An order of specific performance . . . will be so drawn as best to effectuate the purposes for which the contract was made and on such terms as justice so requires.” As is the case here, an order of specific performance “seldom results in performance within the time the contract requires.” To that end, “damages for the delay will usually be appropriate.” Plaintiffs therefore seek prejudgment interest on the deal price at the legal rate from the outside closing date of May 4, 2020. [Snow Phipps Group, LLC v. KCake Acquisition, Inc.]

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