Politics

The Guardian: Donations to Black Lives Matter UK and other groups top £1m

Black Lives Matter UK has said it is touched by people’s generosity after donations towards combating the causes and consequences of racism reached more than £1m.

By Tuesday afternoon, six days after launching a fundraising drive, Black Lives Matter UK (BLMUK) had raised more than £750,000. Money pledged to other groups, including organisations helping black people with their mental health, providing legal assistance for protesters and holding memorials for loved ones who have died from Covid-19, took the total figure to more than £1m.

A spokesman for BLMUK said: “BLMUK have been overwhelmed and greatly touched by the generosity of communities and individuals across the country. We have received messages from small villages and towns organising fundraisers, workplaces or community organisations and black parents desperately concerned about the safety of their children. The safety of the people protesting is our priority and we are working with other groups to ensure this.

Sky News: Health minister Helen Whately blames scientists for care home deaths – then quickly rows back

A minister said the government could pin the blame on scientific advisers for ministers’ handling of the coronavirus in care homes, before quickly rowing back.

Health minister Helen Whately was challenged over the effect of COVID-19 in adult social care during an interview with Sky News.

She told Kay Burley@Breakfast that there was guidance for care homes “very early” in the coronavirus pandemic.

“At all points in this we follow the scientific guidance as to what is the right thing to do,” Ms Whately added.

When it was put to the minister that “you can’t stick this on the scientists”, she replied: “Well, I can.”

Wired: Is England easing its coronavirus lockdown too quickly?

Daily deaths are still high, causing some scientists to fear the lockdown is being lifted too quickly. But how early is too early?

On Monday June 1, the government eased the lockdown rules. In England, groups of up to six people can now meet outdoors or in private gardens, those classified as clinically “extremely vulnerable” can now go outdoors, competitive sport is set to resume and, as planned, some primary schools in England have reopened for some children. (Rules in Wales, Scotland and Northern Island vary slightly – decisions for easing lockdown rests with each national government.)

After a week where the government found itself mired in the Dominic Cummings scandal, easing the lockdown has provided a welcome distraction for beleaguered politicians. But independent scientists have criticised the government for neglecting to follow its own guidelines laid out by Boris Johnson on May 10, arguing that the UK is leaving lockdown too early. But how early is too early?

The lockdown’s easing has been received with some consternation. The Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) said the new rules, including allowing groups of up to six people to meet outdoors and in private gardens, were “not supported by the science”. Professor John Edmunds, a member of the UK’s SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) committee, expressed concern over the change and the high number of cases still being reported – 8,000 new infections per day in England alone between May 11 and May 24.

The Guardian: Doctor quits NHS over Dominic Cummings’ refusal to resign

A doctor is quitting the NHS in protest at Dominic Cummings’ refusal to resign despite allegedly flouting lockdown rules.

Dr Dominic Pimenta has decided to resign because he fears that the behaviour of Boris Johnson’s chief adviser could help trigger a second wave of coronavirus and is angered by the government’s handling of the pandemic.

Explaining his resignation in a statement shared exclusively with the Guardian, Pimenta said his decision was driven by the “laughable fairytale” explanation Cummings gave for his trip from London to Durham and nearby Barnard Castle, as well as by the adviser’s continued presence in Downing Street and cabinet ministers’ support of him.

UK GOV: PM statement at the coronavirus press conference: 3 June 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave a statement at the coronavirus press conference on 3 June 2020.

First let me first run you through the latest data on our coronavirus response.

4,786,219 tests for coronavirus have now been carried out or posted out in the UK, including 171,829 tests yesterday.

279,856 people have tested positive, and that’s an increase of 1,871 cases since yesterday.

7,485 people are in hospital with COVID-19 in the UK, down 16% from 8,921 this time last week.

And sadly, of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 39,728 have now died. That’s an increase of 359 fatalities since yesterday and once again we are with their families in mourning.

Now that the rate of transmission in the UK has significantly fallen from its peak, we need to take steps to manage the flare-ups and stop the virus re-emerging in the UK.

I want to update you on the progress we are making on three fronts to prevent a second wave of infections that could overwhelm the NHS.

First, we have set up NHS Test and Trace in order to identify, contain and control the virus in the UK, thereby reducing its spread.

As we move to the next stage of our fight against coronavirus, we will be able to replace national lockdowns with individual isolation and, if necessary, local action where there are outbreaks.

NHS Test and Trace will be vital to controlling the spread of the virus. It’s how we will be able to protect our friends and family from infection, and protect our NHS.

It does this by identifying anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, and asking them to isolate for 14 days in order to avoid unknowingly infecting others.

The system clearly relies on everyone playing their part.

So I want to stress again today: we need you to get a test if you have coronavirus symptoms – a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss of taste or smell.

There is plenty of capacity and everyone with symptoms is eligible, everyone with symptoms, so please order a test from nhs.uk/coronavirus as soon as you develop symptoms.

And we need you to isolate yourself if a contact tracer tells you that you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive.

NHS Test and Trace started operating a week ago. And already thousands of people are isolating who wouldn’t have been doing so before this service was introduced. They are thereby protecting others and reducing the spread of the virus.

So while we are going to all these efforts here in the UK to control the virus, we must also ensure we don’t reimport the virus from abroad.

So the second action I want to update you on is the introduction of public health measures at the border.

Today the Home Secretary has brought forward the legislation needed to establish the new regime from Monday.

And I want to explain the reasons for introducing these measures now.

When coronavirus started to spread around the world, first from Wuhan and then from northern Italy and other areas, we introduced enhanced monitoring at the border in an attempt to stop the virus from gaining a foothold in the UK.

These measures applied, at various different times, to arrivals from China, Japan, Iran and Italy, and required people with symptoms travelling from those countries to self-isolate for 14 days.

However, once community transmission was widespread within the UK, cases from abroad made up a tiny proportion of the total. At the same time you’ll remember that international travel plummeted as countries around the world went into lockdown. So as a result, measures at the border were halted because they made little difference at the time in our fight against the virus.

Now that we’re getting the virus under control in the UK, there’s a risk cases from abroad begin once again to make up a greater proportion of overall cases. We therefore need to take steps now to manage that risk of these imported cases triggering a second peak.

So just as we are asking people already in the UK to isolate for 14 days when contacted by NHS Test and Trace, we’re also asking those arriving from abroad to isolate so that they don’t unknowingly spread the virus.

There will be some exemptions for a limited number of people who need to cross the border, such as those engaged directly in the fight against coronavirus or who provide essential services.

And we will review how the policy is working after three weeks. And of course we will explore the possibility of international travel corridors with countries that have low rates of infection – but only when the evidence shows that it is safe to do so.

The third point I want to make today is we need effective international action to reduce the impact of the virus across the globe.

This is the moment really for humanity to unite in the fight against the disease.

Health experts have warned that if coronavirus is left to spread in developing countries, that could lead to future waves of infection coming back and reaching the UK.

While our amazing NHS has been there for everyone in this country who needs it, many developing countries have healthcare systems which are ill-prepared to manage this pandemic.

So to ensure that the world’s poorest countries have the support they need to slow the spread of the virus, tomorrow I will open the Global Vaccine Summit.

Hosted by the UK, and will bring together more than 50 countries and leading figures like Bill Gates to raise at least $7.4 billion for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

Over the next five years – with the UK’s support as Gavi’s biggest donor – this Vaccine Alliance aims to immunise a further 300 million children in the poorest countries against deadly diseases like polio, typhoid and measles – again saving millions of lives.

This support for routine immunisations will shore up poorer countries’ healthcare systems to deal with coronavirus – and so help to stop the global spread and, as I say, prevent a second wave of the virus reaching the UK.

This virus has shown how connected we are. We’re fighting an invisible enemy. And no one is safe frankly until we are all safe.

And again, of course this is all contingent upon each of us continuing to do our bit.

And as I never tire of telling you

Let us not forget the basics.

Wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds, wash your hands.

Do not gather in groups of more than six outside.

Always observe social distancing, keeping 2 metres apart from anyone outside your household.

And I want to stress one final point which may be relevant today as the weather threatens I think to take a turn for the worse. Some of you may be tempted to move the gatherings you’ve been enjoying outdoors, indoors, out of the rain.

I really urge you – don’t do that.

We relaxed the rules on meeting outside for a very specific reason – because the evidence shows that the risks of transmission are much lower outdoors, much lower outdoors.

And the risks of passing on the virus are significantly higher indoors, which is why gatherings inside other people’s homes are still prohibited.

Breaking these rules now could undermine and reverse all the progress that we’ve made together.

I have no doubt that that won’t happen, I’ve no doubt that that won’t happen. I think the British public will continue to show the same resolve in fighting the virus as they have throughout the outbreak.

We will get through this if we stay alert, control the virus, and in doing so save lives.

Newsweek: President Trump Moves Military Forces to Near-Wartime Alert Level in Washington D.C

The Pentagon has ordered forces and bases in the Washington D.C. area to “Force Protection Condition Charlie,” a threat condition that indicates “likely” targeting of military forces and or terrorist action and the second highest alert level available.

The state of higher alert was ordered as of 7:30 a.m. Tuesday morning for the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. The order follows a rapidly moving and confusing set of statements and threats coming out of the White House in the previous 24 hours. During this period, President Donald Trump has threatened state governors with federal intervention, and appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley as the commander of federal forces—a legally questionable order. Under the law, the chairman serves as the principal military adviser to the president, not a military commander.

New Statesman: The silence of the chief scientists is worrying and deeply political

The chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, and chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, did not speak out when asked about the Dominic Cummings affair, compromising urgent public health messaging. This makes their positions untenable.

In the astonishing UK government update on the pandemic on the evening of Thursday 28 May, we watched the relationship between government and science collapse before our eyes. Much of the media coverage has focused on Boris Johnson’s muzzling of his chief medical officer (CMO) Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser (CSA) Patrick Vallance, as he intervened to prevent them from answering questions about the public health repercussions of Dominic Cummings breaking the lockdown rules. But that much was business as usual: we should by now be used to this increasingly isolated prime minister shutting down inconvenient debate.

BBC News: Risk in UK lockdown easing too soon, warn scientists

Scientific advisers to the government have warned of the risk of lifting the lockdown in England, as sunshine marks the final weekend before rules change.

Professor John Edmunds said it was a “political decision” to ease measures; Sir Jeremy Farrar said the NHS test and trace system should be “fully working”.

From Monday schools will reopen and up to six people can meet in England, with other nations also easing measures.

WHAT’S THE RIGHT CONSPIRACY? by Richard Banker

Boris Johnson groupies are the most extreme instance of putting blind faith in this ‘posh boy’ media pinup and that our rulers are benevolent. in reality, he’s a serial liar, abuser of power, incompetent, out for his own ends and archetypal ruling class. I arrived at the conclusion in my uni days that they conspire against us . The is a long standing right wing elite conspiracy bent on reversing civilised advances of the 1945 political settlement including making the NHS the same as the insurance based US healthcare system, destroying trade unions, etc. They see it as a ‘temporary aberration’. Political adviser, Dominic Cummings is archetypal, firstly over Vote Leave and now effectively Prime Minister pulling the strings on Johnson. Cummings is the bad guy to watch more than anyone else.

For the last 10 years, the Tory government has contracted out parts of the NHS to ripoff private contractors like Richard Branson,lumbered it with ruinous PFI mortgages attacked pay and conditions of junior doctors and nurses. From 2015, I was active in a group supporting junior doctor demonstrations and opposing Derbyshire health chiefs from cutting 535 hospital beds on instructions from above . The recent Panorama programme showed how not restocking PPE for hospitals in the name of cost cutting so large quantities became medically obsolete. This failure was why over 300 doctors and nurses died of COVID. At the same time, PPE stocks were centred on hospitals but patients were discharged to nursing homes and spread COVID in a closed in environment amongst elderly disabled inmates. Only a few months into the crisis did they include these figures into the lists of those who’ve died. These poor sods haven’t had a chance.

The NHS was set up by the 1945 Labour Government to free people from the fear of escalating medical bills, a GP gatekeeper system handling referrals where they couldn’t treat, an ambulance service, health visitors and especially preventative medecine including vaccination (and, from my experience a Live Well clinic for healthy eating and exercise). It was set up as part of a programme of social improvement including clean water, public health and decent housing. My personal experience of the NHS one way or another is quite extensive one way or another. It is compatible with those with alternative medecine (and probiotics). 

I’m highly aware that lockdown legislation includes a ban on gatherings of more than 2 for 2 years (even with proposed relaxation) so national protest demonstrations will be illegal for the first time under the letter of the law (A year or so back, they tried to charge national demonstrations for the cost of policing, sealing off traffic so they have history) Johnson is still bent on Brexit and selling off the NHS

This country had enough warnings of the coronavirus and the WHO on Jan 30th decided that the outbreak constituted a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern.” (Its on the WHO coronavirus timeline) . It strongly advised countries to set up a test and trace programme, immediate lockdown, social distancing. All other European countries followed this advice while Johnson opted for ‘herd immunity’ and we must ‘take it on the chin’. He let the Cheltenham Races go ahead, the most effective way of spreading COVID far and wide. He wasn’t guilty of draconian lockdown but on the contrary, too little too late as the lockdown only kicked in on March 20th . On top of this, the ‘stay at home’ ,’control the virus’ mantras let Cummings and Johnson off the hook for their gross negligence towards the NHS for 10 years prior and during the pandemic. The ‘stay alert’ mantra is both vague and puts responsibility for catching COVID on the individual and not on the government.

I checked the origins of the world Health Organisation on Wikipedia and it comes directly under the auspices of the United Nations and not the fiefdom of Bill Gates. it’s worthwhile noting that Trump is threatening to cut funding to the WHO on his own nationalist and backside covering motives and not out of philanthropy. where Trump leads, the alt right social media surely follows. 

by Richard Banker 

Blog: Criticising the lockdown is NOT selfish, it is actually the more caring position

It was somewhere in the middle of March 2020 when management came into the office with a different kind of tone.  It was impossible to not overhear the talk of potentially getting everyone to work from home.  Calls to HR were being made, ordering more IT equipment to facilitate the whole company working from home, “just in case”.  This was the moment I knew something different was happening, something serious.

In recent memory, we’ve had the Ebola outbreak, which I remember learning about as one of (if not) the most terrifying virus known to man.  The virus causes a terminal haemorrhagic fever, breaking down cell membranes in the body, essentially liquifying the organs.  With a potential mortality rate of 90%, a reproductive rate from 1.7 to 1.9, and an average incubation period of 12.7 days. [1] I actually remember watching the news, looking around and thinking “why the hell is no one worried about this?”.

Yet, people dismiss the lack of preemptive action from the government on the Ebola outbreak, regarding the preparation of society for potential economic calamity.  No contingency work meetings, no panic buying of toilet rolls, no shaming of people getting a bit to close to one another, attending football matches, concerts or opening shops, no talks of mandatory vaccines.  The excuse?  “It didn’t spread very far” or “it stayed in West Africa”.

This is somewhat false, Ebola arrived briefly, here in the UK!  The advice at the time was “There is no need for people in the UK to act differently, either now or even if we discovered a case of Ebola here”.  Never was it suggested that the whole world’s economy could be shutting down as part of a contain or ‘slowing the spread’ strategy.  To protect the NHS. To save lives.  Nothing suggested the possibility that the economy itself could all but shut down for several months.  Nothing. [2]

Fast forward a few years and today and we have a new virus.  At it’s peak, a similar reproduction rate (as of 15 May 2020, the reproduction rate was between 0.7 and 1.0)  and a similar incubation period albeit a far lower mortality rate. [3] Yet, somehow causing total havoc across the globe, leaving world leaders, in all their insufferable ineptitude, to stretch the media’s legs and potentially risking further civil and/or global polarity and ultimately, conflict.

What does this tell us?  It tells us that when the threat to human life is genuinely severe for everyone, the government are in-and-out with remarkable efficiency.  They don’t invest in media to hypnotise us with noxious mantras, to alter our behaviour, appealing for people to snitch on their neighbours thus potentially damaging important personal relationships and trust within their local community.  It also tells us that a virus with a high reproductive cycle and incubation period can be beaten without going into lockdown.

In some ways, the lockdown can be compared to chemotherapy as a treatment for cancer.  The treatment kills all cells indiscriminately, we have to hope that it kills the cancer before it kills you.  Whilst it is argued correctly that chemo does destroy cancer cells, it also destroys everything else in your body.  Including your immune system and therefore, your ability to effectively defend yourself against many other threatening virus’ and bacterial infections.  Thus, requiring the patient to take more drugs to treat a whole daisy chain of side effects, which go on to create more side effects that then need more drugs, and so on.

“What are the alternatives?”  the best treatment for cancer is always a personal choice, and I would always support someone’s personal choice, it’s not my place to judge.  We can still discuss it though, can’t we?  Without someone coming along with a story about their relative who has died of cancer, only for the purpose of shutting you up because they don’t like people talking about it (like most of us haven’t lost someone to cancer at some point and aren’t allowed to speak about it).   There are many backed-up and supported alternative theories, aimed at preventing cancer, that draw many parallels to ‘alternatives to strict lockdown’ ideas.  Research that focuses immense value in the cultivating of healthier eating and lifestyle habits, to support a kind-of ‘immune system-driven herd immunity’ against cancer.

Granted, the lockdown seems to have indeed saved lives, although the exact figure of that success may be impossible to truly visualise, I believe the number of lives it will cost in the long term will completely overshadow it.  Already, only a few months in and we are already seeing a huge rise in suicides, domestic violence cases, cancer screenings and other diseases experiencing costly delays, new prescriptions for anti-depressants come flooding in and waiting lists for mental health services are growing. [3]

The lockdown will end, and once the government’s support diminishes and ultimately ends with it, tens of thousands of people will find their businesses (which are often an accumulation of their life’s work and personal sacrifices) will not be waiting for them when they return.  It’s clear to me and many others that the number of stories relating to a rise in lockdown-related suicide and personal crisis, is not going any where but up.  People will be haunted by the negative effects of the lockdown for a generation to come.  This is the true avalanche we should all be worried about.

By speaking out about the lockdown, you are appealing for balance in the ongoing public discussion, you are recognising that saving a few thousand people today, at the cost of potentially hundreds of thousands in the years to come, is not a success but rather a false victory and a bastardisation of good scientific reasoning.  You recognise that worse viruses have been beaten, without the need to cause widespread panic and mass social engineering.  You can see that it could be possible to have a lockdown that’s more bespoke to the small group of people most vulnerable.

An economy is supposed to be like a moving river, if the river stops, it goes stagnant and life becomes much more difficult.   Right now, most of people’s income being supplemented by the governments support packages, is being syphoned off into the pockets of tax avoiding corporations as the world’s richest have already gained $255 billion in just two months of the pandemic. [4] The money that is being spent isn’t returning much back to the state in the way of tax.  The economy is literally haemorrhaging.

You are not being money obsessed for understanding that the strength in the economy isn’t in it’s total monetary value but rather it is the combination of it’s total worth and being in a state of constant back-and-forth exchange.   The notion that it’s the billionaires who are only want us going back to work because they need us to make money, is complete gibberish.  The billionaires are already profiting nicely from the lockdown.  By opening the economy up, we are keeping that opportunity away from the billionaires and opening those opportunities back up to smaller, independent businesses who desperately need it.  All the modern healthcare services that we have taken for granted to date, are only made possible by a large, working economy holding it up.

It’s unfathomable that so many people would rather believe that people don’t care about human life, than accept that thinking about the long-term survival of our economic infrastructure, which includes the healthcare sector, is probably the more caring position to take.  With talk of a second and maybe even a third wave that are alleged to have a higher cost to life, how long do people think it can last without the economy?

 

References:

  1. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/258044972_Incubation_Period_of_Ebola_Hemorrhagic_Virus_Subtype_Zaire

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/ebola/frequently-asked-questions

2. https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2014/10/15/expert-interview-is-ebola-a-risk-to-the-uk/

3. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/05/25/attempted-suicides-elderly-may-increasing-six-fold-says-royal/

https://fee.org/articles/a-years-worth-of-suicide-attempts-in-four-weeks-the-unintended-consequences-of-covid-19-lockdowns/

https://eu.mansfieldnewsjournal.com/story/news/2020/05/10/domestic-violence-attempted-suicides-felonious-assaults-call-up/3085942001/

https://www.falmouthpacket.co.uk/news/18423572.cornwall-suicide-rates-rise-since-coronavirus-outbreak/

https://inews.co.uk/news/health/mental-health-coronavirus-antidepressants-medication-supplies-uk-lockdown-rise-demand-2842273

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/26/well/live/coronavirus-cancer-diagnosis-treatment-cure.html

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-52531613

4. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jonathanponciano/2020/05/22/billionaires-zuckerberg-bezos/#596fda357ed6

 

 

If you have any links that would support this article or even a counter argument, please share them with your response in the comments

The Guardian: How can any scientists stand by this government now?

Dominic Cummings predicted the events that have threatened both him and the government he serves. Writing on his blog in 2014, in an essay he called The Hollow Men, Cummings said: “The people at the apex of political power (elected and unelected) are far from the best people in the world in terms of goals, intelligence, ethics, or competence … No 10 will continue to hurtle from crisis to crisis with no priorities and no understanding of how to get things done … the media will continue obsessing on the new rather than the important, and the public will continue to fume with rage.”