British coronavirus news update


This November 2017 video from Britain says about itself:

Woman breaks silence about life in detention – BBC News

A charity claims the government is breaching its own policy by placing vulnerable female asylum seekers in detention centres.

One woman told the BBC’s Frankie McCamley about her time inside Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre.

By Bethany Rielly in Britain, 23 March 2020:

Fresh calls to release Yarl’s Wood detainees after woman inside is diagnosed with coronavirus

A WOMAN diagnosed with coronavirus while being held in Yarl’s Wood detention centre sparked fresh calls today for all immigration detainees to be released.

The Home Office confirmed on Sunday that a detainee at the notorious immigration centre in Bedfordshire had tested positive for Covid-19.

Women for Refugee Women reported that many detainees there have underlying health conditions but have not been given any extra protection or advice.

By Lamiat Sabin in Britain, 23 March 2020:

‘Terrifying’ emergency Coronavirus Bill would roll back disabled people‘s care rights

EMERGENCY legislation drafted in to tackle the coronavirus risks stripping care services from the disabled, the elderly and the vulnerable, rights groups and charities warned today.

MPs debated the Coronavirus Bill today, which looked set to be signed off by Parliament after the Morning Star went to print.

Food experts call for rationing to see Britain through pandemic: here.

Scotland closes all shops not providing food or medication in measure to help NHS: here.

Oldest of all animals discovered in Australia


Ikaria wariootia reconstruction (Sohail Wasif/UCR)

From the University of California – Riverside in the USA:

Ancestor of all animals identified in Australian fossils

A wormlike creature that lived more than 555 million years ago is the earliest bilaterian

March 23, 2020

A team led by UC Riverside geologists has discovered the first ancestor on the family tree that contains most familiar animals today, including humans.

The tiny, wormlike creature, named Ikaria wariootia, is the earliest bilaterian, or organism with a front and back, two symmetrical sides, and openings at either end connected by a gut. The paper is published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The earliest multicellular organisms, such as sponges and algal mats, had variable shapes. Collectively known as the Ediacaran Biota, this group contains the oldest fossils of complex, multicellular organisms. However, most of these are not directly related to animals around today, including lily pad-shaped creatures known as Dickinsonia that lack basic features of most animals, such as a mouth or gut.

The development of bilateral symmetry was a critical step in the evolution of animal life, giving organisms the ability to move purposefully and a common, yet successful way to organize their bodies. A multitude of animals, from worms to insects to dinosaurs to humans, are organized around this same basic bilaterian body plan.

Evolutionary biologists studying the genetics of modern animals predicted the oldest ancestor of all bilaterians would have been simple and small, with rudimentary sensory organs. Preserving and identifying the fossilized remains of such an animal was thought to be difficult, if not impossible.

For 15 years, scientists agreed that fossilized burrows found in 555 million-year-old Ediacaran Period deposits in Nilpena, South Australia, were made by bilaterians. But there was no sign of the creature that made the burrows, leaving scientists with nothing but speculation.

Scott Evans, a recent doctoral graduate from UC Riverside; and Mary Droser, a professor of geology, noticed miniscule, oval impressions near some of these burrows. With funding from a NASA exobiology grant, they used a three-dimensional laser scanner that revealed the regular, consistent shape of a cylindrical body with a distinct head and tail and faintly grooved musculature. The animal ranged between 2-7 millimeters long and about 1-2.5 millimeters wide, with the largest the size and shape of a grain of rice — just the right size to have made the burrows.

“We thought these animals should have existed during this interval, but always understood they would be difficult to recognize,” Evans said. “Once we had the 3D scans, we knew that we had made an important discovery.”

The researchers, who include Ian Hughes of UC San Diego and James Gehling of the South Australia Museum, describe Ikaria wariootia, named to acknowledge the original custodians of the land. The genus name comes from Ikara, which means “meeting place” in the Adnyamathanha language. It’s the Adnyamathanha name for a grouping of mountains known in English as Wilpena Pound. The species name comes from Warioota Creek, which runs from the Flinders Ranges to Nilpena Station.

“Burrows of Ikaria occur lower than anything else. It’s the oldest fossil we get with this type of complexity,” Droser said. “Dickinsonia and other big things were probably evolutionary dead ends. We knew that we also had lots of little things and thought these might have been the early bilaterians that we were looking for.”

In spite of its relatively simple shape, Ikaria was complex compared to other fossils from this period. It burrowed in thin layers of well-oxygenated sand on the ocean floor in search of organic matter, indicating rudimentary sensory abilities. The depth and curvature of Ikaria represent clearly distinct front and rear ends, supporting the directed movement found in the burrows.

The burrows also preserve crosswise, “V”-shaped ridges, suggesting Ikaria moved by contracting muscles across its body like a worm, known as peristaltic locomotion. Evidence of sediment displacement in the burrows and signs the organism fed on buried organic matter reveal Ikaria probably had a mouth, anus, and gut.

“This is what evolutionary biologists predicted,” Droser said. “It’s really exciting that what we have found lines up so neatly with their prediction.”

Donald Trump-Philips corporation conflict on coronavirus


This 20 March 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Rep. Judy Chu responds to Trump’s repeated ‘Chinese virus’ rhetoric

Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus chair Rep. Judy Chu (Democratic-California) said March 20 that President Trump’s rhetoric is a “deliberate attempt” to distract from his coronavirus failings. Read more here.

So, billionaire Donald Trump not only wants to grab German coronavirus vaccine research

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today

Philips afraid of US American grab at respiratory equipment

Philips fears that with strict legislation the US will demand respirators destined for the European market, NRC daily reports. The Dutch manufacturer of healthcare equipment is afraid that Philips Respironics in the US American city of Pittsburgh will be brought under the Defense Production Act. This 1950 law, from the time of the Korean War, allows President Trump to grab the production and supply of respirators. Philips would then be forced to only supply the American market.

Christmas island wildlife, Asian or Australian


This 2017 video says about itself

One Hundred Million Crabs | The Trials of Life | BBC Earth

On Christmas Island, red crabs migrate en masse in order to spawn a new generation into the Indian Ocean.

From the University of Queensland in Australia:

Christmas Island discovery redraws map of life

March 23, 2020

The world’s animal distribution map will need to be redrawn and textbooks updated, after researchers discovered the existence of ‘Australian’ species on Christmas Island.

The University of Queensland’s Professor Jonathan Aitchison said the finding revises the long-held understanding of the location of one of biology and geography’s most significant barriers — the Wallace line.

“The Wallace line — named after its discoverer Alfred Russel Wallace — delineates major biological division separating the species with Asian origins from those with Australasian ones,” Professor Aitchison said.

“It runs along the narrow seaways separating Bali from Lombok, and Borneo from Sulawesi.

“To the west are the tigers, elephants, rhinoceroses and orang-utans of Eurasia and to the east, the marsupials and monotremes that are synonymous with Australia.”

Working 1000 kilometres west of the conventional trace of Wallace line, on Christmas Island, Professor Aitchison and his colleagues, Dr Jason Ali from the University of Hong Kong and Professor Shai Meiri from the University of Tel Aviv, noted species with Australasian origins.

“Unexpectedly, half of Christmas Island’s land mammal and land reptile species — two rats, two skinks and one gecko — have a genetic heritage to Australia’s side of the divide,” Dr Ali said.

“It was a highly surprising discovery.

“The ancestors of these species would have most likely have been washed over on uprooted trees of vegetation mats and transported in by a major oceanic current known as the Indonesian Throughflow.

“The Indonesian Throughflow is part of the global heat conveyor belt, and follows deeper waters that delineate the Wallace line.

“It’s caused by the westernmost Pacific Ocean surface topography being slightly higher than its Indian Ocean counterpart.

“That’s right — it’s a little mind-bending — but the ‘sea-level’ varies slightly in different parts of the world.”

Professor Aitchison said the species’ journey must have occurred within the last five million years, as this is when Christmas Island emerged to form a new landmass.

“Christmas Island existed as a coral atoll from about 40 to 17 million years ago,” Professor Aitchison said.

“But in response to a tectonics phenomenon originally described by Darwin, it subsided beneath the ocean surface and disappeared.

“It re-surfaced only five million years ago thanks to some flexing tectonic plates — 300 to 350 kilometres to the south of where it is now located — from then on land plants and animals could begin to establish new populations.

Christmas Island is a strange and unique place, not just because of its geological history, but also its biological history.

“We’re excited to see what other weird and wonderful discoveries are ahead.”

United States nazis abuse coronavirus for anti-Semitism


Alt-right members prepare to enter Emancipation Park, Charlottesville, USA holding nazi, Confederate, and ‘Don't Tread on Me’ flags in 2017

This photo shows alt-right members preparing to enter Emancipation Park, Charlottesville, USA holding nazi, Confederate, and ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ flags in 2017.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 23 March 2020:

US white supremacist groups target Jews over coronavirus

WHITE supremacist groups in the US are calling on supporters who contract coronavirus to pass it on to Jewish people … according to the FBI.

Intelligence reports from its New York office claimed: “Members of extremist groups are encouraging one another to spread the virus, if contracted, through bodily fluids and personal interactions.”

ABC News reported on Sunday that an FBI alert was sent to local police forces last week warning that the far-right groups were urging their members to use spray bottles.

So, the coronavirus crisis is not only abused for anti-Asian racism.

Hasidic man refused service by Toyota dealership ‘because you’re spreading the virus’.

Coronavirus global news update


This 23 March 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Former ICE Director: Release Immigrants from Detention or COVID-19 Will Spread Like Wildfire Inside

Alarm is growing about the safety of more than 37,000 people held in immigrant detention centers and private jails that contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, where it is nearly impossible for them to avoid close contact to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Nearly half of those detained by ICE are accused of no crime other than civil immigration violations.

Immigrants at three jails in New Jersey are now on hunger strikes over unsanitary conditions that put them at high risk during the pandemic. We hear from a detained person on hunger strike and speak with John Sandweg, former acting director of ICE during the Obama administration, who is calling for ICE to release thousands from detention, and Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, or CHIRLA, which just led a national effort to stop immigration enforcement actions.

“No one wants to die in jail”. Immigrants at New Jersey ICE detention center launch hunger strike over COVID-19 threat. By Erik Schreiber, 23 March 2020.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 23 March 2020:

Covid-19 makes its way into New York jail network

AT LEAST 38 people have tested positive for coronavirus in New York’s prisons, including at the notorious Rikers Island complex.

In a letter to the city’s criminal justice leaders, Board of Correction interim chairwoman Jacqueline Sherman described a jail system in crisis.

She said in the last week board members had learned that 12 Department of Correction employees, five Correctional Health Services employees and 21 people detained at Rikers and city jails had tested positive for the disease.

COVID-19 outbreak in New York prisons threatens lives of thousands. By Sam Dalton, 23 March 2020. The New York Board of Correction (BoC) announced Saturday that 38 people tested positive for COVID-19 last week in New York City’s prison system. As of Sunday, the state has topped 15,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

Coronavirus crisis in New York: As doctors warn of “our Chernobyl”, state government plans Medicaid cuts: here.

USA: United Parcel Service forcing employees to work without protection amid COVID-19 pandemic: here.

Retail and service industry workers demand safety measures, store closures and full compensation during coronavirus pandemic: here.

Coronavirus total in US skyrockets as testing expands. By Bryan Dyne, 23 March 2020. The United States now leads the world in new cases and is second only to China and Italy in the number of patients infected with COVID-19.

Canada registers 500,000 Employment Insurance claims in one week, as Coronavirus triggers jobs massacre: here.

By Ben Cowles:

Monday, March 23, 2020

Refugees in Moria camp left with no water, no soap and no support against virus

THE Greek government has left refugees detained in the massively overcrowded Moria camp on Lesbos without any supplies or information on the coronavirus pandemic, according to people trapped in the camp.

Speaking to volunteers from German refugee rescue charity Mission Lifeline in the camp yesterday, Sayed (not his real name) said the Greek government has done nothing.

“They have not [provided] any [information] or anything that could help people understand what coronavirus is and how to prevent it and how to not get infected by it,” he said.

European Public Service Union calls on governments to act on vulnerable prison officers and inmates: here.

By Ben Chacko:

Monday, March 23, 2020

Cuban medical brigade arrives in Italy as ministers round on EU over lack of support

A CUBAN medical brigade arrived in Italy at the weekend, the sixth such mission dispatched to assist other countries with the coronavirus pandemic.

Havana has already sent missions to Venezuela, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Suriname and Grenada, but its mission to Italy is its first ever to the much richer country.

“We are all afraid, but we have a revolutionary duty to fulfil, so we take out fear and put it to one side,” intensive care specialist Leonardo Fernandez told Reuters.

This 23 March 2020 video says about itself:

Coronavirus in Italy: Cuba, China and Russia send medical aid | DW News

In Italy, authorities said on Sunday that a further 651 people had died from the coronavirus. That’s fewer than Saturday’s record number of deaths, but is still the second-worst day so far. Italy has closed non-essential businesses to try to control the outbreak. And outside help is on the way. Doctors from Cuba and China as well as medical supplies from Russia have been dispatched to help support the overwhelmed medical system.

“I do not accept financial speculation on starvation and people’s deaths”. Italy’s health workers denounce ruling elite’s negligence on coronavirus: here.

The coronavirus pandemic surged across Europe this weekend, with more than 2,600 deaths, the majority of them in Italy, followed by Spain, France, Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. The weekend toll by itself nearly equaled the entire three-month death toll in China, where the epidemic began: here.

Russian cases of coronavirus surge as economic crisis hits: here.

Two test positive for Coronavirus in Gaza Strip: here.

Two Sri Lankan prisoners killed and six injured amid national coronavirus lockdown: here.

COVID-19 health disaster and political crisis intensify in Australia: here.

Yesterday the Labor Party government in Victoria, Australia’s second-most populous state, announced the temporary closure of its school system from Tuesday, citing the coronavirus pandemic. New South Wales (NSW) Liberal Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that she would not close schools, while declaring: “We are encouraging parents to keep their children at home.” The Labor-Greens government in the Australian Capital Territory said its schools would shift to on-line learning from Tuesday: here.

No corporate bailouts! Direct financial resources to the working people, not the capitalist elite! 23 March 2020. The ruling class is seeking to exploit this crisis to engineer another multitrillion-dollar redistribution of wealth, on a scale even greater than the 2008 bank bailout: here.

Coronavirus spread rapidly this weekend in Africa, jumping to over 1,300 detected cases, while there are over 335,000 confirmed cases and 14,000 deaths worldwide. At least 33 of the continent’s 54 countries are affected, though it is certain that many undetected cases or asymptomatic coronavirus carriers are circulating in Africa: here.

Catastrophic worldwide medical ventilator shortfall despite years of warning: here.

Coronavirus disaster in Britain


This 16 March 2020 video says about itself:

UK backs down from ‘herd immunity’ strategy against coronavirus

The UK’s decision to tell residents over 70 to self-isolate comes after backlash over its herd immunity proposal.

By Julie Hyland in Britain:

Healthcare students at Sheffield Hallam University are calling for their hospital placements to be suspended to minimise the spread of the coronavirus, which is already overwhelming the National Health Service (NHS).

Their petition to university bosses highlights the strength of opposition to the disastrous course of the Johnson government, which has already seen teachers, pupils and others force a shift in its reckless policy of allowing the spread of COVID-19 with the aim of developing “herd immunity”. It illustrates how 10 years of austerity have led to much of the UK’s social infrastructure—especially health care—left dangerously neglected, understaffed and under-resourced.

The petition was launched on March 17 and students have yet to hear a response even as their placements in hospitals are due to commence.

By Bethany Rielly in Britain:

Monday, March 23, 2020

VULNERABLE families across the country fear that they will not be able to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic, a children’s charity warns.

Action for Children interviewed a number of its front-line staff to find out how families below the breadline are coping with the fallout from the virus.

The study found that 25 out of 29 service managers — representing 60 of the charity’s front-line services including children’s centres — said that they had spoken to families who feared that they would not have enough money to survive during the outbreak.

By Alan Jones in Britain:

Monday, March 23, 2020

Government urged to protect the one million builders in bogus self-employment

THE government was urged yesterday to extend its wage support scheme to protect the one million construction workers trapped in “bogus self-employment.”

Unite called for immediate help to support workers paid via the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS).

Just over one million construction workers are paid via CIS, the vast majority of whom are bogusly self-employed and paid on a weekly basis, said the union.

THE Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is to sue the government for excluding millions of workers from its guarantees of financial help for employees during the coronavirus crisis. The union said today that the new policies discriminate against people in the so-called “gig economy” of low-paid, insecure jobs, and against the self-employed. The IWGB said that the current level of statutory sick pay of £94.25 week discriminates against low-paid women, black and ethnic minority workers and workers in the gig economy for whom the payments are not enough to survive, or in some cases are not even available at all: here.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain, 23 March 2020:

JEREMY CORBYN has called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to expand financial help to the five million self-employed workers in Britain.

The Labour leader also insisted that there should be government protection for workers against losing their jobs, more help for renters, improved social security and an increase in statutory sick pay — which is currently just £94.25 per week.

Mr Corbyn wrote to the PM on Saturday night after the government announced an unprecedented raft of measures to give financial security to businesses and to some workers during the coronavirus crisis.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 23 March 2020:

Urgent appeal for blood donations as virus hits supplies

HEALTH officials have appealed for more people to give blood after donations fell by 15 per cent amid growing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) said that donations had slumped over the last week, but that the impact had been mitigated by the cancellation of a number of pre-planned procedures.

Nonetheless, it urged donors to keep their appointments, adding that extra safety measures are in place at donation centres.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 23 March 2020:

Musicians lose nearly £14m due to coronavirus pandemic

MUSICIANS have lost an estimated £13.9 million in earnings due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Musicians Union (MU) revealed yesterday.

A poll commissioned by the union suggested that nine in 10 of those working in the British music industry have been affected,, with job opportunities down by 69 per cent on this time last year.

Musicians working in live performance have reported the greatest loss of earnings, with teaching and orchestral work also affected by social distancing and school closures.