Resistance to British Conservative COVID-19 mismanagement


Dominic Cummings cartoon

This cartoon by Martin Rowson in the Guardian in Britain is about Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson defending the behaviour of his adviser Dominic Cummings.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain 26 May 2020:

Parents’ group calls for boycott of government plans to reopen schools

PARENTS around the country organised and called for a boycott of the wider reopening of schools yesterday amid concerns for safety amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision to call for a boycott by Parents4SafeReturn follows “exasperation at the failure” of the government to manage the reopening of schools and nurseries effectively.

In a statement, the group said: “We support our schools and want them to move to a wider opening as soon as it is safe. But the Prime Minister has now made clear he has no intention of listening to the science.”

By David Rosenberg in Britain, 26 May 2020:

Labour must resist the Tories’ reckless plan for schools

I TAUGHT in an Islington primary school for 23 years and was NUT rep there for most of those.

My biggest struggle was persuading teachers who were clearly too ill to teach to go home and recover.

It was a struggle because the only teachers I encountered were those whose care for children’s safety and wellbeing was absolutely paramount. I’m sure that hasn’t changed since I retired in 2015.

By Lamiat Sabin in Britain, 26 May 2020:

Crisis hits Tory government as minister resigns over Dominic Cummings’ lockdown road-trip

BORIS JOHNSON’s government was rocked this morning by a ministerial resignation over the Prime Minister’s senior adviser Dominic Cummings’s conduct during the coronavirus lockdown.

Scotland parliamentary under-secretary Douglas Ross said that he was quitting after hearing Mr Cummings’s statement on Monday, in which he defended his 260-mile road trip from London to Durham while the nation was told not to travel.

Mr Cummings said that he and his wife, journalist Mary Wakefield, both felt ill from suspected Covid-19 and had driven with their son to Durham on March 27 to stay on his father’s farm.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain 26 May 2020:

Editorial: The politics of the Cummings scandal

THERE’S an irony to the Dominic Cummings scandal. Britain’s death toll climbing to the highest in Europe, revelations that the Prime Minister skipped five emergency Cobra meetings as the pandemic threat approached and the appalling failure to supply front-line workers with life-saving personal protective equipment have all done less to dent the government’s reputation than a lockdown breach by a political adviser.

The impact on Boris Johnson’s approval ratings has been dramatic, falling 20 points in just four days. The government’s ratings are down 16 points in just 24 hours.

Polls can be misleading, but these swings show that the commanding leads the Tories have enjoyed over Labour since the pandemic struck are less than secure.

The reasons Cummings’s misbehaviour has prompted such anger are not hard to grasp.

Johnson’s claim that he “followed the instincts of every father” are irrelevant, when the lockdown policy imposed by government — “an instruction, not a request”, as Health Secretary Matt Hancock emphasised in the early press briefings — has forced the whole country to act against instinct.

Serious sacrifices have been made — generally willingly — by people who understand that lockdown is the only way to stem the spread of coronavirus.

Families have been forced to choose which member gets to attend the death bed of a loved one. People have been forced to keep their distance from relatives and friends however worried they might be about them.

Cummings’s actions, and the decision of the Prime Minister to defend them, seem like a slap in the face to millions.

And that means the government’s real failings may begin to hit home. It cannot plausibly claim to have tackled the Covid-19 pandemic effectively.

The death count rose above 47,000 yesterday, dangerously close to the 50,000 figure ministers cited last month as a worst-case scenario.

What it had going for it was that much-abused phrase, “we’re all in it together.”

While many on the left were understandably irritated at Johnson’s adulation by the papers as he fell sick with the virus himself, his illness fed a narrative that ministers were steering the nation through an unprecedented crisis and deserved our loyalty.

The Cummings saga has exposed the double standards at the heart of this fairy tale.

How should the left respond? Demanding individual resignations is not usually an approach that reflects class politics. But there are reasons why pressure for Cummings to go should be intensified.

The most immediate is the risk that failing to punish the adviser risks leading to widespread lapse in observing the safety advice which is still essential to try to limit the number who die from this deadly virus. His defenestration would underline the importance of everyone following the rules.

Ministers’ reluctance to let him go is explained by Cummings’s indispensability as a strategist to Johnson, who without him lacks a coherent political project and who has numerous bitter enemies within the Tory Party itself.

They are also seeking to relax lockdown anyway, quickly and with inadequate preparation, and may not be overly concerned at a dilution of the message at this stage.

That only strengthens the case for going for the jugular. The crisis leaves the status quo vulnerable. Britain is transparently ill-equipped to cope with emergencies, and the role privatisation and outsourcing have played in crippling the ability of our public services to deliver has been exposed.

Trade unions are demanding a better deal for millions of “key workers” whose true value to society is clearer than ever.

That is why the left needs to go beyond calls for Cummings’s head, demanding a reckoning for the entire government’s handling of the crisis and for the system that has crippled its response.

The labour movement is in a position to influence the world of work after lockdown. We cannot afford to miss the opportunity.

Men’s rugby league: NRL’s plan to have fans in stadiums slammed by medical body: here.

Men’s golf: ‘Majority of players want to see Ryder Cup pushed back until 2021,’ says Rory McIlroy: here.

Deforestation threatens Indian hornbills


This 23 May 2020 video says about itself:

The trees hornbills depend on in Northeast India are the same trees loggers prize. In the Papum Reserve Forest of Arunachal Pradesh state, three hornbill species nest in the forest. The great hornbill, the wreathed hornbill and the oriental pied hornbill lay their eggs in large tree cavities. But the size of the trees they nest in is precisely what draws in loggers. In the last decade, 20% of the Papum Reserve Forest cover has been lost.

Read more here.

Bolsonaro condemning Indigenous Brazilians to COVID-19 death?


This 26 May 2020 video says about itself:

Photojournalist Sebastião Salgado: Brazil’s Reckless COVID Response Threatens Indigenous Survival

As Brazil sees more than 800 deaths in 24 hours and nearly 400,000 confirmed cases, we look at COVID-19’s devastating impact on Brazil’s Indigenous peoples, who are dying at double the rate of the rest of the country. We speak with world-renowned Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Salgado, who wrote an open letter to right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, who called the virus a “little flu”, to warn him the pandemic is “an extreme threat to their very survival.”

Prestigious Penable Award, thanks Laleh Chini!


Prestigious Penable Award

My dear blogging friend Laleh Chini, of the beautiful literary blog A Voice from Iran, has been so kind to nominate Dear Kitty. Some blog for the Prestigious Penable Award!

Thank you so much for this! It is a new award for me.

Here are the rules:

  • Tag your post with the #penableaward
  • Display the Penable award logo (above) on your post and follow Penable if you haven’t already
  • Thank the person that nominated you
  • Tell us what your writing talent is
  • Answer three questions that you have been asked
  • Nominate three inspiring people for this award.
  • Let them know of their nomination
  • Give them three new questions to answer!

My writing talent: my blog is about 40 different categories, So, I am not sure about which subjects I am better and about which I am worse.

Laleh Chini’s questions, and my answers, are:

1- Where would your next travel destination be? I don´t know yet, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

2- Which season is your favourite? Spring.

3- What color gives you peace? Green, of plants.

My questions to my nominees are:

1. Which is your favourite bird species?

2. To which country where you have never been would you like to go after the coronavirus crisis?

3. Which is your favourite song?

My nominees are:

1. It is what it is

2. Rolling Harbour Abaco

3. Erika Kind

Anti-COVID-19 measures, good for Qatar birds


This 26 May 2020 video says about itself:

Qatar’s birdlife thriving amid pandemic restrictions

Global coronavirus lockdowns have allowed nature to flourish.

Every sunset, off the coast of Qatar, a little bit of magic happens as thousands of cormorants return to a small island where they spend their nights.

Al Jazeera’s Stefanie Dekker reports.

British Conservative Dominic Cummings, new parody song


This satiric music video from Britain says about itself:

Dominic Cummings – I Can See Clearly Now (The COVID‘s Gone)

It is a parody of the 1972 song I Can See Clearly Now by Johnny Nash.

LYRICS:

I can see clearly now the COVID’s gone
I can see all vehicles in my way
Don’t have to crash and wipe my family out
It’s gonna be a bright day out at Barnard Castle

I can see clearly now the COVID’s gone
I can see all articles on my blog
I can now edit them, my hindsight’s back
It’s gonna be a bright day out at Barnard Castle

Public compliance with Covid-19 rules and confidence in government drops during Cummings controversy: here.

Coronavirus disaster in Trump’s USA, update


This 25 May 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

We completely blew it for the first two months of our response’ — This New York Times health and science reporter says Trump and incompetent leadership at the CDC are to blame for the COVID-19 mess in America.

In US news and current events today, Donald Trump says don’t blame him, blame China, but this reporter says blame Trump and the CDC chief while highlighting just how lax Trump’s approach has been.

WHO WARNS OF 2ND PEAK IF RESTRICTIONS LIFT TOO SOON The world is still in the middle of the first wave of the coronavirus outbreak, World Health Organization emergencies head Dr. Mike Ryan said, noting that while cases are declining in many countries they are still increasing in Central and South America, South Asia and Africa. Ryan said epidemics often come in waves, which means that outbreaks could come back later this year in places where the first wave has subsided. There was also a chance that infection rates could rise again more quickly if measures to halt the first wave were lifted too soon. [HuffPost]

TRUMP’S ECONOMIC ADVISER CALLS AMERICANS ‘HUMAN CAPITAL STOCK’ Trump’s senior economic adviser, Kevin Hassett, presented a cold view of the U.S. economic system, referring to American workers as “human capital stock”. In an interview on CNN, Hassett predicted that business would pick up again soon. “Our human capital stock is ready to get back to work,” he said, while admitting at the same time that the nation will continue to struggle with unemployment as high as 23% this month. [HuffPost]

Arkansas governor defends easing restrictions despite largest single-day rise.

CDC issues alarming triple-fatality report on coronavirus cases at Arkansas church.

Clergy says Trump’s push to open churches contradicts Jesus’ teachings to love thy neighbor.

TRUMP THREATENS TO MOVE GOP CONVENTION Trump threatened to relocate the upcoming Republican National Convention from North Carolina to another state if its Democratic governor doesn’t allow his party “full attendance” at the event. In a series of tweets, Trump targeted Gov. Roy Cooper for being “still in Shutdown mood” during the coronavirus pandemic, saying he would find a more accommodating state if Cooper doesn’t cave to his demand. [HuffPost]

VA GIVES 1,300 VETS UNPROVEN DRUG TOUTED BY TRUMP The Department of Veterans Affairs has been giving 1,300 veterans hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the coronavirus since late March — even though the drug has not been proven to be effective against the illness and may even trigger fatal heart problems. In a study of 100,000 patients with COVID-19, patients who received hydroxychloroquine had a “significantly higher risk of death” compared to those who were not given the drug. “We were unable to confirm a benefit of hydroxychloroquine” on in-hospital outcomes for COVID-19, the researchers concluded. [HuffPost]

An indelible pandemic image: Trump, on a golf course, without a mask.

White House press secretary: Golf is not OK while the U.S. mourns (Trump‘s exempt though).

New deep-sea worm species’ Elvis Presley name


The four species of deep-sea creatures collectively known as 'Elvis worm' (one of each species shown) may be small — just millimeters to centimeters long. But they make quite the impression with their iridescent, sequinlike scales. Photo: A.S. Hatch et al/ZooKeys 2020

By Maria Temming, May 25, 2020 at 6:00 am:

New species of scaly deep-sea worms named after Elvis have been found

The animals’ iridescent scales are reminiscent of sequins on the iconic jumpsuits of ‘The King’

A new look at the critters known as “Elvis worms” has the scale worm family all shook up.

These deep-sea dwellers flaunt glittery, iridescent scales reminiscent of the sequins on Elvis’ iconic jumpsuits (SN: 1/23/20). “For a while, we thought there was just one kind of Elvis worm,” says Greg Rouse, a marine biologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif. But analysis of the creatures’ genetic makeup shows that Elvis worms comprise four species of scale worm, Rouse and colleagues report May 12 in ZooKeys.

Rouse’s team compared the genetic material of different Elvis worms with each other, and with DNA from other scale worm species. This analysis places Elvis worms in the Peinaleopolynoe genus of scale worms, which includes two other known species — one found off the coast of Spain, the other off California.

This 21 May 2020 video says about itself:

Deep-sea ‘Elvis worms’ show off their sequin like scales | Science News

A new genetic analysis of the deep-sea creatures nicknamed “Elvis worms” reveals that these iridescent creatures include four separate species. The Elvis worms seen in this video belong to the species Peinaleopolynoe orphanae, which mostly sport glittery blue scales, but also come in other colors, like black and red. These worms may look dainty, but they fight dirty, chomping at each other’s scales when they get into skirmishes.

The Maria Temming article continues:

The four newly identified Elvis worm species are scattered across the Pacific, from P. elvisi and P. goffrediae in Monterey Canyon off California to P. orphanae in the Gulf of California by Mexico and P. mineoi near Costa Rica.

These deep-sea Elvis impersonators share some common traits, such as nine pairs of scales. But each species has its own distinct flare. P. elvisi’s gold and pink iridescent color scheme earned it the honor of keeping the worms’ namesake in its official title. P. orphanae, on the other hand, mostly sports rainbow-sparkled scales of a bluish hue.

The researchers don’t know why Elvis worms have evolved such eye-catching scales, since the animals live in the dark, deep sea. It could just be a side effect of developing thicker scales over time, which happen to refract more light, Rouse says. Thicker scales could come in handy in a fight, since Elvis worms are apparently biters, a behavior discovered while watching a worm skirmish. “Suddenly, they started doing this amazing jitterbugging — wiggling, and then fighting and biting each other” on their scales, Rouse says. “No one’s ever seen any behavior like this in scale worms.”