COVID-19 disaster in Boris Johnson’s Britain

This 2 June 2020 video from London, England says about itself:

The Coronavirus Food Bank that went from Feeding 30 People a Day to Over 500

“We can’t keep up with demand”.

From daily News Line in Britain, 6 June 2020:

Pandemic 2018 simulation warnings totally ignored

AN EXERCISE simulating a coronavirus outbreak in Scotland, which was shared with a UK government advisory group in 2018, showed a ‘clear gap’ in preparedness, the BBC has learned.

A report into ‘Exercise Iris’ revealed frontline staff ‘unease’ over personal protective equipment and ‘the need for substantive progress’.

By Lamiat Sabin in Britain, 5 June 2020:

Government urged to scrap Serco‘s contract after leaked email

THE government was urged to scrap Serco’s contract for the test-and-trace system today after the outsourcing giant bragged it was using it to “cement” privatisation into the NHS supply chain.

Serco is among several firms being paid to recruit, coach and manage a network of 25,000 tracers in the scheme, which is being led by Baroness Dido Harding.

A leaked email from Serco chief executive Rupert Soames said he doubted the scheme would run smoothly — but hoped it would further embed private firms in the NHS supply chain.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 5 June 2020:

Editorial Serco’s secrets: how the pursuit of profit is wrecking our response to Covid-19

Serco‘s leaked admission that its track-and-trace work will ‘cement the role of the private sector’ in the NHS throws down the gauntlet to the left

THE right never wastes a crisis. The leaked email from Serco chief executive Rupert Soames exposes the ruthless cynicism with which the Tories are risking our lives in pursuit of their goals.

Those responsible for delivering the track-and-trace app don’t expect it to be fully operational for “three to four months.” Yet a functional track-and-trace system is a prerequisite for relaxing lockdown – without one, authorities cannot hope to identify and isolate Covid-19 outbreaks.

This blows apart the assurances the government has given that Britain – already, according to an analysis by the Financial Times, the country with the highest Covid-19 death rate in the world, at 891 per million – is adequately prepared to ease lockdown restrictions without risking another spike in infections and deaths.

From the start, the government has failed to prioritise protecting the public. Its late, patchy lockdown came weeks after ministers had been made aware by China and the World Health Organisation of the scale of the problem. Those weeks were not used to prepare.

When coronavirus cases began to multiply, front-line workers were still being denied the personal protective equipment (PPE) they needed to work safely. The price has been paid in mounting deaths among NHS workers but also among transport workers and cleaners, and in the unfolding tragedy that hit so many of our care homes.

Management in both the public and private sectors has fallen short when it comes to adapting workplaces to maximise safety, including in enforcing the government’s own social-distancing guidelines. More often than not it has been trade unions and their reps on the ground who have kept staff safe.

Nor has the government anything like an accurate picture of the spread of coronavirus among the millions of workers who have continued to go into the workplace throughout lockdown, because of its failure to conduct enough tests or properly prioritise tests for key workers.

We know – because an excellent report by We Own It and the University of Greenwich has demonstrated it – that the PPE shortage that forced so many NHS staff to risk their lives is a direct result of the chaotic impact of privatisation on NHS supply chains, with as many as four different junctures for the private sector to cream off profit between the commissioning of equipment and its arrival.

And now Soames’s email reveals that Serco was well aware that its contribution to track-and-trace would not go “smoothly” but recognised its importance to “cement the position of private-sector companies in the public-sector supply chain.”

When it comes to a project whose entire purpose is to stop a second wave of a lethal virus that is killing tens of thousands of people, not going “smoothly” equates directly to more people dying.

The inevitable consequence of rolling out a rough-and-ready solution to a rapidly evolving crisis? No, because the government declined expert assistance from the likes of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health in order to give the job to Serco, a company notorious for ripping off and actually convicted of defrauding the taxpayer.

Why? To “cement the position of the private sector.”

MPs who detect an ideological motive behind their opponents’ policies sometimes accuse them of “playing politics.” The assumption being that there is neutral ground on which policies are pursued on a “what works” basis.

The reality is that the decisions that shape our public services are deeply political and the left needs to be as clear-eyed as the right in recognising that.

The role of the private sector in delivering NHS services is a serious problem. It is responsible for failings that are killing people and will keep doing so.

The Tories are using this crisis. So must the left. Driving the profiteers out of our health service is a cause that can unite the overwhelming majority against this reckless, dangerous government.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain, 5 June 2020:

Boris Johnson must ‘stand up to Big Pharma’ over Covid-19 vaccines, campaigners say

CAMPAIGNERS urged PM Boris Johnson to “stand up to Big Pharma” yesterday by pledging at a global vaccine summit to make the coronavirus vaccine affordable for the world’s poorest people.

The demand came as world leaders congregated via video-link in the virtual Global Vaccine Summit chaired by Britain, during which Mr Johnson gave a keynote speech.

Mr Johnson called for “a new era of global health co-operation” and encouraged world leaders to raise £5.9 billion to distribute vaccines for various infectious diseases in some of the poorest countries over the next five years.

By Solomon Hughes in Britain, 5 June 2020:

Seen but not ‘herd’?

The newly released papers of the government’s secretive Sage group reveals ‘herd immunity’ was a recurring theme in many guises — despite government denials

CHANNEL 4’s Dispatches produced new evidence that Boris Johnson was pursuing a crackpot “herd immunity” strategy against coronavirus, which the government has again denied.

This just adds to the herd immunity evidence, some of which is very public.

There is in fact also evidence of the herd immunity plan in the recently released papers of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), which has been generally overlooked.

Donald Trump violent photo op, satiric video

This 5 June 2020 satiric animated cartoon video by Mark Fiore from the USA says about itself:

Operation Photo Op

And here I thought we wouldn’t have troops on the street until closer to the election. The George Floyd protests have laid bare the underlying horriffic racism that has marred the United States throughout our history. Of course, Donald Trump is definitely not the guy we want in office to help heal our country’s racial wounds.

A perfect storm of Trumpism happened when the administration ordered police and military forces to violently clear peaceful protesters from Lafayette Park next to the White House, just so Trump could make a show of holding a Bible in front of St. John’s Church. The president finally behaved like one of the autocrats he admires. He’s a wannabe strongman who unfortunately just showed us he has the tools to be an actual strongman.

But it’s not just Trump, Attorney General William Barr, Jared Kushner and Mark Esper are all complicit in this attack on our democracy and their actions should not be laughed off as just “Trump being Trump”. In the United States, this sort of thing is illegal, I only hope our laws catch up with this band of criminals bent on undermining our democracy.

Stay safe, keep fighting for racial justice and watch out for troop deployments.

US cops shot dead black man passed out in a car the same day George Floyd was killed: here.

Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News promotes conspiracy theory that the mass anti-racist demonstrations are not caused by police brutality, but by the ‘Weather Underground’ (defunct in the 1970s): here. Probably, the puppets of anti-Semitic billionaire Rupert Murdoch base that on the fact that, today, there is a meteorological information internet site, called Weather Underground.

Netanyahu reopening, COVID-19 danger for Israeli schools

This video says about itself:

Emotions high as schools reopen, 2 teachers positive for virus

It’s back to school this week for most Israeli children after two months of homeschooling in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Then, it was only two infected sick teachers. But now …

Translated from Dutch NOS radio, 5 June 2020:

Israel closes 90 schools again for fear of new corona outbreak

The Israeli government has closed over 90 schools this week following an increase in coronavirus infections. The primary and secondary schools were open again last month, after about two months of closure.

According to the Ministry of Health, the reopening of schools is the main cause of the number of new infections increasing again. Yesterday, Israel had 118 new confirmed infections. That is the highest number in more than a month and much more than a few weeks ago.

Children can spread it”

This is largely due to contact at schools, says department head Asher Salmon at the ministry: “Without a doubt. Children may be less susceptible to the virus, but they can actually spread it. And as long as there are infections, contact leads to new infections. That’s how it works in an epidemic. ”

The option to close all schools is still on the table, Salmon says, “The next few days will be crucial.” For the time being, only schools will be closed where a student or staff member has tested positive for coronavirus. Until now, this has happened at 92 educational institutions.

A gymnasium in Jerusalem was the hardest hit. There, more than 150 students and teachers became infected with the virus.

Teacher: I can understand them

Marion Golany works as an English teacher at a primary school a little further in the city. No infections have yet been detected at her school, so classes will continue for the time being. “Yet many parents keep their children at home,” says Golany. “The day before yesterday there were only three children in class, in a class of seventeen. And I can understand them.”

In March, Israel decided to largely shut down public life to stem the spread of the virus. The schools also closed. When the number of new cases fell, the government decided to open schools step by step last month. Not all volumes at the same time, and a maximum of fifteen students per class. In mid-May, those restrictions were released and all students were allowed back to school.

Maximum half classes

But that decision was premature, says epidemiology professor and former senior official Gabi Barbash: “We should have held on to half classes of up to 15 students. Children not only infect each other, but also their relatives at home. As a result, we see the number of active infections grow again now.”

The full classes make a big difference, says teacher Golany: “Everything seems normal again, and it is difficult to keep a distance. You can no longer prevent them from hugging and jumping on each other. After all, they are children in a primary school.” …

Since the outbreak began, Israel has a total of more than 17,000 confirmed covid-19 infections. At least 290 patients were killed by the virus.

Israel pays the price for Netanyahu’s pandemic politics: here.

Coral reef fish evolution, new research

This 2018 video says about itself:

The Coral Reef: 10 Hours of Relaxing Oceanscapes | BBC Earth

Sit back, relax and enjoy the colourful world of coral reefs as we take you on a journey through some of the most vibrant parts of our blue planet with this 10-hour loop.

From the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Australia:

Big vegetarians of the reef drive fish evolution

June 2, 2020

Summary: New research finds fish diets, not geography, dictate how fast species evolve.

A new study reveals the diets of reef fish dictate how fast different species evolve. The breakthrough adds another piece to the fascinating evolutionary puzzle of coral reefs and the fishes that live on them.

“Up until now we knew that many factors could have influenced the pace of reef fish evolution, but these factors were never examined altogether,” said Alexandre Siqueira, the study’s lead author from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University (Coral CoE at JCU).

“By building an evolutionary ‘tree of life’ for nearly all fishes associated with reefs, we were able to examine the variation in rates of species formation and ask what drives it,” said co-author Dr Peter Cowman, also from Coral CoE at JCU.

The ‘tree of life’ contains more than 6,000 fish species that live on coral reefs across the globe. Ecological and geographical data — such as diet and geographical range — were also gathered for the majority of these species.

The authors were surprised to find that what really matters in reef fish evolution isn’t geography, but what fish eat and how big they get.

“We found that the fastest way to have more species, or biodiversity, on a reef is to be big and vegetarian,” said co-author Professor David Bellwood, also from Coral CoE at JCU.

“Herbivores, such as surgeonfishes and parrotfishes, are key to the ecological diversity of coral reefs today.”

The study suggests these fishes also made way for today’s coral reefs to evolve and flourish.

“By feeding on the algae that compete with corals, herbivorous fishes may have also helped corals to expand through time,” Mr Siqueira said.

“In turn, this expansion in the corals allowed the diversification of other reef fish groups that depend on them.”

And these herbivorous fishes — big and small — still maintain coral reefs to this day.

The study offers a new way of looking at reefs with a functional, rather than taxonomic, approach. Very little is known about the functional evolution of reefs: what they do and how they work. Scientists previously only looked at how many reefs there were and what species were present.

“In this study it was important to understand the origins of the functional role a fish species plays on a reef — not just the species itself,” Dr Cowman said.

Today’s coral reefs differ from their early counterparts. It was only during the Miocene, less than 23 million years ago, that herbivorous fish species developed features that allowed them to explore different areas of the reef.

“Because of this, today’s reefs are highly dynamic and have a fast turnover. These herbivores are the key element that established modern coral reefs,” Prof Bellwood said.

“Understanding how reefs are constructed throughout their evolution means we can reach a better understanding of the fundamental processes that maintain them in a healthy state today,” Mr Siqueira said.

Anti-George Floyd police murder protests, worldwide

This 6 June 2020 Australian TV video says about itself:

Australians turn out for Black Lives Matter protests around the country | ABC News

Thousands are taking to the streets for protests against Indigenous deaths in custody and to support the Black Lives Matter movement in Australia’s capital cities, despite warnings from governments and police to stay home.

Australian governments try to block demonstrations against police violence. By Oscar Grenfell, 6 June 2020. The bans and police threats are outright attacks on the right to protest, a basic democratic right, aimed at establishing a precedent for suppressing mounting social and political opposition.

Sydney Black Lives Matter rally organisers win last-minute appeal to overturn ban by the government: here.

THE WORKING class internationally has risen up in anger over the police murder of George Floyd in the US. The burning issue over police killings and the Black Lives Matter movement has rapidly spread around the United States and around the globe. In Australia yesterday, the capitalist government declared this weekend’s Black Lives Matter protest illegal, threatening fines and arrests. They see it rightly as a threat to Australian capitalism: here.

The police murder of George Floyd sparks mass protests throughout the world. 6 June 2020. Hundreds of thousands of people have joined demonstrations in Europe, North and South America, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand: here.

Brazil’s President Bolsonaro calls demonstrators “terrorists”, threatens military repression. By Miguel Andrade, 6 June 2020. General Hamilton Mourão viciously attacked protests against the murder of George Floyd and social inequality, calling for the arrest of demonstrators.

Encouraged by Trump, police rampage leaves protesters dead and wounded across the US. By Jacob Crosse, 6 June 2020. Demonstrators have been teargassed, pepper-sprayed, shot with rubber bullets and beanbags, and beaten by rampaging police.

Four Tacoma, Washington police officers put on administrative leave three months after killing Manuel Ellis. By Julio Patron, 6 June 2020. Ellis, a father of two, could be heard on dispatcher radio calling out “I can’t breathe” after being brutally detained and handcuffed by the police.

Police kill unarmed 22-year-old man in Vallejo, California. By Meenakshi Jagadeesan, 6 June 2020. Sean Monterrosa was on his knees with his hands held up when police officers shot five bullets into him through the windshield of their unmarked cruiser.

Workers in Detroit and across Michigan support anti-police violence protests. By Stephen Fuller and Kevin Reed, 6 June 2020. Michigan workers, including 200 health care workers from Ascension Providence Hospital in Southfield, demonstrated against police violence this week.

“He is trying to be a dictator and he can’t be allowed to be one”. US autoworkers denounce police violence, Trump’s moves to impose military dictatorship. By Jessica Goldstein, 6 June 2020. The multi-ethnic, multi-racial protests against the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis have evoked widespread sympathy among autoworkers.

New York Times in crisis over op-ed backing military takeover. By Patrick Martin, 6 June 2020. In publishing a fascistic diatribe by Senator Tom Cotton, headlined, “Send in the troops”, the Times editorial page tacitly sided with a military takeover of the United States.

Anti-racist demonstrators in London, England

This photo shows anti-racist demonstrators on Trafalgar Square in London, England. They distance spatially, against COVID-19; and take a knee, like Colin Kaepernick.

By Ceren Sagir in Britain, 5 June 2020:

Anti-racists take the knee in London despite Met Police’s warnings it is ‘unlawful’

ACTIVISTS got down on one knee in London’s Trafalgar Square today against institutional racism, despite police warnings that such mass demonstrations could be “unlawful” during coronavirus restrictions.

What rank hypocrisy to now suddenly discover the coronavirus. While the police does not arrest any bosses making workers doing non-essential work exposing them to coronavirus. While the British Conservative government makes a mess of coronavirus response, killing ten thousands of people; as it tells footballers to play matches where they and their families may get infected; tells teachers and pupils to go to schools where they may get infected; and tells workers to go back to non-esential dangerous workplaces.

The protest in tribute to George Floyd, who was murdered by US police, is one of many that have taken place across Britain over the week.

Demonstrators knelt two metres apart in the shadow of Nelson Mandela’s statue, wearing masks and carrying placards condemning racism and brutality.

Mass protests erupt across Canada against police brutality and Trump. By our reporters, 6 June 2020. Protesters denounce Canadian police brutality and racism, following the US police murder of George Floyd.

US arrests surpass 10,000 as mourners gather for George Floyd memorial: here.

Bob KrollTrump’s racist policeman. The people of Minnesota believe that the racism in the police emanates directly from the president of the Minneapolis Police Federation, writes PETER FROST.

By John Wight in Britain, 5 June 2020:

When fascism comes to America

“WHEN fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the flag and waving the cross,” is a quote commonly, if erroneously, attributed to the novelist Sinclair Lewis.

Yet regardless of its provenance, the quote appears eminently applicable to the upheaval taking place across the Atlantic. There, since the murder of George Floyd by a cop in Minneapolis, thousands have been in open revolt against a system whose foundations – not of democracy and liberty but organised violence and white supremacy – have been exposed as they never have been since the 1960s.

Then, as now, there was no middle ground. People were obliged to take a stand on the side of the black and brown victims of racial oppression or on the side of their oppressor, the forces of racism.

“I didn’t receive one warning”. Protester explains how he was brutally assaulted by Secret Service officials in Washington, D.C. By Nick Barrickman, 6 June 2020. The demonstrator explained how federal officials provoked and then assaulted peaceful demonstrators outside the White House last weekend as protests against police brutality swept the country.

This 6 June 2020 Australian TV video is called Washington mayor paves the road to the White House with ‘Black Lives Matter’ | 7NEWS. It says about itself:

In an apparent rebuke of US President Donald Trump’s militaristic response to protests over police brutality, Washington DC mayor Muriel Bowser has renamed a street in front of the White House ‘Black Lives Matter Plaza’ and had the slogan painted in huge yellow letters on the road.