British food factories coronavirus danger


This video from Harvard University in the USA says about itself:

Food Insecurity, Inequality and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing crises of food insecurity and health disparities. In the United States, mass protests continue to spotlight deep-seated inequities — including access to affordable, nutritious food — faced by communities of color. Black Americans in particular have been disproportionately burdened by the pandemic. Globally, issues about potential disruptions in local food supply chains and prices have caused concern. Drawing on new U.S. Census and other data, this Forum explored public policy and actions needed to preserve access to federal nutritional assistance programs, including SNAP, WIC, and National School Lunch Programs. The panelists also discussed the impact of COVID-19 on the global food supply and nutritional quality, especially in low and middle-income countries, as well as strategies to minimize food system disruptions and ensure food access and nutrition during and after the pandemic.

Presented jointly with The World from PRX & WGBH on June 30, 2020.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain today:

Food factories could be Christmas super-spreaders, warns TUC

FOOD factories could be “super-spreaders” of Covid-19 in the run-up to Christmas, the TUC warns today.

The trade union organisation says that workers in food plants already face a higher chance of contracting coronavirus due to the lack of airflow, poor social distancing and low temperatures.

And a huge influx of temporary staff over the festive period could see cases “rocket”, it predicts.

Food processing has the third-highest rate of outbreaks of any sector across Europe, after care homes and hospitals, according to data from the European Centre for Disease Control.

Since March, several British food factories have been forced to close during the pandemic after reporting hundreds of cases of coronavirus, among them suppliers to major supermarkets.

Last month, turkey meat manufacturer Bernard Matthews reported 147 positive cases across two sites.

But food manufacturing companies across Britain are currently advertising for temporary workers as they gear up for the busy Christmas period.

They include Dessert factory Bakkavor, which had 115 staff test positive for Covid-19 over the summer, with at least one fatality.

The company is seeking hundreds of seasonal staff to meet demand for Christmas.

Meat supplier Cranswick, hit by outbreaks that led to three workers losing their lives, is recruiting for at least 130 Christmas jobs in one factory.

The TUC warns that current workplace safety guidance for food production is “out-of-date” and called on ministers to “stop dragging their feet” and make it a legal requirement for employers to publish their risk assessments.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “There is a real danger that food factories could become ‘super spreaders’ of Covid-19 as they produce turkeys and other seasonal fare for Christmas.

“Out-of-date guidelines on food production, combined with the seasonal increase in staff, will put factory workers at an even higher risk of infection.

“Ministers urgently need to update the guidance for food production. They must require employers to publish their risk assessments.

“And they must resource the HSE properly, so it can get into food factories and crack down on unsafe working.

“That’s how to make sure everyone is safe at work this Christmas.”

The Department for Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has been approached for comment.

Pollution helps United States COVID-19 pandemic


This 24 November 2029 video says about itself:

Has capitalism turned the COVID-19 emergency into a disaster? | All Hail The Lockdown

We were in a crisis before COVID-19 – a crisis of capitalism. Join Ali Rae in this first episode of “All Hail The Lockdown” – a 5 part series exploring the complexities of our global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this episode, Ali speaks with filmmaker and activist Astra Taylor, economist Aditya Chakrabortty and economic sociologist Linsey McGoey about disaster capitalism, philanthrocapitalism and how the structures of capitalism have left us ill-equipped to deal with the fallout of COVID-19.

From Washington University in St. Louis in the USA:

Pollution and pandemics: A dangerous mix

Research finds that as one goes, so goes the other — to a point

November 12, 2020

The United States may have set itself up for the spread of a pandemic without even knowing it.

According to new research from the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, pollution may bear part of the blame for the rapid proliferation in the United States of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the spread of COVID-19.

The research, from the lab of Rajan Chakrabarty, associate professor in the Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering, was published online ahead of print in the journal Science of The Total Environment.

When it comes to how ill someone gets after contracting COVID-19, medical professionals believe that a person’s health — having certain medical conditions, for example — can play a vital role. When it comes to how fast the virus can spread through the community, it turns out the health of the environment is directly correlated to the basic reproduction ratio R0, which denotes the expected number of people each sick person can infect.

The reproduction ratio R0 of COVID-19 associates directly with the long-term ambient PM2.5 exposure levels. And the presence of secondary inorganic components in PM2.5 only makes things worse, according to Chakrabarty.

“We checked for more than 40 confounding factors,” Chakrabarty said. Of all of those factors, “There was a strong, linear association between long-term PM2.5 exposure and R0.”

PM2.5 refers to ambient particles with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less; at that size, they can enter a person’s lungs and cause damage. For this reason, PM2.5 can be detrimental to respiratory health. But how this relates to the spread of COVID-19 through a population had yet to be explored.

Chakrabarty and his graduate student Payton Beeler, both aerosol researchers who have done previous coronavirus modeling, became interested in the relationship after two papers were published in quick succession. First, a July paper in the journal Science found that levels of susceptibility to COVID-19 is a driving factor for the pandemic; it is more important than temperature, which researchers initially thought might play an outsized role.

British Conservative coronavirus PPE scandal


This 12 August 2020 video about Britain is called Conservative Backers Given Billions of PPE Contracts? Was There Corruption in PPE? – TLDR News.

From daily News Line in Britain today:

While NHS workers scrabble for PPE Tories pay £1 million a day to keep supplies stored in containers

A MASSIVE mountain of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is currently sitting on Felixstowe docks while frontline healthcare workers are still being forced to work in dangerous conditions without any adequate protection.

According to the Telegraph newspaper nearly 10,000 shipping containers full of surgical masks, aprons and gloves are stuck at the port, with the Tory government paying a staggering £1 million a day storage charges to keep them there.

Trade unions representing health workers have condemned this complete failure to deliver the urgently needed PPE to the NHS, with Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe, the Unite national officer for health, saying: ‘The long-running problems with the delivery of PPE are a national scandal that have shocked the public.’

He added: ‘Our members on the NHS and social care frontline, such as speech and language therapists, paramedics and health visitors, are still reporting difficulties getting the necessary PPE nine months after the first lockdown.’

Christina McAnea, Unison assistant general secretary, said: ‘Health and care workers can’t avoid close contact with patients and vulnerable people to carry out their jobs. Having plentiful access to the right PPE is vital and we have to make sure all key workers are well equipped.’

This news is just the latest in the scandal surrounding the provision of vital PPE to the NHS, and Felixstowe port authorities aren’t the only ones to be making vast amounts of money out of PPE.

Last week, a review by Britain’s spending watchdog, the National Audit Office, of 8,600 contracts for PPE revealed that the government has signed agreements for hundreds of thousands of facemasks which turned out to be unusable.

As the coronavirus pandemic raged across the UK, from April £12.3billion was handed out to any firm claiming to be able to provide the NHS with protective equipment as hospitals and care homes ran out.

Many of these companies turned out to have no experience of supplying PPE – but this didn’t stop them winning multi-million deals with the government.

According to the Audit Office, suppliers with political contacts with the Tories were ten times more likely to be awarded these contracts.

The Audit Office announced an urgent investigation of one of the most extraordinary deals – worth £21 million – for surgical gloves and gowns with a Florida-based jewellery designer.

When questioned in Parliament last week about these findings Boris Johnson refused to apologise and claimed he was ‘very proud’ of the government’s record of paying a fortune to these companies for equipment that is mostly unusable.

On Sunday, Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak, interviewed on the Andrew Marr Show, also refused to apologise for PPE contracts given to companies with links to Tory MPs and ministers during the first wave of coronavirus, and defended the government buying 50 million face masks from Ayanda Capital – an investment firm – that were later found to be unusable for NHS workers. ‘It was right to try to do everything we can, and I’m not going to apologise for us reacting in that way,’ Sunak said.

In August it was reported that over 600 health and social care workers had died from Covid-19 while the Department for Health and Social Care confirmed that deaths of NHS staff are to be kept secret. No wonder they are so desperate to keep the number of deaths among NHS and care workers quiet.

The Tories gifted millions to private companies for useless PPE and now are spending £1 million a day to keep tons of vital equipment sitting on a quay while health workers scrabble around for the protection they need.

COVID-19, wildlife trade consequence


This 17 November 2020 video says about itself:

Covid Outbreaks On Mink Farms Stir Controversy Among Scientists | NBC News NOW

Controversy has risen in Denmark over the choice to kill millions of minks. Scientists have found a coronavirus mutation that is believed to spread from minks to humans. NBC News’ Molly Hunter reports.

Many diseases, such as COVID-19, have made the jump from animals to people with serious consequences for the human host. An international research team, including researchers from the University of Göttingen, says that more epidemics resulting from animal hosts are inevitable unless urgent action is taken. In order to protect against future pandemics which might be even more serious, they call for governments to establish effective legislation addressing wildlife trade, protection of habitats and reduction of interaction between people, wildlife and livestock. Their review was published in Trends in Ecology & Evolution: here.

Conservation of tropical peatlands could reduce the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the likelihood of new diseases jumping from animals to humans, researchers say: here.

Again, slaughterhouse COVID-19 epicentre


This 27 May 2020 video from the USA is called Meat-processing plants remain source of concern for new COVID-19 outbreaks.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio, 10 November 2020:

Almost half of the 225 workers of the Limburg province meat processor Verhey Vlees from Nuth are infected with the coronavirus. This is reported by the South Limburg security region. Last week, the meat processor already stopped production after 41 employees had tested positive. After that, that number has increased considerably. The exact number of infections is unknown, says 1Limburg.

More than half of the employees of Verhey Vlees are labor migrants. These labor migrants work for the meat processor through various temporary employment agencies, which is why the source and contact investigation was “a complicated job”, according to the safety region. …

In May, there were also several coronavirus outbreaks in meat processors, including in Apeldoorn and Helmond.

Danish mink fur business COVID-19 disaster


This 4 November 2020 video is called Denmark Wants to Cull All Farmed Minks Over COVID Fears.

By Eddy Wax, 4 November 2020:

Denmark to kill all mink to stop mutated coronavirus spreading to humans

Experts say the virus has been mutating in the animals and there have been 12 cases of those mutations being transmitted to humans in the country.

Denmark will cull millions of mink being farmed for their fur in order to stop a mutated version of the new coronavirus from spreading to humans, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced Wednesday.

Now detected at over 200 Danish mink farms, the virus has been mutating in the animals and there have been 12 cases of those mutations being transmitted to humans in the North Jutland region, the country’s infectious diseases institute has said.

“The mutated virus — via mink — can carry the risk that the upcoming vaccine will not work as it should,” Frederiksen, who is currently self-isolating after possible exposure to COVID-19, said in a virtual press conference.

She said continuing to breed mink during the pandemic “entails a significant risk to public health” and that Denmark has a responsibility to prevent a mutated coronavirus from spreading to other countries.

In October, the Scandinavian country already made plans to cull all infected mink, and those within a radius of around 8 kilometers from infected farms, but Wednesday’s announcement extended the cull to all animals, including those being used for breeding.

Frederiksen also apologized to Danish mink breeders, acknowledging they would lose their livelihoods.

Denmark is the world’s biggest producer of mink fur, with around 1,500 farmers churning out some 16 million furs per year.

Coronavirus outbreaks at mink farms have also been recorded in the Netherlands and Spain.

European Union-paid Sudanese anti-refugee violence


This 24 June 2019 video says about itself

When mass demonstrations in the spring led to the downfall of Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir, protesters hoped for a peaceful transition to civilian rule.

But since then, the backlash has been brutal. Hundreds have died or gone missing. One man has tightened his grip on power through the most brutal arm of the state, known as the Rapid Support Forces. What’s most surprising is that Hemedti seemingly built up his power with the help of money from the European Union. A warning: this report contains images that viewers may find disturbing.

Translated from Dutch daily Trouw, 31 October 2020:

This notorious Sudanese militia is receiving “security training” paid for by the European Union

For years, the EU and the Dutch government refused financial or material support to Sudan’s most feared paramilitary group. But money from an EU fund against irregular migration is now used for training for this particular group.

Klaas van Dijken, Nouska du Saar and Aziz Alnour, 31 October 2020, 1:00 am

… The men are members of Sudan’s most feared and most powerful paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). …

RSF was involved in war crimes in Darfur

The EU has always said that the RSF will not receive direct or indirect support because of its involvement in war crimes in Darfur. The Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag also spoke out against this last year. But internal and public documents show that the EU is indeed co-financing this training project, and that EU countries gave their consent in July. …

The money for it comes from the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, which has been set up to combat irregular migration.

Internal documents show that 5 million euros has been budgeted for the program, which also includes training of the RSF. The militias are awaiting training in … recognizing and identifying refugees … and using firearms, says an insider. ..

“For years we have asked the European Commission not to support the RSF and they have pledged to do so time and again. But it seems that anything is possible at the EU if the ultimate goal is to keep refugees out of Europe, ”said Miguel Urbán Crespo, MEP.

“Training the RSF is shortsighted and morally wrong”

Kenneth Roth, director of Human Rights Watch, is also critical: “Training the RSF is shortsighted and morally wrong,” he says. “When not linked to trials of the leaders of the RSF, this kind of training is a nice facade and irrelevant.”

British royal family and slavery


This 27 April 2020 video says about itself:

The Role of the Royal African Company in Slavery

The Royal African Company was started under the guise of the exploration of the African continent in the 16th century. The main purpose of the company was of course the transportation of gold and slaves. The Royal African Company had a monopoly over the transportation of slaves to the Caribbean because of the Navigation Act of 1660. Learn more here.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Probe launched into royal palaces‘ links to slavery

HISTORIAN Lucy Worsley launched an investigation today into the royal palaces’ links to slavery.

The chief curator of Historic Royal Palaces said a probe into the residences’ links to the slave trade was “long overdue.”

She insisted that the charity – which looks after Kensington Palace, the Tower of London and Hampton Court – has a duty to make any historical connections public.

The inquiry comes after the National Trust released a report highlighting links to slavery and colonialism in 93 of the properties it manages.

It detailed how properties, including Winston Churchill’s home Chartwell, were connected to plantation owners, people who gained their wealth from the slave trade and those involved in colonial expansion and administration.

Ms Worsley said she wished that her organisation had acted sooner in commencing its own investigation, adding that the National Trust was “ahead of the game.”

“We’ve been thinking really hard and planning all sorts of changes,” she said.

“The time has come. We’re behind. We haven’t done well enough.”

According to Ms Worsley, all properties used by the Stuart dynasty were “going to have an element of money derived from slavery” within them.

The Stuarts played a key role in the slave trade when King Charles II granted a charter to the Royal African Company, of which his brother King James II was a member.

Ms Worsley said that there was a “challenging” side to British history which the country “is good at sidelining in favour of supporting the tourist industry.”

She added: “It is always great to push people a bit into an uncomfortable and darker direction, because then you can see the historical causes of things like social injustice.”

Coronavirus infected workers infect fellow workers


This 21 July 2020 video says about itself:

A study shows the new coronavirus could seriously damage the brain and central nervous system, leading to psychosis, paralysis and strokes. Researchers are calling for more extensive studies to investigate the long-term risks for Covid-19 patients.

And DW science correspondent Derrick Williams answers your questions about the state of coronavirus vaccine research.

According to research by the Dutch national health authority of 14 October 2020, 43% of Dutch people who have tested positive for coronavirus infection still go to work. Where they may infect fellow workers and others.

Some of these people may do that because they have internalised the right-wing idea that not working to increase your bosses’ profits supposedly makes one a criminal worse than a rapist or a murderer. Others will have gone to work because they were scared that otherwise their boss would sack them.