IOTD …. “🇵🇷 ‘Image of the Day, Very Special Edition – #RebuildAreciboObservatory – Shero’ 🇵🇷 …. “!!


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.

Movement against racist murder in Bolsonaro’s Brazil


Activists including members of Black Lives Matter march against the murder of Black man Joao Alberto Silveira Freitas at a Carrefour supermarket the night before, on Brazil's National Black Consciousness Day in Sao Paulo

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 22 November 2020:

Funeral of a black man beaten to death by security guards sparks anti-racism protests across Brazil

THE funeral of a black man beaten to death by supermarket security guards on the eve of Brazil’s Black Awareness Day was accompanied by anti-racist demonstrations across the country at the weekend.

Joao Alberto Silveira Freitas, a father of four, was buried on Saturday in the southern city of Porto Alegre in a coffin draped in the blue and white chequers of the Gremio football team.

“I just want justice,” his partner, Milena Borges Alves, told Brazilian media. “That’s all. I just want them to pay for what they did to him.”

She said they had planned to formally marry in a few days after living together for nine.

Last Friday, Brazil’s national Black Consciousness Day, citizens awoke to footage circulating on social media of two white security guards repeatedly punching Mr Freitas in the face before throwing him to the ground.

One of the guards is then seen kneeling on Mr Freitas’s neck.

Demonstrators enraged by Mr Freitas’s death painted “Black Lives Matter” on the pavement of Paulista Avenue, one of the most famous thoroughfares in Sao Paulo.

Military police used pepper spray to disperse protesters outside a supermarket in the north-eastern city of Recife.

In a video message to the G20 summit in Saudi Arabia, Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro denied that his country suffered from racism and complained of an unspecified movement seeking to “divide” Brazilians.

Black and mixed-race people account for about 57 per cent of Brazil’s population but 74 per cent of victims of lethal violence, according to the Brazilian Forum on Public Safety, a non-governmental organisation.

This figure is even higher, 79 per cent, for those killed by police.

Chilean government, free political prisoners


This 22 November 2920 video says about itself:

Chile protesters call on the government to release political prisoners

Demonstrations are taking place across Chile as the families of nearly 700 young men under preventive detention or house arrest spearhead a nationwide campaign on behalf of those they consider political prisoners.

They are demanding the release of people arrested during protests for social reform over the past year.

The government is under strong pressure to grant a complete amnesty for protesters

But President Sebastian Pinera is saying that under no circumstances will he consider doing so.

Al Jazeera’s Lucia Newman reports from Santiago, Chile.

French Macron covers up police brutality


This 18 November 2020 video says about itself:

The French parliament is debating proposed legislation that would ban images of police officers‘ faces from being spread online, or broadcast on television.

Supporters say it will help protect police but critics see it as an attack on free speech.

Al Jazeera’s Natacha Butler reports from Paris, France.

See also here. And here. And here.

Macron government opposes full lock-down as coronavirus deaths climb: here.

New Zounds music video, Dancing 2020, review


This 14 November 2020 music video is called ZOUNDS “DANCING 2020” – “This is an anti-fascist song”.

The original version of this song Dancing came out in 1982 on Rough Trade records.

This video is how it sounded in 1982.

The band Zounds had started in 1977.

Today, Steve Lake from Zounds in England, author of the song, wrote to me:

We recently made a lockdown video of our song Dancing.

Quite a lot of people play on it.

You might recognise Mark from the Mob [see here, page 9] and Mark from the Astronauts, also Joe from the Cravats.

If you listen please play very loud.

Best wishes to you all.

Steve

Thanks, Steve!

The lyrics are:

It’s nineteen thirty-three
But she just wanna go
Dancing, dancing
Dancing, dancing
Dancing, dancing
Dancing, dancing

She walks the street by day
There’s people all around
But she don’t worry ’bout that
Cause she was gone downtown
She’s going dancing, dancing
Making the noise
And dancing, dancing
Girls and the boys
Dancing, dancing
Dancing, dancing

Sweet mother Germany
Come to the cabaret
Don’t worry about history, history, history
Dancing, dancing
Girls and the boys
Dancing, dancing
Making the noise
And dancing, dancing
Dancing, dancing

It’s nineteen thirty-eight
Sweet mother Germany
It seems so far away
And she will never be, never be, never be
Dancing, dancing
The girls and the boys
Dancing, dancing
Making the noise
And dancing, dancing
Dancing, dancing, dancing,
Never again, never again,
Never again, never again,
Never never never again
Never never never again
Never never never again
Never never never again
Never never never again
Never

After all these years, the lyrics, comparing the start of Hitler’s Germany in 1933 to the Kristallnacht and other horrors of 1938, still stand.

It is a technical feat to record such a music video with so many musicians while not endangering safety in the coronavirus pandemic, which is getting worse and worse in England and many other countries.

Now, the music. When Zounds toured the Netherlands (see page 4ff.), Belgium and Berlin, with Dutch punk band Cheap ‘n’Nasty in 1980, they were a three-piece punk band.

The line-up for this 2020 video are many people more:

Steve Lake – lead vocals / guitar
Paul O’Donnell – bass / backing vocals / claps
Paul Gilbert – drums / backing vocals
Dominic Perez-Silva – guitar / backing vocals
Tim Hutton – trumpet

Joe Davin – keyboards / backing vocals
Bethan Prosser – violin
Mark “Mob” Wilson – backing vocals
Mark “Astronaut “Wilkins – backing vocals
Mia “Antler Family” Dean – backing vocals
Annette Dada – backing vocals
Farivar Gorjian – claps

Mia Dean does lead vocals and guitar in her Antler Family band. She is from California, USA. Again, a technical feat to include her from so far away.

So, twelve people. The minimum size of a big band.

When the Beatles were in the Netherlands in 1964, Dutch TV asked them: Will you become a big band? No, the Beatles said, we don’t want that. They were aware a big band would not be ‘Mersey Beat’ any longer. Less is often more.

I am afraid that I have to say that with this ‘big band’ Zounds, Dancing does not sound like much of a punk melody any more.

Before playing the song, I was very happy to read about the line-up: Bethan Prosser – violin. It brought back very fond memories of Vicky Aspinall of the Raincoats (page 8). However, unfortunately, the sound of the eleven others basically drowns Bethan’s violin.

I think you can basically do four things with a violin. Play classical music: OK, that’s classical music. Or folk music: OK, that is folk. In punk, you can do two things with violins: either you have the very much on the foreground great scratchy sound of Vicky in the Raincoats (Mark Perry did not like the Raincoats’ violin sound (page 17). But Mark Perry is not always right, only sometimes). Or you have lots of violins, like Sid Vicious did in his immortal parody of the musical establishment in My Way.

With those critical comments, I do not mean at all to undermine the very necessary political warning in the video. The video correctly points out the danger to democratic rights in the USA, and worldwide, which Donald Trump and his military grade gun toting and nazi saluting supporters represent.

I might have added that, even if Joe Biden will become president as he won the election, there are still dangers to the environment, to peace and to democratic rights if Biden will listen more to the corporate-Hillary Clinton right wing of the Democratic party than to Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

But you cannot put everything in a five-minute video.