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.

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.

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

Hundreds of United States prisoners get COVID-19


This 19 October 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

USA: COVID-19 vaccine “coming out very soon” – Trump at Carson City rally

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today, about the USA:

In a prison in Carson City, Nevada, hundreds of inmates have been infected with the coronavirus. It concerns 424 people, about 80 percent of the total number of prisoners. 25 guards have also contracted the virus.

Record-breaking surge of the pandemic pushing US health care workers to the edge. The mounting surge in new infections is placing immense strain on health care workers and the health systems as they scramble to manage a rapidly growing number of new admissions to hospitals across the nation: here.

Popes John Paul, Benedict child abuse cover-up


This 10 November 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Popes Knew Of Misconduct Allegations Against Ex-Cardinal McCarrick, Vatican Finds | TODAY

The Vatican has released its long-awaited report on former American cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was expelled from the priesthood for sexual misconduct. NBC’s Anne Thompson reports for TODAY.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

The previous two popes ignored complaints of abuse by a cardinal

Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict, the predecessors of the current Pope, have ignored or downplayed complaints of sexual abuse against US American Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. That is stated in a report from the Vatican. Pope Francis ordered the investigation into whether complaints about the cardinal have been covered up.

The investigation shows that in 2000, Pope John Paul II knew that accusations against McCarrick had been made to the Holy See. According to anonymous letters, the American cardinal was guilty of, eg, the sexual abuse of underage family members. Investigators also found that the Vatican received additional information on previous allegations in April 2005, shortly after Pope Benedict XVI took office.

McCarrick was instructed to remain somewhat in the background, according to the report. Benedict thought no further steps were necessary.

Deprived of priestly status

McCarrick retired in 2006. In 2018, Pope Francis stripped him of priestly status for sexual abuse. American bishops and other representatives of the Vatican have also been guilty of ignoring or downplaying reports of McCarrick sexual abuse, the investigation shows.

Coronavirus and politics in the USA


This 9 November 2020 video from the USA is called No Heir Apparent To Republican Party.

U.S. BECOMES FIRST NATION TO SURPASS 10 MILLION VIRUS CASES The United States became the first nation worldwide since the pandemic began to surpass 10 million coronavirus infections, according to a Reuters tally. The grim milestone came on the same day as global coronavirus cases exceeded 50 million. The United States has reported about 1 million cases in the past 10 days, the highest rate of infections since the nation reported its first novel coronavirus case in Washington state 293 days ago. Meanwhile, Biden will reportedly begin to phone local leaders this week to encourage mask mandates that help stem the spread of COVID-19. [Reuters]

OCASIO-CORTEZ STRIKES CAUTIOUS TONE Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who won reelection with more than 68% of the vote in New York’s 14th District, criticized leaders and other elements of her party for being distrustful of her and other more progressive members — who, she argued, have been pivotal in winning votes and candidates for the party. She also accused Democrats of historically forgetting about grassroots movements and activists once elections are over, adding it’s to be seen whether the Biden administration will behave any differently. [HuffPost]

Trump is attempting a coup in plain sight.

ARKANSAS POLICE CHIEF RESIGNS AFTER CALLING FOR DEATH TO ‘MARXIST DEMOCRATS’ The police chief of a small Arkansas town has resigned after writing social media posts calling for “death to all Marxist Democrats” and saying he hoped certain Democratic leaders, including former President Barack Obama, would be “drawn and quartered”, Marshall Police Chief Lang Holland resigned after it was revealed that he had posted offensive comments on right-wing social media site Parler, Mayor Kevin Elliott announced. [HuffPost]