Politicans and world leaders making news and in the news, and spouting hot air
Scotland’s national clinical director Jason Leitch says there is “absolutely no question” of a “normal” Christmas being permitted by the State. Leitch says it’s time for people to “get their digital Christmas ready”. Has the ever been a more awful phrase than “digital Christmas”?
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is not shamed by the message and says it’s not right to “tell people what they want to hear to make it easier in the here and now”.
So a digital Christmas it is, then – with Carols:
Dongle Merrily On High
The First Comment
Once In Royal Sim City
O Come (on) All Ye Webcams
Do They Know It’s Christmas Time At All?
And many more..!
Nicola Sturgeon likes things to be short and sharp – and you’d imagine her husband does, too. Scotland’s First Minister (her) says the decree to shut all pubs, bars and restaurants in central Scotland from 6pm this Friday until October 25 is “intended to be short, sharp action to arrest a worrying increase in infection”. This lock out will stop the rise in coronavirus cases.
In other bits of Scotland, licensed premises can serve alcohol outdoors. The people of Scotland accept the challenge:
Brave heart (freezing cold arse).
In a story on Islamophobia in the Conservative Party, the Guardian cites the appointment of Munira Mirza to lead a Government commission on racial equality as a bad thing. We read:
Given that the party appointed a woman who does not believe in structural racism to the government commission on racial inequalities, the Tories’ investigation into their issues with race and Islam is unlikely to be a rigorous affair.
Why does she need to believe in structural racism to investigate if structural racism exists? Do you only get a job as an investigator if you know the outcome of the investigation before it begins?
To consider it another way: how did Sharmishta “Shami” Chakrabarti, lead a 2016 Labour Party investigation into anti-Semitism in Labour and find it to be “not overrun by anti-Semitism”. At the suggestion of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, a man at the centre of the anti-Semitism in Labour furore, Shami soon became a Dame. Labour, under new leader Keir Starmer, admitted in 2020: “Antisemitism has been a stain on our party. I have seen the grief that it’s brought to so many Jewish communities. On behalf of the Labour Party, I am sorry. I will tear out this poison by its roots and judge success by the return of Jewish members and those who felt that they could no longer support us.”
Boris Johnson, the man who wanted to build a bridge between the UK and Ireland and land passenger jets on a raft sat on the River Thames, says the UK will lead the world in wind power. Says the Prime Minister:
“Some people used to sneer at wind power… and say it wouldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding,” says Boris Johnson.
Those sneering idiots:
Such are the facts.
Spotter; Adam Bienkov
The chef was on the BBC News show to talk bout Covid-19 and the Government’s ham-fisted, half-arsed attempts to contain it and let us get on with our lives. Behind him a chart of “British Tits” – Great Tits, Blue Tits, Boris Johnson and more…
Spotter: Mike Harris
The Government is controlling things it should be controlling. Why is your loved one’s funeral, a wedding or birthday party any of their business? Are you forming the opinion that the only business thriving in the Covid-19 pandemic – well, aside from online supermarkets, Netflix and makers of hand disinfectant – is Government?
New rules are that: pubs and restaurants close at 10pm. Dally at your table – it’s table service only – after the 10pm lockout and Covid Cops will issue fines. Bar staff, non-seated customers, shop workers and waiters must wear a mask or else pay a £200 fine. Weddings will include no more than 15 people, including the happy couple (yeah, 13 guests for the feast – what can go wrong?) Up to 30 of you can hook up at funeral – but only if you remain in groups of six. This is part of the so-called ‘Rule of 6’, an arbitrary rule that says that when seeing friends and family you do not live with you should meet in groups of 6 or less.
Look out for VULTURE APP, a service that alerts the bored and isolated to funerals with spare capacity.
And what of your chances of dying from Covid? Well, the Office for National Statistics notes:
The coronavirus (COVID-19) did not feature in the top ten leading causes of death in August 2020, in England or Wales. In England, COVID-19 was the 24th most common cause of death and in Wales it was the 19th most common cause of death, for deaths registered in August 2020.
Should we focus on something else? No say all the politicians of every stripe. The London Mayor wants more curfews, social distancing and mask wearing. In Scotland you cannot visit anyone in another home. Leading politicians are outdoing each other in a bid to exert more control. But…:
The leading cause of death in August 2020 was dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in England (accounting for 10.9% of all deaths) and ischaemic heart disease in Wales (11.0% of all deaths); both leading causes of death were the same in July 2020.
The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (“develops, promotes and disseminates better evidence for healthcare”), tells us:
While we found that roughly one in thirteen (7.8%) deaths with COVID-19 on the death certificate did not have the disease as the underlying cause of death, this proportion has risen substantially to 29% (nearly a third) for the last eight weeks of reporting.
Is our Government panicking? And why are we so supine in the face of rules and laws that need to be challenged and held up to scrutiny?
Health Secretary Matt Hancock is talking rubbish when he says it’s “inappropriate” for people in England to seek a free Government Covid-19 tests when they don’t have any symptoms. The online system for getting tested has crashed. UK labs have reached capacity, meaning people are unable to book tests or being sent a long way from their home to get one.
In his ham-fisted attempt to blame to the very people seeking to do the right thing and get tested, Hancock cited the example of a school year group that all went for tests. It was “not appropriate” said Hancock. Also wrong are people who want a test before going on holiday, says Hancock.
Inappropriate is not a rule. It’s a judgement made by a man who can see his system failing and knows we can see it, too.
A few hours later, the British Journal of Medicine reported:
The UK government has drawn up plans to carry out up to 10 million covid-19 tests a day by early next year as part of a huge £100bn (€110bn; $130bn) expansion of its national testing programme, documents seen by The BMJ show.
The internal correspondence reveals that the government is prepared to almost match what it spends on the NHS in England each year (£130bn) to fund mass testing of the population “to support economic activity and a return to normal life” under its ambitious Operation Moonshot programme.
A briefing memo sent to the first minister and cabinet secretaries in Scotland, seen by The BMJ, says that the UK-wide Moonshot programme is expected to “cost over £100bn to deliver.” If achieved, the programme would allow testing of the entire UK population each week.
A separate PowerPoint presentation prepared for the government by the global management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group, also seen by The BMJ, says the plans had the potential to grow the UK’s testing capacity from the current 350 000 a day to up to 10 million tests a day by early 2021.
Operation Moonshot, indeed. What planet are Hancock and Johnson from and how did they reach this one?
The BBC then makes a half statement of fact:
The free tests are available to people with symptoms of coronavirus – a fever, new and continuous cough or a loss or change in sense of taste or smell.
Right. But that’s not all. Free tests are also available for people with no symptoms. As the Government site says:
But Hancock says:
…in the last couple of weeks we have seen an increase in demand, including an increase in demand for people who are not eligible for tests, and people who don’t have symptoms.”
You don’t need to have symptoms to be eligible for tests. He needs to read this own Government’s website. But still be blathers on:
“We have seen an increase of about 25% of people who are coming forward that don’t have symptoms and aren’t eligible. They don’t have a reason for it. I’ve even heard stories of people saying, ‘I’m going on holiday next week, therefore I’m going to get a test’. No – that is not what the testing system is there for. We’ve got to be firmer, I’m afraid, with the rules around eligibility for testing.”
You want a test to get on with your life but Hancock says you can’t have one because it is inappropriate. It isn’t. It’s spot on. The fault lies entirely with the Government’s lack of preparation.
Kenosha has been burnt and looted by what the Times calls “Black Lives Matter riots” – “parts of the city looking more like Syria than Wisconsin.” Anger and violence spread after Jacob Blake, an unarmed father of six with warrants for his arrest, was shot in the back seven times by a policeman as he opened his car door. Police say they found a knife in his car. But not on him. Jacob Blake is now paralysed and struggling to live. Police thought it fit to handcuff him to the hospital bed. The shooting of John Blake looks murderous. And in the streets, there’s trouble.
The Times quotes one local: “When you wrap yourself in that flag of BLM and you burn cities to the ground, people will remember. There’s a quiet majority out there.” Another adds: “It’s right that people are out here protesting. But the people burning shit? Nah. That’s all out-of-towners… It’s a mistake, because they make it about the destruction, not the message. Why would we burn our own shit down? The only store where you can get hair products for black folk, it’s burnt up. Why would we do that to ourselves?”
One voice on the HuffPo counters: “…rioting and looting are effective at growing a movement and making an issue come to the forefront. And these riots are destroying what last shreds of credibility President Trump had left, that and his terrible mishandling of the coronavirus, of course.” Adding: “That all of those people came into the streets because of rioting and looting, they participated in rioting and looting – that is the movement. And to say that it distracts from the movement or it’s what the state wants, I think reflects at best a really intense confusion, and at worst an innately anti-Black and anti-liberatory perspective.”
Add to the mayhem Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old heavily armed vigilante. The teenager described in many bulletins as a ‘fan of the police’ is accused of murdering two unarmed men and shooting another. One of the men killed courageously attacked Rittenhouse with a skateboard. You can look at the alleged perpetrator and wonder why anyone sane thinks driving 15 miles to walk around the streets with a huge gun slung over your shoulder is a good idea. Or you look at the victim and shape the narrative to fit an agenda:
The Guardian notes that Rittenhouse has been charged with possession of a dangerous weapon by someone under the age of 18. And then we get two facts which appear at odds with each other:
One thing to note: Kyle Rittenhouse and his alleged victims are all white. Is that important? The epithet white is usually used to denigrate. Isn’t it time to stand as individuals?
John DeBerry, Democratic member of the Tennessee House of Representatives, wants people with “enough guts, enough integrity, enough citizenship and love of country” to stop focusing on race:
How Journalism Works, courtesy of the Washington Post.
On August 28, 2020 at 4:37 a.m., the WaPo noticed a “crowded White House” for Donald Trump’s latest address. The crowd was “largely devoid” of Covid-19 precautions – “few masks, little distancing.”
President Trump celebrated his renomination Thursday with a crowded party at the White House that offered a jarring contrast with a nation that is still widely shut down over fears of the coronavirus pandemic whose spread remains uncontrolled.
On August 28, 2020 at 5:26 p.m the WaPo spotted another crowd at the ‘Get Your Knee Off Our Necks’ march for racial equality:
If the topic is Covid-19, then one crowd looks very much like another crowd, right? The story on the march begins in a different tone to the one on Trump:
Thousands of protesters gathered Friday at the Lincoln Memorial to call for criminal justice reform and racial equality while honoring the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” address from the same location.
Planning began in June after the funeral of George Floyd. Organizers say they want to highlight the civil rights issues of today and bring well-known speakers to address the crowd while also mitigating the spread of the novel coronavirus with strict safety protocols.
It’s not until paragraph 31 in the paper’s live blog, readers learn:
In some cases, there was little social distancing as the crowds moved closer to the Lincoln Memorial and the calls for justice boomed louder from the speakers. Most participants, however, did wear masks.
“Some cases” and “most” Or “few and “largely”? Pick your news. Fed your prejudice.
The British electorate saw off the Corbyn cult. The believers’ chanting, the flag waving and the destruction of naysayers that surrounded Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign to lead Labour Party into Government was about the man not the garbled message. One writer has a dream:
Here’s the most important “issue” to me: I want to make the US into a country where people don’t care who is president, a place like Switzerland. The more people care who is president (as in Venezuela) the worse off the country is.
We vote for the system, not the leader – right?
Did you see the books arranged behind Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Castle Rock school in Coalville, Leicestershire. Was the school librarian making a point in their choice of books to backdrop Boris? Titles on the top shelf included: Betrayed, The Resistance, The Subtle Knife, Fahrenheit 451, The Toll, Oliver Twist and Terry Pratchett’s genius Guards! Guards! What could it all mean asked the assembled hacks. “No comment,” said the school, which is, of course, a comment.
“Books seen behind Boris Johnson tell their own story,” says the Guardian headline. “Has a savvy school librarian or English teacher snatched a golden opportunity to have a pop at the PM in front of the nation?” asks a reporter from the TES. “Are the books behind Boris artfully arranged with a secret political agenda and commentary on the current government?” mused the Indy.
What you might not also have noticed is the PM’s words on the exams results fiasco. “I’m afraid your grades were almost derailed by a mutant algorithm,” guffed Boris. “I know how stressful that must have been for pupils up and down the country. I’m very, very glad that it has finally been sorted out.”
That mutant algorithm was coded by human beings. Sally Collier, the head of England’s exams regulator Ofqual has resigned. Jonathan Slater, the most senior civil servant in the Department for Education (DfE), is ‘stepping down’. But Gavin Williamson, the Secretary of State for Education, aka The Mutant, remains. Look for codes and symbols of defiance by all means, but in so doing try not to miss the obvious. Nearly 800 libraries have closed since 2010. Johnson holidayed amid the exam disaster-class, popping up to tell us that he was reading Lucretius’s On the Nature of Things.
Johnson, that school librarian and political pundits dialling in opinions from seats positioned in front of their bookshelves – watching on for signs of wrong-thinking by their peers and enemies – all assure us that books matter. But schoolchildren suffer through the lack of books and formal education. The local library has gone and there’s no longer a free space to sit, read the think. Books have been reduced to props. And that is telling.
Labour MP Dawn butler says racial profiling led to police stopping a car she was travelling in. The MP for Brent Central recorded the incident in Hackney, east London. She says police must “stop associating being black and driving a nice car with crime”. It’s the Guardian’s lead news story.
The Guardian reports that Butler says the car was being driven by her male friend, who is black. She says officers said the vehicle was registered in North Yorkshire. It wasn’t. And so what is it was? Apparently police were looking at people travelling into the area. But when did driving over a certain distance become a crime?
So who was in the car? The Standard writes:
After details of the incident emerged, some Twitter users claimed that Ms Butler had flipped her camera to make it look as though she was the driver of the car. Some also said she had blurred out the driver’s face because he is white.
Insisting she did not flip the camera and confirming that her friend is black, Ms Butler said: “It was quite interesting to go onto Twitter late last night and then start seeing all these sort of conspiracy theories.
“And it just made me think… the length that people will go to just to excuse racism away, or discrimination away, or injustice away.”
Ms Butler had earlier told Channel Four News that there was “no other reason” for being stopped “apart from the colour of our skin and we were driving a nice car.”
The Metropolitan police say an officer had entered the registration number wrongly into a computer system. They have apologised.
“I had no intention of speaking about this until the officers became very obnoxious,” says Butler, who made a video recording of the incident on her phone. “I just felt that if I don’t use my platform to talk about this, I’m doing a disservice to everyone who gets wrongly stopped and searched, and all the black people who are constantly unjustly profiled.”
One note: Butler was a shadow minister under Jeremy Corbyn. She campaigned for Corbyn to be made PM. Writing in The Critic, Nick Cohen looks at the Left’s little problem:
As for the Labour relationship with Jews, the story changes so fast it’s as if we are back in the USSR. Yesterday’s far-left line was that accusations of racism were “smears” by right-wing “Zionist” enemies. All of a sudden, the smears turn out to be true or at least plausible charges that anti-Corbyn Labour officials deliberately ignored as part of a plot against the very party they were duty bound to serve. ..
We are meant to forget too that Corbyn might have decided to combine support for Palestinian rights with a recognition of Israel’s right to exist. He might not have befriended terrorists who wanted to kill Jews for being Jews. He might have defended Jewish MPs, and stopped the left driving them from his party. He might have refused to become the willing and paid servant of the Iranian state’s propaganda service. He might have recognised racist caricatures straight out of fascist Europe and denounced rather than defended them. He might have refrained from descending into the banter of every saloon-bar bigot and not scoffed that, despite “having lived in this country for a very long time” Zionists “don’t understand English irony”.
Some Labour MPs left the party over its attitude towards Jews. Dame Louise Ellman left the Labour party because, “Under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, antisemitism has become mainstream in the Labour party. Jewish members have been bullied, abused and driven out. Antisemites have felt comfortable and vile conspiracy theories have been propagated. A party that permits anti-Jewish racism to flourish cannot be called anti-racist.” Labour stands accused of being institutionally racist.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission is due to announce the findings of its formal investigation into allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party. It set out to determine whether the party “unlawfully discriminated against, harassed or victimised people because they are Jewish.”
Butler has spoken about anti-Jewish racism in the Labour Party. “I believe that Labour has badly let down the Jewish community,” she wrote on her site.
Racism is disgusting. Call it out when you see it. And above all, don’t vote for it. Before the last election, The Jewish Chronicle published a cry for help: “If this man is chosen as our next prime minister, the message will be stark: that our dismay that he could ever be elevated to a prominent role in British politics, and our fears of where that will lead, are irrelevant.”
Helen Lewis put it well: “Britain’s Jews are used to feeling that their safety is provisional, that they are not fully accepted, that they will always be treated as outsiders. The Labour Party now joins a long list of those who have let them down.”
Can you make political capital out of former Labour MP Eric Joyce being given a suspended sentence after admitting to making an indecent image of a child? The 59-year-old for MP for Falkirk was handed an eight-month sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work. Joyce had in his possession a film depicting “penetrative sexual abuse of very young children”. Said the judge: “That film showed the penetrative sexual abuse of very young children. That these acts of abuse happened is because there are people like you who want to watch these films. If there was no market, those children wouldn’t be subjected to these very serious offences.”
Joyce has been caught. Good. Paedophilia is a sickness. It steals life. It destroys lives. That a former politician has been caught committing such a repulsive crime should make him front-page news. But not all papers have gone studs up on Joyce, who dates a Sunday Times columnist.
At the end of the report on Joyce’s depravity, the Guardian notes:
It comes after the former Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke was last month found guilty of sexually assaulting two women… Separately, a Tory MP is under investigation by the police after being accused of rape by a former parliamentary aide.
Are those heinous crimes, both real and alleged, relevant to the story of a man who kept films of children being sexually assaulted, one victim allegedly as young as 12 months old? Why does the Guardian tack those cases on to the end of a report on Joyce? No word on the Tory MPs in the BBC’s report, nor that of the Express, Telegraph, Mirror, Indy or Sun. What was the purpose of the Labour supporting Guardian’s editorialising, and what kind of angle were they pushing?
Feted and minted former US First Lady Michelle Obama is worried. The BBC tunes into her podcast and hears her say: “I’m waking up in the middle of the night because I’m worrying about something or there’s a heaviness.” The older we get the less well we sleep. “These are not, they are not fulfilling times, spiritually,” says Mrs Obama. “I know that I am dealing with some form of low-grade depression.” Depression is a disease. It’s not to be confused with feeling low or blue. It comes from somewhere other, an invasion that kills your sense of reason and infects your being with a “lie of the mind”.
Rod Dreher likened his depression to walking around the house “as if I were wearing a heavy wool blanket soaked in cold water almost all the time.”
Depression kills. So why is Michelle Obama a little bit depressed? She explains: “Not just because of the quarantine, but because of the racial strife, and just seeing this administration, watching the hypocrisy of it, day in and day out, is dispiriting.”
Pathologising the Trump presidency and being woke – literally awake – might be a step beyond. And you don’t need therapy to cure yourself of Trump-phobia – you need better politics and ideas.
And if we are going to talk about mental illness, can we talk about Donald Trump? The man does not seem to be well.
Donald Trump’s schtick as a US President in the style of The Thick of It is brilliant.
The journalist is played by Axios National Political Correspondent, Jonathan Swan, Jonathan Swan.
Trump: “Here’s one. Well, right here, United States is lowest in numerous categories. We’re lower than the world.”
Swan: “Lower than the world?”
Trump: “Lower than Europe.”
Swan: “In what? In what?”
Swan: “Oh, you’re doing death as a proportion of cases. I’m talking about death as a proportion of population. That’s where the US is really bad. Much worse than Germany, South Korea, et cetera.”
Trump: “You can’t – you can’t do that.”
Swan: “Why can’t I do that?”
Trump: “You have to go by, you have to go by – look. Here is the United States – you have to go by the cases. The cases of death.”
Swan: “Why not as a proportion of population?”
Trump: “What it says is when you have somebody, where there’s a case, the people that live from those cases.”
Swan: “Sure. It’s surely a relevant statistic to say if the US has X population and X percentage of death of that population, opposed to some-”
Trump: “No, because you have to go by the cases.”
Swan: “In South Korea, for example – 51 million population, 300 deaths. It’s like, it’s crazy compared to other countries.”
Trump: “You don’t know that. You don’t know that.”
Swan: “I do. You think they’re faking their statistics? South Korea?”
Trump: “Ahhhhh, I won’t get into that, because I have a very good relationship with the country. But you don’t know that. They have spikes.”
Swan: “Germany, low 9000s?”
Trump: “Here’s one right here, United States. The number of cases – have a look. We’re last. Meaning we’re first.”
Mr Trump was brandishing another chart at this point.
Swan: “Last? I don’t know what we’re first in.”
Trump: “Take a look, it’s cases. And we have cases because of the testing.”
Swan: “I mean, a thousand Americans are dying a day. But I understand, on cases, it’s different.”
Trump: “No but you’re not reporting it correctly, Jonathan.”
Swan: “I think I am.”
Donald Trump. Discuss. Actually, don’t bother. Forests will be pulped to discuss his presidency. And to get the logs rolling, here’s his niece, Mary Trump (born 1965), profiled in the Guardian. Her new book about Uncle Donald is out there now.
Mary Trump has given numerous interviews this week after being released from a temporary restraining order.
In an interview with the Washington Post, released Thursday, she described the president as “clearly racist”, and linked it to her wider family’s “knee-jerk anti-Semitism, a knee-jerk racism”.
“Growing up, it was sort of normal to hear them use the n-word or use anti-Semitic expressions,” she told the Post.
Racism and racist language were pretty routine in the 60s and 70s, when Mary Trump was growing up.
Spotter: The Guardian
Versed in double-speak and other rhetorical tricks to say not what you really think and leave people to use your words to fit their own agendas, we read what Donald Trump had to say about the alleged murder of George Floyd and police violence. The Guardian heard the President’s words and produced the headline: “Trump twists stats on police brutality: ‘more white people’ are killed.”
In an echo of his comments on white nationalist marchers and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, when he said there were “fine people on both sides”, the president did not take the opportunity to talk about the problem of racially motivated police brutality on Tuesday, but switched to talk about white victims.
He then inaccurately argued that white Americans are dying more often at the hands of police than Black Americans.
He was entirely accurate. The man’s an arsehat and an alleged racist. But what he said was not inaccurate. Here’s the exchange:
CBS News’ Catherine Herridge: “Let’s talk about George Floyd, you said George Floyd’s death was a terrible thing.”
Herridge: “Why are African Americans still dying at the hands of law enforcement?”
Trump: “And so are white people. So are white people. What a terrible question to ask. So are white people. More white people by the way. More white people.”
What he said was true. He did not address the clear and obvious inference being about the increased risk to your health of being American Whilst Black. The Guardian states later in the article: “Black Americans are up to 3.5 times as likely to be killed by law enforcement”, according to research in 2018 by the American Journal of Public Health. The paper adds that a “2016 analysis by the Washington Post also found that African Americans are 2.5 times as likely to be shot and killed by police offers as white Americans.” The story is about the rate of killing. Trump talked about finite numbers. There’s a difference.
More white people than black people are killed by US police. There are more white people in the USA. The President is not “inaccurate”. The story of police violence is in two parts: why do US police kill so many people?; why are US police more likely to kill a black man than a white man? Trump evades the second part and jumps on the first part.
Says the Guardian: “Trump’s claim about more white people being killed by police in the US is misleading.” As is the Guardian’s headline.
Rishi Sunak has taken a second job as a waiter. There’s the chancellor on the front pages serving meals in a London branch of Wagamama. “Sunak serves up £30bn rescue,” says the Times. That’s the figure for Government spending on coronavirus support (it outstrips last year’s health budget) and not the revised bill for side orders of pickles, PPE or his family’s bank balance.
No mask for Rishi as he serves up a plates of swill, just a smart tie and name badge and a broad beam for the cameras. “Come dine with me,” says the Telegraph.
Sunak says the State will pay half the cost of a meal out for everyone. This will support the hospitality industry. The paper’ says Sunak “shows his backbone” with a bold statement. It is, of course, the “Rishi Dishi”, a twist on Dishi Rishi, the nickname the chancellor earned before coronavirus and the Government’s lack of preparedness kiboshed fiscal spending plans.
The upshot is that dinners will get a 50% discount off their restaurant bill during August. The meal deal means you can get up to £10 off per head if you eat out from Monday to Wednesday. Alcohol is not included, so liquid lunchers are not part of the deal. Also included is that if in going out to eat in the middle of a pandemic you get ill, the Government will off you food, bed and toilet facilities in a hospital (beds permitting).
“Crowds defy crackdown” says the Guardian. “COURAGE,” declares the message on a protestor’s T-shirt. His eyes, stinging from tea gas, are closed. Around him are three police officers in marks, goggles and helmets, their faces impassive.
But there is hope. Three million Hong Kong residents are eligible to work and live in the UK. “Escape to the UK” says the i. Well, you can if the Chinese let you. And what’s to say theta they will?
Hong Kong was once a British colony. In 1842, China ceded Hong Kong island to Britain after the First Opium War. In 1898,China leased the New Territories together with 235 islands to Britain for 99 years.
In 1997, it became a special admin area for China, functioning under the rule of “one country, two systems” – unlike mainland China, Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of autonomy and democratic economic and social systems. The contract securing those rights last until 2047.
But China is making plans. It’s playing a long game. They’s introduced a nw law. Under the new law, inciting hatred of China’s central government and Hong Kong’s regional government are offences. You are a criminal if you protest against the Chinese government. You cannot speak freely. You cannot think freely.
What of Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s aide who “may” have broken lockdown rules? “May” is the word of the moment because police in Derbyshire says Cummings “may” have broken the rules. The Star, Mirror and Guardian all lead with what “may” have happened. Or to put it another way, what may not have happened.
It’s always useful to reverse a headline to see the angle at work. So here’s a twist on the BBC’s front-page headline “Dominic Cummings ‘might have broken lockdown rules’ – police”: “Dominic Cummings ‘might not have broken lockdown rules’ – police.”
Durham Police have issued a statement on the matter that’s occupied the media for a week. Here it is in full:
“On March 27 2020, Dominic Cummings drove to Durham to self-isolate in a property owned by his father. Durham Constabulary does not consider that by locating himself at his father’s premises, Mr Cummings committed an offence contrary to regulation six of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020. (We are concerned here with breaches of the regulations, not the general Government guidance to “stay at home”.)
“On April 12 2020, Mr Cummings drove approximately 26 miles from his father’s property to Barnard Castle with his wife and son. He stated on May 25 2020 that the purpose of this drive was to test his resilience to drive to London the following day, including whether his eyesight was sufficiently recovered, his period of self-isolation having ended.
“Durham Constabulary have examined the circumstances surrounding the journey to Barnard Castle (including ANPR, witness evidence and a review of Mr Cummings’ press conference on May 25 2020) and have concluded that there might have been a minor breach of the regulations that would have warranted police intervention. Durham Constabulary view this as minor because there was no apparent breach of social distancing.
“Had a Durham Constabulary police officer stopped Mr Cummings driving to or from Barnard Castle, the officer would have spoken to him, and, having established the facts, likely advised Mr Cummings to return to the address in Durham, providing advice on the dangers of travelling during the pandemic crisis.
“Had this advice been accepted by Mr Cummings, no enforcement action would have been taken.
“In line with Durham Constabulary’s general approach throughout the pandemic, there is no intention to take retrospective action in respect of the Barnard Castle incident since this would amount to treating Mr Cummings differently from other members of the public. Durham Constabulary has not taken retrospective action against any other person.
“By way of further context, Durham Constabulary has followed Government guidance on management of alleged breaches of the regulations with the emphasis on the NPCC and College of Policing 4Es: Engage, Explain and Encourage before Enforcement.
“Finally, commentary in the media has suggested that Mr Cummings was in Durham on April 19 2020. Mr Cummings denies this and Durham Constabulary have seen insufficient evidence to support this allegation.
“Therefore Durham Constabulary will take no further action in this matter and has informed Mr Cummings of this decision.”
Such are the facts.
The New European, the newspaper created to campaign for a second referendum (failed) and keep the UK in the EU (ditto), reports on a petition created to support Emily Maitlis, lead presenter of BBC’s Newsnight who fell foul of the State’s broadcaster’s impartiality rules when she presented opinion as fact in her monologue on Dominic Cummings. “The New Pop-up Paper for the 48%” who voted to Remain in the EU, as The New European was originally billed, shares with readers the call to help Emily and a link advising “The online petition can be signed here”. The paper also features four voices in support of Maitlis but not one to say that the BBC should be politically impartial and in this instance was clearly biased.
“Less than 24 hours after Emily Maitlis spoke for people in the UK and spoke truth to power she has been removed from Newsnight. How can it be just and appropriate that a woman is removed for telling the truth, while an unelected man appears bulletproof even after lying and showing no contrition? Her removal tells us so much about the degree of control the government has on our national broadcaster. We have suspected it for a long time. This time it’s hiding in plain sight.Please join me and sign this not just to re instate Emily Maitlis but to also send a message to this and successive governments. You will not silence those brave women and men who choose not to stand by while terrible things happen.”
The main problem with the paper’s report is that Maitlis was not taken off air. “I asked for the night off,” she says. The show was presented by UK editor Katie Razzall instead. But it can’t be that Maitlis spoke off the cuff. TV’s shows are scripted and planned. Razzall said she “wouldn’t have agreed to present the show” if Maitlis had been sidelined. Newsnight editor Esme Wrenn said Maitlis “hasn’t been replaced”. Deputy editor Stewart McLean added: “For the avoidance of doubt, @maitlis has neither ‘been replaced’ nor ‘been taken off air'”.
But how can we be certain? Why not hold a vote and see. A simple in / out choice on whether Dominic Cummings should keep his job and then one if Maitlis should keep hers?
Last Tuesday’s edition of BBC’s Newsnight kicked off with presenter Emily Maitlis telling viewers: “Dominic Cummings broke the rules, the country can see that, and it’s shocked the government cannot.” Boris Johnson’s aide had broken the rules on lockdown by travelling from London to County Durham, said the impartial BBC. For added oomph, the audience was told that the “public mood” was “one of fury, contempt and anguish”. Cummings had made us “feel like fools”.
And there was more. Maitlis went on: “The prime minister knows all this. But despite the resignation of one minister, growing unease from his backbenchers, a dramatic early warning from the polls and a deep national disquiet, Boris Johnson has chosen to ignore it. Tonight we consider what this blind loyalty tells us about the workings of Number 10.”
Problem was that the BBC’s facts were just the BBC’s opinion, which it has sought to clarify in the following statement: “While we believe the programme contained fair, reasonable and rigorous journalism, we feel that we should have done more to make clear the introduction was a summary of the questions we would examine, with all the accompanying evidence, in the rest of the programme. As it was, we believe the introduction we broadcast did not meet our standards of due impartiality.”
Disappointing stuff. Biased news is fake news. Eat yer heart out, Twitter.
Transcript of Newsnight monologue:
“Good evening, Dominic Cummings broke the rules. The country can see that and it’s shocked the Government cannot. The longer minister and the Prime Minister tell us he worked within them, the more angry the response to this scandal is likely to be.
“He was the man remember who always got the public mood – who tagged the lazy label of elite on those who disagreed. He should understand that public mood now – one of fury contempt and anguish. He made those who struggled to keep to the rules feel like fools and has allowed many more to presume they can now flout them.
“The Prime Minister knows all this but despite the resignation of one minister, growing unease from his backbenchers, a dramatic early warning from the polls and a deep national disquiet, Boris Johnson has chosen to ignore it.”
Why not let the facts speak and the people, the very ones Newsnight says are angry, make up their own minds? Does the BBC not trust it’s own audience?
The Government’s Daily coronavirus update gets a new speaker thanks to Miriam Elia on Facebook. Unless that’s man of the moment Dominic Cummings? Exterminate!
No longer is ‘fat’ a pre-runner to ‘and jolly’. Fat means death. Fat must be wiped out because: fat people give you cancer, probably (Daily Mail); fat people use up more aviation fuel and thereby kill the planet (Guardian); fat people kill kittens (Star); fat people will end the NHS by falling ill (all newspapers). Today’s news is that a “third of all viruses are linked to diabetes”. So the other two thirds of us who contract Covid-19 get it because… we’re too thin / old / young / poor / unloved? No matter. The key fact is in. Thin is good. The secret to long life is to be thin, which surely is why the Grim Reaper is as thin as a rake. And look who’s leading “by example”. Yeah, it’s reformed chubster Boris Johnson, who reduced his BMI by falling seriously ill and having his sustenance drip fed. And where he leads you too can follow his shining example. Here’s what you do:
*Beaches are restricted to one per person until further notice.
The Government’s new Covid-19 guidelines tell us that two people from different households are able to meet in outdoor settings so long as they stay more than two metres apart. “If you’re out in the park and you’re 2m apart… and use some common sense and you socially-distance, you can meet up with other people.,” says Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. You can’t meet indoors, not even if you both wear wide-hooped crinoline skirts, gas masks and rubber gloves. (I’m sorry, Prince Andrew, but those are the rules.) You can “take more and even unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise” rather than only exercising once a day, “play sports” with people from the same household, and people from one household can drive to other destinations (such as forests, parks and beaches).
But only in England. Politics has stepped in to muddy the waters. Many Scots will no doubt be delighted that more than one bout of daily exercise remains forbidden. The SNP Government in Scotland says the country must remain in lockdown. No common sense or you. And the Welsh Government’s counsel general, Jeremy Miles, says Wales is closed to the English. “Our regulations do not permit people to get in their car and drive to destinations in Wales,” says Mr Miles. “And that also means people getting in their cars in England.” Break the rules for Wales and you may well be fined.
Looks like only parts of the UK trust the people to stick to rules on social distancing and consider the risk and take responsibility for themselves.