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On Monday, January 18, 2021, former Supreme Court Justice Lord Sumption appeared on Julia Hartley-Brewer’s talkRADIO show to discuss the perils of lockdown:

From early last year, Lord Sumption has been a calm, rational opponent of lockdown.

Breitbart has a summary of the three-minute interview clip. Excerpts follow, emphases mine.

I am pleased that his stance has not changed:

Lord Sumption, who last month branded lockdowns “profoundly immoral” and “useless”, told talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer on Monday: “We are in the process of turning a public health crisis into an economic, social, and educational disaster.

We didn’t have to do this. One of the problems is that the government has never been prepared at least to acknowledge that it is necessary to weigh up one thing against another. We cannot have both: lockdown and a prosperous economy. The fact is that no country ever managed to reduce deaths by making itself poorer.”

He warned that this will have a long-term, generational effect:

Lord Sumption continued: “What we have is a lot of people in this country that because they are frightened, or in the case of the government because they are manipulative, are only prepared to look at part of what is actually a very complicated problem.

You can’t just look at it as a public health issue because it’s a major economic issue. I’m not talking just about the prosperity of businesses, I’m talking about jobs, and how a generation of young people entering the job market is entering a void and the consequences of that are terrible.

It’s going to live with them for years and years. Long after we’ve forgotten about COVID, they’ll be suffering from the consequences of this. The problem is that emotion is a tool for avoiding difficult choices and the idea that there are no difficult choices — in this case, that the answer is simply to lock down — is frankly absurd.”

Using independent sources, Breitbart supports Lord Sumption’s views about the economy and about the effect on NHS services in other areas:

A survey conducted by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) found that it is expected that around a quarter of a million small businesses will collapse as a result of the lockdown this year.

Reports since the beginning of the lockdowns have also revealed the cost to the nation’s wider wellbeing as NHS hospitals prioritised COVID care and cancelled other services, including a fall in chemotherapy attendance and early cancer referrals, and people dying on transplant waiting lists. There has also been a rise in people feeling depressed or suicidal.

The following graph shows that lockdown was — and is — not necessary. It shows deaths in England between 1971 and 2020. There was hardly an uptick last year:

Image

LBC’s talk radio show presenter Maajid Nawaz has also been an outspoken opponent of lockdown.

Last Sunday, he put together an exhaustive thread — excerpts of which follow — about the dangers of lockdown worldwide, especially for children:

Lockdown is made for the middle class a) who have houses with gardens and b) who never have to worry about losing their jobs — public sector employees:

Ten months on, this is a never-ending downward spiral, where the rules change every few weeks and are often contradictory. More on that in another post.

Yesterday’s post introduced Neil Ferguson’s interview with The Times, which the paper published on the evening of Christmas Day.

This was the biggest statement he made:

How Ferguson, he of the hopelessly outlandish — and false — predictions, could enter the fray on a worldwide pandemic using CCP methods beggars belief:

The other chilling statement made in the article was that lockdowns will be employed in future pandemics. That’s because they worked so well, we had to have one long lockdown — under various guises — for the better part of nine months, not the promised two or three weeks:

Yet, Matt Hancock relies on what this man and SAGE members regurgitate every couple of weeks:

My prayer for 2021 is that divine providence shines a light on the evil that Ferguson, a NERVTAG member, SAGE and Matt Hancock have been perpetrating on the British people:

Thank heaven that Bosnia and Herzegovina ruled against an inhumane coronavirus programme. I hope that we do the same:

Someone also needs to have the guts to investigate Ferguson and the rest of them:

Let’s look at The Times‘s article, which Science Editor Tom Whipple wrote: ‘Professor Neil Ferguson: People don’t agree with lockdown and try to undermine the scientists’.

Tom Whipple was absolutely gushing in his reporting, overlooking Ferguson’s previous bogus predictions over the past 20 years of notional pandemics. Some of those predictions put a severe dent into British farming (emphases mine):

He moved from Oxford to Imperial as part of the country’s leading infectious disease modelling group. They modelled the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak, as well as the 2009 swine flu outbreak, in which at one point, before better data came in, they estimated a “reasonable worst case scenario” of 65,000 deaths.

When he returned to advise the government once again, this projection, two orders of magnitude above the real total, was cited by his critics. So too was foot and mouth, where the cull of millions of cattle and sheep, partly on the basis of predictions about the disease, still causes deep bitterness among farmers.

Whipple at least calls lockdown ‘a medieval intervention’. However, I would posit that, even in the Middle Ages, there were policies of sequestering the vulnerable and quarantining the sick, leaving the rest to work. People needed food and goods. Anyway, Ferguson describes how he embraced the CCP policy of overall lockdown:

In January, members of Sage, the government’s scientific advisory group, had watched as China enacted this innovative intervention in pandemic control that was also a medieval intervention. “They claimed to have flattened the curve. I was sceptical at first. I thought it was a massive cover-up by the Chinese. But as the data accrued it became clear it was an effective policy.”

Then, as infections seeded across the world, springing up like angry boils on the map, Sage debated whether, nevertheless, it would be effective here. “It’s a communist one party state, we said. We couldn’t get away with it in Europe, we thought.” In February one of those boils raged just below the Alps. And then Italy did it. And we realised we could.

Whipple gushed:

That realisation was a fulcrum in British history, and in the life of Professor Ferguson.

That ‘fulcrum’ meant poor health and/or imminent penury for millions of the rest of us.

This was Ferguson’s outrageously erroneous prediction that prompted Britain’s continuing lockdowns:

a quarter of a million Britons would die. If we wanted to stop that, he also projected, it would require extreme social distancing measures until a vaccine arrived.

Whipple’s next sentence reads:

That was when he went from unknown epidemiologist to academic superstar.

That is incredibly disingenuous. Millions of Britons knew who he was from his previous predictions. Our celebrity astrologer Mystic Meg could have done better by staring into her crystal ball. She would not have advocated lockdown or masks, either.

Ferguson expressed his surprise that people would criticise him:

“It’s bizarre,” he says. “Particularly given that I’ve never been a public servant. We volunteer for scientific committees, we don’t get paid anything.” He says he has not read most of the coverage, but can’t help hearing some of the criticism.

“Where it’s been disappointing is if people start out from a viewpoint that they don’t agree with lockdown, then try to undermine the science and scientists behind it. That hasn’t been a pleasant experience.”

Those statements puzzle me greatly.

His own track record speaks for itself, yet, his and SAGE’s policies have been ruling all our lives for the better part of a year. He doesn’t think people should criticise him because they are losing their livelihoods? Pure bunkum.

Whipple then goes into the assignation that Ferguson and his married mistress had during the springtime lockdown. The rest of us were holed up in our homes and she travelled across London for an afternoon’s pleasure. My account of it is below. The title expressed my hope that this charlatan would be exposed and that we would be liberated. Alas, no:

Prof Neil Ferguson resigns: will coronavirus lockdown start ending in the UK now? (May 5)

Ferguson told Whipple that he had expected some sort of mercy, at least to be ignored. Why, oh why, did the media start digging into his private life? Oh, woe:

“I made some mistakes. I’ve been completely open in terms of saying they were mistakes. But, nevertheless, the fact that journalists were digging into my private life at that level of detail was not something I could ever imagine. That’s not something you want to be on the end of.

My wife and son and my partner had journalists on the doorstep. I was actually in my flat in London, they didn’t know where I was. It was a very difficult time.” He and Sir Patrick Vallance, the present chief scientific adviser, agreed he should step back from Sage work.

Unfortunately, NERVTAG — New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group — allowed him to stay, hence, his continuing participation in these illiberal restrictions upon our lives.

Returning to lockdown, this is a curious statement:

These days, lockdown feels inevitable. It was, he reminds me, anything but. “If China had not done it,” he says, “the year would have been very different.”

Yes, it would have gone on as normal, with Rishi Sunak’s fantastic budget putting an end to austerity and giving us a better economy and hope for our post-Brexit transition future.

This month, the new variant — B.1.1.7, or B117, as it often appears — has caused more panic. Ferguson and his ilk have determined it is more infectious. However, it might also be less damaging to COVID-17 patients in hospital:

Nevertheless, Ferguson now wants even harsher measures:

he strongly implies that schools will have to shut in January, and even then the virus might evade lockdown.

Goodness knows what ‘the virus might evade lockdown’ might mean for Britons.

Whipple actually believes that Ferguson is some sort of scientific saviour. Good grief:

This is, I say, petrifying. It is also extremely interesting. Nowadays, it is orthodoxy that lockdown was right. In the next pandemic, we won’t hesitate to use it. But as this new variant shows, lockdown does not always work.

However, it also seems as if our first lockdown, sold to us as ‘flattening the sombrero’, to borrow Boris Johnson’s term, was done so on a false premise:

It was never guaranteed that lockdown would crush the curve. He is all too aware of this. “During late March, early April, we kept looking at the data as it came in. Was there any sign of hospital admissions and deaths hitting a peak? It was a very, very anxious time.” We now know that when we got it to its lowest, R, the reproduction rate of the virus, hit 0.6. Lockdown worked. If the professor’s modelling of the new variant is correct, it won’t be so easy to control. In the same circumstances it could have a rate just over 1 and the pandemic would not have retreated.

Ferguson says to his critics:

It’s clearly unfortunate that a minority of people almost don’t like the idea that you can just have random bad things happen in the world, and want to attribute it to some malign plan.

Ferguson and his family are largely unscathed from the policies he helped to develop.

Two other sites that reported on this interview had pertinent insights.

NewsWars noted:

In the Christmas interview, the epidemiologist admitted “there is an enormous cost associated with” lockdowns, specifically the erosion of civil liberties.

However, thanks to the Chinese Communist Party’s authoritarian measures, he said, “people’s sense of what is possible in terms of control changed.

And how! A year ago, who could have imagined that the CCP would be indirectly controlling our health policy?

At UnHerd, Freddie Sayers wrote similarly (italics in the original):

He almost seems at pains to emphasise the Chinese derivation of the lockdown concept, returning to it later in the interview:

“These days, lockdown feels inevitable. It was, he reminds me, anything but. “If China had not done it,” he says, “the year would have been very different.””

To those people who, still now, object to lockdowns on civil liberties principles, this will be a chilling reminder of the centrality of the authoritarian Chinese model in influencing global policy in this historic year.

Let us look at what Laura Perrins, ex-barrister and co-editor of Conservative Woman, a haven of common sense, has to say about said policies. Let’s start with testing of schoolchildren, something likely to come in January, along with the current hue and cry to close schools again:

The Government, advised by SAGE, NERVTAG and other quangos — quasi-NGOs — have lied and lied and lied this year, culminating with Christmas:

In conclusion:

I could not agree more.

Pray that this scourge leaves us and other Western countries in 2021.

Freedom is never free.

Happy New Year.

On the evening of October 31, 2020, the English received a Halloween trick rather than a treat.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a press conference to announce that England would be going into a second nationwide lockdown on Thursday, November 5.

How ironic that the Government chose November 5, Guy Fawkes Night, when, in 1605, Fawkes and group of his mates tried to blow up Parliament. This is England’s night for fireworks and bonfires remembering that Fawkes and his pals were imprisoned and that traitors will never succeed. But I digress.

The Chief Medical Officer, Prof Chris Whitty, and Chief Scientific Officer, Sir Patrick Vallance, accompanied Boris. They showed yet another alarming set of statistics, an incomplete set of hospitals (showing 29 out of a total of 482) and updated heat maps showing that even regions of England with low rates of ‘infection’ were in potential danger if ‘no action’ were taken:

At the time of the press conference, half of the country, including London, had been in either one of the two new designations, Tier 2 or Tier 3. People in those tiers were told that it would take a few weeks to see any tangible decrease in the R (‘infection’) rate. Action was being taken.

Yet, Boris — urged by SAGE, of which Whitty and Vallance are members — did not bother to wait to see if the numbers in Tiers 2 and 3 were decreasing. He went straight for another national lockdown.

Once again, Boris circumvented presenting the plan to Parliament first for scrutiny. He claimed it was so urgent that he had no time for that.

What made matters worse is that an unknown someone leaked the lockdown plan to the media. MPs were in recess at the time. They returned to the Commons on Monday, November 2.

Speaker of the House Sir Lindsay Hoyle was not happy.

No. 10 launched a enquiry with regard to the leak. The police might get involved, if necessary.

The Daily Mail has a full timeline of events from Friday, October 30. Excerpts follow, emphases mine:

Furious Speaker Lindsay Hoyle today demanded a personal apology if a Cabinet minister is found to have leaked the PM’s lockdown plan.

The Commons chief read the riot act to the government after the bombshell news spilled over the weekend, rather than being announced to Parliament first

‘I expect the Prime Minister to keep the House updated on his leak inquiry,’ he said.

‘I also hope that if the leaker is identified and if a member of this House, that member will make a full apology to the House for the discourteous and unacceptable behaviour.’

Separately, science chief Patrick Vallance is facing a backlash over a grim off-the-record briefing to reporters on Friday afternoon, in which he underlined SAGE’s push for an immediate lockdown – alongside figures suggesting more than 85,000 people could die this winter.

Sir Patrick’s office insist his briefing on Friday afternoon was just a regular off the record discussion with journalists, and dismiss the idea he was pre-empting any government move

Sir Patrick suggested to reporters that it was too late for a two-week circuit breaker, and a four-week lockdown similar to that introduced in France was the best way to control the R number.  

Mr Johnson had still been wavering on the issue that morning, when Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was sent out to defend the local ‘Tiers’ system on the airwaves.

But, confronted with Sir Patrick and Chris Whitty’s dire predictions he set the wheels in motion on a month-long lockdown

Within hours the tentative decision taken by the elite group was leaked to the Daily Mail and Times – before the full Cabinet had been informed – in an apparent effort to prevent the PM changing his mind. 

By Saturday morning the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg was giving details of two key documents that were shown to the ‘quad’ [core group of decision makers], a controversial prediction that the daily death toll would hit 4,000 a day and that NHS hospitals would be overwhelmed

There has since been criticism that the 4,000 a day projection was already out of date. It was produced by experts from the University of Cambridge and Public Health England who have since revised their numbers and lowered the possible numbers of deaths

Nevertheless, both slides formed a key part of the data finally officially presented on Saturday night, when a livid Mr Johnson brought forward his announcement after a call with his clueless wider Cabinet.

A formal leak inquiry has now been launched to find the culprit – with claims that just 15 people, including Sir Patrick, chief medical officer Chris Whitty and NHS England head Sir Simon Stevens were in the meeting.

There have even been dark threats that the police could be called in to find who undermined the PM’s approach …

A former Cabinet minister told MailOnline that the behind-the-scenes manoeuvring over the lockdown was ‘very odd’.

They suggested that the intervention from Sir Patrick could have been part of an effort to ‘bounce’ the PM. ‘It does sound like a bounce. If he was briefing people in advance he was obviously trying to build up a head of steam behind the notion of a lockdown,’ they said …

The MP said the figures being used to support the lockdown move, including claims that deaths could hit 4,000 a day, were questionable

‘The figures don’t appear to have been updated to reflect the true state of affairs,’ they said …

Mr Johnson will today try to head off a mounting Tory revolt against his nationwide lockdown by warning coronavirus deaths this winter could otherwise by double the first wave. MPs have been raging at the ‘evil’ new rules, likening them to something from a ‘totalitarian regime’.

On Tuesday, November 3, Whitty and Vallance appeared before the Science and Technology Select Committee, headed by the estimable MP, Greg Clark.

The Telegraph details the reasons why they were asked to appear at such short notice: spurious statistics given at Saturday’s press conference used to justify a second lockdown.

The two physicians faced questions not only from Clark but also the other MPs who sit on that committee:

That link is still working, so, while there is no transcript, you can watch the proceedings, which last a little over two hours.

It was an engrossing session and, based on the replies to that tweet, no doubt many lockdown sceptics tuned in to watch:

What follows are highlights of the Select Committee hearing. MPs asked good questions:

An MP was able to get Whitty and Vallance to admit that they had not taken the effect of the tier system into account before the press conference last Saturday:

Greg Clark did an excellent job of chairing the hearing:

The duo explained that the reason they pushed for a lockdown was because R >1 across England, even in regions which are in the Medium (no tier) range. I disagree that this means ‘cases are doubling’; they are not:

Graham Stringer (Lab) is one of my favourite MPs. He said that Saturday’s alarmist graphs scared the public. Vallance’s response follows:

Jeremy Hunt (Con) also asked about the projected 4,000 deaths:

The duo were also asked about the subtle blame they were putting on university students as being part of the cause of the increase in R. They quickly walked back the insinuation:

The duo were asked whether it might be a good idea to have an economist on SAGE to present the economic damage of lockdowns. Whitty seemed more open to this than Vallance, who was vehemently opposed. He said that SAGE were not responsible for economic modelling and said that was the remit of the Treasury:

The replies to the next tweet mention soundbites on other questions:

Around halfway through, it was apparent that the duo were uncomfortable with the probing nature of MPs’ questions. Vallance glared at one point.

Chris Whitty is shown below:

When asked about the test and trace system in place, they said that it works best at the beginning of a pandemic when cases are just beginning to climb rather than later on. The Government has put a huge emphasis on our test and trace system. As such, it is viewed as being essential by MPs and the public:

They were asked about excess deaths taking place because of all the emphasis being put on COVID-19:

There is doubt that much of the NHS was overrun, even at the height of the pandemic:

Later on, talk turned to the ban on public worship and outdoor sports for children which come into effect today. The two admitted that their ‘evidence’ about closing houses of worship was ‘anecdotal’. When pressed, Whitty said that he would not answer theological questions. When Greg Clark pursued the subject of outdoor sports for children, Whitty refused to say it was a low-risk activity that would help keep youngsters in better health.

Not everyone was happy with the line of questioning, although it was much better than I’d expected.

Barrister Francis Hoar had submitted questions to the select committee which were not asked. I, too, would like answers to these but think the discussion would have taken up much of the two hours:

The following day, Chris Whitty sent a letter to Greg Clark retracting a statement he had made earlier about infection rates in the over-60s in Liverpool:

The following statement is correct:

Based on the admittedly bogus data, it seems incongruous that we should have a second England-wide lockdown:

Nonetheless, after a debate in Parliament on Wednesday, October 4, MPs voted overwhelmingly — 516-38 — for a second lockdown:

I am pleased to say that, during the debate, several MPs from both sides of the aisle pressed the Government for a change of tack on banning public worship and certain outdoor sports, including for children. Unfortunately, the Government refused to budge.

Guido Fawkes has a list of the MPs who voted No. Four of those were from Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP); sadly, I did not see Jim Shannon’s name among their number.

Clearly, there weren’t enough rebels, but I am most grateful for those who stood up for their principles — and for us.

On November 5, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak delivered a statement to Parliament announcing an extension to his original furlough scheme:

Lockdown ends on December 2, at which point the Government with local officials, including the NHS, will decide what regions need to return to the Tier system.

Before I get to Joe Biden’s behaviour around the opposite sex, I have an update on Tony Bobulinski’s interview with Tucker Carlson.

I featured half of it in yesterday’s post, but here is the full interview:

The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway tweeted a summary of it. I’ll begin with her commentary where I left off:

On last night’s show, Tucker said that he asked one of his staff members to send some Hunter Biden-related documents to him in Los Angeles, where he has been filming. The staff member, based in New York, sent them through a well-known, reputable courier service. Unfortunately, an empty package reached Carlson. (I hope they have a copy in New York.)

When notified of the empty envelope, the courier company investigated every step of the way but came up empty-handed.

En route, the package was opened and contents removed. The company interviewed every possible person who could have handled it. They also searched a van and plane, but nothing showed up. The company is not only deeply apologetic, but also deeply disturbed that this could have happened:

I agree. Someone is watching.

Here’s Tucker’s full show from Wednesday, October 28. I’m not sure how long it will be up, so watch it while you can. The last five minutes are about how to pronounce Kamala, as in Harris. Some say KAM-a-la, others say KAHM-a-la. The vice presidential candidate herself pronounces it halfway between the two.

Now on to the main topic.

Gropin’ Joe

During his vice presidency, Joe Biden swore in US Senators. Watch Biden caress Senator Christopher Coons’s daughter Maggie:

That video went viral:

Maybe he’s just a tactile person? It looks as if Hillary wants him to get off. Outside of Maggie Coons, the rest are likely to be married women. Even if they weren’t, it looks highly inappropriate — and weird:

The woman on the left in the photo collage above is a reporter, Amie Parnes:

Four years ago, the lefty media buzzed with anti-Trump groping stories, but the real groper was Biden. A Daily Mail article from October 18, 2016, has more on Biden, including photos.

The article features a photo of Stephanie Carter, the wife of the then-defense secretary Ash Carter. She and Biden were standing behind the podium as Ash Carter was speaking! Biden had his hands firmly on her shoulders and looked as if he were kissing her hair. (Also see The Daily Caller‘s take.)

Carter was not bothered:

‘Oh, I laughed. I laughed. I laughed,’ Carter said after the fact. He told the ‘Today’ show, ‘They know each other extremely well, and we’re great friends with the Bidens.’

Returning to Maggie Coons above, the article says:

Biden placed his hands on the shoulder of Coons’ daughter and whispered in Maggie Coons’ ear during the ceremony, attracting enough chatter in DC that Senator Coons got asked about it during an appearance on Fox News Sunday.

‘I have to ask, ’cause a lot of people have been speculating about it, does she think the vice president is creepy?’ host Chris Wallace asked point-blank.

‘No, Chris,’ Coons responded. ‘She doesn’t think the vice president is creepy.’

Senator Coons also vouched for what Biden said at the time. ”I could hear him. He was leaning forward and whispering some encouragement to her about how when he was sworn in his own daughter Ashley was 13 and she felt awkward and uncomfortable.’

Biden feels at liberty to touch women, regardless of age. There is another photo of him caressing an older lady’s chin with this accompanying caption:

Biden has also been known to flash his charm on mature women during swearing in ceremonies, including chatting up Sen. John Barrasso’s mom.

The article carried this short video compilation of Biden’s ‘greatest hits’, as it were. Hillary features in this too, in another scene at an airport. She’s patting his arm rather insistently — as in ‘get off’ — while smiling:

Here’s the Hillary sequence all on its own:

Here is the full swearing in of Sen. Kelly Ayotte. This one has audio. He asks Kelly Ayotte’s daughter how old she is. After the swearing in, he can’t keep his hands off her. I don’t particularly agree with the title of this video — others do — but Biden shouldn’t be touching children like that:

In 2018, Biden campaigned for Sen. Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin and the gubernatorial candidate Tony Evers. He said Tony had met his future wife when both of them were in kindergarten:

The Daily Caller has the story (emphases mine):

“By the way, running for governor is a team sport! No way out,” Biden said. “He met Kathy in kindergarten. In kindergarten. She was too young to resist. She should’ve known better but she did it anyway.”

Biden did not explain what he meant by the joke, instead planting a kiss on Kathy’s forehead. The audience laughed and smiled along with Biden’s joke.

Here is a strange photo, dating from Joe’s earlier days as US Senator for Delaware:

Obama

He and Obama had a somewhat unusual friendship.

On June 28, 2016, People reported that Obama made a friendship bracelet for his vice president:

That stuff’s hard,” Obama concluded in the video for BuzzFeed, which has partnered with a nonprofit, nonpartisan app called TurboVote to help make the voter registration process smooth sailing. “But you know what isn’t? Registering to vote. I hope you all understand that you have the power to shape our country’s course. Don’t take that for granted.”

“Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a meeting with my vice president,” Obama added, proudly holding up a friendship bracelet with the name “Joe” on it.

Biden returned the favour on Obama’s birthday that year:

This next tweet is just a bit of fun:

Republicans react differently

Not everyone has been as understanding of Joe Biden’s behaviour as establishment Democrats are.

In the next video, then-Sen. Jeff Sessions bats Biden’s hand away from his granddaughter. Before that, however, Biden rests his hand on a teen’s waist and is tempted to reach further:

Secret Service agents’ stories

In 2014, veteran journalist Ronald Kessler wrote a book about Secret Service agents’ experiences, The First Family Detail.

On August 1 that year, a few days before its release, US News & World Report received an advance copy. Regarding Joe Biden, their article says:

Agents say that, whether at the vice president’s residence or at his home in Delaware, Biden has a habit of swimming in his pool nude,” Kessler writes in the book – due for release Aug. 5.

Female Secret Service agents find that offensive,” he writes.

Biden likes to be revered as everyday Joe,” an unnamed agent told Kessler. “But the reality is no agents want to go on his detail because Biden makes agents’ lives so tough.”

In addition to the alleged skinny-dipping, agents are reportedly irritated by frequent last-minute trips to Delaware.

A Biden spokeswoman would not address the claims on the record. A spokesperson for the Secret Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Atlantic‘s Conor Friedersdorf thought that criticising skinny dipping was out of date:

… let me tell you that virtually no one in the Washington, D.C., political press is scandalized by skinny dipping. But every time it emerges that someone in public life has swam naked, there is widespread, disingenuous playacting on the question. You’d suddenly think that Maude Flanders was managing the newsroom. While I have no idea if the reporting in the new book on the Secret Service is credible, outlets treating it as credible enough to report have been distracted by skinny-dipping from what is indisputably more important news.

He forgets that the press corps weren’t there; female Secret Service agents were the ones guarding him. They had every right to be offended.

In 2017, Gateway Pundit reported that Secret Service agents were relieved that Biden was no longer vice president because his behaviour towards women was so raunchy.

A former Secret Service agent described it as ‘Weinstein-level stuff’, it was so bad (emphases in the original, those in purple mine):

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the agent asserted that,  “We had to cancel the VP Christmas get together at the Vice President’s house because Biden would grope all of our wives and girlfriend’s asses.” The annual party was for agents and Navy personnel who were tasked with protecting the Biden family.

“He would mess with every single woman or teen. It was horrible,” the agent said.

According to the source, a Secret Service agent once got suspended for a week in 2009 for shoving Biden after he cupped his girlfriend’s breast while the couple was taking a photo with him. The situation got so heated, the source told Cassandra Fairbanks, that others had to step in to prevent the agent from hitting the then-Vice President.

Additionally, the agent claims that Biden would walk around the VP residence naked at night. “I mean, stark naked… Weinstein level stuff,” he added.

He said that the men on duty would frequently stand in front of female agents and Navy women that were present “like a damn guardian.” On some occasions, they would make up reasons to get the women away from where he was.

The agent said he was specifically concerned about women in the Navy.

“They weren’t allowed to disobey him at all, but we’d take them away under pretend auspices,” the agent stated.

The official Vice Presidential residence is the Queen Anne style house at One Observatory Circle in Washington, DC, which is located on the northeast grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory. The property is maintained and cared for by the service branch.

As for skinny dipping at his home in Delaware:

Our source confirmed this sentiment, adding that “it was especially an issue at his Delaware house that he would go to every weekend.”

“He would only get naked when Jill was absent,” he added.

Biden has also long been criticized for his contact with women and girls in photos and videos, and was even referred to as “Creepy Uncle Joe Biden” by the Washington Post.

The agent said that this type of thing did not go on when Republicans were in charge:

The agent also worked under the Bush administration, and added that Vice President Dick Cheney “never grabbed any butts or breasts.”

Lucy Flores, 2014 Democrat candidate

In 2019, Lucy Flores, recounted her encounter with Biden while she was running for lieutenant governor of Nevada in 2014. She wrote a first-person article for The Cut: ‘An Awkward Kiss Changed How I Saw Joe Biden’. (Breitbart‘s John Nolte wrote about this story shortly after her article appeared.)

Excerpts follow (emphases mine):

when my campaign heard from Vice-President Joe Biden’s office that he was looking to help me and other Democrats in the state, I was grateful and flattered. His team offered to bring him to a campaign rally in an effort to help boost voter turnout. We set the date for November 1, just three days before election day

I found my way to the holding room for the speakers, where everyone was chatting, taking photos, and getting ready to speak to the hundreds of voters in the audience. Just before the speeches, we were ushered to the side of the stage where we were lined up by order of introduction. As I was taking deep breaths and preparing myself to make my case to the crowd, I felt two hands on my shoulders. I froze. “Why is the vice-president of the United States touching me?”

I felt him get closer to me from behind. He leaned further in and inhaled my hair. I was mortified. I thought to myself, “I didn’t wash my hair today and the vice-president of the United States is smelling it. And also, what in the actual fuck? Why is the vice-president of the United States smelling my hair?He proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head. My brain couldn’t process what was happening. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I was confused. There is a Spanish saying, “tragame tierra,” it means, “earth, swallow me whole.” I couldn’t move and I couldn’t say anything. I wanted nothing more than to get Biden away from me. My name was called and I was never happier to get on stage in front of an audience

Biden was the second-most powerful man in the country and, arguably, one of the most powerful men in the world. He was there to promote me as the right person for the lieutenant governor job. Instead, he made me feel uneasy, gross, and confused. The vice-president of the United States of America had just touched me in an intimate way reserved for close friends, family, or romantic partners — and I felt powerless to do anything about it.

She then wrote about some of the material I have posted above, which has been making the rounds for the past four years, and more:

Time passed and pictures started to surface of Vice-President Biden getting uncomfortably close with women and young girls. Biden nuzzling the neck of the Defense secretary’s wife; Biden kissing a senator’s wife on the lips; Biden whispering in women’s ears; Biden snuggling female constituents. I saw obvious discomfort in the women’s faces, and Biden, I’m sure, never thought twice about how it made them feel. I knew I couldn’t say anything publicly about what those pictures surfaced for me; my anger and my resentment grew.

Had I never seen those pictures, I may have been able to give Biden the benefit of the doubt. Had there not been multiple articles written over the years about the exact same thing — calling his creepy behavior an “open secret” — perhaps it would feel less offensive. And yet despite the steady stream of pictures and the occasional article, Biden retained his title of America’s Favorite Uncle. On occasion that title was downgraded to America’s Creepy Uncle but that in and of itself implied a certain level of acceptance. After all, how many families just tolerate or keep their young children away from the creepy uncle without ever acknowledging that there should be zero tolerance for a man who persistently invades others’ personal space and makes people feel uneasy and gross? In this case, it shows a lack of empathy for the women and young girls whose space he is invading, and ignores the power imbalance that exists between Biden and the women he chooses to get cozy with.

A male friend told Flores not to say anything about her encounter:

When I spoke to a male friend who is also a political operative in Biden’s orbit — the first man who had heard the story outside of my staff and close friends years ago — he did what no one else had and made me question myself and wonder if I was doing the right thing. He reminded me that Biden has significant resources and argued points that made me question my memory, even though I’ve replayed that scene in my mind a thousand times. He reminded me that my credibility would be attacked and that I should be prepared for the type of “back and forth” that could occur. (When reached by New York Magazine, a representative for Vice-President Joe Biden declined to comment.)

I’m not suggesting that Biden broke any laws, but the transgressions that society deems minor (or doesn’t even see as transgressions) often feel considerable to the person on the receiving end. That imbalance of power and attention is the whole point — and the whole problem.

In the end, Lucy Flores did speak up and out:

Trump’s winning campaign manager Kellyanne Conway tweeted:

No one can dispute this:

Nancy Pelosi doesn’t take Joe’s groping seriously.

You can find more photos and GIFs of Joe Biden in action here.

Democratic primary campaign videos

He was still at it on the campaign trail before winning the nomination this year.

These are incidents from 2019:

Gateway Pundit wrote about another:

Their article says, in part:

No video has been posted yet, but it fits a pattern seen on numerous videos of Biden making sexual comments to pre-teen and adolescent girls about staying away from boys, or keeping boys away or not dating until they are thirty. That is in addition to the numerous videotaped incidents of Biden groping young girls.

Here’s one where he held onto a woman’s hands:

Poor woman:

This is the last set of videos from 2019. The one with the kids is from Wilmington, Delaware:

He told them the story of Cornpop:

This video from Texas is where he can’t remember ‘God’:

Hillary Clinton told People magazine that year that we have to ‘get over it’. Joe’s gropes are no biggie.

Lucy Flores nailed it: Joe Biden he thinks he’s so powerful that he can get away with anything. And does.

Last week proved to be another emotive and passionate one in the House of Commons with regard to coronavirus and Brexit.

This post concerns coronavirus.

On Monday, September 14, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Rule of Six, which he announced on September 9, came into effect. It sounds rather Chinese.

It means that people living in England cannot meet in groups of greater than six, indoors or outdoors. If we do, according to him, we ‘will be breaking the law’.

He also introduced a new platoon to keep us in line: COVID marshals, to remind us of existing coronavirus rules in England — ‘hands, face, space’.

Recall that Boris said after the December 2019 election that we now have the People’s Government. Hmm.

The UK government is copying a Belgian idea. The Rule of Six reduced their second spike.

Increasingly, Britons have been looking back at Sweden, which refused to lock down. Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. Chris Whitty is our Chief Medical Officer; in May, he said that coronavirus was harmless for most people and most of us would never get it:

Michael Gove MP, a Cabinet minister and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, made matters worse when he confirmed that under-12s were part of the Rule of Six, unlike in Scotland and Wales, where under-12s are not. With life getting back to normal as school has started again, this came as a blow to many families:

The Telegraph reported that the Cabinet was split on the proposals (emphases mine):

… one senior Tory source said that “half the Cabinet” had doubts about the so-called ‘rule of six’, and it was “pretty hard to find a Conservative member of Parliament who agrees with all of this”.

The COVID marshals are also a problem for police and local councils:

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson’s plan for coronavirus marshals to help enforce the six-person rule was unraveling as police derided them as “Covid Wombles” and councils said they were a “gimmick”.

Downing Street admitted councils would not be given any money to pay for the marshals, suggesting volunteers could do the job, and said it would be up to individual local authorities to decide whether they actually wanted them.

It got worse, as curfews were mooted:

The Government has discussed going even further with new lockdown restrictions, and has drawn up “a well-developed proposal” for a nationwide curfew which was discussed at ministerial level.

My head spun.

Then the ministerial snitch crowd appeared on weekend news programmes to say that people must tell on their neighbours if they are seen to be violating the Rule of Six:

Political journalist Isabel Oakeshott rightly responded:

I couldn’t agree more. This is supposed to be the People’s Government, isn’t it?

History will not look kindly on 2020 with regard to the measures taken to combat the virus:

I was wrong.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said that people should not even talk when they see friends in the street, even at a distance (audio here, thanks to Guido Fawkes, and there’s video, too):

Yebbut, if you DO report what appears to be criminal activity, allegedly, the police do not want to know. Here is a printscreen of a set of comments on a Guido Fawkes thread. I call your attention to the last two. Police would rather pick on mums and their children. Ironically, that was posted on the anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Go figure.

A mild-mannered man from Buckingham called talkRADIO to say he would not comply with the Rule of Six because the Government had gone too far.

So did a lady from Brighton, saying that the Rule of Six was about:

control. They’re trying to see how much they can get away with.

Another talkRADIO host, Julia Hartley-Brewer, had a go at Roy Lilley, former NHS Trust chairman. She said:

We are being scared into thinking we have to give up our civil liberties when that won’t save lives. Being sensible will save lives.

The Telegraph‘s Salley Vickers wrote of the restrictions on her and her loved ones:

I would rather risk dying and have the joy of their company than lose that vital contribution to my own happiness.

With the festive season only several weeks away, the Daily Mail‘s Peter Hitchens told talkRADIO’s Mike Graham that the Rule of Six has:

made Christmas an arrestable offence.

Another Daily Mail journalist, Bel Mooney, wrote an editorial for Conservative Woman saying that she was surprised at the amount of resistance she received when she wrote that she would be defying the Rule of Six at Christmas:

in response to Matt Hancock’s sudden, arbitrary and illogical ‘rule of six’ diktat, I wrote a strong opinion piece (at the request of my newspaper) headlined ‘NO, NO, NO! I’m having Christmas for 14 – and no puffed-up Covid marshal will stop me’.

As you might expect, there was a huge response. I never look online, and am not on Twitter (I expect there was a lot of poison swilling around out there). I am talking about emails to me and the newspaper. What interested me was the fact that, if I am to be honest, the antis outnumbered the prosI didn’t expect that from Mail readers.

You can never tell with Mail readers, though. They’re a tricky lot.

Oxford University’s Professor Carl Heneghan and honorary research fellow Tom Jefferson wrote an article for The Spectator against the Rule of Six, saying that Boris must bin it:

At Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, we have spent years trawling through the scientific evidence on the effects of measures such as distancing on respiratory viral spread. We are not aware of any study pointing to the number six. If it’s made up, why not five or seven?

Northern Ireland has taken a more measured approach and not announced any changes to how many people can meet. These disagreements in policy reveal how decisions are being made without evidence. It seems that somebody in government sat in a cabinet office room and said six is a good idea and nobody disagreed

The problems with policy stem from the current cabinet’s vast inexperience: the Health Secretary has been in post for just over two years now; the PM and the Chief Medical Officer a year. The Joint Biosecurity Centre is overseen by a senior spy who monitors the spread of coronavirus and suppresses new outbreaks. Add to this mix the new chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, who similarly has little or no background in healthcare. Our leaders amount to little more than a Dad’s Army of highly paid individuals with little or no experience of the job at hand.

This inexperience leads to rash decisions and arbitrary policies.

One example is that entire areas can be locked down if they have 50 cases per 100,000 people. Yet the recognised alert threshold for ‘regular’ acute respiratory infections is 400 cases per 100,000.

Lord Sumption, who has been speaking out against lockdown this year, said that the Rule of Six will be unenforceable. I hope he is right:

Tom Tugendhat (Tunbridge and Malling, Con) expressed his concerns about the new rule and rightly wanted MPs to vote on it and similar measures:

It’s unlikely that the House of Lords can help, either. They already have a full schedule. We should thank Lord Lamont for raising the issue of consulting the public, however. ‘SI’ means ‘statutory instrument’:

Monday, September 14

Behind the scenes and well outside of Parliament, an email emerged dated May 23, wherein Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance stated he had pushed the most for March’s lockdown:

Guido Fawkes has the full text of the email. I am not sure how Sir Patrick thinks that a vaccine will achieve herd immunity, though.

In the first of the debates on the Brexit-related Internal Market Bill, Charles Walker MP (Broxbourne, Con) prefaced his comments by expressing his dismay about the Rule of Six, the lack of consultation with Parliament and the fining of Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers at the anti-lockdown rally on Saturday, September 12.

Thank you, Charles Walker:

This is short and well worth watching:

Tuesday, September 15

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock poled up to make a statement to MPs about the Rule of Six and testing.

Excerpts follow:

There are signs that the number of cases in care homes and the number of hospitalisations is starting to rise again, so last week we acted quickly, putting in place new measures—the rule of six, which came into force yesterday. We do not do this lightly, but the cost of doing nothing is much greater.

Testing also has a vital part to play. Everyone in this House knows that we are doing more testing per head of population than almost any other major nation, and I can tell the House that we have now carried out over 20 million tests for coronavirus in this country. As we expand capacity further, we are working round the clock to make sure that everyone who needs a test can get a test. The vast majority of people who use our testing service get a test that is close to home, and the average distance travelled to a test site is now just 5.8 miles —down from 6.4 miles last week; but the whole House knows that there are operational challenges, and we are working hard to fix them.

We have seen a sharp rise in people coming forward for a test, including those who are not eligible.

Jonathan Ashworth (Leicester South, Lab/Co-op), speaking for the opposition, said:

I am grateful for advance sight of the Secretary of State’s answer. That was decent of him.

Yesterday LBC revealed that there were no tests available in covid hotspots, including Rochdale, Pendle and Bradford. Over the weekend in Bolton, where infections are the highest in the country, a mobile testing centre failed to turn up. Meanwhile, in Bury hundreds queued for five hours for a test. In Walsall, a father with his sick child travelled 76 miles to an appointment in Wales, only to find on arrival that tests had run out. Increasing numbers of teachers and pupils are not in school. In hospitals, operations are cancelled while NHS staff are stuck in limbo, waiting for tests.

The Secretary of State blames increased demand, but when tracing consistently fails to reach 80% of contacts, when less than 20% of those with symptoms self-isolate properly and there is a lack of financial security, infections rise. When schools reopen and people return to workplaces and social distancing becomes harder, infections rise. Extra demand on the system was inevitable. Why did he not use the summer to significantly expand NHS lab capacity and fix contact tracing?

Just as demand is increasing, the ability to process tests is diminishing. Post-graduate students working in the Lighthouse labs are returning to university, so why did the Secretary of State not plan for the inevitable staff shortages in the Lighthouse labs? Those commercial pillar 2 labs, The Sunday Times revealed at the weekend, have a huge backlog of 185,000 tests. Thursday’s data revealed that 65,709 test results were not returned by the end of the week. Care home residents now wait an average of 83 hours for their result. The Prime Minister promised us a 24-hour turnaround for results, so what is going on? What is the current backlog and what is the timeframe for clearing it?

We were promised a world-beating system, so why are we sending tests to Germany and Italy for processing? But, most importantly, people want to know when they will get a test and when this mess will be fixed. Today there will be thousands of ill people trying to book a test, only to be told none is available. When will people be able to book a test online again, or has the online booking system been deliberately disabled? When will ill people no longer have to travel hundreds of miles for a test that should be available on their doorstep? When will pupils and teachers out of school get access to testing, so they can get back to school? When will NHS staff have access to regular testing, so they can focus on their patients and not be sitting at home?

We are at a perilous moment. Imperial College estimates the virus is doubling every seven to eight days. We all want to avoid further restrictions or another national lockdown, but when testing and contact tracing break down, the growth of the virus cannot be tracked. The Prime Minister promised us whack-a-mole, but instead his mallet is broken. The Secretary of State is losing control of the virus; he needs to fix testing now.

Many MPs — from both Opposition and Conservative benches — said that their constituents could not get tests.

Even the Speaker of the House tweeted that his constituents were having similar problems:

The testing situation is shocking — as Terry-Thomas used to say in the Boulting Brothers films: ‘An absolute shower!’

On the upside, the British coronavirus jobs situation is improving, thank goodness (more from Guido here):

Wednesday, September 16

Deputy Labour Leader Angela Rayner (Ashton-under-Lyne) stood at the Opposition despatch box for Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), as Sir Keir Starmer was self-isolating:

She did a good job.

She began by saying:

Many people in the Chamber will think that the battle of Britain is today, but actually we marked the 80th anniversary of those veterans yesterday, and I want to put on record our thanks to all those who fought for our country in the past.

I want to start by reading to the Prime Minister a message that I have received from a man called Keir. Keir was not able to go to work today and his children could not go to school because his family had to wait for their coronavirus test results, despite the Prime Minister’s promise of results within 24 hours. Keir was able to do the right thing and self-isolate and work from home, but other people are not in this position, and many of them are the very people who were getting us through this crisis, such as the care workers, who I used to work alongside before I was elected to this House. The Prime Minister once earned £2,300 an hour; can he tell us the average hourly rate of a care worker in this country?

Boris was singularly unimpressed, although he had a neutral expression on his face, even when discussing Starmer:

I congratulate the hon. Lady on her elevation. She speaks of the constituent Keir, and I can tell her that—allegedly, apparently—he has had a negative test, and I do not know quite why he is not here. But 89% of those who have in-person tests get them the next day, and we are working very fast to turn around all the test requests that we get. I think that most people looking at the record of this country in delivering tests across the nation will see that that compares extremely well with any other European country. We have conducted more testing than any other European country, and that is why we are able to deliver tests and results in 80% of cases where we know the contacts.

The hon. Lady asks about care homes, and I can tell the House that today we are launching the winter care home action plan. She is right to raise the issue of care homes, and we are concerned about infection rates in care homes, but we will do everything we can to ensure that care homes and their workers are protected.

On the hon. Lady’s final point, I am proud that it is this Government who have instituted the national living wage to ensure that every worker in this country, including care home workers, is paid substantially more, thanks to the care and the work of the people of this country.

Boris listened attentively and responded sensitively to all the points that Angela Rayner raised until this point, which came several minutes in, when she said:

Infections are rising. The testing system is collapsing. When you are the Prime Minister, you cannot keep trying to blame other people for your own incompetence. We have the highest death toll in Europe, and we are on course for one of the worst recessions in the developed world. This winter, we are staring down the barrel of a second wave, with no plan for the looming crisis. People cannot say goodbye to their loved ones. Grandparents cannot see their grandchildren. Frontline staff cannot get the tests that they need. And what was the top priority for the covid war Cabinet this weekend? Restoring grouse shooting.

I suppose that is good news for people like the Prime Minister’s friend who paid for a luxury Christmas getaway to a Caribbean island and funded his leadership campaign, and just so happens to own two grouse moor estates. So Prime Minister, is this really your top priority?

The Prime Minister answered:

While the Labour Opposition have been consistently carping from the sidelines throughout this crisis and raising, frankly, issues that are tangential, if not scare stories about what is going on, we are getting on with delivering for the British public. We are not only massively ramping up. She has not contested any of my statistics today about the extent to which this country is now testing more than any other European country.

She has not disputed the massive acceleration in our programme. [Interruption.] I will answer the substance of her question, thank you very much. We are getting on with delivering on the priorities of the British people: getting us through this covid crisis; delivering on making our country safer, bringing forward measures to stop the early release of dangerous sexual and violent offenders, which I hope she will support; strengthening our Union, which in principle Opposition Front Benchers should support; and building more homes across this country and more affordable homes across this country, which she should support. That is in addition to recruiting more doctors and more nurses, and building more hospitals.

I do not think anybody is in any doubt that this Government are facing some of the most difficult dilemmas that any modern Government have had to face, but every day we are helping to solve them, thanks to the massive common sense of the British people, who are getting on with delivering our programme and our fight against coronavirus. It is with the common sense of the British people that we will succeed, and build back better and stronger than ever before.

If only.

That day, news of an upcoming curfew in London emerged.

Apparently, the British people don’t have much common sense, after all.

Currently, London has some of the fewest new coronavirus cases (i.e. positive tests, little hospitalisation):

Guido rightly wrote (emphases in the original here):

If this afternoon’s splash from the Evening Standard is true, it is a step too far. The London director of Public Health England (yes, the organisation is still limping on for now, despite the Health Secretary announcing its abolition back in August) has issued a “curfew alert” to the capital through the newspaper, saying residents could face a mandatory curfew if Covid cases continue to rise. A ridiculous suggestion that should be forcefully opposed.

Shutting pubs, bars, restaurants, and just about everything else at an arbitrary hour will obviously do nothing to stop the spread of coronavirus. If anything, the move will be counter-productive – compressing the same number of customers into a shorter time and making social distancing harder still. Or pushing social gatherings into homes not bars, which are thought to be more likely to spread the virus. This no doubt ineffective PHE [Public Health England] nannying should have been dumped when the organisation was. The government need to remember there is a limit to people’s compliance. This might just hit it.

As I write early on Tuesday, September 22, Boris is planning to bring in an England-wide curfew for pubs and restaurants on Thursday. As if the virus will know the difference between a 10 p.m. closing time versus the usual one of 11 p.m. The mind boggles.

Thursday, September 17

Matt Hancock appeared again with another update on coronavirus.

This time, it was about measures taken on lockdown in the North East of England. This includes strict adherence to household bubbles, table service only in hospitality venues and a curfew between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.:

Once again, he was straining every sinew, an expression he has been using since March:

The battle against coronavirus is not over, and while we strain every sinew to spring free of its clutches, with winter on the horizon we must prepare, bolster our defences and come together once again against this common foe.

Then he announced upcoming plans to make everyone using A&E (Accident and Emergency) departments to make a booking! Good grief:

… we are working to get patients the right care in the right place, by expanding the role of NHS 111. During the peak of this pandemic, we saw millions of people using NHS 111, on the phone or online, to get the best possible advice on coronavirus, helping them to stay safe and, where possible, to stay out of hospital, where they could have unknowingly spread the virus. It is crucial that, ahead of winter, we use this window of opportunity to seek out what worked and build on it, so we provide a better service for patients and protect the NHS. Of course, no one will ever be turned away from our emergency departments in the most serious of cases; however, we have worked with the royal colleges, the NHS and others to develop a better, quicker and more clinically appropriate service for patients by using NHS 111 first.

This is how it works. We will invest £24 million to increase call-handling capacity and to make sure there are more clinicians on hand to provide expert advice and guidance, and we will build on our trials to make NHS 111 a gateway to the emergency care system, providing a first port of call for patients. In future, rather than having to queue in an emergency ward, we are testing that people should call NHS 111 first to book an appointment with whoever can give them the most appropriate care, whether it is a GP, a specialist consultant, a pharmacist, a nurse or community services. Of course if they need to go to the emergency department, NHS 111 will be able to book them into an appropriate time slot. We want to see this approach lead to shorter waiting times and better availability of appointments for patients. We will consult on how its performance is best measured, and, with successful pilots, we will roll out NHS 111 First to all trusts from December.

This is the bit that galled me the most:

The purpose of 111 First is to improve access, including in terms of inequalities in the NHS, by ensuring that people get the right treatment in the right place and easier access if they do need to go to an emergency department, because the emergency department will know that they are coming. It is commonplace now in almost every part of our life to let people know that we are coming. If we are going to do something as important as visit an emergency department, it will help both the patient seeking treatment and the NHS to let them know that they are coming first. That is the principle behind 111 First. It sits alongside 999, which anybody should call in a serious incident.

‘People’s government’, my eye.

Nor is the NHS the people’s health service.

If you have a serious injury, you or your loved ones could be losing life- or limb-saving time by calling 111 or 999.

Based on what I read during the March lockdown, calling 111 was life-threatening. Children calling on behalf of elderly parents were told, ‘If your relative is not turning blue, do the best you can.’

Calling the ambulance service on 999 generally produced this result: ‘We’re overloaded. If you can take your relative to hospital yourself, please do so.’

Over the past few months, I have heard NHS senior executives give testimony to Select Committees. They do not want patients coming in to a hospital, to a GP surgery — anywhere on NHS property.

An absolute shower!

Speaking of absolute showers, Baroness Harding — Dido Harding, a former jockey and failed business consultant/corporate director — gave testimony to a Select Committee, the Commons Science and Technology Committee, led by Greg Clark MP (Tunbridge Wells, Con).

Wow. It was car-crash television on BBC Parliament.

Baroness Harding is, inexplicably, the director of NHS Test and Trace programme.

Greg Clark is no slouch. He pressed and pressed the same question. Did she not anticipate the increase of demand for tests after lockdown lifted?

Finally, she gave the answer.

The Independent reported:

Demand for coronavirus tests is three to four times the number available, the director of NHS test and trace has admitted.

Baroness Dido Harding, who told MPs there was capacity to carry out 242,817 tests a day, said the “sizeable” rise in demand had been unexpected.

Boris Johnson has pledged to raise capacity to 500,000 by next month – but Baroness Harding’s estimates suggest that even that figure would not be enough to satisfy demand.

Even then:

despite images of queues outside Covid-19 drive-in centres, the testing tsar said: “I strongly refute that the system is failing.”

She put the blame on SAGE …

Baroness Harding insisted current capacity had been based on modelling provided by the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) and suggested that around a quarter of those seeking tests did not have symptoms.

… and the testing laboratories:

Quizzed by the committee chair and former Tory minister Greg Clark on the current issues in the system, she said that the “constraint” in the testing was in processing and laboratories.

On Friday, Sir Jeremy Farrar, a SAGE member and director of the Wellcome Trust, hit back.

The Telegraph reported:

Sir Jeremy Farrar, the director of the Wellcome Trust, who sits on the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said the body had given “clear advice” that a fully functioning test, track and trace system should be in place

Responding to her comments on social media, Sir Jeremy said he had personally warned that a growing testing crisis was looming.

“Interesting to be blaming Sage,” he wrote on Twitter. “Has been clear, and in the advice, that the UK faced an inevitable increase in community transmission and cases after the summer and needed a fully functional and trusted test, track and trace in place.”

Sir Jeremy posted his comments from a BBC interview with Andrew Marr in June, in which he warned of a “nasty rebound” if steps were not taken to improve testing. He also re-posted an article from May in which he warned that lifting restrictions was difficult even with a fully working testing programme in operation.

The testing crisis deepened on Friday when it emerged that children at four out of five schools are staying at home because they cannot get a test

This coronavirus business will only get worse. Watch and wait.

Part 2 concerns the Brexit-related Internal Market Bill.

My posts over the past two days have been about coronavirus testing: problems with false positives from PCR tests and why some countries have had lower infection rates than most others.

The key to understanding both lies in the high number of cycles that many countries use in their PCR (swab) tests.

This Twitter thread explains the issue in detail. You might need to click on the images to see them in full. They will open automatically in a new tab:

Much of the current panic about the uptick in coronavirus cases could be because some countries are using too high a cycle threshold:

Not only are we getting incorrect ‘case’ numbers but those who have had false positives are being prevented from going about their business. Read the anecdotes in the sixth tweet:

Our leaders need to re-examine how our PCR tests are being conducted:

Will this coronavirus chaos ever stop?

For many, the cure is worse than the disease.

End of series

By now, everyone knows my thoughts on coronavirus.

Every day brings stranger news, especially for children.

This is what schools will look like when pupils return to class in Pinellas County, Florida, home to Clearwater on the west coast of the state. I don’t blame the administrators, because they are only following state guidelines. Nevertheless, this is just wrong in so many ways, even if teachers are the ones who wear masks, not the pupils:

How dehumanising and sad for children to be at the mercy of public health officials — and notional ‘science’.

What bets that we look back at this in ten or 20 years time and say, ‘What were we thinking?!’

I also wonder what the extended effect of these policies will have on more vulnerable children.

I hope they are only temporary and not in place by 2021.

While all was quiet in our streets during lockdown, many changes have no doubt been taking place in relative silence.

One of them was Sheffield Cathedral’s decision to disband their choir. The recently hired choirmaster felt he should resign. The choirmaster was not involved in the clergy’s discussions.

It is unclear what exactly infected the minds of the Church of England clergy during lockdown, but some of the ensuing results, such as this, are questionable.

On Thursday, July 23, 2020, The Guardian reported:

In a break with centuries of tradition, Sheffield cathedral is to stand down its choir in order to make a “completely fresh start” with a new team of choristers that reflects and engages with an increasingly diverse city.

A statement published on the cathedral’s website on Wednesday said “significant change” was needed. The cathedral’s governing body, the Chapter, had decided on “a new model for Anglican choral life here, with a renewed ambition for engagement and inclusion”, it added.

Although the cathedral’s music department had been the subject of a review, the closure of the choir was unexpected and is likely to infuriate traditionalists in the Church of England and classical music circles.

Apart from a handful of adult singers, the current choir is drawn largely from schools in the Sheffield area (including private schools) and mainly performs music from the Anglican choral tradition.

Clicking on the link for the Cathedral’s statement produces a pop-up window stating (emphases in the original):

Sheffield Cathedral is your Cathedral

Your Cathedral has seen many adversities throughout history to present time. Now we are faced with overcoming the challenges of COVID-19. 

Sheffield Cathedral is a beacon of hope for the whole community. People have been gathering on this site for nearly 1,000 years. With your support now, people will be able to gather here for many more years to come.

Please help your Cathedral to continue to be ‘A Place for All People’. Thank you.

The Very Reverend Peter Bradley, DL
The Dean of Sheffield

Well, that no longer holds true for the choir or the choir director, it would seem.

The Cathedral’s statement of July 22 reads, in part (emphases mine):

For some years the Dean and Chapter have been looking carefully at the music offer of Sheffield Cathedral. They have come to the conclusion that there needs to be significant change. This is in order to create a Music Department and Choir ready for the exciting future of the mixed urban community in which we live and work.

With the Diocesan Bishop, Chapter are appointing a new Canon Precentor in August, responsible for Cathedral worship and music. They hope this will bring increased creativity and stability.

Following a review of the Music Department in 2019, Sheffield Cathedral Chapter has decided that a completely fresh start is needed. As a result, Chapter concluded this is the right time to close the current Cathedral Choir.

This decision has not been easy because it will directly impact several colleagues and indirectly impact us all in our close-knit community. However, we believe this is in the best interests of the long-term mission of the Cathedral

For some time, Chapter has been considering a new model for Anglican choral life here, with a renewed ambition for engagement and inclusion. They recognise that this will require flexibility, imagination and experiment …

They look forward to working with our partners throughout our City and Diocese to make this renewed vision a reality under God.

Dean Bradley told The Guardian:

“We need to be engaging with people who are part of this changing city. We believe strongly in equality and giving as many children as possible the opportunity to sing at the highest level.”

The appeal of church music was wide but sometimes “presented in a way that can be seen as elitist”, he said.

Bradley acknowledged the decision to close the current choir would “cause genuine grief”. He hoped that some of the existing choristers would become members of a new choir, which will be formed after the appointment of a new canon precentor this summer.

The new choir will continue to perform music from the Anglican choral tradition but will broaden its repertoire, he said.

“This sort of change in our sort of institution can be immensely painful, but that’s not a reason not to move forward. My view is that many cathedrals will be making similar changes over the next few years.

“It’s going to be a bit torrid for us, but we’re not going to sit in a bunker.”

You can see photos and biographies of the men who made the decision here. Perhaps they should consider making a ‘new model’ — borrowing their words — for cathedral leadership themselves. Given their own logic, they could resign.

But I digress.

Back to The Guardian, which says that one professional vocalist who had sung at Sheffield Cathedral was deeply disappointed by the decision:

James Bingham, a former member of the Sheffield cathedral choir who now works for the Irish National Opera, said he was appalled by the cathedral’s statement, tweeting: “It implies that the Anglican church’s rich choral tradition is to blame for its declining influence.”

“Choral music is one of the great cultural legacies of the Church of England,” he told the Guardian.

The idea that classical music was elitist was misguided, Bingham said. “At Sheffield [cathedral], they’re making amazing music on a daily basis in the city centre that is free to everyone.”

As a student at Sheffield university, Bingham had sung as a choral scholar five times a week for three years. Choirs were strong communities bound together by frequent performance and rehearsal, he said.

“The cathedral choir still holds a big place in my heart. If this had happened while I was still there, I would be heartbroken.”

I agree. I sang in my church’s choir as a teenager, and it was a very close-knit group of people, young and old, male and female.

This was the Cathedral’s tweet on Saturday, July 25:

Good.

You can read more disappointed reactions here.

Another tweet, by way of reply, posted a link to the petition ‘Save Sheffield Cathedral Choir’. When I wrote this post at the end of July, the count of signatories went up and up as I was reading the petition.

The petition explains that the choir is already quite diverse:

In recent years, Sheffield Cathedral Choir has made great advances in encouraging the role of women and non-binary members among the lay clerks and choral scholars of the choir. It also supported a girls’ choir and a Schola Cantorum, serving university student communities. Cathedral musicians, past and present, led the Cathedral’s outreach work which took music across the city. Notably, this included the Sheffield Cathedral Sing! Project, which worked with 2,000 children from 30 primary schools each year, including children of mixed heritage, disabilities, and of socio-economic disadvantage. Through this work, cathedral musicians connected meaningfully with schools from some of Sheffield’s most disadvantaged areas.

The petition also takes exception to the accusation about privately-educated choristers:

Regrettably, the Dean and Chapter’s statement also advances a misleading argument regarding the proportion of choristers at Sheffield Cathedral that were privately educated. Over the last 20 years, privately educated children have typically constituted a minority of the choristers at Sheffield Cathedral. In fact, we are aware that the Dean and Chapter were seeking to establish a formal partnership with Birkdale School, a private school in the city this year. These actions seem to be at odds with the Dean and Chapter’s statements.

The mother of one of the choristers wrote a lengthy explanation of the background to the choir situation on Facebook. That post is a copy of a letter she sent to the Church Times. The Master of Music — choirmaster — who has since resigned was a recent hire. Excerpts follow.

See what changes lockdown can produce:

This is my understanding of what has happened, from my vantage point as a choir parent since 2011:

There was a very short review (perhaps two days?) last summer, but changes were made and the choir went from strength to strength from September 2019 to March 2020, evidenced in Chapter’s unanimous decision to appoint Joshua Stephens as Master of Music, taking up his post on 8th March to everyone’s great delight. However, with the onset of coronavirus, Mr Stephens was furloughed and the cathedral failed to communicate this to any of the choir. Mr Stephens allegedly experienced harassment from the cathedral management and silence from the clergy while furloughed. This was not unusual behaviour for the cathedral as others have experienced the same in the past, but lockdown sharpened the focus and made it more evident. I made a formal complaint but little action was taken, and Mr Stephens resigned at the end of June stating that he was not compatible with the prevailing culture in the cathedral. Chapter accepted his resignation without talking to him to understand his motives. Lay-clerks, parents, and choristers were distraught and begged Chapter to initiate mediation. But instead they decided to close down the choir and start afresh, with no encouragement to ex-choir members to be part of the new vision.

The lady posting on Facebook said that the choir had been considering a tour in Berlin, a wider recruitment programme and a means of providing continuity for boys whose voices were changing.

The clergy apparently did not care too much about the choir during lockdown, although the choristers’ parents did their best to maintain morale:

The choir was energised and optimistic, but during all the pressures of lockdown as well as the fire at the Cathedral Archer Project, the clergy admitted that the music department had “slipped through the net”. Nevertheless choir parents and layclerks kept up morale amongst the choristers with zoom parties on the theme of different composers each week, but there was no communication at all from the cathedral to the choir from the last choir rehearsal before lockdown until 24th June when the Dean talked about bringing Mr Stephens back off furlough and preparing to start up again.

BUT:

Mr Stephens was not copied into that email and he resigned the following day.

HMM:

The fourth Director of Music to leave Sheffield cathedral in five years.

His departure precipitated other resignations:

The cathedral’s Head Steward has also since resigned in protest, as did the leaders of the 100-strong Toddler group last year, and as has one of the choir chaperones, stating that she feels unsafe and unsupported.

Wow.

The first the choristers and their parents found out about the disbanding of the choir was through the media:

Indeed the press heard about it before even the choristers did!

Something is very wrong with the Church of England. They have used coronavirus to make rather unwelcome changes. Our churches are now becoming increasingly politicised.

Instead of offering succour to those who had a hard time getting through lockdown and the loss or illness of loved ones, they have turned their attention to the prevailing cultural movements of the day, rather than to our loving Saviour and merciful God our Father.

How un-Christian. How unbiblical.

I hope to post an update when I find out more news.

One of the more disturbing aspects of lockdown and mandatory face coverings during the coronavirus crisis is their effect on children, particularly infants:

This is a highly abnormal development.

Other people have reported the same thing:

Mandated face coverings have altered family activities, such as trips on public transport:

Agree on the bus rides, all fond memories from my childhood. They were great.

Shopping is different, too:

I agree, because not being able to see a mother’s face can have an impact on a child’s development:

Dr Edward Tronick, a University Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts Boston, is director of the Child Development Unit, a research associate in Newborn Medicine, a lecturer at Harvard Medical School, conducted the Still Face Experiment in 2009.

This is a short video of the experiment. Watch how the baby’s expressions and reactions change as the mother does not interact with her:

I truly hope this mask thing is a very temporary measure.

This is one time I can honestly say, ‘Think of the children!’

There is a possibility that we will not have a vaccine for COVID-19.

It’s disappearing too quickly:

For those who have co-morbidities, a case of COVID-19 may prove fatal or leave lasting physical damage, especially to the lungs.

While coronavirus cannot be dismissed outright as not being serious, Texas statistics show that there have been far fewer COVID-19 deaths in the state than there have been from influenza. A physician, Dr Andrew Bostom, put together death figures for the two:

COVID-19 also does not affect children as much as flu or pneumonia:

This is why the Trump administration — as is the UK government — is encouraging the reopening of schools this autumn:

I understand the fear about the possibility of children carrying coronavirus home with them from public transport or an adult in the school.

In England, we had only one school closure since lockdown began. The children of essential workers and those who were under supervision by social workers were allowed to continue going to school. On June 1, all English children were strongly encouraged to return to school to finish term, which ended in July.

Here is the school near Bristol that closed in the middle of May:

The BBC reported that the school, for pupils with special needs, did not have measures in place making it COVID-19 safe. As a result, two teachers contracted the virus.

The closure was temporary, and everyone was tested for the virus.

Therefore, it is better to reopen schools than to keep them closed. The damage done in terms of falling behind academically can be hard to reverse. Children are also much safer in school than at home, especially when home is a dysfunctional environment.

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