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After a slow news period post-‘inauguration’, everything accelerated again to the point where there is too much to cover in one week.

At the end of January 2021, the EU tried to block the UK’s coronavirus vaccine supply, specifically to the AstraZeneca vaccine developed in Oxford!

The EU poked at the softest, most vulnerable part of the UK-EU agreement post-Brexit: not to create division between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, covered by Article 16.

However, the EU, being short of coronavirus vaccines, briefly invoked the sacrosanct Article 16 on Friday, January 29, 2021, despite Jean-Claude Juncker’s old commitment to Ireland that there would be no hard border with a post-Brexit EU-UK trade agreement. This debate in the Irish parliament took place long before coronavirus. What a sloppy dress code:

Then, just less than a month after the UK made a full Brexit with a trade agreement, the EU did this:

On Friday, January 29, Guido Fawkes reported (emphases in the original):

As part of its plot to block vaccine exports to the UK, the EU has invoked Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol. This has effectively removed Northern Ireland from the EU’s customs. In plain English, Article 16, the so-called safeguard clause, allows both the EU and the UK to unilaterally suspend part of the Northern Ireland Protocol (which keeps Northern Ireland in the EU’s customs territory) in specific circumstances.

Most discussion around this particular article had been how or whether the UK would use it. The fact that the EU has implemented it less than a month after coming into effect could set a big precedent.

Practically this new EU-imposed hard border won’t make a huge difference as Northern Ireland will receive their jabs via Great Britain, but this political move is extraordinary, after a week of terrible news for the Union. After years of arguing to keep Northern Ireland in its customs territory, the EU has just merrily kicked it out.

However, such an action threatened the long-standing peace agreement between North and South.

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen’s action managed to unite Britain’s — and Ireland’s — Right and Left for the first time in years:

Guido’s article says of the centre-right Democratic Unionist Party:

UPDATE: The DUP have, not unsurprisingly, slammed the EU’s decision as “an incredible act of hostility”. Arlene Foster says:

“This is an incredible act of hostility. By triggering Article 16 in this manner, the European Union has once again shown it is prepared to use Northern Ireland when it suits their interests but in the most despicable manner — over the provision of a vaccine which is designed to save lives.

At the first opportunity the EU has placed a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland over the supply chain of the Coronavirus vaccine.

With the European Union using Article 16 in such an aggressive and most shameful way, it is now time for our Government to step up. I will be urging the Prime Minister to act and use robust measures including Article 16 to advance the interests of Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.”

As for Labour:

UPDATE II: Labour join in with the EU condemnation: Louise Haigh MP, Labour’s Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary, commenting on the European Union’s decision to invoke Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol:

“This move is deeply destabilising and undermines the huge efforts being made to make the Protocol work.

Unilateral actions like this do nothing to aid the stability in Northern Ireland which the Protocol was designed to preserve.

The European Union must remember the Protocol depends on joint working and they share a responsibility to uphold that. They must think again, and revoke this action.”

Later that day, Guido recapped the previous five days of hassle for AstraZeneca and vaccine supply. CEO Pascal Soriot insisted that the company never made a hard and fast commitment to the EU. AstraZeneca made what are contractually known as best reasonable efforts to supply to the EU. Guido’s article has a copy of the contract, which you can read at the link:

AstraZeneca has committed to use its Best Reasonable Efforts (as defined below) to build capacity to manufacture 300 million Doses of the Vaccine, at no profit and no loss to AstraZeneca, at the total cost currently estimated to be [REDACTED] Euros for distribution within the EU [REDACTED] (the “Initial Europe Doses”), with an option for the Commission, acting on behalf of the Participating Member States, to order an additional 100 million Doses (the “Optional Doses”).

The ball was then in von der Leyen’s court:

Guido reported von der Leyen’s response:

No. There are binding orders and the contract is crystal-clear. AstraZeneca has expressly assured us in this contract that no other obligations will stand in the way of fulfilling the contract.

However, Guido explained:

The key obligation in the agreement is in Section 5.1, which “silos” production for the doses to go to the EU, making clear that the AZ obligation is only to use best reasonable efforts to manufacture the initial doses within the EU. If they are manufacturing doses outside the EU that’s irrelevant to that obligation. Has the EU just shot itself in the foot?

Guido’s founder Paul Staines is based in Waterford, Ireland. He thinks that, for the good of relations between North and South, the UK should share their AstraZeneca doses with the Republic:

He was not alone. The Scotland editor for The Spectator agreed:

Fine. Let’s make sure that Britons get their share first. That’s why the deal was set up in the first place.

By the end of last Friday, right, left, centre and the Church of England opposed the EU action:

The Archbishop’s intervention seemed to have a huge impact in Britain, which is surprising for such an atheistic nation:

The strange thing about Article 16 is that the British EU-lovers assumed that the UK Government would implement it first against the EU. That was the big stink around the Internal Market Bill, which gives the UK leeway to back out of parts of the trade agreement if the EU becomes threatening.

In the end:

Late that evening, the EU president conceded:

Boris made no mention of it on his Twitter feed.

More on the UK’s coronavirus vaccine success will follow on Monday.

For now, here’s the next EU-UK drama, which also started on Friday, January 29 — international travel:

Macron’s probably upset because the Institut Pasteur vaccine failed this week. Because of that failure, he rubbished the AstraZeneca vaccine:

As Guido said:

The French haven’t been able to produce a vaccine, and the Germans couldn’t do it without American corporate help. No wonder voices in the EU were so keen to hit out, falsely, at the success of Brexit Britain’s Oxford vaccine. Poor Little EU.

Oh, boy. Politics, politics.

2021 will be a doozy of a year.

While much of the UK is in some sort of coronavirus lockdown — England is now in the new Tier 5 — let’s cast our minds back to Christmas Eve 2020.

An imminent announcement was rumoured by news channels from the early morning.

Christmas Eve morning — in our household, at least — provided more excitement than Christmas Day, particularly since our area were in Tier 4 at the time, forbidding anything but the briefest of visits.

As December 24 unfolded, there was no final trade agreement enabling the United Kingdom to terminate the Brexit transition phase, scheduled to end at 11:59 p.m. Brussels time, on December 31.

Mid-afternoon, Sky News announced that there would be no statement that day. We stayed tuned in, which was just as well, because a short time later, they changed tack and said that that EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson would be making separate statements about a deal having been struck.

Amazingly, as Sky News announced there would be no announcement, this independent journalist called it correctly. Well done:

Guido Fawkes’s team, who run the best British political website, had been primed for this from the week before. Tom Harwood went the furthest and had worn his Merry Brexmas jumper (pullover sweater) in their news wrap up video on December 18:

Around 3 p.m., Ursula von der Leyen made her announcement from Brussels. Boris made his from No. 10. While Ursula and our chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier were downbeat, Boris was positively euphoric:

His tie had a fish motif:

Fishing was the sticking point that caused the delay to an agreement being reached:

In the end:

Leavers are very grateful to Lord David GH Frost for his tireless efforts in negotiating on the UK’s behalf. Words cannot describe how hard he has worked on our behalf:

This was Boris’s announcement about the new trade deal with the EU beginning on January 1, 2021. Guido Fawkes has a written summary (ignore the photo, which was not one from December 24):

It was on as even terms as possible. Both von der Leyen and Barnier acknowledged that we were ‘tough’ in our negotiations. Good.

Michel Barnier is in the first video:

Michel Barnier spoke after von der Leyen. Thank you, Michel:

Here he says that the UK has chosen to leave the European Union and the single market. The new agreement is the basis of a new partnership, one that is fair and equitable:

The woman on the right in that photo moderated the session, which included a press conference.

More highlights follow.

Journalist Dave Keating has an excellent thread, which he introduced with the reference to white smoke appearing at the Vatican when there is a new pope:

Boris’s usual critics doubted the ‘Canada-style’ description, until they began analysing the text. Some admitted on air and in print that it was, indeed, a Canada-style agreement.

The Telegraph had more on the agreement:

Boris sent a three-page letter to each MP and peer.

Contrary to what Boris said, the agreement was 1,246 pages long. Annexes and footnotes probably accounted for the extra length. You can read the full text here, using the links at the bottom of that page:

I couldn’t agree more with the poll results.

I also fully agree with the PM that Brexit dragged on long enough:

Agree.

We will always be European.

We love our European friends and family.

However, the EU construct, as it evolved from a common trading area to a common army (developing) and lack of national autonomy, were steps too far for 52% of the British public. Here’s a case in point: the EU Parliament — individual MEPs — won’t even be voting on this deal until early 2021. We left at the last minute of 2020. This proves further that the only EU decisions that matter come from the EU Commission.

After the announcement of the new EU-UK trade agreement, reactions poured in.

First, here’s a reaction from a member of the general public, a Leaver. I felt the same way:

Nigel Farage — without whom we never would have had a referendum (thanks again, Nigel!) — approved, even though the deal isn’t perfect:

David Cameron, who was PM at the time of the July 23, 2016 referendum, said:

Theresa May, Cameron’s successor and MP for Maidenhead, who ended up resigning over her poor handling of Brexit within Parliament, must have tweeted this through gritted teeth:

Conservative MP Mark Harper was unique in thanking Lord David GH Frost — Barnier’s British counterpart — who negotiated so well. Harper — one of the good guys — said that he would look forward to reading through the agreement over Christmas ahead of the December 30 vote.

Another Conservative MP, Chris Heaton-Harris, said, that contrary to negative reports circulating in the media, no MP objected to studying the agreement over Christmas.

The leaders of the devolved nations — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — also reacted to the news.

Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon said that Brexit is happening ‘against Scotland’s will’ and issued yet another plea for Scottish independence.

Another socialist, Mark Drakeford, the First Minister — Prif Weinidog — of Wales, offered a more balanced assessment. Perhaps he recalled that most Welsh voters wanted Brexit. Drakeford said that it wasn’t the deal hoped for (probably not enough links with the EU) but was workable.

Northern Ireland’s First Minister, Arlene Foster (DUP), said that, provisionally, the agreement looked like ‘good news’ and issued a full statement on it.

Kate Hoey, the former Labour MP for Vauxhall (London) and the current Baroness Hoey of Lylehill and Rathlin in the County of Antrim, was a staunch supporter of Brexit and was one of the main Leavers in 2016 on the public stage. Even though her heart is in Northern Ireland, her homeland, she participates actively in the House of Lords. She had this to say about the agreement:

Her friends at Labour Leave were equally relieved:

Emmanuel Macron, France’s petit président, played the tough guy. In one tweet, he said that European unity and firmness paid off; the agreement with the UK had to protect France’s citizens, fishermen and producers. He assured them that this was the case, pointing towards a Europe that is sovereign and strong. In a second tweet, he thanked Michel Barnier for his tenacity and engagement in defending European interests and unity. He also said that, thanks to von der Leyen, European solidarity showed its force.

That evening, Boris posted his Christmas message. The first half is about coronavirus. The second part is about Brexit:

That day, all 52% of us wanted to focus on was this great achievement — a happy one, brightening a coronavirus-dominated Christmas:

The second day of Brexmas will follow tomorrow.

As we approach 2021, a growing number of Europeans are sceptical about our governments’ respective responses to coronavirus.

My guess is that people are becoming suspicious about the loss of their civil liberties, which was only supposed to last for two to three weeks, yet continues to this day — nine months on.

There is no end in sight as we face the possibility of another sharp, nationwide lockdown early in the New Year.

France

This was a major topic of discussion on RMC’s Les Grandes Gueules today.

Vaccinations have reached saturation point in France, even though the programme has barely started. Perhaps the government was too slow in obtaining more doses at the outset:

Regardless, in France, as well as everywhere else, even the vaccinated will need to continue to wear masks — possibly even after their second BioNtech/Pfizer jab:

Of course, mass vaccination is the only way that a nation’s economy can once again flourish. Recall that for most age groups — up to the 70+ cohort — the average death rate is around 0.05%:

In the meantime, the question arose over whether future lockdowns should be national or regional. (We’ve tried both recently in England and Wales. It doesn’t seem to make much difference.) This educator says that we can’t stay locked down for the next ten years — ‘I’m horrified. We’re in a world of madness”:

The lawyer on the panel disagreed, saying that we need lockdowns until we get the all clear. Someone responded to the tweet casting doubt on government statistics, saying that lies are a way of dramatising the situation — Project Fear:

Listeners rang in to say that they were sceptical about lockdowns and mandatory vaccines. The lockdowns don’t seem to work and there aren’t enough data yet to show that the vaccines are reliable and safe, especially if they operate like the flu vaccine, meaning that one is still susceptible to getting coronavirus, albeit a milder form of it.

Spain

The Spanish government is considering whether to develop a list of residents who do not take the vaccine then circulate those names to other countries to restrict their movements.

British talk show host Maajid Nawaz of LBC warned that this is a very dangerous step for a nation to take. He said that, years ago, he was a prisoner of conscience in Egypt and found out how far the state can go in controlling one’s life. The response to his video is quite telling:

Someone else replying said that Spain would not be able to circulate the list because of personal privacy laws under the Europe-wide GDPR regulations. Hmm, I wonder:

England

Maajid Nawaz had another excellent commentary on the futility of lockdowns. He said that only one person in the UK has put together a cost benefit analysis for public consumption and that only the Times has published it. Apparently, 500,000 lives are adversely affected among the general population and they are not COVID-19 ‘cases’ or inpatients. He added that Government ministers have a lot of data they refuse to reveal to the public. I would go further and say they are not even revealing it to MPs. Matt Hancock lets nothing out in Parliament, only more fear-mongering messages, then expects MPs to approve more restrictions:

Simon Dolan, a businessman who has sued the Government over lockdown, points out that lockdown relies on asymptomatic transmission being true. However, yet another study shows that there is no truth behind asymptomatic transmission:

The latest study, which the JAMA published, focusses on household transmission:

On lockdown, Simon Dolan posits:

Yes, most probably.

But what about the lorry drivers stranded at Dover because Emmanuel Macron didn’t want them coming into Calais unless they were tested? Only a tiny number tested positive:

It’s no wonder people are sceptical.

In closing, I have been waiting for an ecological impact assessment on masks. Here it is:

Does anyone else find it odd that, given the alarm over coronavirus, no country has any HAZMAT bins for used masks? Shouldn’t worn masks be considered hazardous waste?

It makes one wonder …

More to come.

Andrew Neil, veteran BBC journalist and chairman of The Spectator worldwide, hosted Episode 7 of The Week in 60 Minutes on Thursday, October 15, 2020:

A summary follows.

Not surprisingly, given events of the past week, coronavirus led the news.

Andrew Neil began with England’s increasing number of regional lockdowns. It would seem that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is no longer following the science. The Labour and official Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, wants another national lockdown. The political editor of The Spectator, James Forsyth, said that, whatever coronavirus crisis measures Boris Johnson takes, he’s ‘damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t’ and has to deal with the damage of lockdowns.

Across the Channel in France, Emmanuel Macron has been following a similar strategy to that of Downing Street and is very concerned about COVID-19 in all respects. Neil asked about last week’s contretemps in Ireland. Forsyth said that Ireland’s dispute between their government and medical experts was played out in public; by contrast, in the UK, it was in private. In any event, he said that scientists are now in a position of ‘negotiation’.

The magazine’s deputy political editor, Katy Balls, was on next to discuss Labour’s position on coronavirus. Labour MPs disagreed with Keir Starmer behind the scenes, a move which she said has united the Conservatives. That said, it seems England could well be heading towards a short ‘circuit breaker’, although that would be very difficult for Conservative MPs to stomach.

Forsyth said that this is a very dangerous time for the Government. Starmer could even emerge victorious. (‘At some point’, I might add, as Boris has a majority of 79 [from 80], and no general election is due before 2024.) At this stage, it’s too soon to tell. He said that no one knows if a circuit breaker would actually work in England.

The Spectator‘s editor Fraser Nelson was up next. He said that Boris was pretty well on to the way to a national lockdown, adding that he lacks the way to fight off SAGE, having been  ‘outmanoeuvered’.

Neil asked about a recent poll showing approval for more coronavirus restrictions. Ben Page from IPSOS-Mori explained the polls, which showed that 62% of respondents thought that stricter measures should be taken. Page indicated that these were somewhat alarming results: ‘quite astonishing in some ways … across the piece’.

Forsyth noted that 19% of Conservative voters in England oppose increased restrictions, which poses a problem for Boris because it creates a North-South divide. Ben Page countered that the polling support for Labour and Conservative has been fairly stable this year. Labour haven’t been able to gain much ground since December 2019.

Jake Berry MP, a Conservative representing the northern constituency of Rossendale and Darwen in Lancashire, spoke next. He said that, although their regional lockdown had been relaxed recently, they are now on Tier 2. He said that people are largely ignoring the Government guidelines and will comply only with what they think is appropriate. He does not favour a national lockdown but supports a local circuit breaker ‘based on the data’, so that it becomes less political for the public. He believes that the Government could have ‘handled the North better’ and that recent weeks have proven a ‘very dangerous moment for Parliament and the North’. That said, he added that Labour ‘is in quite a lot of trouble over this as well’ and said Starmer committed quite a big mistake this week when calling for a national circuit breaker.

Berry further advised that we need to give this new two-week regional lockdown the benefit of the doubt which might lead for in-and-out local lockdowns.

Neil then changed tack, moving across the Channel to France, with its local 10 p.m. coronavirus curfews (some of which are now at 9 p.m.) and a campaign against extremism.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, speaking to the latter point, was the next guest. She was sceptical about any success against extremism. She said that extremists have convinced French immigrants they are living within another type of state to which they do not feel they naturally belong. She added that this is enough to subvert the French nation. She also said that the same narrative is going on in other Western nations, because leaders remain silent and refuse to admit what is really going on.

Talk then turned to Brexit arrangements, which were to have been concluded that day. James Forsyth said that the EU threw the ball into the UK’s ‘court’. That leaves the situation whereby Michel Barnier wants to carry on talks but neither side wants to back down.

Forsyth expects there will be a deal to be done ‘but with a twist in the tail’. Fraser Nelson said that Boris and Macron communicate with each other quite closely and expected that Britain will budge over fishing rights. It will be, he predicted, one for revision: ‘a process rather than an event’.

Forsyth said there could be a November deadline, even though neither side wants an early deadline because they do not want any changes to the deal. He predicted a last minute November 15 deal.

The last part of the programme concerned protecting the triple lock pension with Katy Balls affirming that Boris is ‘committed to it’.

The panel noted Boris’s ‘unstrustworthiness’ problem with voters. Questions from listeners followed for the last ten minutes. Ben Page said that the Labour Party is very unpopular even if Keir Starmer is popular in the polls.

Viewers are grateful to Charles Stanley Wealth Managers for sponsoring the programme.

On Saturday, May 16, I tuned into France’s news channel BFMTV to see how the nation’s partial reopening went.

President Emmanuel Macron got an earful from medical professionals at La Pitié-Salpêtrière, the Paris hospital he visited on Friday, May 15. Late last week, he announced that, at this year’s Bastille Day ceremonies, health professionals and first responders would be honoured with medals commemorating their work during the coronavirus crisis. On Friday, as Macron was leaving, a health professional told him that he didn’t want any medal. Macron snapped back:

If you don’t want it, don’t take it.

It was a rough visit. A group of nurses listened to what he had to say, then one spoke up, bluntly demanding more pay and more recognition. Macron said that he was giving them a bonus for their work over the past two months, but she retorted that was not enough. She demanded a pay rise for all nurses, which is fair enough. They are on relatively low pay, not far from minimum wage.

Going back a few years when the erstwhile Conservative prime minister François Fillon (serving under Nicolas Sarkozy from 2007-2012) visited a care home during his tenure, he was able to hold a calm, considered conversation with the workers there, who were all CGT union members:

Allow me a small digression from Macron. François Fillon should have been France’s president after François Hollande. Unfortunately, the media put the boot into him for corruption, just as he was at a massive height in the popularity polls in January 2017, the year Macron was elected president.

In March 2020, Fillon was sentenced to two years in prison, with an additional three years suspended sentence. His wife was given a suspended three-year prison term and a fine of €375,000. (Source: Le Point.) Trumped up (no pun intended) or what? Something stinks there. The Fillons are a dignified couple who have kept to themselves over the years. They are low-profile people and devout Catholics.

This was François Fillon’s agenda for France in 2017: ending bureaucracy, sorting out France’s problems and restoring the pride in being French. In short: make France great again. Does that sound familiar?

How sad that it didn’t happen and might never happen. Who will accomplish this now?

I agree with the tweet below that the framing of François Fillon is truly a shame for France.

The video is from 2017:

These replies say that Fillon’s three-year plan, summarised above, was simply swept — balayé– under the carpet (by left-wing media, which started with one outlet and spread rapidly to the others):

Returning to the present day, a Parisian MP from France Insoumise (Unbowed France) says that it is urgent for Macron to say how soon the pay increase will be delivered and how much it will be. The second tweet includes one from health minister Olivier Véran, commenting on the ‘passionate’ feedback from the nurses:

Macron has been the latest French president to further shrink the nation’s health system, following Nicolas Sarkozy (Conservative) and François Hollande (Socialist), both in terms of hospital beds and other measures. Hospital masks were in short supply during the height of the coronavirus crisis. French housewives banded together from their homes to sew fabric masks for nurses. While those were technically useless, nonetheless, nurses were grateful for any protection whilst awaiting proper face coverings.

Early Saturday afternoon, BFMTV reported on the mask shortage, discovered in January 2020. However, it was too late, even with Macron’s government’s requisitioning every surgical mask in France. They were the wrong type of masks, but they would have to do. Hospital and care workers were desperate.

One physician working on the front line in Lyon died because he did not have the right type of mask. He caught coronavirus and, despite treatment in Marseille, never recovered. His widow and two daughters are suing the hospital where he worked. I can’t see how that will work, because every hospital experienced the same mask shortage.

Currently, there are enough masks for people living in France, who have been strongly encouraged to wear one outdoors. These are not proper coronavirus masks, but they will have to do.

It appears that Macron now has to get on with his promised reform — improvement — of a beleaguered health system. Here’s an inside look at his control room:

The replies to this tweet featuring an LREM MP are interesting. The MP says that a centralised health system doesn’t work, but the replies say that the system has been sclerotic for some time, Macron has ignored calls for improvement and there are too many hospital administrators and/or politicians involved rather than medical professionals. The response I’ve included below says that Germany spends far less money than France and has better performing hospitals, with four times more intensive care beds:

However, another BFMTV journalist reported that Macron is facing a crisis in other aspects of French society, including the gilets jaunes (yellow jackets). They are still protesting in some cities on Saturdays, although not in as great a number as before the coronavirus crisis:

Making matters worse, Macron’s political party, LREM, no longer has an absolute majority in parliament:

Ten of his MPs have left to form their own party with ten other MPs — Ecologie, démocratie, solidarité:

It is unclear whether that will have any impact on the second round of local elections, rescheduled for June 28:

However, one commentator said that Macron’s success as president will largely depend on how he and his government handle the coronavirus crisis this year. He has a few years left in his first term, which ends in 2022.

Meanwhile, during the first weekend of partial reopening, BFMTV reminded viewers that they are not allowed to travel further than 100km from home. They also cannot not leave the house to visit anyone, including relatives, unless they are going to drop something off. Visiting second homes is also forbidden. The French are allowed to travel to work, to school, to a child minder, for a funeral, for a medical appointment, for recreational purposes (limited at this point) or to shops that are open:

Late last week, some beaches in France opened so that people could have a new way of exercising. For now, reopening beaches is up to individual mayors. As the virus is still active, the beaches are ‘dynamic’, meaning that sitting or sunning oneself is strictly forbidden. Fishing is also forbidden. Beachgoers can walk, swim and surf. A one-way system is in place with an entrance and an exit:

The second tweet says, ‘This increasing surveillance is seriously getting on my nerves’:

Interior minister Christophe Castaner visited a beach in Normandy that was preparing to reopen. He said that everyone visiting beaches had to respect the rules in place, otherwise they will be closed. He hopes that beaches will reopen fully during the summer:

For those who miss culture, small museums, with hygiene restrictions in place, may reopen:

Driving schools can also open. There is no social distancing in the car, so the car windows must be open at all times during the lesson. Those taking virtual instruction are socially distanced. Driving tests can begin in June, provided there is no second wave of coronavirus:

Those worried about the impact of more drivers on the environment need not be too concerned. During lockdown, there was only a 7% decrease in particulates. That is surprising:

At 2 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, Lourdes reopened, even if there are no dine-in restaurants. It will attract locals until travel restrictions are lifted:

Speaking of health and healing, coronavirus testing continues. In Brittany, a new cluster of infections was discovered at an abattoir:

Elsewhere in France, new infections were found in schools that reopened last week. Those schools are now closed:

One Frenchman might have a future solution to school closures. He is developing a fabric that kills coronavirus. This video shows his chair and desk covers:

Where schools remained open, this is what the scene looked like outdoors. Recess must have been fun (not). This is so SAD, beyond belief:

France’s medical agency has found that 500 medications are harmful in treating coronavirus. Incredibly, hydroxychloroquine is among them. This has to be the establishment’s figurative poke in the eye at Prof Didier Raoult, Marseille’s champion in treating patients with the drug combined with azithromycin:

The article says, in part:

Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) represents the majority of adverse cardiac reactions, in 141 out of 159 cases. Cardiac reactions comprise 69% of those reported, versus 44% where Kaletra (an antiretroviral combining lopinavir and ritonavir) is used …

The number of deaths linked to hydroxychloroquine in hospital remains at four. In view of these risks, the health agency advises that these drugs, when used against Covid-19, must be used as a priority only in the context of ongoing clinical trials.

In general, provided there is no sizeable second wave of infections, more businesses will be able to open at the beginning of June.

Philippe Etchebest, who is a chef, restaurateur, television celebrity and MOF (maître ouvrier de France), says that restaurants must reopen as soon as possible, because the government cannot afford to keep them closed. The subsidies are ‘colossal’:

Last month, Etchebest said that partial reopening will not work. Social distancing — e.g. halving the number of tables — will not bring in enough revenue. Perhaps he will be employing one of these social distancing methods:

Recently, the loathsome globalist Jacques Attali said that restaurateurs must change their business model.

Etchebest took strong objection to that, saying that he is neither a grocer nor a wine merchant. Those replying to this tweet also criticised Attali, saying he should shut up for once or retire to a nursing home. The quote from Attali on the internet is interesting:

The internet represents a danger to those in the know and those who decide things, because it gives access to information outside of received knowledge.

Bravo, Philippe:

Attali was one of Emmanuel Macron’s early mentors. Go figure.

No wonder the French are angry.

We have been told that our coronavirus lockdowns will not end until a vaccine has been successfully developed.

Meanwhile, in France, Professor Didier Raoult has been successfully using chloroquine, where suitable, on his COVID-19 patients at the IHU Méditerranée Infection facility, where he is the Director.

Professor Raoult is also a physician. A number of his fellow doctors oppose his use of an anti-malarial drug, which is cheap as chips, to treat this novel (new) coronavirus, said to have no known remedy, much less cure, at this time.

Raoult describes himself as a ‘renegade’ physician. Other doctors in France certainly agree. They doubt his claims. Now they want to suspend him from France’s national medical association, l’Ordre des Médecins (The Order of Physicians).

On Saturday, April 25, Geopolintel (French language, translated below) reported that the ANSM (French National Agency for Medicines and Health Products Safety), INSERM (French National Institute of Health and Medical Research) and the biopharmaceutical drug company Gilead are out to get Raoult.

The article is an open letter to Raoult’s critics:

The Covid-19 crisis shows the destructive ideology of your policies as well as that of the health institutions of our country.

Given the sums of money involved, it takes any and all costs to transfer the professor from Marseille for the generalized vaccination agreement between Macron and Bill Gates to be realized.

Censors, you have lost public opinion and you cannot regain it by threatening Professor Raoult with suspension by the Order of Physicians.

He makes fun of your stories of cash and corruption, unlike you, he treats and does not bear responsibility for death by organized shortage.

What displeases you in him is his indifference to lobbies and sirens of glory and as a professor, researcher and doctor; he cares while you polish your the seats of your trousers on the leather armchairs of the circles of initiates who have done nothing in their lives other than lying and earning dirty money.

There have been major pharmaceutical scandals in France in recent years, yet the establishment is going after Raoult, who has provided patient relief in an inexpensive prescription anti-malarial drug available at pharmacies. The medical establishment has accused the professor of employing ‘illegal medical research protocols’:

Regarding the “illegal clinical research protocols” which are attributed to Didier Raoult, what about the scandals of the Pick (Médiator), Depakin and other drugs approved in the so-called respect for randomized trial protocols?

As for his possible suspension by the Order of Physicians:

The Council of the Order of Physicians threatens Professor Raoult with immediate suspension of activity, because his clinical trials “do not comply with official procedures”, and he risks up to a year in prison and 15,000 euros in fines.

Yet, President Macron visited Raoult in Marseille recently to find out more about the doctor’s success with his COVID-19 patients. About this, the article says:

As a reminder, Professor Raoult presented Emmanuel Macron with the results of his work on 1,061 patients.

Almost 92% of patients cured in ten days,
Nearly 5% of patients cured “late”
Less than 5% of “patients with complications”.
Or 31 patients hospitalized for more than ten days,
10 transferred to intensive care,
and 5 deaths. On 1061: do your accounts and compare to the rest of France…

The abstract and summary table of the data in our article on the treatment of 1061 patients are online!
The abstract and the summary table of our paper on the treatment of 1061 patients are online! https: //t.co/mTWj6aGpTk https: //t.co … pic.twitter.com/PLdygNolxG
– Didier Raoult (@raoult_didier) April 10, 2020

These are the full results of Raoult’s study:

The article concludes:

The first reaction of the simple man that I am, in the delusional French context that I observe from afar, is this: Raoult heals while the profession flounders. It has no response, no treatment, adding the humiliation of the mandarins to the resentment of the rascals. In short, Raoult must be suspended. It is urgent: he risks treating even more people.

Now, it must be said that chloroquine doesn’t work on everyone. Nor does a similar drug, hydroxychloroquine, often combined with azithromycin (which contains zinc), in COVID-19 treatment. The latter is the treatment that President Trump has been championing for weeks.

Both should be used with caution and under medical supervision. They can harm patients with certain types of heart ailments. Never self-medicate!

As is true in France, the American medical establishment is eager to pour cold water on Trump’s claims.

On April 16, 2020, MedRxiv published an abstract of one such study: ‘Outcomes of hydroxychloroquine usage in United States veterans hospitalized with Covid-19’, which ends as follows:

CONCLUSIONS: In this study, we found no evidence that use of hydroxychloroquine, either with or without azithromycin, reduced the risk of mechanical ventilation in patients hospitalized with Covid-19. An association of increased overall mortality was identified in patients treated with hydroxychloroquine alone. These findings highlight the importance of awaiting the results of ongoing prospective, randomized, controlled studies before widespread adoption of these drugs.

Yet, nearly half of America’s 50 states are stockpiling the drug, as Axios reported on April 25 (emphases in the original):

At least 22 states and Washington, D.C., are building up stores of the anti-malarial drug President Trump previously touted as a possible solution for the novel coronavirus, AP reports.

Why it matters: The Food and Drug Administration advised doctors Friday against prescribing hydroxychloroquine or the related drug chloroquine to coronavirus patients as it appears to be causing some serious and potentially life-threatening side effects.

    • ‘The warning comes as doctors at a New York hospital published a report that heart rhythm abnormalities developed in most of 84 coronavirus patients treated with hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin, a combo Trump has promoted,” AP notes.

What they’re saying: “While clinical trials are ongoing to determine the safety and effectiveness of these drugs for COVID-19, there are known side effects of these medications that should be considered,” FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said.

The state of play: Some health experts worry the public could misuse the drug if it is made more widely available.

The FDA has authorised use of hydroxychloroquine under the following conditions, summarised on page 4 of their guidelines:

The hydroxychloroquine sulfate may only be used to treat adult and adolescent patients who weigh 50 kg or more hospitalized with COVID-19 for whom a clinical trial is not available, or participation is not feasible.9

South Dakota is the first state to participate in a trial of the drug:

Kudos to their governor, Kristi Noem, who ignored calls for lockdown. South Dakotans rewarded her with a parade:

But I digress.

Health Feedback is a site that debunks current coronavirus remedies or possible cures. Another is Poynter. Both must be busy.

There has been much talk of using ventilators on ICU patients with COVID-19. However, in some cases, ventilators do not always work and, in some instances, have worsened patients’ outcomes.

On March 20, Cleveland Clinic published an explanation of the damage that COVID-19 can do to the lungs, leading to the need for intensive care and, likely, a ventilator. Excerpts follow (emphases mine):

Although many people with COVID-19 have no symptoms or only mild symptoms, a subset of patients develop severe respiratory illness and may need to be admitted for intensive care.

In a new video, lung pathologist Sanjay Mukhopadhyay, MD, lays out in detail how the lungs are affected in these severe cases. The 15-minute video walks through how COVID-19 causes a “dangerous and potentially fatal” condition known as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) while providing stark images that underscore the severity of the damage that condition can cause to your lungs.

As Dr. Mukhopadhyay explains, Chinese researchers have linked COVID-19 to ARDS. Their study examined risk factors for 191 confirmed coronavirus patients who died while being treated in two hospitals in Wuhan, China.

The researchers found 50 of the 54 patients who died had developed ARDS while only nine of the 137 survivors had ARDS

If you have ARDS, you’ll have symptoms like sudden breathlessness, rapid breathing, dizziness, rapid heart rate and excessive sweating.

But the four main things doctors will look for are:

    • If you have an acute condition, symptoms that started within one week of what they call a “known clinical insult,” or new or worsening symptoms.
    • If your shortness of breath isn’t explained by heart failure or fluid overload.
    • Having low oxygen levels in your blood (severe hypoxia).
    • Both lungs appearing white and opaque (versus black) on chest X-rays (called bilateral lung opacities on chest imaging) …

There might have been other articles like this circulating recently, ones that mention hypoxia.

Hypoxia has been mentioned often in online discourse and in some online articles, such as one from April 5, posted on Medium, ‘Covid-19 had us all fooled, but now we might have finally found its secret’, written by a non-medic whose Medium account has since been deleted.

That article has appeared all over various fora over the past few weeks.

It does sound really plausible, even though Poynter and Health Feedback have both debunked it, which I’ll get to below.

Not being a medic or have anyone in the family who is, I’m just going to throw these excerpts out there.

As such, I wonder if this is accurate, i.e. something that front line physicians will mention a year from now. Anyone with a medical background reading this should feel free to leave a comment below.

The author explains why ventilators don’t always work on COVID-19 patients. This is what caught my eye:

There is no ‘pneumonia’ nor ARDS. At least not the ARDS with established treatment protocols and procedures we’re familiar with. Ventilators are not only the wrong solution, but high pressure intubation can actually wind up causing more damage than without, not to mention complications from tracheal scarring and ulcers given the duration of intubation often required… They may still have a use in the immediate future for patients too far to bring back with this newfound knowledge, but moving forward a new treatment protocol needs to be established so we stop treating patients for the wrong disease.

Then the author quotes someone in the medical profession who published a paper that seems to have gone nowhere (see below). Unfortunately, there is no reference to what or whom he quotes, which is this:

The past 48 hours or so have seen a huge revelation: COVID-19 causes prolonged and progressive hypoxia (starving your body of oxygen) by binding to the heme groups in hemoglobin in your red blood cells. People are simply desaturating (losing o2 in their blood), and that’s what eventually leads to organ failures that kill them, not any form of ARDS or pneumonia. All the damage to the lungs you see in CT scans are from the release of oxidative iron from the hemes, this overwhelms the natural defenses against pulmonary oxidative stress and causes that nice, always-bilateral ground glass opacity in the lungs. Patients returning for re-hospitalization days or weeks after recovery suffering from apparent delayed post-hypoxic leukoencephalopathy strengthen the notion COVID-19 patients are suffering from hypoxia despite no signs of respiratory ‘tire out’ or fatigue.

I only found the Medium article last week, but I have many COVID-19 links bookmarked, including this one from April 10:

The article is behind a paywall, but you can read it here in its entirety. The doctors the Telegraph interviewed seem to be saying the same as the Medium author does: no ARDS, no pneumonia, therefore, no ventilator, which can do more harm than good:

British and American intensive care doctors at the front line of the coronavirus crisis are starting to question the aggressive use of ventilators for the treatment of patients.

In many cases they say the machines, which are highly invasive and require the patient to be rendered unconscious, are being used too early and may cause more harm than good. Instead they are finding that less invasive forms of oxygen treatment through face masks or nasal cannulas work better for patients, even those with very low blood oxygen readings.

Dr Ron Daniels, a consultant in critical care at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, on Thursday confirmed reports from US medics that he and other NHS doctors were revising their view of when ventilators should be used.

At the heart of the issue was the “bizarre” and “frankly baffling” phenomenon of Covid-19 patients presenting with catastrophically low blood oxygen levels but few other ill effects.

The Telegraph says that this new protocol goes against prior received wisdom on the unknown COVID-19. Prime Minister Boris Johnson had been in intensive care that week, released back to a general ward on the evening of Maundy Thursday, April 9:

The initial recommendations from doctors in China and Italy were to ventilate Covid patients early and aggressively, with the so-called “PEEP” pressure on the machines turned up high so their lungs did not contract when they exhaled.

The initial message was treat as if you were treating for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) with a high PEEP,” said Daniels. “But now we are becoming braver. We are tolerating much lower blood oxygen levels and using lower pressures. We are learning as we go along”.

The alternative to mechanical ventilation is oxygen treatment delivered via a mask or a nasal cannula or via a non-invasive high flow device. This is the sort of treatment the Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to be receiving in an intensive care unit at St Thomas’s hospital London. His blood oxygen levels are not known.

Increasingly doctors in the UK, America and Europe are using these less invasive measures and holding back on the use of mechanical ventilation for as long as possible

Doctors in Italy and Germany wrote to the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine last week making a similar point. They urged other doctors to be “patient” with Covid patients, arguing for “gentle ventilation” wherever possible

It is not known why Covid-19 allows some patients to tolerate such low blood oxygen readings without air hunger or obvious confusion. One clue may be that patients are still able to exhale carbon dioxide – a toxin – through their lungs even if they are having difficulty absorbing oxygen.

“The patients in front of me are unlike any I’ve ever seen,” one American doctor working in a Brooklyn hospital told the specialist health publication STAT this week. “They looked a lot more like they had altitude sickness than pneumonia.”

Dr Daniels agreed that there were similarities with altitude sickness, itself a potentially fatal condition. “We’ve seen a lot of headache and dizziness”, he noted …

You might have heard of Drs Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi, whose two-part press briefing in California was removed last week from YouTube. The two went against the received wisdom of the WHO. I watched both videos when they came out at the beginning of April. In the second video, they warned against the aggressive use of ventilators when treating COVID-19.

Therefore, the Medium article might not be either wrong or fake news with regard to ventilators.

It has an explanation of what might be happening whereby blood gets starved of oxygen through COVID-19, and it is this which has proven to be controversial with physicians:

Your red blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs to all your organs and the rest of your body. Red blood cells can do this thanks to hemoglobin, which is a protein consisting of four “hemes”. Hemes have a special kind of iron ion, which is normally quite toxic in its free form, locked away in its center with a porphyrin acting as it’s ‘container’. In this way, the iron ion can be ‘caged’ and carried around safely by the hemoglobin, but used to bind to oxygen when it gets to your lungs.

When the red blood cell gets to the alveoli, or the little sacs in your lungs where all the gas exchange happens, that special little iron ion can flip between FE2+ and FE3+ states with electron exchange and bond to some oxygen, then it goes off on its little merry way to deliver o2 elsewhere.

Here’s where COVID-19 comes in. Its glycoproteins bond to the heme, and in doing so that special and toxic oxidative iron ion is “disassociated” (released). It’s basically let out of the cage and now freely roaming around on its own. This is bad for two reasons:

1) Without the iron ion, hemoglobin can no longer bind to oxygen. Once all the hemoglobin is impaired, the red blood cell is essentially turned into a Freightliner truck cab with no trailer and no ability to store its cargo. It is useless and just running around with COVID-19 virus attached to its porphyrin. All these useless trucks running around not delivering oxygen is what starts to lead to desaturation, or watching the patient’s spo2 levels drop. It is INCORRECT to assume traditional ARDS and in doing so, you’re treating the WRONG DISEASE. Think of it a lot like carbon monoxide poisoning, in which CO is bound to the hemoglobin, making it unable to carry oxygen. In those cases, ventilators aren’t treating the root cause; the patient’s lungs aren’t ‘tiring out’, they’re pumping just fine. The red blood cells just can’t carry o2, end of story. Only in this case, unlike CO poisoning in which eventually the CO can break off, the affected hemoglobin is permanently stripped of its ability to carry o2 because it has lost its iron ion. The body compensates for this lack of o2 carrying capacity and deliveries by having your kidneys release hormones like erythropoietin, which tell your bone marrow factories to ramp up production on new red blood cells with freshly made and fully functioning hemoglobin. This is the reason you find elevated hemoglobin and decreased blood oxygen saturation as one of the 3 primary indicators of whether the shit is about to hit the fan for a particular patient or not.

2) That little iron ion, along with millions of its friends released from other hemes, are now floating through your blood freely. As I mentioned before, this type of iron ion is highly reactive and causes oxidative damage. It turns out that this happens to a limited extent naturally in our bodies and we have cleanup & defense mechanisms to keep the balance. The lungs, in particular, have 3 primary defenses to maintain “iron homeostasis”, 2 of which are in the alveoli, those little sacs in your lungs we talked about earlier. The first of the two are little macrophages that roam around and scavenge up any free radicals like this oxidative iron. The second is a lining on the walls (called the epithelial surface) which has a thin layer of fluid packed with high levels of antioxidant molecules… things like ascorbic acid (AKA Vitamin C) among others. Well, this is usually good enough for naturally occurring rogue iron ions but with COVID-19 running rampant your body is now basically like a progressive state letting out all the prisoners out of the prisonsit’s just too much iron and it begins to overwhelm your lungs’ countermeasures, and thus begins the process of pulmonary oxidative stress. This leads to damage and inflammation, which leads to all that nasty stuff and damage you see in CT scans of COVID-19 patient lungs. Ever noticed how it’s always bilateral? (both lungs at the same time) Pneumonia rarely ever does that, but COVID-19 does… EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

Poynter says this is clearly wrong:

The claim that COVID-19 causes hypoxia because the causative virus binds to hemoglobin in red blood cells is unsupported. For starters, no scientific evidence demonstrates that SARS-CoV-2 can enter red blood cells. The claim that the virus binds to hemoglobin is founded on the conclusions of a single pre-print, which solely involves computational analysis, without experimental verification or peer-review. The mechanism proposed is also inconsistent with clinical evidence from COVID-19 patients.

Health Feedback posted their refutation on Wednesday, April 15. It is lengthy and thorough. Excerpts follow:

Scientists told Health Feedback that the claim was not supported by experimental and clinical evidence. “There is no direct biological evidence that SARS-CoV-2 proteins interact with hemoglobin. The claim is based on a single study performed purely in silico without proper wet lab validation,” explained Victor Tseng, pulmonologist and assistant professor of medicine at Emory University. Eva Nozik-Grayck, clinician-scientist and critical care specialist at the Children’s Hospital Colorado, stated that “without any experimental evidence, it is dangerous and misleading to make these claims.”

David Irwin, associate professor at the University of Colorado Denver, who studies hemoglobin and hypoxia, questioned the conclusions of the ChemRxiv pre-print that served as the basis for the claim. “The authors show no convincing data to suggest that the [viral] proteins of interest, such as Orf8, etc., actually bind heme other than in modeling theories. Most troubling is that there is no way that we know of to suggest that the virus accesses hemoglobin in red blood cells to attack the heme as described in the manuscript,” he said.

A Medium article authored by Matthew Amdahl, a clinician-scientist and hemoglobin researcher at the University of Pittsburgh, details the numerous problems with [Medium author] Gaiziunas’ hypothesis. Notably, he pointed out that SARS-CoV-2 is larger than the entire hemoglobin protein, but according to Gaiziunas’ hypothesis, would somehow manage to fit into “a space barely large enough for two-atom molecules like oxygen (O2)” in order to eject iron from hemoglobin and bind to porphyrin:

To put it charitably, this would be an entirely novel and seemingly impossible sort of chemistry, and there is absolutely no scientific evidence that supports such a possibility. It’s this seemingly impossible interaction that forms the foundation of the blog post’s entire argument, and so the remainder of the conclusions drawn by the blogger simply don’t carry any weight.

Furthermore, clinical evidence from COVID-19 patients contradict Gaiziunas’ hypothesis. Firstly, supposing that the virus did bind to hemoglobin and ejected iron from red blood cells, this would have produced a modified form of hemoglobin that has an altered ability to bind to oxygen, which can be detected by measuring the oxyhemoglobin dissociation constant

In summary, while scientists have not ruled out a potential link between changes in red blood cell physiology and hypoxia observed in COVID-19 patients, the mechanisms proposed by Gaiziunas are founded on little to no scientific evidence, are highly implausible given what we already know of hemoglobin and the virus, and are contradicted by clinical evidence in COVID-19 patients.

We might find out more about hypoxia in COVID-19 patients in a year’s time.

For now, I can’t help but wonder if this type of hypoxia explains why hospitals have been refusing more ventilators for COVID-19 patients.

In the meantime, returning to Prof Didier Raoult, it seems that renegades are never in vogue with the establishment.

More power to him for successfully trialling on his coronavirus patients an inexpensive, prescription anti-malarial that has been on the market for decades. Well done. Millions of us support him in his work.

Watford, England, a quick ride from London, was the setting for the 70th anniversary of NATO.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was the host and, despite a few squabbles, everything went well.

Watford residents were probably the most consterned, not to mention inconvenienced.

On November 13, Hertfordshire Police began warning about the residents’ inability to circulate fully between Monday and Wednesday this week. The BBC reported (emphases mine):

Police in Hertfordshire are suggesting people work from home to avoid disruption caused by a meeting of world leaders in Watford next month.

Heads of state will congregate at the Grove Hotel on Wednesday, 4 December as part of Nato’s 70th anniversary summit.

Several roads and footpaths will be shut and the Grand Union Canal will be closed to both boats and pedestrians.

The force said it aimed to keep the impact to an “absolute minimum”.

The meeting is part of the London anniversary summit which Nato said will be “an opportunity for leaders to address current and emerging security challenges”.

Hertfordshire Constabulary has been liaising with the Metropolitan Police and other agencies to take measures to “minimise the impact on the community”.

Closures will be in place for all, or some, of the time between 06:00 GMT on 2 December and 20:00 GMT on 4 December but there will be access for emergency and essential services.

I heard from someone who has friends there that Watford ‘looked like a war zone’ with concrete bollards at the end of certain streets. Thankfully, it’s all over now.

On Monday, December 2, the Watford Observer reported on the road closures in town and included photos of security at The Grove, where Bilderberg met a few years ago in June. The Grove was once home to the Earls of Clarendon. Today, it is a pricey hotel and conference centre with a golf course.

One Observer reader commented:

I hope Herts tax payers aren’t paying for the extra security. The Bilderberg meeting cost us half a million.

The skies were busy:

As Conservative Party leader, Boris is in the midst of an election campaign. Voting day is Thursday, December 12. Therefore, given President Donald Trump’s universal unpopularity here, journalists believed that Boris would minimise his appearances and private meetings with him.

President Trump had his own concerns, as Democrats continued impeachment hearings on December 4:

This week it is the turn of the House Judiciary Committee:

Returning to NATO, The Sun has a good summary of the participants in and schedule for this year’s summit.

Boris interrupted his attendance with a few election campaign appearances:

This is a great photograph from Wednesday, December 4:

Before the summit began, The Spectator encapsulated the contentious tone that French president Emmanuel Macron had established:

This week is seminal for Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron. Boris, in Watford, is hosting one of the most important Nato summits for years. Its significance is not because it marks the Alliance’s 70th anniversary, but because of President Macron’s ‘disruptive’ and trenchant criticism of the Atlantic Alliance as close to ‘brain dead’, which has touched a nerve. The French President went on to reiterate his remarks at an Elysée press conference, with a visibly uncomfortable Nato Secretary General, three weeks later. Macron attacked the ‘strident and unacceptable disconnection’ from world threats during the last two Nato summits as being ‘uniquely devoted’, in his sarcastic words, ‘to finding solutions to how to lighten the United States’ financial costs’. All this, says Macron, while major strategic questions such as relations with Russia, Turkey and ‘who is the enemy?’ remain unanswered.

The Trumps arrived early Monday morning at Stansted Airport in Essex, not far from London. The Daily Mail has several photos of the Trumps’ arrival.

Ambassador Robert ‘Woody’ Johnson hosted the couple at Winfield House in Regent’s Park, the US ambassador’s palatial residence. American heiress Barbara Hutton had the neo-Georgian mansion custom built in 1936. After the Second World War, she sold it to the US Government for one dollar.

This was the scene on Monday night as the Trumps returned to Winfield House after a reception at No. 10 Downing Street. Amazingly, an NHS lorry just beat the motorcade. The ongoing false accusations of Labour against Boris planning on ‘selling the NHS’ to the United States made this all the more ironic:

President Trump has been rightly exercised over the refusal of nearly all NATO nations to pay their share, leaving the US to largely foot the bill:

In January, NATO’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg agreed with Trump’s strategy:

Even James Mattis, who left the Trump administration as he and the president did not see eye to eye, admits that his former boss has improved NATO:

On Tuesday morning, the US president hit the ground running, beginning by co-hosting a breakfast at Winfield House with Jens Stoltenberg for principal NATO leaders and cabinet members:

He gave an extensive interview afterwards, covering 17 topics. Sky News has a good summary, some of which is excerpted below.

On the upcoming British election, he said:

On the NHS, he said:

I have nothing to do with it. Never even thought about it, honestly.

I don’t even know where that rumour started.

We have absolutely nothing to do with it, and we wouldn’t want to. If you handed it to us on a silver platter, we’d want nothing to do with it.

On Jeremy Corbyn:

I know nothing about the gentleman.

On France and, indirectly, Emmanuel Macron:

Nobody needs NATO more than France.

France is not doing well economically at all, they are struggling. It’s a tough statement to make when you have such difficulty in France.

You look at what happened with the Yellow Vests, they’ve had a rough year, you can’t go around making statements like that about NATO. It’s very disrespectful.

That’s why I think when France makes a statement like they do about NATO that’s a very dangerous statement for them to make.

On upcoming US and French taxes:

Well look, I’m not in love with those companies – Facebook, Google and all of them, Twitter – though I guess I do pretty well with Twitter on the other side – but I’m not necessarily in love with those companies. But they’re our companies, they’re American companies, I want to tax those companies.

They’re not going to be taxed by France. So France is going to put a tax on, it was totally out of the blue, they just had an idea, Emmanuel had an idea, let’s tax those companies, well they’re American companies. I’m not going to let people take advantage of American companies because if anyone’s going to take advantage of American companies it’s going to be us, it’s not going to be France.

And so we’re taxing, as you know, we’re taxing their wines, and everything else and we have a very, very big tax to put on them. Plus we have a tax going on on Airbus and that would be a good thing for Boeing but we’re only going to do that if it’s necessary.

But they’re American companies. I don’t want France taxing American companies. If they’re going to be taxed it’s going to be the United States that will tax them.

On North Korea and Kim Jong-Un:

Likes sending rockets up, doesn’t he? That’s why I call him rocket man.

We have a very good relationship and we’ll see what happens. It may work or not. But in the meantime, it’s been a long time. President Obama said it’s the number one problem and it would have been war. You’d be in a war right now if it weren’t for me.

If I weren’t president, you’d be in a war right now in Asia. And who knows where that leads? That brings in a lot of other countries.”

On Mr Kim, he added: ‘You know my relationship with Kim Jong Un is really good but that doesn’t mean he won’t abide by the agreement we signed. You have to understand, you have to go look at the first agreement that we signed. It said he will denuclearise. That’s what it said. I hope he lives up to the agreement but we’re going to find out.’

ZeroHedge had another remark from the US president on his French counterpart:

‘I do see France breaking off. I’m looking at him and I’m saying he [Macron] needs protection more than anybody and I see him breaking off, so I’m a little surprised at that,’ Trump said.

Returning to the NHS, here’s a video of Trump saying he’s not interested:

Labour supporters continue to circulate an old video saying he is. If the video you see does not look like the one immediately above, then it’s old — and obsolete.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall welcomed the Trumps to Clarence House for tea.

They then went to Buckingham Palace, where the Queen hosted a reception for NATO leaders:

The Daily Mail has extensive photos of both the reception and tea at Clarence House.

I cannot help but feel sorry for Her Majesty being squashed by Jens and Boris. Why could they not have given her some breathing room?

During the reception, Justin from Canada made his views known about Trump. He later admitted that he was talking about his meeting with the US president, which ended up being 40 minutes late because of the extended press conference:

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, also in attendance, hoped to corner Trump to tell him not to engage in any trade negotiations regarding the NHS. In the event, Corbyn was on one side of the room and Trump on the other. They never met.

Meanwhile, several dozen radical protesters demonstrated outside:

Then it was on to No. 10, where Boris hosted a reception for NATO leaders. Some news reports said that Boris wasn’t there to greet them, but other news accounts said that he had been delayed by ten minutes in returning from Buckingham Palace.

In any event, since when does the Prime Minister personally open the door? It’s always a policeman or woman who handles that.

The Trumps looked ill at ease when they arrived, despite a choir singing Christmas carols in the background. Had they already found out about Justin from Canada’s hot mic moment at Buckingham Palace?

On Wednesday morning, Trump arrived at The Grove for the final day of the summit:

It is said that the president left early. He was there for the photo op. Perhaps he simply cancelled a second press conference. What more did he have to say?

The US president had his own hot mic moment that day:

In another NATO hot mic moment, President Donald Trump was recorded saying it was “funny” when he called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “two-faced.”

Interestingly, Boris’s key adviser, Dominic Cummings, was spotted sitting on the sidelines that day:

No doubt the residents of Watford were happy to see the sun go down that day, heralding a return to normality for them:

The summit went well, as the Estonian and Dutch prime ministers respectively tweeted:

President Trump was happy, too:

Back in the UK, later that day, questions for Boris still persisted about the NHS:

Politics aside, our Prime Minister can be pleased with his role in hosting the 70th NATO summit, which took place without incident.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be visiting our European neighbours this week before the G7 conference in Biarritz:

Reuters reports (emphases mine):

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will tell French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the Westminster parliament cannot stop Brexit and a new deal must be agreed if Britain is to avoid leaving the EU without one.

In his first trip abroad as leader, Johnson is due to meet his European counterparts ahead of a G7 summit on Aug. 24-26 in Biarritz, France.

He will say that Britain is leaving the European Union on Oct. 31, with or without a deal, and that the British parliament cannot block that, according to a Downing Street source.

Despite Parliament’s summer recess, Remain MPs have been in various discussions as to how to stop our leaving, deal or no deal, on October 31:

It is, however, unclear if lawmakers have the unity or power to use the British parliament to prevent a no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31 – likely to be the United Kingdom’s most significant move since World War Two.

Sky News reports that No. 10 says Brexit will be but a small part of Boris’s discussions with France and Germany:

… Number 10 said it expects there to be “very little discussion” of Brexit during the visit to Berlin on Wednesday and Paris on Thursday, with other topics to be the focus.

Discussions are expected to centre around the next G7 summit in Biarritz, France, next weekend, with trade, foreign policy, security and the environment set to be on the table.

Number 10 said Mr Johnson would discuss issues such as climate change with his fellow leaders, adding: “The EU are our closest neighbours and whatever happens we want a strong relationship after we leave.”

Thanks to Boris’s leadership thus far, the Conservative Party once again leads in the polls:

British voters believe that Boris would make the best PM:

Nevertheless, Labour MPs think they can overturn triggering of Article 50. Whether this can be done is of some debate:

The Speaker of the House, John Bercow, is supposed to be impartial, yet, he, too, is said to be plotting against No Deal:

Boris’s government tied up one loose end at the weekend:

This was something Theresa May was supposed to instruct Stephen Barclay (pictured) to do — but didn’t:

There were two significant leaks in the past few days.

One was Boris’s Brexit ‘script’, left behind in a London pub, allegedly by a civil servant. Tell me this was not deliberate:

The other was a copy of Operation Yellowhammer, which contains all the worst case scenarios in case of No Deal:

The Sunday Times made this look like news, but Yellowhammer first surfaced on Wednesday, March 20 in preparation for our original March 29 exit date.

That day, the Express reported:

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay told Cabinet ministers in a letter the plan will be implemented on March 25 unless a new exit date is agreed. Operation Yellowhammer is the UK Treasury’s contingency plan for no deal exit from the bloc. The plan drafts what would happen for factors such as money, citizens, trade and customs.

According to the Daily Telegraph, if no date is set by Monday Operation Yellowhammer will be implemented.

In a letter to Cabinet ministers, Mr Barclay wrote: “Operation Yellowhammer command and control structures will be enacted fully on 25 March unless a new exit date has been agreed between the UK and the EU.”

The Guardian‘s story, also published that day, had more information:

With the country placed on a knife-edge by Theresa May’s latest Brexit crisis, the government is preparing for “any outcome” with a decision on Monday on whether to roll out the national Operation Yellowhammer contingencies for food, medicine and banking.

Some measures have already swung into place, including Operation Fennel’s traffic management in Kent.

The Europe minister, Alan Duncan, has also said the Foreign Office staff deployed to its Brexit “nerve centre” are working to help UK citizens in the EU in the event they get caught up in a Brexit mess.

The Department of Health was due to activate emergency supply chain operations, with instructions to medicines suppliers to book space on ferries to ensure they are not caught up in queues from next weekend in the event of no-deal.

They are just two of the 12 Operation Yellowhammer areas of risk the government has planned for in the event of a crash-out, according to a National Audit Office report [pdf]. It will decide next Monday if they should all become operational, enacting no-deal plans in 30 central government departments and 42 local councils, two devolved governments and in Northern Ireland.

Yellowhammer also had measures in place for Gibraltar. Fortunately, the government there was quick to point out that Yellowhammer as published is now out of date:

Interestingly, the week before, the island’s government reminded residents to prepare for a No Deal Brexit:

But I digress.

Meanwhile, back in the UK, Michael Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, tweeted:

Sky News had more about Gove’s explanation:

Sebastian Payne of the Financial Times tweeted:

Boris is also displeased with Theresa May’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, who has been predicting all manner of Project Fear disasters if No Deal comes about on October 31:

However, Germany had an important leak of its own at the same time as Yellowhammer resurfaced in the UK:

Good. I was also heartened to see the view of Boris from Berlin:

Absolutely correct.

I wish Boris Johnson all the best in his meetings this week with our European partners.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump were in England and Normandy for commemorations of the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

The night before, he hosted Prince Charles and Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall for dinner at the US ambassador’s residence in Regent’s Park, London. The guests at his table were also in Portsmouth the following morning. Theresa May is on the right in the photo:

On Wednesday, June 5, the Royal Family’s Twitter account summarised D-Day’s importance:

Also:

The Allied landings on the Normandy beaches marked the start of a long and costly campaign to liberate north-west Europe from German occupation.

This was the scene in Portsmouth, on England’s south coast that day:

A short time later, veterans who had been involved 75 years ago began taking their seats:

The Queen, who served as a mechanic during the war, arrived:

This is a photograph for the history books:

Warm exchanges took place beforehand:

The Queen stood between Prince Charles and President Trump to watch the proceedings:

She addressed the crowd, referencing her father, George VI:

President Trump read then-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s prayer for the troops:

D-Day veterans appeared on the dais to grateful applause.

Actress Celia Imrie (speaking in the next video) compered (emceed) the various performances:

The following ABC News video has the Portsmouth commemorations in their entirety:

The BBC has a set of photographs covering the day’s events.

Afterwards, the Queen, Prince Charles and the Trumps met with veterans who so bravely served in D-Day operations:

Trump also met with British veterans as well as US Navy personnel based in England:

The Queen then bade farewell to the Trumps, who were leaving for Ireland, where the president met with the prime minister there that afternoon:

The Trumps went to Normandy the following day for D-Day ceremonies before returning to Ireland, then onwards to the United States.

The Q Tree has the Trumps’ schedule after Portsmouth for the rest of June 5 (emphasis in the original):

2:50pm BST / 9:50am EST THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY depart Southsea Commons en route to Southsea Castle Landing Zone, Portsmouth, United Kingdom

2:55pm BST / 9:55am EST THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY arrive at Southsea Castle Landing Zone, Portsmouth, United Kingdom

3:05pm BST / 10:05am EST THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY depart Portsmouth, United Kingdom, en route to Southampton Airport, Southampton, United Kingdom, Portsmouth, United Kingdom

3:25pm BST / 10:25am EST THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY arrive at Southampton Airport, Southampton, United Kingdom

3:35pm BST / 10:35am EST THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY depart Southampton Airport en route Shannon Airport, Shannon, Ireland, Southampton, United Kingdom

U.K State Visit Concludes ~

4:50pm IST / 11:50am EST THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY arrive at Shannon Airport, Shannon, Ireland

5:00pm IST / 12:00pm EST THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY depart Shannon Airport en route to Shannon Airport Terminal, Shannon, Ireland

5:05pm IST / 12:05pm EST THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY arrive at Shannon Airport Terminal, Shannon, Ireland

5:15pm IST / 12:15pm EST THE PRESIDENT participates in a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of Ireland, Shannon, Ireland

5:20pm IST / 12:20pm EST THE PRESIDENT participates in an expanded bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of Ireland, Shannon, Ireland

6:00PM IST / 1:00pm EST THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY depart Shannon Airport Terminal en route to Shannon Airport, Shannon, Ireland

6:05pm IST / 1:05PM EST THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY arrive at Shannon Airport, Shannon, Ireland

6:15pm IST / 1:15pm EST THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY depart Shannon, Airport, en route to Trump International Doonbeg Landing Zone, Doonbeg, Ireland, Shannon, Ireland

6:35pm IST / 1:35pm EST THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY arrive at Trump International Doonbeg Landing Zone, Doonbeg, Ireland

The Clare Champion featured their arrival:

At the end of Tuesday, Trump tweeted:

He and his entourage would fly from Ireland to Colleville-sur-Mer in the département of Calvados of Normandy the following morning.

Speaking of Normandy, two British veterans were preparing to re-enact their jumps from 1944. Here is one of them undergoing a refresher course:

This is what happened on Wednesday, June 6:

This is what the Trumps saw as they landed in France that morning:

The following is an excerpt of President Trump’s speech on Omaha Beach:

The Q Tree has his speech in full on Omaha Beach, excerpted below (emphases mine). More than 60 surviving American D-Day veterans flew to France for this important anniversary. Many more Second World War military survivors also attended:

President Macron, Mrs. Macron, and the people of France; to the First Lady of the United States and members of the United States Congress; to distinguished guests, veterans, and my fellow Americans:

We are gathered here on Freedom’s Altar. On these shores, on these bluffs, on this day 75 years ago, 10,000 men shed their blood, and thousands sacrificed their lives, for their brothers, for their countries, and for the survival of liberty.

Today, we remember those who fell, and we honor all who fought right here in Normandy. They won back this ground for civilization.

To more than 170 veterans of the Second World War who join us today: You are among the very greatest Americans who will ever live. You’re the pride of our nation. You are the glory of our republic. And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Here with you are over 60 veterans who landed on D-Day. Our debt to you is everlasting. Today, we express our undying gratitude.

When you were young, these men enlisted their lives in a Great Crusade — one of the greatest of all times. Their mission is the story of an epic battle and the ferocious, eternal struggle between good and evil.

On the 6th of June, 1944, they joined a liberation force of awesome power and breathtaking scale. After months of planning, the Allies had chosen this ancient coastline to mount their campaign to vanquish the wicked tyranny of the Nazi empire from the face of the Earth.

The battle began in the skies above us. In those first tense midnight hours, 1,000 aircraft roared overhead with 17,000 Allied airborne troops preparing to leap into the darkness beyond these trees.

Then came dawn. The enemy who had occupied these heights saw the largest naval armada in the history of the world. Just a few miles offshore were 7,000 vessels bearing 130,000 warriors. They were the citizens of free and independent nations, united by their duty to their compatriots and to millions yet unborn.

There were the British, whose nobility and fortitude saw them through the worst of Dunkirk and the London Blitz. The full violence of Nazi fury was no match for the full grandeur of British pride.

There were the Canadians, whose robust sense of honor and loyalty compelled them to take up arms alongside Britain from the very, very beginning.

There were the fighting Poles, the tough Norwegians, and the intrepid Aussies. There were the gallant French commandos, soon to be met by thousands of their brave countrymen ready to write a new chapter in the long history of French valor.

And, finally, there were the Americans. They came from the farms of a vast heartland, the streets of glowing cities, and the forges of mighty industrial towns. Before the war, many had never ventured beyond their own community. Now they had come to offer their lives half a world from home.

This beach, codenamed Omaha, was defended by the Nazis with monstrous firepower, thousands and thousands of mines and spikes driven into the sand, so deeply. It was here that tens of thousands of the Americans came

One of those men in [Colonel George] Taylor’s 16th Regiment was Army medic Ray Lambert. Ray was only 23, but he had already earned three Purple Hearts and two Silver Stars fighting in North Africa and Sicily, where he and his brother Bill, no longer with us, served side by side.

In the early morning hours, the two brothers stood together on the deck of the USS Henrico, before boarding two separate Higgins landing craft. “If I don’t make it,” Bill said, “please, please take care of my family.” Ray asked his brother to do the same.

Of the 31 men on Ray’s landing craft, only Ray and 6 others made it to the beach. There were only a few of them left. They came to the sector right here below us. “Easy Red” it was called. Again and again, Ray ran back into the water. He dragged out one man after another. He was shot through the arm. His leg was ripped open by shrapnel. His back was broken. He nearly drowned.

He had been on the beach for hours, bleeding and saving lives, when he finally lost consciousness. He woke up the next day on a cot beside another badly wounded soldier. He looked over and saw his brother Bill. They made it. They made it. They made it.

At 98 years old, Ray is here with us today, with his fourth Purple Heart and his third Silver Star from Omaha. Ray, the free world salutes you. Thank you, Ray.

Trump related a few more real life stories about what is known as the Longest Day, unimaginably harrowing. God was with the Allied troops.

Trump concluded:

The men behind me will tell you that they are just the lucky ones. As one of them recently put it, “All the heroes are buried here.” But we know what these men did. We knew how brave they were. They came here and saved freedom, and then, they went home and showed us all what freedom is all about.

The American sons and daughters who saw us to victory were no less extraordinary in peace. They built families. They built industries. They built a national culture that inspired the entire world. In the decades that followed, America defeated communism, secured civil rights, revolutionized science, launched a man to the moon, and then kept on pushing to new frontiers. And, today, America is stronger than ever before.

Seven decades ago, the warriors of D-Day fought a sinister enemy who spoke of a thousand-year empire. In defeating that evil, they left a legacy that will last not only for a thousand years, but for all time — for as long as the soul knows of duty and honor; for as long as freedom keeps its hold on the human heart.

To the men who sit behind me, and to the boys who rest in the field before me, your example will never, ever grow old. Your legend will never tire. Your spirit — brave, unyielding, and true — will never die.

The blood that they spilled, the tears that they shed, the lives that they gave, the sacrifice that they made, did not just win a battle. It did not just win a war. Those who fought here won a future for our nation. They won the survival of our civilization. And they showed us the way to love, cherish, and defend our way of life for many centuries to come.

Today, as we stand together upon this sacred Earth, we pledge that our nations will forever be strong and united. We will forever be together. Our people will forever be bold. Our hearts will forever be loyal. And our children, and their children, will forever and always be free.

May God bless our great veterans. May God bless our Allies. May God bless the heroes of D-Day. And may God bless America.

The Q Tree has full coverage, including this 90-minute video of the day’s commemorations:

This is NBC’s video, which begins with an analysis of D-Day:

French president Emmanuel Macron also addressed the American veterans. I was in France at the time and watched part of his speech on BFMTV. It was highly evocative and really captured the idea of Americana. Whoever wrote it should get a pay rise. I was very moved by it. He spoke, as did Trump, of young soldiers from farms in the Midwest mixing with their comrades from Manhattan and New Jersey, writing their girlfriends farewell letters.

Afterwards, Macron shook hands with all the veterans and spoke with each individually. I’m not a Macron fan at all, but I have to give him credit for that.

Trump tweeted a short video recapping his day in Normandy:

This is the view of the Trumps’ departure, returning to Ireland before flying back to Washington:

Reflecting on D-Day, someone online posted this excellent graphic from Gab:

We should be so grateful for everything that God has given us — especially peace and freedom in the Western world.

However, it would also be prudent to look at how we have squandered the opportunities for our young people in peacetime. The safe space generation is not equipped to deal with the horrors of life such as it is.

May the good Lord grant us the wisdom to get us out of a navel-gazing attitude towards one of genuine progress and ingenuity, such as that of the post-war years.

In closing, let us give thanks to the Greatest Generation for their immense courage and bravery.

Not knowing the circumstances surrounding the inferno at Notre-Dame in Paris is bad enough.

Now lovers of the mediaeval cathedral, the French capital’s monumental house of worship, wonder what is meant by the words ‘restoration’ and ‘rebuilding’.

Does the French government consider the two words to be the same as the average person who treasures what was lost? What about expert architects? What about building contractors?

This was what the cathedral looked like at the end of the day on Wednesday, April 24, 2019. Protective coverings were placed over the vulnerable parts of the structure:

One week later, on Tuesday, April 30, Paris police released aerial footage of the protective sheet covering the cathedral’s massive roof from a drone’s eye view:

That day, Le Huffington Post reported findings of a YouGov poll they commissioned in France which showed that 54 per cent of people want a restoration ‘identical to the original’. Only 25 per cent support President Macron and Prime Minister Philippe’s plan for an ‘architectural gesture’:

Twenty-one percent of the people surveyed were undecided.

The more conservative the participant, the greater the desire for a full, authentic restoration: from 66 per cent to 69 per cent, depending on political orientation.

A design firm from Lyon, NAB, released its plans for a greenhouse roof garden and spire containing beehives unlikely to please those who love the original structure with its dramatic vaults. Le Huffington Post published NAB’s shocking images on April 26. Have a chair nearby, because you’ll need a sit down and a cuppa after seeing them.

That same day, Le HuffPo released a short video wherein an architect, a historian, an urban design expert and a sociologist gave their opinions of the current buzz by government officials, architects and building firms about the cathedral’s reconstruction. Interviewed separately, they said the same things. The project seemed to be politically motivated, with an objective of proposed plans devised too hastily involving companies eager to make money at the expense of France’s — and the world’s — heritage. One said that the stone needs at least a year to dry out thoroughly, therefore, completing the reconstruction in five years’ time was a nonsense:

Those hoping to be part of Prime Minister Philippe’s working group on the way forward for Notre-Dame will need to take UNESCO’s perspective on board, too. Fortunately, UNESCO agrees with the French public with whom YouGov spoke:

The Art Newspaper‘s editorial begins with this (emphases mine):

The 28 April appeal by over 1000 academics, restorers and architects for an extension to President Macron’s five-year deadline for the restoration of Notre Dame can find comfort in the the cathedral’s status as a Unesco World Heritage site, because the guidelines on how to approach restoring such a great monument already exist.

They are implicit in the conditions accepted by France when Notre-Dame was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1991 as part of a grouping that includes the great buildings along the Seine from the Pont de Sully to the Pont de Bir-Hakeim.

First and foremost, Notre Dame’s World Heritage status calls for international principles of restoration to be integrated into the discussions on how to restore it. Decisions will have to be taken on how to consolidate its structural parts, restore the damaged surfaces, reconstruct the roof, the spire and the stained-glass windows. All these choices need to be made in accordance with the conservation principles promoted by the World Heritage Convention and expressed in the Conservation Charters of the International Council on Museums and Sites (Icomos). While the international documents, starting with the 1964 Venice Charter, do not bear legal value per se, they are recognised by the French Codes as the basis for decisions on the conservation and reconstruction of historical monuments.

So far, so good.

The editorial goes on to say that this does not preclude using modern technologies and techniques to achieve a more ‘resilient and secure’ result. These would not affect what a visitor or regular worshipper sees, however:

The “contemporaneity” of this gesture will lie in its in its construction techniques and monitoring technologies, rather than the visible forms of the building.

But — and it’s a big ‘but’ — more modern stained glass might be part of the renovation and restoration:

if new windows are needed, it could be a great opportunity for contemporary artists, as with the designs of Marc Chagall and Imi Knoebel for Reims cathedral.

UGH. No, just no. Those modern stained glass designs are horrible, and I’ve viewed a number of them in European cathedrals from the 1970s to the present.

So, although that is just one man’s opinion, he happens to be Francesco Bandarin:

an architect and former senior official at Unesco, director of its World Heritage Centre (2000-2010) and assistant director-general for culture (2010-2018).

I do think a lot of French people will be upset if Notre-Dame is not restored to the original design. Admittedly, the following discussion took place on Holy Thursday, three days after the fire, when emotions were running high. From RMC’s Les Grandes Gueules:

One of the panellists, a young Protestant, said she wanted the cathedral restored to the original. She put forward her case with passion:

She said that she was quite conservative when it comes to restoring historic buildings because they are testaments to their respective eras:

Traditionalists could find 21st century help a boon to their cause.

In 2015, Andrew Tallon, an architectural historian, had the foresight to capture the complete design of Notre-Dame digitally:

As for the actual building work, BFMTV’s high-tech expert Anthony Morel said that the use of 3D design enabled one monument in Egypt to be rebuilt to the original, down to the smallest detail. He says the same can be done with Notre-Dame. This is a great little video. Just watch the pictures:

As for recreating the Forest — the oak roof — offers have been coming in from around the world from owners of large estates with old oak forests who are willing to cut down trees a few hundred years old and replant new ones.

So, although one of France’s heritage experts said on April 16 that rebuilding the Forest cannot be done

Bertrand de Feydeau, vice-president of Fondation du Patrimoine, said the cathedral’s roof cannot be rebuilt exactly as it was before the fire because “we don’t, at the moment, have trees on our territory of the size that were cut in the 13th century.”

… do a search online for offers of oak donations and there are many news articles to read, including this one from England’s Nottingham Post on April 19:

The Duke of Rutland has pledged to send ancient oak trees from the Belvoir Castle estate to France to help with the rebuilding of Notre-Dame following a devastating fire.

The historic cathedral in Paris was hit by fire on April 15, causing huge damage to the building, large parts of which were made from wood.

Donations have been pouring in from around the world to help with the project, and British estates and gardens have also got in on the act.

Around 100 historic homes have pledged to donate oak trees which were planted hundreds of years ago to be used for timber, including the Duke of Rutland, who owns Belvoir Castle.

He said: “Anyone who lives in an old building knows there’s something special about the way it was built and the materials used.

“The trees in the original roof at Notre-Dame probably started growing over a thousand years ago.

“We’re able to donate replacements because my great-great-grandfather had the foresight to plant trees that would only be valuable long after he died.

“And in turn we’ll replant every tree we fell – someone will need them for something in another few hundred years …

Belvoir Castle itself has been destroyed by fire, last being rebuilt in 1832.

It is a member of Historic Houses, an association for independently owned historic homes and gardens in Britain.

It was the Duke of Rutland who suggested to the members they should donate oaks towards the rebuilding of Notre-Dame.

And even though they will only be able to donate a fraction of what is needed, they hope it will inspire others to do the same.

There is hope. People WANT to help — and ARE helping!

Let us continue to pray for the proper and full restoration of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.

My next post will look at Notre-Dame from the perspective of the positive influence of aesthetics on the meaningful religious experience.

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