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On Monday, May 17, 2021, Guido Fawkes posted a summary of Christopher Snowdon’s Nanny State Index 2021:

It says (emphases in the original):

The Nanny State Index (NSI) has been updated for 2021, and it makes for grim reading for any libertarian – with author Christopher Snowdon claiming “everything is steadily getting worse” and that “all the momentum is with the paternalists of ‘public health’” in the wake of the pandemic. Lifestyle restrictions on eating, drinking, smoking, and vaping have all steadily increased across Europe for the past four years…

The post includes a summary quote about the UK from Snowdon. Among the European countries he researched, we’ve become somewhat more free only because of certain duty freezes during the pandemic:

It is a sign of how much nanny state activity there has been in Europe since 2019 that the United Kingdom has slipped from fourth place to eleventh in the table without liberalising anything. This can be partly explained by the government freezing beer and spirits duty since 2018 and freezing wine duty in 2020. Adjusted for income, its alcohol taxes are now only the ninth highest of the 30 countries in the index. It also helps that the UK takes a common sense approach to e-cigarettes… It remains to be seen whether the government uses Brexit as an opportunity for further liberalisation, but it remains highly paternalistic on food, soft drinks and tobacco.

However, what follows is the biggest news gleaned from the report (purple highlight mine):

The nannying countries at the top of the table – Norway, Lithuania, and Finland – don’t boast higher life expectancies or lower hospitalisations connected to smoking or drinking, though that hasn’t stopped governments pushing illiberal policies further and further – especially under the cover of the pandemic. It’s gesture politics at its most dangerous.

Many of us who are libertarians thought so.

It’s always good to have proof of that fact.

Readers can find Christopher Snowdon’s chart here along with his full 44-page report.

Page 4 of the report discusses the Nanny State’s adverse impact on the poor, who rely on alcohol and cigarettes to calm their nerves. It states (emphases mine):

Insofar as ‘public health’ campaigners acknowledge the damage done by their policies, they argue that it is more than offset by the benefit to health – the ends justify the means. But there is little evidence that countries with more paternalistic policies enjoy greater health or longevity. As Figure 1 shows below, there is no correlation whatsoever between Nanny State Index scores and life expectancy.

Although the UK has dropped from fourth place to 12th in a year, making it freer, this is only because dealing with the pandemic has hoovered up funds that normally would have been spent on tobacco and alcohol control.

As an avid follower of the UK Parliament’s debates, I am sure, sadly, that tobacco control will once again be on the agenda when it can be funded. The Government would like to resume this year. We’ll see.

In any event, I am grateful that Chancellor Rishi Sunak froze tobacco duty in this year’s budget, after having raised it twice last 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.

My reader H E, who is from the United States, commented on one of my Neil Ferguson posts and viewed the coronavirus crisis through the lens of history, specifically the First World War (1914-1918).

His is an excellent essay.

Emphases below are mine:

Your posts from the Spring were prescient concerning a sinister motive behind the government actions in response to the Corona virus.

You wrote that something ominous was afoot in the government-imposed lockdowns and the termination of civil liberties. At the time, I thought these were just over-reactions to the new virus, and that governments were seeking to err on the side of caution. But, you made the point that the actions taken by government officials were out of proportion to the threat, and that once civil liberties are lost, they rarely are returned.

It has become clear to me that the actions taken by governments to terminate civil liberties and lockdown their citizens are part of a internationally coordinated plan. In the US, it appears that the democrat party has successfully stolen the presidential election from Donald Trump. President-elect Biden has spoken about a ‘dark winter’, which I understand is some sort of code-phrase for the imposition of a dictatorship to counter an attack by a biological weapon.

I read a book years ago about the events in Europe in the run up to the First World War. The ethos on the continent among with middle classes was optimism and faith in progress. In the Spring of 1914, the mobilization for war didn’t threaten the optimism of the age because people thought that any war would be short, and it would done by Christmas.

The author noted that in 1919, a mere 5 years later, the genteel life of pre-war Europe had disappeared, replaced by despair. 16 to 20 million civilians and soldiers died in the war, which included trench warfare, poison gas, and aerial attacks on cities. In Russia, the Czar was deposed and Lenin and the Bolsheviks were in power. In Germany, the Kaiser abdicated and was replaced by the Weimar republic. The Austro-Hungarian empire dissolved into its constituent ethnic nationalities. There were communist uprisings in Russia (successful), and in Germany, Hungary, and Italy (unsuccessful).

To someone in the dark days of 1919, the conditions on the continent in the Spring of 1914 must have seemed unreal, like an idyllic dream.

I wonder if we will someday look back to the time prior to March 2020 in a way similar to how the people in 1919 looked back to the Spring of 1914. How it was to walk into a shop and buy goods, speak with other customers and the proprietor, and pay with cash. How it was to walk to the corner tavern and meet and speak with our neighbors there. How it was to go church on Sunday and assemble with other people to pray and sing hymns. How it was to travel by simply purchasing a ticket for a bus, train, or airplane. How it was to assemble to address political grievances, and then vote to elect candidates to represent our interests, and see those candidates implement the policies they promised.

I could not agree more.

I am grateful to H E for remembering my posts from early on in this crisis so many months ago.

I don’t enjoy being right about the handling of the coronavirus in the free world.

Meanwhile, China is laughing.

We in the West have been well and truly played in 2020.

For those who think they’re doing the right thing by obeying all the coronavirus restrictions, consider the following statement from Prof Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London, the king of lockdown, even though he violated the rules himself with his married mistress. A tip of the hat to the Daily Mail‘s veteran columnist Peter Hitchens, who lived for several years in the former Soviet Union:

I’ll have more on the interview tomorrow, but here are a few of the reactions to Ferguson’s statement.

This is an important observation re what Ferguson said about Italy (emphases mine):

Italy signing up to Belt and Road with China have any relevance?

Yep.

Here’s another:

He is complicit either fully knowingly or because he is compromised. Either way he has blood on his hands.

And another:

A year ago most would have denied they would ever allow governments to tell them who they can see at Christmas, what they wear, what they can buy or eat. Now most welcome it. They are yet to realise it is permanent, governments don’t give up power without being forced to do so.

Many Britons are shocked that the Government wheeled Ferguson out yet again:

How could Boris listen to Ferguson? Boris is old enough to know better.

Check out Ferguson’s prior predictions:

Is it any wonder that people have been suspicious of prescriptions and proscriptions that are completely antithetical to Western values?

The longer this goes on, the better for governments influenced by C C P ideas:

Tomorrow, I’ll have more from the Neil Ferguson’s interview to The Times.

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.

What follows are three stories the media won’t have covered over the past week.

Call to prayer in the US — Revd Franklin Graham

Billy Graham’s son, the Revd Franklin Graham has called for a national day of prayer and fasting in the US on Sunday, October 25:

This follows his Washington Prayer March, which took place on September 26.

May the Lord hear those who call on Him and guide the United States safely in the months ahead.

Censorship — new Project Veritas video

We know that Google and other social media outlets use algorithms to promote or suppress certain topics.

James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas released another whistleblower film about Google. I’m posting the tweets, because YouTube might take down the video, which they have done before.

Ritesh Lakhar has worked for large corporations in the US. He has been a Google employee for several years and is Technical Program Manager.

He tells his story to Project Veritas:

Sounds like election interference to me.

Project Veritas posted an accompanying article which has much of the dialogue of the video along with two additional insights from Ritesh Lakhar.

First, here’s what happened on November 9, 2016. I like the way he says ‘When Trump won the first time’, implying he will win again:

“When Trump won the first time, people were crying in the corridors of Google. There were protests, there were marches. I guess, group therapy sessions for employees–organized by HR,” he said.

“There were days, like: ‘Okay, don’t come to work. We understand this is like a shocking event. Take some time off and cool off and we’ll regather again to figure out our strategy,’” he said. “That kind of stuff–I’m like–are you serious, are you kidding me?”

The second is the contrast between Google and his previous employers — manufacturers (emphasis mine):

Lakhkar said he worked for other major industrial and medical companies, and none of them had the leftist culture he deals with at Google.

“When I worked for Caterpillar or Corning, politics didn’t really matter,” he said. “You just do your job and: ‘Let’s make tractors, let’s make glass.’”

Coronavirus — doctors speak out

I have written about the German physician, Dr Heiko Schöning, before; he was arrested in London at an anti-lockdown rally in September and held without charge for 22 hours.

He and several other doctors and life scientists have formed a group called The World Doctors Alliance. They are speaking out against the way the coronavirus crisis has been handled internationally.

YouTube have removed their video, but two clips follow.

This clip is from the beginning, where some of the members, led by Dr Schöning, introduce themselves:

In the second clip, two members of the group speak:

A Dutch GP, Dr Elke De Klerk appears first. She says that there is no COVID-19 pandemic and says that it is a ‘normal flu virus’. As such, she says they plan to sue The Netherlands. She says there is a ‘really large group’ of doctors and nurses who agree. She added that they have contact with ‘87,000 nurses that do not want the vaccine’. She said that the rights of people under the Dutch constitution cannot be violated for any medical reason. She said that the ‘false positive’ PCR tests are creating ‘panic’. She said she was ‘very happy’ that Dutch media outlets are now questioning these tests.

Professor Dolores Cahill spoke next to say that, in Ireland, there have been only 100 actual deaths of, rather than with, coronavirus.

This is what she said in Ireland in September:

I haven’t formed an opinion about this group, as I don’t know too much.

At least they present an alternative perspective at a time when, increasingly, strategies and statistics just do not make sense.

During July, there were several British news items I did not have time to cover.

Without further ado, here they are …

St Swithin’s Day

July 15 was St Swithin’s Day, traditionally thought to successfully predict the weather for the next 40 days.

It was cool and cloudy.

So it is two weeks later.

The Mirror tried to debunk centuries of tradition that day by saying temps would reach 29° C that weekend. They never did, at least in the UK. We had a maximum of 24°.

Since then, it’s been cool, cloudy and rainy — with a few hours of sunshine here and there.

The Mirror was wrong. As my late grandmother-in-law always said: ‘The old ways are the best’.

This isn’t the first year I’ve tracked the weather following St Swithin’s Day.

Trust what happens on July 15 in the UK. That’s the weather for the next six weeks.

Admittedly, we might get the odd, sunny, warm day, such as today — but, that might be a rarity during the month ahead.

Friday, July 17

This was the day when temps reached a maximum of 24°.

More importantly, Princess Beatrice was married at Windsor. Her father, Prince Andrew, stayed out of the photos.

The wedding was small, in keeping with coronavirus guidelines:

Another wonderful event took place that day at Windsor. Captain Tom Moore, 100, received a socially-distanced knighthood from the Queen:

Captain Sir Tom Moore raised tens of millions of £££ for the NHS during the height of the pandemic by walking around his garden 100 times on a zimmer frame (walker). I am sure that was not easy for him, yet he persevered.

Afterward, the Second World War veteran said:

It’s been an absolutely outstanding day and you could never have believed I was never going to get such an honour as I have today. I really believed never ever would I be so privileged I could be so close to the Queen and speak to her, and that really was something absolutely outstanding.

Fantastic! May God continue to bless him abundantly.

Boris’s first anniversary as PM

Thursday, July 23 marked Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s first anniversary.

This delightful video shows clips of him promoting the 2010 Olympics when he was Mayor of London:

Although it’s been a miserable year, he has achieved the impossible, as Guido Fawkes reminds us:

  • Defeated Corbyn
  • Delivered Brexit
  • Won an 80 seat Conservative Party majority

Boris listed many more achievements over the past year. He could not even list them all in two minutes:

But there was no time to rest, as Boris was busy planning for the best and the worst in the months ahead:

Conservatives are still happy with his performance:

Writing for UnHerd, Matthew Goodwin, professor of politics at the University of Kent, analysed Boris’s appeal among his supporters (emphases mine):

To find a similar degree of constant and tribal support for the Conservative brand, you have to go all the way back to the spring of 1987 when Margaret Thatcher began a similar period of total dominance in the polls that lasted for around two years. Though even that is a little misleading — Thatcher might have had a lot going on, but she never had to grapple with a global pandemic and the shutdown of the entire economy …

why have Johnson’s voters stayed so loyal?

The first thing to remember is how Boris Johnson achieved power. He pushed through what David Cameron had little interest in and Theresa May never really understood — the “realignment” of British politics. By organising around Brexit, which was itself an expression of a deeper fault line, Johnson was able to consolidate the Leave vote.

By doing so, he was able to anchor his party far more securely in a cross-class coalition of traditional “true blue” Tories and instinctively socially conservative blue-collar workers. By doing so, Johnson injected a greater degree of tribalism into his electorate and, by extension, a greater degree of “cultural polarisation” into the country. In a country where six in every ten constituencies broke for Brexit, this strategy makes sense. You might not like it but, electorally, strategically, it makes complete sense.

It also brings us to a point that many of his critics have failed to grasp. What unites Boris Johnson’s voters is not so much their economic experience, as their values. They prioritise the nation and the national community. They prefer stability over change. And they favour continuity over disruption and discontinuity. This is why they cherish Britain’s history, heritage and collective memory and are more sensitive to attempts to deconstruct them. And while they acknowledge that this history is complex, they believe that, on the whole, it was positive and that Britain has been a force for good in the world. In short, they believe in their country. They are proud of it. And they are proud of their fellow citizens …

Johnson is offering a positive and forward-looking creed that is more interested in national renewal and salvation than decline and repudiation. He is proud of the country and its people. And until his opponents figure this out and change track, then I suspect that many of those voters will continue to stand behind him while keeping their distance from his critics.

Boris’s war on fat

Boris has been on a diet since recovering from coronavirus. So far, he has lost a stone (14 pounds):

Now he wants all of us to lose weight — five pounds each — and save the NHS an estimated £100m. Hmm.

Guido Fawkes reported (emphases in the original):

Boris promises his health push will “not in an excessively bossy or nannying way, I hope” persuade Britons to lose a few pounds. Which is a curious line given the now-almost imminent, nonsensical ban on pre-watershed ‘junk food’ ads…

Agreed.

Last summer, London’s mayor Sadiq Khan banned what he termed ‘junk food’ adverts across the capital. Last June, when Wimbledon was in full swing, Guido reported:

London’s blanket ban on ‘junk food’ advertising is not only ineffective, inconsistent and impractical, it’s going to cost a fortune too! Estimated at a whopping £35 million, it will deprive dilapidated public services of desperately needed investment. Who’s decided that chicken burgers are not junk food but olive oil is? And no mince pies allowed at Xmas? No strawberries and cream for Wimbledon?

The simple truth is ad bans don’t work – there’s no proof they reduce childhood obesity. However, there is clear evidence that wide-ranging, collaborative and positive approaches are an effective solution. In Amsterdam, childhood obesity rates fell by 12% between 2012-15, through investment in positive lifestyle and education campaigns.

Telling people what they can do is much more effective than hectoring them about what they can’t. Evidence-based solutions are more effective than political ones.

One year later, Boris thinks this is a great idea for television:

British artist David Hockney, who opposed the UK’s smoking ban in 2007, was less than impressed:

I said to my far better half on Monday that they will probably target all the good foods, e.g. butter and meat.

The next day, I drank my morning coffee while waking up to this:

I love hummus! It’s good for you, too.

Guido posted an extensive list of what falls under the category of junk food, based on UK government guidelines.

In addition to hummus and raisins we find butter (as I predicted), more than half of all meats (mm-hmm, also as predicted), margarine, pesto, tomato soup, nearly all cheese, most yoghurts and, strangely, the driest, blandest thing on the planet: cream crackers, which have no cream in them, by the way. Hell is a cream cracker.

Something’s gone very wrong with this Conservative government. Most of us thought Boris was a libertarian.

Whatever the case, there must be a better way than another ban:

Maybe Boris is still frightened from his serious illness. I suspect it took him a long time to recuperate, judging from his appearance in the weeks that followed.

Cat contracts coronavirus

On Monday, July 27, Reuters reported:

The British environment ministry said “all available evidence” suggested the cat had contracted the coronavirus from its owners, who had both tested positive for COVID-19.

Both the cat and the humans made a full recovery and there was no transmission to any other animals or people in the household, the ministry said without identifying the individuals involved.

“This is the first case of a domestic cat testing positive for COVID-19 in the UK but should not be a cause for alarm,” said Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England.

“The investigation into this case suggests that the infection was spread from humans to animal, and not the other way round,” Doyle added.

The government said the infection was confirmed in lab tests on Wednesday, adding there was no evidence that cats could transmit the virus to humans.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said cats are the most susceptible animal species to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and are able to transmit it to other cats.

Delays in getting stranded Britons home explained

When the pandemic broke, the Foreign Office pulled out all the stops to get stranded Britons back to the UK.

Arranging flights for some tourists overseas took longer than for others because hundreds were in remote places of the world.

Now it emerges there were other factors involved:

NHS relaxes self-isolation for patients entering hospital for treatment

Not so long ago, the NHS wanted all patients attending hospital for treatment or operations to self-isolate for 14 days beforehand.

Thankfully, as of Tuesday, July 28, that is no longer the case. The Daily Mail reported:

Updated guidance says strict social distancing and hand washing is enough to cut the risk of patients taking the virus into hospitals in England.

NHS patients will only need to self-isolate for a few days after taking a test in the run-up to them entering hospital, health bosses now say.  

Surgeons hope the relaxation of rules will help them to tackle the huge waiting lists that have built up during the Covid-19 crisis.

But they called for all patients to be given tests for the coronavirus before and after their operation to keep a lid on any potential outbreak.  

The change in advice was made because the virus is circulating at much lower levels than it was during the peak of the crisis in March and April.

Lewis Hamilton opines on a COVID-19 vaccine

Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton had to walk back a video and post he made on social media regarding a COVID-19 vaccine:

On Monday, July 27, The Guardian reported:

Hamilton has since deleted the video and published a statement saying he hadn’t seen the comment attached to the clip, but wanted to show there is “uncertainty around side effects” of vaccines.

“I’ve noticed some comments on my earlier post about the coronavirus vaccine, and want to clarify my thoughts on it, as I understand why they might have been misinterpreted,” he said.

“Firstly I hadn’t actually seen the comment attached so that is totally my fault and I have a lot of respect for the charity work Bill Gates does.

“I also want to be clear that I am not against a vaccine and no doubt it will be important in the fight against coronavirus, and I’m hopeful for its development to save lives.

“However after watching the video, I felt it showed that there is still a lot of uncertainty about the side effects most importantly and how it is going to be funded. I may not always get my posting right. I’m only human but I’m learning as we go.”

I agree with the highlighted bit 100%.

Holidays abroad

Whether it’s a good idea or not right now, Britons want to enjoy a summer holiday in Europe.

Some made their reservations early in the year, before the pandemic arrived. Understandably, they want to get what they paid for.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and his family managed to arrive in Spain hours before the UK declared a quarantine for British travellers returning from that country. Shapps flew back to the UK on Wednesday, July 29:

He is returning early to get through a 10-day quarantine and, in the meantime, from home, to ‘handle this situation’. The Foreign Office has advised against all non-essential travel to Spain.

Presumably, Europeans are travelling all across the continent.

The result is that coronavirus cases are rising again:

On July 28, RMC’s Les Grandes Gueules (The Big Mouths) interviewed Dr Robert Sebbag, a specialist in infections who works at La Pitié Salpêtrière hospital in Paris. He said that, although the COVID-19 ward is seeing a small uptick in hospitalisations, no one is on a ventilator and most cases are ‘mild’ compared to what they were only a few months ago. If I understood correctly, the hospital has 24 patients in that particular ward. He said that the uptick in non-hospitalised cases points to those that can be treated safely whilst self-isolating at home.

Dr Sebbag wasn’t too concerned and said that it was the normal progression of the cycle of a virus. The question remains, he said, whether or how COVID-19 will mutate.

For now, we will have to find ways of learning to live with the virus. Dr Sebbag does not see that herd immunity will become widespread. He estimates that only 6% to 10% of the French are immune.

Lockdown in the north west of England

As of Thursday, June 30, a lockdown is now in place in parts of the north west of England.

Matt Hancock should have announced it via a formal press conference. Instead, he did so via a pooled television interview, leaving it to Boris to do a coronavirus briefing from Downing Street on Friday to further explain the new measures.

Because of this new lockdown and rises in cases elsewhere, the proposed measures for reopening more facilities and close-contact beauty services are on hold for the foreseeable future.

Masks must now be worn in nearly all enclosed public spaces, not only in shops, but also in museums and houses of worship.

Boris also encouraged Britons to enjoy a staycation in the UK rather than abroad.

Brexit

Meanwhile, in Brexit news, the international trade secretary, Liz Truss, announced that she would like to get haggis with meat into the US as part of a trade deal:

Earlier this year, exports of Macsween’s vegetarian haggis — branded as Scottish Veggie Crumble — were allowed into the US just in time for Burns Night on January 25. That was the first time in 49 years that any type of Scottish haggis was allowed in America.

And that concludes my roundup of the second half of July 2020.

Roll on August, come what may.

The British government did not request a Brexit negotiation extension in June 2020.

On Friday, June 12, our chief negotiator from No. 10 tweeted:

On June 25, David Frost updated us as follows:

As of July 1, we were on our way out.

Talks continued in London on July 8:

As of the end of June, despite coronavirus, the International Monetary Fund predicts that, post-Brexit, Britain’s growth could surpass that of the EU next year:

Guido Fawkes summarises the details (red emphases in the original):

The International Monetary Fund’s new growth projection shows a global contraction of 4.9%, with every region of the world simultaneously in recession for the first time in human history. Advanced economies are projected to be hit particularly harshly by this crisis, with double digit contractions for the UK and Euro area this year at -10.2% each. Notably, however, is that in 2021 (after the UK will have left the economic orbit of the EU) the UK is set to fall by as much, then grow back faster than the cumulative Euro area.

Of course the projected 2021 growth will not make up for the 2020 recession. All advanced European countries’ economies are set to be smaller at the end of 2021 than they were at the end of 2019.  If we can believe IMF forecasting, individually over 2020 and 2021, Germany’s economy will have shrunk by 2.8%, the UK by 4.5%, France by 6.1%, and Italy and Spain both by 7.3%…

On July 1, Parliament voted to end free movement of EU citizens when the transition period ends on December 31. This is the advantage the Conservatives have with their 80-seat majority:

Guido Fawkes points out:

If he wasn’t having to deal with a deadly global pandemic, this year would be going pretty well for Boris…

Millions of EU nationals already resident in Britain are eligible for settled status, allowing them to live and work here among family and friends. The scheme opened last year and has already registered 3.3 million individuals.

The Settlement Scheme for EU nationals expires on June 30, 2021:

As for our freedom of movement in Europe, we always had it — even before joining the EU:

Last week’s UK-EU negotiations produced a win for clearing houses in the City of London, the capital’s financial centre.

On Thursday, July 9, The Telegraph reported, in part (emphases mine):

Brussels did not confirm how long the arrangement will last. It will kick in if the UK and the European Union fail to reach a Brexit deal.
The decision is likely to be seen as a climbdown by EU chiefs, who have long resented Britain’s dominance in clearing.

A power grab was launched shortly after the Brexit vote to try and force Continental firms to clear trades through hubs within the bloc, but this stalled when it became clear no other financial centre could handle the volume of activity done in the City.

Clearing houses such as LCH, ICE Clear Europe and LME Clear perform a vital role in greasing the wheels of international finance, standing between buyers and sellers to settle trades and ensure sellers get paid.

Access to London’s clearing houses for financial contracts such as swaps and futures is a key issue for European firms because the UK dominates the continent’s €735 trillion (£658 trillion) annual market. It was feared they could be denied access to crucial finance and face serious stability risks if frozen out.

In a further boost, Liam Fox, the Conservative MP for North Somerset and former Secretary of State for International Trade under Theresa May, is one of the nominees for becoming the next Director-General of the World Trade Organisation.

Fox is on the right in the photo below. Pictured with him is his former adviser, Adam Werritty:

On July 10, Guido Fawkes reported:

Speaking to a Chatham House event last night, the US Trade Secretary Robert Lighthizer told the audience Fox was “one of the favourites”, lavishing praise:

“I’m an admirer of his … I’ve had many a conversation with him. I’ve even had the occasional cocktail with him. He’s smart, he knows the area, he has a good philosophy.”

Last month Lighthizer told lawmakers the US is looking to back “someone who understands the nature of the problem of free economies dealing with China”, which may not be too difficult a manifesto for Fox to get on board with, given the UK’s shift away from warm relations over Hong Kong, and an impending u-turn on Huawei.

Incidentally, Oliver Dowden MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, announced the u-turn on Huawei today, Tuesday, July 14.

On Sunday, July 12, Ireland’s new Taoiseach (prime minister, pron. ‘Tee-sock’) Micheál (pron. Mee-hull) Martin was hopeful of a transition deal between his country and Britain:

Home Secretary Priti Patel is working with the French to stop the boat people coming to the south east coast of England every day:

The UK government has launched a new transition period scheme for businesses — Check, Change, Go:

We have a lot to look forward to next year for business, and, in the case of the European Space Agency, research and exploration:

An exciting new era awaits just around the corner.

On Saturday, May 16, 2020, a fractious protest against Britain’s coronavirus lockdown in Hyde Park ended with arrests.

Piers Corbyn, brother of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, was one of the speakers:

Corbyn is well known in the UK for his subscription-only weather forecasts. He also believes that changes in the sun are responsible for climate change, not mankind.

He makes a convincing argument for it, too.

It seems he also makes a convincing argument for the rather odd 5G-coronavirus theory, because after he appeared in protest in Glastonbury recently, that town’s council voted down 5G. David Kurten is a Brexit Party councillor serving on the Greater London Assembly:

However, although Piers Corbyn supports Brexit — as does his brother, allegedly — he is not a conservative.

This is what he thinks about coronavirus:

A Press Association reporter filmed what happened on Saturday, May 16, near Speaker’s Corner:

The police were out in force (pun intended). Isn’t there any crime fighting to do?

This was the scene from the centre of operations:

They social distanced by holding on to each other’s vests.

Shoulder to shoulder distance was less clear:

The Guardian reported (emphases mine):

The brother of the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was one of 19 protesters arrested on Saturday, as small demonstrations against the coronavirus lockdown took place across the country.

Protesters gathered on green spaces across the UK holding placards describing the lockdown rules as unlawful and claiming that the government measures were suppressing civil rights.

In Hyde Park, London, about 50 people defied social distancing guidelines to gather close together at Speakers’ Corner holding placards with slogans including “anti-vax deserves a voice” and “freedom over fear”.

Dozens of police officers, including some on horseback, patrolled the protest, issuing 10 on-the-spot fines and making 19 arrests.

Corbyn’s brother, Piers, was taken away after using a megaphone to declare that 5G and the coronavirus pandemic were linked and branding the pandemic as a “pack of lies to brainwash you and keep you in order”.

He also said “vaccination is not necessary” and that “5G towers will be installed everywhere”, adding: “5G enhances anyone who’s got illness from Covid, so they work together.”

The article gave the reason for Piers Corbyn’s and others’ arrests:

Corbyn was taken away after declining to leave when asked by a police officer and refusing to give his details when asked.

A flyer advertising the protest called for “no to mandatory vaccines, no to the new normal, and no to the unlawful lockdown” …

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said: “With the easing of restrictions we fully expected open spaces to be busy this weekend.

“It was disappointing that a relatively small group in Hyde Park came together to protest the regulations in clear breach of the guidance, putting themselves and others at risk of infection.

“Officers once again took a measured approach and tried to engage the group to disperse.

“They clearly had no intention of doing so, and so it did result in 19 people being arrested, and a further 10 being issued with a fixed-penalty notice.”

The protest attracted a mixed social group:

David Samson, 50, a finance worker, who attended the protests told the Press Association news agency: “I never thought I’d see in my generation the suppressing of civil rights [over a] fake virus. This is nothing compared to what’s coming.”

There was a large round of boos whenever protesters were arrested, and repeated shouts of “jail Bill Gates”.

Another demonstrator, 62-year-old Catharine Harvey, said she was defying the rules to highlight the “devastation this lockdown has caused”.

The shop owner said: “Developing countries will have no trade, no tourism. I have had to close my shop on Columbia Road flower market. The effects of the lockdown are far, far worse than the virus – mental health, domestic violence, shops are closed, theatres, cinemas, restaurants. It’s unnecessary.”

Protests also took place on the southern coast of England in Southampton:

A separate protest in Southampton saw about a dozen protesters gather on Southampton Common, holding placards saying “Stop the Lies”, “Say no to tyranny” and “Fight 4 Freedom”.

One protester, Dee, who did not wish to give her surname, said her job in the hair and beauty industry had been hit by the crisis. She said: “I am here because I am worried about civil liberties being taken away.

“Reading the Coronavirus Act that has gone through parliament, it seems there are changes being made which infringe our freedom. And I am worried the media has run away with the Covid-19 thing and blown it all out of proportion.”

And in Belfast, where police monitored:

a crowd of about 20 people who had gathered in Ormeau Park to denounce the lockdown measures. Officers warned participants to socially distance and they complied. The gathering dispersed without incident after an hour.

Another took place in Glasgow:

… on Glasgow Green in Scotland, with estimates of about 40 to 50 people taking part. People at the event reportedly chanted “experts lie – people die”, “don’t listen to the media, listen to the people”, “Nicola Sturgeon is a traitor” and “we are not livestock”.

However, Britain was not the only European nation to see protests. They took place in other countries, too:

Demonstrations also took place across Europe. In Germany the death toll from the virus has been lower than most of its European neighbours with some lockdown measures already relaxed.

However, protests against the measures that Chancellor Angela Merkel insists are needed to slow down the outbreak have grown with demonstrations held for a second weekend.

I certainly hope that this is not the ‘new normal’.

Personally, I think it is a bit late to protest lockdown. We’re coming out of it now.

However, as it has often been said, attributed to Voltaire but probably more accurately to in Evelyn Beatrice Hall (pseud. S. G. Tallentyre) in the biography The Friends of Voltaire (1906):

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

By now, surely, with all the freedom of ‘lifestyle’ we currently have, we can still assemble to speak our minds when necessary?

Perhaps not, in the ‘new normal’. Heaven forfend.

On Thursday, May 14, the Slovenian government announced that it was officially lifting its coronavirus lockdown, leaving only hygiene measures in place.

Slovenia is the first European government to go this far:

The nation had been in lockdown since mid-March:

Euractiv reported that persons travelling there from non-EU states will be subject to a 14-day quarantine. Anyone arriving from another nation and showing signs of coronavirus will not be allowed to enter the country. Masks are also required in indoor public spaces (emphases mine):

The Slovenian government late on Thursday (14 May) called an official end to its coronavirus epidemic, becoming the first European country to do so, after authorities confirmed [fewer] than seven new coronavirus cases each day for the past two weeks.

People now arriving in Slovenia from other European Union states will no longer be obliged to go into a quarantine for at least seven days as was the case from early April, the government said in a statement.

The country of 2 million people, which borders Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, has so far reported 1,464 coronavirus cases and 103 deaths. It declared an epidemic on March 12.

“Slovenia has tamed the epidemic over the past two months… Today Slovenia has the best epidemiologic picture in Europe,” Prime Minister Janez Jansa told parliament earlier on Thursday.

The end of epidemic means some measures, including financial aid to citizens and firms hit by the coronavirus, will expire at the end of May.

The government said foreign citizens who show signs of coronavirus infection will still not be allowed to enter the country.

A quarantine of at least 14 days will remain in place for people from non-EU states, except for some exemptions including diplomats and people transporting cargo.

Citizens will still have to follow basic rules to prevent a possible spread of infection, the government said without elaborating.

People have been required to wear masks in indoor public spaces, stand at least 1.5 metres (5 feet) apart and disinfect hands upon entering public spaces

Slovenia began relaxing lockdown on April 20 and continued a gradual reopening until the end of last week.

This week, everything will be open, including bars and restaurants.

It’s perhaps premature to speak of holidays, but:

Sounds great.

I wish the nation, which is Melania Trump’s birthplace, every success in beating coronavirus and tedious lockdown, not to mention all the ‘experts’ who advocated trashing our economies worldwide:

Good luck, Slovenia!

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