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Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Herd Immunity Con IS DEAD

We have been bombarded with propaganda on Herd Immunity, especially in the wake of the so-called Great Barrington Declaration, promoted by an organisation that has also majored in climate change denial. This, we are told, is the way to return to some kind of normality in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. That may be about to change.

As the BBC has reported, “Levels of protective antibodies in people wane ‘quite rapidly’ after coronavirus infection, say researchers. Antibodies are a key part of our immune defences and stop the virus from getting inside the body's cells. The Imperial College London team found the number of people testing positive for antibodies has fallen by 26% between June and September. They say immunity appears to be fading and there is a risk of catching the virus multiple times”. More than 350,000 have taken an antibody test.

However, “In the first round of testing, at the end of June and the beginning of July, about 60 in 1,000 people had detectable antibodies. But in the latest set of tests, in September, only 44 per 1,000 people were positive. It suggests the number of people with antibodies fell by more than a quarter between summer and autumn”. And it gets worse.

As Yahoo! News has pointed out, “The findings by Imperial College London and market research firm Ipsos Mori also suggest the loss of antibodies was slower in 18–24 year-olds compared to those aged 75 and over”. One of the lead authors stressed “We don't yet know whether this will leave these people at risk of reinfection with the virus that causes Covid-19, but it is essential that everyone continues to follow guidance to reduce the risk to themselves and others”. Which means Hands Face Space, not counter-propaganda.

Where does that leave the Great Barrington Declaration and its backers? If the likes of Toby Young, Dan Wootton and Julia Hartley Dooda had any scruples, and indeed any shame, they would acknowledge that they have been promoting a false prophet and say sorry. But they don’t have either, so they won’t, and the denialism will continue.

Indeed, so far this morning there has been no direct comment on the news from Young, Wootton, or Ms Hartley Dooda. But the loathsome Tobes has been promoting breaking the law by publicising James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole and his travelling by train without a face covering. And then there is Karol Sikora.

He has seen reports of the study, which was commissioned by the Government, and decided to tell his followers to Look Over There. “T-cells are a crucial part of our immune response. Reading articles this morning about antibodies, you would think they just don't exist. None of us fully understand our immune system - headlines this morning suggest otherwise! … There is more at play than antibodies”. So it’s not really happening.

Denialists gonna deny. And they are free to hold whatever alternative viewpoints they choose. But the idea they are other than fringe wackos needs to stop, and now.

There is the science. And there aren’t “two sides”. Time to get real about Covid-19.

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Harry Cole - Stateside Pants On Fire

As so often with those out there on the right, when it comes to needing cast-iron proof of their ineptitude, it is they who ride to the rescue and willingly serve it up. So it is with the odious flannelled fool Master Harry Cole, the non-journalist who is now pretending to be political editor of the Murdoch Sun, who has proved he is indeed not a real journalist.

Master Cole worked his way up to the summit of stupidity yesterday, making base camp with “Nothing says we're not a bunch of lefties like writing a letter to the Guardian complaining about being called a bunch of lefties”. Lawyers going about their jobs and concerned about cabinet ministers endangering them by indulging in gratuitous hate speech are now “lefties”. Thus Cole confirms he is a mere propagandist.

Then it was onwards and, er, onwards to peddling misinformation on the Welsh “firebreak” lockdown. “Can we just pack this madness in. Offer an amnesty on idiocy” proclaimed one of the Sun’s many useful idiots. The Tesco mis-step was not investigated; no journalistic process was followed. He had his line to take. Then came the Pièce de Résistance.

Biden says he's on course to beat George Bush ... oh dear”. The Murdoch press is backing Combover Crybaby Donald Trump in next week’s Presidential Election. Trump, so bent that he makes Richard Milhous Nixon, and even Al Capone, look like model citizens, is trailing Democrat challenger Joe Biden. The margin in FiveThirtyEight’s polling average is 9.4%, and Trump is also trailing in many swing state polls.

Indeed, Rupert Murdoch has privately said that Trump is going to lose. But his media outlets are still pumping out propaganda on The Donald’s behalf, and what Cole has endorsed is a claim that Biden could not remember his opponent’s name. The problem is that the story is a pack of lies, and the one who forgets names is Trump.

A real journalist would have stood the claim up first. Not Cole. The Sun article claimedBiden appeared to stumble over his words in the interview with George Lopez, as he said the Democrat campaign was fighting against ‘four more years of George.’ His wife Jill then appears to quietly correct him under her breath, and Biden went back to saying Trump”.

Two things here. One, Biden said “George” because, as the Sun article says, he was responding to someone called George. And Two, his wife had no need to correct him. Deliberately taking something out of context to serve a pre-ordained agenda is not journalism. That is the craft of propagandists. And it gets worse.

Jim Cornelius responded to Cole with a Now This video compilation of Trump getting names wrong. He got rather a lot of names wrong. Elly Davis itemised some of those, as well as reminding us of Trump’s claim “I remember the names because I have a good memory … I remember names”. He doesn’t remember, though.

Not that Master Cole will concern himself with such details, though. He has done his job, carried out his orders. But he has not checked out the story before endorsing it.

That’s because he is not, and never will be, a real journalist. I’ll just leave that one there.

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Monday, 26 October 2020

Ian Austin - A Cry-Bully Whines

Solomon Hughes, who writes for Private Eye magazine among other publications, picked up earlier today on an article in the Morning Star, which told “Mainstream, the anti-Corbyn group led by former Labour MPs Ian Austin, Ivan Lewis and Mike Gapes, used Tory-led PR firm Public First to run its 2019 election activities”. Do go on.

Ian Austin - he's all right Jack ...

Figures from the Electoral Commission on spending in the 2019 election released this month show Austin’s Mainstream spent £134,457 on campaigning and advertising in the election. That’s a lot of money for a ‘campaign’ with no grassroots members … Austin was rewarded by Boris Johnson for his turncoat campaigning with a place in the Lords”.

... having shilled for the Tories ...

There was more. Mainstream had paid Public First £23,000 for designing and running its campaign. “Receipts show Mainstream paid Public First for ‘strategy, planning and advice’, ‘media relations’ and ‘press conference support’ … Public First is run by Rachel Wolf, a former Gove advisor who co-wrote the Conservative Party’s 2019 election manifesto, and Dominic Cummings associate James Frayne”. That’s most interesting.

Owen Jones also thought this interesting, so he Retweeted it. “Lord” Ian Austin then lost it. “Here we go again. Nasty little bully Owen Jones organised another pile on, winding up his million followers to send me abuse. Unpleasant hypocritical bully”. Wrong. It was an RT.

Anthony Farley could not take Austin seriously. “Can’t believe that [Owen Jones] would retweet an article highlighting the connections between a member of the House of Lords - that most sacred bastion of democracy - and a PR firm linked to the Conservatives. When will this literal violence end?” Mic Wright asked simply “Is the substance of the claim true?"

Ross McCafferty was also unable to take Austin seriously. “The irony of a literal lord accusing someone of punching *down* on him”. George Monbiot added “Owen RTs a fine piece of investigative journalism. Then this happens”. Jones then chipped in “Just look at this utterly astonishing crybullying behaviour from *a publicly accountable politician* because I retweeted a piece of investigative journalism about a political organisation he founded. This is still just about a democracy, [Ian Austin], so suck it up”.

And just to remind us that nothing much about Ian Austin has changed in recent years, Jones reminded everyone of what Glenn Greenwald said about him over two years ago. “You're a fucking member of Parliament, you pathetic, self-pitying infant. If you don't want to be criticized by journalists, go find another job. Seriously: your whining and self-absorbed victimhood is nauseating. The real victims are your constituents”.

... so gets a peerage, which makes him .... you figure it out

I would add to that all the Labour activists and supporters who went out canvassing, leafletting and door-knocking in the run-up to the last General Election, only to have voters show them the letter Austin had had sent to them, telling them not to vote for the party that for so long kept him in the style to which he had become accustomed.

Ian Austin would do well to reflect on just who the victim really is. And it isn’t him.

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Bozo Admits Brexit Means More Migrants

After Brexit, we were promised freedom: freedom to do as We The British pleased, freedom from all those rotten Euro-regulations made by people who talk foreign, freedom to make alliances with whoever we like (providing they’ll play ball), freedom to import crappy chicken from the USA, and for some Brexiteers, most importantly, freedom to decide who gets let in to the UK. We would take back control of our borders!

Still your hero, is he, Brexiteers?

Indeed, when Theresa May was PM, it was spelt out: skilled migrants would have to be offered a job paying over £35,000 a year. We would therefore be able to pick and choose who we let in. Migration would come down to just tens of thousands a year. But as with all those other Brexit promises, this turned out to be another mere chimera.

Which explains why there have been so many dead cats slung recently by alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his chief polecat Dominic Cummings. But the Mail has found out. “Boris Johnson has scrapped the target to lower net migration to tens of thousands as he slashes the £35,800 salary cap for skilled UK migrants”.

There is more. “The plan, which ditches the aim put forward by Theresa May's government, was announced in a 507-page rulebook on Thursday. Under the new proposal, the cap needed for skilled migrants to stay in the UK without any time restrictions will be reduced to £25,600”. More migrants! Hello Brexit boosters!

And what kind of excuses are Bozo and Co pitching this time? “It comes as Mr Johnson pursues an Australian-style points-based immigration system, which will take earnings into account along with a myriad of other factors, and comes into effect from January next year”. Yeah, right. If we had the same rate of immigration per head of existing population as Australia, inward migration would be a lot higher - not lower.

What we do know is that the Tories tried to sneak this one out without telling the press. However, “The move, which has been confirmed by the Home Office and will be introduced from December 1, was spotted by Oxford University's Migration Observatory”.

And The Usual Suspects were not at all happy. “Migration Watch UK's Chairman, Alp Mehmet, described the move as 'outrageous', adding: 'To make matters worse, these major changes are being sneaked in through the back door with scant detail and a lack of advance warning’”. Another idiot who trusted Bozo. You never trust Bozo.

Nor do you trust his pals: “It follows figures revealing in August that net migration to the UK soared to its highest level since the Brexit referendum in 2016 in the build up to the coronavirus outbreak … Meanwhile, Home Secretary Priti Patel has been grappling with a surge in migrants crossing the Channel in recent months”. Course she has.

But remember, there’s always the spin. “A spokesperson for the Home Office said: 'We have changed the salary threshold required for settlement from £35,800 to either the general level - £25,600 - or the going rate for the individual's profession, whichever is higher.’” Which means there will be lots more migrants from non-EU countries.

The Gammonati will be close to self-combustion. You won, Brexiteers - get over it.

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Julia Hartley Dooda Endorses Vandalism

[Update at end of post]

As from last Friday, Wales is under what is being termed a “firebreak” lockdown, while the rest of the UK is not. This should not be newsworthy, but such is the desperation of the right-leaning punditerati that no opportunity to score clickbait can be ignored. So it was that self-promoting TalkRADIO host Julia Hartley Brewer decided to wade in.

The Welsh lockdown has also included restrictions on supermarket sales of non-essential goods; this was discussed during The Andy Marr Show™ yesterday morning when the host interviewed Vaughan Gething MS, Health and Social Services Minister in the Senedd. As Gething explained, the purpose of this was, partly, to stop people spending too much time in enclosed spaces, browsing, maybe mingling, and potentially transmitting Covid-19.

That, though, was not enough for the FREEM brigade. This, to them, was dictatorship. And Ms Hartley Dooda is one of them. So when someone Tweeted video of a young man in what looked like an almost empty Tesco store, with the comment “Welsh lad ripping down the plastic in a supermarket. We need more heroes like this, instead of the idiots in the senedd making ridiculous country destroying rules”, she was in full agreement.

Hero” she exclaimed, managing to ignore the inconvenient fact that (a) the person depicted was committing an act of criminal damage, (b) the supermarket’s workers, probably not earning much more than the minimum wage, would now have the additional task of clearing up his mess, and (c) since the pandemic struck, violence and abuse directed at such workers has doubled. None of this troubles Ms Hartley Dooda.

So when someone tried to point out her problem, telling “Glad to see you on the side of the vandals”, she merely doubled down with “I'm on the side of the sane” (no laughing at the back, please). Clare Frances disagreed. “No you're not, Julia. The lockdown is for two weeks. With time to prepare. Throwing kids' clothes around a supermarket that staff then have to clear up whilst wearing no mask so he can get social media exposure is hardly Escape From Colditz”. It was hardly causing her to retract, too.

Nor was someone picking her up on her “sanity” jibe by responding “Sanity involves pretending we aren't in the middle of a global pandemic?” No, she wasn’t having any of that. “Sanity involves not pretending that not selling ‘non-essential goods’ will prevent a virus from spreading”. See above for Vaughan Gething’s comments yesterday.

Some of those responding stood apart from the Hartley Dooda fan club to put her straight. “I'm sure you're intelligent enough to work out that closing down 'non-essential' aisles mean that people spend a little less time in the store. When you're disabled and have to stand outside in the rain waiting for the door security to wave you in .. it makes a difference” told one. She isn’t stupid. But she is appallingly wilful.

And as to that “sanity” idea, “And ‘sanity’ involves directing your complaints at the people who have put the rules in place, not the shops and shop workers carrying out the guidance”. Instead, she’s just encouraging more criminal damage.

Murdoch TalkRADIO is so desperate for listeners - it’s endorsing vandalism.

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[UPDATE 1715 hours: Maybe Ms Hartley Dooda would be less enamoured of this stunt if she knew that the perpetrator had been arrested and charged with a variety of offences. Which he has.

As the Daily Post has reported, "A man filmed apparently ripping covers off 'non-essential' goods at a North Wales Tesco has been arrested and charged with criminal damage". There was more.

"Gwilym Owen ... claimed to be protesting at the Welsh Government's ban on supermarkets selling non-essential items during the firebreak lockdown ... Mr Owen, from Anglesey was arrested by North Wales Police and charged with criminal damage, several public order offences, and contravention of the Coronavirus regulations ... He is due to appear at Caernarfon Magistrates' Court on November 24".

Perhaps Julia Hartley Dooda would like to appear as a character witness. Just a thought]

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Drugs-For-Food Tory Has His Bluff Called

Mark Jenkinson is the first Tory to be returned at a General Election for the Workington constituency since the seat was created in 1918. Not content to merely rest on his laurels, he has decided to intervene in the debate over free school meal provision being extended to holiday periods, but in his own inimitable manner. Jenkinson, only a Tory since he resigned from UKIP in 2016, has made a claim he may have trouble standing up.

Mark Jenkinson MP

Seeing that his colleague Ben Bradley had been called out by Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner for claiming that vouchers had effectively been used as payment for brothels and drug dealers, and knowing that Ms Rayner was Tory Target Person #1 right now, he latched on to Bradley’s denial, and raised Ms Rayner a whole stack of chips.

Worth a few grams of Snow, d'you think?

Here, [Angela Rayner] is either being disingenuous or really hasn’t a clue what goes on in her constituency. I hope for the sake of her constituents it’s the former. I know in my constituency that, as tiny as a minority it might be, food parcels are sold or traded for drugs”. Would Sir care to double down and leave us in no doubt?

He certainly would. “And that’s parcels, not vouchers - which have greater monetary value. As I said, a relatively minuscule number - but we can’t pretend it doesn’t happen. Pretending, to score political points, helps no-one”. Bernadette Meaden was unimpressed. “So for the alleged faults of a tiny minority, they should all go without? Last year around a third of children in your constituency were in poverty. That's probably increased”.

The people at Evolve Politics sensed an opportunity for a little sport. “Hi Mark! Have you got any evidence for this? Would love to see it!” But they could safely be ignored, as they were mere Rotten Lefties™. We know this as “Middle-class wannabe politicians can virtue signal as much as they want. Pretending helps no-one. I’m a working-class Workingtonian. These are my communities - the communities I grew up in, that I spend my time in, that I live in. I wouldn’t change 99.9% of it for the world”. He knows, you know.

Did his comments help? “No, the work I do on the ground, because I won’t ignore it, does. And the work of every community volunteer, every addiction counsellor, every job coach, every social worker and every police officer”. The Secret Barrister remained sceptical. “In over a decade of prosecuting and defending criminal cases involving the supply of drugs, from street dealing to multi-million pound importations, I have yet to encounter the phenomenon of a drug dealer who accepts food parcels in lieu of cash”.

Mark Hebden was more than sceptical. “Try as I might, I can't find a single drug dealer who will give me a few grams of marching powder for for a jar of Dolmio, 400g of long grain and a banana. Starting to think Tories are liars”. Well, Jenkinson has now been given the opportunity to disseminate his claims before a wider audience.

Darshna Soni of Channel 4 News has been in touch. “Hi Mr Jenkinson, have you any examples of food parcels bring sold or traded for drugs? I’ve been reporting on the issue of holiday hunger and #FreeSchoolMeals for a while now, I’ve never come across this. Would like to interview your constituents if you know of any actual cases?” Nick Martin of Sky News added “Let us know when you find out Darshna. This is certainly worth exploring”.

So come on Mark Jenkinson - show us the evidence. After we get the popcorn in.

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