Daily Archives: May 29, 2020

Spain approves Universal Basic Income – and it’s more than UK sick and disabled get

Universal Basic Income: the Spaniards are getting it (in Euros, obviously) – why can’t people in the UK have it?

Only a few weeks ago, Tories were delighting in claiming that no other nation had adopted a Universal Basic Income scheme in response to calls for the UK to adopt it during the Covid-19 crisis.

Now they can’t say that any more.

And the amount being provided to Spanish citizens will be more than people on the normal rate of Universal Credit, on Employment and Support Allowance, or on the lowest rate of Personal Independence Payment (if I recall correctly) – around £95 per week.

If anyone is wondering how we reached a point where Spain supports its people better than the UK, just remember we’ve had more than 40 years of right-wing governments and they have laid us low.

Spain’s cabinet has approved the creation of a national minimum income, according to a government spokesperson.

Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias told a news conference on Friday the creation of a minimum income worth €462 (£416.92) a month will target some 850,000 households or 2.5 million people.

The government would pay the monthly stipend and top up existing revenue for people earning less so that they receive at least that minimum amount every month, he said.

Source: Spain approves national minimum income scheme | The Independent

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Durham police may face inquiry into handling of Cummings case; is this the reason?

It seems Boris Johnson isn’t the only one who can’t put Dominic Cummings’s Durham trip behind him.

The local constabulary has fallen foul of the general public:

Durham police is facing a possible inquiry into its handling of the Dominic Cummings saga after complaints were passed to its internal investigation team.

The force has received a number of complaints from members of the public angry at the way it dealt with Boris Johnson’s aide over his travels during lockdown.

Durham police said it believed the special adviser probably did break lockdown rules by embarking on a 52-mile round trip to the town of Barnard Castle with his wife and son on her birthday.

Officers might have intervened to send him home had they caught him on the trip on 12 April, or fined him if he refused, the report said.

Its investigation also concluded that Cummings did not break health protection regulations by making the 260-mile trip to Durham with his son and wife, who had coronavirus symptoms, though it made no finding in relation to the “stay at home” government guidance.

The force’s findings have been met with anger in some quarters, prompting several emailed complaints which were then passed on to its professional standards department as is protocol.

The nature of the complaints is not known.

Is it possible that the force has been accused of favouritism – of according Cummings a privilege not provided to others?

I mention this merely because of the following:

Durham police issued fines to two people – from different households – who travelled together from London to County Durham during lockdown.

The two individuals fined by the force travelled to nearby Peterlee.

The BBC is seeking further details from Durham Constabulary about the two individuals who were fined for travelling from London to Peterlee, about 13 miles east of Durham, on 8 April, a week after Mr Cummings made his trip.

So, they fined these two people for travelling a similar distance up from London, after Cummings made his journey – but they decided not to fine Cummings or take any other action against him?

The question is simple: Why?

I fear we know the answer.

Source: Durham police facing possible inquiry into handling of Cummings case | Politics | The Guardian

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UK’s coronavirus ‘test and trace’ system is as much a shambles as previous measures

Test and trace: testing can’t be done everywhere in the UK yet, and the information from those tests, along with that for contact tracing, is not secure.

There’s an old adage: “start as you mean to go on”. It seems with Covid-19 that the Tory government has taken it to heart – it started badly, and has got worse.

Plans to trace people who have been in contact with others who have caught the disease have been in disarray since February, when initial attempts to trace Covid-19 contacts were called off.

The Johnson administration tried resorting to technology, with a contact-tracing app for mobile phones that it has been testing on the Isle of Wight.

But the system, developed in co-operation with private contractors, has caused such controversy that many have refused to have anything to do with it.

It has wide-ranging security flaws that allow the data collected by the app to be used for purposes other than those for which it was collected.

The researchers detail seven different problems they found with the app.

They include:

  • weaknesses in the registration process that could allow attackers to steal encryption keys, which would allow them to prevent users being notified if a contact tested positive for Covid-19 and/or generate spoof transmissions to create logs of bogus contact events
  • storing unencrypted data on handsets that could potentially be used by law enforcement agencies to determine when two or more people met
  • generating a new random ID code for users once a day rather than once every 15 minutes as is the case in a rival model developed by Google and Apple. The longer gap theoretically makes it possible to determine if a user is having an affair with a work colleague or meeting someone after work, it is suggested

Apparently the information is currently downloaded to a centralised database, where it could be leaked or otherwise abused.

But Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said on Monday a new law to protect people “is not needed because the Data Protection Act will do the job” and NHSX – the health service’s digital innovation unit – has said using the centralised model will both make it easier to improve the app over time and trigger alerts based on people’s self-diagnosed symptoms rather than just medical test results.

They don’t seem to have our interests at heart, really, do they?

Management of the app is planned to be outsourced to a private firm in the middle of June, according to contract details released by NHSX, and computer engineers working in other European countries and the Far East will have access to the app as part of a troubleshooting role agreed between the NHS and the Swiss firm.

A new, manual test-and-trace regime was introduced across the UK on May 28 but it, too, has problems.

For a start, it has been revealed that personal information collected by both the manual system and the app will be kept for 20 years.

We can ask for it to be deleted, but we are not being given the right to demand it.

And the website explaining what will happen to our data seems to have been either rushed out so that it is riddled with mistakes, or deliberately written to contain terminology that has no legal meaning in the UK.

So, for example, it states that our “personal identifiable information” (a US legal concept) is “governed by the GDPR” (a UK / European law). The phrase is therefore meaningless.

And This Writer has heard that the manual system is not running in some parts of the UK, where the NHS was not ready to roll it out.

So if anybody caught it in London and then travelled to a part of the country that isn’t running test-and-trace (let’s suggest purely for the sake of example, Durham) then the information would be lost and it is possible that infected people would be missed.

These problems are not going to go away.

We have a flawed system that does not cover the whole nation and that seems designed to create problems going forward for years to come. It is typical of the Tories cack-handed attitude to the whole Covid-19 crisis.

Source: Coronavirus: Test and trace system will start on Thursday – BBC News

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‘Sack Cummings’ petition set to test whether Boris Johnson has any interest in democracy


A million signatures is a lot of people, but you can be sure that Boris Johnson will try to ignore this public exercise of democracy.

My reason for saying this is simple: look where the petition is being hosted.

If it had been on the UK Parliament’s petition page, it would have needed only 100,000 signatures to guarantee a discussion in the House of Commons – but it would never have achieved it because it would have been removed on the grounds that petitions about government employees are forbidden.

So much for democracy.

As this one is on Change.org, it give Johnson an opportunity to deny its legitimacy and refuse to pay attention to it, no matter how many people eventually sign.

Remember when the ‘Revoke Brexit’ e-petition – that was on the UK Parliament site – reached six million signatures?

Even after there was a debate in the Commons, the government of the day ignored it.

Johnson will try the same tactic here – but he has far less justification for doing so.

Even after the Brexit e-petition gained its six million names, that was only slightly more than a third of the number of people who voted to leave the EU, so there was some legitimacy in the claim that it should not overthrow the referendum decision (although the fact that the claim was made before the final number of signatures was known made it ambiguous at the time).

But nobody voted Cummings into Downing Street. He’s a hired hand.

The fact that so many people have signed a petition calling for his removal is significant – and indicates that far more people are unhappy with him continuing to hold any position within the workings of government.

So Johnson has put himself between a rock and a hard place.

If he sacks Cummings, then he will be admitting he was wrong to support his chief advisor. But the longer he delays, the more people lose confidence in him – and the more likely he is to be replaced.

A petition calling for Dominic Cummings’ departure from government is on course to reach one million signatures, as fury over the scandal fails to die down.

A Change.org page that demands the PM’s top aide either resigns or is sacked now has the backing of more than 945,000 people.

A survey has suggested that 80% of the public disagrees with his actions, while around 40 Tory MPs have called for him to leave Downing Street.

Source: Petition for Dominic Cummings’ sacking set to hit 1,000,000 signatures | Metro News

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Coronavirus: Wales starts easing the lockdown – one rule at a time

The Welsh government has announced that it is easing lockdown restrictions – but only one part of them, and for a very good reason.

From Monday, people from two different households in the same local area will be able to meet up outdoors. They must continue to maintain social distancing and strict hand hygiene.

As a general rule, people will not be allowed to travel more than five miles for these meetings – which comes hard for those of us in rural areas who have friends more than five miles away that we haven’t seen in nearly three months.

There will be exceptions including travelling to work, shopping for essentials that aren’t available locally, and to seek care.

That last exception seems to be an attempt to legitimise behaviour like Dominic Cummings’s trip from London to Durham, which caused a hugely embarrassing scandal that the Tory government has been trying to silence for the last week.

The reason for lifting just one rule at a time is simple, as First Minister Mark Drakeford was told:

“Making more than one significant relaxation was too dangerous because if the infection rate went up, it would not be clear what had caused it.”

Contrast that with Boris Johnson’s idiotic rush to get everybody back to work as soon as possible, and damn the consequences!

Is it any wonder that this decision has been followed by another one – to stop showing the daily number of Covid-19-related deaths?

Source: Why the Welsh Government is only making one major lockdown change | Wales – ITV News

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