Tag Archives: science

‘Optimistic’ PM plots ‘cautious’ lockdown easing. Some fools never learn

After admitting that he ignored scientific advice many times over the past year, making the Covid-19 pandemic much more harmful to the UK’s people and economy than it needed to be, Boris Johnson is planning to do it again.

What a bumbling dimwit.

According to the BBC,

as scientists warned against easing lockdown measures too quickly

Boneheaded Johnson was again planning to ignore them, saying

he is “optimistic” he will be able to set out plans later this month for a “cautious” easing of England’s lockdown.

It seems he really is determined that Covid-19 will kill more of the UK’s population than Spanish Flu. That epidemic killed 228,000 people, so there’s around 100,000 deaths to beat.

Causing another increase in deaths is the only reason any intelligent person could possibly want to open schools before Covid-19 is well and truly under control.

Johnson’s congenital imbecility might excuse him – but not his government, whose ministers should recognise that he is unfit to make such a decision and remove him to ensure he does no further harm.

But they’re not going to do that, are they?

So Johnson will set out his “road map” for easing his excuse for a lockdown (we were never really locked down – that would have meant everybody apart from vital service providers staying inside their houses, all the time, until the danger was past) on February 22.

Whatever timetable he sets then, he’ll follow. That’s what he did in summer 2020, and that’s why an extra 55,000 people died over the winter.

And he can’t stop lying!

“Our children’s education is our number one priority,”

he said – but we all know that the only reason he wants children back in schools is to deprive their parents of any excuse not to go back to work, making money for his Tory donors.

Once again, it’s all about greed.

How many people have to die for the sake of Boris Johnson’s friends’ balance sheets?

Source: Covid: ‘Optimistic’ PM plots ‘cautious’ lockdown easing – BBC News

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Johnson has admitted he was lying about ‘following the science’ – and doesn’t regret causing thousands of deaths

Two-fingered salute: Boris Johnson sends a candid message to everybody who died of Covid-19 – and their surviving families and friends.

That’s a hell of a confession.

Remember all those times Boris Johnson and cronies like Matt Hancock said they were “following the science”?

They weren’t.

They were ignoring the science – and lying to you.

You want some examples?

Scientists warned reopening schools and universities would spread the virus through communities and around the country – which it did.

The PM was urged to keep Brits working from home in a bid to avoid a winter spike a month before the Government launched a campaign to encourage the public to return to the workplace.

Mr Johnson, who has claimed his response to the pandemic has been “guided by the science”, only rowed back on plans to allow as many as three households to mix over the [Christmas] holiday when his hand was forced by the emergence of the Kent variant.

Asked if Johnson regrets these decisions, that have led to tens of thousands of deaths, Boris Johnson’s spokesperson avoided a direct answer – which indicates that he doesn’t.

That’s right.

The UK electorate gave a huge, 80-seat Parliamentary majority to a prime minister who proactively chose to ensure that tens of thousands of people died of Covid-19 – and doesn’t regret it.

He won’t face criminal charges, of course.

He’s above the law. The voters put him there.

Source: Boris Johnson ‘doesn’t regret’ ignoring advice which could have avoided ‘worst case’ Covid-19 – Mirror Online

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Johnson’s ‘herd immunity’ is a nonsense: Covid-19 antibodies fade within months

Boris Johnson’s entire strategy for coping with Covid-19 has been proved to be useless  – according to the science.

Oh yes, yes – Johnson appeared to give up on ‘herd immunity’ when he put the UK into lockdown in March.

But for lockdown to succeed, we all had to stay away from possible infection until the virus had no way of reproducing and passing from person to person.

Johnson’s strategy ensured that there were always people circulating who could be exposed to it. Think about the NHS staff with their inadequate PPE (personal protection equipment), or care staff who carried the disease between homes after the Tories ordered infected residents to be sent there.

And Johnson has kept infection rates up by easing the lockdown for sectors of the community – schools, for example. Pub-goers. Commuters…

All of it was for nothing if he thought he was immunising the nation incrementally because it turns out that Covid-19 antibodies don’t last.

Like the common cold, it seems it will be possible for the virus to infect us all on a regular basis.

That’s the finding of research by Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS foundation trust – and also by the Spanish Ministry of Health.

So the easing of lockdown before Covid-19 was eradicated has done nothing but prolong the crisis in the UK; Johnson would have been better-advised to make the lockdown much harder (and he probably was). It would have been for a much shorter period.

But it seems unlikely this bull-in-a-China-shop prime minister will acknowledge his own stupidity and change course.

All in all, it suggests that the conspiracy theorists are right and he’s simply using the pandemic as a way of culling the population.

Given the evidence, why else would anyone follow a plan as ridiculous as Johnson’s?

Source: Immunity to Covid-19 could be lost in months, UK study suggests | World news | The Guardian

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Another Johnson Covid claim bites the dust: scientists say opening all schools is not ‘safe’

Boris Johnson: he seems to think we’ll accept any old nonsense that comes out of his mouth.

Isn’t it a good thing Tories like Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock don’t have any reputation of honesty to ruin?

If they had, the Covid-19 crisis would have scuttled them double-quick.

As it is, it should be no surprise to anybody that Johnson’s claim, last week, that “it is safe” for pupils to return to school is bunkum.

On Friday Mr Johnson, speaking at a primary school in Hemel Hempstead, said he wanted all year groups in all schools to return in September.

Minutes from the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) on May 21 reveal that extending the easing of restrictions through social bubbles or opening schools for all age groups would reopen transmission networks.

That means it would almost certainly ensure that more people started catching the disease again.

The minutes argue that although parents and teachers had a “relatively young age profile” which meant a lower level of risk of suffering from Covid-19, it urged “very careful monitoring and evaluation of infection in schools after any reopening”.

Reopening schools or non-essential retail “would require a significant effort to ensure that environments are appropriate to minimise transmission” such as distancing and hygiene measures.

Opening non-essential retail would lead to a “modest increase” in contacts of between 10 percentage points.

The minutes say: “Sage advised that overall public adherence with social distancing measures will likely be diminished by HMG signalling its intent to release even some of the measures.”

Source: Coronavirus latest: Scientists warn opening all schools will have a ‘large effect on the epidemic’

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Here’s why schools should stay closed and why anyone saying otherwise may have a political agenda

School: even in exam conditions, teachers will struggle to keep pupils two metres apart.

Perhaps you think it’s not a big deal.

Ever since Boris Johnson announced that he wants schools to reopen at the beginning of June, the idea has become a raging controversy.

He didn’t say that scientists support this notion – for a very good reason, it seems:

Let’s have a look at the article, from Schoolsweek:

The Department for Education’s chief scientific adviser admitted he has not assessed whether guidance on reopening schools is effective, adding the current advice is “draft” and “will be developed”.

Appearing in front of the Parliamentary science and technology committee today, Osama Rahman also admitted the DfE had done no modelling on the impact on transmission rates of starting to reopen schools after the May half term break.

During a hearing that left some MPs visibly bemused, Rahman also suggested the government guidance issued yesterday on safety is a “draft”, and will be reissued after further consultation with Public Health England.

He also said the decision to reopen schools was made by cabinet, not the DfE.

Asked about the transmission rate among children during the hearing, Rahman said the evidence is mixed, and there’s a “low degree of confidence in evidence they might transmit it less”.

SNP education spokesperson Carol Monaghan then asked for clarification. Was it true that “we’re putting together hundreds of potential vectors that can then go and transmit. Is that correct?”

Mr Rahman’s response – “Possibly, depending on school sizes” – may have contributed to Ms Monaghan’s conclusion that, as a former teacher, she “did not think the profession will be satisfied or put at ease with what they are hearing”.

Asked what scientific evidence base underpinned the decision to reopen schools to pupils in reception, year 1 and year 6, and what modelling had been done, Mr Rahman said the Department for Education had not done any modelling at all.

He was unable to provide any proof that any scientific evidence had contributed to the decision to seek the reopening of schools at the beginning of June. He believed the Cabinet had made that decision, following advice from SAGE – albeit filtered through Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.

Rahman also admitted he had made no assessment on how effectively actions proposed by the government for schools to reopen safely can be implemented.

Perhaps it is unsurprising, given this background, that education unions united to declare that they would only support the reopening of schools “when it is safe to do so”:

The statement says:

“We all want schools to re-open, but that should only happen when it is safe to do so. The government is showing a lack of understanding about the dangers of the spread of coronavirus within schools, and outwards from schools to parents, sibling and relatives, and to the wider community.

“Uniquely, it appears, school staff will not be protected by social distancing rules. 15 children in a class, combined with their very young age, means that classrooms of 4 and 5-year olds could become sources of Covid-19 transmission and spread.  While we know that children generally have mild symptoms, we do not know enough about whether they can transmit the disease to adults. We do not think that the government should be posing this level of risk to our society.

“We call on the government to step back from the 1st June and work with us to create the conditions for a safe return to schools based on the principles and tests we have set out.”

The principles and tests include:

  • Safety and welfare of pupils and staff as the paramount principle
  • No increase in pupil numbers until full rollout of a national test and trace scheme
  • A national Covid-19 education taskforce with government, unions and education stakeholders to agree statutory guidance for safe reopening of schools
  • Consideration of the specific needs of vulnerable students and families facing economic disadvantage
  • Additional resources for enhanced school cleaning, PPE and risk assessments
  • Local autonomy to close schools where testing indicates clusters of new covid-19 cases

Doesn’t that seem reasonable? Not to Gavin Williamson!

He said: “Sometimes scaremongering and making people fear is really unfair, and not a welcome pressure that is to be placed on families, children and teachers alike.”

Amazingly, he has had support from a Labour MP – Barry Sheerman:

Fortunately, this chap faced an instant backlash:

So it seems we are being asked to believe the unions are scaremongering, despite the evidence from Mr Rahman that shows they aren’t.

What do you think?

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Is this the reason Lancet editor said government advisors were lying on Covid-19?

Dominic Cummings: he can’t give advice on science, so why has he been attending Sage meetings on handling coronavirus?

Dominic Cummings and a data scientist from his Brexit campaign, Vote Leave, have been influencing the scientific group advising the government on coronavirus, it has been revealed.

Is this the reason Lancet editor Richard Horton reckons “supposedly independent medical advisors” have been telling “manifest untruths” – lying – to support a “political regime whose credibility is rapidly collapsing”?

We have already heard that Cummings was involved in a meeting in late January, when Covid-19 was played down as “just a bit of flu”.

He apparently said the UK would be better able to resist a second wave of the disease next winter if 60-80 per cent of the population became infected and the survivors developed “herd immunity”.

Cummings was paraphrased after speaking at a private engagement at the end of February, in which he said the government’s strategy was “herd immunity, protect the economy and if that means some pensioners die, too bad”.

Now The Guardian has claimed that both Cummings and Warner have been taking part in meetings of the group, raising questions about the independence of its scientific advice.

The government’s former chief scientific adviser Sir David King is quoted in the article, saying Cummings may have been reporting his own “interpretation” of Sage advice to Boris Johnson.

Mr Horton wrote in the Lancet criticising Dr Jenny Harries, England’s deputy chief medical officer, at the end of March. She had stated that England had a “perfectly adequate” supply of Personal Protective Equipment.

We all now know that this was not true.

Mr Horton wrote: “I am sure Dr Harries believed what she said. But she was wrong and she should apologise to the thousands of health workers who still have no access to WHO-standard PPE.”

On Sunday, Dr Harries seems to have made matters worse by saying: “The UK, regardless of the position that we may be in now, has been an international exemplar in preparedness.”

It sounds like propaganda.

And what about when government ministers say they have been “following scientific advice”?

If they’ve been getting this advice from Dominic Cummings, then it cannot be considered to have any value at all.

Source: Revealed: Dominic Cummings on secret scientific advisory group for Covid-19 | World news | The Guardian

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So much for the party of law and order! Forensic science cuts pose risk to justice, regulator warns

A forensic scientist specialising in DNA sequencing points to bands representing nucleotide bases (A,C,T,G) in an X-ray image [Image: Alamy].

It’s as though the Conservatives wanted to hinder police investigations, isn’t it?

So much for the party of law and order!

The government will damage British justice if it inflicts further cuts on forensic science, the official regulator has said.

Dr Gillian Tully warned in her annual report that financial pressures were compromising quality, including potentially in serious criminal cases involving murder and sexual assault.

Techniques such as DNA analysis and hi-tech examination of samples underpin the criminal justice system and are vital to proving guilt and innocence in the courts.

The government abolished the Forensic Science Service in 2012, which was the main provider to the police, and the system has been beset by problems.

Source: Forensic science cuts pose risk to justice, regulator warns | Science | The Guardian

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Lords urge rethink of immigration policy as number of international students plummets

zcoalitionfailimmigration

Yet another Coalition policy has leapt up to bite David Cameron in his tender parts.

His government’s “contradictory” immigration policy has caused a 10 per cent drop in the number of international Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) students coming to the UK over the last two years.

This is because the government is simultaneously committed to reducing net migration and attracting increasing numbers of international students (by 15–20 per cent over the next five years).

Owing to its – by now – internationally-renowned stupidity, the government has not removed international students from the net migration figures. This means that UK policy is both to attract foreign students and reject them.

No wonder the Lords inquiry into whether the UK’s immigration policy has had any impact on the numbers of international students in STEM subjects has declared the UK “unwelcoming“.

Nobody should be surprised by the Tory-led Coalition’s twisted attitude, though – it seems to reflect attitudes across the UK as a whole.

As Tom Pride reports on Pride’s Purge: “On Question Time last week, Giles Fraser told a funny story which nicely illustrates how batty the whole discussion over immigration has become in the UK.

“He said he’d got into a conversation with a taxi driver who told him he was so fed up with the number of foreigners coming to live and work in the UK he was going to move to Spain.

“Well just in case anyone thought this kind of absurd opinion was a one-off – have a look at this recent survey by respected polling company ComRes.

“When asked if all citizens of other European Union countries should have the right to live and work in the United Kingdom, just 36% of British people agreed.

“But when asked whether British people should be free to live and work anywhere in the EU, 52% of British people agreed.”

One has to ask whether this position has been impressed on the British public by newspapers like the Daily Mail or the Daily Express.

101421immigrationtabloids

Tom concluded: “If someone doesn’t bring some common sense to the immigration debate soon, the UK is in danger of becoming a laughing stock.”

Too late, Tom!

“When we really need to send the message that international STEM students will get a warm welcome in the UK, they’re getting the cold shoulder and heading elsewhere,” said Lord Krebs, chairing the Lords Committee.

“International student numbers have fallen dramatically, in particular from India.  As a result we’re missing out on the talent, the economic and cultural contribution that international students bring when they come here to study, and our competitors are reaping the rewards.”

He said: “The overwhelming evidence that we received led us to conclude that changes to the immigration rules in this country have played a direct part in putting overseas students off from choosing the UK.

“The rules are seen as too complex and subject to endless changes, the visa costs are not competitive, and the rules relating to work after study are so limiting that prospective students are heading to the US, Australia, Canada and elsewhere.

“Allowing just four months for a student to find work after graduation is more or less tantamount to telling overseas students they’d be better off going to study elsewhere.”

The Lords have made a series of recommendations but these will put the government between a rock and a hard place.

Does Cameron give in – and be accused by the tabloids of going soft on immigration – or does he stick to his guns – and turn away all the talent he’s so keen to import*?

*We learned yesterday that Free Schools have ruined the chances of any British students ever being able to compete.

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Conservatives try to become the party of the North East – Unemployed in Tyne and Wear

Here’s something unintendedly humorous, flagged up by Unemployed in Tyne and Wear from an article in yesterday’s (October 5) Newcastle Evening Chronicle:

Is there a General Election on the horizon or something ? The Tories are getting all concerned about the North East.

Growing the economy in the North of England and closing the wealth divide with London and the south east was one of the major themes of the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham… The focus may seem surprising given that the party has few MPs in the North East.

The Chancellor’s plan is to turn the North into an economic powerhouse rivalling London by investing up to £15 billion on local transport links, picking a scientific speciality for universities to become world-leaders in, possibly building a high speed line across the Pennines, linking the North East and North West, and giving cities more autonomy and cash – if they agree to transform local government by introducing directly-elected mayors.

Major announcements at the conference included plans to freeze working-age benefits – including benefits received by working people on low salaries – for two years. This means cutting benefits in real terms, because of the effects of inflation.

Conservative leader David Cameron, in his conference speech, announced plans to raise the income tax personal allowance to £12,500. This would take one million more workers out of income tax entirely and give a tax cut to 30 million more, Mr Cameron said. An estimated 51,000 North East workers would pay no income tax at all because of the change. Many others would pay less tax. Isn’t this because wages are so poor to start with ?

Mr Cameron also announced plans to raise the threshold at which people pay the 40p income tax rate from £41,900 today to £50,000. It means a tax cut for many people earning above-average salaries. Mr Cameron said the 40p tax was supposed to be for the rich, but it’s currently paid by some senior nurses, teachers and police officers.

But critics pointed out that the Conservatives had failed to explain how they would pay the £7 billion cost of cutting tax.

Labour Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls said: “Nobody will be fooled by pie in the sky promises of tax cuts in six years’ time when David Cameron cannot tell us where the money is coming from.

“Even the Tories admit this is an unfunded commitment of over £7 billion, so how will they pay for it? Will they raise VAT on families and pensioners again?”

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Osborne’s cuckooland claims could leave a terrifying legacy

130517workfigures

‘Jeffrey’ Osborne sings for his supper at some CBI dinner.

Try not to choke on your coffee: George Osborne reckons the British economy is “out of intensive care”.

Now, he says, the task is to “secure the recovery”.

He’s starting on Wednesday with cuts totalling £11.5 billion which, once fiscal multipliers are taken into account, means a contraction of around £20 billion in the national economy.

Securing the recovery. Good luck with that, Gideon.

The good news is that he is expected to announce investment in infrastructure projects, including roads, railways, education and science. He has realised – probably too late – that cutting all those infrastructure projects at the start of this Parliament was economic suicide and is trying to do something about it before everyone realises he’s an idiot. He is, of course, much too late for that but the investment – if it goes to well-advised places – might just do some good.

Don’t bank on it, though.

Osborne’s claims about the economy are based on statements that government borrowing has come down and employment is up – but we know that the first isn’t true and the second is not helping. In other words, he’s built his castle in the sand.

Government borrowing rose by £300 million in 2012-13, from £118.5 billion to £118.8 billion, according to the Office for National Statistics. That’s not a huge amount, you may think, but remember this government reckons it has cut borrowing by a third since taking power. That would put borrowing at around £100 billion right now, which is clearly inaccurate.

The debt is now £1.9 trillion, up from 1.1 trillion a year ago – 75.2 per cent of GDP, up from 71.1 per cent.

We all know what the problem is: Austerity – the self-perpetuating (and self-defeating) policy that will eventually bankrupt us all (but not the country. Because we have our own currency, the UK is unlikely ever to go bankrupt. You see, when the Tories told you that, they were lying).

The worst of it is that the other main political parties have signed up to the delusion that all these cuts might actually do some good.

Ed Miliband has ruled out more borrowing. That in itself is not a bad idea. But Ed Balls has admitted that he would follow Tory spending plans, at least for the first year of a Labour government, and there’s a consensus that pensioners will probably be the next defenceless social group to be hit with cuts – this time to benefits such as winter fuel payments.

They are talking among themselves. It seems unlikely that any of them has bothered to look out of the window to find out the real effect of their idiot schemes.

And so the agony continues. Based on an economic fallacy, perpetuated on the masses, while the very rich continue raking it in.

The longer this goes on, the greater the danger to us all.