Tag Archives: scientist

‘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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Medical experts warn that government Covid-19 antibody tests are probably duff

How typical of the Tory strategy on Covid-19 that the blood antibody tests that cost them £16 million might not work:

Senior medical specialists have raised concerns about the accuracy of the antibody tests being carried out on NHS staff across the country.

The blood tests – which can tell whether someone has had Covid-19 – were previously described by prime minister Boris Johnson as “game-changing”.

The government has spent £16m buying some 10 million test kits from pharmaceutical giant Abbott and Roche with the first phase of the testing programme assessing NHS and care staff, before being rolled out to the public.

But a letter from academics and clinicians, published in The BMJ, raises concerns about the performance of the tests, the clinical reasoning for them and the cost.

“We have three concerns… Firstly, there is no specific clinical indication for the test on an individual basis. Secondly, the performance of these assays has not yet been assessed to the standard typically required of a novel test. And thirdly, the resource implications are not considered.”

“The assay is being rolled out at an unprecedented pace and scale without adequate assessment, potentially compromising public trust in pathology services in the future.”

The letter adds: “NHS England requires the result to be available in 24 hours. Given that routine testing of patients is neither clinically urgent nor meets a clear public health need, this push to introduce a non-evidence based test for uncertain gains risks inefficient use of scarce resources.”

The experts also warned that a positive or negative test result would not alter how a patient is managed either way and added that a positive result “does not indicate immunity”.

It seems the government has admitted the scientists may have a point.

The Department of Health and Social Care made a statement saying: “We do not currently know how long an antibody response to the virus lasts, nor whether having antibodies means a person cannot transmit it to others.”

Nevertheless, antibody testing “will play an increasingly important role as we move into the next phase of our response to this pandemic”.

Looks like another pointless waste of cash to This Writer. How typical.

Source: Coronavirus: Medical Experts Issue Warning Over Government’s Antibody Tests | HuffPost UK

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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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Free schools: More Lib Dem sound and fury with no significance?

Bottom of the class: Conservative dunce Michael Gove simply won't learn the less of the Free Schools disaster. Nick Clegg has - but too late to avoid accusations of political opportunism.

Bottom of the class: Conservative dunce Michael Gove simply won’t learn the less of the Free Schools disaster. Nick Clegg has – but too late to avoid accusations of political opportunism.

It seems hard to believe that the Coalition between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats has suddenly descended into “open warfare” (as the Observer describes it) over Michael Gove’s ‘Free Schools’ programme.

This is a shame, because the idea is fatally flawed – as we have seen over the last week. Would a Free School pupil even be able to discern the origin of the quotation that has been butchered to create today’s headline?

If any parent in the country does not know by now that the Al-Madinah Free School, serving 400 Muslim pupils in Derby, received the lowest marks possible from inspectors – in every category – last week, then they need to be told. Inspectors railed against the fact that teachers were not trained and condemned the school as “dysfunctional”. Which, of course, it was. It was a place run by amateurs according to their ideology, rather than a professional organisation set up to get the best from its pupils.

The trouble is, Michael Gove’s Education Department is run along similar lines.

We now know that two unqualified head teachers have quit after criticism – Annaliese Briggs, 27, who was appointed head teacher of Pimlico Free School in London despite having no qualifications, resigned after only three weeks. And Lindsey Snowdon quit the 60-pupil Discovery school in Crawley after Ofsted said she “lacks the skills and knowledge to improve teaching”.

Nick Clegg is expected to turn against the Free Schools policy in a speech this week, saying unqualified people should not be allowed to teach in state-funded schools and that parents need more reassurance about standards and the curriculum. He will say there must be national standards and controls on which parents can rely.

The Observer expects Clegg to say: “Frankly it makes no sense to me to have qualified teacher status if only a few schools have to employ qualified teachers…  I believe that we should have qualified teachers in all our schools.”

He will also ask: “What is the point of having a national curriculum if only a few schools have to teach it? Let’s teach it in all our schools.”

The BBC expects him to say: “Parents don’t want ideology to get in the way of their children’s education.”

Michael Gove’s idea is that head teachers of academies or Free Schools should have the freedom to employ untrained teachers, in the same way that private schools hire “the great linguists, scientists, engineers and other specialists they know can best teach and inspire their pupils”.

Can anyone else see the flaw here? If these great linguists, scientists etc are already teaching in private schools, they won’t be going to the Free Schools as well. There simply aren’t enough “great” professionals to go around, and those who really are great will be working, not teaching. Otherwise the plan will harm the economy, won’t it?

Needless to say, Labour is enjoying the split immensely. This morning the party’s whips tweeted: “FACT CHECK: Nick Clegg’s Lib Dems have supported Free Schools at every stage, first voting through [the] enabling leg. In Academies Act 2010 and in Education Act 2011, where [the local authority] thinks there is a need for new school in [its] area it must seek proposals to open Free School/academy. #twofacedclegg”

Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt, who put his own foot in his mouth over this subject when he said he supported Free Schools last weekend, showed how he has modified his views to bring them into line with the public by saying:  “I’m delighted Nick Clegg has realised the dangers of an ideologically-driven schools policy. We would be happy to work with him to reintroduce accountability, proper standards and qualified teachers in all our schools across the country.”

Bravo. Better late than never.

But his intervention – and the negative response of the Conservatives, who say Clegg is “fundamentally misunderstanding” the Free Schools concept, who blocked his attempts to change the system before it was enshrined in law, and who will continue to block any such plans for the 18 months of Coalition government that remain, may change the Lib Dem leader’s mind.

He can only promise to put his suggested changes into the next Liberal Democrat manifesto, and will face accusations that he is imitating Labour and trying to distance his party from the bad publicity generated by a policy he previously supported.

And let’s all remember that this speech will not be made until Thursday, giving Clegg plenty of time to consider the impact of the parts he has released, and maybe withdraw or alter them. It won’t be the first time a Liberal Democrat has said one thing and then done another!

Whatever happens, it seems clear that the concept of Free Schools is now not so much a political ‘lame duck’ as an albatross. The public will not forget the disasters of the last week, and they will lay the blame firmly on Michael Gove and the Tories – who are sticking to their plans.

Some people never learn.

IDS – the most vile product of ‘welfare UK’

The parallel here should be obvious to anyone who's seen the newspapers today.

The parallel here should be obvious to anyone who’s seen the newspapers today.

Dept. of ‘Giving Them A Taste Of Their Own Medicine’: The Daily Mail’s front page today is itself, of course, entirely vile.

It is an attempt to make us believe that every single benefit claimant in the UK is as evil as Mick or Mairead Philpott, who were convicted yesterday of killing six of their own children.

The claim is the kind of utter nonsense we have come to expect from the paper commonly dubbed the ‘Daily Heil’ or (as in the image above) the ‘Daily Fail’ – and it has sparked widespread fury.

We all know that it is ridiculous to claim that everybody on social security benefits is evil.

And we all know that you don’t have to be an evil person to receive social security benefits – look at the current government!

In fact, let’s look at the Secretary of State responsible for social security benefits – he likes to call them “welfare”, possibly because it gives him a feeling of superiority over their recipients. This is interesting in itself, because he used to be one of them.

Iain Duncan Smith was on the dole for several months during 1981, after leaving the Scots Guards, where he famously enjoyed a career as a bag-carrier for a higher-ranking officer. Did he get out by finding a job? Hard to tell. What we do know is that he married the very wealthy Betsy, daughter of a very wealthy man, the following year. In other words, he got off benefits by marrying into money. That’s not evil in itself, but how many of us have that option?

I don’t propose to rehash the hypocrisies of Iain Duncan Smith in full here, but I will quote three relevant paragraphs from the Edinburgh Eye piece I reblogged earlier today, as follows:

“He has four children, yet argues that families with more than two children ought to be sanctioned: in 2009 he took six months paid leave without notice to care for his wife when she was desperately ill, yet has instigated changes in benefit to ensure that neither sick people nor their carers will be supported. In 1981, jobless and unqualified, he took full advantage of the welfare safety net to claim benefits for months while looking for suitable work, yet in a recession as bad as that of thirty years ago he claims graduates are “snooty” if they don’t agree to work for Poundland for free. While attending further education for two short periods, IDS gained no qualifications, and asserts that shelf-stackers are more valuable than scientists. While benefiting hugely from MP expenses, Iain Duncan Smith tells many untruths about the cost of people claiming disability and welfare benefits.

“Iain Duncan Smith has made many speeches in favour of law and order. Yet when IDS’s workfare sanctions were ruled unlawful by the courts, instead of accepting that millions taken unlawfully would have to be repaid and that people unlawfully made to work for commercial organisations for free had a claim to minimum wage for their hours (or, if determined to fight lawfully for welfare, proceding to the Supreme Court for a further appeal) IDS decided to have emergency legislation passed making his unlawful sanctions retroactively lawful.

“Iain Duncan Smith lives in a large and comfortable home which he does not own and which it’s doubtful he pays market rent for, yet has instigated the bedroom tax. The idea behind the “bedroom tax” is that the housing shortage can be remedied not by building more social housing or by preventing bankers from gambling on house price rises, but by forcing people who live in social housing and have a “spare room”, to move out into private rented accommodation of a more suitable size. This won’t save money at any level (Iain Duncan Smith calls this the ending the spare-room subsidy).”

And there remains the matter of the 73 people per week, on average (and that average was reported nearly a year ago, so it may well have risen massively since then), who are dying as a result of the pressures put on them by the merciless Employment and Support Allowance assessment regime for people who have long-term sicknesses or are disabled.

If the Philpotts are a “vile product of welfare UK”, then is Iain Duncan Smith – who admits he has been on the welfare system, equally vile?

This week, he was in the news because he claimed on the BBC’s Today programme that he could survive on £53 per week if he had to, after market trader David Bennett said the bedroom tax meant he must now live on that amount.

Almost immediately, a petition by Dom Aversano appeared on the change.org website, calling for him to put his money where his mouth is.

His reaction? “This is a complete stunt which distracts attention from the welfare reforms which are much more important and which I have been working hard to get done. I have been unemployed twice in my life so I have already done this. I know what it is like to live on the breadline.” (Quoted from the Wanstead and Woodford Guardian).

In other words, this slimeball is trying to slither out of it! Could this possibly be because he knows the benefit regime he has instigated is much harsher than the system he enjoyed in 1981 (and again in 1989) and he knows he would not fare well as a part of it?

The report of this story in The Guardian seems intentionally hilarious. It states: “The Daily Mail [that rag again] reported Duncan Smith as saying: ‘It was a shock – absolutely awful. I felt pathetic. I remember telling my wife. We looked at each other and she said: “God, what are we going to do for money?”‘”

The report continues, straight-faced: “Duncan Smith’s wife, Betsy, is the daughter of the 5th Baron Cottesloe who served as lord-lieutenant of Buckinghamshire in the 1980s and 1990s. Duncan Smith and his wife, who sent their children to Eton, moved into Lord Cottesloe’s 17th-century Old House in the village of Swanbourne in Buckinghamshire in 2002.”

What were they going to do for money, indeed!

He is a man who has played the system for all he could take and then changed it to make sure nobody else could enjoy the benefits he received. He is a man who talks a good fight but runs away from supporting his words with real action.

If ‘welfare UK’ has any ‘vile product’ at all, then it must be Iain Duncan Smith.

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