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Why are asymptomatic #Eton pupils getting #Covid tests that the rest of us can’t have?

Eton: all the pupils have had Covid-19 tests, whether they needed one or not. By sharp contrast, just you try getting one!

It seems the timing of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s comments about “carping” over Covid-19 tests has turned the issue into a farce.

As reported on This Site earlier, complaints have been rising because people have been sent miles – sometimes hundreds of miles – out of their way for tests.

This Site reported a few days ago that the government seems to have ordered some testing centres to shut, even though they still had usable tests.

Meanwhile, Covid-19 infections are soaring across the UK, with nearly 4,000 new cases announced on September 16 and outbreaks in more than 1,000 schools.

In Parliament, Rees-Mogg said:

“The issue of testing is one where we have gone from a disease that nobody knew about a few months ago to one where nearly a quarter of a million people a day can be tested.

“And the prime minister is expecting that to go up to half a million people a day by the end of October.

“And instead of this endless carping saying it’s difficult to get them, we should be celebrating this phenomenal success of the British nation in getting up to a quarter of a million tests for a disease that nobody knew about until earlier in the year.

“That is a success of our scientists or health experts and of our administration.”

This Site stated earlier that apparently the only way to be sure of a test in Rees-Mogg’s Tory UK is to pay for it – or to be a member of Parliament like him.

To that, we can now add that pupils at private schools can also be sure of a test – even if they don’t have any symptoms.

This is embarrassing for Rees-Mogg and the government as they had been “carping” about asymptomatic people clogging up the testing system.

Ordinary people have leapt to point out the obvious inconsistency:

Oleg here has all the discussion we need:

You wrote the book in a single sentence there, Oleg!

People who need Covid tests are being denied them because the children of the rich were given privileged access.

And the government that is presiding over this corruption convinced many of us who are going without that they were the best people for the job.

It’s bad enough that those people lack intelligence; now, thanks to this decision, the Tories are robbing them of their health as well.

Source: Coronavirus: Jacob Rees-Mogg criticises ‘carping’ over tests – BBC News

Worried that you can’t get a #Covid19 test? ‘Stop carping’ says #JacobReesMogg

Rees-Mogg: this Hitlerian image fits well with the comment by Katy, below.

Jacob Rees-Mogg thinks we should “stop carping” about his government’s failure to set up a Covid-19 testing system worthy of even the most technologically-backward banana republic.

Complaints have been rising because people have been sent miles – sometimes hundreds of miles – out of their way for tests. This Site reported a few days ago that the government seems to have ordered some testing centres to shut, even though they still had usable tests.

Apparently the only way to be sure of a test in Rees-Mogg’s Tory UK is to pay for it – or to be a member of Parliament like him.

Meanwhile, Covid-19 infections are soaring across the UK, with nearly 4,000 new cases announced on September 16 and outbreaks in more than 1,000 schools.

And what does he say?

Well, Katy here has something to say about Rees-Mogg:

I think Katy makes a better point than he does.

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Supine Sunak set to axe ‘Facebook tax’ because he’s scared of big, nasty Donald Trump

Rishi Sunak: ‘Please don’t force us to eat your diseased chicken, Mr Trump! Look – we’ll cancel our tax on your tech companies! They can take as much money as they like from operating in our country and we won’t ask for a penny! Will that persuade you, Mr Trump? Mr Trump? Are you there..?’

Could there be a more blatant display of the UK’s newfound powerLESSness in the world?

The UK imposed a tax on tech companies like Facebook last year, expecting to bring in £500 million per year from firms that make more than £25 million each and would otherwise pay very little indeed.

But now Rishi Sunak is reportedly planning to axe it, in the hope that doing so will encourage Donald Trump not to insist on sending chlorinated chicken to the UK.

Sunak doesn’t even have the bargaining power to say he’ll do it on condition that Trump relents on his determination to foist food poisoning on the United Kingdom.

The justification to the rest of us? “Oh, it’s more trouble than it’s worth.”

I don’t know about that. £500 million is a lot of money to most of us.

The whole situation is pathetic.

The Johnson government, in the footsteps of Theresa May and David Cameron, has reduced Britain from Greatness to a state that can only be described as Little.

Source: Rishi Sunak to axe ‘Facebook tax’ on US tech giants deciding it is ‘more trouble than it’s worth’ | Daily Mail Online

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MP stopped by police in London for ‘driving around whilst black’

Dawn Butler: she’s proved many times that she is an MP who actually cares about her constituents’ lives – but that won’t stop her being victimised by Metropolitan police.

Almost exactly a month after two black athletes were stopped and handcuffed by Metropolitan police, Brent MP Dawn Butler has suffered the same humiliation. For the same reason?

Ms Butler, a Labour MP, was stopped while travelling as a passenger with a friend, who is also black.

Police who stopped her said the car was registered in North Yorkshire – but changed their tune after they realised who they had pulled over, and said they had input the licence plate into their system incorrectly.

A likely story!

This was the third time Ms Butler has been stopped and searched by police since she became a member of Parliament. She described it in the video she took of the incident as follows:

 It’s like you cannot drive around and enjoy a Sunday afternoon whilst black.

Her friend, who was driving, has been stopped “regularly”, according to the Guardian‘s report. In that case, Met police officers should have got the hang of tapping his plate number into their system (I would have thought).

On July 8, athletes Ricardo dos Santos and Bianca Williams were stopped and handcuffed while their three-month-old son was left in the car.

No social distancing procedures were followed in that incident and it seems unlikely that any were employed in that involving Ms Butler.

According to the Guardian,

Another officer, a woman, had “inflamed the situation” by saying tinted rear windows on the car could be illegal.

How interesting that Met officers are still using this hoary old chestnut after being called out on it after the July incident – and on previous occasions, when the tints were all found to be entirely legal.

In this case

The law about tinting on windows applies only to the windscreen and front windows.

In fairness, the Met response to Ms Butler’s report of the incident has been much more reasonable than to the athletes.

Is that because, in addition to being black, she is a member of Parlament?

Source: Labour MP Dawn Butler stopped by police in London | UK news | The Guardian

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Did Tory-run DWP change rules on cancelling benefits to avoid humiliation in court?

Errol Graham: he starved to death after the Department for Work and Pensions cut off his benefits.

The Department for Work and Pensions has quietly changed its rules on stopping benefits of vulnerable claimants – after relatives of a man who died of starvation won the right to have a judicial review.

Relatives of Errol Graham were granted permission for a judicial review of DWP policies after the department failed to review and revise them itself, following his death.

The DWP ignored its own safeguarding advice to deprive Errol Graham of his benefits, This Site reported previously.

Left with no income, Mr Graham starved to death.

He had been receiving incapacity benefit, and then ESA, for many years as a result of enduring mental distress that had led to him being sectioned.

The DWP stopped Mr Graham’s Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) entitlement – and backdated that decision to the previous month – after making two unsuccessful visits to his home to ask why he had not attended a face-to-face Work Capability Assessment (WCA) on August 31, 2017.

He had not been asked to fill in an ESA50 questionnaire, though.

The government department managed to stop an ESA payment that had been due to be credited to his bank account on October 17, the same day it made the second unsuccessful safeguarding visit.

Its own rules state that it should have made both safeguarding visits before stopping the benefits of a vulnerable claimant.

Not only that, but the DWP had needed – but failed – to seek further medical evidence from Mr Graham’s GP, in order to make an informed decision about him.

In fact, it seems this would not have made much difference as Mr Graham’s GP had not seen him since 2013, or recalled him for vital blood tests or issued prescriptions since 2015, despite medical conditions including significant, long-term mental distress and hypothyroidism.

Because he had lost his entitlement to ESA, Mr Graham’s housing benefit was also stopped.

When bailiffs knocked down his front door to evict him on June 20, 2018, they found a dead body that weighed just four and a half stone. The only food in the flat was a couple of out-of-date tins of fish.

Mr Graham was 57 years old.

Solicitors Leigh Day, acting for Mr Graham’s family, revealed they had won the right to have a judicial review last week.

And on Tuesday – the day before Parliament rose for the summer recess – the DWP told Parliament’s Work and Pensions committee that it had changed the rules.

Permanent Secretary Peter Schofield said: “If we tried all of that [contacting the claimant by phone and carrying out two safeguarding visits] we would then take that back and have a case conference about the individual and particularly, obviously if it’s someone with vulnerabilities that we know about, then we would seek to involve other organisations that might have a different way of knowing about that individual.

“And then we would seek to understand what do they know about that individual and how can we support them.

“And if that fails that could then be escalated to the safeguarding leads. And in that way basically what we’d seek to do is provide support not removal of benefits.”

Do you believe that?

Tessa Gregory of Leigh Day seems sceptical, still: “Today’s announcement that the procedures have changed is news to us and news to our client.

“Whilst we cautiously welcome the announcement, it is imperative that the Secretary of State publishes the relevant guidance immediately so that our client and the public can see whether it actually requires decision makers to liaise with different agencies in cases like Errol’s and whether enough has been done to ensure that the vulnerable are adequately protected.”

This Writer thinks the best way to achieve that aim is to go ahead with the judicial review. Why were these changes only brought in when the Tory government was facing humiliation in court?

Source: DWP chiefs quietly change rule on stopping benefits after man starved to death – Mirror Online

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Now the Tories have stopped publishing Covid-19 death figures – with a flimsy excuse

The Conservative government has stopped telling us how many people are dying of Covid-19 every day because it contradicts the plan to lift lockdown.

I mean: because Health Secretary Matt Hancock has demanded a review of the way the figures are calculated.

But here’s a suggestion: why can’t the figures be published using the current system, until this review is completed and a new method put into practice if necessary?

ITV’s news story says researchers have claimed the way deaths are reported across England has led to an “over-exaggeration” of the figures due to “statistical flaws”.

This suggests that the figures as reported are higher than the actual number of deaths.

But whenever I’ve seen the figures modified, it is the new total that is higher.

So I doubt the sincerity of these so-called “researchers'” remarks. And I distrust the Tories’ reason for suppressing the numbers altogether.

Source: Publication of UK daily coronavirus death figures put on ‘pause’ as Matt Hancock calls for review into PHE data | ITV News

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Hypocrite Theresa May pretends she’s not a racist – but we must judge her by her actions

Theresa May: the image offers a good sense of where she belongs.

Some of you are going to find this hard to take.

Watch this, if you have the stomach for it:

You’re probably thinking of the Windrush scandal, that demonstrated ample evidence that this two-faced Tory had no interest in the well-being of anybody black.

But I want to take you back further than that, to an incident that shows she cannot claim any moral authority on the well-being of any ethnic minority.

I refer, of course, to the scandal of Theresa May’s so-called “racist vans”. I wrote an article about it entitled Xenophobia, in which I stated:

“Those of us who are lucky enough not to live in London have yet to see the amazing advertising vans that have been conveying instructions to Conservative-leaning voters, to treat with hatred, suspicion and contempt anybody who is not a white, Anglo-Saxon protestant.

“It seems clear that these vehicles are intended to promote racism and heighten racial tension, setting British citizens against each other – because the aim is to encourage the suspicion that another person may be an illegal immigrant – in the same way Coalition policy on social security set citizens against each other by pretending it was commonplace for individuals to receive more in benefits than in paid work.

“According to the Public Order Act 1986, it is an offence for a person to publish threatening, abusive or insulting material if this is intended to stir up hatred against any group in the UK, defined by reference to colour, race, nationality, citizenship or ethnic or national origins, or if it is likely to stir up hatred with regard to all the circumstances.

“The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994 added an offence of intentional harassment – that it is an offence to use threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour, intending to cause a person harassment, alarm or distress. There is a defence that the conduct of the accused was reasonable. This Act was introduced by Michael Howard, who spoke in favour of the advertising vans on the BBC’s Any Questions on Friday.

“The Unite union has been seeking legal advice about whether the Home Office-sponsored vans – running a week-long ‘pilot’ scheme that could be expanded to the entire country – incited racial hatred, which implies that their message was intended for domestic consumption, rather than for the benefit (sorry) of illegal aliens.

“The message on the vans reads as follows: “In the UK illegally? GO HOME OR FACE ARREST. Text HOME to [a number] for free advice and help with travel documents.”

“A stamp in the top-right corner reads: “106 arrests last week in your area.”

“The Home Office Twitter account spent the week-long pilot period tweeting messages about the number of illegal immigrants it wished to claim had been detected or turned themselves in – and even transmitted photographs of suspects in a move that is certain to undermine claims that it was not trying to incite hatred.

“And spot-checks have been taking place at railway stations, where people who were notably not white were stopped, apparently at random, by immigration officers wearing stab vests who demanded to see identification proving they were in the UK legally. It seems they became unreasonably aggressive when asked what right they had to behave like this without direct cause for suspicion.

“Immigration minister Mark Harper has rejected claims that people were targeted because of their race, confirming that the law demands that officers need reason to believe an offence had been committed before stopping anybody.

“He said the street operations “involved immigration officers talking to people in the local area and, where there was a reason to do so, asking questions in relation to immigration status”. Are we to take it, then, that his underlings were inviting local people to act as informants, ‘dobbing in’ people they suspected (or possibly, simply didn’t like and wanted to put into trouble)?

“Harper’s argument was severely undermined when he admitted he could not reveal the different ethnicities of the people who were stopped, and their numbers, because it is not recorded – officials were told to take down only the names, dates of birth and nationalities of people they stopped.”

“I fundamentally believe that you should not be stopped on the streets of our country simply because of the colour of your skin,” said May, on July 9.

But seven years ago, officials were stopping people on the streets of our country precisely because of the colour of their skin – on her orders.

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Are you convinced by the Met police’s excuse for incident with Linford Christie athletes?

I’m not.

The Metropolitan Police say they were well within their rights to stop – and handcuff – athletes Ricardo dos Santos and Bianca Williams while their three-month-old son was left in their car.

Linford Christie – yes, that Linford Christie, the UK’s most successful sprinter, and a mentor of both athletes – posted video of the incident on Twitter. It’s quite disturbing:

He also posted a statement:

“Two of my athletes were stopped by the police today [July 4], both international athletes, both parents of a three month old baby who was with them and both handcuffed outside of their home,” he wrote.

“Can Cressida Dick or anyone please explain to me what justication the Met Police officers had in assaulting the driver, taking a mother away from her baby all without one piece of PPE and then calling the sniffer dog unit to check the car over?

“Was it the car that was suspicious or the black family in it which led to such a violent confrontation and finally an accusation of the car smelling of weed but refusing to do a roadside drug test?

“This is not the first time this has happened (second time in two months) and I’m sure it won’t be the last but this type of abuse of power and institutionalised racism cannot be justified or normalised any long #BLM #MetPoliceRacist.”

Now here’s the Met’s rationalisation:

The stop took place at about 1.25pm and was executed by the Territorial Support Group, which was patrolling the area in response to an increase in violence involving weapons.

The Met said the vehicle had blacked-out windows and was “driving suspiciously”, including being on the wrong side of the road. It said when officers indicated for it to stop, the car sped off. Officers caught up with the vehicle when it stopped on Lanhill Road, but the driver initially refused to get out of the car, the Met said.

The occupants, a 25-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman, were detained for the purposes of a search under section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, the statement continued. After nothing was found on their person or in the vehicle, no arrests were made and the pair were released.

Has anyone seen evidence that these athletes were driving on the wrong side of the road? I haven’t.

And the “blacked-out windows” excuse has been used on black people before – and been found to be false, with the tints found to be within legal levels.

“The car sped off.” Did it, though? If you’re travelling in a built-up area – in London! – and the police turn up behind you, telling you to stop, it seems unlikely that’ you’re going to get too far. Maybe that’s just my impression.

Linford Christie is, of course, intimately familiar with institutional racism, after he won Olympic Gold in the 100m in August 1992 and the press belittled the achievement – he was only the second British athlete to manage it since Harold Abrahams in 1924 – by cultivating an unhealthy obsession with his euphemistically-titled “lunchbox”.

I think there’s more to this than the Met have admitted and the facts should come out.

Why did police really stop this car?

Was it because the occupants were black?

Reports say the couple are seriously considering taking the Met to court and I think they should. Agreed?

Source: Met police deny misconduct after Linford Christie athletes stopped | UK news | The Guardian

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Take part in the online day of action against Universal Credit sanctions

Today – July 1 – conditionality and sanctions return to the UK’s benefit system.

This means the two million people who signed up for Universal Credit because of the Covid-19 crisis will now be expected to show they are looking for work, and will be sanctioned if they fail to do so.

For the first time, they will experience what – for example – people with disabilities have suffered under the Conservatives for the last 10 years.

Some people are about to be rudely awakened from their previous complacency, I reckon!

Perhaps they would like to take part in this national day of action, organised by one of the larger representative organisations for people with disabilities, DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) under its banner of the Scrap Universal Credit Alliance (SUCA).

Here’s what they’re about and what you can do:

There is now overwhelming evidence of both the serious harm that the sanctions regime inflicts on the most disadvantaged members of society and the fact that sanctions are punitive and counter-productive to the aim of getting people off benefits and into work.

Join the Scrap Universal Credit Alliance in our demands to:

#EndConditionality

#ScrapSanctions

#NoMoreBenefitDeaths

Ways you can get involved:

  • Get active on social media at 12 lunchtime on 1 July using the above hashtags and directed @DWP @justintomlinson @theresecoffey . You can find a list of findings, facts, stats and links for reference here: https://dpac.uk.net/2020/06/sanctions-findings-facts-stats-and-links/
  •  Write to your MP asking them to put pressure on the government not to restart conditionality and sanctions.
  • We encourage people to write to their MPs.
  • Write to your local paper
  • If you think you may be affected by conditionality restarting and putting your safety at risk because you still need to shield, it may be worth gathering what medical evidence you have (for example if you received a letter or correspondence from the NHS telling you to continue shielding until the end of July) and pro-actively sending it in to your job centre/adding it in to your Universal Credit journal. It is difficult to know what to do given the complete absence of information from the government.

Source: National [online] day of action against sanctions – 1st July – DPAC

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Lancet editor publishes book on government failures to deal with Covid-19. Here’s what it says

Richard Horton has been criticising Tory government policy on Covid-19 since at least January.

And he’d know his subject, being the editor of that most distinguished of medical journals, The Lancet.

Shall we have a quick shufti at a few of his points? Here:

He lambasts the management of the virus as “the greatest science policy failure for a generation”, attacks the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) for becoming “the public relations wing of a government that had failed its people”, calls out the medical Royal Colleges, the Academy of Medical Sciences, the British Medical Association (BMA) and Public Health England (PHE) for not reinforcing the World Health Organization’s public health emergency warning back in February, and damns the UK’s response as “slow, complacent and flat-footed”, revealing a “glaringly unprepared” government and a “broken system of obsequious politico-scientific complicity”.

Details:

The series of five academic papers the journal published in late January first describing the novel coronavirus in disturbing detail went unheeded. “In several of the papers they talked about the importance of personal protective equipment and the importance of testing, the importance of avoiding mass gatherings, the importance of considering school closure, the importance of lockdowns. All of the things that have happened in the last three months here, they’re all in those five papers.”

He still can’t understand why the government’s scientific advisers didn’t consult their counterparts in China.

From the published reports of Sage meetings, … scientists were “trying to be as sensitive to economic issues as they were to health issues”. That, he says, “is a dangerous place to be” because it compromises the ability of the advisory group to protect health.

The book, The Covid-19 Catastrophe: What’s Gone Wrong and How to Stop It Happening Again, is only 140 pages long so it came as quite a surprise that even the e-book edition costs £9.99.

You can buy it here.

Source: The Lancet’s editor: ‘The UK’s response to coronavirus is the greatest science policy failure for a generation’ | Politics | The Guardian

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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