“We haven’t disclosed information in a timely manner and also did not use effective information to improve our work.”
– Thus, filmed wearing an antiviral mask, presumably to show the citizenry how it’s correctly done rather than by reason of self-preservation, Zhou Xianwang, mayor of Wuhan, epicentre of the “fish ‘flu” coronavirus outbreak, was speaking to Chinese state TV. No doubt it will be taken at the trial as his confession.
But it’s your Uncle Bogler who should be feeling guilty….
Made in China
Reasoning that university towns in the UK such as Boglington-on-Sea are a hotbed of Chinese intellectual activity, with the Chinese authorities still owning up to only 50 cases early last week, nevertheless having a suspicious and paranoid nature, thinking there might be a run on them shortly, he rowed rapidly right up the Amazon and ordered a ‘flu mask.
Later, though, he read of a shortage of masks in China, where 50 million people are effectively quarantined in their teeming metropolises while elderly patients, mostly with pre-existing conditions – Chinese cities have some of the worst air quality in the world – drop like frozen iguanas.
Duly this morning his mask arrived, prominently labeled “Made in China”.
Nevertheless, at the age of 70, with lungs ruined by the childhood years of smoking and, currently, having spent eight years living beside a thundering main road, sucking in asbestos dust and 2.5 micron particles and nitrogen oxide gas from the huge diesel trucks as they brake into the corner, he feels perfectly justified in robbing a Chinese person of the chance at an extended life.
Said Bogler: “I’ve never had fish ‘flu before, and I don’t intend to start now. There’s more of them Chinese than what there is of me.”
He has also invested in gallons of antiseptic hand-gel, and trudged round to the GP for a ‘flu shot this morning, only to be asked: “Are you over 65?”
Thinking that must be a qualification, I proudly announced, because I don’t look it, that I am in fact over 70, hoping for the usual amazed reaction. “Well we’re sorry”, said the cocky receptionist, after double-checking with “my GP”, “but you can’t have one. We’ve run out of the Over 65s vaccine and we won’t be getting any more. You should have come in last September.”
Not bothering to mention that the major ‘flu epidemics had broken out only in late December, as it would have come as news obviously to a doctor’s receptionist, I surmised that the age-related cutoffs must be something to do with how many, and which viruses you would have been historically exposed to.
“I see”, I replied, waspishly. “So the Tories want to get rid of all the pensioners?” The receptionist was obviously pleased at the remark, as he didn’t reply. “Never mind,” said I, “I’ve had a good life. Enjoy yours.”
And trudged off home.
Actually, it’s my ex-wife I’m more worried about. A sinophile, she works for a cultural exchange quango with loads of Chinese students in schools and universities around the region and tells me, half of them have recently escaped from Wuhan where, they’ve been telling her, the situation is a lot worse than is being reported.
It might not help either that 3 million people had already left the stricken city for their New Year trek to visit family before Mayor Zhou ordered a lockdown last week.
Le Keqiang, China’s prime minister, visited Wuhan at the weekend, telling local media:
“I’m here to cheer you up!”
He could, I suppose, have cheerfully mentioned the current outbreak of Ebola in Congo, where, as of WHO figures from 19 Jan., out of a total caseload of 3,416 known and probable patients, 2,238 have died, a 68% mortality rate compared with the unknown, as yet unmutated China virus’ toll of 81 – just 3% of those infected.
Worse, you could catch measles. Over 6 thousand cases in Congo have died, many children, in what’s being described as the world’s worst measles outbreak – entirely the responsibility of lunatic conspiracy theorists lying about vaccines. No-one seems unduly exercised, either, about the 2019-20 winter ‘flu season in the USA, where probably thanks to the early onset of wintry condirions there have been 13 MILLION cases, leading to 6.600 deaths.
World markets have been spiralizing since news of the China syndrome has been emerging. The powerhouse economy had only last week announced that its surging GDP growth had dropped catastrophically to “only” 6%.
Not good for business.
Authorities in Wuhan have been proudly releasing video footage of their brand-new hospital for coronavirus patients, under construction. One building is said to be open for business already… three days after they started it last week. A schedule of just 6 days has been allocated for the entire 1,000-bed project, starting from scratch.
Well, not quite scratch – the site had already been cleared, purposed for a new leisure center; and eagle-eyed Twitter critters have been pointing out that the photo of the first new building unveiled on the site seems to have been published before, as another building somewhere else.
Nevertheless, even if construction were to go a day over schedule, it’s still a 1,000-bed hospital, built in a week; as was one in Beijing at the height of the SARS virus epidemic. Drone video shows a site crawling impressively with men and machines, all resembling busy ants.
By contrast, the usual British apathy and dithering when it comes to “abroad” are well to the fore. Around 300 Britons, many long-time residents, are trapped in Hubei province, where the advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth office is to stay put – or leave. Oh, and to phone a doctor if you think you might have the disease.
Home secretary, Priti Patel, said on Sunday the government was “looking at all the options”. Other countries have been arranging evacuation flights for their nationals.
The UK’s hot new “high-speed” railway, running 110 miles over flat terrain from London to Birmingham and then someday possibly northward on to Manchester and Leeds, where it’s a bit more of a strategic necessity, was begun in 2009, when the cost estimate was £35 billion. It’s now £106 billion.
And still not an inch of track has been laid.
Prince Andrew has provided “zero” cooperation with the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking inquiry, US prosecutors said on Monday, despite earlier promises to help investigations in any way possible.
Could we perhaps arrange a swap with Ann Sacoolas, the American service wife wanted for further questioning over the death in the UK of teenage motorcyclist, Harry Dunn?
Republican senators involved in the impeachment trial of one Donald John Trump were startled yesterday, 26 Jan., to receive a message threatening them – possibly metaphorically – that if they did not vote to acquit him, they would find their ‘heads will be on a pike’.
The senators, who as members of the jury have sworn an oath of impartiality, were not in any case expected to break ranks with the White House, whose legal team are just in the process of mounting their defense, basically consisting of the argument that “he did it, so what?”, while claiming that he didn’t do it. The transcript of the 25 July phone call to President Zelinskiy was indeed “perfect”, as Trump has said – frequently.
In other words, he didn’t do anything. Except that 17 credible witnesses have already testified in earlier hearings that he did – as the madman himself has already confirmed, and boasted at Davos that the reason he won’t be found guilty is because of the success of the White House at witholding the evidence that he did it, in face of many legal Congrdessional subpoenas to release the proof.
Of course, there is no “transcript” available for anyone to judge, only a redacted summary. The full and unbowdlerized original is still locked in a Top Secret intelligence file, from where only history will prise it loose. But we know, because Colonel Vindland overheard the call and testified to what the transcript should actually have said. You know, the Purple Heart decorated marine whose courage, loyalty and reputation have been so viciously traduced by filthy, inept senatorial co-conspirators involved up to their hairweaves in Mr Trump’s criminal enterprise to obstruct justice at all costs, that he is under police guard.
The astonishing thing being that Trump’s crimes, and those of his lawyer, Giuliani, their corrupt conspiracy to coerce the Ukrainian government into helping him fix the 2020 election, are out in the open for all to see. It’s apparently the modern way. Yet it is the corruption formerly endemic in Ukraine that has apparently set Trump on the path to virtue. This is gaslighting on a monstrous scale. Black is not, whatever Trump’s disgusting enablers want you to see, white.
And we recall, don’t we, the early exhortations from Miller and others, Conway, that we should not believe anything we are told, unless it is Trump telling us – because the president is the fount of truth and his enormous power is all the law you need.
It’s all, basically, down the rabbit-hole.
ABC News was unable to confirm who had sent the message (it sounds like a Stephen Miller special) or what medium was used to convey it. But I think we can add this to the list of Trump’s crimes. Intimidating jurors, witness tampering, witness intimidation, lying to Congress and withholding evidence are normally considered to be serious offences. It’s no excuse to say, oh, it’s just his way, he’s inexperienced, he’ll learn.
This is a 73-year-old man who has been committing crimes and despicable moral outrages, bullying and gaslighting and lying and bribing and blackmailing; buying his way out of and back into trouble for so long, he can’t remember how to do it any other way.
Ever since he robbed his first cookie jar, he’s been a fucking gangster, spoiled rotten by disinterested parents who loathed him for the lying, self-justifying, fat little playground bully he still is, and just paid him off.
He’s never going to change. Indeed, the power-shower of the flawed democracy he affects to despise has made him ten times worse.
Welcome to your new fascist state, guys. If it stops raining long enough you can grow bananas.
The BBC has apologized for running a clip of basketball star, LeBron James, on its 10 o’clock News show, 26 Jan. It was the even bigger basketball star, Kobe Bryant they were hoping to comemmorate, following his death at 41 and that of his 13-year-old daughter Gianna in a helicopter crash in southern California.
perhaps they thought no-one would notice. Hey, all these freakishly tall guys spinning balls on their fingers and dropping balls from a great height into nets look pretty much the same. And basketball? Who cares about girly old basketball when Our Lads out there, winning a Test series?
It’s far from the first time BBC News has got the wrong black guy. Nelson who? You’d think they would by now have appointed a special black-guys editor just to make sure this never happens, or at least employed face recognition technology, like the Metropolitan police, although apparently they have trouble too.
Critics perhaps ought to be more aware, though, that the more money you cut from the BBC’s public funding, the more social costs you impose on them, like on top of taking World Service radio back from the Foreign Office, having now to pay for the law that says Over 75s get a free annual license, just as the Over 75s are threatening to become the largest demographic in Britain, the worse their service is going to get.
Word is that key BBC news shows and current affairs segments are already under threat. Even, it’s said, the flagship Today program. (If I thought that it would be repllaced with anything better, I’d say ‘bring that one on’…) It could just be a bluff to defang Vanishing Johnson and his unelected boss, Dom ‘the nick’ Cummings.
Certainly though, more staff cuts and cost-saving recruitment policies with lower training and experience standards are self-defeating and can only result in more execrable mistakes. It’s a vicious cycle that’s going to destroy the Corporation.
Just as Carrie has been lobbying on the inside track to save the badgers, someone needs to whisper in the Golden Wonder’s ear that Murdoch is no longer all he’s cracked up to be. Voters value the widest range of services from our national broadcaster, as long as it remains viable – and credible. Interviewing your political opponents is a tradition, not a heresy.
To quote Joni Mitchell: “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.”
Return of the exiles
The full majesty of the UK arm of the Israeli government-sponsored “outrage” machine has wheeled itself out to condemn BBC journalist Orla Guerin for introducing an element of balance, normally the Holy Grail of BBC reporting, into a piece on Holocaust Memorial Day.
Levelling the tiresome old smear of ‘antisemitism’ that generally accompanies any attempt to reference the immiserating treatment of Israel’s illegitimately dispossessed Palestinian minority, slinging stinking mud in the face of whatever remains of the world’s horror at what went before, the prominent liberal Jewish members of the British establishment have exploded into collective outrage at Guerin’s closing remark:
“The state of Israel is now a regional power. For decades, it has occupied Palestinian territories. But some here will always see their nation through the prism of persecution and survival.”
What, they don’t occupy Palestinian territories? Some people there don’t see themselves as favored survivors? It seems like a pretty mild wrap-up to me; maybe the ‘but’ word is a little tendentious, but hey. Reporters are human.
It might be remembered that Guerin is Irish, which would give her a certain historical perspective on high-minded, moralistic colonialism; on persecution and survival. She has her own tragedies: her equally courageous journalist sister was murdered by powerful drug lords linked to the IRA. She has bravely reported for many years from places in the world where soft-handed metropolitans like Michael Grade and ‘former director of television, Danny Cohen’ would crumple, gibbering and pissing themselves in terror.
Her colleague, Fergal Keane, a brilliant, brave and empathetic communicator whom nobody would accuse of being a soft-handed metropolitan, the BBC’s Africa editor, although he too has seen service all over the world, has just thrown up his hands in despair: no more war, he needs space to recover from the horrors of covering stories like the Rwanda genocide. Guerin hasn’t, yet; she’s been out in the Middle East and other killing fields for years, telling it like it is. Who would blame her if she hung up her flak jacket after this thankless, thoughtless assault on her professional reputation?
Do the Grades and the Cohens murmuring politely among themselves at their fucking agreeable Knightsbridge cocktail parties think she’s just a tool of the far-right?
Shame on them.
Commenting on the incidence of PTSD among war correspondents, another brave man, Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen retold on Today this morning how he watched a colleague burn to death when soldiers deliberately fired a rocket into a car he himself had got out of only moments earlier, and then shot at him with a heavy machine-gun when he tried to go back to help. Yes, Mr Grade, Mr Cohen, Israeli soldiers. They can murder innocent people too. They daily commit war crimes along the laughably named Peace Wall, while in the rear, the PR machine churns out the nauseating excuses.
And before anyone accuses me of antisemitism, a) I don’t care, you can think what you like, and b) I’m not going to stop arguing that truth should always come before denial. If it’s a bad thing to deny the reality of the Holocaust, which Guerin most definitely did not do, then it’s an equally bad thing to deny the reality of the history of Israel’s oppression of the indigenous people of the country they took through forcible colonization and – yes, by terrorism and ethnic cleansing – in and after 1947.
Two wrongs never make a right.
The moral high ground the pioneers dug on the kibbutz with their sweat was surrendered decades ago, except in the imaginations of the well-heeled diaspora, egged on by paid apologists like the now-Ambassador, Regev (not his real name). Let’s remind ourselves how in 2017, Mr Regev disgracefully no-platformed a Holocaust survivor who dared to invoke the lingering specter of Nazism, by uttering threats against Manchester University. Let us remind ourselves of the weaselly backsliding of former Director-General, Thompson – now ruining the once-reputable New York Times – and his cowardice in pushing his deputy out to explain his decision, when in 2011 Regev bullied the BBC to censor a charity appeal on behalf of the survivors of a brutal Israeli reprisal on Gaza city – Operation Cast Lead speaks to its bluntness and toxicity.
Let us remind ourselves too of the words of the founder, David Ben-Gurion, declaring the establishment of the state of Israel in May, 1948, to the United Nations:
“THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations….”
Should I repeat that for you, Mr Grade, Mr Cohen? How does that stack up against your feeble metropolitan handwashing?
I don’t hear him throwing revolting slurs about like a drunken football fan, accusing of ‘antisemitism’ those who from time to time try to point out that the government of Israel is occasionally bang out of order, and how it appears to have fallen into the clutches of an unholy alliance of corrupt criminal oligarchs and sanctimonious religious lunatics, encouraged by the “Jews for Jesus” American Right and their new Messiah from Queen’s. Oh, it’s fine to criticize other regimes in strongly worded language, as we do frequently. But the fundamental Jewishness of the Israeli state, the lingering monstrousness of the Shoah guarantees what, their immunity forever? Their permanent elevation over the rest of suffering Humanity?
I don’t hear him advocating walling the natives up and visiting condign punishment on them, smiting them with amytol and phosphorus from the air, whenever they annoyingly object, with acts of pretty futile violence, to their own Holy Places – supposedly protected by the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, their olive groves, their mosques – East Jerusalem – being culturally diminished, bulldozed, obliterated and replaced with miles of ugly condominiums reserved for Settlers. When they annoyingly demand their rights under the constitution, being remorselessly taken away by arbitrary decrees and religious courts’ bullshit backed by overwhelming force of arms.
I don’t hear him proposing that a new culture of muscular Zionism should be encouraged to override and deny the essential humanity of the Jewish people, who have to suffer all over again because of it. I don’t hear him recommending that tens of thousands of men, women and children whose only crime was to be born in a place their mutual God of Abraham allegedly said was reserved for Jews Only after two thousand years should themselves be forced into exile across the borders, to rot for three generations in squalid camps – and not thereby to acquire the same moral rights as the “returning exiles” of Roman-period Judaism.
Was he instinctively aware of what the archaeologists have tended to confirm, that the Palestinians and the exiles were and are one and the same people? And that the exile is a bit of a cultural myth?
Yes, I’m fairly well aware of the history, thank you.
Don’t need reminding.
Brazil: “At least 30 people have died during severe rainstorms in Minas Gerais state, the country’s emergency services have said. Many of the victims were buried in landslides or washed away in floods after intense rain on Friday and Saturday. More than 2,500 people were evacuated” after 7 inches of rain fell in one 24 hour period. (BBC)
Indonesia: “Thousands of houses have been inundated after flooding in Bandung Regency, West Java.” Floodwaters up to 1.7 meters deep forced hundreds to evacuate, with almost 4 thousand homes, schools and official buildings and roads flooded out. (Floodlist). Al Jazeera reports that 31 people have died, with at least 15 missing after a week of heavy rains. The bureau of risk management has warned that flooding in lowland and rice-growing areas also posed a risk of “food insecurity and malnutrition”. Over 100 thousand people have been displaced.
In Madagascar, as many as 31 people have now died as a result of the recent severe weather, with 15 people reported missing. Almost 93,000 people have now been affected as over 10 thousand properties were flooded out. (Floodlist) Tropical Storm Diane is impacting the island state of Mauritius with severe winds, heavy rain and flash floods. (Severe-weather.eu). Implications across the channel for nearby Mozambique, trashed last year by Cyclone Idai, are not yet known.
Another huge extra-tropical storm showing ‘impressive’ and even ‘textbook’ organization in the North Atlantic is rapidly intensifying, directly on course for Iceland, bringing a broad, severe wind field with high seas towards the northern British Isles, Scandinavia and northern Europe. (Severe-weather.eu) By the 26th the cyclone was said to be covering the entire North Atlantic region with pressures as low as 955 mb.
USA: “Wave after wave” of storm cells will continue to move inland across the Pacific northwest of the United States in the coming days, says Accuweather. “Relentless” rain falling on heavy snowpack and warmer temperatures will increase the risk of flooding on already saturated ground.
Russia: Temperatures in the Yakutia region fell to as low as -57.2 °C on the night of 25 Jan., still far from the -67.8°C recorded in Verkhoyansk in 1892.
Water from burst pipes froze over this Soviet-era apartment block in Irkutsk, giving it a spectral appearance.
“Falling iguanas, killer spiders and unprecedented locust swarms — all fueled by weather extremes. Not to mention an epic blizzard in Canada, a deadly, days-long storm in Europe and a rare January tornado in the Pacific Northwest. You’d be forgiven for thinking these are signs of the apocalypse. As far as we can tell, it was just the week in weather — a very wild one” – Accuweather
Many of the falling iguanas in Florida sadly will have ended up on barbecues and in cooking pots as recipe suggestions have filled the cookery columns during the recent cold spell. It’s illegal to sell iguana meat but whole ones – humanely killed, of course, while in their semi-frozen hibernative state – fetch $80 a kilo in neighboring states. Iguanas are generally regarded in Florida as invasive pests and are knownas ‘tree-chicken’.
Australians have been warned to be on the lookout for killer spiders. As if 49-degree heatwaves, raging forest fires, roiling dust storms, ash rain, poisoned rivers, choking smoke, flash floods, batterings from golfball-sized hail and Nick Kyrgios losing to Nadal in just the last month aren’t enough, experts say conditions are just right for a massive outburst of funnel-web spiders, whose bite can kill.
Meanwhile; “Unusually heavy rain is being cited as a factor in one of the worst outbreaks of desert locusts in decades across parts of East Africa and posing what officials say is an ‘unprecedented’ threat to crops.” 7 decades, in fact. One especially large swarm in northeastern Kenya measured 60km long by 40km wide. Even a ‘small swarm’ can consume enough plant material in a day to feed 35 thousand people.
That’s presumably to go with the other Biblical plague emerging from China, where the new coronavirus has claimed over 1,400 patients at the time of writing, 25 Jan., causing 42 deaths (including a 61-year-old doctor treating patients, although she seems to have died from a stress-related heart attack). 50 million Chinese are unable to leave their cities for the annual New Year migration.
Update: 27 Jan, 2,700 confirmed cases (30 outside China), 81 deaths. Epidemiologists at Imperial College, London however calculate that probably 100 thousand people will have been infected by now.
Final tally not in yet – at least 13 people died during Storm Gloria, that hit southern Spain last week. Several people are thought to be still missing. An unseasonal tornado sucked out windows in Manzanita, Oregon – only the fifth to touch down in the state in January since 1876.
Too darn hot: Customs officials in Vladivostock had to order a Toyota Prius to be returned to Japan, 22 Jan., as it was too radioactive to be allowed into the country. Since three of the reactors at the Fukushima nuclear power station melted down following the earthquake and tsunami of 2011, Russian authorities have prevented nearly 900 items from coming into the country. (Siberian Times) Russia has one of the worst records in the world for home-grown radiation releases.
A total waste: Psst, wanna know how much stuff we use? A report launched at Davos by the the Circle Economy thinktank calculates that the average human consumes 13 tonnes of stuff in the form of pre-manufacture raw materials every year, amounting to over 100 billion tonnes of finished products and energy-consuming services worldwide – completely unsustainable. 32 per cent ends up as waste, we recycle less than 9 per cent of it all.
And I just bought new hairclippers only moments ago. Well, the old ones have got a bit blunt…..