So much green investment needed

A £5 billion investment programme announced by Conservatives in Government to help the economy grow out of the public health emergency recession might only be enough to fill half the potholes in Britain.
Oh dear! More new roads – just as we should realise that the degree of commuting we came to accept was no longer needed.
Oh dear! A jet-zero aircraft – electric powered airplanes for regional flights – just as we find that Rolls-Royce and others have ditched a recent initiative (“a Rolls-Royce-Airbus collaboration called the E-Fan X, was quietly canned during lockdown“).

A special part of the river Severn, just upsteam of Ironbridge – _we love this place Oh God.; merged with a sewage treatment plant in Notts.
Read the Guardian analysis here

We should be investing in a greener future.
Reduce the amount of clean water lost through broken pipes.
More overflow tanks to capture excess waste water that is instead being allowed to flow into rivers during the more frequent periods of heavy rain.
More anaerobic digestions plants to convert sewage and other waste found in drain water into gas and compost.

Read the Guardian analysis here

The Guardian has reported on just how much waste is being dumped by the water companies into our rivers. In Shropshire, Severn Trent have just been prosecuted for allowing waste water to be tipped into a river (fine £800k).
These incidents are happening more frequently because of the extremes in our climate changed weather systems but there is insufficient political concern and clout to drive green investment that would retain more cleaned water, reduce toxins getting into our rivers and provide gas & compost from waste.

Wider testing for Covid-19 shows much higher numbers

(c) Financial Times

“Until today, only Pillar 1 figures have been published at a local level.”
In the week running up to 21 June, 35 people in Nottingham have tested positive for Covid-19, not 3.
We only know, cos what has triggered the lockdown in Leicester has prompted the results of tests from drive-in testing and and tests taken by people at home and returned in the post has been published.

Guardian graphic. Source: Public Health England. Weekly rate of coronavirus cases per 100,000 population, tested under both Pillar 1 and 2, for week ending 21 June

And you just want to scream!
After all the foul-ups we’ve suffered in Britain, we now find out about the concept of Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 testing, and that we were only being given the results for Pillar 1.
We laughed when Donald Trump said the only reason the virus has grown is cos of the higher number of tests, but it appears the Conservatives in Government had drawn the same conclusion, and kept the results secret.

What now appears to be the vectors are young people carrying the virus, and workers in factories / enclosed spaces. And it is the scale of factory working that is so different in Leicester from Nottingham. For our 35 cases, Leicester has suffered 497 (rather than the published 33).

Now is this a second wave? I think not, cos I thought a second wave is associated with a mutation in the virus, such as happened with the 1918 influenza, which affected different people in. a different way.
Is what’s happening in the United States the second wave? The Mayor of New York has said No – this is not getting on top of the first wave in the first place.

Nottingham City Local Outbreak Control Plan

On Monday, Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire County Council published a report on how they will manage a local lockdown if one is required.

This can be a tad frightening.
So can news that a new type of influenza is being spread amongst pigs. We have yet to hear though that it has spread to humans and we don’t know how dangerous it will be if and when it does. Point being is that this development of a virus amongst pigs is something we’ve been living with for some significant time – the spread of a Coronavirus has been different.

On face mask wearing, a consensus has developed – what covering your mouth and nose does most is to mitigate against coughs and sneezes spreading the disease. Wearing a mask on public transport is a way of showing people that you care for their welfare as well as your own – not a denial of your rights of free movement.

There is more suggestions that the disease spreads when people are attending events in larger numbers. An example of this would be people going to mosques, temples, synagogues and churches. However, this would not explain recent growths in the number of cases, cos place of worship in Britain have been closed.

We wait to see the fall-out of the 500,000 (check) people who visited Bournemouth on the hot Saturday. Despite the long-distance photos suggesting otherwise, what I saw was people on the beach staying apart in their own bubbles; what seemed most unmanageable was staying apart in. shops etc. and common facilities such as toilets. For all that, “British common sense” should have told people t was dangerous – instead the government had to close the beaches down and it was bizarre to see the Prime Minister having to tell people to obey the public safety advice that his own key advisor had ignored and he had covered for. Indeed Johnson had been “so flippant the previous week in urging MPs of seaside towns to ‘show some guts'”.

Nor did Johnson act quickly on Leicester. Notable, that one Leicester man responded to the new lockdown by organising a pub crawl of Nottingham using Twitter booking 2 coaches in response to demand. The man has since cancelled the bookings, organising a mini-bus instead, saying he might have gone a bot over the top.

All of which is casting fresh doubt on relaxing the lockdown, and the emphasis being given to schools re-opening in September today – not wrong so much, as not the real story.

Trump has endorsed concentration camps in China

Outrage mounts over report Russia offered bounties to Afghanistan militants for killing US soldiers

In just how many ways must the traditional American conservative now be disappointed by Trump!  
This latest – 
– refusing to stand up to Putin over allegations of awarding bounties to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan:
and then, according to Bolton – 
– encouraging Xi and China when building concentration camps for religious minorities; endorsing concentration camps; 
– driving for regime change in Venezuela “it’s part of the United States”, but then not seeing it through (persuaded by Putin to re-think);
– wrecking the nuclear deal with Iran negotiated by Obama without replacing it with something stronger – he had no plan;
– not making North Korea give up its new nuclear weapons (he had no plan), when its leader was in a weak position;
– prepared to do deals with Ukraine and China (buying food from the mid-west) to help him win against Clinton and Biden (rather than addressing structural problems with the trade, and causing huge global trade issues);
and beyond the political, against according to Bolton –
– not knowing Finland was not part of Russia;
– not knowing the United Kingdom is a nuclear power. 


Losing on Tulsa time

Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma (not a marginal state) – billed by his campaign as the start of a come back – has been generally declared as a failure.
Despite celebrating ticket “sales” of a million, 6,200 turned up (less than a Salop vs Oxford home game) in a stadium that can take 19,000 and the stage for an overflow rally outside of the stadium was dismantled unused.
Many excuses for a low attendance may merit scrutiny – online bookings to attend exceeded one million (celebrated, despite internet pranksters being anticipated); threats of violence outside the stadium (not seen in practice and not unique to this rally); fear of Covid-19 (and indeed a number of rally organisers have tested positive, but this is the crowd and the supporters who have talked about defying the disease and not wearing masks).

But the key political defeat is the lack of message to inspire Trump’s own supporters – so much important than the ridicule opponents can heap on Trump.
The BBC’s reporter talked about Trump supporters ready to condemn Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, but having little to say about the current opponent Joe Biden.
Trump spent 10 minutes 23 seconds on explaining why he’d had trouble negotiating a metal ramp leading away from a stage after an address to a military school; lame in more ways than one.

Currently recent national opinion polls suggest a lead for Joe Biden of just under 10% (range of 5% to 12%).

The Program

Showing how Lance Armstrong cheated.
And with some British cyclists running into problems with sanctioned medicines, kinda makes you wonder how cycling can ever be made a sport whereby its top competitors don’t think they have to take things to enhance their performance so as to win.

2015 movie recently broadcast on BBCtv iPlayer.
Directed by Stephen Frears, who also directed The Deal (2003), A Very English Scandal (2017), and Quiz (2020).

The Salisbury Poisonings

Metro’s tv critic says of BBCtv’s The Salisbury Poisonings “… you can’t help but feel there’s something missing in its execution.”
I don’t think the authors worked the story out. The drama decided not to tell stories of the Russian victims, or the Russian perpetrators, relied heavily on news broadcasts to narrate a wider perspective and decided the story was of a small number of key players and their families.
But the dialogue involving the key players is not great, and should have done more to carry the story of what was happening overall, especially through those action conferences. I suspect poorly directed and edited too.
And a couple of pantomime portrayals – of a No. 10 advisor and of the public (wild and panicky apparently).

Meanwhile, a reflection on what actually happened.
Cos I couldn’t believe that the Russians would try to kill people in this way. So messy. So indeterminable. So many random side effects.
And why attack a nation of whom so many of our wealthy are inter-twined with the Russian wealthy?
The Guardian ran stories explaining that the nerve agent (declared as one of the most toxic substances, but how true is that?) was no longer produced by Russia and of a former diplomat saying it just wouldn’t be done.
Jezza was suspicious and so was I.

Others still are.
Novichok is declared the most deadly substance, yet the 2 targeted survive; contaminated at home it seems, but didn’t fall ill for a few hours, and then, despite their difference in ages, fall ill at the same time; and at a location where the first to attend then happened to be the Chief Nurse of the British Army (not mentioned on the BBCtv series; but probably very well equipped to identify and deal with poisoning by nerve agent); nobody else or no animal falls ill despite it being found at the restaurant and elsewhere; the Police Officer falls ill after visiting the Russians’ home, at which a significant part of the roof is later removed; when the couple fall ill some months later, they have to cut the wrapping away to access the “perfume” and it take the Police days to find the bottle in his hone, despite it being on the kitchen counter. Oh, and Porton Down, home of Britain’s research on these weapons, is only 7 miles away.
Problem is, such articles are wrapped in allegations about how you can’t trust others and peppered with remarks like being a credulous fool if you believe in coincidences.
And whilst you don’t have to believe either the British or the Russians, the Russians didn’t help by promoting lots of different stories about what happened. The interview of their 2 agents that was broadcast made them look ridiculous.
I am baffled by aspects of the tragedy, but know I don’t know enough to pronounce.

For all the political outrage at the time, the outrage never really stuck. Connections between the Conservatives and rich Russians should be more damaging to electoral prospects than they seem to be.

What happened to us liberals?

What happened to us liberals?  Celebrating a 14 day gaol sentence for the man who was caught short.

The guy convicted was drunk. He’d drunk 16 pints. (Have none of us had mates pull that stunt?) I am prepared to believe he didn’t know the memorial was there – he didn’t even know which statue he’d gone to keep open. He turned himself in (never mind what his Dad said or did.)

Why is 14 days in prison the right sentence?
Why isn’t cleaning up places through community service the correct approach?

So I’m pleased that Kevin Maguire has pointed this out.
Although he has hidden behind the remark “sickened”, even though I don’t think he knew memorial was there.

Now, the far right protestors do deserve heavy criticism and condemnation. I think they went intending to destroy statues – Gandhi’s and Mandela’s. Again I don’t know, but why try to break through Police fences and cordons to defend a Churchill status that was already boxed up?

Amazingly, the precedent for the jail sentence was 7 months for a woman who’d urinated on a war memorial – twice. Alright, that’s seems pretty premeditated, but 7 months?

And some Conservative MPs are calling for 10 years sentences for damaging statues – 10 years! I know, I know – it’s a distraction. Worry about the state, and not the freedoms and the new deal that servicemen came to fight for.

True – why not slam the “football fan” culture that has brought such ignominy to England’s reputation abroad. Indeed, I’ve chosen to publish Billy Bragg’s lyrics on the subject above. “The Few” – great lyrics, wrong key. He’d seen the nonsense of Nazi salutes in the defence of England. The lack of self-control that had led to the need for relief in very public places.

But for all that, and for all of that, the sentence is disproportionate and lacking in imagination.

Calm down

Last week there was no mention of ‘a small minority’ when it was a very small minority. This week it’s ‘a small minority’ when in fact it was anything but.” – Gary Lineker.

As best as I can read it, some thousands of far right supporters set out to wreak some kind of equivalence to statues of Mandella and Gandhi as hard been visited upon that of Churchill a week before. However, all 3 statues had been boxed up before any demonstration had arrived; and Black Lives Matters and others had suspended or moved any demonstrations to the previous day.
Many of the far right demonstrators seemed to have got tanked up, and I can well imagine one of them was caught short, and may well have thought he was just relieving himself in a small crevice of a large fence, rather than next to a memorial of a Police Officer who had fallen fighting terrorism.

The determination to try to break through barricades and assault the police was striking. Groups descending on families and other groups having picnics was reprehensible. Giving Nazi salutes as part of a demo to celebrate Churchill and those that served in WWII was bemusing.

We should say the violence is wrong. But we should also look to calm the situation down.
Memorials should be protected, but they should not be worth fighting over.
Saw one graphic that hyped up the offence that the fallen of WWII would have taken at damage to memorials, but if we could ask them, I would want to believe that they would actually want us to reverse the betrayals of the post war deal – full employment etc.

We should not be quick to have our hackles raised. In another context, it’s how wars get started. We should look now for people to explain themselves, and hope that many would come to see how they’ve got it wrong. And yes, prosecutions are part of that process. But I’m pleased too to see that the Police have tried to avoid using their “full force”.

I suspect Boris Johnson and Pritti Patel had wanted to make moral equivalence allegations against BLM etc. and Britain First. Patel tried; Johnson didn’t.

Biden has to gain 3 out of 5 swing states to beat Trump

With Biden ahead in most national points by 11 points, it looks like Trump will be out in November – and how we need it.  
A number of videos shared in Youtube try to predict the result and dress it up in quite a complicated way. Simpler to look at 10 swing states. 
In essence, Biden needs to –
1. hold all that Clinton won in 2016;
2. take Michigan and Wisconsin, and then
3. take one of Pennsylvania, Florida or North Carolina.
Here my knowledge of US polls leaves me slightly confused; it seems:
1. Yes (slight doubt over New Hampshire);
2. Yes;
3. Yes, or kinda – North Carolina and Florida kinda Biden; Pennsylvania kinda not.
So Biden should win, but it seems more in doubt than 11 points poll leads suggests.  
Homilies on complacency seem a bit superfluous here – just trying to understand and happy to accept advice.

Instinct as a getout

The moment was when Boris Johnson said in his prepared statement that Cummings had “acted responsibly, legally and with integrity. … I think he followed the instincts of every father and every parent … “
Cos the public health instruction was that you must stay at home. Boris Johnson had a letter sent to every household saying so. Instinct as an exemption negates any public policy.

I think you have to be ready to forgive people for getting things wrong; for making a decision that was against the policy; you might have to fine them for it; or censure them; but forgive them nevertheless.
But here, the Prime Minister has accepted a breach of the policy without chastisement, apparently in full knowledge of all the facts, facts which has not been shared with the public.

This may trigger more occasions of members of the public challenging officers seeking to enforce the policy.
But more, it triggers disappointment, or stronger, in those who complied, and sometimes with some sacrifice. And that is what we see in the newspaper front pages, in social media, and no doubt in chatting with friends and neighbours.
And will make the repeat of a call to action should a second wave come, all the harder.

A word of warning about predicting that these events heralds a second wave of disease. Given the status of the disease in the UK, that may not be the case. (And I understood second waves to be associated with new mutations of a virus.)

Chris Grey@chrisgreybrexit·
“Populism is based on the trick of a self-evident elite purporting to speak for ‘the people’ *against* ‘the elite’. So it’s always vulnerable to its leaders being exposed as not of the people and, even, contemptuous of them.”

Dr Mike Galsworthy@mikegalsworthy
“Ironic to watch a Brexiter government desperately put saving an unelected, unaccountable bureaucrat before supporting the will of the people.”

Astonishing tweet; apparently from a member of staff.

Stephen Reicher@ReicherStephen
Level 1:As one of those involved in SPI-B, the Government advisory group on behavioural science, I can say that in a few short minutes tonight, Boris Johnson has trashed all the advice we have given on how to build trust and secure adherence to the measures necessary to control COVID-19.

Be open and honest, we said. Trashed.
Respect the public, we said. Trashed
Ensure equity, so everyone is treated the same, we said. Trashed.
Be consistent we said. Trashed.
Make clear ‘we are all in it together’. Trashed.

It is very hard to provide scientific advice to a government which doesn’t want to listen to science.