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The United Kingdom Lacks Responsible Leadership

We’ve found our own ‘Bolsonaro’, Borisnaro Johnson

tories-covid

BEFORE even starting, an important disclaimer: I am a vaccine proponent, but I also acknowledge the limitations. Moreover, vaccines aren’t an excuse for spreading a lethal specimen to millions of people; survivors can suffer long-term harms. Eradication should be the real goal, or at least containment of the threat/hazard.

Another clarification: This post won’t be dealing with “the economy” and politics associated with organisation of wealth, labour etc. Not because those things are irrelevant but because I wish to focus on other aspects. Not the profiteering associated with abundant testing, patent/monopoly aspects etc.

I previously spoke about first-hand experiences of friends of mine who took the AstraZeneca jabs (or just one; some were harmed so badly by the first that they chose not to get the second). All of them, bar one (female, about 34 years old), say they regret taking the jab because of severe or permanent damage caused. I’m not kidding and I don’t mean to scare people; those are the stories of people I’ve known for a very long time and they’re not lying. My friend who’s a professor in a medical field told me yesterday that his swollen knee (he has struggled to walk for a while) was definitely the result of the jab and professionals/specialists he met told him the same; they saw a surge in such cases after the vaccination. It inflames the already-sensitive tissue. I can say with sincerity that every friend of mine who took it got side effects, in one case not severe enough to cause regret. Nevertheless, there are still risks associated with AstraZeneca’s products and efficacy will vary based upon mutations/variations, genetics, among other factors. Masking and social distancing are good for those who can afford it, depending on their jobs and lifestyles. Those can change and adapt sometimes. We need to at least consider the possibility. My wife and I stopped going to the gym. We exercise outdoors and at home instead. Depending on the weather/season…

Vaccine scepticism and hesitancy, no matter the context, are nowadays all being caricatured/stigmatised as “anti-vaxx”, a rejection of science, “conspiracy theory” and so on. That’s putting aside ethical issues associated with patents of AstraZeneca. Again, not the subject of this post (it merits a separate discussion). There are also business aspects that deserve rejection; a patent waiver is well overdue.

There’s no doubt that taking a vaccine — almost irrespective of whose — will improve one’s chances of surviving COVID-19. My friend told me that had the government taken DNA samples from millions of people before the pandemic and then analysed those statistically, they’d know a lot better whose genetics would likely be more vulnerable to this virus and should be vaccinated as a matter of utmost urgency.

With new numbers in, of of 4PM yesterday, another ~55,000 new COVID-19 cases were added to the tally. In one day! Deaths are up 50% in one week, obviously with a ‘delayed effect’ or correspondence between cases and deaths (people take a few weeks to die once they contract the thing; they fight back for a while). The media and Borisnaro Johnson don’t want to tell us that, but we’re doing vastly worse than last summer. What do the medical professionals say? Here’s a new article: “1,200+ Scientists Denounce Boris Johnson’s Plan to End UK Covid Restrictions”

I was a bit angry, not optimistic, to see what I saw yesterday. There’s a heatwave, so more people go outdoors and reject face covers. People here have quit distancing and few are wearing masks (you have to dodge people as they don’t respect distance). It probably won’t be long before we have a quarter million new COVID-19 cases per day and our blowhard ‘Bolsonaro’ (Borisnaro Johnson) just says nonchalantly (surrounded by flames): “THIS IS FINE!”

They don’t find this alarming and they plan to open everything, putting at risk those who choose the freedom not to get infected.

What’s generally happening is, some people listen to our totally reckless government instead of using common sense.

It’s past 3AM here and the people across the street from us have loud parties. No isolation and no masks. This is the lessons taught by Borisnaro Johnson, our reckless superspreader, who basically wants people to think that even a million cases a day would not be a cause for concern. This sort of insane approach was tried elsewhere already… and we know what happened as a result. I hold our government fully accountable for all the superspreaders I saw yesterday in town, including the ones across the road having a party right now. There are many more parties to come next week. Will the rest of us be their ‘collateral damage’?

Two years ago we acted similarly and we know what happened months later. Then came ‘Brexit’ for no net benefit other than a shallow sense of nationalism. And now? Now we’re supposed to think that winning against a bunch of football teams is more important than defeating a virus that paralyses our economy. Forcibly reopening everything like there’s no tomorrow is economic suicide for temporary and short-term gains.

My advice to people is, do get vaccinated if your job requires meeting many people; otherwise, isolate as much as is feasible. Generally speaking, we’re nowhere near defeating this pandemic. We’re only pretending here in the UK; wait a few more weeks to see hundreds of deaths per day; wait until winter and we’ll be back to over a thousand casualties a day. “THIS IS FINE!”

As a side note, even if corporate media uses numbers like “90%” for vaccination rates remember that only 35,732,297 people (out of almost 70 million in total) got two shots; some never intend to get a second one.

Britain Lost in Wembley

The only winner was coronavirus

Wembley match
A half-full Wembley Stadium (match ended a few hours ago)

RECENTLY in this blog I wrote about my personal experiences dealing with our local and national government. They use COVID to deny us any meaningful service. Today is the last day to register for post-Brexit (EU exit) settlement and only a few days ago, or two weeks late, a local council finally contacted me (a reply to my E-mail about lacking a mobile phone; but they asked me for my mobile number, so clearly they didn’t even bother reading my message!).

Here’s a roundup of recent posts on this matter (it’s good that I’ve chronicled it herein as it turned out to be a lot worse than I had imagined):

So England won the football match (well done to the players!), but we all lost as a country because COVID and whatever “mutants” or “variants” or “strains” exist will have spread by the end of that match. This was known in advance, but our government chose to pretend that football can distract us enough. My wife and I are both disappointed and very upset at the density of that crowd… as if football is more important than containing the virus.

Politicians: We laugh at your safetyTo put it in very simple terms, based on photos like the above (many more photos such as this, also video footage) you would not know COVID-19 cases and deaths soared across the UK (up by 60%-70% this past week alone) and you would not believe they deny access to essential government services, as I’ve noted in this blog for almost a year…

When Liverpool FC chose to host the match against Atlético Madrid last year the club was rightly blasted for it, even by the local authorities. What were they thinking? One last “blast” before lock-down? How many people died as a result of that match, which also saw Liverpool crashing out of the Champions League? (Karma.)

According to the BBC, “[a]round 43,000 fans at Wembley, 1,800 of them Germany supporters” were in that match, which ended hours ago. Our government officials just wanted to pretend we’re doing well against the virus, but those Tories (sociopaths) will regret it when we go into lock-down again. Will the public hold them accountable for it? For a second day in a row over 20,000 new COVID-19 cases are reported in the UK, but they still stuff almost 50,000 fans in one single venue, tightly packed into Wembley (mostly without masks; see photos!) because “flag waving” is apparently “ESSENTIAL” work, unlike British residents who need to register and don’t have a mobile phone (like us). A Tory Britain basically tells me that I cannot meet a government clerk “because COVID” (even while the number cases of per day was less than 1,000!), even for an essential service, but almost 50,000 fans are tightly packed inside Wembley for football (when the number of daily cases is >20,000). This is truly incredible, isn’t it? I’ve long pointed out to them that its absurd I can go dine in a restaurant (where people touch foods that people put inside their mouths), yet meeting a government clerk behind a plastic/glass screen is considered too “risky”…

Filling up Wembley? OK. Meeting a person for an essential service? No way! This is what happens when you elect Tories. Facts just cease to matter.

National Government and Local Councils Give the Middle Finger to EU Citizens Long Settled in the United Kingdom

SEVERAL days ago I wrote about difficulties associated with applying to remain in the UK. You must have a mobile phone, you cannot settle the matter in person, there’s nobody to speak to etc.

Here is the screenshot I showed of the support number they gave:

eu-national-contact

That exact same number is noted in many other places. So I’ve attempted about 12 times to phone Home Office regarding this. That was yesterday. Just to make the inquiry. But that number, which is widely advertised, never worked. And the response to it varied between 3 states (silent or two types of tone, depending on when you phone them). I thought their phone system was down and they later admitted this to me (when I finally spoke to them this morning). “Essential” service…

As for the Council, they did not respond at all since Saturday. I expect they will just ignore my very detailed E-mail. When dealing with Manchester City Council the experience was largely the same. They hardly give a damn…

The Home Office number was down all day or all afternoon yesterday. Now it’s back. Waiting on the line took ages, with me being in a queue (no ETA, no number in the queue stated) for a very long time. That in itself is bad enough, not to mention how options (even if carefully listened to and then selected) for how to route the call do not match what’s relevant as per the site where this number is advertised (as shown above). With only a few weeks left it should be expected that they will treat this as a high-priority thing.

After 20 minutes waiting in line I finally got to speak to an actual person, whereupon the Home Office told me that indeed their system was down yesterday (no calls could be made), and that moreover the number in the site is not correct and for the wrong department. Incredible. Truly incredible. Sheer incompetence. The correct number, they’ve told me, is 0300 123 7379.

So I phone that up. And guess what…

They don’t have a place in the queue, you cannot even wait and the queue and may need to call another time. So basically there is nobody to speak to. At a time such as this one has to wonder what went through their minds when they decided to turn away callers with queries, such as issues going through the process.

This leaves me having a pessimistic hypothesis affirmed. The government (both national and local) hardly cares about EU citizens, even those who are highly skilled and have been settled in the UK for ages. To them, we must be seen like a “burden”… I believe that the term for that is systemic racism.

Ongoing Investigation: Does the UK Home Office ‘Force’ EU Citizens to Carry Around Tracking Devices?

To fire this off amicably and constructively, I am going to disclose what was already mentioned here last year and earlier this year (at the expense of my personal privacy). Technically, even though I’ve been in the UK for over 2 decades, I never swapped my German nationality for British. Seeing the aftermath of Brexit, I don’t regret it either. There’s that sense that people will never see you as “true British”, even if you get naturalised as one. What was supposed to be more of a routine application to settle became more like campaigning, not truly out of choice but due to circumstances. As it turns out, settlement after Brexit seems somewhat conditional, for all sorts of hidden obstacles and weird barriers seem to exist.

In this latest round of Brexit bizarro world, it seems virtually impossible for EU citizens who are in the UK to settle unless they carry a so-called ‘mobile’ ‘phone’ (tracking device). Landline? Not enough! They want to know where you are all the time.

Following a related challenge at a local (regional) level, I’ve decided to step it up a bit by challenging this at a more national level. With only a few weeks before the deadline, no excuses like “coming soon” will be acceptable. Most people aren’t going to tolerate it, even if the site still says “BETA”. They need to get their act together to disprove this supposedly ‘laughable’ idea that we’re ‘second-class’ citizens to our government.

As a starter, here’s an E-mail sent this afternoon, along with a bunch of screenshots that I’m including in-line. The E-mail is self-explanatory, I hope:

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am a resident of the UK and I’m based in Manchester. I need to apply for EU settlement but am unable to do so. The Town Hall does not offer the service anymore; I’ve exhausted my options there as they no longer offer identity verification and they blame COVID-19 for it (since over a year ago).

Looking at all the options online, I must have a mobile phone to use an “app” for it.

by-post

book-person

Alternatively, I can enter document details for documents to be sent to Home Office, but I cannot complete the process because this one too demands a mobile phone number.

Attached is proof that I cannot proceed with my landline entered. It must be a mobile phone number. I do not have that. In the screenshot I entered not my personal number (I tried the real one about 4 times already, from multiple computers in fact; my wife tried hers also) but a “4444444″ number, for the sake of protecting my number in this E-mail communication (it is not secured). It doesn’t matter what landline number is entered, it will always reject it.

mobile

example-number

only-mobile

So, looking at my options, when searching for my postcode, Salford, Trafford and Manchester aren’t applicable anymore. Halifax area is the nearest such service (to me), shown in the list from the official government site. Based on your Web site, you still offer this service.

manchester

I would like to book an appointment in which to settle this step. I do not intend to buy a mobile phone for this.

Your Web page at https://www.calderdale.gov.uk/v2/residents/community-and-living/equality-and-diversity/asylum-seekers-and-refugees/id-verify-scheme says:

“A mobile phone or other device that can receive text messages or email.”

halifax

I can bring one of my many laptops and, provided you have Wi-Fi, I will then connect to my E-mail account from my laptop and complete the process. You can see me in person, see all the original document etc. A lot better than “apps” that aren’t secure and not everyone can run (there are accessibility-related aspects as well).

I understand that this isn’t your ordinary kind of request (I am based far from you, but you are the nearest place that still offers this service, based on your site), but having spent a long time researching the matter it seems like all other options absolutely compel the applicant to have a mobile phone. Such a requirement would be in violation of a number of fundamental rights.

I look forward to your reply. The deadline for application is the end of this month (I have been trying for over a year, to the point of challenging the local municipality with a formal complaint) and it doesn’t look like any of the nearby municipalities entertains or facilitates this kind of service anymore.

I am actually rather shocked that less than 3 weeks before the deadline the site is still “BETA”. This means it will never be stabilised, it never actually reached maturity. I hope this isn’t meant to sent an discomforting message to EU citizens, who like myself lived and worked here in the UK for over 20 years.

Please get back to me as soon as possible,

[redacted]

I will follow up with their reply (if any). Failing that, I will speak to Home Office directly. They hide away the phone number, it’s hard to find a person to speak to, there’s no E-mail address, but there’s this generic number (not specific to this service):

eu-national-contact

Getting Karma-19

210k deaths; Not my problem!

COVID-19 Proves Brexit is Based on a Lie

“Brexit death toll” (or “cost of Tories”) might as well fit this chart

COVID-10 deaths in UK

THE myth of superiority — intellectual and practical (or economic) — has long been disproved by the current pandemic, which likely killed over 50,000 Brits already (source: FT). The British Empire romantics aside, it’s not easily provable nor demonstrable that Britain is better than the rest of Europe (on average). This was in fact the key premise if not promise of Brexit. And look where we are now… barely able to even reopen stores safely. We’re ranked second in the world for number of deaths after the US (just like the Olympic Games medal tally the same year as Brexit referendum). It’s a political blunder as well as a reminder that Brexit harmed the NHS by driving away many nurses, putting in charge the same demagogue who acted all arrogant about COVID-19 while privatising our healthcare, in turn causing a shortage of (not out-of-date) medical equipment.

With arrogance comes carelessness and in the long term self harm. Such is the nature of Brexit and the old generation that overwhelmingly voted for it pays the highest price. Us younger people will have to spend several more generations living with their short-sighted mistakes.

Nobody Benefits From COVID-19

THE crisis is not “fake” and it is not “manufactured”. Speaking for myself, based on extensive readings, it’s the latest epidemic of many and if people passed COVID-19 around by acting as if it’s “business as usual”, millions would already be dead, either due to weak resistance or lack of hospital/ICU beds.

The economy is screaaaaaaammming at the moment; I speak to people every day about it. We barely leave the house and don’t meet anybody in person, except shopkeepers behind a plastic screen (installed last month). My wife and I are both remote workers and have been that for many years, so the pandemic didn’t take its toll on it. Yesterday I ran out of coffee again. We try to shop for food as infrequently as possible to keep healthy and keep others safe, too. My doctoral degree was in Medical Biophysics, so I know a thing or two about health. We also routinely urge people to stay home; it does in fact save lives. Here in Britain the true COVID-19 death toll is estimated to be somewhere around 50,000, based on a Financial Times investigation (the “official” figures aren’t complete; they hide how poorly our government has done, likely worst in Europe).

I am saddened to be speaking to increasingly ‘rebellious’ types, blaming the wrong things or the wrong people. Unemployment will drive more people we used to know as stable and rational into the verge of insanity and boredom will reaffirm this insanity of theirs. The Internet has anything one looks for (affirmation). YouTube has no lack of “cranks with webcams” in it…

I’ve given some thought to the economic situation right now, bearing in mind deep national and personal debts in the West. Hours ago our bank sent out an E-mail to everybody, calling a temporary relief from mortgage payments “holiday”. As if slavery till death (“mort”) is even remotely connected to a holiday…

But people are getting desperate. Our government sends out mixed and contradictory statements, e.g. that we’re getting this thing under control (the numbers suggest otherwise) and that we can reopen in 5 days (they mean very limited if not staged openings; without public confidence even open stores will remain vacant, costing them more to operate than they can earn!).

I’ve put down some mental notes, narrowing down the employment types/status right now to something like this:

  1. employed with job security (albeit clients, the revenue/supply, may perish and run out of funds)
  2. employed with uncertainty and prohibitive conditions/deadlines
  3. employed with reduced pay/time/benefits (I heard about those from some people)
  4. temporarily unemployed with real prospects of resumption later (usually no pay)
  5. temporarily unemployed no certainty of resumption (limbo)
  6. unemployed, cannot find job (not many openings and those that exist are competitive; cannot have face-to-face interviews, training etc.)
  7. retired (but retirement savings lose on interest, inflation)

Based on the above list, it’s hard to say that anyone is better off, either collectively/nationally or personally. And no, China isn’t benefiting either. Nobody is buying its stuff now; there’s no demand, resentment aside. What about the super-rich? Well, they might be drooling over bailouts (plunder), but one can think of these as compensation or insurance rather than a permanent alternative revenue source (which is practically a form of socialism for the rich, robbing the taxpayers to keep the super-wealthy almost as wealthy as before).

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