Day: 2 May 2022

And Finally…

In this week’s episode of London Calling, James Delingpole and I talk about James’s live event at London’s Emmanuel Centre, the coming global famine and whether it’s cock-up or conspiracy (I’m sure you can work out who’s on which side of that argument), the fact that the Queen is going to be played by a woman of colour in the Platinum Jubilee pageant, Neil Parish’s fall from grace and whether either of us have accidentally stumbled across a porn site while Googling tractors, Biden’s new misinformation tsar, the rehabilitation of Tony Blair within the Labour Party, where each of us were on election night 25 years ago when he won his landslide victory, and, in Culture Corner, the anti-capitalist subtext of The Dropout, We Crashed and Super Pumped, and one of the key differences between Breaking Bad and Ozarks, which is that in Breaking Bad Walter White is the super villain, whereas in Ozarks its Wendy Bryde.

You can listen to the podcast here and subscribe to it on iTunes here.

Three Disinformation Strikes For Rowlatt, the BBC’s Climate Activist-in-Residence

The BBC’s green activist-in-residence Justin Rowlatt has had two complaints upheld against him, following the broadcast last November of his absurd “Wild Weather” Panorama programme. The latest upheld complaints followed a similar rebuke last year, after Rowlatt described offshore wind as “virtually subsidy-free”.

The Panorama programme was an hour long, emotion-charged rant that tried to show human-caused climate change was behind a series of recent bad weather events. It featured a man with vascular dementia being helped into a boat from his flooded home. Improbable stories of 6°C rises in temperature were illuminated with a Met Office globe turning deep red. Not a scintilla of scientific proof was supplied to back up most of the improbable claims.

The BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit found that the wording of the introduction, which stated “the death toll is rising around the world and the forecast is that worse is to come”, risked giving the impression the rate of deaths from extreme weather-related events was increasing.

“Risked” is an interesting turn of phrase. The BBC said the wording “was not as clear as it should have been”, and accepted the obvious fact that deaths have actually been falling for many years

Amazon Axes Paid Covid Leave as it Returns to “Pre-Pandemic Policies”

Amazon has taken another step back to normality as it axes its paid time-off policy for employees with Covid, an announcement that coincides with the company recording a first quarter loss. MailOnline has the story.

Staff in the U.S. will now get five days of excused, unpaid leave if they can provide proof of a positive test result. They will also cease informing staff if someone at their warehouse has tested positive.

The changes have prompted outrage with some online who have accused the world’s second richest man Jeff Bezos of placing profits over people. 

The company benefited hugely from the pandemic online shopping boom before shares dived on Friday following a devastating quarter in which the company recorded its first net loss since 2015, a $3.8billion hit due in part to its investment in Rivian Automotive. …

After a long-running surge in sales during the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, Amazon’s outlook has dimmed as life returns to normal. 

The policy change follows the availability of vaccines and revised guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

“We can continue to safely adjust to our pre-Covid policies,” the company said, citing the sustained easing of the pandemic, the availability of vaccines and treatments, and updated public health guidance. …

On Saturday, Amazon said it is halting site-wide notifications of positive cases in facilities, unless required by law, as well as efforts to encourage vaccination.

In January, Amazon trimmed paid leave for workers with the virus to one week, or up to 40 hours. Before that, they got two weeks of paid time off for Covid.

Somehow I suspect the public sector will not be so quick as the private sector to roll back its Covid-era benefits.

Worth reading in full.

Wind Farms Game System to Earn Hundreds of Millions in Government Subsidies From Energy Crisis

According to a new analysis, the taxpayer could be half-a-billion pounds worse off due to a recently revealed delay at just one wind farm. GB News has more.

The Government has urged developers to “act fairly” after some of the U.K.’s largest wind farms delayed taking up ‘green’ Government contracts, potentially allowing them to earn hundreds of millions of pounds more from consumers during the energy crisis.

According to a new analysis, the taxpayer could be half-a-billion pounds worse off due to a recently revealed delay at just one wind farm, which generous “green” Government contracts allowed for.

Leading Tory MPs told GB News the revelations showed the Government’s energy strategy was “in tatters”.

No new wind farms have begun selling electricity to the grid at “low cost” subsidy deal prices, agreed with the Government, at expected dates since the energy crisis began – instead selling at higher market prices, GB News can reveal.

The Government guaranteed the income of all new offshore wind farm developments with so-called Contracts for Difference (CfD), part of a wider push to encourage investment in Net Zero.

The contracts mean consumers pay windfarms a subsidy if market prices are low, and wind farms pay money back if they are high.

Since the start of the energy price crisis, several newly completed wind farms have delayed taking up their CfDs, pushing them back by a year from dates listed on the database of the Low Carbon Contracts Company, which manages subsidy deals for the government.

There is no suggestion that the developers are doing anything wrong. CfD contracts allow delays of up to three years and are generally flexible and generous to developers.

But critics of government policy told GB News CfDs mean the bulk of financial risk is put on consumers, not investors. And by allowing for delays, the government has allowed developers to earn massive extra profits as consumers struggle to pay bills.

In fact, since energy prices soared last autumn, no new renewables capacity has been added to the CfD scheme. Every renewable generator that had been expected to start selling at a CfD price 2022 has now been delayed until 2023, and they could push the date back even more.

This means power is being sold to consumers more expensively than expected despite the government giving assurances that wind farms backed by CfDs are cheap and bring prices down.

Worth reading in full.

“They Were Dishing the Sedatives Out Like Smarties”: Cornwall’s Care Home Scandal

We’re publishing a piece today by Cornwall resident Natalie White on the appalling conditions suffered by care home residents in the county during the pandemic and the unmanageable pressures staff were forced to work under. Then along came the vaccine mandate.

The care homes faced increasing pressure to take more and more people to free up beds from the hospitals. Unable to cope, some care homes started giving the sedative Midazolam to residents.

“They’re dishing them out like smarties,” one friend told me as she sniffed back tears. “We just can’t cope. It’s the only way to get on top of everything.”

Patients with dementia, who can often become frustrated, angry and confused, and prone to wandering off, were often dosed with Midazolam, but it wasn’t long before some care staff were being bullied to give them to all residents. According to the Daily Mail, “out-of-hospital prescribing of the drug midazolam increased by more than 100%” in April 2020. It is thought by some that this was a deliberate attempt to euthanise the elderly, but that’s disputed by those I’ve spoken to in the sector.

“It was never the intention to harm or kill anybody,” I was told. “I don’t know of any cases where Midazolam caused death. But we were encouraged and sometimes bullied into giving them to residents when we were overwhelmed with residents needs, and understaffed, because it gave us more time to get to everyone.”

On June 22nd 2021, ITV News reported that Kenwyn care home, where 94% staff and 100% residents were vaccinated, experienced a significant outbreak of Covid infections.

Nevertheless, by October 2021, the Care Quality Commission declared that all care staff, from cleaner to care, had to be vaccinated by November 11th (Remembrance Day, no less) or they would be sacked. That they had risked their lives, and the lives of their families, for those most in need, and that most of them had almost certainly been exposed to Covid during this time and now had antibodies, seemed not to matter.

The combined years of experience, training and devotion of the people effected by this were irreplaceable. The people I know who chose not to get vaccinated and left the care sector weren’t ‘anti-vaxxers’; they were people who had had every other vaccine offered to them or their children. They weren’t ‘conspiracy theorists’ who spent hours down David Ike rabbit holes on social media – they worked too hard to find the time for that. They were just hard-working, caring people who were reluctant to take a vaccine they knew little about. Many I spoke to felt that forced vaccinations were against their basic principles of informed consent and bodily autonomy.

Still, the Government and the CQC continued with their plan to fire any staff who didn’t get vaccinated by November 11th. The already understaffed and overrun care industry looked set to lose around 60,000 care staff across England.

This is when things started to look like the plot of a disaster movie.

Worth reading in full.

The Foegen Effect: Why Face Masks Increase the Death Rate of COVID-19

There follows a guest post by Dr. Zacharias Fögen, whose new (peer-reviewed) paper in Medicine describes how face masks increase the death rate of COVID-19.

It took a long time, but my study on masks has finally appeared in the prestigious journal Medicine. What is my study about?

It is about whether masks decrease case fatality from COVID-19 (because less viral material is transmitted) or increase it. Increase sounds illogical? Ask yourself if you would wear the mask of a Covid patient. You probably wouldn’t, otherwise you could become infected by inhaling the viruses he or she breathed into the mask.

My study, based on the U.S. state of Kansas, provides the answer: case mortality was significantly lower in counties without mandatory masks. Mandatory masking increased case mortality there by 85%. Even after factoring in the reduced number of cases due to masks, the numbers still remain 52% higher. Over 95% of this effect can only be attributed to COVID-19, so it is not CO2, bacteria or fungi under the mask.

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