Day: 9 May 2022

And Finally…

In this week’s episode of London Calling, James and I discuss QPR’s failure to reach the Championship play-offs, last week’s local election results (“Boring,” snorts James), Sinn Fein’s success in Northern Ireland and what that means for the future of the U.K., Keir Starmer’s announcement that he’ll resign if the Durham Police conclude he broke the rules during Beergate, James’s son’s part in Keir Starmer’s downfall, Simon Kuper’s new book about how all Britain’s ills can be laid at the door of mine and James’s generation of Oxford students, and the Supreme Court leak, which James thinks was manufactured to distract people from the Pfizer document dump. Then, in Culture Corner, we praise Slow Horses, condemn White Hot: The Rise and Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch and I continue to bang on about Ozark, but allow that it has probably come to the end of its natural life.

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

‘Extreme Weather’ Now the Main Propaganda Battleground for Green Activists

The relentless catastrophising of bad weather is becoming almost a daily occurrence at the BBC, as the Corporation seeks to shore up the elitist command-and-control Net Zero project. As we have seen at the Daily Sceptic, global warming went off the boil almost two decades ago, while it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep a straight face when promoting the farcical forecasts from climate models.

“Heatwaves, deadly floods and wildfires all mean people are experiencing the link between extreme weather [BBC-speak for bad weather] and climate change,” states Matt Taylor of BBC Weather. What link might that be, one might reasonably ask. Certainly nothing that has yet been established by scientific proof. Individual events, however biblical in their incantation, cannot be provably linked to long term changes in the climate – to do so is mere conjecture.

And not very good conjecture at that, if the latest BBC example is anything to go by. Taylor starts by presenting the graph below.

Keir Starmer Pledges to Quit if Fined By Police Over Beergate

Keir Starmer has gambled his career on being cleared over Beergate by making an extraordinary vow to quit if he is fined by police – with Angela Rayner also promising to do the same. MailOnline has the story.

The Labour leader gave a statement after spending hours hunkered down with aides trying to decide how to handle the mounting crisis over the boozy curry event in April last year.

He insisted he is “absolutely clear” no rules were broken and he believes in “honour and integrity” – saying he is “very different” from Boris Johnson. 

Sir Keir said he had self-isolated six times, and obeyed the rules when his father-in-law was ill, suggesting even his opponents did not really believe he would have breached them in Durham. 

“If the police decide to issue me with a FPN I would of course do the right thing and step down,’ he said – although pushed by journalists he declined to say what he would do if police merely rebuke him publicly. 

Angela Rayner echoed his stance, saying in a statement: “If I were issued with a fine, I would do the decent thing and step down.”

The intervention – which raised the prospect of Labour being left without either of its two top politicians – came after a day of building tension, which saw Sir Keir cancel a think-tank event where he would have been grilled by journalists and ignored questions as he left his London home this morning.

He has agreed with senior figures urging him to get on the front foot by committing to resign should Durham Police find he broke Covid rules.

The strategy is high-risk but could potentially leave Sir Keir in a strong position if police do not issue a penalty – while allies suspect he would need to go anyway were he to receive a fine. It also means he will have more leverage in clashes with Mr. Johnson after the Queen’s Speech tomorrow.

He must be hoping the officer in charge of the case isn’t a Tory.

Worth reading in full.

Prince Harry Launches New Eco-Project Telling People Who Fly to New Zealand on Holiday to Save the Planet by Re-using Their Towel

Prince Harry has starred in a skit promoting his new eco-travel project in which holidaymakers are “rated” on their green credentials. MailOnline has more.

In a five-minute video published on the YouTube page of the duke’s non-profit Travalyst today, the Queen’s grandson goes for a jog through California which doubles as the backdrop for “New Zealand woodland”.

He is then ambushed by “rating agent” Rhys Darby, who accuses him of dropping a lolly wrapper four years earlier on a trip to the country with wife Meghan.

The video, which also features Kiwi actors David Fane and Rena Owen, launches the first-ever initiative launched in New Zealand for the British prince’s non-profit Travalyst organisation, founded in 2019, in which holidaymakers, rather than holidays, are rated for how sustainable they are. Kiwis now have access to a rating tool on the Travalyst website as part of a pilot initiative encouraging travellers to consider sustainable options during planning for their next trip.

It is unclear why the Duke chose New Zealand for the project, but Harry is known to love the country and considered moving there with Meghan when they quit as frontline royals, before opting for LA instead. 

He told Māori television’s current affairs programme Te Ao with Moana: “The Māori culture inherently understands sustainable practices and taking better care of our life-giving land, which are critical lessons we can all learn and that is why I’m here with you to share a new kaupapa.'”

In the skit, Harry – who is dressed in a grey “Girl Dad” T-shirt and sporting Apple Airpod headphones – is at first given three stars out of five, and then three and a half – as stamps on his arm – for only using one towel and for buying local honey. He is also praised for not leaving the tap running while brushing his teeth.

Why Haven’t Non-Western Countries Sanctioned Russia?

While Western leaders have achieved a certain amount of unity amongst themselves vis-à-vis sanctions against Russia, they’ve failed to convince many non-Western countries to join them – only traditional Western allies like Singapore, Japan and South Korea (which some people already consider part of ‘the West’).

Major players like China, India, Brazil, Mexico, Israel and Saudi Arabia have all so far refused to sanction Russia. Here’s a map of the current state of play (only the purple countries have actually imposed sanctions):

Sanctions against Russia

What explains the Western/non-Western schism on this issue? Is it just that Western countries are more ‘moral’, or that non-Western countries don’t care about people dying in Ukraine? I don’t think so.

As the foreign policy analyst Trita Parsi notes in this piece for MSNBC, different non-Western states have their own reasons for not joining Western sanctions, but there are some reasons that apply across the board. (Parsi’s piece is worth reading in full.)

Covid Vaccines Significantly Less Effective in People With Severe Obesity, Study Suggests

People with severe obesity generate a significantly weaker immune response to COVID-19 vaccination compared to those with normal weight, but the previously infected do not have this problem, a study has found. The study was conducted by Professor Volkan Demirhan Yumuk from Istanbul University and colleagues and was presented at the European Congress on Obesity in the Netherlands last week. SciTechDaily has more.

Obesity is a disease complicating the course of COVID-19, and the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine antibody response in adults with obesity may be compromised. Vaccines against influenza, hepatitis B, and rabies, have shown reduced responses in people with obesity…

Researchers measured antibody levels in blood samples taken from patients and normal weight controls who had received two doses of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or CoronaVac [Sinovac] vaccine and had their second dose four weeks earlier. The participants were classified by infection history as either previously having COVID-19 or not (confirmed by their antibody profile)…

In those without previous SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccinated with Pfizer/BioNTech, patients with severe obesity had antibody levels more than three times lower than normal weight controls (average 5,823 vs 19,371 AU/ml).

Similarly, in participants with no prior SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccinated with CoronaVac, patients with severe obesity had antibody levels 27 times lower than normal weight controls (average 178 vs 4,894 AU/ml).

However, in those with previous SARS-CoV-2 infection, antibody levels in patients with severe obesity and vaccinated with Pfizer/BioNTech or CoronaVac were not significantly different from normal weight controls (average 39,043 vs 14,115 AU/ml and 3,221 vs 7,060 AU/ml, respectively).

With obesity a major predictor of serious disease and death in Covid patients, that’s not good news for vaccine efficacy.

Worth reading in full.

We Need to Wake Up to the Dangers of the Online Safety Bill

I’ve just recorded an interview with Konstantin Kisin and Francis Foster for Triggernometry about the Online Safety Bill, pointing out the risks it poses to free speech. People are far more sanguine about this Bill than they should be – it’s not as if we haven’t been warned. Nadine Dorries, who as Secretary of State at DCMS is responsible for this Bill, has already said that under the new regulatory regime created by the Bill Ofcom will be able to regulate what jokes we’re allowed to read or watch or hear on social media platforms and singled out Jimmy Carr’s controversial joke about the Holocaust as an example of what would be banned. You can watch my interview by clicking here.

Needless to say, the Free Speech Union is doing everything in its power to try to improve the Bill – and you can support that work by joining the FSU here. Membership fees start at £2.49 a month.

Airport Chaos With Two-Hour Queues into the Carpark as Airports Fail to Recruit Replacements for Lockdown Layoffs

Holidaymakers jetting off today face airport chaos, with delays to flights and queues stretching outside the terminals. MailOnline has more.

Passengers at Manchester Airport say they are facing a two-hour wait at security check-in this morning, with queues leading outside the terminal and into to a nearby car-park.

Meanwhile, at Birmingham Airport, passengers have complained of ‘ridiculous’ queues at departures today, with long queues outside the main terminal building.

There are also delays to flights, with at least ten late flights at Manchester and four at Birmingham as of 8am this morning. Meanwhile at Stansted, there were also claims of two-hour delays at passport control last night.

The reason is that airports laid off almost half their staff during the pandemic, and despite Birmingham saying it began a recruitment drive in November, six months it seems is not long enough to recruit and train replacements for the lost workers. Manchester, however, admitted it only began its recruitment drive last month.

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