Saturday, 14 November 2020

Pfizer will save us from COVID!

 What, this Pfizer?

A team of Pfizer doctors reached the Nigerian camp just as the outbreak, which killed at least 11,000 people, was peaking. They set themselves up within metres of a medical station run by the aid group Médecins Sans Frontières, which was dispensing proven treatments to ease the epidemic.

From the crowd that had gathered at the Kano Infectious Diseases Hospital, 200 sick children were picked. Half were given doses of the experimental Pfizer drug called Trovan and the others were treated with a proven antibiotic from a rival company.

Eleven of the children died and many more, it is alleged, later suffered serious side-effects ranging from organ failure to brain damage. But with meningitis, cholera and measles still raging and crowds still queueing at the fence of the camp, the Pfizer team packed up after two weeks and left.

That would probably have been an end to the story if it weren't for Pfizer employee, Juan Walterspiel. About 18 months after the medical trial he wrote a letter to the then chief executive of the company, William Steere, saying that the trial had "violated ethical rules". Mr Walterspiel was fired a day later for reasons "unrelated" to the letter, insists Pfizer.
(That's from the Independent back in 2009 - as reported on the ever prescient lefthandpalm.)

Hopefully, because lots of the people needing the putative vaccine will be wealthy white Westerners Pfizer won't try any of their old tricks.  But let's not pretend that a massive international drugs company is anything other than a savage money making enterprise with the moral instincts of a psychopath.

Monday, 2 November 2020

The anti-Semitism report and Corbyn's suspension

It seems pretty clear to me that the outpouring or rage, directed at Jeremy corbyn, following the publication of the long awaited report on anti-Semitism in the Labour party is a phoney whirlwind, a sort of twitterstorm of the mainstream.

This isn't about anti-Semitism.  This is about making sure Corbyn is left holding the blame and - taking a longer term view - the leadership of the Labour Party.

As the report confirms:

The Labour party had - prior to Corbyn - inadequate processes for dealing with anti-Semitism. I don't see any claims that he took a good system and trashed it.  This was a party that had failed ot set up adequate processes for years - years and years - before corbyn became leader.  But it only became an issue after he was elected ... hmmmmm.

Things started to get better from 2018 after Formby took over. Before that, of course, the system was over seen by the likes of McNicol and 'whistleblower' Sam Mathews, who was meant to be overseeing the response to anti-Semitism ...

(as an aside, I'm bemused by the criticism of LOTO 'interfering' with the disciplinary process to speed it up so more anti-Semites could be expelled from the party, in a report that criticises the party for not dealing with complaints swiftly enough.)

This isn't about Corbyn. He's a scapegoat for the people who set up an inadequate system to deal with anti-Semitism,then tried to weaponize it to damage the leader.

None of this needed to happen, except, from the point of view of the self-proclaimed 'centrists' it did.

If Corbyn had been left to his own devices, he would probably have been leader for 3 years, stepping aside before the putative 2020 election to let someone younger and less controversial take over. In all probability, he'd have been content to see through the 'McDonnell amendment' so the left would always have been able to field a candidate.

Instead, the 'centrists' of the party decided to make a fight of it. You will recall they started tweeting their resignations and refusal to serves during his victory speech. No "Well, let's see where he's going with this" - just straight in with the attempts to sabotage his leadership, from the get-go. Then there was the conspiring, the planned rebellion before the referendum, the Chicken Coup, the second leadership contest, the deliberate breaking of the discipline system with the intention of making the party look anti-Semitic and so on, all sauced with briefings and leaking and so on, which the rightwing media lapped up and which the Labour 'centrists' were too dim-witted to think 'why?'

So instead of May trundling along with the majority she inherited from Cameron until 2020 and suffering the same fate as John Major, we had the 'blood in the water' election intended to finish Labour off, which instead broke May's government. Then suddenly Corbyn looked potentially electable - so the campaign intensified, culminating in the 2019 election and the election of a thumping Conservative majority.

The concern for the 'centrists' was that Corbyn would stand down to be replaced by an ideological soul-mate.  So getting rid of corbyn wasn't the point.  The point was to get rid of him and make sure no-one from the left ever wanted to be Labour leader again.  So the demonisation and the undermining was ramped up, resulting in the disaster of 2019.

That's all down to the 'centrists' and their dim-witted 'grown up' politics. I hope they are pleased with what they achieved.

Though I suspect they actually are - leftists will look at how Corbyn was monstered and think twice about standing for the leadership, even though they know they will be in with a good shout. Because who would want to go through what Corbyn was put through, and is still being put through, by the right wing media and their enablers in the Labour Party?

This isn't about anti-Semitism, or even Corbyn per se, but about showing any prospective leftwing leadership candidate what they are in for.

The 'centrists' can't win under one-person-one-vote, so they are making sure no-one from the left will ever want to be Labour leader again. 

Saturday, 3 October 2020

Johnson spreads the blame

 Apparently, the resurgence of Covid-19 is down to the British people getting 'complacent':

In total, at least 16.8 million people in the UK - about one in four people - face extra coronavirus measures on top of the national rules, including two-thirds of people in the north of England.

The prime minister, who has been speaking to BBC journalists from around the country, denied that a lack of testing in north-east England had caused the virus to get out of control in the region.

That's not the reality… the nation came together in March and April, what happened over the summer was a bit of sort of fraying of people's discipline and attention to those rules," he said.

Nah, Boz.  this one is down to you.

 You failed to take obvious, timely measures.  You failed to provide effective leadership.  You didn't manage to get a clear message out.  You and your cabal of goons and carpetbaggers and borderline sociopaths didn't stick to the rules you did come up with.

People died.  Tens of thousands of them.  Because you got it wrong.

You had TWO chances to get it right.  You blew both of them.

To nick something from Oscar Wilder, to screw up the biggest challenge of your premiership once could be regarded a misfortune; screwing it twice looks like carelessness.

Sunday, 6 September 2020

Left Out - a serial review

 So, a few weeks ago a book was published, under the title of Left Out.  It was written by Graham Pogrund and Patrick Maguire and purported to tell the tale of Corbyn's leadership from its zenith in June 2017 to the disaster of December 2019.

I hadn't been terribly interested in reading it, frankly, because of some of the immediate media coverage had suggested it was going to be something of a Corbyn bash.  Hell, the Daily Mail got into a lather about it, though I won't link to their write ups.

Then I happened upon Pogrund's twitter account and I thought, "Well, he might work for Rupert Murdoch, but that doesn't sound too bad."  So I acquired a electronic copy of it and will now treat you - my riveted readers - an occasional chapter-by-chapter summary of it.

So now ...

THE PROLOGUE

This is very interesting.  Obviously, I am pro-Corbyn and am mostly interested in things that show him to be the luckless victim of the 'centrists' in Labout who thought they new better than the leader of the party and the membership who elected him (twice.)  But I'll try to be honest and reflect the opinions of the writers.

I am glad to report the opening pages offer plenty of rick pickings.

It opens - almost inevitably - at the moment of neesis, as the exit poll is announced on the 12th of December, 2019, and whatever hopes Labour supporters had of a repetition of the miracle of 2017 were dashed.  I was there, I remember how it felt.  The authors note - without comment - that Corbyn was viewing the exit poll at the offices of a charity called Freedom From Torture.  Perhaps, after the travails of the past few years, that was appropriate.

The authors note that Corbyn's inner circle had been aware they were up against it for sometime - that the grim, static polls in the run up to the election were reflecting what their own polling was showing (if anything, Labour outperformed their private polling, which indicated the party would win fewer than 180 seats.)  Never-the-less, the sense of shock and misery is well described in these opening pages, and rendered sympathetically.

The prologue quickly defines the fault line at the top of the party - between Corbyn's inner circle (McDonnell, Milne, Murphy and a few others) and those who opposed him, implacably, from the start.  Here the authors do not hold back, describing the latter as "the seditious officials at party HQ."  Dwell on that word for a few moments - "seditious."  That isn't all of it.  A few lines later, they quote an email from Corbyn complaining about "self-absorbed disloyalty" following the leaking of the party's campaign grid.  Think on that - someone had opted to divulge information they were trusted with relating to the conduct of the election campaign.  This isn't small stuff.  I'm nervous of throwing words like 'treachery' around, but sabotaging your party's camapign ... what else do you call it?  Let's foll the lead of Pogrund and Maguire and call it sedition.

Later on, they hark back to the happier result of 2017, commenting how that apparent high point really marked the beginning of the decline.  Though "the Project" had earned the authority to try things its way, in the face of "two years of bitter resistance from its internal opponents" it would really be all down hill from June 2017 - "the hostility of MPs and party officials did not abate" the authors note, referring to the leaked report on anti-Semitism, cataloguing the "toxic, distrustful and openly mutinous culture of Southside".

It isn't effusively pro-Corbyn, however.  The authors do note, even ain these aearly pages, that Corbyn and his inner circle aren't blameless in their undoing and offer some wanings of what may come, commenting on the issue of anti-Semitism in ambivalent wording, "Corbyn's own stances on anti-Semitism and foreign affairs came to wreak such damage on the Project."

Saturday, 29 August 2020

FOX news for Britain?

Seriously, as the BBC and the Guardian have demonstrated over the last few years, this really isn't necessary:
Rival efforts are under way to launch a Fox News-style opinionated current affairs TV station in Britain to counter the BBC. 
One group is promising a news channel “distinctly different from the out-of-touch incumbents” and has already been awarded a licence to broadcast by the media regulator, Ofcom, under the name “GB News”. 
Its founder has said the BBC is a “disgrace” that “is bad for Britain on so many levels” and “needs to be broken up”. 
A rival project is being devised in the headquarters of Rupert Murdoch’s British media empire by the former Fox News executive David Rhodes, although it is unclear whether it will result in a traditional TV channel or be online-only. 
Both are pitching to a perceived gap in the market for opinionated video output fuelled by growing distrust of the BBC among some parts of its audience, especially on the political right over culture war issues such as Brexit and whether Rule, Britannia! should be sung at the Last Night of the Proms.
Obviously, this will greatly improve the quality of journalistic discourse in Britain.

The BBC and the Guardian will doubtlessly respond to a challenge from the gutter-right by providing high quality, impartial and balanced news.

No way it would be dragged further and further to the trash heap.

We already have the Mail, which supplies plenty of bias and bile in print form.  Why the need to add 'opinionated video'; or is it a tacit admission that a substantial part of the target demographic aren't capable of reading the hate speech and propaganda of the Mail and the Sun?

Saturday, 15 August 2020

The diagnosis isn't good, Judith

Watching National's Health spokesman, Dr Shane Reti, on TVNZ yesterday morning was instructive:


In four minutes, he managed to undermine both his leader and deputy leader - refusing to twist th knife Collins had attempted to plant in Labour, by acknowledging the government was doing "the best they can" and they were confronted with a "hard problem" and referencing a "productive" meeting with Health Minister Chris Hipkins.

This moderate - dare I say commendably mature attitude? - distances him from Collins' complaint about the government withholding information from National and Brownlee's conspiratioral mutterings and indicates a fissure between three of the four most important people in the putative National government just weeks out from the election.

If the chap you've got lined up to be Health minister is quietly signalling he doesn't agree with the leader - in the middle of a pandemic - it doesn't give voters many reasons to be enthusiastic for you.

Covid is kinda of a big deal in 2020 and National have blown their chance to actually make the government look shakey on it by being even shakier themselves.

With the polls suggesting National will struggle to reach the 35% threshold Collins has indicated represents 'victory' in her curiously inverted world, perhaps Reti is looking beyond the election, aware that he has a future – either in in politics, academe or medicine – and Collins and Brownlee do not?

He seems to represent a less dangerous future for National and - given there will occasionally have to be National governments - that needs to be encouraged.  All the more reason for centrists inclined to (sometimes) support National to vote AGAINST the party this year - to crush the Collins leadership and drive her faction (promoted by Cameron Slater and his allies through dirty tricks and blackmail, as outlined in Dirty Politics) out of the party.

Pfizer will save us from COVID!

 What, this Pfizer ? A team of Pfizer doctors reached the Nigerian camp just as the outbreak, which killed at least 11,000 people, was peaki...