Of Coronavirus and Chartism 468

I am cheerfully optimistic that this Coronavirus, like asian swine flu and SARS before it, will prove not to be as deadly as may be prognosticated by journalists wanting to fill column inches. One day the human race will become extinct; but it is unlikely to be a virus that does it, as wiping out your host is not a clever survival policy for a virus. Even a disease as vicious as ebola proved not to be so potent against subjects who were not malnourished nor struggling with other health issues. So far this coronavirus seems to have a mortality rate of about 3%, which is probably an over high estimate as it is only a percentage of those who died after testing, whereas it appears there are large numbers with milder symptoms who are unlikely to have been tested in the first place. So coronavirus is not looking vastly different to ordinary influenza, which has a mortality rate of about 1%.

When you or I get flu we don’t normally panic as though we have a 1% chance of dying from it. That is again because we are well nourished, live in good conditions and have not been much weakened by other disease. Like this coronavirus, influenza generally carries off the old and frail. Whether the infamous Spanish flu after the First World War that killed so many was a particularly potent strain is open to doubt. A more powerful factor is probably that the population it wracked was suffering greatly from malnourishment, stress and disease already as a result of the war. But unlike this coronavirus, that one did attack children badly.

Which is not to say the current coronavirus might not yet mutate into something much more lethal, but as yet there is no sign of that happening.

I was educated both at school and university very much in the liberal tradition of history. At both levels, the curriculum featured a view of historic political development very much as “progress”. The “years of revolution”, 1830 and 1848, were landmarks in this, where liberal and national movements made some progress against monarchist autocracy across the whole of Europe. These political waves of convulsion on a continent wide basis undoubtedly happened, and in the UK resulted in the Great Reform Act and the Chartist Movement. They were taught in the Macaulay/Trevelyan historical tradition as very much the product of development in thought, as a product of political philosophy, as though the masses were moved by the elegantly turned phrases of a Benthamite pamphlet.

At university, I did add to this the knowledge that poor harvests had helped precipitate events, and indeed those had featured in my A level lists of “Causes of the French Revolution”. But it was only really a few years ago, when I was researching Sikunder Burnes, that I came to focus properly on the role of epidemiology in these human convulsions. Both the 1830 and 1848 European wave of revolutions coincided with the first and second ever cholera pandemics sweeping across Europe. The reason I came across this while studying Burnes is precisely that it was the opening up of Central Asia to trade in this period, largely through Russian exploration and expansion, that brought the disease into Europe. Burnes was in 1832 in a Bokhara ravaged for years by cholera. Its great canals – which are still there – were only being opened to fresh water once a month, and they served as both water supply and sewer, as Burnes documented in detail.

Without the misery inflicted by cholera, both directly and in economic impact, the desperate urban mobs may not have existed which enabled middle class liberals – and their own auto-didactic leadership – to start the establishment of western European democracy. It seems a very strange thing to suggest that cholera pandemics forwarded social progress. But there you are. I am now proceeding to an audacious discussion as to whether a lack of effective pandemics may retard social progress. Hang on to your hats.

[As a complete aside, I also discovered while researching Alexander Burnes that the great British liberal historical tradition was founded on a truly remarkable incestuous household menage a trois between Macaulay, his sister and Charles Trevelyan, father of the historian George who may well have been Macaulay’s son and nephew, rather than the official version of just nephew, and that Macaulay had also been having sex with his other sister. So much for Victorian respectability. Sikunder Burnes is a difficult book to describe because it presents an extremely detailed and painstaking account of the life of a 19th century British imperial functionary, and then from that framework sprout all kinds of exegeses on my wider intellectual interests. I hope it reads better than that sounds].

I do hope that I am right that coronavirus will prove, like SARS, not a great threat to us. The ability of modern nutrition, living conditions and medicine to ward off serious risk of epidemic and other illness has of course resulted in a very significant increase in human longevity. The relentless increase in longevity has slowed slightly as a result of the post 2008 economic crash, but I expect it to pick up again as it is a centuries old trend. In the UK, much has been written about the economic effects of this. In the UK, the concentration of wealth in the hands of old people who are not dying and passing it down, coincides with economic changes which have made it very difficult for young people to have good secure employment and to accumulate wealth, particularly property.

At the same time, the old people may own wealth but do not much generate it. With the increasingly aged demographic profile boosted by both people living longer and by historic falling birth rates, the percentage of the population in employment is in decline. The Office of National Statistics projects that while in 2007 there were 244 pensioners for every 1000 adults of working age, by 2041 there will be 419 per 1,000. This is a well understood economic problem to which, within the UK, the answer has lain in immigration.

It is not my purpose here to touch on these economic questions. I wish rather to look at the political effects. The UK has become a gerontocracy. The proportion of British adults eligible to vote who were aged over 55 in 2007 was approximately 37%. By 2041, that will be a majority of voters aged over 55. It is quite possible that a majority of those who do cast their vote in the UK are already over 55, as voter turnout is much higher among the elderly. So by 2040 it is perfectly possible that 60% or more of all votes actually cast will be cast by people aged 55 or over.

This is significant because it is a matter of indisputable fact that voting patterns are different between the old and the young. It was, to a truly remarkable degree, only the votes of the over 55s that stopped Scottish Independence, voted for Brexit, and elected Boris Johnson. Now any time I write on this subject I get offended older people saying “well I am old but I am not a Tory”. I know. I am not claiming every old person is a Tory. But Unionism, Brexitism and Toryism all are much more predominant among older voters. And while the issues may differ by 2040, I very much doubt there will cease to be differentials between the views of the old and the young.

The long term effects of western political systems which become increasingly dominated by geriatric voters are very unlikely to include a greater willingness to adopt progressive or innovative political approaches. I do not see how there can fail to be a stultifying effect on social progress. Again, I am 61 myself. Of course there are many radical older people. But there is overwhelming evidence that is not the norm.

Gaia has ways of restoring balance. It seems to me a fascinating speculation that, as the planet’s apex predator, mankind has succeeded in increasing individual longevity by increased nutrition and an ability to stave off pandemics which nature would use to keep down the numbers, and which normally would particularly kill older people. But the result of this may be a profound reduction in the adaptability and flexibility of mankind’s political hive mind as it becomes encrusted with geriatric thought, leading to seriously bad political decisions which ultimately will impact population anyway. Climate change is the most obvious example, but the process could have long term subtle effects in many ways.

Thomas Malthus was pilloried for centuries, but his critique of the dangers of human over-population now chimes with envronmentalist concerns. I have no desire to underestimate the suffering of those unfortunate enough to be affected by coronavirus. I do not actually wish to see elderly Tories and unionists carried off by flu. But I suspect you, like me, may very seldom get to read an article referencing the interrelationship of epidemiology, longevity and political systems. As the avowed purpose of this blog is to make people think, I thought readers and commenters may care to stretch their brains on this one.

Finally, as a restorative affirmation of the fact that older people can have very positive contributions to make to political thought, here is last week’s debate between George Galloway and myself on the subject of Scottish Independence. It has become unusual in British politics to see two people with fundamentally different views on a major political issue, discuss the matter with mutual respect and absolutely no rancour. It is a practice that appears to have deserted most professional politicians, as the last disintegrating days of the UK state become increasingly acrimonious.


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468 thoughts on “Of Coronavirus and Chartism

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  • Vivian O'Blivion

    Crude oil demand has dropped by 700,000 barrels per day attributed to the Wuhan coronavirus. This is just a drop in demand for aviation fuel for Chinese internal flight. What if international flights shut down?
    The US economy is already overheating, if trading in the petro dollar is substantially curtailed, inflation sets in. Start a war to distract the plebs.

    • James Charles

      “The US economy is already overheating, . . . ”
      Not according to this monetarist?
      “ The table below summarizes key numbers. The pattern is much as in recent months, although the American money growth acceleration was interrupted by a moderate 0.4% M3 increase in December. All the same, the US money growth acceleration has been persistent enough to deserve highlighting. Buoyant money growth is normally associated with asset price gains and balance-sheet strength, and hence with above-trend growth in demand. With the US stock market up by about a quarter in the last year and house prices also moving ahead, the argument is strengthened. However, leading indicator indices are as yet signalling only trend growth in the USA and elsewhere. . . .
      Despite the almost double-digit annual money growth rate in the USA, it is too early to be 100% confident about a forecast of above-trend growth. However, another quarter or two of broad money growth at recent rates would justify a strong forecast of that sort. With national output already somewhat above trend according to most estimates, above-trend growth would imply a significantly positive output gap in early 2021 and meaningful upwards pressures on inflation. Given the lags before inflation deteriorates, President Trump may enjoy a very favourable economic background in the November election“


  • michael norton

    In the United Kingdom, the greatest number of overseas students are from China, on some courses, more than half are Chinese.
    Soon, thousands will be coming from China to the U.K. to resume their courses.
    If there is a two week incubation period, some will not know they harbour the virus as they travel.

    • N_

      Have quite a few of the students taken time off from their courses to pop back to China for the New Year? (Only the rich ones could afford to do that, and many Chinese students in Britain aren’t especially rich – in some cases their parents are spending most of their life savings to put them through university.)

      Latest figures from John Hopkins University: 6057 reported cases of this coronavirus. (The JHU “dashboard” isn’t as great as they present it. It says it’s continuously updated, but so what if their own data sources aren’t? Still, I don’t know of any better tracker site for this virus.) Mortality 2.2%, confirmed recoveries 1.8%.

  • Mary

    Did you notice Netanyahu standing alongside Trump in the photos?

    Trump unveils ‘realistic two-state solution’ for Middle East peace
    Palestinians absent as plan offers route to statehood but recognises Israeli settlements in West Bank

    A hoax is how the Palestinians see it. More like a diversion from this item below..

    Netanyahu indicted in court after removing immunity request
    Israeli prime minister to face trial on charges including bribery and breach of trust
    Reuters in Jerusalem
    Tue 28 Jan 2020 15.04

  • steve brown

    I heard [citation needed] that the First World War flu actually spared the young and the old but killed off relatively healthy people because their immune system engaged in a long deadly war of attrition with the virus whereas the former population group caved in to the virus which just hopped along to another host

    • N_

      @Steve – Could be the case with the young; not so sure about the old. Then there is polio. Polio was one of the few diseases to hit the rich worse than the poor. In some places, all the poor got it as babies, when the symptoms are not much more than a runny nose as if with a minor cold, the antibodies fight it off, and then the person is immune for the rest of the lives. But the rich didn’t get it as babies, and when a person gets it in later life it’s much more serious, often causing paralysis and sometimes death.

  • Royd

    I’m not an epidemiologist, nor a climate scientist so my thoughts on this might be considered naïve but they go like this. Corona virus is merely another virus that is taking its chance when the opportunity presents, as do all viruses. It will come and go but before it goes it will wreak most destruction on the young, the old and those whose immune systems are compromised – by disability, chronic illness or malnutrition. I think that climate change will bring about a reduction in the global population overall. There will be mass movement of people from areas that no longer can support agriculture and where water supplies have diminished or disappeared. Opportunistic diseases will rise and will move with moving people. Many will die and many will carry the diseases as they go. I don’t think any country has prepared itself for this – either in the country directly affected by the loss of agriculture or those who might be likely to receive those migrating from it. I speculate that receiving countries will not be prepared to ‘receive’ and will build walls of some description – physically or metaphorically. In short, they will be prepared to let unimaginable numbers of people die. They will do this as a means to ‘self protect’. The variety of foods will diminish and food shortages will be experienced. Conflict will be waged by powers seeking to control water resources (rather than oil!) and the future is likely to be as it is now – a fight for resources but perhaps on a more brutal scale and much more obvious. If such speculation is anywhere near possible, it’s dire. We have a chance to change this but we need to do it very, very quickly. I don’t see much evidence of our capacity for rapid change. The worst case scenario is not exactly a good way to motivate people to make positive change but if we don’t change how we live and the things we do now, it’s exactly what will happen. I’m looking to our political leaders to get motivated but I see little signs. I look to my friends and family to make changes and I see little evidence that they are. I look to myself and see that I talk about making changes more than I do make changes. I’m reminded of the saying (and I can’t recall who said it and I paraphrase) – if you want to change anything, start with yourself. Bit of a ramble that but I wonder if others think in the same vein?

    • Royd

      Thanks Buffalo_Ken 🙂 I admit that my speculation is somewhat apocalyptic but I do not see the scale or pace of change needed being done, or anywhere near like it. I wish I too could be more hopeful. I guess once corporations ‘twig’ that they can continue with their approach to business (profit extraction) we might see some major changes – plus ca change and all that…

    • N_

      There are places right now where there have been large population movements (millions of people leaving Venezuela – not only for Colombia but also for Brazil and Ecuador – and many leaving Syria too or internally displaced within that country) without there being any epidemics. But the discourse is likely to connect population movements with the spread of disease, and there will be calls for “walls”. Daily Mail readers must be in seventh heaven! The idea of China in the West, and of Chinese influence on the West, has connotations of “spreading plague, as they have done down the centuries”. (Never mind that bubonic plague is an infection by a bacterium, not by a virus. That said, I’m not convinced the Black Death was bubonic plague. Perhaps it was a virus – who knows? The “scientists” don’t.) I recently read about San Francisco battening down the hatches. “The West” here includes places to the east of China, such as the US West Coast, and also to the south, such as Australia.

    • Jon

      I don’t really have any thoughts on my link. The article may be true, but who knows anything in these days of lies published by just about every organisation known to man? Could this be yet another mistake in germ warfare? It may be that there is a top secret plan to cut the population, and this is one way of doing it without resorting to the problems of nuclear fallout lasting for decades/centuries.

      I just put that link out there to alert people to the fact that this latest virus may not be such an innocent invasion as the panicking MSM would have you believe.

      • N_

        Thanks, @Jon. Interesting article: “The Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory is housed at the Chinese military facility Wuhan Institute of Virology linked to China’s Biological Warfare Program“. So it’s a bit like a viral epidemic breaking out in, oh, say somewhere close to Porton Down such as Salisbury. To judge from that article, Israel appears to have been keeping a close watch on Chinese bioweapons facilities. No mention of Taiwan though. We could perhaps be reaching a stage where just as psychological warfare begins before physical confrontation (as is always the case where powerful countries are involved), the same is true of biological warfare.

  • Magic Robot

    The whole ‘coronavirus’ story is fake as hell.

    Ordinary influenza kills 100,000’s every year, but only gets a mere mention in the media.

    The real problem is the old problem: bad sanitation, not washing down surfaces, poor air quality from the smogs enveloping the city etc.
    Recall the infamous London ‘Pea-Soupers’ that were a direct result of the SO2 pollution from Battersea power station. People were being found dead in shop doorways from the sulphuric acid, produced from the SO2 they had breathed in, that had destroyed their lungs from the insides. Their symptoms could be easily interpreted as ‘flu: coughing, hard to breathe, chest pains.

    The situation is as bad today in China, with refuse being burned in incinerators and no attempt to clean the effluent emanating from them is made. The same for coal burning power stations, right there. On top of this the Wuhan province is a major industrial zone, making many billions in money every year for their economy. It is not something the government want closed down.
    The problem is environmental, but their government has turned it into a medical issue for political reasons.

    Yes, it is a conspiracy theory, but the evidence will mount to make it an undeniable conspiracy fact.

    • michael norton

      Magic Robot,
      in China they build more than two new coal fired power stations each week.
      I am told there is terrible air quality, a lot of the time in cities as well as in deserts and on the edges of deserts, where land is being lost to desertification – overuse.
      People struggle in poor air quality, they struggle breathing in desert storms.
      Not breathing properly is bound to make you prone to chest infections.
      A person living in a healthy, clean air environment is less likely to die from pneumonia/influenza/animal diseases.
      So adding dust storms to coal air to living with dirty water makes you vulnerable.
      People should not be put in a situation of having to wear face masks.

      • Stonky

        In China they build more than two new coal fired power stations each week…

        I get tired of reading this nonsense, inevitably presented devoid of any context.

        This is the main reason why China is building more than two new coal fired power stations each week:

        All across the north of China, winter can last for months, and temperatures can fall as low as -40. Central heating in towns and cities is generally provided communally. Power stations heat water which is then piped to local apartment complexes. It’s not a ‘nice to have’ – without it people will die. I don’t know how many towns and cities are involved – certainly hundreds, possibly thousands, and hundreds of millions of people.

        In the past, many of these stations were small, inefficient, old, and filthy. In the city of Jilin, which I know well, there were dozens and dozens of these stations, and when the winter heating went on the city was immediately shrouded in a pall of smog. Over the past ten years the authorities have been progressively decommissioning these, and they are now all gone. They have been replaced by two big modern stations. I don’t know exactly what they burn, but it will probably be a combination of clean coal, gasified coal, and natural gas. The air over Jilin in winter is now clean.

        This is part of a programme to improve air quality across the whole of north China. These are the “new coal-fired stations” China is building. It does indeed involve hundreds of new coal-fired stations.

        Not once, ever, have I read anything about this in any western media outlet, for all the hundreds of times I’ve seeen references to these “new coal-fired stations”. The rubbish masquerading as western “journalists” in China know nothing of it, they have no interest in it, and they wouldn’t report it even if they did. Their job is to fill the heads of people like you with lies and shit about the evil empire and what a threat it is to us all, and condition you into hating China and taking pleasure when disaster befalls, ultimately leading to a situation where ordinary people in the west will be cheering and yodelling should our rulers ever manage to incite a war between China and one of its neighbours.

        • Magic Robot

          January 29, 2020 at 10:37
          My comment referred to Wuhan province.
          Pictures of the city were shown on BBC and ITV. The air was quite obviously thick with smog, and yet none of the reporters bothered to mention this. Even small amounts of SO2 in the air will cause illness.
          The people there have been protesting about this, for a while now, and little is done to improve things.
          The ‘coronavirus’ is a hoax to cover for the government’s lack of environmental action that has resulted in a serious health issue for their people.
          A qualified viewpoint can be found here:

          • michael norton

            The British Government plan to air-lift British people out of Wuhan, tomorrow, they will be kept in quarantine in Britain at an undisclosed Military Establishment.

    • Bayard

      “Recall the infamous London ‘Pea-Soupers’ that were a direct result of the SO2 pollution from Battersea power station. ”
      No I don’t, mainly because the “pea-soupers” were the result of millions of small coal fires in people’s houses. Battersea Power station on its own couldn’t produce enough smoke to make a light fog, let alone a pea-souper and it’s smoke that creates smog, not SO2.

    • pretzelattack

      maybe the guardian will retract the story about assange meeting with manafort in the embassy. and stop calling him a rapist.

  • Kim Sanders-Fisher

    I have some thoughts on our preparedness to resist the threat of a global pandemic that would become measurably worse if we chose to emulate the US in employment rights and healthcare provision. One conclusion that I reached while working in American hospitals relates to the hidden risk of the lengthy commutes to work, implementing neo-con “business friendly” employment rules and the US reliance on a for-profit healthcare system. The widespread acceptance of long car journeys to get to work could in an epidemic situation rapidly spread an infection over a wider area during the initial incubation phase. Some of our staff at Johns Hopkins commuted to Baltimore from across the Pennsylvania State line and people in the US take a lot of domestic flights for business and pleasure. A conveniently interconnected modern society is capable of transporting viruses for fast dispersal within a major population like the US.

    US business practices and harsh employment rules are set to rapidly sweep into the UK as the Tories seek to placate American companies to secure their investment. In America you need to be very seriously ill to call in sick and avoid going to work; shockingly this is true even among critical medical staff in a hospital. Calling in sick is referred to as “an occurrence” more than three such “occurrences” in the same year and you start into the punitive disciplinary process. If you are late for work for whatever reason, that counts as half an occurrence and there is poor tolerance for the need to stay home with a sick child.

    This was such a ludicrous way to manage staff who should have called in sick to properly protect Hospital patients that, after the policy was first introduced, if we felt unwell we used to jokingly say “I think I’m about to occur.” Despite the wisecracks this deeply flawed policy has severe ramifications especially in a hospital setting where you are caring for very sick patients with limited to zero immunity. I was fired without cause for protesting being left stranded scrubbed into surgery for 12hours straight without a break; imagine that with a streaming cold or rampant diarrhoea! On a practical level bugs got passed around in our cramped changing room and we struggled to focus on a demanding job while working alongside several colleges who were all sick at the same time.

    How might that impact containment in the early phase of an epidemic? Ignoring the risk to vulnerable patients, staff would be expected to come into work sick as they often feel compelled to do so or risk losing their job. Unable to take time off on compassionate grounds staff would send children to school who really should have remained at home. Hospital staff are at the front line of treatment as a new infection is just beginning to emerge, but even as they start to get sick themselves they are obliged to stay on duty. This zero tolerance sick leave policy is already the accepted norm for zero-hours contract workers in the UK, but it will soon become policy for all staff after our EU workers protections are removed as we break with the EU.

    I have always been a big supporter of our NHS freely available to everyone regardless of the ability to pay. I believe that those who are denied access to healthcare represent a very dangerous breeding ground in which a serious epidemic can easily take hold among an abandoned and ugnored sector of the population. This is not mere speculation: we know this is true due to the resurgence of TB in the homeless population in the US. Neither your money nor your insurance will defend you from casual contact with an impoverished person who has no right to seek medical attention. Any attempt to segregate a specific sector of the population, for wherever reason, ethnic background, nationality or ability to pay will introduce this alarming Achilles heel into the system so it must be strongly resisted.

    Between these three critical flaws in emergency preparedness, the US has created a perfect storm to facilitate the rapid spread of any newly emerging viral infections. When the Tories ruthlessly strip away all that bothersome red tape, that will include workers rights and safety standards, it is likely to be done as a way of satisfying US trade requirements with new “business friendly” practices. This will probably include “At Will” firing without cause, which in the US forces employees to accept the rules however harsh and uncompromising they may be. It gags those who want to blow the whistle on unsafe practice. Citizens in the UK will be a lot less safe if we are forced to emulate the US Achilles heel that is generated by callous corporate greed, “othering” and exclusion. Even an outbreak on the other side of the world has to be taken seriously due to modern air travel; any cooperation provided is largely out of our own self-interest.

    I meant to share this comment with you earlier in the thread, but I don’t find much time to focus on anything other than my protest as I am still obsessing over the recent unfathomable General Election result. I do not believe we voted for the dystopian nightmare that will begin to unfold after disaster day on Friday. If you too think the 2019 Election was rigged please join us on the Elections Aftermath Forum on this blog where you can find the link to my new petition gaining signatures on AVAAZ: 2019 TORY LANDSLIDE VICTORY DEMANDS URGENT NATIONWIDE INVESTIGATION. This tops the page on a duckduckgo or Bing search, but is still not picked up at all via Google search; go figure?

    • Giyane

      Kim Sanders Fisher

      If the flecks of US corporate froth seen by Jeremy Corbyn about the NHS are true, it follows that the Tories are bonkers enough to rig an election and create an infection against which the corporates have already received inoculation.

      Are they bonkers enough to do it. In the case of Count Cummings , YES. There are , in the minds of the 1%, too many people in the world. Unexplained wars and diseases must be launched to cull them. No need to fash over the election result.
      The tories are mad. Always have been

      • Cascadian

        John Wyndham wrote a novel – The Trouble with Lichen – that explores the possible consequence of the elite doing what you have implied. The result was not at all what the elite envisioned for themselves!

  • nevermind

    Well, since its in the title, this outbreak could be the next best thing to the black death, the curve of infection is rapidly rising much steeper, compared with SARS. Interviews in the US, including a question as to wether the US is planning any Wuhan like responses, had their press statements etased from the records.

    Any planes that carried infected passengers to global destinations, are contaminated. Their air is circulated and filterred during the flight and it would have inevitably infected others to a more or less extent.

    I hope Im wrong. Good morning…..

    • nevermind

      Btw. Wuhan is an air traffic hub with over 80 different destinations as regular as a cup of tea and the perfect spot and timing for a global epedemic.

      Just a thought.

  • michael norton

    Australia plans to quarantine its evacuees from China on Christmas island 2,000km (1,200 miles) from the mainland.
    (Incidentally the highest point on Christmas Island is known as Murray Hill)
    The Australians may be overreacting but they must imagine this is a serious threat to life.

  • Dungroanin

    Sticking to facts as of today Chinese stats are
    (Rounded by me)

    6,000 confirmed cases.
    1240 critical condition ( 20%)
    132 dead (2.2%)
    103 recovered
    From Global Times

    It is speculated infections will not peak until April/May even with quarantine now being imposed.

    I suppose that we will get it in the UK as a summer flu – but there ought to be developed vaccines by then, EU wide.

    Probably definitely Bat related not Snake!

    Looks as if it kicked off arond oct/nov – yum Bat! You eat me I eat you.

    Science is fast on this – mutations may be restricted.
    Not sure it is wise to break people out of quarantine areas.

    Heck if it was so easy to clear Europeans out maybe the Brexiteers should have just launched a British virus – they’d have flooded off back to Europe!

    • Marmite


      ‘But an authoritarian political culture which punishes rather than rewards transparency prevents accountability and struggles to change course.’

      Are they talking about Britain’s treatment of Assange here? I guess the same language applies all over these days.

      At least the author had the decency to reflect:

      ‘Complacency, incompetence and cover-ups are hardly unknown in democracies.’

      A fairly sensible piece, but the establishment media needs to stop being so haughty in the face of alternative sources, and needs to get real on the issue of conspiracy theories. Some of them are no more false and no more true than the lies with which the mainstream press fills up the world.

  • Billy Bostickson

    Further to the zerohedge link Jon posted, I recently read a quite long but well written investigation (and well researched) albeit with an unfortunate choice of title, into the activities of the Wuhan virology lab and some of its prominent researchers. I’m not sure if I agree with the claims of US involvement and tend to think that it was an inadvertent leak of a recombined bat coronavirus with a SARS like spike protein able to enter human cells via the ACE2 receptors(that much is proved beyond doubt as papers have been published by the researchers concerned), but that’s just conjecture.You can read the “facts” here:


    Any virologists on board here ready to dispute the claims and inferences?

    • Giyane

      Long but well-written. If repetition, innuendo, and ad feminem is considered good writing. As with Novichok, the Global New Order appears to be manufacturing the very lethal chemicals and viruses it claims have been used by rogue elements.
      This points not to a leak, but to a deliberate starting of a pandemic by the US, which has had over 10 years to prepare vaccines for its own use.

      Maybe this is one of the weapons Trump described as beautiful? Bats being mammals unlike birds which are related to dinosaurs, means that their viruses can spread to humans.
      The vaccine turns your hair orange.

      Bostick’s having a ball. Pandemic started by a woman!

  • Dungroanin

    From Global Times.

    7:47 am Jan 30
    In total 7,711 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus have been reported in China as of Jan 29, with 170 deaths and 124 recovered.
    6:35 am Jan 30
    Hubei Province reported 1,032 new novel coronavirus cases and 10 new recovered cases on Jan 29; total number of infection in the province is 4,586, with 90 recovered and 162 dead.
170 is 2.2%
    162 is 3.5%

    The Chinese authorotarian government has eradicated poverty AND is creating more millionaires and billionaires faster than the USA authoratarian government.

    Mixed economy Socialism is the best form world government with a localist democracy for the future security of humanity.

    Look at the latest numbers on the virus i posted above – do you think India will be able to deal with it better with it’s mainly US capitalist system? Or us?

    The Chinese are building a 2,000 bed specialist hospital in a weeks! The ancient civilisation that gave us silk and gunpowder – the Celestial Empire, which went into shock and retreated when it realised they were not the only ‘civilisation’ on the planet.

    China has re-emerged from that cacoon as the New Paradigm to again gift the world with another gift of human civilisation.

    Which the US has NEVER been – based on a self created lie of ‘individualism’ and the European/Abrahamic certitudes of its own celestial empire.

    The ‘interesting times ‘are for us I fear and about bloody time too! It looks like the nail in the coffin of the Anglo Imperialists.
    The 5+1 eyed monster gollum is faced with nemesis.

    Craig the new Chartist moment may well be upon us! Get crafting !

    • N_

      The 5+1 eyed monster gollum is faced with nemesis.

      That’s an astute line. 5G > 5+1 !

      Has the new Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee been appointed yet? The answer seems to be “no” to judge from the website. You’d have thought 5G was something they should want to look at. The publication of the Russia report is supposed to come under their remit too.

      But today it’s HS2. (Does “HS” stand for “Huge Scam”?) I won’t be surprised if Javid gets removed in the coming Night of the Long Knives.

      • N_

        Perhaps the Duke of Cummings is going to reform the select committee system?
        He said as much in 2014.
        It’s as if the real “first Johnson administration” hasn’t been appointed yet. Hold on to your hats!

    • AKAaka

      I think the mortality rate needs a closer look.

      For example:
      7783 confirmed cases, 170 dead, 133 recovered.

      You cannot calculate the morality rate since many of those confirmed cases are still sick, at least 1000 critically so.

      For good data you would need to look at a decent group of cases and follow those individuals through to recovered status. You could once all clear just compare deaths to recovered. If you do that now the morality rate doesn’t bear thinking about.

      The mortality rate will also not be a constant. A well engineered virus (though I’m not saying it is engineered) would not kill too quickly. Long incubation before symptomatic, contagious early, slowwwwww death. This way you maximise transmission and coverage, but also you clog hospitals, logistics and resources. This increases mortality rate because even if treatment is available, it is out of reach and so you get dead and dying in corridors, on streets etc. Everything breaks down.

      Logic also dictates that you would not quarantine the equivalent of the entire population of the UK for something like common flu. So it is natural to worry there is more going on here. Even the stats can’t be trusted for a whole host of reasons, but it seems quite widespread news that people are not being tested since the amount of test kits are limited. This could because they just don’t have enough, or it could be because they are purposefully being supplied a certain number to mimic a more desirable exponential growth pattern that they can control and then show to be slowing. As with all news nowadays, you have to draw your own conclusions, or not, just be aware.

      Going into conspiracies, it certainly is awfully good timing and the perfect location to start an outbreak. Who would do such a thing? Who would ever drop a nuke or 2? Who owed China over a trillion dollars last year?

      I don’t think the shit has hit the fan just yet, China is such a brilliant unknown, but with a suspected case in Birmingham who has been wandering about for a month after becoming symptomatic… It’s worrying because the mortality rate is unknown, but just how bad does it have to be to clog healthcare and suddenly increase due to lack of beds and personnel. No beds for anything, let alone Coronavirus. If it requires treatment, then the ease of transmission may be a vastly more lethal stat than mortality rate and that appears to be very high indeed.

      Keep your eyes open and wits about you, don’t panic, maybe have a think about how long you could stay indoors for if the worst happens is all, and wash your hands a lot. We’ll probably know in a week or 2.

      Just to quietly add, I know nothing, in an attempt to be considered any form of meek.

  • Michael

    This is a bit of fun from 2017 (so no agenda related to the current situation!) and seems quite credible coming from one of the world’s most respected scientific journals! China’s only bio containment lab certified to work with the most dangerous pathogens is…located in Wuhan!…

    ‘A laboratory in Wuhan is on the cusp of being cleared to work with the world’s most dangerous pathogens. The move is part of a plan to build between five and seven biosafety level-4 (BSL-4) labs across the Chinese mainland by 2025.
    ‘BSL-4 is the highest level of biocontainment.
    ‘Some scientists outside China worry about pathogens escaping, and the addition of a biological dimension to geopolitical tensions between China and other nations. But Chinese microbiologists are celebrating their entrance to the elite cadre empowered to wrestle with the world’s greatest biological threats.
    ‘Future plans include studying the pathogen that causes SARS, which also doesn’t require a BSL-4 lab, before moving on to Ebola and the West African Lassa virus, which do.
    ‘But worries surround the Chinese lab, too. The SARS virus has escaped from high-level containment facilities in Beijing multiple times, notes Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey.
    ‘Ebright is not convinced of the need for more than one BSL-4 lab in mainland China. He suspects that the expansion there is a reaction to the networks in the United States and Europe, which he says are also unwarranted. He adds that governments will assume that such excess capacity is for the potential development of bioweapons.
    ‘“These facilities are inherently dual use,” he says.’
    (“Nature is a British multidisciplinary scientific journal, first published on 4 November 1869. It is one of the most recognizable scientific journals in the world, and was ranked the world’s most cited scientific journal by the Science Edition of the 2010 Journal Citation Reports and is ascribed an impact factor of 43.073, making it one of the world’s top academic journals.”

    ‘As the central Chinese city of Wuhan grapples with a previously unknown strain of virus and is on the verge of getting physically sealed from the outside world, ironically, the top laboratory in China equipped to find a cure for it lies right in the middle of the city’s 11 million population.’
    Source: https://m.hindustantimes.com/world-news/a-high-security-lab-in-ground-zero-wuhan-could-hold-key-to-cure-coronavirus/story-bHKGXxL03ZAxNrGmownyzM.html

    ‘US warned virus could ‘escape’ from lab near coronavirus epicentre’< br /> Source: https://metro.co.uk/2020/01/24/us-warned-virus-escape-lab-near-coronavirus-epicentre-12114591/

  • Billy Bostickson

    Recent Research unto the Wuhan Coronavirus may indicate that it is more likely to infect Asian Males due to higher levels of ACE2 expressing cell ratios than other races (2.50% vs. 0.47% of all cells):

    Single-cell RNA expression profiling of ACE2, the putative receptor of Wuhan 2019-nCov

    “We also noticed that the only Asian donor (male) has a much higher ACE2-expressing cell ratio than white and African American donors (2.50% vs. 0.47% of all cells). This might explain the observation that the new Coronavirus pandemic and previous SARS-Cov pandemic are concentrated in the Asian area”


    Hmm, I guess this supports the claims made in the previously posted article from Medium suggesting the novel coronavirus was a deliberately or accidentally leaked bio weapon from a non-Asian nation state (possibly dear old Uncle Sham) (https://medium.com/@siradrianbond/coronavirus-2019-ncov-part-1-d6a338eed7c5)

    • Giyane

      Billy bostock son

      The victims of USu8imperialism understand full well the seriousness of the insane neocons. USUKIS imperialists Obama and Clinton despatched brainwashed terrorists to Libya and Syria to dismantle the flourishing societies that lived therein, much older societies than either US or UK or Zionist Palestine. Which like its host specialises in tormenting and murdering the indigenous peoples under their Jack boot..

      If Wuhan’s equivalent to Porton Down is near to the market where coronavirus started,then USUKIS asshole in chief to Trump wonk is here to co-ordinate the narrative that your link provided from Israel. A narrative that accuses a senior, trusted official of a non- warring rival superpower of implementing an act of biological warfare.
      But we all know who created Daesh in order to wreck the innocent Muslim lives of the Middle East. We all know who proposed the quashing of Palestinian rights this week. We all know who spent last week carving up the trashed remains of Libya. Why should we not believe that USUKIS released a Phil of the coronavirus lab made disease near to the Wuhan Porton Down in order to accuse China of aggression and incompetence.

      This is the time honoured technique of neocon psyops and 4th generation warfare. Eminent scientists have predicted this event as a precursor to USUKIS delivering it. Psy
      The neocons are nuts. Might as well lock up Pompeo now while he’s with us. Stick him in a padded cell with mad Msy and Camerbollocks and send them with Bliar to Malsysia for a fair trial.

  • michael norton

    Russia locks down the Worlds longest border, between China and Russia, in an attempt to stop Wuhan Virus getting in to Russia.
    The Russian tourist industry is in crisis and the largest proportion of tourists into Russian come from China.
    Sounds like two birds with one stone.
    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has labeled the Chinese Communist Party “the central threat of our times”

    • Giyane

      The world’s longest border is round countries that use the dollar. Fortunately that will soon change.

  • AKAaka

    WHO declare global health emergency.

    “The main reason for this declaration is not what is happening in China but what is happening in other countries”

    The concern is that it could spread to countries with weaker health systems.

    The WHO said there had been 98 cases in 18 counties outside of China, but no deaths…

    No deaths outside China. What 171 deaths so far in China, and it is a global health emergency. What are we not being told?

    • michael norton

      Yes, so far, no reported deaths, outside of China.
      China are saying, so far 2% mortality but there are concerns that they are incinerating the bodies of people found dead in the streets, without doing autopsy first.
      So, poor people who don’t go to the doctors are just dropping dead but we do not know if they have Wuhan Virus or not.
      If 100 people outside of China have the Wuhan Virus how come two have not died.
      Perhaps the ones who died were in induced coma and on breathing machines for quite a while?

      • AKAaka

        Not just bodies in the streets. With their limited number of test kits, they will not use them on dead bodies even when they die in a hospital bed. So likely many deaths going unrecorded, but also likely many infections/recoveries not being recorded either.

        As for deaths elsewhere. You’d expect it to be slow, or high rate of recovery given the attention they will be getting. I’m afraid it is only a matter of time though. Currently it is too soon. My worry is that the deaths just take a while unless pretty vulnerable to begin with. Or you never know, if it’s an engineered bio weapon there may be very few deaths outside China (bio weapon holy grail -control). Personally I think that would be worse news.

        The mortality rate could be grossly underestimated as I explained a few posts up, but I hope not. But again, also explained above, transmissibility could be the more lethal stat even with very low mortality rate, since that would clog hospitals etc and kill even if basic care required for recovery, and not just for victims of the virus.

        With videos like this coming out of China, you don’t need to stretch your imagination much:
        I cannot vouch whether this is genuine, but worth keeping an eye on.

        As far as I am aware there is no treatment currently or on the cards, particularly given the nature of RNA viruses. Only treatment for temperature etc to relieve the patient, buying them time to fight it themselves and build their resistance. Once you get into viral pneumonia though. I don’t know. Respirator, dialysis, organ failure and death unless you beat it first. I don’t know if pneumonia is inevitable. That is my worry because of the lack of confirmed recoveries. But there was a relatively big jump in recoveries this past 24hrs, so the hope is we will now see that accelerate and videos like above are just people suffering, but will recover on their own.

  • giyane

    Yesterday we saw the Grenfell Inquiry try to accuse the workers who installed the flammable cladding of negligence. NIce try, corporate construction , to get the ants locked while you gloat in your corporate HQ.
    As a construction worker, you have your £100 of public liability insurance. and you shut up and do as you’re told on site, crap in a fibreglass pod, etc. But if you question what you have been instructed to do you are only on an hourly contract. By the end of the day you are off site and on some illegal corporate or agency blacklist as a troublemaker.

    If you don’t question… you lay yourself open to being accused by a bent solicitor of pointing a gun at innocent people. Thankfully, when it comes to work, most people defend themselves like a trapped squirrel.

    Now you know why you have to.

  • Kula

    ‘ it was only the votes of the over 55s that…caused Brexit’
    This statement exposes the lie. There was no polling and no way of correlating age and vote in 2016. I expected more of you Craig.
    I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed ?

    • nevermind

      There is really no need to discuss the general public’s political ineptness any longer. Kula. Politicians hanging on strings and do as they are told by vested interests and those earning too much of others,end off.

    • Giyane


      You make a good point. Over 55s ossify into their youthful beliefs. I suffered greatly under Thatcher and the start of the deployment of Al Qaida in Yugoslavia. Our generation these dirty politics like the back of our hand. We are not the ones who voted in any Tories ever. I voted for Brexit to weaken the military alliance of the EU. Brexit was hijacked by Mrs May to mean racism pure and simple. The biggest dumbing down in British Politics ever. But I didn’t vote for Brexit because I am reactionary. I voted for it because I saw what they did to Yugoslavia, Greece and Catalonia. And they would do the same to Scotland after my generation is removed.
      The UK will gang up with the EU against the seekers of freedom. Johnson is seen crawling to Merkel while pursuing his facile Empire2.

  • michael norton

    US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross has said the deadly coronavirus outbreak in China could be positive for the American economy.

    During a TV interview Mr Ross said: “I think it will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America”.

    The rapid spread of the disease has raised fears about its impact on the Chinese economy and global growth.

    Sounds like gloating, bloody disgusting.

  • AKAaka

    some good news in the stats (pinch of salt) today and from medics. Hearing that it ‘may’ be getting less virulent and infectious. And maths wise, looking at the recovered vs deaths, recovered is catching deaths slightly. This is essential when you think about it or else mortality rate is hugely underestimated. It was going the other way which was quite alarming, but now it has turned. Hopefully this will continue and accelerate. Like I’ve said, the stats are questionable for many reasons and rumours (not least possible unregistered deaths), but if they are at all representative then this is at least encouraging.

    Other good news I am seeing more confirmation of the young/infants having particularly mild symptoms, healthy adults recovering fairly quickly, much like flu. Elderly and those with underlying conditions particularly at risk. You hear it a lot but I haven’t seen many trustworthy sources til now. Something you can only do yourself to build any confidence in those statements. One good source I have found is here:

    https://flutrackers.com/forum/ click “Latest Activity” and flick through.

    Not all roses of course. Quite unsettling looking for positives while condemning the old and sick. Take particular care of them as you would through any flu season. One tip I thought might be useful while I was contemplating picking my nose, wear glasses instead of contacts if you have them, I don’t unfortunately. Helps and reminds you to stop touching your eyes. Incredibly hard to consciously stop touching your mouth and face etc. Clean hands often.

    My main worry was that we weren’t seeing enough recoveries. The more at risk may well die off quicker, but without recoveries, that could just mean everyone else just takes longer to die. Hopefully this is now proving not to be the case.

    As expected it is now confirmed here in the UK. Probably been here a while. We will see how it goes.

  • michael norton

    The eagle has landed

    The Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, located in the hospital, said hospital staff will not be in contact with people in isolation “at any time”.
    Locals from the Wirral want to know why these mostly British people from China have been dumped on them, the story had been that these people from Wuhan would be housed in a secure military establishment.
    Either it is deadly or it’s alright for people to just be in an NHS establishment.

  • AKAaka

    Don’t know if this video is for real. It is presented to be police in China barricading a family into their apartment because they have returned from visiting Wuhan. Initially I thought well it could be anything, someone died in there, someone was infected in there so they are closing it off until it can be disinfected. Then I thought to watch it with sound and keep an eye on the door handle. At one point the handle appears to be pointing downwards and you can hear a woman shouting, possibly from behind the door.


    Now this would be unthinkable under any circumstance, but for something like the flu, or not even as bad as the flu!?

    Posting this next video again because it’s quite terrifying. Appears to be hundreds of patients outside in some sort of courtyard, possibly from overwhelmed hospital. Everyone collapsed and fitting/seisures.


    This may be caused by overheating, so shortage of necessary drugs for keeping body temp down. Would also explain why they have been brought outside. Are these just the vulnerable or is this the majority of cases without the proper supplies? Does getting into that sort of state make you more likely to progress and succumb to viral pneumonia?

    • AKAaka

      To be honest I don’t really trust these videos. The door thing could be anything, and the second one could be a med student training workshop, with some random having a seizure added to the end. All could be from anywhere, anytime.

      I’m going to try to stick to watching the stats, whether they are manufactured or not.

      Current thinking is that transmissibility may be decreasing and recoveries are starting to come through the numbers so things are moving in the right direction and are expected to continue. All this over the flu though? Something doesn’t add up.

  • Dungroanin

    6:20 am Jan 31

    Hubei Province reported 1,220 new cases, 42 deaths and 26 recovered cases of novel coronavirus on Jan 30; total infection number in the province increased to 5,806, with 116 recovered and 204 deaths.

    So it seems that fatalities is sticking around 3.5%…

  • michael norton

    How interesting “Madam Arbidol”
    Umifenovir (trade name Russian: Арбидол, Chinese: 阿比朵尔) is an antiviral treatment for influenza infection used in Russia and China. The drug is manufactured by Pharmstandard

    Tatiana Alexeyevna Golikova is a Russian politician and economist who serves as the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia for Social Policy, Labour, Health and Pension Provision since 2018.
    Golikova has been widely accused of corruption by several Russian media, mainly for her alleged connections to the Pharmstandard, which is producer of the heavily-hyped drug Arbidol. After these allegations she was nicknamed “Madam Arbidol”.
    Russia has registered its first patients diagnosed with the new Chinese coronavirus, Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova has confirmed. The alarming news comes just a day after Moscow closed its Far Eastern border with China.

    • michael norton

      A prominent respiratory expert who originally told Chinese state media that the coronavirus was under control and preventable has admitted that his choice of words was “inappropriate”.

      Wang Guangfa, head of the department of pulmonary medicine at Peking University First Hospital in Beijing, compared himself and other medical professionals tackling the outbreak to soldiers walking onto a battlefield.

      “All the bullets are flying,” said Dr. Wang

      • N_

        Now it’s at 14556, 2.1% mortality, 2.3% recovered.
        I wonder how many who were diagnosed at the same time as those who are recovering are being told they have still got the virus even if it hasn’t killed them yet.
        Just looking at the graph, it looks as though it might be near an inflection point and about to go clearly convex.

        • N_

          What I mean to say rather than that is that it was increasing steadily for 4 or so days and seems to be about to increase at a faster rate, although that may be to read too much into the last 2 days’ figures. It certainly doesn’t look as though it’s about to top out or even go concave.

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