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Coronavirus Fact-Check #4: “Why are so many healthcare workers dying?”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 28/04/2020 - 2:00am in

Tags 

Italy, NHS, UK

Although we hear a lot of anecdotal evidence, and see a lot of headlines, we have no data suggesting an excessive impact on healthcare professionals. A recent statistical study published in the Health Services Journal (HSJ) provides some important facts and context.

Paul Joseph Watson Butthurt Berserk ‘Cos Piers Morgan Won’t Debate Him

More hilarity now, though it’s unintentional and comes courtesy of Alex Jones’ British pal, Paul Joseph Watson. Jones is the bonkers American conspiracy theorist responsible for Infowars. This was the internet show that told its audience that the globalists were going to take over the world, stripping us of our freedoms and even our humanity. Obama was going to declare a state of emergency and force Americans in FEMA camps, commencing the mass cleansing of the population. The Democrats were all secretly Satanists and paedophiles. They and big business were in league with aliens/ and or demons to take over the world and create the one-world Satanic superstate of fundamentalist Christian end times theology. Barack Obama was declared to be the Antichrist because he smelt and had flies buzzing round him. Hillary was a lesbian cyborg, who practised witchcraft. NASA was running child slave labour camps on Mars. Feminists and gay rights activists are transhumanists, who want to turn everybody into gender neutral cyborgs. They’re coming to take away Americans’ guns. And the government is putting things in the water that ARE TURNING THE FRICKIN’ FROGS GAY.

It’s a fair question whether Jones actually believes any of this rubbish, or is just exploiting it for the sake of viewers. He was one of the major purveyors of the batshit insane conspiracy theories that are a genuine threat to decent political life. Thanks to Jones’, the bereaved parents of children murdered in the Sandy Hook massacre have been subject to abuse because Jones declared that the massacre didn’t happen and they were just ‘crisis actors’. A Boston pizza parlour has also been subject to abuse and even an intrusion from an armed man after Jones declared that it was at the centre of a Democrat paedophile ring and that the abuse children were kept in a dungeon in the basement. It isn’t, and there is no basement and no children. The gunman had been taken in by Jones’ bilge, and  had come to free the kids he genuinely believed were imprisoned there. After being shown he was wrong, he gave himself up peacefully. It’s a mercy that no-one was killed.

Thanks to antic like the above, Jones has been thrown off a series of internet platforms so that his public profile, and his income, have taken a massive hit. And Paul Joseph Watson, after hanging out with him, has returned to Blighty. He was one of the three, who managed to destroy UKIP under Gerard Batten. When he and another two internet personalities from the far right, Mark ‘Count Dankula’ Meechan and Carl ‘Sargon of Akkad’ Benjamin joined UKIP, prompting those of more moderate views to walk out. The party was already losing members to Farage’s latest vehicle for his colossal political ego, the Brexit Party, and the entry of Watson, Benjamin and Meechan just about finished it off.

Coarse jokes have been made about the precise nature of the relationship between Jones and Watson. One theory is that Watson split from Jones because of the latter’s views about Britain’s NHS. One commenter to a video about Jones and Watson jokingly suggested that Watson was over here because he was tired of being the object of the sexual attentions of Jones and one of the others at Infowars. But whatever the reason, Watson is over here, he’s looking for attention, and he’s angry. And to everyone else, it’s hilarious.

Zelo Street has posted up a rip-roaring piece about Watson going berserk at Piers Morgan on Twitter. Watson wants to debate him, but Morgan’s got better things to do like torment the government in interviews, and has simply blocked him. This has sent the man dubbed ‘Twatson’ by his detractors into what Molesworth used to describe as ‘a fearful bate’. And so he’s poured forth a stream of abuse directed at Morgan on Twitter, beginning with this delightful message.

“Cowardly little bitch. Afraid of the fact that I’m more popular and definitely more attractive than you. Mercenary twat. Debate me, you yellow belly crusty boomer sellout fraud cuck wanker dickhead”.

And there’s more, much more. He rants that Morgan is afraid to debate him because he’s more intelligent, youthful and handsome. And his spirit animal is some kind of bird of prey. He’s not a misogynist, because when he was at school his mother and grandmother would beat up any kid who picked on him. Nor is he an INCEL. He has no trouble picking up girls, especially Muslims. That still doesn’t alter the fact that he is anti-feminist, and has very islamophobic views.

One of the staples of comedy is a character massively losing their temper, like Donald Duck in some of the Disney cartoons. There’s a similar comedic value in watching Watson explode at Piers Morgan’s refusal to get drawn into debating him. Although perhaps we shouldn’t laugh. As Frankie Howerd used to say, ‘Oh, don’t mock. Doooon’t mock! It’s rude to mock the afflicted.’  But faced with such a massive tantrum, it’s very had to follow Howerd’s command of ‘titter ye not’.

Zelo Street concludes their article about this with ‘Piers Morgan is, for all his faults, successful and well-off. And Paul Watson … isn’t.’ And it’s sending Watson up the wall to the immense amusement of everyone else.

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/04/prison-planet-manhood-meltdown.html

 

 

Bad Taste Movie Alert! Charles Band’s ‘Corona Zombies’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 27/04/2020 - 8:32pm in

Readers of this blog will know that I have a taste for Science Fiction, and some Fantasy and Horror, as well as movies that are so spectacularly bad or trashy that they’re hilarious or simply weirdly entertaining. It’s a type of cinema that’s been dubbed ‘Badfilm’ or ‘psychotronic’, and consists largely of low budget B-movies and their imitators. In recent years there have been a number of SF, Fantasy and Horror comedies that have deliberately parodied these films. Enough people love horrendously bad movies to have made The Room into a hit film despite it being judged one of the worst films of all time.

Half the world is in lockdown because of the Coronavirus crisis, but this hasn’t stop the masters of schlock horror producing their wares. I am therefore very pleased to inform you that the master of low budget ‘Orror’, Charles Band, has released his latest masterpiece of bad taste: Corona Zombies. I found a review of it and a trailer on the excellent website, Moria, which is an encyclopaedic collection of reviews of SF, Fantasy and Horror films.

It’s plot is very simple. A young woman, Barbie, comes back to her home in a trailer park to put on the news, where she learns that a special police unit, Corona Squad, has been formed to investigate the hijacking of a consignment of toilet paper. In the course of doing their duty, they’ve been attacked by a horde of ravening zombies. The film was completed in the very short space of a month, and the original footage shot for this epic only has three actors – the woman playing the heroine, a bloke who appears at various points in makeup as a zombie, and another woman, who’s just a voice at the end of the telephone when Barbie phones the authorities wondering what’s happened. The rest of the movie – 75 per cent of it – is made up of old footage from the 1980 Italian horror movie, Zombie Creeping Flesh. Which has been taken by Band and redubbed to give it deliberately silly dialogue. Band also recycles a few pieces of footage from one of his movies, Zombies vs Strippers.

Band first appeared in the 1980s when he formed Empire Pictures and then Full Moon. He’s responsible for a string of low budget schlock flicks, such as Ghoulies. However, Empire were also responsible for a couple of excellent ’80s horror movies by Stuart Gordon and Brian Yuzna, Re-Animator and From Beyond. Loosely based – and very loosely at that – on short stories by the cult SF/Horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, these had very good creature effects and went in for over the top splatter, so that they didn’t take themselves too seriously. Both Re-Animator and From Beyond have become classics of ’80s Horror. Re-Animator was praised by critics at the time for its wry humour. It starred Jeffrey Coombs as mad scientist Herbert West, who has discovered a serum to reanimate the dead. In one scene West makes a deadpan joke about getting parts as injects a severed head and its former body.

Band himself, however, doesn’t seem to have risen to these cinematic heights, and simply continued to grind out his low-budget epics, often using old footage from his previous movies. He’s not alone in this. Roger Corman used to do it. So did Herschel Gordon Lewis and Samuel Z. Arkoff. I think it was Arkoff, who used to buy up foreign language European movies, edited and re-dubbed them, and then released them to unsuspecting American public as completely new movies. I’ve got a feeling one of his works of staggering genius was Billy the Kid Versus Dracula. He was certainly responsible for Sign of the Gladiator. This was originally an Italian sword and sandal epic set just after the fall of Rome. It had nothing to do with gladiators, but movies about them were in vogue at the time and one of the characters had been a gladiator. So he bought it, changed the title, did a bit of editing, and behold! Another masterpiece to wow the paying public. Band here seems to have followed their methodology.

Lewis and Arkoff released their movies as serious films, but Band is different here in that the film’s meant to be funny. There are apparently a lot of jokes about toilet paper shortages, as well as the new vocabulary that’s come in with the crisis, such as ‘flattening the curve’ and ‘social distancing’. The Coronavirus crisis itself isn’t funny, but it is important that people all over the world keep morale up. It’s why there’s a short film in between the programmes on the Beeb most nights in which an unseen narrator recites a poem about how we should all keep our spirits up, while inspiring images of ordinary British life, including Dad’s Army, flash by. It’s one of the reasons why every Thursday we’re all out on our doorsteps clapping for the NHS. We can keep our spirits up by laughing. And one of the ways we can do that, is through trashy films in deliberately bad taste. Like Corona Zombies.

Moria gave this splendid example of American cinema a single star, meaning that it’s rubbish, and warned that although it was the first of such movies, it wouldn’t be the last. Which to aficionados of badfilm is probably an endorsement of a promise of lots of similar horrific goodies to come. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Unfortunately all the cinemas are close, so I have no idea where you’d see it. On DVD or streaming service, perhaps.

The Morie review of this work of cinematic genius is at:

Corona Zombies (2020)

Sky News Poll Shows Trust in Media at Near Abysmal Levels

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 25/04/2020 - 2:56am in

Zelo Street this afternoon has posted the results of a very interesting poll conducted by Sky News. The channel took a survey of 1,652 Brits, asking them about the lockdown, whether they trusted BoJob and Starmer, and also if they trusted the media, among other questions. Zelo Street’s article concentrates on the results for politicos and the media. Which are, ahem, interesting. And not good news for any parties, but especially not the ladies and gentlemen of the fourth estate.

The channel reported that although they were increasingly anxious and sadder, the British public were emphatic that the lockdown should continue. 51 per cent of the public trusted Johnson to tackle the Coronavirus, but 39 per cent don’t. This gave our clown prime minister a score of +12.

Only 25 per cent of those polled trust Starmer, while 34 per cent don’t, meaning that he has a score of -9.

Trust in journalists was very low. Zelo Street began its article by stating that the British press has been at the bottom of the league in Europe in the esteem in which it is held by the public. It’s trusted even less than the press of countries that have, within living memory, been dictatorships, like Spain, Portugal and the eastern European nations. Only 24 per cent trust TV journos, while 64 per cent don’t, giving them a net score of -40. Only 17 per cent responded that they trusted newspaper journalists, compared to 72 per cent who didn’t. They therefore had a score of -55.

Ian Dunt, a broadcast hack, tweeted that it was hard to overstate what a disaster those results were. A tweeter identifying him- or herself as the CEO Antifa answered him with “Remember when Peter Oborne tried to warn you all about this and got blacklisted by most publications?”. Zelo Street reminds us that Oborne, a journo of immense integrity, has warned for some time of the tendency of some in the broadcast media simply to repeat the claims of anonymous government spokespeople. He named Laura Kuenssberg and Robert Peston as two serious offenders. Zelo Street concludes

‘Now has come the public’s verdict. Don’t say you weren’t warned, media people.’

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/04/media-not-trusted-media-in-denial.html

It’s shocking and dispiriting that just over half of the British public trust Johnson to battle the Coronavirus. This is despite the long list of his failures, beginning with the Tories’ underfunding of the NHS, their refusal to update the plans for a pandemic emergency and take on board the lessons from wargaming such an emergency way back in 2016, to Johnson’s refusal to heed medical advice back in January and impose a lockdown. It ignores the way Johnson, and some in the Tory ranks even now, pushed a pseudo-scientific commitment to herd immunity, which could leave up to 200,000 – 250,000 dead, in favour of the economy. And then there is the continuing failure to order sufficient supplies of PPE for the front line medical and care workers. The FT has now stated that the official figure of 18,000 deaths is an underestimate. It does not include those dying in care homes or at home. The real figure is 41,000. Some of these people could have been saved if Johnson had acted sooner. If he’d actually gotten off his Eton-educated arse and attended the Cobra meetings. If he really had worked all hours round the clock, instead of just having his shills tell us that, while he bunked off at weekends. If he actually took the work of government seriously, instead of simply acting out his power fantasies.

Nevertheless, the stats also show that trust in Johnson is falling. When Hope Not Hate did a similar poll a couple of weeks ago, they put trust in Johnson at 64 per cent. It’s down 13 per cent. No wonder that the Tory spin doctors are putting up fake twitter accounts and Tory front organisations are putting up spurious signs, all telling us how wonderful Johnson is and how the emergency services and NHS staff love him. He and his followers are afraid, because if the trend continues, after a couple of weeks trust in him will be as low as Starmer’s.

As for the public distrust of the Labour leader, some of that is a successful hangover from the vicious media campaign against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party. But some of it may well be due to his own background in the Labour far right, his lack of response to Johnson and his failure to act so far against the plotters and intriguers that deliberately sabotaged Labour’s election campaign. As has been pointed out, Starmer was a participant in one of the coups against Corbyn. He managed to score points earlier this week against Dominic Raab at Prime Ministers’ questions, but mostly he’s been quiet. He has taken zero action against the plotters, racists and intriguers named in the leaked report, instead seeming determined to find and punish the whistleblowers. Members are considering suing the party and asking for a return of their subscriptions on grounds of breach of contract because of the antics of the Labour plotters. If enough people did this, it would wreck the party.

Starmer could regain public trust by acting decisively against the plotters in the leaked document. The media now consider it a non-story, because it doesn’t conform to their predetermined desire to paint Corbyn as an anti-Semite. But he could make it the story and, if properly advised, actually do something Corbyn couldn’t do and take control of the narrative. He could also gain more trust by actually increasing his public profile. By taking the lead and publicly criticising Johnson. The way is open for him to succeed and gain the trust of the public.

But I fear he won’t, because that means acting against the very same right-wingers who worked hard to put him, or someone like him, in place as leader of the party.

But the media are in a marginally worse position, as their venality and bias has meant that public confidence in them, and especially after their massively biased reporting of Corbyn and the Labour party, is now at a record low.

If this continues, then, when the lockdown is lifted, the press will still see a collapse in readers because by that time people will have worked out that they’re missing nothing by not buying them and their lies.

Why you can’t trust the UK’s “daily” Covid19 updates

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 24/04/2020 - 6:00am in

Tags 

Featured, NHS, UK

The daily Covid19 deaths reports, issued by the UK government, are generally misleading and being so misrepresented by the media they amount to little more than a lie. Each day, the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) releases a report titled “Daily number of COVID-19 associated UK deaths in hospital”. The media then …

Beeb Attempts to Refute Tory Sock Puppet Allegations

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 23/04/2020 - 5:22am in

This morning I caught a brief item by the Beeb tackling what they called the ‘rumours’ of the Tories using fake Twitter accounts to post messages supporting Boris Johnson and pressing for a return to the herd immunity policy. When this became difficult for them to justify outright, they simply retreated into calling for the lockdown to be lifted. Which would pretty much be the same policy. It just wouldn’t describe itself as ‘herd immunity’.

The plot was uncovered on Monday by John O’Connell of Rightwing Watch, a site which I think tackles Fascism and right-wing extremism. Which would, judging by the Tories horrendous policies and long history of flirting and supporting extreme right-wing parties and ideologies, naturally include them, and particularly Boris Johnson. O’Connell believed he had found 128 fake Twitter accounts posing as NHS staff. These seemed to come from the DHSC through a marketing company that had only one client, the DHSC, four staff, all ex-DHSC. The accounts themselves had been posted by a single person, who was herself on secondment from government.

O’Connell presented as evidence a Tweet purporting to be from a deaf junior doctor, Susan, who said that she was transitioning this year. She said she was fighting Covid-19 with other LGBTQ+ people. ‘Susan’, however, didn’t exist, and the photo of her was an NHS paediatric nurse from Greece. O’Connell contacted the Department of Health and Social Care to get their response. There was absolutely none, and his offers to go through their data was refused. When he tried again, they told him it was also misinformation, and if you repeated it, you were harming our common attempt to battle the Coronavirus. And the messages themselves all mysteriously disappeared.

From the details O’Connell gave, it sounds like he has the government bang to rights, including the very identity of whoever posted the tweets. And it’s not like Boris hasn’t done it before. The Tories did, using Cambridge Analytica for Brexit, and Dominic Cummings was unmasked by the Absurder as the noxious personality behind the Twitter account @toryeducation, which abused the government’s critics and opponents. This was when Cummings was a mere spad at the department of education under Gove. And I think Boris has been using a bot army more recently too.

The Beeb, however, in their wisdom decided to give the story no credence. The government and Twitter had both denied that these fake accounts had been created, and O’Connell had not handed over his data. The only evidence was the Tweet from ‘Susan’ and the 128 deleted accounts. ‘Susan’ was, the Beeb’s correspondent explained, a genuine fake account. But the character with its LGBTQ+ identification looked like it was by someone trying to discredit Boris by posting a fake identity that looked like it came from him or his supporters. And so the Beeb decided that the claims were just rumours after all.

At no time was it mentioned that Boris, Cummings and the Tories have used such bot accounts. O’Connell wasn’t even named, let alone interviewed to present his side of the argument. Perhaps the Beeb contacted him and he was unavailable for comment. But somehow I doubt that. Another Tweeter had tried to get the Beeb in the form of Laura Kuenssberg, as well as Robert Peston and a number of websites and news organisations interested, including Zelo Street and Novara Media. Mike and Zelo Street put up articles about it, but the lamestream media had zero interest when Zelo Street put up their articles yesterday.

I don’t know, but it seems to me that O’Connell is correct, and the Tories and Twitter are lying. As for the Beeb, they now have such an extreme pro-Tory, anti-Labour bias that I don’t think they can be trusted on stories like this. O’Connell has said that he doesn’t want to be crucified like the people, who revealed Cambridge Analytica. He’s therefore waiting for the evidence to be ‘gold-plated’ before he reveals it in full. It’ll be very interesting if and when he does.

In the meantime, the Tory supporters were out on Twitter screaming that he was a crank, and, unsurprisingly, a left-wing anti-Semite. Yes, we’re back to the anti-Semitism smears again. The fact that the smear merchants were reduced to name calling and smearing once again to me acts as another factor in his favour.

O’Connell’s probably right, as the abuse directed against him shows that certain people are very, very worried.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2020/04/20/more-coronavirus-propaganda-hundreds-of-fake-nhs-social-media-accounts-set-up-by-health-dept/

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/04/nhs-fake-twitter-accounts-exposed.html

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/04/tory-twitter-dirty-tricks-warning-from.html

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/04/fake-tweeters-shoot-messenger.html

‘Human Nature’ Global Re-Watch This Friday!

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 22/04/2020 - 9:00pm in

Welcome to my Wednesday blog. We’re all still safe in lockdown, and it’s not my turn for scary shopping this week, so let’s get straight into a packed list of news items, starting with…

‘Human Nature’ Tweetalong

For the last couple of weeks, Emily Cook of Doctor Who Magazine has been organising global communal re-watches of various Who episodes, with new content from the creators, all run through Twitter. And this Friday, 24th April, it’s the turn of my own ‘Human Nature’, both parts, starting at 19.00 BST. The hashtag is #DoctorOfMine and, as always, Emily will be telling you when to press Play. I’ll be tweeting along from my usual address @Paul_Cornell.

There will be extras, surprises on the night, immediately before and after the episodes. We’ll be joined by director Charles Palmer (using a special Twitter account for the evening) and Girl With Deadly Balloon Lucy Cartwright Lauren Wilson (@lozerrs on Twitter).

I’ll be looking out on the night for fan art about the episodes, and will be RTing anything I notice and adore that carries the hashtag.

And let me repeat:  ‘The Shadow Passes’; ‘Shadow of a Doubt’; ‘The Shadow in the Mirror’. What’s that about? You’ll find out on Friday night.

I’m hugely looking forward to the experience. I hope you’ll join us.

(Oh, and I hope you’ll support organiser Emily Cook, who, with her housemates, is climbing a mountain-size number of her stairs from April 26th to help those in most danger from the virus. Please donate here.)

Stories of Hope and Wonder

Stories of Hope and Wonder is an enormous (over a quarter of a million words!) digital-only anthology of the best Science Fiction and Fantasy, put together by editor Ian Whates. I have a story in it, alongside 52 other authors, including big names like Lauren Beukes, Peter F. Hamilton, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Frances Hardinge, Christopher Priest, Ramsey Campbell… the list goes on and on.

The really important thing is: all proceeds from this book go to the NHS.

It’s only £5.99 (or $7.36), which is an enormous bargain, especially considering some of the stories are brand new. My own entry ‘A Conclusion’, was only previously available in audio form.

SoHaW is currently the #1 SF anthology in the Amazon UK charts. You can buy it there or on Amazon US, and there’s talk of getting it on other platforms, so take a look around.

You can read more about it here. Please buy this book and support this best and most urgent of causes.

My Video Office Walkthrough

As part of the Super Relaxed Fantasy Club’s channel of SFF author videos, where you can find loads of writers telling you something of their process, I’ve put up the following walkthrough of my office. I even shaved!

Big Finish and 2000AD Offers Include My Stuff!

Big Finish have special offers on bundles of digital downloads from their Doctor Who range this week, including, as part of the initial Seventh Doctor bundle, my own The Shadow of the Scourge for just £1.49!

And 2000AD comic has a charity bundle of five excellent digital comics collections available for just $10, half of which goes to Doctors Without Borders! That bundle includes Sci-Fi Thrillers, in which, along with much other great work, can be found XTNCT, by myself and artist D’Israeli. It’s one of my favourites from my own work, about enhanced dinosaurs destroying the human race.

Last Stand in Lychford Pre-Order!

My final Lychford novella, Last Stand in Lychford, will be out from Tor.com Publishing on 17th November, and you can now pre-order it on Amazon UK and Amazon US.  It’s wonderful to get such a distant sighting of it, especially before we’ve done the copy edit.  Do join us for the finale.  

The Cotswold Challenge

I’m delighted to be one of the judges for The Cotswold Challenge, a group of contests open to young people (ages 15-19) who live in the Cotswolds. There are competitions in writing, art and design and innovation, with cash prizes up to £500. The deadline is 9pm on 1st June. You can read more and download a full briefing pack here.

‘The Shadow Passes’ is Still Up

(Kept from last week. For reasons.) Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall has been commissioning and curating a bunch of content designed to entertain fans during isolation, with items ranging from stories to videos. I’m delighted he asked me to provide one of those items, a short story called ‘The Shadow Passes’, which is online now.

It’s me writing the Thirteenth Doctor and her companions, and I very much enjoyed writing it. I hope you enjoy reading it.

Hammer House of Podcast

The latest episode of the joint venture from myself and Big Finish’s Lizbeth Myles, Hammer House of Podcast is out now, free from all the usual podcast places. In this series, we talk about, in UK release order, the Hammer horror movies, in this case (episode #28), The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, which is honestly not a great movie, but we have good fun with it, and uncover an exciting Doctor Who connection. Patrons of our podcast get a whole extra monthly episode where we talk about Amicus movies and do Patron requests. You can sign up here.

Russell T. Davies Headlines Fairford Festival of Fiction

I’m delighted to say that Russell T. Davies will still be the Guest of Honour at my little literary festival, Fairford Festival of Fiction, now that it’s been rescheduled to September 12th.

He joins historian and TV royalty expert Prof. Kate Williams and bestselling thriller writer John Connolly.

Unfortunately, comics artist Rachael Stott has a prior engagement on the new date, so we’ll be seeking a new guest in the same field, as well as a children’s author, to make for an unforgettable bill. We’ve refunded the tickets of those who can’t make the new date, and started selling new ones! So if you fancy a packed day of creators in the middle of a great Festival of beer and bands, you can buy a ticket here. (We’ve already started selling new tickets for the new date!)

Wolverine Collection Actually Out Now!

Death of Wolverine Prelude: Three Months to Die, a collection of my Wolverine run for Marvel Comics, featuring such great artists as Kris Anka and Ryan Stegman, is out in digital form now (and will be in online bookshops in physical form on May 5th). It’s a lovely big dollop of my comics, and I look forward to people being able to get it from comic shops too.

Final Cuts

Final Cuts is a forthcoming original anthology from the great editor Ellen Datlow.  It’s subtitled ‘new tales of Hollywood horror and other spectacles’ and is full of new horror and dark fantasy stories about the business of making TV and movies, from such talents as Garth Nix, Cassandra Khaw and Christopher Golden.  And it includes my story ‘Night of the Living’, which is set in a modern British cinema complex and is something very dark that I’m very proud of.  Here’s the blurb: 

“Legendary genre editor Ellen Datlow brings together eighteen dark and terrifying original stories inspired by cinema and television.  From the secret reels of a notoriously cursed cinematic masterpiece to the debauched livestreams of modern movie junkies who will do anything for clicks, Final Cuts brings together new and terrifying stories inspired by the many screens we can’t peel our eyes away from.  Inspired by the rich golden age of the film and television industries as well as the new media present, this new anthology reveals what evils hide behind the scenes and between the frames of our favorite medium.  With original stories from a diverse list of some of the best-known names in horror, Final Cuts will haunt you long after the credits roll.”

Final Cuts is out on June 2nd, worldwide from Blumhouse Books, and can be pre-ordered now from Amazon UK and all the usual places.  

Newsletter Sign-Up

If you’d like to hear about all of my doings before this blog comes out, then you need my Friday Newsletter, which has all the news and its own exclusives. You can sign up here.

See you next Wednesday!

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Tories Create Sock Puppet Twitter Accounts to Push Anti-Lockdown Propaganda

The Tories don’t get any better. The party that spent public money on the Institute for Statecraft and its wretched Democracy Initiative, or whatever the wretched organisation was called, to put out anti-Labour, anti-Corbyn propaganda from its army of sympathetic hacks on Twitter has once again been exposed using pretty much the same reprehensible tactics. The pretext for giving the Democracy Initiative our hard earned tax money was to defend democracy against Russian on-line influence. In reality this meant targeting any British or European politico that the right didn’t like. This time there seems to have been absolutely no excuse whatsoever. They did it simply to push propaganda. And when caught the sock accounts were deleted and the Department for Health and Social Care went on the attack, vehemently denying they had done any such thing, and shouting that it was all misinformation that would damage the common effort to combat Coronavirus. Rubbish. The Department was caught red-handed, and it’s got the weaselly paw-prints of the man Zelo Street calls ‘Polecat’ Dom all over it.

Mike put up the story last night. John O’Connell, of the awesome Rightwing Watch, had discovered 128 fake accounts, 9 probable fakes and a further 14, possibles, which had been created by someone at the Department. 43 of those fake accounts used photographs of real NHS staff. One of these was for a deaf NHS junior doctor, ‘Susan’, who was due to transition into someone of the opposite gender. ‘Susan’ gave a shout out to the LGBTQ+ community, and praised Boris Johnson. The photograph used for the Tweet was identified by John Scott as that of Mia Magklavani, a paediatric staff nurse from Greece. The fake accounts were trying to push for the ‘herd immunity’ solution to the crisis, although this changed and instead they were arguing that the lockdown should be lifted.

The DHSC created these sock accounts through a marketing company set up a few months ago. This company apparently only has one client – the DHSC, and a staff of three, all ex-DHSC. The posts were sent using the mass-posting tool Hootsuite, whose account was registered to one person with four assigned contributors. That person is a government employee on temporary secondment to the department.

O’Connell contacted the DHSC about this, naturally making some inquiries. They refused to comment. He also offered to provide all his data to them to help them with an internal inquiry, which they declined. He also asked to deal directly with their Soc Med and Comms teams to work through their data. They refused that offer too. When he asked for further comment, he got this reply from the Department:

These claims are categorically false.

To share disinformation of this kind undermines the national effort against coronavirus.

Before anyone shares unsubstantiated claims online, use the SHARE checklist to help stop the spread of harmful content:
➡https://sharechecklist.gov.uk/ 

O’Connell makes it very clear that no-one should be surprised by these tactics. They’re what the Tories did when they were pushing Brexit with Cambridge Analytica. And at the general election First Draft, a monitoring body, found that they issued 5,952 political ads on Facebook that they called ‘indecent, dishonest and untruthful.’ The Labour Party didn’t issue any deceitful advertising.

Mike in his article on this squalid little tactic advises people not to use the ‘sharechecklist’ link, as the Tories at the changed their publicity department’s monicker to ‘FactCheckUK’ at the election. This purported to be an independent fact-checking organisation, and calmly reassured anyone who used it that the Tories were telling the truth, and Labour were lying. Which was more lies, of course.

John O’Connell further states that the DHSC and various NHS trusts have shown no interest in the welfare of the 43 NHS staff whose photos were used. He naturally wonders if this runs contrary to their duty of care. And Mike concludes his article about this by asking rhetorically

And why would anybody use a government website to check whether content is harmful, when it’s the government that is accused of creating it?

The danger is that the Tory government is undermining trust in the institutions we need to be able to trust. It is deadly dangerous – but the Tories are playing the fool.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2020/04/20/more-coronavirus-propaganda-hundreds-of-fake-nhs-social-media-accounts-set-up-by-health-dept/

Zelo Street added further information, noting that another Tweeter had tried to alert various media figures to the scandal, like Laura Kuenssberg, Robert Peston, Peter Jukes of Byline media, and Novara Media, The Skwawkbox, Zelo Street itself, and Carole Cadwalladr. Unfortunately, although Peter Jukes responded stating that it looked very much like Cambridge Analytica/ Russian bot farm tactics, the other major media figures appear to be uninterested. Zelo Street suggested that it might be because they’re afraid of Polecat Dom.

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/04/nhs-fake-twitter-accounts-exposed.html

Zelo Street followed up their piece with a further article arguing that Dominic Cummings was very likely behind this torrent of sock puppetry and falsehoods, as the Polecat has previous. He was rumoured to be the man behind an abusive account, @toryeducation, when he was but a lowly Spad working for Michael Gove in the education department. This Twitter account poured scorn and abuse on politicos like Margaret Hodge, Chris Patten, Tristram Hunt, Hannah Richardson, Robert Peston, the Beeb, as well as Zelo Street and Tom Barry of Boris Watch.

Cummings denied he was behind these tweets, but Toby Helm, at that time a hack at the Observer, revealed that the Department had taken steps to stop the Twitter feed issuing any more abuse against its opponents. He also stated that the Observer had said that two contributors to it were Dominic Cummings and Henry de Zoete. Under the code governing spads, disseminating party political material and personal abuse were sackable offences. Cummings and de Zoete had not denied they contributed to the feed, merely saying that they were not @toryeducation.

And, like the 128 sock puppets John O’Connell discovered, @toryeducation also mysteriously vanished. It was registered as an official Tory account on Twitter until the day after the Observer told the world who was behind it. And a year after this all occurred, bloated badger-haired Libertarian Fascist Guido Fawkes revealed that it was indeed Cummings who had been the Twitter account while discussing a spat between Gove and Clegg over free school meals.

Zelo Street concludes

‘Cummings is not, it seems, subject to the controlling hand of his current boss right now, and restored to health following his brush with Covid-19. And by complete coincidence you understand, the Twitter fakery is firing up again. As Private Eye magazine might have put it, I wonder if the two are in any way related? I think we should be told.’

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/04/tory-twitter-dirty-tricks-warning-from.html

It seems O’Connell has got the Tories bang to rights, right down to the personal identity of the woman behind all these fake accounts. And it really does look like Dominic Cummings is also behind it, although given their record of flagrant, gross mendacity, he doesn’t seem to have broken any established Tory patterns of conduct whatsoever. It would be rather more surprising if they told the truth instead.

But it also shows the Tories are afraid. Very afraid. According to polls, 65 per cent of the public think that Johnson is doing a good job, which shows how effective media spin and propaganda is. But with the death toll increasing and medical staff running out of PPE, that spin appears to be wearing very thin.

And so they’ve started lying again, to cover up their massive failures and the deaths for which they’re responsible.

The sock puppets’ support for the discredited ‘herd immunity’ policy and an end to the lockdown also shows how worried they are about their donors’ interests. The party’s backers clearly want the lockdown ended so that they can continue making big bucks.

Even though this policy could lead to 40,000 deaths, or even as many as 200 – 250,000.

But still, Murdoch and those hedge fund managers must have their billions.

 

 

 

When the time is right – and it may be very soon – doctors will have to stop working

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 20/04/2020 - 6:19pm in

Tags 

NHS, Politics

A doctor's primary duty when undertaking their activities is to do no harm.

The primary duty of a government employing them is to make sure that they can work in ways that mean that they need not cause harm.

Then, and only then, is a doctor personally accountable for their decisions.

Right now the UK government has, through its own negligence, decided to put the lives of doctors and other medical staff at risk by not supplying them with the PPE that they need.

And what the means is that not only are doctors putting their own lives ta risk - which we should not be asking them to do - but that they are also putting the lives of all those they move between in hospitals at risk, and that they are also putting their families and others that they meet in the community (and yes, the go shopping like the rest of us, where they will meet people) at risk as well.

A point will be reached - and I suspect it will be very soon - where doctors will say that the balance of those risks has shifted and that it would better for them not to work than to do so. The overall risk to society will be reduced by them not seeing patients in hospital.

Of course, people will die as a result. That is undeniable.

But the question of judgement is whether more will die as a result of doctors seeing those who are ill in hospital, and that might well become the case.

When that happens the consent that a key profession provides to this government will have been withdrawn.

But no one should see this as political. This is about duty.

The doctors would be honouring theirs.

The government has not honoured its.

And risk has to be balanced in that context.

Only one party is responsible for this mess. And doctors and the other medical and support staff they work with should not be asked to die in this situation.

The minimum duty of a government is to be competent. This one is not. And the price of that should be high. But doctors and other NHS staff should not be asked to die as a result.

Fundraisers v Public Money for NHS

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 20/04/2020 - 12:24am in

GIMMS is pleased to have permission to reblog this article from @pamos19. Originally published on her Idle Obs blog site here

 

“Charity is a cold grey loveless thing. If a rich man wants to help the poor, he should pay his taxes gladly, not dole out money at a whim”…Clement Attlee

 

We love our NHS

The NHS is the ‘jewel in our crown’, our ‘national treasure’…. we love our NHS. In fact, we love it so much we’re pained to see its staff struggling to cope with the COVID-19 outbreak.

Our hearts go out to the families who have lost their loved ones from this terrible illness, and to the NHS staff battling to save them, who sometimes have to make the most difficult decisions about treatment pathways laid down by NICE guidelines.

Understandably, talking about the NHS brings out our strongest emotions. Knowing that NHS staff and Social Care workers are not being provided with adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in too many settings – hospitals, GP surgeries, Residential homes, ambulance crews, community nursing/caring, it brings out a natural response: we want to help.

Hence, there has been an explosion of fundraising activity on social media platforms. The biggest has been organised by NHS Charities Together.

Text Clap NHS Charities Together advertisement

Run for Heroes Instagram account

NHS Charities Together Virgin Giving page

As someone who has been a proactive campaigner in support of #OurNHS for three years, I fully understand the desire to help.

However… Stop It! Our NHS Is Not A Charity

Be warned, you may find what you’re about to read controversial. I ask for your patience in reading all the way to the end. I might challenge your perceptions, but bear with me, I hope by the end you will have seen why I felt it was important to write this blog.

I’m going to set the historical context first. Then I’ll demonstrate how the context has impacted our NHS and why it’s in the position of needing help and support today. Next, I will put forward the macroeconomic context, and finally, I intend to show that Public Money should be the winner in a Fundraiser v Public Money for our NHS argument.

 

The NHS – brief historical context

NHS: the Early Years

In post-war Britain 1948, the Labour government launched our National Health Service

Government leaflet sent out in 1948 explaining the National Health Service

A publicly owned, publicly run, and publicly delivered comprehensive *National* health service free at the point of need for all.

Birth to death…from the cradle to the grave. Eyes, ears, nose, mouth, mind, limbs, internal organs, disease, infection… Midwifery, District Nursing, Consultations, Tests, Treatments, Hospital stays, and Prescriptions were free.

Aneurin Bevan, Health minister at the time said:

Nye Bevan image and quote "No society can legimiately call itself civilised id a sick person is denied medical aid because of lack of means"

Many governments have come and gone, making changes such as implementing prescription charges, centralizing and decentralizing the ambulance service, and in 1998 devolution had some impact…

“The UK’s four systems were created very similar at the high-water mark of British political unity. They were all ‘national health service’ (NHS) systems, with the government directly owning hospitals, contracting with primary care General Practitioners (GP) and employing most other staff in a system centrally financed out of general taxation and provided for free at the point of service.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5127421/

 

Corporatisation and Markets

The internal competitive market and Foundation Trusts (run as businesses) were introduced early to mid-2000s.
But… every Secretary of State for Health of whichever political party in government had the responsibility to provide comprehensive healthcare for its citizens… until the Health and Social Care Act 2012 passed into law.

NHS Death Knell – The Lansley Act

Professor Allyson Pollock (March 2013):

“The UK NHS was created by national consensus in order to ensure that every citizen was guaranteed health care. Underpinning these arrangements was the secretary of state’s core duty to provide or secure a comprehensive health service, a duty repealed by the first clause of the Health and Social Care Act.”

This was passed at a time when the country was still reeling from the 2008/9 global financial crash and the coalition government had imposed severe austerity measures on public services. But more on that a bit later.

  • The Act opened up all our NHS services to the external market except for acute emergency and obstetrics.
  • It opened the flood gates for private sector provision of health and social care services
  • The Act also gave birth to four quangos: NHS England, NHS Scotland, NHS Wales, and NHS Northern Ireland each responsible for the provision of health and social care. Although still called NHS it was no longer a National Health Service
NHSE – The US model of healthcare comes to England

The appointment as head of NHS England was given to Simon Stevens, worked for the USA giant United Health Insurance company, where he was president of their global health division and CEO of Medicare.

His job as NHSE head was to oversee implementation of the complete reorganization of our health and social care service in England, by splitting England up into 44 regional health economies – ‘footprints’.

The aim was to establish Accountable Care Organisations (an American model) which we now call Integrated Care Systems/Organisations.[1]

These ICS/ICOs are contracted out to a body (which can be a private business or a combination of local authority and private partnerships) who are responsible for the provision of health and social care across their ‘footprint’ within a fixed budget. They are run like a business, so must balance the books or make a profit… they cannot go into deficit.

Government Austerity and NHSE Combine for Maximum Impact
  • Under Austerity, we saw swathing cuts in budgets to our public services from 2010 onwards
  • NHS trusts told to make ‘efficiency’ savings, savings targets set and if not achieved, financial penalties imposed. A Trust could even be put into Special Measures for being in ‘debt’
  • Staffing levels were cut, wards and small hospitals closed, bed numbers dropped.
  • Businesses have taken over services such as diagnostics, Mental Health, phlebotomy, radiology, cleaning, catering, ophthalmology, and so on.

In the private sector, the leanest service they can give the more profit they make. Our health service and social care system began to feel the strain.

“Sustainability” became the mantra of Government and NHS England chiefs.

By 2016 Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) were published. These were the plans which would transform our health service and social care into ICS/ICOs.

Some STP Boards held Public Consultations

As small gatherings of ‘the aware’ sat and listened to highly paid NHSE employees give glossy presentations, telling us that our NHS will not survive unless we make these changes, which would improve the service… make it sustainable so it’s there for the future.

They asked for our views, which in practice were never going to make the slightest difference to their grand plans.

And Here We Are…

2019 saw our fragmented, under-resourced, under-funded, and under-staffed system in a very poor state:

  • 43,000 nurses and 10,000 GPs short
  • Hospital targets abandoned because they consistently couldn’t be met
  • Worn-out staff working longer shifts than they were being paid for
  • Cancelled appointments and operations a common occurrence
  • Little to no mental health support
  • 3 week waits to see a GP
  • Apps being touted as the answer to everything

People were dying who shouldn’t have been…

“Like many junior doctors who have worked in overwhelmed and understaffed A&E departments, I’ve seen things happen as a result of the overstretched conditions that I believe should be classed as “never events”. Since 2016, nearly 5,500 patients have died in England alone as a direct result of having waited too long to be admitted to hospital. To put that in perspective, that’s nearly twice the number of people killed in terror attacks in the UK  since 1970. We should be outraged”

https://amp.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/dec/10/doctor-johnson-thousands-deaths-nhs-patient

Now in 2020, the pandemic has hit an already ‘in crisis’ health care service (exacerbated by a chronic problem in social care)

 

Our NHS… Macroeconomic Context

It is political!

To all the naysayers who shout “Keep politics out of our NHS”… you can’t.

“What does the Government do?

The Government is responsible for deciding how the country is run and for managing things, day to day. They set taxes, choose what to spend public money on and decide how best to deliver public services, such as:

    • the National Health Service
    • the police and armed forces
    • welfare benefits like the State Pension
    • the UK’s energy supply

What does Parliament do?

Parliament’s job is to look closely at the Government’s plans and to monitor the way they are running things.

Parliament works on our behalf to try to make sure that Government decisions are:

    • open and transparent – by questioning ministers and requesting information
    • workable and efficient – by examining new proposals closely and suggesting improvements, checking how public money is being spent and tracking how new laws are working out in practice
    • fair and non-discriminatory – by checking that they comply with equalities and human rights laws and by speaking up on behalf of affected individuals”

https://www.parliament.uk/about/how/role/parliament-government/

Government has control of the public purse its role is to spend public money for public purpose and social benefit.

“If the job is to be done, the state must accept financial responsibility“

Nye Bevan quote "Society becomes more wholesome, more serene, and spiritually healthier, if it knows that its citizens have at the back of their consciousness the knowledge that not only themselves, but all their fellows, have access, when ill, to the best that medical skill can provide. But private charity and endowment, although inescapably essential at one time, cannot meet the cost of all this. If the job is to be done, the state must accept financial responsibility."

 

So what is the public purse and public money?

  • The public purse is not a fund, and public money is not taxpayers money
  • The public purse is the Bank of England and public money is the creation of pounds sterling by keystrokes – entering numbers into banks’ reserve accounts so they in turn can credit the account of a person or company selling its goods or services to the Government – as instructed by the Treasury.

Having said this, I can hear you ask… but where does the money come from? It must come from somewhere?

The keyword is “creation”

The UK Government is the sole issuer of our sovereign fiat currency. Every time the Government (of whichever colour) spends, it creates pounds sterling out of thin air. If the government needs to purchase goods or services which are for sale in GBP, then it simply instructs the Bank of England to do so via the Treasury. The Chancellor of the Exchequer provides the Budget Statement ie ‘shopping list’ and this is administered by the Treasury’s Debt Management Office (DMO) and the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) at the Bank of England.

There is no taxpayers money funding Government spending. The only constraints on spending are the availability of resources (goods, services, labour) and inflation caused by resource shortages.

Now ask yourself…. when the global financial markets collapsed in 2008 what shortage did this cause?

Government told us “There is no money! We have to tighten our belts… Austerity!”

Did anyone shout back “Hang on a cotton-picking minute… you create money!”

[To be fair, some did. But the response they got (and still do, but from fewer people) was “Venezuela” and “Zimbabwe”… which demonstrated how little they know about those countries’ economies.
See my blog https://idleobs.wordpress.com/2020/03/29/coronavirus-economic-stimulus-but-how-will-you-pay-for-it/ ]

The Truth: Our Government can NEVER run out of money

 

The Final Argument – Why we should not have to fundraise for the NHS

Current Shortages in our Health and Social Care Services
  • Nurses, Doctors, Radiologists, Social Workers, Care-workers ie labour
  • Equipment, especially PPE, COVID-19 Tests, and Ventilators ie goods
  • Diagnostics/Testing laboratories ie services
Labour – the workforce

500,000 volunteers have come forward to help our ‘NHS, there must be jobs that these volunteers are doing, and that is great. Practical help at a time of most need.

No shortage of people willing to work for no pay – although government could pay them via a Job Guarantee programme, and this could encourage more people into care-worker jobs.

However, the shortage of clinical staff and social workers needs addressing urgently through government investment in bursaries, decent wages, and free education, but will not help in the immediate crisis.

Goods

Through a combination of incompetence or deliberate policy, the government did not purchase goods listed above prior to the pandemic, despite being forewarned in the pandemic simulation report 2016. Government’s initial ’do nothing’ strategy exacerbated the situation as global demand for equipment and tests grew. By the time Matt Hancock and NHSE tried to get hold of, or refused to deal with certain suppliers of, what we needed, the goods aren’t there (although that’s debatable)

Volunteers across England are making PPE out of the goodness of their hearts and donated material. Practical help at a time of most need.

Services

Although slow to start, government are negotiating contracts with laboratories. Money is being created to purchase these services.

 

Conclusion

There can never be a shortage of public money to purchase anything if it’s available for sale in our own currency

There is not a shortage of money to attract, train and retain staff, only the shortage of will by the government to do it

There is not a shortage of money to purchase equipment, only the shortage of will by the government to do it, and at the right time

So why does the NHS need money from charity when government can provide it with public money?

It doesn’t and shouldn’t!

If the government keeps getting away with not accepting financial responsibility, they will keep starving our NHS of money to pay for the facilities, staff, equipment, and resources it needs to exist!!

Please stop giving money to charity for the ‘NHS’

Demand from government that it carries out its duty to use public money as it was meant: for public purpose and social benefit.

[1]Accountable in a financial sense, ie accounting Integrated in an admin sense ‘backroom stuff’

 

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The post Fundraisers v Public Money for NHS appeared first on The Gower Initiative for Modern Money Studies.

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