“But mum, I don’t wanna share my vaccines!”
Rich nations of the world, it is well and truly time to nut-up and face the reality of bringing this pandemic to a close: you can’t do it if you don’t share vaccines. It just doesn’t work. People move. There’s a deep dose of irony in the concept that the same countries who have been fervent missionaries for the cause of globalism now can’t seem to understand that hoarding six times the doses that you need for your own population does little to end this crisis.
The scale of vaccine inequality, on even a relatively local level, is astonishing. The UK and Canada are currently leading the selfish charts with 5.5 and 9.6 doses per resident respectively ordered, but it’s perhaps close neighbours where the stupidity of this strategy (or lack thereof) truly shows. The EU has 3.5 doses per resident on order and yet countries with which it shares a border have none. Take Moldova, it simply can’t afford to buy the vaccines, and with only 3.5m residents it has little purchasing power. Its hopes lie entirely with the COVAX scheme which will donate enough vaccines for just 20% of its population, starting at the end of this month.
As you move further afield the picture gets worse. Whilst most rich, western economies are hoping to vaccinate their entire population within months, there are at least 12 African nations who expect to only achieve ‘significant coverage’ by 2024.
The reality is that this ‘me-first’ approach will not only prolong the pandemic but threatens the effectiveness of vaccinations fundamentally. If you continue to allow a reservoir of virus to circulate unabated in huge swathes of the global population, there is a good chance that new, vaccine-resistant strains of coronavirus could emerge.
To tackle the issue, wealthy countries need to take three steps: they need to pledge to donate their unused doses (the US has, but others such as the UK appear reticent to make any commitment), they need to pledge funds to support poorer countries develop their own vaccine manufacturing infrastructure to speed the rollout, and they need to ensure intellectual property disputes are not preventing some manufacturers from usefully producing doses. We, as taxpayers, need to insist on this. Public money was used to support the development of all the vaccine candidates in use, and the global success of this remarkable scientific feat shouldn’t be hamstrung by failure in foreign policy or squabbling over the financial spoils.
A Vancouver man was arrested for theft on Friday after a raw steak fell out of his trousers at a metro station. In what is quite literally an unbelievable quote, local police said it’s “not uncommon” to come across individuals “smuggling meat in their trousers” on the metro. The man was also fined $230 for not wearing a face-covering.
This Land is Your Land
India’s most recent Republic Day (the annual celebration of the Indian constitution coming into force on 6th January 1950, separating the legal system from Britain) saw farmers protesting new agricultural rules breaking through police barricades with tractors and climbing to the top of the Red Fort; a structure more familiar to Indians for the Prime Minister’s Independence Day speeches from it’s defensive walls.
The Red Fort itself has a fascinating history, constructed through 1648 it functioned as the main residence of the Mughal Emperors. Afforded UNESCO world heritage status in 2007 about 15 decades too late to prevent the British ransaking the place in ostensible reprisal for the Rebellion of 1857 in which the locals almost successfully ousted the East India Company.
Another contextual note: By the mid 1800’s the East India Company maintained armies about ~250,000 strong where some ~15,000 European soldiers and officers led some ~235,000 native troops. Implying that the rebellion was mostly Indians fighting Indians-on-the-Crown’s-payroll. The reader is left to reach their own conclusions regarding any analogy with the Indian police fighting with farmers on the streets of New Delhi in the 21st century…
The Republic day protests of 2021 saw 80 police officers injured and one protester killed. For subsequent protests the police erected ‘war like’ defenses including extensive barbed wire and medievally inspired nails in ditches.
Similarly troubling to the integrity of one of the world’s larger and younger democracies, political arrests are coming to the public spotlight. Disha Ravi, a leader of the local Fridays For Future initiative (as popularized by Greta Thunberg) is accused of ‘sedition and criminal conspiracy’. The charges seem to supposedly revolve around Disha’s resharing of a controversial document which is a call to organized protest.
How does he sleep at night? (Ep. 3)
Mike ‘crack-addict-turned-pillow-CEO’ Lindell did surprisingly little this week, disappointing the authors of amusing current-affairs diggests world-over. He still managed to make the news though, when Dominion Voting Systems spokesperson Michael Steel claimed on CNN: “Mike Lindell is begging to be sued, and at some point we may well oblige him.” Them’s fighting words Steel, we like it.
Predict A Riot
57 senators voted to convict Donald Drumpf of inciting an insurrection, with 7 republicans deciding to show some integrity pretty freaking late in the game if you ask WJH. 43 votes went against a guilty verdict and correlate with a general sense that everything we say in early January was basically business as usual, and doesn’t warrant impeaching a chief liar who inarguably stirred shit in a dangerous way (where ‘shit’ here is the fabric of American democracy).
There’s not much funny to be said here so we’ll try being earnest for a moment: the problem of information abundance presents a henceforth uncharted problem-space for democracies. Narrowly electing a senile old man on a series of token testaments to the normality of the neoliberal realization of the military industrial complex, is not a good replacement for a shared religion.
Not so Homely
The continued disgraceful behaviour of the UK’s Home-Secretary-cum-wannabe-autocrat Priti Patel probably deserves its own blog post. Or its own publication. I mean… she’s just awful. And fair warning, none of the below is funny, we just have an incredibly awful Home Secretary in the UK and really need to draw attention to it.
This week’s egregiously shitty behaviour by Patel started with her refusal to criticise the wrongful arrest of a photojournalist. Photojournalist Andy Aitchison was detained at home in front of his children after sharing photographs of a peaceful protest outside one of Patel’s ‘asylum camps’. He was released without charge after seven hours of questioning, suggesting that police intent was to intimidate and discourage reporting on the protests. Patel refused to condemn the arrest or review police guidelines.
The camps themselves are just a whole new level of disgrace; hundreds of men are being housed in disused military barracks in conditions so poor that many are choosing to sleep outside in the middle of winter. After a fire broke out in January, Patel released a statement appearing to blame the damage on the asylum seekers without a shred of evidence. In an Orwelian take on being between rock and hard place, her junior minister Chris Philp also blamed those housed there (in dorms with 28 beds to a room) for a recent Covid outbreak, claiming they were failing to follow social-distancing rules. During the outbreak the men, who are supposedly free to leave the camps, found themselves padlocked in and effectively imprisoned, and handed letters informing them they would be arrested if they attempted to leave. The Home Office itself says that improving their conditions would “undermine confidence” in the public’s perception of the asylum system. We suppose this would be correct if only one takes the draconian and ethically barren view that the primary function of the asylum system is to discourage people from seeking asylum; which seems to be how many of the political elite think of it.
Later in the week, apparently concerned that she wasn’t hated enough and indeed hadn’t spread enough hate herself, in a moment totally devoid of self-awareness Patel went out of her way to choose an unusual time to condemn last year’s Black Lives Matter protests as “dreadful” and said she does not agree with the gesture of taking a knee. At one point she actually said the words: “I don’t support protest”, before backtracking that it was just the sort of “dreadful” protest like, y’know, those for civil rights and equality led by black people.
Her views seem to broadly reflect those of the current government; Leader of the Commons, and least common person who has existed for 400 years, Jacob Rees-Mogg MP described a commission setup by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to improve diversity in public spaces as: “loony leftwing wheezes”. We’re not even sure we know what that means, but we’re pretty sure it’s meant to be insulting.
Key Brexit campaign funder Arron Banks has lost a court appeal after it was demonstrated that his political campaign Leave.EU failed to segregate their data from his insurance company Eldon. Effectively Banks used his political campaigning as a data harvesting tool to then market his insurance products. Oh, but the freedom and sovereignty though, wasn’t it all worth it, don’t you feel sovereign?
NB: It would appear that since the 2016 referendum some ~$1.6 trillion equivalent in assets and 7,500 finance sector jobs have left the UK for Europe.