Religious nutcases and despotic governments (often the same people!) - and one or two contrary examples.

In any subject or discussion there are the religious nutcases - people who believe either they will be protected from infection, or that the pandemic is divine intervention, or that the solution for the world lies within their specific ideology. There is also an ample supply of idiot or despotic politicians. As a government energy scientist, I can still remember explaining to a group of MPs about 40 years ago why the overall efficiency of a typical coal fired power station was only about 35%. One of them suggested they needed to look into repealing the second law of thermodynamics.

In the USA, the influence of the 'evangelical right' has now become so extreme that worship of Satan has been proposed an an antidote!

Coinciding with the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro urged women to have six children "for the good of the country". He was appearing at a televised event promoting a national women's healthcare plan!

At about the same time, he was also indicted by the USA in connection with money laundering and drugs supply (narco-terrorism) - and with a $15 million reward for information leading to his arrest and conviction. All part of the power-play of world politics!

Most problems in the world - medical and environmental have their origins at least in part in religion and its worship of surplus human breeding - so this further contribution by Nicolás Maduro was most welcome.

The best riposte to religion is perhaps humour, but in countries like Saudi Arabia or Iran you'd get 5000 lashes, and maybe 20 years of hard labour followed by a grisly death for this series of sketches by Rowan Atkinson (aka Mr Bean).

Yet there are many examples of religious people who do good in their local communities. This is one poignant example from Italy, at the height of their coronavirus crisis towards the end of March 2020.

At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic there can perhaps be no finer example in the UK of 'good works' being done by an already well established Christian charity - His Church based in Lincolnshire

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In mid March 2020 the attorney general of Texas issued a legal opinion deeming gun stores "essential services" during the pandemic.

It was earlier reported that firearm shops across the US saw soaring sales thanks to Covid-19

Gun sales and ownership in the USA is strongly linked to the fundamentalist or evangelical Christian beliefs of millions of many middle class and 'Hill-Billy' gun-toting types of  Americans - as indeed is the anti-abortion movement.

These people believe not only that they have a God-given right to their affluent and environmentally destructive lifestyles, and including killing as many animals as possible for sport, they also worship surplus human breeding - as if the world didn't have more than enough people already.

There were many subsequent reports of soaring gun sales.

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There were many protests against 'lock-down' in American states especially in the southern 'Bible Belt'. Protesters are often confronted by medical staff. Protesters were generally of the bible bashing, gun-toting, working class type

Protests were held streets of Michigan - at least the the UK Police didn't have to deal with this collection of overfed, gun toting morons.

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Religious nutcases come in many forms in the USA - Mike DeWine the Ohio State Governor has 8 children. A long time Republican, he recently signed into law a piece of legislation that would have criminalised doctors for not performing what is an impossible medical procedure - re-implantation of a foetus after a medically necessary abortion!

Maybe the USA deserves to experience a dose of reality with upwards of 200,000 deaths from Covid-19. Those who do die may largely be victims of an inadequate health care system.

In this photograph DeWine is surrounded by a group of anti-abortion activists and fellow sanctimonious politicians. The USA seemingly has an unending supply of evangelical nutcases, one example here of a woman allied to Donald Trump.

DeWine has been credited with being one of the first US Governors to take early action to prevent the spread of Covid-19 by closing schools etc - in advance of pronouncements by Donald Trump.

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As an aside, it has been argued that Christian persecution of cats (especially black ones) may have in part been responsible for the Black Death in Europe in the Middle Ages. So many cats were burned to death or otherwise mercilessly killed on the orders of the Catholic Church that the rat population was enabled to expand.

Crucifixion of cats is still apparently a feature of the Christian religion in some of the more backward countries of Africa.

In China they still just boil cats and dogs alive in some rural areas - it is said to improve the flavour of the meat.

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Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has laughed off the suggestion that his country should try to stem the spread of the coronavirus, because he couldn't see the virus "flying around".

Speaking to a TV reporter at an indoor ice hockey match, he also claimed that crowds at the match were fine because the coldness of the stadium would prevent the virus from spreading.

There is no evidence that this could be the case and the coronavirus cannot be seen with the naked eye.

Unlike most of Europe, Belarus has not placed any restrictions on sports events.

"There are no viruses here," Mr Lukashenko said. "You haven't seen them flying around, have you? I don't see them either! This is a fridge.

Sport, particularly the ice, this fridge here, that's the best antiviral cure!"

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One of the most repressive states in the world is Turkmenistan.

Many experts were concerned its government might be hiding the truth, which could disrupt attempts to end the pandemic.

While the world battled coronavirus and more and more countries locked down their populations, Turkmenistan held a mass cycling rally to mark World Health Day. Use of the word 'coronavirus' was banned.

People wearing face masks or talking about the virus were even liable to
be arrested by undercover police, RSF says.

Turkmenistan is one of the world's most closed-off countries. The government has an absolute monopoly of the media and foreign news websites are blocked.

The country has so far reported no cases of the virus. Neighbouring
Iran, meanwhile, had reported more than 47,000.

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That the pandemic occurred is not Trump’s fault.

The unpreparedness of the United States for a pandemic is Trump’s fault. The loss of stockpiled respirators because the federal government let maintenance contracts lapse in 2018 is Trump’s fault. The failure to store sufficient protective medical gear is Trump’s fault. That states are bidding against other states for equipment, paying many multiples of the pre-crisis price for ventilators, is Trump’s fault.

Air travellers summoned home and forced to stand for hours in dense airport crowds alongside infected people? That was Trump’s fault too. Ten weeks of insisting that the coronavirus is a harmless flu that would miraculously go away on its own? Trump’s fault again. The refusal of red-state governors to act promptly, the failure to close Florida and Gulf Coast beaches until late March? That fault is more widely shared, but again, responsibility rests with Trump: He could have stopped it, and he did not.

The lying about the coronavirus by hosts on Fox News and conservative talk radio is Trump’s fault: They did it to protect him. The false hope of instant cures and non-existent vaccines is Trump’s fault, because he told those lies to cover up his failure to act in time.

The severity of the economic crisis is Trump’s fault; things would have been less bad if he had acted faster instead of sending out his chief economic adviser and his son Eric to assure Americans that the first stock-market dips were buying opportunities. The firing of a Navy captain for speaking truthfully about the virus’s threat to his crew? Trump’s fault. The fact that so many key government jobs were either empty or filled by mediocrities? Trump’s fault.

The insertion of Trump’s arrogant and incompetent son-in-law as commander in chief of the national medical supply chain? Trump’s fault.

extracted from an article in The Atlantic. (link no longer exists?)

Ultimately, the reason why China's terrible behaviour both in respect of its animal rights record and its withholding of information on human to human virus transmission - which itself led arguably to the world-wide scale of the pandemic - will be forgotten is simply one of trade. Their revival of the old silk road is itself a trillion dollar project.


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Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law is still seeking evictions of his tenants who have been left destitute by the coronavirus pandemic. Yet he is still seeking relief from his own creditors.

The decision (later reversed) to place Jarad Kushner in a position to help oversee the economic recovery of the USA was ridiculed widely.

Meanwhile the behaviour of the general public in the UK was as bad as ever - with seemingly no let-up in the amount of plastics and related water strewn around towns and the countryside. Fly-tipping of domestic DIY and other waste also markedly increased.

A photographer recorded these images of discarded rubber gloves on the pavements of Nottingham.

Whilst the behaviour of the rich is often appalling, that of many 'ordinary' people is little better, even in countries that have adequate waste disposal systems. A vast amount of plastics and other PPE trash will end up in the oceans having been discarded in Asian and African countries, adding to the toll on wildlife.

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On 5 March 2020 it was reported from Iran that holy shrine lickers could face prison - people had been licking religious artefacts believing that this would ward off the virus. Even the authorities in Iran were forced to concede the practice would likely spread the disease rather than provide protection.

Iran has been reported to have dug large mass graves (evidence from satellite pictures). However, governments in that part of the world do that sort of thing routinely! It is widely thought that Iran has not been reporting the full scale of local infection with Covid-19, and there continues to be much suspicion about China also. New York has also been digging mass graves for possibly temporary  internment. A disproportionate number of New Yorkers who died were from lower class slum neighbourhoods with high population densities - as might be expected.

Thailand’s controversial king has been self-isolating in a luxury hotel in the Alpine resort town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen with his entourage.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn is said to have booked the entire Grand Hotel Sonnenbichl after the four-star hotel received “special permission” from the district council.

The king’s entourage included a “harem” of 20 concubines and numerous servants. it was unclear if his four wives were living in the hotel with the rest of the group.

Guesthouses and hotels in the region were ordered to close due to the coronavirus crisis, but a spokesperson for the district council said the Grand Hotel Sonnenbichl was an exception because “the guests are a single, homogenous group of people”.

However, 119 members of the entourage had been reportedly sent back to Thailand on suspicions they contracted the highly contagious respiratory disease.

News of their king's apparent self-isolation in a luxury location was met with anger by thousands of Thai people, who risked breaking the country’s lčse-majesté laws by criticising him online. Under the laws, anyone who insults or criticises the monarchy can be imprisoned for up to 15 years.

(Adapted from an article in The Independent by Kate Ng.)

Countries with despotic leaders often have appalling animal rights records.

More than 1000 elephants in Thailand faced starvation following the closure of dozens of elephant camps throughout the country as a result of COVID19.

Since the tourist dollars stopped, there is no money to feed the elephants – a situation that has been exacerbated by recent fires which have destroyed much of the forest habitat that provides the food needed to take care of these elephants.

Many elephant carers (‘mahouts’) have been dismissed from the camps and are walking many miles, taking their elephants back to their home villages. The future ahead for them all is bleak and unknown as the villages cannot sustain these large beasts either.

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0. Index page.

1. Wet markets, abuses of wildlife, organised crime and the origins of the virus.

2. Folk dancing and the importance of other 'super-spreader' events - experience overseas.

3. Scientists, government scientists, and criticisms of government policy in the UK.

4. How many people will die - no-one can tell until the final reckoning.

5. Policing of lockdown in the UK - the need for police reform (starting at the top?).

6. Religious nutcases and despotic governments (often the same people!)

7. Economics vs. Health - the lockdown cure being worse than the disease?

8. Ventilators and cures.

9. Shaggy dog stories - and wash your hands.

10. Reserved.

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